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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Americans have gone Crazy.

I don't know maybe it's just me but it seems like a lot of America has just gone crazy. Protests of Mosques in Manhattan, Birthers, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, heck the Republican Party! What the hell has gone wrong with everyone? I am tired of everything and I don't understand why people can't just look at what works and do it without letting ideology get in the way. Obama is not doing a horrible job. I wish he would do more for his liberal base but it could be way worse. Even though i think that George W. was a crook and broke the law and should have been impeached, I don't think he was ever faced with the kind of hatred Obama has. Well, maybe from me to some degree but I like to think of that as passionate. :) It doesn't matter because I am just sick of being frustrated with stupid senators and congresspeople who apparently don't have our interests in mind. Just the interests of corporations and extremely wealthy people who, for some reason, seem to be more important than the rest of us. I guess that one of the really disappointing things about all this. You would like to believe your representative has your interests in mind. But they don't. Sucks.

Monday, February 15, 2010

2006 Essay from the Socialist Labor Party. Interesting....

This is a statement from the Socialist Labor Party of America. I thought it would be interesting to read this and then compare it to the statements of tea-baggers et al. I was thinking of digging into some older socialist party statements and posting them up. This one is from 2006. We have had a few different Socialist Parties in the USA. Third parties don't do too well in the US you know? Maybe I will have more of these then famous socialist essays. Most famous Socialists end up not being so famous here in the USA.

Many people believe that socialism means government or state ownership and control. Who can blame them when that is what the schools teach and what the media, politicians and others who oppose socialism say? Worse, some people and organizations that call themselves socialist say it, too—but not the Socialist Labor Party.

The SLP says that socialism is something entirely different. After all, we have plenty of government or state ownership in America today, but who would argue that America is a socialist country because of it?

This is a capitalist country, not a socialist one. Yet many cities own and run their own hospitals, libraries, transportation systems and utilities. The public schools, state college and university systems are government owned. The federal government owns and controls the FBI, the CIA, the army, the navy, the air force, the U.S. Marines and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Why, it even owns all the national forests and national parks. Yet, who would call these institutions examples of socialism? Who would say that today’s government is socialist because it owns all of these things? Not the SLP.

What Socialism Is

If government or state ownership is not socialism, what is?

Before answering that question there is something you should know about government. Not all government is state government. State government is government based on territory, such as cities, counties and nations. It is political government, and it is designed to rule over places and the people in them.

Socialist government is not state government. It would not rule over people and places, but would empower the people to rule over things. Socialism means a government in which the people collectively own and democratically operate the industries and social services through an economic democracy. And when we say “collectively own,” we are not talking about homes, or cars, or other personal belongings. We are talking about the things needed to produce and distribute homes, cars and all the other things we need and want.

Under socialism the workers who operate the industries and services would collectively own and democratically manage them. In each factory and other workplace, the rank and file would elect their own immediate supervisors and management committees. They would also elect representatives to local and national assemblies of the industry or service in which they work, and to an all-industrial congress to coordinate production and distribution of all goods and services throughout the country. In short, socialism would replace the political government run by politicians with an industrial government run by workers and their elected representatives.

Instead of a senator from California or a representative from New York, there would be worker-delegates from the automotive industry, from the transportation systems, from the mines, from the clothing factories, from services such as restaurants, hospitals, schools and so on. These representatives would have the single task of deciding what should be produced and how best to produce it.

Today we have political democracy only. Workers do not have economic democracy. The owners of the factories have almost absolute power over their employees. They can fire whomever they please, whenever they please. They can close the plant down and move to another state or another country. They can even order their workers to manufacture something worthless or harmful. In short, they have all the power of dictators—economic dictators.

Socialism means economic democracy. Instead of voting once every two or four years for politicians, workers would be making decisions every day where they work and in the field in which they are most qualified. Here is where their vote counts because it vitally affects their own personal lives.

When we use the word “worker,” we mean everyone who sells his or her labor power, or ability to work, at so much per hour, or so much per week, to a capitalist employer. Coal miners are workers, but so are musicians, scientists, nurses, teachers, architects, inventors and mathematicians.

Benefits of Socialism

Under capitalism workers receive only a small fraction of the wealth that they alone produce, while the lion’s share goes to the capitalist owners and to the bankers, landlords, insurance companies, lawyers, politicians, and all the other parasites who live off the back of labor and perform no useful work. By ending this robbery of the working class, socialism will enable workers to enjoy the full fruit of their labor.

Socialism would also enable us to raise our living standards dramatically by ending the billions of dollars thrown away on arms production and “defense,” by ending the waste, duplication and inefficiency of capitalist industries, and by returning millions of soldiers and unemployed workers to useful occupations.

In socialist society there would be no wage system. Workers would receive the social value of their labor. And since the people would collectively own the industries, anyone would be free to select any occupation in which he or she has an interest and aptitude. No longer would workers live under the fear of being laid off, or be compelled to spend their lives at some job they hate or are unsuited for. Also, since the people would collectively own the colleges and universities, no longer would workers be denied education or training because they lack the money to buy it.

Production for Use, Not for Profit

Furthermore, under socialism we would produce for use and to satisfy the needs of all the people. Under capitalism the industries operate for one purpose—to earn a profit for their owners. Under this system, food is not grown primarily to be eaten. It is grown to be sold. Cars are not manufactured primarily to be driven. They are made to be sold. If there are enough buyers here and abroad, then the capitalists will have their factories turn out cars, appliances, pianos and everything else for which buyers can be found. But if people lack money, if the domestic and foreign markets cannot absorb them, then these factories shut down and the country stagnates, no matter how much people need these commodities.

At the present time, agricapitalists know that they can produce more than market conditions and price-protecting government restrictions, compensated for by cash subsidies, permit them to. Meanwhile, millions of Americans suffer from malnutrition and hunger, as recent surveys have shown, and most households count their nickels and dimes when they shop for food.

The periodic depressions and recessions of the past have occurred, we are told, because too much was produced—overproduction. Factories turned out so vast a quantity of goods that their owners shut them down and laid off the workers who produced this abundance.

Under socialism the factories and industries would be used to benefit all of us, not restricted to the creation of profits for the enrichment of a small group of capitalist owners. Under socialism our farmlands would yield an abundance without great toil; the factories, mines and mills would be the safest, the most modern, the most efficient possible and productive beyond our wildest dreams—and without laborious work. Our natural resources would be intelligently conserved. Our schools would have the finest facilities and they would be devoted to developing complete human beings, not wages slaves who are trained to hire themselves out for someone else’s profit. Our hospitals and social services would create and maintain the finest health and recreational facilities.

An End to Poverty

In all previous ages of human history, poverty for most of the people was inescapable. There was simply not enough to go around. But not so today. Industrial technology and scientific knowledge have so vastly increased our ability to produce what we need and want that there is no longer any excuse whatsoever for the poverty of a single member of society. Today we have the material possibility of abundance for everyone, and the promise of the leisure in which to enjoy it.

But under capitalism industrial technology is used to replace workers and increase profits. Instead of creating a society of abundance, capitalism uses machinery to create unemployment and poverty. Our inner cities have been converted largely into festering slums in which impoverished people, not understanding the cause of their miseries, are imprisoned and damned to a life of misery.

It is not technology that threatens us. By themselves, improved methods of production and distribution are not social evils. They could be a blessing, but under capitalism technology is used for antisocial purposes.

This follows from the fact that technology and industry are the exclusive property of a small minority of the American people—the capitalist class. Capitalism uses the industries for the private profit of their owners and not for the benefit of the vast majority of the American people—the workers who invented and built them.

Build a New Society

In socialist society, on the other hand, since we would collectively own the factories and means of production, we would have full and free access to the means of wealth production and distribution. Since we would receive the full social value of our labor there would be no unwanted surplus. We would collectively produce the things we want and need for full and happy lives. It would be to the benefit of all to find new inventions, new means of production, improved means of distribution. Society as a whole would have a vital interest in providing opportunity to each individual to find the work for which he or she is best suited and in which he or she will be happiest. There would be the fullest freedom and opportunity.

And, we repeat, there would be a complete and full democracy. Democracy that will truly be based on the broadest lines. Democracy in which the final and only power will be the great mass of our people, the useful producers, which in socialist society would mean everybody. Society no longer would be split into two contending classes. Instead, we would all be useful producers, collectively owning the means of production and distribution, collectively concerned with producing the most with the least expenditure of human labor, and collectively jealous of the rights of the individual to a full, free and untrammeled life of happiness and accomplishment.

How can we get such a society? The answer is easy. It is within the power of the working class to establish such a society as soon as they recognize the need for it and organize to establish it. The program of the Socialist Labor Party of America points the way. By learning about that program you will learn how to effectively demand the end of capitalism and to organize with your fellow workers for the establishment of socialism.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is a Socialist Market Economy what we need?

Socialist Market Economy

Socialist Economics or Socialist Theories are one of the most controversial theories for the economic development of a nation with the concomitant growth in social welfare. Originally perceived as an idea for the upliftment of the working class who seemed to be destined to be driven down to subsistence wages by the “capitalists” who owned capital and rented land, Socialist Economics has undergone many changes in the course of time.

Socialist economy is a structure of the economy which aims at providing greater equality and giving the “proletariat” or working class greater ownership over the means of production. In a normative sense, a socialist economy or a socialist state believes that socialism is the most equitable and socially serviceable form of an economic arrangement designed to achieve human potentialities.

Unlike “capitalism” where the means of production are owned by the capitalists, Socialist economies are characterized by the means of production owned by the state or by the workers collectively. Marx called socialism an intermediary stage between “capitalism” and the ultimate outcome of “communism.” The basic doctrine of Socialism of producing according to ones capacity and receiving according to ones want was replicated in the Soviet Union who became the first socialist state in 1936. It was followed later in certain eastern European countries and later moved to China under Mao Zedong.  While some western economies experimenting with   Socialism had adopted measures such as nationalization, redistribution of wealth among the poor, minimum wage measures and policies of demand management along Keynesian lines, erstwhile USSR was a centrally planned economy. It functioned by the imposition of production quotas and the clearing of goods was done was by a central planning authority. Even prices for allocation of goods and services were predetermined by the state.

The socialist states were later deemed to be corrupt with government mandarins appropriating too much power and with excessive state controls, the state of “communism” or distributing power evenly among the population with decentralization of power from the state never really occurred.

Some economic models within the framework of Socialism are:
  • Public-enterprise centrally planned economy
  • Public-enterprise state managed market economy
  • Mixed economy
  • Public enterprise employee managed market economies
  • Public enterprise participatory planning
Of the models mentioned above, the public enterprise state managed market economy or a form of social market economy and the model of mixed economy are the most popular in contemporary times. The “social market economy” or “market socialism” has the state owning the means of production but there is a market directed and guided by socialist planners.

The market is given the free hand to allocate and distribute the country’s resources based on the forces of supply and demand. It thus retains the essential feature of efficiency, growth and production of surplus value generally associated with capitalist economies.

This model was effectively launched in China after reform, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in the 1970’s and 80’s and is presently adopted in Germany. Government ownership is retained in key sectors such as heavy industry, energy and infrastructure while private ownership or entrepreneurship with public-private participation is followed along the lines of the mixed economy model. India also follows a model of a mixed economy. The greatest asset of this sort of economy is the decentralization of decision making and giving local managers more freedom to respond to market conditions. This also sometimes called a mild version of state socialism and are called social democracies where the socialists do not overthrow the capitalist system altogether bit mould it to social purposes.

Social market economy is here to stay and market socialism is only an improved form of traditional state socialism. 
Reprinted from

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blending Socialism with a Free Market could make Us Builders again.

Once upon a time we were a nation of creators.  We built things and then we sold a lot of those things around the world.  Over the last few decades we have stopped building and creating.  Manufacturing jobs have gone to other shores.  Ships are built in Asia and Scandinavia.  Except for military ships and tanks and other things.  But Military construction even though it is necessary to a degree, does nothing to contribute to the  building of our infrastructure.  Now when someone wants to create something or build something a huge NIMBY protest pops up to prevent it.  Speaking just for my own home state, we have prevented the establishment of LNG offloading and storage, several casinos, some wind farms, just to name a few.  But it would seem that this is common throughout the nation.  We here in the US have don't seem to want to build things, we don't want to increase our tax base or create jobs.  But we still want all the services and benefits. I don't think we can have our cake and eat it too. 
Renewable energy projects would create work.  Putting public money into infrastructure projects would also create jobs.  We need to build out and upgrade our countries rail systems.  Doing this would also create jobs.  But how to do this best?  I think we need a blend of jobs programs and social programs that inject money into the economy.  This could be coupled with other changes that would let private enterprise flourish. 
One huge issue, that Senator Bernie Sanders actually introduced legislation to fix, is that companies become too big to be allowed to fail.  No Corporation or company should get so large that their failure would crater a section of the economy.  When a company gets that large they should be divested and made into smaller companies.  The second part to this is that corporations should always be regarded as instruments of business.  They are not people and should not have the same rights as people under our constitution.  By allowing them such we essentially allow a potentially immortal being with potentially large resources at hand.  This gives a corporation undue influence in our government. 
So could this be solved and fixed?  It could, but will it happen in our lifetime?  As long as people are made to fear the bogeyman of socialism the answer is no.  With a little effort we could meld the two systems and make something that works for all of us.  We could become creators again.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

People, Why can't we all work together?

You know I have been listening and watching with interest all the latest hoo-ha about the economy, the Obama administration, and health care reform among other things.  The first thing that I find to be really surprising is how quickly many of us have decided to leave Obama out to dry when it comes to the policies he is trying to establish.  Now this is politics and I realize that a lot of crap slops both sides of the aisle.  But what I see as the main issue now is how the Republican party has decided to simply be a party of obstructionism.  Rather than actually work with the Democratic party to try to make good policy the GOP has figured it will do anything it can to crush the opposition and get back into control.  And to really top it all off, people are buying into the rhetoric!  So if the Democratic Party loses in 2010 and Obama loses in 2012 I will be convinced that something is wrong with the average American voter.  People complaining about the President and his policies right now have apparently forgotten that over the last eight years the Republican party had control of  everything for 6 of them.  They generated a huge huge deficit that Obama inherited.  Now generating a deficit is not necessarily a bad thing.  What really makes the difference is what you spent the money on.  For us over the years of the Bush Administration that meant creating this deficit to fund two wars.  What the money should have been spent on are things like infrastructure, education and social security just for starters.

Wait a minute, you say! What about all the necessary things we had to do to keep us safe?   Well consider this.  Before 9/11 we actually had all the information we needed to prevent the attack.  The information was simply ignored, not so much at the bottom level but certainly at the top on down.  Presidential Bulletin was ignored, The National Security Advisor ignored her meetings about potential attacks.  It seems to me that if the information we had had been acted on we may have prevented it.  The same is true for the recent attempt by the Nigerian kid. We had information but didn't act on it.  So apparently all of the money we have spent on keeping us 'safe' is kind of moot.  Maybe we should publish the act or people we have prevented from blowing up things or whatever.  Then we would all have some idea how well any preventative measures are doing.  Alas too much secrecy. 

The thing I find really annoying and I alluded to it before is the lack of willingness of the Republican party to work with the Party in control.  Joe Wilson's cry of  "You Lie!" is Republican attitude in a nutshell.  This is not the Republican party of my childhood.  The party has been taken over by extremists it appears.  By the way Mr. Wilson was wrong the President wasn't lying.  I remember when I was young President Nixon, a Republican, placing price controls on beef.  Can you imagine that happening today?!  By a Republican?!   I believe most of us want these fools to work together.  Most of us would really like a single payer health care system.  Most of us feel a little angry at the wall street executives and their multi-million dollar salaries.  Most of us would like to feel that our elected officials are at least trying to work together.  I don't know about anyone else but I don't feel that way. Especially when it comes to the GOP. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Socialism, what is it really? Can it work for us?

Hey we had a couple of good essays.  Pretty surprising I think that these very famous people who are reputed to be highly intelligent were socialists.  That says something to me.  It also says something that countries that qualify as Democratic Socialist; i.e., Sweden, Norway, Holland, even Canada et al.  all have higher standards of living than the United States.  Why would you think that is?  Are their freedoms curtailed that much?  I know they aren't in Canada having been there many times myself.  I assume the same is true for the other countries as well.  Socialism as a concept and even for the little it has been put into practice has gotten a bad rap. 

As I was taught it, in Classic Marxism communism was the end goal.  An utopian era in which government would essentially not exist and each would 'give according to his ability and take according to his need'.  In getting there the proletariat would overthrow the bourgousie  and establish a Socialist government on the way to communism.  Okay so it worked like this.  Evil Capitalism ==> Middlin Socialism ==> Communist Utopia.  Got it?  Of course NOTHING ever works the way it is planned.  Even though Capitalism was pretty horrific for the average joe in Marx's time it managed to get better for more as time passed.  No revolution occurred except those instigated by Lenin, and Mao et al. and then those guys turned around and created 'communist' countries that were really nothing more than dictatorial police states.  Though they called themselves some variant of socialist they really weren't.   Any more than the German Democratic Republic was democratic.  You know what I mean?

So it seems to me that what we need to do is try to implement a blend.  It has become obvious that for everything the free market, at least the way we implemented it, does not work to everyone's benefit.  Of course no system ever will.  But it is possible to ensure that a safety net exists for people so that the basic human necessities can be provided.  Other things can be handled through a basic free market.  So let's summarize what that might look like?  I like to think of it like this.  The basic premise of a capitalist system is the goal of making a profit.  However some things are not delivered best through profit driven motives.  I would guess that this is why, even in the US, that Police, Fire Protection and even military are not for profit organizations but government run bureacracies.  By the way they are unionized too, but that is an aside. 
So if an organization is meant to delivered human well being and safety of some kind; i.e., Health Care or Police protection.  Then that organization is best driven by a socialized government organization.  Will it be perfect?  Will people take advantage of it?  Well, No and Yes but that is beside the point.  The Police and Fire depts are abused all the time but we don't consider privatizing them do we?  Think what might have happened had we privatized Social Security as George Bush had wanted.  Holy smoke!  What a disaster that would have been.  Socializing something doesn't mean the end of the world or freedom or liberty.  The people who are crying wolf like that are the ones who already live in opulence and extreme wealth, the limbaughs and becks and hannity, et al.  And the ones who have been duped by Fox News type liars.  They cannot help themselves.  We can do better if we are not afraid to try.

Friday, January 1, 2010

How I Became a Socialist. An Essay by Helen Keller.

This is an essay by Helen Keller.  Few people may realize that she was a very fervent socialist. That little tidbit always getsleft out of the history books. She was fortunate enough to have been born into privilege and realized later that had it not been for that she would never have accomplished what she did.  She was very upset by the inequality of the capitalist U.S. society.  She spent a large part of her life and money trying to advance the cause of socialism. An interesting read.    


How I became a socialist

  by Helen Keller

FOR SEVERAL months, my name and socialism have appeared often together in the newspapers. A friend tells me that I have shared the front pages with baseball, Mr. Roosevelt and the New York police scandal. The association does not make me altogether happy, but, on the whole, I am glad that many people are interested in me and in the educational achievements of my teacher, Mrs. Macy (Anne Sullivan). Even notoriety may be turned to beneficent uses, and I rejoice if the disposition of the newspapers to record my activities results in bringing more often into their columns the word Socialism.
In the future, I hope to write about socialism, and to justify in some measure the great amount of publicity which has been accorded to me and my opinions. So far, I have written little and said little about the subject. I have written a few letters, notably one to Comrade Fred Warren, which was printed in the Appeal to Reason. I have talked to some reporters, one of whom, Mr. Ireland of the New York World, made a very flattering report, and gave fully and fairly what I said. I have never been in Schenectady. I have never met Mayor Lunn. I have never had a letter from him, but he has sent kind messages to me through Mr. Macy. Owing to Mrs. Macy's illness, whatever plans I had to join the workers in Schenectady have been abandoned.
On such negative and relatively insignificant matters have been written many editorials in the capitalist press and in the Socialist press. The clippings fill a drawer. I have not read a quarter of them, and I doubt if I shall ever read them all. If on such a small quantity of fact so much comment has followed, what will the newspapers do if I ever set to work in earnest to write and talk in behalf of socialism? For the present, I should like to make a statement of my position and correct some false reports and answer some criticisms which seem to me unjust.
First--how did I become a Socialist? By reading. The first book I read was Wells' New Worlds for Old. I read it on Mrs. Macy's recommendation. She was attracted by its imaginative quality, and hoped that its electric style might stimulate and interest me. When she gave me the book, she was not a Socialist, and she is not a Socialist now. Perhaps she will be one before Mr. Macy and I are done arguing with her.
My reading has been limited and slow. I take German bimonthly Socialist periodicals printed in Braille for the blind. (Our German comrades are ahead of us in many respects.) I have also in German Braille Kautsky's discussion of the Erfurt Program. The other socialist literature that I have read has been spelled into my hand by a friend who comes three times a week to read to me whatever I choose to have read. The periodical which I have most often requested her lively fingers to communicate to my eager ones is the National Socialist. She gives the titles of the articles and I tell her when to read on and when to omit. I have also had her read to me from the International Socialist Review articles the titles of which sounded promising. Manual spelling takes time. It is no easy and rapid thing to absorb through one's fingers a book of 50,000 words on economics. But it is a pleasure, and one which I shall enjoy repeatedly until I have made myself acquainted with all the classic socialist authors.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
IN THE light of the foregoing, I wish to comment on a piece about me which was printed in the Common Cause and reprinted in the Live Issue, two antisocialist publications. Here is a quotation from that piece:
For 25 years, Miss Keller's teacher and constant companion has been Mrs. John Macy, formerly of Wrentham, Mass. Both Mr. and Mrs. Macy are enthusiastic Marxist propagandists, and it is scarcely surprising that Miss Keller, depending upon this lifelong friend for her most intimate knowledge of life, should have imbibed such opinions.
Mr. Macy may be an enthusiastic Marxist propagandist, though I am sorry to say he has not shown much enthusiasm in propagating his Marxism through my fingers. Mrs. Macy is not a Marxist, nor a socialist. Therefore what the Common Cause says about her is not true. The editor must have invented that, made it out of whole cloth, and if that is the way his mind works, it is no wonder that he is opposed to socialism. He has not sufficient sense of fact to be a socialist or anything else intellectually worthwhile.
Consider another quotation from the same article. The headline reads:
Then the article begins:
It would be difficult to imagine anything more pathetic than the present exploitation of poor Helen Keller by the Socialists of Schenectady. For weeks, the party's press agencies have heralded the fact that she is a Socialist, and is about to become a member of Schenectady's new Board of Public Welfare.
There's a chance for satirical comment on the phrase, "the exploitation of poor Helen Keller." But I will refrain, simply saying that I do not like the hypocritical sympathy of such a paper as the Common Cause, but I am glad if it knows what the word "exploitation" means.
Let us come to the facts. When Mayor Lunn heard that I might go to Schenectady, he proposed to the Board of Public Welfare that a place be kept on it for me. Nothing was printed about this in The Citizen, Mayor Lunn's paper. Indeed, it was the intention of the board to say nothing about the matter until after I had moved to Schenectady. But the reporters of the capitalist press got wind of the plan, and one day, during Mayor Lunn's absence from Schenectady, the Knickerbocker Press of Albany made the announcement. It was telegraphed all over the country, and then began the real newspaper exploitation. By the Socialist press? No, by the capitalist press.
The Socialist papers printed the news, and some of them wrote editorials of welcome. But The Citizen, Mayor Lunn's paper, preserved silence and did not mention my name during all the weeks when the reporters were telephoning and telegraphing and asking for interviews. It was the capitalist press that did the exploiting. Why? Because ordinary newspapers care anything about socialism? No, of course not; they hate it. But because I, alas, am a subject for newspaper gossip. We got so tired of denying that I was in Schenectady that I began to dislike the reporter who first published the "news."
The Socialist papers, it is true, did make a good deal of me after the capitalist papers had "heralded the fact that I am a Socialist." But all the reporters who came to see me were from ordinary commercial newspapers. No Socialist paper, neither The Call nor the National Socialist, ever asked me for an article. The editor of The Citizen hinted to Mr. Macy that he would like one, but he was too fine and considerate to ask for it point-blank.
The New York Times did ask me for one. The editor of the Times wrote assuring me that his paper was a valuable medium for reaching the public and he wanted an article from me. He also telegraphed asking me to send him an account of my plans and to outline my ideas of my duties as a member of the Board of Public Welfare of Schenectady. I am glad I did not comply with this request, for some days later the Times made me a social outcast beyond the range of its righteous sympathies. On September 21, there appeared in the Times an editorial called "The Contemptible Red Flag." I quote two passages from it:
The flag is free. But it is nonetheless detestable. It is the symbol of lawlessness and anarchy the world over, and as such is held in contempt by all right-minded persons.
The bearer of a red flag may not be molested by the police until he commits some act which the red flag justifies. He deserves, however, always to be regarded with suspicion. By carrying the symbol of lawlessness he forfeits all right to respect and sympathy.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I AM no worshiper of cloth of any color, but I love the red flag and what it symbolizes to me and other Socialists. I have a red flag hanging in my study, and if I could I should gladly march with it past the office of the Times and let all the reporters and photographers make the most of the spectacle. According to the inclusive condemnation of the Times, I have forfeited all right to respect and sympathy, and I am to be regarded with suspicion. Yet the editor of the Times wants me to write him an article! How can he trust me to write for him if I am a suspicious character?
I hope you will enjoy as much as I do the bad ethics, bad logic, bad manners that a capitalist editor falls into when he tries to condemn the movement which is aimed at this plutocratic interests. We are not entitled to sympathy, yet some of us can write articles that will help his paper to make money. Probably our opinions have the same sort of value to him that he would find in the confession of a famous murderer. We are not nice, but we are interesting.
I like newspapermen. I have known many, and two or three editors have been among my most intimate friends. Moreover, the newspapers have been of great assistance in the work which we have been trying to do for the blind. It costs them nothing to give their aid to work for the blind and to other superficial charities. But socialism--ah, that is a different matter! That goes to the root of all poverty and all charity. The money power behind the newspapers is against socialism, and the editors, obedient to the hand that feeds them, will go to any length to put down socialism and undermine the influence of socialists.
When my letter to Comrade Fred Warren was published in the Appeal to Reason, a friend of mine who writes a special department for the Boston Transcript made an article about it and the editor-in-chief cut it out.
The Brooklyn Eagle says, apropos of me, and socialism, that Helen Keller's "mistakes spring out of the manifest limitations of her development." Some years ago, I met a gentleman who was introduced to me as Mr. McKelway, editor of the Brooklyn Eagle. It was after a meeting that we had in New York in behalf of the blind. At that time, the compliments he paid me were so generous that I blush to remember them. But now that I have come out for socialism, he reminds me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially liable to error. I must have shrunk in intelligence during the years since I met him. Surely it is his turn to blush. It may be that deafness and blindness incline one toward socialism. Marx was probably stone deaf and William Morris was blind. Morris painted his pictures by the sense of touch and designed wallpaper by the sense of smell.
Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! What an ungallant bird it is! Socially blind and deaf, it defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness which we are trying to prevent. The Eagle is willing to help us prevent misery provided, always provided, that we do not attack the industrial tyranny which supports it and stops its ears and clouds its vision. The Eagle and I are at war. I hate the system which it represents, apologizes for and upholds. When it fights back, let it fight fair. Let it attack my ideas and oppose the aims and arguments of Socialism. It is not fair fighting or good argument to remind me and others that I cannot see or hear.
I can read. I can read all the socialist books I have time for in English, German and French. If the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle should read some of them, he might be a wiser man and make a better newspaper. If I ever contribute to the Socialist movement the book that I sometimes dream of, I know what I shall name it: Industrial Blindness and Social Deafness.