Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Alarm (1920)

From the December 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the most important possessions of the average worker is an alarm clock: In most households it is handled with great care, and even reverence. Without it part of the wages of the breadwinner is in jeopardy, for tardy arrival at the workshop, factory, etc., results in the loss of a certain portion of the “reward of toil."

Notwithstanding the fact that most large workshops and factories have a bell or steam siren, the alarm clock is the household autocrat. The wives of our masters purchase them for their domestic servants, knowing that mechanical noise is necessary to combat nature when sleep has claimed the tired victim of prolonged hours of toil.

Very few members of the working class can claim to be opponents of Mother Nature, in so far as their bodies are prepared for toil hours before King Sol has reared his crest, or morning mists and fogs have disappeared. Therefore there is a constant. demand for alarm clocks. The workers of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, prior to the war, made them in thousands for sale all over the world. There was a dearth during the war, murder and munition making being the two principle industries engaging the labour of the working class, to the detriment of dock production. Now, however, the wage slaves of Europe, being back at their benches, machines, or any industry where daylight counts for nought, the alarm clock is once more obeyed. What is more, the necessity of this mechanical horror will always be recognised, while the capitalist system lasts. Before you buy your next ask yourself why you need one. Perhaps its humorous or sardonic face (according to your mood) will answer, especially when the large hand points directly up, arid the small hand directly down, and the furious ringing assails your dimly conscious mind. 

Workers, listen! Can you not hear the alarm of proletarian insistence? Wake to it; realise your own strength and power. There is no reason why your slavery should last a day longer. But remember that the emancipation of the working class must necessarily be the work of the working class itself.

The capitalist class welcome the introduction of any reform that does not interfere with profit. Production must be for use and not for profit, and alarm clocks relegated to the home of the antiques.
W. A. G.