50 Years Ago: The Uselessness of Railway Nationalisation

Given nationalisation there follows the concentration of traffic, the closing of offices and redundant stations, the abolition of the canvassing and clearing house departments, and, to a large extent, the abolition of the advertisement department, the reduction of trains, etc., etc. In short, the elimination of “waste.”

Now the working class under capitalism is not concerned with the elimination of waste . . . The working class must live. To live it must sell its labour-power. Does “waste” increase the demand for labour-power? If so, it is a good thing for the immediate purpose of the working class.

If any section of the workers is persuaded that in some such reform movement as the nationalisation of the railways there is salvation, it will come to itself in the final reckoning, sick and sorry, with apathy bred of disappointment and despair born of withered hopes. It will be more difficult material for the Socialist leaven to work upon. It will retard the advance of the workers towards the Cooperative Commonwealth that lies at the end of our journeying. It will, until the effect of its painful experience and knowledge of the wasted energies have grown small, be a stumbling block and a rock of offence in our path.

(From the article on “Railway Nationalisation,” in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, July 1908.)

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