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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(23 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 25, 23 June 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Who’s going to do the dirty work under Socialism?” That’s one question that doesn’t come from the heart of the working man at all. He’s just thoughtlessly echoing the middle and boss class people who never have soiled their hands. Because if he stopped to think a second he’d say “Who does the dirty work under CAPITALISM?” And the answer would be THE WHOLE WORKING CLASS.

Somehow or other some people have got the idea that it’s just the garbage men who do the dirty work under capitalism. If that were true and that were the only dirty work we had to eliminate under Socialism, it would be a real snap. Why, for the cost of a couple of pocket battleships you could install private incinerators all over the country and let all the garbage men work in a perfume factory.

But it isn’t true. There are jobs far, far dirtier than garbage men’s. What about the furnace workers in the steel plants, straining their guts with all-day shoveling and slag picking in sweltering heat and getting pneumonia when the winds freeze the sweat on their bodies ? That’s a dirty job.

Plenty of Dirty Jobs

What about the foundry workers, pouring the metal into sand molds while the black smoke fills the shut-in buildings so much that the glaring red and white hot iron only dimly lights the place like a red sunset? Yes what about them – working along till they collapse with tuberculosis, silicosis and other lung diseases. All the horse pills in the drinking fountain dispensers don’t stop them from getting this coughing, blood-spitting business. And that’s a dirty job.

What about the miners, working their lives out on their knees and bellies in the bowels of the earth? They get lung diseases, too – and more besides. The cave-ins, the blow-ups, the asphyxiations – and the slow starvation in the death traps. And as for dirt, they come home every night covered with coal dust from head to toe. They still have the taste of it in their mouths. Do you call that a clean job?

Capitalist war isn’t exactly a clean affair either. Millions upon millions of youngsters are thrown into battle to murder and be murdered for the sake of Dupont and Mitsui. Most of those kids would have been squeamish about tossing around scraps and rotten vegetables. Now they have to plunge their stickers into MEN and turn them into rotting corpses. And afterward they have to endure the stink of the battlefield and try not to go crazy.

Cleaning Up the Capitalists

And mind you the capitalists, who are the cause of all these things, have the gall to ask us “Who’s going to do the dirty work under Socialism?”

The only dirty work will be the job of cleansing all the filth the capitalists have left behind – like clearing up the debris from their terrible war.

Our workers’ society will have no need of war. It will have every need for strong, healthy, happy human beings and every reason to help them to be so. Our workers’ society will spare no expense to make all jobs safe and clean. UNDER SOCIALISM, NO ONE’S GOING TO DO THE DIRTY WORK.

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Last updated: 5 November 2018