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Studies in Communism

Representation And The State

literature, were all subservient to Capital's idol-finance, its only standard of success.

The anomalies were strange and disastrous. The little shareholder to live had to invest, and the success of his investment made only for his own buying out by the director king, who could then render his money useless as being no longer capital. On the other hand, the investment failing, the shares could still be foisted upon the financial public, and the director retire the gainer. The standard of wealth, gold, concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, and with it the control of the means and instruments of production which nature had begotten and labour power created. Trade unions, to realise the value of their funds, had to invest in capitalist concerns. Their officials, as a dependent official caste, opposed strong industrial action against the capitalist class, because such activity depleted— both by direct call and loss of interest on capital invested—the funds of the unions and so hazarded the jobs of the union officials. So that labour became more enslaved as men drawn from the ranks of labour became more and more the interested officials, and legal administrators of capitalism, in their official capacity as representatives of share-holding interests, preachers, legislators, and capitalistic philosophers.

The growing competition of women industrially, and the reduction of the standard age of the worker owing to specialization made for a negation of skilled labour. The advocate of woman's suffrage on the same basis as man's suffrage hastened to secure the propertied enfranchisement of woman, whilst working men witnessed the formation of Women's Trade Unions and Universal Adult Suffrage Societies. The Parliamentarian Revisionist sought to secure representation. The financial credit reformer blamed monopoly and the State. The proletarian was driven to enquire what should constitute his attitude towards the State and its machinery. The worker fully recognised that the fact of women having the vote did not render them more open to bribery than men, since that was an impossibility in view of the history of the pocket boroughs, the capitalistic proclivities af men, and the corruption of male Poor Law Guardians. On the other hand, in view of the perpetuation of misery and exploitation in those countries where women have the vote, he had to confess that the vote of women did not aid him in giving political expression to the class struggle so long as women voters failed to understand the economic conditions. The enfranchisement of a number of women who belonged to the parasite class seriously affected him in the securement of such a political expression of the industrial struggle. So far, therefore, as the woman's political enfranchisement was concerned, the proletarian could only note that, both as a question of abstract justice, and a matter of expressing politically the true industrial relations, absolute adult suffrage irrespective of sex and property qualifications was the only solution of the problem.


This would 'carry with it the right, so long denied, of women to be returned to Parliament. 'Whilst the basis of society's recognition of this right, so far as working women are concerned, would be industrial fear, its realisation would have no different effect from the return to Parliament of working men—a fact that is demonstrated by the women trade union officials being neither worse nor better than the men trade union officials in the question of palliative effort rather than of Socialist endeavour. It would still leave, furthermore, the question of true representation untouched so long as the political machine was controlled in the interests of class society, and governed by the present system of representation on th lines of party voting.

This brings us directly to the question of what the State is and does, as a prelude to this difficulty of majority or minority rule —a difficulty which belongs purely to bourgeois society. Of the intimate connection existent between economic and political freedom we have already spoken. Each fresh economic development carrying with it a corresponding political transformation, it follows that as absolute monarchy in the political world is mated with personal slavery and vassalage in economics, so representative government in politics goes along with the economic system of commercialism. In the course of this transformation, the social purpose of the State has been so evolving as to show the radical reconstruction which was — or is — in store for it in the future. As the aristocracy freed itself from the domination of the Monarchy, as the bourgeois secured their emancipation from their feudal oppressors, so the State has become less and less powerfully essential as an engine of oppression and more and more established as a vehicle of administration. Greater than all the decrees of despotism, Dame Nature's Constitutionalism has decided that the lot of the State for the domination of man by man must cease, and the function of the State as a machine for the management of production must be raised and developed.

As an instrument of domination it took its rise as a necessity at a certain stage of economic development, necessarily linked with the division of society into classes. It was the official representative of society as a whole, its personification in a visible body, but inasmuch as it was the State it only stood for the class which represented in itself the whole of society. According to the philosophic conception it was "the realization of the idea" of the kingdom of God upon earth, the domain where eternal truth and eternal justice realized themselves or ought to have done. The result was a superstitious reverence for the State and for everything in connection with it, which was all the more evident from the fact that his insignificancy, the individual, was taught from childhood to suppose that public business and the common interest of society could not be cared for in any other way than through the State and its well-paid employees.



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