1950s >> 1959 >> no-662-october-1959
A Straight Talk on the Election
As the general election campaign gets under way, we shall probably see more and more posters of Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Gaitskell, gazing in fatherly protective benevolence upon the passing voters. Each party will say that they are more able, more sincere, more knowledgeable than their opponents. The Tories will say they will give us good government — the Labour party that they arc the party with working class interests at heart. In fact, the intention and ability of politicians can have little effect on the problems which they try to solve. We shall hear a lot, during the election, about war and insecurity; these are just two of the problems which exist not because any government wishes them to, but because capitalism inevitably produces them.
Capitalism and War
Capitalism is a social system in which all the things which are necessary to make and distribute the worlds wealth —such as land, factories, railways and steamships—are owned by a small section of the world’s population. This class, because of their ownership of the means of production, can live without having to work for a wage. On the other hand, the working class are compelled to sell their ability to work to an employer, for they have no other method of getting a living. The capitalists invest money in industries and, because they must have a return on their investments, those industries produce wealth with the motive of profitable sale. This means that industries throughout the world are constantly seeking cheap, abundant fields of raw materials, profitable markets for their products, and trading routes to connect them to their overseas markets and sources of supply. When “peaceful” competition cannot win these, a war breaks out. That was the cause of the last two world wars and of the minor outbreaks in Korea, Egypt and so on. A future world war will quite possibly be fought with nuclear weapons. These have been developed because each capitalist power must always strive to arm itself more powerfully—which means more destructively — than its rivals. This has made war an even more urgent problem, which cannot be solved by a conference between prime ministers and presidents. There is only one way certainly to abolish war. That is to abolish capitalism.
Capitalism and Poverty
The Conservative Party have been telling us that we are all prosperous. Yet the latest figures show over ten million people in this country getting less than £10 a week. (Contrast this with the 700 who share £6 million a year after paying tax!) It is true that workers are buying houses, motor cars, television sets and so on; the fact that we must resort to mortgages and hire purchase to obtain these things is proof of our restricted access to the good things in life. Whatever personal possessions we have, we always find that our wage packet is, generally, roughly sufficient to keep us in food, clothing, housing and entertainment with very little—if anything—to spare. That is why we always have the cheap and trashy—the pre-fabs and council houses, the mass produced clothes and furniture; we just can’t afford anything better. Because our livelihood depends on our wage, we are the people who really suffer in a slump, or if we lose our jobs through sickness or old age. The Manchester Guardian of 21st April, 1959, reported the case of a 70-year-old lady who lived in an attic and who. after paying her rent and part board, fuel and 2s. 6d. for a wireless relay, was left with 7s. 9d. a week for everything else. That sort of tragedy is never removed by a Budget or a national insurance scheme, because it originates in the economic depression of the mass of society. It can only be removed by ending capitalism.
Until this happens we shall continue to suffer the insecurity which drives many people into mental hospitals and transforms others from co-operative human beings into anti-social criminals. Crime and violence will flourish and with them the escapist drugs and tranquilisers. This inhuman system is supported by the Labour, Conservative, Liberal, Communist and other parties. What has the Socialist Party of Great Britain to offer?
We invite you to consider the case for Socialism. This is a social organisation based on the ownership of the world’s wealth by the world’s population. When it is established, everyone—man or woman, whatever the colour of their skin —will have completely free access to society’s common pool of wealth. There will be no privileged class enjoying the best things in life whilst the majority of people make do with the shoddy. There will be no wars to settle the competition between opposing capitalist groups. There will be no division of interest, such as exists today between employer and employee, to cause strikes and other social dislocation. Everybody’s interests will be the same—to co-operate in producing the best and happiest world which humanity is capable of, for the enjoyment and benefit of the whole of mankind.
This is no empty dream. Socialism can be established tomorrow, if the people of the world understand it and want it. Then they can send their delegates to the seats of power—such as Parliament—to carry through the formal process of establishing Socialism. That is why we are a political party. Our membership and funds are small, which prevents us nominating more than one candidate at this election. He is not a great leader who promises to work miracles. He is not a leader at all for we do not believe in leaders. He is an ordinary member of the working class and of our Party who holds with us that only Socialism can solve the world’s problems. That never has been popular —the millions have so far always preferred their Macmillans and Gaitskells, the reformist programmes of their parties, and the troublous world that they stand for.