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36. Chapter XXXVI. Labor's Objective.

THE Labor Movement in Australia is a political as well as a propagandist movement. Its leaders realise that before we can have social reform the people must be educated to demand and carry out such reforms. The platforms, Federal and State, indicate the practical proposals for which public opinion is considered ripe. The objective and the general platform give an idea of the propagandist side. The first part of the Federal objective declares for “The cultivation of an Australian sentiment based upon the maintenance of racial purity and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community.” The party stands for racial purity and racial efficiency—industrially, mentally, morally, and intellectually. It asks the people to set up a high ideal of national character, and hence it stands strongly against any admixture with the white race. True patriotism should be racial. True self-government means the government of Self—the prevention of Self from trespassing on the rights of others. No class-ruled people can ever be a self-governing people. No people are self-reliant who are under the control of landlords or who depend on a brother man for the right to work for daily bread.




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Labor stands for giving to Australians the opportunity to become an enlightened people. Every child must be educated at the expense of the community. Education must be made free right through, from the primary school to the University. The child must be protected from the careless or greedy parent, hence we must keep to a compulsory system, with technical training in every case to follow the teaching in the primary schools. Every citizen must also be educated politically, so that we may have an active and enlightened democracy. We want a people self-reliant in moral character and manhood able and willing to defend their hearths and homes in case of invasion. We aim at being self-reliant in regard to defence—in being able to manufacture all our own requirements of guns, ammunition, and food supplies. We should also manufacture all our own requirements for everyday life. Labor takes the home as the unit of the nation and works for all that is calculated to make it happy. It desires that the makers of the useful and the beautiful shall have the pleasure of enjoying all that is best in modern civilisation.

The second part of the Federal objective runs: “The securing of the full results of their industry to all producers by the collective ownership of monopolies and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and Municipality.” Some of the States go further and declare for the “nationalisation of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange,” and hence have given grounds for the Labor Party being called Socialists. The party does not deny being socialistic in its aims,


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but as practical men its members put forward such proposals as will improve conditions, while at the same time they are sound on general principles. When doing propaganda work most of the members of the party in any of the Parliaments will advocate Socialism, but as candidates for the suffrages of the people they keep closely to the definite proposals contained in the Fighting Platform which has been adopted by the Political Labor Leagues, and which represents enough work for three years even if Labor had a majority.

Australians generally are Socialistic, most of them as yet unconsciously so. The most Socialistic in their demands are those calling themselves “Anti-Socialists.” They are great in asking for State assistance for practically everything they are connected with. The Victorian farmer declares himself against Socialism, yet he escapes much local taxation by securing Government subsidies for roads, bridges, parks, and gardens, and other public utilities which, were he a true individualist, he would scorn to ask aid in supporting. Likewise he gets money for agricultural show, and experts of all kinds are sent around to teach him how to grow things in the most profitable manner.

The farmer has had so much done for him by the State that he is greedy for more, and at the same conference at which he declared himself politically opposed to Socialism root and branch he formulated the following list of things he wanted from the Government. He wanted water conservation, land on deferred payments, manure protection, reduced grain freights on the railways, reduced


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rates for starving stock, wire netting on deferred payments, bonus on fox scalps, help in bush fires, cold storage, a subsidy for the Agricultural College, special grants for shows, markets for fruit, instruction in tobacco growing, Credit Foncier for loans, and they also seriously discussed the question of asking for help to pay for reapers and binders. Many of these requests have been granted, but the hypocrisy of those who receive them calling themselves individualists is simply amazing. A very lengthy list could be added, but my object is merely to show the trend of thought.

In Australia a mass of things is done, and well done, by the Government which in other countries is left to private enterprise. The Labor Party say these can be increased with advantage to the community. They draw no line, leaving each step to be followed by the next as experience suggests. If anyone proposed to transfer any of the big things now carried out by the Government to private enterprise the professed Anti-Socialists would themselves oppose it. The conscious dividing line between the Labor Party and all others is the fact that the old political parties, no matter by what name they called themselves, favored using the powers of State to help a minority of the people, whilst Labor wants to use it for the equal good of all the people. The only class which has hitherto not asked for State help has been the workers. The farmer, the commercial man, and the manufacturer have all been strongly Socialistic in seeking help of all sorts for their own personal advantage, but the wage-earner has had no consideration in any way.




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There is also this great difference between the new party and the old. Labor understands the problem and has a well-thought-out plan of social evolution, and each step it proposes will be permanent and will not have to be receded from The old parties were and are still mere opportunists, doing such things as they felt would keep them in office or proposing such things as would appeal to the people, and when put into power either forgetting their promises or keeping them only in name. Labor is in favor of taking over certain monopolies now operating in Australia, such as the manufacture of tobacco, the running of steamships on the Australian coast, the refining of sugar, etc. At present the Commonwealth Constitution is against the Party, and it will take a little time to educate the people up to carrying an amendment, but it will come. A State, which comprises but a section of the people, can take up the refining of sugar or the manufacture of iron, yet the Commonwealth, which includes the entire population, does not at present possess that power.

Then there is but little of Municipal Socialism in Australia, and there is a big field in that department of social life. There is great alarm amongst those who have been making fortunes out of the people in various forms of private enterprise, and they are leading in the fight against Labor, but just as the people awake to the fact that such persons are not friends, but in many ways parasites on society, so will Labor gather strength.

The influence of self-interest was exemplified recently in New South Wales, where a Government


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parading itself as a Reform Government, and one in favor of economy, refused to allow railway engines to be made in Government workshops, even though they could be produced better and cheaper than by private enterprise. In this they stood true to the traditions of old parties. They granted favors to the big firms at the expense of the taxpayer, and openly call it helping private enterprise. The railways are run by the State under Commissioners, but, instead of having their own coal mines like New Zealand, the people who use the railways—the country producers—have to pay higher freights and fares than there is occasion for in order that a coal ring may have big dividends. New South Wales railways consume 400,000 tons of coal per annum, and if they owned coal mines they would save at least £30,000 per annum and the freights could be reduced by that amount. When Labor gets into power that is one of the Socialistic things it will do.

There are scores of economies of a similar kind which a good live Labor Government could at once effect, and which the people would applaud once they had the object lesson. Carl Snyder in his “New Conceptions in Science” says: “The scientific organization of industry illustrated in the great trusts is going on under our eyes. It should give no alarm. When the work is complete public utility will necessitate governmental control, and from this to the complete unification of the whole machinery of production and distribution will be but a step. With this will come, too, the disappearance of the leisured and parasitic class


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generally. The invidious distinctions of wealth, with their attendant vulgarity and their inevitable debasing influence, will disappear. Under a rational regime men and women will satisfy their instinct for activity and work, while they will have ample time for that recreation and change which alone make life agreeable or supportable. Ostentatious riches and depressing poverty, greed and want, crime and prostitution will cease to exist, and with them the physical and moral maiming and stunting of the children of the poor.” That represents the economic faith of the Australian Labor Movement, which is already prepared for taking over several monopolies, such as tobacco, shipping, sugar refining, etc.

As to whether Labor will nationalise the land, the means of production, distribution, and exchange, the question is hardly worth discussing at this stage, except as an abstract proposition. Every intelligent student of our social system agrees that universal co-operation must come. The law already declares that there is no such thing as private ownership of land. Monopoly of land is admitted to be an evil. There are only two factors in production—labor and land. The owner of land, if unrestricted, practically owns all the people. Presently the people will see that the ownership of machinery is on the same plane. Machinery must become the property of the community, and production must be for use and not for profit-making.

The present competitive struggle for existence will disappear, and a new condition will arise, but it will not and cannot be brought suddenly into


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being. Revolutionary Socialism is an impossibility. No practical man can conceive it possible. It is not a healthy form of doing things. There is such an immense amount of clearing away of rubbish ere we can begin the foundations that no Parliament could do the work, even if it was a desirable thing to spring it suddenly on a people grown up under an entirely different set of conditions. There is ample work for a succession of Labor Parliaments staring us in the face, and until the Tory Second Chambers are got rid of we cannot even make a start.

There is one brake beside that, and that is the people. It is slow work getting right ideas knocked into the masses. They are mostly so mentally lazy that they take their views ready-made from a misleading press. The Labor Movement is a people's movement. Labor trusts the people, and it cannot travel faster than the people will permit. The leaders ought to be and are ahead of the people, and legislation which now lags behind the aggregate intelligence of the masses will under a Labor Government take the opposite course and keep just ahead of the thought of the people. Much of their first work will be palliative; much of it preparatory to the introduction of bigger things.

The inglorious muddle made of land and finance alone by all past Governments will hamper Labor for a time. The very staff it has to depend on in administration of departments will have to be educated and trained to new ideas and to new methods. There will be so little difference apparent to the people between a Labor Government and


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others that the alarmists will cease to worry, whilst some of the impatient extremists will be disappointed. Those in close touch will realise how inevitable it is that progress must be comparatively slow. The thoughtful student of history will see in the advent a turning point, however, which will mark a revolution for the future historian.

Labor undertakes to change the whole tenor of the world's ideas. It undertakes to change a social system which has been the growth of century upon century. It has thousands of years of heredity to overcome, and some are foolish enough to expect it to be done in a year. The Labor Party is dominated by two moral convictions—the Ethics of Usefulness and the Ethics of Fellowship. It holds that all work must have a social value to entitle to an income. In the state of society Labor aims at setting up there will be no room for the idler. Every individual will have to contribute some service having a social value. The teacher, the artist, the writer, the scientist, the medical man, and those who entertain as well as those who make things are all entitled to income, but there is no place for the profit-grabber—the being who lives on rent or usury. Governed by the Ethics of Fellowship there will only be one class, and that the producing class. All will have to be producers, using the term in the broad sense to apply to all who aid in production and in making men better and happier. Such a condition must come sooner in white Australia than in older lands.

Give Labor a chance—give it reasonable time—and it will start such an era of growing prosperity


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in Australia as will make it the envy of the world. There must be patience and solidarity. There must be faith in the greatness and soundness of the cause which, while it can be retarded in its progress by individual action and unwise haste, can never be prevented from steady advance—leading whither we cannot now tell, but certainly to better and brighter days as time rolls on.

THE END.

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