From the March 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard
"All a man wants is a decent living wage.” How often has this remark been passed by members of the working class when talking to a socialist. Behind it, one can sense the desire for economic security, and the mental peace and relaxation that would arise from it. So, in a form of society where everything is measured in money, those that have so little of it spend the whole of their lives working and wishing.
Thousands, recognizing that only “Lady Luck” can get them out of the drudgery that is their social possession by birth, spend some of the hard-earned cash in an attempt to beat the horses, dogs or cards. Each week-end millions more have a “flutter” on the pools, and others turn to crime, all in a vain attempt to find their way “upwards” (economically). We say vain attempt, for if these workers would reason collectively instead of individually, it would be clear that although one or two may go up, thousands will go down still further. For everyone who wins a pound thousands more will lose it; for everyone who is successful in crime, thousands more are steadily plodding round the prison yards.
It is to this majority of society, the workers, to the people who day after day sell themselves to be exploited by the owners of the tools of production, that the socialist message is addressed. By understanding and co-operation it is possible for us to take the constant drudgery out of our lives, the boredom that herds us together each week-end to get a little excitement out of football or gambling our money on animals. For the philosophy of “Well, you never know, you may be a pound better off” arises directly out of the realisation that if you had another pound or so, you could perhaps break the boredom for a week. But the tragedy is that most of us never win; we lose that pound and the misery is intensified.
The alternative to this barren existence? It is within the reach of all workers. We could send our delegates to Parliament to take over the “State Machinery” by which the owners protect their interests, abolish private ownership of the means of production and introduce common ownership. Did we hear someone say “Then what?”
Why, then would come the end of wars, the end of poverty, the end of monotony, of insecurity, the end of the capitalist class and the end of the working class.
Man will work with man for the betterment of all, subjecting natural forces for social comfort, serving the cry: “ From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
Finally, it will put an end to the remark, “All a man wants is a decent living wage.” For wages being the price that is paid by the owners for our labour power, workers will realise that it is only by putting an end to the wage system that we can get a decent living.