Monday, August 3, 2015

Economics (1980)

Book Review from the October 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard

Economics, Politics and the Age of Inflation, by Paul Mattick, Merlin Press. £2.40

It is a great pity that Mattick's style of writing is so long-winded and convoluted since he has a thorough knowledge of Marxist economics and is one of the few, along with us, to define socialism as a classless, moneyless, wageless, stateless society.

This book is a collection of six articles written between 1973 and 1978. The first three repeat the arguments of his book Marx and Keynes. Since this has already been reviewed by us (Western Socialist, No. 2 1972) there is no need to go over this ground again here, except to criticise Mattick's vague use of the word inflation. Sometimes he uses it to mean over-issuing money, sometimes to mean rising prices and sometimes even to mean the reasons which, in his opinion, have led governments to pursue inflationary money and price policies.

This, combined with his style, makes the first three articles difficult going. The next two on state capitalism are excellent, bringing out well the differences between state capitalism and socialism:
Under state-monopoly capitalism, as under capitalism in any other form, the task of the proletariat remains one and the same, namely, the abolition of capitalist relations through the elimination of wage labour in a classless society (pp. 89-90)
But according to socialist theory, the state is an instrument of class rule, and therefore in a classless socialist society it should become superfluous. Those central authorities still necessary would perform only technical and organisation, not state, functions and would remain dependent on the decisions of the producers (p. 98).
Mattick also denies that the Russian revolution was a socialist revolution and proclaims that "to abolish capitalism, the first task is to make Bolshevism a thing of the past once and for all" (p. 113). The final article is an interesting analysis of the depression in America that followed the 1929 Stock Exchange Crash.
Adam Buick

Marx on Colonialism (1970)

Book Review from the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization, by Shlomo Avineri. Doubleday, New York. 19s.

In recent years there has been a steady flow of English language re-issues of and commentaries on the works of Marx and Engels. This new work, edited by Shlomo Avineri, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, covers a range not attempted before in a single volume. About 400 pages consist of articles by Marx (including some written by Engels at Marx's request) on China, India, the Middle East and North Africa, preceded by excerpts from The Poverty of Philosophy, the Communist Manifesto, The Critique of Political Economy, and Capital, and followed by some relevant letters written by Marx and Engels.

Some idea of the wide scope of the articles is indicated by the fact that it takes in the Chinese Opium wars, the Crimean War, Turkey, British rule in India, the Anglo-Persian war of 1857, the Indian Mutiny, French and Spanish colonialism in North Africa, the British intervention in Mexico. (Part only of this range was covered in Marx's Eastern Question, edited by Eleanor Marx Aveling and Edward Aveling which has just been republished by Frank Cass at £9.90). Most of the articles in this new book were originally published as despatches to the New York Daily Tribune between 1853 and 1862.

The articles were well-informed and hard-hitting and the readers of the New York paper will often have gained a better insight into what was going on than would readers of the English Press or English history books.

Here is the opening paragraph of an article published on March 10, 1862:
The Blue Book on the intervention in Mexico, just published, contains the most damning exposure of modern English diplomacy with its hypocritical cant, ferocity against the weak, crawling before the strong, and utter disregard of international law. I must reserve for another letter the task of forwarding, by a minute examination of the despatches exchanged between Downing Street and the British representatives of Mexico, the irrefragable proof that the present imbroglio is of English origin, that England took the initiative in bringing about the intervention, and did so on pretexts too flimsy and self-contradictory to even veil the real but unavowed motives of her proceedings. The infamy of the means employed in starting the intervention is only surpassed by the anile imbecility with which the British government affect to be surprised at and slink out of the execution of the nefarious scheme planned by themselves.
Marx dealt in several articles with the wars fought to force the Chinese to admit the massive importation of opium, to the profit of respectable English merchants. Marx quoted from an English writer about the harm done to the Chinese.
Why, the slave trade was merciful compared with the opium trade. We did not destroy the bodies of the Africans for it was our immediate interest to keep them alive; we did not debase their natures, corrupt their minds, nor destroy their souls. But the opium seller slays the body after he has corrupted, degraded and annihilated the moral being of the unhappy sinners . . . 
If you turn to England in the Nineteenth Century a popular history book by C. W. Oman, Oxford Professor of History, published in 1913, you will find nothing about the opium trade. Instead Oman tells us:
The second struggle in which we became involved was a quarrel with China in 1856. The Governor of Canton acting with the usual stupid arrogance and obstinacy of Chinese officials, had seized a vessel flying the English flag, and refused to apologise for his act. This led to an expedition against Canton and ultimately to open war.
Much has been written of the building of railways and irrigation works in India under British rule, but Marx pointed out that this was a later development only after great harm had been done by the British overlords.
An Oriental government never had more than three departments: finance (plunder at home), war (plunder at home and abroad), and public works (provision for reproduction). The British government in India has administered Nos. 1 and 2 in a rather philistine spirit and dropped No. 3 entirely, so that Indian agriculture is being ruined.
The ruling classes of Great Britain have had, till now, transitory interest in the progress of India. The aristocracy wanted to conquer it, the moneyocracy to plunder it, and the millocracy to undersell it. But now the tables are turned. The millocracy have discovered that the transformation of India into a reproductive country has become of vital importance to them, and that, to that end it is necessary above all, to gift her with the means of irrigation and of internal communication.
Shlomo Avineri's Introduction to the book discusses the problem, of which marx was aware, that "stagnant Asia" did not fit into his European-based conception of evolution through feudalism and capitalism to Socialism: hence Marx's concentration on the impact of European capitalism on Asian countries rather than on the possibility of their own self-development. However, Avineri does not face up to the fact that capitalism is now established not only in japan and India but, in its State capitalist variant, in Russia; with China following the Russian road.

He discusses Marx's view that the total income received by British capitalists from British rule in India was less then than the cost to the British government of the Indian administration, so that in effect colonial rule was no more than an indirect way of subsidising a section of the British propertied class at the expense of the rest. He supports Marx's view on this as against Lenin's.
Edgar Hardcastle

Russia's Tolpuddle Martyrs (1978)

From the May 1978 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Guardian of March 3 devoted a lot of space to a report about some stirrings among would-be Russian trade-unionists and to a leading article and a letter on the same subject. Obviously the paper considers the matter to be of some importance and—who knows?—for a change they may have got something right.

The cause of all this was that there is now emerging a new kind of dissident, namely ordinary workers demanding genuine trade-unions. The majority of dissidents up to now, it seems, have been 'intellectuals' of the Solzhenitsyn type demanding freedom to write and speak what they wish, this being of course a rather more nebulous aspect of democracy than the freedom to organise trade-unions with the power to strike for better conditions. The new tendency is certainly to be welcomed by socialists, even though apparently only a minute proportion of the Russian working class is at present involved. Nobody can deny the heroism of the dissidents who have taken on the might of possibly the most oppressive dictatorship in history and who, in many cases, have suffered grievously in the process.

In the early days of British capitalism, membership of trade-unions could be dangerous and heroic workers, like the Tolpuddle martyrs, suffered the British equivalent of banishment to Siberia, namely transportation to Australia. In 1978, however, more refined punishments are available to the ruling class and the heading of an article by Simon Hoggart—Insane to Complain—shows what happens to Russian workers who, sixty years after the fall of the Tsarist tyranny, are brave enough to complain about appalling conditions of work, including such "delights" as outrageously long periods of compulsory overtime and being forced to work in coal mines with a horrendous record of fatal accidents. The dictatorship over the proletariat now finds murderous psychiatrists to rule that workers who want to combine in order to fight against such conditions are, by definition, insane. And the treatment appropriate to such "insanity" is to be confined to prison hospitals, there to be forcibly treated with unending doses of mind-shattering drugs until the offenders change their minds about the condition of the proletariat in Leninist Russia. The whole thing is, of course, like some nightmare science-fiction, and it is clear that the gangsters, who have the nerve to call themselves socialists and communists, have decided not to wait till 1984 to bring about their Orwellian society.

The leading article in the same issue of The Guardian is headed "Russia's Cruel Union Farce" and rightly stresses the fact that the International Labour Organisation have actually always recognised the so-called trade-unions run by the Russian state as being of the same calibre as the trade-unions in countries like Britain. (It is true that trade-unionists here do not sufficiently avail themselves of their power and leave matters far too much to so-called leaders, but that of course is another subject.)

The ILO is a body under the auspices of the United Nations which has withheld recognition from state controlled trade-unions as in Franco Spain or Chile, but with the normal display of double standards which has been part of the scene for many years now, the same criteria have not been applied to Russia. Indeed, it may even be that there are some bemused people who imagine that somehow Russian workers are different from their counterparts in England, and do not have to resist exploitation. These are the same kind of people (and liberal papers like the Guardian fall neatly into this camp) who argue that African workers do not need the same kind of democracy as their European brothers. However, it is not likely that anyone would seek to show Russian workers are somehow different in kind from their brothers in the neighbouring workers' paradise, Poland. But some of the news that has come out of that country, over the last decade or so, has thrown a lurid light on the position of the working class in that ludicrously named People's Democracy.

Intolerable act
Some years ago, the then Bolshevik boss of Poland, Gomulka, decided on a dramatic rise in the prices of foodstuffs without any comparable rise in the workers' wages. This intolerable act resulted in serious riots, particularly among the dockers in Poland's Baltic ports, like Danzig (Gdansk). The tyrannical Polish "communist" party was quick to reply. It sent in the tanks and hundreds of dockers were killed. It is worth noting at this point that this same Gomulka was not a hardliner by reputation, but on the contrary was the leader who had come to power by defying Russia in 1956, showing that if you have a situation consisting of a dictatorship over the proletariat in any country, then repression is the order of the day, no matter who is in charge. Gomulka was superseded as a result of these events by the present boss Giereck, who had learned so little from them that only a year or two age he tried the same trick which resulted in, amongst other things, the workers of Warsaw tearing up the railway lines and those of the industrial town of Radom showing their loyalty to their communist government by burning down party headquarters. Unfortunately it is quite obvious that a lot more suffering of this nature in Russia, Poland, China (not to speak of Chile etc., of course) will be needed before the workers in these countries can at least get some semblance of trade unionism. And there is precious little that socialists in places like Britain can do, other than admire the necessary heroism of the oppressed workers in these other countries.
L. E. Weidberg

Those Aliens! (1907)

A Short Story from the February 1907 issue of the Socialist Standard

WILL: (to George, who is discovered reading the Daily Distress): Hello! looking for a loser?

GEORGE: No. I'm reading about those confounded aliens. Those foreign bakers are allowed to come over here and they immediately start agitations and strikes as though the country belonged to them. Taking the bread out of our mouths, I call it.

WILL: Why, you're a funny chap. You grumble if they work cheaply, and you grumble of they try to better their lot. I suppose the fact is you hate them, and they could do nothing to please you.

GEORGE: Who can help hating the beggars when they take our jobs away from us. Why don't they go back to their own country?

WILL: Look here, George, the foreign workman has no more a country of his own than you have: his native land, like yours, is the property of a master class and the worker has not even burial space of his own.

GEORGE: That's an old tale.

WILL: But can you deny its truth?

(George does not answer)

WILL: Do you know that the number of English who are abroad is much greater than the number of foreigners in England; so would you not be much worse off if all the English came back to compete with you in place of the foreigner? Your policy for every man to be compelled to remain in his native land is suicidal on that score alone.

(George scratches his head).

WILL: And are you aware that in history the unmixed races, those people who are cut off from the world as you would have us to be, remain primitive or become degenerate; while the mixed races, those roaming wide areas, are vigorous and progressive?

GEORGE: But why is it, then, that there are so many unemployed and pauperised in England of the alien is not the cause?

WILL: My dear fellow, they've got unemployed and paupers in every capitalist country: and they exist, not because of aliens, but because of capitalism.

GEORGE: I don't see that.

WILL: But you ought to. Let me make it plain. In the first place each western nation is divided broadly into two great groups or classes. One group owns the land, railways, mines, factories, machinery and buildings - in fact this class own all the means for producing wealth. The other group or class, on the contrary, do not own property, all they possess is their power to work which they must sell to the owners of the means of production, or else starve. The propertied, ruling section we call the capitalist class: the propertyless, enslaved section we call the working class. Is that clear?

GEORGE: Oh, yes. I know which is my lot!

WILL: Good! Now this capitalist class want to get as much labour as they can out of the workers with as little expenditure of wages as possible. Hence a conflict of interests. Hence the the capitalist class will employ Chinamen or even gorillas if they are cheaper and can work as well as their own countrymen. Hence the propertied class are ever seeking and introducing new inventions, machines and methods by means of which more can be produced with less spent in wages. You can now see, George, that the master class, being able to supply the markets and get their profits with the aid of proportionally fewer employees, cut down their wages bill and create the unemployed. Hardly a day passes without some new invention or process displacing some of the wage-earners. It is not the alien that causes the unemployed, but it is the ownership of the means of production by a class who use every improvement in them against the workers. The more wealth can be produced today, the fewer workers do the ruling class need to employ. The wealthier the country under capitalism the poorer and more miserable are the workers in proportion. Capitalism, by making the workers disinherited and outcast in Society, is the cause of unemployment and pauperism, whilst the despised alien is in reality simply a fellow sufferer and a brother.

GEORGE: But how would your Socialism alter that?

WILL: Socialism would alter it by making the working class the whole nation; by using the working class capture of the political power to turn all the means of production into the collective, democratically controlled, property of the people. Improvements in production, new inventions, or an increase in the number of workers would then, instead of, as now, throwing numbers of the working class out of work to starve, increase the wealth and decrease the toil of all. The workers will have come into their own and be no longer outcasts in the world their labour has created.

GEORGE: I see. A co-operative commonwealth. That certainly is worth working for.

WILL: It is, indeed, the only thing worth striving for. and I hope you'll join us: always remembering, though, that the foreign worker is really our brother, for our interests are the same, and our enemy is the same. We have not to fight one another, but to aid each other in conquering the common enemy, the capitalist class of all countries. With the ruling class, patriotism is the mask of self-interest: with the working class it is the brand of utter ignorance. Let us be international.
F. C. Watts 

Shop talk (1984)

A Short Story from the June 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the town of Inverness a talking checkout machine was recently introduced in a blaze of glory by Your Caring, Sharing Co-op, which should be more accurately described as Their Profit Making Co-op. Computer technology is zooming ahead at such a fantastic pace that it is difficult to keep abreast of all the improvements. Clive Sinclair, the current whiz-kid of the computer market, has predicted that new robots will soon be on the go performing all sorts of mental acrobatics.

After the recent case of the supermarket check-out girl who was fired for intolerably bad temper towards the customers on Monday mornings, the logical desire for any supermarket owner is a machine which replaces workers (and therefore saves wages) while at the same time is constantly pleasant to the punters whom it is relieving of their cash. However, since even the most sophisticated machine is fallible, there is a prospect of one of these devices having a brainstorm: "Good morning madam, and what little delicacies do we have here?  . . . ah, yes, cold meat 75p . . . wholemeal bread 50p, better than that adulterated white stuff . . . smarm . . . nice little table-wine at £1.99 . . . sure to impress your husband's boss when he comes to dinner. (Not to mention the refuse collector when he clocks the fancy label) . . . please pay the girl at the till. Thank you and good day . . . Krrrrrkkkk . . . fizzle.

C'mon grandma, hurry it up, we haven't got all day. Let's get these pathetic morsels tallied so we can get onto the real spenders . . . right, two ounces of spam (Yeeugh!) 20p . . . a solitary carrot 5p . . . 1 lonely onion 5p . . . 1 small loaf 25p . . . my, we're really living high on the hog aren't we? . . . 1 tin of Crappo dog food 35p . . . wait a minute, I'll bet you don't even have a dog, you're eating the bloody stuff yourself right? . . . C'mon own up. Hey, stop that snivelling woman, pay up and get out. No, not through the plate-glass door, open it first. That's right, now step out and . . . Gotcha! Security man, grab that old bag, she's got a tin of sardines that she forgot . . . er . . . didn't pay for. Good! the arm up the back, now the quick frogmarch into the manager's office to wait for the police . . . hee . . . hee . . . heeeeeerrkkkk . . . 

And the next one please. Hmm, what have we here? cornflakes 55p . . . You know, a top nutrition expert called Michael Van Straten is on record as saying that there is almost as much nutrition in the box as there is in the cornflakes. Butter 50p . . . sausage 70p . . . have you ever seen how they make sausage? almost no limit to the fat content . . . wouldn't like to see your arteries . . . Frozen chicken £2.75 . . . wonder how much water's been injected into our ex-feathered friend to boost the weight, (and the price) . . . In fact, have you ever stopped to consider why it's necessary to have prices at all? Here we are living in a world which produces food, clothing, and shelter in such abundance that everyone could have the very best instead of all this third-rate rubbish. And the beauty of it is that the amount of time actually needed to produce this wealth could be reduced to a few hours a day with all the extra available people released from non-productive jobs such as there girls operating the tills, and the manager, rushing over to pull put . . . the plug!? . . . Don't touch the . . . . . . . "

Liam Byrne Out Of The Shadows (2015)

The Greasy Pole column from the August 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

It will not be found on the notice boards in any of Iain Duncan Smith's Job Centres nor in the Situations Vacant column of the popular press but a needy job-seeker may be interested in the Labour Party's search for someone to perform the miracle of reviving their hopes as a validly contesting political party. One who has yet to expose all his talents for this is Liam Byrne who offers a CV which, although defiled by his failure to get things right, includes an impressive history of governmental jobs. Between 2010 and 2013 he was Shadow for four ministerial posts, including the prestigious Chief Secretary to the Treasury. And before then, between 2005 and 2010 he was in charge at eight ministries. Whatever stress he experienced in those jobs his reputation, with one or two embarrassing lapses, endured pretty well. In A Journey Tony Blair described him as one of the ', young professionals' he was able to encourage into Parliament and onto the Greasy Pole. When Blair escaped from those nightmare days of Labour staggering towards the end, management of the dismal chaos known as the British economy passed to Alistair Darling and Byrne was promoted to Chief Secretary. In his account of those times – Back From The Brink – Darling cherished his memory of Byrne: 'I assumed at first that this was the latest No. 10 attempt to keep an eye on me. I was wrong. Very quickly, Liam became a staunch supporter of my argument against the simplistic “investment versus cuts” narrative. He worked hard to build a credible plan to cut the deficit'.

But overall Byrne's record is not unblemished. In November 2006 he oversaw a retrospective change in the Immigration Rules designed to ensure that those who had come here under the Higher Skills Migrant Programme were prevented from staying unless they could show that they had earned at least £32,000 a year and had a 'good knowledge' of English. This 'moving of the goalposts' was denounced by the Parliamentary Joint Commission on Human Rights as 'clearly incompatible' with the existing legislation and it was overturned on appeal. The whole affair would not have sat easily with Byrne's constituency of Birmingham Hodge Hill and its predominantly Asian inner city. The area is classified as having a 'high percentage' of people dependent on what Duncan Smith calls 'benefits' and a housing situation which rates it as one of the highest in West Midlands for 'Multiple Deprivation'. This grim picture did not deter Byrne from claiming the maximum MP's allowance while he moved from one luxury London flat to another – one of which cost £2400 a month in rent – while he looked for somewhere more permanent. During the summer recess he used hotels and claimed £400 a month for food and for service dinners.

In 2006, when he became Minister of State at the Home Office Byrne decided that his staff - his civil servants – would need some firm and comprehensive instructions on the essential details of an efficient organisation. He composed an eleven-page document which he later took with him to other ministries. To begin with, his room should be cleared before he got there in the morning. All briefings should be in large 16 point font. 'Never put anything to me unless you understand it and can explain it to me in 60 seconds'. Among the rules are some which pointedly reveal much about the true function of government as required by the elements of capitalist society: 'Money is the root of all progress. Finances are a vital part of the initiation conversations'. And when it comes to an expression of the contempt in which the working people of capitalism are held he orders that 'Key messages must be set out in 'big speeches' and repeated at every, repeat every, opportunity'. Which brings us to the passage about the comforts and security which the minister needs: 'I am' he informs them 'addicted to coffee. I like a cappuccino when I come in, an espresso at 3 pm and soup at 12.30 – 1 pm.' One MP described it as 'a briefing note for slaves'. In defence a spokesman for Byrne countered that he is '...a highly efficient minister but has become more flexible since then. Some days, he has his soup at 1.30pm'.

No Money
In the coalition after the 2010 election Byrne was replaced at the Treasury by the Lib Dem David Laws. In a clumsy attempt to make light of Labour's rejection Byrne left a brief note: 'I'm afraid there is no money. Kind regards-and good luck'. But Laws was not amused and publicised the missive so that it was widely interpreted as derisive and contemptuous – which left Byrne 'haunted' by his mistake offering a 'friendly word' to his successor in their 'first day in one of the government's hardest jobs'. Among all this posturing a number of significant facts were neglected. Byrne was not the first Minister at the Treasury to act in that way and it had even become something of a tradition; for example the Tory Reginald Maudling told his successor James Callaghan that he was '...sorry to leave it in such a mess, old cock'. And David Laws lasted only 17 days at the Treasury after being exposed by the Parliamentary Standards and Privileges Committee as responsible for '...a series of serious breaches of the rules, over a considerable period of time'.

In January, anticipating the election, Byrne conducted a coach tour of supporters through Essex, where he grew up and which then threatened to be UKIP territory. His theme was clear: 'Ed (Miliband) has very firmly put young people at the core of our election campaign... right now (this country) needs young people's creativity and optimism as never before...' But then came the election and soon afterwards, on 14 June 2015 in The Sunday Times he was promoting a different line, in a different tone: '...we must be the party of older voters, not just the young... Labour faces a demographic timebomb unless we transform our standing with older voters... if the next Labour leader does not connect with older people – especially older women – then quite simply we will lose again... Let labour's changes begin'. How often have we suffered this same message from some desolate Labour politician, when their intention is to maintain this same callous way of life?

Obituary: Charles Lestor (1953)

Obituary from the January 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard

I first met Charlie Lestor over 30 years ago. I was still a kid, he was a mature and impressive man. His effect on the eager audiences of the post 1914-18 war was electric.

He had just arrived in this country after 20 years in Canada and the U.S.A. His Canadian style, accent and rig made him remarkable enough; his address to the large audiences of unemployed ex-servicemen was extraordinary. When most of the I.L.P. and Communist "Unemployed organisers" devoted their attention to personal invective against individual ministers; or the usual temporary nostrums for increase of the dole, or (much more) prevention of its decrease. Lestor never failed, in my hearing, at least, to go straight to the root of the matter.

He just could not speak to an audience without dealing with the capitalist system. From that day to this, I have never wavered in the opinion that of all the speakers I have heard, Lestor, in those days, was out on his own as a powerful exponent of Marxian economics in a popular trenchant style.

In clipped and rugged American terms, without a word wasted, he would grip a large audience from the first phrase and proceed to build up a rigorously logical exposition of surplus value.

"There's no sentiment in Business," "that profit is wrung out of the hides and carcasses of the working-class," "those wages amount to just enough fried fish, chips and beer to keep you working."

These and similar phrases were as typical of Charlie Lestor as the shock of hair, the bushy eyebrows covering the twinkling eyes, and the missing index finger on the waving hand. Tanned by the prairie suns and the Yukon snows as at home in 'Frisco or Winnipeg as in Stepney or Hyde Park, he was a modern cosmopolite, a man of all countries and all trades.

"I'm the laziest cuss under the sun," he would blandly inform his audiences, omitting to mention his jobs as gold-miner, farm-hand, Blacksmith, printer and Editor of the largest Trade Union paper in Canada. Many will remember his broadcast in the B.B.C. programme of his part, as the-cook-who-could-not-cook in the record drive of many thousand head of cattle to Chicago from the West.

For many years I lost touch, but immediately remade his acquaintance on joining the S.P.G.B. in 1939. Much water had flown under the Bridge, the years were beginning to take their toll. In the bitter weather of 1941 it was Charles Lestor who attended regularly at the Gloucester Place office of the Party, in a Balaclava hat, sometimes with frost on his eyebrows, to give instruction and counsel to young members in between air raid warnings. Subsequently I read through the minutes of those talks which covered a wide field of History, Economics and Current Affairs. Those fortunate enough to attend obtained a practical background of knowledge which affected their whole lives.

In 1945, the post of full-time propagandist fell vacant. At an age when most men ask nothing more than their carper-slippers Lestor applied and was appointed. As Central Organiser of the Party at the time I went over to see him in N.E. London, and made sure, as it was snowing heavily, that he had some reasonably warm equipment for the bitter trip to Glasgow that night.

He invited me to spend the day there, which passed discussing International politics, the Peace, Education, music and Omar Khayyam.

The years passed rapidly by, and many were the demands of the Party on Lestor's services. I cannot recall one occasion when these were refused or denied. Whether the meeting was large or small, far or near, early or late, he accepted as a matter of course.

As time marched on, it became apparent that even a man as vigorous, tough and energetic as Charlie Lestor could not beat Anno Domini indefinitely. Still the indomitable spirit refused to give up. In weather when he should have been indoors at home, he was regularly at Lincolns Inn and Tower Hill. The once powerful and strident tones which would ring out like a blast across a large audience, were sinking into an almost inaudible whisper.

Never did his sense of humour desert him, his remarks were now often punctuated by a quiet chuckle. He tended in later years, to an exaggerated optimism with regard to Socialist which other well-known Socialist speakers have also expressed.

During the Party's tenure of Rugby Chambers he once remarked to me "When you've stopped learning, you've stopped living." Surely that explains the astounding tenacity with which he stuck to his efforts as a Socialist propagandist, for so long.

He was always anxious and ready to try and learn. He had the Socialist's humility to knowledge. A busy life-time of effort on behalf on Socialism has assured for him the only sort of immortality which Socialists know, a permanent place in the memories of his fellow-warriors against Ignorance for Happiness.