50 Years Ago: Eight Million Undernourished

Of course the stock argument of such people is that war is for national aims and all should be prepared to make sacrifice. To which Mr. Greenwood, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, though he supports the war, is constrained to reply that: “There is too ready an assumption on his (Mr. Keynes ) part that the workers of this country were having a fair share of its wealth, anyway, before the war started.” And the Manchester Guardian pertinently reminds its readers that: “Before the war. Sir William Crawford estimated, eight million people lacked wages sufficient for the bare minimum of food regarded as essential to health by the British Medical Association” (Manchester Guardian, November 3rd).


So, war or no war, we are back again at the basis of capitalism, the ceaseless struggle between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Not all the academic theorisings of Mr. Keynes and all the honeyed words of the politicians will prevent the struggle from proceeding, with its customary periodic outbursts of industrial strife.


Mr. Churchill may persuade himself that ours is one of the peaceful parliamentary countries “which aim at freedom for the individual and abundance for the mass” (broadcast reproduced in News Chronicle, November 13th). but he cannot dispute the unchallengeable facts of working-class poverty.


[From an editorial “Wages and Wartime”, Socialist Standard, December 1939.]