50 Years Ago: Capitalism’s dark hour

We used to hear much more than we do now about the awful prospects that awaited the peoples of the world in the event of their deciding to substitute Socialism for capitalism. Not only were we to wade to our goal through a sea of blood, but we were to find, when we reached our Land of Promise, that instead of being a land flowing with milk and honey, it was a stoney and sterile desert. Famine and rape would stalk the land; anarchy and chaos would overwhelm humanity . . . We are moved to these remarks by the awful spectacle of human misery which capitalism in her very prime offers to our eyes. For some days there has appeared in orthodox Press a most agonising appeal for funds to relieve the starving multitudes of what are now called the famine areas of Europe. In this appeal the Statement is made that five million children are in danger of starvation, and we read this tragic announcement:

“News is just to hand that only those children between three and five can be helped; the mites under three must be abandoned to starvation, for there will not be enough food to go round if these are included.”

and it is commented, “It has been necessary deliberately to select which children shall be saved and which must be left to die.”

Those who have with such cool effrontery declared that Socialism could not feed her populations have here something to think about. The present system, with all its wonderfully fertile means of production, is helpless to prevent catastrophes . . . nay, it is not merely that it is unable to prevent them: it produces them.

(From an unsigned article in the Socialist Standard, May 1920.)

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