Friday, July 10, 2015

"Too Much Wealth In The World" (1931)

From the February 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard
Mr. Lloyd George, at Barmouth, North Wales, yesterday, said that unemployment was creeping over the whole world, but it was difficult to explain why. There was a famine, not because there was not enough corn, but because there was too much corn. There too much wealth in the world, too much iron, steel, coal, etc. We were suffering because we had too much wealth. The big question confronting the nation at the present time was how were they to deal with the problem of unemployment.
Mr. Lloyd George says it is difficult to explain why. On the contrary, it is one of the easiest things in the world to explain—and to understand—why unemployment is "creeping" over the whole world. The wealth of the world, produced by the working class, belongs to the capitalist class. This wealth has to be sold in the world's markets in order to realise for its owners the difference between the wages and other costs paid for its production and its value on the market. A difference known to the Socialist as surplus value. As the wants of the capitalists and the wages of workers are limited, the world market is more or less choked with goods for which there are no buyers. The competition for markets compels ever cheaper methods of production, only to be attained by reducing the number of workers engaged in production.

This is the explanation in a nut-shell. It has been elaborated more fully many times in the columns of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD. Mr. Lloyd George knows this to be the only explanation. His difficulty is not so much in explaining, as in appearing to be wise on the subject without giving the game away for the class he represents.

His next statement, that there is too much wealth in the world, should be read the other way round: There are not enough markets to absorb the wealth owned by the capitalist class. We can then understand both the "creeping" unemployment and the over-production of wealth.

The big question, How to deal with the problem of unemployment? has also been answered in THE SOCIALIST STANDARD many times. Mr. Lloyd George's way is the capitalist way: enough dole to keep them quiet, and enough armed force in case of trouble. The only working class way is to understand and organise for Socialism. While the capitalist class own the means of life, the workers are compelled to work for wages, a condition which enables the capitalist class to appropriate the major portion of the wealth as surplus value, and scrap workers wholesale in order to increase the amount.
F. Foan

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