A few words to unemployed teachers

Dear Students,—First, a word of sympathy to you in your present plight. Many of you have had a rude awakening. Your course of study did not include certain bed-rock facts, the knowledge of which would at least have prepared you for a state of things which, sooner or later, was


However, out from the thorns of your grievous condition, pluck here and now the rose of understanding—learn your position in the body politic ; consciously affiliate yourself to the class to which you belong, the working class.

Karl Kautsky (“The Working Class,” price 1d., translated and published by the Socialist Party) says : “Another category of proletarians begins to develop—the educated proletariat.


Until several decades ago it was a rare commodity. . . . Since then, the spread of education has made gigantic strides. . . . Female labour increases. . . . The labour-market of the educated workers is to-day as over-crowded as that of the manual workers. . . . The intellectual workers have already their reserve army.” (Read the whole thing, my young friends. It is almost a literary crime to “boil down” in the way I have attempted.)

I pray you note the phrase “labour-market,” clearly grasp the meaning of “commodity” and the dire significance of the words will save you the humiliation of “appealing” to representatives of the class (the master class) whose endeavour it must necessarily be to aid in the creation of a Reserve Army, as it will shake your all too-simple faith in “leaders” of the National Union of Teachers.

The “labour-market” ! What have you to sell on that market ?


“The aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being which he exercises whenever he produces a use-value of any description.” (“Capital,” p. 145.) And you, in common with the domestic servant, the “student-salesman,” the policeman, and the waitress, with whom you are being asked to compete, have nothing to sell but that same labour-power—unless you enter the army of small, very small, traders (“hawkers” is the brutal word used to describe the followers of the occupation, which I am told on good authority is a road some of you have been compelled to take). You have invited Rosebery to your meeting. “I should try to conduct the Staye as I would


Thus Rosebery at Glasgow in 1909. The very essence of the conducting of “private business” is the buying of labour-power at the cheapest price ; the very existence of “my private business” is wrapped up in the preservation of a “Reserve Army” of unemployed.

Your secretary seems to be surprised at the fact that the President of the Board of Education has lied, in asserting that he was “not aware they are experiencing unusual difficulties in obtaining appointments ; in fact, such evidence as the Board possesses in dictates that the demand exceeds the supply.” Why this surprise ? Is it because you are disappointed in view of the handsome testimonial given to Runciman by Marshall Jackman (Conference 1910) ? “His name will be honoured by future generations. I pay my warmest tribute to him.”

Your touching faith in the National Union of Teachers will probably receive many a rude shock apart from the present issue, if you are so fortunate as to find a purchaser for your commodity, and so entitle yourself to become a member. You will find a President of the Union (W. Nicholls) uttering the soft nothings so dear to the heart of the Labour fakir, calculated to blunt the keen edge of class-consciousness which alone can cut the Gordian Knot of the


Listen ! “The Union had always been on terms with local educational authorities.” Conference 1910.) The lion and the lamb lying down in indistinguishable unison and accord ! Why ? The lamb has been beautifully assimilated an juicefully incorporated in the lion’s system.

Another delegate was fearful lest those outside should imagine for one moment that the N.U.T. harboured any such wicked ideas as the recognition of the class-struggle of which his union itself is some sort of expression. “Mr. Beam said he had attained practically the thing he had in view—an expression of friendliness towards educational authorities in general.” And there was no “friendly” chairman to call in the police to clear the gallery, my charming young friends !

Perhaps the ugliest aspect of the present situation is the fact which characterises all phases of the class-struggle to-day, and that is you are compelled


in the awful endeavour to live. The sickening feeling of despair when the one “successful” candidate is “called in” gives the lie to the platitudes which you have been taught to swallow, that “hard work” and “thrift” and eke “simple Bible teaching,” would give rise to all the virtues. You are engaged in an ignoble scramble for the dirty bone of employment flung at you by the employing class, whether that class be represented by a body of church managers, or by a municipality, which, in the very nature of things, is bound to administer in the “interest of the ratepayer,” about whom you are so foolishly concerned. (Taxes and rates are levied upon PROPERTY. Taxation does not affect the class to which you belong. The essential fact for you is the price of your labour-power—your wages—always supposing you hare found a purchaser.) Are you glad when you find yourself unsuccessful ? Isn’t there something very hollow about your “congratulations” to the “successful” candidate ?

Nothing suits the master class so well as the present condition of affairs in the industrial field, well illustrated in the teaching “profession,” where “certificated” teacher is pitted against “unqualified” teacher, “head” against “assistant.” “Unqualified” or not, the “supplementary” teacher is “in the profession”; more, she is a member of the working class, and if the N.U.T. had not been so bent upon manufacturing pushful Macnamaras and boomerang Grays against themselves, they might have had the elementary prudence to


whom you endeavour to belittle by calling “vaccinated women over 18.” And, young man, a very private word in your ear. One day, when you are placed, do not be very shocked if your “chief “—a blatant mouther of phrases on the platform, some “silver-tongued” log-filler, tells you plump and plain that, spite your training, spite of what you have cost your parents, the rate-payer, and the country, the “supplementary ” is a far more efficient machine for imparting capitalist-made instruction, and for earning “grants,” than you fondly imagined yourself to be. Such things, I am informed by those who should know, do sometimes happen.

The outlook is black for employed and for unemployed. There is no hope for sections of the working class. The united action cf the whole class alone can remove the tension once for all. That means removal of the cause—private ownership of the means of life. The abolition of this in favour of a system based upon the common ownership of the means of life is the work that


is embarked upon. All else is futile. Lansbury, Kekewich and Frank Smith, with an eye to your “vote and interest” at the next L.C.C. election, may try to persuade you that Labour Codlin is better than Moderate Short, but the one fact for you to cling to is that you are unable to sell your labour-power. The further fact remains that when you do sell it, in the words of the President of the N.U.T. (1906), you will be “inadequately remunerated, under harassing conditions, practically in many cases the servants of officials who rule with an iron hand, depending for your livelihood on voice and brain, and, if these fail, cast aside without remorse.” Economic Pressure is a hard schoolmaster, but he has for the willing learner a message of hope, in the establishment of a system where love and beauty and delight will be possible of universal achievement, in a word the practical realisation of sage and seer, practical because the one barrier—class distinction—has been removed.


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