Thursday, January 5, 2017

A message for the New Year (1965)

Editorial from the January 1965 issue of the Socialist Standard

Another new year has arrived, and with it the usual crop of wishes for health, wealth, and prosperity. It is customary for the politicians and press at this arbitrary point in time to review the last twelve months and talk about our prospects in the coming year.

Probably many of them, Tories in particular, will be glad to turn their backs on 1964, not without a shudder. For the Conservative Party, it was a time of internal ructions and fortunes at a low ebb. Under the rather uninspiring leadership of Douglas-Home, they were still trying to live down the effects of the Profumo and other scandals, and were sensing the swing of opinion against them as the general election drew near. For the Labour Party, it was of course a different story.

With the turn of the year, Wilson's hundred days will be more than three-quarters gone, and with them perhaps some of the working class enthusiasm which gave him his precarious victory last October. A settling-in period he called it, and in that time the Labour Government have been busy imposing just the sort of measures which they so heartily condemned when their predecessors used them. There is nothing surprising in this. Such is the stuff of capitalist politics that even the best-intentioned promises are broken just like so much piecrust.

If the sentiments of a new year’s wish could become a reality by wishing hard enough, life would be a lot simpler, but whatever we may wish, capitalism will determine what we get, and for most of us it will be a pretty second rate existence.

For we are the majority and we have no ownership in the means of production and distribution; we have to rely on our wage packets to get by. Because of this, 1965 basically will not be any different for us than the years which went before, although Labour politicians will try to tell us otherwise.

For the owning minority it is another story. Capitalism will determine what they get also, but it will be very much more worth having than the very best for which workers can hope. It will in fact be for them a life of ease and comfort, with the best food, clothing and shelter that money can buy. Despite the ups and downs of business, this will be the general picture of their life from one end of the year to the other. They are the capitalist class.

Capitalism is based upon the minority ownership of the means of life, where the paramount interest is the production of goods for sale and profit Such a system is anarchic, riddled with anomalies and contradictions, and relegates human interests to a point way down the list of priorities. Yet despite all this, it will not die of old age, but will stay in existence until the workers of the world decide to end it. It is against this background that the failures of governments fall into perspective. They just cannot deliver the goods as far as workers are concerned, because capitalism can only be administered in the interests of the capitalist class.

The only answer is to establish a world of common ownership, where production is carried on solely for the use and enjoyment of the whole of the world’s population. It will take mass working class knowledge and understanding to achieve, but that it can and will be done is our confident expectation, despite the apparent bleakness of the present outlook.

No comments: