Saturday, November 11, 2023

“Something Worse Than War” (1944)

From the November 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
“From 1939 to 1942 the deaths from tuberculosis in Great Britain were greater in number than the total killed in the first four years of the war (United Kingdom Forces).”

“During 1942 the deaths from tuberculosis were three times as many as for factory, mining and road accidents combined.”
This very revealing information we quote from the July 1944 issue of the Monthly Journal of the A.E.U. The accompanying figures were as follows :—

Thus we see the damage to human life that has been wrought by this silent killer in the years that our senses have been deafened by the din of war. But however disturbing these statistics may be, they do not give the complete picture. The evidence that 123.000 and more people succumbed to this disease from 1939 to 1942 makes it quite clear that there are many more living sufferers from the disease. Of this we can be certain, since a large number of people are living and working in similar conditions. The medical men emphatically declare that tuberculosis is an acquired, not an inherited disease. We accept their conclusion, but would add that while it may not be possible to inherit tuberculosis by birth, we note the inheritance of the living and working conditions in which tuberculosis is acquired. From the standpoint of biology, tuberculosis does not “run in families,” but by fact of the economic circumstances of the mass of wage slaves, the disease does run very largely in one big family—that of the working class.

As quoted earlier, the Monthly Journal of the A.E.U. compares the deaths from tuberculosis in 1942 with the figures of fatal accidents from factories, mines and roads for the same year. In spite of the ratio of three to one, we say without hesitation that tuberculosis is no accident! At this point it is interesting to take cognisance of a paragraph dealing with this matter from “The Household Physician” J. M’Gregor-Robertson, revised by David M’Kail, Vol. I., p. 212 (Gresham Pub. Co.) :—
“If all consumptive patients were to expectorate only into special utensils regularly disinfected, and were segregated when helpless and most infectious; if bovine tuberculosis were stamped out or if only sterilised milk were used, and all tuberculous meat and pork were destroyed; if authorities were to insist on a good standard of housing, air space, general hygiene, and to secure the abolition of back lands, ill-lit and ill-ventilated tenements, workshops, and factories, this disease and many others might soon become as extinct as the dodo.”
It is not necessary to point out that the problems of housing, air space, hygiene, back lands and unhealthy tenements, workshops and factories are problems with which the working class are faced. These are our inheritance.

The master class will see to it that not too many wage slaves fall to tuberculosis, otherwise their own profits will be jeopardised. Apparently a mere hundred thousand is not too many. In the political field, therefore, the Socialist Party asks workers to view the state of affairs with determination—determination to abolish a mode of living in which the only consideration for human welfare is that workers shall be able to produce a profit for their masters. And in its place to establish a system of society wherein will obtain equal relationship between every man and woman, and accordingly, the absence of a class whose privileged position demands the exploitation of a working class. For out of such exploitation emanates the poverty, insecurity, squalor and disease of which tuberculosis is but one example.
F. T. Burvill.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

F. T. Burvill was a member of the SPGB from 1944 until 1955. Joined via Dartford Branch.