3. The economic system of today

Men (not the privileged) will forever face a hitter -struggle for existence just so long as the system of distribution will be based on individual profiteering, which is the nucleus of our prevailing social order. All the wizardly juggling of figures by expert financiers in the ledger sheets and all the scheming acrobatics introduced in budget balancing, tax revision, wage and labor adjustment, tariff barriers, etc., will not help to alleviate the ills of the suffering masses who are the chief victims in the periodic crises. At most, these clever manipulations can only serve to transpose the surplus profits from one individual or group of profiteers to another.

Let us make a brief analysis of the workings of our economic system so we may have a perfect idea how the pendulum swings from prosperity to depression and then back again, in exact harmony with the “ticker” that swings back and forth in the Stock Exchange market. We know, for instance, that in times of prosperity, when industry runs full blast, the people spend their earnings freely and so accumulate enough goods to last them for an indefinite period of time; a decline, therefore, in purchasing power follows. This also creates a decline in industrial output. Working hours are then reduced, wages begin to drop-and the panic is on. While the depression continues for a year or so (the last one held out for five years), prices of commodities begin to drop, first gradually and then at a faster pace, until they come down to the lowest level; the result is that people who have some savings hoarded away open up their purses and begin buying, for profit or use, on the low market. This brings on a revival of purchasing power and naturally-or artificially--brings back recovery in industry. Unemployment is then decreasing, wages are increasing, trade and commerce is flourishing-and so we have prosperity in full bloom again. Yes, prosperity is then on the up grade until the law of supply and demand swings the pendulum back again... and the hitherto starving masses again must face hunger and starvation.

The very same criterion is applicable, not only to the economic struggle of the great masses in general, but also to the aims of organized labor in particular. In prosperous times, when the wheels of industry turn full speed ahead, wages begin to climb (through the strike or otherwise); with this comes also a proportionate increase in prices of the products consumed. The net result is that even in prosperity, with all the high wages he gets for his labor, the worker is to serve capitalism with his hard toil for the living wage he receives in return.

Having thus brought our short analysis of the economic cycle, we can now offer our own solution to the problem. We feel that no system in economic reform, however cleverly planned, will bring any material aid to the well-being of the masses. The only way people can hope to solve their economic ills is by departing from the capitalist system-or even the “stately” system, if you please-whereby commodities are distributed for profit. People must adopt a method by which they can share the products of their labor cooperatively. Without availing themselves of the full benefits of their earned products, they cannot and should not hope for any kind of economic independence save, perhaps, the “charity dole” or some other sort of beggarly compensation a benevolent government is inclined to offer as a medicinal cure for hunger.

When we attempt to embrace the whole situation sanely, we can say there really are no natural causes for human suffering (economically speaking, of course). After all, so long as the human race exists, the earth will produce crops, the trees will yield fruit, gardens will grow vegetation, cows will feed us milk and human skill and ingenuity will always provide comfort and luxury for all. Why, then, must the life and happiness of a whole race depend on the financial sheet prepared somewhere in a Wall Street office? Why should we dwell in misery and leave the politicians and stockholders to decide our fate with “percentages” and other hokus-pokus market fluctuations? There are plenty of resources in our land to be shared by all people alike. And if they ever come to realize that no individual or caste has a moral or legal right to declare a monopoly of the land and her products, they will then visualize a just and humane social order.

SAMUEL POLINOW