The following article was first published on 4 October 1981 under the title “Capitalism Stands in the Way of Social Advance” in the “Talking Point” column of the Sunday Mail of Salisbury, Zimbabwe, where the Prime Minister Mugabe has just announced that his Party will rule for ever. Ian Smith was more modest; he merely spoke of ruling for a thousand years. It is up to the working class, armed with the ideas expressed in this article, to bring Mugabe’s ambitions to nought.
The dominant society, worldwide, is capitalism. It is international and it is existing now in Zimbabwe, in a less developed form than in, say, Europe or America or Russia. Capitalism is only a name for a type of society characterised by the way people living together under it have certain dealings or relations with each other in the everyday affairs of life.
It is called by this name, capitalism, because the means of production and distribution of commodities under it, the land, factories, railways, etc., are owned by capitalists, that is, by people possessing large amounts of money that they have invested so as to acquire ownership of these means of production and distribution.
They may be landlords with their money invested in land and buildings, and draw their income in the form of rent. They may be owners of factories or trading concerns, or they may have shares in a large number of companies and receive their income in the form of profits.
Lastly, they may have invested their money by making loans to manufacturing or trading capitalists, or by lending it to the Government or councils. They then received “interest” on the loan. All these groups are alike in that they live by receiving income from their investments, a private property income.
The working class, by applying their energies to nature-given material, produce all of the necessities and luxuries which the whole of the population consume; but as employees they receive a wage or salary which provides them only with the means of subsistence for their maintenance and their families.
The workers in, say, three days’ work a week, produce an amount equal to what they receive as wages: the rest of the week their work produces a “surplus value" out of which are derived the rent, interest and profit of the propertied class, their private property.
Here is the root cause of working class poverty. The workers are carrying the propertied class on their backs, the workers are an exploited class under capitalism.
It has been necessary to describe briefly capitalism to begin understanding in what direction Zimbabwe is going.