Notes by the Way

The Workers’ Share of the Product of Industry
In the “Times Review of Industry” (April, 1952) Dr. L. Rostas examines the preliminary results of the 1948 Census of Production. One piece of information brought out by the Census of Production figures is the total value of the net output of workers in manufacturing, mining, building, etc., and the amount of wages and salaries paid.

The figures show that in 1948 the average net output per employee was £543. Wages represented 48.1 per cent, of that figure and salaries 11.8 per cent., so that wages and salaries together represented 59.9 per cent, of net output.

Dr. Rostas quotes for comparison the corresponding figures shown by the 1935 Census of Production, which was 60 per cent. While therefore the position in 1948 was almost identical with that in 1935 earlier figures showed that the workers’ share had risen between 1906-7 and 1924. These figures were published in the Report of the Committee on Finance and Industry (1931, Page 312), and were 52 per cent. in 1906-7 and 55 per cent. in 1924.

The above figures relate to manufacturing industries, mining, building, etc., but do not include transport, finance, civil service, etc. The figures covering all workers are published each year in the Government booklet “National Income and Expenditure.” For 1948 the division of the total national income (before deducting taxes on income) were: wages 45 per cent., salaries (largely clerks, shop assistants, etc.) 23 per cent., making a total of 68 per cent. In that year the pay of the armed forces represented 3 per cent., and Rent, Dividends and Interest 29 per cent.

The wages and salaries figure for 1951 is also 68 per cent, but in 1938 it was rather smaller, 61 per cent. The main reason why the later figures for wages and salaries have been higher than before the war is that owing to the fall of unemployment more workers have been receiving wages.

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Increase of Output per Employee
Dr. Rostas also shows the increase of physical output per employee in the 13 years 1935 to 1948. Total output of manufacturing industry increased in the 13 years by about 32 per cent., but as the number of workers had increased by 25 per cent., the physical output per worker had increased by about 6 per cent. This is less than half of one per cent a year and is below the normal annual increase over long periods. Undoubtedly the rate of increase will have been somewhat larger in the years since 1948.

In the five years 1924 to 1929 it increased by 11.6 per cent., representing nearly 2 per cent. a year. (Report of Committee on Finance and Industry, 1931. Page 310.)

An elaborate inquiry by the economist Colin Clark covering the 80 years 1870 to 1950 shows that the product per worker increased by 76 per cent., or rather less than 1 per cent, a year. (Published in Review of Economic Progress, July-August, 1951, Brisbane. Australia.)

During the same period, 1870-1950. the amount produced per head of the population increased by a larger percentage than did the increase of output per worker. This was because a larger proportion of the population were employed in 1950 than in 1870. The amount produced per head of the population was a little over twice as much in 1950 as in 1870.

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Innocents in Russia
Mr. Emrys Hughes, Labour M.P. for South Ayrshire, is best known for his near-pacifism and his constant efforts to get the world’s governments to get together to avoid war. He recently visited Russia and published his observations in “Forward.” He has one advantage over many visitors to Russia that he speaks Russian and he claimed that nothing was done to prevent him from entering into conversation with people he met.

Nevertheless he does on one issue betray a certain amount of simplicity. Writing in “Forward” (3rd May, 1952) he claims that “the Communist Dictatorship not only survives but is generally accepted,” and that “there is a stable government to which there is no discernible or organised opposition.”

Now Mr. Hughes knows that it is illegal in Russia to attempt to form any political party other than the Communist Party and that all journals and news reports are censored. If he were in Russia and tried to form a party like the one of which he is a member, or tried to make his customary pacifist speeches, or tried to publish a journal like “Forward,” of which he was formerly editor, or tried to run as a Labour Party candidate, he would be breaking the law and would incur speedy and drastic penalties. Knowing all this he nevertheless can say that there is in Russia no discernible or organised opposition!

It may be correct that there is little opposition and that what underground opposition does exist is not organised, but when Mr. Hughes says that the opposition is not discernible he is being a little naive. Does he really expect anti-Communists in Russia to disclose themselves? If he had visited Germany under Hitler he would have found the same absence of individuals anxious to become “discerned” and consequently jailed.

Or to come nearer home, if Mr. Hughes had six months ago visited the anti-trade union establishments of Mr. Thomson of Dundee he would have failed to discern on that dictatorial individual’s premises even the smallest sign of “ discernible and organised opposition.”

It is, of course, very difficult to tell what opposition exists under any dictatorship and perhaps later events may show that Mr. Hughes was as much misled about Russia in 1952 as was the British Ambassador in Russia in 1917 who was quite unaware until it broke out into open revolt that there was widespread opposition to the Czarist regime.

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How to Muzzle the Press
In Russia the Government openly exercises a censorship on what news comes into the country and on the reports sent out by foreign journalists, and, of course, on what is printed in the Russian Press. Also there is the widespread Russian jamming of foreign broadcasts.

When challenged on the subject Mr. Stalin used the defence that whenever the censorship had been lifted the statements made about the members of the Russian Government by foreign reporters were such that the Russian people became “very indignant,” and the censorship had to be re-introduced (Soviet Weekly, 15th May, 1947.) It is a very curious excuse in face of the way in which much of the Russian Government’s own internal propaganda is designed to stir up popular indignation against foreigners.

However, a crude censorship is not the only way of preventing publication. It will be recalled how for months the events leading up to the abdication of Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor) were kept out of the British Press thought widely discussed in other countries. More recently we have seen how a request to the British Press not to publish an indiscreet statement made by Lord Alexander at a dinner at the Canada Club was generally observed. Here the reason given was that “security” was involved though in fact a very similar statement had been made by him shortly before and had been published. The Evening Standard (4/7/52) published a letter by Mr. Beverley Baxter saying that as the request not to publish was made by Lord Alexander on grounds of “security” the editors of the morning newspapers were right to accede to the request. The editor of the Evening Standard took the opposite line. He wrote:

“No question of security was involved. The editors were therefore wrong to accept a request for suppression on security grounds.

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A Denunciation of Nationalism
The Indian, M. N. Roy, who was at one time prominent in the Communist International, but later broke away and took a line of his own, recently wrote for the Manchester Guardian (21/6/52) an article “Asian Nationalism. Its Roots in Race Hatred.”

In it he puts the case that the Asiatic nationalist movements are not just movements to secure independence from the foreign governments that kept them in colonial subjection, for even after achieving independence they continue to preach the same anti-foreign doctrines as before. He quotes Mr. Nehru, Prime Minister of India, and advocate of Indian nationalism, as having admitted that he does not know what nationalism is:

“What exactly is nationalism? I do not know, and it is extremely difficult to define. In the case of a country under foreign domination it is easy to define what nationalism is. It is anti-foreign power. But in a free country it is something positive. Even so, I think that a large element of it is negative or anti-, and so sometimes we find that nationalism, which is a healthy force, becomes—maybe after liberation—unhealthy, retrogressive, reactionary, or expansive.”

Yet though Mr. Nehru could not define nationalism he went on to declare that it “warms the heart of every Asian” and that “any other force that may seek to function must define itself in terms of this nationalism.” Mr. Roy says this is nonsense and that what Mr. Nehru’s explanation really means is that nationalism is “race hatred kept alive artificially.”

“Asia nationalism is an unmixed evil. It has not got the saving grace of a cultural and idealist origin as in the case of earlier European nationalism.”

Although Mr. Roy notices that between the wars European nationalism developed into fascism, and quotes the statement of the late Lord Acton that nationality sacrifices everything “to the imperative necessity of making the nation the mould and measure of the State,” he does not appreciate the simple fact that nationalism has been and is everywhere the form in which each capitalist group tries to carve out a place for itself in the world of warring capitalist states. If he did he would not be at all surprised that the politicians who have used nationalism to gain independence from a colonial power need it just as much afterwards in order to persuade the workers to go on fighting capitalism’s battles.

If it is an illusion to think that nations can be friendly in a capitalist world provided that they are all “independent,” it is equally an illusion on the part of Mr. Roy to think that the Powers, great and small, could dispense with nationalism.

At least one thing Mr. Roy has correctly summed up. Discussing the disappointing results of national independence from the worker’s point of view, he says that when India and other countries achieved independence, “absolutely nothing changed except the personnel of the State machinery.”

On one thing we can put Mr. Roy right He says of the “reforming Liberals and the revolutionary Left in the Western countries” that disregarding the bitter experience and irony of history which had shown them nationalist movements starting with men like Mazzini and ending with regimes like Mussolini’s, they “vied with each other in patronising colonial nationalism.” Whatever the Liberals and Labourites did, the S.P.G.B. certainly did not fell into this error but always condemned nationalist propaganda whether at home or abroad, in Europe or in Asia.


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