Monday, October 18, 2010


Practically all of the reform legislation on the statute books of the capitalist world has been placed there by capitalist parties. The capitalists have never been noted for their generosity towards the workers, but they are practical gentlemen and they have long known that the smooth and economical operation of their system requires periodic additions to the mountains of reforms. Reforms to them are like a vile tasting tonic that must be taken from time to time for the protection of their health and well-being. Workers who live under poor sanitary conditions are ready victims of ailments which often develop into communicable diseases; and diseases do not respect the superior and necessary persons of capitalists. Moreover, workers afflicted by ailments spend time at home that could better be spent in the factory turning out surplus values for the factory owner. They must be protected against these conditions. They must also be protected against malnutrition, accidents, etc., in order that their efficiency as cogs in the wealth producing machine may not be impaired. They must even be provided for when they are unemployed, for the repressive measures of bygone days are no longer sufficient to deal with the vastly increased number of workers thrown periodically into the scrapheap by modern industry. It is now more economical to provide them with necessities than to maintain a coercive force great enough to prevent them from helping themselves. Besides, as in times of war or other periods of trade expansion, their services may be required again.

Hence the measures dealing with sanitation and housing, sickness and accidents, health and unemployment! Hence the reforms piled upon reforms, reaching to the heavens! Hence the gradual conversion of the workers into destitute wards of the state!

There is a further reason for the acceptance of reform measures by the parties of the capitalist class. The workers form the immense majority of the members of society. They are the ones who suffer most from the evils of capitalism. They are only too conscious of the existence, if not the cause, of these evils, and they are ever ready to lend their support to whoever will promise redress. No party can govern without the consent of the workers. The capitalists, in consequence, must be ever ready with the required promises, if they are to protect their exclusive right to govern. Reforms that are not desirable to them can frequently be sidetracked afterwards, together with flattering appeals to the workers for loyalty, understanding and co-operation. Where they cannot be sidetracked, these reforms can always be watered down and presented with fanfares and glowing self-praise. It is an easy game to play, and while it does not give the workers very much, neither does it cost the capitalists very much, and it frequently assures for them a period of contentedness on the part of their slaves.

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