1900s >> 1909 >> no-52-january-1909

Unemployment and the S.D.P.

Mr. Quelch recently went to Burnley to lecture for the S.D.P. on “How to deal with Unemployment.” He advocated the abolition of child labour, an eight-hour day, and production for use in co-operative colonies. If this is really Mr. Quelch’s way of dealing with unemployment, it is certainly not our conception of the Socialist way, and as our conception has at least a sporting chance of being the correct one, we offered, through our Burnley members, to debate the matter with him. Although he had been deploring the absence of Mr. F. Maddison, with whom he professed a desire to have a bout, he declined our challenge. We repeat it now.
He stated in answer to a question, that now the workers are getting a better share relatively and actually than ever they were. If he is of the opinion that the worker’s position is improving, and that the abolition of child labour, the establishment of an eight-hour day and co-operative colonies, are all that are required to deal with the unemployed problem, we most heartily invite him to discuss the matter with us, who do not believe either that the condition of the working class improves with the development of capitalism, or that any of his propositions will touch the social problem of unemployment with any degree of adequacy, but assert, on the contrary, that the position of the working class is more insecure, more precarious, than ever it was, that the only way to deal with the unemployed problem is to abolish the economic system to which it belongs (capitalism) by organising the workers into a political party for that purpose, such party being the Socialist Party of Great Britain. We shall be glad to hear from Mr. Quelch, or any of his satellites on this matter.

 

Mr. W. Thorne, M.P., apparently holds views similar to those of Mr. Quelch. At the Conference at the Guildhall held to discuss this matter he said, vide Daily News report, 7.12.08, “He was convinced that if a regular eight-hours day were adopted there would very soon be little or no unemployment.” This indicates an utterly fallacious notion of the origin of unemployment. Unless and until wages represent the whole of the workers’ produce (and they never will so long as they are wages) the difference between the quantity produced and the quantity the workers are able to buy back with their wages, plus the quantity actually consumed by the capitalists, will by its very accumulation inevitably bring about the periodical stoppage or partial stoppage of production, with its resulting starvation problem for the workers.Mr. Hyndman, writing in our revered contemporary, the alleged organ of the Social Democracy, just prior to the Conference at the Guildhall, passes over the eight-hour proposition for treatment at the Conference. We see no reference in the reports to any contribution from him to the discussion, beyond the startling information that Mr. Fels is a capitalist. Mr. Hyndman, however, put his faith in the organisation of the unemployed in co-operative colonies, where the workers will be enabled to maintain themselves without competing or interfering with capitalism. How even this could be done, supposing it to be possible, while the capitalist class remain in power, is not clear, while its adoption by a capitalist Government would establish its ineffectiveness as a solution of the problem, which, in the words of Mr. Hyndman himself, “is a necessity for the capitalist system.”

Again we assert the only remedy for unemployment to be the abolition of the capitalist system which causes it, and the establishment of Socialism.

Dick Kent