William Montgomery Brown.

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"grab-it-alls," they must be protected at every point against the many
dishonest makers who are diabolically tempted to be "keep-somes!"

These rounded out children of god have nothing in common with these
caved in imps of the devil, no more than the flea and the dog, or the
tapeworm and the man.

David hastily said: All men are liars. He might leisurely have said this
of every representative of any religious or political orthodoxy, for
they insist that their religion and politics are the permanent elements
in social truth which remain unchanged from generation to generation
through all ages, whereas no religion or politics continues the same
during one decade, nor even a single year.

Orthodox Christians say that Jesus founded their sectarian churches,
though each sect insists that he had to do with only one church, theirs.
I doubt that he lived. In any case, I am certain that if he did live and
founded a church in the first century and were to come to earth again in
this twentieth century, he could not if he would and would not if he
could become a member of it, because of its changes.

Our own country is different by the width of the whole space of the
heavens from what it was before the war, and it is destined to a much
wider change.

So far are churches with their doctrines, and states with their laws
from being changeless, that they are more or less modified by every
development in the economic system to which they owe their existence
and of which they are servants.

In the case of every nation its king, the economic system, has always
been a robber and enslaver of the overwhelming majority of the people,
and the church and state have been the hands by which he accomplished
the robbing and enslaving.

Insofar as they differ, Roman orthodoxy is what it is because of its
starting out as the religious product of the feudal system of economics;
and Protestant orthodoxy is what it is because of its starting out as
the religious product of the capitalistic system of economics.

Protestantism is preferred before Romanism by most of the leading people
in the financial world, because it is the child of capitalism, their
sister, so to speak, whereas its rival is only a cousin.

As to the Roman and Protestant orthodoxies they are on the same footing.
I would not turn my hand over for the difference between them. If
literally interpreted in the light of modern science, both are utterly
antiquated and irrational.

Orthodox Romanists and Protestants have essentially the same bible and
creed. In my opinion, as in that of all Marxian and Darwinian
socialists, every supernaturalistic representation in both must be
regarded as having either a figurative or a superstitious character, for
there is not one among them which can endure a scientific and rational
analysis; yet, this is an age of science and reason.

The difference between Romanism and Protestantism is not at all a
question of relative supernaturalism, nor of rightness and wrongness,
but wholly one of the difference between the systems of economics which
gave them birth.

If you ask, is not this difference at least partly a question of the age
in which they took their rise, I reply, yes; but the age itself depends
upon the system.

However, it is a fact that while an economic system does constitute the
foundation of every religious and political superstructure, yet below
the foundation itself there is always a bed rock upon which it
ultimately rests, and this is a question of machinery by which the
necessities of life are produced and distributed.

The age of feudalism was essentially traditional or theoretical in its

The age of capitalism is essentially scientific or experimental in its

This difference between these ages is due to the fact that during the
earlier age things were made with hand tools, and during the later one
with machine tools.

Machinery in a theoretical or traditional age would be an anachronism.
It must have an experimental or scientific age for its development, and,
paradoxical as it may seem, this the machinery must make for itself.
Every period in human history has had its determining character from the
tools which brought it into being.

Supernaturalism has no place in the observations, investigations or
experimentations which are necessary to the invention, construction and
operation of a great machine and, hence, the machines have banished the
gods from the roof of the earth and the devils from its cellar, leaving
it to us to make of it what we please, a heaven or a hell without
reference to them. In his brilliant work entitled "Social and
Philosophical Studies", translated by Charles H. Kerr, Paul Lafargue

The labour of the mechanical factory puts the wage-worker in touch
with terrible natural forces unknown to the peasant, but instead of
being mastered by them he controls them. The gigantic mechanism of
iron and steel which fills the factory, which makes him move like
an automaton, which sometimes clutches him, bruises him, mutilates
him, does not engender in him a superstitious terror as the thunder
does in the peasant, but leaves him unmoved, for he knows that the
limbs of the mechanical monster were fashioned and mounted by his
comrades, and that he has but to push a lever to set it in motion
or stop it. The machine, in spite of its miraculous power and
productiveness, has no mystery for him. The labourer in the
electrical works, who has but to turn a crank on a dial to send
miles of motive power to tramways, or light the lamps of a city,
has but to say, like the God of Genesis, "let there be light," and
there is light. Never sorcery more fantastic was imagined, yet for
him this sorcery is a simple and natural thing. He would be greatly
surprised if one were to come and tell him that a certain god
might, if he chose, stop the machines and extinguish the lights
when the electricity had been turned on; he would reply that this
anarchistic god would be simply a misplaced gearing or a broken
wire, and that it would be easy for him to seek and find this
disturbing god. The practice of the modern factory teaches
scientific determinism to the wage-worker, without it being
necessary for him to pass through the theoretic study of the

Earth must be a hell as long as we allow the capitalist system to
continue on it and to enslave the vast majority of its inhabitants.
Marxian socialism will ring out the old era with its hell of human
slavery and ring in the new era with its heaven of machine slavery.

One point must be grasped and held by all who would understand the
changes which take place within the social realm and it is this: they
are due to the differences in the instrumentalities or machines by which
the necessities of life are produced.

Man has risen above the lower animals which have common ancestors with
his own, because of the superiority of the hand by which he does things
to the hands by which they do things. If a man's body in general and
hand in particular were not a great improvement over the bodies and
hands of the apes, his mind and morality would differ but little from

The superiority of the civilization of this age over its predecessors is
a question of instrumentalities by which the efficiency of the hand is

If all the modern machinery were taken from this generation and replaced
by the implements of the stone age the civilization of the next
generation would begin to sink, and within a century it would reach the
ancient level.

Strong expression is also given to the great truth upon which we are
here dwelling by the Socialist Party of Great Britain in its noteworthy

Obviously, in order that there may be ideas and human history, two
material things must first be present: human beings, and food and
shelter for them. And the fundamental fact that is so seldom
realized is, that where, by what means, and how much, food and
shelter can be obtained, determines if, where, and how, man shall
live, and the forms his social institutions and ideas shall take.

It is, indeed, the very basis of Socialist philosophy that, in the
words of Frederick Engels:

"In every historical epoch the prevailing mode of economic
production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily
following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from
which, alone can be explained, the political and intellectual
history of that epoch."

This materialist concept is the Socialist key to history. It is the
first principle of a science of society, and, being directly
antagonistic to all religious philosophy, it is destined to drive
this "philosophy" and all its superstitions from their last ditch.

Civilization will not die with the death of the capitalist system of
production any more than it did with the feudal system. It improved
under capitalism, because of the improvement in the machinery of
production, and it is destined to continue its progress so long as new
and better machines are made and this will be to the end.

Marxian socialism is a machine optimism. Under this socialism the number
and efficiency of machines would increase more rapidly than they have
under capitalism and feudalism, because its aim will be the production
of commodities for use within the shortest time by the least exertion at
the slightest risk of injury.

Up to the point of over production, that is, of glutting the markets, it
is to the interest of capitalism to encourage improvements in machinery,
but the ability to do this has been reached, as is evident from what we
hear at increasingly frequent intervals about an over production of

What machinery we now have renders it possible to produce more
commodities than can be sold without employing all the labor power. But
the idle, starving slave is a danger to the idle, surfeiting master.
Hence, under capitalism there can be no further development of
machinery, at least not on a large scale.

An industrial government would have for its aim to produce enough of
everything for all with the least expenditure of energy and time. Hence,
the greatest benefactors and heroes under socialism would be the
inventors of labor saving, leisure giving machinery.

We hear much about the mental superiority of the representatives of the
master class over those of the slave class, but there is little or no
truth in it.

On the contrary, it can be shown that the invention of a great labor
saving, rapid-producing machine is, upon the whole, the greatest triumph
of the human mind and that nearly all among such machines are invented,
made, operated, kept in order and improved by the laborer.

Masters may be more cunning than slaves, but cunningness is not an
evidence of a high order of intellectual power. Many of the lower
animals are quite the equals, if not indeed the superiors, of
capitalists in this quality, but no animal is the equal of any man, not
to speak of the exceptionally skilled laborer, in the power to produce
efficient machines for the production and distribution of the
necessities of life.

Romanism began its career as a child of the feudal system for the
production and distribution of commodities for the profit of the owners
of the land and the means for its cultivation. The mission to which it
was born was the assistance of its father, feudalism, in robbing and
enslaving the workers who tilled the soil, and never did a servant more
faithfully or efficiently perform a task during a longer period.

Protestantism began its career as a child of the capitalistic system for
the production and distribution of commodities for the profit of the
owners of the means and machines for their manufacturing. The mission to
which it was born was the assistance of its father, capitalism, in
robbing and enslaving the workers, who make and operate the machines,
and never did a servant more faithfully and efficiently perform a task
in a larger or more fruitful field.

Hitherto all systems of economics have had the same soul, competition;
and, because of it, every one among them has been a diabolical trinity
of which lying is the father; robbing is the son, who proceeds from the
father; and murder is the spirit, who proceeds from the father and the

Labor, "the certain man" of every nation, is half dead lying in the
ditch by the wayside, despoiled and wounded, the victim of capitalism,
the greatest liar, robber and murderer of all the ages.

The church is the archangel or prime minister through which this
Beelzebub, capitalism, has done most of his lying, though within the
last hundred years the business has become so great that the office of
coadjutor to this archangel was created, and the press appointed to it.

The state is the archangel or prime minister through which this prince
of devils, capitalism, has done most of his robbing and killing, though
the church has often taken a helpful hand in these departments of the
devil's work, the great work of converting earth into a hell.

Nearly all of the backwardness of the world and more than half of its
unnecessary sufferings have been due to efforts to prevent changes in
religion and politics. Our nation is passing through the darkest period
of its history because of such efforts on the part of the powers which
be in the state, and they are supported by those in the church.

Speaking of the change with which we are here especially concerned, the
one involved in the supplanting of an old economic system by a new,
there have been several revolutions due to such changes, and another is
inevitable and imminent.

When an economic system fails, as the capitalistic one is failing, to
feed, clothe and house the workers of the world who produce all foods,
clothes and houses, the time when it must give place to another is
manifestly near at hand.

Capitalism is failing in this, the only legitimate mission of an
economic system. It has indeed over-supplied the needs of about one in
ten, but in doing this it has shown partiality, for the remaining nine
are left more or less foodless, clotheless and houseless, and this
notwithstanding they have done all the feeding, clothing and housing.
Those favored by the system will not be able to prevent its overthrow by
those who are wronged.

With our materials, factories, railroads and skill, all should have
enough and to spare of every necessity, but so far is this from being
the case that millions are insufficiently fed, clothed, housed and
warmed, and are doomed to a perpetual and exhaustive drudgery which
leaves neither leisure nor energy for the cultivation of their soul

The economical and statistical experts of our government's Department of
Labor represent that the bare necessities of a comfortable and efficient
life for a family of five require an annual income of $1,500, and that
the simple luxuries, which are next to being indispensable, require an
additional $1,000, in all $2,500, per year.

How many American families of five have even the smaller of these sums
at their disposal? The overwhelming majority have less than $1,000. Let
us be honest with the peoples of other nations by ceasing to speak of
our country as "the land of plenty and the home of the free," until
there is a great change for the better.

Wage slavery may be prolonged by a military coercion but it cannot have
a successor in any other form of human slavery. Military coercion
prolonged chattel slavery, and by so doing brought what is known as the
dark ages upon the world. If wage slavery is to be prolonged by military
coercion the world must pass through a second dark age. The league of
nations is fixing for this; but let us hope that this coalition will not
stand and that wage slavery will soon be followed by machine slavery,
the form of slavery which will end human slavery; not until then shall
we have peace on earth and good will among men.

Then they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into
pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither
shall they learn war any more.

Do you not now see with me that the christ of the world is not a
conscious, personal god, but an unconscious, impersonal machine? It is
the machine of man, not a lamb of god, to which we may hopefully look
for the taking away of the sins of the world.

Ignorance is the great misfortune of the world, its devil, and slavery
is his hell. The machine is the redeemer who shall save man from this
devil and hell.

Yes, strange, even blasphemous, as the representation may seem, it is
nevertheless true, the machine is the only name given under heaven
whereby the world can be saved.

Civilization is salvation. The civilization which is salvation depends
on leisure and it on slavery, but so long as leisure is dependent upon
the slavery of man, civilization must be limited to a diminishing few.

Marxian socialism is a movement towards the equalization and
universalization of leisure by doing away with the master and slave
classes, through transference of slavery from man to machine.

If there is any truth in my naturalistic representation about the
dependence of morality upon a system for the production of the
necessities of life, there is none in the supernaturalistic one, which
makes it dependent on any among the gods; and, what is true of the realm
of morality is equally so of the realm of history, and this whether it
be the history of the universe in general or man in particular.

Lavoisier and Mayer showed that no god (Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha)
created the universe out of nothing, for the matter and force which
enter into its constitution are eternalities and universalities.

Kant and Laplace showed that the earth and the heavenly bodies were not
created by any god at all, but evolved from gaseous nebulae.

Kepler and Newton showed that these bodies were not governed in their
motions by a god but by the law of gravitation.

Darwin and Wallace showed that the species of animal and vegetable life
were not created by any among the gods, but evolved from a common

Marx and Engels showed that man's career has not been determined by any
among the gods, but by his systems for producing and distributing the
necessities of life.

These ten men are the greatest teachers the world has had, and this is
the sum of all their great teachings: The universe is self-existing,
self-sustaining and self-governing, having all the potentialities of its
own life within itself, and what is true of it in general is equally so
of all the phenomena which enter into its constitution, including man;
who, though he is the highest among them, is only a phenomenon, on a
level with all the rest, not excepting the lowest. A microbe and a man
are on the same footing, both as to their origin and destiny, and as to
their having within themselves all power which is available for making
the most of their respective lives.

"We are part
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill,
One with the things that prey on us,
And one with what we kill."

Darwinism and Marxism constitute one gospel, the only true,
comprehensive and sufficient gospel which the world has ever had or can
have, and there is no hope for the future of mankind except in it. If it
fails the world is lost, but it shall not and indeed cannot fail, for
its words are so many acts or facts of nature.

There is no fact which is not such an act, and every such fact is a part
of the one only law upon the knowing and doing of which terrestrial life
and its happiness are wholly and solely dependent.

Yes, life, long life, happy life, all there is of such human life, or
divine life, (if there be any), depends entirely upon a knowledge of and
conformity to this law which is the doing of nature, and not at all upon
any law which is the willing of a god, if indeed there is such a law.

Neither the religion nor the politics which enters into the constitution
of Marxian or proletarian socialism is at all concerned about the heaven
above or the hell below the earth, if there are such places: but the
concern of both is wholly to ring out a hell from the earth and to ring
in a heaven upon it.

Nor have the religion and politics which constitute this socialism the
least concern about the service of a celestial divinity (Jesus, Jehovah,
Allah, Buddha or any other) by doing his will; but both are much
concerned with the service of humanity, which consists in rightly
learning, interpreting and using the laws of nature, wholly for the
purpose of making the terrestrial lives of men, women and children as
long and happy as possible, and with absolutely no reference to any
celestial life which may be either above or below the earth.

Religion and politics are the complementary and inseparable halves of
the social sphere, religion being its idealism and politics its

Religious idealism is a social soul of which the church should be the

Political practicalism is a social soul of which the state should be the

Contrary to the representations of orthodox Christianism it is
impossible for any soul to exist without an embodiment.

In truth the body produces the soul, not the soul the body. We must have
the church and state in order that we may have their souls, idealism and

Why, if the Soul can fling the Dust aside
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride,
Were't not a Shame - were't not a Shame for him
In this clay carcass crippled to abide?

- Omar.


The church and the state are on the same level as to their origin and
importance. Both are human institutions and each is indispensable to the
other. It is not at all desirable or possible to rid the world of
either, but it is absolutely necessary that both should be
revolutionized, the church by having its bible and creed rewritten or at
least reinterpreted, on the basis of truth as it is revealed by nature,
and the state by having its institutions reorganized on the basis of
service to all instead of only to those of a small class, the owner or
master class.

All the idealistic aims of churches and all the practical undertakings
of states should be directly concerned with the answer to three
questions: (1) the question as to how to reach the goal where
terrestrial life shall in the case of each man, woman and child be as
long and happy as it is within the range of possibilities to make it, by
the fullest of attainable knowledge concerning the laws of nature; (2)
the question as to how to make the most successful endeavor universally
to disseminate such knowledge, and (3) the question as to how
resistlessly to persuade to the living of it.

These are the only concerns and aims of Marxian socialism and they
cannot be promoted or even avowed by Christian socialists.

The great crime of the ages is the robbing of the producer of the basic
necessities of human life by the non-producer.

Capitalism is the robber, and the politics and religion of the old
states and churches are the right and left hands by which he has been
and is doing the robbing.

Marxian socialism is an undertaking which has for its task the overthrow
of the system which makes it possible for those who produce nothing to
live surfeitingly, and renders it necessary for those who produce
everything to live starvingly.

Poverty is a disease caused by the unjust wage system of competitive
capitalism for producing and distributing the necessities of life (food,
clothing and shelter) for the profit of capitalists, the few who live by
owning the materials and machines of production and distribution; and
this blighting malady cannot be cured by charity, but it will spread
until this system is supplanted by the just one of co-operative
industrialism, a system by which these necessities shall be produced
and distributed for the use of laborers, those who live by making and
operating the machines.

Every gift to charity by a rich man is a robbery of a poor man. You will
not see this at once, if ever, and I shall not blame you for the failure
to do so. It was not seen by me until I was much older than you; but I
am now seeing it as clearly as I ever saw the sun on a cloudless
noonday, and this is true of rapidly growing millions who are resolutely
resolved to do away with the prevailing conception of charity, according
to which capitalists may rob laborers of the fruit of their toil, giving

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Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 4 of 15)