1930s >> 1931 >> no-318-february-1931

Correspondence: Is steel more useful than tobacco?

Mr. G. T. Sadler, M.A., LL.B. (Manchester), asks us to recognise a distinction between “useful” companies, such as cotton, steel, and railway companies, and less useful companies, such as tobacco and art silk companies. While investors in the former have lost money, the latter have paid big dividends.


The idea behind Mr. Sadler’s suggestion is that some companies satisfy needs which are more vital than others and, therefore, the investors in these companies ought to receive more favourable treatment. We cannot, for one moment, accept such an argument. Under capitalism companies do not produce this or that article to satisfy human needs, but to sell to those who can afford to buy, and thus to make a profit. Investors invest in order to get a return on their capital. To the investor all production is “useful” production which yields him a profit, and to the worker all production is “useful” which gives him employment. That is capitalism. We are out for the abolition of capitalism, because an investing class is a privileged and totally unnecessary class, whatever the nature of the product in which the individual investor is interested.