From the March 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard
At this time of the year the pantomime season is drawing to a close and these Xmas plays are being taken off.
One of the plays regularly performed is "Jack and the Beanstalk." The story is of Teutonic origin and was written during feudal times. It tells of a peasant woman who is forced by poverty to send her son Jack to market to sell their cow. He exchanges it for a bag of beans. On his return home the woman throws the beans out of the window. They grow to a tremendous height during the night and Jack climbs to the top, to find himself in the realm of a giant. By subterfuge he steals the giant's money bags and when this money is spent and gone he goes back and steals the giant's magic hen. The second acquisition has the advantage that the possessor is able to live in permanent luxury as the hen lays golden eggs. The giant's harp warns its master, but Jack succeeds in making his getaway with the hen. The hen's supply of golden eggs enables Jack and his family to live happily ever after.
The audience not only enjoy the usual pleasures associated with attending a play, but, with this pantomime, as with some others, the additional pleasure of merging their own individual identities with some of characters in the play. To merge their identity with Jack and his mother is a very pleasant experience for many workers.
It makes a pleasing even if fantastic dream to leave their world of anxiety, toll, strife, working-class houses and working-class food through the ownership of a hen that lays golden eggs producing such wealth that the fortunate owner can satisfy all his wants. Quite an impossibility to so many workers' minds, much too good to be even though about—except in a pantomime.
Back at the process of making a living next day all thoughts of the pantomime are forgotten. There is no time for such dreams—the workers is far too busy producing wealth for his employer. And what wealth!! The golden eggs of Jack's hen appear quite insignificant against the profits the workers produce for those who own capital.
Just Take a Look at This:—
The profits of companies, public and private, in 1950, according to the Treasury White Paper amounted to £1,692 millions after deducting depreciation. The profits of 3,787 companies, which reported in 1951, as totalled by the Financial Times came to £1,873 millions. This total is an increase of 30 per cent. over the Financial Times 1950 figure of £1,431 millions. After depreciation the figures were £1,636 millions and £1,225 millions respectively.
Aspirations that now seem to many workers to be just wishful thinking can become reality just as soon as they realise that it is the ownership of the land, factories, transport systems, and the means of life generally by society that will enable these dreams to be realised by them. Then there will be no need to waste labour on armaments, advertisements, passports and the host of officials and clerks necessary for the present system of wealth production.
This will come about when the workers understand the exploitation basis of this system of society.
Socialist propaganda will help them. The task is urgent—will you join with us and help to make those dreams come true!