The way out

The greatest problem before the working class to-day, the problem that requires immediate attention, is poverty. On all hands the existence, of poverty amid extreme wealth is admitted. All parties, no matter what their label, admit the existence of this problem and trot out one scheme or another that they claim will deviate the evil. Before considering remedies, it is necessary to discover the cause of the evil, and having found that, to endeavour to, if possible, abolish the evil by removing the cause.

The first important fact that confronts us in this examination is the fact that poverty is confined to one section of the community, and, strangely enough, to that section which alone produces the welter of riches we see around us. We find that it is the hewers of wood and the drawers of water that are poor, while the idle class are rich.

Why is it that those who produce wealth in abundance receive but sufficient to keep them alive ?

It is not that there is not sufficient wealth in the country to supply the needs of the whole people, for we find it admitted on all hands that that wealth is increasing by leaps and bounds, while at the same time the poverty and misery of the workers increase.

The very fact that men able, and willing to produce are unemployed shows that there need be no scarcity of wealth.

There is sufficient for all, but the working class are denied the opportunity of consuming it; nor are they allowed to operate the tools of production in order to produce what they need.

We are forced then to see that members of the working class, while desirous of producing, are prevented from so doing by another class, who own the means of wealth production. This class are thereby enabled to dictate terms to the workers, who are forced to accept them in order to obtain sustenance.

The terms are that they shall create a value far in excess of the amount paid to them in wages. The difference between the value they receive and the value they create is taken by the capitalist as his profit.

This surplus, the result of the robbery of the worker, is piled up by the capitalist, who is unable to consume it fast enough, with the result that sooner or later the markets are glutted and the workers discharged. With the growing productivity of labour we find these periodical gluts recurring with ever greater rapidity. The unemployed army, growing greater and greater, clamouring for a purchaser at almost any price, force down the wages of those employed to the lowest possible level, despite all attempts on the part of the latter to raise them.

The class that produce the wealth are in poverty because that wealth when produced is stolen from them by the capitalist class.

The capitalists are enabled to steal the workers’ product because they own the only means by which they can live.

As we have seen, the working class are compelled to produce more than they receive because they are forced to accept the masters’ terms in order to live. Should they endeavour to take those things necessary for their maintenance, or try to use the means of production for themselves, they are faced with the police and, these not sufficing, the military.

The master class control the fighting forces and are prepared to use them to maintain their position. They are enabled to use those forces through their control of the political machine—which they hold by the votes of the class they have robbed. In a word, the continuation of the workers’ poverty is due to the fact that they have voted their enemies into power.

What, then, is the remedy ? How are the working class to regain that which has been stolen from them ? How are they to stop the robbery in future ?

Obviously by the removal of the root cause ; the ejection from power of the capitalist class ; the control of political power by the working class, in order that they may throw off from their shoulders the class which oppresses them and theieby gain access to the means of wealth production.

This can only be accomplished by the organisation of the working class into a party hostile to their enemy the capitalist class, determined to end capital, capitalist and capitalism.

The capitalist hirelings, led by the “statesman of Labour,” John Burns, tell you that the poverty of the worker is due to his thriftlessness and excessive drinking habits. While telling you this the\ are compelled to publish figures proving that poverty is on the increase while the expenditure on intcxicating liquors de-creates year by year.

Despite an increased expenditure of £93.000 on wines (certainly not a working class drink), the total drink bill for 1909 shows a decrease of £5,897,997 compared with that of 1908. Taking into consideration the increase in prices the total decrease in the consumption of liqour amounts to about £11,147,997.

Capitalist statisticians and others, while attributing the greater amount of poverty to drink, are compelled to admit that it is not possible to eradicate the “drink evil” while ihe housing condition of the workers remains as it is. Drinking habits, they admit are largely due to the vile housing accommodation and the course and indigestible food of the workers.

The workers live in the slums and consume bad food because they are poor, so we are brought back again to the original cause, namely, poverty. The Tory party, in order to get the votes of the working class, bring forward a proposal which they call Tariff Reform. They tell us that a tariff placed upon foreign manufactured goods will keep out foreign competition and at the same time raise, by the tax (upon the goods that are to be kept out), sufficient to enable them to finance measures of social reform.

The Tory leaders, however, have admitted that Tariff Eeform will rot solve the poverty problem, and a little enquiry into the conditions of the working class in those countries where protection has been established will show that Tariff Eeform is no solution.

The Liberal party have been compelled to admit that they have no remedy. Free Trade, they say, is the workers’ real protection, whereas under free trade capitalism the workers starve. Both parties are pledged to support the present system of class ownership and are consequently enemies of the working class,

The Labour Party are pledged to support capitalism through the Liberal party, while in its turn the I.L.P. has sunk its political identity in the Labour Party.

The S.D.P. has all along shown its ignorance of the working-class position. While at times preaching the antagonism of interest existing between the two classes it has constantly blurred the issue by advising the workers to support sections of the master class. It exists merely for the purpose of advocating reforms of the present system, such as State maintenance for school children, the right to work, etc., none of which touches the poverty problem at all. They also have endeavoured to make alliances with the historic enemies of the working class and can be lumped with the other parties as being worthless from the point of view of the worker.

The only party that stands for the entire abolition of capitalism and all that capitalism involves ; the only party that has laid down a clear and definite set of principles in accord with economic truths, and stood by them consistently ; the only party that aims at, and steadfastly works for, the elimination of the causes that make for poverty, is the Socialist Party of Great Britain.


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