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CHAPTER VII
SOCIALIST SOCIETY

THE MOTIVE TO WORK

INALLY, it is necessary to indicate, however imperfect the outline may be, and however subject to revision and adaptation may be the details, the bonds which will keep a Socialist Society together, and the impulses which will prevent it from becoming mechanical and so stagnate. It is also requisite to indicate reasonable grounds for believing that the changed conditions will produce changed motives, otherwise Socialism remains a Utopia, for it has to be admitted that if men carry capitalist motives into the Socialist State, that State will not work. In the very first place, it is necessary to consider what motive to work Socialist Society will afford, for if production fails, everything fails. I refer my readers to what I have already written upon this in the section on Production, and I need do little more than summarize it here. Capitalism claims that its motive is the desire to possess property. That obviously can apply to a very small section of the community, because, as I have shown, property beyond the most insignificant saving upon weekly wages, not only small in amount but of no great certainty, is unknown to the mass of the people. The person who controls capital, uses it to increase his wealth, but that statement is not the same as that he uses it to

increase communal well-being; the mass of the workers work that they may be able to live from day to day. They are literally driven to the factories by the whip of starvation. Of them it is true that he who does not work cannot eat. This whip will be wielded under any form of Society, for what is consumed must first of all be produced. But it seems clear that the production which a community requires cannot be procured by forced labour. When labour becomes educated until it acquires self-respect and self-knowledge, and when men combine to look after their own economic interests, work done under the whip of physical necessity must deteriorate both in quantity and quality and must increase in repulsiveness. In relation to drudgery, the intellectual man is hostile. When the worker understands distribution, profits and dividends, he becomes a more and more unwilling part of the industrial scheme, and the idea of “working primarily for the advantage of another ” makes him withhold part of himself. He is like a man shut in by a wall over the top of which he cannot see. He is closed out from the motive of communal service. His circumstances compel him to see nothing but the antagonism between his and his employer's interests, and from this he cannot escape because it is at his elbow all day long. He is therefore prone to consider wages as his first and last concern, and labour as a task not for producing wealth in which he shares, but for producing profits which he desires to absorb. He can see Society only in its class aspects. Therefore when we appeal for a generous production in the communal interests, language is used to express ideas which are quite foreign to workshop psychology, and the response is not forthcoming. So much is this true that when the workman becomes a public servant he is blamed for employing “the government stroke,” which means that he takes things easy. When that accusation is well founded, its explanation is not that public work must always be done less efficiently than private work, but that under present conditions the bureaucratic control of public work is sometimes careless or weak, that the whip of necessity is not laid on men's backs in the public service so ruthlessly as in private service, and that (and this is the most important of all) men take into public service the psychology of the forced labour of the private workshop and are influenced by it under conditions which give it a somewhat greater freedom for action. It ought to awaken a more imperative obligation, but Capitalism has stunted the sense of that obligation and it is not available. The idea of working for another person's profit vitiates all labour done in a Capitalist State, and no oasis of a higher service morality is left in the worker's mind. Moreover, the difficulty of establishing such an oasis is made all the greater from the fact that in so many respects the lower strata of public service have been treated no better than the same strata in private service. This is borne out by a study of the conflicts with labour in the Post Office. This is a major failure of Capitalism. It cannot provide a motive to work when men have gone beyond the state of passive obedience. Before the war there were many signs that the capitalist motive for work was breaking down, and that forces were gathering within the ranks of labour which were bound to issue in a great challenge to capital as labour's owner. Education was spreading amongst the younger workmen in the engineering, mining and transport industries, industrial history and economics were, in particular, being taught to them. The workmen were beginning to go to the factory under protest against the system of which they were a part, and in a hard business way were regarding their work as an unjust bargain made between themselves and Capitalism, to be fulfilled only up to the letter. A system run in this way must come to grief or at best remain totally inefficient and inadequate. The war strengthened this sense of resentment. The nation's experience of Capitalism during its times of stress did not add to its respect for Capitalism; the exploiting example that Capitalism gave to labour was not good; the workman learned what power he had ; the conditions of the peace settlement showed how rich was the harvest of victory assigned to and claimed by capital, and how scanty was that offered to labour —so much so that it became a common thing to attribute the whole war from beginning to end to capitalist influences; during the war there was a levelling of economic classes and an establishment of equality—not of a uniform, but of a varied and essential service. On the political side, this secured the vote for women; on its industrial side, it meant unsettlement, resentment and a disposition to fight Capitalism on any pretext. All this means that the capitalist motive is of lowered value in production, and that the whip of physical necessity will get less and less out of workmen and will certainly not restore to the remnants of this generation or to the next the will to work which war conditions did so much to deteriorate. The whip had a certain influence on the workers' physical energy, it had none on his moral or intellectual energy. But the will to work in an intelligent body of workmen depends upon moral and intellectual impulses, and, when Socialism claims to be a better system of production than Capitalism, it has to make its case good by explaining how it can command these impulses better than Capitalism. In the first place, private profit disappears and its divisive effect upon labour's mind also disappears. But will work of a factory character still remain distasteful ? Will workmen use their new powers to reduce it to too low levels 2 Everything points in the opposite direction. Men on the whole do not dislike work, however much Capitalism may have succeeded in deteriorating them. They dislike prolonged task work, they have no great interest in work which means profits to others, and in the payment for which they believe they would be cheated if they did not look after themselves; they can have no heart in work which they cannot improve, and upon which they are not encouraged to exercise their brains. In spite of that, however, the man who takes a real interest in his work and does it in no casual way, is far more common, and has survived capitalist influences in far greater numbers than the critics of the British workman are willing to allow. It can be fairly assumed that the requisite production will require less work energy when the parasites wholive upon it are cleared off, when science, now only in its infancy, is applied to it, and when the relation between science and production is more intimate than is possible under Capitalism, when the brains of the workmen are enlisted with those of the management and of the scientist to make co-operating labour effective. This will not only reduce the wearisome task features of production, but will bring into the work places a more vigilant labour energy and intelligence. Then, when in addition, the psychology of communalisco

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