1940s >> 1943 >> no-464-april-1943

No Unemployment After The War?

Let the Prophets Beware
Speaking at a conference of the Institute of Industrial Administration on March 7th, 1943, Mr. A. S. Comyns Carr, K.C., made the following statement about postwar unemployment:—

  He believed that the problem of post-war unemployment did not exist. On the contrary, the problem of employment after the war was going to be how to find enough people to do the work. (Times, March 8th, 1943.)

To those who do not understand how capitalism works this statement seems to be well-founded. So many articles will be needed by the mass of the population that surely the workers will all be busily at work producing them. What could be more certain than that? Unfortunately for the reasoning, capitalists are not concerned with the production of articles because articles are needed, but with producing for sale at a profit. During war-time, when there is an unlimited demand for war materials, unemployment practically disappears, but when war is over production for profit returns to normal. This is not a matter about which we have no experience, for after the last war politicians used exactly the same reasoning as Mr. Comyns Carr, but the events proved them wrong. Let Mr. Comyns Carr note the following rash and wrong prophecy made in 1919 by Mr. J. R. Clynes, the labour leader :-—

  “If there ever was a risk of over-production, causing unemployment, there is none now. For at least a dozen years there must be conditions of shortage which, with the best energy and effort, cannot be removed. We are in arrears. We need have no fear of the supply exceeding the demand.” (Reynolds’ Newspaper, November 30th, 1919.)

Mr. Clynes’ prophecy was not true for a dozen months, let alone a dozen years. There were 600,000 unemployed at the time he wrote. By the middle of 1921, unemployment had risen to over 2,000,000, and 10 years later it was a million and a half and the country was oh the verge of the crisis of 1931.

Edgar Hardcastle