50 Years Ago: Capitalism and Psychology

When the capitalist class was young and still engaged in the struggle to overthrow their feudal oppressors the physical sciences met their requirements. The development of the processes of production in order to meet the growing demands of the world market, coupled with the improvement in weapons of warfare, were their chief immediate needs.

Now, having definitely established themselves as the rulers in society, they must turn their attention to the task of preserving their system and increasing the benefits they derive from it. In this pursuit they find a constant menace in the unrest of their slaves. They can employ force when dealing with particular sections, but in order to control the working class as a whole they must use cunning. They must employ knowledge of the minds of those whom they would control. Hence psychology comes to the rescue of priest and politician, journalist and factory manager.

Oh! Psychology! What wonders are committed with thine aid! Vegetarians and beefeaters, atheists and Christians, discovered an instinctive harmony with one another when the interests of capital are threatened.

From an article “The Psychology of Capital” by Eric Boden, Socialist Standard, January 1928.