Socialist Review No. 05

Editor’s Note. The following article is taken from "The Western Socialist”, no. 6 1970. It deals with education and the problem it creates under capitalism. Although it might seem remote to us now, it is well to remember that other developing countries like India, and Ceylon have large numbers of university graduates who cant find any employment.

The scientist market slump

"That labourer alone is productive, who produces super value for the capitalist, and thus works for the selfexpansion of capital. If we may take an example from outside the sphere of production of material objects, a schoolmaster is a productive labourer, when in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, does not alter the relation".(Capital, Vol. I, p.558 modern Libr. Ed.)

If we consider the context from which the quotation was taken we must hasten to point out that Marx, when he referred to "the capitalist" and "the school proprietor" was directing his arrows at the capitalist class. Should we go further and consider capitalism as it has evolved since Marx's time, the schools of "higher education" would have to be considered as an integral part of the costs to the capitalist class of training highly skilled engineers, physicists "specialists" to operate and produce in an industry that makes the capitalism of the mid 19th Century look like small potatoes. Capitalism in this latter half of the 20th Century cannot operate without highly skilled, college trained workers.

And yet, basically, there is little if any difference between the capitalism of today and that of Marx's time. Goods and services are still produced for sale on the market with view to profit; and the labour power of the working class - even those highly skilled workers with Ph.D's is still a commodity to be sold by its owners to the capitalist class in order that surplus value may continue to be produced. Sold, that is, when there is a market for it as an ever increasing number of degree holding members of the working class are finding out.

Since no section of the capitalist class can remain in business with unproductive workers it follows that college degrees, even the exalted Ph.D. degree, are not per se tickets to employment. The condition of the market, in general, determines the condition of the labour market - even the highly skilled and highly paid (relatively) Doctors of Philosophy. Let us examine, briefly, the situation as it exists within one industry - the electronics industry - in one area of the United States today, Greater Boston, Massachusetts.

In the early nineteen fifties the Commonwealth of Massachusetts constructed a controlled access, divided highway that stretches about 70 miles between South Shore and North Shore areas and which enables those who drive on it to avoid the traffic choked streets of Boston. Route 128, as it is designated, soon developed into a sort of Mecca for electronics industr­ies and highly technical research and development companies. These structures lowstory brick and glass buildings in a setting more reminiscent of college campuses than factories are mostly found in about two dozen industrial parks within easy driving range for its workers from Greater Boston and Suburban environs. And because the market for electronics commodities was good during most of the last two decades, particularly because of the Government's huge expenditures on military programs, colleges all over the country spewed out Masters and Doctors of Electrical Engineering, etc; by the job lot. So Route 128 electronics companies, drawing their top personnel from Boston's many colleges and universities, became known as "the golden semicircle" all of which brought prosperity to fringe industries in Boston.

Yes, the market for electronics engineers was good and the opportunities for employment were good with salaries that were supposed to elevate the recipients to a "middle class" status, So books were written about the golden future in electronics, words of encourag­ement were given to the youth of high school age who were on the threshold of college and concerned about their future careers. Glowing words, words that painted a beautiful picture of a life of security, an opportunity even just waiting for takers to build one's own company and attain millionaire status. For example: "The future of peaceful applications of electronics will grow steadily and surely as the years pass. Military applications and systems will, we hope, diminish in importance. Nevertheless, as long as there is a threat to our security and peace, electronics will take over a larger and larger share of defence requirements. We are living in the Electronic Age. How fortunate those persons will be who are active participants! Congratulations to all of you who are entering this ever growing always stimulating career of opportunity, service, and interest". (Introduction to Your Future in Electrical Engineering by Sol Levine.) Or: "Young engineers and scientists are hard to find. The demand is great. The supply is short. Young man, young woman, the opportunities are unlimited and the future is bright if you are. Good luck". (Introduction to Your Career in Electronics by Harry Edward Neal)

Brave words! Confident words! But, alas! written in 1961 and 1963. This, however, is 1970 and they have become, for a great any bright, young Ph.D's but empty words. As with such other oft-used phrases of wishful thinking such as "When the Vietnam war is over the money that is being poured out on armaments by Washington will be diverted to peaceful needs, such as housing, slum clearance, ghetto eradication". Would it not seem reasonable to expect; now that there have been drastic cutbacks in Government spending on the Space Programme and on direct military projects, even a token indication of a stepped up interest in domestic problems and increased expenditures thereon? Where is it? The Boston Globe for Oct. 24,1970, informs us in a front page story: "Unemployment Rates Highest Since 58 2200 Specialists Lost Jobs in Mass. Last Month. A total of 2200 engineers, scientists and technicians in Massachusetts' depressed electronics industry lost their jobs last month, as the state's worst unemployment in 12 years continued unabated". (The total dismissals since September,1969, were 8800). Is there, then, a corresponding resurgence of activity in other industries? Apparently not, for the facts disclosed by the Division of Employment Security show otherwise as the top line in the Boston Globe headline indicates.

Not that the bottom has fallen out in Massachusetts. An article, on Route 128 in the Business Section of The New York Times for Oct. 11 1970 tells us: "The cars still whiz by on 128 and the local papers still carry help wanted ads. But the jobs listings are for janitors, typists, file clerks in hospitals, salesmen, cab drivers and the like. There are few calls for scientists, engineers, research personnel and the others who earned Route 128 its worldwide reputation”. So the pendulum is swinging back and the lesser educated workers are once more surfacing to a relative demand!

Many a privately owned knowledge factory is now in financial difficulties, as are specialist oriented employment agencies! But, alas, still no sign of stepped up spending on peaceful pursuits with the decline in war spending. Even in such a vitally important area as medical research there has been a sharp cut in Government backing, resulting in rastic cuts in personnel in some of Boston’s research hospitals even, be it noted, in cancer research.

Almost everybody one meets today is angry at somebody or something. In the area of scientific employment one hears mutterings against the present administration in Washington. Nixon's the one! (In a reverse sense than that intended in his 1968 campaign slogan.) "Lets throw the rascals out!" One hears frequently in Massachusetts, especially among the more highly "educated" workers. Vote Democratic they urge us. And we sometimes marvel at the bias of the working class to forget that the same things that make them enraged at Nixon made them angry at Johnson, and Kennedy and Eisenhower, and Truman, and Roosevelt. Certainly we are angry, too. But our wrath is directed against the continuing existence of a system of society - capitalism - that has long ago outlived its usefulness. It made a sort of grim sense for goods and services to be produced for sale with view to profit: for the brawn and brain of the worker to be sold to the capitalist class in order to produce surplus values: for cut throat competition between and among rival capitalists and for wars between competing capitalist nations, when production of an abundance was impossible. Today, when the problem is mainly one of; How can we keep from producing more than we can sell, there is no longer a good reason for suffering with the many problems of capitalism, with preserving capitalism itself.

But this seems to be beyond the scope of the working class, as of 1970, to comprehend. Even beyond the scope of the more highly "educated" workers with the degrees. We could throw up our hands in disgust over the seeming lack of movement towards socialist revolution. We could merge with those impatient "revolutionists" who seek a short cut by using tactics - barricades tactics out of the 19th Century. We don't, though, and we won't because we are Marxists - scientific socialists and we are certain that history is on our side. Eventually the working class - even the scientific workers will be forced to the realisation that capitalism no longer makes sense. That education under capitalism is a mere training for a job, an opportunity to produce surplus value for the capitalists - an opportunity that will vanish when the market vanishes. They will realise this and they will organise in a political party for world socialism, and nothing short of world socialism.



The road to health

At the beginning of this century, Jack London made his own personal investigation into the conditions of life prevailing for the masses in London, England ...the so called "Hub" of the "Empire Building" days. His investigation culminated in a masterly, penetrating indictment of the "sweat" shops and slums, portrayed in his "People of the Abyss"; to this day, an historical documentary. Those conditions took their to11 in a widespread Tubercular Consumption of the population, so that in Jack's words..."Year by year rural England pours in a flood of vigorous young life that perishes by the third generation". Thus was capitalism undermining the health of society in 1902. Today, in 1971, it has evolved from an early merchant capacity to giant socially operated "Plants", but it is still a gravely sick society with an ever increasing demand for more and larger hospitals!

This technological age of the system brings in its wake new forms of ill health such as Neurasthenia, Thrombosis, Gastric Ulcers, Mental derangements, Drug addiction etc., which all add up to produce social illness of alarming percentage. So our capitalist ruling class, unable to eliminate the cause of these maladies,(its own profit motive) seek a solution in the treatment of disease as practised in hospitals. But can this treatment of drugs, injections, and operations galore, "cure" the effects of a capitalist environment on generations of working class humanity? If this were so, less hospitals would be needed not more!

After a spell in hospital, where new "wonder" drugs are constantly being hailed to beat the previous new "wonder" drugs, and where many of the patched up sellers of labour power are actually used as human "guinea pigs" for testing out new drugs — the "cured" patients are sent back into the environment that produced their ill health in the first place!! This is the solution that the National Health Services of various governments, look at through their "Rose coloured glasses".

However, it is the class division in society and the social relations arising from it that are at the root of the mental and physical degeneration of those who "compete" for beds in hospitals. This cause is ignored by all except Socialists who are working to

change this sickness producing society of the profit motive for a healthier environment of Socialism. For those who can afford to pay, hospitals are also a source of profit, and recently a Shipping Line entered the hospital business, because...Quote "Running a hospital is just like running a ship or hotel with the added incentive that hospitals are never empty".(Daily Express, London, 15th Aug. 1970) Those who criticize the use of drugs, injections and operations,(such as the Naturopathic school of thought) in the treatment of disease, are treading on the dangerous ground of the profits of the large and powerful drug manufacturers and medical associations and are thus branded as "Quacks" and "Food Cranks" etc. Indeed, long ago, Henrik Ibsen brilliantly illustrated this point in his play "An Enemy of Society", wherein the medical officer of the public baths was branded as the "enemy" and dismissed from his post for exposing the pollution of the water supply!

Today we see the ludicrous situation of one section of the capitalist class trying to persuade workers to give up smoking, whilst the cigarette manufacturers "persuade" them in the opposite direction(!) with large adverts cunningly illustrated and worded (hidden persuaders) about how the "smart set" always smoke their brand etc. Whilst the Brit­ish Medical Journal of 11th Jan.69 admits the following quote .."If a massive campaign against the cigarette met with even modest success, it would probably save more lives at present sacrificed to lung cancer, coronary thrombosis and chronic bronchitis than all the curative procedures discussed above". But they remain silent on WHY people smoke. So could it be that the nervous tensions of life in a capitalist world, plus the massive advertising campaigns of the cigarette manufacturers, combine to drive millions into the "addictive arms" of "My Lady Nicotine"?

Be that as it may, one thing is certain. There is a vicious circle surrounding those who accept capitalism as "an eternal best of all possible world", never to be questioned as the possible cause of our social sickness! Seeking ways out of this

"blind alley" they will choose cigarettes, "over breeding", "man’s aggressive nature", "God’s will” or what have you, before they will face the real enemy, capitalism itself. But make no mistake, the Road to Health is the self same Highway to Socialism, and hospitals are no substitute for that road.

So we see that it is against capitalism and for socialism, that any "massive campaign" should be directed. When that day dawns; we can say with Longfellow. "There'11 be no need for Arsenals and Forts"... OR SO MANY HOSPITAL EITHER!

G.R. Russell, (S.P.G.B.)

Is nationalisation socialism?

The issue of nationalisation have been brought up quite frequently of late, by trade unionist, and "left wing socialist". They state that certain companies, and industries, should be nationalised. The idea caught on, and even slogans calling for nationalisation have been written on walls all over the city. What really is nationalis­ation? How will it benefit the workers in these industries? These are some of the questions that should be asked instead of the assumed assumption that this is an attack on the capitalist class.

Nationalisation means, the state control an industry, or service. The Capitalist, though he can still invest his money at fixed interest, no longer dictate policy. The only difference is the shifting of control from the capitalist, to the government. ONLY CONTROL HAVE CHANGED, NOT OWNERSHIP. This is not unimportant, as it goes to the root of the question what form social organisation should take.

The taking over of industry, by governments is nothing new. The British Labour Party won power in 1945 with the promise of giving the workers, the blessings of nationalisation. After extensive state control was introduced, the workers voted them out of office at the next election! Over the years the Party have found that the least they talk about nationalisation the better it is for them at elections. Only recently, the Conservatives nationalised Rolls Royce, after the company got in financial difficulties. This show clearly that the capitalist class does not regard this measure as against their interest. It also make clear that by taking over companies in trouble, nationalisation play an important part in running capitalism. Observe too, our own post office, it is a state controlled service, are the workers there free from strike, and demonstration for more pay. How much better off are they, compared with other workers?

Many people who nave reached the conclusion that the existing order of things need drastic change if the world is to be made fit to live in, have failed to realise that the change is needed at the very foundation of society. The idea that industry should be run for the benefit of the community, instead of a small group of investors is some advance in political thinking, BUT ITS EXPRESSION IN SUPPORT FOR NATIONALISATION IS IN FACT SELF-DEFEATING, SINCE NONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RELATIONSHIPS IN PRIVATE INDUSTRY ARE CHANGED BY NATIONALISATION AND ALL THE OLD PROBLEMS REMAIN. Those who believe that large scale state control will lay the foundations for a new, and better social order are quite mistaken. The capitalist class could still invest their money, workers would still have to struggle to maintain wages, they could also still be fired, if capitalism so demand. Observe what happened to many workers on the British Railways. (A nationalised service) Nationalisation is a means used to make capitalism function more effective, and at the same time makes everything deceptive.

Clear thinking about this problem will prevent precious years being wasted on experiments, that are bound to prove ineffective. Nationalisation is not the answer to our problems, capitalism have already made such schemes obsolete. The socialist solution is to abolish capitalism and establish SOCIALISM, a system of society in which the means of production and distribution ARE OWNED AND DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED BY THE community, in which there will be no exploitation, no property incomes, no profits, or interest, and no wage system. The world has long attained the capacity, easily to produce an abundant, and varied life for all. It would be silly to ask for less.


News and views

Although things happen so quickly, and even more quickly forgotten, the incident some time ago with the street vendors is worth a comment. It shows how desperate politicals can be and a pointer to the kind of election campaign we can expect. By their action the government must be worried about its chances, to rule for another term. To have come out so openly on the side of those who break the law, can only signify their own uncertainty. Those who sell ganja might well ask that this immunity be extended to them too, giving their position as unemployed, as the reason why. The government as champion for the cause of the poor, tried to alienate itself from the machinery of the state! How do they explain being in power since 1962? They really gave the opposition a field day, as the champion for "law and order". We only hope that at least some people will see through the web of hypocracy ON BOTH SIDES, and ask, why these men will go to such length to win their support. Politicans need our sanction ever so often to run capitalism, since it is a social system that CANT operate to the benefit of the majority, they must trick us to believe they can make us benefit. Perhaps it as been too easy for them, we need to make them know we are learning the name of the game.

Regardless of the Dollar crisis, trading deficit, America is still regarded as the show piece of capitalism at work. Its super highways, and massive constructions, all testify to the marvel of man's knowledge. Despite its obvious wealth and know how, America is a nation running scared. The average home is almost becoming like a fortress, as violent crime continue to increase alarmingly. The demand for guns, and other weapons have skyrocketed. A stranger in many a neighbourhood is instantly regarded with suspicion. No where else in the world does our social system, Capitalism, show how unfit it as become for man to live under, than in America. Violence and capitalism go hand in hand, the more developed the society, the tighter the grip. How much longer before people see we need not live as we do. WE NEED NOT LIVE LIKE PRIMITIVE MEN IN A SCIENTIFIC AGE. We need not learn to live with fear. It certainly is time for a change.

In his budget speech the minister of finance called his budget the "go ahead budget" According to him all sections of the economy showed some growth. This might be difficult for the thousands of unemployed to believe, even those who work, with the constant increase in prices will at least be puzzled, as to his meaning. The chances are however, that the minister spoke the truth. Capitalism is a unique social order, it has the ability to "go ahead" while leaving those who serve it far behind.


(Kingston, 1971)