From the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard
At Head Office on Sunday, November 25, the film on show was about production and productivity under the title “Room for Discussion.” On the screen were the late Arthur Deakin, speaking for trade unionists, an employer, Mr. Graham Hutton, economist, and Mr. Speakman, of the British Productivity Council. The film showed them taking questions from the audience and giving their separate views. In fact there was little disagreement among the panel or those of the audience who put questions, and none at all about any vital question concerning production problems because no vital question was raised. All the discussion took place within the narrow framework of accepting the present social arrangements and seeing what small things could be done within that framework. Nobody raised the question of the desirability of the kind of things that are produced, such as armaments, nobody dealt with the ownership of factories or division of the product, or wondered whether the class relationship of employers and employed might have some bearing, and nobody mentioned the rest of the world outside this country except as a place in which British exports have to be sold and could be more easily sold if cheaper.
About the biggest suggestion made was that production would go up and costs be lowered if more workers went over to shift working so that the machines could be worked day and night. The panel smoothly agreed that this would be a good thing provided that the workers received some extra pay. It is understandable that the panel took it easily—they don’t work shifts—but none of the audience put the workers’ point of view about the objections to early, late and night work.
Nobody put the Socialist case that the only way to obtain a really big increase of goods and services useful to the human race (as against the comparatively trifling increases of output per worker that is all the productivity expects can show) is to free millions of workers from their present task of producing armaments, and running Capitalist financial and bureaucratic operations, so that they could be employed on socially useful work. In this way production could be doubled, but the Film Panel and audience seemingly have never even noticed the things that ought to hit them in the eye. They were all conditioned to accepting Capitalism as a necessity for all time.
The audience at our Head Office when the film was shown took part in an interesting and useful discussion of all the things the film ignored.