Wage Slavery 3/3

Liberation from toil

The basis of all societies is the production of what is necessary for life. In the present time, production is dominated by the capitalist, possessor of money, owner the factory and the machinery, buyer of the raw materials, the hirer of the workers who  produce the goods which then can be sold and provide the capitalist with profit and privilege. Labour relations under capitalism is a system of squeezing, workers must be driven to the utmost exertion of their powers, either by punitive powers or by the more gentler arts of persuasion. So long as we have wage slavery it matters not in the least how debasing and degrading a task may be, it is easy to find people to perform it. Under capitalism the majority of human beings are not human beings at all, but simply machines of flesh for the creating of wealth for others.

Capitalism feeds upon the blood of labour.

The employers, through their agents in control of government and the entire state apparatus, have erected a whole network of laws and regulations designed to hamstring the labour movement. These range from the various regulations designed to make it difficult for unions to establish the fact that they represent a majority of a specific group of workers, to those which only permit strike action after a long process of delay, that not only make it illegal to strike within the life of contracts, to the ever- increasing use of court injunctions forbidding or limiting pickets, and the extension of compulsory arbitration to ever wider areas of the work force. Organised labour has grown weaker in relation to the growth of the work force.  Large layers of workers, poorly paid and helpless before the onslaughts of rising prices, the price of health-care, all the insecurities that are products of capitalist society, have fallen prey to the capitalist- inspired propaganda that the union movement is a narrow, a sectional power bloc, insensitive to their needs and concerned only with its own welfare. But think on. Do you find that the fatter the employer gets, the fatter also grows the employee? Or rather is it that the wealthier the boss becomes, the poorer his workers get.

Between the working class and the capitalist class there exists an irreconcilable conflict, a class struggle for life. No glib-tongued politician, no academic professor can deny the fact. There are ranged on the one side all those who owned the tools of production, and on the other those who used them. It is a struggle that will not go away, and can only be ended by the abolition of the capitalist class. This is the natural order of the damnable and sordid economic system in which we live. This is the order which will remain until it is altered by one of these classes, and the class which will make the alteration will be the working-class or slave class. That is its mission.  With the proper understanding of the economic system, the workers will soon find means to end that system, and to raise on its ruins a development of society having for its goal the benefit of the whole of the community instead of only the vested interests of a few.

The class struggle is the ceaseless struggle which goes on from day to day in every country. The struggle on all occasions is over some advantage which the one seeks to obtain over the other. It may take the form of more wages or shorter hours or the alteration of some working condition; but the particular point really does not matter, the opposing forces are always the same – the master class and the working class. Society is like a huge market where two commodity possessors come to sell their goods. The capitalist brings his commodity – money, and the worker his or her commodity – labour power. The worker sells the labour power in exchange for a wage which is what will bring subsistence of life, food, healthcare and shelter. In return for their slavery they receive only sufficient pay to enable them to continue operating the machinery from day to day, and to perpetuate their class. It would be a catastrophe to the capitalist system if slaves did not breed more slaves. The supporters of a system are those who have gained control of it or control of the means of production, those whose interests are bound up in it. The system is capitalism, and those who control it are capitalists.

Because you get a wage, and that wage suffices to keep you working for the capitalist and you can pay the rent and get fed. You have been turned into a wage-slave. He belongs to another class, the ruling class, and you belong to the lower class, the subordinate, subservient class. You are in an overwhelming majority and they only a few yet, they own practically everything and rule all the land. And they will keep on owning and ruling as long as you allow them to and you will allow them to as long as you persist in voting for their politicians, instead of uniting and acting solidly with and for each other and against the capitalists. It is because of your ignorance that you don’t understand your own interest and believe you need rulers to control you. But you don’t need them. The working class do all the producing and manufacturing. The bosses could not exist second without you. A capitalist without workers cannot exist. While the capitalist could not exist without you, however, you could do just fine and would actually begin to live without them.

Capitalism is based upon the exploitation of the working class and when the working class ceases to be exploited, there will no longer be any capitalists. What has the investor of a factory got to do with its operation? Absolutely nothing. They simply live off the profits and dividends of what is produced there, because you will allow it to be so. He does nothing and gets everything, and you do everything and get nothing. Without you society would cease. Society does not need the idle capitalists. They are parasites. They are worse than useless. They simply take what you make, leaving you in poverty. You make  things in great abundance, but you cannot possess them. You can only consume that part of your product which your wage, the price of your labour power, will buy.

If you think  that you ought to have a master to rob you of what you produced—if you think that you are so helpless that you would die unless you had a master to give you a job and take from you all except just enough to keep you working for him, if you think that workers ought to fight each other, if you think that unity, the unity of the union would be a bad thing for the working class, if you think that your interest is identical with the interest of the capitalist who robs you, if you think that you ought to be in slavish submission to the capitalist who does nothing and gets what you produce, if you think that, then certainly you are a happy contented wage-slave. As an individual worker you cannot escape from wage-slavery. It is true that one in a million may become a capitalist but it is the exception that proves the rule. The wage worker in the capitalist system remains the wage worker. There is no escape for you from wage-slavery by yourself.

Work in itself is not unpleasant. Many will toil in their garden or allotments for leisure. Many will engage in all manner of DIY and handicrafts as a hobby. Many will volunteer their help to charities. Some will offer to risk their lives to serve on a lifeboat or in a mountain rescue team. So even in our sham society most men are not disinclined to work, so long as their work is not that which they are compelled to do. But work under capitalism is inhuman for the workers and is compelled by the threat of deprivation, and the labour is without genuine interest, in  monotonous, repetitive jobs, where men and women are often driven to the point of exhaustion that the body can barely sustain. Therefore it is not unnatural that we witness an aversion amongst workers for their work, and how experts conclude that productive work, by its very nature, is repulsive to people , and must be imposed upon the unwilling by threat and bribery, the stick and the carrot. Yet, saying all this about compulsory labour, the work-place can also become a centre of community and fellowship. Some socialist suggest that the ideal of the future does not point to the lessening of men’s energy by the reduction of labour to a minimum, but rather to the reduction of pain in labour to a minimum, so small that it will cease to be a pain.

The employers pay as much as they have to pay, in order to secure “the hands” that they need, in order to carry out their profit-making enterprises. They pay what they have to in the open market. In the open labour market your wages are determined by your own economic necessity. If you are destitute enough to offer your labour power for lower price than the other fellow, wages will come down. Standing alone with empty pockets you are no match for the boss with pockets bulging with money, and backed up by an extensive employer organisations and trade  associations.

 Workers learned this long ago that they must match the power of the employing class whose aim is exploitation and tyranny and began to start unions, pledging one another not to work below a certain price. If they worked together to get all available workers into the union and if they practised solidarity and bargain collectively, they were able to shift some of the burden of economic necessity from their own shoulders to the employer’s and made him pay the “going rate”

All workers have but one enemy — the employing class. All the workers must get together against their common enemy. The struggle of the working class is world-wide. The workers  cannot wage a successful struggle against their own exploiting class and at the same time put their trust in organisations that have been and are hampering and betraying the struggles of their brothers and sisters in other countries. We must join hands with the workers of the world.