From the April 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
On Mediterranean shores, on the sands of Waikiki, on Caribbean Waters, these are among the places where the worker is to be found. But not in great numbers and not stretched out on his back. He will be found in these places in just those numbers that are required to wash, clothe, feed and minister in other ways to the wants and comforts of people who have neither the need nor the urge to look after themselves.
There are places where the worker can be found in far greater numbers: the swamps of Florida, the forests of British Columbia, the auto plants of Michigan, the mining camps of Ontario; places that he is far more accustomed to, where the produce of nature is moulded into things useful to man; far places, near places, places of dirt and smoke, and smoke and sweat and work.
The worker is a handy sort of person to have around. Without him the Mediterranean shores would lose most of their splendour, the waves would wash over Waikiki unsung by travel agencies, the waters of the Caribbean would abound in ocean life undisturbed by intrepid sportsmen. Without him there would be no smoke over Pittsburgh, no satellites over Moscow; no grandeur in Rome, no pomp in London; no magnificence in Washington, no bull in Ottawa; no joy in the hearts of those who live without working.
To ensure that he creates an abundance of the finer things of life for other people and a sufficiency of other things to care for his own needs, in the way of food, clothing and shelter, plus a bit extra for tobacco and the raising of a family to take his place in production when he grows old, and also to ensure that this state of affairs be protected to infinity, that is the fondest aim of those in whose care rests the destiny of society. That is the blessed eternity that the owners of the world and their spokesmen dream and yearn and sigh for. What finer world could be envisaged than one in which the workers work happily on simple fare and the non-workers live happily on the rest ?
Somehow this doesn't sound just right, docs it ? Somehow it seems that somebody is getting away with something, that there should be a better set-up than one in which the workers wind up with rations while people who do nothing useful live on the fat of the land. Yet that's how it is.
There is a lot said in high places about talking turkey to the Russians and hanging one on the nose of some other foreigner. There are grandiose plans in governing circles for intercontinental guided missiles and improved types of atom bombs. There is much said about foreign trade, tariffs, agreements and embargoes. The world we live in treats the wealth of the owning class with the greatest reverence. It has to be guarded by every means, shifted here and shifted there, moved within the terms of international understandings, cared for and catered to in every way that will benefit the owners. And these antics are all assumed to be in the interest of the whole community, the theory being that what is good for General Bullmoose is good for everybody. But after everything has been done according to plan, it still works out that the worker finds himself by the palm trees, the rolling waves, the silvery sands, for no better reason than to work. Either that or he is trespassing.
It doesn't have to be like that. But if someone thinks that maybe the other fellow will do something about it, he had better move back to the beginning and start thinking some more. The other fellow has too many things to do. He has a world in his lap, placed there by the worker. How can he enjoy to the full the bounteous produce of labour and at the same time concern himself about its grubby producer? Besides, what can be wrong with a world that is so full of wonderful things and places—and so much time in which to enjoy them ?
Thoughts like these are hard to counter. There is logic in the other fellow’s position—logic for him. But it could be different for the worker. This kind of logic doesn’t help to build up his supply of caviar or contribute to the upkeep of his coach and four. He needs more. And when he has gotten down to some serious thought and study and found out what really goes on in society, there is no doubt whatever about the outcome: he will know what needs to be done and he will know who has to do it.
He will know that the reason he and his family and his kind receive so little while the other people mentioned receive so much is that he and his kind are members of the working class, having no share in the ownership of the means of production and distribution and forced in order to live to work for these other people, the members of the capitalist class. He will know that the workers are forced to do this because the capitalists own the means of production and distribution and will allow their operation only on condition that it brings them a profit. He will know, too, that this profit comes from the amount of wealth produced by the workers in excess of their own essential needs and that the capitalist class exert constant pressure to increase this excess and so their profit, even to the extent of lowering the subsistence level of the workers. Knowing this, he will also know that the only way for the workers to rid themselves of the shackles of subservience and want is to transform the means of production and distribution from capitalist property to common property, introducing at last a condition in which human needs will be satisfied unaffected by the restraints, dictates and diversions of an owning class.
And since the class ownership of the means of life is protected for the capitalists by their control over the government, the worker will know, too, that he and his fellows must become organised in a political party designed to bring about the necessary transformation. Then he will join the Socialist Party.
(Reproduced from a Leaflet published by the Socialist Party of Canada.)