Capitalism’s Solemn Hour

The madness of those who rule shows no sign of abating. One after another the resources of civilisation are taken into the service of destruction ; one after another lower stratas of labour are pressed into the work of butchery. The links which bind us to our old life snap one by one. Our liberties—such as they were—have gone ; our occupations—also such as they were —have followed suit. Our young men have been taken ; fathers have donned the khaki; grandfathers are being torn from their homes for “home defence”; our children are toiling for Empire; we are lathered and shaved by women ; and they do say that even Parson is thinking of doing some sort of work.

So, at last, almost every productive activity throughout the world bears the stamp : ”For War.” What a spectacle! And we are not yet, it seems, near the dregs of the cup of bitterness capitalism has prepared for us. It is ages since we were informed how many British soldiers and sailors have lost their lives in the war, but even in these quiet times, when there is nothing doing worth recording, the daily average of deaths appears to be several hundreds. And this, to say nothing of the heaps of slain that are to litter the fields when the ”great push” comes, is to continue for a long time yet, for Windy Churchill is demanding that we prepare now for the campaign of 1918 !

It was stated in these columns some time back that there was every possibility of the master class losing control of the situation they have themselves created, and it appears that they are doing so now. We have been told that there is a great shortage of grain in the world, and yet the nations go on pouring men into the conflict, and fresh nations, preparing to enter the arena, are calling their best workers in from the corn-fields. And now we are threatened with a potato famine. The frantic appeals for “any man who can use a spade” to go on to the land, and the panicky turning over of sour and stodgy playgrounds that can only become the tomb of good seed and precious labour, show to what extremities of impotency our masters are reduced in the face of this child of their own creation. They have so far lost control of the situation that they are unable to maintain the balance between their war effort and the food necessary to produce it, and for all they can do to avert it, the war may yet be decided in a world-wide famine and epidemic.

Capitalism stands on the threshold of its solemn hour. There is a limit to the proportion of its wealth it can destroy, of its resources it can waste, of the mortgage it can saddle the future with, and of the provision against coming needs it can neglect—and still survive. And it appears that it is fast rushing on to this limit in each particular. Germany’s early threat to “arm every cat and dog” seems now to have been but a prophetic vision of what would be forced upon, her—and the others—by the irresistible force of events. This Party has always maintained that, given the continued development of capitalist society in accordance the economic laws of the system, it must end in its overthrow by the politically triumphant working class ; but are the capitalists themselves about to destroy their system in their desperate endeavour to solve that problem which has no solution but chaos or Socialism —the problem of markets? Be ye prepared !

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