The Complex Loaf of Bread
Bread is in the news again. Britain has increased the price of the loaf. Meantime here is an item of news from America.
“If you loaded America’s surplus wheat on to a train it would stretch for 4,200 miles—from San Francisco to New York and back again to Kansas City.” (South Wales News, February, 1956.). This fact concerning the most basic food stuff in the world is a sure testimony to the productive ability of Capitalist society.
Wheat is going to be costlier in Britain whilst there is a tremendous surplus in America. Unfortunately America’s surplus wheat is not really available to the world’s people, vast numbers of whom are starving.
Of the many crimes one may level at the insane system known as Capitalism, this capacity to deny man the fruits of his labour is one that even the least class-conscious worker knows to be wrong. Mankind appears to be faced with a complex situation. Such complexities as seem to demand complex plans for alleviation; complex conferences—and occasionally—complex wars to try and rectify things. Such is the situation today and “worthy” bodies from U.N.E.S.C.O. to the Salvation Army, are busy tackling the intriguing problem of how to shift surplus wheat into waiting bellies. All the while they fail to do so or do it inadequately.
Here at home things are not quite as bad as they are in some parts of the world. There is full employment; people, in the main, get what bread they need and other things besides. The workers, according to our political and Trade Union leaders, have a lot to be thankful for. What, may we ask, is this “prosperity” dependent upon? Your masters give you your answer every day— upon production—which to you simply means that your day to day living standards depend upon whether your masters can sell the commodities you produce in this or other countries, at the “right” price.
The production and selling costs are enormous; they include price of raw materials, machinery, wages and marketing costs, which include transport, together with the huge expense involved in maintaining spheres of influence and world sources of marketing and supply, by means of military power in terms of men and armaments. Quite a complex bit of organization again, you see, but unfortunately necessary under their system.
An unknown author once put it this way:—“Man can circle the earth without touching the ground; kill each other when miles apart; weigh the stars; print a million newspapers in an hour; breed the seeds out of an orange; persuade dogs to smoke pipes and cats to play guitars. Man, is indeed, an ingenious animal. But when confronted with one problem, he retires defeated. Show him six men without money and six loaves of bread and ask him “how the six hungry men can obtain the six loaves.”” It is possible that you, the reader, can provide the answer. The Capitalist system cannot.
It is precisely because money is the fulcrum on which Capitalism pivots and to which all things are subject, that we are in our present predicament. Everything created is made to be sold at a profit. If you can pay the price, then brother you can eat ’till you die. When you die, someone—your relatives, friends, or the State—must pay the expense for ridding society of your carcass.
To go back to our six men and the loaves. Mankind looks at the problem—then retires “leaving in the shivering twilight, the tableaux of six hungry men and the six unapproachable loaves.”
Socialists want to bring the men and the loaves together. The problem, once understood, is not at all a complex one. By studying the case for Socialism, you, reader, may feel desirous to help.
It is plain enough to see, no one is going to give you your daily bread; they can only sell it to you when conditions are right. When the machine breaks down they cannot sell or give it away. You can, however, take it as a natural right, but first we must have Socialism.