The Western Socialist
Vol. 33 - No. 253
No. 5, 1966
Among the endless irritations that accompany modern commercial society, there is one that particularly intrigues members of the companion parties of Socialism — that is, the perpetual willingness of the exploited majority to swallow so much of the ruling class political propaganda that is fed to them every perceiving day of their lives.
We could paraphrase a possible conversation of the early dark ages— "Hey Sam, have you heard the latest? Some nut is trying to tell us that the world is round! How crazy can some people get? Any man in his right mind knows it is flat."
As potent as the truth is, a sad fact has been that the supply of this vital element has always exceeded the demand, with every competitive class claiming that it was the sole possessor.
But the same people who thought the world was flat, also believed that man was born greedy; they embraced religiously the religious doctrine of original sin, exactly as so many proletarians do today. Except that today we are supposed to have achieved the age of science and enlightenment. Our forebears could not even read and write, they had more reason to be superstitious.
At a time when the social labor of the working class can accomplish the feat of putting a satellite into orbit around the moon, when the inner workings of the atom have been inspected, it is difficult to get adjusted to the fact that the same intelligent working class humans believe, for instance, that the state functions in the interests of the "people." Or that wages are paid so that workers can buy the things they need.
The "great man" theory, was going strong in the days of the ancient Greeks. The slaves were told that their inferior social status was a biological thing, that their masters were a superior race. Leadership, the antithesis of democracy, is still in vogue today. The intelligent mass leaves its political thinking to the representatives of the capitalist class.
In harmony with the great man theory, is the idea that when things obviously go wrong, it is because we have bad leaders, (bad, great men); it is alleged to be the fault of the politicians who are in office at the time. This one is wearing thin in parts however. Even the two local press spokesmen for the status quo have admitted that the current economic boom would have come, no matter what party had been in office.
Evolving naturally out of this fantasy, is the variant that goes back at least to our great, great grandmothers' time, of the good guys versus the bad guys thesis, that all politicians are bad.
SHEARING THE SHEEP
One of the strangest phenomenon is the spectacle of the wage-worker who can give us the latest base-ball score, but who hasn't a clue as to how he is separated from the fruits of his labor down at the factory. Theories pounded into his head about rich men or commissars being smarter, or contributing more to society don't give him much incentive to delve, we admit.
Even when we bare the simple truth, we don't expect him to go rushing around telling his fellows the formula of our collective exploitation.
We agree, it would be of no use for capitalists to have capital around if it didn't proliferate. But inert materials and static machinery won't grow into surplus wealth by themselves. The boss has to buy human ability, labor-power, from the working class; just like he would buy sugar or soap.
The value of labor-power amounts to approximately just enough goods and services to maintain the worker as a seller of this commodity — nothing more.
And the difference between this value of the workers' ability and what they actually produce, is the source of the mountain of loot that the rulers of the earth are sitting on top of today.
HELPING THE POOR TO HELP THE RICH
Some of these gains are used to pay obedient politicians like Premier Bennett to tell us that state ownership is Socialism; some are used to finance doles, handed out to the worst victims of legal robbery, to get them on their feet and producing again, and otherwise keep the discontent and miseries of the workers at a level somewhere near bearable. The objective being to minimize interference with the dominant function of world society — the making of profits.
THE MAJORITY ARE POOR BECAUSE THEY WORK FOR WAGES
We don't expect the workers of the Canadian section to become politically sophisticated tomorrow morning, merely because the harder they work, and the more money-wages they make, the deeper they sink into personal debt; to discover shortly that their position in the social scheme of things equals not much more than a cipher in the economic equation of the supreme cash register, or to reflect lengthily on the compulsion to put their substance up for the highest bidder for a wage or salary, because they do not own the capital to live without carrying those who do.
AND DESTITUTE WHEN THEY CAN'T WORK FOR WAGES
Another social anachronism that makes it difficult for us to believe that this is really the twentieth century, is the attitude of that growing body of workers who have miraculously survived a "life" time of being fleeced. When the walking package of labor-power has been drained, becomes an empty hull, and can no longer be used by capital, he usually discovers that he is completely free of any substantial possessions.
Although the pittance handed out by the wealthy parasites who have lived off him so well and for so long will barely equate enough energy for a struggle down to the polling booth, he can be relied upon to faithfully!, put down his "X" for the system that has relieved him of so much.
ARMED FORCE TO PROTECT LEGAL ROBBERY
Part of the proceeds of exploitation are used to finance vehicles of violence to protect capital, both from workers nearby and from capitalist groups elsewhere. And to protect or extend sources of raw materials and places to sell commodities. The biggest market depression in the history of capitalism was ended by its biggest war.
Oblique references in the daily press — " . . . new hopes that the potentially richest nation in South-East Asia (Indonesia) will not slip into 'Communist' hands"; "We cannot allow Southeast Asia with its rubber and rice... to fall to the Soviets," and former President Eisenhower's statement, "... our power and ability to get certain things we need from the richest of the Indo-China territory, etc., ...manganese and cobalt, tin and tungsten," and "our need for markets for our agricultural and industrial products," show that the slaughter of worker against worker in Viet Nam is just part of the normal functioning of capitalism in which two giants, the U.S. and China, are contending for the same prize. It would be impossible to ask workers to professionally and scientifically mass murder each other if they knew that such carnage was in the interest of their respective masters. This is the reason why a worker who cannot pay cash for a deep-freeze has to be told that he has a country to fight for, or that the killing is done for peace, or in defence of freedom.
We can sympathize with the idea of some workers that war research and H Bomb production should stop, and that this social energy should be devoted to finding a cure for cancer perhaps. But we cannot sympathize with the social ignorance that causes them to think that capitalism can operate contrary to its nature. It would be easier to make a tiger eat hay, than it would be to abolish competition for profits, and still have capitalism.
ANY COLOR YOU WANT, SO LONG AS ITS BLACK:
In terms of solving the social problems of the useful section of society, this is really not an election. Reminiscent of some forced labor camps in Russia, which were self-administered by the inmates, (peoples' democracy?) where the idea of getting out was seldom considered. Modern elections are conducted partly to determine whether tweedledum or tweedle-dee will have the honor of officiating for international capital for another term. Japanese, U. S., British, German and Swedish as well as Canadian entrepreneurs dip their fingers into the golden hoard produced by the patriotic B. C. section of the working class.
The five conservative parties contesting are basically identical. During the Hungry Thirties, one man ran on a combined Socred-CCF ticket, and why not? Was capitalism any different in Social Credit Alberta than it was in CCF Saskatchewan? And there is no way we can distinguish the program of the unofficial representatives of Russian capitalism in B.C., from the other parties here. The only clue is their name.
Soviet and Chinese millionaires are doing well off the labors of their share of the world's exploited. They must chuckle to themselves when they see what admirable co-operation they get from editors, university professors, social "scientists," preachers and other political dinosaurs of the West, in fostering the biggest hoax of the century, that the Russian rulers are building Communism.
Yes, the workers have no substantial choice. Their political ignorance guarantees this.
WE CAN BE IGNORANT OR FREE, BUT NOT BOTH:
Have we disturbed your train of thought? Well, your political naivete gives us no alternative. There is not a day that this system does not plague all of us, we who oppose it, and you who support it. So long as you retain such antiquated ideas that exclusive ownership of the productive apparatus by a few, and wages for the many is an unchangeable and natural order of things, then we have no other way of defending ourselves.
Eventually the temporary escape mechanisms will become a less adequate substitute for living. The TV urging you to buy junk, the beer tranquilizers, comic books, the new auto, designed to need repairs at about the fifteenth payment, the Church with a promise of life hereafter, — and the leaders, gladly doing your political thinking for you; and do you know, they just can't get the welfare of the capitalist class off their minds?
The vital statistics about increased crime, mental illness, suicide and alcoholism are only a visible part of the iceberg of submerged misery that affects all of us in varying degree, merely a tabulation of some of those victims who have cracked under the strain.
This earth is practically one big automated factory. Why shouldn't it be used for humanity? All the ingredients are here to make this planet a fit place for us all, except one — working class political awareness. The onus is on you.