Sunday, March 27, 2022

Unite for socialism (1981)

Editorial from the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of capitalism’s historic functions has been to refine society’s class structure. Now only two classes confront each other in conflict, immediately over the division of capitalism’s wealth and ultimately over the ownership and control of the means of wealth production and distribution.

It follows from this that whatever temporary internal dissension they may undergo, each class has a common interest to unite against the other. The capitalist class—the present masters of society—can be left to look after their own affairs. Socialists are concerned with the revolution to abolish capitalism, which can only be the work of a working class politically aware, participating and united. This is why socialists are concerned with working class unity.

There are many powerful influences which run against the idea that working class interests lie in unity. Male and female workers, for example, are too often preoccupied with opposing each other in the labour market and for dominance in social organisms such as the family. Then there is the popular spurious model of class structure which the apologists of capitalism offer a model which has a “middle” class and various other shades such as “lower middle”, “upper middle” and so on, each one having a supposedly different interest.

Another potent force for dividing the working class is that of nationality. All over the world workers are taught that the artificial boundary which separates “their” country also confines special qualities like courage, verity and intelligence which are denied to those across the frontier. And finally there is the propaganda about “race”, which divides human beings on grounds of prejudice, malice and pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo.

All of this takes no account of the fact that a social class must have a common interest, because it is only on that basis that it can be defined as a class. This unity of interest extends across all other divisions. Thus there are female, as well as male, members of the capitalist class: American, German, French, Japanese capitalists; and capitalists of all “races” black and white. Oriental and Latin.

This also applies to the working class, who exist and are exploited wherever capitalism holds sway. When there is a dispute on the industrial field which involves some sort of action such as a strike, that action is more effective if it includes a committed effort from all the employees concerned, all consciously struggling for the same object regardless of sex, “race” or any other spurious division. When this fact is ignored—as when, for example, British miners opposed the employment of miners from Italy just after the war—they are acting against their own interests.

On the central issue of the ownership and control of the means of life the capitalist class can be seen to operate a unity of a sort. They each have a state machine with its armed and police force which, with varying degrees of ruthlessness, protect their monopoly in those means of life. But so far there has been no comparable recognition of class interest on the part of the workers. The socialist movement, which alone is the weapon the workers can use to take control of the state machine, is so far puny and anything but world-wide.

To remedy this is an urgent and immediate task for the working class. The socialist movement sprung from a handful of workers who understood the capitalist system and the need for its replacement by socialism. An essential clement in this understanding was that of capitalism’s class structure, of the interests which defined that structure and of the role of capitalism in forming those interests. As that understanding spreads, so will the socialist movement grow and branch out.

This movement must be based on a unity which is conscious. It does not rest on blind faith in some super intelligent vanguard or a manipulative elite who aim to lead the rest to some other, so far undefined, social system. Working class understanding and acceptance of socialist ideas will be international, just as their present support for capitalism infects the entire world.

For socialism, then, human unity is vital—a unity for the majority in society to establish a system based on majority interests. Socialists have had enough of division, of human beings opposing each other without reason, when the world is desperate for them to unite to change the basis of society.

So we struggle to persuade the working class that all of them—in the words of our Declaration of Principles “without distinction of race or sex”—have the same interests to work together to rid the world of capitalism with its artificial and destructive divisions and replace it with socialism. That will be a society of common ownership and democratic control of the means of life, of abundant production and free access to wealth.

For the first time in its unhappy history the human race will in socialist society satisfy its needs. Socialism will be abundance, freedom and unity.

Political Notes: Left-right to nowhere (1981)

The Political Notes Column from the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

Left-right to nowhere

In China the Gang of Four have just been tried for being too extreme. At the Special Labour Party conference in Wembley the Gang of Three looked extremely moderate while Hattersley looked moderately moderate and Benn looked moderately extreme and most people felt extremely confused and moderately indifferent. Meanwhile we are told that Roy Jenkins is Left of Centre, James Prior is Right of Centre, David Steel is Dead Centre and the Socialist Workers’ Party and the National Front so extremely Left and Right that they meet at weekends to throw stones at each other. Is this really what politics is all about?

Moderate and extreme are adjectives and without a noun they have no more meaning than very or rather. The unmentioned map to which all of these descriptions refer is the capitalist social order. Those to the Right want to run capitalism a certain way and those to the Left support different policies. But both are policies for the same system. Sometimes one policy is adopted by a government to the virtual exclusion of alternative policies and then it is called Extremism. When various types of policy are mixed together in one general government policy, as is usually the case, it is called Moderation. But whether Left, Right, Centre, Moderate or Extreme, they are all policies which represent the social interest of a section, or sections, of the present ruling class who possess their power because of their ownership of the means of life.

Does it make any difference to the majority of us, who are not in the ruling class, whether one government policy or another is pursued? To a limited extent it does, insofar as some policies can be more disastrous than others, but ultimately the overriding principles of the capitalist system are greater than any policies for running it. No policy, of capitalism, can get rid of unemployment or bad housing or war or poverty. This is because the primary law of capitalism is that profits of the few must always come before the needs of the many. As long as the majority of people elect leaders to run this system it will not basically change, whatever the labels of the leaders.

Thatcher’s so-called extreme Right wing approach has clearly failed. So did Heath’s so-called moderate Right wingery. The so-called moderate Left with their objective of the mixed economy has invariably resulted in the same old mixed-up economy. The Communist Party, which some regard as the extreme Left, supports import controls and British withdrawal from the Common Market, as does the National Front, which is generally regarded as extreme Right.

The new rag-bag Centre Party is designed to provide a home for political misfits who have been less successful than they had hoped to be in the other capitalist parties. The new party will continue to churn out the same failed policies in a desperate bid to find an acceptable face for capitalism. Those left in the centre may do alright and be extremely moderate, but still, if they ever obtain power, they will administer the same old vicious, destructive, inhumane system.


Fall in

Restless, paranoid Labour MP Alex Lyon is convinced he has uncovered a government scheme to push unemployed youths into military training in uniform. Official assurances on the matter are airily unreassuring. An Unemployment Discipline Expert writes: Cadjoling unemployed people into uniform for a bit of square bashing, bayonet practice or strike breaking (or Coercus Bellicosus as we experts call it) is not generally harmful although it should only be used under the supervision of an expert. There are quite a few pitfalls which may trap the unwary.

To begin with, a few trouble makers may ask why we stop at unemployed youth. What is wrong with recruiting anyone who is not working—pensioners, hospital patients, even dead people (before they are buried, of course). The problem, as I often say to my clients, has to be one of recognition. Without getting bogged down in all that university professor’s jargon, we have to be careful about our definitions. Some descriptions of the unemployed might include the royal family, the Vesteys, Roddy Llewellyn . . .

Then what about your honest-to-goodness, backbone-of-Britain sergeant major? When I was in the mob (as we squaddies used to call it) they wouldn’t have wanted Roddy Llewellyn out on their Barrack Square. So you see we experts have to.be very careful.

Why only the other day one of my clients, who was in need of a bit of advice about discipline for his invalid grandmother, asked me whether I didn’t think the Army was unemployed in the sense that they never actually produce anything. Shouldn’t they, he asked, be pressed into a super Army for unemployed Army people?

Well being an expert it didn’t take me long to point out that with all their destructive power the armed forces create lots of jobs for the building trade, although they do a bit of no good for the demolition contractors. Then what about the help they give to the unemployed problem by killing off all those actual or potential dole-drawers?

We may not yet have all the answers but I’m sure our boys in the back room have something sensational cooking up in all those test tubes and pipettes; they’ll find a solution in no time.


Reagan’s new role

Ronald Reagan won the Presidency on promises, implied or explicit, that he, who was once one of the nice guys of Hollywood, was going to get pretty nasty with quite a few people like the Iranians and the Russians. This got a lot of American workers excited enough to vote for Reagan. The new President needed a few days to recover from his sumptuous inaugural junketings and since then the world has waited with, as they say. bated breath for him to loose off America’s nuclear arsenal in all directions.

The fear—or, for quite a few American voters, the hope—that he will do so is founded in the assumption that politicians fulfil the promises they were elected on. Sometimes this is a matter of saying they will conform to a political character- Reagan’s tough guy, Kennedy’s cultured “liberalism”, Johnson’s comprehensive efficiency. But Johnson ended his one full term in chaos, with the demonstrators baying in the streets in protest at the seemingly endless bloodletting of Vietnam and the other excesses of Johnson’s government.

And the humane, liberal Kennedy was responsible for the Bay of Pigs, and later the ultimatum to Russia over Cuba, which almost lossed off those missiles nearly twenty years before Reagan came into the White House. In practise politicians do not just fail to keep their promises. Often they pursue a course which is the very opposite of what they seemed to represent w'hen they were campaigning for votes.

Thus de Gaulle did not after all crush the FLN in Algeria but did a deal with them which allowed them to take over the country. Thus Macmillan did not batter down the independence movements in the old British colonies in Africa but lubricated the processes of their breaking away from British rule. And thus Reagan, the professed warmonger, faced with the immediate emergencies of capitalism, may yet disappoint his supporters.

What is Benn up to? (1981)

From the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

How strange that the Labour Party devoted only one day to their special conference at Wembley in January, because we were told that what happened there was little short of a fundamental change in the history of the human race, not to say the entire solar system.

What they actually did, amid scenes of confusion and error such as only an organisation like the Labour Party could stage manage, was to change the method of electing their leader. Let us be clear; they did nothing about really fundamental matters such as the abolition of the principle of leadership or about changing their nature as an alternative administration for British capitalism. But this did not lessen the gloom of the losers nor the joy of the winners of the vote. Tony Benn, customarily out of touch, predicted that the result of the conference would actually strengthen Labour unity.

No one could be blamed if, amid all this uproar, they overlooked what had actually happened. Unless (or perhaps until would be a more accurate word) they reverse the Wembley decision at a future conference, the Labour Party leader will now be elected by a college in which the largest vote will be allocated to the affiliated trade unions. It is difficult to understand how this can be construed by any reasonable person as making Labour a more democratic party. The unions are hardly famous for being effectively democratic: “It is true that the block vote is suspect”, said Railwaymen's leader Syd Weighell, “I know because I’ve got one in my hand”.

It is even more difficult to understand why the followers of Benn were so pleased at the vote or his opponents so upset. It is very possible that neither has got what they expect. In the past (remember the great days of Arthur Deakin, Tom Williamson, Bill Carron, the very mention of whose names was likely to send desperate lefties into a paroxysm of rage?) the unions habitually applied their block votes to crush the “left wing” at Labour conferences. In those days, we were often told by earnest lefties that the road to greater democracy for Labour was the restriction of trade union power in the party.

None of this history seems to have affected Benn, who was still busy, amid the wreckage of Wembley, thinking up more loony ideas. In his time he has dreamed up few loonier notions than his demand that members of the Labour Party National Executive Committee should be required to swear loyalty to the decisions of their Annual Conference. Fortunately for Benn, the Labour Party and their NEC, he was persuaded to drop the plan; fortunately not just for Benn’s future but in the same way as the poacher is fortunate to miss putting his foot into the open jaws of the mantrap.

For what did Benn think he was about? To begin with, it was cleared up a long time ago that the Labour Party aims to get power to run British capitalism and it will not be deflected in this by conference resolutions cooked up by hysterical lefties and passed by punch drunk members at the seaside. Harold Wilson, to give only one example, was certainly clear on the matter:
At an all-day meeting of the NEC during the Whitsun recess of 1973, the opportunity was taken late in the evening, when many members had left, to force a snap vote on an outlandish proposal to commit the party to nationalise 25 of the biggest 100 companies. It was carried by 7 votes to 6. The following morning I issued a statement indicating that the decision was inoperative. It would meet a “veto”. In saying this I was relying on the constitution of the party as drafted by Sidney Webb in 1918, and still in force. In the event little more was heard of the proposal. (Final Term: The Labour Government 1974- 1974-6)
Of course Wilson was quite correct; if the interests of British capitalism demand something a Labour government will try to do it. If those interests demand a declaration of war, or the killing of workers in some other country, or an all-out attack on working class living standards (as always seems to happen with especial force whenever there is a Labour government in this country); then Labour will try to do all those things whatever the membership may want.

Then there is the embarrassing matter of a member of the Labour Party declaring their loyalty to anything. What next? Will ordinary members of the party be required to affirm their allegiance to Labour policy? Anyone who has spent any time arguing the case for socialism with them is impressed with the fact that very few members of the Labour Party know what their party stands for. And quite a few of those who try to guess about Labour “principles” find that in fact they are declaring loyalty to Tory Policies.

This is perfectly appropriate, since there is no basic difference between these two parties of capitalism. Benn’s loyalty oath was not the first of his loony ideas to backfire upon him. But if we can get back for a moment to that reasonable person who should be judging Labour policies against their experience. Why, we must ask, should anyone bother to try to make Labour a more democratic party (always supposing that that was what happened at Wembley?)

Democracy, although it is an essential for useful working class organisation to carry on the class struggle, and in particular for the propagation of socialist ideas, should not be taken as an end in itself. Many capitalist states are run on lines of parliamentary democracy, which does not prevent the workers there suffering the full brunt of the everyday problems of capitalism nor that same “democratic” state sometimes imposing undemocratic measures.

And every so often the workers in those states use their democratic freedom to vote themselves another dose of capitalism. In other words they vote for their own enslavement to wage labour; in freedom they vote against their own freedom.

For in fact capitalism cannot be democratic. When its interests so demand, a ruling class will move to crush organisations like trade unions or even political parties—and they can be thwarted in this only by a consciously democratic working class. Capitalism could not function through an open administration, where all information is freely available and no socially effective decisions are taken in secret.

All the parties of capitalism mirror these facts. They all have their leaders (which is what Labour’s current row is all about) and leaders are not there to be democratic. Their job is to receive and to process in secret a lot of information, to lead in the formulation of policy which is then handed down to the rank and file to implement. Often, this process does not reach the rank and file; it becomes the policy of a capitalist government which is not seen as being any concern of the grass roots members. Labour is deeply imbued with this nature and it will need changes far beyond their Wembley agenda—fundamental changes—before they can lay claim to being a democratic party.

And that brings us to the most important question of all. As their exposure in the media begins to rival that of Prince Charles, where does the Labour Party go from here? The Gang of Three have proved how highly principled they are by staying on in the party until they could be sure that a centre party offered them something better. And who will lead this party, if and when it is formed? (There are some formidable obstacles in the way of any new party aiming to take power over a capitalist state—to begin with money. One estimate is that it would cost at least £2 million just to set the thing up let alone to start campaigning.) Both Owen and Williams are said to fancy their chances as leader and already the public relations men are on the scene, talking about images and presentation and voter appeal. It is certain that any new party will be no freer of internal feuding, back stabbing and manoeuvring than any other.

This situation will be made more complicated if the centre party is flavoured by the threatened leavening of a few unusually confused Tories. What with Jenkins and Owen the so-called social democrats have their share of genteel drawing room class without a lot of public school Tories muscling in on their act. Marooned among these troublous waters there may be a few members of the Labour Party who survive by clinging wistfully to their conviction that sometime, somewhere, their party once stood for socialism. Their notion of what this means is at best hazy, compounded of state capitalism, charity and nostalgia. If such people exist they need to stop wallowing in those cold and prospectless seas. Now is the time for some clear, consistent mental navigation. There is much historical evidence by which they can set their course and all of it points the way out of the sordid, opportunist mess which is the politics of capitalism.
Ivan

Murdoch at The Times (1981)

From the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is a fact of life under capitalism that the capitalist invests only where there is a prospect of making profit. As Marx put it, from the capitalist standpoint a worker who does not yield a profit to his employer is not a productive worker. Newspapers are no exception; when they continue to show losses, they are closed down. The London Evening News is only the latest of a large number that have disappeared in recent years.

There is, however, a widespread belief that The Times is different. Because it has been in existence since 1785, was for a long time a government mouthpiece, and has a certain reputation for reliability and avoidance of sensationalism, the claim is made that it is a “natural asset" which must be preserved at all costs. The belief has been supported by the fact that at times wealthy newspaper proprietors like Lord Northcliffe and the late Lord Thomson have been prepared to own it for prestige reasons and lose a certain amount of money. So when the present Lord Thomson announced that unless he found a buyer for The Times, the Times Literary Supplement and two educational supplements, he would close them down, the media reported that the nation was stunned and it had to be debated in the House of Commons.

Adulation of The Times is not however shared by some of the rival newspapers. Reporting the House of Commons debate, Andrew Alexander (Daily Mail, 28 July) took a distinctly critical attitude:
MPs on both sides spoke of The Times and the Sunday Times, especially the former, with a mixture of awe, reverence and admiration. Those newspapers play a really tremendous part in British public life, MPs kept stressing until one was finally left wondering how it was that “public life" did not grind to a halt altogether during the eleven months that the two papers were off the street. Actually, of course, MPs were discussing a couple of newspapers of modest distinction, as prone to vulgar error, inaccuracies and unconvincing arguments as much of the rest of Fleet Street, except that when The Times, for example, talks twaddle it does so in polysyllables and charges you 20p for the privilege of reading sophisticated nonsense (as opposed to unsophisticated nonsense available elsewhere for less)!
As was inevitable in the long run, the future of the Times group of publications is being decided on the question of profitability. The Thomson company is reported to have lost £50 million through the eleven months’ strike. It is not that the company could not afford to go on running the newspapers at a loss, but the shareholders have no intention of seeing their profits from oil thrown away on this loss-making branch of their activities.

When publication was resumed it was the expectation, on the employers’ side, that the unions would agree to the introduction of new technology and reductions of staff, which would turn losses into profits. The unions had still not agreed when another strike took place, this time by the journalists. Lord Thomson then announced his deadline; failing the receipt of a satisfactory offer for the whole group (or for the separate journals), together with agreement by the unions to accept big changes, all the journals would cease publication in March.

The Thomson company provisionally accepted an offer by Rupert Murdoch, who owns Australian newspapers as well as the Sun and the News of the World. Objection was raised to this on the ground that it would create an unacceptable monopoly but the government refused to refer it to the Monopolies Commission.

Two other objections were raised regarding Murdoch; that he would not allow his editors independence in matters of policy, and that under his ownership The Times would never be the same again. Conor Cruise O’Brien (Observer and Telegraph) was horrified:
With Murdoch at The Times, the whole ecology of Fleet Street is changed, for the worse. The master of the most disreputable and successful of the “populars” is now to be master also of the principal “qualities".
On the strength of Murdoch’s assurances the unions concerned, both printers’ and journalists’, dropped whatever objections they may have had on these aspects.

From the start Murdoch made it quite clear that his priority is profit he had no intention of taking over the group on any other basis. He demanded that by February 12 the unions had to agree to reductions of staffing ranging from 9 per cent for journalists to 50 per cent in the composing room, with compulsory redundancies if necessary; a wage freeze until October 1982; and printing the supplements outside London. This, of course, was an opening gambit and he cannot have been surprised that the unions’ immediate reaction was to reject the lot.

The other big issue concerns unofficial lightening strikes. Newspapers are particularly vulnerable to such stoppages, which lead not only to loss of income from sales and from advertising, but also to advertisers permanently taking their publicity elsewhere. Murdoch asked for union guarantees of continuous production, with penalty clauses that unofficial strikes would lose their pay immediately and that from the second day other members of the same union would have their pay reduced to basic pay, as also would all printing workers from the third day.

The unions eventually agreed to give guarantees, but without the penalty clauses, and to some redundancies. They are carrying on parallel negotiations with the other national newspapers.

It is not only The Times group that is in difficulties financially. Most sections of the British printing and publicity industry have their problems, partly due to the depression, but also to competition from cheaper production abroad and a feared permanent decline in book sales. Many British companies now get their printing done outside this country. Cassels have given up their general list and the British Printing Corporation, faced with heavy losses and indebtedness to the banks, has come under the control of Robert Maxwell’s Pergamon Press. In the printing machine industry American and European markets are being invaded by the more modern and efficient products of a Japanese company.

So far the unions have been fairly successful in resisting new processes which mean loss of jobs, but in the long run they cannot escape capitalism’s inexorable law that companies which continue to make losses go out of business.
Edgar Hardcastle

Something to think about (1981)

From the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the time of writing about 2½ million workers are officially registered as jobless. Accompanying the monthly tilt of a full Wembley Stadium of workers on to the scrap heap, has been a sharp rise in alcoholism, violent crime, family breakdowns and admission to mental hospitals. While millions of people over the world slowly die for want of food, resources lie untouched and men hankering for work walk past empty padlocked factories having been told their services are no longer required. Fierce blame for this madness is levelled at a variety of people, politicians and policies. The problem of unemployment is not peculiar to Britain, for there are presently about 30 million registered unemployed in America and Europe.

Mr. Slick is a company manager whose career is developing nicely, along with his ulcer. He blames unemployment on the British disease, laziness. “Most of them are too idle to get a job, there are plenty advertised in the papers and Job Centres. They should move to where the work is, any employment is better than scrounging..

Were workers falling to laziness at the rate of 3,000 a day during November 1980, for that was the rate of unemployment? Every week there is news of thousands more who are to be told that they will shortly not be used anymore. Although last December there were two and a quarter million out of work, government figures put the number of job vacancies at 83,517. When 2,900 men were made redundant from the steel works at Consett last year there were already over 2,000 jobless in that region and only 31 jobs available to any of the ousted steel workers.

Is a worker obliged to leave home and family and trek around the country, from one high unemployment area to the next in search of work? To move with your family you may need to sell your house and nowadays there isn’t exactly a queue to settle in an area like Consett. Incidentally, Mr. Slick, if you believe that any employment is better than being a parasite why not tell that to the Royals, the Aristocracy and the Company owners, for whom you “manage”?

One other thing Mr. Slick. In times of recession very often the first place a company will start to prune its costs is with its management. Cutting a few £10,000 a year labour-units is usually a good way for a large company to improve its cost-effectiveness. An article called “Confronting the Unthinkable” (Financial Times 22/10/80) deals with a “predicament that is increasingly being felt in industry as, on both sides of the Atlantic, executives fall victim to economic recession and face enforced redundancy or early retirement”. An American company has been set up to groom redundant executives to present themselves to maximum advantage to potential new employers. “You are the chief executive of a New York company which is suddenly taken over. Next thing your are an out-of-work chief executive. You have turned fifty and are not of an easily employable age. So what do you do?” 

Perhaps you have a serious think about the society in which you live. Redundancy can come as a painful illusion-shatterer to anyone who believes him or herself in the mythical middle-class. The grooming company, THinc Consulting Group, even panders to the snob terminology of the executive (where jobs are “appointments” and wages are “salaries”) by describing the job-finding service as “executive outplacement”, although trying to sell yourself to someone is humiliating whatever you’re calling the exercise. Executives made redundant from private and nationalised industries can buy similar services from British grooming companies, although the fees are high and many shame-faced salary-seekers have to make do with sidling to the Job Centre to sign on with the Professional and Executive Register. It’s goodbye to dreams of power, cocky business talk and the company car. Then there’s the small matter of the hefty mortgage commitment and the children’s school fees. If you are one of the 90 per cent who do not own industrial concerns, land or have control of financial capital then consider the degree of harsh reckoning over our lifestyle which is exercised by those who do own those sceptres and who operate them remorselessly to profit from our work, when they give it to us.

Terry Dolt is in the National Front — or has he joined the British Movement? He wants to protect his England which he claims is something more than his rooms in that high-rise council block, although what more he’s not sure. Perhaps it’s his English culture, you know, tea (from India or China), the monarchy (from Germany) and so on. Unemployment? That is caused by immigration. No, not immigration from Canada or South Africa, but black immigration and jewish conspiracies.

When unemployment reached the level of three million in Britain in 1932, so little black immigration had there been that a single asian or negro was regarded as a curiosity walking through a British city, and as for the jews being responsible, far from masterminding the mass redundancies of that racial conglomeration described as “British”, they were living in dreadful poverty-remember the condition of Cable Street? The locations of today’s highest unemployment levels — Scotland and Northern Ireland — are areas where there has been virtually no black immigration. It is a sad irony that in the recessions of capitalism it is immigrant labour which generally finds it most difficult to get employment. Racial discrimination has arisen, and been fomented by politicians, as a scapegoat for the problems produced by the real culprit — capitalism.

In the 18-month period up to May 1975 unemployment rose by 65 percent for the general population and 182 per cent for young West Indians (Department of Employment Statistics). There has been no NF or British Movement regime in Britain, but we can point to the racist Labour government of 1964-70 to show the failure of immigration control to solve unemployment. The Commonwealth Immigration Act 1962 was a piece of racist Tory legislation described by the contemporary Labour leader Gaitskell as a law which “. . . will be regarded very largely throughout the world as the imposition of a colour bar over here . . The retention of this law was part of the 1964 Labour manifesto but the non-colour-blind immigration controls operated throughout 1964-1970 did not stop the number of jobless from almost doubling.

Mr. Grimace is a Tory. The discipline of his public school and the army has made him the questioning, independent thinker he now is. His main concern with unemployment is not entirely to do with the enormity of working class suffering it leaves in its wake, but more to do with its damaging effect on the economy. By this he means withdrawal of investment, loss of profits, falling share prices — damage, in short, to the interests of the parasites. Mr. Grimace supports Thatcher.

If capitalism is left to run freely with minimum government intervention, says Grimace, the unemployment level will be greatly reduced if not solved altogether. We are told that if the government stops inflation and greatly reduces public expenditure it will be able to make big cuts in taxation which will allow employers to retain more of their profits. With this extra margin of profit, we’re told, further investment will be made in industry, creating more jobs. This is fallacious. Between 1820 and 1913 there was no inflation and yet government expenditure gauged against the total national income — of less than one quarter of what this government is spending. Yet these conditions for which Thatcher is striving did nothing to prevent continuous unemployment and the agonies of the Great Depression. The mistake is to believe that employers are motivated by a need to create jobs. Even given a larger margin of profit, by reduced taxation, capitalists will not re-invest it in industry to create more jobs if the goods, were they to be produced, would not be sold at a profit.

Keith Joseph’s latest gem is that unemployment could be alleviated if workers threatened with redundancy were to accept lower wages than the going rate in their particular line of work. This is called “pricing yourself into a job’’ and means that a company paying £70 to eight men could employ ten men for the same outlay if each was only paid £56. This cut in wages, reduced even more in real terms by inflation, would mean a severe retrenchment in the already base living conditions for most workers. Why? Simply to maintain the profit level of those who we allow to own industry. As a substantial shareholder in Premier Investment Trust, Drayton and the building company Bovis, Joseph must find his job of devising such profit-protecting policies quite engaging. His scheme however will not lower unemployment. The ten men in the example above might produce more than the eight men. If the company managed to capture more of the market it would be at the expense of a rival firm which would in turn be forced to lay off some of its workers. Do you remember all that moronic melodrama from Saatchi & Saatchi in Thatcher’s election campaign? The ever-lengthening dole queues were with us, we were told, not courtesy of capitalism, but because Labour wasn’t working. Since the Tories have been in office with all the power they asked for to solve the problems, the number out of work has soared by over a million.

Ms Policy is an ardent member of the Labour Party. She’s not proud of Labour’s six-government record of not met promises on Housing, Inflation, Unemployment and so on. In fact, she’s not proud of Labour’s record full stop. But at least, she’ll tell you, it’s better than the Tories. One more chance for a Labour regime with Foot as overlord is bound to reduce unemployment to a “tolerable level”, if not solve the problem. Not so. Another Labour government as a proposed answer to unemployment is a non-starter.

Today the production of wealth in all industrialised countries, including state-capitalist Russia, is chaotic. Regardless of human need things are only produced if sales are predicted. Rival national and international companies churn out goods to compete in the bedlam of bidding for markets. Periodically markets become flooded with goods. With disappearing prospects of profits, enterprises slacken or stop production and workers are thrown out of work. In the West the tiny minority who make these gravely consequential decisions are Boards of Directors, shareholders and the Boards of the nationalised industries. In the misnamed Communist Russia there are industrial managers. “They are promoted and given bonuses like their capitalist counterparts when they increase production and profits. They are dismissed and humiliated if they fail in this task. They differ from their counterparts in that they are fellow workers of the State with the lowliest worker in the plant they manage, but they are remote from him physically and spiritually. They live in more attractive, spacious and isolated quarters than the bench workmen and they do not share fully his concerns, in spite of numerous efforts to bring the two together.” (The Soviet Legal System 3rd Ed. Hazard, Butler and Maggs). These are the Mr. Slicks of the Eastern block.

Important industrial decisions, however, like whether production of a certain good is to be stopped are made by the top officials of the Communist Party (apparatchiks) — a ruling elite — who actually hire and fire the industrial managers. In times of slackened production, the Russians who would be in the dole queue in western style capitalism are “allocated” jobs in the police and armed forces. Hence we are told there is no unemployment in Russia.

Constant unemployment, periodically escalating when markets become glutted, is a characteristic of capitalism which no Labour government can remove. In November 1980 at an unemployment rally in Liverpool Michael Foot inveighed against Tory policies and bewailed the catastrophe of jobs being lost at the rate of one every 15 seconds. What was he offering as an alternative? During the 1974-79 Labour government, for part of which Michael Foot was actually Minister of Employment, jobs were lost at the rate of one every 3 minutes 35 seconds — something Foot forgot to brag about at the Liverpool rally.

The 1945 Labour government’s promise of “jobs for all” seemed to be almost kept as unemployment remained very low throughout its office but this was not because the Labour cabinet was controlling capitalism. There was a great deal of work to be done after 1945 reconstructing industry after the war and British industry’s potential rivals — the industries of Germany and Japan for instance — were not to be in full swing again, winning markets from British companies, until the seventies. And again, during Labour’s 1964-70 management of the economy, the dole queue nearly doubled its length.

The Keynesian formula is basically that governments can solve unemployment with an “expansionist” policy: as the Labour Party put it in 1945, “if bad trade and general unemployment threaten . . . we should give people more money and not less to spend”. But each note of the “more money” that the workers were receiving became worth less and less. In 1938 there were £500 million worth of notes in circulation but by 1976 the notes in circulation amounted to £6,000 million. The consequence was a vast increase in prices. Having used inflationary policy to reduce unemployment, the Labour Party found itself in the rather awkward position, in 1976, of attacking inflation as the cause of unemployment and trying to crack the problem with wage-restraints. In that year the government set itself the target of reducing unemployment to 700,000 by 1979, and yet by April 1979 the number of unemployed had risen to 1,340,595. It is not only Miss Policy and her friends who end up supporting the prolongation of the profit-system. The revolutionary proclamations of the SWP dwindle at election time when they urge us to “Vote Labour with no illusions” in the absence of a SWP candidate.

The places where we work — factories, farms, offices, trains, docks, mines — are the property of a small minority. We go to these places to be employed. When we are of no use to the owners we are shut out. If these places belonged to society at large they would be operated to provide goods and services for people to enjoy, not to be sold to those who could afford them. We would not subserviently have to seek employment. We would have free and equal access both to work, chosen in line with talent and interest, and to the results of our labour. The possibility of such a society is no more a fanciful daydream than the agonies of today’s society are an illusory nightmare. But the transformation of society from the profit-system to socialism is clearly not one of these on-a-plate remedies promised by politicians and left-wing leaders. The depriving money-system can only be wound up once a majority have thought seriously about the choice we have, and have decided to act co-operatively for fundamental change. The option is open and you know what decision the capitalists would like you to make. Consider the rest of your life under the yoke of wage-slavery. What do you think? 
Gary Jay

Myths of race and nation (1981)

From the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

An English bus-driver has more in common with a German mechanic than with the Duke of Devonshire. A French accountant shares more experiences with a Russian wages clerk than with Giscard D’Estaing. Across the world there is a mass of people who speak hundreds of different languages and eat a great variety of foods, but who all have one common bond: they own no substantial property and so are forced to work for a living.

As you read this, millions of people are being born into families of workers. They may end up as teachers, miners, dockers, pianists. Of one thing we can be sure. They will be forced to sell their ability to work for a lifetime, simply in order to live. And then, every so often, are born exceptions to this rule—the children of the few families whose names are written over all the stocks and shares, who own the farms, mines and offices. Families of financiers, international business empires, barons of industry. From birth they will be given the best that the world’s workers can produce. They will be taught not how to go looking for jobs, but how to while away their leisure hours in self-indulgent pursuits.

There is a clear class division in present-day society. In capitalism, the world is divided into competing ‘nations’, with a state machine to defend property within each region. The British state, now run by a Tory government, uses armed force to protect private and state property from the indigenous population and from the incursions of foreign powers. Each state, including those of the Warsaw Pact, defends the interests of the small, privileged minority who have power within its boundaries. It is the essentially competitive nature of capitalism which divides the world into rival national blocs.

At the time of writing, the British government is pushing its Nationality Bill through Parliament. If passed, it will create six categories of citizen, only one of which will have the “right to live’’ in Britain. Unemployed workers demonstrating for the “right to work’’ have seen how, in the profit system, there is no such thing. Now workers who have come thousands of miles in the desperate search for employment may find that, if the government does not want them, they don’t even have a right to live. Wage and salary earners are ruthlessly monitored and moved around to where there might be a chance to profit from their work. There is no stability or security.

Workers are endlessly urged to support “the nation”. But we have no stake in Britain; it is just where we happen to sell ourselves. Parties ranging from the Communist Party to the National Front have supported import controls and “British jobs for British workers”. What they are really after is British votes for British politicians. The workers' interest is international. If “British" workers refuse to buy “Japanese" cars, then fellow workers from Japan might lose their jobs. The working class is a global class which owes no allegiance to any nation states. The capitalists themselves invest in whatever country is most profitable for them. Nowadays, one item often includes parts made in ten different countries. This is the background to the question of race and nation.

Recently there has been an increase in violent attacks motivated by racialism. Asians have been stabbed and assaulted with iron bars on housing estates in Islington, where unemployment is more than ten per cent (Guardian, 8/12/80). In 1978, Bethnal Green and Stepney Trades Council documented nearly one hundred such attacks. There has also been racialist violence across Europe, including the bombing of a Paris synagogue last October. It is no coincidence that this is happening at a time of recession and high unemployment. With austerity getting sharper, people turn to look for scapegoats and government, opposition Parties and the Press accept and even encourage this.

The main reason for the decline in National Front support over the last couple of years is the stealing of their political clothes by the Conservative Party. In 1978, Margaret Thatcher announced that Britain was in danger of being swamped by an “alien culture” and that to allay people’s fears, a Conservative government would take steps to prevent further immigration. This was just a piece of opportunist vote-catching, playing on the worst prejudices. Thatcher must have know that in 1977 only 70,000 immigrants had entered Britain, while 200,000 people had emigrated.

The Press encourage racism with headlines like “Asians jump the Housing Queue” (Daily Mail 5/4/76) and “Powell Warning of Erosion of Britain by ‘Alien Wedges’” (Times 10/4/76). The Labour Party, too, has been quick to jump on the bandwaggon. Roy Hattersley has condemned the Nationalist Bill as “racially and sexually discriminatory”. Has he forgotten his speech of 23 March 1965 in defence of the Immigration Act, when he said: “We must impose a test to analyse which immigrants are most likely to be assimilated to our national life".

Our national life? Does Hattersley mean Ascot? Eton College? Workers don’t have a national life. Despite promises to repeal the Immigration Act of the previous Conservative government, in 1965 the Labour government zealously renewed the restrictive measures. Their Home Secretary, Frank Soskice, told the House of Commons, “The government are firmly convinced that an effective control is indispensable". The number of “work vouchers" was even reduced. Bias against negroes and Asians wishing to enter this country continued, as it does to this day. In 1978 Roy Jenkins wrote of “cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance” (Brent Civic Review), but in 1978 he had spoken of the need for “a strict limit on the amount and rate of inward immigration for settlement" (House of Commons 5/7/76).

In 1968, Labour passed their Commonwealth Immigrants Act, an even more overtly racist legislation, which removed the right of entry to Britain from black UK passport holders. The Tories’ 1971 Immigration Act divided British subjects into “patrials”—UK passport holders born here or with parents or grandparents born here—and “non-patrials” who are not permitted to enter without vouchers, of which as few as 2,032 were issued in 1977, The Labour government’s Green Paper on Nationality in 1977 again urged even tighter control. Families from the “New Commonwealth” wishing to join a relation in Britain are brutally stopped. Bone X-rays and virginity tests have been carried out at Heathrow to check age or “marital status”.

In the 1840s, nearly three quarters of a million Irishmen were brought over to build railways and canals in England. In the 1880s refugee Jews and Ukranians supplemented the labour force. Sometimes the flow of labour is actually stimulated through recruitment, at other times it is subject to political controls. After the Second World War, destruction of human life and of machinery stimulated a boom in which the British government recruited workers from the West Indies (1951), then India (1955), and Pakistan (1957). France encouraged migrant workers to come from its ex-colonies of Algeria and Tunisia, and workers flowed into Germany from Turkey and Yugoslavia.

Successive anti-immigration legislation in Britain has aimed to move towards the more flexible and, for the workers concerned, more painful method of short-term migrant contract labour without citizenship, which has been used in France and Germany. Immigrant workers have always been given the hardest jobs and lowest pay, but recently cheap labour has increasingly been provided by European migrant workers. This “gastarbeiter” contract labour costs less in terms of housing, education and social services than a more permanent immigrant workforce, so that is the direction in which capitalism moves. But since the onset of recession in 1974, both France and Germany have introduced cash incentives to encourage the migrants to return “home”.

The racialist attacks on immigrants have no scientific basis at all. The human species has basically uniform physical features and mental potentialities. In that sense there is no race division but only one human stock of homo sapiens. There is no such thing as the British race. National frontiers are arbitrary lines set up by property society and different people within each nation may have a variety of cultural and historical backgrounds. There is no more reason for being preoccupied about whether someone is “black” than for persistently demanding to know the colour of someone’s eyes. In any case, the definition of skin colour is arbitrary. For example, in the USA people of Asian Indian origin are classified as “whites”.

In the days of the slave trade and the growth of the British Empire, racial theories were developed to try to justify the slavery and colonialism as a necessary “civilising mission” of “inferior races”. Lord Leverhulme said at a dinner in honour of the Governor of Nigeria: “The organising ability is the particular trait and characteristic of the white man”. And now blacks whose parents were actually recruited to work in England in the 1950s, and who are often the most exploited and harshly treated section of the working class, are blamed for the economic problems of the system. Workers of all colours are exploited by employers of all colours, but it is black workers who are picked on by racialists, never black (and white) employers. Albert Levy of the Anti-Racialist Movement in France has correctly said that
Fascist groups are useful to the authorities because they turn attention away from genuine struggles by accusing foreigners or Jews of being responsible for all our troubles, as in the 1930s.
but when these groups begin themselves to pose a threat to governing parties, their policies are simply taken over. As a result of major parties taking up the call for immigration control, European neo-fascist groups have found it harder to “rely on racist propaganda and agitation against immigrant workers in order to win popular support” (Guardian 6/10/80).

For the capitalist class, racial strife is seen as a danger threatening the smooth integration and exploitation of highly mobile labour. For example, H. F. Oppenheimer (who amongst other trifles owns a few South African gold mines) has actually put advertisements in newspapers proclaiming “Racial discrimination and Free Enterprise are incompatible” and complaining that he needs more trained and skilled blacks as well as whites if he is going to get the most out of the population who work for him. On the other hand, employers are always ready to use racism to divide and weaken working-class organisation. At the Dunlop strike in Germany in 1967, which involved Turkish migrant workers, a director referred to “members of an alien Mediterranean horde” in the hope of dividing the workforce. Discrimination against immigrants is used to lower wages by isolating sections of the working class.

In trying to blame black immigrants for the problems of capitalism, racialists use several myths.

Population
If this country seems overcrowded, it is because people are concentrated heavily in a few cities, so as not to get in the way of people like the Duke of Buccleuch, who owns more than 250,000 acres of England. If everyone living in Britain were spread evenly over the land, there would be more than an acre for every man, woman and child. The United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation has proved that the earth is capable of feeding and housing several times the present world population. From 1968 to 1977 over half a million more people left than entered Britain. (Office of Population Census and Surveys).

Jobs
In the effort to blame blacks for social problems, two contradictory myths have been made up. On one hand, they are depicted as unemployed “scroungers” and at the same time, they are supposed to be “stealing” jobs from white workers. It is impossible to blame immigration for unemployment. The areas of highest unemployment, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, are the areas of lowest immigration. During the mass unemployment of the 1930s, there was hardly any large scale immigration at all. Unemployment is a world-wide problem. It is produced by an international recession of capitalism. Blacks are discriminated against in jobs, housing and education. From 1974 to 1977 unemployment increased by about 130 per cent, while unemployment among black workers under 25 years old shot up by 450 per cent (Central Statistical Office).

Housing
In Britain today there are 100,000 homeless families, 600,000 unoccupied houses and no shortage of bricks, wood or labour. There is a “housing shortage” because of the artificial laws of property and profit. Immigrants suffer as a result of this fact, they do not cause it. They are made to wait longer for worse housing. For example, in 1974. 18 per cent of people in Britain did not have the exclusive use of bath, hot water and inside toilet. Among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, the figure was 57 per cent. Seven per cent of private tenants on council waiting lists wait for three or more years. Among West Indians’ applications the figure was 19 per cent (PEP Survey).

Crime
Racists claim that black immigrants are responsible for a large proportion of violent crime. They are encouraged in this view by police officers like Commander Randall of P Division Metropolitan Police, who described young immigrants as “lazy, vicious little criminals” and David McNee, Police Commissioner for London, whose incredible message to young blacks is “Keep off the streets and you won’t get into trouble”. The figures they produce to support their racial discrimination are distorted in two ways. Firstly, they are based on arrests, not convictions. The “SUS” law has until now allowed police to indulge their prejudices by arresting the people they decide are behaving suspiciously. And even now the Bill to repeal “SUS” contains an escape clause allowing the arrest of people suspected of intending to steal cars. Secondly, immigrants are concentrated in inner city areas where the increased crowding and deprivation causes a desperate frustration which has always given rise to more violent crime.

Neo-Nazi groups like the British Movement have only a minute following, but there is a disturbing tendency now for people to react quite casually to stories of vicious racialist attacks. The only effective way of opposing the mythology of race and nation is in discussion and debate. To prevent the National Front from meeting or broadcasting their views, would be to use the same anti-democratic tactics which they use. A most ridiculous statement of this anti-democratic, tit-for-tat reaction which is so common on the Left, is in a Big Flame pamphlet on racism and fascism, which asks: “Why should we allow ‘free speech’ to those who would take it from us? ”

Of course, if Asians in London’s East End, for example, are intimidated and violently threatened by the National Front marching through the streets, they live in, we could hardly deprecate their attempts to physically defend themselves. We also realise that it is not possible to organise a public debate with the skinhead shock-troopers of the British Movement “Leader Guard”, hired to protect their leader, Michael McLaughlin. But we can constantly expose the false racist ideas which exist in the Conservative and Labour Parties as well as the British Movement and the National Front.

The “Leader Guard” is just the tip of the iceberg, representing an extreme form of the desperation, frustration and racial violence which appears throughout society. Last November, the British Movement marched through London and a group called East London Workers Against Racism attended to physically attack them. The police use this sort of response as an excuse for clamping down even harder; some of the East London Workers Against Racism ended up in prison and now they are campaigning to collect money for bail. But the British Movement remains intact and, more important, so does the social system which continues to give rise to nationalism and racism.
Clifford Slapper

50 Years Ago: A Diary of Labour Government. (1981)

The 50 Years Ago column from the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

Here in Great Britain, about twenty-seven years ago. there was a sharp difference of opinion. There were those who held that there was but one cause of working-class poverty, and one only, and but one way to end it. These formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain, with the aim and object of capturing political power and achieving Socialism. There were others who denounced this as a dream, too far removed from present needs to be practicable. What was wanted, they said, was something now, something tangible, something realisable, something which we could see in our time. These supported immediate reforms, palliatives, and the Labour Party. They have been wonderfully fortunate. In a mere twenty-five years they have achieved their practical object and seated a Labour Government in Parliament. The Government has been there nearly two years, and we think we may be doing posterity a service by setting down a rough diary of what life for the workers means under a Labour Government.

On January 1st. 1931, two and a half millions of working men were unable to find a master. On this day, also, 161,300 miners were locked out in South Wales.

On January 2nd the railways of the country announced they contemplated spending £30,000,000 on improvements. Meanwhile, they were negotiating with their employees to slice £11,000,000 off their wages.

On January 13th the papers announced that 27,000 tinplate workers were to be thrown out of work. Labour was still in power.

January 19th.—The official attack on the railwaymen opened. Official figures of unemployed, 2,608,406. Labour still in power.

January 20th.—Ramsay MacDonald (re Princess Royal) "moved a humble address to assure His Majesty that this House will ever participate with the most affectionate and dutiful attachment in whatever may concern the feelings and interests of His Majesty."

"Something now” is a curious policy, isn't it ! Why not try the other way? Socialism, next year, if we can't get it before, but—nothing less
W. T. H.

(From the March 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard.)

Socialists emphatically repudiate racism. (1981)

From the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard




Blogger's Note:
The above page was the back page of the March 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard.

How well is the "Welfare State" (1957)

From the March 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

A number of European countries which have or had Pseudo-Socialist Governments (the kingdoms of Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Holland, or where Labour and Social Democratic Parties are in coalition governments with avowed Capitalist parties as in Austria) are styled "Welfare States.” The term is not used for Russia and her satellites behind the iron curtain; they style themselves Communist but, as the Socialist Party of Great Britain has pointed out ever since the Russian upheaval in 1917 (see summary of articles collected in the pamphlet "Russia since 1917”), Russia with all the basic features of a Capitalist mode of production and with the workers' lack of understanding Socialism, cannot be a Socialist state. Events have not only proved the correctness of our contention, but revealed the sorry fact that the tyranny which the 1917 upheaval overthrew was replaced by another variety in many respects even more hideous.

If in the course of social development even Capitalism has to be considered as a step in man’s march forward to a classless, moneyless, frontieriess and povertyless society, future generations will nevertheless stand aghast at the gruesomeness of the episodes by which that stage is marked. Cruel as the French Revolution of 1798 was. which, like Russia in 1917, also marked the end of Feudalism and the advent of Capitalism it was almost a parlour affair in comparison with Russia. As if their past orgies of massacres and deportations of millions to forced labour, and as if last year’s Treaty with Austria (after 10 years of military occupation and loot), by which the Russian Government secured, as the price for their withdrawal from this country, such important industrial and territorial concessions, rights of mineral exploitation, control of installations extending over 10 and more years, in addition to a payment of 150 million dollars ransom, had not been enough to show their Capitalist character, we have now to witness the bloody slaughter of Hungarian workers, showing still more glaringly the hideous face of the Russian variety of the Capitalist monster.

Just as Great Britain and France are fighting to regain control of the Suez Canal, Russia is fighting to keep control of Hungary’s factories, rich mines and mineral Springs, chemical industry, Uranium deposits, and of the mass of exploitable cheap Hungarian labour, yielding huge profits with which to finance Russia’s gigantic armament programme. The strategic importance of Hungary is another asset in the Russian scheme of things.

But lest the reader thinks of the Western "Welfare States” as holding the key to peace in the world and to the solution of the social problems, or to be on the road to Socialism, the following should enlighten him.

The "Welfare State” continues the status quo, i.e. the private and State ownership of the means and instruments of wealth production, exploitation of man by man through the wages system, and production of the means of life for sale and profit. The Socialist attitude is uncompromising hostility to Capitalism in all its forms and variations, since Socialists are only interested in, and stand for a fundamental change of the economic basis of society and of the status of the workers of the world.

The reader can judge the conditions in one of the typical “Welfare-States"—Austria—and form his own opinion on the merits of this latest description.

Austria as it really is
Centred as it really is it would not be surprising if the foreign visitor and tourist who comes to Austria, bent on sightseeing and enjoyment during a holiday, learns and sees no more of the country than its scenic beauty of mountains and valleys, forests and lakes, some of its historic monuments, medieval castles and ruins of ancient strongholds, its palaces, monasteries, abbeys with their centuries old libraries and other cultural treasures. Visitors to Vienna may also see the extensive municipal tenement houses, the great building activity, the huge blocks of fiats in process of construction, as for example opposite the Opera House to replace the Henrichshof burned down in 1945 with all its hundreds of luxurious apartments. Close by, huge business premises are arising from the ashes of the de Luxe Hotel Bristol, whilst other luxury hotels on the Ringstrasse which had been occupied by Russian military personnel, are now considered uninhabitable by their international clientele of parasites. Visitors may learn too that only after 10 years of repair work was it possible to reopen last November the two national theatres. The venerable St. Stephen’s Cathedral is still surrounded by scaffolding, and visitors can see right opposite it the plain and not so beautiful new buildings as glaring proof of how near the famous old church itself was to total destruction through bombing and fighting during the war.

Visitors coming for purposes of trade, and Trade Union and other delegations, may, in addition see or be shown over some of the more important industrial enterprises, dams and power stations, social welfare centres and institutions, etc., etc.

Those who had been to Vienna some years before, will be struck by the sight of new and resplendant railway stations. Of the six stations three were bombed out of existence, but out of the ruins of the others there have arisen the new Westbahnhof and the Südost station.

Visitors will note too the shops stocked with commodities of every imaginable kind from the four corners of the earth, and the streets swarming with vehicles of every description, from Cadillacs to Volkswagen.

The average visitor accustomed to judging by appearances cannot but be impressed by what he must consider as evidence of prosperity of the country’, until his attention is drawn to the reverse side of the medal. It is indeed when one looks beneath the surface of things and enquires under what conditions the people live and do all this work and operate all these services, that to talk of welfare and prosperity is not only a very superficial description but utterly untrue as far as the lot of the mass of the people is concerned.

It cannot be denied that there is prosperity—in some quarters. There are about 600 Austrians who state their taxable annual income to be more than one million schillings which even at only one million works out at 3,000 Austrian schillings per DAY, but 47 per cent. of the social insured persons have to exist on an income that does not rise above S1,100 per MONTH (about £15), whilst tens of thousands have no more than a few hundred schillings for a whole month to live on.

Among the prosperous ones are also the managers and administrators of the State, the Welfare-State—its Presidents, Ministers, State-Secretaries, Professional Politicians, the President and functionaries of the Federation of Trade Unions, the Directors of the Banks including the Workers Bank, of the Mineral Oil Administration (nine directors chosen from the “Socialist" Party of Austria and 11 from the Volkspartei), the Directors of the National Bank (four from each of the parties), and the rest of the managers of the foul exploiting system of Capitalism, which for all these leaders of the two big political parties is indeed a veritable “welfare state.”

While business is booming and bringing millions of extra profits to shareholders of the industrial enterprises like the Steyr-Daimler-Puch-Werke, the Voest, the Veitscher Magnesit, the Alpine Montan A.G., the Socony Vacuum Petroleum Co., the Fiat, Elin, Böhler, and the others, the workers of practically every industry have been forced to strike or threaten to strike within the last 12 month, starting with the municipal tramwaymen early in the year. One of the last industries to follow in the series were the bakers who, after a week’s strike, succeeded in getting their wages increased by a miserable few shillings, whilst the bosses are now making extra profits to the tune of more than 40 million S per year out of the promptly raised prices of all bread products. The civil servants who, before the election in May, had been promised wage adjustments, could only enforce them by the threat of a strike.

The fact alone that the wealth-producers are forced to constantly fight, threaten and eventually resort, to strikes to prevent their standard of living, low as it is, from sinking still deeper, and that they can be locked out and victimized for propagating and taking protective action, should long have taught them and roused them to a realisation that they are a downtrodden and humiliated class. Here is concrete evidence that the “Welfare State” has not altered their degrading position.

To begin with, in order to live at all, a property-less person—and they are 90 per cent. of the people—must have a job with some property-owner, an employer. Since the workers have not even the right to work, they find themselves thrown upon the labour market, reduced to begging the chance to work, degraded to the level of a mere commodity like chalk or cheese, exposed to all the insecurity and the general vicissitudes of a market, and, when employed, they are robbed through the wages system. If the word “robbed” is considered to be an exaggeration or an unscientific term, the question must be asked and answered: Since value and wealth is produced ONLY by the application of human labour power to nature-given material, where does the accumulated wraith, and where do the profits come from, if not from the unpaid labour of the workers? And why does the working-class, in spite of all their labour and 100 years of the most astounding technical progress, remain poor?

Winter Unemployment reaches 100,000
“It is incorrect,” said the Austrian Sozialminister Proksch “to speak of full employment in this country. We have no full employment as long as we have the problem of unemployment in winter.” Whilst unemployment is highest in winter, the figures for. the other seasons are invariably around the 100,000 mark. So that the constant talk by the rest of die politicians and the Arbeiter Zeitung that there is full employment, is not only incorrect, but downright deceiving humbug, especially when it is well known that considerable parts of the country have been “depressed areas’' for years. In Berndorf where the Austrian Krupp Works before the war employed some 5,000 workers in the production of high-class metal goods, but are now practically at a standstill, all hopes of the building up of a new industry have been dashed, just as there is now bitter disappointment in other parts where the signing of the State Treaty in May, 1955, had been expected to bring relief. “If help is not soon forthcoming, the situation will become catastrophic,” declared the report after the conference of the Socialist Party of Austria. Most of the workers there have been on the dole for years. All the other towns in the area, the largest of which is Neustadt, are sending appeal after appeal to the Government in Vienna for help in their appalling plight. “Ominously looms over the town the question what is to be done when, in a few years, the reconstruction work has been completed?” Thus the Labour politicians and the Arbeiter-Zeitung, who are always telling the workers of “our” oil, “our” iron, and “our" magnesit. and who refer to “our” nationalized industries as being the property of the people, clearly admit this talk to be so many lies and so much humbug. For, if the workers owned these things, or even a fraction of the country’s wealth produced by them (and by them alone), there could not arise such a problem as “what is to become of the workers when the work has been completed.” It can arise only where the mass of the people, the working-class, are IN this society, but not OF it, where they are just so many hands to do the work and make Profit for those who DO own the land and the factories and the means of transport, and do it all for just the bare necessities of life and to pro-create their kind, In other words where the name worker is synonimous with poor. It would seem that catastrophes such as earthquakes, tornadoes and wars bringing destruction and devastation, are welcomed by the workers since they provide work—reconstruction work—and make for full employment, which is all the Labour politicians seem to be concerned with in the Welfare State.

Imagine also the incongruity of the Minister for nationalized industries, i.e. for the industries that have become the “property of the people,” sending out circulars appealing to the managers of those industries to do their utmost to “provide jobs for workers old and infirm who are hit by misfortune of physical disabilities or unemployment.” In other words: here are people said to be the owners of the chief industries in this “one of the richest countries in Europe,” living nevertheless in dire poverty, still compelled to go, cap in hand, humbly begging the chance of a job—in their own industry! You might well ask: How come that—as even the Arbeiter-Zeitung has to confess—“if in a working-class family husband and wife do not both earn, there is hardly enough money for the most necessary things, and if there is a child, the purchase of a suit or even a pair of shoes is a problem.”
Rudolf Frank

(To be continued.)