1950s >> 1951 >> no-568-december-1951

Capitalist Poverty Problems

In our August issue we referred to the financial plight of Mr. Ronald Tree, M.P., who was trying to struggle along on £140 a week before obtaining a further £214,000 from his grandfather’s trust fund. The Evening News of 8th August contained an article on a slightly different financial problem, namely, how a young married couple can set up home on £80. Since the solution is “worked out” rather neatly, it is possible that many members of the owning class are worrying needlessly over money problems that can be easily overcome by members of the owning class. In any case, we recommend Mr. Tree and others to study the joys of working class existence in order to appreciate how poverty really should be borne—or should it?

 

  “Well, can a couple set up home these days on only £80? . . .  It certainly cannot be done if you think in terms of elegant new suites and modern furniture, but it is amazing how comfortable and bright a home can be with second-hand pieces (polished up or painted), home-made curtains and covers, ingenuity and good taste.”

 

Quite so. Elegant new suites and modern furniture are only made in order to satisfy the bad taste of those who can afford them, and everybody knows that second-hand pieces (particularly very cheap and very used) are really the most desirable.

 

   “Let us pretend (they) have been lucky enough to find a small, unfurnished flat. It is not a palace. In fact there are only one fair-sized room and a little kitchen.”

 

Yes, it is important to realise that a two-room flat is not a palace, not even a 3-room palace. Once you have it well into your head that anything more is just vulgar ostentation you are well on the road to being ideally contented there. There is much further good advice on how the young couple can get bargains at junk-shops, and find substitutes for what is really needed, such as liquid lino in the kitchen instead of expensive inlaid linoleum. After the £80 has been frugally allocated the writer remarks that as time goes by they will go on saving for the things they hope to have. The whole adds up to a very fair commentary on working class standards.

 

Why should such an article be needed showing just how little money need be spent on workers’ homes to make them quality to be called homes? The answer is that it is part of the propaganda, carried on by all the private and state owned media of mass influence, designed to make poverty acceptable to the workers. The wages of the latter are the price of their mental and physical energies, bought by the capitalist as cheaply as possible and used to create a profit. The less it costs the workers to live the more funds there are to go into the capitalists’ “trust.” The fact that all wealth is created by workers, the shoddy for themselves and the luxurious for their masters, is coolly ignored by the apologists of the system.

 

Fellow workers, when will you realize that you need not go short of anything that you, collectively, are capable of producing? Between the present extremes of wage-slaves, who can afford little more than the bare necessities of a working life, and capitalists, whose wealth finds expression in idle and extravagant luxury, lies the possibility of all people having their reasonable needs satisfied.

 

This entails the abolition of Capitalism and the establishment of a system of production solely for use, needing no money and therefore producing no money problems of any sort. It is within your power to bring such a society into being, if you will only think and act in your own class interest, instead of in that of a class of parasites. Your wages will not buy the things you need, and you ask for more in vain because your masters also want more at your expense. It will remain so while they have the whip hand of ownership of the means of living and until you decide to relieve them of it by establishing Socialism.

Stan Parker