The Rainy Day

The world’s arena has been somewhat crowded latterly, and he must he a singularly moribund individual who has allowed the series of recent world-happenings to drop through his cerebral filter without observing that we are on the eve of stupendous changes. Putting aside the North Pule incident, and even the question of the abolition or retention of the Censor, we think it vastly more important to consider that Japan has jumped out of feudalism into modern capitalism, and that almost within the memory of still young men. Japan hits now quite a number of well equipped, up-to-date cotton mills, with which, she is not only supplying her home demand, but is exporting to China. She is thus a new and dangerous competitor in the international race for markets. Turkey now shows signs of throwing off the sloth of ages and of joining in the scramble. Persia, too, and Egypt, are profiting by the example of their contigious neighbours and are responding to the stimulus of imported civilisation. The tremendous expansive powers of the means of production are, to the intelligent student at least, well known, and it would seem only a question of a very short time, before the countries named pass through the stages of the importation of machinery and staple products to being self-supporting, and at last to that where a surplus is produced and exportation begins. This stage once reached, and possessing a proletariat who can rub along comfortably on twopence or threepence a day, it is easy to see where the trouble will commence. Capital, that remarkably shy bird which is always “going abroad,” will have to either consider the advisability of an inter-planetary trip, or throw up the sponge. The latter process an awakened and intelligent proletariat can materially assist, and our steadily increasing membership tends to show that we are getting this.

Whilst, however, these portentous happenings are being enacted abroad, some no less interesting incidents are occupying the stage at home, in this our own, our native land. The comparatively puny event, the Budget, has been recently dealt with in our columns. Its chief purpose has been to give the Labour Party another opportunity of exhibiting their identity with the enemy, and of justifying the name that Engels applied to their particular hotch-potch of ideas, demands, etc. He called it Flunkeyism.

But to get on, what we would particularly point out is that the period of bad trade, which has been with us now for several years, has apparently developed a deep and abiding affection for us, aud in spite of the newspaper predictions of “better next year,” it is still the common experience to find hundreds of applicants for one poirly remunerated job ; still one reads regularly, almost daily, of some poor devil’s suicide through want of employment. And in view of the facts first stated we feel almost justified in assuming that capitalism, at least in Great Britain, has reached that point where good and bad times cease to alternate and we get all depression, or but slight and short returns to “prosperity.” With the home market almost at a standstill owing to the inability of the worker to purchase back more than a mere fraction of his products ; with foreign markets becoming ever more restricted ; with an enormous army of unemployed always on hand and close on a million people classed as paupers: with all these meaning facts confronting them it is very evident that the “masters of the bread” are feeling far from comfortable. The “good time coming” has failed to materialise, so something must be done to quieten working-class unrest and if possible to offer a counter-attraction to the steadily increasing agitation of the wicked Socialist.

Result (1) the Budget, (2) Insurance against Unemployment. The former, as we have observed, has been dealt with in our columns already. It is of the latter we now wish to speak.

Mr. Winston Churchill, in an interview which the Daily Mail (16.8.09) claims to have had with him, was considerate enough to explain the proposed scheme to the interviewer, and in doing so exposed, not only the cloven hoof, but the goat-like haunches, the horned head and leering grin of capitalism’s patron saint, the Father of Lies. The main features of the scheme are these : It will be (1) compulsory ; (2) contributory ; (3) divided up into different sections for different trades.

See the beautiful and touching solicitude of our rulers for the comfort and well-being of the worker. Only those likely to benefit joined under a voluntary system. What is wanted is a membership composed of men who will only want to pay in and never draw out.

“Contributions from men and employers were also necessary. To begin with, the country could not afford to do without them ; and moreover, the idea is to increase the stability of our institutions by giving the mass of industrial workers a direct interest in maintaining them. With a ‘stake in the country’ in the form of insurance against evil days these workers will pay no attention to the vague promises of revolutionary Socialism.”

Thus Mr. Churchill. The position of the S.P.G.B. regarding palliatives is, or should be, well known, and we think the above a striking confirmation of our attitude. Social reform is the antidote to Socialism. Palliatives are the sops thrown out to keep the workers busy while the capitalists make their positiou more secure, and serve much the same purpose as the impedimenta thrown out by a man in a sleigh pursued by wolves.

The details of the scheme are also extremely interesting. The amount of subscription is not yet definitely fixed, but will probably be 2½d. per week from the worker, 2½d. a week from the employer, and the same from the State. Every worker is to have a card upon which stamps to the value of his own and his employer’s contribution must be stuck each week. The employer is to affix the stamp, deducting the worker’s 2½d. from his wages. The employer may to save time and trouble, send all his cards to the local labour exchange with a cheque for the amount due, and the cards will be stamped without any further trouble to him.

The labour exchanges and the insurance plan will work closely together. When a worker loses his job he is to report himself to the exchange, which immediately tries to find him work. For a week he receives nothing. It is assumed that he will have saved enough to last him a week, and in the meantime the exchange endeavours to find him a job in order to save the fund.

When the exchange hears of work likely to suit the unemployed worker he must either take it or explain to a committee of masters and men why he objects. If they consider his objection unsatisfactory he is bound to accept the job or lose his out-of-work allowance. If neither the man nor the exchange can find work, than after seven days he begins to receive the tremendous sum of eight shillings or less per week, which may go on for fifteen weeks, or more if the benefits are slightly less. If still out of work after twenty weeks he drops out of benefit, and when next he finds employment must start all over again. The second time he has to subscribe longer before he becomes entitled to claim on the funds. The original period of probation will most probably be eight months. The second will be longer and the third longer still. This will have the effect of clearing the fund of those who are habitually unemployed for long spells. The frequently out-of-work must seek relief of the distress committee : they are outside the limits of the labour exchange and insurance system, which is in no sense charitable. “It is a purely economic and mathematical business arrangement for preventing waste.”

The unemployed problem is a necessary consequence of and an indispensible adjunct to the capitalist method of wealth making. The introduction of machinery and improved methods into industry, renders an increasing number of workers superfluous. These form what Engels calls “the reserve army of labour,” a weapon for crushing the wages of those in work down to mere subsistence level, and also a store from which drafts may be drawn to meet the fluctuations in trade. But the capitalist is faced with another difficulty. The worker’s wage is crushed so near the bare subsistence level that he is unable to put anything away to tide over a spell of unemployment of even short duration. The consequence is that when the capitalist next takes him down off the shelf, he is devitalized, spiritless and out of condition generally, hence not so energetic, not so productive, as the capitalist wants. The proposed scheme of insurance will just provide a few niggardly, shillings to keep the landlord off for a week or two, and with the two or three shillings he has cheated himself out of during the probation period (eight months at least) it is hoped he will keep himself physically fit until the capitalist has need of his services again.

What a hollow sharn ! What a mockery ! !

“Many of the greatest employers of labour have warmly welcomed the idea. Sir Charles McLaren, for instance, believes it will add materially to the wealth of the nation.”

Workers, beware when the enemy warmly welcomes anything affecting your relations with him ! You may be fairly sure that it is not for your benefit. When you have a dispute with him as to what constitutes a “fair” portion of your product to hand you back as wages, notice how he “warmly welcomes” the troops who go down to blow your brains out. Notice how he “warmly welcomes” the establishment of conciliation boards when a mere glance at statistics show an ever greater proportion of disputes settled, through them, in favour of the masters. Workers, how long are you going to chase the Will-o’-the-wisps the master class is never tired of contriving for your greater befoolment ? All the budgets, tariff reforms, insurance and other capitalist schemes won’t alter the fact that you have to seek the permission of the owners of the means of life, to work, as a means to live. Nothing save Socialism, the ownership by the people of those means, will change the conditions that make you hirelings, slaves, lackeys; who receive only a fragment of the wealth you alone produce, when you are fortunate enough to be graciously allowed to produce it—for someone else

If you are convinced that in Socialism alone is to be found your only escape, do not wait for someone else to join, but come in and help to build up a solid party. We are often asked how are we going to bring this better state about. Believe us, no select half-dozen are going to do it, but you, and I, and all of us, combined as a class, can do that, and anything else humanly possible that we wish.—when you join. Come in.


Leave a Reply