The News in Review

Rising Prices
Remember those big balloons splashed all over the hoardings about ten years ago?

Remember what they said?

This was their message: The Conservatives will stop the rise in prices.

An effective appeal, at the time. Money wages had shot up to undreamt of heights, but the voters were disappointed to find that prices accompanied them upwards. This wrecked the pre-war mirage of a glorious prosperity based on high wages.

For this reason, among others, the Tories came back in triumph to Westminster. A lot has happened since then and a lot has been forgotten; especially promises about reducing prices.

So the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had no need to tremble when he recently informed the House of Commons that, taking the purchasing power of the £1 as twenty shillings when the Tories got back in October, 1951, that same £1 note was now worth only 14s. 6d. A strange result of ten years of bringing down prices!

Naturally, the government have any number of excuses for their failure to keep their election promises. Most of them amount to the argument that they have been helpless in economic conditions outside their control.

This, of course, is not valid. The Conservative promise in 1951 that they would stabilise prices was in fact a claim that they could control Capitalism’s economic tricks. Like others before them, they have failed.

Not that the government need worry. The workers have forgotten the rosy promises of 1951 and are now being bemused by the prospect of the £1,000 a year dustman. Capitalism will really start shaking when the workers despise all promises as worthless.

Strike at Margam
We might have expected some juicy headlines about the striker at Margam Steel Works, who turned up at the labour exchange in his Jaguar and parked it in amongst the smart cars of his fellow-strikers.

The pictures and the stories in the press were presumably intended to undermine the strikers’ case by suggesting that men who can afford to run a car have no need to strike.

This argument ignores one or two facts.

The bricklayers at Margam were engaged in unpleasant and dangerous work which put their health in great hazard. The Steel Company of Wales had agreed to the bricklayers doing this work under the “job and finish” rule and had allowed this rule to spread to men on a few other types of work.

Then S.C.O.W. decided that they were losing out on the deal and tried to change the rules.

The company cannot be blamed for attempting to defend their interests. Neither can the bricklayers be criticised for resisting an effort to impose a severe wage cut and a dangerous worsening of their working conditions.

For this sort of conflict is inevitable in Capitalism, with its population split into two groups whose interests are opposed.

The Margam strike, and the strikers’ fast cars, drives the point home. Workers must always fight for their interests under Capitalism—even under what is called Affluent Capitalism.

Nothing makes any difference to this —not even the ownership of a car.

Fifty Megatons
Why did the Russians do it? It is an absorbing, if chilling, occupation to speculate upon the reasons for the thirty and fifty megaton explosions.

Was it to prove a point for Krushchev in the current struggle in the Kremlin over the diversion of industrial resources? Was it designed to get something moving in the perilous deadlock in Berlin? Or to make the Chinese sit up and take notice that Russia is much the more powerful country?

The bombs could have been let off as a move in any, or all, of these conflicts. It will be a long time, if ever, before we find out the reason.

One thing is certain now, for all to see. The conflicts are typical of Capitalism in the ‘Sixties—and so are the bombs. And this could mean more bombs, more radioactivity, perhaps even bombs dropped in anger.

Is this the world gone mad, as the nuclear disarmed think? In fact, there is a terrible sanity about it. Capitalism has always had its wars and. political disputes—who can expect it not to have the necessary weapons to settle its disputes?

But Capitalism has also always had its workers who are willing to support the system, although they may bemoan the horrors which it continually produces.

It is no getaway for them now to say that the bomb tests are a great, inhuman mistake, or the work of a callous government

Capitalism means fear and insecurity for the people of the world And this will go on until the people realise it and do something about it.

After the Motor Show
The Motor Show has been and gone. The bright lights of Earls Court are dimmed and the hectic publicity is over. Now come the harsh realities of trying to sell all the cars that were so enthusiastically praised.

As at all Motor Shows, there was the usual optimistic talk of large orders and encouraging sales. The big car-hire firms carefully saved their orders to coincide with the Show, as they do every year, and all the manufacturers expressed satisfaction with the Show. Nobody with any knowledge of the trade was deceived.

Apart perhaps from Jaguars, who did very well, all the manufacturers know that the struggle is going to be hard and that it will probably get worse before it gets better—if in fact it does. Motor sales have now reverted to their previous seasonal pattern and for the second winter running sales have gone into decline.

Of the Big Five, BMC and Ford are probably the least affected, but they also have their troubles. BMC’s best seller is the Mini-minor, but they themselves have admitted that the ratio of profit on these is small. They have to sell a lot to make the balance-sheet look reasonable, let alone brilliant. Yet in overseas markets. at least those in which there is no favourable tariff to help, them, Mini-minors are too dear to compete effectively with the home products of similar size. Price is also a handicap to Fords, but they have apparently decided nevertheless that the only way to get a foothold in such markets is to cut their prices. They have admitted, for instance, that they are selling some Anglias at cost so as to make an impression on the French market It is more likely that after paying transport costs they arc selling at a loss.

And Abroad
All the other big national producers have also held their Shows and are faced with the same problems. France had no less than three completely new small cars at the Paris Show which can only mean tremendous competition within the country and added threats to those outside. Volkswagen had their new larger car on show at Frankfurt, but are nevertheless continuing to turn out the old model at the fantastic rate of 4,200 a day. In yearly terms this is something like 800- 900 thousand, about the same as the whole of British production will be this year. Italian car production is also rising rapidly, whilst at the same time they are thinking of steps to keep out steadily mounting imports. All these countries have plans similar to those of the British manufacturers to expand output.

One thing they must all be wondering is how they are going to dispose of this output. It will be interesting to see how things develop during the next few months. There may be surprises in store.

U.S. & Common Market
One of the most surprising news-items of the month has been the report that the United States may have to consider joining the European Common Market. Further information is that President Kennedy intends to press for a freer trade policy and get rid of restrictive trade laws.

Yet only 15 years ago European Capitalism had almost been written off by the U.S. Even the vast quantities of dollar aid that were poured into Europe were given more as an emergency stop-gap against Russia than in any expectation of a revival. Western Europe, in the eyes of American Capitalism, was “finished.”

But the old-in-the-tooth Capitalists of Europe were not finished. One hundred and fifty years’ experience of exploiting the working class was still there to form the basis for revival. Now the countries of the Common Market are a threat to American Capitalism and, if Britain also joins, this threat will really be formidable.

The United Stales is in fact in a very similar position to that of the U.K. a few months ago. British Capitalist is now trying to get into the Common Market and, if it succeeds, the new lineup will only step up the pressure on the U.S. to follow suit.

What a change in the short space of 15 years! When people ask us how long it will be before Socialism is established. do they ever stop to think how quickly things arc now changing under Capitalism?

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