Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A lesson from Jack London

Five years ago, on a visit to Glen Ellen, California, Debbie and I visited the grave site of Jack London, novelist, journalist, adventurer, and socialist activist. Deb drew my attention to the letter below, on display in an adjacent museum. I kept a copy of it, believing there’s a message here for This Movement Of Ours.

Honolulu, March 7, 1916

Dear Comrades:

I am resigning from the Socialist Party, because of its lack of fire and fight, and its loss of emphasis upon the class struggle.

I was originally a member of the old revolutionary up-on-its-hind-legs, a fighting, Socialist Labor Party. Since then, and to the present time, I have been a fighting member of the Socialist Party. My fighting record in the Cause is not, even at this late date, already entirely forgotten. Trained in the class struggle, as taught and practiced by the Socialist Labor Party, my own highest judgment concurring, I believed that the working class, by fighting, by never fusing, by never making terms with the enemy, could emancipate itself. Since the whole trend of Socialism in the United States during recent years has been one of peaceableness and compromise, I find that my mind refuses further sanction of my remaining a party member. ...

My final word is that liberty, freedom and independence are royal things that cannot be presented to nor thrust upon race or class. If races and classes cannot rise up and by their own strength of brain and brawn, wrest from the world liberty, freedom and independence, they never in time can come to these royal possessions...and if such royal things are kindly presented to them by superior individuals, on silver platters, they will not know what to do with them, will fail to make use of them, and will be what they have always been in the past...inferior races and inferior classes.

Yours for the Revolution,
Jack London

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