Plenty of Jobs!

(April 1915)

The International Socialist Review, Vol. 15 No. 10, April 1915, pp. 618–620.
Transcribed by Matthew Siegfried.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

One day last week a fat, greasy, overfed individual, wearing those quack-doctor side whiskers that make a man look as though he were peeking through the sage-brush, sauntered into the office of the Review to Let His Light Shine for a few moments.

He said there were some good things about us socialists, and that if the workingmen would submit to be “guided” by men of a higher intellectual order, we might hope to persuade such men to accept office and pilot the good ships of Industry into a safe harbor.

But there was one point upon which he insisted, we would have to change our minds. There were not enough jobs to go around in the world and there never were going to be, so it would be necessary for the socialists to inaugurate some world-wide charitable organizations if they ever hoped to “settle the world’s problems.” In fact, according to his view, “the broad view,” the chief function of socialism ought to be “Charity work.”

And this reminds us of a short communication which we received some time ago from a Chicago workingman, S.B. Davidson, entitled Work for the Eight Hour Day. Some of the things Comrade Davidson says are so good an answer to our would-be side-whiskered Savior, that we are going to try to give them here. When it comes to mental illumination, Comrade Davidson’s advice is like a metropolitan electric light plant set upon the top of a high hill, beside which our “charity” friend looks like a fire-fly in comparison. It goes a long way toward establishing our faith in working class ability to save the working class.

You may line up college and professional brains beside the most ordinary day laborer when it comes to solving the problems of the unemployed or shedding some light on how to abolish the wages system, and you will nearly always find our professional friends piffling away over some minor phase, while the hard-handed, rough-neck lays his finger on the cause of the trouble.

If you want to know how utterly bankrupt the capitalist class is both in brains and efficiency, you want to read what our high-browed statesmen have had to say on the problem of unemployment. One and all have almost invariably come to the conclusion that there is not enough work for everybody, and that we may as well make up our minds to facing a constantly growing Army of Unemployed.

And now comes Comrade Davidson with his suggestion:

“We can only work effectively on the political field by backing up our efforts on the industrial field. We can only work effectively on the industrial field by backing up our efforts on the political field. The two go hand in hand. Let us now give our earnest efforts to the industrial field and win for ourselves the eight-hour day. Make this our slogan: ‘Not a man or woman shall be working more than eight hours a day at the close of the year 1916.’

“Someone has suggested that we co- operate with the unemployed, and we know of no better way to co-operate than BY ABSORBING THEM IN INDUSTRY BY REDUCING OUR HOURS OF LABOR.

“If we reduce the hours of labor of four men from ten to eight, we can give eight hours’ work a day to one man who is now idle. If we reduce the hours of one hundred men from ten to eight, we can GIVE EIGHT HOURS’ WORK A DAY to TWENTY-FIVE MEN WHO ARE NOW IDLE.

“By the time we have reduced the hours of ten million workers from ten to EIGHT, we will have ABSORBED TWO MILLION OF THE UNEMPLOYED. Then our jobs will be more secure, and when we demand more wages there will be fewer idle men to take our places. Don’t forget that the idle workers are the ones who set your scale of wages.

´”So work for the Eight Hour Day. It will benefit you. Enough can be produced in less than eight hours a day to supply every human want. You have no need to work more than eight hours a day in order to live in comfort.

“Capitalists pay the workers just enough to keep them in working condition and to produce children to take their places when they can no longer be used at a PROFIT to the owners of industry. But the boss has GOT to give you a living while you are on the job, for when YOU STOP, PRODUCTION ALSO STOPS. As long as the profit system lasts you are going to get a living while you are at work, and that is about all you are going to get. If you get any more you will have to fight for it. You will have to fight to keep on getting what you receive now. Life is a constant warfare between the employers and the employed.”

Did you ever hear anything like this from the great “Institutions of Learning” (?) or from our presidents or ministers or U.S. senators? Did you ever hear Jim Hill or John D. Rockefeller suggest that the way to help the working people would be to cut down the hours of labor and give work to the unemployed.

There ARE PLENTY OF JOBS, there is plenty of work for every human being in the world. Take the steel mills, where men labor ten or twelve hours a day seven days a week. Here is an opportunity to make FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND GOOD JOBS OUT OF 250,000 rotten jobs by cutting the hours of labor in HALF and paying out the profits that are absorbed by the idle mill owners IN HIGHER WAGES FOR THE MEN.

The same thing applies to the farms, the railroads, the mines and factories all over the world. Millions of human beings NEED food, clothing and homes, and millions of men and women want to go to work to produce these things. The only thing that prevents them is the fact that the EMPLOYING CLASS ARE UNABLE TO MAKE PROFITS BY EMPLOYING SO MANY MORE WORKERS. And they prefer to let men and women starve to employing them when there are no profits to be gained for themselves.

And this is why we intend to abolish the profit system. We intend that the value of their products shall go to the workers when the Glad Day arrives. And we are not going to MAKE UNNECESSARY work for anybody. We are going to cut down the working hours just as low as possible for everybody, and we are going to use machinery where it will do the work of men and women, so that every factory, mill, mine and shop in the world will be turning out things with as little labor and as little time as possible to supply all the needs and desires of Man.

And, as the workers will themselves own and enjoy the things they have produced, there will be no poverty for any man who wants to work.

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Last updated on 31 May 2022