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

The Slump

Most newspapers are advocating the cutting down of Governmental administrative expenditure and continually criticise Government schemes at home and abroad. These papers say the Government must economise so as to relieve the taxes upon the merchants, landlords, and so on. Mr. Lloyd George has soon taken the hint and delivered his cheese-paring speech to the Chambers of Commerce. It does not require a Solomon to see that the world’s markets are glutted—the “produce more” stunt has come to fruition. The next step to producing more is to consume less—and that is quite logical in a system of wealth production which belongs to the few in society. The capitalists could do with a few of the millions who have been slain in the trade war now to buy back what has been produced.

What a vicious circle ! Terrible war, awful armistice, horrible peace ! Whatever is claimed to be the solution—whether it is producing more, consuming less, economising, going dry, being wet, praying long or short, tariff on goods, tariff off goods, dumping goods, profit-sharing, nationalisation—all, all lead to poverty in the midst of plenty.

We think that the only solution is the common ownership of the means of life, and that all this misery and poverty on the one hand, and affluence on the other, will punish the working class until they see the road to their economic emancipation.

A while ago a datum line was fixed for the miners, and our bosses made out that it was imperative that at least the miners should turn out so much coal, so that industry generally may flourish and make for good trade. But in spite of the miners producing more than the desired quantity, the discharging of workers has been continuous, and it has been computed that there are 1,500,000 workers unemployed. Really, if the situation were not so serious it would be comical to note the “directive ability” of those who strive to maintain capitalist conditions. “Produce more,” was the cry; “the workers are not producing enough.”—and then thousands are discharged so that they can produce nothing.

In this connection the Labour Party has done dirty work. Most people must have seen the placards with the portraits of five Labour leaders, with the urge to produce more thereon. It would be quite in keeping with their trickery to advise the workers to work short time.

What hope can the working class have of a party that has not the common ownership of the means and instruments of wealth production as its main political objective ?

The problem now before the rulers of this chaotic system is to keep a vast army of unemployed as cheaply as possible—until the time trade revives.

Think of it ! The workers, according to capitalist ethics and economics, are entitled to wages while they are producing. That implies that they have no further claim than what their wages will buy. A regiment of soldiers, a squad of police, should make us know who owns and controls our lives and destinies.

All that follows is charity—and we must not forget the pride of those who have learnt a trade, and the proud boast that they are free.

The slump is come, and now millions of the workers have a miserable time to drag through —a Slough of Despond—with the knowledge that plenty has been produced, but the markets are too poor to buy.

What a madhouse it is! The newspapers are yelling to the unemployed and others: “Are Dreadnoughts out of date ? Stop waste; support the Anti-Waste candidates and so make the Government economise.” The Dover election was a good test of whether or not the workers have learnt anything by war experience and poverty in the midst of plenty. Two gentlemen, labelling themselves respectively Coalition Unionist and Independent Anti-Waster, have had a fine game with the electors, and it is remarkable how the old stunts bamboozle the workers time and time again—and the result: over 24,000 votes for capitalism to carry on.

No slump there, but just a vigorous support of the system that causes such horrors as we see around us.

S. W.