Why doesn't THE PEOPLE ever discuss things from the standpoint of the consumer?


Why doesn't THE PEOPLE ever discuss things from the standpoint of the consumer?
VOL. 110 NO. 6


First, who is "the consumer"? Is it the worker? The capitalist would certainly like workers to think of themselves as being representative of that category. That is the reason the capitalist media always depict "the consumer" as being the "average" person. If there is a strike on, for example, and the strike interferes with the flow of ordinary articles of consumption, the striker is depicted as the enemy of "the consumer." Or, if the particular TV station or newspaper happens to be "liberal" and its job is to turn out something hostile to the power interests, it is the "fat cat" who is depicted as the enemy of "the consumer." Or, again, if it is a "conservative" TV station or newspaper that is up in arms against high taxes, the newscaster or commentator reveals "the consumer" as the victim of the bureaucrat.

The reason for these appeals is obvious. EVERYONE IS A CONSUMER- -INCLUDING THE STRIKER, THE "FAT CAT," THE BUREAUCRAT AND THE MEDIA ITSELF. If there is any difference between the worker consumers and the bureaucrat and capitalist consumers, it is that the latter consume disproportionately more than the former.

Now, THE PEOPLE is not interested in the standpoint of either the capitalist or the bureaucrat; THE PEOPLE is interested only in the standpoint of the workers. Moreover -- and this is of primary importance -- THE PEOPLE considers it its duty to demonstrate repeatedly that the workers are not robbed as consumers, superficial evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The workers are robbed as the sole producers of social wealth.

Everyone is a consumer, but only the workers are producers, and the workers are robbed by the capitalists who buy their labor power for wages and who appropriate the product of their labor. Wages are determined by the price that labor power fetches as a commodity in the market, and this price fluctuates according to supply and demand. In the long run, however, the price of labor power (wages) coincides with its value -- and its value is equal to the amount of labor (measured in labor hours and minutes) that is embodied in what workers consume to keep themselves in working condition. In everyday language the worker normally gets a LIVING WAGE.

This is the key to the robbery that goes on under capitalism. And it is precisely for this reason that THE PEOPLE focuses attention on the worker's wage-slave status and the need to alter this status. When, under socialism, the workers cease to be robbed of the major portion of their product they will be enabled to consume in proportion to what they produce, but not until then.