Lloyd George’s vitality remains unabated. On March 11th he addressed a meeting in the Cattle Market at Ashford in connection with the by-election
there. A. J. Cummings, reporting it in the News-Chronicle
, says that the most impressive part of his speech was “his appeal to bring together the vast sums of idle money and the vast army of the unemployed.” In case any of our unemployed readers might take this in a literal sense, we hasten to reassure them on the point. Here is the crucial sentence: —
“The Government was spending £130 millions every year in keeping workers in enforced idleness. While there were 3 millions out of work and thousands of slums to be cleared and millions of acres of waterlogged land to be drained, £2,000 millions was lying practically idle at the banks.”
So, after all, they are not going to give us the money; oh dear no, but they will give us a little bit of it provided we do some work for them— provided that we build houses of which we cannot afford to pay the rent when we are back on the “dole” after having built them, and provided that we drain waterlogged land. Why should we drain waterlogged land, presumably for grain growing, when the granaries of the world are bursting with the wheat which its capitalistic proprietors cannot sell? But the answer is plain. The workers must WORK. That a worker, when he has produced enough foodstuffs and other commodities to last another three years, should sit back and smoke a pipe, is unthinkable—a thought too terrible to contemplate. He would become DEMORALISED.
How peculiar that the effect of idleness upon a worker is to make him “demoralised,” whilst it has no such effect upon a member of the capitalist class. But perhaps that is because, having appropriated such a large portion of the surplus value produced by the worker, he is able to enjoy himself, and get about the world, winter in Egypt, and so on, whilst the idle worker has to satisfy his peripatetic instincts by hiking about between his slum dwelling, the labour exchange, and the relief office. Is it any wonder that Lloyd George called the workers into the Cattle Market to address them?
Verily, the capitalist thinketh in the terms of the god of Genesis, who said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” In the face of this god-given command it would be rank heresy to suggest that something other than a bare subsistence should be given for nothing, and Lloyd George does not err on that score.
However, until the workers realise that their troubles are due to the class ownership of the means of production, all these nostrums will continue to be preached unto them, and they will, as their masters recommend them to do, continually be seeking the ever-elusive WORK.
There is only one cure for unemployment, and that is a social system based on the common ownership of the means of production, where each shall do his share according to his ability, and each shall have according to his need.