1910s >> 1916 >> no-137-january-1916
Here and There
Arnold Bennett has been touring munition factories with the object of discovering why the workers do not invest in the war loan. He discovered that, the workers there, living from hand to mouth as they do elsewhere, prefer to keep the few shillings they are able to save in the house, They dare not risk lending them to the Government, because they may be wanted before 1935.
“After I had done visiting works” says the same writer, “an employer said to me: ‘Some of the union leaders are splendid. I have one. He always does everything he can to make things run smooth and increase the output. And about 50 per cent of the men are the same—quite in earnest'”. Good, old labour leaders. The employer in question knows that something of an oily nature is required to make things run smoothly. But what a simple Simon Arnold must be to give the show away. The function of the labour leader—to make things run smoothly—must be kept dark or “the things” get suspicious and the oil-can is ineffective.
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Mr. Ford, of peace fame, has visions of a practical utopia in the very near future, to be reared on “The manufacture of a new farm tractor, which is to make it possible for farmers to have a six-hour day. for it is claimed that the machine will do the ploughing, threshing, pumping, churning, washing, stacking, harvesting, mowing and transportation of produce, and then will carry the family to church on Sunday. The active member of the firm is to be Mr. Ford’s son, Edsel, who says that both workmen and buyers will share in the profits, and the workmen will spend only four months in the factory, the other eight being spent on the farm, where they will be able to study possible improvements.”
The instalment of this mechanical wonder will necessarily reduce the number of hands required, and if these make the best use of their time during the eight months on the farm, the machine, when not carrying some of them to church, will be busy carrying fresh batches to the workhouse. That is the beauty of profit-sharing: the more you study the harder you have to work to keep your job.
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“I should like to go toward those they call our enemies and say to them: ‘Brothers, let us fight together: the enemy is behind us. Yes, since I have been wearing this uniform I do not feel any hatred toward those who are in front; but my hatred has grown against those who have power in their hands.”
The above is from a letter found on a German prisoner and quoted by the “Daily Chronicle” (17.12.15) We send him greetings, and do not mind in the least anonymous letters or attacks by the “Globe” or any other capitalist rag. Our German comrade, though inclined to be sentimental in the rest of his letter, at least recognises that the workers, after they have fought their master’s war, have yet to fight their own against the masters – the Class War.