1940s >> 1945 >> no-490-june-1945

So You Want To Be A Capitalist?

Let us warn you against ambition. It is an illusion, a tantalising will-o’-the-wisp, causing untold frustration and disillusionment. Many workers fall under its attractive spell only to discover eventually the futility of ever hoping to achieve their desires.
Please do not misunderstand us. We are referring to ambition in a limited sense—the ambition of the average worker “to get on.” The callow youth who is prepared to work hard and conscientiously in an attempt to rise above it all, and obtain a life of luxury and ease. Have you fallen prey to the foul, insincere propaganda of our masters when they endeavour through various channels to instil these naive notions into the minds of the, as yet, gullible masses? The object of their tactics is transparently clear. If the worker accepts the proposition that the capitalist is where he is as the result of hard work, etc,, the worker at once, by implication, condones the existence of the system that exploits and impoverishes him. Added to this he is deluded into believing that he too will, one day join that select parasitic group—the so-called “captains of industry.”
Let us indulge in some very straight talking directed to the capitalist class. As far as we of the Socialist Party are concerned we would ask you to quit trying to fool us at any rate. One of your spokesmen. The Marquis of Londonderry, in an article entitled “Why Work?” writes as follows:—

   “We cannot live without work, and as it is the laudable desire of most people to attain a far higher standard of living, it can come only through harder and more intelligent work by all classes.” and, yet again, “Success is the result of hard work, and those who have succeeded must have thought it anything but an affliction-—or they, would have failed.” —(“Sunday Express,” August 6th, 1944). (Our italics).

Yes, it is true that you are in your economic position as the result of hard work—the hard work performed by us, the working class. Yes, you are there as the result of applied brains and intelligence—our brains and our intelligence. To use an Americanism we are wise to you. The way you permeate even the minds of school-children with your romantic versions of success and ambition. It is a very efficient means of obtaining a high degree of toil out of our carcasses—you dangle a red herring which forever eludes our grasp. Under capitalism the broad mass of the population will unceasingly experience poverty-stricken conditions, notwithstanding the quantity and quality of the energies that the workers may put forward. If hard work is the road to financial success then we all deserve to be millionaires, and if idleness and indolence are the causes of failure then may we respectfully ask how is it, then that you are all so damnably successful?
But now let us address our remarks specifically to our fellow workers. We assure you that ambition and hard work will prove very poor aids. If you find yourself a member of the working class you can be absolutely positive that, short of an Irish Sweep Stake win (and anyway even these have now been discontinued), you are doomed, under capitalism, to remain in perpetual poverty. Try as you will, strain as you may, the barriers dividing the two classes are well-nigh insurmountable, and should you be so foolhardy as to pit your puny efforts against them in an endeavour to climb up, then you will eventually find yourself lying breathless and shaken on the ground, and the effort may have sapped your health and strength.
The socialist realises that the future of the workers lies in the complete elimination of capitalism. We too have an ambition but it is harnessed to the world of scientific reality. The desire to help in the conversion of the minds of our fellow workers to the socialist case so that a politically conscious revolutionary majority can establish a sane order of society—socialism. And then, for the first time in history, all men and women will be completely free to exercise their personality and attain within their life-span a fulfilment of ambition—an ambition which automatically will coincide and harmonise with the interests of the whole of society.
Samuel Leight

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