From the May 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard
The economics editor of the Sunday Times has made an interesting discovery: and it only took him 1400 words and an accompanying graph to conclude “No profits, no jobs.”
The Government is losing support because it is not implementing genuine socialist policies. Instead it is doing the Tories’ job for them and betraying the working class.The Times, 11th April 77
The Labour Party, which as Sir Harold Wilson said, is a broad church, tolerates criticisms from its youth movement, knowing that many of their best people become important members of the main party.
Many people were deeply anti-socialist and were horrified that the Liberals had joined forces with the most socialist government in our history.The Times, 5th April 77
. . . at a deeper level the politics of China are beginning to show distant but real parallels with those of Britain and other Western societies.Guardian, 9th April 77
The most disturbing feature of the world scene is that for the last two or three years every major industrial country has seen the unemployment level rising to what had been regarded in the post-war years as an unacceptable level for a well-managed economy. Mr. Healey added: I would not expect any fall in the level of unemployment—in fact some rise may be likely because demand and production are expected to continue to grow slowly.London Evening Standard, 29th March 77
As soon as division of labour comes into being each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity which is forced on him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not want to lose his livelihood, whereas in communist society where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.Marx, The German Ideology
Perhaps it is time that society devoted more money to this important area . . . The issue is an important one, and should be taken beyond the range of simple argument and assertion.
What surprised us most while at the IRC, however, was the willingness of private sector individual companies to discuss their problems with a government organization and to seek its help and assistance. It appears to be quite wrong to take the view that in the UK private sector capitalists are opposed to government help. Whatever they may say, in practice their opposition does not exist.
"The people do not know their power . . . The union of twenty million is irresistible. Such members, such resources can enforce anything that is just."
“No attempt is now made to blink the fact that the railway, dock and tram strikes are the forerunners of a succession of critical wage disputes with which the present year is threatened. They are an inevitable sequel to the fierce and successful attacks which were made on wages when industry was in the lowest depths of depression. The same reactions follow each other in recurring cycles, with the same disastrous injury to the trade of the country. The popular suggestion at the moment is for “an exhaustive scientific inquiry” into the question of wages in all industries, and particularly into the relation between the wages of skilled and unskilled workers. Such an inquiry might have valuable results if it were accompanied by an inquiry also into the question of profits. But a scientific solution cannot of itself avail much. The course of industry will continue to be disturbed by these volcanic eruptions until employers and employed revolutionise their attitude to each other and agree to submit their differences as a matter of course, when they occur, to the judgment of a competent and impartial tribunal. From that ideal we are unhappily still very far distant.”
“Mr. Bevin, by the merciless use of force, has obtained an immediate increase in wages of 6s. a week for skilled and 4s. for unskilled employees, though it was admitted that the industry cannot afford such a wage rate. The settlement is therefore a bad one in itself. It has a further grave disadvantage of offering direct encouragement to the methods which Mr. Bevin has employed in demanding money whether it is there or not.”
“The Government’s duty was to recognise that a transport strike differs fundamentally from other industrial disputes. A transport strike is not like an ordinary strike, because it aims its blows at the whole body politic and because it attacks the public rather than any body of employers. It is a political movement, not an economic struggle, and it ought to be dealt with accordingly by the authority which represents the public and the nation.”
“The men had a legitimate object, but the method is one which no community will tolerate for long. Traffic strikes are not industrial disputes between employers and employed, but attacks upon the public, and especially on the working-class public, who are forced to travel to their work and have not the means to command private conveyances. There ought to be full and proper machinery for the just settlement of all working conditions, but the method of securing justice by holding up the public ought to be ruled out. It can only be described as the tyrannical exercise of monopoly power, and if persisted in it will meet the fate of all monopolies. Step by step the public will organise itself against such emergencies. Struggles might ensue of a kind which we do not care to contemplate, and eventually the public would win.”
“On the one side, let us do justice to the men and their leaders. The men had a case, and the Court of Inquiry pronounced it a good case. To underpaid workpeople when they complain, it is not an adequate reply to urge the necessity of their work in the public service. Their very natural rejoinder is that, while it is very gratifying to find themselves so much needed, the more the reason for recognising their necessities as well. If work is particularly useful, why not pay the workers enough? If some departments of it are not earning the wherewithal to pay so much, that, in the view of the worker, is a reason for re organisation, conceivably in extreme cases for the closing down of unprofitable services—services which by the test of figures the public do not, after all, need to the extent of being willing to pay for them adequately. In short, the worker makes a fair remuneration the test of public as of private industrial service. For this he cannot be blamed as long as his views of “fair” remuneration are reasonable, as in this case they have been held to be.”
“When we say the public, we do not mean, as is so often meant, the middle classes. We mean all the people except the particular section of the workers interested.”
“What will have to come in the public services is something on the analogy of a Wages Board, in which the workers will themselves take a responsible part, and which will be instructed to have regard not merely to paying capacity, but to movements in the cost of living and to rates prevailing in other occupations comparable in respect of the skill and the efforts demanded of the worker. What has gone awry in our industrial system since the war is the disturbance of the balance between one occupation and another. Where the workers have a pull on the public they have maintained the relatively high standards to which the war brought them. Where they have had no such pull they have fallen, and we have the spectacle of skilled engineers, the very pride of English industry, working for less than unskilled labourers. If we ask for the workers respect for order we must show them our respect for justice.”
“What has gone wrong with our industrial system, since the war is the disturbance of the balance between one occupation and another?”
“It is possibly true that he (Mr. Bevin) has extorted a shilling or so more than the men would have accepted if the strike had not been in operation. That may be a “triumph” for him, but it is a triumph for force, and force will not always triumph.”
“The strike has also been remarkable in that the Government felt compelled to prepare to invoke the powers of the Emergency Powers Act.Had the underground railways been stopped, a Royal Proclamation was ready to have been issued on Saturday last, declaring it “state of emergency.”The Prime Minister and other members of the Government took an active part in arranging the negotiations which made that step unnecessary.”
“Our civilian officers will have to come off their perches. They will have to sacrifice a good deal of their Sabbath peace, including their Sunday afternoon round of golf, and come down into the streets and go among the people. They know what things are and what facts mean. They will have to tackle resolutely and courageously the prejudices and misconceptions which have been instilled—while they remained inert—in so many honest but imperfectly informed minds.The British working man is by nature fair-minded, just, willing to learn, and, above all, willing to talk things over. But he does not get a chance of correcting his misapprehensions. The absent are always wrong ; and he sees very little, if anything, of the men who do the brain work of this country.”
“Most of the bread on sale at present is of very inferior quality and is chemically treated with a view to improving its appearance.Wheat of very inferior quality is imported and ground into flour, and the bulk of this inferior flour is bleached by means of chemicals and gases into startling whiteness. Thus it is given fraudulently the appearance of high-quality flour which is naturally white.From the millers the flour goes to the bakers, who convert it into bread, and the majority of bakers add to it other chemicals euphemistically quantity called “improvers,” by means of which they can convert a given quantity of flour into a larger number of loaves.In other words, the “improvement” brought about by the “improvers” consists in this—that the public gets an artificially waterlogged and blown-up loaf.”
“These robots had all, and more than all, the material efficiency of human beings, but no soul, no heart, none of those attributes which make life individual and interesting. That is what your Socialist would have you and me be like in his perfect Socialist state.”—Democrat, April 12th, 1924.
“Where are these small, but important details that used to make our houses feel like homes? We do not find these things to-day. All the happiness has gone out of our houses. They are all alike, all plain and dull. For all the distinction or variation there are in them, they might be so many bathing machines or hen-coops.”
“There is one reasoned alternative to Socialism, the very simple yet perfectly true doctrine that small families and willing work would quickly banish poverty from our country.”—New Voice, April.
“The nation to-day is not producing enough to satisfy the natural human demands of the workers.. . . The demands for a decent standard of life have been increasing, but the means of satisfying them have not increased ; and to demand what is not there is crying for the moon.—Daily Chronicle, 31.3.24.
“The twenty-second annual report of the Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland), Limited, issued last night, shows a nett trading profit for twelve months ended October 31st, 1923, amounting to £7,467,925 12s. 10d”—Daily Mail, 9.2.24.
“But we have yet to meet the Socialist who’s willing to learn anything from anybody without doubting the motive of his teachers.” (Democrat, 9/2/24.)
“Socialism meant complete destruction of private property and individual liberty. God save England from Socialism.” (Harold Cox, The New Voice Feb.)
“You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population ; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths.” (Reeves, Ed., p. 18, Communist Manifesto.)
“The abolition of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom! … By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying.” (Ibid.)
A speech delivered before the Democratic Association of Brussels, at its public meeting, January 9th, 1848.Reprinted from “The Poverty of Philosophy.” (Twentieth Century Press, Ltd., London, 1900).
“The duty on corn is a tax upon wages ; this tax you pay to the landlords, those medieval aristocrats ; if your position is a wretched one, it is only on account of the high price of the most indispensable articles of food.”
“How is it that in the course of the last thirty years, while our commerce and manufacture has immensely increased, our wages have fallen far more rapidly, in proportion, than the price of corn has gone up ?“The tax which you say we pay the landlords is about three pence a week per worker. And yet the wages of the hand-loom weaver fell, between 1815 and 1843, from 28s. per week to 5s., and the wages of the power-loom weavers, between 1823 and 1843, from 20s. per week to 8s. And during the whole of the time that portion of the tax which you say we pay the landlord has never exceeded three pence. And, then, in the year 1834, when bread was very cheap and business lively, what did you tell us ? You said, ‘If you are poor, it is only because you have too many children, and your marriages are more productive than your labor !’“These are the very words you spoke to us, and you set about making new Poor Laws, and building work houses, those Bastilles of the proletariat.”
“You are right, worthy labourers ; it is not the price of corn alone, but competition of the hands among themselves as well, which determines wages.“But just bear in mind the circumstance that our soil consists of rocks and sandbanks only. You surely do not imagine that corn can be grown in flowerpots ! If, instead of wasting our labour and capital upon a thoroughly sterile soil, we were to give up agriculture, and devote ourselves exclusively to commerce and manufacture, all Europe would abandon its factories, and England would form one huge factory town, with the whole of the rest of Europe for its agricultural districts.”
“If we repeal the Corn Laws, we shall indeed ruin agriculture ; but, for all that, we shall not compel other nations to give up their own factories, and buy our goods. What will the consequences be ? I lose my customers in the country, and the home market is destroyed.”
“As to that, you leave it to us ! Once rid of the duty on corn, we shall import cheaper corn from abroad. Then we shall reduce wages at the very time when they are rising in the countries where we get our corn. Thus in addition to the advantages which we already enjoy we shall have lower wages and, with all these advantages, we shall easily force the Continent to buy of us.”
“And what, pray, is to become of us ? Are we to help in passing a sentence of death upon agriculture, when we get our living by it ? Are we to let the soil be torn from beneath our feet?”
“The English tenant farmer,” he exclaims, “need not fear repeal, because no other country can produce such good corn so cheaply as England. Thus, even if the price of corn fell, it would not hurt you, because this fall would only affect rent, which would go down, while the profit of capital and the wages of labour would remain stationary.”
“The small farmers,” he says, “who cannot support themselves by agriculture must take refuge in manufacture. As to the large tenant farmers, they cannot fail to profit by the arrangement : either the landlord will be obliged to sell them land very cheap, or leases will be made out for very long periods. This will enable tenant farmers to invest more capital in their farms, to use agricultural machinery on a larger scale, and to save manual labour, which will, moreover, be cheaper, on account of the general fall in wages, the immediate consequence of the repeal of the Corn Laws.”
“If the landlords were to sell our bones, you manufacturers would be the first to buy them, and to put them through the mill and make flour of them.”
“If instead of growing our own corn… we discover a new market from which we can supply ourselves… at a cheaper price, wages will fall and profits rise. The fall in the price of agricultural produce reduces the wages, not only of the labourer employed in cultivating the soil, but also of all those employed in commerce or manufacture.”
For fools are always fainTo measure meanings by the gaudy showOf twisted words that hide them. And a strainThat fills their ears with honeyed overflowOf phrase and music is at once decreedSurely to hold the very truth indeed.
The whole of the year has been a struggle to recover additional costs in our selling prices. In the earlier part of 1970 we had rising freight costs; now we have rising taxes and royalties in producing countries stemming from an increase in government take which the oil industry had to concede in the autumn of 1970 to producers in the Gulf and Mediterranean.
Over 90 percent of the groups trade . . . was carried on overseas and the majority of the crude oil and products was neither imported nor exported from the U.K.