The Western Socialist
Vol. 30 - No. 231
No. 1, 1963
pages 20-21


The question has often turned up, "Who'll do the dirty work under Socialism?" It turned up again recently.

Many will remember Old Dobbin clip-clopping along the street ahead of the milk wagon, the bread wagon, or other conveyance. Horses were everywhere at one time, followed by bearers of brooms and shovels. Socialists were asked in those days, "Who will push the broom under Socialism?"

When we were very young it was a self-assumed duty of our generation every Halloween to proceed in force to outlying parts of the city, where sanitation was limited and back yard telephone booths plentiful, there to topple these establishments and gleefully flee the wrath of the proprietors. It is today our boast that these activities hastened certain kinds of modernization, but during that distant period it was someone's task to travel the lanes and carry away the contents of these conveniences. It is on the record that this troublesome occupation was also presented to Socialists for consideration.

Capitalism fell heir to a fair amount of dirty work from the past, and over the years it has created some impressive additions. Some of these, like the ones mentioned, are now extinct. Others, no doubt, will also vanish or become less objectionable under the influence of changing conditions of work or changing habits in society.

But there are other kinds of dirty work, unwholesome, undesirable and unnecessary, that will end at once under Socialism but will always flourish under capitalism, either because capitalism can find no way of ending them or because their existence is important to ruling class interests.

The dope peddlers, pimps, prostitutes, burglars, gangsters and many others would be happy to change modes of life that capitalism has decreed to be illegal yet inevitable. On the other hand, the educators, priests, pressmen and other publicity merchants, whose lies and distortions are most effective in shielding capitalism and attacking Socialism, are rewarded with incomes above average.

The ruthless politician becomes a statesman, the sadistic militarist gets a statue in the park, the luckless millions go to war and receive medals and prayers. And the vilest of all activities ought not to be overlooked, wage slavery, the condition of existence of the multitude, whose great reward is the contempt of those who fatten from its perpetuation.

The list could he expanded further, but enough should have been said to suggest that it is very nearly time to do away with the system that preserves all this rottenness. Then it will be time to look around for the dirty work that nobody will want to do under Socialism.

J. M.