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Susan Green

Capitalist Lies Won’t Help Them

(10 February 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 6, 10 February 1941, p. 3.
Transcribe d& marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The National Association of Manufacturers, at its convention held last month in New York, embarked on a huge propaganda campaign in the schools. Running along with the more vociferous war propaganda, like Mary’s little lamb, will be this not so vociferous but just as dishonest effort to fill the minds of the children of the country with hokum about the “system of private enterprise”.

The exploiters who squeeze profits out of the workers through the ownership of the means of production – which they innocently name “the system of private enterprise” – feel the ground shaking under them. In frantic haste to win the race with history, they wish to make the rising generations believe that the exploiting system of capitalism is still progressive and is, no less, the best possible social system.

They will lie their heads off in an attempt to do this. Facts will not help them at all. What can be greater proof of the bankruptcy of the capitalist system than its collapsed condition from 1929 till the present war boom? No amount of lying will wipe out of existence the sufferings of tens of millions of jobless, destitute people, while the factories and farms able to produce their needs stood idle.

They will lie a lot more trying to get by the incontrovertible fact that the capitalist system cannot make the machinery of production function for the purposes of peace. Only to produce the means for in human slaughter of millions of people, do the wheels of capitalist production whir full time. And this is just as true for “democratic” capitalism in. America and England as for Nazi and fascist capitalism in Germany and Italy.

No Longer Progressive

Socialists gladly admit that in its heyday capitalism was progressive. The lure for profits in the unlimited markets of the world stimulated the capitalist class to expand and mechanize the means of production. It encouraged science and invention to make possible the mass production of an abundance of commodities. It is true that in its progressive stage capitalism robbed the workers of the product of its labor, just as it does to day. But then there was historic compensation for the robbery. The technological means for ultimately abolishing poverty from the face of the earth were being perfected.

This reason for putting up with exploitation no longer exists. Poverty stalks the land – but not because of any technological insufficiency. The Brookings Institution estimated that during the twelve-year period from 1922 to 1934 this country could have produced in goods and services $248,000,000,000 more than it did produce. And, according to other authorities, this figure is altogether too low. Yet, even taking the lowest figure, at least $8,000 in goods and services were withheld from each of the thirty million American families – because the modern means for mass production were standing idle.

Think what that sum for each family would mean. Translated into food, clothing, shelter, education, health, entertainment, it spells the difference between happiness and misery. All this was kept from the masses by “private enterprise” which holds in its octopus grip the machinery of production and will not let it operate except when there is profit to be made. That is how “progressive” the capitalist system has become.

It is estimated that the minimum annual income on which a family of three can purchase a fair share of the output of the productive plant of America, is only $2,500. The wonderful things – from cars to kitchen gadgets – advertised in the better magazines of the country, could be bought by all the people, if the average earnings per family of three were the modest sum of $2,500.

However, the shameful truth is that families with that modest income or over comprise only thirteen per cent of the total population. AND DON’T THINK THE 13% ARE WORKERS! Among that thirteen percent must be included America’s sixty wealthy families with all their sisters, cousins, aunts – presidents of corporations, bankers, politicians, the middle class, etc., etc. Small indeed is the percentage of actual workers who have the golden key to the locked door beyond which lie the necessities of modern life.

Smash the Vicious Circle!

Here is the secret of the regressive character of present-day capitalism. THE WORKING CLASS IS PAID IN WAGES ONLY A SMALL PART OF THE VALUES IT PRODUCES. The markets of the world are now so limited that they cannot absorb the huge surplus of which the workers are robbed. So the wheels of industry stop turning and remain practically motionless until the blessings of war descend upon us.

The viciousness of this endless circle becomes ap parent. The youth of the working class is killed in war because their parents were robbed of the product of their labor and so that the capitalist masters may secure a larger share of the world markets in which to dispose of the wealth .of which the working class will continue to be robbed.

It will take more lying than there is to get children growing up in a world of war and poverty to believe that the capitalist system is progressive. They will be asking, with true youthful curiosity, why the existing means for abolishing poverty are not used for that purpose, instead of the destructive war.

The logic of the answer of the WORKERS PARTY is bound to appeal to them: “private enterprise” must be replaced by SOCIALISM – the system which will give to the workers the full product of their labor.

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