Recently, I stumbled upon a 1932 book by William Z. Foster: Toward Soviet America. Foster (1881-1961) was a highly influential leader of the He ran for President on the CPUSA ticket in 1924, 1928 and 1932. (CPUSA) as well as a prolific author.
In Toward Soviet America, Foster’s starry-eyed faith in the rise of the USSR is ludicrous. Crime? All but gone! Alcoholism? Eradicated!
Even when the book was published, 15 years after the Russian Revolution, famine was plaguing the “masses.” In the decades that followed, millions and millions of people were murdered by the Soviet regime.
His analysis of how communism would replace capitalism in USA is timely, given that an alarming number of Americans find the blather of a Bernie Sanders appealing.
We live in perilous times when people crave a dystopian future like the one outlined by Foster. But here we are.
William Z Foster was born a century too soon, perhaps. If he hit the scene today, he could get rich on the campus lecture circuit. And his wish to become President of the United States just might come true. He would feel right at home here now, when the Boy Scouts, the American Legion, the Elks Club, private property and religion are viewed as "evil" by so many.
Examine the “program” of the CPUSA in 2018 and you will find a statement that repeats, ad naueum, many of the same points hammered by Foster in Toward Soviet America.
1932 was not the finest moment for capitalism in the United States. So, I will concede that Foster was able to turn a Herbert Hoover quote to his benefit in the first pages of Toward Soviet America.
“We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.”—President Hoover, Aug. 11, 1928.
LET us turn away from the decaying, declining capitalist system, with its mounting mass misery, exploitation, war and Fascist terrorism, and look at the new rising system of Socialism in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. No longer is Socialism, which is the first stage of Communism, only a theory; no longer is it simply the aspiration of an oppressed working class. Now it is a living, growing reality. Operating simultaneously in the world with capitalism, it is showing in the everyday demonstration of life its immense superiority in every field over the obsolete capitalist system. The very existence of the Soviet Union has a profoundly revolutionizing effect upon the working class. It is the growing hope and strong leader of a working world preparing to strike off the shackles of the murderous capitalist system….
As Louis Fischer says: “The Soviet frontier is like a charmed circle which the world economic crisis cannot cross. While banks crash, while production falls and trade languishes abroad, the Soviet Union continues in an orgy of construction and national development. The scale and speed of its progress are unprecedented.”…
The revolution in Russian agriculture is of profound economic, political and social significance. The farmers are being proletarianized and revolutionized. The collectivized farms lay a solid Socialist basis in the country. The remnants of competitive, individualist farming are being liquidated, and the rich kulaks with them. The farms are being mechanized and industrialized, the unity of city and country established. ...
The Russian workers and peasants, it is true, are still poor. This poverty is their heritage from Czarism and capitalism….
Capitalist science is planless and anarchic, the hit-or-miss task of whoever may be. But Socialism organizes science. In the Soviet Union scientific work is being done on a planned basis, with full government support. There is a special Scientific Research Sector of the Supreme Economic Council. Bukharin says: “The plan of Socialist construction is not only a plan of economy; the process of the rationalization of life, beginning with the suppression of irrationality in the economic sphere, wins away from it one position after another; the principle of planning invades the realm of mental production, the sphere of science, the sphere of theory.”
Cultural Revolution in the USSR
In the U.S.S.R., as part of the general cultural revolution, religion is being liquidated. Religion, which Marx called, “the opium of the people,” has been a basic part of every system of exploitation that has afflicted humanity—chattel slavery, feudalism, capitalism. It has sanctified every war and every tyrant, no matter how murderous and reactionary. Its glib phrases about morality, brotherly love and immortality are the covers behind which the most terrible deeds in history have been done. Religion is the sworn enemy of liberty, education, science.
Such a monstrous system of dupery and exploitation is totally foreign to a Socialist society; firstly, because there is no exploited class to be demoralized by religion; secondly, because its childish tissue of superstition is impossible in a society founded upon Marxian materialism; and thirdly, because its slavish moral system is out of place, the new Communist moral code developing naturally upon the basis of the new modes of production and exchange.
Religion is now in deep crisis throughout the capitalist world. The quarrels between “modernists” and “fundamentalists” in American churches are one form of this crisis. Religion, born in a primitive world, finds it extremely difficult to survive in a world of industry and great cities. When capitalism was young and strong its great scientists, the Darwins, Spencers and Huxleys, were Atheists; but capitalism, grown decrepit and in crisis, tries to preserve religion in order to check the rebellion of the workers. This is why Einstein (“cosmic religion”), Millikan, Eddington, and other bourgeois scientists now are trying so diligently to “harmonize science and religion.” In the U.S.S.R., as it must be in any Socialist country, religion dies out in the midst of the growing culture. As the factories and schools open the churches close. But stories of religious persecution in the U.S.S.R. are utterly false, being part of the anti- Soviet campaign. Freedom of worship exists unrestricted for all those who desire to practice. Religious liberty is guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution, which declares:
“In order to guarantee to all workers real freedom of conscience, the church is separated from the State and the school from the church, and freedom of religious and anti-religious propaganda is bestowed on all citizens.”
In the realms of art, literature, music, etc., the cultural revolution also proceeds at a rapid pace. New standards, freed from the stultifying profit- motive, conventionalism and general reactionary spirit of capitalism, are being developed in all these spheres. In this great field, as in all others, the Russian revolution is carrying humanity on to new and higher stages. The capitalist world as yet has not even an inkling of the profound changes involved in the cultural revolution in the U.S.S.R….
THE FINAL aim of the Communist International is to overthrow world capitalism and replace it by world Communism, “the basis for which has been laid by the whole course of historical development.” On this the Program of the Communist International says:
“Communist society will abolish the class division of society, i.e., simultaneously with the anarchy in production, it will abolish all forces of exploitation and oppression of man by man. Society will no longer consist of antagonistic classes in conflict with each other, but will represent a united commonwealth of labor. For the first time in its history mankind will take its fate into its own hands. Instead of destroying innumerable human lives and incalculable wealth in struggles between classes and nations, mankind will devote all its energies to the struggle against the forces of nature, to the development and strengthening of its own collective might.”
The future Communist society will be Stateless. With private property in industry and land abolished (but, of course, not in articles of personal use), with exploitation of the toilers ended, and with the capitalist class finally defeated and all classes liquidated, there will then be no further need for the State, which in its essence, is an organ of class repression. The revolutionary State of the period of transition from capitalism to Communism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, will, in the words of Engels, “wither away” and be replaced by a scientific technical “administration of things.” The present planning boards in the Soviet Union are forerunners of such a Stateless society. …
The choicest “flowers” of American capitalism are such multi-billionaires as the House of Morgan, which controls corporations worth $74,000,000,000, including innumerable railroads, banks, insurance companies, auto plants, steel mills, etc.; the Rockefellers with their billions in oil, chemicals, railroads, banks, etc.; the Mellon family, whose wealth control is estimated by W. P. Beazell, in the current World’s Work, at eight billion dollars; the great Ford fortune, etc. “In 1929, 504 millionaires had incomes of $1,185,100,000, or more than the selling price of all American wheat and cotton in 1930.”
It is among the great masses of the 87% who own only 10% of the national wealth that the revolution will find a sufficiency of forces to overthrow capitalism ….
THE COMMUNIST PARTY is the only Party that represents the interests of these toiling masses of workers, farmers, Negroes, lower city petty bourgeoisie. It alone fights for their welfare now and provides the means for their ultimate prosperity and freedom. The other parties and groups—Republican, Democratic, Progressive and Socialist—are the enemies of these classes and the tools of the big capitalists.
The Republican party is the party of finance capital, of the great bankers and industrialists of Wall Street, of which the Morgan interests stand at the head. The Hoover government is the instrument of these owners and rulers of America. It uses all its power to oppress the producing masses for the benefit of the capitalist exploiters. The present situation, with its economic collapse and hunger and misery for the broad masses, is the logical result of this capitalist policy. From the Republican party no relief, but only a worsening of existing conditions may be expected.
The Democratic party is no less the party of the big capitalists. Raskob, the dictator of the Democratic party, is notoriously the representative of the Morgan-General Motors-Dupont interests. The corrupt and reactionary Tammany Hall of New York City is indistinguishable politically from the rotten Republican Vare machine in Philadelphia. The Democratic party is directly responsible for the unspeakable regime of lynching, Jim-Crowism and discrimination against the Negro masses in the South, although in this it has the full support of the Republican Federal Administration. Wherever the Democratic party is found in power its practical policies are identical with those of the Republicans and they sum up into a defense of the interests of the capitalists at the expense of the producing masses….
Progressivism is a grave danger to the working class. This is because of the widespread existence of petty bourgeois illusions among the workers. The LaFollettes, Borahs, La Guardias, Norrises, Pinchots, Murphys, etc., are disorganizers and demoralizers of the workers and poor farmers. The Progressive bloc is just another lightning rod to shield the capitalist profit edifice.
The Socialist party is the third party of capitalism. This is amply demonstrated by its history in the United States and all other countries. The Socialist party has nothing constructive to offer the workers in their daily struggles now or for their ultimate emancipation. The fact that this party hides its capitalist face behind a pretense of radicalism makes it more, not less dangerous….
Communist action is based upon the slogan of “Class Against Class”; that is, the working class against the capitalist class. This slogan expresses the elementary fighting policy of the revolutionary movement. In applying it, the Communist party actively promotes the mass organization of the workers, regardless of political opinion, into trade unions, unemployed councils, organizations to defend the rights of Negroes, ex-servicemen’s leagues, labor defense and strike relief bodies, leagues of poor farmers, proletarian sports organizations, labor fraternal insurance societies, organizations to defend the foreign born, societies of working class culture, etc., etc….
THE UNITED STATES OF SOVIET AMERICA
From capitalism to Communism, through the intermediary stage of Socialism; that is the way American society, like society in general, is headed. It represents the main line of march of the human race to the next higher social stage in its historical advance. It is the trend to which all the economic, political and social forces of today are contributing. The American revolution, when the workers have finally seized power, will develop even more swiftly in all its phases than has the Russian revolution. This is because in the United States objective conditions are more ripe for revolution than they were in old Russia. In his work, Imperialism, Lenin states:
“Capitalism, in its imperialist phase, arrives at the threshold of the complete socialization of production. To some extent it causes the capitalists, whether they like it or no, to enter a new social order, which marks the transition from free competition to the socialization of production. Production becomes social, but appropriation remains private. The social means of production remain the private property of a few.”…
The American Soviet Government
WHEN the American working class actively enters the revolutionary path of abolishing capitalism it will orientate upon the building of Soviets, not upon the adaptation of the existing capitalist government. Capitalist governments have nothing in common with proletarian governments. They are especially constructed throughout to maintain the rulership of the bourgeoisie. In the revolutionary struggle they are smashed and Soviet governments established, built according to the requirements of the toiling masses.
The building of Soviets is begun not after the revolution but before. When the eventual revolutionary crisis becomes acute the workers begin the establishment of Soviets. The Soviets are not only the foundation of the future Workers’ State, but also the main instruments to mobilize the masses for revolutionary struggle. The decisions of the Soviets are enforced by the armed Red Guard of the workers and peasants and by the direct seizure of the industry through factory committees. A revolutionary American working class will follow this general course, which is the way of proletarian revolution.
The American Soviet government will be organized along the broad lines of the Russian Soviets. Local Soviets, the base of the whole Soviet State, will be established in all cities, towns and villages. Local Soviets combine in themselves the legislative, executive and judicial functions. Representation, based on occupation instead of residence and property, comes directly from the shops, mines, farms, schools, workers’ organizations, army, navy, etc. The principle of recall of representatives applies throughout. Citizenship is restricted to those who do useful work, capitalists, landlords, clericals and other non-producers being disfranchised….
In order to defeat the class enemies of the revolution, the counter-revolutionary intrigues within the United States and the attacks of foreign capitalist countries from without, the proletarian dictatorship must be supported by the organized armed might of the workers, soldiers, local militia, etc. In the early stages of the revolution, even before the seizure of power, the workers will organize the Red Guard. Later on this loosely constructed body becomes developed into a firmly-knit, well-disciplined Red Army.
The leader of the revolution in all its stages is the Communist party. With its main base among the industrial workers, the Party makes a bloc with the revolutionary farmers and impoverished city petty bourgeoisie, drawing under its general leadership such revolutionary groups and organizations as these classes may have. Under the dictatorship all the capitalist parties—Republican, Democratic, Progressive, Socialist, etc.—will be liquidated, the Communist party functioning alone as the Party of the toiling masses. Likewise, will be dissolved all other organizations that are political props of the bourgeois rule, including chambers of commerce, employers’ associations, rotary clubs, American Legion, Y.M.C.A., and such fraternal orders as the Masons, Odd Fellows, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc….
In industry, transport and communication this will mean the immediate taking over by the State of all large factories, mines and power plants, together with all municipal and State industries; the whole transport services of railroads, waterways, airways, electric car lines, bus lines, etc.; the entire communication organization, including telegraphs, telephones, post office, radio, etc.
In agriculture it will involve the early confiscation of the large landed estates in town and country, including church property, together with their buildings, factories, live stock, etc., and also the whole body of forests, mineral deposits, lakes, rivers, etc. In finance it will mean the nationalization of the banking system and its concentration around a central State bank; the taking over of the department stores, chain stores, and other large wholesale and retail trading organizations; the setting up of a State monopoly of foreign trade; the cancellation of all government debts, reparations, war loans, etc., to the big foreign and home capitalists….
The socialization of the key sections of industry, commerce, agriculture and finance will lay a solid economic foundation for the building of Socialism. Doubtless, private property will survive in small farms, in petty industry and in trade. But this will be only temporary. With the consolidation and growth of Socialism and the general spread of well-being all the land will eventually and without serious difficulty be nationalized, and all industry will be concentrated into the Socialist Soviet economy….
The Soviet government will initiate at once a vast housing program. All houses and other buildings will be socialized. The great hotels, apartments, city palaces, country homes, country clubs, etc., of the rich will be taken over and utilized by the workers for dwellings, rest homes, children’s clubs, sanatoria, etc. The best of the skyscrapers, emptied of their thousand and one brands of parasites, will be used to house the new government institutions, the trade unions, cooperatives, Communist party, etc….
The above measures of improvement for the workers and farmers will represent only a bare beginning. Already the material conditions are at hand in the United States for an enormous increase in the well-being of the masses. The barriers to this advancement are the incredible robberies, wastes and the general idiocies of the capitalist system. The revolution will clear away this mass of exploitation, inefficiency and reaction, and will open the road for such an industrial development and general rise in material and cultural standards of the masses as now seems only the stuff of dreams….
The Collectivization of Agriculture
The central policy of the American Soviet government in agriculture will be to reorganize the farming system primarily upon the basis of State farms. The position of American agricultural technique and the experience in the U.S.S.R. will justify such a policy. The great ranches of the Far West, the big corporation farms of the Middle West, the huge private estates of the millionaires in the East—all confiscated by the new government—will provide immediate bases for many such great State farms. These will be vast model farms, equipped with the most modern machinery and technique. They will raise the level of agriculture production generally to a new and higher stage. But, doubtless, the artel type of collective farm will also be widely organized. It will be the policy of the government to stimulate the collectivization movement, furnishing the poor farmers with the necessary implements, etc. The artel form of farm will provide a convenient bridge, leading away from individualist, competitive farming and towards the State farm….
The Emancipation of Woman
WHEN woman emerged historically from feudalism she was burdened with a whole series of customs, prejudices and restrictions enslaving her in her work, her personal life and her political status. Characteristically capitalism, which respects nothing in its greed for profits, quickly seized upon all these handicaps of woman and used them to doubly exploit her. This is true of the United States as well as other capitalist countries. The so-called freedom of the American woman is a myth. Either she is a gilded butterfly bourgeois parasite or she is an oppressed slave.
The life of the working class woman and poor farmer’s wife is one of drudgery and exploitation. Capitalism sees in her mainly a breeder of wage slaves and soldiers. The boasted American home, enslaving the woman through her economic inferiority and her children, makes her dependent upon her husband. On all sides she confronts medieval sex taboos, assiduously cultivated by the church, State and bourgeois moralists. When she goes into industry she has to toil for from a third to a half less than the male worker; she works at a killing pace under unhealthful conditions and she is barred from many occupations under the hypocritical and reactionary slogan, “The woman’s place is in the home”; the A.F. of L. betrays her every attempt to organize and to defend her interests. Politically, she is practically a zero, having little or no opportunity to educate herself or to function in an organized manner. Finally, to cap the climax of woman’s enslavement, capitalism maintains in full blast the “oldest profession,” prostitution.
The proletarian revolution will profoundly change all this. The American Soviet government will immediately set about liquidating the elaborate network of slavery in which woman is enmeshed. She will be freed economically, politically and socially. The U.S.S.R. shows the general lines along which the emancipation of woman will also proceed in a Soviet America.
The Russian woman is free economically, and this is the foundation of all her freedom. Every field of activity is open to her. She is to be found even in such occupations as locomotive engineer, electrical crane operator, machinist, factory director, etc. There are women generals in the Red Army, women ambassadors, etc. Two-thirds of the medical students are women. In industry the women are thoroughly organized in the trade unions. They get the same pay as men, and are protected by an elaborate system of maternity and other social insurance. In politics the women of the Soviet Union are a major and militant factor.
The Russian woman is also free in her sex life. When married life becomes unwelcome for a couple they are not barbarously compelled to live together. Divorce is to be had for the asking by one or both parties. The woman’s children are recognized as legitimate by the State and society, whether born in official wedlock or not. The free American woman, like her Russian sister, will eventually scorn the whole fabric of bourgeois sex hypocrisy and prudery.
In freeing the woman, Socialism liquidates the drudgery of housework. So important do Communists consider this question that the Communist International deals with it in its world program. In the Soviet Union the attack upon housework slavery is delivered from every possible angle. Great factory kitchens are being set up to prepare hot, well-balanced meals for home consumption by the millions; communal kitchens in apartment houses are organized widespread. Every device to simplify and reduce housework is spread among the masses with all possible dispatch.
To free the woman from the enslavement of the perpetual care of her children is also a major object of Socialism. To this end in the Soviet Union there is being developed the most elaborate system of kindergartens and playgrounds in the world—in the cities and villages, in the neighborhoods and around the factories. Of this development, Anna Razamova says:
“All these institutions for child welfare mean a great deal in the life of the working woman. They free her from the necessity of spending all her time at home, cleaning, cooking and mending. While she is at work she can be sure that her child is being well taken care of, and that it is supervized by trained nurses and teachers, and gets wholesome food at regular hours.”
The free Russian woman is the trail blazer for the toiling women of the world. She is beating out a path which, ere long, her American sister will begin to follow.
The Cultural Revolution in the United States
PRESENT-DAY culture in this country is an instrument by which the capitalist class consolidates its dominant position. The prevailing systems of education, morality, ethics, science, art, patriotism, religion, etc., are as definitely parts of capitalist exploitation as the stock exchange. The schools, churches, newspapers, motion pictures, radio, theatres and various other avenues of publicity and mass instruction are the organized propaganda machinery of the ruling class.
The chief aims of bourgeois culture, so far as it is directed towards the working class, are to develop the workers into, (1) slave-like robots who will accept uncomplainingly whatever standards of life and work the owners of industry see fit to grant them; (2) unthinking soldiers who will enthusiastically get themselves killed off in defense of their masters’ rulership; (3) superstitious dolts who will satisfy themselves with a promise of paradise after death as a substitute for a decent life here on earth.
To these ends the workers are regimented in the schools, poisoned by the militaristic Boy Scouts and C.M.T.C., enmeshed in fascist-like sport organizations, herded into the strike-breaking Y.M.C.A., stuffed with endless rot in the newspapers and movies, jammed into religious training before they are able to think for themselves, etc. As for real education, about all the workers get of it in school is the minimum of the three R’s required to enable them to perform the tasks allotted them in industry.
So far as this culture is directed to the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, it results in a mass production of capitalist intellectual robots. The schools and colleges, firmly in the grip of finance capital, as Upton Sinclair so completely showed in his book, The Goose Step, are great manufactories of Babbitts. In no country is culture so debased by capitalism as in the United States. Essentially a gigantic effort to perpetuate the robbery of the workers, it is sterile, hypocritical, colorless, lifeless. America’s capitalistic writers are engaged in trying to convince the working class what a glorious thing it is to be a wage slave; her artists and poets are busy glorifying Heinz’s pickles and the advertising pages of The Saturday Evening Post; her dramatists and musicians are cooking up patriotic slush and idiotic sex stories to divert the masses from their troubles and the hopeless boredom of capitalist life; her scientists are trying to prove the unity of science and religion, etc., etc.
The proletarian revolution in the United States will at once make a devastating slash into this maze of hypocrisy and intellectual rubbish. Not less than in the Soviet Union, it will usher in a profound cultural revolution. For the first time in history the toiling masses will have the opportunity to know and enjoy the good things of life. With prosperity assured for all, with no slave class to stultify intellectually and with no system of exploitation to defend, Communist culture will have a mass base and will flourish luxuriantly and free. It will call forth the artistic and intellectual powers of the masses, always hitherto repressed by chattel slavery, feudalism and capitalism. Superstition, and ignorance will vanish in a realm of science; “Culture will become the acquirement of all and the class ideologies of the past will give place to scientific materialist philosophy.”
Among the elementary measures the American Soviet government will adopt to further the cultural revolution are the following; the schools, colleges and universities will be coordinated and grouped under the National Department of Education and its state and local branches. The studies will be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism and the general ethics of the new Socialist society. Present obsolete methods of teaching will be superseded by a scientific pedagogy.
The churches will remain free to continue their services, but their special tax and other privileges will be liquidated. Their buildings will revert to the State. Religious schools will be abolished and organized religious training for minors prohibited. Freedom will be established for anti-religious propaganda.
The whole basis and organization of capitalist science will be revolutionized. Science will become materialistic, hence truly scientific; God will be banished from the laboratories as well as from the schools. Science will be thoroughly organized and will work according to plan; instead of the present individualistic hit-or-miss scientific dabbling, there will be a great organization of science, backed by the full power of the government. This organization will make concerted attacks upon the central problems, concrete and abstract, that confront science.
The press, the motion picture, the radio, the theatre, will be taken over by the government. They will be cleansed of their present trash of sex, crime, sensationalism and general babbitry, and developed into institutions of real education and art; into purveyors of the interesting, dramatic, and amusing in life. The press will, through workers’ correspondents on the Russian lines, become the actual voice of the people, not simply the forum of professional writers.
The American Soviet government will, of course, give the greatest possible stimulus to art in every form, seeking to cultivate the latent powers of the masses. Painting, sculpture, literature, music—every form of artistic expression—will flourish as never before. The great art treasures of the rich will be confiscated and assembled in museums for the enjoyment and instruction of the toiling masses. Cultural societies of all kinds will be developed energetically.
One of the basic concerns of the workers’ government will be, naturally, the conservation of the health of the masses. To this end a national Department of Health will be set up, with the necessary local and State sub-divisions. A free medical service, based upon the most scientific principles, will be established. The people will be taught how to live correctly. They will be given mass instruction in diet, physical culture, etc. A last end will be put to capitalist medical quackery and the adulteration of food.
A main task of the American Soviet government will be to make the cities liveable. This will involve not only the wholesale destruction of the shacks that millions of workers now call homes, but the building over of the congested capitalist cities into roomy Socialist towns. These will develop towards the decentralization of industry and population, the breaking down of the differences between city and country. There will be no great landed, financial, and transportation interests to maintain the monstrous congestion typical of capitalist cities. The present “city beautiful” plans of capitalism will seem puny and trivial to the future city builders of Socialism.
Only a few years ago many of the foregoing proposals would have seemed fantastic, merely Utopian dreams. But now we can see them growing into actuality in the Soviet Union. In making the cultural revolution in the United States, the workers and farmers, facing the same general problems as the Russians, will solve them along similar lines.
Curing Crime and Criminals
CAPITALISM, by its very nature, is a prolific breeder of crime. It is a system of legalized robbery of the working class. The whole process of capitalist business is a swindle and an armed hold-up. In capitalist society what constitutes crime and what does not is a purely arbitrary distinction. The capitalists do not recognize any line of demarcation for themselves. They do whatever they can “get away with.”…
The American Soviet government will liquidate the mounting crime wave which, according to the Wickersham committee, costs the government a billion dollars yearly. Socialism, by putting an end to capitalist exploitation, deals a mortal blow at crime of every description. The economic base of crime is destroyed. The worker is enabled to live and work under the best possible conditions. There is no place for human sharks to prey upon their fellow men. Not only does the abolition of capitalism destroy the basis of the so-called crimes against property, but the revolutionized economic and social conditions, involving an intelligent moral code and effective educational system, also greatly diminish the “crimes of passion.”
These facts are already demonstrated in the Soviet Union, which is fast becoming a crimeless country. While the exigencies of the revolutionary struggle against the counter-revolution made it necessary, from time to time, to confine a considerable number of political prisoners, this need is now fast passing with the consolidation of the Socialist regime and the liquidation of the last remnants of the exploiting classes in the Soviet Union. Life and property are safer now in the U.S.S.R. than in any other country in the world. Crime is rapidly sinking into abeyance and this will be more and more the case as the new society becomes strengthened.
Capitalism blames crime upon the individual, instead of upon the bad social conditions which produce it. Hence its treatment of crime is essentially one of punishment. But the failure of its prisons, with their terrible sex-starvation, graft, over-crowding, idleness, stupid discipline, ferociously long sentences and general brutality, is overwhelmingly demonstrated by the rapidly mounting numbers of prisoners and the long list of terrible prison riots. Capitalist prisons are actually schools of crime. Even the standpat Wickersham committee had to condemn the atrocious American prison system as brutal, medieval and fruitless.
Socialist criminology, on the other hand, attacks the bad social conditions.
Prohibition, based upon a criminal alliance between capitalists, crooked politicians and gangsters, has bred a growth of criminals such as the world has never seen before. And the “best minds” of the country stand powerless before the problem. The American Soviet government will deal with this question by eliminating prohibition, by establishing government control of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquors; these measures to be supported by an energetic campaign among the masses against excessive drinking.
This way of handling the prohibition question is working successfully in the Soviet Union. Shortly after the October revolution the Soviet government prohibited the sale or manufacture of alcoholic drinks. But soon bootlegging began, with familiar demoralizing consequences: poisonous liquor was made, much badly-needed grain was wasted, open violation of the law existed on all sides. Then, with characteristic vigor and clarity of purpose, the government legalized the making and selling of intoxicating beverages. At the same time, a big campaign was initiated by the government, the Party, the trade unions, etc., to educate the workers against alcoholism. This program is succeeding; the evils of alcoholism are definitely on the decline. Doubtless, the Russians have found the real solution of the liquor question. Just as Socialism is abolishing so many other evils, it is also rapidly wiping out alcoholism and the mass of misery and degradation that accompanies it.
Building a New World
THE PROLETARIAN revolution is the most profound of all revolutions in history. It initiates changes more rapid and far-reaching than any in the whole experience of mankind. The hundreds of millions of workers and peasants, striking off their age-old chains of slavery, will construct a society of liberty and prosperity and intelligence. Communism will inaugurate a new era for the human race, the building of a new world.
The overthrow of capitalism and the development of Communism will bring about the immediate or eventual solution of many great social problems. Some of these originate in capitalism, and others have plagued the human race for scores of centuries. Among them are war, religious superstition, prostitution, famine, pestilence, crime, poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, illiteracy, race and national chauvinism, the suppression of woman, and every form of slavery and exploitation of one class by another. Already in the Soviet Union, with the revolution still in its initial stages, the forces are distinctly to be seen at work that will eventually liquidate these handicaps to the happiness and progress of the human race. But, of course, only a system of developed world Communism can fully uproot and destroy all these evils....
Communist society, in its battle onward and upward, will attack and carry through many profound measures besides those mentioned. Among these will be the organization of the economics of the world upon a rational and planned basis, the systematic conservation and increase of the world’s natural resources, the development of a vast concentration upon all the great problems now confronting science, the beautification of the world by a new and richer artistry, the liquidation of congested cities and the combination of the joys and conveniences of country and urban life, and the solution of many other great problems and tasks now hardly even imagined.
Communist society, however, will not confine itself simply to thus developing the objective conditions for a better life. Especially will it turn its attention to the subjective factor, to the fundamental improvement of man himself. Capitalism, with its wars, wage slavery, slums, crooked doctors, etc., undermines the health of the race and destroys its physique. Communism, with its healthful dwellings and working conditions, its pure food, physical culture, etc., will make good health, like thorough education, the property of all. Already this is becoming so in the Soviet Union. But this will be only a beginning. Communist society will go farther. It will scientifically regulate the growth of population. It will especially speed up the very evolution of man himself, his brain and body. Capitalism has checked the evolution of the human species, if it has not actually brought about a process of race degeneration. But Communism will systematically breed up mankind. Already the scientific knowledge is at hand to do this, but it is at present inapplicable because of the idiocy of the capitalist system, its planlessness, its antiquated moral codes, its warp and woof of exploitation.
For many generations the long list of Utopians, the Platos, Mores, Fouriers, Owens, and Bellamys, have dreamed and planned ideal states of society. Their strong point was that they sensed mankind’s capacity for a higher social life than the existing wild scramble. But their weak point, and this was decisive, was that they did not know what was the matter with society nor how to cure it. They had not the slightest conception of either the objective or subjective conditions necessary for social revolution. Their Utopias, mere speculations disconnected from actual life, fell upon deaf ears.
It has remained for the modern proletariat, under the brilliant leadership of Marx and Lenin, to find the revolutionary way to the higher social order, on the basis of the industrial and social conditions set up by capitalism. Marxians have been able to analyze capitalism scientifically, to work out a correct program and strategy of struggle, to establish effective organization among the workers and peasants, to master generally the laws of social development. Consequently, with the objective situation becoming ever more ripe, the revolution no longer appears as an abstraction, a mere theory. Today, Socialism is a great living world reality. As Polakov says, “The Russian ‘experiment’ is an experiment no more.” In the Soviet Union the first great breach has been made in the walls of capitalism. The rest will follow apace. And we may be sure that the revolution, in its upward course, will carry humanity to heights of happiness and achievement far beyond the dreams of even the most hopeful utopians.
American imperialism is now strong. Its champions ridicule the idea of a revolution. But their assurance is not now quite so sure as it was a couple of years ago, before the great industrial collapse. They are beginning to feel a deadly fear. The Russian revolution is to them such a terrible reality. But they console themselves with the thought that “it can never happen in this country,” and they scorn the at-present weak Communist party. But they overlook the detail that the same attitude was taken towards the pre-revolution Bolsheviki. Especially did the Socialist Moguls of the Second International look upon them as narrow sectarians and upon Lenin as a fanatical dreamer. But one thing is certain, American capitalism is part and parcel of the world capitalist system and is subject to all its basic weaknesses and contradictions; it travels the same way to its destruction as capitalism in general.
The world capitalist system is in decay. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot save it. Its general crisis deepens; the masses develop revolutionary consciousness; the international revolutionary storm forces gather. Capitalism, it is true, makes a strong and stubborn resistance. The advance of the revolution is difficult, its pace is slow, and it varies from country to country, but its direction is sure and its movement irresistible. Under the leadership of the Communist International the toilers of the world are organizing to put a final end to the long, long ages of ignorance and slavery, of which capitalist imperialism is the last stage, and to begin building a prosperous and intelligent society commensurate with the levels to which social knowledge and production possibilities have reached.
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