Sunday, February 28, 2021

"The Future of Industry". (1922)

From the May 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the “Glasgow Herald” (January 25th, 1922) appeared an article with the above title, reporting a speech by the Lord Advocate of Scotland addressed to the Reading Circle of Palmerston Place United Free Church, Edinburgh. The title is one which can be found heading many of the speeches and writings of members of the master class and their satellites.
In his speech the Lord Advocate states :— 
   “To-day, millions of unemployed had the right to ask by what road had they reached the present pass.”
To whom does the Lord Advocate refer the unemployed millions for answer to this question? He does not say. The best individual the worker can put that question to is himself, but somewhat in the following manner: Why are there two opposing classes in present-day society, working class and master class, whose interests clash very bitterly?

Suppose a worker asks the question that the Lord Advocate states he has a right to do, and the questioner goes to a capitalist or his agent, he will be given quite a number of alleged reasons. The main reason that is put forward by the masters at the moment is that the War is the cause of the trouble, and that to put matters right capital and labour must come together to work with a spirit of goodwill, and that all the suspicion and distrust that exists between them must be dropped. This point of view was put forward by Mr. Vernon Hartshorn in the House of Commons on April 5th, 1921.
  “I want to say that in my opinion the first essential to that end is for the Government to act in relation to this problem in such a manner as to eradicate from the minds of the miners what has become a deep-rooted conviction, namely, that the Government are in league with the owners to thwart the ambitions and the aspirations of the miners, and to side with the employers; rightly or wrongly, that conviction is deep-rooted in the minds of the miners.” (Par., Debates No. 32, Vol. 140.)
In these few words it is not difficult for one to read what is evidently intended— that the existing conflict which is being perpetually waged must be smothered by some means. This particular working- class misleader was not prepared to openly attack the masters, who were supported by the Government, as witness the following : —
  “We think the time has now come when a proper relationship should be re-established between the owners and the workmen.”
A quotation from another misleader will be informing in this connection. The following is a statement by Mr. Brace in the House of Commons on October 19th, 1920:—
   “It would not be helpful to the welfare of the State to have a fight to the finish; neither would it be so for the Federation, or for the Government. I say quite frankly that if the State has made up its mind, its resources are sufficient to defeat the Miners' Federation. Suppose you drive the Miners' Federation back to a defeated people, a disgruntled, soured and bitter people, what then becomes of the. output? It is output you want. Unless we get a greater output the supremacy of this nation, as a first-class commercial and industrial power, must disappear. Therefore, let us get into an atmosphere of not desiring either to defeat the Government or to humble a great organisation like the Miners' Federation. . . . Therefore we make affirmation, that it is our belief that a larger output is essential to the well-being of the country; we also declare that the output can be maintained by mutual goodwill between owners and workmen. . . . We would agree to the setting up of National and Districts Committees in order to obtain increased output. What does that mean? It means that the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, as an organisation, would agree td make it their hourly, daily, and weekly business by way of co-operation to produce coal.” (Par., Debates No. 120, Vol. 133.)
It is evident that, should a member of the working class approach one of these agents of capitalism, he would not receive a clear explanation of the cause of, and remedy for, the industrial troubles. These people are clearly concerned with enjoining the worker to produce more, and, according to' Mr. Brace, the miners must work with the mineowners with this particular object in view.

It is only from the Socialist that a correct explanation of the cause of the evils of Capitalism can be obtained. If the reader will turn to the Declaration of Principles printed on the back page of this paper the cause of, and remedy for, working-class poverty, and misery will be found briefly set forth.

If workers will give the matter a little examination, they will realise that they, as a class, are quite propertyless; that those who own the mines, mills, and so forth do not work in them; that all the wealth produced is the result of the application, by the working class, of their energies to the nature-given material.

Now, Fellow-Worker, it is your class who performs the task of wealth production in modern society. When that is done, do you and your mates own the wealth which you collectively have produced? Ot course not; but why not ? Because the capitalists, owning the means of production, are enabled to take from you the wealth you produce. You have no other way of gaining access to the means of life except by working for the capitalist.

It must be borne in mind that the masters do not give the workers permission to work out of love or fellow-feeling. Workers are engaged in the production of food, clothing, and shelter, not because the community require these things, but in order that the owners of these things shall obtain a profit. Profit is what the masters want, and it does not matter to them how sorely people may be in need, there will be no production unless there is profit to be obtained.

Consequently the future of industry under Capitalism will mean increased profit to the capitalist and increased toil and misery to the workers.
W. E. B.

No comments: