“…man seems to be in a worse state even than the brutes…”
— Samuel von Pufendorf, “On the Duty of Man and Citizen,” Book 1, Chapter 3
For so long,Appeal to American Workers Articles writers of all ages have made their appeals to kings, to queens, to archbishops, saints and popes. When trying to advance their own interests, men of letters would correspond with dukes and rulers of provinces. By contacting those in power, they were confident that their ideals would be expressed to the people in the most succinct and powerful way. Yet, it has been the trend of Anarchists, regardless of era, to make their appeal not to the rulers, but to the ruled — not to the presidents or the prime ministers to beg for their mercy, but to the workers of the world’s nations, and command them to action. Since we are advocates of a certain sense of justice, since we are the prophets of social doom and resurrection, we believe that the cause of the condition of the world is the ruling class and its minions, their state-sanctioned slavery of Capitalism. And, furthermore, we believe that to plead for mercy from those who casually mock the things that stir us, to plead for mercy would be to offer a begging hand to our executioner. For these reasons and more, Anarchists and Freethinkers make their appeals not to kings or queens, not to “sovereign entities” and their mechanized armies, but to the people themselves, that they might liberate themselves and others. It is in such an attitude that I present this piece… An Appeal to the American Workers.
First, when I am speaking to my fellow brethren, my comrade citizens in the United States of America, I want to say this. At first sight of the Communist and Socialist manifestos, their ideologies, the speeches made by their affiliated parties, when I heard these things for the first time, I was in complete disagreement. The language used by these demagogues of Communism was burdened by economic vocabulary. In some works that would be classified as liberal, I’ve seen the word “aggregate” used five times in a single sentence. Through these bizarre concepts, these overly technical definitions of a so-called sociological science, these “decline in the wage conditions of proletariat” and “bourgeoise distribution of wealth,” through all of these is where we hear the call for Communism. I first want to tell my readership that I am familiar with these speeches, these pamphlets, these books, and I am familiar with the awkward and almost inhuman way that they have dealt with the economic question. I have seen men of Socialism do nothing but reprint manifestos and sloganeer, as though their drone-like actions were about to bring about the greatest state of peace, justice, and equity for mankind ever known.
While these socio-economic appeals of Communist and Socialist parties are made to the public, they are often ignored; in a way, they are regarded solely as “preaching to the choir.” They use words and phrases that the people are generally unfamiliar with. Their politics are relatively dreary; whenever a new party pops up, its statement of faith seems to be followed a pattern completely uniform with the last party. This is not an attack on those who are unfamiliar with the phrases and vocabulary of Communist theory. Rather, it is an attack on those who are ridiculously stuck with such phrases. To other Communist and Socialist comrades, those who feel that society would be greatly benefited through collective property, I ask this: that these awkward and almost erroneous phrases are abandoned now. Not because they are no longer understood by the common people, but because they were never understood by the common people. People must not be intellectuals that they might be revolutionaries.
With that said, I want to say that I wholly and truly believe in the philosophy of Communism. I am an advocate of the words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in matters of economics and sociology. In many ways, I divert from the philosophy that they preached. I am also a follower of the words of Mikhail Bakunin, Emma Goldman, and Alexander Berkman — the late, forgotten Anarchists of yesteryear, whom openly opposed the arguments of Marxian economics. Again, I diverge from their arguments in many ways. I am a follower of the words of Thomas Paine, when speaks of doing justice as man’s only duty; I am a follower of the words of Carl Sagan, when his words oppose the claims of religious fanatics; I am a follower of the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau when his words are of the corruptability and weakness of a Republican government — I am the humble follower of Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But, in so many cases, I find myself in disagreement. Perhaps it would help my Communist brethren to practice a higher degree of skepticism when reading the works of Marxian economists and other political philosophers.
A Revolution — But Against What?
If we are to take an objective and honest look at the situation in the United States today, we will find ourselves looking face to face with some very grim and ugly facts. Many people are losing their jobs to outsourcing. Corporate scandals are becoming a daily occurence. People have lost complete faith in this system that seems to perpetuate unemployment, poverty, and misery. This is not solely my view, but it is the view of the people. More than half of the country does not vote. There can be only one reason for this: people feel that both political parties and their candidates are incapable of redressing the ailments of this dying nation. Underneath the sloganeering of “rugged individualist” philosophers, underneath phrases like “quarterly corporate gains” and “official company accounting procedures,” underneath other phrases that serve to aleniate us from the subject, underneath it all, we become more and more dissatisfied with this country. We are a modern country living in a modern world! Yet, when we open our eyes, we still find so much poverty, so much misery, so much homelessness. We find ourselves face to face with an economic system that nobody has tried to improve upon — an economic system that is essentially the root of these social ills. In so many years, with such great strides in all studies, we feel that men have inherently left one field untouched, that is, the field that deals with how to create a social and economic infrastructure, so as to remove these undesirable elements. We are not moved by self-interest or snobby intellectualism; we are moved by the interest of all of mankind — it is our interest to eliminate the suffering of the innocent.
In a 1997 study by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, for every dollar an employee earned, he made almost six dollars for his employer. [U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census, Comparative Statistics, Core Business Stastitics Series, EC97X-C52, issued June 2000.] One dollar of that six earned income goes towards the other expenses, such as replenishing the shelves and electricity. [Business Expenses, 1997 Economic Census, Company Statistic Series, 1997, Issued December 2000, EC97CS-8, US CENSUS BUREAU, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU.] That means, for every two dollars a Capitalist spends, he is given seven dollars back. The investor makes money because he has money, and for no other reason. He is maintained at a situation in life where more money will do him not much better. And while he is surrounded in elegance, lavishness, and wealth, there are millions of children starving to death in our nation. In 1980, the top 1% of the United States owned more than 25% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 20% do not even own 1% of all the wealth. [U.S. Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. Quoted from Contemporary Macroeconomics, by Milton H. Spencer, Worth Publishers, Inc., Fourth Edition, page 45.] If these facts alone are not enough to disturb anyone of good conscience, then I do not think anything is capable of disturbing them.
I could continue to parade statistics around. I could delve deeper and deeper in to the archives of economic thinktanks, pulling out numbers and equations used to determine the unemployment rate’s fluctuation in response to the rate of interest of banks. I could pull up a historical timeline, showing the general decrease of wages in contrast to the general increase of profits. There are at least a million articles that discuss the economic question that I have yet to read; each of them from authors of their own particular background, whether Free-Market Capitalists or Marxian Communists. All of these writers have contributed what discoveries they’ve made to the intellectual community. They offer their words in defense of the trends or patterns they discover in economic behavior. Some of them are motivated by political causes, whether it’s the establishment of Statist Communism or the abolishment of Communist political parties in third world nations. Many of them are motivated by their desire for prestige, to be recognized by the community as men and women of thought — they figure, that if they can make their words more boring, dull, and formulaic than other authors, they will be recognized as men and women of genius by some university community. Some authors have no interest, except to explore the sociological field, and find out what it is that really moves the economy, to discover what gears and what cogs in society effect what other gears. Yes, I could pull out plenty of statistics and many arguments that these economists have utilized in demonstrating their opinions. But, in this appeal to American workers, I must say what I think: I believe that the average man and woman have enough sense and enough experience to make the decision that the status quo is unsatisfactory.
Consider a radical reorganization of the social structure. For this reorganization to have any merit to it, we must start with the problems we observe. So, then, let’s consider the most obvious problems. There are men and women whose job it is to hold signs on street corners, many times dressed in costumes, trying to entice people to purchase goods and services. They make very little money, but there are men and women in corporate firms whose task is essentially the same. Marketing and Sales executives are making six-digit salaries by devising new and different methods for convincing the public to want their goods. Their job basically is to convince people that they want and need things that their own wit and intellect wouldn’t ever tell them to purchase. On top of these executives, there are the people of the media, the makers of commercials, billboards, radio advertisements, newspaper advertisements, graphic design for corporate logos; some people spend years doing market analysis, so that they can uncover trends in the consumer choices of citizens and workers. At the top, there are executives and corporate officials, making millions of dollars a year, and at their disposal is an army of Walmart greeters, sales associates, clerks, manager assistants, and other professionals — all of them solely exist to entice people to buy things that they otherwise wouldn’t have wanted in the first place. From this point, we find that the purpose of their existence is to subvert, control, and manipulate the general will of the people. Their meaning to life is inimical to that of a free conscience.