1930s >> 1933 >> no-349-september-1933

“Middle Class” Wage-Slaves

To those who have the requisite background of Socialist knowledge, everything which appears in print has its own particular significance. The following advertisement appeared recently in the lists of vacancies at the labour exchange: —

“Translator and teacher. Expert knowledge of German. Resident alien preferred. Highly technical vocabulary. £2 10s. 0d. per week.”

Being Socialists, we do not froth at the mouth with indignation at the low wage offered. We merely take the opportunity to point out that this is but another illustration of the Marxian theory that wages are based upon the cost of living, and further, that the “gentleman” who accepts this position and who might perhaps consider himself a member of the mythical “middle class,” is, in reality, just as much a member of the working class as the labourer who tucks up his shirt sleeves and gets busy with his shovel. Both are workers, both are forced by poverty to sell their labour power in order to live, and the wages of both are based upon the cost of living of the section of the working class to which they belong.

Both may be faced with the necessity of offering to work for a wage which will hardly cover bare necessities at times when unemployment and the struggle for jobs is specially acute.

Both, after years of toil, are still as poor as when they started, whilst the capitalists retain their wealth or grow more wealthy. Yet this wealth has been produced by the workers. It is evident, therefore, that the existing system of wealth production must be a system whereby one class grows rich by the “legalised robbery” of the class which produces the wealth. It is the ownership of the means of production by the exploiting class which enables this process of exploitation to take place. In the apparent equality of exchange, whereby the worker sells his labour power for a given period in exchange for a wage sufficient to enable him to exist, is hidden the fact that this wage bears no relation to the quantity of wealth which he produces.

The only means of doing away with this method of exploitation is to abolish the capitalist system of society. That is the mission of a working class politically organised with that object in view.