J. T. Murphy

Book Review

Review of Self-Subsistence for the Unemployed

Source: The Aldelphi, August 1935, Vol. 10, No. 6
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Self-Subsistence for the Unemployed
By J. W. Scott
Faber, 6s

We are told that this book contains “studies in a new technique” but, really, there is nothing new in the technique outlined by Mr. Scott. Centuries ago there were idealists who dreamed of the possibility of living on Communist islands amidst the ocean of society. They packed their traps and tried, and failed. Mr. Scott may not be so ambitious and daring as they. He is not a pioneer blazing the way to a new society and experimenting with his dreams on himself with comrades who also dream dreams.

His aim appears much more limited, and his experiments are on others and not with others on equal terms. The essence of the scheme he suggests for the unemployed is for capitalists to supply initial capital to provide groups of unemployed workers and their families with the means of production for the making of goods for circulation amongst themselves, and not for the larger market. The means of production have to be more or less handicraft and the community of “unemployed” work on co-operative lines. The plan has been tried and is already working with a few groups.

So long as it is confined to a few groups it can work. But to suggest that capitalism will provide capital for the absorption of the unemployed in this way, when capitalism needs an army of unemployed, or that co-operative economy must remain on a primitive basis and separate from the economics of society as a whole is just nonsense.

Such schemes may make things a bit easy for some poor devils thrown on the scrap heap of capitalism, but the problem of deviling with unemployment is inseparable from the Socialist task of abolishing capitalism altogether and founding the economy of Socialism.