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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(3 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 9, 3 March 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Scissorbill Sam (the bosses’ man) keeps telling us how unfair it would be to take away the factories from all the bosses and run them ourselves. A lot of fellows agree with him, too. They don’t say it so loud as he does. But down inside, some of them think it would be kind of a dirty trick.

Why, us working people are in the great majority. And it wouldn’t be very sporting for us to take advantage of our great size and strength – to kick out this tiny group of tyrants, would it? After all, there THEY are, smooth, cultured generous – born to command – just like the actor who plays the female movie star’s millionaire father in the pictures. And here WE are, the huge mass of people that only look at the movies, and work in the shops. The fifty or sixty million dumb cluck’s that have to work for a living. Born to be commanded. Why only an “agitator” would want to change a beautiful set-up like that!

No. It really doesn’t seem fair to take things away from people who are weaker, fewer, and more useless than ourselves. But figure it this way. We’re really not taking anything away from them that they didn’t take away from us in the first place.

When they sell a billion dollars worth of steel to the government, where did the steel come from? Why, you’ll say, from the strip mill, the bar mill, the rail mill, etc. And where did the plates, bars and beams come from? From the ingots, you say. And the ingots from the open hearth. And the “live iron” from the mixer and the blast furnace, and so on, back to the iron ore that was dug out of the Mesabi Range by workers just like ourselves. And in every one of these processes it was working PEOPLE who changed the product from one thing into another, until finally it became steel.

But what about the machinery the diggers used, and the expensive equipment every steel plant has ? Fine – fine – That’s just the point. That cost something, they tell you. Yes. But what it really cost was LABOR, The machinery took labor to make, the labor of the engineer, draughtsman, tool and die maker, etc. It is made of steel that the millworker, billet man, furnace man, dock- workers, railroad worker, ship worker and miner made, too – and so are the buildings and tracks and engines – and everything else made by whole generations of working people.

They Sell the Product of Our Labor

What they sell, when they sell a billion dollars worth of steel is the product of our labor. And that’s where they get the money to hire more laborers to build more plants. That’s where they get the money to live, to live in palaces and swim in champagne. And all they return to the laborer is enough for him and his family to scrape along on, a jump ahead of the Finance Company.

We’re not going to be unjust to the capitalist. We’re going to give him a far better break than he ever gave us. When he works under a WORKERS’ government he’ll get the full product of his labor – which is a damn sight more than he gives us.

He won’t surrender a part of his product every day of his life for the enrichment of a few, like us working people have to do now. He won’t be building up more factories to enslave his own children. He’ll be helping to build better factories to make the work easier and life better for all.

Maybe he’s a smart fellow and will be of more aid in drafting and planning work than in actual construction. Good! We’ll use him. But maybe he’s too old, and can’t work at anything at all. Never mind! We’ll give him a pension (and no lousy thirty dollars a month, either!).

Then again, maybe he’s not too old, or too weak, or too dumb, but just won’t work. Well, in a case like that, the boys in the locker room ought to dope out a pretty good way to deal with him.

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