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(en) The Great Money Trick - Taken from "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist" by Robert Tressel

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 4 Feb 2004 20:33:25 +0100 (CET)

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"Money is the real cause of poverty," said Sipho.
"Prove it," said Thandi.
"Money is the cause of poverty because it is the
device by which those who are too lazy to work are
enabled to rob the workers of the fruits of our labour."
"Prove it," repeated Thandi.
Sipho slowly folded up the piece of newspaper he
had been reading and put it into his pocket.
"All right," he replied, "I'll show you how the Great
Money Trick is worked."
Sipho opened his lunchbox and took from it two
slices of bread, but as these were not enough, he
asked that anyone who had some bread left should
give it to him. They gave him several pieces, which
he placed in a heap on a clean piece of paper, and,
having borrowed the knives they used to cut and eat
their lunches with from Nkosi, Thandi and Abendigo,
he addressed them as follows:
"These pieces of bread represent the raw materials
which exist naturally in and on the earth for the
use of all people; they were not made by any human
being, but were created for the benefit and suste-
nance of all, the same as were the air and the light
of the sun."
"Now," continued Sipho, "I am a capitalist; or
rather, I represent the bosses and landlords; the
Capitalist Class. That is to say, all these raw materials
belong to me. It does not matter for our present
argument how I got possession of them: the only
thing that matters now is the admitted fact that all the
raw materials which are necessary for the production
of the necessaries of life are now the property of the
Capitalist Class. I am that class: all these raw materials
belong to me."
"Now you three represent the Working Class.
You have nothing, and for my part, although I have
these raw materials, they are of no use to me. What
I need is the things that can be made out of these
raw materials by work: but I am too lazy to work for
myself. But first I must explain that I possess some-
thing else besides the raw materials. These three
knives represent all the machinery of production: the
factories, tools, railways, and so forth, without which
the necessaries of life cannot be produced in abun-
dance. And these three coins" - taking three 5 cent
pieces out of his pocket - "represent my money, capital."

Sipho proceeded to cut up one of the slices of
bread into a number of little square blocks.
"These represent the things which are produced
by labour, aided by machinery, from the raw materials.
We will suppose that a week's work is worth one
Sipho now spoke to the Working Class as represented
by Nkosi, Thandi and Abendigo.
"You say that you are all in need of employment,
and as I am the kind-hearted Capitalist Class, I am
going to invest all my money in various industries, so
as to give you plenty of work. I shall pay each of you
one Rand per week, and a week's work is that you
must each produce three of these square blocks.
For doing this work you will each receive your
wages; the money will be your own, to do as you like
with, and the things you produce will of course be
mine, to do as I like with.
You will each take one of these machines and as
soon as you have done a week's work, you shall
have your money."
The Working Class accordingly set to work, and
the Capitalist Class sat down and watched them. As
soon as they had finished, they passed the nine little
blocks to Sipho, who placed them on a piece of
paper by his side and paid the workers their wages.
"These blocks represent the necessaries of life.
You can't live without some of these things, but as
they belong to me, you will have to buy them from
me: my price for these blocks is, one Rand each."
As the Working Class were in need of the neces-
saries of life and as they could not eat, drink or wear
the useless money, they were compelled to agree to
the kind capitalist's terms. They each bought back,
and at once consumed, one-third of the produce of
their labour. The Capitalist Class also devoured two
of the square blocks, and so the net result of the
week's work was that the kind capitalist had con-
sumed two Rand's worth of the things produced by
the labour of the others, and reckoning the squares
at their market value of one Rand each, he had more
than doubled his capital, for he still possessed the
three Rands in money and in addition four Rands
worth of goods. As for the Working Class, Nkosi,
Thandi and Abendigo, having each consumed the
Rand's worth of necessaries they had bought with
their wages, they were again in precisely the same
condition as when they started work - they had nothing.

This process was repeated several times: for
each week's work the producers were paid their
wages. They kept on working and spending all their
earnings. The kind-hearted capitalist consumed
twice as much as any one of them and his pool of
wealth continually increased. In a little while, reckoning
the little squares at their market value of one
Rand each, he was worth about one hundred Rand,
and the Working Class was still in the same condition
as when they began, and were still tearing into
their work as if their lives depended upon it.
After a while the rest of the crowd began to laugh,
and their merriment increased when the kind-heart-
ed capitalist, just after having sold a Rand's worth of
necessaries to each of his workers, suddenly took
their tools, the machinery of production, the knives,
away from them, and informed them that as owing to
over-production, all his storehouses were full-to-
bursting with the necessaries of life, he had decided
to close down the works.
"Well, and what the bloody hell are we to do
now?" demanded Thandi.
"That's not my business," replied the kind-hearted
capitalist. "I've paid your wages, and provided you
with plenty of work for a long time past. I have no
more work for you to do at present. Come round
again in a few months' time and I'll see what I can do
for you."
"But what about the necessaries of life?"
Demanded Nkosi.
"We must have something to eat."
"Of course you must," replied the capitalist, in a
friendly way; "and I shall be very pleased to sell you
"But we haven't got any bloody money!"
"Well, you can't expect me to give you my goods
for nothing! You didn't work for me for nothing, you
I paid you for your work and you should have saved
something: you should have been careful like me.
Look how I have got on by being careful!"
T h e u n e m p l o y e d l o o k e d
blankly at e a c h other, but the rest of the crowd
o n l y laughed; and then the three u n e m p l o y e d
began to abuse the kind-hearted capitalist, demanding that he
should give them some of the necessaries of life that
he had piled up in his warehouses, or to be allowed
to work and produce some more for their own needs;
and even threatened to take some of the things by
force if he did not agree with their demands. But the
kind-hearted capitalist told them not to be cheeky,
and spoke to them about honesty, and said if they
were not careful he would have their faces battered
in for them by the police, or if necessary he would
call out the army and have them shot down like
dogs, the same as he had done before at many other

This text is taken from the book:
"Unfinished Business: the Politics of Class War"
by the Class War Federation. Their website is
It has minor changes by the editor

Leaflet format with graphics:

More copies can be downloaded from www.zabalaza.net/zababooks

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