1910s >> 1919 >> no-180-august-1919

A Matter of Definition. More Weird Statements From a Capitalist Apologist.

Continued.

Mr. Drysdale divides his articles under two headings: “The Spirit of Revolution” (in which, as we have already seen, he mis-uses the word “revolution,” giving a false definition in order to vent his political bias) and “Antidotes to Revolution” (in which he endeavours to reconcile opposing class interests by magnifying capitalist troubles and minimising or ignoring the effects of the capitalist system on the workers).

 

 

His most important conclusion is that the issue of paper money has depreciated the value of the sovereign in relation to the things it will buy, and the only remedy is for the workers to restore the balance by producing more wealth and practicing thrift more zealously, to meet the excess of credit. In other words, they must work harder and live more frugally in order that the capitalists as a whole may free themselves from their indebtedness to some of their number.

 

Like most capitalist writers who swear that they have no object but the truth, his adherence ends with declaring it. Henceforth he is only concerned with the force and cogency of his own shallow analysis and conclusions. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but the capitatist economist is seldom anything but a stranger to truth, and the premises on which Mr. Drysdale bases his so-called arguments are certainly stranger than truth, but would only raise a smile as fiction. He says :

 

  “We all eat bread, though not all in the sweat of our faces; and even the most industrious of the British consume more than they produce.”

 

 

Consume more of what ? If bread is meant, the question naturally arises, are all bakers in this country foreigners? If wealth in the literal and economic sense is intended, then Mr. Drysdale gives himself the lie when, further on, he says, “More people than ever before in our history are eating who do not produce.” Those who do prodvide, then, must provide for them by producing more than they consume.

 

According to the last census there are, in this country, approximately twenty million adults out of a total population of forty-five million. From this twenty million we have to subtract six hundred thousand recorded as of no “no occupation,” the entire personal of the Army and Navy, together with those who provide the machinery and munitions of war, the clergy, lawyers, flunkeys, and many more. All these have to be fed, clothed, and housed, and the deduction is plain that they are provided for by the rest of the adults, assisted by children, who must produce far more than they consume.

 

Next Mr. Drysdale says “equalisation of the ascertained wealth would only equalise misery, for each man’s portion would be negligible.”

 

The ascertained wealth of the country consists of the means of wealth production, land, mines, railways, factories and machines, together with the nature-given material. All this wealth is owned by the capitalist class, and their revenue from it in rent, interest, and profit—all of which is the result of the exploitation of the working class—amounts to two-thirds of the national income. The working class receives one-third as wages. Equalised or averaged out, each would receive barely sufficient for the necessaries of life. The two-thirds taken by the capitalist class might, therefore, very conveniently be spread over the working class—who are the only people engaged in its production—without adding to their misery.

 

It must not be assumed, however, that this method is suggested as a basis for any reorganisation of the distribution of wealth. The above facts and figures may be verified in Mr. Chiozza Money’s “Riches and Poverty,” page 58, and merely prove that Mr. Drysdale’s statement is untrue.

 

It is evidence of sheer humbug on the part of capitalist writers when they pretend that the only wealth capable of division is money. Mr. Drysdale knows very well that the money in circulation is only a very small fraction of the total wealth of society, which wealth is owned by the capitalist class, and divided amongst them, unequally, it is true, but in such a way that, although numbering only one eighth of the population, they receive two-thirds of the annual income.

 

These statements of Mr. Drysdale’s, together with many others, quite apart from their being untrue, are obviously absurd. Where he does not give himself the lie, the commonest of common sense, with a small dose of elementary arithmetic, shows their absurdity. His next statement is of a different character. He says—

 

  The practical value of Socialism, as of Christianity—and the rulers of all countries have used them both—is that they are international, but the international bond of both alike snaps in the war under the opposing strain of the more domestic passion, patriotism.

 

 

This has been said, or written, by every capitalist hack who wanted to fling a cheap sneer at Socialism, since the war began. The boast about patriotism is worth very little. Economic necessity, jeers, white feathers, and conscription packed the Army. This was openly stated in the House of Commons, not by Labour members though. Some idea of the numbers who went unwillingly can be gained by the congested state of the tribunals when dealing with appeals for exemption.

 

Capitalist attacks, throughout the war, have always been directed against the pseudo-Socialist organisations like the British Socialist Party and the Independent Labour Party, who have never once expressed antagonism to the war in Socialist terms. Consequently the Socialist position has never yet been met by capitalist defenders. Both before the war and since the champions of capitalism used both these dummy Socialist parties to show how easily they could vanquish Socialism. In Parliament, during the war, the capitalist statesmen and politicians never once had to meet Socialist arguments from the so-called Socialist members; nevertheless the capitalist Press continued to refer to the Labour Party as a Socialist party. Both capitalist parties know the value of the Labour Party in this respect, and it is only in this way that the rulers of the country “have used them.”

 

It is only the international bond of Labourism that has snapped under the strain of war, as it was easy to foretell that it would. While the Labour Party continue to uphold the present system of society, in which human labour-power is a commodity, and the means of wealth-production and the results of the industrial process belong to the ruling class, they must, to be logical, support the capitalist State in every movement to extend markets, because the rapid sale and export of goods is essential to continuous production.

 

But the Socialist points out that every capitalist country can, or is rapidly reaching the point where it can, produce more wealth than it consumes, and is, therefore, compelled to join in the struggle for markets. The keener and more intense the struggle, the worse does the condition of the workers become. The success of one nation over others does not improve conditions for the workers of that nation, because the lack of employment in the beaten nations drives the workers into the countries where they are in demand (to mention one obvious reason). Thus capitalism makes the working class an international slave class—the very condition that, once given recognition by the workers, must form the basis of a genuine Socialist International. As this international slave class is everywhere compelled to organise and oppose the greed of the capitalist class, which becomes more insatiable with growing competition for markets, the antagonism of the labour market over the buying and selling of labour-power, is transformed, by the spread of Socialist knowledge, into class antagonism. The working class then takes up its historic mission—the abolition of classes through the establishment of Socialism.

 

Mr. Drysdale’s sneer at “international Socialism,” therefore, only reveals two things which it would have been better, from his point of view, to have kept hidden: His own dishonesty or ignorance about Socialism on the one hand, and the treacherous part played by labour leaders and pseudo-Socialists in all the belligerent countries. Socialism is opposed to capitalism in all its forms and manifestations. Those leaders of working-class thought, therefore, who supported the war, in every country, and yet called themselves Socialists, accomplished a double treachery against the working-
class.

 

F. Foan

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