1980s >> 1985 >> no-968-april-1985

50 Years Ago: Unemployed offer to sell their toes

In that popular rag, The People, under date of January 27th, it is stated that there are scores of men and women in Britain who would be willing to sell their toes — for hard cash. The prospective purchaser is a young Frenchwoman who lost her little toe in a motor car accident. She states that she is willing to pay handsomely for a suitable toe, which her surgeon is confident that he will be able to graft on to his patient’s foot. According to the same paper, scores of men and women in Britain have signified their willingness to sell their toes in exchange for cash. Such are the facts, and many other similar cases will at once arise in the minds of our readers.


Thus we have, on the one hand, workers who cannot find a master, living in a state of such dire poverty that many have been driven to commit suicide, ready to be transported to foreign soil, to be placed under an anaesthetic, and to have their toe cut off. in order to supply this necessary missing link to a charming young Frenchwoman.


In attendance upon the lady will be the surgeon, the anaesthetist, the nurses, together with the necessary quorum of male and female servants.


Why, it may be asked, should not the roles be reversed? Why, supposing a worker loses a hand or an arm when attending dangerous machinery, should not a member of the capitalist class be operated upon and have the necessary portion of his anatomy removed and grafted on to that of the useful worker?


(From an article “British Workers Ready to Sell their Toes to a French Capitalist”, Socialist Standard, April 1935.)