From the April 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard
Many of the opponents of the Socialist Party of Great Britain often tell us in defence of present-day society, that hard work is the keynote of success in the modern world; and they go on to illustrate this argument with pictorial descriptions of the lives of those wonderful self-made men, within whose illustrious ranks we find Lord Nuffield, Ford, Dawson and Sir Bernard Docker. Indeed to listen to some of our opponents the lives of these men read like Hans Andersen fairy stories.
It is one of the tragedies of life, that many members of the working class cannot see the fallacy in this argument. They believe that they too can emulate the success of that figure of British big business, Mr. George Dawson. They see themselves holidaying on the French Riviera, dining at the Ritz, and driving from place to place in luxury cars.
The reasons for this attitude of mind are not far to find. In almost every facet of our daily lives we are subjected to as intense a barrage of propaganda as could be imagined. The ideas of hard work and success are pumped at us in our newspapers, from the radio and television, and at the cinema; they are as inescapable as death itself.
To a member of the working class, hard work can be guaranteed to bring one thing, a great desire for rest and sleep. What foundation of success is laid by the man digging a hole in the road? Reaching Australia perhaps? Does the cotton worker find that hard work breed success? Far from it. He finds he has worked so hard that he has produced a glut of goods and ended up in the dole queue. For every George Dawson or Lord Nuffield there are millions of men and women whose sweat and energies have entitled them to one thing; a place on the old-age pension register, with the prospect of receiving some paltry weekly sum, which is hardly sufficient to keep them in tobacco, let alone provide the necessities of life.
Hard work offers no solution to the problems of the working class, for the only real solution is the abolishment of the causes of these problems; of war, poverty and insecurity. It is the very nature of society which is to blame—a society which invests the ownership and control of industry upon one section of society and brings the rest to a state of relative poverty. A society where things are produced not for use solely but for sale at a profit. A society which pits man against man and nation against nation, leaving a trail of wars, booms and slumps.
Only when things are commonly owned, when goods are produced only to satisfy the needs and desires of men and women, when wars no longer ravage the face of the earth, when man will really be brother unto man; only then, under Socialism, will man inherit his rightful heritage. Let's work hard for that.