The coming race

The above title doss not refer to the Grand National or the Jubilee Stakes, but to a race of some importance in the world’s affairs, namely, the race for supremacy in the cotton industry between India and Lancashire.

“East is east and West is west and ne’er the twain shall meet,” wrote Kipling ; but while that may hold good for ages in the purely racial sense, there are signs which indicate that the time is not far distant when they will meet in a deadly struggle on the industrial field—if they have not already entered upon that struggle—and what the result of that struggle will be is a matter for serious consideration.

An article by Saint Nihal Lingh in the “Lon­don Magazine” a while back dealt very fully with the progress of the Indian cotton industry since 1881.

At that time there were in India 55 cotton mills, containing 1,434,364 spindles and 12,739 looms, and giving employment to 46,530 men, and in 1910 the number of mills had grown to be 216, with 5,773,824 spindles, 74,585 looms, giving employment to [215,410 persons and producing 593,206,855 pounds of yarn, and 215,360,904 pounds of cloth. During 1911 1912 the Indian mills consumed 6,000,000 cwt out of the 14,000,000 cwt. of cotton India had pro­duced during that year.

These figures give undeniable testimony to the growth of the cotton industry of India, and when it is remembered that the increase becomes more rapid each year it is easily seen that the effect upon the eastern market, hitherto mono­polised by Lancashire, will be to turn the tables in favour of the Indian cotton magnates.

No longer does Manchester ship much of the coarse cloth to Hindustan that the natives con­sume annually by the million pounds. This demand is now largely met by the Indian power mills together with the native hand looms, which employ two million men and their wives and children.

As yet, however, the Indian mills together with the hand looms, are not capable of supply­ing more than a fraction of the piece goods required by the 250,000,000 natives. This is due not only to the fact that the number of the Indian mills is not large enough to cope with the native demand, but also because the Indian factories almost entirely concern themselves with the production of coarse cloth, as they find great difficulty in manufacturing the finer fabrics.

These obstacles are of a two-fold nature. In the first place the native cotton does not come up to the Egyptian and American cotton, and is not of sufficiently good quality to be woven by machinery into fine cloth. Secondly, the Indians do not possess the requisite skill for weaving by machinery the finer grades of cloth goods and giving them the finish the imported articles possess. Therefore practically all the finer grades of cloth consumed in Hindustan has to be imported—mostly from Lancashire.

But Lancashire cannot for long remain in this strong position, for the predicament in which India finds herself is only of a transitory nature. Egyptian and American varieties of cotton have now been acclimatised in several portions of the peninsular, and yearly larger numbers of farm­ers are taking to raising them. Thus, with an improved variety of raw material close at hand, the Indian manufacturers will gain considerably in their fight for the eastern market.

Another factor which will make its influence felt is the enormous mass of cheap native labour. Admittedly, the Indian operative, man for man, falls a long way short of the Lancashire worker as regards productive efficiency, but ultimately thers will be a levelling up in this respect as the Indian worker acquires the skill necessary for tha working of modern machinery on a large scale. It may eventually be necessary to double or even treble the present wages of the Indian worker as the cotton industry developes, partly because of a possible rise in the cost of living, and partly because of the industrial organisation of the workers themselves. But even then their wages would fall far short of the Lancashire standard. This, combined with equal productive efficiency and increasing capacity for coping with the native demand, and particularly the great advantage of, on the one hand, finding the raw material on the spot, and on the other hand having the market at the factory door, will en­able the Indian cotton manufacturers to leave their Lancashire fellow capitalists behind alto­gether.

With the huge demand of India falling off, and a correspondingly rapid development of industry in Japan, what is to become of the surplus products of the western nations ? With practically every capitalist country in the Western Hemisphere able to supply the greater part of the world with manufactured goods, it will be seen that the time will come when a uni­versal slump will prevail, bringing with it unemployment and intensification of poverty among the workers on a scale hitherto unknown.

What a prospect! The world market glutted with goods, and increasing numbers of the workers who produce them living in abject poverty, in many cases dying of starvation, or what coroners’ juries call “natural causes,” i.e., trying to live on air.

So long as the capitalist system of production for profit holds sway, so long will the workers be subject to the travail engendered by these constantly recurring industrial crises and their attendant evils. Obviously, if the workers as a class receive only about a third of the wealth they produce, it is impossible for them to buy back from the capitalist class the surplus. Therefore as the flow of goods needs the stimu­lus of an effective demand, and as the workers of the world, who are the largest consumers of the necessaries of life, are deprived of the wealth necessary to make good that demand, a glut must occur, sooner or later, according to the rapidity of accumulation caused by increased exploitation.

In view of the foregoing facts what are you of the working class going to do ? Do you think funeral clubs will meet the case, or that a handful of refreshing fruit (variety Lloydius Georgius, very rare) will keep the wolf from the door ? How long are you going to let the capitalists and their hirelings feed you on political air-balls ? while you give them something more substantial in return—political power, which is the force that maintains them on your backs.

What is it makes the capitalist laugh so ? It is the sight of thousands of you roaring your­selves black in the face singing the “Land Song,” joining the “Ulster Volunteers,” and doing any stupid thing except thinking of your own interests—that’s what makes them laugh. Drop all that foolery ; study your position as a class ; study Socialism as expounded by the Socialist Party ; and when you understand, join us and direct your energies toward the conquest of political power, which is the main switch controlling the light of economic freedom.

A. E. G.

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