Saturday, March 21, 2020

Smart. (1905)

From the January 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The class struggle having been satisfactorily disposed of by Messrs. Keir Hardie and Bruce Glasier who have now proved beyond the possibility of doubt that the interests of the capitalist-class and the working-class are (more or less) identical and cannot by any chance breed conflict (except now and again), Mr. Russell Smart also of the I.L.P., not to be outdone, rushes into print to show how very easy of solution the unemployed problem really is when tackled by a member of the "practical" school of political economy. All that is required is to round up the existing unemployed and put them back to work on the land. As the machine in the factory turns out more, put them, back on the land also. When they have acquired that degree of efficiency necessary to enable them to enter into effective competition with the established agricultural worker, then take the men displaced and put them back on the land! Put. 'em all back! and then the problem will be solved and everybody will have work, and there shall be no more sighing and all tears shall be wiped away ! It is all so simple that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not make a mistake. No wonder Russell Smart raises an indignant voice of protest against the absurdity of the contention of illogical, irresponsible, not to say ill-informed Socialists who with purblind fatuity hold that nothing short of Socialism will dispose of the problem adequately and finally. They are bringing discredit upon the movement. They have forgotten "the land." They talk as if the capitalist system were based upon profit; as if profits were affected by the existence or otherwise of a surplus of labour on the market; as if the elimination of competition for work would mean the diminution, of profit; whereas it is well known that the very reverse is the case. It is well known that the capitalist system is not concerned with profit; that if it were the profit has no relation to the amount of competition for work; that as a matter of actual fact if the demand for labour were greater than the available supply—if, for example, there were 2 jobs for every one man—if the profits were affected at all they would he greater for the simple reason that worker, seeing the difficulty of the capitalist to get the work covered ; knowing that if the work was not done there could be no return on the capital, which would mean that the capitalist would commence to consume his reserve of wealth and would presently be entirely without means; knowing further that Capital and Labour are brothers (vide Keir Hardie and Bruce Glasier): knowing all this the worker would, for the good of trade, the glory of the flag, and the honour of the empire, gladly enough do the work of two men for the price of one (or one and a half), finding sufficient happiness in the unwonted possession of plenty of work to recompense him for all the extra expenditure of energy involved.

Obviously, therefore, the extremists who hold that unemployment is inevitable under capitalism are quite out of court in the eyes of all practical and fair-minded men. Luckily, they (the extremists, not the practical and fair-minded) are but few, otherwise it would be necessary to take steps to combat their imbecile heresies.
A. J. M. Gray

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

Hat tip to ALB for originally scanning this in.

Via Kaz.

Gray, Alec JM
Watford branch. This was another member active in the early years disappearing thereafter. Gray was a writer of some note for the Socialist Standard until 1908, served on the EC (1904-5, 1907-11) and was the Party’s second Treasurer, 1905-7. He is believed to have previously been a member of the ILP (see Martin Crick, The history of the Social Democratic Federation, p. 91). Gray was a railway clerk.