What did Karl Marx say?

A worshipper of the Assistant Home Secretary (Mr. C. F. G. Masterman) has been writing to the “Barnet Press” (April 15) to air his intense hatred of Socialism. In the course of his long tirade in our Liberal contemporary he tells us that Karl Marx, the German Socialist, was the author of the following formula :

“All wealth is produced by labour, and therefore to the labourers all wealth is due.”

It may interest other anti Socialists besides the one in question, to know that the formula quoted is born of the fertile imagination of Mr. W. H. Mallock, a well-known writer of current fiction, and occurs in a comic “Examination of Socialism” with which he “astonished the natives” of America about a couple of years ago. This euphemistically styled “Critical Examination of Socialism” was also published in this country, and in it Mr. Mallock kindly fathers this formula upon Karl Marx. Really, the book is largely composed of garbled quotations from cover to cover.

The writer in the “Barnet Press” (Mr. Wooton) proceeds thus:

“Moreover, the doctrine is reaffirmed by the Socialist Party of Great Britain in the following shape:
‘Wealth is natural material converted by labour-power to man’s use, and, as such, is consequently produced by the working class alone.’
“It is a self-evident fallacy to which one need not devote much argument to explode. Socialists readily abandon it when challenged ; in fact, it is only reserved for presentation in its most alluring form when challenge is improbable.”‘

There ! You see much argument in unnecessary for the explosion. But, strange to say, the writer hasn’t thought it worth while to produce any, but simply quotes the following from the fertile Mallock :

“Though labour is essential to the production of wealth, even in the smallest quantities, the distinguishing productivity of industry in the modern world depends not upon the labour but the ability with which the labour is directed.”

Karl Marx, in his illustrious work, “Das Capital” (p. 10) clearly pointed out that the articles produced from day to day in Society were produced simply and solely by the application of labour-power to natural material. That labour-power, he told us, is composed of the physical and mental energy which it is necessary to put forth in order to mold and shape nature-given material to the forms required in Society. Now Karl Marx also showed that the only class concerned in making wealth is the working class, and that the ability necessary to direct the various processes is exercised by the salaried members of the working class, such as foremen, managers, and the like. What function. does the capiialist class perform in industry ?

Everybody except the Rip Van Winkles of the Anti-Socialist schools, knows that the capitalist class to-day are not engaged in industry at all. They are only concerned with commerce, which only plays a part in buying and selling the things produced already. Business to-day is typified by the limited liability concern, owned by absentee shareholders, who never come near the company except to collect their profit-bearing coupons. They carry on their concern by appointing the most interested of their number as directors, whose function it is, not to produce wealth, but to arrange the robbery of the working class. The major portion of the wealth is taken by those who have nothing whatever to do with “the dignity of toil” except to lecture upon it ! That the working class are robbed has been made clear, not only by Socialists, but by such prominent members of the Liberal party as Chiozza Money and Lloyd George, also by well-known Tories like the chairman of the Anti-Socialist Union, Mr. Claude Lowther, who deplored the fact (Lowther v. Bannington) that after a life of toil the reward of honest old age was the workhouse ! Our Liberal apologist may also be reminded that such noted Liberal economists as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill gave credence to the “self-evident fallacy” he mentions. Let any anti-Socialist tell us how wealth is produced by the capitalist class.


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