[ Home ]  [ Canadian Bolsheviks ]  [ Documents Index ]  [ Reminiscences Index ] [ About ]

The Impossibilists by Larry Gambone (continued)

Selected articles from the press of the
Socialist Party of Canada and the One Big Union, 1906-1938

[Return to Part One]

The articles presented here give a range of opinions and interests of the Impossibilists, organized by topic under eight headings.

  1. On State Socialism: A Reply To John Alexander, Nationalization Of Industry, The Fallacy Of Nationalization and Socialism And The CCF are harsh rejections of statism.

  2. State Capitalism: The Next Act In World Drama foretells the evolution toward state capitalism and how socialism would be pushed aside by its statist simulacra. This was almost ten years before Nicholai Bukharin developed the same concept of state capitalism.

  3. What Did They Want? What We Want, Emiliano Zapata and A Business Without A Boss, explain what the Impossibilists would have liked to see as an alternative.

  4. Impossibilist Philosophy: Philosophy is discussed in Proletarian Logic, Centenary of Joseph Dietzgen and Dietzgen And Relativity.

  5. The Development of the OBU movement and its differences with business unionism are discussed in Future Activity Of Trade Unions, The Burning Question Of Trades Unionism, What Is The OBU?, and Will Industrial Unionism Suffice?  Readers will be surprised by The Closed Shop and Industrial Liberty for its opposition to the closed shop.

  6. Socialism or Leninism? Bolshevism is roundly criticized in Is It The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat?, On Copying The Bolsheviki, and Russia Never Was Socialist.  Stalinist tactics are criticized in The Eclipse of Trotsky, The Red Trade Union And S. American Labor, and  Communist Hooligans at Their Usual Game. The entire concept of leadershipparliamentary, trade union or vanguard partyis rejected in Jack London And Leadership, published in the very last issue of the OBU Monthly.
  7. Strikes and Struggles: Long forgotten labor battles are discussed in Law and Order In DrumhellerNova Scotia Miners Put Down Lewis Tyranny, and The Anyox Civil War. The fight for democracy and women's rights are examined in The Sons of Freedom and Reflected Glory of Males.

  8. Working Conditions: The wretched working conditions often found in the “Roaring Twenties” are exposed in Loggers Live In Squalor, Prostitution Demanded Of Girl Waitresses and Young Slaves Are Cheap.

On State Socialism

A Reply To John Alexander, Western Clarion, Dec. 8, 1906

In your issue of Nov. 17, Mr. John Alexander falls foul of me for certain “disparaging remarks” he says I made re the “British Labour Party” in a letter written to the Winnipeg Voice and reprinted in your columns October 20. Mr. Alexander does not attack the main point of my letter, which was in substance that the attempt to organize an other labor party in Canada when there was a good and efficient one already in existence in the SPC, would lead to undesirable complications (resulting) in splitting up the workers in various factions fighting each other more or less all the time.

Now as to the legislation that is to the credit of the Labour Group, I would ask Mr. Alexander to keep in mind that a measure which may benefit a portion of the working class may at the same time militate against the interests of another section. The man who classes these as labor legislation has little concept what “class interest” and solidarity means. As to the “States responsibility for the unemployed” which the labor group established, methinks this ‘tis the same that it ever was. When the unemployed get too numerous or noisy—Shoot them wholesale, deport them or jail them as vagrants.

If Mr. Alexander is enamored of these petty and questionable reforms, I will suggest a course which more of them and of better quality may be obtained. If your labor party shows such a poor grasp of the situation as to demand only palliatives, they will get few and of poor quality. If, however, they aim to overthrow capitalist society and show a fair ability to accomplish the task, reforms will come thick and fast much the same way as an individual pursued by wolves will throw his clothing to save his hide.

In BC, the trade unionists are coming into the Socialist Party, as witness the Western Federation of Miners, in their recent convention, on the common ground of workingmen not looking for legislation that will boost the craft at the expense of their class and that is the only kind of alliance that is either possible or profitable. In Britain, on the other hand, the alleged Socialists suppress their teachings of Socialist principles to effect an alliance with the trade unions.

Mr. Alexander informs me that the trade unionists in Britain are in favor of the nationalization of public utilities. I will tell him of some other individuals who, unlike the British unionists, are potent enough to carry their ideas into practical effect—the Czar of Russia, Bismarck of Germany and the ruling class of Japan. Shall the Socialists therefore ally themselves with these gentlemen?

If we have the ability to reason correctly pretty widespread throughout Canada, we shall be content with one Socialist party able to stand on its own legs without leaning on reactionary unions or weakening its program to gain their support. Moreover, we shall avoid the “British example” as one would a plague.


Nationalization Of Industry, Western Clarion, August 1918

National ownership, which during the last decade or so has been advanced by the old political parties and reform idealists, as a means whereby the miseries of the working class would be alleviated and which has even been labeled “Socialism”, has been the recipient of some severe shocks recently.

Because of government control of steamship lines, railroad systems, munitions plants etc., the impression has gained ground, assisted by the efforts of certain leaders of organized labor, that the sure cure for the troubles and sorrows of the working class is the nationalization of industry. Now these ideas have been somewhat upset by late occurrences.

Take the munitions workers strike in England a few weeks ago as an instance. Early in the war there was an outcry against munitions profiteers, raised principally by other sections of the capitalist class, who were not so advantageously situated in regards to labor exploitation, and under pressure from the said sections, the British government too over and began to operate the munitions plants. And yet, recently, in the most conservative city in England, formerly the stronghold of imperialistic Joe Chamberlain, 100,000 munitions workers were on strike. Nearer at hand we have the strike of Canadian postal employees.

Apparently, government ownership is no better for the slave than private ownership, and it seems as if under government control the workers are in a more absolute slave position (if possible) than ever, bound by rules and regulations and subject to more direct coercion than ever before. National ownership or control is only a more complete development of capitalism and is generated by the commercial jealousy of one section of the capitalist class against another Socialists realize that nationalization of industry will not remove the slave system under which the working class is compelled to live.


The Fallacy Of Nationalization by Alex Young, OBU Bulletin Feb. 27 1930

The question of nationalization is being discussed more than ever these days, especially in Britain. The wage earners are being made to believe that their troubles will cease if only the railways, mines etc., were nationalized. Let the reader remember we are living in a world where the existing industrial system is called Capitalism, and that the basis of Capitalism is to make profits, regardless whether under nationalization or not. Nationalization would operate and does operate the same as the big chain stores or trusts, to eliminate useless labour and make bigger profits. What about the workers? Would it give better wages or less hours and more employment? If the mines were nationalized operating staffs would be greatly reduced and more machinery introduced. The same applies in all industries, it is simply concentration of labour in the most efficient way.

Under private capitalism the workers must sell their labour power to live and under nationalization, which is state capitalism, they must sell their labour power and be subject to the laws of capitalism, a struggle for existence and hired and fired to suit a capitalist state.

Now, why do so many so-called labour leaders shout for nationalization? Is it because of ignorance or because it sounds big? Why should labour leaders be interested in throwing their own class out of jobs? The Post Office is nationalized and what is their standard of living? It is only a few years ago since they had to strike against intolerable conditions.


Socialism And The CCF, OBU Bulletin, July 27, 1933

The first CCF convention is now part of the history of the Canadian working class. On the discussion of the manifesto presented to the convention by the Provisional National Council, the cleavage between the socialist and non-socialist elements was brought into the open.

State Capitalism Advocated

Motion was made to delete the idea of compensating the present owners. The last sentence was re-written. Paragraph Four of this clause was adopted and read as follows: “The management of publicly owned enterprises will be invested in boards who will conduct each particular enterprise on efficient economic lines. Workers in these public industries must be free to organize in trade unions and must be given the right to participate in the management of industry. This will give the readers of the OBU BULLETIN a clear idea of the concept of the future society held by leaders of the CCF.

 [ Back ] [ Top ] [ Next ]

Copyright South Branch Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
www.socialisthistory.ca  ▪