From the April 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard
As thinkers we Socialists are pitifully shallow. We don't seem to get to the root cause of things, like the panders of the capitalist Press.
Not, for instance, like Lady McLaren, who has recently illumined the World (both this terraqueous globe and the newspaper of that name) on the subject of race suicide. The decline of the birthrate, it would appear, is causing consternation in our Upper Circles. So her ladyship, instead of wasting time in absurd condemnation of an economic system which slaughters wholesale the children of the very poor, dives below the mere surface and makes the problem plain.
In a tense drama the comedian need not be excruciatingly funny to excite amusement; amid the tragedy of penal courts the magistrate calls forth laughter without being inordinately witty. But to arrest public attention on the peril of the race, writers in our prostitute Press must be beyond exception profound, persuasive, gushing. Lady Mac squares the circumference to a nice-T.
Admire her penetration. She maintains that the marked tendency of the birthrate to decline is due more to the unwillingness of husbands to support children than to the unwillingness of wives to become mothers. When you walk along our dirty proletarian streets and watch our ill-clad, half fed kids, meditate on the meanness of workingmen, who, although blessed with 24s. 9d. s week and acquiescent helpmates, refuse to bring into this happy land families of more than seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen potential wage slaves.
But, behind the obdurate father, someone else is primarily to blame. Who? Unthinking Socialists, you would never guess. The modern politician!
Yes. “The child is no longer an asset; it is a financial burden," our titled sociologist discovers. Formerly “the man depended for comfort upon the extra earnings of his children, and both parents regarded sons and daughters as an insurance against starvation in their old age. Modern politicians have changed that condition of things." So now you know.
We Socialists pass nasty strictures upon old-age pensions, exposing their fraudulent pretence, insulting insufficiency, and rate saving reality. As usual, we only skim the surface, and it has been reserved for the McLaren genius to explore their true hideousness. Listen and perspire.
“The granting of Old Age Tensions is merciful. But the effect on population will be marked. As certainly as old age is sheltered from want without the aid of children, so certainly will families be smaller."
Shade of Malthus, painfully invoked from deserved oblivion! 'What a monstrous shape is taken by this demoniac gift of five bob a week at the long last of life! In the affluent independence of a secured future, tho workingman will override his wife's willingness, capitalism's claims, and nature's dictates. He will set at naught the laws of God and the exigencies of the labour-market. We see him, selfishly unproletaneous, march onward to his septuagenary, careless as to what becomes of the industrial reserve army, unmindful as to who will bear arms, do the dirty work, and create surplus-value. Rosebery's “end of all" is on the horizon. The cloud of the weekly dollar, albeit not so large as one's palm, portends a cataclysmal storm.