A Joker’s Conception of Socialism

Winston Churchill, in a speech delivered at Dundee, on May 4th, 1918, stated that—

  “Translated into concrete terms, Socialistic “society” is a set of disagreeable individuals who obtained a majority for their caucus at some recent election, and whose officials in consequence would look on humanity through innumerable grills and pigeon-holes and across innumerable counters, and say to them, “Tickets, please.” Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke.”


Even in pre-war days the above read suspiciously like a faithful description of capitalism. Wages could never be regarded by the worker as anything but certificates or counters entitling him to the bare necessaries of life, after toiling all the week, under the watchful eye of exacting and disagreeable overseers. He was asked for his “books” before he commenced work, designated a “hand,” given a number and clocked on and off at meals, with an occasional visit from the timekeeper in between to make assurance doubly sure and see that the worker—who has sold his energy—parts with it according to the terms, and plays no tricks. Surely they were the days of ”tickets, please,” of “grills,” and “countless disagreeable officials.”


But how much more so in the days when capitalism—carried on the tidal wave of “overproduction” to the brink of a universal crisis— staked everything on the conflict of armed forces.


The applicant for the right to be exploited had, perforce, to submit himself to suspicious, supercilious and disagreeable officials at the “Labour Exchanges,” who demanded “Tickets” without the “please” ; registration cards, insurance cards, and military papers. Forms had to be filled up and numerous questions answered, and in the factory numbering and checking as usual. Then came rationing with coupons and more disagreeable officials installed in offices as “food controllers” to badger and intimidate the unoffending but necessary worker. “Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke,” and the joker has truly earned the “cap and bells.”


F. Foan.


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