Socialism or Malthusianism

The Malthusian League has issued a leaflet under the signature of Bessie Drysdale, which is supposed to contain a reply to Socialist criticism. As in the case of all capitalist defenders, her chief weapon is misrepresentation. “Socialism, while taking away your independence,” she says, in a reckless and unsubstantiated assump­tion that we have any, “would make you limit your family.”

Under the present, system of society the work­ing class have no independence. They are at the mercy of the capitalist class, who drive them in desperation on strike, lock them out, or throw them on the streets unprovided for when they can no longer produce profits.

Let the working-man examine his so-called. independence : he will find it a myth. Granted. he has a living wage—in which case he is fortu­nate—his freedom is strictly circumscribed. His opportunities for recreation or enjoyment are rare, and his fear of the “sack” compels him to submit to degrading and irksome conditions of employment. If he leaves one master for another he does not change the conditions, but only the master. Under the “sheltering” wing of some capitalist concern he is compelled to produce wealth for the shareholders. He gets his living (!) wage ; they get the results oi his labour and live in luxury. He works under compulsion, and is fed with “slow poisons,” because they are cheaper than pure foods.

The Greek or Roman chattel slave and the feudal serf enjoyed more real freedom and happiness in one year than the modern wage-slave does in all his life. His “time off” is largely spent in vacant admiration of “our marvellous powers of production,” and the lavish display of wealth indulged in by his masters—or at making guesses as to how much of it would make him independent.

“Socialism would make you limit your family,” says Miss Drysdale. But what does capitalism do now ? We have an answer to this query in a further question asked by the writer oi the leaflet. “Would it not be better to have two or three happy, well cared-for little ones, in a real home, than six or seven struggling to live in a state of hunger and misery ?

“Socialism would make you limit your fami­ly,” says this india-rubber prophetess, who knows so little of Socialism that she talks of a “Socialist government.” But capitalism, she admits, condemns helpless children to “hunger and misery”—because their parents, by their industry be it noted, produce the necessaries of life in such abundance that they glut the mar­kets and throw themselves out of work.

In most publications of this kind, when deliberate falsehood is not apparent the most stupid ignorance is displayed. For instance, what thinking person would make use of the follow­ing sentence ? “No government could possibly provide the necessaries of life for any number that parents chose to bring into the world.”

Anyone in possession of ordinary common sense knows that governments do not even pro­vide the bullets with which the workers are plugged when on strike, let alone their neces­saries of life.

“You have the whip hand of employers and capitalists if you will keep down the supply of labour” is another statement disproved by ex­perience. The population of Ireland has been reduced by emigration fifty per cent. in fifty years, yet the Murphys and Dublin slum owners still dictate working-class conditions there. France, where the Government, in the interest of the class they represent, pay a bonus on ba­bies, is neither better nor worse than any other capitalist country, so far as working-class con­ditions are concerned.

One piece of Malthueian advice I would repeat here—though not to be taken in the sense of limitation of families. “Be wise, men and wo­men. Your salvation is in your own hands, and yours only.”

F. F.

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