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 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]

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.

The Next Act In World Drama by Warren Atkinson, Western Clarion, December 15, 1906

The conflict over the distribution of labor’s product is irrepressible, and in this conflict the only vantage ground from which any lasting success can be forced by either side is control of the tools and natural resources. So the conflict is developing itself into one for ownership of the means of production and distribution. That its conclusion ultimately is the common ownership of things is not in doubt. It is a question of when and how it will be.

Public opinion of a nation turns as a great ship turns, imperceptibly to those who strain at the ropes. But the growing sentiment for public ownership shows that the public opinion yields to physical necessities and the incessant Socialist agitation. Yet its advocates protest truly, that they are not Socialists. Mr. Hearst says, “we are not opposed to capitalism small or large.” Socialists regard this radical movement with hostility because by it alone can the time be delayed when more will be gained than state capitalism.

But the campaign thunder of the Socialist Party has been stolen it seems. Does the Socialist Party possess any great principle distinguishing it from other political parties which the professional politician cannot steal? The Socialist movement was born in revolt against the horrors of poverty. It gets its whole philosophy by analyzing the modern industrial and financial system in search of the cause of poverty. Its aim, namely, to make the conditions of all employments prohibit the incomes which able bodied idlers draw through the ownership of the means of production, is opposed to capitalist business and capitalist politics as light is to darkness.

This principle no professional politician will adopt; and it is the only one worth stealing. But government ownership will not in itself secure labor’s product to those who produce it. This is sustained by experience with government ownership abroad, of which there is much more established in European countries than is even proposed here. Nevertheless it is expected that the movement for government ownership now being organized will swallow up the Socialist Party by becoming more and more radical as though they would defeat it in the end by counterfeiting it.

That public ownership after the fashion of the capitalist should be corrupt is inherent in the nature of it. It will be corrupt not only as capitalist business is corrupt, but even as measured by the moral standards of the trading class themselves. The public may expect no mercy and should deserve none. Government industries administered by politicians are often disgracefully inefficient and usually unprogressive, resisting the introduction of improved methods and devices. But these things will be learned by experience.

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