1920s >> 1925 >> no-251-july-1925

The Economics of Paying

It is irritating to the majority of workers to be told that the enormous expenditure incurred in running the capitalist system in its various departments is a matter of no concern to them. Schooled by the masters and their decoys in false economics, they fall easy victims to the delusion that they “Pay for everything.” Dimly conscious of the fact that it is the working class who alone engage in the various functions necessary to the production and distribution of wealth (including management and supervision), they allow a hazy class sentiment to warp their economic reasoning; producing everything by no means involves paying for everything. An instance of how the press plays upon the workers’ lack of knowledge in order to hide the facts is contained an the following :—


   The man in work is becoming more and more restless at the constant strain upon his resources, having to carry not only his own burden of maintenance, but the burden of a million or more out-of-works as well (Democrat, 25/4/26).


Well might the worker ask why this concern, if the burdens are his and not those of the capitalist class? Beneath this superficial observation lies the true explanation. The workers are a slave class; they are as much slaves as their progenitors, the chattel and the serf, but in place of previous methods the worker receives his subsistence to-day through a money payment, he is a wage slave. To the chattel his whole labour appeared to be given gratis, to the wage worker his whole effort appears to be paid for. Behind this payment lurks the secret of modern methods of exploitation: ever since the dawn of slavery human energy has sustained a set of unproductive idlers out of the wealth produced beyond that required for the sustenance of the producers. As with the slave of ancient society so with the modern wage slaves, the wealth they produce is the property of the masters. Its proportionate increase is enormous owing to the increased powers of mankind over nature’s materials. This surplus over and above the value of the workers’ wages is called by the Socialist “surplus value.” Out of this surplus, whether its form be rent, interest, or profit, its owners have to meet the expenses of their profit-making system, i.e., wars, pauperism, crime, etc. Fellow-workers, heed not your masters’ canting cry about “burdens,” they are his, and in order to economise as far as possible he would have you think them yours. Whatever the total of the prices of the necessaries required to sustain your wealth-producing capacity must be given to you as a wage. Failing this, you will be driven to take measures to maintain your standard of living, or your labour power will deteriorate to your employers’ disadvantage.


Why fritter your time away on matters that leave you bottom dog. Recognise the real and ultimate contest must be between masters and slaves. In numbers you are overwhelming, armed with the knowledge of your usefulness as a class, no power can withstand you.