Editorial: Ten Millions Starving

Mr. Lloyd-George spoke strongly at Penrhyndendraeth, Merioneth, last night.

“He said there were ten millions in this country enduring year after year the torture of living on, lacking a sufficiency of the bare necessaries of life ; and all this existed amid a splendid plenty which poured into a land so wealthy that it could afford to lend out of its spare riches thousands of millions to less well endowed lands in other parts of the world.
“There is plenty of wealth in this country to provide for all and to spare,” he continued. “What is wanted is a fairer distribution. There is a good deal of temporary depression in the slate industry in this part of the world, which I trust will soon pass away. But before it goes I am afraid there will be much distress from want of employment. Yet there are two men in the county of Carnarvon whose combined incomes are equal to the aggregated earnings of half the quarrymen of the country.
“The latter, working at a skilled trade, requiring years of apprenticeship to master it, risking life in its pursuit—thousands of them together can only earn just as much as two men who do not contribute a single slate to the common stock.
“I do not suggest that there should be a compulsory equal distribution of the wealth of this country between its inhabitants, but I do say that the law which protects these men in the enjoyment of their great possessions should first of all see that those whose labour alone produces their wealth are amply protected from actual need where they are unable owing to circumstances over which they have no control to earn enough to purchase the necessaries of life.”
Daily Express, 26/9/06.

So truth will out even from a Capitalist Cabinet minister. Ten millions starving—it is a greatly underestimated figure, but it will serve—ten millions of those whose labour alone produces the country’s wealth ! Yet George, like Burns and the rest of the kidney, offers no remedy. Why? Because they dare not. They know the remedy well enough—the only remedy that can be applied, but they fear to speak it. They will talk sympathetically enough to secure working-class support for the party to which they belong ; but they know as they talk that the Party on whose behalf they stand can do nothing to touch the fringe of the evil. Because their party is a Capitalist party, call it by what else they will, and unemployment and its consequent starvation are directly due to the fact that the working class whose labour alone—on the word of a Cabinet minister—produces wealth, depend for their bread to-day upon whether the capitalist class can make a profit out of the purchase of their labour power. The Capitalist class live upon profits nothing else. Without profits they must die. Because of profits the workers must live precarious lives and starve by the tens of millons. Very well. The cure rests solely in the extinction of the profit-monger, the abolition of the capitalist class; the expropriation of the expropriators, and the death of the political expression of capitalism, of which Lloyd George and Co. constitute themselves the fuglemen. Let Mr. Lloyd George tell the whole truth if he dare. As it is he is a sort of political Pied Piper—-a lure : a decoy. But he must be careful. The game he is playing is a dangerous one. If the workers produce all the wealth it may occur that a reminder of it from a cabinet minister will have the effect of inspiring in the minds of the wealth producers a dissatisfaction with anything less than the entire product of their labour. And what Lloyd George of all the hosts of capitalist apologists—highly paid or lowly—would venture to dispute the justice of the demand after such a ministerial pronouncement as was made in that Merioneth town of the unpronounceable name.

(Editorial, Socialist Standard, November 1906)

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