A vast number of workers who previously took no interest in politics or questions of social significance are now asking themselves the question, What will happen after the war?
They are wondering whether the grandiose promises of Government spokesmen and planners will become reality; whether their present hardships and sufferings will really result in a world of peace and security.
They have been answered. An illuminating speech by Sir Kingsley Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, throws a ray of cold, clear light on the subject.
We should be living in a fool's paradise, he said, if wishful thinking led us to believe that a great and cruel war brought in itself better and happier times.The Chancellor stated that after the war world markets would be subject to strong competition, and declared that "we shall want to secure a large volume of international commerce under conditions as free from restrictions as possible." (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)
Some people, he went on, might be inclined to regard the end of the war as a time for ease and the spending of money freely. But in many respects the days after the war would be very much like those of the war itself. In some ways they would be even more difficult. (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)
He also suggested that international co-operation would be active in the economic field. But, as the News Chronicle correspondent rightly points out, he did not explain how competition and co-operation could exist together.
This gives the workers some idea of the state of affairs they will “enjoy" when the present bloody conflict is ended. The "new" world is just a myth. What will exist will be the same old capitalist world, with its private ownership of the means of life. The workers will still be wage-slaves striving to earn a meagre existence by selling their energies to the master class, whilst the international capitalist class will continue their scramble for world markets, thus creating the very conditions that will pave the way for future wars.
Far from there being any marked improvement in their conditions, the working class will find that they will have to struggle to maintain their pre-war standard of life. Sir Kingsley Wood has already warned us.
Unless we can make a great move forward in our export trade our standard of living must inevitably fall. We shall have to compete with others in price and quality, and we must make a profit. (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)Yes, the capitalist class must make a profit out of the sweat and toil of the workers!
The picture provided by this glimpse into the future is indeed a gloomy one. But we Socialists are not discouraged. We have a message for the working class—a message of hope. We say that the remedy to all the evils that confront us— and which will still be present when “peace" returns—lies in the hands of the working class. The workers can change the present system of society in which the minority own everything and the majority own nothing, into a system based on the common ownership of the means of life. The workers can erect a New World, a free world, which will cater for the well-being of the whole of society.