“The Naked Savage”

Hard and monotonous toil, sordid and dirty surroundings, poor and adulterated food, shoddy, slop-made clothing, jerry-built houses or tenement slum-dwellings, dull and colourless environment, close association with penury and hard-fisted “thrift,” miserliness unmannerliness, uncouth companionship, endless worry and turmoil about petty things—such is the lot of the bulk of the workers within the capitalist system of society.

And what should be their lot ? Do they not deserve more ? To the workers in the past society owes all that it has. All the comforts and joys of modern civilisation are the result of the energy and toil of the worker past and pre­sent. It is the worker who makes possible the comforts of the idler, the pleasures of the rich. It is the worker who, with brain-directed hand, fashions the tool, the machine, and the finished food product. He it is who erects the palace for the king and the slum-hovel for himself ; who toils in the drab factory, sinks the mine shaft and cajoles mother earth to part with her treasures. The worker it is who in laboratory and office wrestles with the problems of how and why. It is, in short, the wage-slave of to­day who directs and controls all the operations of the actual work of producing and distribut­ing wealth.

The most gigantic task is not too great for organised Labour. Labour spans rivers and crosses seas ; captures the wind and the light­ning for her puposes, and has harnessed the torrent and the stream.

For long ages man has struggled with nature for mastery—at first ignorantly superstitious, stumbling along with but a blind understand­ing. But one by one the secrets of nature have been learnt and mastered.

In the infancy of the human race primitive man dwelt in forests or caves, depending for subsistence upon wild roots, nuts, and berries. Naked and shivering ; without either the means for, or the knowledge of the art of, producing fire ; without the means of communication with his fellows, surrounded by unknown dangers, he began to think and invent.

Discovery followed discovery until to-day it is seen that man in his struggle with nature for a livelihood has triumphed and his subsistence is secure.

Frightened by the fire from the heavens, primitive man worships it, and then controls it, using his god to cook his dinner. The enemy of man—the larger beast of prey—has been con­quered and exterminated. Other animals have been tamed and domesticated. Beginning with the stick and the unpolished stone, man has gradually added to his store of implements and tools. He sharpened the stone to an axe-head, and fixed it to a shaft. The discovery of the bow and arrow, and the working of soft metals, followed by the knowledge of smelting, gave the rising race enormous power. Iron tools gave man the ship ; the iron ploughshare pushed forward agriculture, and gave rise to architec­ture and art.

The invention of writing, permitting ideas to be passed down, discoveries to be recorded, and a wider communication between man and man, was responsible for enormous progress, and finally the discovery of a mechanical motive power capable of turning the wheel and wield­ing the hammer gave the means of producing wealth in abundance with very little exertion on the part of the descendent of the naked savage.

The descendent of the naked savage—who is he ? With all our advancement, all our marvel­lous powers and possibilities, we have still the naked savage with us. We have worse. The powers of wealth production are lying idle and in the midst of plenty the people are starving and naked. The modern worker not only hun­gers, but he hungers with succulent dainties all around him, and sees his children wither amid a plethora of good things—good food, good clothing, and good houses of his making, but denied to him and his though they perish of want and exposure.

Like Tantalus of the fable, the modern worker stands up to his chin in good things which elude his lips the moment he attenpts to enjoy them, ard all around him grows the fruit of his labour that he is not allowed to touch.

How foolish and absurd it is ! How would our savage ancestor stare. Starvation he under­stood ; he knew, also, what it was to be cold. But to lie down hungry beside a good dinner would be a proceeding entirely beyond his com­prehension, and only to be ascribed to witchcraft and devils.

And perhaps he would not be far wrong. The working class are certainly bewitched. With the brain and muscle to produce wealth they stand idly by and allow the masters to take what they have produced. Not only so—they cringingly beg for a share and wait meekly upon the idler’s pleasure. They give him their daughters to enjoy, and take up arms to defend him against his enemy—themselves.

Astonished indeed would the savage be, for he would see winged chariots manufactured by the workers and driven by them, yet used solely for the pleasure of the drones. He would see those who work the hardest rewarded with the worst accommodation, and the laziest loafer with crowds of busy men and women waiting upon him. And he would wonder, as the Socialist wonders, and wait for the toiler to end the farce—or shall we say tragedy ?—by awaking from his trance.

The awakening seems long deferred, but awaken he must. Entranced as he is by the conception of private property, events will even­tually force him to see how utterly foolish he is, and how easily imposed upon.

When the awakening comes there will be no­thing in the way of the toiler’s enjoyment. Re­lieved of the vast amount of unnecessary labour that the idlers compel him to perform, freed from the restrictions that capitalism places in the way, no longer compelled to ask : “Will it profit my master ?” the worker will go on doing that which will add to the comfort and pleasure of the community and sweep away poverty, misery, vice, crime, and all the evils that arise, directly and indirectly, from the private owner­ship by a class of the means by which the peo­ple obtain their livelihood.


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