From the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard
Mr. Douglas Jay will be known to readers of the Daily Herald. Until recently he was the City Editor of that newspaper and, among other things, gave advice on how best to invest one’s money. This was, indeed, a useful and noble service to the worker-reader, in view of the latter’s ever-present problem: that of making ends meet. Now, however, Mr. Jay has given up his job on the Herald, having obtained another with the Ministry of Supply; but—and note this— he has the satisfaction of knowing that he has done his duty well.
In his farewell article, published on New Year’s eve, he explained how, on account of the war, financial reform measures, urged by himself and the Labour Party, have been carried in this country. With a feeling of satisfaction, he writes: —
“Almost all the reforms proposed by Socialists four years ago have been carried through. Almost all the causes championed in this column have been victorious."
And the title of his article is: “Socialism Comes to the City.”
These remarks of Mr. Jay’s bring to mind similar ones made during the last war in the Labour Leader, the organ of the I.L.P. in those days. Like the Douglas Jays of to-day, some l.L.P.-ers claimed, during the 1914-18 war, that Britain had embraced Socialism.
To refer back to the quotation from the City Editor’s article, we must point out that by “Socialists ’’ are meant “Labourites,’’ for, in no respect, can it be said that Socialism has been established in “the City.”
The S.P.G.B. has on numerous occasions, both in these columns and on the platform, shown that the Daily Herald is not a Socialist newspaper, nor the Labour Party a Socialist Party.
The trouble is that for most supporters and members of the Labour Party anything that savours of State control is Socialism. Enthusiastically, Jay continues : —
“Throughout industry itself, Government control has become almost the rule rather than the exception.”
And again: —
"We have to-day full Government control of the foreign exchanges, of the new investment market and of almost all the commodity markets.”
Judging from the standard set by Mr. Jay, the Nazis, too, could rightfully claim to be Socialists, so could the Bolsheviks. So could Bismarck or any other supporter of State control.
The fact is, of course, that Socialists do not aim at Government control of finance and industry. They have always emphasised that nationalisation and such things are not Socialism, but State capitalism. Such changes leave the fundamental position of the worker untouched. Always under capitalism—whether State controlled or not—he is a wage-slave, who, in order to live, must sell his energies (or labour-power) to the capitalist class. Because he is divorced from the means of production, he can work only if by so doing he produces profits for the owners of these means of production, i.e., the capitalist class.
Socialism involves the abolition of capitalism. It involves the abolition, therefore, of the roots of capitalism, i.e., wage-labour and capital. Under Socialism there can be no wages-system, no finance, no investments. In Socialist society the means of production—land, factories, railways, and so on— will belong to all society; all its able-bodied members will take an active part in production and each and every one will have free access to the means of life.
Before leaving Douglas Jay we must point out one or two other things. First, even he is not quite sure that, although “Socialism has come to the City,” things are as they should be. Otherwise, why should he state: —
"The Daily Herald will continue . . . to keep a vigilant eye on such City activities and personalities as still need watching’’?
Secondly, the whole idea underlying the viewpoint of Douglas Jay and many Labour leaders— the idea that Socialism can come without our being aware of its coming, without effort on the part of the workers—is extremely dangerous.
The workers will certainly need no one to tell them when Socialism replaces capitalism. As Marx and all Socialist thinkers have emphasised, Socialism will only be achieved by a working class that knows what it is about, that wants Socialism and that organises politically to capture the State machine in order to introduce it democratically.
The Jays, and such-like people, ignorant of Socialism, confuse the minds of the workers; by making believe that Socialism can come without an effort on the part of the workers, they cause apathy among those who alone can establish Socialism— the working class. Therefore, whether they mean to do so or not, they play into the hands of the capitalists.