Working Class! Capitalist Class! Middle Class! A plague on all your classes. I do not like to think of men and women in society as belonging to different classes.
I like to think of these people as individuals all doing their best to meet life’s joys and anxieties with enthusiasm and determination.
A one-time Prime Minister of Great Britain, whose benevolent face and rotund figure are often the background for a pipe, became a little disturbed at such descriptive class titles and consoled himself and his hearers with sentiments similar to the above. How he abhors such marking off into sections of certain members of the human family! Nevertheless, I am sure that he knows to which class he belongs. Probably some evidence will be found on his railway ticket; on his particular suite in a luxury cruise; on his standing under his own pergola or chandelier; on the power of his effective demand upon the mass of commodities within society.
Now there are many who, like our one-time Prime Minister, give more evidence of sentimentality than sense when discussing society, when faced with the logical terminology which is forced upon them by the economic system which we know as Capitalism.
However, the march of events takes but little notice of a person’s particular dislikes, and we are compelled to take notice of facts, not fancies. In society, as at present constituted, there are two distinct classes with interests diametrically opposed—Capitalist Class; Working Class. Each has its own characteristic. Taking them in order of importance, we name first the Working Class; because from its productive efforts proceed the entire wealth of society.
Taking them in order of power, we call the Capitalist Class, because it owns and controls the means and instruments for producing wealth and the property rights over the mass of commodities resulting from the aggregate efforts of the workers.
Our one-time Prime Minister is a well-fed philosopher. He enjoys that characteristic of his class—a surfeit of the world’s good things; a well-stocked larder; a neatly documented rent-book; a well-furnished wardrobe. His privilege is a hold upon wealth, such as he, however industrious, could never have produced. He enjoys the benefits of exploitation. He has a store of other men’s labours. Exploitation of whom ? Of a class ? Yes! And that class the working class. It is a wage-slave class. Unlike the leisure of the class to which the man with the meerschaum belongs, the leisure of the working class is a forced leisure. It is a poverty enduring class. Although unemployment makes the living conditions much worse for millions of the members of the working class, the cause of its poverty is capitalism, and not unemployment.
Nevertheless, this poverty-stricken class is, by virtue of its position in capitalist society and the exigencies of the economic system, the class which maintains an idle parasite crowd by its surplus labour. The entire capitalist state and its hosts of flunkeys and hangers-on, from kings downwards, are fed and clothed and entertained solely from the vast stream of wealth which flows from the industry of the toiling millions called the working class.
The Socialist did not coin the phrases Working Class; Capitalist Class; Wage slavery; Class hate; Class warfare. These words are not the projections of a disordered mentality peculiar to men who preach revolution. They correctly mark conditions which obtain under capitalism and will only disappear when that system falls.
The Socialist can readily understand that our country-loving, honest-to-goodness, one-time Prime Minister eschews looking at society as it really is. It might spoil his contented smoke. Nevertheless, it sometimes amazes the Socialist when he finds his fellow wage-slaves envisaging capitalist society as a happy human brotherhood, and taking their cue from Cabinet Ministers and the Labour Opposition.
In the part of the city where it has pleased my heavenly Pop to place me, there are many indications of the class sections in society—working men’s dining rooms; working men’s hotels; working class clothiers. A working class neighbourhood. At times the King comes along to look at some of the working class amenities, accompanied by his Ministers. Then they go away—and thank God that they are not as other men. It never appears to strike these “high and mighty” personages, when they say “Give us this day our daily bread,” that the Almighty has left too many loaves in their porch and too few in the doorway of the worker, or is it that they know that it is none of His doing ?
The Socialist asks his fellow worker to study his position in capitalist society. A book has just been published by Lawrence & Wishart, 2, Parton Street, London, W.C.l, entitled “Hunger and Work” by Jurgen Kuczynski. 2s. 6d. The author concludes that 10,000,000 workers live below the poverty line. He takes Rowntree’s minimum as the standard. It is well to notice that this scanty existence is the full heritage of a class, namely, the industrial working class of this country.
This statement is nothing new to the Socialist, and maybe our proud-of-England one-time Prime Minister had his tongue in his cheek when decrying the class labels which are everywhere evident.
As I am writing this a miner is broadcasting from Manchester regarding the benefits arising from the “Holidays with pay” movement. He described it as one of the greatest blessings which had come to the worker. He earned 8s. 9d. per day, and until this year had not been able to take a week’s holiday for himself or his wife or children. Again I would draw your attention, and the attention of Earl Baldwin, to the fact that this sort of experience is the experience of a definite class. If he is really seeking a classless society, let him read and understand our “Declaration of Principles,” and help us to bring about Socialism, and with it the end of class distinctions.
B. F. LEE