Answers to Correspondents

A. PORCELLI, Baron de St. Andrew (The Cottage, Carfiberley.)—Your statement that Society cannot be divided into two classes because “there are, for instance, children in arms,” is distinctly refreshing. We are, however, always glad to deal with intelligent opposition. We note also that you profess to belong neither “to the working class nor to the capitalist class, but to a much nobler class, viz, the Sons of God.” Nevertheless, if as we surmise the necessities and comforts of life which you enjoy in your baronial “Cottage” do not descend direct from heaven, but are the products of worldly labour, it would materially assist us in deciding (at least to our own satisfaction) to which economic category you belong if we were informed whether your present income is the result of your own mental and physical labour, or is derived through the ownership of property and is therefore a tax on others’ labour. This is not a personal question, for “we must all toil, or steal, (howsoever we name our stealing).”

The statements regarding your numerous charities to the distressed working class prove only that those who produce the wealth do not enjoy it and that the appropriators, who flourish through the workers’ misery, accompany their alms with misunderstanding and contempt. We would, indeed, in this connection (in return for the text on unclean beasts to which you referred us) commend to you respectfully Matthew VI., 1-4.

You assert that we are “perfectly ignorant of the Bible.” But to this we cannot plead guilty; for we regard and use the Bible as a valuable historical document of the upper status of barbarism in social evolution. As you, however, appear to value the Bible in quite another sense may we suggest that you take as texts for your next epistle Matthew XIX., 21-24 and Isaiah V., 8?

We cannot afford space to deal with all the curious points you raise. Your point of view, moreover, not being that of a wage-worker, and presenting otherwise no common ground of logic and experience as a basis for argument, renders further discussion difficult.

Socialism, as such, is not directly concerned with religion or the supernatural, and is not antagonistic thereto except in so far as religion is used against the working class. It would, however, be idle to deny that the fulcrum toward obtaining a rational conception of life provided by the scientific basis of Socialism can ultimately leave no room in the consistent mind for belief in the supernatural.

The concluding statement in your letter that “Woe betide the man who ignorantly seeks to make God responsible for the warped nature of fellow man, and the evils produced by Satanic devilry” is, as applied to us, entirely gratuitous; and you may be comforted by the assurance that we hold no metaphysical cloud-pusher responsible for the misery of the world.

G.H.L. (Kentish Town).—No. There is no “mental labour” that does not involve physical labour, and no physical or manual labour that does not involve mental labour also. When we speak of labour we do not discriminate between mental and manual, they are complementary.

The distinction you also desire to make between the “producer” of commodities, such as the brick-maker, and the “non-producer” such as the transport worker, will not hold. The transport worker is just as much a producer as the brickmaker, neither really produces in the sense you mean, both however are engaged in producing values. The brickmaker usefully alters the form of the raw material supplied by nature, and the transport worker usefully alters its position ; embodying in the process, quite as much as the brickmaker, a portion of the labour necessary to placing the bricks upon the market and creating values in so doing.

F.D. (Wimbledon).—There are essentially but two classes to-day, as we say. The capitalist class comprises all those whose income is derived from the ownership of property and is contrasted with the working class which comprises all those (with their dependents) who are posessors of only their power to labour which they are forced to sell to those who monopolise the means of wealth production.

All marketable wealth is the product of labour, and the able-bodied man who lives without contributing his quota of the necessary labour is robbing his fellows.

On the border line, between the two classes of exploiter and exploited, (which are, on the whole, vividly distinct), there are a number—with a foot in each camp—called the “middle class.” The members of this group are becoming an almost negligible factor owing to the growing centralisation of industry, but in so far as they express themselves politically they cling tenaciously to the capitalist side of their interests, and all the more desperately since the small property or position that they hold is alone that which distinguishes them from the working class properly so-called ; and this small property or means of exploitation is that by means of which they hope to climb into the select and secure section of the exploiters and so save themselves from the proletarian abyss which ever threatens to engulf them. Hence this section of lower capitalists is not only reactionary in that it fights against industrial advance, but also is most unscrupulous in defending its right to exploit, in sweating, and in conserving its monopoly of education or position against the interests of the workers. A small section, it is true, would “organise” the workers, on condition that it be given (under title of “the expert”) all the well-paid jobs and the right to govern the masses; but in face of a genuine proletarian advance all of these stand by the reaction and bitterly oppose genuine industrial democracy.

It is therefore seen that as economic categories reflecting politically their fundamentally opposing interests, there are, in reality, but two classes: those who live by labour and those who live upon those who labour; so that the workers in their task ot abolishing all privilege and exploitation, stand alone, and must rely only upon themselves.

J.T.T.—Thanks for information. We are always pleased to receive local papers with interesting articles or reports. Your query will be dealt with next month.

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