Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Nuclear fusion power (1983)

From the August 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

The difficulties currently being encountered in the generation of electric-power by nuclear fission, highlighted by some of the evidence being presented to the current Sizewell Inquiry, makes its long term future uncertain. From the ecological point of view, fission now stands condemned and we can safely say that it will have no part in the sane socialist society of the future. This situation is leading to a renewed interest in alternative sources of energy but current progress in one of these — nuclear fusion — has been limited by a lack of financial support, as the Scientific American reported in its July 1972 issue.

The source of energy in nuclear fusion is the same as in nuclear fission; that is. by the transformation of mass into energy. Fission takes place by the splitting of heavy elements such as uranium, and is the basis of the A-bomb. This connection with the arms trade has helped to keep fission power going despite its disappointing economic performance. In contrast, fusion involves the combination of light elements such as isotopes of hydrogen, and is the basis of the H-bomb, where the reaction is triggered by the explosion of an A-bomb. This method is obviously unsuitable for industrial use. Fusion reactions take place continuously on the sun and other large stars.

On the surface, the prospects for nuclear fusion look sky high. There is virtually an unlimited supply of low cost fuel in the form of heavy water (deuterium oxide) in the ocean. The end product of the fusion reaction is radiation free (but this does not apply to all intermediate products) unlike the hellholes where fission wastes are stored. The low mass and volume of the fuel needed makes plant layout and siting relatively problem-free. Handling and storage areas can be very small and installations need not be tied to port and railway facilities.

The nuclei of the fuel atoms are positively charged and so repel each other just as the like poles of two magnets do. In order to overcome this repulsion and put the nuclei close enough together for a fusion reaction to occur, a level of kinetic energy must be imparted to them, which requires a temperature of about 90 million degrees centigrade. In the H-bomb this is the function which the A-bomb performs. At such temperatures the gaseous state is transcended and the material becomes a charge-dominated collection of ionised matter known as plasma which at high temperature cannot be confined by material walls and has instead to be held in position by strong electromagnetic forces. In the search for a controlled fusion reaction for industrial use the crux lies in the design of a magnetic field to contain the plasma in stable equilibrium. This is the main reason why fusion research is so expensive. Attention is now being given to a laser-induced fusion technique, which requires no containment of plasma although the requirement to generate enormous temperatures remains. At the present time it is not possible to say definitely that a satisfactory solution will eventually be found, even granted adequate funding.

The radioactive intermediate product of the fusion reaction is tritium, another isotope of hydrogen. Tritium is not found in nature and has a half life of 12.3 years. It permeates metal walls at high temperature and containment will require careful detailed design. The vacuum wall and blanket structure will become radioactive during operation and require long-term disposal after the end of their working life. The internal plant structure can only be handled and repaired by complex remote control facilities. There are clearly hazards associated with high pressure, high temperature materials and high magnetic fields.

Optimistic forecasts of the nuclear fusion future should be judged against this information. The prospects of this type of work being performed in the capitalist commercial environment are not very strong, to say the least.
E C Edge

50 Years Ago: The Friends of the Russian Government (1983)

The 50 Years Ago column from the August 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

Some recent activities of the Russian Government which received little notice in the Press are of sufficient importance to be placed on record. They should be studied by those who believe that the friction between the Russian Government and some other governments is different in kind from the trade quarrels which are always taking place between national groups of capitalists and the governments they control.

We refer to agreements just made or renewed between Russia, on the one hand, and the three open dictatorships on the other — Italy, Poland and Germany . . . we have here a pretty picture of the Russian Government making agreements and seeking to cultivate “normal" and “friendly” relationships with Italy. Poland and Germany, while the governments of Mussolini. Pilsudski and Hitler carry on their normal brutal repression of all opposition, including Socialists and Communists. Are the Communists in the prisons and concentration camps of these countries expected to rejoice when they read that Russian envoys received "a very warm welcome” and that Pilsudski has graciously condescended to receive the Soviet Ambassador, and that Russia undertakes “not to participate in any economic or financial boycott" of Hitler’s Germany?

(From an editorial “The Friends of the Russian Government", Socialist Standard, August 1933.)

SPGB Meetings (1983)

Party News from the August 1983 issue of the Socialist Standard

Revolution and intellectuals (1971)

From issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist

Some few weeks ago this writer received a visit from a graduate university student — a personable but somewhat over-verbalized young man who is working toward his doctorate degree. Following self-introductions and the customary exchange of social amenities, our student lost no time in displaying what he obviously considered a firm theoretical grasp of Marxism and glibly spoke of such organizations as the Communist Party, the Students for a Democratic Society, the Socialist Labor Party, the Young Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the American Youth for Democracy, the Labor Youth League, the Socialist Club, etc. It would seem that the existence of the World Socialist Party had come to his attention for the first time but several weeks prior to his visit via a handed-down, well-thumbed copy of The Western Socialist.

Intellectuals: Vanguards of Revolution?
Warming up to his subject between sips of sherry, he articulately and emphatically expressed the opinion — or more accurately speaking, the conviction that a gifted portion of the intellectuals of any given age, and not the workers or the majority of the people, are the prime movers — the engine, so to speak — of social revolutions. The latter, according to this budding intellectual with a verbal itch he could not seem to satisfactorily scratch, “will need to be led into the promised land by an intellectual vanguard for reason of their apathy and immature mentality.”

The counter arguments presented by this writer, arguments which are undoubtedly familiar to consistent readers of this journal, were augmented with the views of an intellectual — one who has been given, rightly or wrongly, the distinction of being, or having been, the only Marxist teacher in a large American university, the late Paul A. Baran, professor of economics at Stanford University — dealing with revolution and Intellectuals. These views of Baran are found in a pamphlet reprinted from Monthly Review entitled "Reflections on the Cuban Revolution.”

Baran writes that the strong stress placed by students upon the active role of intellectuals relating to revolutions has
"deep theoretical roots, and relates to two propositions which are central to both political theory and a general interpretation of the historical process. One is an Implied rejection of the principal tenet of historical materialism according to which it Is social classes that are the prime agents on the historical scene, with both the composition of these classes and their broad political and ideological outlook determined chiefly by their position in the economic structure. The other, closely connected with the first, is the assertion that the intellectuals constitute a separate social stratum, an ‘elite' above classes which plays an independent and indeed a decisive role In history . . ."
As for the first proposition above — the implication that it is not social classes that are the prime agents on the historical scene — serious students of Marx know, along with Baran, this to be false. For they have learned that history has developed through a series of social revolutions and that this development is brought about by means of class struggle.

Social Revolutions & Class Struggle
Put in over-simplified form, it is found that as the forces of production developed and new relations of production came into being which corresponded to the development of the forces of production, classes came into being. It is known, for example, that there were no classes in primitive society. But with the development of new forces of production (which resulted in, among other things, man being able to produce more than his own needs) and new relations of production, primitive society was broken up and replaced by class society — Slavery (e.g., in Rome) — consisting of slaves, slaveowners and other social classes such as the military, the religious, and the free — but impoverished — proletariat. In time Slavery deteriorated, fell apart or was overthrown by outside Invaders and replaced by Feudal society ruled principally by a landed aristocracy and the church and in which the producing, exploited, class took the form of serfs, bound to the land rather than to individual owners. Subsequently, Capitalism replaced Feudalism. [1]

Now with capitalism there arise new conflicts and class antagonisms. The accumulators of the means of production, the capitalists, through sheer ownership (stocks, bonds, etc.) forcibly deprive — by virtue of their control of the state — the sole producers of social wealth, the workers, of what they have created. Society is spilt between a minute minority of owners and a vast majority of non-owners, bringing with it class conflict and antagonism. Idealistic humanitarians to the contrary, class conflict can only be resolved by the complete abolition of classes.

Serious students of Marxism know that the dynamic of historical change is the conflict between the forces of production and the relations of production, with “the class struggle as the immediate driving force of history" (Letter from Marx and Engels to August Bebel, etc. Emphasis added.) With maligned Marx, such students hold that 
"the emancipation of the working class must be achieved by the working class itself. We cannot therefore cooperate with people who say that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must first be freed from above by philanthropic bourgeois and petty bourgeois" — or, it could be added, freed by a gifted segment or vanguard of society's intellectuals. (Ibid)
As stated above, society in our times is divided into two classes: capitalists and workers, rulers and ruled, exploiters and exploited. One class challenges the other. But unlike the slaveowners and feudal lords of the past, the capitalist class has no rival exploiting class challenging its rule. For it is the workers, the bottom rung of the ladder as it were, a non-exploiting class, who challenge the reign of the capitalists. And the successful consummation of the workers’ challenge, carried out consciously and politically, will spell the end of class society and of the exploitation of man by man. This consummation will once and for all spell finish to the last antagonistic form of the social process of production and consequently end “the prehistory of man" and usher in “truly human history.”

Are intellectuals a separate class?
As for Baran’s second proposition — the implication that the intellectuals constitute a separate class (though Baran calls it “a separate social stratum" — apparently taking his cue from Lenin, who in turn took it from Kautsky’s theory that the intellectuals were not a class but a privileged social stratum) — serious students of Marxism know this also to be false. For they know that those who specialize in intellectual functions no more constitute a class than do those individuals who perform various administrative and executive functions. In brief, intellectuals do not constitute a class with separate class interests (though they may have group interests in common), but function, consciously or not. as an integral portion of one or other of the classes which constitute society — function in the interests of the rulers or the ruled.

Baran continues:
"There are many reasons for this hypo-statization of the intellectuals. Leaving aside the obvious, but therefore by no means irrelevant one, that the glorification of the intellectuals is most flattering to the intellectuals themselves, four considerations must be primarily borne in mind:

"In the first place, the assignment of a crucially important role to the intellectuals is a sociological derivative of an idealistic philosophic position. If intellectuals are the salt of the earth, responsible for the nature and direction of social development, then clearly it is ideas that run history. There is the further implication that these ideas are not mere reflections of processes in the material world (tensions between forces and relations of production, struggles among social classes, and so forth) but rather unfold in an emanate from the pensive heads of the ’freely floating intellectual elite' (Mannheim)."
(It might be noted in passing that Karl Mannheim, referred to above, was a German sociologist with a decided proclivity to place intellectuals in a niche quite above the common herd. Needless to say he was popular with intellectuals throughout the world).

The Materialist Conception of History
Returning to the kernel under discussion, historical materialism teaches that social ideas arise out of the conditions of the material life of society. Marx has afforded us the most lucid, compact formulation of the main elements of the concept of historical materialism in his Preface to a Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy. But for the purpose at hand, the following brief definition of the foundation of the Marxian scientific system as given by Louis B. Boudin in his book The Theoretical System of Karl Marx, will better serve. Boudin writes (p. 23):
"The Materialist conception of history maintains that the evolution of human society as a whole, and that of all human institutions, is not, as the idealists insisted, the result of the changes in men's ideas relative to the society they were living in and its institutions, which changes are brought about by the inherent law of development of ideas; but that, quite to the contrary, the development of society, including men's ideas of human society and institutions, are the result of the development of the material conditions under which men live; that these conditions are the only ones which have an independent existence and development; that the changes of the material conditions cause the institutions of human society to be changed to suit them; and that the ideas on all subjects relating to man in society, including those of right and wrong between man and man and even between man and his God, are changed by man in accordance with and because of, those changed material conditions of his existence."
As outlined by Boudin, the antithesis of historical materialism is philosophic idealism. The latter holds "that the ultimate causes of all historical changes are to be looked for in the changing ideas of human beings (Engels)." Idealists believe that there is little that cannot be changed or altered by the determined will of individuals. Idealists, no matter their label or differences, all have this in common: they appeal explicitly to moral standards which they consider common to all mankind. Marxists are not in sympathy with them. For it is their conviction that individuals actuated by this or that ideal cannot alter laws governing human history. Marxists denounce the existing system by appealing not to ideas but to history. The existing system has nothing to do with unjustness or human folly, but is the inevitable outcome of a certain stage in human history. This stage will pass. But knowing the laws governing human history and applying this knowledge will hasten the passing and lessen the friction and painfulness of the social transition.

Now it invariably happens that when socialists express the principle that social ideas arise out of the conditions of the material life of society — that is to say, the forces of production and the relations of production; the methods, in short, by which human beings in a given society produce their means of subsistence and exchange the products among themselves — non-socialists are all too prone to interpret this to be a denial of the significance and the social role of ideas. Any such interpretation is unwarranted. For by all means socialists are acutely aware and, given the opportunity, make quite clear that ideas arising from the conditions of material life of society play a most active role in material development once they come into being. The argument of the socialist primarily concerns not the significance of ideas, but rather their origin.

Intellectual leaders
Without direct comment. Baran's second, third and fourth considerations follow:
"The leadership of nearly all major social movements in history (with the exception of the most primitive peasant rebellions) has consisted of or included intellectuals by upbringing or individuals turned intellectuals in the course of their political careers. What is then simpler than to conclude that since there were always intellectuals prominently associated with revolutionary movements, the intellectuals were their cause and their engine?"

"The growing awareness among intellectuals of the irrationality, inhumanity, and degeneration of capitalism has been accompanied in many Western countries by an increasing disillusionment with the labor movement and a sharpened disappointment with its lack of political dynamism and its widespread capitulation before the capitalist order. Under such circumstances the faith in the awakening of the intellectuals remains the only bright spot on the horizon for those who seek a way out of the impasses of the status quo . . ."

". . . Treating the intellectuals as the yeast of history, counting upon them to move things off dead center serves many intellectuals as a convenient rationalization for staying in the academic or literary ivory towers, from refraining from participating actively in such political and social struggles as are actually fought in their societies."
Baran, having pointed out above the factors which, in his view, help explain why aspiring intellectuals and “intellectuals assign to intellectuals such a vastly inflated role in the historical process," and warning that the "Influence of the intellectuals on the speed, direction and outcome of social movements is not to be denied," sees the problem to be this:
"Under what historical circumstances do intellectuals become drawn in such movements. under what conditions are they capable of affecting the course of events in a particular way. and what forces determine the specific part which they play?"
Aside from a few profound-sounding discourses scattered here and there by intellectuals, the problem posed by Baran in the main goes unanswered. And with the exception of a brief sentence in the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels offer no theory as to why intellectuals join the socialist movement. But Marx and Engels have indicated that revolutionary intellectuals are often authoritatively motivated. Such intellectuals would be chiefs, not indians. These self-chosen ones would supplant the present ruling class, but in a more benevolent manner. They believe that the conception of a socialist society is beyond the comprehension of workingmen, and that only they can bring social consciousness to the workers. In reality they have brought not social consciousness to the workers but have brought to the fore instead their own elite authoritarianism.

No, socialism will not be brought about by an intellectual elite and a proclamation of a dictatorship in the name of the workers. Genuine socialism will only be brought about by the working class, consciously and politically organized.

One has only to look about the world today to note that the old vitality of the capitalist order is in sharp decline, is losing favor in wide sections of the people. Intellectuals are definitely not our saviors, but revolutionary intellectuals, with revolutionary thought and propaganda and free of elitism, could class-rightly be our helpmates — could aid in laying to rest nowadays cancerous Capitalism. Intellectuals can be in the forefront with the working class, or perforce follow with their impotent grieving about their impotence upon the latter's heels into World Socialism.

Whether or not the arguments put forth by this writer had any appreciable effect on the mode of thought of his student caller is anyone's guess. The latter left, saying he would call again soon. But this has not come to pass as of this writing.

[1] There were, of course, vast areas of the globe, notably northern Europe and Asia, in which Chattel Slavery was exceptional. The social system may be called Warrior Chiefdoms, with ruling and subject classes and with many vestiges of primitive communal institutions. The system is also called Early Feudalism.

Chattel Slave society was confined to the area around the Mediterranean: Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Chattel Slavery dominated the known world and was eventually overthrown by the Barbarians of the North, the early feudalism. The feudal society of the post Roman era evolved from the existing early feudal social relations but was greatly affected by the impact of chattel slave society.

Our position on violence (1971)

From issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist

In the popular mind, “violence” and “revolution” go together like the engine and the car; revolution necessarily implies violence, and cannot happen without it. In a revolution you capture the government, dispossess the ruling class of their control over the means of production, and break their ability to resist; and since no ruling class is going to lie down and do nothing while they are being dispossessed, so the logic goes, they can only be defeated by violence.

The World Socialist Party advocates revolution (i.e., the capture of state power by workers, the dispossession of the ruling class, and the abolition of wage labor-capital relationships) without at the same time advocating violence to achieve it. This does not mean that we oppose violence on moralistic grounds, like Richard Nixon or other, genuine, pacifists or that we are fake revolutionaries who dream of a better world without being willing to do what is necessary to get it. Neither does it mean that we think the revolution will be an amiable middle-class tea party in which everyone writes the name of his candidate on the ballot, and the Nixons, Agnews, and General Kys of the world retire gracefully to their country clubs because their terms of office have expired.

Winning power
The World Socialist Party position on violence flows logically from our objectives and from our analysis of why the capitalist class are able to maintain their power and what must be done to dislodge them. Our objective is to abolish production for sale and re-organize the world’s industries and labor solely to fulfill human wants and needs. We say that wage workers are the only social class in present day society capable of carrying out this task. The socialist revolution, therefore, must be a process in which workers themselves, not leaders or vanguards, take political power and use it to abolish private property in the means of production.

The question of violence enters when we discuss how workers are to win power. The means necessary to win power are obvious once we understand why workers do not have power now. If it were true that the only reason the ruling class stay in power is their ability to terrorize workers, then it would make sense for socialists to accumulate weapons and fight terror with terror.

But their primary means of staying in power is not force; it is their control over working-class heads. This would have to be true in a system of society where workers outnumber capitalists 99 to 1, produce all the guns, clubs, bombs, planes, tanks, and napalm, and even man the armies and police forces. Workers also construct the highways, transport vehicles, communications and supplies that make it possible to use violence. The implements and methods of government violence are social in nature. They require the co-operation of masses of workers before they can be set in motion. It is clear that the ruling class hold power primarily because they are able to get that co-operation by methods other than terror, not because they own buildings full of weapons.

The ruling class control the heads of workers by controlling the nature of the ideas and opinions they hold, and by controlling the channels through which these ideas are passed on. The ideas themselves are of two main types: a) those which directly or indirectly justify capitalism or encourage behavior that capitalism requires in order to function; and b) those which blame the problems of capitalism on something other than the capitalist system, and hold out solutions other than socialism. The channels for conveying these ideas are of three types: a) established institutions, such as schools and churches, where workers go to receive formal instruction; b) mass communications media, such as radio, TV, books, films, and periodicals, that reach workers informally and are not necessarily a part of their job or social training; c) organizations which are dominated by capitalist values, such as the Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement, Knights of Columbus, American Association of University Professors, American Medical Association, and any number of company unions.

Since it is by these methods that the ruling class are able to maintain power, it follows that the chief task of a socialist revolutionary should be to undermine ruling-class ideas and values and replace them with the ideology of socialism. For without the consent and participation of the working class, it would not be possible to manufacture implements of violence, much less set in motion the troops which use them. Neither would it be possible to abolish production for sale.

The best defense
The World Socialist Party advocates the ballot as a means of achieving power because, once ruling-class ideas are defeated, no other method on a mass scale should be necessary; and if those ideas are not defeated, no violent method can be successful. This is not to say that violence will never occur at any level in the process of transforming society from capitalism to socialism, or that the ruling classes will make no attempt to resist their demise. What it means is that, once they lose control of our heads, resistance on their part will be futile. If they choose to resist, the people themselves will decide at that time the most efficient way to handle them.

In the process of trying to save their ideas from defeat, the ruling class may well issue bans on socialist activity, hire thugs to beat up members who attempt to distribute leaflets, and smash meetings and organizations of workers. As we do not oppose violence on moralistic or metaphysical grounds, it is impossible to argue that socialists should refuse to defend themselves against this kind of attack. But the best defense is to do our ideological work well enough so that workers themselves will allow and even assist us to go on functioning as socialists.

The measure of our success will be the extent to which workers refuse to co-operate with the ruling class in their attempts to cripple the socialist movement. It is useless to waste time accumulating guns for the day when the ruling class become fascist, when we could be accumulating the much more potent defense of sympathizers, supporters, members, and a pro-socialist public opinion.

The main battleground of the socialist revolution will be ideological. This is a battle that socialists can have every confidence in their ability to win. While it is pro-capitalist ideology’ which enables the ruling class to go on doing what they do to the world, at the same time ideology is the weakest link in their armor. The fact is that pro-capitalist values and explanations for what is happening to us do not fit reality. They are in no way capable of accounting for or dealing with the pollution of the air and sea, poverty, famine, waste, unemployment, war, and the general decline of the quality of life on this earth.

It makes sense, then, to attack the ideas of the ruling class, where they are weakest, rather than their armies, weapons, and administrative methods, where they are strongest. And the most valuable ideological weapon in the socialist arsenal, because it stresses the unity of all knowledge, because it provides a rational frame within which to interpret seemingly unrelated bits of information, because it fits the fact better than any other theory of society, because the dozens of books written to refute it have proven by their very number to be worthless; this most valuable weapon is the materialist world outlook.
Stan Blake

Stop Confirming Marxism

From issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist
"Whenever you get vast numbers of unemployed., it is an open invitation for radical thinking" says John Ober, executive director of the Seattle Professional Employees Association, the Boeing engineers union. "We have to stop reconfirming the Marxist thesis that we can’t keep employment full without a war."
(Page 1, Wall St. Journal, 12/7/70)

Unemployment: The Poverty Problem Explained (1971)

From issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist
(Edit Comm. Note: Although The Western Socialist was founded in 1933 — In Winnipeg. Canada — it has had precursors extending back to The Western Clarion of 1905. Another predecessor of our journal was The Winnipeg Socialist, published by the Winnipeg local of the Socialist Party of Canada, beginning with the issue of January, 1923. The lead article of that first edition was entitled UNEMPLOYMENT, with subtitle: The Poverty Problem Explained. Inasmuch as unemployment and poverty — some 48 years later — remain problems of great priority, the article is as timely today as when it was written. We take pleasure In reprinting this important analysis of one of capitalism’s perennial questions, working class poverty and the interrelationship between employment and unemployment The article was written by Adolf Kohn. a pioneer of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who was organizing for the socialist movement in Canada and the United States, at the time.)
Every day the number of unemployed workers increases. The chance of getting a job becomes less and less. The army of the workless tramp the streets begging for a job. Unemployment is not their real trouble. It is the want of the necessities of life. They are hungry and face starvation together with those dependent upon them. The idle rich are unemployed, but they do not suffer poverty. Unemployment is a curse only to the working class, because they are a class without wealth. Poverty, not unemployment, is the real “problem.”

Why are the workers out of work? Why are there no jobs for them? It is because the workers have produced too much. The factories and stores are overflowing with goods for which there are no buyers. The class that owns the land, factories and mines will only allow the workers to produce when they can make a profit out of their labor.

Capitalists need unemployed army
The capitalists introduce the latest machinery and scientific devices to increase the output of the workers, and thereby to reduce the number of workers they need hire. They employ women and children because they are cheaper. Every discovery and invention, every new method of speeding up the worker is Introduced to increase profits. The very development of modern Industry, therefore, continually throws the worker out of work. All these up-to-date methods of production increase the output of each worker and continually piles up the wealth in the factories. The workers in the factories have been so busy, so industrious and so productive that they are continually faced with unemployment. Each manufacturer produces as much as possible and as cheap as possible in order to capture the market against his competitors, because he is in business for profit. Each country does the same, and the result is a world war for markets, to dispose of their products.

It is in the interest of the capitalist to have an army of unemployed. Not only to absorb some of them when business is brisker than usual, but to keep down the wages of those in work. The employer knows that with an army of unemployed outside he can speed up the employed and keep them docile. While the worker is forced to sell his energy to the owners of the factories. his wage will get lower as the competition for jobs gets keener. If he does not find a master quickly, he will starve, so he is compelled to work on the bosses’ terms.

Where unions are powerless
The power of unions to resist is very small when unemployment grows, and so the workers’ standard of living declines. The present system of production for profit is impossible without the unemployed, and the employers’ power to introduce machinery and speeding up systems will always guarantee an unemployed army for the capitalists.

A cry for a shorter work-day as a remedy for unemployment is. therefore. a cry of men who do not understand the present system. Shorter hours are an incentive to the employers to speed up and devise ways and means for getting a greater output in fewer hours. Better machinery and the saving of waste are also adopted. Employers like Ford and Leverhulme boast of greater profits since they shortened hours. No union can remove unemployment. Unions cannot stop machinery being introduced to save wages. Unions cannot stop the growth of the Trust and Combine, which always eradicates waste, and, consequently, needs less workers to do the work. Unions cannot stop the constant overproduction which closes down industry. These things are inherent in the capitalist system. They are due to capitalist ownership, and the resulting anarchy. The contradiction of co-operative production inside the factory and the private ownership of the product, causes the depressions and crises we now suffer.

Not war problem
The worker, able, ready and willing to work, is denied a chance to apply his energy and produce wealth. He has produced too much and he is. therefore, left in misery, while around him is greater wealth than ever existed before. Labor leaders talk of greater output, while the warehouses are stifling with goods. Our politicians talk of increasing "our" foreign trade while unemployment has increased along with increasing exports. England and America's great export trade has not saved them from an unemployed crisis. After the great Allied victory the workers who carried on the war are offered a day or two’s work, removing snow, to get it done cheaper than ordinary rates. The industrious workers are insulted with a charitable dole insufficient to pay the rent, provided they are medically unfit to perform the miserable relief work at a starvation pittance.

The capitalists dare not attempt to absorb the unemployed. They could not do without them. They will not offer any grants likely to make charity more desirable than the lowest paid work. It is not a war problem, for the unemployed are a constant feature of the present system. Even when work is resumed and trade flourishes again, the same large workless army will appear as a result of a superabundance of wealth produced once more.

The capitalist system has no solution for unemployment. If work could be found tomorrow for some of the workless, they would merely add to the products clogging the market. The workers cannot buy their products because their wages are but a fraction of the wealth they produce.

The only remedy
Mr. Lloyd George tells English workers to emigrate to Canada, and preachers tell them to "trust in the Lord." We tell the workers there is no hope until they establish a system of common ownership of the natural and industrial resources, in order to produce wealth for use by the producers instead of for the profit of idle owners of these resources. You must establish Socialism, but, in order to do this you must acquire the necessary knowledge of the subject. Education and organization of the working class must be carried on, so that the workers can obtain the necessary political power to change the system. There lies the road to your emancipation.
Adolph Kohn

Ecologia e Socialismo (2023)

Via the Socialism or Your Money Back blog