Western Socialist 1947

 

.           Quotes from the following article:

"The owning class has also a supreme and invincible weapon within its grasp: political power, - control of the army, navy, air and police forces.'

...

'Hence the intense stream of opinion-forming influences which stems from their ownership and control of press, radio, schools to mold the workers to the view that Capitalism is the best of all possible social forms. And that only political groups who accept this view are worthy of workers votes."

 

 

From the Western Socialist, July, 1947

 

Throughout the world today, working men and women are planning, discussing, organizing in trade unions, demonstrating and supporting political groups, all with a view to improving their social conditions. In some countries, they have had the right to vote for many years, and have been instrumental in the rise to power of Conservative, Liberal, Democratic, and Labor Governments. In all highly organized countries, political parties depend upon workers votes and support to achieve electoral success.

 

After all these years of effort and aspiration, an assessment of their present social conditions should be timely.

 

What is the lot of workers - the majority of society - today in 1947? Are they not still dependent upon wages and salaries (necessarily inadequate) with poverty their constant neighbor?

 

Is the problem of "getting by," of unease and insecurity, not more acute than ever? Is their childhood and old-age not marked with deeper frustration and lack of hope than ever before?

 

And are they not nowadays called upon with greater frequency to undergo the perils of war in order to ensure that their national masters may continue to rule and exploit?

 

Why all this? Let us look closer into the workers' position in modern society.

 

The historic development of society has resulted today in the monopoly of the giant means of production by a privileged few - the modern capitalist class, with the result that workers, who, as their title indicates, work for a living, can only obtain jobs by the grace of the owners.

 

The jobs of the working class cover the running of society from top to bottom, from producing to distributing, laboring to managing, hewing to directing, every necessary phase of social life rests upon the endurance and skill of the workers. In return for this profusion of effort, they receive wages (sometimes camouflaged as salaries, fees and commissions). Broadly speaking, with due deference to historical and other considerations, these wages are based upon the average cost of living which would enable the worker to reproduce his energy and his species in a manner commensurate with the needs of modern production. A fact which suggests that, in the main, when the expenses or ordinary working class life are met, nothing appreciable is left over which would permit any sizable investment in wealth production likely to realize any cherished dreams of emancipation from dependence upon selling their power to work.

 

if this is a correct deduction from social reality, it is but a simple jump to the conclusion that as long as workers are selling their labor power, so long will they be victims of poverty and insecurity.

 

The employing class on the other hand is richer, more powerful, better organized, than ever before. And this despite years of working class struggle against it. The employers can lead lives of comfort, ease and security and as a class take no part in production, and by virtue of their ownership of the means of producing wealth are legally entitled to secure for themselves the surplus values produced by the working class. At all times, their investments in private, municipal and state enterprises are dictated by considerations of profit.  At all times the endeavour to increase their portion of the wealth cooperatively produced by the worker; to extend and consolidate their wealth and power. When workers, under favorable circumstances, secure wage increases, the owners resort to: the installation of labor-saving machinery: speed-ups and elimination of time-lags in production: and appeals to workers to "produce more." All of which brings employers and workers into collision. Strikes, demonstrations and lock-outs being the expression of this clash of interests; labor unions and employers' federations constructed by the opposing forces.

 

The owning class has also a supreme and invincible weapon within its grasp: political power, - control of the army, navy, air and police forces.

 

The power is conferred upon the representatives of the owners at election times and they, recognizing its importance, spend large amounts of wealth and much time and effort to secure it. In countries like Britain and the U.S.A. (and many more) the workers form the bulk of the voters; a situation the employers are compelled to face and deal with.

 

Hence the intense stream of opinion-forming influences which stems from their ownership and control of press, radio, schools to mold the workers to the view that Capitalism is the best of all possible social forms. And that only political groups who accept this view are worthy of workers votes.

 

This is the basic characteristic of capitalist political practice, despite their sectional differences.

 

The millions of workers who have supported all the political parties such as Labor and Communist parties, with the hope that state capitalism or nationalization would solve their problems, should surely see now on 1947 the failure of such a superficial tinkering with the problem.

 

There is only one alternative to capitalism, and that is to bring the method of ownership into line with the social methods of production which could prevail today - social or common ownership - Socialism. A system which would end the evils of modern society. Such a system can only be constructed and operated with the conscious cooperation of the majority of society. Which parties, are therefore of any value to real working-class interests?

 

Those who have the changing of society from capitalism to socialism as their sole objective and reason for their existence; and who concentrate their energies on the task of converting the majority of the working-class to acceptance of the socialist view-point.

 

The method of attempting to rally the working-class around the specific issues which arise from day to day from the normal development of capitalism - the issues of war, conscription, unemployment and restriction of democratic practices, has been tried in every capitalist country and found wanting. It has resulted in nothing but the squandering of valuable working-class energy and enthusiasm with the end product of disgust and despair.

 

Aided by the powerful development of capitalism and its reflection and effect upon the workers, the job before all with working-class interests as their sole concern is the bringing into being of a socialist working-class. All else is futile and in the long run, detrimental to working-class interests.

 

-Thomas Anthony