WOMEN'S LIBERATION & THE "SOCIALISTS"
CONDITIONS OF THE WORKERS SINCE 1844
THREE YEARS ON
OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN
Communications to: General Secretary, 71 Ashbourne Court, Woodside Park Road, London N12 8SB
WOMEN'S LIBERATION & THE CLAPHAM ''SOCIALISTS''
In the No. 10 issue of Socialist Studies we referred to a letter from Mr S Szalai, General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Canada, and his support for women's liberation. We also pointed out that the Clapham based Socialist Party also supported women's liberation. This was confirmed by the recent decision of their 1994 Annual Conference, to formally allow their members to join women's liberation organisations. In fact there is already a militant group within that organisation as evidenced by a long article entitled 'Herland' in the March Socialist Standard.
The article contains much rubbish, and repeats the old and long discredited view that men are unnecessary and women could exist without them. This idealism gone mad is apparently the acme of Women's Liberation. No intelligent person could take this seriously. The ruling clique who now run the Socialist Party appear unable to control these feminist Utopians as well as the other dissident elements within its ranks. The time is near when the feminists in conjunction with the environmentalists, the anarchists, and the gays will dominate the organisation, and as far as we socialists are concerned, the sooner the better.
Already at the 1994 Conference, the 'Greens' carried a resolution urging the use of recycled paper in order to save the rain forests of Brazil. Such an attitude is more in line with the mainstream of capitalist reformers than with a revolutionary socialist party, which that organisation still claims to be.
Their West London branch, (the Socialist Party's Think Tank), ever anxious to square the circle , make a distinction between political women's liberation and non-political women's liberation; they support one but not the other. They say:
"There is a difference between individual members becoming involved in organisations attempting to alleviate the individual suffering under capitalism and the Party campaigning on their behalf". (Letter to Szalai, 13th March 1994).
They produce one example "Shelters for battered women" as being non-political. This highly selective example does not stand up to examination. Whilst the shelters in themselves are obviously not political, the campaign to create them, extend and finance them, is part of the continuing campaign of the political wing of women's liberation. It is a distinction without a difference. Why else should a women's shelter describe itself as part of the women's liberation movement? And why does West London branch regard them as such? There is no such thing as non-political women's liberation.
Glasgow branch, another centre of confusion, reacted with indignation to Mr. Szalai's original letter containing the suggestion that socialists should support women's liberation. One of their members Mr. V. Vanni, tells us he is disappointed with Mr. Szalai for supporting political women's liberation, and other refomist movements while he, Mr. Vanni, only supports non-political women's liberation. Not surprisingly, Mr. Szalai cannot tell the difference. Mr Vanni tells us (Letter to Szalai 15th November 1993) that the Glasgow branch sent a resolution to the E.C. as following:
"This branch reaffirms that membership of reformist organisations is incompatible with membership of the Companion Parties of Socialism".
This sounded very promising. However in April 1994 they instructed their Conference delegates to vote in favour of allowing members of the Socialist Party to become members of women's liberation. The Glasgow branch appear completely muddled, as they do not see the contradiction in opposing reformist organisations, and allowing their members to join them at the same time. The stale old argument that many women's groups are not political is used as a smokescreen to justify total support for all the activities of women's liberation.
The question is why do the Clapham based Socialist Party refer sympathetically to women's liberation at all? Clearly they are seeking support from this movement. It is taxing our credulity to expect us to believe that they merely have in mind battered women's shelters groups, or possibly other feminist organisations like the Ladies International Boxing Association!
Why do women's liberation groups exist? What do they want to be liberated from? They do not want to liberated from the wages system, nor from capitalism in all its aspects. On the contrary, they lobby the main political parties to get reforms for women; they are totally reformist and therefore opposed to Socialism. Their militancy extends no further than the reformist slogan "equal opportunities" or the right to be exploited on the same terms as men.
An intelligent women's place is inside the Socialist Party of Great Britain where there are equal opportunities to become a revolutionary propagandist for Socialism. Valuable time is wasted in a women's liberation movement, which does not move and cannot liberate.
An article appeared in the Socialist Standard March 1994 under this title. It purported to be a review of a book Herland by the 19th century American feminist Charlotte Perkins Gillman. The article also expresses the writer's own views
The result is a collection of nonsensical rubbish which even the editors of the Socialist Standard did not want to publish. They turned it down. The writer appealed to the Executive Committee of the Clapham based Socialist Party, who overruled the editors' decision, and published the article thereby making it the official policy of the Party.
The book describes a feminist utopia where there have been no men for centuries. Women reproduce by "responding to the urge to be a mother". In other words reproduction has reverted to the most primitive forms of panthenogenisis as operated by the protozoa, the amoeba and the greenfly. Responding to "urges" is philosophical idealism.
From a scientific study of society, Marxism rejects inner "urges".
Instead we see the human species respond to material objective conditions of existence, not idealistic "urges". It is a notion which could only occur to one utterly ignorant of the simplest facts about the evolution of species. The whole evolutionary process results from variations in which tiny mutations may give some advantage and eventually be passed on to future generations. The facts can be easily verified by looking at the numerous text books on the subject.
Ms Gilman is to be forgiven for her ignorance of reproduction and genetics. Gustav Mendel's work on garden peas was unknown to her. Genes and DNA were not to be discovered until after her death. Ms Mohidean, the author of the Socialist Standard article, and the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party have no such excuse.
Genetic engineering has become a vast international business adding new dimensions to the production of plants, and animals including humans. All this is apparently unknown to the E.C. of the Clapham Party, who seem more interested in feminism than in science and Socialism. Their ignorance of genetics is only matched by their stupidity in politics. Has it never occurred to them that sexual reproduction is a genetic process and that without the fertilisation by the male, the human race would atrophy and disappear.
It is hardly surprising then, that Ms Mohidean concludes her article with a number of "left wing" notions which have nothing to do with Socialism such as 'wages for housework'. Her understanding of the role of trade unions with regard to the 1984 Miner's Strike is equally ignorant. All supported and endorsed by the Clapham Executive.
We understand that Ms Mohidean has now resigned from the Socialist Party presumably to devote herself to women's liberation. It proves another example of the futility of trying to run a socialist party with non-socialists.
IS CLASS STRUGGLE RELEVANT IN THE 1990's ?
We are told by journalists, academics and politicians that the terms 'class' and 'class struggle' are obsolete. According to the prime minister, John Major, we live in a 'classless society*. Apparently we live in a meritocracy where able workers are able to climb the ladder. A recent Guardian article echoes this end of class rhetoric:
"Fewer and fewer British workers, election after election, consider themselves 'working class' or embrace the values that phrase describes"
To underscore this The Sunday Times (10th April 1994) published a list of the top 200 capitalists, which included a large proportion of 'self made' men and women. New money earned by 'merit', according to the paper's editor, is replacing old money unearned by privilege and birth.
Most studies of class are superficial and concentrate on education, jobs and salaries paid. In the Economist for example, (Vol.330 No.7851), statistics are given that sixteen out of twenty Whitehall Permanent Secretaries went to private schools and seventy per cent went to Oxford or Cambridge. So what ? Suppose they had all come from state schools and had been to redbrick universities, it would have made no difference to their function.
Despite the propaganda of the media, the problem of conflict associated with class will not go away. The class struggle exists today as it has done in the past. The effects of the class struggle are constantly to be found everywhere; attacks by employers on workers pay and conditions of employment. The calls by newspaper editorials and economists for pay restraint and the introduction of incomes policies, and of course strikes and other industrial action. Indeed the very existence of organisations like the CBI, Institute of Directors, the Adam Smith Institute, the Freedom Association, the TUC, the unions, and the numerous anti-trade union legislation during the 1980s, cannot be understood without reference to the Marxian theory of class and class struggle.
The position of the Labour Party on class and the class struggle is clear enough. In the past, Labour governments have used the machinery of government to protect private property and to maintain production. When in power, Labour (like the Tories and Liberals) act as the 'executive of the bourgeoisie', and this determines their role in the class struggle. In his book Troops in Strikes, S. Peak lists the use of soldiers by past labour administrations against the working class. Mr. Peak quotes the then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, about contingency plans to break the 1979 oil tanker's strike:
"The government were ready at any time to call on the assistance of the Services and to proclaim a state ofemergency should that have been necessary." (Hansard 15th January 1979, col318).
The Labour Party, as a political organisation existing to serve the interests of British capitalism, has no option but to carry out antiworking class actions. Like the word 'socialism', it will probably be hard to find reference to 'class' in the Labour Party's next election manifesto. But then the Labour Party has never been a socialist party.
Socialists begin by investigating the property relations governing production and distribution of the social wealth. These clearly show the division of society into two classes, the working class and the capitalist class. From this class division there arises class conflict and class struggle, each class having opposed economic interests.
As the owners of the means of production and the employing class, the capitalists live off the unearned income of rent, interest, and profit. As a class they play no role in production and distribution The working class, who run society at all levels, exist off wages and salaries Workers are exploited as a class during the production process They produce more wealth than they receive in income; the surplus wealth being the source of the capitalists' profits. It is over the extent and intensity of exploitation that class conflict occurs The more workers get in wages, the less there is for the employers' profits.
Class then is all about the social power of one class in society over another. It is about workers being forced to sell their mental and physical abilities for wages.
The class struggle can be abolished by enlightened political action at the ballot box, for the control of the machinery of government. This can only be undertaken by workers acting as a class 'for itself through a socialist political party. The abolition of the class struggle will mean replacing production for exchange with production for social use.
CONDITIONS OF THE WORKERS SINCE 1844
1844 was the year in which Frederick Engels studied the living conditions of the workers and reported his findings in his book The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. One of his conclusions that provoked lasting controversy was that the workers' conditions had been getting worse between 1800 and 1844.
When a new translation from the original German was published it was reviewed in the Sunday Times (9th March 1958) by Robert Blake. He commented on the dispute and pointed out that while the Hammonds in their study of conditions, and also the Fabians, inclined to Engel's view, Sir John Clapham took the opposite view. It is a reminder of the difficulty facing the observer of varied piecemeal information, who has to reach an overall assessment, particularly when, as with Engels, it meant going back over forty years.
An important element in workers' conditions is the wages they receive, but it is not enough to find out what money wages are paid, account also has to be taken of the amount of unemployment and the levels of prices.
One very common error made by observers is that where there is a standard rate of pay for a job, they assume that all workers doing that job get the standard rate. At different times and in different industries there have been legally established minimum rates of pay, for example in agriculture between 1917 and 1924 and since 1925. Books of reference on wages invariably take it for granted that because the agricultural minimum wage is "the law" it will be paid to all workers concerned. They should take note of the fact that crimes of all kinds are forbidden by "the law" but that does not stop some seven million crimes being committed each year.
When there is heavy unemployment, workers not being paid the legal minimum are afraid to have action taken on their behalf. This was highlighted in one case in 1917 when a landworker who had been underpaid for years was helped by the union to have a large sum repaid to him. A month later it was found he had returned the money to the farmer, having been told by him that if he kept the money he would lose his job and his "tied" cottage. The organiser of landworkers union reckoned that at that time nearly half the landworkers were underpaid.
In the period 1921 to 1925, when the minimum wage had been abolished and a campaign was organised to seek its restoration, the Scottish Farm Servants Union showed a realistic appreciation of the situation by refusing to support the campaign. They argued that anything that could be done for the farmworkers would be done by themselves through their organisation.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, when unemployment again reached high levels, television and radio programmes on the wages received by women working part time in Wage Council minimum wage jobs, revealed widespread under payment of the minimum.
Regarding the need to take prices into account in considering the condition of the workers, it was a government department, the Ministry of Labour, which in its Industrial Relations Handbook (1961 edition, page 6), grossly understated the workers' wage situation during what was known as "The Great Depression" between 1875 and 1895. This was their description:
"A period of trade depression followed the year 1875 and lasted for about twenty years. During this period trade unionism lost some of its strength. Strikes were common and almost invariably unsuccessful."
Nobody would realise from the above that because of a heavy fall of prices, and actually a rise of 5 per cent of money wages between 1875 and 1895, that the purchasing power of the average wages of workers in employment went up sharply; by 29 per cent in the twenty years. It is sometimes supposed that government departments, in order to enhance the reputation of the government of the day, will be disposed to represent workers' conditions as being better than they really are. The Ministry of Labour in 1961 certainly did not do so.
On the other hand Robert Blake in the Sunday Times maintained that Engels was biased, and invariably attributed "the worst motives to employers", which does not necessarily prevent Engels from being right about conditions worsening between 1800 and 1844
Average real wages rose a great deal after 1844 For information on this we have The Economic Development in the United Kingdom 1850-1950 a comprehensive report for the American Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) for their mission to this country in connection with the grant of Marshall Aid. It contains a table showing the movement of the average real wages "of those in full work" year by year from 1850 to 1950, (Index figure 224 in 1950 against 100 in 1850).
A calculation, based on the average wage of male workers and assuming that wages of other workers, men and women roughly increase in line with the wages of the male adults , shows that the average real wages of the workers more than doubled again between l950 and 1992.
What made the continued increase of real wages technically possible has been the continuous increase of total national production per head of population. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto (1848) had singled out as the outstanding characteristic of capitalism its achievements in the field in the field of production: " The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together."
A table in the Economic Development of the United Kingdom shows that between 1870 and 1950, real national income per head of the population more than doubled, (an average annual increase of 1.7 per cent of the amount in the base year 1870). Furthermore figures published m the official journal Monthly Digest of Statistics show that between 1971 and 1993 output per head of the whole labour force in employment increased by 41 per cent (an average annual increase of 1.9 per cent of the amount in base year 1971).
What has helped and still helps to bring about the increase of wages is the organisation of the workers in trade unions. Engels noted this in his 1892 Preface to his Conditions of the Working Class Writing of what he called "The Great Trade Unions", of engineers, carpenters and joiners, bricklayers and bricklayers' labourers he wrote "That their condition has remarkably improved since 1848 there can be no doubt". Average real wages of all workers in 1892 were 63 percent above the level of 1850. Not only have real wages increased but hours of work have decreased. Average hours of work per week, which in 1850 were twelve and more a day and a six or seven day week, were 46.1 in l950 and 4l.3 in l993 for male adults According to the Monthly Digest of Statistics (April 1994), average earning of men on adult rates were £353.50 per week in 1993 for an average of 41.3 hours and £252.60 for 37.4 hours for women. The average hourly rate, excluding overtime pay and overtime rate, in 1993 was £8.47 for men and £6.68 for women so that the women's rate was about 79 per cent of the men's rate.
So much for the developments front 1844 to date. What of the future? According to the politicians, unemployment need not concern us any more because all the capitalist political parties, Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrats etc. are now firmly committed to a policy of full employment. But then so were they all by a declaration made in 1944.
When politicians make these promises, what they are chiefly concerned with is getting the electors to vote for them. They disregard the fact, demonstrated by Karl Marx and evidenced by the crises and depressions that have occurred with unfailing regularity throughout the history of capitalism, that there is nothing governments can do to abolish unemployment and its rise in periods of depression.
Following their 1944 promise to abolish unemployment, it did indeed remain very low until 1966, never above 3.1 per cent and mostly below 2 per cent. This was however not due to government policy, but to war time destruction ot manufacturing capacity in Japan and Germany.
After 1966 unemployment began to rise again:- to 3.5 per cent in 1971, 5.7 per cent in 1978, 10.5 per cent in 1981, and to 13 percent in 1993. Latterly it has slowly declined but will in due course rise again in the next crisis and depression. Whether British capitalism is managed by Tories, Labourites or others it will periodically create an excess of workers seeking jobs over the demand of capitalists to employ them. The owners of capital employ workers only when conditions are such that the commodities the workers produce can be sold at a profit: which depends on world market conditions.
As regards the future of wages, it may be that the output per man will go on increasing and real wages keeping pace with output but there is no necessity that it will be a continuous process. There will certainly be periods in the future during which real wages will fall as has happened in the past. As well as very short spells of falling real wages there was a fall of 18 per cent between 1910 and 1916, and a fall of 17 per cent between 1933 and 1941. Similar falls can be expected from time to time in the future.
The Labour Party has now adopted for its electoral programme a national minimum wage for all workers. Recalling how minimum wage laws have been disregarded in the past when unemployment was high, we can be sure that the same will happen under the proposed National Minimum Wage Law.
We of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, as successors of the party of that name founded in 1904, are not presenting ourselves as knowing how to run capitalism without unemployment, without exploitation of the workers by the capitalists, without wars and so on. The only solution is the abolition of capitalism and its replacement with Socialism, as set out in the Object and Declaration of Principles to be found in all our literature, and which we have inherited from the 1904 Socialist Party of Great Britain. That party was founded by members of the Social Democratic Federation who seceded over the issue of supporting reforms. It was explained in the first issue of the Socialist Standard (September 1904) Writing of the Social Democratic Federation the seceding members who founded the SPGB said:
"For all purposes of effective Socialist propaganda they have ceased to exist, and are surely developing into a mere reform party, seeking to obtain the provision of Free Maintenance for school children"
For us as for them a socialist party has only the establishment of Socialism as its objective. It does not support reforms or reformist organisations as does the Clapham based Socialist Party which now controls the Socialist Standard. They claim that there is a distinction between supporting "individual reforms" and supporting "reformism". Among the organisations of which the Socialist Party expressed its approval was Solidarity, the Polish organisation which in 1989 became the government of capitalist Poland (see Socialist Studies No. 9)
On the issue of the marked trend for average real wages to increase, the Socialist Party is committed to the statement the "poor get poorer" which apparently is intended to refer to the workers as a whole. No evidence to support that view has been given by them and they publish grossly exaggerated figures invented by them about the extent to which workers are exploited. That capitalism creates a large number of desperately poor people, with little hope of ever improving their position, now, as in Engel's day, is not in question.
In the 1994 European elections the Socialist Party ran several candidates on a programme which used the Object but not the Declaration of Principles. By doing so it was merely confirming that in abandoning the name 'Socialist Party of Great Britain', and using only the name 'Socialist Party', it was also abandoning the commitment to Socialist political action set out in the eight Principles, which distinguished the 1904 party from all others.
ENGELS ON FREEDOM
It is only after the seizure of the means of production by society (that) ... in a sense man finally cuts himself off from the animal world, leaves the condition of animal existence behind him and enters conditions which are really human. The conditions of existence forming man's environment which up to now have dominated man, at this point pass under the dominion and control of man, who now for the first time becomes the real conscious master of nature, because and in so far as he has become master of his own social organisation. . It is only from this point that men, with full consciousness will fashion their own history; it is only from this point that the social causes set in motion by men will have predominantly, and in constantly increasing measure, the effects willed by men. It is humanity's leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom.
(Anti Duhring Part 3, Chapter 2 )
The cover of Socialist Studies No 12 wrongly referred to an article as "Brief Outline of Marxian Production". It should have said "BriefMarxian Outline of Capitalist Production
THREE YEARS ON
Another two years have passed since we recorded our first birthday in Socialist Studies No.6. They have been two years of hard slog; it is not easy to get members of the working class round to our point of view. Our task is not helped by a vicious campaign on the part of the so-called Socialist Party of Clapham. We have continued to run our lecture series over these years, covering a wide range of both theoretical and topical subjects and debates with other organisations. On at least two occasions the Socialist Party has written unsuccessfully to our opponents asking them not to debate with us. They refuse to debate and try to ignore our existence, unless it be to try to upset our adverts, room bookings, debates and bank account, where they write to third parties on "Socialist Party of Great Britain" headed paper, which is against their own rulings.
We have organised a couple of Summer Schools, both enjoyable occasions, with a number of visitors including some from Clapham. Our publications have settled on a steady course, with seven more issues of Socialist Studies, three more sections of our pamphlet Questions of the Day, and Socialist Principles Explained. Another encouraging feature is a steady build up of our subscribers list, including international interest. During the past year we have widened our selection of audio tapes of lectures etc. Also some very good meetings in Hyde Park have provided an avenue for distribution of our literature.
We approach the next year with renewed determination to keep the Socialist message on sound lines. To those who agree with us, a warm welcome to membership so that our joint efforts can further our cause.
THE SOCIALIST PARTY'S FRAUDULENT CLAIMS
Readers of Socialist Studies will be familiar with the many attempts made by the Clapham based Socialist Party to hinder our work, and if possible close us down. In the No. 8 Issue early in 1993, we drew attention to their action in informing the Brittania Building Society that we were not entitled to use the name of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and that our General Secretary, Cyril May, was not authorised to open up a bank account in that name. They claimed therefore that the money in our account belonged to them.
Mr. Buick, General Secretary of the Socialist Party, had raised the bogey of our having obtained these funds by false representation. He made this complaint on headed paper bearing the name of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. This allegation was sufficient to cause the Building Society to block all transactions by freezing the account.
Later in 1993 we opened up another account in the name of Socialist Party of Great Britain (1904) with the Halifax Building Society. Again Mr. Buick and the Clapham based Socialist Party repeated this false claim to the Building Society alleging false pretences, and again the Building Society froze the account pending either a police enquiry or a Court order concerning the ownership of the funds. Apart from maintaining the pretext that the Socialist Party of Great Britain of 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN, was still in existence, Mr. Buick deliberately misled the Halifax Building Society into believing that Court proceedings concerning the use of the name 'Socialist Party of Great Britain' were to take place at Edmonton County Court on 5th July 1994.
The Court proceedings to which Mr Buick referred had nothing to do with the use of the name "Socialist Party of Great Britain", but were proceedings brought by us against the Brittania Building Society for the recovery of the funds in our account which they had frozen for over a year as a result of Mr. Buick's interference. Mr Buick attended the preliminary hearing on 1st June at the invitation of the Brittania Building Society, and was instructed by the Court to disclose all documents relating to the Socialist Party's claim, both to us and to the Court, prior to the hearing on 5th July 1994.
The Socialist Party did not supply any documents relating to their claim, and nor did Mr. Buick attend the hearing. We obtained judgement for the sum claimed (approximately £75.00 plus costs), and the Building Society's claim for costs of £50.00 was not granted. It is significant that Mr. Buick and the Socialist Party whilst they are prepared to latch on as parasites to court proceedings taken by us, are not prepared to take proceedings themselves challenging the ownership of funds in our bank account, or the use of the title "The Socialist Party of Great Britain".
Mr Buick (and all other members) are forbidden by a Party Poll in 1990 to use headed paper with the title 'The Socialist Party of Great Britain', which is a defunct organisation as far as they are concerned. This will of course not bother him and his accomplices, and the fact that we were expelled for using that title is completely ignored by them. This type of hypocricsy is typical of the opportunist Socialist Party.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain of 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN, is defunct and no longer exists as a political party. It does not produce political literature, hold propaganda meetings or contest elections. It cannot exist merely as a name without a body. Its entire functions have been taken over by The Socialist Party, but not its Policy and Principles. We are the only political organisation in this country bearing the title 'The Socialist Party of Great Britain'.
Mr. Buick and the other activists within the Socialist Party, who plotted the destruction of the old SPGB and the expulsion of its loyal members, cannot bear the thought that it has arisen again. Their frustration at the the failure of their ailing brain child, the Socialist Party, coupled with the survival and growing influence of the re-established SPGB, has produced in them a bitter hatred and hostility to the SPGB, which is reflected in their vicious campaigns against us.
Their latest attack on our bank accounts causes us some inconvenience we could do without. Were we to take legal action we could make it expensive for Mr. Buick and the Socialist Party should they persist in this campaign. We do not rule out any action we may be compelled to take to protect our interests. However we are above all a revolutionary Socialist party, devoted exclusively to the promotion of Socialist ideas. We will not be distracted by the petty obstruction of the anti-socialist Socialist Party. In the meantime any; sympathisers wishing to make a donation to the SPGB should make cheques etc. payable to our secretary C. May.
Karl Marx showed how the employed workers are exploited. They work throughout the week producing commodities, but they receive less as wages than the full price realised by the sale of the commodities which they alone have produced. The remainder is retained by the capitalist class by whom the workers are employed. Marx called the part retained by the capitalists surplus value. Information showing how large are the respective shares is published each month in the official journal Monthly Digest of Statistics.
In the issue for April 1994 the items that make up the Total National Income (Total Domestic Income) are shown for the year 1993 Out of the Total National Income of £546,311 million, wages and salaries accounted for £350,515 m (64.2%); Gross Trading Profits of Companies £78,764m (14.4%); The surplus of Nationalised Industries £3,334m (0.6%); while the remainder, described as Income from Rent and Self Employment etc. accounted for £113,698m (20.8%).
It will be seen that the amount received by the employed workers as wages and salaries (£350,515m), is more than four times as large as the combined amount of company profits and the surpluses from nationalised industries (£82,098m). Expressed as percentages of the Total National Income, wages and salaries (64.2%) are more than four times as much as company profits (15%).
If the total of wages and salaries are added to the total of profits and nationalised industries'surpluses we get £432,613m Of this wages and salaries make up about 81 % and profits about 19%
If these percentages are applied to a 5 day, 40 hour week it would show that on average the employed worker works about 32.4 hours per week replacing their wages and 7.6 hours producing surplus value for the employers. The Clapham based Socialist Party chooses not to use these figures but gives publicity instead to fictitious figures of their own creation
In their journal The Socialist Standard (July 1987) they describe the time spent reproducing wages as "a few hours each week". Further in the issue for June 1994 they state that "Profit comes from paying workers only a fraction of the value they produce". The Oxford Dictionary gives as a meaning of "a fraction", "a very small part". Does the Socialist Standard really regard 32.4 hours out of 40 as a very small part? Mr. Buick, General Secretary of the Socialist Party, is certainly well aware that the statement that reproducing the equivalent of the workers' wages takes only "a few hours each week", is false.
In their journal for June 1993 Mr. Buick himself gave figures showing that the workers spend more of their working week reproducing the value of their wages than the time spent producing surplus value. His figures were seriously inaccurate because he worked them out only on the 5 million workers in manufacture and ignored the more than 20 million workers in other industries. (See Socialist Studies No. 10).
Mr Buick is however not disinterested in his approach to the question of the degree of exploitation. He has put forward as his opinion that if figures "paint capitalism in favourable colours" they should not be used in propaganda. In other words they should be suppressed In criticism of our use of valid figures Mr. Buick wrote:
"Why should people calling themselves Socialists want to borrow arguments from reformers to paint capitalism in favourable colours by denying that the rich are getting richer or that the workers are getting more and more exploited?".
What he called borrowing arguments from the reformers actually consisted of reproducing well authenticated facts from Professor Bowley and others who had studied the situation. (See Socialist Studies No. 4) Mr. Buick's approach is obviously to pick the figures which suit his point of view, and ignore inconvenient ones. We in the SPGB are not afraid to find out the facts of the situation as our case is just as strong whatever the degree of exploitation.
It would be interesting to know if the members of the Socialist Party are aware of and approve of their journal's continued publication of fictitious figures about exploitation.
As Marx pointed out whether workers are highly or lowly paid they are still chained to Capital, even if their chains are made of gold. The point is of course to change it.
AUDIO TAPES - NEW ISSUES
We are pleased to offer the following tapes of Lectures, Debates etc. that we have held over the past years.
All tapes include the full lecture and in most of them, a part of the question and discussion period. They can by purchased in the sum of £2.00 each, including postage and packing.
Please order by number and send your remittance
(cheques made payable to our Secretary, "C. May".)
to our Head Office-
71 Ashbourne Court, Woodside Park Road. London N12 HSB
A complete list of tapes is available on request
19. The S.P.G.B, and the Hostility Clause. 1993
20 The State and the Machinery of Government 1993
21 Are the rich getting richer and the poor poorer' 1991
22 The frustrations of social life in Capitalist society. 1990
23. The Poll Tax. 1991
24. Marxism and history. 1990
2$. Violence and democracy. 1991
24 Rent mortgage and the property owning democracy. 1992
27 Nationalism and war. 1992
28. Russian capitalism - farewell Lenin - welcome Mammon. 1990
29. Marxism and the New Europe. 1992
30. The S.P.G.B., Trade Unions, politics and government 1992
31 The S.P.G.B., politics and democratic reform movements. 1991
32. 2 topics: 'Russian capitalism' & The A B C of Inflation.' 1970
33. Economic crises are inevitable. 1976
34. (Marxism since Marx. 1977)
(The failure of political parties 1969)
35 Liberation of women. 1994
36. The Labour Party's new image. 1993
37 Marx and the Communards. 1993
38. Marx and History, 1993
39 DEBATE. S.P.G.B. v Libertarian Alliance. 1993
40. Trade Unions in decline. 1993
41. Reform Act 1832: Chartists and the franchise 1993
42. The Communist Manifesto 1993
43. The Paris Commune, minority action & understanding. 1993
44. Marx, Keynes and economic recovery 1993
45. DEBATE S.P.G.B. v The Liberal Party 1993
46. The reality of capitalist reforms 1994