|Vol. V, No. 14 Margsirsha 5, 2008 November 19, 1951, Four Annas – Air-/4/6|
One way : The Right way
UNDOUBTEDLY the Communists are right in thinking that one of the great obstacle in the way of the working man getting the full benefit of his labour is the present economic system wherein numerous economic interests which do not actively contribute to the production of wealth take away from the worker a good slice of the wealth he has helped to produce. Obviously, so long as such a state of affairs continues, the worker cannot be prosperous however hard he may labour. He is like a pot with a leak. Much of what he gets he loses to these economic interests. If he is to prosper this leak must be stopped.
Since the major portion lives in the villages, let us for illustration take for our consideration the village-dweller, say the cultivator of cotton. He has to pay rent to the landlord, and interest to the money lender. To sell his cotton he has to pay commission to brokers and middlemen. The rate at which he sells is not determined by needs or his efforts but by world prices, and he gets a very low price for his produce, which hardly suffices to give him two scanty meals a day. He sells his cotton and imports mill cloth for his use. The mill cloth is pticed to cover cost of manufature, including wear and tear of machinery, rent administration, transport, agents, insurance, retailers’s profit, shareholder’s divided and such like. From his meagre earnings he has to pay for all these which are included n the price of the cloth he buys.
Formerly, from the cotton locally grown, the village produced its own cloth, which meant the employment for the cader, the Spinner, the weaver, the dyer the washerman, and the carpenter. When, however, cloths are manufactured outside, all these people of his village have lost a source of income. In this way, under the present arrangement the villager is impoverished in a three-fold way i) He has to pay money to those who do not actively contribute to the production fo wealth; ii) he has indirectly to pay for numerous expenses connected with the factory goods importe ..the village; and iii) he is deprived ved of subsidiary employment.
The communist solution to this problem is to wipe out the landlord, the money-lender to the factory owner, the middle man, and to run agricultural and industries on a collective basis, so that the bulk of the wealth produced may be enjoyed by the worker who produced it. The result is that the labourer under a Communist regime is not any better off. His position may in fact be worse, for under a communist state man becomes out a means of production. Communist think that by getting rid of the landlord and the capitalist they have freed the worker. They forget that so far as the worker goes, under communism he has only obliged Ged bosses, in the place of private boss he now has the State as his employer, which has the entire power of the Government behind it to extract work out of him and to crush him of je dared to oppose it. The worker, therefore, is in a much worse plight of dependence and utter helplessness than under a non-Communist arrangement.
If then both under Capitalism and under communism the worker is exploited, the question arises as whether there is a possibility if every freeing him from exploitation. It can be done, it seems to us, only if he is allowed to function apart from the capitalist and the State. and is given freedom within his village community to organise production with the resources available to him. The cotton-grower of our illustration, for example, will then be a peasant owner of his land or will have obtained use of his plot from the village Panchayat. What he produces will then remain with him for his use and for the use of ho community. He can exchange it for other goods produced by his neighbours. There need be hardly any middleman. There will be very little scope for exploitation to a village unit where the people of the unit manage their affairs themselves through a Panchayat of their own chosen representatives. It is in such an economic order that the worker will come to his own. He need not suffer from want of primary commodities like food and cloth, for the village may be expected to produce all that it requires. The villager will be his own boss and run his agriculture and industries as he thinks best for his own needs and the needs of his community. Freedom of the worker from exploitation about which Communists talk so much can therefore, it would seem. be attained only in self-sufficient village units, and not in any economic system where production and distribution are concentrated, as in Capitalism, and in Communism, in the hands of the powerful few. By Bharatan Kumarappa