1900s >> 1908 >> no-49-september-1908

Fiscal fatuity

Mr. Chiozza Money is a ‘cute man ; but he nods at least as often as Homer. Just now he is engaged in making “One Hundred Points for Free Trade,” or rather, one hundred points against Protection, in the Daily News. This is one of them :

“The Protectionist theory is that imports, especially imports of manufactures, cause want, unemployment, and pauperism.
Well, every year India imports large quantities of manufactured goods, and nearly all of them are imported from the United Kingdom.

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Mr. Money might have found—it would have been a difficult job, but he might have found—a happier example. In India the people die literally like flies from “want, unemployment, and pauperism” and their results. The onus is on the Free Trader to explain the absolute unredeemed impotency of Free Trade in “our great dependency.”

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The Protectionist is of course in no better case. He has to explain why “want, unemployment and pauperism” are rampant in every industrial country where his pet nostrum is in operation. Protectionist and Free Trader are alike unable to face the facts. They have to resort to all sorts of mean and pitiable dodges to escape facing facts. From a working-class standpoint there isn’t the worth of a tinker’s anathema between them or their precious systems.

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Poverty is the result of certain definitely ascertained causes. Fiscal schemes do not remotely affect those causes. The workers are poor because they have no control of the product of their labour and are, therefore, robbed of the great proportion of it. Free Trade or Protection may, in certain cases and under certain conditions, result in a particular trade or trades receiving a fillip. To that extent there might be more work available. But that would also necessarily mean more robbery. And the workers are poor because they are robbed.

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Besides, the fillip must in the nature of capitalist things die down. Supply would overtake and outstrip available demand. There is not a single commodity in general requisition that the present machinery of production could not satisfy the effective demand for several times (often hundreds of times) over. Given the fillip and competitive machinery would be working at breakneck speed to be first in the market with the goods. Result : overproduction, slump, unemployment, starvation and the miseries necessarily attendant thereon.

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The process is characteristic of free trade and protected countries indifferently. If the worker is employed he is robbed. That is the unalterable condition of his employment. He must make a profit for his master. If he is not employed he starves. In either case he is no more than a pawn in the competitive game. He is dependent upon the fluctuations of the market—upon the employer who works him at top speed until he has produced too much, and then throws him off until the surplus is exhausted.

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The waste, necessarily the accompaniment of this competitive game, is only obviated under capitalism through monopoly. With one source of supply the output may be regulated to the demand. But Free Trader and Protectionist alike shriek (publicly) against monopoly, and howl dismally against waste. They are just mean dodgers or abnormal ignoramuses—they want to eat their cake and have it. The trust (monopoly) is the perfection of production. The trust stage is inevitable. It will produce most economically. It will save labour. It will mean more unemployment. And it is inevitable—Free Trade or Protection notwithstanding.

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Mr. Money’s note has lured me into an article. I am sorry ; but I am a victim of circumstancs. I intended no more than a par. But the fiscal folly of the Free Trade Moneys and the Zollverein Wilsons always cause me to curse privately and slam publicly. They are so dam silly ! The whole point is that “want and unemployment and pauperism” are inevitable under capitalism ; that although Free Trade or Protection may conceivably give an impetus to a certain trade it cannot absorb the available labour, and even if it could, labour would still be robbed ; tbat there is no explanation of the poverty problem other than that given by the Socialist; that there is no solution other than that offered by the Socialist.

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The working class of every capitalist country in the world is in a state of chronic “want, unemployment, and pauperism” because it does not own the wealth it alone produces. It doesn’t own the wealth because the land and machinery of production are owned by the capitalist class. It never will own its product until it owns and controls this land and machinery. And it never will own and control the land and machinery until it thoroughly understands its own position and the conditions of change, and has organised its forces for the specific object of effecting that change.

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The work of the Socialist Party as against Tariff Reformer, Social Reformer, Fiscal Laissez Faireian, or what not, is, therefore, the education and organisation of the working class for the overthrow of capitalism through the capture of the powers of government in order to secure the product of labour from being annexed by the capitalist class. Virtually the working class is in possession of the machinery of production since the whole process from top to bottom is in working-class hands. The workers now require to assert their possession and secure it, and at the same time the result of their toil, by the control of the fighting arms through political conquest. Simply that.

ALGERA

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