From the January 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Allied Powers have again asserted their supremacy and are ruthlessly stamping out the opposing forces. It has now become certain that victory is for the Allies on the Continent. As the conflict nears an end, the press, the pulpit and the radio prepare the minds of the people for things to come.
Let us cast our minds back to the “dark days,” when Britain stood alone with her “back to the wall." The capitalist class suddenly discovered there seemed to be some sort of inequality existing among the people of this fair isle (a startling discovery), and began to voice opinions such us, "Why should rich men's sons go to public schools and poor men's not? Why shouldn’t working men and women have a decent standard of living? As a matter of fact, why should there be any unemployed? By gad, sir, something must be done about it! But for this war being in the way, we might get on with the job immediately. Drat those Nazis! Let us all throw our weight on the oars and pull together until such time as we have rid ourselves of this menace."
So the workers fell in and pulled on the oars of the good ship “Kidology," sailing towards the ever-receding mirage of security and plenty.
The time for the pay-off is coining near, but there seems to be a change in the attitude of our saviours; their voices are weak, we can't hear them any more. The opinions of our masters and their henchmen have changed. Now it is, “We will have to work hard for the peace or else we can have no new order." No, your eyes have not deceived you; you did read in a newspaper that unless we find a foreign market for goods there will not be any employment for the working class. Yes, you also read that British shipping would be in a very bad position after the war. “What is this all about? Why, didn't someone say something about this before?"
Someone did tell you about it. The Socialist Party of Great Britain told you, as we told your fathers during and after the last war, that war solved no problems for the working class; that conditions after the war would be the same as before—nay, even worse. War is a product of this system of society, as unemployment is, and all the other miseries the working class are subjected to. No one is going to “save" the workers. No one is going to lead them into paradise. Your fathers fell for that tale after the last war. They left things to leaders, then sat back and waited. Whilst they waited in poverty, the rotten conditions got some of them and they drank themselves to death: others just died the natural death of a worker, in the workhouse.
You are young, fellow-worker—the future is yours to mould. Are you going to go on in the same old way as your fathers did, or are you going to make an effort to understand the world in which you live? Until you do, you are doomed. You are going to feel the cold, clammy hand of poverty in its worst form. You are going to know what means test investigation is: what it means to stand in a dole queue and wish to Christ you had never been born; see your children grow up and then be snatched from you, to go out and kill or be killed in a war where the bombs will be “better and more beautiful.” War is as sure to come under capitalism as day follows night.
It is quite simple to understand the fundamentals of Socialism. One doesn’t require an awful lot of study to realise there are two classes in society. You, fellow-worker, belong to the working class, the useful section of society— makes all the wealth. You build the palaces, the mansions whose labour, when applied to nature-given material, and the liners. You also build the rotten bug-walks you live in.
The other section—only a small fraction of the population—own and control all the means of living. Only when this section can find a market for their goods is the machinery of production set in motion. Only when this section can find a market for their goods do the working class find employment. When goods are piled high and no market is to be found, the workers are unemployed and go hungry. Goods are produced for profit, not for use.
War results from different sections of the international master class searching for places to dump goods, sources of raw material or trade routes. Whether the country of their birth has a large empire or none at all makes no difference to the working class. They have nothing to sell but their labour-power, which they sell to the highest bidder, the amount received in return is only enough to replace the workers’ energies and reproduce the species, that there may be someone to slave when they are thrown on the scrap-heap, incapable of acting their part as work beasts.
There is only one way by which the workers can escape the hell which they are subjected to, and that is to realise the only solution is Socialism—the common ownership of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people. Socialism will only be possible when the majority of the people understand and consciously organise to capture the powers of government, including the armed forces.
Fellow-worker, you have a duty to perform to your children. Your job is to seek knowledge and organise for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Socialism. In years to come, when your children ask you, "What did you do after the last war. Daddy?” don’t let it be said you hung your head in shame and said, "Nothing, Son.” Rather let it be said. "I fought along with my comrades to establish Socialism.” The world is yours to mould.