1990s >> 1993 >> no-1067-july-1993

Why you should be a socialist

The Queen Mother gets some food stuck in her gob—headline news; but at least it wasn’t a fish bone this time.

Ten thousand children die of hunger—or was it a hundred thousand? They have starved in a world where farmers are paid to throw food away and “set-aside” land because there are too few people with money to buy it.

Continuing the Royal theme. Granny Parasite’s daughter, Lizzy the Second, is currently paid £300,000 a year by the Common Market as a subsidy for not growing food on her land. She is just one of thousands of privileged owners who are paid to destroy what other people need.

These starving kids whose last screams of uneconomical need hardly ever make the headlines—why should they perish in a world of plenty?

Why: the longest word in the English language. A subversive word. It can only be a matter of time before it is removed from the National Curriculum (what the government wants us to be taught). Too many people asking “Why” and they might just start coming up with some answers.

The pot-bellied corpses, whose skeleton mountains are the mirror reflection of the food mountains, are the real monuments to the profit system. Nelson stands like a frozen relic from a fancy dress ball, commemorating for wage slaves the wars that their forefathers were butchered in, but the real centrepiece symbol of this system should be a dead baby whose mother watched as nourishing food and clean water were labelled as “bad investments”.

So why is it such a good investment for millions of workers every day to give our mental and physical energies so that a relative handful of millionaires and billionaires may live off the fruits of our labour? Who put the food into the Queen Mother’s mouth—and why should we?

In a world where workers on tea plantations could never afford to have tea at the Ritz and gold miners cannot afford basic dental treatment, let alone gold fillings, why should we, the wealth-producing majority, sit back and let a minority have it all?

It has been said that the rich and powerful are what they are because there is something of quality about them which we have not got. Is this so? Is it really the case that a child of one whose name was put down for Eton at the age of six months has a naturally greater right to the good life than a baby born to a mother who cannot feed it—or one of the third of all British children living on or below the poverty line?

Is the overfilled mouth of the Queen Mother really so much more worthy of social concern than the malnourished diets and poorly heated homes of the millions who survive on a state pensions? And if not, why do we not respond with as much energy when old workers perish in poverty as when old parasites survive to have ninetieth birthdays?

Why do we live in a world of such contradictions? Must it be like this forever?

We live in a social system. It has not always existed; it will not go on for ever. In this system there is a minority who own and control the major resources of the world. The majority of us, owning no more than our ability to work, have no choice but to work for the minority. We are paid wages and salaries which are less than the value of what we produce. The difference between what we produce and what we are paid goes to the capitalist minority as profit. We make—they take. It is a bloody good system for them. For us it is lousy.

Production for profit means that we work to make the owners richer. Our pay is enough to keep us on the working treadmill from week to week, month to month, year to year, cheap holiday to co-op funeral.

Why do the workers put up with it? Why did slaves put up with being owned by their masters? Rulers can lord it over us only as long as we think that they are more important than us. And every time we vote for their parties, admire their business operations. cheer their figureheads and refuse to think of a world where power belongs to everyone, we are proclaiming the view that our masters must remain our masters.

Why do we put up with it? We were taught to do so; we grew up with morals and religious gobbledygook which told us to submit; workers have been conditioned not only to be, but to want to be, second-class. Old Ernest Jones, the Chartist, summed it up well:

We’re low—we’re low—we’re very, very low.
As low as low can be;
The rich are high—for we make them so—
And a miserable lot are we!

People who think that they are low will be treated low. That is why TV ads tell wage slaves attracted to the cheap proley fodder of Big Macs that they are “eating out in style”—working-class style; the lowest that can be produced. We live in low homes, drive low cars and read the low-down from the low-down tabloid lie-sheets.

The socialist is a worker who refuses to be a slave, to be low. to submit and cheer the foolery of a system which spits on us. The socialist knows that to be human is to be conscious, with a potential for creativity and cooperation. We can join together and live as equals in a world where all production is for use and all life for living, not buying and selling. The socialist refuses to lie down and take it; we know that united in our millions we will be so strong that the parasite class will be forced to surrender their privilege and either share the world with us or else leave it for another place.

But socialists were not born socialists. No member of the Socialist Party emerged from the womb complaining about wage slavery and singing The Internationale. Socialists are workers who once believed that Queen Mothers were important and bosses must own the world and children must starve and capitalism is the only way for humans to exist.

Socialists are dangerous men and women who asked the question “Why?” and hit on a revolutionary answer. They are people who could see that the profit system will never meet the workers’ needs and that a sane world of production for use would and could.

There can be no compromise between the agenda of the Queen Mothers over-stuffed mouth (or concern about the pound and who the Chancellor is and whether the British thieves sign a treaty with their fellow Euro-thieves) and the plight of the starving child, the poverty-stricken worker, the wage-slave for whom life under the money system is one long headache.

In short, you will never solve the problems of the poor if you allow the rich to keep the world for themselves. Only when the wealth-producing majority decide that we will all be rich, in the sense of commonly owning and democratically controlling the world we inhabit, will it all change.

What do workers need to do? To begin with, a lot of asking “Why?” When you hit on the answers you will be angry. So you should be—but anger on its own leads nowhere. What we need to do is unite, with knowledge as our weaponry and cooperation as our guarantee of victory. Why not join us? Why leave it any longer?

Steve Coleman

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