Answers to Correspondents


1. In Adam Smith’s day 3 per cent, was the usual rate of profit for sound security. To-day L.C.C. stock, second only to Consols, are issued at 3 ½ per cent. In many cases as large rates as ever are made to-day. The Cold Storage Co. paid over 100 per cent., some of the electric power companies have made similar profits, while some of the catering firms pay dividends of 30 to 40 per cent year after year.

The amount of profit apart from the rate, has of course increased enormously with the increased productiveness of labour.

2. Surplus value is the portion of wealth remaining after paying wages, cost of raw material and of machinery used up in the given time. But this as a rule undergoes further deduction for rent for the land, interest, and rates and taxes. The portion of the surplus value that remains is the capitalist’s Profit. Profit, therefore, is only a part of surplus value.

3. What you pay for your tobacco and sugar is their market prices, and taxes are the smallest factor in fixing these prices. The workers only receive sufficient to keep them in working condition, hence have no margin wherewith to pay taxes. See ” S.S.” for October 1904 and June 1905 where the matter is fully dealt with.

4. If you will send particulars of numbers joining we shall be pleased to help you.

5. Yes, old age pensions etc, do come out of surplus value, as shown by answer to question 3.


E.C.R. asks “How do the S.P.G.B. propose to overthrow the present system of society and establish Socialism on Democratic lines and legislative means without Man and Woman Suffrage?”

The Socialist Party is not opposed to Adult Suffrage, but maintain that the working class have quite sufficient votes at their disposal to effect the revolutionary purpose when the class are sufficiently class conscious to make the time opportune. It is a question of education, not of extensions of the franchise ; and since the line of social cleavage is drawn through classes and not through sexes, there is nothing undemocratic in proposing to proceed even with our present limited male suffrage.


E. GARRY asks how non-producing workers (instancing insurance collectors) can be exploited.

If 5 hours social labour produces a day’s energy, and the worker is compelled to render ten hours labour for the day’s necessaries which have taken only 5 hours to produce, then, no matter what the result of his labour (and the capitalist will see that it has some tangible result), he is exploited. Apart from this, however, even the so-called non-producing workers are necessary to the operations of the capitalist class, and Friend Garvey must not forget that the workers are exploited as a class since as a class they are deprived of the means of living except through wage slavery.

Leave a Reply