1960s >> 1969 >> no-776-april-1969

50 Years Ago: What We Want

A lot of make-believe capitalist sympathy has been slobbered over the working class recently as the result of the revelations of some of the horrors of working class existence in the mining districts and in the East End of London. That the capitalists may make a genuine effort to improve these conditions is quite possible. The war has shown them that they have a C3 nation of workers, and the latest births and deaths returns have revealed to them the unpleasant prospect that unless they bestir themselves they will soon have no nation of workers at all on which to found the military and commercial supremacy of their Empire. But even if they do improve the workers’ conditions; if they stable them in palaces and harness them in “Workmen’s Charters”; if Lord Leverem finds that he can exhaust his men in six hours and does it, and Mr. Ford discovers anew that high wages, as the Dutch says of paint, cost nothing —what then?

Such things, realised far beyond the realms of possibility, would leave us unmoved. We are out for LIFE for the workers. The world is beautiful. Life is glorious. Even work is joy if a man may, as Morris said, “rejoice in the work of his hand.” Evolution has given us the possibility of producing by work, as distinct from toil, wealth in such abundance that the amenities of civilisation shall be the portion of all, without stint.

(From an unsigned Editorial in the Socialist Standard, April 1919).