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Working Class Health

By The Way

  Mr. Lloyd. George in his Manchester speech once again crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s of the Socialist propagandist. It was in dealing with the lessons of the war that the Prime Minister told his hearers that “the State must take a more constant and more intelligent interest in the health and fitness of the people.” Why this interest was to be manifested was in order to maintain the Empire, and because the war and the need for fighters had shown what a pitiable caricature capitalist society had reduced its wage slaves to. The speaker went on to say— '

Soap

 When I hear of the master class advocating better conditions and higher wages for the worker, as a Socialist I am naturally suspicious. For instance : “If we are to have trade and commerce we must look upon the worker as a brother" savours of a consummation much desired by certain (mis)leaders of the working class.

The above quotation is from a speech delivered by Sir W. H. Lever, on the occasion of his presentation of Rivington Hall to the town of Bolton recently.

Personally, Sir William may have great faith in the efficacy of soap — for more reasons than one — but his partiality for the “soft" variety is easily seen. He has employed it on various occasions with more or less success.

Too Old to Work, Too Young to Die

In a capitalist society goods are produced to make a profit and workers are viewed primarily as economic units who can be exploited for their labour power. The elderly, having withdrawn from productive work are, therefore, at an economic disadvantage.

Hardship in old age is not a recent problem: pre-capitalist societies also recognised, and tried to legislate for, withdrawal from work. The Statute of Labourers in 1349 recognised that poverty might be the result of disability or old age. Although the Act regarded 60 years as the age at which a man might be expected to stop working, the average life expectancy in the Middle Ages was 35 years so the number of peasants surviving to old age was quite small.

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