Ballot-Box or Baton
An “Unemployed Demonstration” is one of the most saddening spectacles that civilisation can provide, Most of the industrial towns have their daily debacle in front of the Union, but the futility of their actions does not seem to strike the demonstrators; in fact, all that seems to strike them is the policeman’s baton. The humanitarian must turn aside in pity at the sight of a few hundred, or maybe thousand, starving and physically weakened individuals parading their distress and wretchedness up and down the streets, to be eventually sent scampering down back streets: and alleys at the word of command from, a police inspector. If only it were an equal combat, one would not feel its injustice quite so much. But there you have it.
The master class takes the best from amongst the working class, feeds them and clothes them, strengthens them physically, enslaves them mentally by exercise and military discipline, and uses them to protect its property against the turbulence of the dispossessed. Indeed, so imbued with Capitalist notions: are these working-class protectors of their masters’ property that the authorities do not even fear that they will shirk the task of clubbing their mates and fellow-townsmen into obedience. This was exemplified a little while back, when Scotch soldiers were detailed to quell disturbances in Glasgow !
As for the demonstrators, they play into Master’s hands in just the right fashion. They don’t know anything about the Capitalist wirepullers but “Here’s a policeman; let’s heave a brick at him !” Thus we get the working class busy fighting each other anti the Capitalist maintaining his hold on the wealth that he steals from them !
Yet the remedy is so simple, and the method more simple still. The cause of poverty is the ownership of the means and instruments of wealth production by the Capitalist Class. The remedy, therefore, is to dispossess that class of its ownership. It maintains its ownership by virtue of its political control. Its economic domination would cease the moment that the working class captured the political machinery that sends the police and the soldiers against them. Curiously enough, the working class never seem to discover that it is they who gratuitously give the Capitalist Class the power to enslave them every time they go to the ballot-box ! It is obvious, then, that the method of recapturing poetical control is going back to the ballot-box and voting for Socialism ! It doesn’t hurt as much as a whack on the head from a baton., anyway !
S. H. S.
(Socialist Standard, April 1922)