1920s >> 1923 >> no-224-april-1923

Paradise and Poverty

Dean Inge has, apparently, neither the knowledge nor the consequent optimism of outlook in social matters that characterise the convinced Socialist. “The Gloomy Dean’’ is a pessimist. In a series of extracts from “Outspoken Essays: Second Series,” quoted in “John o’London’s Weekly” (4/11/22), appears the following:

  “Behind the problem of our future rises the great question whether any nation which aims at being a working-man’s paradise can long flourish. Civilisation hitherto has always been based on great inequality.”

By “our” future, no doubt the Dean, means that of the privileged class of the country—the class he is a spokesman for and whose continued dominance he is not anxious to see threatened. He is a paid servant of theirs, and has to express things palatable to them.

It is very doubtful if he understands the working-class position. Anyhow, it seems as though he feared that our kind rulers are aiming to provide a “working-class paradise” and doubts its ability to flourish long.

Well, so far, there have not appeared any signs of such magnanimous purposes. There never has been a “working-man’s paradise,” under the present system, at any time or in any country.

Capitalism implies a division of society into classes, with warring interests. It entails “a great inequality,” economically and socially. It is based on the exploitation of the property-less masses by those who own the means of wealth production. Thus the subjugation and the slavery of vast multitudes to a small minority who own and control the means of life, is an accomplished fact of the present. It will continue so for as long as the working-class are content to endure it. For the fact remains that the masses have the potential power to-day: they have the preponderance of voting power and can use that power—had they the knowledge and desire—to capture, constitutionally, the machinery of government.

They can think, and they can vote. Armed with Socialist principles, and a knowledge and hatred of the present system, their class-conscious action could, and would, prove irresistible.

Now, Dean Inge, pessimist, evidently thinks that because “Civilisation has, hitherto, always been based on a great inequality,” there must always be a great inequality in society. He thinks its existence constitutes an insuperable barrier to what he is pleased to call “a working-man’s paradise.”

In the “great inequality” of the class-divided society of to-day and its appalling results to the working class, lies the complete damnation of capitalism !

Socialists are out to abolish this system and substitute in its place “The Socialist Commonwealth.” The day is with the privileged, the idlers, and the plunderers of the workers. At present “civilisation” provides a paradise for the parasitic. Under a capitalist regime wealth is provided for the private profit of the owners of the means of life. It enables them and their retinue to live in idleness and luxury. Their wealth, enjoyment, and ease is the corollary of the poverty, misery, and toil of the drudging masses. Their refinements and ostentatious display, their advantages and privileges, accrue to them as the result of the robbery of the working class.

The basic principle of the wages system is the buying and using of men’s labour- power to provide a surplus value for the capitalist to appropriate. In other words, the wage-worker is simply used to provide a far greater value than the value represented by the “wages” paid him.

Those “wages” are, on the average, barely sufficient to maintain him in & state of efficiency for continued wealth-production and reproduce his species as future “wage-slaves.” For the future of capitalism depends on a plenteous reserve of workers to exploit.

All the commodities produced belong to the capitalists, the surplus value produced in the factory is realised for the owners by its sale in the markets.

With the means of wealth production being so great, and the organisation of industry so complete, wealth is nowadays produced with ease. Fresh devices for extracting the utmost surplus value are constantly introduced. The exploiters thus grow increasingly rich. The exploited masses thus, relatively, are impoverished. Poverty and precariousness of livelihood go hand-in-hand. Unemployment is more frequently recurring, and want and misery of the workers is a chronic symptom of the system.

Thus the working class—did they but realise it—have no interest in the continuance of capitalism. Their only hope is in its abolition. Socialism is the only system by which those who produce the world’s wealth would own and control the means of wealth production and enjoy the whole fruits of their labours.

The sole object of our rulers is to maintain and consolidate their privileges. They oppose anything that threatens to menace or curtail them. Thus it is preposterous to imagine that any effort would be made to make a “working-man’s paradise” : for only the continued enslavement and the continued exploitation of the masses ensures capitalist supremacy. To keep the proletariat diligent, docile, and contented, whilst systematically robbing them through the wages system, is the masters’ great purpose. To them, “the great inequality” is necessary : for through it they get the lion’s share of the social wealth.

Fellow-workers ! think these things over : of all questions this is paramount! Study Socialism and get to fully understand our principles. Organise, class-consciously, for the capture of governmental powers—and use them for the overthrow of the system that robs and impoverishes your class.

Organise for the ushering in of “The Socialist Commonwealth.” You have, in realising “the World for the Workers,” everything to win !

J. G. M.