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Leo Tolstoy

A Question for Members of the Labour Party

The modern propertied class, like their slave-owning predecessors, get something for nothing. They can live without working. They live on the surplus products of the wealth-producers, while the latter obtain only a subsistence wage, more or less. The propertied class live on the backs of the working class, but they do not put it as crudely as that. They call it rent, interest and profit, and hedge it about with legal safeguards and moral disguises. They are full of promises of better things for those whom they exploit. They will, as Tolstoy said, do everything for the workers except get off their backs. The workers, therefore, must perform this parasite-shedding operation for themselves. They do not lack counsellors, prominent among them being the Labour Party. In endless pamphlets and speeches the Labour Party promises to put things right. It will do so, it says, by nationalisation, public control, State regulation, investment boards and so on.

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