A Personal Chin Wag
Perhaps you think that Socialists are a group of selfish people who are envious of the riches of other folk. Perhaps you think even worse things. Let us make a voyage of inquiry together.
You and I, and others like us, go to work. Some are employed in one way, some in another. Between us we produce and distribute the things we eat, the things we wear, the buildings we live in, and those we work in; the ships and railways that carry the things we make are made and worked by people like us; furniture and ornaments, even the most luxurious, are made by people like us. If you and I and people like us were to die to-morrow, all production and distribution of goods would cease.
Who then are we who are so necessary to the world, and are yet so poor? We are those who go to work. But why do we go to work when there are others, Rockefeller and Rothschild for instance, who do not go to work? We go to work to get wages to buy the things we need; Rockefeller and Rothschild do not go to work for wages because they have the means to get the things they need without having to wait for wages.
From whom do we obtain the wages that are so necessary for our present existence? From Rockefeller and Rothschild and people like them. But where do the Rothschilds get the means to pay us our wages? I want you to consider the answer very carefully as it will give you the key to many problems that may puzzle you. As it is so important I will make a separate paragraph of it.
A moment, or two ago I said that you and I and others like us produce and distribute all the things that are necessary to keep the people of the world alive, and to enable them to enjoy themselves. I did not use exactly the same words as I am using now, but the meaning was the same. Rockefeller and Rothschild and people like them employ us, pay us wages, for producing all these necessary goods. With the wages we receive we buy back a portion of the goods we have produced. Before going any further, I would ask you to remember, lest someone should attempt to mislead you, that we also produce the gold, the coin and the paper that make up all forms of money. Let us continue.
We buy back some of the goods we produce. The rest of the goods we produce is either taken by our employers for their personal use, or is used, like new machinery and new factories, to enlarge the capacity for future production, to carry on wars, and for other similar purposes. It is because we work, but do not consume all we produce, that Rothschild and others like him can live without working. They are able to take what we produce because they own all the means for producing and distributing wealth.
The employers are in one special class and we are in another. They belong to the class of property-owners, we belong to the class of propertyless. They look at things in a different way from what we do. When we apply for work we endeavour to obtain as high a wage as we can; they endeavour to pay as low a wage as we will take. The lower the wages they pay us, the greater, as a rule, will be the wealth going to them. You will see that this arises from the nature of the system in which we live.
You are sometimes told that we are poor because of unjust taxation or because we do not work hard enough. Do not accept such a view. We are poor because, as I mentioned above, we are robbed of the greater part of the goods we produce. We are robbed when we receive our wages because we are given back as wages only a fraction of the wealth we have produced. Our wages, as you must know so well, represent little more than will keep us and our families alive. We have nothing to spare which can be robbed from us afterwards. They who rob us are the people who own the means of wealth production and distribution.