Thursday, December 26, 2019

A working week (1990)

From the December 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Monday: Another five days of blood, sweat and tears starts here. Why, if today is the first day of the rest of my life, do I feel as if it’s passing me by? Everyone is walking around with that miserable expression they always wear at the beginning of the week. Tell them that they’re hungover from capitalism and they look at you oddly. I asked Jason how he fared in court last Friday. He says he was fined four hundred pounds. Seems to think it was a reasonable price to pay for getting canned and hitting a policeman. I suggest he should join the Army and indulge his taste for booze and violence at the expense of the state. He is not amused. Check my diary to see what exciting opportunities the week has in store for me. I am not jetting to New York on Concorde for a business meeting, but I am seeing some fellow wage slaves tomorrow to find out why their company isn’t paying its bills. What a stimulating life l lead. I note that it’s Tom’s sixtieth birthday next week. I don't know how he manages to haul that 32-ton artic around every day, what with night's out, and three a.m. starts. He’s certainly looking his age.

Tuesday: I'll never understand why these occasions always end up getting so heated. The way they were going on you'd think it was their own money they were spending. It's like marriage; money caused more arguments than anything else. When I get back to the office, Martin's put his bloody posters all over the place again. How come that if I display union information I'm accused of fomenting a communist revolution, but he can plaster evangelical messages all over reception with impunity? They're all the same, these born again hypocrites. Give 'em a company car and their name on the office door, and they're in the bosses' pocket. Allowing for inflation it’s a lot cheaper than thirty pieces of silver. Check my diary and discover that I’m not engineering the take-over of another company to add to my growing international industrial empire. Instead, I have an appointment with my bank manager because I’m a hundred pounds overdrawn without permission. Bit of grovelling obviously called for. Money, it s a bugger.

Wednesday: Our cats got more sense than me. The bank manager didn't appreciate my jokingly threatening to take my overdraft elsewhere; but when I told him that if I were a Third World country he would be falling over backwards to lend me millions at extortionate rates of interest, I don't think he was best pleased. Make a note to find a new bank. Better still, get rid of money, and everything that goes with it. Back at work Martin's been applying "Christian principles" to my members' work practices again He's trying to render unto Caesar every last Denarius. I told him once. "Look", I said, “you're just as much a member of the working class as those lads on the shop floor . "I don t believe in class", he said, "we're all god's children". Obviously there isn't anything about Marx's Labour Theory of Value in the bible. Martin hates unions. I know that. Personally, I think he resents not having been born into the ruling class. Capitalism's not got a lot to worry about with people like him at its beck and call. Still, everyone's not as stupid as he is. After all, it's the working class that runs capitalism from top to bottom. The asylum of ignorance, Spinoza called religion.

Thursday: Today's the day we have the weekly ritual whereby the workers pick up their ration of poverty. It's always the same. They open their pay-packet, examine the contents carefully. Then sign for it with a long, sorrowful sigh. The routine never varies. After further careful perusal of the pay-slip, the queries start to come thick and fast. Is this tax right? I thought I earned more bonus than this last week? Can I have a twenty-pound sub to see me through to next week? When are you going to talk to the boss about re-instating overtime? It's bad for my blood pressure, Thursdays. All that aggravation over money. All over the country, no, the world, there are wage clerks, bank clerks, accountants. petrol pump attendants, security guards, all involved in helping to run a society where you can’t even get a box of matches if you don't possess that unit of exchange, money. Stupid, isn't it? And what does it achieve? After the collection of the wages comes the payouts. Union dues, pay back subs, and a quid to the lad who runs the football pools syndicate. Winning the pools seems the best chance most of us have got of escaping from a nine-to-five existence. Stupid, isn’t it. Especially when the alternative is staring us in the face, socialism.

Friday: Talk about wishing your life away. Monday's blues are now forgotten. Until next week. Everyone's walking around saying, roll on five o'clock, and discussing what they're going to do over the weekend. The options are somewhat limited by the amount of cash available. A dinner for two at Maxim's, Paris? No, three pints down the pub. A spot of grouse shooting on the moors? No, a walk round the park. A night at the Royal Opera House? No, a night in front of the television. At four forty-five in the afternoon, Martin calls me into his office. He's wearing his worried but concerned look. I get treated to a fifteen-minute exposition on the state of the world economy, its effect on national profitability, and then comes the crunch. The company's suffering from overproduction and falling sales. We must reduce costs. He hopes that I appreciate the necessity of ensuring that the company does its best to survive these difficult times for us all. We're talking redundancies. Or we will be on Monday.

Everyday: Stupid isn't it? Life isn't some pre-ordained. unchangeable circumstances there simply to test our worthiness or otherwise to pass the examination for entry to some eternal luxury hotel when we die. Life isn't a rehearsal. This is the only one we get. Are we all really satisfied that it couldn't be better? Some of us are happier than most. They're the ones who own the institutions that most of us work for. They're the ones who sit back and let the rest of us continue to create wealth for them. Day after day after day. Some of us are employed to persuade the rest of the working class what a wonderful system capitalism is. Or to persuade us that after a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears, we'll get our reward in heaven. It won't do. We, the working class, run society already, but for the benefit of a few rather than for the many. Let's make the capitalist class redundant. and with it capitalism. Let's put a smile back into every day of the week.
Dave Coggan

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