Address of the Internationals
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Note.—The Boston Section, No. I (French-speaking), of The Working-People’s International Association, detailed a committee, in the latter part of the year 1872, consisting of “citizens Gruber, Sandoz, Greene, Prand, Coquard, and Jotterand,” to draw up an address, explaining and defending the distinctive principles of the society. The committee attended to their duty, drew up the address, sent it to the headquarters of the association, and, after an interval of many weeks, received it back again, but covered all over with notes and observations. The changes recommended by the chiefs of the society were incorporated into the text; and the address was read before the New England Labor Reform League, at its regular convention for the year 1873. It was afterwards published by the Co-operative Publishing Company. Although the address was the work of many hands, yet, as the present writer saw his way clear to sign it, and finally did sign it, and now deems it worthy of being preserved in some more permanent shape than that of a loose pamphlet, it is here given as a sequel to the foregoing articles.
W. B. G.
The Working-People’s International Association has, from the very beginning of its existence, naturally shrouded itself in mystery. Whenever there has been any thing to be said, or shown, in the way of self-glorification, the society has openly appeared to be weak in influence; but whenever there has been any thing to be done, in the way of upheaving the nations, then, on the contrary, kings, statesmen, and prelates have turned pale at the sight of the energy displayed by it, and in view of the real power it has wielded, and continues to wield. And yet the International is not at all a secret society. Its statutes; and the proceedings of its congresses, are printed in pamphlets that have been distributed, not by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands, perhaps by millions. The key of the contradiction is this: Many of its more energetic members work under the scrutiny of despotic governments, and beneath the shadow of the knout, the hangman’s halter, and the guillotine: a display of themselves, and of their own merits, would be almost certain death. They are, therefore, condemned to work, not for office, not for popular applause, but, in silence and in darkness, for the aim of their endeavor, which is the Social Revolution. They die, their names pass out of the memories of men, and the Revolution advances over their dead bodies. Besides, the association has the faculty, in the presence of danger, of quarrelling with itself, of lapsing into utter anarchy, of going completely out of existence, and of then re-appearing, in its original strength, at the first call of its occult and continually changing leaders.
Of course, the Co-operative Publishing Company are incompetent to give any really adequate history of the International Association. They know little, or rather nothing, of secrets that are hidden from the eyes of Bismarck, M. Thiers, Cardinal Antonelli, and their practised spies. In matters of mere fact, which baffle the ingenuity of the French, German, and Russian police, the Co-operative Publishing Company give up investigating. Nevertheless, the following particulars may be confidently stated, although we are obliged to begin our narration very far back.
The Order of the Knights of the Temple (for it is with the famous half-priest, half-soldier, Templars, that we shall have to commence) was originally established at Jerusalem, in the year 1118 (some say in the year 1100) by Hugues de Paganis, and was confirmed by the pope in 1146. It was not, however, until about eighty years later, that the Order received from the Council of Troyes its definitive rules of discipline. Towards the end of the first crusade, and while the second was being preached in Europe by Saint Bernard, the Templars in the Holy Land, where their allegiance to the Church had become somewhat weak, fell in with a widely-extended mystical association which taught, or affected to teach, both to the Christians and to the Saracens, indiscriminately, but to adepts only, secrets of hermetic science, and especially of social organization, which date back, or were affirmed to date back, far beyond the times of Abraham,—to the building of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The Templars were thus—or, at the least, they held themselves to be—the successors and representatives, by traditional initiation, of the builders of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. This is the origin of the affiliation in which we always find the Templars, on the one side with the occult practical building-corporations of the middle ages, and, on the other, with the traditional secret societies of speculative social-architects. The Great Pyramid, with its lower, middle, and upper chambers, became their symbolic Temple. Solomon’s Temple, although it had no lower, middle, and upper chamber, was an analogical representative of the Great Pyramid of Memphis, and now serves, although it was long ago destroyed, as a figurative symbol of it. The Tower of Babylon was an opposition temple, anterior to both the others, and built from an opposite plan.
In 1307, Phillipe-le-Bel (King of France) and Clement V. (the pope), jealous of the wealth, power, and influence of the Templars, conspired to destroy the Order. The Knights were, the greater number of them, suddenly arrested, cast into dungeons, and there tortured. The Order was dissolved, and its property confiscated. The grand-master, Jaques Bernard de Molay, was burned alive in Paris, near the Pont Neuf, in the year 1313; and, while dying, he cited the king and the pope to appear and answer him, within a year and a day, at the bar of Almighty God. (The king and the pope both died within the year.) Those of the Knights who survived, became exiles without property, without the right of assembling, and without recognized influence; but they secretly preserved their traditions, and transmitted them to posterity.
Long before the destruction of the Order, the English corporations of operative stone-masons had been placed by the king, Richard-Coeur-de-Lion, under the protection of the grand-master of the Templars; and it was at about the same time that the socialistic ideas of the earlier Egyptians, of Moses, and of Pythagoras, began to infilter themselves among the trades-societies of European working-men. After the burning of Jaques de Molay, such of the Knights as succeeded in escaping from France took refuge in an island of Scotland named Mull, where some of their brethren had preceded them, and had partially re-organized the Order. In 13r4, Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, fused together the Order of the Templars, the Chapter of Herodom of Kilwinning, and the Scottish corporations of operative stone-masons. The soul of the Templar organization found here a fitting body. The combined association took the name of Freemasons. Centuries later, giving opportunity by their secret organizations for the unfolding, in germ, of the new society which has taken the place of the feudal society, the successors of these Freemasons furnished the mystic levers by which England, America, and France were upheaved at the time of the English, American, and French Revolutions; and also the lever by which Germany was upheaved, when it finally rose, en masse, against the despotism of the first Bonaparte.
The autocracy of the kings and priests having been effectually emasculated by the great revolutions, the money power rose gradually in its place, and substituted itself for it as the ruler of the world. The successors of the Templars, finding the Masonic Association to be adapted to the overthrow of established iniquities, rather than to the nipping in the bud of rising dangers which had not yet unfolded their full proportions, organized the “Association of the Just” for Germany, “Young Italy” and the “Carbonari” for Italy, “Young Europe” for France and the rest of the Continent, and a multitude of other like societies, too numerous to mention. These societies were immediately persecuted by the police, and excommunicated by the pope. They were forced to hold their meetings in secret places, were prohibited from making any open missionary efforts, and were thus prevented from getting recruits among the people.
The spirit of the Templars once again found itself to be a disembodied soul, with no material organ through which to manifest itself. Masonry was found to be inadequate; and the new transfigured institution of the future existed not as yet. And then it was, that the period for meditation, as divorced from all action, came. The disembodied soul perfected itself by pure thought. The history of all epochs of the world was studied, the nature and destiny of the existing civilization were determined, the future was prophetically gauged by scientific insight, and solutions were prepared, beforehand, for the problems of the coming age.
Meanwhile, the rise of the money-power had occasioned a correlative and growing uneasiness among the laboring class in the great cities of Europe, to whom the battle of life began to present itself, every day more and more, under the aspect of a disastrous defeat. Trades-organizations for resistance to employers sprang up everywhere; and their members were counted by thousands. Unfortunately, these organizations (except in some parts of England, and in the great cities of France, the American proletariat being then non-existent as yet) were, almost exclusively, composed of men and women who had been cramped, and whose fathers and mothers had been cramped, from generation to generation, by excess of physical toil, and by defective education. The divergency of their sentiments and material interests arrayed them against each other, and gave them over, helpless, into the hands of the money-power. The great mass of the insurgent people was, throughout Europe, a mere body; and this body yearned everywhere, with many groanings, for an adequate soul.
At the last, the disembodied, deep-thoughted, and far-perceiving soul of the Templars, and this tumultuous and soulless—but vigorous and mighty—body of the insurgent people, found each other; and then the world-embracing Working People’s International Association was created in a single day. No man can claim the merit of having made it: it came of itself. No man can destroy it. It may dissolve a hundred times; but, every time it dissolves, it will crystallize anew. Its soul is immortal, and its body can never be annihilated: it is fore-ordained that it shall live under a thousand successive names. Multitudes of labor-organizations which never heard of it, and of which it never heard, are natural, integral parts of it. It is vital in every member, and will live forever, or, at the least, until the wrongs of man upon this earth, which is God’s footstool, are righted. History repeats itself. The identical spirit transmitted to it by regular initiation, and by authentic succession, now works in the entire proletariat of the world, that worked formerly in the insurgent Hebrews, when, with arms in their hands, and marching by fives, they broke forth from the bondage of the Pharaonic civilization. The same egg which hatched out the Hebrew commonwealth, the religion of Islam, and Christianity,—those three daughters of the Bible,—has also, in these latter days, hatched out the transfigured proletariat of the world.
The mere outward, material history of the special, now-existing International Association, giving the epoch of its latest outbirth, the record of its congresses, its declarations of principle, and the like, may be purchased for twenty-five or thirty cents, probably for less, from the corresponding secretary of any regular section of the society.
The following paragraphs are taken from a pamphlet which treats of the Commune of Paris, and may, perhaps, prove interesting to the reader:—
“The French word commune is the equivalent of our English word, ‘town.’ The word communiste may denote, in French, either (1) an advocate of the doctrine that women and property ought to be held in common, or (2) an upholder of the principle of municipal self-government. The Commune of Paris fought, in its recent great fight, not for a community of women and goods, but for municipal self-government. It was well known both at Paris and Versailles, while the fighting was going on, that M. Thiers could have made peace with the insurgents, at any moment, by simply guaranteeing to the city of Paris an amount of municipal liberty equal to that which has always been enjoyed by the city of Boston. This fact, which cannot with any plausibility be denied, and which, probably, will not be denied, suffices, of itself alone, to put the merits of the dispute between the Commune of Paris and the Versailles Government, in its true light, and to fully expose the calumnious misrepresentations of the Versailles party.
“We are of the opinion, that, taking fighting as it rises, the Commune made a passably good fight. We are especially proud of the heroic women with whom the honor of arms has definitively rested.
“We, nevertheless, take the liberty to recommend the Commune to be more circumspect, hereafter, in the matter of summary executions. Better things were expected of the Commune than of the Versailles Government; for the Commune represents advancing civilization, while the Versailles Government represents the commercial, industrial, and financial feudalism of the present and the past. It will never do to follow evil examples, and meet murder with murder. The execution of spies and traitors, and the use of petroleum for incendiary purposes,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> are perfectly justifiable under the law of war; but the civilized world does not look with approval, and ought not to look with approval, upon the military execution of priests and other non-combatants. We know (or, at least, we have been informed) that the Commune offered to exchange the Archbishop of Paris for Blanqui, and that the offer was not accepted. This fact (if it be a fact) consigns the memory of M. Thiers to the execration of posterity; but it does not excuse the Commune.
“The existing French Assembly was elected, not at all to govern France, but to consult on the possibilities of a reconciliation between France and Prussia, and also, if advisable, to conclude and authenticate a treaty of peace. The Assembly has, therefore, no lawful governmental powers. When the treaty of peace between France and Prussia was signed, the mandate of the Assembly expired. The government of M. Thiers is a government of usurpers. Consequently, every disarmed prisoner of war, male or female, shot in cold blood after a combat, or transported to a sickly penal colony, in pursuance of M. Thiers’s policy, whether sentenced or not sentenced by court-martial, is, from a legal point of view, simply a person assassinated. And the moral aspect of the question is coincident with the legal aspect. If the Communists committed excesses (and it seems they were human), they did so in defending themselves, their families, and their homes, against thieves and usurpers. Thiers fought to confiscate the liberties, and control the money, of the people of Paris; and Paris fought in defence of the natural rights of its own people for self-rule.
“Three times the heroic people of Paris have been cheated out of their Republic: once in the great Revolution, afterwards in 1830, and again in 1848. To-day the scales are still oscillating, and the result is yet undetermined. In the next great fight, or in the fight after the next, or in the next after that, the Republic will prevail.
“Now there are three holy cities, not two of them only,—Jerusalem, Rome, Paris. But the Holiness of Paris is virtual merely as yet. The religion of humanity reaches higher than the Commune and the International Labor Union seem to think. Paris is Bar-Isis, Parisis, Paris. It is the sacred boat of Isis, and bears to-day the destinies of the world.”—The Co-operative Publishing Company, Princeton, Mass.
ADDRESS OF THE INTERNATIONALS.
The title of the International Association is sometimes rendered, in English, in translated documents, as follows, “Workingmen’s International Association,” and it is wrongly affirmed, in view of this fact, that the International Association of Working-People aims mainly to secure the welfare of the masculine element among the working-people, leaving the interests of the women at the mercy of the men. Many persons, misled by a simple error of translation, entirely mistake the aim of the association.
It appears to be the dream of many otherwise estimable working-men, that the men ought to be able, now and in the future, to employ women in men’s workshops, paying the women reduced prices, because their labor is female labor, and to sell the products at full prices, thus furthering their own interests at the expense of the interests of the women. While making great outcries against oppressions alleged to be practised by capitalists, these working-men think it right to treat women just as they themselves complain of being treated by capitalists. Some of these working-men, and others like them, and also many persons actuated by philanthropic motives, are now, or at the least have been very recently, agitating strenuously for a ten-hour law, which shall prohibit, among other things, contracts made with full-grown women of lawful age, under which contracts those women may work, at wages, more than ten hours per day. But it is obvious, first, if widows having children to support are put under restrictions to which widowers in like circumstances are not subjected, that there thence follows inequality, and consequently injustice; and, secondly, that a widow may easily find herself in a position, where, by working eleven hours a day, she can make both ends just meet, but where, if she can count on the wages of ten hours only, she and her children will be in distress. It is urged, in answer to these objections, that, since it is the inalienable function of the women to bear children, the duty naturally devolves upon the political authorities to prevent a degeneration of the Massachusetts breed of human beings, and to distinctly prohibit, in view of that object, all overworking of themselves by the Massachusetts women. But this answer is captious, and for the following reason. The proposed law is not general, but is to bear (at the least, according to the printed programme of a year or so ago) on those women only who work for certain firms and corporations, and upon certain specially enumerated articles of raw material, leaving the great majority of Massachusetts women—mistresses of households, domestic servants, women who take in work at their own homes, or go out to work by the day in the homes of other women—without legislative restriction, and free to unfit themselves, by overwork, for bearing proper children. The agitation of the scheme is, however, utterly futile; since if the law should pass both houses of the legislature, and be signed by the governor, it would, sooner or later, be thrown out by the courts as unconstitutional, void, and of no effect; because it proposes violations of the liberties guaranteed to every individual of the people by the Massachusetts Bill of Rights.
If, under color of benevolence and extreme generosity, the men could wipe out the liberties of the women this year, annulling the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution of Massachusetts, they might be able, at some future time, in furtherance of their own selfish interests, to reduce the women to a servile condition.
The International Association has no part or lot in these heresies. The title of the association is this, L’Association Internationale des Travailleurs; and the word travailleurs is falsely rendered, when it is translated working-men, instead of being translated, as it ought to be, “toilers,” without distinction of sex. Working-women are “toilers,” or working-people.
The women of Massachusetts work, it is true, too many hours; but it is not expedient to better their situation by depriving them of their already acquired constitutional liberties, thereby affirming, in effect, that they have no rights which a majority of the adult males are bound to respect. Some other process must be devised.
“The General Statutes” of the International enunciate the first fundamental principle of the association in the words following:—
“The emancipation of the laboring-people ought to be the work of the laboring-people themselves.”
Many working-men prefer the expression, “labor-reform,” to the expression, “the emancipation of the laboring-people.” But the expression, “labor-reform,” is objectionable in some respects, inasmuch as it is vague, and inasmuch as capitalists, and so-called social-science people, with one eye fixed on material progress, and the other intent on the creation of new privileges, devise schemes of labor-reform that are not at all in the interest of the laboring-people. The formula of the International, which simply proposes “the emancipation of the working-people by the working-people themselves,” lends itself to no ambiguity. The International does not expect, but desires, and would welcome, the aid of the non-working classes in the emancipation of the laboring-people. The working-people must, however, take and hold the initiative of the movement; and, in order that the initiative may not pass into the hands of the capitalists and sentimentalists, the society has provided and decreed, by a special rule, that three-fourths of the members of each and every section of the International shall be, to the exclusion of employers,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> practical working-people earning their living with their hands, and working [or waiting for work] at their respective trades. “Who would be free, himself must strike the blow.”
Amelioration of the condition of the working people is not exactly the emancipation of the working-people. The amelioration of the condition of the poorer classes, through the exercise of alms-giving and charity, means a postponement of the emancipation of the working-classes, and a perpetuation of existing privileges. The privileged classes are, without doubt, disposed to alleviate individual cases of suffering; for it is not to be presumed that they have no natural sympathy for the human beings they employ: nevertheless, as a general thing, they are not in favor of the economic emancipation, at the expense of their own privilege, of the entire working-class. The reform called for by the International Association is organic, and naturally incapable of being brought about by mere acts of charity.
Some working-men who are out of all solidarity with the International hold that the emancipation of the working-people should be brought about, not at all by the working-people themselves, but solely by the capitalists, the chiefs of industry, the speculative merchants and financiers, the bank-directors, and other privileged personages of the existing social order, acting as church-members. A clergyman, speaking recently at a labor-meeting, and with the approval of many labor-reformers, maintained that justice to the laborer must be the result, if it is to come at all, of a spread of that supernatural life which was transmitted from the Eternal Father to our Lord Jesus Christ, from our Lord to the apostles, and, through them, to the Christian Church; intimating that no true labor-reform is possible until the capitalists, the great real-estate owners, and the chiefs of industry, who would seem to be more receptive of that life than the common people, are converted to Christ. He said that the privileged classes are superior, in intellectual capacity and in vigor of action, to the laboring-classes, and that the only well-grounded hope for the working-people is in the conversion of privileged sinners, and in the emancipation of the working-people from poverty by those converted sinners. The reverend gentleman failed, however, to explain why it is, although the life of the Father, through the Son, has been leavening the world for 1873 years, that the capitalists and real-estate owners still remain unconverted to the cause of the people. He also failed to encourage the working-people in the hope of any conversion of the more favored classes in the immediate, or any reasonably near, future. He furthermore omitted to quote and explain the passage in which Saint Paul says, “Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea. and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” The reverend gentleman seemed to think it was exactly the other way. The opinion of Saint Paul commends itself as the better one of the two: at all events, it is more in conformity with that of the International. The International holds that many of the things which now are, are condemned, and will be brought to nought, by things which are not as yet, but which ought to be. It has been, and is now, the fixed opinion of some advanced thinkers, that it is, upon the whole, and as a general thing, much easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a member of the privileged classes to enter the kingdom of heaven.
“The General Statutes” state the second fundamental principle of the association in the words following:—
“The efforts of the working-people ought not to tend to the constitution of new privileges, but to the establishment of the same rights and duties for all.”
Many working-men maintain that there should be an immediate radical change in the constitution of the workshop, and that all production should take place, hereafter, under the principle of co-operation. According to them, the workmen of every shop ought to organize themselves into companies owning their own tools; ought to contribute to the common product by their labor; ought to be paid by receiving their fair share of the common product when it is created; and ought to direct and govern the business of the workshop democratically, and by the majority rule. Among the objections to this scheme, the following may be mentioned: The company would have to buy their raw material, and sell their product, in the market; and purchases and sales can seldom be conducted to good advantage by workmen in business meetings, and deciding matters by majority votes. Persons who know the least would talk the most; persons of very little capacity would make the greater number of the motions; and much, if not all, of the time, would be wasted in determining points of order. “Many men, many minds.” The company would probably end by employing a competent merchant to do their buying and selling. This merchant, a man outside the solidarity of the co-operators, would be able to direct his purchases and sales to his own advantage, and would, almost inevitably, usurp a privileged position. Furthermore, since working-men differ in capacity and assiduity, and since combined production requires a central direction, a manager, or foreman, with authority to discriminate in the matter of wages, would be found necessary. This manager would be a privileged person; and the company would be in his power. If they should quarrel with him, he would move into the next street, set up a workshop for himself on the wages principle; and nearly all the best workmen would go with him. He and the merchant would hold the company in their hands. If the co-operative workshop should be under the patronage and charge of the State, the case of the workmen would be still worse; for privileged positions would be created in the company for the purpose of providing places for mere politicians, or for the exercise of nepotism.
The success of the co-operative principle in companies organized for consumption [protective-union stores], and in mutual insurance-companies, is conceded. The success of productive enterprises carried on under the principle of industrial partnership, which is a mixed wages-and-share system, with the important risks falling on the employers, is also conceded.
But the hitherto uniform failures of strictly co-operative companies for production<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> render it necessary that the International Association should patiently wait, before it gives its approval to any scheme of cooperative production, until that scheme shall have been thoroughly thought out, and until a guaranty shall be given that it will not “tend to the constitution of new privileges.”
“The General Statutes” state the third fundamental principle of the Association in the words following:—
“The subjection of the laborer to capital is a source of all political, moral, and material servitude.”
Many labor-reformers affirm that the fact of wages is the special source of the political, moral, and material servitude of the working-men to their employers. These reformers say, “Wages is slavery; and the man who works at wages sells himself and his children for slaves.”
The word “wages” is old, and was current among English-speaking people, with its present meaning, long before the existing wages-system came into being. According to the common popular sense of the word in New England at the present day, a man may say, I wage a dollar, I wage a horse, meaning, I bet a dollar, I bet a horse.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The word “wages” implies an element of risk. If a competent person devise some important undertaking, provide himself with capital, hire working-people at wages, and begin to carry out his plans, the money he advances from day to day, or from week to week, to the working-people, in wages, is money wagered by him; for the undertaking may ultimately fail, and yield no return for the outlay. The workingman wagers his pay for the current day only, or for the current week; but the employer wagers all that he invests in the undertaking. If the undertaking be carried on according to a share-system, and not according to a wage-system, the workman will have to contribute his share of the capital in the beginning, and wait for his pay and his share of the profits, until the work is ended, and the product is transmuted into money; the workman risking the loss, in the case of failure, not only of the capital by him contributed, but also of all the labor he has expended. Perhaps every one is willing to hold shares in privileged joint stock companies, and to receive a percentage, without himself working, of the product of other people’s labor; but for every one person who is willing to work upon a strictly equitable share-system, taking his own risks, and insuring himself, a hundred other persons will probably be found who prefer to work at stipulated wages. Working-men are not, as a general thing, of the opinion, that “the man who works at wages sells himself and his children for slaves.” The phrase, “wages is slavery,” first put forth in the neighborhood of Boston, some twenty-five years ago, by the Brook Farm Fourierists, has met with a temporary but undeserved success.
The wages of labor are determined, under the existing system, by competition in the labor-market; the employers striving, through combinations among themselves, and the exercise of legal and political privileges, to lower the rate of the workman’s remuneration, while the workmen strive, through counter-combinations, and other processes, to raise the rate of their own pay.
Properly-directed and successful labor always leaves a profit; and it is a mistake to suppose, with some of the extreme labor-reformers, that all profit is extortion and robbery. When Robinson Crusoe was alone in his island, he planted seed which he had providentially put away in his pocket; and, from the consequent harvest, he laid aside seed for the next year, and had enough left to supply him with food, and a little more. This little more was clear profit.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Nature worked with Robinson, giving him an increased product, and making no charge for her aid. By saving up, every year, the little more, Robinson placed himself, ultimately, beyond the fear of immediate want; in short, he became a rich man, although he had no money, and no use for money. This wealth was not the fruit of extortion; for he was all alone in his island. The accumulation of profits which made him to be a rich man was due, in part, to his own industry and economy, in part, to the bounty of Nature. None of it was profit on other men’s labor (that is, stealings, or exploitation de l’homme par l’homme); for there was no human being with him from whom he could filch any thing.
When Robinson’s Man Friday joined him, the two worked together, partly on the share-system, and partly on the wage-system. Leaving out of consideration the wage-element, it may be affirmed, that Friday’s fair claim upon the product of the joint labor of the two associates was just this: Friday was entitled to that exact part of the product which bore the same relation to the whole product, that the whole of the productive energy expended by Friday bore to the whole of the productive energy expended by the two men, Robinson and Friday. If we take the wage-element into consideration, the problem becomes much more complicated. Robinson furnished the seed and the tools, and also boarded Friday in the interval between seed-time and harvest. A share-system in which one partner furnishes materials and tools, and insures (whether in whole, or in part) the other partner’s share of the product beforehand, by paying him installments of that share every evening at sundown (whether in money or in kind, or in the shape of having given him, in the course of the day, three square meals), is as much a wage-system as it is a share-system. And, in the wage-system, the employer has a just right to charge something, according to the nature and amount of the risk, for insurance, and also something for his work in initiating and superintending the enterprise.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
“The General Statutes” of the Working-People’s Association make little, if any, reference, either to profits, or to the fact of wages: they declare no vain war against poverty in the abstract; neither do they denounce capital or the capitalists. They simply denounce that “subjection of the workingman to capital” which necessitates the existing wage-system, which creates the sovereignty of the capitalists, which makes an iniquitous division of profits inevitable, which causes the poverty of the working-people, and which brings about the existing political, moral, and material servitude of laborers to their employers.
Capital is innocent enough. What is capital? It is the surplus product of labor laid aside, and used in reproduction. It is wealth invested in trade, in manufactures, or in any business requiring expenditures with a view to profit.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> “The General Statutes” condemn, not capital at all, not the surplus product of labor, not profits saved up and used in reproduction, but “the subjugation of the laborer to capital,” which is something altogether different. Capital is created by the laborer; and the existing subjection of the laborer to capital is the result of an unnatural subjugation of a creator by its own creature. It is the abuse of capital, the unjust privilege of capital, its domination over the laborer, not capital itself, that is in fault.
“The General Statutes” state the fourth fundamental principle of the International Association in the following words:—
“The economic emancipation of the working-people is the great aim and object to which all political movements ought to be subordinated.”
Many labor-reformers say that the working-people, as such, should have nothing whatever to do with politics. They say that the political question should be kept distinct from the social or economic question. They say, that by holding up vivid pictures before the community of the horrors of tenement-houses, and of the sufferings of the innocent poor, also pictures of the vice and immorality that infect great cities, generous men among the capitalists may be moved to do something to ameliorate the condition of the poorer and more numerous classes. They say, in effect, that more is to be expected from the sentimental charity of the privileged classes than can be obtained in the way of strict justice. The International thinks otherwise. Many members of the International are of the opinion, that, if strict justice were once established in the world, the tables would be turned, and that some persons who are now dispensing charity to the poor would be receiving charity at the hands of the working people.
“The subjugation of the working-man to capital” is not an ultimate fact: there are grounds and reasons for that “subjugation.” Those grounds and reasons are to be found in positive and arbitrary legislation, which creates privileges. Protective tariff laws enhance the price of products, and so carry diminished consumption, and consequent privation, into every poor household in the land: they, moreover, strengthen and confirm the control of the labor-market by capital. Arbitrary privileges granted to chartered corporations translate themselves into outrages upon wage-laborers. Restrictions upon the use of a circulating medium based on products—whether those restrictions take the form of swindling banking-laws, or of laws (such as those borne on the Massachusetts Statute-book) prohibiting the circulation of bills-of-exchange, due-bills, checks and drafts, and the like, as currency—deprive the working-man of natural and just rights, and put him at disadvantage. It is not necessary to speak of railroad monopolies, of the giving-away of public lands to speculators, and of a thousand kindred iniquities. All laws creating privileges tend and work to defraud the working-man of his fair wages; and it is by the operation of tyrannical and wicked positive laws, and not, as is sometimes calumniously affirmed, by the improvidence of the laborer, that the working-man has been and is brought into “subjection” to capital. That subjection is, therefore, arbitrary, artificial, and not natural: it is contrary to the normal order of things. It is impossible to organize a privilege in favor of the working-man, as such; for, as soon as a working-man is privileged, he is a member of the favored classes, and must exercise his privilege, if at all, to the detriment of working-people. The International Association, in its Inaugural Address of 1864, defines its position as follows: “Landlords and money-lords will always make use of their political privileges to defend their economic privileges. Instead of helping on the emancipation of labor, they will continue to clog it with all possible obstacles. The achievement of political supremacy has, therefore, become the first duty of the working-class.
The apostle James, treating of a kindred topic, makes use of language which members of the International might, perhaps, refrain from employing; partly on account of its extreme violence, and partly because it fails in discrimination, lumping together all denounced parties as equally criminal. Moreover, “the subjugation of the laborer to capital” results in a withholding from him of his just wages, not by fraud only, as specified by the apostle, but also by actual governmental force. The laborer is robbed as well as cheated. The privilege of capital is guaranteed by the courts, and defended by the whole armed power of the State, military and naval. Saint James says,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” Woe to them that bring about iniquity by law! The prophet Micah says, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds!—when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.” The prophet Habakkuk says, “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and etablisheth a city by iniquity!” The prophet Amos says, “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor to fail from the land, that ye may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes!” The prophet Isaiah says, “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there is no more place, that they may be alone in the midst of the earth!” King Solomon says, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed of their filthiness; a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and how their eyelids are lifted up a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw-teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men. The horse-leech hath two daughters” (land-monopoly and money-monopoly), “crying, Give, give!”
Economic laws creating privileges are usually enacted at the instance of persons intent upon private interest, and for temporary purposes, without foresight of the permanent privileges which those laws create. For example, the banking-laws were passed in the interests of the stockholders and officers of the banks, without any special intention, or even thought, of annoying the working-people in their exchanges of labor for labor. The giving-away of the public lands was, and is, for the purpose of enriching the persons who received them, and are receiving them, not for the purpose of leaving future generations of working-men without homes. The immediate purpose is to cheat and rob the people, not to enslave them. The whole thing is one of shortsighted avarice, rather than of concerted ambition; and the subjection of the laborer comes incidentally only, and “without observation.” The servitude of the working-class is of indirect but efficacious legal origin: the emancipation of the working-class must come, therefore, the nature of the State being what it now is, from political action, resulting, not in the making of new laws,—for very few new laws, perhaps none, are called for,—but in the repeal of all existing laws that breed and hatch out privileges It is for this reason that “the achievement of political supremacy by the working-class has become a duty.”
The members of the International are no office-seekers. They are confident, that, with the abolition of privileges, nine-tenths of the existing political offices, since they are constituted as privileges, and with a view to the protection of privileges, will also be abolished. The abolition of privileges would also abolish the necessity for ninety-nine one-hundredths of the current legislation. Many members of the International maintain that office-holders should no longer be paid, as they are now, fancy salaries, but that they should be paid, like other working-men, simple working-men’s wages. This plan succeeded well in the Commune of Paris, during the siege, and provided a superior class of public functionaries. Better men, and more competent men, taken directly from the working-class, were hired by the Commune, at a dollar and a half per day, than had been hired by the old governments at five times those wages. If special honor is attached to any position, that honor should be counted as a part of the wages; and the pay in money should be proportionably less. If there were no privileges to be protected, the necessities for political government would go on gradually diminishing; and the social autonomy of the people would gradually establish itself outside of the government. “The best government is the government which governs least.” The public treasury ought to be kept at all times nearly empty, so that knaves and adventurers may not be tempted to thrust their fingers into it. The people should be rich, and the government should be very poor. The triumph of the International would throw an effectual wet blanket on the existing lust for public positions, and would cause a return to productive pursuits, and to day’s wages, of many very brilliant, but now worse than useless, members of society. It is difficult to assign a valid reason why clerks and officials in the Custom House and in the City Hall should be better paid than the members of the Brighton Artillery [les vidageurs], or as well paid. The Brighton Artillery works more hours, and at very repulsive tasks. The evil of the existing system is this: not that the working-people work for wages, but that wages are not regulated according to amounts of real labor performed, and that the highest wages are paid to persons who do no real work, or very little work, or work extremely deleterious to the community.
The working-man ought to have the whole of his fair earnings; but he cannot have this whole, if other parties are first paid the triple, or the quadruple, of what they respectively earn: for there would not be enough of the product of labor left to go round. If the working-man is cheated out of one-half his wages by material complications that are understood neither by the privileged classes nor by himself, and the favored classes give him back, in the form of charity, one-half of the half which they have unwittingly filched from him, the privileged classes will enjoy the consciousness of having performed good deeds, and the laboring-man will experience the sentiment of natural gratitude. Thus an unjust system that defrauds the laborer-of one-fourth of his earnings will wrongly receive the sanction of man’s moral nature; and the prestige of privilege will be strengthened. This is said of the times of men’s ignorance. To-day, however, when the light is beginning to shine clearly, and all classes are beginning to see the truth, the project of refusing to pay a man the whole of his just due, and to give him a part of it only, and a part of that part in the form of charity, and with philanthropic pretexts,—is simply the addition of unpardonable insult to already existing material outrage. The force of hypocrisy can go no further in the way of fraudulent pretence.
What is required at the present time is not so much equality before the laws as equal laws: that is to say, laws that do not themselves bring forth and perpetuate inequality; for laws organizing privilege have not, of necessity, a respect for particular persons; since they may have the effect to render it inevitable that a privileged class shall exist, without themselves designating the persons who are to compose that class. The privileged man of the period may say, “I took the world as I found it; and by taking the world as I took it, since we both of us have to deal with the same world, you also may perhaps, if you show the same talent, diligence, and perseverance that I showed, attain to a position similar to the one I hold. There is equality after all; for every one of us faces the same chances.” The college sophomore may say to the freshman, “I kick you in accordance with time-honored custom; but I, also, was kicked, in my time, by my predecessors; and, if you wait patiently, you may, in your turn, kick your successors. There is an equality in the matter; for, ultimately, all kick, and all are kicked.” Would there not be a better equality, and at the same time more justice and more dignity, if no one should kick, and no one should be kicked? Justice—not equal chances in injustice, not the satisfaction of knowing that you may, if you have luck, bite as much as you are bitten, and eat as much as you are eaten—ought to govern the world.
The fifth principle of the International Association is announced under the form of a statement of historical fact, as follows:—
“All efforts for the emancipation of the working-class have failed, heretofore, because there has been no solidarity between workmen of different trades in the same country , and no fraternal action among the working-people from one country to another. The emancipation of the working-people is not a mere local and national problem, but is, on the contrary, a problem which interests all civilized nations equally.”
This statement of fact is directed against the heresies of those working-men who believe that men are necessarily to each other as wolves; who believe that exclusive selfish interest is a proper and legitimate motive of action; who believe that justice is a vain word; who believe that the working-men have a natural right to “cut under” the working-women; the working-people of one trade to “cut under,” if occasion offers, the working-people of another trade; and the working-people of one country to “cut under” the working-people of another country, whether by exporting laborers to countries where laborers are out on strikes against privilege, or by the enacting of unjust laws restricting free commerce.
The International Association is, as its name imports, like the Christian Church, a cosmopolitan, . and not a national, institution. It is for peace, and against war: it favors the disbanding of all standing armies, including the Massachusetts State Police: it goes for the utter abolition of all impost-levying, all passport-visiting frontiers between nation and nation, and for the complete solidarity of the people of each country with the people of every other country. It says with Benjamin Franklin, “Where liberty is, there is my country!” If the German Government and the French Government make war on each other, the German member of the International, and the French member of the International, like the German practical Christian, and the French practical Christian, continue to be brothers. The International Association, like the apostle Paul, knows neither race, nor condition, nor color, nor national distinctions. Saint Paul says, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; and there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is now 1873 years since the sentiment of exclusive patriotism, and of loyalty to existing national or sectional institutions, as such, has been morally out of date. The prophet Ezekiel, foretelling the advent of the typical non-privileged man, says, “Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it; and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is: to him will I give it.”
The authentic doctrine of the International Association is expressed with authority in the words following:—
“Against the collective power of the possessed classes, the dispossessed working-people can no otherwise act effectually as an opposing class than by constituting themselves into a distinct political party, in antagonism to all the old parties formed by the possessed classes; and this constitution of the dispossessed working-people into a political party is indispensably requisite in order to the assuring of a definitive triumph to the Social Revolution in its supreme aim and object,—the abolition of classes.”
The sixth fundamental principle of the International Association is announced by “ The General Statutes” in the following words:—
“The working-people’s International Association recognizes Truth, Justice, Morality, as the proper rule of its own conduct, and that of all its adherents, towards all human beings, without distinction of color, faith, or nationality. The association claims human and civil rights, not only for its own members, but also for all persons who perform their duties. No duties without rights: no rights without duties.”
This declaration condemns the heresy which affirms that the emancipation of the working-classes should be wrought out in accordance with the methods of procedure practised by the existing political and other militant parties. The International countenances no lying in the newspapers, or on the stump; no misrepresentations of the character, actions, or motives, of its enemies; no placing of its opponents in a false position before the people; no bribery or cheating at elections; no corruption of legislative bodies, or of executive officers; no counting of votes not cast, or false counting of votes cast; no making before election, or before appointment to office, of promises not intended to be kept; no false pretences; no insincerity; no rascality; no baseness. The association looks with no complacency upon working-men who do no work, and spend their time in trading upon their own and their comrades’ votes. On the contrary, the association says to the working-people, as Saint Paul said to the early Christians, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> “We should like to know whether the Union Army, acting under orders, did, or did not, ever set fire to any thing in the valley of the Shenandoah, and whether shells loaded with incendiary composition were, or were not, thrown from our ships and batteries into the city of Charleston.”
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The International regards as employers all persons, who, although they themselves work, employ and pay other toilers; also foremen, and other toilers who represent the interest of employers.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Several members of the International to whom this statement has been submitted find fault with it, and say they have known co-operative societies for production that were carried on democratically, and that the societies have created no privileged positions, and have prospered.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The French verb gager signifies, in like manner, either to engage at wages, or to bet.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Fr. profit; It. profitto; L. profectus—pro and facio. Profit is any real and definitive gain or advantage. A man may derive profit from exercise, amusements, reading, meditation, religious instruction, trade, labor, political log-rolling, selling his vote, swindling, highway robbery, fraudulent failures, breach of trust, defrauding working-people of their wages, dishonestly appropriating the just profits of other people, and the like.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The great source of profits is found in the systematic association of labor; for the product of the labor of ten men working in combination, with judicious distribution of tasks, is very much more than ten times the product of the labor of either one of those men working isolatedly. Under the existing wages-system, the employers (except in the case where industrial partnerships are established) put in an unjust claim for the whole of this plus gain as their special pay for superintending the associated labor.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Ice and water are the same, and yet different. Wealth not employed in reproductive uses is not capital, although it may become capital, just as ice may become water Wealth is capital in a state of dormant possibility. The natural and necessary correlative of capital is labor. We say, instinctively, wealth and poverty, capital and labor; not wealth and labor, capital and poverty. Wealth embodies itself in a multitude of forms, as in sumptuous houses, magnificent furniture, useless articles of luxury, ten-thousand-dollar horses, capital wages, and the like. Wealth set aside, not for reproductive purposes, but to be wantonly squandered in fast living, is not capital, for the simple reason that it is not employed as capital: in like manner, wealth hoarded up in a miserly way, without being invested in any business, is not capital. The following sentence is perfectly intelligible: “John’s capital actually invested in his business is only ten thousand dollars; but he is really good for ten times as much money.”
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> It is contrary to the principles of the International to enter upon the discussion of questions of sectarian religion No such discussion is intended in this place. Texts of Scripture were quoted, in the hearing of members of the International, at a labor-reform meeting. as bearing upon the principles maintained by the Association. Other texts are here added to those that were then quoted. That is all.