Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BRUTAL ATTACK ON A SPEAKER. (1931)

From the August 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

We learn from the "One Big Union Bulletin" (Winnipeg) that repeated brutal attacks have been made by Communists in that city on speakers of the newly re-formed Socialist Party of Canada.

We have recently experienced similar tactics in Glasgow, not, be it noted, from Communists, but—or so it is believed—from certain religious fanatics.

On Monday, June 29th, after a meeting at Clydebank our speaker, A. Shaw, was attacked by four individuals, one of whom finally knocked him unconscious with a piece of lead pipe. Comrade Shaw was badly shaken up by the assault, and it was some days before he fully recovered.

The gratifying feature is that listeners, whatever their political or religious views, do not usually sympathise with such methods, and further very successful meetings have been held at Clydebank.

We do not often have cause to complain of attempts to interfere with our meetings. Except at times of high feeling, such as the war years, when outdoor socialist meetings were often made impossible by the joint efforts of the authorities and the patriots, we find audiences ready to give us a hearing. Our great advantage over the other political parties is that we allow our opponents to state their case on our platform. Audiences, knowing this to be our practice, are less willing to tolerate obstructive methods from our opponents. If other political parties extended the same liberty to opponents they would have less trouble than they sometimes get.

There are, of course, exceptional cases. Those who deliberately set out to smash up meetings or to attack socialist speakers can contrive to seize opportunities for so doing. As explained by Mr. Harry Pollitt in the "Daily Worker" (29th January, 1930); it is the deliberate policy of the Communist Party to smash up its opponents meetings by force. If that policy has not been attended by any success the explanation can be no doubt be found in the smallness of the Communist Party membership, which makes it a very risky proceeding for the would-be smashers.

TWO PENGUINS (1951)

Book Reviews from the November 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

For those who have yet to take an annual holiday there are two books that will slip easily into the haversack, the saddle bag, the pannier bag, the suitcase or the pocket, and which are well worth reading. Both of them were written a few years ago but in their more expensive editions they have probably not found their way onto working class bookshelves. Now they are available in the comparatively cheap "Penguin" series.

The first is "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck, first published in 1939. This is a story that has as its theme the proletarianising of the small farmers of Oklahoma and other central states of the U.S.A., and their early experiences as wage workers. Turned off their small holdings by the finance and large farming corporations who intended to introduce the more profitable mechanical farming methods, these poverty stricken families trek all the way to California where they are led to believe there is a fertile land and comfortable living. There is fertile land alright, but not for them. The ingenuity of man has devised fertilisers, pest destroyers, grafting and selective breeding of the many varieties of fruit grown in California. The crops are so bountiful that the market price is lower than the cost of picking and the fruit is allowed to rot. Into this state comes the army of newly created wage workers bewildered by the land of plenty in which they watch their children starve. Capital has them in its clutches. It breaks up the families, it makes men unscrupulous and unsociable, it drives them all into a cut-throat low wage competition. The poverty is extreme; and the period is the 1930's.

Steinbeck tells of all this through the medium of the adventures of the Joad family—Grandpa and Grandma, Pa and Ma, Noah, Tom, Winfield, Al, Ruth and Rosaharn together with Rosaharn's husband, Connie and a wandering preacher, Casy. Steinbeck is a story teller of the first order. he can bring a lump to the throat or a smile to the lips in the space of a page. The book has a social significance and is wonderfully well done and the author, at the end of his story, delivers the reader a resounding kick in the belly that will make him remember it for years to come.

The second book is George Orwell's "Animal Farm." This is a good and amusing satire on the process that has taken place in Russia since 1917 up to the time of writing, 1945. Orwell portrays the 1917 Revolution by a rebellion of the animals on a farm in which they turn out the human owner and take over the farm themselves. The pigs take on the leadership of the new order and the old boar, Comrade Napoleon, by astute manoeuvering called "tactics" becomes the great chief. The process of hoodwinking the working animals whilst steering the rebellion away from its original course until the animals are dumbfounded to find that they are working harder and are poorer fed than in pre-rebellion days and that in all other respects the system is the same as ever, is well described.

"Comrade Napoleon" is, of course, a caricature of Stalin, whilst ex-comrade Snowball, represents Trotsky. Other characters are easily identified. There is the horse, Boxer, who has a cure for all problems by working harder and whose motto is "Comrade Napoleon is always right." He finally works himself to a weak and useless condition, and the pigs send him off to the knacker's yard.

In the space of a couple of hours reading, George Orwell has described by his satire what other writers have failed to describe as adequately in hundreds of stodgy pages. His animal characters are often wise but funny, instance the donkey, Benjamin, who has lived for many years and who, when told that God had given him his tail to whisk away the flies, replied that he could well do without the tail and the flies. Good for the holiday, both of them. Just as good if you have had the holiday or even if you do not get one.
W. Waters

Hours, Wages and Profits (2006)

From the May 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard

The struggle to reduce the length of the working day is the embodiment of class struggle in capitalism. Although class struggle in pre-capitalist society took on different forms, class conflict between those who monopolised the means of producing wealth and those who laboured to produce surplus product was a constant feature. In these societies the producers were openly compelled not only to provide the means of their own subsistence but also that of the owner of the means of production. This expropriated labour took on different appearances in different societies. In slave society the slave master owned the slaves entire day and maintained the slave in much the same way as the prudent factory owner might look after his machinery. In feudal society the serf was tied to plots of land, which were cultivated in return for unpaid work or surplus product.

Capitalism turned human labour power into a commodity something bought and sold. As feudalism gave way to the wage labour of early capitalism, the surplus product so obvious in feudal society became hidden by the apparent freedom of the workers to sell their labour power to an employer who would pay the highest wages. But while this arrangement has the appearance of a fair days work for a fair days pay it actually hides worker exploitation that is the source of alienation.

When capitalists buy a workers labour they buy the workers capacity to work for a full day. Wages are set, however, like every other commodity, by the value of labour-power needed to reproduce them, which in the case of labour is the value of food, clothing, etc. needed to keep the worker in a fit condition to work. But the value of labour power is different from the value created by the workers labour and this difference, called surplus value, belongs to the capitalist.

The working day under capitalism therefore divides into two parts; necessary labour when the workers actually earns what they are paid in wages, and surplus labour which is the time spent producing surplus value for the capitalist employer. Naturally, it is in the interest of the worker to earn a wage sufficient to purchase the necessities of life in the shortest possible time. Conversely, once the workers wages have been paid, it is in the interest of the employer, the purchaser of labour power, to make the worker work as long as possible. Accordingly, in early capitalist society the owner always looked to expand working hours and keep the worker working to the limits of human endurance.

Where the length of the working day is reduced the natural tendency of the capitalist is to increase the intensity of the working day. The capitalists endeavours to get more work from the workers in order to maintain or increase the level of surplus value which is the source of their profit. Accordingly, in many cases the reduction in working hours over the last 200 years has been achieved by intensifying work and making the employee work harder to earn their wage.

Factory Laws
The factory system transformed the way people worked. Under a system of wage labour workers were forced to submit to the regimentation of factory life where the division of labour and pace of work were set by power-driven machinery with fixed hours, six days a week. Improvements in machinery encouraged the substitution of women and children for men to reduce the price of labour power, and by 1816 a working day of 16 or 18 hours, regardless of age or gender, was common in conditions that were cramped, airless, deafening and dangerous. Parliament, representing the interests of the ruling class, was naturally attached to the doctrines of a laissez-faire political economy where social problems were instinctively ignored.

As early as 1810, Robert Owen, the philanthropist industrialist, raised the demand for a ten-hour working day, which was instituted on his enterprise at New Lanark. By 1817 he was calling for an eight-hour day under the slogan Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest. His demands came to nothing and it wasnt until the 1830s and 1840s that a movement for shorter working hours developed into agitation for the ten-hour working day for children who were often taken by mill owners from parish workhouses in batches and treated as slave labour. The short time movement coalesced around the Leeds Tory evangelical, Richard Oastler, who headed the Yorkshire Factory Movement that organised public meetings and mass marches, including that in York on Easter Sunday 1832. It also delivered a petition to parliament where another evangelical, Michael Sadler, gathered parliamentary support for the reduction of child working hours.

The movement faced bitter opposition. Radicals, many of them factory owners, citing the laissez-faire doctrines of Jeremy Bentham, justified opposition to a reduction in the working day by asserting that state intervention was inappropriate because it interfered with the natural workings of the market. Mill owners were hostile to the Ten Hour Movement because a shorter working day for children would inevitably result in a restriction on adult working hours. Cheap child labour, they argued, maintained adult workers productivity and if working hours were restricted it would reduce profits and make it uneconomic to keep the workplace open beyond 10 hours simply to employ adult labour. As well as reducing profits a reduction in working hours would lead to unemployment, they claimed, because better working conditions and shorter working hours would raise production costs and make goods less competitive on foreign markets.

This reasoning was supported by eminent economists, notably Nassau Senior, the Oxford professor of Political Economy, who made the claim, ridiculed by Marx (and by what happened when working hours were reduced), that the entire profit from industry was generated in the last hours work each day and therefore any reduction in the working day would eliminate profit altogether. Other apologists for child exploitation claimed that the employment of child labour for long hours was acceptable because it had occurred in agriculture for centuries and even suggested that long working hours occupied otherwise idle children and kept them from becoming a social nuisance. Too much leisure time for the poor was seen as a dangerous and undesirable development.

Set against this background it is hardly surprising that early legislation to restrict child labour, including the Factory Acts of 1819, 1831 and 1833, was weak and ineffective. Despite the commitment in the Factory Act of 1833 (piloted by Lord Ashley, later Earl of Shaftesbury) to reducing child working hours to 8 hours for 9-13 year-olds and 12 hours for young people of 14-18, it was never effectively enforced and applied only to cotton mills. The Act appointed four inspectors to supervise the Act but mill owners responded by introducing the relay system of child labour so that factories could still remain open from 5.30am to 8.30pm. The 1833 Act was also passed at the expense of the short-time movement that advocated shorter working hours for all workers.

Further legislation followed but it wasnt until 1847 that the reformer and Chartist sympathiser John Fielden introduced a parliamentary bill to limit the working day to ten hours for all women and young persons up to the age of 18. It was accompanied by massive demonstrations and marches throughout the north of England and passed through parliament without amendment. This Act was a consequence of an alliance between the Chartist movement and the representatives of the landed aristocracy, the Tories, against the rising industrial bourgeoisie, who in 1846 had succeeded in the repeal of the Corn Laws. Although the textile industry was suffering a trade depression and most factories were already on a ten-hour day, manufacturers hindered the implementation of the 1847 Act by cutting wages in order to encourage opposition to the legislation on the grounds that workers needed to work the longer hours.

Three years later, the Factory Act of 1850 reduced factory opening to 12 hours each day, with the provision that factories must close at 2pm on a Saturday. The Act also reduced the working day for women and young persons to ten and a half hours, which in practice meant that male working hours also started to be restricted. As the reduction in working hours was introduced, the intensity of work increased, which meant that in many cases the anticipated fall in production did not occur and output actually increased. But the regulations only applied to textile mills and the next struggle was to extending the coverage of the Act across industry, finally achieved in 1867.

In the next decade, the 1874 Factory Act reduced the working day to ten hours for women and young persons. Almost immediately agitation for the Nine Hours Movement began and won a reduction of hours in the engineering and building industries. Trade Unions, which received full legal recognition in 1876, joined the struggle for a reduction in working hours through collective bargaining and strikes, especially in the north east of England. By the 1880s the movement began to gather around the demand for an eight-hour day.

Reversal of improvements
But the defeat of the New Unionism (the organisation of the unskilled) in the 1890s gave new leverage to the employers and further reductions in working hours were halted and sometimes reversed. In 1906 the factory working week still averaged 54 hours and by the 1920s had only reduced to 47 hours. Not until the late 1960s did a 40-hour working week became the accepted standard. The 8-hour day was accompanied by a real increase in holidays and pensions, achieved largely, however, by increasing the intensity of work.

Since the 1970s the struggle to reduce working hours has disappeared and improvements in working conditions have gradually been reversed. The weakening of national constraints on the movement of capital from country to country has meant that investment focuses on short-term profit through share prices rather than on long-term dividends. This has increased pressure on employers to make more profit and intensify the working conditions of their employees. Jobs have similarly moved from country to country in search of lower costs and new technologies begun to make it cheaper to invest in machines instead of people.

The security of life-long employment has been abandoned and replaced by short term relationships, where workers are expected to periodically migrate from job to job and undergo regularly retraining. The correlation between economic growth and improving social welfare has been cut and part-time working, which often denies bargaining power or employment benefits, has been expanded. Part-time working has also released capitalism from the need to provide a living wage, forcing working people to rely on multiple incomes from a variety of jobs. Unpaid overtime has become widespread and pensions and the retirement age are under attack.

In capitalism, struggle to defend and where possible improve working conditions, as generations of workers did to reduce the length of the working day, is important. But no amount of reform will eliminate the irreconcilable clash of interest between the capitalist and the working class, even if the working day were to reduce to an absolute minimum. It is only in a society of common ownership where production is for use not profit and where exchange, labour as a commodity and the wages system have been abolished that work will become a creative and rewarding experience. In such a society the distinction between work and leisure will disappear and because work will be voluntary, freed from the alienation of wage labour, the concept of working hours will cease to have meaning.
Steve Trott

Getting the blues in suburbia (1981)

From the January 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

There aren't many factory workers like me in the area where I live – a pleasant suburb called Giffnock which lies just over the south side of the Glasgow boundary. I moved there about five years ago and when my workmates heard where I was moving to they were amazed. Almost all of them live in council flats or houses (Scotland has a much higher percentage of council and other rented housing than England) and they seemed to place Giffnock in the same wealth bracket as Beverley Hills or Mayfair. "They've all got money up there" I was told.

Of course, when I moved into the place I found the reality to be just as I expected. Nearly every household is dependent on at least one wage or salary earner and so far I haven't met or even heard of a single millionaire. On the other hand, I have met people who have equally strange notions about factory workers. They presumably get their ideas (prejudices would be a better word) from the media and are quick to condemn strikes and wage demands which they imagine industrial workers indulge in every five minutes, just for the fun of it. Obviously, different sections of the working class have false ideas about the others, but it only needs a look beneath the surface to see the essential sameness of all their lives.

Every morning from Monday to Friday, excluding holidays, I leave home at three minutes to seven. I buy my newspaper in the newsagent round the corner and stand in a shop doorway waiting for my lift to work. I get picked up about five minutes past seven and we are on our way. The streets are deserted and as we approach Eastwood Toll we pass the big houses and the tall blocks of luxury flats which sell for around £80,000. All of them are in, darkness so the occupants must still be in bed, and' it's the same with the bungalows just along the road.

In the next ten minutes we pass through the massive Pollok council estate. There's plenty of lights burning in the houses here and lots of activity, with people walking along the streets, standing at bus stops or waiting at corners for their lifts. Most of them probably feel, like me, that it's tough having to start so early, but in an hour's time the Fenwick and Kilmarnock roads will be jammed with the cars of the salary-slaves from Newton Mearns, Whitecraigs, Williamwood and Giffnock all heading into. the city. For despite what my workmates may think, most of those who live in the big houses, luxury flats and bungalows are employees too, and the fact that they start around nine changes nothing-except that they get home in the evening an hour or two later than we do.

So there are superficial differences between these owner-occupiers and council tenants but the things they have in common are much more important. Like problems, for instance. When we read about all those redundancies in factories, shipyards and steelworks, does anyone imagine that only the shop-floor workers are involved? "White-collar" workers, right up to the highest levels of management, get the push, too. They are not immune to this (nobody is these days) and many of them live in places like Giffnock.

Just recently we noticed that Ian, one of near neighbours, was home a lot during the day and, his car was usually parked outside his house. Eventually we learned what had happened. He worked as some kind of executive (he sometimes talked about his "staff" ) in a big whiskey com­pany, and as the trade is in the middle of its biggest slump in over fifty years his employers had "let him go".

Ian's problem now is to find a new employer. Naturally, a man in his position will look up the situations vacant columns in so-called "quality" newspapers like the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald rather than the more "popular" Daily Record. There was a time when he could have made an appointment at the impressively titled Executive Register, but not now. The Register was closed as part of the government's economy drive so instead of a private interview in a posh office with a fitted carpet, Ian may have to go to the local Job Centre the same as anyone else.

It cannot be denied that the inhabitants of Giffnock are generally a bit better off than those in, say, Pollok. Here and there you can see an extension being built onto the back of a house or maybe double glazing being installed, but they feel the pinch just the same as workers in industry. Another neighbour, Colin, hasn't taken his family on holiday for two years. "Can't afford it", he tells me; the high interest rates which mortgage payers currently face could be the reason. There must be lots like him in Giffnock.

So some of them try to earn a bit extra just as electricians, plumbers, painters, joiners, and other workers do by taking on "homers" in their spare time. The local newsagents have some cards in their windows which demonstrate this. For example, a local man who is probably an architect will draw up plans for your new extension or garage; an accountant offers his services and someone who is "fully qualified" will provide English tuition in the evenings. In the next street there is a woman who does part-time market research. They need more cash, too.

The classified ads in the newspapers also tell a story. Some years ago the dis­covery of oil in the North Sea encouraged speculation that the fuel would cost next to nothing, so people in places like Giff­nock rushed to have oil-fired central heating systems installed. Nowadays the rush is to convert to cheaper gas and the ads are filled with unwanted oil burners and tanks but you can't give them away. I know, I had to pay the local dustmen to get rid of mine.

The fact that many people in places like Giffnock live in better houses, do different work or earn more money than some others does not elevate them out of the working class. They still have to work for a living, worry about making ends meet, face the indignity of the sack and in one degree or another, suffer the problems created by capitalist society. This is what places them firmly in the ranks of the workers whether or not they like it or my workmates know it, and the passing of time makes it more and more evident.
Vic Vanni

China’s Wild West

The Material World Column from the September 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard

Chinese authorities this year imposed restrictions on Uyghur Muslims during the month of Ramadan, banning government employees and school children from fasting They justified  the ban by saying it is meant to protect the health of students, and restrictions on religious practices by government officials are meant to ensure the state does not support any particular faith. Along with government employees, children under the age of 18 are barred from attending mosques. For centuries, parents sent their children to maktaps, part-time schools at the mosque, where they memorised the Quran – but this practice, along with most organised religious instruction, is now prohibited. Under Chinese law, only state-approved copies of Islamic literature like the Quran are allowed. Human rights groups say it is an attempt at systematically erasing the region's Islamic identity. This is not about atheism, but political control. Uyghur resentment toward Chinese rule has been reinforced by China's policies of cultural ‘genocide’ on Uyghur identity, religious beliefs and practices.
Xinjiang has a majority Muslim Uyghur population - a Turkic ethnic group with a language and culture closer to Central Asia who scholars consider to be descendants of a mix of European and East Asian. Uyghurs are classified as a ‘national minority’ rather than an indigenous group—in other words, they are considered to be no more indigenous to Xinjiang than the Han, and have no special rights to the land under the law. The region is home to some of China's largest deposits of oil, natural gas, and coal. Before the region was absorbed into the People's Republic of China in 1949, almost everyone was Uyghur, but the numbers have since declined, dropping to below half by the year 2000, as tens of millions of Han Chinese were encouraged to settle by the government, who provided jobs, housing, bank loans and economic opportunities denied to Uyghurs. The same story as in Tibet, Manchuria and Mongolia. It is sad but in these instances there are only two options: assimilation or confrontation.
On 1 March 2014, a group of Uyghurs with knives attacked people at the Kunming Railway Station killing at least 29 and injuring 130 others.
On 18 April 2014, a group of 16 Uyghur refugees engaged in a shootout with Vietnamese border guards after seizing their guns as they were being detained to be returned to China.
On 30 April 2014, two attackers stabbed people before detonating their suicide vests at an Ürümqi train station.
On 22 May 2014, twin suicide car bombings occurred after the occupants had thrown multiple explosives out of their vehicles at an Ürümqi street market. The attacks killed 31 people and injured more than 90.
Such acts provided the Chinese government with the excuse for its propaganda that it faces a Muslim terrorist threat, in order to win public opinion both in China and the world and silence criticism of its neo-colonialism.
China claims that ‘Xinjiang has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times’, Xinjiang in Chinese literally means ‘New Territory’. The use of ‘East Turkestan’ by Uyghurs is criminalised. The Chinese Red Army occupied the short-lived East Turkestan Republic in October 1949 and pacified the people through executions and massacres. Tens of thousands of Uyghurs were killed in China's conquest of East Turkestan. The promised self-rule was soon reneged on after annexation and the ‘Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’ established in 1955. Chinese state corporations exploited the huge reserves of natural gas, oil, gold, uranium, coal and other minerals found in the region. What is more, China tested 45 nuclear devices, both under and above ground, between 1964 and 1996 in East Turkestan, polluting air, water and soil with radiation.
Chinese soldiers' have been accused of extrajudicial and indiscriminate killings of Uyghur men, women and children. This systematic repression of Uyghur people and their subsequent resistance to it, has been described as a fight against ‘Islamic terrorism’. Moderate Uyghurs such as Professor Ilham Tohti and linguist Abduweli Ayup who had tried to work within the Chinese system were denounced and arrested. Others out of desperation have committed horrific acts of political violence against not only Chinese security forces, but also against settlers. The July 2009 Ürümqi riots were a series of violent riots over several days that broke out in the capital city of Xinjiang and targeted Han Chinese. A total of 197 people died.
This oppression is all the worse for being done in the name of socialism whereas socialism ‘will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex’.
ALJO

Exit hell-fire (1913)

From the September 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

"The work of the nineteenth century in the area of religious thought has, on the whole, been destructive. Ideas that had lived long because they had been protected from challenge have crumbled under the touch of modern thought. . . . The development of modern science has profoundly affected theological thought. First in astronomy, then in geology, and finally in biology and physics, the passionate desire to understand has been abundantly rewarded. But an irrational theology cannot exist side by side with a rational conception of nature, except at the cost of a disastrous dualism."
In the above words Canon J. H. B. Masterman finally and completely throws over the fantastic superstitions that have been current for centuries with regard to our future life. Evangelists and salvation fanatics may cry "hands off the people's religion!" but Canon Masterman and the theologists have agreed, in the columns of a capitalist daily newspaper, that the people's religion must be modified. Who said the Socialist would destroy religion? The mummers from Dean's Yard are doing that before the very eyes of their congregations. For when the claim of revelation has gone, and when heaven and hell no longer exist in the minds of the ignorant, the doctrines and beliefs that replace them are so obviously man-made, so plainly the creations of our day and generation, that even those devoid of even a superficial knowledge of science should, if possessed of the power of reasoning at all, be able to see that the new beliefs and prophesies are pure inventions.

Entire agreement, however, does not reign in the camp of the experts. Some find their congregations sufficiently gullible to swallow hell-fire as crude as Milton presented it; others need to have it drawn milder. Consequently there is division, and we find the Rev. Sylvester Home saying: "If a preacher to-day is fearless he is bound to preach moral discipline and punishment in a form which is more searching and powerful to the conscience than any mere materialistic punishment could be"; while Canon Horsley gives support to the contention of the Rev. Chas. Brown and Silas Hocking, that no ministers or people of intelligence any longer believe in a material hell, he still advises that something of the kind should be taught. He says: "While vice exists, and not merely sin; while hedonism perhaps increases; the time is not when warnings are unneeded and the prophets should only prophesy smooth things."

In other words, although intelligent people no longer believe in eternal punishment, because there is no evidence for such a belief, it should still be taught to those who can be imposed upon—because it may keep them honest when the man in blue is absent.

The conscience of the worker—quite distinct from the Nonconformist conscience, by the way, which is only political—must be a small voice within us mind that respects the ethics for the wage-slave, as imposed by capitalism. Some of the writers in the "Daily News," of lesser calibre than the deans and canons, quite boldly declare that without hell-fire all restraint on the minds of the desperate would be gone, just when it was more than ever necessary. Scotland Yard, with all its records, police supervision, finger-prints, and photographs, is not powerful enough to cope with the desperate characters engendered by capitalist society. Penal servitude frightens some. Nonconformists—a working class infliction—would keep the fires of hell burning eternally before the imagination of their helpless victims. They claim that if the fear of hell is no longer instilled, crime will assuredly increase.

Capitalism breeds the criminal: the only question for the capitalist is how to secure his property from him. The theologian makes it his question too, because he comes in for a share of the larger plunder—the results of the robbery of the working class.

With the development of capitalism the number of unemployed increases with great rapidity. Not only so, but the low wages and rotten conditions imposed upon the workers grow more irksome and repulsive almost daily ; hence the increase of so-called crime, over ninety per cent, of which is directed against property.

Buckle, in his "History of Civilisation," proves from statistics that a social system that changes only slightly from year to year reproduces faithfully each year almost the same crop of deaths from starvation, suicides, lunatics, and criminals. When the "struggle for existence" becomes more intense among the working class, there is a corresponding increase in these cases, proving conclusively that economic conditions are responsible for them.

When this question is honestly probed, as has been so frequently done in the columns of the "S S.," we find that poverty is entirely due to the fact that the working class are robbed of the wealth they produce. The self appointed prophets share this knowledge with us, but in consideration of their salaries they say in effect: continue the robbery ; we will do our best to frighten the robbed with a tale of some sort.

Some, like Dr. Garvie, for instance, expose their knowledge of the truth by their guarded language. He speaks of "what we may believe" or "what it is reasonable to believe," thereby admitting lack of evidence to prove anything, unlike the Dean of St. Pauls, and sixteen other specialists who openly confess that they know nothing about it, as there have been no definite revelations as to a future life.

The question still faces the theologian how to frighten or beguile the working class into docility. Some can be cajoled by the pious humbug that "virtue brings its own reward," while others, guileless and simple imbeciles that they are, say, with an assumption of cheerfulness and a heavenly expression that has a world of meaning say: '' This life is what we ourselves make it—heaven or hell."

This, we are told, is the rationalist view. There is nothing rational in it. The capitalist who has nothing else to think about but how to secure heavenly conditions for himself, and who has flunkeys and white slaves to help him, may find it easy enough to make his heaven here. The average worker's mind, however, is already in a chaotic state of worry and anxiety as the result of the struggle to live. The factory bell and the slum ; the overseer and the landlord ; low wages and rising prices, leave him no time for psychological gymnastics.

The capitalist has no need to lift his mind out of his environment to find contentment. The worker's mind is only released from his environment when he sleeps and dreams—and his dreams, they are usually nightmares, parodies of his waking hours, and not far removed, in truth, from very hell fire itself. 
F. Foan.

Death of a Publisher (1972)

From the May 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard

On March 15th of this year Giangiacomo Feltrinelli died a horribly violent death. The millionaire publisher, the man who first brought Dr. Zhivago to Europe, was found with his right leg bown off, his left side shattered and his face mutilated underneath an electricity pylon on the outskirts of Milan. Surrounded by powerful explosives, he had fallen victim, so it seems, to his own terrorist activities. A small technical hitch, fatal for him, saved half Milan from being plunged into darkness.

Giangi Janji, as his society friends called him, was no ordinary terrorist. With a miser for a father he inherited a vast fortune made in industry and banking and proved no mean capitalist himself. But he used part of his 140m. personal fortune in a somewhat unaccustomed way. Since his disenchantment with the political acrobatics of the Italian Communist Party in the 1950's, he is known to have contributed large sums towards the financing of left-wing guerrilla organisations. Globe-trotting, multilingual agitator, he managed to get himself expelled from Bolivia, France and Germany for subversive activities and in visits to Cuba formed a close personal friendship with Fidel Castro [1]. Until march 15th, however, he appears to have limited himself to merely advocating violence[2] and supplying others with the means by which to wage their vicious and futile war of iron bars, Molotov cocktails and home-made explosives. His first personal venture into this field was his last.

The extra-parliamentary Left has claimed, quite predictably, that this "45-year old boy scout" (as the third of his four wives called him) was murdered either by fascists or through an "international capitalist plot backed by the CIA". Despite the monstrous regularity of such claims from the left, its interpretations are by no means to be excluded. But if the Italian extra-parliamentary groups submit their record to examination, they can hardly be surprised at the incredulity with which people treat their protestations.

Just three days before Feltrinelli's death, for instance, various left-wing organisations, according to a prearranged plan of battle, brought panic and terror to the streets of Milan—and this for the umpteenth time in recent years. If you happened to be in Milan that day and were fortunate enough not to be burned by a guerrilla petrol bomb, or suffocated by police tear gas, you would have enjoyed a grandstand view of the kind of battlefield closely worked-out guerrilla strategy can make of today's big urban centres. Lines of trams with smashed windows; cars turned over and used as barricades; petrol stations set ablaze; police jeeps wrecked as they collide trying to crash through barricades; swollen heads, bleeding faces and screaming women and children. Even the poor Chief of Police has his trousers scorched by flames from one of the fires lit by guerrillas to distract the police and add to the confusion.

"What has all this to do with Socialism?". you may legitimately ask. Nothing at all, except that the organisations engaging in these activities, and those like Feltrinelli who support and finance them claim to be Socialist. The effectiveness of their action in propagating Socialism can be measured by the demands continually being voiced by large sections of a frightened antagonised Italian working class to suppress all minority political groups as a threat to public order. So aside from the utter confusion these self-styled "defenders of the proletariat" spread among the working class as to the nature of Socialism, they also bring about a climate in which the limited political rights already existing within capitalism can be reduced or removed. They put on a precarious footing the right to organise and spread Socialist ideas[3]. Perhaps we should not be too harsh on them, for, given their lack of political understanding, they can hardly be expected to see that minority violence is completely out as an instrument of Socialist revolution.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from this sorry mess, it must be that those who live by the sword always run the risk of dying by it. The few ideas and the conditions of capitalism itself are far more reliable agents of revolution—the revolution, that is, in people's minds which must precede the changeover from today's system of money and scarcity to a world of free access.
H.K.M.

[1.] Such was Castro's respect for Feltrinelli that he once agreed to suspend one of his periodical round-ups of Havana homosexuals when his guest took exception to it.
[2.] In 1968 his publishing house put out a manual of articles with instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails, bombs and explosives.
[3.] Italy already has a law concerning "subversive propaganda". On 15th March 1972 the editor of Il Bolscevico, a left-wing journal, was sentenced in Florence to a year's imprisonment for bringing out a leaflet with the words: "Democracy and republican institutions must be smashed and destroyed by the proletariat".