The oil age is coming. Year books, financial journals, the sharks of Throgmorton Street, together with the rest of the interested, “far seeing" exploiters and worshippers of the golden calf, are eagerly discussing the possibilities of oil as a motive force, and how much more profit they can grab by its use.
It behoves the working class to consider the question also, because it is they who are going to suffer, as usual, from what would be a boon and a blessing to all were the toilers sufficiently enlightened and determined to make it such.
The Diesel engine has already proved itself capable of propelling ocean-going steamers, and will doubtless be in general use in the near future. Look at this: “ The engine room staff of the Selandia consists of eight men and two boys. No firemen required. No boilers needed. No loading with bunker coal for the voyage”.
How our masters must rub their hands with delight when they think of the saving of wages, extra cargo space, cheaper ships, and many other advantages. How the thoughtful fireman must curse when his job disappears, and the boilermaker when he reads: “No boilers required”. How joyous the coal-porter must feel when, instead of fifty men employed in coaling a ship, he sees the engineer turn on the oil cock and fill his tanks in a few hours! Oh! the unspeakable happiness of the lightermen and railwaymen at the thought of not having to transport any more dirty coal to the docks! What joy dwells in the heart of the miner as he thinks of the near future when oil competes fiercely with coal, and thousands of him are saved the trouble of squabbling over the “abnormal places”, having gained the displaced wage-slave's normal place—the gutter.
From the Socialist Standard , February 1913