Saturday, September 14, 2019

What to read (1967)

From the September 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Besides Capital there are various other books and pamphlets that the student of Marxian economics might find useful. Marx himself summarised his views in simple language in an address he gave in 1865 to the First International. This was later published as the pamphlet Value, Price and Profit. The first five chapters deal with views that are no longer widely held if held at all, but from the sixth chapter onwards Marx explains his theory of value and exploitation. Engels, too, wrote a useful review of Capital for a German paper in 1868. Karl Kautsky, who did so much to popularise Marxism, tackled economics in his work The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx, which went through many German editions. This sticks closely to the form of the first volume of Capital but also incorporates material from the other volumes which were published after Marx’s death. Another German Social Democrat, Julian Borchardt, in The People's Marx, wrote what translators call "an abridged popular edition of the three volumes of 'Capital' " which, despite the limitations of such abridgements, is worth looking at. 

Perhaps the best original (rather than popularising) work in Marxian economic theory is Louis Boudin’s The Theoretical System of Karl Marx, written in the first decade of this century. This book is no simpler than Capital but it does deal very well with the various criticisms that sprung up after the deaths of Marx and Engels. The best pamphlet is without doubt John Keracher’s Economics for Beginners, published in America in the thirties.

Some of these works will probably not be available at local libraries but they are all in our library at head office.

#    #    #    #

The pages of Capital reproduced on the cover are from the edition published by George Allen & Unwin, translated by Moore and Aveling.

50 Years Ago: Artists and War (1967)

The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The world will never know what men of talent, of genius, who probably would have contributed their quota in the realms of art and literature, poetry and science,' have, through their masters’ orgy of futile organised slaughter, been crushed and destroyed in the ruthless progress of the ‘great war'. It is indeed a tragedy for the individuals and for humanity also.

* • *

To the Socialist it is pleasant to know that certain artists “continue their work as though they had never heard of the war which is now raging”. The spirit of art and that of the warrior are frankly antagonistic. One is creative and contemplative; the other is destructive, and thinks in terms of force. 
(from an article by ‘G’ in the Socialist Standard, September 1917).

How Workers are exploited (1967)

Click on picture to enlarge.
From the September 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Law of Value holds that the values of commodities are determined by the quantities of socially necessary labour time congealed in them and that commodities, in the long run, sell at their values.

This Marxian analysis has stood the test of time. All other theories have been found wanting because they are, primarily, subjective rather than scientific. Two examples will suffice: marginal utility and supply and demand. There are no methods for measuring usefulness in any meaningful sense. Not all persons find fishing rods useful and the values of fishing rods are not governed by personal considerations. As for supply and demand, there still remains a value when supply and demand balance each other out, even though some economists maintain that there is a “natural price” when supply and demand equilibrate. Similar limitations apply to the "scholarly, profound” economic text books so popular today.

The evidence of experience has amply demonstrated that there is a correlation between the socially necessary labour time required by society as a whole for the production of commodities and the values of commodities. Both are not only measurable but labour, applied to natural resources, is the only source of wealth. (And this was recognised long before Marx’s time.)

Let us examine the unit of capitalist society: a commodity—an item of wealth for sale in the market. What distinguishes capitalism from all previous social systems is that buying and selling (the dollar bill) permeates every facet of life whether it be a rare art treasure or a loaf of bread; bibles or whiskey.

In the chart above, note the centre block. It represents the commodity. All items to the left of the block indicate hours (units) of socially necessary labour time. All items to the right of the block indicate units of value expressed in dollars.

For purposes of illustration, let us assume we are analyzing a $16 raincoat that took 16 hours socially necessary labour time to produce. Each hourly unit of labour time added $1 in value.

The manufacturer had purchased raw materials and machinery for the production of raincoats. The raw material that went into this coat cost $7 and the depreciation of the machine allocated to the coat was $1. It required 8 hours socially necessary labour time to produce the portion of the raw materials and machinery used up in making the coat. This $8 value was transferred to the value of the coat. It was a mere transfer because 8 hours socially necessary labour time was stored up in it before its use in the raincoat factory.

In order to convert the raw materials and machinery into a finished product, the manufacturer must hire labour power. Machines and raw materials, by themselves, are incapable of producing raincoats. It required 8 hours living labour to make this conversion. Living labour added $8 NEW value to the coat.

The total value of the coat is $16 produced in 16 hours socially necessary labour time.

In order to produce commodities, factory owners must buy such other commodities as raw materials, machinery and labour power (the muscles and brains of workers).

Labour power is a commodity owned by workers, who sell it in the market to capitalists. The value of labour power is determined in the same way as all other commodities: the socially necessary labour it takes to produce it, in other words the socially necessary labour time it takes to produce what a worker needs in terms of food, clothing, shelter, raising a family, training, minor luxuries, etc. This value is expressed in wages.

In the chart, the value of the commodity labour power is represented as being $4. At the end of 4 hours, the worker has created $4 worth of new value (replaced the value of his labour power). Everything should be even-steven. He had fulfilled his obligations and he should be through for the day.

But, lest we forget, labour power and labour time are not synonymous terms. Labour power is a commodity that the worker sells to the capitalist. Actually, labour power is really the only commodity that is exclusively his. However, once he sells it, it becomes the property of the capitalist to use as he sees fit. At the end of 4 hours, the raincoat is only half finished. The capitalist can only sell completed raincoats, which require 8 hours living labour to make.

Here comes the great discovery of Marx: How profits are made by selling commodities at their value and how the workers are exploited at the point of production.

The cost of production was $12 ($7 for raw materials, $1 for wear and tear of machines and $4 for labour power). The value of the commodity is $16. The 4 hours labour time the capitalist did not have to pay for are essential for profiting commodities and constitute the surplus value which belongs to the capitalist class. There is a doggerel called Surplus Value that goes:
The merchant calls it profits
  And he winks the other eye;
The banker calls it interest
  And heaves a cheerful sigh.
The landlord calls it rent,
  As he tucks it in his bag,
But the honest old burglar,
  He simply calls it swag.
Within capitalism, wealth assumes three basic forms: 1. Wealth, as such—things that satisfy human needs and social wants, part and parcel of that social animal, man. 2. In capitalism, wealth takes on the form of commodities — goods for sale in the market. 3. Likewise, wealth, within capitalism, also takes on the form of capital—wealth used to create more wealth with a view to profit. 

What is produced in capitalism is not primarily wealth to satisfy needs and wants (use values); it is surplus value for the capitalist class. It can be said that the capitalist class is a consuming class; it consumes the chief product of capitalism—profits. The workers, like the machines and the cattle, merely consume the necessities to keep them in good working order.

The ownership of the means of producing wealth (capital) rests in the hands of the capitalist class. By virtue of this ownership they are enabled to extract surplus value out of the sweat and blood of the working class.

The mechanism for accomplishing this objective is variable capital—the self-expanding capacity of labour power to create a value greater than itself. As noted above, the raw materials and machinery merely transfer their own value to the finished commodity. That is why they are described as constant capital. 

This chart serves a useful function in the movement for Socialism. It gives a visual picture of basic Marxian economics and presents a panorama of the Marxian Law of Value. For over thirty-five years it has been very effective for use in economic classes. It has been instrumental in encouraging further reading of the Marxian classics and paved the way for a clearer grasp of their contents.
Isaac Rab

The Source of Value (1967)

From the September 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard
This article was first printed in the Socialist Standard in 1910
The proofs adduced by Marx in support of his contention that the origin and rise of capital can be traced, distinctly and indisputably, to robbery, fraud and violence, form only a small part, and by no means the most important one, of his profound investigations into social wealth production. The portions of his work describing so lucidly the process of the reproduction and accumulation of capital are for the purposes of proletarian enlightenment of even greater value.

Marx’s evidence as to the reproduction and accumulation of capital bears out completely his theories of Value and Surplus-Value. According to them only two factors exist in wealth production – natural objects and social, co-operative labour. 

Capital is part of the social wealth, of which the workers have been robbed and which is invested by its owners for the purpose of further robbery. Social, co-operative human labour applied to natural objects being alone necessary to produce wealth, it follows that the reproduction and accumulation of capital – a portion of social wealth – can exclusively be traced back to the exploitation of human labour.

The development of capitalist production causes ever-extending co-operation and productivity of labour, resulting in a gradual cheapening of human labour-power. Hence the proletariat, who alone produce all wealth, grow increasingly poorer, since their sole source of income is the sale of their labour power; while the idle owners of the means of production are accumulating more and more social wealth. 

So soon as it is conceded that to-day social labour applied to natural objects is the only source of wealth, the claim to the means of production – capital in present-day Society – by its capitalist owners can only be sustained on the ground of heredity or privilege.

Now whenever the possessing class find themselves in the dilemma of being faced by the irrefutable facts of history or economics, they mostly succeed, by means of their wealth, in getting the services of the strongest and most cunning of economic and political prize-fighters. But with the growing enlightenment of the toiling masses the attitude and methods of these “intellectual” pugilists undergo continual change.

Until a few years ago it sufficed for the capitalist class to oppose to the Marxian theory of Value (that labour applied to natural objects is the source of all Value) the utility theory of Jevons – according to which the value of an article depends upon its final utility, that is, upon how useful to the community another article of the same kind would be.

But as this final utility twaddle was exploded by Marxian writers and speakers, the theory was superseded by another utility theory – that of the Austrian school – the theory of marginal utility, according to which “the value of an article is fixed when one is debating whether it is worth while to obtain it or not, the decision arrived at indicating the utility of an article on the margin of production, viz., on the margin of doubt whether it be worth while to produce it or not”.

These two value theories of utility have, however, with the aid of the Fabian theory of “the rent of ability”, fully blossomed out into the “directive ability” so crudely championed by the capitalist economist Mr. W.H. Mallock, (A Critical Examination of Socialism).

Now while Marx in his Capital (p. 322) shows that “directive ability” is only “a special kind of wage-labour”, the Fabians agree with Mr. Mallock that it is an entity apart from wage-labour, possessed by a class of “great men”. Mr. Mallock considers that class to be the capitalist class. The Fabians hold that this ability is possessed by another (strange to say a third) class in society.

Mr. Bernard Shaw in The Times (2.2.1910) made an absurd onslaught on Mr. Mallock because of the latter’s alleged distortion of the Fabian “rent of ability theory”. Shaw, ignorant of economics, cuts a comic figure when he endeavours to instruct others on the subject. But this time he out-Shawed Shaw. Here is one of his “up-to-date pearls of wisdom”, taken haphazard:
  This is not a question of the difference between the Socialist and the anti-Socialist: it is a question between the gentleman and the cad. Lord Landsdowne has not asked for the hundred millions he saved Europe by making our treaty with Japan, and Lord Charles Beresford, if the German fleet attacked ours, would not refuse to conduct our naval defence unless the country were to be given to him as prize-money when he had saved it.
In order to flatten Mallock, Shaw hashes up his old balderdash, “Socialism and Superior Brains” in pamphlet form, and therein (p. 57) he gives the following definition of the Fabian theory of the “rent of ability”:
  He (your skilled economist) does not romance about capitalists inventing Atlantic steamers: he shows you the capitalist and labourer running helplessly, the one with his money the other with his muscle, to the able man, the actual organiser and employer, who alone is able to find a use for mere manual deftness or for the brute strength or heavy bank balance which any fool may possess.
So ignorant is Shaw that he does not realise that his criticism of Mallock amounts only to the pot calling the kettle black, and therefore tends to still further confuse the issue between Socialist and anti-Socialist.

Now Mallock states his conception of the theory of “directive ability” (A Critical Examination of Socialism, p. 40) as follows:
  “Though labour is essential to the production of wealth even in the smallest quantities, the distinguishing productivity of industry in the modern world depends not on the labour, but on the ability with which the labour is directed, and in the modern world the primary function of capital is that of providing ability with its necessary instrument of direction”.
All this confusion as to what are the factors operating in wealth production and the functions of the capitalist, or whether “directive ability” is an entity apart from the labour-power of the working class, is dispelled, and the issues cleared up by Marx in Capital, particularly in those chapters dealing with “Co-operation, Machinery and Modern Industry”.

The main reason so many seekers after Socialist knowledge remain reformers is that they do not realise that man is a social product and that wealth production throughout human history has been based on co-operation. With a thorough grasp of these primary Socialist principles no proletarian can remain in ignorance of the meaning of social evolution and revolution. In his efforts to trace the history of man as a social product he will discover the fact that society is an organism with its own laws of development and that the various stages of such development are determined by the evolution in the tools of production. And in his endeavour to gather evidence of the existence of the co-operative principle in human society, the worker will learn that the condition of the wealth producers depends entirely upon the ownership of these tools of production, that is, upon whether they are owned by the users, or by another class, to whom such ownership gives the power of exploitation and domination. He will also come to realise that a change in the ownership of the means of production cannot be brought about by any evolutionary process, but, on the contrary, must be accomplished, by the propertyless class, by a political revolution.

In order to be able to show that “directive ability” does not exist apart from wage-labour it is necessary to briefly summarise and illustrate here what Marx has so minutely and exhaustively propounded in Capital, particularly in the chapters on “Co-operation, Manufacture and Modern Industry”. 

In perusing such classical writings as Ancient Society by Lewis Morgan, The Origin of the Family by Frederick Engels, The History of Politics by Jenks, and other works by avowed bourgeois authors we learn that the principle of co-operation has throughout history – under savagery, barbarism and civilisation – prevailed in the production of human sustenance. Already in primitive communist society – among the red Indians who lived mainly by the proceeds of the hunt, in the Indian village community that pursued principally agriculture for its maintenance, and in the patriarchal peasant family which produced its own means of subsistence – labour was organised on co-operative lines. Under chattel slavery, where the slave rendered personal service to his master, under feudalism, where the serf was attached to the land and worked part of his time for the maintenance of his master and the other part for himself, and under handicraft, when each handicraftsman used a set of tools of his own to produce an article right out, the principle of co-operation was not obliterated but concealed.

As each producer was only able to produce a particular article of wealth, but required a variety of such articles for his sustenance, exchange of commodities was necessary, and though the principle of co-operation was hidden in the process of production, it was clearly brought to light in the process of exchange. After all, each commodity was the embodiment of one man’s activities, and therefore by the exchange of one commodity for another the exchange of men’s activities was continually taking place.

A close examination into the history of wealth production convinces us that Mallock and his supporters are speaking altogether contrary to fact when they assert that with the development of modern Industry, the capitalists, the owners of the means of production have developed a new factor, possessed by them, namely, “directive ability”, to which can be traced the origin of the greater amount of wealth produced. The records of history prove just the contrary. 

Whether we take the evidence supplied by Marx and Engels on the one hand, or by Adam Smith, Thorold Rogers and De Gibbins on the other, we find it all supports the contention that the owner of the means of production is only performing the function of superintendent in production while the same is in its infancy, that is to say, while it is in the stage of manufacture, where production is carried on with small primitive tools and by means of ever growing division of manual labour. And the aforementioned historians and economists further agree that as soon as machinery, steam and electricity are introduced into production, resulting in what we term “Modern Industry”, the capitalists engage their superintendents of labour in the same way that they purchase ordinary labour-power. In the modern factory, workshop or other place of production, the average superintendent is not a capitalist but a wage-worker, commonly called a salaried official, who, having as a rule no property, is compelled to sell his labour power to the capitalist. It is true that the salary paid to such official contains not only the price of his labour-power as superintendent of production, but often includes his pay as “hustler”, of the producers.

Marx, far from denying the need for a directing authority in modern production, emphasises the fact of its indispensableness. He writes in Capital (p. 821):
  All combined labour on a large scale requires, more or less, a directing authority, in order to secure the harmonious working of the individual activities, and to perform the general functions that have their origin in the action of the combined organism, as distinguished from the action of its separate organs. A single violin player is his own conductor; an orchestra requires a separate on.
But wisely Marx does not ascribe the ever growing productivity of co-operatively used labour to the directing authority, which, after all, is only a single organ of the social organism, and like all others, a social product, which society has nourished, clothed, taught and trained for the position it occupies.

And on the other hand, Marx does not ascribe the increasing productivity to manual labour alone, but proves that all activities, physical and mental, combined in one social co-operative mass, contribute to the production of wealth in society. To single out individuals – even the cleverest and most capable – amounts to an allegation that a man can exist apart from and independent of society. These points are brilliantly explained in the following passages in Capital. On page 311 we read:
  “Capitalist production only then really begins, as we have already seen, when each individual capital employs simultaneously a comparatively large number of labourers; when consequently the labour-process is carried on on an extensive scale and yields, relatively, large quantities of products. A greater number of labourers working together, at the same time, in one place (or, if you will, in the same field of labour), in order to produce the same sort of commodity under the mastership of one capitalist, constitutes, both historically and logically, the starting-point of capitalist production.”
On pages 315-316 we are told:
  “Just as the offensive power of a squadron of cavalry, or the defensive power of a regiment of infantry is essentially different from the sum of the offensive or defensive powers of the individual cavalry or infantry soldiers taken separately, so the sum total of the mechanical forces exerted by isolated workmen differs from the social force that is developed, when many hands take part simultaneously in one and the same undivided operation, such as raising a heavy weight, turning a winch, or removing an obstacle. In such cases the effect of the combined labour could either not be produced at all by isolated individual labour, or it could only be produced by a great expenditure of time, or on a very dwarfed scale. Not only have we here an increase in the productive power of the individual, by means of co-operation, but the creation of a new power, namely, the collective power of masses.”
And on page 319 Marx says:
  “The combined working-day produces, relatively to an equal sum of isolated working-days, a greater quantity of use-values, and, consequently, diminishes the labour-time necessary for the production of a given useful effect.”
and further on:
  “When the labourer co-operates systematically with others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops the capabilities of his species.”
A cursory glimpse at capitalist production in modern times convinces us that the capitalist – the receiver of interest, profit and rent – has, as far as production is concerned, long ceased to fulfil any useful function whatsoever, and it is no exaggeration to allege that even the work of gathering in the interest, profit and rent is nowadays performed by paid menials – clerks, collectors or private secretaries. And if we occasionally find a capitalist seemingly engaged in work, closer enquiry always shows that his “work” amounts to nothing more or less than scheming how to more successfully exploit the workers. We possess, apart from the statistics of the enemy, practically no figures to prove how much surplus-value the capitalists are wringing from the toilers. The most recent census of production (1907) was taken deliberately to ascertain only the values produced and the number of workers employed in various trades. The Census Act particularly provided that salaries and wages were not to appear in the returns. But taking roughly the underestimated figures of capitalist statisticians for guidance, the surplus-value wrung from the workers in this country approximates 75 per cent of the wealth produced by them.

Now when we consider that the capitalists are not only useless members of society, but the worst of parasites on the social organism, with the result that millions of workers are either steeped in direct poverty or are on the brink of it, we see that the time has arrived when the toilers, realising their tremendous collective power both in the economic and political field, must consciously and revolutionarily organise for the overthrow of the parasite class and their own emancipation from wage slavery.
Hans Neumann

From the Socialist Standard, April 1910.

By the Way (1967)

From the September 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

In effect, a Labour Government has decided not to do much about the poverty in our midst. (Professor Peter Townsend in a letter to The Times 28.7.67).

#    #    #    #

As far as the United States is concerned the search for peace in South East Asia never ends. (R. McCloskey, State Dept., spokesman, Washington 2.8.67).

#    #    #    #

Soviet economists have in recent years worked out a theory of price formation for the present stage of our country’s development, and while much more has still to be done, already triumphant in the new prices is the scientific principle of the so-called socialist price of production. It embodies, besides cost price, labour inputs, depreciation of assets and capital investments. (Anatoli Klinsky, Learned Secretary, Economic Research Institute of the USSR State Planning Committee, The Times 2.8.67).

The Pace That Kills. (1913)

From the January 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Modern Street Traffic Problem Discussed.

A Philosophy in a Nutshell
“Hurry on, please!” is the catch phrase of the day. It expresses the salient characteristic—with or without the please of every modern industrial centre, just as “Get on or get out!” sums up its brutal philosophy. In the roaring traffic of the highway, indeed, we have a vivid yet typical example of this “non-stop” age.

Take modern road traffic, then, as a case in point. It illustrates the rapid yet enormous changes forced upon society by economic development, and it shows unmistakably how little the hireling worker profits by the wonderful mechanical progress his physical and mental labour has made possible. The ubiquitous motor has made the dweller in the most distant hamlet familiar with its dust and dangers, but in London’s streets the “motor peril” now reaches its apotheosis.

Truly the motor is everywhere, but on the crowded roads of the metropolis its presence and speed have raised a problem for which the multitudinous highway authorities seek in vain a solution.

The streets are turned into slaughter yards, and it is no crime in the eyes of those who administer the law, for the motorist to slay the harmless passer-by. It is by far the cheapest form of murder, for it is scarcely too strong a statement to say that the motorist has practically been granted the right to slaughter any who dare to cross his path.

At inquests the motorist is almost always exonerated from blame—particularly if it is pointed out that he was sober. And even in those rare cases where this does not happen the penalty is a puerile censure, or a punishment ludicrously disproportionate to that which is inflicted when the murder is done other than with the aid of a motor.

Way for the Road Hog!
Above all the conflicting and hysterical statements anent the modern highways problem one thing is clear: that high speed is the chief bugbear. “It’s the pace that kills.” Exceeding the speed that is safe in the particular circumstances is the cause of most of the maiming and slaughter. Indeed, the law, ass though it is, nominally establishes a speed limit. Yet motorists habitually exceed that limit. In fact, travelling at the legal limit is stigmatised as a “mere crawl”. Moreover, it is not for the safety of the public that corners are rounded and roads widened and strengthened, but simply to allow greater speeds to be attained—with the inevitable consequence of a longer casualty list.

It is, further, an understood thing that the police never prosecute for exceeding the speed limit unless it is exceeded by over five miles, and very rarely even then. The car owner’s most frequent boast is of the speed at which his motor travels, and the rare fine is regarded as a certificate to the quality of his engine, and is a tribute to his childish vanity.

Despite the fact that most of those killed and maimed on the highways would still be safe and sound if a rational speed in the circumstances had been adhered to, representatives of motor associations fatuously assert that not high, but “low” speeds, are the concomitants of accident! And as though to support this risible doctrine, almost every motorist in the courts, contemptuous of the law relating to perjury, states his speed to have been at the time of the smash, between five and twelve miles an hour! That is the homage that vice pays to virtue!

Motoring magistrates are ever ready to condone the recklessness of the motorist, and sometimes even lecture pedestrians and cyclists on the nuisance and danger their existence on the road presents for the man behind the “petrol gun”! They reserve the vials of their wrath, however, for the urchin on a bicycle, whose crime was in enjoying an innocent “coast” down an incline at little more than half the legal speed limit for motors!

The Hog’s Grunt Translated.
To such a pass have things come that the attitude of the average motorist is practically that the roads are his property, and that all others are trespassers, to be hooted off. “Get off the earth or I’ll push you off!” is the sentiment expressed in the imperious howl of the motor syren.

Besides being the capitalist’s instrument of profit, the motor is now his chief toy—or at least it runs his “blonde” or his “brune” very close for pride of place in this connection—and to the arrogance engendered by the possession of the most powerful and speedy thing on the road is added the arrogance of wealth and class. The result is a growing contempt and intolerance on the part of the motorist toward the weaker users of the road, mitigated only faintly by spasmodic reprisals and agitations on the part of the latter.

But why go on? It is neither necessary nor advisable to recount at length the manifold abuses of the motor vehicle—the simplest statement of fact suffices.

Yet the petrol engine is a marvellously efficient instrument, and in its further development its possibilities are great for humanity. The simple question to be emphasised then arises—why should an undoubted mechanical advance spell greater discomfort, toil, and danger to the workers? It would be quixotic, or worse, to attempt to stop the development of motor traffic, and it would be equally futile to drag the red-herring of the individual “reckless driver” and the exceptional “road hog” across the trail. The trouble has deeper roots.

The chauffeur, for example, must obey his master or be supplanted by a more obedient servant. The taxi-driver must keep up the earnings of his cab or lose his livelihood. The employee of the motor-bus trust must keep carefully to his schedule times and maintain the earnings of his vehicle—indeed his wage depends on the number of miles he can run. Thus it is that other road users suffer who are too weak to cope with the powerful motor.

Inciting to Murder.
Among the weakest of road users is the cyclist, and, it so happens that the cycle is, above all others, the workers’ vehicle; and those who employ it as a means of getting to and from their daily toil, know full well how the danger grows. But the bus driver, held by the trust to an inelastic time table, with his livelihood endangered if the takings of his vehicle and its daily mileage fall, is economically compelled to make unscrupulous use of the power his motor gives him, to the detriment of others. Self-preservation makes him regard the slowly moving cyclist and pedestrian as obstacles to his livelihood, hindrances to the keeping of his time schedule, impediments to his speed in getting first to paying points on the route.

The type of mind engendered by such an economic position may be gauged from the complaint of a motor bus-driver, at a South London inquest on a victim, with regard to cyclists, that “he frequently had to give way to them”.

Not always, evidently. Indeed, when pedestrian or cyclist is killed, well, “accidents will happen”, and there is an obstacle less on the road, while after all, coroners are indulgent. If a cyclist is scared off, he becomes a passenger the more for the bus, and another source of profit for the trust—a trust which, by the way, has the sublime effrontery to pose, in an official letter to the Press, as jealous of its “reputation as the guardian of the public safety”. Gordelpus!

Of course, if every human being killed or injured by their agency was made to cause such a heavy monetary loss to the transport companies that it outweighed the profitableness of high speed and reckless driving, then the massacre would cease. But is anyone so simple as to believe this will be done? Can thugs be relied upon to prohibit murder? It is motor owners who legislate. What avails human life when put into the scales against dividends. Indeed, the attempt to make human life of more account than profits would be howled down as a dastardly, senseless, revolutionary attack upon the sacred rights of property.

A Profitable “Remedy”.
No. Whatever “reforms” may be inaugurated will not diminish, but may increase, profits. A limitation of further bus licences is already semi-officially foreshadowed, and worked for. This would mean the granting of a permanent monopoly against the public to the existing trust, and the exclusion of fresh competition, without any guarantee for public safety or convenience.

But is this question of the killing and maiming by motors the only one, or even the most important? Obviously it is not; and it is only dealt with here because it is but a symptom. It is true that nearly 150 persons have been killed outright by the motor-bus trust in the metropolitan area alone during the past year. That is terrible enough; but have not equal numbers of workers being sacrificed at one fell swoop in preventable colliery disasters—not this year alone but every year? And should we have heard so much about the motor-bus slaughter had it not suited the purpose of a set of officehunters to make political capital out of it, on behalf of that cheerless piece of humbug, “the people’s trams”?

There is, however, no need to belittle in any way the facts relating to the motor peril. They are appalling. But the rest is more terrible still. The one is but the manifestation of the greater evil, for the sinister result of modern traffic conditions has a deeper meaning than is realised or expressed by commentators in the Press. It signifies the growing pace and intensity of industrial life, the universal acceleration of production, and the decreasing value of the life of the worker when put in the balance against the pleasure or the profit of the class that owns the country. The huge and increasing size of industrial centres, and the greater distances between the workers’ home and the factory, the need for more quickly transferring labour, the greed of the rack-renter of the central districts, the knowledge that the workers’ “time is money” to the capitalist, the rush for profits of a transport trust, and the all-pervading atmosphere of hustle, recklessness, and speed that is engendered by capitalist greed and the ever-increasing world-wide competition—all these are symptoms of the deep-lying social malady.

It is not very long ago that miners were entombed in a burning mine by bricking up the mouth of the pit in order to save the property! No! the sacrifice of human life on the road is not an isolated phenomenon. The drowning of seamen for the sake of a few extra tons of cargo consequent on the raising of the load-line by a Liberal Board of Trade; the killing and maiming of an enormous and increasing number of workers in mine and factory for the sake of extra output and extra profit; and the toll of life taken on the highways for the sake of the profit or pleasure of accelerated transport, are all phases of the same fact. Men are the slaves of the machines they have created.

Modern machines, in their marvellous precision, complexity, and swiftness, bring with them the possibility, the material groundwork, of greater leisure, and the provision of the good things of life in ever-increasing abundance. Yet the only reward of those who toil is more intense labour, a less secure position, greater hardships and dangers, and a shortened life. Out of good cometh evil? Why? Because those who work are hirelings, while those who toil not own. The machine supplants the hireling, makes him redundant, and starves him instead of feeding him. The new machines and higher speeds only increase the wealth of the parasitic owner, enabling him to discharge more wage-labourers, reduce wages, and intensify toil. Thus it is that instruments capable of dispensing wealth and leisure to all, impoverish and overwork the many. Thus it is that the triumphant advance of technology has only carried our class on to ever more painful labours. We are victims of the machine only because we are the hirelings of the class that owns it. The evolution of industry leads us on, and we struggle painfully to adapt ourselves to its steps. Hitherto the workers have neglected the one needful step—the democratic ownership and control of all industrial machinery.

Speed and concentration are the order of the day. But the London transport trust, while it provides the example of the disease, hints at the only remedy. Industry after industry has developed to the trust stage, and has shown us plainly that since those who produce now run the machinery and organise industry—for absentee shareholders—they are demonstrably capable of running production for themselves! Surely the time when they will do so is near at hand! The need, the possibility, and the economic foundation of Socialism are manifestly present.

Industrial advance places the means of socialised production within the workers’ reach, and their daily trials and difficulties must open their eyes to the supreme need of realising that possibility, and of wresting the power to control from those who now usurp it. Then they will resume control of their means of life, becoming the masters of the tool of production instead of remaining enslaved; and will for the first time be able to utilise technical progress humanly and intelligently, to provide more leisure and a completer life for all.

But so long as class ownership remains, for just so long will the long list of killed and maimed continue to grow, and all remediable measures fail to keep pace with the break-neck speeding up of our daily tasks. Already we are becoming inured to the motor murders as to the butchery in other spheres of industry. The sudden development of the road motor “within the memory of a schoolboy” has struck the popular imagination, leaving scarce heeded other and more deadly fields. But soon this too will pall, and the great problem as a whole will only press more surely for solution.

Hustle and worry, then, will continue to be the worker’s lot; danger, suffering, and want dog his footsteps ever more closely, until, in the fullness of time, the scales shall fall from his eyes and he shall see how frail his fetters are. And when he feels his mighty strength, and at long last sees its obvious use, woe betide the parasites who have battened on his sweat and blood in the long night of his blindness and ignorance!
F. C. Watts

Socialism and "Science." (1913)

From the January 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

Spencer and Huxley, Tyndal and Lewes, Darwin and Buckle, are names coupled with science in the fighting stage, battling against the learned champions of ignorance, the clergy, and the Church. But Science to-day is in a bad way. She no longer battles for her existence against a militant clergy, but sleeps beneath their caresses. The progressive materialism of an earlier time has gone out of fashion, and our scientists now talk mysteriously and darkly about thought-waves and telepathy, discarnate souls and such immaterial subjects. Witches and magic, demons and angels, that we had confidently supposed had been laid for ever with the other ghosts of popular superstitions, have cropped up again under the patronage of “scientific” men. The immortality of the soul is said to be established on evidence sufficiently strong to satisfy the scientific mind, and doubtless hell will flare up again, if only to illumine the same “scientific" minds.

The connection between the clergy and the ruling class is too historically obvious to need elaboration; the partnership of the parson and the squire in the government of the country belongs to history. The attack on the clergy by the scientist was simultaneous with the attack on hereditary privilege by the capitalist The political struggle and the intellectual struggle arose from the same set of economic circumstances. The thing preceded the idea; the actual power achieved by the capitalist class on the economic field had to be accompanied by political recognition and intellectual sanction.

The same movement of economic forces explains the present reaction of science. Capitalism has achieved its mission: it is the predominant power in the State. In the main it has absorbed the aristocracy, its erstwhile enemy. Being at peace with the landlord, it is at peace with the parson.

The capitalist having absorbed the landlord, the Whig and Tory being transformed into the Unionist, the scientist and the theologian have also called a truce. The whole force of united rulers are therefore able to show a single front to the working class pressing upon them. The side-tracks of the patriotic and political order are still useful in some quarters, and the mysticism of the scientist-cum-theologian is equally useful in others. The possibility of conversing with the spook of a departed friend, or the possible influence of the planets on the individual character, may have as much fascination as a game of whist or a visit to St. James's Hall, bat that they are established as ready for the acceptance of “scientific” minds is beyond credulity. They are still useful as will-o’-the-wisps to set the more curious of the workers chasing instead of looking into the things that matter in their own lives. The New Theology and Christian Science, with a hundred and one forms of occultism and mysticism that are fashionable in some quarters point out the trend among our intellectuals.

All this would not matter if it were not that Socialism—the social philosophy of Materialism —is dragged into it by some of its alleged votaries. R. J. Campbell, who, it is confidently asserted, is controlled by the spirit of Jesus Christ, is a member of the I.L.P. Bernard Shaw, who is said to believe in the Yogi Rama seeing with his eyes blindfolded, in spite of a scathing exposure of the performance, is a Fabian. Others might be mentioned who are both pseudo-Socialists and occultists ; while the effort of advanced churchmen to nobble the Socialist movement is a recognised phase of the workers’ struggle by the really class-conscious ones among them.

Fortunately, the S.P.G.B. stands clear for Socialism alone. The attractions of the higher life or the call of the spirit leave us Socialists all the time. The bread and butter question is first for us. The struggle for working class supremacy has first to be fought out. Given the success of Socialism, there will be time enough to investigate with a far greater degree of dispassionate and clear-sighted enquiry, the claims of the new science, new theology, theosophy, spiritualism, and what not, to separate the grain of truth there may be in the mass of commercial charlatanism that passes now under the various titles of psychic mysteries.

Socialists at this time of day have no business with Psychical Research, however attractive the “search for truth" may be made by those who have nothing better to occupy their time and minds with. Sufficient economic and social science is incontrovertibly established to enable us to know, even if we did not know by rougher and more empirical methods, that food, shelter, and clothing, the prime necessaries of existence, can be had in abundance by all when the cornerstone of capitalism is dislodged and the workers control industry for their own ends. Until this is done nothing else matters.

The education and organisation of the workers for this great purpose is the work of Socialists. No “saviour from on high" will help us. All the “saviours" of the past, and their current representatives, are on the side of the powers that be; and there is no reason for supposing that the future will differ from the past in the part the priesthood, in its widest sense, will play in the social straggle. That science—or rather, the scientists, with some commendable exceptions— are hobnobbing with the mysticists is but another indication of the union of the forces of capitalism in every field, that points to the rapidly approaching time when this consolidated forces of organised class-conscious labour will meet the existing order for the last bout.

Then will be required all the strength of the Socialist demand. The more Socialism is overlaid with excrescences and absurdities the more chance is there for Socialism to suffer. The more simple the Socialist demand is kept the greater is the concentration on the essential point. Against the central citadel of Socialism all the thunder of capitalism’s politicians, preachers, and wizards will break in vain.

The "War" Against Poverty. (1913)

From the January 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

Anyone who has followed the Press during the last few weeks will have been struck by the reiteration, day after day, of certain articles in bold type, announcing to a more or less interested world, the fact that we are in the midst of a “Great Trade Boom," and that we are also engaged in a great “War Against Poverty."

As is usually the case, the capitalist newspapers have tumbled over each other, as it were, in their efforts to prove to all and sundry what a glorious condition of prosperity the workers are enjoying. They hare also been ably assisted in those efforts by journals professing especial sympathy with labour, which is a gratifying feature—to the capitalists.

Among others, Mr. Chiozza Money and the “Daily News" have been at great pains to show what wonderful records have been created, both in imports and exports, with a consequent increase in wages.

This may appear all right to the "man in the street," who doesn’t trouble to analyse these statements, but simply reads his daily paper and swallows all that it dishes up.

As a matter of fact, however, during the last fifteen years, wages— that is, real wages— have actually decreased seven per cent. The average income of those "who toil not" during the same period has increased by over four times as much!

According to Mr. Money “the worker is getting a share of the increased product of industry.” Maybe! But Mr. Money omits to point out that, relatively to the cost of living, the workers are worse off than they were twenty-five years ago. Instead of the workers being more contented and looking brightly forward to what Mr. Money terms “the good new times,” their outlook is blacker and their condition more, precarious than ever.

The “Daily Mail” (3.12.12) endeavours to explain the cause of this “boom” in trade. “The growing output of gold,” they say, “the increase in credit which has accompanied it, and the advance in production with the help of the modern application of electricity, are probable and practical factors.”

Now, if anyone had asked the writer what, in his opinion, was the cause of the increased misery of the workers, a better explanation could hardly have been furnished than that supplied by the “Daily Mail” to explain quite another point. The only difference is the point of view. Whereas the “Daily Mail” seeks to show that the “boom” benefits everybody, this is not really the case. Only the capitalist class is benefited. Gold production has increased enormously during the last half-century, due to improved methods of production. As a consequence of this the value of gold has fallen. Thus gold being cheaper, more of it is required in order to exchange for any given commodity than formerly—assuming, of course, that the value of other commodities remains the same.

This depreciation in the value of gold means high prices, hence a decline in the purchasing power of money. On the other hand, owing to the constant improvement of machinery, with its inevitable resulting army of unemployed, it cannot be said that “booms” in the long run benefit the workers. Cases there are where workers have been put on overtime, and others given jobs, in order to cope with a rush of trade, but trade “booms” are at the best only temporary, and are invariably followed by periods of depression due to over production. Even at the time of writing indications are not wanting that portend an early breakdown. This, of course, will mean a further augmentation of the unemployed army.

The inability of the workers to buy back that which they have produced results in a glut of the market, and we have the spectacle of thousands of men, women, and children going hungry and ill clad, simply through having produced too much! This apparently involves a contradiction, but to the student of social conditions its truth is terribly plain. And this condition, I might point out, is inevitable under a system wherein goods are produced for profit instead of for use.

These are facts that the average social reformer doesn’t trouble to enquire very deeply into. He believes that by pressing for legislation to the capitalist class, who control and administer the political machinery in addition to controlling the machinery of industry, we can gain immunity from the depredations of that class!

All the so-called remedies for the elimination of poverty that are at the present time being shouted all over the country by the "war against poverty” campaigners and others, betray the deplorable fact that even the “leaders" themselves don’t know the commonsense principles upon which a working class movement should be based. This is inexcusable in view of the fact that the real solution of the poverty “problem” is as easy to understand as falling off a log. The solution lies in Socialism. This, as a rule, is outside the vocabulary of the average labour leader, who generally has some axe or other to grind.

Let us take a glance at some of their so called remedies.

There are several reform parties in the field, and prominent among them is the I.L.P., with its cry of “War Against Poverty!” They in turn are assisted by the B.S.P., Co-operative Unions, Women's Guilds, and other freak organisations—in fact, anybody and everybody so long as they keep Socialism obscured.

One of the points aimed at is the establishment of a legal Minimum Wage. Will this alleviate poverty in any degree ? Let us see.

Money, being a commodity, is subject to the same laws as any other commodity. Its exchange-value varies. As its value increases or decreases its purchasing power is higher or lower as the case may be. Given a legal Minimum Wage of a fixed amount of money, and the continued rise in the cost of living, and in a short time the minimum would represent s greater depth of poverty than unrestricted wages give to-day.

It is true that the reformers at their various meetings have added amendments to the resolutions, calling for a rise in the minimum if the cost of living rose, but one can hardly conceive any government establishing a minimum wage that had to be periodically adjusted to rising or falling prices.

But even if they did, the operation of economic law (as has been shown in the columns of this journal) must inevitably defeat the object of the reform. Substantiation of this comes from Australia, where the establishment of a Minimum Wage has led to the wholesale dismissal of men who are no longer young and active, and has intensified the struggle all round.

The Minimum Wage is a snare and a delusion, intended to lure the working class into supporting the Liberals. It is unscientific and calculated to lead the workers into the bog of false economics.

The B.S.P. are in the same boat as the I.L.P., for they claim that “the legal enactment of a Minimum Wage for all adult workers, a maximum working week, and maximum prices of commodities are proposals advocated by the (then) S.D.P., which clearly indicate the revolutionary nature of their policy.” (“Justice,” 22.7.11.)

Just how far such a policy is revolutionary may be judged by the statement of Sir George Askwith (known as “the strike-breaker”) at a meeting held by Mr. Harold Cox only the other day. “In a comparatively short time,” said Sir George, “we might be face to face with the grave consideration of the question of a general minimum wage.” So, whether we “demand ” it or not, it is quite conceivable that we shall be forced to have it—in the interest of the master class.

Another “demand’’ is for an Eight Hour Day. This needs very little examination in order to show the “benefits” accruing from it. The speeding up that has resulted from its introduction in such places as Brunner Mond’s, Nather & Platt’s, and various municipal bodies is well known. Such firms afford fine examples of the hours being reduced without in any way curtailing the output.

Any worker engaged on an eight hours a day job will testify as to who benefits by the restriction of hours. Only recently the hours on the Birmingham Tramway System were reduced from 60 to 54. This has since been nullified to a great extent by “speeding up” the journeys, and the men complain that they are as badly off as before. Cases could be quoted where hours have been reduced from 10 to 7½, and yet the actual output has been the same.

In 1911 151, 056 workers had their working time reduced, yet we find that the total production was greater than in 1910. Clearly an eight hours day will not benefit the mass of the workers.

"Provision for School Children” is another item which provides an example of tinkering with effects without removing the causes. How much better would it not be to eudeavour to understand the cause of child misery, and work for its removal, instead of advocating fatuous reforms that have only the effect of blinding the workers with false hopes! Instead of applying salve to the social boil, why not purify the system, and thus eradicate disease?

Children should be well fed, and well clothed too, but is it to be expected that the capitalist class will abolish poverty when such a condition is absolutely inseparable for their position of social dominance.

When the workers can be got to recognise that the cause of all poverty and social misery is the control by one class over the means of life of the other, the end of poverty will be in sight. Poverty has no need to exist, but until the working man ceases to vote his master into political power, so long will it continue.

Any of the reforms enumerated above can be applied without in the least effecting any permanent improvement in the lot of the workers. They are essentially capitalistic, and as such should be emphatically denounced by the Socialist. who sees in Socialism the only remedy.

The opportunities for studying Socialism are open to everybody, and when we find so called labour leaders heading in a different direction, we are forced to the conclusion that it is against their interest to abolish capitalism. Indeed, they aim only at propitiating it, for they claim that they wish to get ‘'the best” out of the system. We have continued to point this out, and experience has verified our judgment. Such a policy has no place in the propaganda of a Socialist party. The issue— freedom or slavery —is too clear for that.

Both the B.S.P. and the I.L.P. believe and teach that capital would exist under Socialism, and also that wages would be paid and that government would continue. No wonder the “rank and file” are politically blind, when they are taught to believe that the conditions essential for the introduction of Socialism are identical with those necessary to capitalism.

The strewing of the path with these red herrings, fouling the trail, as it were, of Socialist propaganda, renders the work of the Socialist more difficult, but whilst it may, in a small sense, retard the ultimate realisation of Socialism, it cannot expunge its principles or prevent its final triumph.

There is only one party that is engaged in a real war against poverty— that party is the Socialist Party. Being a Socialist Party, all our efforts are logically centred upon Socialism. It is to the interest of the workers to rally under its flag, and help to speed the day when we shall have gained the right to live, when those who create the wealth shall enjoy it, when every man, woman, and child shall have the opportunity to develop to the fullest extent their human powers, and thus, for the first time since the dawn of history, realise the true meaning of life.
Tom Sala