Monday, December 31, 2018

Letter: Let's Change This Planet (1969)

Letter to the Editors from the February 1969 issue of the Socialist Standard

Most people on Earth live in one of two quite different worlds. There is the world of sumptuous palaces for an opulent, parasitical few which the unemployed rich enjoy and there is the world of overcrowded slums for the poor, dispossessed multitudes.

‘Unemployed rich’ may seem an odd phrase at first sight. ‘The unemployed’ is a term used exclusively for poor people who are on the dole, and it signifies disappointment, frustration and financial hardship. But unemployment is the natural state of existence for the really rich—yet to them it is no hardship. Multi-millionaires never have to join a dole queue or submit to a means test. Those indignities have no place in their world. Having to work for wages is a sure sign of social degradation, although no politician would say anything to suggest that fact of life. That is because none of the verbose politicians who spout about the miracles they will work if we vote for them want to change the present social system.

Capitalism is a brutal, deranged social system which splits the human race into two distinct classes: one a tiny, unproductive minority able to wallow in the best of everything because of their ownership of the means of production and their unearned income from investments, and enormous legions of confused, propertyless workers who are restricted to shortages, lack and exploitation in spite of the fact that they are the actual creators of all the world’s real wealth.

The vast majority of people today are wage-slaves. In order to eat they are forced to work for the master class who own and control all the instruments of production. The masses who produce but do not own are robbed by the few who own but do not produce. They are robbed because they are paid in the form of wages only a small part of the value they create when they process raw materials into commodities. The workers must be paid less than the true value of the goods they produce for if they were paid the real value of those goods the master class would not be able to sell them for'a profit. The profit which keeps the robber class in idle luxury come from the unpaid labour of the working class. That is what Capitalism is all about and it cannot work any other way.

Capitalism cannot operate in the interests of the vast mass of Mankind. It is a crazy system which allows an insignificant handful of drones to amass fantastic sums of unearned money while countless millions go cold, hungry and homeless. Capitalism cannot satisfy the needs of the overwhelming mass of humanity because it leaves the means of production—and therefore everything which is produced—in the hands of a privileged minority while the deprived masses who do all the producing can never own more than their wages allow them to huy.

What the poor cannot buy they must do without. If they cannot afford to buy food then they must starve, and Capitalism will let them starve to death outside warehouses which are crammed full of good food which is rotting because the needy do not have the money to purchase it. Profit comes before people. Capitalism decrees that goods which cannot be sold for profit must not be produced, no matter how desirable and necessary they may be in order to make the world a better place for humanity. It also decrees that, at times of so-called glut, goods which cannot be sold must he destroyed as there is no money to be made by giving commodities away. That is why ‘surplus’ food (surplus only to the demands of die market, that is) is burned or dumped into the sea while underprivileged people are dying of hunger.

Capitalism causes unemployment, slums, poverty, famine, crime and war. Those social cankers are built into Capitalist society and cannot possibly be eradicated as long as Capitalism lasts. They are the natural and unavoidable consequences of the money system, the profit motive and the private property basis of society—the three fundamental rocks of Capitalism. War cannot be charmed out of existence by reformist measures such as peace treaties and disarmament agreements. It is spawned by the national economic rivalries inseparable from Capitalism. The structure of society must be altered in order to get rid of the social system which causes all the trouble. History proves that reforms achieve next to nothing—what we need now is a world-wide social revolution.

Instead of goods being produced simply to be sold to make a profit for the Capitalists the privately-owned means of production should be converted to the common property of all Mankind so that everybody can have free access to everything that is produced. That would make money unnecessary as people would have no need to buy what they already owned. The working class would own the goods because they would be the people who had produced them. They produce everything now but Capitalism deprives them of the fruits of their labour and relegates them to wage-slavery. But once production is organised to satisfy human need money will be superfluous and social equality will become a reality for everyone in the world of abundance which science could make possible tomorrow in a different social set-up. And when men have free access to all they need there will not be anything for them to fight over.

Naturally the Capitalists want to keep the system which lets them live off the fat of the land at the expense of others. Therefore they employ every trick in the book to kid the misled masses that Capitalism is the best of all possible systems. Which it is—for the rich. But for the robbed millions who are the only useful, essential members of society Capitalism is a curse.

Unfortunately it is easy to dazzle the unthinking masses with all the ostentatious parading and ceremony the rulers stage for that rascally purpose. The master class knowhow to divert the workers' attention from social conditions to childish irrelevancies. They know that if they doll up a woman in some crown jewels and send her through the streets in a golden coach the population will rush out to cheer and forget all about the rank injustice and contemptible inequity of the system of legalised robbery which degrades them. While the have-nots are hypnotised by shining symbols they are not asking embarrassing questions. It's the old bread and circus stunt.

Man does not steal, cheat, lie and murder because he is tainted with Original Sin or influenced by the Devil. People rob and defraud because our present social system makes it profitable to do so. A moneyless social system would alter all that. It is another dirty lie to say that men make war on each other because killing is part of human nature. It is nothing of the sort, which is proved by the fact that conscriptions laws have to be passed by the master class to coerce the underprivileged to do their dirty work for them. When the robber class disagree amongst themselves about how the loot should be split and the world’s territory carved up they declare war against each other but pretend that the war is for ‘Democracy’ or ‘freedom’. The wage-slaves do not declare wars—they are merely the suckers who march off to fight and die for property and profit which does not belong to them. Wars are always declared by government spokesmen or Great Leaders (and fully approved by the Church), which is appropriate as they are the mouthpieces of the master class in whose interests all modern wars are fought.

There is only one cause of war today: Capitalism. Once that is replaced by a classless, moneyless system of production for use which grants everybody free access to the essentials of life war will cease, but until then human blood will soak the ground wherever Capitalism’s profits are at stake.
D. Shaw

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

I'm guessing a piece written by a young man in a hurry. In 1969, Hull had one of the new Redbrick Universities. I wonder if he was a student?

I used to also occasionally write similarly styled stream-of-consciousness and breathless purple prose. In my defence, a lot of alcohol was usually involved.