A further big step has been taken towards the establishment of the Servile Income Tax. The big Insurance Companies have come into the game. Now the big Insurance Companies are second only to the Bankers in the financial pressure they can exercise. They are suggesting by advertisement and, we believe, by private correspondence as well that the Capitalist employer shall take out policies to guarantee him against loss in the case of those employees who, having been got into the Servile Income-Tax scheme, fall into arrears with their payment. He can insure also, we understand, against the default that may arise through the death or illness of an employee. He can insure against that most cruel dilemma: whether to sack a man and lose money or keep him and with him his installments. If a Capitalist were fettered in his power of sacking a Proletarian, it would be disastrous. He would lose his hold on the wage-slave. When insurance of this kind becomes general it will mean that yet another great Capitalist monopoly power will be acting as an ally to the new Servile Insurance scheme.
These first steps of course are voluntary. That is the way in which the thing is to be introduced. When it has spread until it covers nearly all the people concerned the politicians will receive their orders and a Bill will be passed through Parliament making the Servile installment income tax compulsory on employees below a certain level. When that is done a fine new length of the chain which is to blind men down to Servile conditions will have been forged and linked onto the rest. The employee, who is no longer his own master in the matter of hours, in the matter of insuring his life, of choosing who shall bring up his children or arranging his own provision for old age or having personal relations with his doctor, will find himself further subjected to the Capitalist machine from which he has already so few outlets left him. The Capitalist will now act as tax-gatherer over him, and one more Civic activity will be no longer in the underling’s own hands. The Capitalist will be responsible for him to the State and will guarantee to the State the receipt of sums which it might never have been able to extort from free men who had chosen to resist.
The probability that this scheme will succeed, as every other step towards the Servile State has succeeded, lies in the fact that the great mass of those subjected to a new servile condition desire it.
The Servile State is on the way - not because it is being imposed by force and against men’s wills – but precisely because it fits in so admirably with the natural development of the Capitalist regime. The small man who has never paid Income-tax before and is suddenly appalled at finding himself called upon for a lump sum for which he had never provided, will think it a boom that his master should take on the immediate burden and permit him to pay by installments.
Those few who see the full consequences of the new move and those, more numerous, but how lessening, who resent Servile conditions, are still free to resist. They can refuse to be “helped.” They can insist upon paying their own tax and remain to that extent at least free citizens. But their position will get more precarious of course as time goes on. They will be marked men. They will find it harder to keep their jobs, for they will be interfering with the easy running of the boss’s business and they will be advertising themselves as robots against the whole capitalist system.
Nevertheless there will be some who stand out, and it is to be hoped that their number will be sufficient to increase the costs of the plot now being hatched, - for of course everything lies in that. The costlier it can be made, through resistance on the part of the employee, the less chance there is of its becoming a permanent institution.
The matter is of such very high and immediate importance that no intelligent discussion of it will be allowed in our official press and it may be taken for granted that the Labour Party will like good Parliamentarians support the scheme and with their blessing in the Daily Herald. Its success – which seems almost certain – will be decided in the next four weeks.