Saturday, June 4, 2022

News in Review: Greece—What Democracy? (1967)

The News in Review column from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Greece—What Democracy?

We are of course concerned that the already limited trade union and democratic rights of workers in Greece have been suppressed. But an awful lot of nonsense is talked about “democracy” in Greece.

Of course, most of this came from the Left Wing, so many of whom are highly selective in their denunciation of dictatorships, and whose names appear monotonously and inevitably at such times on numerous petitions, motions and letters to the press.

On the Right, too, there were protests. In a letter to The Times of 10 May Sir John Foster, Conservative M.P. for Northwich, wrote:
. . . it must be a matter of anxiety that these reprehensible features, such as the death penalty for political crimes, which were abolished by Article 18 (of the Greek Constitution) are now restored.
It would be interesting to know why these take-overs, of which there have been so many in recent years, always produce the same reaction. It is predictable that a government which comes out of a coup will clamp down hard, because for a time it is bound to feel itself insecure. And all the protesters are in favour of firm government, aren’t they?

Apart from this, all the protests overlook a basic, important question. What sort of “democracy” is it which can overwhelmed by a coup?

A set up which deserves the name democratic is not just a matter of people going to vote at specified times, though this is important. It also entails free access to information, and a conscious participation in the organising of society.

At the moment, what is called democracy consists of a politically apathetic working class occasionally having a say in which type of private property government shall run the coercive state machine of capitalism for the next few years.

Even by the standards of political activity in this country, the “democracy” in Greece was a very frail flower, with roots unnourished by working class enlightenment It is not surprising that it was so vulnerable.

The Common Market

It was no surprise that Harold Wilson described the British application to join the Common Market as a “great turning point in history.” Politicians, especially politicians like Wilson, are fond of such phrases; they know that while the working class have their attention focussed on the horizons of history they are not likely to be worrying so much about their immediate problems like frozen wages. 

Of course Wilson is not interested in fundamental changes in history; a turning point from capitalism to Socialism would be altogether too great for him.

His business is to manage the affairs of the British capitalist class as a whole, and it necessary to sacrifice some industries in the interests of others.

This will probably be one result, if Britain joins Europe. Wilson expects British agriculture to suffer; “Undoubtedly,” he said, “the community's policy will create problems for some of our smaller farmers.” But he also hopes for an “. . . enormous and growing market for our own more sophisticated and technological products. . . .”

This rosy picture of Europe as an ever-expanding market takes no account of the fact that the countries already in the EEC are by no means free of economic troubles.

West Germany, for example, has just come through a sombre winter in which, although it was not as bad as many observers were expecting a few months back, unemploymfent rose from 216,000 in November last to 673,600 in February this year, falling to 501,303 in April.

The Common Market cannot solve capitalism's built-in contradictions. Neither can it ease the problems of the working class. Whether it causes a rise in the cost of living, whether it is Wilson's great occasion or Michael Foot's disaster, the workers in this country will not need long to discover what their counterparts on the Continent have had to face.

It will make no difference to them at all.

Election Results

In both local and Parliamentary by-elections, the Labour Party is taking a hammering. It was apt comment on the present government, that their policies should be responsible for losing the apparently impregnable fortress of Inner London to the Tories, after over thirty years of Labour rule.

Whatever excuses may be offered, the fact is that the voters were all expressing an opinion on Harold Wilson’s heaven.

They don’t like it.

They were also telling the world what they think of Labour's promises.

They don't believe them.

Labour said, in October 1964 and again in March 1966, that they would bring in an era of dynamic expansion; it was all a simple matter of planning. In the event they brought industrial stagnation, unemployment, the wage freeze.

In the GLC election they said they would guide us onto “The Best Way” — to get more homes, to get out of traffic chaos, to have more fun.

The voters did not think these promises were any more likely to be kept than those of 1964 and 1966, and there was no reason for them to do so.

The Labour Party are exposed as a political fraud, all over the country and at all levels of political control. The tragedy, though, is that the voters have turned from them to another, equally discredited and futile, party of capitalism.

The Tories make the same sort of promises as Labour, and their record of breaking their word is as bad. Presumably, when the inevitable disillusionment comes, the voters will turn back to the Labour Party once more.

This is what is called the swing of the pendulum. But watching a pendulum incessantly swinging can bring on something like hypnosis. It is time the workers came out of their trance.

The Newspaper Industry (1967)

From the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Fleet Street is a jungle”. That is not the most original and penetrating comment ever made by Cecil Harmsworth King, chairman of the International Publishing Corporation, from the safety of whose mighty ramparts he could boast “I shall survive”. Which is more than can be said of the one national daily paper, one London evening, four national Sundays and over one hundred local papers which have perished in the jungle since the war.

Perhaps the most famous of these were the News Chronicle and The Star, which collapsed overnight in October 1960. There was a great deal of fuss over this, but the fate of the two papers was inescapable. Although they both had a circulation of over a million, during the last nine months of their lives they showed a combined loss of £300,000. In typical style, the Daily Mirror composed the most pointed of their many epitaphs: “A commercial failure is a commercial failure. However sad. However regretful.”

There have been no comparable deaths in Fleet Street since then but this is not to say that all the papers are bursting with health. A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) fore, cast that four national newspapers will close by 1970; five dailies and two Sundays are making losses amounting to several million pounds a year. What the Manchester Guardian said ten years ago is still true:
Between the upper and the nether millstones of limited revenue and rising costs some units of the industry are being ground into oblivion.
Today, one of these units is The Guardian itself, which is losing around £1 million a year and which last December warned the printing unions that production costs had to be cut by a quarter by the end of the year.

Just as in other industries, production costs are a persistent worry to the newspaper managements. In evidence to the 1961 Royal Commission on the Press, the Daily Mirror said that its total variable costs had increased 4.2 times between 1937 and 1960, and fixed costs 2.2 times.

In this situation, wages are bound to be under the microscope; in Fleet Street they have always tended to be above average, although none of the printing workers is yet able to employ quite as many servants as some of the shareholders:

When the EIU reported last January, it pointed a disapproving finger at Fleet Street’s wages and commented that the industry “. . . is almost unique in the degree to which control of labour is in the hands of the unions.” The printing unions might well take this as a back-handed compliment to the efficiency with which they have done their job—which was, after all, what the EIU was supposed to be looking for.

Apart from their efforts to hold down production costs and wages, the newspapers are locked in a battle with each other, for circulation and advertisements. The losers of the battle find themselves in a descending spiral; a low circulation, or a high circulation in the wrong places, does not attract revenue from advertisements. This usually means cuts in quality (one of the troubles of the News Chronicle was that it could not afford to run as many pages as its rivals), which mean lower circulation and therefore less advertisements . . .

For the winners the spiral works in the opposite direction; with the exception of The Times, the cost of advertising in a national newspaper is tied to its circulation:

Advertising revenue is, and has been for some time, vital to a newspaper’s survival; without it it simply could not make ends meet. The Daily Express told a PEP enquiry in 1955 (Balance Sheet of the Press) that 39 per cent of its revenue came from advertisements; the EIU found some "quality" daillies getting 70 or 80 per cent of their incomes from the  same source and the “populars” about 40 per cent.

To attract the advertisements, the papers must themselves advertise, in campaigns aimed at industry’s sales directors. The Daily Telegraph says that on Fridays, when its colour supplement comes out, circulation goes up to 1,450,858—“. . . at just the right time for the peak weekend spending period.” (The whole idea, in fact, behind the colour supplements was to attract advertisers—as is obvious from the most casual glance through them.) Then there is “. . . the advertising medium that sells best” (News of the World, circulation 6,184,000) and “The Religious Weekly With National Appeal” (Methodist Recorder, circulation 69,568.)

The accepted formula for survival in Fleet Street’s jungle is size and diversification. Two giants out-top the rest—the International Publishing Corporation (IPC) and the Thomson Organisation. Both have big investments in newspapers and publishing overseas and in commercial television. Both received EIU's admiration for being “operated as a commercial business” (Daily Mirror) and “profit orientated” (Sunday Times).

Thomsons own the Sunday Times, the Scotsman, the Western Mail and now, after the Monopolies Commission had given the necessary approval under the Monopolies and Mergers Act, The Times—a takeover which in itself showed up the plight of the newspaper industry. Thomsons also own exhibition companies, a package tour firm and an airline.

IPC, in the words of the Press Council (Report 1966), is the ". . . largest and most comprehensive publishing and communications empire in the world.” It owns the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The People, The Sun, and something like ninety weekly magazines and 123 which come out less frequently, among them Autocar, Country Life, Everywoman. The weekly total was recently reduced by one when IPC put The Statist, after a long and painfully unprofitable iillness, to sleep.

A long way behind these two groups are Associated Newspapers (Daily Mail, Daily Sketch, Evening News, National Opinion Polls, a stake in Southern Television and in the North Sea explorations) and Beaverbrook Newspapers (Daily Express, Sunday Express, Evening Standard, a share in ATV.) Then there are the smaller, sometimes private, companies like the Daily Telegraph Ltd. and the Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd. This was how the three biggest groups made out in 1965:

Correction: It should read 'Profits Before Tax'

For the future, Fleet Street’s barometer is not set fair. The competition from television will not grow any weaker; the decline in advertising revenue will probably continue; production costs will not fall. The big groups have the resources to ride the storm and to put in labour saving equipment; in 1965 Thomsons invested £2.7 million in equipment and a new paper of their’s — the Evening Post in Reading—is composed with a computer. The small groups will be hard pressed to compete with this; their papers are especially vulnerable.

The suggested remedies are not original. The EIU advised an all-out war on costs, saying that in London alone the industry could sack enough workers to save nearly £5 million a year. Lord Thomson wants the unions to cooperate: “We have to learn to use these new tools of our trade, and I hope the efforts to do so will not be hamstrung by restrictive practices . . .” (Fleet Street, the Inside Story of Journalism — Macdonald 1966.)

And of course someone had to suggest the State stepping in like a fairy godmother to save it all. Richard Brightshaw, joint general secretary of SOGAT (one of the printing unions) has “. . . called for a National Printing Corporation, backed with large Government resources, which would . . . take over ’commercial projects and ailing publications’. . .” Lena Jeger, Labour M.P., “. . . is a strong supporter of outright nationalisation.” (Sunday Times, 8/1/67).

Like most of the lamentations about the state of Fleet Street, these are based on the assumption that newspapers are sacred. In fact, they are commodities, like the rest of capitalism’s wealth. When it is applied to other industries, the newspapers always support the principle that if something is unprofitable it should not be produced. If Fleet Street is a jungle, it is capitalism’s profit motive which has made it so. 

Local Authority Housing (1967)

From the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Working class housing, and by that we mean houses for those who depend upon wages and salaries for a living, has for a very long time been provided in three ways: by private enterprise builders, by employers and by Local Authorities. Of these, Local Authorities came last on the capitalist scene in an attempt to carry out a rescue operation after others had failed dismally to provide for even the minimum requirements of an efficient labour force.

Like any other capitalist venture, private enterprise building must promise a profit to those who engage in it, or lend money for it, before such “enterprise" is even contemplated. Moreover the rate of profit must compare favourably with that from other kinds of capitalist investment. The fluctuations in the rate of building have, since the beginning of capitalism, been attributable in the main to the movement of investment caused by the search for the greatest profit. Particularly has this been the case in respect of housing for the lower-paid workers, able to pay only small rents, and where profit margins are consequently small. The situation has been aggravated by “boomerang reform measures" — Public Health, Building and Housing Regulations — which have raised the minimum standards of working class housing from the dismal levels of 19th. century slums. The result of such legislation has been to still further reduce the prospect of profit in private enterprise building with a consequent drying up of supply.

Of the second category of house building, that undertaken by employers, little need be said, except that it suffers from similar limitations to those found in “spec" building. In the early part of this century a few idealistic employers such as Cadburys and Lever Brothers built model housing estates for their workers (Bournville and Port Sunlight) which provided the shining example for those reformers of capitalism who saw in these ventures a means of solving the housing problem without disturbing the edifice of a capitalist economy. The movement however did not spread to the extent envisaged. Industrialists in a competitive world can seldom afford to provide better housing for their employees any more than they are generally willing to raise their wages.

Whether houses are built by speculative builders or enlightened employers, standards are still limited, directly or indirectly, by the purchasing power of the worker.

Against this background of failure the housing shortage developed, slums proliferated, the decayed housing of the middle income groups was split up into “flats" to provide cheap accommodation for their less fortunate brethren. Wars and slumps brought building to a virtual standstill, until at the end of the last World War politicians were estimating the housing shortage in this country at figures ranging from one to four millions, according to their political outlook.

It was early realised that slums threaten the health of the community and reduce the efficiency of the workers. Herbert Morrison, later leader of the LCC, writing in 1923, pointed out that
In addition to the public money spent on slum clearance, it has to be realised that, consequent on evil housing conditions, much expenditure on Public Health Services is involved. A not inconsiderable proportion of the £1,880,884 spent by the London ratepayer in the financial year 1916-17 on Public Health Services . . . was the consequence of bad housing, and the same is true of the £500,000 estimated expenditure in connection with tuberculosis in the year 1921-22.” (A Housing Policy for London).
and George Hicks in a pamphlet published by the TUC and the Labour Party in 1922 has this to say about slums:
Bad housing creates illness and encourages crime. Illness and crime mean public expense. The effect of overcrowding upon industrial efficiency, unemployment in building and allied trades, loss of public revenue as a result of arresting the normal increase of rateable property — these are included in the price we pay for housing neglect.” (How to Get Houses).
Industrialists appreciate all this but, as has been seen, can do little about it on their own account. Political parties cannot ignore acute housing shortages when they appeal for votes at elections. If private enterprise cannot provide the housing required, then the State must step into the breach. Which brings us to our third category of housebuilding: Local Authority Housing financed by Government grants and contributions from the rates.

Since 1890 a succession of Housing Acts have provided subsidies for the building of houses by Local Authorities together with powers to charge part of the cost of building to the rates. (Some of these Housing Acts have offered subsidies to private builders but their interest in such offers has steadily declined since they were first made in 1919).

It might be thought that here was the answer to the housing question and it seems strange that after 77 years, some ten Housing Acts and a succession of Conservative and Labour Governments, there should still be an acute housing shortage. The reasons are however not hard to find. One has only to look to see where the money comes from.

Government grants for housing derive from taxation. In the last analysis income tax is paid by the capitalist class since employers have to pay their workers not only enough to enable them to live but also enough for them to pay their taxes. And they have their own taxes to pay as well. It is no wonder therefore that capitalists become as alarmed as anyone when the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes an increase in Income Tax. They, in the end, carry the burden of it. Taxation eats into their profits in more ways than one. Money flows to where profits are greatest — even right out of the country when things are bad — and no Government, Labour or Conservative, can allow this to happen.

If we examine the history of the Housing Acts we see this situation reflected in repeated economy measures, restrictions, limitations and sometimes complete abolition of subsidies. The same situation exists in respect of rates, the other source of housing subsidies. Rates are only another form of taxation, property-based instead of income-based. Faced with such restrictions in expenditure, with an increasing population, the deterioration of old property, the destruction due to war and the cessation of building during wars and slumps, the fact that Local Authorities cannot solve the housing problem, even for the lower-paid section of the working class, is not difficult to understand.

Before the 1914-18 War the almost universal type of working class urban house was what came to be known as the “tunnel-back” — mostly two-storey terrace houses containing living room, parlour, kitchen and scullery on the ground floor and three bedrooms on the upper floor. With the rapid improvement in means of transport which took place at the beginning of the century, it became practical to spread new housing over the cheaper agricultural land surrounding the towns and considerably reduce the density of building. Apart from this, and the addition of a bathroom, the accommodation provided was generally the same and room sizes no larger. In fact, in many houses the parlour was surrendered in exchange, for the bathroom. These were the “Council houses” brought into being by the Housing Acts.

The first of the Government “housing manuals”, published in 1918 as a guide to Local Authorities, indicated space standards for various types of houses and sizes of families. This manual set the pattern for many subsequent manuals by suggesting minimum sizes for individual rooms and by providing typical plans showing room sizes and over-all areas for various types of dwelling. If we trace through these manuals the recommendations for three-bedroomed houses for a family of five, we find that between 1918 and 1961 (the date of the last manual) there is remarkably little increase in space standards. The following table illustrates this.

To sum up the present position it is therefore fair to say that the provision of State-subsidised Local Authority housing has, in spite of repeated Government promises, neither met the demand for working class housing in terms of numbers of dwellings, nor shown a material advance in space standards over a period of nearly fifty years. The housing standards of the working class remain a reflection of the wages they receive. The housing problem is essentially a poverty problem and cannot be solved until the workers exchange capitalist poverty for socialist plenty.
John Moore

50 Years Ago: Rise of Japanese Capitalism (1967)

The 50 Years Ago column from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard
[The Countess of Warwick had appealed to the British aristocracy to emulate the Japanese nobility by voluntarily handing over their estates to the government as an act of restitution to the workers].
How the latter can benefit in any way from the proposed surrender of lands is made no clearer by the Countess than by any of the Fabian or I.LP. treatises on the same subject. State ownership of land, or indeed, of any of the means of wealth production, solves no problem for the working class. Only common ownership and democratic control can do that. State ownership, that is collective ownership by the capitalist class, as with the Post Office, for instance, leaves the workers still wage-slaves.

The fallacy of state ownership, however, has been so often dealt with that we can afford to leave it for the present and deal with the fallacy . . . that a ruling class has never in the past renounced, or is likely in the future to renounce its privileges and power unless compelled to do so by superior force. There is no record in history of a ruling class abdicating in favour of a class weaker than itself.

Take the case of Japan. In that country the system of society previous to 1868 was similar in its essential features to the Feudal system of European countries. The Samurai were the military class, composed of territorial nobles, called Daimios, and their vassals and retainers. Strictly speaking, however, the term Samurai applied to these latter only. They and their families were kept by the Daimios, or had lands assigned to them for which they drew the rent, as under the Feudal system in Europe. This applied to the Daimios as well, who numbered about 255, and whose incomes varied between 10,000 and 1,027,000 Koku of rice per annum.

The revolution that abolished this system was not of the same sanguinary revolution character as the bourgeois revolution in France in 1789, or the English revolution in the time of Charles the First. “The Two Parties”, says Arthur Diosy, “were too evenly matched for the struggle to become a severe one”. Therein lies the secret of this relatively peaceful consummation. The Daimios were between the devil and the deep sea; they submitted to the inevitable—on the best terms they could obtain. They received from the State an annual income equal to one-tenth of their former income, and were relieved of the responsibility of maintaining the Samurai, who were taken over by the government to form the nucleus of the Army and Navy. Those who held hereditary incomes were given the opportunity to sell their rights to the government for half cash and half government bonds . . . The Mikardo and his nobles were forced to recognise that they must establish their rule on Western lines or they would speedily become a vassal state to one or other of the great powers who with increasing impatience knocked at her gates.

From the Socialist Standard June 1917.

Finance and Industry: Free Distribution (1967)

The Finance and Industry column from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Free Distribution

The productive resources of the world have long since reached the point which would allow mankind to go over, in a very short time, to free distribution of the things needed to life and to enjoy life. Socialists are suggesting a world community where wealth is produced by voluntary labour and is available to all free of charge.

To many this suggestion seems fantastic. Perhaps we can make what we mean a little clearer by pointing to a few things with which everybody is familiar.

Sir Alan Herbert, the humorist, always makes a witty speech at the Annual Meeting of the shareholders of the Savoy Hotel. This year he spoke of an Air (nationalisation) Bill:
"Everybody breathes and occupies air, but not the same amount and extent, which is evidently unjust"
As a defence of private property in the means of production Sir Alan chose a particularly inapt example. For air, continually recreated by natural processes, is one of the few things that is now freely available to all. Nobody has managed to establish a monopoly in the supply of air. But with other, equally necessary, requisites for life such as food, clothing and shelter the situation is different. Food, for instance, is not freely available. In fact the production of food is carried on not to satisfy human needs but for sale at a profit. Before people can get food they must already have in their possession wealth — generally metallic or paper money tokens. This they must hand over, on a value for value basis, to those who own the food before they can eat it.

Why could not food be freely available like air? And, if it can be, why isn’t it? The difference between air and food is this: food is the product of human labour ; air is not. Before food can be freely available men must have free access to the means and instruments of labour.

But, what is free access? Last August 5 the Daily Telegraph had an article under the headline SPACE FOR ALL MANKIND. The article discusses a draft space treaty. Under the treaty, states and individuals were to be barred from appropriating the moon “by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". The treaty proposed there be “free access” to all celestial bodies. Thus space would become “a province of mankind”.

Although it is difficult for lawyers (products of a world where land and other wealth is monopolised by a class) to grasp what free access is, we must grant that those who drafted this treaty have not done badly. They make clear that sectional ownership of celestial bodies is to be barred so that they will belong to all mankind.

Apply this to Earth and what we mean by free access should become clear. No section of society will monopolise access to the means for producing wealth. These will belong to no-one and so will be the property of the whole of mankind to use as they think fit.

But, once again, there is an important difference between free access to areas like celestial bodies and free access to the means of production. To operate these organisation is needed. In other words, free access must not merely be allowed, it must be organised too. Where there are no social classes the only method there can be is democracy. Mankind will control the use of the means of production through democratic institutions.

The technical problem of producing enough wealth for all to enjoy has been solved long ago. However, there could be temporary problems in supplying certain things — but at least, if there are to be problems, this is what they should be. How to provide more and not how to cut down consumption as is the case today.

What, do you think, is the purpose of gas and electricity meters? The answer is simple: to see you don’t get unlimited supplies to use as you feel necessary, as you can with water. Water is not of course provided free. It is just that the method of paying for it is unusual: by means of a general water rate. After paying this, you can use as much water for domestic purposes as you like. But for how long? Already they’re discussing metering the water supply. An article in the March issue of the Three Banks Review discussing the water industry says:
The question arises whether it is justifiable to use land and money to provide water in unlimited quantity to domestic users. Unlimited water is a pleasant luxury, but might not the consumer prefer the land and money to be used in some alternative way, even if this means restricting bis water use? . . . The only way to find out whether domestic consumers are prepared to pay for extra water at cost is to charge that cost. This means charging by quantity and ultimately means metering every domestic supply.
In other words, meters could be installed to restrict water use.

One of the reasons the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in its report on the Post Office gave for not returning to the system of allowing unlimited use of telephones after paying the rental charge was:
A considerable amount of extra exchange equipment would have to be installed to handle the extra traffic induced . . . In particular changes would have to be made in the present arrangement for metering all calls.
Meters once again restrict use.

It is not our job to get mixed up in arguments over pricing policies for such things as water, gas, electricity and telephones, but to point out that the different ways of charging for water and, say, electricity bring out the restrictive nature of capitalism. There is no technical reason why electricity, gas and telephone services could not be provided to be used as needed. Indeed the technical problem for capitalism is just the opposite: to find ways of charging so as to prevent unlimited use.

Socialists have always pointed to ticket collectors as an example of the absurdity and waste of capitalism. Apparently, there will be none on the new Victoria Line underground in London. Instead, the Sunday Times of April 16 tells us:
When the Victoria Line opens next year it will be equipped with a novel robot ticket collecting system. Instead of handing in their tickets at the end of a journey passengers will present pieces of paper coated with iron oxide to a machine to ’read’. If the machine reckons that they have paid too little the automatic exit gate remains firmly shut.
What a waste of resources in terms of time and skill! And just to see that people don’t use the underground as they please.

In these cases mechanical devices make obvious the restrictions capitalism places on our use and enjoyment of wealth. However, our access to other goods and services is just as effectively restricted by other, social means: the size of our wage packet or salary cheque.
Adam Buick

The Book of Eng (1967)

A Short Story from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

And it came to pass in the land of Eng that the people were sore pressed and in great need. The harvest was abundant and the earth yielded much fruit yet the people cried out in their need.

For the people of the land of Eng were in bondage to those who owned the land and all that from it flowed. Though the people were given many shekels and had ice boxes and music boxes and picture boxes and oxless wagons, yet were they not content. They strove to bring forth more wealth and to get more shekels yet did their lot remain needy.

And there passed among the multitude certain soothsayers and false prophets that were called Ekonner Mists and Polly Tishuns. With them came the priests. With one voice but with many tongues they spake unto the people and said uhto them, "Verily, you are sad and have much anger but this is the order of things Yahweh has ordained. It is the will of Jehovah. Therefore, rest ye content.”

But the multitude cried out, “We need more homes. We desire good raiment. We hunger for more food. We would have more work that we may gather more shekels and pieces of silver wherewith to purchase these things.”

And the priests raised up their hands and gave unto the people the gospel according to Midas. The Polly Tishuns opened wide their mouths and gave unto the people many promises. The Ekonner Mists brought forward their longest words and their most profound theories and these they rammed into the gullets of the people. And together the Priests, the Polly Tishuns and the Ekonner Mists spake unto the people in unison saying, “Behold, ye are lazy swine. We give unto you the fruits of our learning yet ye heed us not. We offer ye a paradise when ye shall snuff it yet ye are not content. We promise ye all that ye desire yet ye cry out in your impatience. Why waste we our time upon you? Oh, ye of little faith, rest ye content in the station to which Yahweh has called you and get ye on with your work".

And it happened that a certain Samaritan was a builder of boats and he held in bondage many hewers of wood, drawers of water and welders of steel. And the day came that he walked about the place where his boats were built and he passed among his hewers of wood, his drawers of water and his welders of steel. These he gathered around him and he spake unto them saying, “I have heard your murmurs of discontent, I have seen your women in sorry raiment, I have felt the eyes of your offspring hungry upon me. These things have made my heart to bleed, my eye to water and my stomach to curdle. Therefore I say unto you that though my store of silver is small I will give unto you from my coffers, a bonus of shekels that your children may wax merry, your wives may grow fat and you may disport yourselves in ways that ye have long desired.”

And his hewers of wood, his drawers of water and his welders of steel looked into one another's faces with amazement. Then they fell on their knees and praised him. They raised up their voices in a hymn and sang, “Glory be to our Boss for verily he is a jolly good fellow.”

And the Samaritan left them and went out into the market to sell his boats with a glad heart and a full one.

There came unto him in the market certain cunning men from far lands and they asked him, “What take ye for your boats for we would have of them?” And he answered them saying, “I am a Samaritan and I give my bondsmen that they may be happy. Therefore I must raise up the price of my boats to cover my costs and to reap my profit.”

The cunning men from distant lands turned their backs upon him. They smiled at one another and tapped their foreheads with their fingers, saying through their beards, “This man from Eng is daft as a brush” which translated into the language of Eng meant that he was a knut case.

And the cunning men from distant lands went unto the men of the land of Hol and the land of De Gall and the land of Usa for the men from these lands had many boats to sell in the market. And they bought from these men the boats that they needed for the boats were cheaper than those made in the land of Eng.

So, the Samaritan returned home with slow gait and sad mien. He called unto him his hewers of wood, his drawers of water and his welders of steel and he delivered of himself unto them, saying, “I have been a good master unto you. I have given unto you many shekels as a bonus. Now I cannot sell I cannot permit you to make for, if ye make boats that I cannot sell I shall be bent, broke and bust. My wife will turn on me and my concubines will turn from me.”

With a tear in his eye, like unto the tear of a crocodile, he exhorted them in these words. “I must take from you the bonus that I gave. I must call on you to surrender to me those things that ye call restrictive practices though verily I know they are protective practices. For some of you I have news that should tickle your ears and gladden your hearts for I shall free you from your bondage unto me. Ye shall be men that are called Re Dund Ants and you shall wander in the wilderness with no care and no work till some other shall bind you in bondage.”

And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the hewers of wood, the drawers of water and the welders of steel, for they knew not what to do but they ran hither and thither in their bewilderment.

And it came to pass that there rose up among the multitude certain new false prophets who spake to the people thus, “Hearken ye to us for we are as you are, using the same tongue, wearing the same raiment and eating the same viands. The prophets ye have listened to heretofor were fakirs and false prophets. It is laid down that ye must have faith, therefore have ye faith in us. Give unto us your shekels, your votes and your loyalty and will lead you to the promised land.”

And the people gave unto them their shekels and their votes and their loyalty. And they chose Will Sun and Kalla Ghan and Jaw G. Broun to lead them. For they would be led to the land that flows with milk and money.

And Will Sun called unto his disciples and these he led to West Minister. And to them he gave the fruit that is known as the Plum of Office.

From out of the City there came men that are called Bankers and Fynan Seers and they bowed down before Will Sun and they shook in their sandals.

Will Sun raised his hands over them and spake, saying, “Rise up, Rise up. I come not to harass you but to help you. 1 seek not to drive you from your temples but to build ye new and better ones. I will journey into distant lands, to the land of De Gall and to the lands that are of Benny Lux. I will open up a market for you and it shall be called a Common Market. In that market ye shall sell your wares and shall reap much profit that ye may grow even fatter than ye are now fat.

And the men from out the city stood before him, first on one foot and then on the other foot. And they replied to him, “How shall we reap much profit when we must disgorge many shekels to our bondsmen? For they band themselves together in their Unions and they demand of us ever more and more shekels. We shall be ruined.” And they wrung their hands in despair.

Will Sun took from out his mouth the pipe that was part of his image and he said unto them, “Ye of little faith. Ye shall not be ruined. For is it not laid down in the book that the people have chosen me to lead them? From me they will take those things that they would not take from you. I will gather them around me and I will tell them of your fears and your troubles and I will plead with them that they shall not seek to gain more shekels. And if they harken not to my prayers I will compel them. If they heed me not I will cast them into the dungeons that they may reflect on their lot. And Kalla Ghan and Jaw G. Broun shall cast a spell on the multitude with many words that have much sound but little sense and less meaning. And it shall be called The Freeze.” 

The men from the city smiled amongst themselves and were content. They returned to their counting houses and with the setting of the sun they repaired unto their temples to render homage to their gods, Rent, Interest and Profit.

Will Sun and his disciples spoke to the multitude of norms of trade balance and of vetting and of productivity and of restraint and of strength of the shekel and of the freeze. Many of the people nodded their heads and cried “Yea” for they were in fear that it would be thought that they did not understand these things and that they were ignorant.

Many of the people murmured amongst themselves that they liked not the freeze. And one who was called Kuzz Inz exhorted them against the freeze, using many words but no deeds so that the people were bewildered, bewitched and bedevilled.

Those that would follow Kuzz Inz were led into a maze from which they could find no way out.

Among the bondsmen there were those who spoke with a new tongue.

They said that the freeze, that the Re Dund Ants and that all the people’s needs were the result of bond slavery. That the bond was a wage contract and that it was therefore a system of wage slavery, wherein men sold their power to labour for shekels to those who lived by profit. They said that faith in false prophets would avail the people nought. They must cast the dust of faith from their feet and give thought to their lot. Bondsmen had nothing to lose but their bondage. The wealth that they needed for themselves they could make for themselves instead of making it for the market. “Put ye not your faith in prophets,” they cried, “have courage in yourselves.”

But many years of bondage had dulled the minds of the people and they were slow to think on these things. The priests put into the fear of Yahweh and Jehovah and of the ghost that is called Holy. The Ekonner Mists put into them the fear of hunger and the loss of their ox-less carts and their ice boxes and their music boxes and their picture boxes and their little brick boxes that looked all alike. The Polly Tishuns put into them the wind up so that they belched exceeding much.

But it shall come to pass that the people shall shake off their torpor and they shall cast out the money lenders from their temples and shall bring down those that exploit them. And there shall be an end to the soothsayers and the priests and the sycophants and those that hand on and those that crawl up.

Then shall it be in the land of Eng and in all other lands that the people shall live a life that is worth living. Each shall give of his effort to the best he is able and shall receive those things that he needs them.

And so be it.
W. E. Waters

World Socialist Party of Ireland (1967)

Party News from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is regretted that owing to a misunderstanding with regard to the dates for nomination of candidates, the proposed contesting of the Municipal Elections was not possible. In this event special meetings with speakers from England had to be cancelled. However the Belfast Comrades had very successful propaganda meeting on May Day.

The Irish elections. More Communist trickery. (1927)

From the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

Exit China, enter Ireland ! With the complete failure of all their anti-working class policies in China, and the consequent passing of enthusiasm about Chinese troubles, the Communist Party of Great Britain now turns its attention to Ireland. It has been offering the Irish workers advice in order that the latter may know how to manage affairs in the very successful way that the Communists have managed their own affairs over here, and Chinese affairs in China.

In the recent Irish elections there have been numerous parties soliciting the support of the electorate, and a working-class organisation taking upon itself to offer advice would naturally make it its duty to point out clearly which party, if any, had a policy which is deserving of working-class support. Given the existing political confusion, clearness is above all to be aimed at by those who would teach the workers how to emancipate themselves. How, then, did the Communists perform this elementary duty?

Opposition Parties.
There were several opposition parties :—
  1. The Republicans (De Valera);
  2. The National League (Redmond);
  3. The Labour Party (Johnson);
  4. The Irish Worker League (Larkin);
  5. The Workers’ Party of Ireland (Communist Party).
Of these, the first two, like the Government Party (Cosgrave), are frankly Capitalist, while the remaining three make special appeal to the workers.

In the Sunday Worker (September 11th) edited by the Communist W. Paul, is an article by another Communist, Jack Carney, weighing up the two largest parties led by Cosgrave and De Valera respectively. He dismisses them as the representatives of two Capitalist groups, and says “Behind De Valera stands the American banker, and behind Cosgrave the British financier.”

They differ, like our Liberal and Tory parties, over the question of tariffs. The Capitalists behind De Valera use the catch cries of Republicanism to further their own interests by means of “high protection,” De Valera admitting in an interview (Manchester Guardian, June 27th) that this would, in his opinion, mean a “less costly standard of living” for the workers. He boggled at the words “lower standard of living,” but a careful and repeated reading of his subtle attempt to differentiate fails to disclose any difference whatever between the two descriptions of his party’s aim.

The Labour Party’s policy, as outlined by its leader Johnson, in The Irishman (May 14th, 1927), has no more to offer the workers than has De Valera’s. They, like the Republicans, advocate protection and lower taxes on capital invested in Ireland, and while asking for numerous trivial demands which are on the programmes of all parties, such as “the provision of employment” for the unemployed, they even go out of their way to repudiate expressly the nationalisation of the land, factories, etc. As the Worker’s Life (Communist Party of Great Britain) correctly points out, “The (Irish) Labour Party has degenerated into a Liberal Party pure and simple” (September 9th).

It is interesting to recall also that immediately after the last election in June of this year, the Labour Party first offered to support the Government Party, and their offer being refused, then secured the support of the Republicans and the National League in a tricky manoeuvre which was to have elevated them to office. This shows how little in principle separates them from these other three avowedly Capitalist parties.

Similarly, just before the last election, De Valera’s Republicans and Cosgrave’s party demonstrated their fundamental agreement on the maintenance of Capitalism by mutual gestures of reconciliation. Thus, in reply to Mr. Cosgrave’s “I am prepared to forgive and forget,” Mr. Sean Lemass, for the Republicans, said, “We are prepared to forgive …. If he wants a political truce with Fianna Fail he can have it to-morrow.” (The Republic, September 17th). A step further towards reconciliation took the form of a joint meeting of party leaders immediately following the election.

The Workers’ Party of Ireland (Communist) has aims exactly like those of the English Communists. The Irish Workers’ League was formed by Larkin immediately before the election, and has a policy indistinguishable from that of the Workers’ Party of Ireland.

Telling them how to vote.
We have already mentioned that in the eyes of the Communists the Irish Labour Party is “Liberal, pure and simple.” Yet in face of this the Worker’s Life (September 9th), and the Workers’ Party of Ireland (Official Statement “How to Vote”) tell the Irish Workers to vote for Labour candidates. They do not explain why workers should support a “Liberal Party” which calls itself “Labour” and not support a “Liberal Party” which calls itself “Liberal.”

Gallacher, Stewart and Saklatvala, members of the Communist Party of Great Britain, were over in Ireland officially supporting Larkin’s “Irish Worker League” (Irish Independent, September 13th), which was also supported by De Valera’s Republicans. (See Sunday Worker September 11th). Thus we had the Communists and the Republicans associated in support of Larkin despite the fact that the Communists themselves admit that “Behind De Valera stands the American banker” (Sunday Worker, September 11th). Thus Mr. E. Cooney (Republican candidate) told his supporters, “I hope, after voting Fianna Fail that you will give your next preference to Jim Larkin, for he stands for militant Irish Nationalism just as much as Fianna Fail.” (Irish Independent, September 13th.) In return, Larkin declared, “We are appealing to the workers to vote for Fianna Fail ….” (Sunday Worker, September 11th).

But although Larkin’s Communist supporters were telling the workers to vote for the Labour candidates, Larkin himself admitted that his object was primarily to down the Labour Party, and particularly its leaders. It was known in advance that he was almost certainly debarred from taking his seat.

He said :—
“We have got them on the run. … 1 can promise you that next Thursday night Johnson’s political career is closed in Ireland. . . . We are out fishing in dirty waters. We may not catch much salmon, but . . . we are going to drown three political worms, maybe more.—(“Sunday Worker,” 11/9/27.)
To make confusion worse confounded, the Workers’ Party of Ireland (Communist) which supported Larkin and ran no candidates of its own, not only told the workers to support Labour candidates, but also told them to vote for Republicans and National League candidates. Thus, in Dublin City (North), it supported a list of 4 Republicans, 2 Labour candidates, 1 Larkinite, and 1 Redmondite, and in Dublin South it supported 4 Republicans, 1 Labour candidate, and 1 Larkinite (“How to Vote.”). This same leaflet “How to Vote,” while supporting the Republicans, says, “The Republican Party is equally as capitalistic in its outlook, representing the smaller Capitalist elements.”

Last of all, it actually declares in the first and last lines respectively of the same paragraph, “Therefore vote against the Free State candidates,” and “only give your last votes to the Free State candidates.”

An Unholy Mess.
If, therefore, any unfortunate Irish worker listened to his Communist advisers, he would have been told (1) by Larkin, to vote for him and for the Capitalist Republicans (De Valera), and to help smash Johnson;: (2) by the Irish Worker Party to vote for Larkin, for Johnson, for the National League, for De Valera, and lastly for the Cosgrave (Government) Party; (3) by Saklatvala and company, to vote for Larkin and the Labour candidates, although Larkin’s party and the Labour Party are alleged by Larkin to be irreconcilable enemies, and although they themselves know the Irish Labour Party to be “Liberal pure and simple.”

This is what they call practical politics !

Capitalism triumphant.
One did not need to be a prophet to know that the election results would show Irish Capitalism triumphant, and since no Socialist candidate was in the field it was equally easy to foretell that none would be elected. Much preparatory work has yet to be done before such an event can be considered within the bounds of possibility.

In conclusion, a little comic relief is provided by contemplating Larkin. Although his chequered past shows him to be one of the most audacious charlatans who have ever preyed on the Labour Movement in any country, there is one person at least who has a good opinion of him, that is Larkin. In his election address he writes modestly about himself :—
“In one year alone …. James Larkin (Jim Larkin) forced the employers to increase wages to the extent of £127,000 in one year.”
During the election, much use was made by Larkin of the name of Connolly. It is therefore to the point to recall Connolly’s considered judgment of Larkin. In a letter to William O’Brien, dated May 24th, 1911, Connolly wrote :—
“Do not pay any attention to what Larkin says …. the man is utterly unreliable—and dangerous because unreliable.”—(see p. 162 of “Report of Actions in the Law Courts,” published by Irish Transport and General Workers Union, 1924.)
Larkin is no less dangerous now than then, a fit companion for the muddle-headed British Communists who support him and his Capitalist Republican allies.
Edgar Hardcastle

The wealthy workers ! (1927)

From the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

The concentration of vast capital into the hands of a continually decreasing number of Capitalists, accompanied by more efficient methods of production, swells to an enormous extent the wealth of this class. While, on the other hand, this development brings with it a more intense form of exploitation, greater insecurity, unemployment, and poverty of the wealth producers. The result is that, as Capitalist society develops, the distinction between the two classes becomes wider and clearer; and the opposition of interest more intense.

These facts are having a powerful influence on the minds of the workers, and are slowly but surely preparing them to accept the principles of Socialism.

Having progressed so far towards an understanding of their class position, they become less easy to deceive. Consequently the older political parties, who openly defend the present system of society, and claim that there is no alternative, can no longer command the support of an overwhelming majority of the workers as they did in the past. Hence the need, to the Capitalist class, of a political party that can secure the support of this discontented section, by criticising the system, and when necessary expressing sympathy towards Socialism, and that can, at the same time, be relied upon to maintain Capitalist society.

This is the cause of the rapid growth of the Labour Party. Experience and Socialist propaganda, however, will complete the lesson the workers have commenced to learn. They will then realise the futility of fighting for anything but Socialism, and will join the Socialist Party, that has Socialism, and that alone, for its object.

The awakening of the workers to their class position is, to the Capitalist, a serious affair, and it is the endeavour to delay that understanding which prompts them to publish articles, such as this from which we quote :—
“According to most Socialist, and all Communist, writers and speakers this country is divided between the “capitalists” and the “workers,” that is to say, the Haves and the Have-Nots. They try to delude people into believing that practically all the capital is in the hands of a relatively small minority ; the rest of the community consisting of the toiling but unpropertied masses. Nothing could be a more ridiculous travesty of the facts. The truth is that a very large proportion of the people of this country, including the workers with hand or brain, are owners of capital. “—(The “Daily Mail,” 11/6/27.)
It will be most gratifying to the workers to realise that, after all, their poverty is only a delusion. But what a pity the million miners did not know that they had such resources to draw from when they were locked out. And why did King Fuad of Egypt feel it incumbent on him to donate £1,000 to the London poor during his recent visit?

Another point that is often raised is the increase in the number of small investors. This appears at first sight to contradict the assertion that capital is concentrating into fewer hands. But upon closer examination it will be seen that the contrary is the case, and the increase in small investments is actually an effect of that concentration.

In the first place, this increase only applies to money invested in savings banks or public companies, and takes no account of capital held by people who use it as private traders. Consequently, if they are compelled to sell their business and invest the money in one or another of the concerns mentioned, that would be registered as an increase in the amount of capital held by an investor of moderate means. But all that has happened has been a change in the form of their property. Take, for example, a man with a capital of £3,000, and using it to run a private business. He finds his business failing on account of competition from a more powerful competitor. Now, according to the way he acts, we get the following results :—
(1) He may see the danger before much harm is done, and be successful in selling his business without any great loss, and transfer the money to one of the concerns mentioned. With the result as above, the transfer of capital would be reckoned as an increase, when no increase had taken place.

(2) Assume that, before he is able to sell his business, he shows a considerable loss, and is compelled to accept for it half its former value, viz., £1,500, which he invested in the same way as in example No. 1. Here the result is that there is registered an increase of £1,500 in capital held by people of moderate means, but in actual fact there is a decrease of £1,500 owned by this group.

(3) Or again, he may hang on to his business until he is forced out, as a bankrupt. In which case there is a loss of £3,000, but it is not registered as a decrease by these one-eyed statisticians, because a view of this side of the question would be fatal to their case.
If we take the period 1906 to 1926, and consider the rate at which small businesses have either been crushed out or absorbed by larger ones, and they in turn swallowed up by more powerful combines, it is easy to account for this increase in the amount credited to depositors of small means, running parallel with the concentration of capital. The greater the concentration, and the more general large-scale production becomes, the greater becomes the amount of capital that is forced out of the channels of private trade into those of investment. And the fact that a few of the small fry are able to rescue a part of their capital from the share-shark infested waters, and place it in the safest position they know, accounts for this supposed prosperity of the working-class. A delusion which arises, as we have seen, through the competition between Capitalists—the weaker being pushed, at an ever-increasing pace, into the ranks of the “Have-nots.”

In face of the trials the workers experience in their struggle to live, such attempts to mislead them must fail. And as the system develops, the need for a change in the basis of society from the private ownership in the means of life to common ownership becomes more evident. When the majority of our class realise this simple fact, they will join with us in the fight to secure control of the political machinery and armed forces for the purpose of establishing what must be the one and only object of a working-class political party—Socialism.
Ted Lake

Should we produce more? An economic fallacy exposed. (1927)

From the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard
“As an example of an error which is very widespread, let us take a resolution just passed by a conference of the International Federation of Boot and Shoe Operatives. After urging the different Governments to ratify the Eight Hours’ Day Convention, it declared that “in view of the widespread unemployment in the shoe and leather trades, the constant improvement in manufacture leading to increased output, and the decreased purchasing power of the working classes, a further shortening of hours to 44 per week is necessary.” This was moved by a French delegate, approved by the British delegation, and agreed.

Now, in principle, of course, we support the Eight Hours’ Day. And we should welcome a reduction of the working week to 44 hours or any lower figure, provided it was consistent with maintaining production. But that proviso is vital; for less production means less wealth—in other words, more poverty; and we want no increase of poverty to-day. What the world suffers from, is not that it has too many commodities, but too few. There are not enough good things to go round ; and in proportion as production is diminished, there will be still fewer.

The right remedy for a congested market is to lower prices and so bring in more purchasers.”
The above is from the leading article in the Daily Chronicle of August 20th last. The Daily Chronicle and other newspapers, concerned at the growing tendency of the workers to attempt to mitigate the evil of unemployment by restricting the output of those who are producing, iterates, and re-iterates the statement that such a policy is an “error.” Undoubtedly many workers believe their tale ; for it certainly is a very plausible yarn that cheaper goods mean greater consumption, greater demand, less unemployment and higher wages. Plausible as the argument is, its shallowness is revealed by a little thoughtful examination; and invariably the hirelings of the Press undermine their case by the very clumsiness of their attempts to bolster it up.

Take, for instance, the statement that “less production means less wealth—in other words, more poverty” : less wealth does not necessarily mean more poverty—that depends more upon the distribution of the wealth than its amount. Again, note the assertion that “there is not enough good things to go round,” and the contradictory implication contained in the claim that “The right remedy for a congested market is to lower prices.” Not enough good things to go round, but enough to congest the market ! What absurdity !

However, the purpose of this article is not to deal with the quality of the arguments which are thought good enough (and often are good enough) for working-class beguiling, but to expose the fallacy of the statement that the solution to the poverty “problem” is greater output by the workers, resulting in cheaper commodities, increased consumption, less unemployment, and finally higher wages. All these have been dealt with time and time again in the Socialist Standard during the last twenty-three years by scientific argument; the writer now proposes to try the effect of a little simple arithmetic.

Let us take the employed workers in a community as one thousand ; let us reduce their varied products to a common form, which we will call “Wares,” and finally let us suppose that the price of each of those wares is £1, and it is the product of one man’s labour for a day. We have the following condition of affairs as the result of the day’s effort :—

Workers: 1,000; Wares: 1,000; Price: £1,000.

Now suppose that from some cause each worker doubles his day’s output, the figures then would be :—

Workers: 1,000; Wares: 2,000; Price: £2,000.

The number of the wares had doubled, and the price of the total output has doubled; but the price of each commodity remains the same ! Some puzzle? No. The simple explanation is that gold is included in the products of labour, and being in common with other commodities, produced in half the time formerly necessary, the old ratio is maintained; that is to say, prices are unchanged. The more intense production has not made things cheaper ; the pound wages will not buy more; therefore, there is no increased demand, no greater employment, and no higher wages. So far, the theory of greater production fails at every point. In order to make wares cheaper, our missionaries of harder work for other people must make an exception of those workers engaged in producing gold. The ca’canny, the limitation of output, the antiquated methods, which are crimes in every other field of industry, must become virtues in the goldfields ! What economists !

But assuming, like the obliging people we are, that the speeding-up applied to all wares except gold, then the figures would run :—

Workers: 1,000; Wares: 2,000; Price: £1,000.

So, by juggling gold out we, succeed in halving prices for our Capitalist apologists. Now let us see how this affects the “congested market.”

If, previously, each worker received 10s. for his day’s work, that would be £500 for all the workers. We have, then :—

Wares Produced : 1,000; Wares bought by Wages : 500; Wares left : 500.

Five hundred wares left over to congest the market.

Those who know the pleasures of getting drunk, and the miseries of getting sober again, swear by the old, old remedy, “a hair of the tail of the dog that bit me.” The argument holds good in economics it seems, so the remedy for a congested market is more commodities, in other words, more congestion. Well, let us chuck in the other commodities, and halve their price. Figures follow :—

Wares produced : 2,000; Wares bought by Wages: 1,000; Wares left: 1,000.

The result of doubling production and giving the workers twice as many commodities is that the wares left in excess are also doubled, in other words, there is congestion now in both lungs instead of only in one.

Actually, however, this is giving a too favourable report of the patients’ progress. The workers’ wages as a whole have never had any relation to the amount of wealth they produced. Instead, they have beer, pretty closely ruled by the cost of living. Even Capitalist henchmen now can hardly deny this, in face of the trouble the Government is at to issue a periodical return of the cost of living, in order that so many employers may regulate the wages of their workers accordingly, if it were true that, as the Capitalist Press claims, lower prices meant higher wages, then every time the returns of lower living costs were published there would be a rise of wages, not a fall. But we know that as the cost of living falls wages fall also. Competition for jobs brings that result about, and with twice the amount of excess wares congesting the market, competition for jobs would not be less keen. So our sum must now be set out thus:—

Wares produced: 2,000; Wares bought by workers: 500; Wares left: 1,500.

You see, the fact that the workers have produced more wares does not mean that they require more of them to enable them to live. As 500 wares sufficed to enable them to reproduce their labour-power when they only produced 1,000 wares, no more would be needed now that they produce 2,000, and they would get no more. Evidence? Every day’s history since the industrial revolution is evidence. The fertility of labour-power has increased hundreds-fold—possibly a thousand-fold; but do the workers get more than enough to live on now?

So the result of the workers doubling their output has been that there are three times the number of wares left over on the market. If the way to remedy congestion on the market is by means of further congestion, then we must suppose that the cure is complete.

Of course, we know that a certain amount of the wealth the workers do not consume is consumed by the Capitalist class, but this does not make the matter any better for their theory, as we shall proceed to show.

How many of the 500 wares left over in our first example shall we assume the Capitalist class will consume? If we say 100, then there are 400 left on the market. Now with prices halved, one could hardly look for them to buy more than twice the number of wares, that is, instead of 100 out of 500, they could at most be expected to consume 200 out of 1,500. So instead of 400 excess wares, there would now be 1,300, an increase of 3¼ times. The more we assume that the Capitalists consume the worse the case appears. If they consume 400 out of the 500 in the first case, then 100 only are left on the market. With prices down to half, they might use 800, leaving 700, which shows an increase of 7 times. So the matter gets worse and worse.

Well, it’s no use prolonging the agony. The workers will find no cure for their poverty in increased production, or, for that matter, in restriction. Their troubles arise from the difference between what they produce and what they are able to consume. Increased production only makes still greater that difference, and hence can only add to their troubles. When the workers are producing for themselves, that is, when they are producing under Socialism, then the greater fertility of labour-power will be an unmixed blessing.
A. E. Jacomb

Editorial: Capitalism in Queensland. Ferocious Labour Government. (1927)

Editorial from the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

For years we have warned the workers against the danger of Labour Governments. Capitalism can be administered, as regards essentials, only in one way—the Capitalist way. Whether the administration calls itself Liberal or Tory, Communist or Labour, matters nothing to the working class. In our issues for December, 1923, and February, 1924, the position and activities of Labour Governments in different Australian States were fully dealt with. A recent incident should serve to drive home our lesson that Socialism is the only remedy, and a “Labour” Government is an enemy to be fought, not an ally to be supported by those who desire to establish Socialism. The Queensland railwaymen tried to help some workers who were on strike in the sugar industry. The “Labour” Government met this sympathetic action by dismissing the 11,000 railway employees, and was able to force them to desert the strikers and go back to work. Thus Queensland is vindicated as a territory which is still safe for Capitalism.

Three points are worth notice in this little incident. The first is that we see here Labour Government forbidding sympathetic strikes, yet how our own Labour Party has howled because the Conservatives have threatened to limit sympathetic strikes.

The second point is that the I.L.P. in this country has for years supported a useless, programme of nationalisation and other reforms of Capitalism similar to that put in operation in Queensland. In particular, it has sold since about 1917, and is still selling, two pamphlets with the lying titles “Socialism in Practice” and “Socialism in Queensland.” In fact, not the slightest attempt has yet been made by the Queensland or any other “Labour” Government to establish Socialism. How does the I.L.P. justify this Capitalist propaganda. Do they favour the prohibition of the legal right to strike?

Thirdly, for those who imagine that the existence and powers of a House of Lords are questions of first-class importance, it is useful to remember that Queensland long ago abolished its Upper House. When it is necessary to crush revolt among the workers, a single chamber in the hands of a “Labour” Government in Queensland can be as drastic and as brutal as anything England or the U.S.A. can show, and what is of more importance from a Capitalist standpoint, it can act so much more promptly than can a cumbersome two-chamber system.

Capitalism in the Post Office. (1927)

From the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Industrial Court has issued its long-awaited award on the wages of post office workers. The Unions asked for considerable increases, and the Postmaster-General opposed this claim with a demand for a general decrease for new entrants. The award of the Court gives certain small increases at the maxima of the scales applicable to certain grades, introduces decreases in several grades at ages about 18 and 19, and leaves other grades unchanged. As the increases awarded are at the maxima, most of the staff will not be affected immediately. In some grades, telephonists, for instance, most of the women will have left the service before they reach the age at which the raised maximum becomes applicable. The nett addition to the wages bill of the Post Office will be probably between £400,000 and £500,000 (including cost of living bonus), in a “full year” (i.e., when the new maximum rates are being paid to the normal proportion of the staff).

Spread over some 150,000 men and women, this amounts to an average of something under 2s. a week. What is of particular interest to us, as opponents of nationalisation, is the frank admission of the Court that wages in State services are based on conditions in outside industry.
“. . the broad principle which should be followed in determining the rates of wages of Post Office Servants, is that of the maintenance of a fair relativity as between their wages and those in outside industries as a whole.”—(Decision of Industrial Court No. 1325, July, 1927, p. 11.)
Here we have the kernel of the case against nationalisation from the workers’ point of view. The wages and conditions of State employees are governed by the conditions of the labour market in general. They, like other workers, live by the sale of their labour power. They are paid, not the value of their work, but the cost of maintaining them and their families as efficient wealth producers. They are exploited just as other wage earners are. During the past 14 years the Post Office has made a profit of nearly £52,000,000, a direct contribution to the employing class in that the taxation burden which they alone ultimately bear has been reduced by this amount over the period. To nationalise all services would merely reduce all workers to the condition of being still further limited in their power to struggle for better conditions, and would not affect the amount of the income received by the employing class. As the workers find, to their cost, it is harder to fight the State than it is to fight private employers. So hard is it that no civil service union even dare contemplate strikes as part of its programme.

Nationalisation is merely the strengthening and concentration of Capitalism. The interests of all workers, civil servants and non-civil servants, will be served by unqualified opposition to nationalisation as to other forms of Capitalism. Socialism alone is the remedy for our class.

Letter: What capitalism means. (1927)

Letter to the Editors from the October 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

Sir,—-I am taking keen interest in economics and would like to know the exact relation of things and definition concerning what capital means.

I listen to all parties and read all literature of all parties.

G. Peace, a speaker for the “Commonwealth [Land] Party,” speaking in Hanley, said that last year he visited the outcrops in Hanley and saw men working using their own capital, which proved the worker will do without bosses when all the workers followed the example of the men out-cropping.

Now I wish to know if the tools such as unscientific things as old wheels of bicycles, etc., ropes and buckets to draw the coal up from the outcrop comes under the true definition of capital. Seeing that your definition of capital is the means of exploitation or legalised robbery of the workers.

There is another point perhaps you will be good enough to correct me on. Mr. G. Peace also said during his discourse on the outcroppers that he was amazed to learn the outcroppers were charged five shillings for every ton of coal carted away by the owners of the land.

To me, the economic renters, like Mr. G. Peace, under their single tax or economic scheme, would be somewhat similar, but the only difference would be the State officials, would collect the economic rent instead of private or group Capitalist officials; just assuming that we would gain access to the land in the manner the outcroppers did, this would not bring economic security to all, for there would be disorder instead of proper organisation. Plenty of outcroppers would not find a market for their coal and would be forced to leave their outcrops. So it appears to me competition for markets will be in existence under Capitalism, under economic rent, nationalisation, etc.

Of course, I ask for correction on the points raised.

Thanking your in anticipation, 
Yours sincerely.

Answer to Inquirer.
Capital is wealth used for the purpose of obtaining a profit. The owner of this wealth —the Capitalist—purchases buildings, plant, machinery, raw materials, etc. Then he purchases labour-power to use the plant and machinery on the raw materials for the purpose of producing commodities, or article for sale. The value of the raw materials and of the portion of the plant and machinery, used up in a given time, form part of the value of the commodities, and pass over unchanged into the latter value.

The value of the labour-power can be represented at any given period by a particular number of hours’ work. If the labourer only worked this particular number of hours each day there would be no surplus produced as the value of the commodities would be equal to the sum of the values of (1) the raw materials used; (2) the portion of plant and machinery worn out; and (3) the labour-power expended. But, by using the whip of hunger, the Capitalist compels the labourer to work for a longer number of hours than is necessary to replace the value of his labour-power. In these extra hours of work is produced the surplus-value which is afterwards split up into various parts. One part may be used to extend the business. Another part may be absorbed in advertising the goods for sale. Still another part may go to pay rates and taxes. The part remaining to the Capitalist after these distributions forms his profit. Surplus-value is thus seen to consist of the products taken by the Capitalist that the labourer has produced in the time during which he works, but for which he has not been paid. In other words, surplus value is based upon the robbery of the worker. Profit is a part of the results of this robbery.

This explanation makes it quite clear that an individual only obtains profit when he robs some worker, or workers. Whatever tools or plant a man employs in working for himself obviously cannot be capital, as he does not obtain a profit because he does not rob anyone. Only when he uses these tools and plant to rob some worker or workers of the values they have produced, do they become capital and he a Capitalist. The fact that the appliances may be out of date or unscientific, does not prevent them becoming capital in the above circumstances —though it certainly places the Capitalist using them at a disadvantage in competition with other Capitalists who are better equipped.

Mr. Peace’s statements are therefore quite inaccurate. The “outcroppers” were not using capital at all. Their few crude appliances were not used to rob anyone, and therefore, in those conditions, could not be capital. Moreover, if the “outcroppers” had to pay five shillings a ton for the coal obtained the landowners were certainly “bosses” of the situation, and so contradicted Mr. Pearce’s other statement that “the outcroppers were doing without in bosses.”

“Inquirer” is quite correct when he says that under the single tax theory the economic rent would go into the Government coffers instead of into those of private or group Capitalists. This would leave the workers just as they are to-day, slaves to the master class, and robbed of the larger portion of the wealth they produce. Only Socialism can end this slavery.
Editorial Committee.