Friday, August 10, 2018

More Mechanisation (1945)

From the August 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

Authors such as H. G. Wells and Jules Verne were at one time laughed at by their critics as cranks and eccentrics. Both Wells and Verne wrote prolifically of rocket propulsion, and Wells in particular wrote of robots doing the work of men. From the capitalist point of view this would be an ideal state of affairs. The workers now are troublesome fellows. They have to to fed and housed and this tends to draw upon the profits of the capitalist-class. They have to be educated too in order to do their complicated jobs and this has its disadvantages in that they do not stop, but go on learning. In order to counteract this millions of pounds have to be spent annually upon propaganda to keep them in order.

In the past when production has had to be speeded up, machinery has been introduced and human labour reduced. Sometimes the workers who are left go on strike and production is held up while tedious concessions are made. How much more convenient it would be if the work were done by robots. They would have no feelings and could be switched on and off at will, but these treacherous workers demand reductions in their hours of work; and there are some who even have the audacity to spend their leisure hours working for the overthrow of capitalism and the dispossession of their masters.

June 1944 was a month in which the Flying bomb made its debut. Later on we were threatened by rockets. The critics, bigoted as ever, pooh-poohed the idea. The following autumn the series of mysterious bangs were announced as the "impossible" rocket. Once more the critics and experts were confounded.

The war which has just reached its conclusion has greatly advanced all forms of rocket and jet propulsion, and in a press interview recently one of Britain's lending aircraft manufacturers, Sir Frederick Handley-Page, advanced some very interesting views. In answer to one question he stated that the rocket is the product of a nation short of manpower. He wont on to say : —
   “A man by the time he has reached the age of 21 and been trained as a soldier has expended 180,000 man-hours of his existence, and this is spread over 21 calendar years with no known way of shortening the time. At least 21 years are required if the shortage of man-power is to be made good."—Sunday Express, April 8th.
Here is a hint that future wars are expected and that men must be reared to fight. How fortunate for the capitalists that someone has thought of family-allowances and raising the birth-rate. Could it he that this is what our rulers have in mind?

One cannot fail to realise what Sir Frederick had in mind when he made his statement referring to the 180,000 hours of existence. He meant that with the present inaccuracies of the rocket adjusted it will he possible to have much bigger and more devastating wars in a shorter space of time. Modern production can turn out rockets in enormous profusion. There is no need to wait for men to grow up. In the meantime we can observe the intense international strife. The seeds which will germinate into the next war.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be the tools of the master-class; to be housed in hovels, bred, fed and buried cheaply, slaughtered on battle-fields, packed into factories or superseded by machines we must take control of the world's resources ourselves and use them for our own comfort and advantage.

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