1920s >> 1921 >> no-199-march-1921

The Alternative

The contention that under Socialism a miner for example will not desire to continue as such owing to the dangerous conditions attached to mining work, and many other objections raised in the working-class mind, necessitates a clearer conception of Socialism. Under capitalism danger in the mines undoubtedly exists, and will continue to exist, because the owners are not at all concerned with the personal safety of the miners. Replacements are always available from the industrial reserve. Knowing this, and being only concerned with realising profit, the owners do nothing beyond what they are compelled to do by law to eliminate the element of danger.

There is, however, no matter what conditions of life we find ourselves in, a certain amount of danger to human life and limb, but with the advance of science and its application to the elimination of risk most of the danger will disappear.

Under Socialism the greatest care would be taken of human life; the mines would be scientifically organised and operated, and every safeguard adopted to secure their workers against all threatening dangers.

While coal remains one of the necessaries of the community the knowledge of this will bring sufficient voluntary miners forward to produce all the coal that is needed. Why not ? Will not the fact force itself upon the workers’ own intelligence ? No man is a miner because he is enamoured of mining! He follows his occupation in order to live, and because he was born and reared in the districts where the industry predominates. He understands, dimly, perhaps, that his power to labour is his only asset; he therefore proceeds to sell that energy at its highest marketable value. This he does without questioning whether he really ought to be a schoolmaster or a chief magistrate, and these remarks apply equally to the workers of all industries. Very few of the present generation of wage slaves have a choice in the selection of their trade—economic conditions and the competition for jobs, even among skilled workers, force them to seize the first opportunity. A few exceptions there may be ; the ruling class do not object to an individual incursion into their ranks : a Lipton here and there is a successful advertisement for the system.

In spite of red herrings of this description, members of the working class seldom rise much above the subsistence level, yet it is from them that criticisms and objections such as the foregoing usually emanate, showing that their knowledge of Socialism is very crude. The cure for this lamentable state of ignorance obviously is more knowledge. Get wiser! Analyse the case for Socialism. Criticise if you will, by all means, but reason the matter as well, fellow worker, for by so doing better understanding, greater knowledge, and a speedier establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth will result.

As the interests of the only two existing classes in society to day are in conflict, sooner or later the conflict must be determined. Therefore it behoves the working class, being the class seeking its emancipation, to be ready with its alternative.

And what alternative have they but Socialism ?

W. A. G.