Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 16.
Arbeiter-Zeitung (Newspaper) article, "International Association of Workingmen Proclamation," 1886 Feb., Mar., April
Introduced into evidence during testimony of Edward Olson (Vol. J p. 187-189), 1886 July 23.
Transcript of translation of article.
Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial evidence book. People's Exhibit 16.
The following People's Ex% 16, appears in the issues of the Arbeiter Zeitung during the months of February, March and April, 1886:
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WORKINGMEN%
To the Workingmen of the United States of North America% Fellow Laborers:
The Declaration of Independence of the United States of this country contains the following: "When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them (the people) under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security%"
Now has not the moment already arrived for reducing to practice this thought of Thomas Jefferson, the real founder of the American Republic? Are we not too much governed?
And is our government, forsooth, anything but a conspiracy of priveleged classes against the people, against you?
Fellow Laborers: Hear what we have to say to you under such circumstances, read the following declaration which we have issued in your interest and for the welfare of your
wives and children, for humanity and progress% The present order of society, so-called, is based upon the spoliation of the non-property owners by the property owners% The Spoliation consists in this, that the property owners (the capitalists) buy the labor of the poor, on the average from the mere cost of living (wages), and claim for themselves, that is, steal all the new wealth (products) created by this labor, over and above this amount% Since the non-property owners by reason of their poverty, are obliged to offer their labor for sale to the property owners, and since the wholsesale production of the present day is attended by an enormously rapid technical developement, so that by the application of constantly diminishing human labor, ever increasing quantities of goods are produced, it follows, that the supply of labor is constantly increasing while the demand is constantly growing less% This is the reason why the laborers, in the selling of themselves, are brought into ever stronger competition with one another, whereby wages constantly fall, or at least fail, on the average, to rise above the sum absolutely demanded for the maintenance of labor%
While in this way the non-property owners are deprived of every possibility of working their way up to the rank of property-owners, in spite even of the most exhausting activity, the wealthy, by reason of ever increasing robbery of the
laboring class, are becoming richer with ever increasing rapidity without ever being obliged to be any way productive%
If indeed a few who were once laboring men have attained to wealth, they do not owe this to their own labor, but only to very accidental and rare opportunities for speculating on the labor of others. The avarice of the property owners rises with the increase of individual wealth% They compete with each other for the spoliation of the masses with all the means at their command% In the struggle the men of moderate wealth generally succumb, while, on the other hand, the really great capitalists swell their riches to enormous proportions, concentrate in their few hands whole branches of industry beside trade and commerse, and develope into monopolists%
The multiplying of products accompanied by diminution of the average income of the laboring masses leads from time to time to the so-called industrial and commercial crises which force the wretchedness of the non-property owners to the highest point% The statistics of the United States of North America show that after deducting raw materials, interest on capital, etc, the property owners lay claim to more than (5-8) five-eights of all products and allow the laborers at the most 3-8 three-eighths% Now as the property owning class is not very numerous, it is not able to consume
all its profit", and as the laborers cannot consume any more than they get, there appears from time to time what is called "over-production"% Moreover, this increasing elimination of labor from the process of production brings with it the total impoverishment of a yearly growing percentage of the non-property owners, who are driven into crime, vagabondage, prostitution, suicide, starvation, and manifold ruin%
This system is unjust, insane and murderous% For that reason every human being who suffers under it, and who does not wish through his inactivity against it to share in the responsibility for its continuance, ought to strive for its total destruction, by the use of all means and by the exertion of his greatest energy% In its place is to be put the true order of society%
This can be brought about only when all instruments of labor, ground and soil and other conditions of production, in short when all capital which is produced by labor, has been transformed into common property. For, on this condition alone, is every possibility of spoliation of man by man cut off. It is only when capital is made common and indivisible that all can be made to partake fully and freely of the fruits of common activity. It is only by the impossibility of acquiring individual (private) capital, that everybody is compelled to work, if he wishes to claim the right to live%
Neither lordship nor servitude will henceforth exist in human society%
This order of things carries with it, furthermore, that production will be regulated by the wants of the community, and that no one will need to work more than a few hours a day, and yet all will be able to satisfy all their wants to the fullest extent% In this way, time and opportunity are also given for opening to all the people the possibility of the highest imaginable culture, that is, for cutting off together with the priveleges of wealth and birth the prerogatives also of higher knowledge%
Opposed to the establis ment of such a system stand above all the political organizations of the capitalist classes, be they called Monarchies or Republics. These political creations (States), which are wholly in the hands of the property owners, have apparently no other end in view than the maintenance of the spoliation---disorder of the present day%
The laws direct their sharp points wholly against the laboring people. So far as the opposite seems to be the case, they serve, on the one hand, to throw dust into the eyes of the workingmen, and, on the other hand, they are simply evaded by the ruling classes%
The school itself exists only to furnish the offspring of the rich with those capacities which are necessary to maintain the supremacy of their class. The children of the
poor receive scarcely a formal elementary education, this, moreover, is directed toward those subjects of study which serve only to promote conceit, prejudice, servility, in short, anything but intelligence.
The Church, moreover, seeks, through a reference to a fictitious Heaven, to make the masses forget the loss of paradise on the Earth. The press, on the other hand, takes care to confuse the Public mind.
All these institutions, far from promoting public intelligence, aim to prevent the people from reaching intelligence. They are entirely in the pay and under the sway of the capitalist classes. The laborers, consequently, can look for aid from no, outside source, in their fight against the existing system. They must achieve their deliverance through the exertion of their own strength.
As in former times no priveleged class ever relinquished its tyranny, no more can we take it for granted that the capitalists of the present day will forego their priveleges and their authority without compulsion. If there could ever have been any doubt on this point, it would have been sufficiently cleared away by the brutalities of which the bourgeoise (middle classes)---in America as well as in Europe---have been guilty, as often as the proletarians (laboring classes) anywhere conceived the notion of taking energetic steps to improve their condition%
It is therefore self-evident that the fight of proletarianism against the bourgeoisie must have a violently revolutianary character, and that mere wage-conflicts can never lead to the goal.
We could show by numerous illustrations that all attempts which have been made in the past to do away with the existing monstrous social system through peaceable means, for example, through the ballot box, have been entirely useless and will be so in the future, and for the following reasons: The political institutions of the present time are only instruments of power, in the hands of the property owning classes; their sole object is the maintenance of the prerogatives of your spoliators; every reform in your favor would only curtail these priveleges; to this the priveleged can never give their consent, for that would be to them suicide. We know, therefore, that the ruling classes will not voluntarily relinquish their prerogatives and will make no concessions to us. Under all thes circumstances, there is only one remedy left---force.
Our ancestors (the champions of liberty of 1776-1781) have not only taught us that force against tyrants is justifiable and is the only means of redress, but they have themselves given us an immortal example of this. It was through force that our ancestors freed themselves from their foreign
oppressors, and through force their dcendants must free themselves from domestic oppression.
Therefore it is your right, it is your duty, says Jefferson, to arm yourselves.
Agitation with a view to organization, organizations for the purpose of rebellion,--herein is indicated in a few words the way which workingmen must take, if they would rid themselves of their chains. And as the situation of affairs in all lands of the so-called "civilized" world is the same; since, moreover, the governments of all monarchies and republics work completely hand in hand, when it comes to oppose the efforts of the thinking portion of the laboring men; since, finally, the victory of the laboring population can be confidently counted on only when the proletarians inaugurate the decisive Combat at the same time along the whole line of the civil (capitalistic) society, the necessity for the international affiliation which finds its expression in the International Association of Workingmen is self-evident.
Our aim is therefore simple and clear:
1. Destruction of the existing class-domination, by all means, i. e., through energetic, inexorable, revolutionary and international activity.
2. The building up of a free society founded on a communistic organization of production.
3. Free exchange of equivalent products through the productive organization itself, without jobbing and profit-making.
4. Organization of the educational system, upon a non-religious, scientific, and equal basis for both sexes.
5. Absolutely equal rights for all without distinction of sex or race.
6. The regulation of all public affairs through agreements fully entered into by the autonomous (independent) communes and confederacies.