Friday, February 5, 2016

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING (1949)

From the December 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

To those members of the working-class who for the past few years have been harassed by a shortage of foodstuffs, the International Sugar Council has something to say . . .  This sub-committee of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation is reported in the Manchester Guardian of October 21st, 1949 as stating at its meeting on the previous day that " . . .  there was not at present any serious world surplus of sugar, and that it was improbable that any burdensome surplus would develop in the crop year ending in August, 1950. It was felt, however . . . that an international instrument should be ready before an emergency occurred.”

The lesson is obvious—a surplus of goods is considered to be “burdensome” under capitalism because it is in such conditions that prices and profits tend to fall, so promoting the rise of a state of panic and industrial stagnation. This, to the capitalist class, is “serious”—it is an “emergency.” In a sanely ordered society, however, in which wealth would be produced for the use and benefit of the community and not with the object of the realisation of a profit by a parasite minority, a surplus of food or any other form of wealth would be no cause for long faces and suicides, but for rejoicing at the prospect of increased leisure and security so realised.

Truly, capitalism can no longer operate in the interests of the majority of humanity—it is “burdensome” in its manifestations, “serious" in its prospects —it is to-day our major problem, and its abolition our principal “emergency.”
Ivan

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