50 Years Ago: The Cry of the Workless

These results arise naturally from the conditions of employment to-day. The owners of property are ever on the look-out for means of augmenting their possessions. They employ their capital in industrial operations simply for the purpose of deriving from its use profit or interest. So long as they get their profits increased they care little for the conditions under which the work in their factory, in their mine, or on their railway is carried on. They never seek to know whether those working for them are living happy and contented lives. For them the worker is an abstraction—the materialisation of some portion of their capital in exactly the same way as another portion of their capital shows itself as raw material, as auxiliary material, as factory building, or as finished product. He sees the worker figuring on his periodical balance-sheet as “Wages,” and cares nothing that “Wages” means so many sentient human beings capable of thinking, loving, functioning even as he does.


Why then should he hesitate, when the markets are glutted, when his “wages” have been transformed into more goods than the market can consume, when goods cannot be sold because hungry men and women have not the wherewithal to buy food, when ill-clad children cannot have clothing provided for them because there is too much in the shops, to turn adrift those he no longer wishes to employ because they are no longer profitable?


And the result is invariably that, during periods when the markets are teeming with food and clothing, the workers are sent adrift and cannot purchase the things of which they are so sorely in need.


The only solution to this state of affairs is to abolish Capitalism. The whole trend of events is in the direction of Collectivist production and the inquirer into things political and economic can see that the capitalist, having ceased to be useful, is using the whole governmental machinery to safeguard the interests of his class.


The worker must learn that he has to look to himself and his fellows to work out the emancipation of the working-class. Only by combining to capture the political machinery and to use the power thus acquired for the overthrow of Capitalism can he hope to obtain, once and for all, a full and complete solution to the unemployed problem.


From the April 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard.