Margaret Sanger, "No Masters," Aug 1914.
Published article. Source: The Woman Rebel, Vol. 1, No. 6, August 1914, 47 , Margaret Sanger Microfilm C16:561 .
The main cause of the social misery endured by the working women to-day lies not so much in the value of wages received as in the way they have to be earned. It is not alone the work done, but the bullying, the hustling and the submission which the wage system entails, that blights the life of the worker and creates a just hatred of the master class. And there can be no hope for the woman worker until she realizes the degradation of "work" and the injustice of a system which forces her, in order to obtain the barest necessities of life, to be snubbed and insulted and driven by a master.
Powerful as the master class is depicted to be, owing to the apparent acquiescence and ignorance of its victims, it is inherently in a weak and dangerous position. For its very life it now depends upon the divisions and delusions which from time to time sway the working class. And these divisions and delusions are fostered and maintained by paid writers, scientists and politicians, aided by a venal press.
Perhaps the most popular and enervating idea accepted by the majority of workers to-day, is the doctrine of economic evolution, a doctrine which was formulated by the 'sociologists' and which asserts that the capitalist system of production for profit cannot be broken by any conscious effort on the part of the workers; that we must have masters and recognize the authority of masters until the dawn of some 'ism. The one thing the sociologists like to talk about is "Evolution", i.e. expansion and development. Since the advent of Malthus, Darwin, and Karl Marx this doctrine of evolution with its "survival of the fittest", "struggle for existence" and "self-preservation" laws, has sapped the vitality of the formidable working class movement which arose in the 19th century and which for more than a generation has sent successive shivers through the fabric of the capitalist system. Karl Marx it was who popularized the contemptible notion that this system must endure until all capital has been concentrated into a few hands in the form of one big trust and that the workers must wait until they themselves had formed one world-wide party before they would be in a position to take over the accumulated capital and work for themselves instead of for an idle class.
The evolutionist, like the madman, is in a prison--the prison of one idea. These people seem to think it singularly surprising if the worker suddenly flings to the wind all social theories and raises the banner "No Masters". The system must go on, they say. The time is not yet "ripe" for a change. The "machinery of government" and the "machinery of production" must be captured and so on. Nothing is really interesting to them, such as direct action, sabotage, the removal of a tyrant or the sudden taking over of a mine or a factory or of a farm. To tell the workers that they must wait for the accumulation of capital and for the "economic development" of the capitalist regime is like telling a prisoner in the penitentiary that he would be glad to hear that the jail now covers the state of New York. The jailer would have nothing to show the prisoner except more and more long corridors of stone lit by ghastly lights and empty of all that is human. So these expanders and evolutionists have nothing to show us except more and more infinite multitudes of wage slaves empty of all individuality, courage, idealism, humanity and spirit, and hopelessly submissive to the demigods of Capital.
No one doubts that the ordinary working woman can get on with the capitalist system as it is--at a price. The demand of the class-conscious worker, however, is not strength enough to get along with it, but to destroy it. Can woman hate enough to do this and yet love her class enough to think it worth emancipating? Can she look upon the colossal good, the hardihood and the endurance of the wage slaves without feeling sympathy? Can she look upon the colossal evil of wage slavery without once feeling despair? Can she be a rebel woman? Can she be a fanatic? Is she prepared to sacrifice the whole race for the sake of itself?
The masters argue that because we cannot have equality in a silk factory we cannot have it anywhere. Because we cannot have good-fellowship in business we cannot have it at all. They argue that society cannot do without "labor", meaning servitude -- without the bossing and the firing and the too old at forty and all the rest of their filth. If society cannot do without masters and wage slaves, so much the worse for society. For we are prepared to sacrifice our machines, our wheels and tunnels and wires and systems and slave lives for one hour of happiness.
Do not be led astray by the towering materialism which dominates the mind of the wage earners to-day which rests upon the false assumption that because a few generations go on doing the same thing over and over again, we all live in a system of clockwork evolution. Do not let fear prevent you from leading a free life. Live up to your own ideal and to the standard inscribed on the banner of the WOMAN REBEL--No Gods, No Masters.
Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project