1900s >> 1909 >> no-60-august-1909

Shall We Work Harder?

Mr. W. H. Lever, M.P., writing it the Anti-Socialist says,

“The more consideration I give to the aims and objects of the Socialists the more I am confirmed in my opinion that Socialism cannot possibly achieve social betterment and increased social happiness.
“Whatever poverty we have to-day is entirely due to the fact that the world is not producing sufficient commodities to satisfy the world’s requirements. Not until we have a greater production of all that goes to make for social well-being shall we have a more even distribution of social well-being and comforts and less poverty.”

Now to see if poverty is due to an insufficiency of wealth to meet the world’s requirements.

Mr. Chiozza Money informs us in his “Riches and Poverty” that the annual aggregate income of the United Kingdom amounts to, roughly, £1,700,000,000 or £40 per head of the population, or, assuming that each family on the average consists of five persons, £200 per family.

But is the annual income so distributed that each family receives £200 per annum, or a proportionate sum according to its number ? The answer is obvious to any member of the working class. About half the wealth produced (and corresponding income), or £830,000,000, is taken by about 1 million persons, each with an income of over £160 or, again assuming that each of these persons is the head of a family of live we get 5 million people, while the other half, or £880,000,000, is taken by 38 million persons, all of whom are in receipt of less than £160 per family yearly. But if we extend our investigation a little further we shall find that 1,250,000 persons enjoy an aggregate annual income of £585,000,000. At one end of the social ladder we have ”one third of our population living on the verge of hunger,” while at the other end we have 250,000 persons, or with their dependents, 1,250,000 persons, enjoying an aggregate income of about £450 per head or £2,250 per family.

Yet Mr. “Millionaire” Lever informs us that he is of the opinion that we must first increase the amount of material wealth before we can “achieve increased social betterment.” Increase the means of wealth production to any extent you like and it can be shown that the workers would be where they are to-day—in poverty. (An instance is recorded in our issue of March last under the heading “A Cutting Cutting” where a surplus of textile products provided a splendid opportunity for a lock-out of the operatives and a little more starvation.) The introduction of new and cheaper methods of production, and therefore, means of producing wealth in greater abundance, to-day only results in the throwing out of employment many of the workers engaged in the particular industry in which the new methods are introduced, an increase in the army of the unemployed, greater poverty and misery for the workers. True, a reduction in the time necessary for the production of the necessaries of life means the cheapening of the cost of living ; but a fall in the cost of living results in the cheapening of the production and maintenance of the worker. The continued and enhanced competition of the workers for jobs soon reduces wages to the new cost of subsistence, while a decrease in wages results in the increased exploitation of the worker, a greater amount of surplus-value or profit for the employers, and an even greater disparity between the two classes. So then, while the means of production and distribution remain in the hands of a small section of the community, any new inventions that may arise to lessen the time necessary for the production of wealth only results in increased affluence and luxury for the few while the great bulk of the people remain in a perpetual state of poverty.

Not until the whole of the means and implements of production and distribution are owned and controlled by, and in the interest of, the entire community, will the great mass of the people enjoy the advantages that accrue from an improvement in the means of wealth production. Then, and not until then, will every new invention be hailed as an advantage to all, either to reduce the collective labour of the community or to increase the comforts and opportunities of its members.

If then, it is possible to produce sufficient wealth to satisfy the requirements of the whole community under the present wasteful competitive system, how much more within the bounds of possibility will it be under a system where competition for existence will be entirely eliminated and where industry will be so organised that only that labour which is absolutely necessary for the production of wealth will be expended, where the large army of people now engaged in the advertising trade, as travellers, policemen, soldiers, man-‘o-warsmen, workhouse officials, flunkeys, judges, lawyers, clerks, priests, and a host of others would be employed in useful, productive labour. These trades and professions arise out of and are necessary under a system based upon the private monopoly of the means of life, and will disappear with their transformation from private to social property.

Mr. Lever continues “The natural order of social progress must inevitably be first to produce material comfort, followed by intellectual, moral and social advancement.” It is something for a member of the capitalist class to recognise the necessity for satisfying the material wants and requirements of the community before any improvement in the intellectual and moral status of the people can be effected. When the means of decent living are assured to all, then and only then will the great mass of the people be elevated from the physical, intellectual and moral enslavement in which they are enveloped to-day. The means of life can only be assured to the whole of society by the demolition of Capitalism and the establishment of Socialism. This can be acheived when the workers get to understand their true class position, see the necessity for the change and determine to emancipate themselves from the slavery in which they exist to-day, brush aside the idea that “Socialism will not come in our time,” and realise the fact that as soon as the workers, who outnumber the other class by about eight to one, understand and determine to have Socialism, they will get it. As the late Lord Salisbury once said, “Nothing can go against the voice of the people.”

So then, join the S.P.G.B. immediately you understand and agree with its principles, and make one more pillar in the foundation of the Socialist Republic.

H. A. YOUNG

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