1970s >> 1974 >> no-837-may-1974

50 Years Ago: Who are the brain workers?

In order to combat working-class discontent the Daily Mail had urged “the men who do the brain work of this country” to give up their Sunday golf and devote the day to teaching the workers and correcting their “misapprehensions”.

How artfully the case is put! The manager, the professor, the cleric, the M.A., the B.A., and all the other lettered gentry; in other words the “Intellectuals” or salaried officials are obviously those to whom the Daily Mail points a reproving finger. How these people will swell with importance on reading such complimentary remarks. And yet it is nothing but “spoof”. “Spoof” for the “intellectual” and “spoof” for the worker.
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Who are the intellectuals, the salaried officials anyway? They are simply a particular section of the working class, the most backward section, the most abject slaves — they who kiss the hand that smites them. They receive “honourable mention” when their performances assist the interests of the employers and the sack when their performances are unsuccessful. Like other workers they depend for their living upon the sale of their energies, and, like other workers, they go under if they can’t find a ready sale for such energies.
All work done by workers under capitalism requires the use of brains, and each kind of work is equally necessary.
The term “brain worker” is only a sop thrown to a particular section to ensure the continued support of capitalism by that section. The sop is thrown with the old principle in the mind of the thrower — “Divide and conquer”. Set one section of workers against another and each will be so taken up with their sectional quarrel that they will overlook their fundamental solidarity as wage-workers.
[From an unsigned editorial ‘King Canute Up-to-date’ in the Socialist Standard, May 1924.]