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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(30 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 26, 30 June 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

People are getting laid off from the war plants. The whole aircraft industry is beginning to shut down. Fellows are returning from the army. And they’re all forming a new army. The Army of the Unemployed. It’s going to be bigger than all of Eisenhower’s forces – much bigger.

You don’t have to look very far to see it coming. The aircraft plants on the other side of town are half closed down already. It hasn’t hit the steel industry yet. So far, we’re all still in the shop and still working six days a week.

But it’s like when you were a kid hoeing beans on the farm. A storm would come blowing at you right in the middle of a dry day. And you could see the rain coming down at the other end of the field, drenching the other kids. But a minute later, you were soaking wet yourself.

It Sucks Everyone In

That’s the way this thing hits, too. You see the unemployed and the reliefers a long way off. And suddenly you’re right in the middle of them.

Some people think that unemployment doesn’t hit everybody. But that’s where they’re wrong. Remember how it used to be when there were fifty guys outside the gate waiting to take your job? You took a lot of the company’s crap then. You swallowed a lot that you don’t swallow now.

The bosses used those fifty men for all they were worth, as a whip over your head. They felt the power those unemployed gave them. They made you work ten and twelve hours a day for straight time. Divide the work up with the unemployed at a living wage for everyone? The hell they did! With those fifty guys at the gate, you’d take your thirty cents an hour and be thankful for the ten-hour day.

Unemployment hits you whether you’re working or not. It demoralizes the employed and the unemployed both. It’s a weapon in the hands of the big capitalist bosses. It’s up to us to take this weapon out of their hands and put everyone to work.

Workers’ Control the Only Cure

This can only be done by operating industry under our own workers control. If the capitalists could operate these factories to make murder machines, certainly WE can operate them to make the things that people need to live like human beings. The capitalists have made their millions and billions out of the plants, and now the plants are being left to rust and decay, while people starve.

This rust and decay and starvation are part and parcel of the capitalist system in its stage of decay. War has only interrupted the process and substituted explosion for decay, sudden death for starvation. Now we are going back to the old pre-war dog-eat-dog way of living, only fiercer and more bitter than before.

But when we working people take over the factories, mines and mills, there won’t be one bunch of us working 12 hours a day for starvation wages and another bunch on relief with a starvation dole. When the working class takes over, that kind of stuff will be done with forever.

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Last updated: 5 November 2018