‘Hawaii the Beautiful’ by Jack Morton from The International Socialist Review. Vol. 10 No. 8. February, 1910.
WHEN you see photographs of Beautiful Hawaii with the sugar cane in blossom and a snug little cottage nestling among the palm trees, do not be deceived. For the golden days have passed away and Civilization and the Capitalist class have set their feet upon the island where the coffee and tobacco are in bloom. Thence come the rich pine-apples and here the sugar-cane ripens all the year round.
But with capitalism and the modern machine has come a new system of production and the inevitable proletariat. So do not allow the prospectuses to cause you to fancy that this wealth blooms for you.
Not long ago the Review printed a brief article upon the strike of several thousand Japanese workers in Hawaii. From all reports the persistent efforts of the Higher Wage Association has been a strong factor in forcing the plantation owners to treat their employes more like human beings.
This, in the face of the strenuous efforts of the plantation owner whose employment agents have scoured Portugal and Russia for laborers. Naturally these men sang the old song, of the land flowing with milk and honey. Naturally, too, they refrained from explaining that the working class in Hawaii was not allowed to share them.
Soon great ships were bringing loads of immigrants whose hopes beat high in the expectation of unlimited opportunities for the thrifty and industrious. But in many places the plantation owners have accomplished their purpose, for the immigrants found themselves in a serious condition. And generally a man has only to be hungry enough to work for anything. From all reports it has only been through the united efforts of the Higher Wage Association that wages have not been forced down everywhere to the barest subsistence point.
The United States government is supporting the colonization schemes of the plantation owners in many ways. Comrade Jacob Kotinsky, a Socialist, who has been assistant entomologist in the Federal service at Honolulu, has been discharged recently for explaining to the Russian and Portuguese workmen the strike situation and the economic conditions.
Contrary to the general ideas among us, the plantations in Hawaii are run almost entirely in the most modern methods. Great steam plows are used universally, and one sugar-cane plantation alone contains over sixty-five miles of flume, through which the cane is floated to the very doors of the company’s mills. A stupendous system of irrigation has been introduced so that the dryest places now blossom as the rose.
In spite of the army of unemployed, many of whom are planning for means to return to their homes and friends, the plantation owners are finding that steady, permanent. workers produce bigger crops and more profits than desultory and underfed laborers. For this reason the Planters’ Association is inaugurating a new bonus system by which men and women working a certain number of days a year receive a cash bonus of twenty or twenty-four dollars at the end of that time.
By this it will be seen that the planters are beginning to emulate the most highly developed industries. In many places small cottages and an acre of land are given to the laborers who will faithfully work to the satisfaction of the employers, for a period of three years.
This is the same old trick that is being worked by the Steel Trust. Often employers of labor discover that a bonus offered at a future time as the reward of “good behavior” on the part of the workmen, tends to render the men and women more obedient slaves, more docile and energetic servants. But the men and women who have gone to Hawaii are made of sturdy stuff. The pioneers of the world have ever been rebels. They do not tamely submit to the annihilation of their hopes of economic independence. The struggle between capitalist and laborer in Hawaii has not been settled. Nowhere has the fight between exploiter and exploited been settled. It will never be settled till class rule has passed away and all men have gained economic independence!
The International Socialist Review (ISR) was published monthly in Chicago from 1900 until 1918 by Charles H. Kerr and critically loyal to the Socialist Party of America. It is one of the essential publications in U.S. left history. During the editorship of A.M. Simons it was largely theoretical and moderate. In 1908, Charles H. Kerr took over as editor with strong influence from Mary E Marcy. The magazine became the foremost proponent of the SP’s left wing growing to tens of thousands of subscribers. It remained revolutionary in outlook and anti-militarist during World War One. It liberally used photographs and images, with news, theory, arts and organizing in its pages. It articles, reports and essays are an invaluable record of the U.S. class struggle and the development of Marxism in the decades before the Soviet experience. It was closed down in government repression in 1918.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/isr/v10n08-feb-1910-ISR-gog.pdf