1930s >> 1932 >> no-336-august-1932

Social contrasts

It is sometimes amusing, when temporarily relaxing from the stern realities of the struggle for existence, to notice the care taken by our masters for our moral welfare. This is exemplified by the recent warning of the Board of Film Censors to the film industry on the subject of “daring” films. Leaving aside the question of what are desirable or undesirable films, the warning in question is an example of the arrogance of the master class in claiming to decide what is good for us.

Commenting upon this in the “News-Chronicle” of 18/2/32, E. A. Baughan says:—

“Indeed, one could wish it were possible that the Board of Censors extended its veto and banned those films, mainly of American origin, which show how the wealthy classes waste their money (to put it at the lowest) in senseless orgies. What kind of effect must these pictures have on men and women who have the greatest, difficulty in buying the necessaries of existence?”

Thus we are not only to be deprived of any temptation to forsake the straight path of virtue, but we may even be deprived of witnessing at secondhand the manner in which our masters enjoy their leisure, for fear it might make us just a wee bit jealous.

However, the cogs of capitalism are such that these little secrets are continually coming our way, and in the “News-Chronicle” of 20/4/31 there is an interesting description of the new Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, where the cheapest room is 35s. a day. We learn that

“not even a film advertisement writer could find superlatives sufficient to express the exquisite sumptuousness of the dearest suite at £15 a day or £105 a week. . . . There are eighty salons, Turkish baths for women, and a number of slimming rooms and beauty parlours.”

It is interesting to contrast the comparative comfort of such a hotel as this with the lives of the unemployed existing on a dole which Judge Parsons at the Bristol County Court said was “barely sufficient to keep body and soul together.”

So far, Africa and China have been comparatively free from these extraordinary contrasts in the modes of existence of the two different classes constituting capitalist society, but in the “Daily Telegraph” of 2/8/30 the Marquis of Lothian, secretary of the Rhodes Trust, was reported as saying that

“the industrial age was going to sweep through Africa and Asia in the same way as it had in England and America. Nothing on earth could prevent Asia and Africa from having their countryside filled with great smoking factories, thundering railways, filling stations, popular newspapers, and the whole paraphernalia of Western civilisation.”

We will add a little prophecy of our own to these remarks, namely, that an understanding of the principles of Socialism will have spread even more rapidly, and that we shall be nearer still to the goal of Socialism.

R. M.

(Socialist Standard, August 1932)

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