Many reasons have been offered to explain the persistence of war, from sun spots to satanic dictators. Now Mr. Charles Cook, president of the National Federation of Bedding and Allied Trades, has hit on a spanking new one. At his trade convention at Scarborough on 24th May, he said: “Bad beds cause bad tempers. If Mr. Kruschev would allow us to design a bed for him. it could do more good for international relations than any number of diplomatic jamborees.”
This remark must have provoked some very pained reactions in the Foreign Office (jamborees, indeed!) Let us consider one or two implications of it. First, we are pretty sure that when Mr. Kruschev retires after a night on the vodka he does so to an excellent bed—certainly a much better one than any Russian worker will ever know. But if Kruschev’s bed is bad. how much harder and lumpier must Stalin’s have been—he always seemed to be in a much worse temper than Kruschev. Then what about the period when the Russian and British governments were allies in the last war and we were flooded with pictures of Stalin beaming through his moustaches? Did the great dictator change his bed in 1945? What about the others who change sides even more frequently than Russia did? For example, Marshal Tito must be in a different room, let alone bed, every night of his life.
Not to be facetious, let us grant that Mr. Cook may have been joking, that he may be one of those employers who is so interested in his job that he eats, drinks and sleeps (sorry) for it. Perhaps he was carried away in his enthusiasm. Thus we may excuse him; but we would feel even more kindly towards him if he would point out that the cause of modern war is in the relentless competitive struggle between capitalist groups who are trying to gain the upper hand in the world’s markets. The profit which the worker produces is realised on the commodity’s sale. Hence the struggle. That goes for all commodities, from tooth brushes to tankers. Including mattresses.