Dope for the workers

Many films, books and newspapers show us the naive indoctrination of the workers by the ruling class of other countries. You will be shown “Big Brother” Stalin beaming benevolently at the German workers. You may read such papers as the Soviet Weekly in which everything done by the state is referred to as “great.” But it is much more difficult for the British worker, having been slowly poisoned by subtle propaganda to see exactly the power and organisation of the “head fixing” industry in his own country.

One important difference between Britain and other countries arises from the fact that capitalism, having been in existence for a few hundred years, has had time to get organised. Propagandists are something like the mythical “vampires;” not only do they suck blood but it is generally supposed that their victims also become vampires. That is what has happened to a large extent in Britain. The workers’ minds have been so conditioned that long before the capitalists have thought of a good angle to explain away some criticism, one or two workers have already started to apologise for them. But whereas these secondary “vampires,” the “head fixed” workers are ready with their apologies, quite often they find such apologies out of date and find that their capitalists have taken quite a different angle.

An example of this came after the announcement of the re-call of “Z” reservists. Throughout the country there grew up an organisation of sincere ex-servicemen to resist conscription. But good intentions can be very confused. These ex-servicemen did not object to war, only to the coming war; they did not object to weapons, only to the atomic bomb; they did not object to marching, only to marching alongside the German army. In short, they still believed that the Germans are the scum of the earth. Foolish, out of date people. The very reasons they believed they had for fighting the last war were the reasons they had for avoiding this one. It would be funny if it were not tragic.

Capitalist propaganda often takes place without any conscious effort on the part of the propagator. The child upon its mother’s knee does not realise that the language it is being taught is suitably coloured to help the continuation of capitalism. Even the mother, unless she be a socialist, does not realise that she is teaching her children the capitalist attitude to good and bad, the doctrine of God and the Devil.

At the age of five the child is thrust into an organised scheme to enable it to know enough to earn a living but not enough to know anything of great importance. It is taught obedience to authority which results in apathy, patriotism which results in racial prejudice, religion which results in blind acceptance, and the history of “great men” which means meekness before prestige. The child turns to entertainments and it finds children’s magazines, a brighter presentation of the same dope. The child goes to the cinema and sees the brave king defending his property against a weak, cringing, brutal coward, the glorious British army sniping the enemy with smiles and a few brief jokes.

Should the child be unfortunate to have to go to Sunday school, here he will be exhorted to leave the few pleasures he has to the wicked rich, to fast and to mumble thanks to some infinite omnipotence up in the clouds. He will be asked to sing aloud, “All things bright and beautiful” midst slums and factory smoke.

Having left school into the hurried and worried life of capitalist efficiency he will fall a victim to tabloid thanking, reducing misfortune and hardship to a few silly platitudes. He will get to know all the capitalist incantations summed up in the philosophy. “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

If among the little knowledge he has gained from the sciences taught at school he has found a method of thinking with any degree of clarity, he finds he must disguise it. His employers will not hire such a man, his trade unions call him names and refuse to listen to him and the women refer to him as a “queer fish”

Sooner or later he finds himself in a world of drug addicts, mental drug addicts. Unless he absorbs regularly what can be read in newspapers he finds little to discuss with his fellow men. He too becomes a drug addict, taking one of the many brands each morning after breakfast and devouring it on his way to work. He can now “argue” with his fellow workers and persuade them that his brand of dope is better than that of his friends.

Eventually he is given a change. He is dressed in a uniform, numbered, given a rifle and told to shoot someone. He does so with all the unconscious hatred he has for the system in which he finds himself. The devil he heard about on his mother’s knee, the brutal cowards he read about in children’s books, the wicked men he saw on the screen; he shoots them all and feels happy, ready to reap the benefits of ridding the world of such people.

He returns home to claim his promised land and finds the same old system, the same old misery. He reads the daily dope once more and finds that all his troubles arise because he wasn’t killing the right people. It was not the Germans but the Russians he should have killed. The hatred boils up again. He tells himself that he will know better next time.

So many people today think that they will know better next time. Unless they are socialists they will not know better. The dope, whether of the church, the press or the schools will claim them.

Yet the strongest instinct in man is the will to survive and to do this he must think. From the moment of his birth man is slowly conditioned for capitalism. He is told he does not suffer from poverty, only from a “lack of the necessary purchasing power.” He is not short of houses to live in, only suffering from “a temporary divergence of labour into other industries.” He is not made to go to war, only to “fight for peace.” Rose coloured spectacles stand in the workers’ way in their struggle to survive. When they get rid of them, as they will, they will be ready to see things in perspective. They will be socialists.

P. J. McHale

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