Thursday, August 31, 2017

"The Battle For Peace" (1938)

Book Review from the October 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Battle For Peace by F. Elwyn Jones (Left Book Club.)

This book, published at 2s. 6d., as the August choice of the Left Book Club, can fairly be said to be representative of the opinions of those who see in an effectively functioning League of Nations, collective security, and Peace Blocs, a guarantee for the preservation of peace, and the downfall of the “ aggressors." Like so much Communist-inspired propaganda, the cause of war is sought, not so much in the social forces that operate in society, as in the evil intentions of individuals and governments. Now Chamberlain; now Hitler; now Mussolini; and now the whole lot together are represented as the villains of the piece. The inevitable outcome of the mode of thought is to insist that all that is necessary to establish peace is to replace those governments that are “aggressive" with governments of “peace-lovers"; as well as replacing those governments that show lack of zeal in standing up to the dictators (non-Russian, of course), by gentlemen who are determined, in the interests of peace and democracy, to tell the dictators where they get off, even though the sacrifice of millions of lives might be necessary to lend emphasis to this pacific gesture.

Needless to say, black is not black enough with which to paint the opponents of democracy; but when it comes to speaking of the “peace-loving nations," the democracies, no turtle-dove could coo softer. From this book it would appear that the Fascist powers have developed what our author is pleased to call a “new technique of aggression" which consists “of stirring up rebellion by a national or social minority within the territory of the proposed victim and supplying the rebellion with arms, men, and money" (p. 14). This assertion is reinforced by numerous quotations from the world Press. Indisputably, Germany, Italy, and Japan, are spending huge sums of money in the hope of weakening their opponents through “Trojan Horse" tactics. But to imply that they are alone in so doing is nothing short of absurd. This “new technique of aggression" is as old as Imperialism itself, and has been practised, and is being practised with extraordinary success, by that buttress of world peace and democracy, the British Empire. Mr. H. N. Brailsford, for example, quotes in his “War of Steel and Gold" the following extract from a despatch from Sir Edward Malet (Egyptian blue Book, No. 7 (1882),, p„ 107): —

“It should be remembered that the present (Nationalist) Ministry is distinctly hitherto bent upon diminishing the Anglo-French protection (sic), and that, as a matter of fact, our influence is daily decreasing. It will not be possible for us to regain our ascendency until the military supremacy which at present weighs upon the country is broken. . . . I believe that some complication of an acute nature must supervene before any satisfactory solution of the Egyptian question can be attained, and that it would be wiser to hasten it, than to endeavour to retard it." A pretext was found; Alexandria was bombarded in 1882, and Britain shouldered yet another part of the “White Man's Burden." That at the same time it secured twelve per cent, on an usurious debt is, of course, irrelevant.

The “new technique of peace" outlined by the author in his final chapter, is as moth-eaten as his “new technique of aggression." It consists of an alliance of the powers “that wish to remain faithful to the principles of international order— Great Britain, France, Soviet Russia, and the smaller powers who would fall in line with a firm policy led by these states." They would then agree to use their armed forces in defence of any country faced with an unprovoked attack. As if such a thing as an unprovoked attack were likely to happen! Never has any capitalist power gone to war in a spirit of aggression—it has always been the other fellow who started first.

For people who are always mouthing the word “dialectics" this dividing the world up into “peace loving" powers and aggressive powers seems a curiously undialectical way of viewing the relationship of world capitalist forces. Isn’t it crystal clear that the one group is but the looking-glass image, the reverse side of the medal, of the other ? In a world of states whose policies are based on the plunder of the world working class and each other, the “peaceful" powers (those interested in maintaining the status quo) are a condition of the existence of the aggressive powers (those interested in upsetting the status quo). The fact that the one group is more or less interested in maintaining peace, whilst the other group drives to war, is incidental. The policies pursued by both are the inevitable result of the social relationships that operate in each.

Unlike the Communist Party and the Labour Party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain is indifferent whether or not Mr. Chamberlain and his National Government know how to manage the affairs of British Imperialism as well as is humanly possible in the most difficult circumstances. Because Mr. Chamberlain appears reluctant, wisely or unwisely, to embrace whole-heartedly the advice given by the Communist and Labour Parties as to what the foreign policy of British Imperialism should be, Mr. Chamberlain is dubbed a Fascist. Let us be sure that if the British Government now leans towards the Fascist powers, and now towards the Democracies, its policy is always determined by the interests of British capitalism. In passing, let it be noted that it can hardly be an accident that the "have” powers are democratic, whilst the "have nots” are Fascist. Even Soviet Russia has entered the list of democracies with a brand-new "constitution.” However, it does seem that the Communists may be satisfied eventually; for the line-up in the future war to save peace, democracy, and Socialism, seems to be coming clearer. The old firms re-emerge; on the one hand, Germany and her satellites; on the other hand, Britain, France, and Russia, with Italy prepared to play her traditional rôle of selling herself to the highest bidder. As far as Russia is concerned, as has been said in effect elsewhere, if it was good enough to make Russia of Tsar Nicholas the cornerstone of European democracy in 1914, surely it is good enough to confer the same honour on the Russia of his successor, Comrade Stalin.

As Socialists, we are more concerned as to what will be the attitude of the working class, and, unfortunately, that already seems to be decided. The T.U.C., speaking: in the name of 5,000,000 organised British workers, has, with the almost unanimous support of the assembled delegates, committed itself to stampeding the working class into a holy‘ war against Fascism. As the Sunday Times, commenting on this in a leader on September 11th, states: "No one whose memory goes back to 1914 will miss the contrast between the two occasions. In 1914 the British Labour movement was strongly pacifist—not till the eleventh hour, but till the twelfth hour. Only when war broke out did the scales drop from its eyes; till then it had been criticising a very pacific British Government for supposed bellicosity. Now the boot is on the other leg; the Government of the day is reproached, in effect, with not seeming bellicose enough.” And goes on to say : " . . .  its [the T.U.C.] pronouncements were made with a sense of their implication. What they imply is the acceptance of war as something preferable to the ‘destruction of peace by savage aggression.’ ”

How envious Hitler must be of the British ruling class! No need for them to stage circuses, demonstrations, or indulge in exhausting bouts of spell-binding, for the; purpose of infecting the masses with war-fever! Our anti-Fascist Communist and Labour Radicals have successfully destroyed what pacific sentiments the British workers might have had, and, holding aloft the banner of anti-Fascism, are doing the dirty work of capitalism in a thoroughly efficient manner. This book, ”The Battle for Peace,” is, in its own way, a contribution towards that dirty work.
Arthur Mertons



Rally in Hyde Park (1938)

Party News from the October 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

A successful Rally was held at Hyde Park on Sunday, September 18th, 6 p.m. Thousands crowded around our two platforms and listened with sympathy and interest as our speaker dealt with the international crisis and the threat of war. A large amount of literature was sold and once again the S.P.G.B. demonstrated its ability to seize every opportunity for making the working class conscious of Socialism as the only ultimate answer to the machinations of international capitalism.

Hitler the "Socialist" (1938)

From the November 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many anti-Nazis who are also anti-Socialist are only too pleased to discredit Socialism by pretending that Hitlerism is what Hitler claims: a form of Socialism. The Evening Standard, serialising “My Struggle," headed its extracts on October 6th, 1938, “Hitler—Socialist." This is what the Evening Standard says: —
  It required an Austrian to lift up Germany, and an anti-Marxist to impose Socialism upon her. Hitler gave fair warning. Roughly half of the Twenty-five Unalterable Points of the Nazi creed, laid down in 1920, would make the British Labour Party shudder at their extremism.
   (i) Abolition of unearned income; (ii) ruthless seizure of all war profits ; (iii) nationalisation of trusts; (iv) share-out of profits from wholesale trade; (v) ban on land speculation; (vi) death for crimes against the nation, for profiteers, usurers and exploiters; (vii) communalisation of chain stores; and so on.
  As for “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle), there Hitler pours forth sentiments that have brought cheering to their feet millions of workers, and hundreds of thousands of ex-Socialists and Communists.
This might make the British Labour Party shudder, but it does not make Hitler’s programme a Socialist programme. Here it is necessary to add a word of explanation. When Hitler talked of the “abolition of unearned income” he did not mean what Socialists mean, for he borrowed from the Labourites the absurd notion that there are “two kinds of capital, one which is the outcome of creative labour, the other which owes its existence to speculation." It was the latter only that he promised to abolish. So even if Hitler had kept his promises (which he has not) Germany would still be what it is now: a capitalist country operating under fairly rigid State control.

One of the popular ideas about Germany is that Hitler has made life impossible for the capitalist. It has even been claimed that profit has been extinguished. That this is untrue can easily be shown by the fact that one of the major sources of Government revenue is a tax on profits. The Economist correspondent in Berlin wrote as follows (Economist, August 6th, 1938): —
  . . .  Now the taxation of profits has been sharply increased. . . . The increase is in the corporation tax. This tax is levied on the net profits of joint stock companies at a uniform rate (with some inconsiderable exceptions) of 30 per cent. Compared with depression times, its yield has increased more than that of any other impost, owing partly to the increase in its rate from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, made in 1936, but mainly to the revival of company profits.
Before leaving Hitler and his attitude towards reformism it is interesting to read (Daily Telegraph, October 22nd, 1938) an official admission by the Nazi authorities that last winter no fewer than 9,000,000 German workers received help from the Winter Aid Fund, the reason being that their wages are too low to provide the necessities of life. The excuse given by the Nazis is that this condition of affairs is a legacy from the Government which preceded them, which they describe as a Government of “Marxists." Precisely the same excuse was used by that Government and is used by every Government unable to make capitalism satisfactory to the workers.

Another fact which indicates how little changed Germany is under Hitler, in spite of his nearly six years in office, is given by the Berlin correspondent of the Sunday Times (October 23rd, 1938). He gives figures showing that there are about 2,000,000 domestic servants in Germany, obviously indicating the continued existence of a large propertied class able to pay to be served and waited on.

In conclusion, the following statement by Hitler in "My Struggle" should serve as a warning to those who interfere with Mosley's meetings: —
  We chose red (as the Nazi Party colour) after exact and careful consideration; our intention was to anger the Left, get them in a rage, and so induce them to come to our meetings—if only in order to break them up—so we got our chance of talking to them.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Russian Workers under the Czar and under the Bolshevists. (1938)

Letter to the Editors from the December 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Comrade,

Reginald, in the August “Socialist Standard," makes a most bitter attack upon Soviet Union. With part of what he says (growth of nationalism, adoration of Stalin) I am in agreement. He goes gravely wrong, however, when he attempts to show that there hasn’t been an “all-round amelioration of conditions for the worker."

He quotes Kléber Legay and Yvon as authorities. Now I have never heard of these gentlemen before. As far as I know they may not exist and may only be the disguises assumed by anti-Socialist publicists. I prefer to get my information about Russia from sources in which I can place greater confidence—Sydney and Beatrice Webb, Sir E. D. Simon, the various official delegations of British trade unionists to Russia, Walter Duranty, Sir B. Pares. Now these aren’t Communists or Communist sympathisers. But they all tell the same tale, and that is that material conditions in Soviet Russia are very much better than they were in Czarist Russia. Not only has the output of industry and agriculture been enormously increased, but health services (1917—13,000 doctors, 1937—106,000 doctors) and education services (1913—8,000,000 children at school; 1937—30,000,000) have been improved; output of books increased five-fold since 1913, illiteracy almost stamped out.

All these are solid improvements, and we will be foolish if we shut our eyes to them. They have been made possible by the introduction of the rudiments of Socialism. Russia is far from perfect and has a long way to go before it reaches Socialism, but Russia of to-day is enormously better from the workers’ point of view than Russia of Czarist days.
Yours fraternally,
H. Heather
Manchester


Reply:
Our contributor, “Reginald,” in the August The Socialist Standard, in an article headed "Stepfather Stalin,” quoted from André Gide, Kléber Legay, and Yvon, statements made by them about things they saw in Russia. “Reginald’s ” conclusion was that “claims for a general, widespread, all-round amelioration of conditions for the worker must be received with the utmost caution”; surely a very reasonable conclusion to reach in face of the statements made by the admirers and the critics of Russian conditions. But our correspondent, Mr. Heather, will not have it. He has read the admirers and has not read the critics, and he does not want to read the critics. In fact, he doubts whether they exist at all! May we suggest that his first obligation, if he really wants to know the truth, is to supplement his reading of the admirers by reading the statements of such men as Gide and Yvon, who were formerly supporters of the Bolshevist regime but who, on further knowledge, have become critical? Yvon, for example, lived for eleven years in Russia and was a Communist. (Yvon’s pamphlet is obtainable at 1s. and was reviewed in The Socialist Standard for June, 1937. Gide’s “Return from Russia” was reviewed in The Socialist Standard for December, 1937.)

Our correspondent says that he places greater confidence in the writings of the Webbs, Sir E. D. Simon, the various official delegates of British trade unionists, Walter Duranty and Sir B. Pares. He does not mention Sir Walter Citrine’s book, which is decidedly critical of many aspects of working class life in Russia.

The one thing, of course, which ought to be available, and which would be more valuable than all the rest put together, is the freely expressed views of the Russian workers’ own democratically controlled organisations, trade union and political. These views are not available because such organisations are not allowed to exist under the Russian dictatorship. If, therefore, the truth is hard to come by, the dictatorship itself is responsible.

Our correspondent points to the unquestioned advances made in Russia in such matters as getting rid of illiteracy, but claims that these advances “have been made possible by the introduction of the rudiments of Socialism.” The latter claim is utterly unsupported and unsupportable by any evidence. Similar and greater advances have been made in countries such as Britain, which make no claim to being Socialist.
Editorial Committee.

The Priest and His Piffle. (1916)

From the January 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

One, Father Bernard Vaughan, of the Roman Catholic Church in England, has been setting about his congregation with the jaw-bone of an ass. The jaw-bone was the reverend father’s own. The oily priest has been ass enough to attempt to answer the question: Why does not God stop this war? and he had better have kept his jaw-bone engaged upon the comparatively un-asinine occupation of chewing thistles. He couldn’t have made such a mess of thistles, and thistles couldn’t have made such a mess of him, however they may have revolted his belly.

The thesis of this detestable churchman’s onslaught, delivered at his church in Farln-st, W., on December 12th, is thus given by the “Daily Chronicle” (December 13th):
   Why does not God stop this war? If he were Almighty and All-loving he would have done so long ago.
The preacher spoke of this question as “a sample of the blasphemies sent by post” A sample of the bogey-man's correspondence it well may be, for without doubt thousands of the earnest befogged are daily propounding to themselves that riddle—hourly trying, and failing, to reconcile the idea of an All-loving Almighty with the hard, stern fact of world-wide war, and it would be strange indeed if some of these seekers after light did not take their enquiry direct to those who know all about God and his ways and his motives, not to speak of his love that passeth all understanding, and his strap-oil that sur-passeth his love. That the Holy Joe should publicly try his fist at such a reconciliation may be taken as symptomatic of his consciousness of the wide harbouring of this and kindred “blasphemies,” whether they find expression through the post or not.

It has been the custom among the aristocratic plunderers, we are told, to shove the fool of the family in the Church. The idea, of course, is that of all fields of roguery the Church offers the easiest opportunity. There, where the very choicest mugs foregather, a child could work the oracle. As a matter of fact children sometimes do, though the infant prodigy is now more often to be found practicing “practical Christianity” in the trenches as the more manly way of bringing to fulfilment the Scriptural prophecy: “A little child shall bleed them.” Anyway, it did not need any superman to invent the answer to the riddle which the reverend father made “revelation ” to his flock, though perhaps only divine inspiration enabled him to cut his coat in such true and exact knowledge of his sheepskin. He answered the whydiddle thus :
   God did not stop the war because, being Almighty, He could draw good out of it, and, being All-loving, He did so.
You see how beautifully plain it is. Military experts who have explained in the columns of the seven-times daily Press every military move long before it didn’t come off, the prophets who prophesied all sorts of happenings from “Constantinople in a week” to “war babies by the million ’ (and they didn’t mean Group 1), the blusterers who were going to “dig them [the German fleet] out like rats’ and “fetch” us if we didn’t go—all these have draped their words in obfuscation. One hardly knew what they meant. But the priest is clear as claret. God, being Almighty, could draw good out of war, and being All-loving, he does so. Of course, being Almighty, He could draw good out of peace, but it would be rank blasphemy against heaven and treason against the realm to suggest that he should find it in his tender, loving heart to do so. That, the corollary of the reverend gent’s tale, we can all understand, without doubt.

Nevertheless, not all truths are pleasant, however clearly they may be presented, and in times like the present, when so many thousands of mothers and widows and sisters are more than a little bit impatient under the process of being put through the mangle of war in order that good (for somebody) may be drawn from their sufferings, it would not ill-become the servant of All-loving God to make some excusably hypocritical concession to public opinion. None can resist the power of conviction attaching to the reverend gentleman’s illustration, which I give as reported in the “Daily Chronicle” :
     By the way of illustration Father Vaughan told the story of'a young cavalry officer who, before going into the trenches—where he was blown to pieces—wrote to a friend, saying: “If I am killed, tell my mother not to worry, because, but for this war she would never have met me in Heaven. This war has brought me back to my own self, and I have made it all right in the confessional."
    If that instance were multiplied ten thousand times, continued the preacher, they could see how good was drawn out of the physical evil of the war.
The dullest can comprehend that if ten thousand young cavalry officers are going to meet their mothers in Heaven who would otherwise never have done so, the war was jolly well worthwhile. That the All-loving Almighty should find more acceptable one of His lambs who happens to be returned to him in pieces is also only in accordance with human ideas. We also know that the road to Heaven is broadened to those who traverse it with feet and hands soaked with the blood of their fellows slain in battle—the All-loving would see to that. But it would have been interesting to have been informed whether the ten thousand cavalry officers who have to thank the war for the opportunity of meeting their very fond mammas in Heaven, would not have done so because but for the war they would have lived for ever, or because the devil was finding work for their idle hands to do before the All-loving busied them with butchery. If the latter, a class whose sons so regularly go to hell except they find salvation in homicide are worth all the sacrifice the workers are making.

The all-abounding love and wisdom of God are not things patent to the untrained eye of the man in the street. But, luckily, our reverend fathers are always alive to these matters. Here is light and leading from Daddy Vaughan: 
   Personally, I feel that it would take eternity to thank God for not having stopped this war as He might have done. If it had been deferred for ten years, my beloved country would hare been a Mongolian desert. . . . Our dear island home, with its cathedrals, minsters, and abbeys would have been utterly destroyed; we should have had nothing left us but “our eyes to weep with."
But a “but” saved us from the dismal plight of having nothing left to weep with but our eyes, to say nothing of the destruction of our cathedrals, minsters, and abbeys, and perchance also the slums, prisons, lunatic asylums, work-houses, mansions, broad-acred, well-wooded and watered ancestral domains concerning which the war poster asks Bill Higgins, ‘Isn’t this worth fighting for? ” The preacher proceeded :
    But God, being Almighty and wise, and loving, has spared us the horrors of Belgium and Poland and the despair of the Armenians.
The wisdom and the love of God, the priest thus shows, are not revealed alone in the fact of what He has saved us from: they are revealed even more forceably in what, evidently for our worthy sakes, he has put upon Belgium, Poland, and Armenia. There’s love for you; verily it passeth all understanding!

See how Father Vaughan flattens out the man who asks the fool question: “Can you deny that Christianity has been proved by this war to be a ghastly failure?” He replies :
  Christianity has not failed, because it has not been used. If Christianity had been used and recognised, there would have been no war at all.
So it is seen what a good thing Christianity would have robbed us of had it been “used and recognised.” If it will take all eternity to thank God for the war, surely it will also take some time to thank Him for rendering futile the efforts of His (don’t forget the capitals, Mr. Printer) clergy to get Christianity “used and recognised.” 

Meanwhile, eternity is a long time; and a job that is going [to] last for eternity ought to be got on with. Would it be out of place to suggest that the reverend gentleman go out into the highways and bye-ways and call upon the multitude to thank God for the war? One interested spectator would be.
Bill Bailey

Our Case in Brief. (1916)

From the February 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have seen how the whole structure of present-day, or any other society, rests upon and takes its shape from the property base; and now we can proceed to consider what, broadly, must he the result of the carrying out of the Socialist proposal to change the social basis from private ownership of the means necessary to satisfy the economic needs of the community to one in which these things are owned and controlled by the whole of the people.

The first and most important effect must be to abolish class distinctions. Just as, when the means of gaining a livelihood had only reached such a stage that common ownership in the land was the only form of ownership that was useful to either the community or the individual, and therefore the only form that was possible in the circumstances (i.e., when the chase offered the highest reward to human productive activity), there were no class divisions, so in the society arising from the new social base there could be no classes. Where property is owned by only some of the people, those who own are marked off from those who do not; they are a class apart, and their interests are to try their utmost to maintain and increase the advantage which their property gives them over the propertyless. In the nature of things, these endeavours are more effective if carried out collectively, hence they harden into class effort to support class interests.

But when all those things necessary for the well-being of the community cease to belong to individuals, but are owned as a single undivided instrument of production and distribution by the whole people as an organic unit, none are possessors and none have any advantage over others. Since all are in the same situation, all have the same interest, namely, to make the means of gaining the common livelihood serve with the utmost efficiency the common purpose. Society, therefore, so long rent by class divisions. founded upon unequal property conditions, at once loses its class nature with the abolition of private property, and being classless, there can be no class interests. The putting of all men and women on the same economic plane reconciles their interests, and just as those with the same interests under the class system combined to strive for the class interest, so the whole of society, having been made one by their unified interests, will combine to further the common interest. The old and bitter struggles between sections of the community, which Socialists know as class struggles, will then be known no more.

As a corollary of this abolition of economic inequality, or rather as a part of it, the wage-labour system will come to an end —that is to say, men will cease to work for wages. To-day men work for wages because they do not get an opportunity of working directly for themselves. All the instruments of labour, all the raw materials, all means by which alone men and women can gain their livelihood, are in the hands and under the control of comparatively few or the people, hence the others have no opportunity of gaining a livelihood save by placing themselves at the disposal of the possessors of the things above enumerated. It is safe to say that were there opportunity for each man and woman to work directly for himself or herself, enjoying the entire fruits of his or her labour, and without coming under the disability or uneconomic returns which must almost always accompany individual effort nowadays—if men and women could do this, I repeat, it is safe to say that none would be so foolish as to sell their labour-power to others, whose only possible object in buying it could be to make a profit out of it, that is, to give for it less than it could produce.

It is, of course, utterly impossible for such opportunity to be afforded to the individual. The very corner-stone of that development of the means of production which has resulted in such vastly increased fertility of human productive effort, is division of labour. Division of labour necessarily means also associated or social labour. The very moment we try to introduce individual labour to production generally the whole vast system of machinery comes to a standstill. Thus a dozen or so men with a modem threshing machine, can thresh corn at a tremendous pace. But if each is to be able to say “ I have threshed this corn," then they must abandon their associated labour. The engine driver must leave his engine, the pitchers must leave the stack, the sack-shifters must leave the delivery spouts, and the boy who fetches the beer must leave his social and sociable occupation, and each must take up the flail and flog.

The flail was an instrument of individual labour; the threshing-machine is an instrument of social labour. The first shows individual results, the second shows social results. The individual instrument does not afford scope for any advanced form of associated effort — a dozen men cannot use it at one time; the social-labour instrument cannot be operated by individual labour — one man cannot run a threshing machine by himself.

When, therefore, the private ownership of the means of living is abolished, men and women will cease to sell their labour-power for wages because the opportunity of obtaining their living without such sale will be opened up to them. But they will not be able to set about production each in his own way and each on his own hook. Man is largely what his means of living make him. His means of living having developed to that stage where they can only be operated by associated labour, man must, remain an associated labourer, even though he cease to be a wage labourer.

And now mark how all these things hang together. The same development of the means of production which has made them impossible of individual operation, has made them also impossible of being owned by the individuals who operate them—that is to say, individually owned by those individuals. Just as the threshing machine cannot be operated by individual labour, so it cannot be owned separately by those who operate it. They might own it jointly, but for each to own and control a portion would put an end to its efficiency as an economical instrument of labour.

But the means of production and distribution have developed even beyond the stage where they could be owned and controlled by the actual groups operating them. Even the threshing machine is not a complete productive plant in itself: it needs an engine to drive it and to draw it about. In other industries, however, the instruments of production have developed a far wider interdependence. The water supply, for instance, upon which hundreds of great concerns in manufacturing districts depend, as also the gas and electricity supplies, show quite plainly how the means of production have developed into a vast system of machinery, which , can only be efficiently owned and and controlled as a whole and by the whole community.

These things, then, must shape the character of man as a producer. When he ceases to be a wage slave he must be a worker for the community. He surrenders his labour-power to the community instead of to a boss. 
A. E. Jacomb

News From Heaven: The Bishop's Special (1916)

From the March 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the January issue of this journal were recorded the statements of the Rev. Father Vaughan anent the reason God did not intervene to stop the war. The unmarried father showed us very clearly that only his—pardon. His—great love prevented Him from doing so. God, like the munition manufacturer and the ship-owner, was drawing good out of the war, and in such circumstances it was not to be expected that the merry mill which the bulk of the world finds so amusing, and which some (not excluding even Bishops, who in this respect are luckier than beershops) find so profitable, would be interfered with by the Divine hand. No, God, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to be nailed up on a stick, as the only way in which he could prevail upon himself to refrain from strafing the world with fire and brimstone, was certainly not the bloke to prevent his children stirring up one another’s vitals with bayonets and other eminently suitable implements. The reverend father led us to that conclusion by ways so logically sound that to most of us he spoke absolutely the last word on the subject.

But after the Roman Catholic Church comes the Catholic Church of England. The Bishop of Chelmsford, speaking at Queen’s Hall on the 7th February, in the Day of United Intercession arranged by the World’s Evangelical Alliance, stoutly combatted (without mentioning names) the claim of the rival show to know all about Cod and his whys and wherefores.

The Essex bishop, far from ascribing the non-interference of God in this game of butcher my neighbour to boundless love, declares that it is a question of politics. “God has his politics,” the bishop assures us, “and would never be an ally of any nation that was not clean.” So the fiat has gone forth. The reason England has not wiped the floor with Germany is that the English are so damned dirty—a bishop has said it.

As between the Romish father and the Anglican bishop, the present writer does not presume to judge. The theory that God so loves the world that he wouldn’t for anything save it from self-annihilation, has attractions for the reverent mind; on the other hand, the idea of God as a politician, making known through his agents that cleanliness is one of the planks of his platform, and that, no matter what the demerits of the Germans, he will not ally himself with the itchy and the crumby—that idea is irresistible to those who dabble in the singularly clean and spotless game of politics.

But after all, these reflections do but touch the fringe of the question. Though Father Vaughan opines that it will take all eternity to thank God for the war, he will agree that it would he a mistake to carry the thing so far that there was no one left alive to thank God for having killed off all the others,. He cannot, then, object to the All-loving being persuaded to temper his love with so much of Spartan sternness as will put a stopper on our murderous indulgences. So much for Father Vaughan.

Now the Bishop of Chelmsford tells us that “God is sitting on the fence,” and plaintively asks, “how can we get Him to come down on our side and give us a mighty victory?"

Much smaller bugs than bishops are may be permitted to offer suggestions on a subject of such universal interest as getting God to come down off his perch. An old bird-catcher whom I consulted on the off-chance declared “if yer can’t call him down yer must feed him down, and if yer can’t feed him down yer must call him down, and if yer can’t neither feed him down nor call him down ye’d better try a 'en angel, and if that aint no good why yer won’t never take him up to Club Row.”

But we may reject that advice with scorn. Obviously the first step is to get ourselves clean. “We must cleanse England," says the bishop, and he is right. Let’s wash our shirts and our shifts ; let’s scrape ourselves, pumice-stone ourselves, boil ourselves if necessary. Let’s co-operate for the job—my Lord Bishop, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours : I’m ready for any dirty job so long as we get the muck off. Then, when we have got through with that we might pursue the course which has proved so efficacious in the past. We might plaster the fence whereon God is sitting with such announcements as “Your King and Country Need You"; "Isn't This Worth Fighting For?” “What Did You Do, Daddy?” “Go! Don’t be Pushed!” “I wasn't among the first to go, but I went, thank God, I went.” And if this was followed up by a visit from the recruiting sergeant, or, to stretch a point in view of the greatness of the occasion, from Lord Derby himself, murmuring the magic “What abaut it?” we should surely “get God out of this dilemma,” and “get him down on our side” (as the bishop “reverently” and gracefully put it)—unless the irreverent but far-sighted Germans have taken the precaution to lime His perch, in which case, perish me pink, there is a dilemma indeed.
Bill Bailey

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sparks From The Anvil. (1916)

From the April 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

Few journalists of the capitalist Press have exhibited such insight into the character of contemporary politicians as Mr. W. Purvis. This gentleman, in an article (“The Man Who Saved France”) setting forth the merits of the late Adolphe Thiers—one time President of France —gives vent to the following gem of political wisdom:
   There was something of Mr. Lloyd George and a great deal of our English Premier in Adolphe Thiers. In his unconscious and amusing egotism he reminds one often of our Minister of Munitions; and he does so, too, in the case with which he could turn on the tap of poetic and patriotic eloquence, as well as in certain flashes of poetical inspiration.
Sunday Chronicle,” 16.1.16.
How far this comparison is true may be gathered from the following extracts from the character sketch of M. Thiers given in Marx’s “Civil War in France” :
  Thiers, that monstrous gnome, has charmed the French bourgeoisie, . . . because he is the most consummate intellectual expression of their own class corruption. . . . The massacre of the Republicans in the rue-Traumonain, and the subsequent infamous laws of September against the Press and the right of association were his work.
This is particularly appropriate in view of the Featherstone massacre, and the fact that Asquith is the head of, and Lloyd George a member of, the government which has suppressed more journals in the interests of capital than any other of recent years. “Thiers was consistent only in his greed for wealth and his hatred of the men that produce it. Having entered his first ministry under Louis Phillips poor as Job, he left it a millionaire.” Lloyd George started with nothing; he now gets £5,000 a year and still is in his own opinion “a comparatively poor man.” (Marconi affair.) He is getting on.

*  *  *

  We are sorry to hear that the original inventor of Kinematography, Mr. Friese-Greene, is to-day living in absolute want. “John Bull,” Jan. 22, 1916.
The same old story of the inventor under capitalism. He wears his brain away and rots in poverty while the capitalists, having cheated and robbed him, realise the full fruits of his invention. How many fortunes are to-day being built up through the medium of the Kinema industry? Yet Friese-Greene has to be dependent upon charity—the statement above quoted being followed by an appeal for his support, addressed with unconscious irony to those “who are to-day benefiting so largely in connection with the moving picture industry.”

*  *  *

The manner in which the “standard of living” of the workers is “rising” is illustrated by this cutting from the “Daily Dispatch" of 4th Feb., 1916. “Those who find beef or mutton beyond their means will be at least interested to learn that horseflesh may now be bought at properly-equipped butchers’ shops.” This, mind you, from a paper that is continually informing us of the extravagance of the working “classes” in this time of high wages, war bonuses, etc., etc., of which an example is seen in the next column of the same paper of the same date:
   A woman who was stated to earn 13s. 1d. for a week's work of 61 hours at Salford applied in vain at the Manchester Munitions Tribunal yesterday to be allowed to go to another firm. . . . The firm’s representative, in answer to a question by Mr. P. W. Atkin (the Salford stipendiary) regarding the girl’s total wages, said she worked a normal week 50½ hours and 8¾ hours overtime, making a total, including the extra payment for overtime, of 61 hours. Her total wages with the war-bonus were 13s. 1d., which the firm considered was fair remuneration having regard to her age and experience. . . The Chairman, whilst remarking that the firm might consider giving the worker more wages, declined to grant the certificate.

*  *  *

The tendency to supervise more strictly that which the worker sees, hears, and reads, and only to allow that which is considered, “good for him,” is increasing. The Altrincham licensing magistrates have decided that “in future all licences would be endorsed to the effect that anything to 'educate the young in a wrong direction,’ or anything which is likely to produce tumult or a breach of peace,’ should not be shown.’ Daily Dispatch,” Feb. 4, 1919.


*  *  *

  At a moment of unexampled anxiety the Treasury are faced with the virtual bankruptcy of the National Insurance Scheme. The Government are heavily in debt to the panel chemists, while the remuneration of the doctors — generous enough at the outset—has, upon one pretext and another, been reduced almost to the level of the old Friendly Society terms. Meanwhile, instructions have been issued that only cheap medicines, and not too much of these, shall be prescribed.
John Bull,” 12.2.16.
The doctors are kicking, the chemists are kicking, but the workers, the dupes of the scheme, where are they? They go blandly along — “forepence a week he gives, forepence a week,” but not for ninepence.
R. W. Housley

Violence and the Labour Movement. (1916)

Book Review from the May 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Violence and the Labour Movement" by Robert Hunter, author of "Poverty," (George Routledge, London; The Macmillan Co., New York, 1916. 400 pp. cloth. 2s 6d. net.)

R, Hunter's Reform Bias Exposed.
Every Socialist recognises the complete futility of individual or mob violence as a working-class weapon, in face of the overwhelming power of the State. The fact that the “propaganda of the deed,” so dear to the Anarchists or direct-actionists, has always played into the hands of reaction is a commonplace. The Labour movement in all lands passes through despairing stages of such activity; and it is only as its futility becomes thoroughly realised, and the true nature of the problem which faces the worker is understood, that the worship of mere disorder or violence is outgrown. Its very hopelessness shows it to be a gesture of despair. It is the expression of economic and political weakness, disorganisation, and ignorant passion.

But this is not to say that the question of force has not an important part to play in the struggle for Socialism ; for when the need and time arrive the workers cannot hesitate to use force against force. It does mean, however, that the force to be used cannot be mere individual or mob violence. It must be the organised might of the whole working class, rooted in economic needs, and based on knowledge rather than on blind hate, and used because essential to complete the task of emancipation.

In essence, moreover, the success of a revolution depends, not upon mere force, but upon economic necessity. The role of force is secondary to this. And it is only because the economic necessities of the capitalist system pave the way for the working class advance to power, that Socialists are enabled to use legality in their educational and organising work; it is only because they are the expression of economic needs and forces that the workers have the opportunity of advancing from strength to strength until their power is sufficient to finally wrest from their masters the major force of the State.

This being the case, it is evident that any account of the role hitherto played by violence in the Labour movement must resolve itself into a record of the activities of men ignorant or doubtful of the economic trend, distrustful of the workers themselves, and filled with a conceit that foolishly credits miraculous powers to an “intellectual” few. And in a book just published by Messrs. Routledge entitled “Violence and the Labour Movement,” by R. Hunter, this fact is clearly shown. By far the most entertaining section of the book is that recounting the titanic struggle on the question of Anarchy that raged within and around the old International. Another section that is of particular interest is that on “The Oldest Anarchy,” dealing in particular with the lawlessness of American capitalists, and with that peculiarly American problem, the hire of armed bands of private detectives, such as the Pinkerton thugs. Apart from these interesting points there is little that is new to anyone who has digested Pleckanoff’s little masterpiece. “Anarchism and Socialism.”

But that is not all that has to be said about the book. The Socialist has a bone to pick with the author. Mr. Hunter vitiates any usefulness his book may have by special pleading of the most insidious kind in favour of the attitude of reformist organisations such as that jelly-fish, The Socialist (!) Party of America, of which he is an ornament. And it is significant in this connection that he suppresses the undoubted fact—urged with great force by Liebknecht in “No Compromise"—that Anarchy is directly fostered by the anti-Socialist policy of compromise, confusion, and political charlatanry which renders worse than useless most of the so-called Socialist and Labour parties of the' world. Indeed, to make it appear that the pseudo-Socialism which he favours is in line with Marxian principles he is reduced to misrepresenting those principles and to distorting the words of Marx and Engels. A few instances may be given, not as appealing to the authority of Marx—which appears to be a cult mainly in evidence among those who distort his teaching—but on the ground of appeal to the demonstrable truth of the scientific principles of Socialism, which transcend any personality.

On page 130 the author refers to Marx and Engels outlining in the Communist Manifesto :
   Certain measures which, in their opinion, should stand foremost in the program of labour, all of them having to do with some modification of the institution of property. In order to achieve these reforms, and eventually to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, they urge the formation of labour parties as soon as proper preparations have been made and the time is ripe for effective class action.
Now the truth regarding these measures is that, far from being those which, in the opinion of Marx and Engels, “should stand foremost in the program of labour,” they are expressly referred to in their joint preface to the Manifesto as being “antiquated” Owing to the vast changes that have taken place, and therefore
   no special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of section II. That passage would, in many respects, be very differently worded to-day.
Mr. Hunter’s first point, therefore, is definitely contradicted; but a far more important point remains to be dealt with. It will be observed that Marx and Engels speak of them not as being “reforms” at all, but as revolutionary measures. And so they are. They are suggested measures to be taken by the victorious workers only when the revolution is an accomplished fact. Mr. Hunter carefully conceals this truth. It brands his party as non-Socialist. But the facts are entirely beyond dispute. Marx and Engels say in the Manifesto regarding those very measures that:
the First Step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of a ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.
   The Proletariat will use its political supremacy, to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the Slate, i.e., of the proletariat organised as a ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.
     Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected excepted by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
    These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
Consequently. Mr. Hunter has distinctly falsified the Socialist position. Such measures are in no sense of the word “reforms." They give no possible basis for any reform program. They give no support whatever to the long lists of vote-catching reform nostrums professedly realisable while the capitalist class are in power. And they would be “very differently worded to-day."

The measures necessary when the workers have won their class battle can, indeed, only be definitely decided upon when that moment arrives. The only possible program for a Socialist party is Socialism ; and its only “immediate aim” is the straight fight for the conquest of the Stale in order to begin the transformation of capitalist society into Socialism. As the founders of scientific Socialism state in the Manifesto itself, their “immediate aim" is the “formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.” Any party, indeed, whose immediate aim is less than this, is, by that same token, not a Socialist party.

In some instances the author’s attempt to graft his reform twaddle upon the authority of Marx and Engels is distinctly amusing, as when he says :
  Marx considered the chief work of the International to be the building up of a working-class political movement to obtain laws favourable to labour. Furthermore, he was of the opinion that such work was of a revolutionary nature.
Seeing that, as Marx said, the conquest of political power by the workers is the first step, it is obvious that the obtaining of “laws favourable to labour” must be “work of a revolutionary nature.” But that is not what Mr. Hunter wants his readers to understand: and on page 150 he says regarding the attitude of Marx toward the co-operative movement :
  Arguing that co-operative labour should be developed to national dimensions and be fostered by State funds, he urges working-class political action as the means to achieve this end.
Then he quotes Marx’s own words on this :
    To conquer political power has therefore become the great duty of the working class.
Marx's own comment is a sufficient reply to Mr. Hunter's insidious attempt to misrepresent him. So far is it from being true that Marx, as Mr. Hunter implies, favoured the working class diverting their energies to the development of co-operation to national dimensions within capitalism with the aid of State funds, that he distinctly stated the contrary. In his letter on Unity sent to Bracke on the eve of the Gotha Congress Marx said on this very' matter:
   The workers seek to establish on a footing of social production, and in the first place, in so far as it concerns them, on a footing of national production, the conditions of collective production ; but what does this mean other than that they work for 'the overthrow of present conditions of production ? And this has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with the aid of the State.
   Regarding existing co-operative societies, they have value only in so far as they are the creation of the workers themselves, to which neither governments nor capitalists come in aid.
Let Mr. Hunter twist that if he can!

For the rest, it is obvious that where the the political elements of the class struggle are lacking these must first be obtained in order that the revolutionary struggle may proceed, and because the immediate aim of the Socialist Party must be the conquest of political power. In no sense do the pro-capitalist proclivities of Mr. Hunter and his kind obtain support from the founders of scientific Socialism. From the principles themselves it is clear that a Socialist party cannot be a reform party. It must devote its energies to organising the workers as a class for the capture of the citadel of the State. Only when that is accomplished can the workere pass any measures at all.—Until then all reforms are “gifts” from, and in the interest of, the ruling class. Consequently the Socialist Party must be revolutionary first and last.

*  *  *

If the early chapters of Mr. Hunter’s book, dealing with the struggles around the International, are, as has been said, interesting, it must at the same time be confessed that while the author had the material and opportunity for the production of a Socialist classic, he has failed to do more than produce what can only be characterised as a "red-herring.” The last chapter, indeed, contains elements of broad farce. It is the reductio ad absurdum of his so-called -Socialist standpoint. He lumps together the votes cast for the Labour Party of Great Britain, the Labour Party of Australia, the Social Democrats of Germany, and the other reform parties of the world in a grand total of eleven million votes for Socialism! It has no significance for him that over one half the world most of this vast army for "Socialism” vanished into the "dug-outs” of patriotism at a single blare of the bugle, and that the other half is getting ready to follow suit! His rhetoric is proof against unpleasant truth. He continues:
   Where shall we find in all history another instance of the organisation in less than half a century of eleven million people into a compact force for the avowed purpose of peacefully and legally taking possession of the world? They have refused to hurry; they have declined all short cuts . . .  they have declined the way of compromise, of fusions, of alliances . .  .
And so on in a dithyramhic crescendo of hysterical absurdity until at the end one sets down the hook in a burst of laughter.

Indeed, the pitiful reality is so tragically different to the author's gaudy imagery that one hastens to laugh in order to avoid tears.
F. C. Watts

The Age of Gold (1916)

From the June 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard
                                           What is here ?
Cold ? Yellow, glittering, precious, gold ?
Thus much of this will make black, white ; foul, fair ;
Wrong, right; base, noble ; old, young ; coward valiant.
What, this, you gods? Why, this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides,
Pluck stout men’s pillows from below their heads.
'I'his yellow slave
Will knit and break religions; bless the accurs’d ;
Make the hoar leprosy ador'd ; place thieves,
And give them title, knee, and approbation,
With Senators on the bench : this is it,
That makes the wappen’d widow wed again.
Come, damned earth, thou common whore of mankind!     
                                                                —"Timon of Athens"


Old-Age Pensions: A Typical Reform (1916)

From the July 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the time that the OLD AGE pension measure was passed by Parliament it was pointed out in this journal that its chief purpose was to save the rates. It wax to encourage old people to starve outside the workhouse rather than go in and be kept at treble the cost by the ratepayers. Evidence of this fact has been repeatedly given, and to-day, owing to the enormous increase in the cost of living, the old-age pensioners are dying off like flies. Such paragraphs as the following speak eloquently of this :
"'LIFE ON 1s. 6d. A WEEK.”
  "'If they can live on Is. 6d. a week each and don't get starved, a good many of us eat too much,' said the coroner at the inquest on a Bethnal-green woman aged 70. She and her aged husband had lived on the latter's a old-age pension of 5s., out of which 2s. was paid in rent. Occasionally the man earned an odd 6d. The doctor said that death was not accelerated by want."
                                                     "Daily Chronicle," June 16.

After all, if people who have reached the age when the stomach has lost its elasticity will gorge themselves on 1s. 6d. a week they must expect to pay the penalty.

The same paper pointed out a short while back that, owing to the rising cost of food, old-age pensioners were being forced to apply for admission to public institutions, "Thus defeating the object of the Act."

The sentence I have italicised is significant; it is a fact not often admitted.

Another instance (from the "Daily Telegraph" of June 12th) throws a little further light on this capitalist reform. The comments of Dr. Waldo are worth thinking over.
OLD-AGE PENSION PROBLEM.
  At Southwark, Dr. F. J. Waldo held an inquest on the body of Edward Heath, aged 85, who died in St. George's Infirmary. The evidence showed that the deceased was for some time in Christchurch Institution, S.E., and during that time his old-age pension of 5s. a week was in abeyance. Quite recently he left the institution, and on May 29 he visited the Customs and Excise officer at the Hop Exchange with a view to having his pension renewed.
  Questioned by the Coroner, Mr. James Murray, the Customs officer, said the deceased should have gone to the Post Office, got a form, and either brought it to witness or posted it.
  Coroner: Would you then have given him 5s?
  Witness: Oh, no; the form would have been sent to the Pensions Committee, and probably a week or more would have elapsed before the deceased got his 5s.
  Coroner: That looks like red-tape. This poor chap might bare starved before his paper came back. If the deceased had no money to supplement the pension would you have given him the 5s?
  Witness: Certainly I would.
  Coroner: Surely that is wrong. A man cannot live on 5s a week! It has often struck me that the law wants altering. It is not the fault of the pensions officers, but I have had numbers of instances of poor people dying in a horribly neglected condition while trying to subsist on 5a a week. But for the pension they would probably have been in some public institution, where they would have been properly cleansed and cared for. In this case the deceased was encouraged to leave the institution and try and live on the 5s.
   Dr. Thomas Massie said be believed that a very large majority of old-age pensioners did not go on the Poor Law at all.
  The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and added a rider to the effect that an old-age pension of 5s a week was not sufficient unless there was something to supplement it.
   Coroner: In that case the pension is not an unmixed blessing.
In other words, when the ruling class grant us, with great flourish of trumpets and braying of asses, an epoch-making reform, it is all spoof. It is their way of putting something into their OWN pockets. It is the hard-headed British working man who is the mug—every time.
F. C. Watts



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fryatt and Others (1916)

Editorial from the August 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

The fate of Captain Fryatt has caused another violent outbreak of cant to sweep over the larger part of the civilised globe. Such a bowl of indignation from those who are urging men on to wholesale murder might lead one to the conclusion that murder itself is a harmless and unimportant matter compared with the method and circumstances of the murder. Men are torn from their homes and sent willy-nilly into death-trap trenches to slaughter and be slaughtered in a quarrel that is not theirs, and that is doing glorious work and dying glorious deaths. The Cain-mark upon their foreheads takes the form Victoria Crosses or Iron Crosses and the like, while they who send them to their crime and their doom have their names inscribed on the “pegs of history" that is not placed in tbs category of the Newgate Calendar. There is no hint from our masters' paid mouth pieces, whether of Fleet Street or of Canterbury and York, that there is anything foul in all this. Crime under authority savours of heaven.

Authorities have a habit of making laws to support their authority, and it is characteristic of them that they never make the mistake of asking the concurrence of those they make subject to those laws If "Thou shalt" or "Thou shall not" are insufficient, then the requirements of the case are fully met with the noose or the bullet. Whatever wordy warfare may centre around the fact of the offence, it is always recognised that the question of tbs justice of the law will not stand argument, and there never is any. Thus in the Casement business not one word has been argued by the prosecution as to whether the prisoner's motives were grounded on patriotism or some baser sentiment. To let the evidence prove the former—it very well might—would by all the rules of logic place Casement on the same plane as Nurse Cavell—and that would never do. It would also have opened grave doubts as to the standing of those misguided Dublin rebels who shared the adventure with Casement, but not being of aristocratic blood, were shot out of hand. Were they not patriots also, and did they approve of the laws under which they were butchered in cold blood ?

The fact is all rule is coercion, and all rulers are bullies. The bullies make laws to suit their own needs without reference to the point of view of those whom they put under the laws, and to talk of justice in the case is laughable. For those who shot the Dublin prisoners in cold blood to complain of the judgment of the German court-martial is incongruous.

Of course the execution of Captain Fryatt was murder—foul, brutal, and stinking. But our masters want us to view it as something standing in a class by itself, something typically and peculiarly German ; but in truth it is nothing of the kind. It is simply another capitalist outrage upon a member of the working class, committed to suit capitalist ends, and accepted and exploited by other capitalists to fan the flame of hatred and feed the declining war-fever. That is our judgment of all these "atrocities."


Frederick Engels: A Tribute (1916)

From the September 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

The early days of August are eventful ones for the international proletariat. This terrible war was ushered in on the fateful 4th and it was on the 5th of August, 1895, that Marx's great co-worker passed away. Unfortunately no adequate biography of Engels has been written and the short sketch of his life by Karl Kautsky has long been out of print. A brief resumé of his life story is therefore timely, especially when the so-called “leaders of Socialism” in England are busy reviling the memory of every Socialist of German birth.

Marx and Engels paid the debt they owed to society with compound interest, and it is for us who still hold fast to the principles they laid down to make their writings known.

Frederick Engels was born in Barmen on the Rhine on Nov. 28th, 1820. His home was in the most developed part of German capitalism with its accompanying militant burgher and rising working class. For twenty years the district had been French territory and when it passed into German hands in 1815 it inherited the traditions of the French Revolution. German philosophy was at its zenith and Henrich Heine, Fuerbach and Hegel were active in the society in which Engels was born. Educated at the local school and afterwards at the “Gymnasium” at Eiberfeldt, he grew to hate the official life and politics of the German bourgeois and left his studies to take up work in a merchant house at Bremen and later at Berlin. His father was part owner of a textile firm in Manchester known as “Ermen Engels,” and from 1842 to 1844 he was employed in the business. Those days of break-neck speed capitalism, with its fearful exploitation and murder of women and children in the mills, made a lasting impression on Engels, and he threw himself into the incipient working-class movement of that time. Those who are interested can consult in the British Museum the files of the Bronterre O’Brien’s (Chartist) “Northern Star” and in Robert Owen’s “New Moral World’’ for many contributions from his busy pen.

In 1844 he returned to Germany and thence to Paris, where he revived his friendship with Karl Marx which had begun two years before. Their common views led to their joint authorship of “The Holy Family’’ or a Review of the Critical Critique against Bruno Bauer and his followers. Published in Frankfurt in 1845, this work dealt a mortal blow at the idealist philosophy of the Hegelian school and showed that changes in the “world of ideas” cannot lie explained by themselves hut only by the previous changes in the material world.

Soon afterwards he published the result of his investigations into proletarian life, entitled “Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844,” a work which is widely quoted to-day and shows that even in 1844 Engels studied material conditions in order to found a social science. Here he traced the effects of the industrial changes on the social life of the workers and showed that the reformism of Chartism and the idealism of Owenism could not he the basis of a Socialist movement. He wrote for the "German French Year Book" in 1844, ''Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy," which was the first attempt to found Socialism upon Political Economy.

Upon his return to Barmen to complete the “Condition of the Working Class” he grew disgusted with the piety of the town and left his orthodox and conservative family to go to Brussels. He gave up mercantile life and joined Marx here alter the latter had been expelled from France through the “kind" offices of the Prussian Government. They cut themselves off from the Bourgeois philosophers of Germany and the young Hegelians, and promoted an international workers’ movement, The Communist League. Engels went to Paris and by means of educational work laid the basis for a democratic organisation to replace the secret societies that had formerly existed. Marx and Engels became so well known and relied upon that after two Congresses of the League they were instructed to prepare a manifesto of its aims. Back in Germany at Cologne they took control of the daily "Neue Rheinische Zeitung." Its work was difficult as it stood alone in its clear conception of the necessities of the time.

The ’48 revolution showed that the politically and economically unripe Germany was full of illusions as to the meaning of the struggle and mistook the struggle of the small property-owners against the government for a social revolution.

The labourers were betrayed by the small bourgeoisie after they had helped the latter and the “Neue Rheinische Zeitung” was suppressed. Engels was persecuted and fled to Switzerland. Marx went to Paris, where a new revolt was seething, and after the bloody June days in Paris was ordered to leave. He went to London and was followed by Engels, who escaped the French authorities by travelling by ship from. Genoa.

In 1850 in Hamburg they re-established the- “Zeitung,” and Engels wrote for it his series of articles on “The Ten Hours Bill” and also his criticism of the German bourgeois revolt in “The German Imperial Plan of Campaign.”

Here he also published the articles forming his book on "The German Peasants’ War,” and through dispelling the fond illusions of the small property owners the circulation of the paper fell. Many of the Communist leaders were thrown into prison and Marx’s defence may be found in his “Communist Trial.” All literary expression was afterwards denied to them in Germany, being banned by Democrats and Government alike. Publishers and papers closed their doors to them. Marx returned to the Reading Room of the British Museum and planned his magnum opus—“Capital.” Engels joined his father’s woollen business and afterwards became a partner, but finally severed his connection with it in 1869.

Whilst Marx is chiefly known by the great works that bear his name, Engels expressed himself chiefly in the smaller books he wrote from time to time and in the large number of articles he published in many journals, now obscure. His popular style of exposition made his application of the Socialist philosophy to specific questions and problems a fruitful field of propaganda. An example of this may be found in his lucid introduction to Marx’s “Wage, Labour and Capital." He wrote much on militarism, science and philosophy between the busy hours of his business life. “The Po and the Rhine," published during the Italian War of ’59, where he dissected the methods of the Prussian Liberals, and after the war he wrote “Savoy, Nice, and the Rhine.” During the Prussian struggle of 1865 he penned “The Prussian Military Question and the German Labour Party" a further message to the proletarians of Germany. His profound military knowledge served him well when he wrote the military articles for the “Pall Mall Gazette" (London) during the Franco-German War, and also for the "Manchester Guardian." “The Prussian 'Schnaps" in the German Reichstag’' is still worthy of application to-day though written in '76.

His masterpiece, "Anti-Duhring" was written in 1877 and represents for us the classic of Socialist philosophy. The three chapters from it known as “Socialism, Utopian and Scientific” is still (next to his Manifesto) the most widely read of Socialist literature and deservedly so. It is a thorough exposition of the scientific character of Socialism, and an example of that Materialist Conception of History which he jointly discovered with Marx. “The Housing Question" was written as a reply to the Proudhonists, and "Social Conditions in Russia” against the wild theories of the Bakunists. Here he applied social science to Russian conditions and examined the mir in the light of modern Socialism.

The clear grasp of the class struggle made itself manifest in the formation of the International— ruined though it was by the reformers and Nationalists who disrupted it within whilst the agents of capitalism attacked it without. The second so-called International has again been killed in 1914 by the jingoes who have given the lie to every principle International solidarity stands for.

On the General Council of the International Engels had to fight the efforts of English Labour Leaders on the one hand and Continentai Physical Force theorists on the other.

Amidst all his writings Engels had to assist the many comrades from all parts of Europe who flocked to him and Marx for advice and to correspond with the many friends of the movement everywhere. The editing of .Marx’s works also occupied him largely.

In 1883 he brought out the 3rd edition of vol. I of “Capital,” enlarged and revised according to the wishes of Marx and provided with notes. In 1884 he published the 2nd volume dealing with Circulation, after much energy spent in finishing the preparation of the material left by Marx.

Lewis Henry Morgan’s classic work on Ancient Society appeared in 1877 and Marx and Engels were practically alone in their recognition of its value. As the Professor of Finance at Columbia University (New York), Prof. E. R. A. .Seligman, says [1],  Engels advanced Morgan’s discovery one step farther by his “Origin of the Family.”

Seligman further admits that the great founders of modern Socialism were the first to get the real significance of Morgan's work recognised. Engels showed that gentile society was transformed owing to the first fundamental division of labour—the separation of the pastoral tribes from the rest of society with the consequent intertribal exchange and rise of private property—the coming of slavery and the decline of the matriarchate.

The death of Marx in 1883 left Engels with two men’s work. He revised the English translation of the 1st vol. of “Capital” made by Dr. Aveling and Justice Moore, and worked steadily at the great task of preparing the material Marx left for the 3rd volume of “Capital.” The tremendous difficulties Engels had in this may be read in his preface to that volume. His growing eye weakness made work by gas impossible and yet he lived to accomplish his task. It stands to day as much Engels' work as Marx's, and is Engels’ undying tribute to his comrade of 40 years. “Capital” lives when thousands of critics are forgotten, and it is read more to-day than ever. Even here in America, where superficial reading is the order of the day, “Capital” is being studied as never before. In 1888 he wrote his “Feuerbach.

The last debt Engels repaid to Marx was to edit and put in book form the articles Marx wrote for the “Rheinische Zeitung" in 1850 under the title “Class Struggle in France, 1818-1849.” In the preface Engels showed how the change in economic development had made former methods of warfare useless. It is a complete answer to the “direct action” element and its truth may he seen from the terrible defeat of the Irish insurgents under Connolly, and the massacre of the striking workers here in America recently at Pittsburg. The quick-firing gun, says Engels, has destroyed the hope of the barricade but the suffrage has given the proletariat a more powerful weapon, against which the ruling class are helpless.

Whilst working on Marx’s “Literary First Fruits” Engels was taken ill and he returned from Eastbourne to London, and after two month’s suffering with cancer of the throat he passed away in the presence of his old friend, Edward Bernstein. By request he was cremated and the ashes scattered to the winds from Beachy Head.

Thus died a man who laboured restlessly all his life for the emancipation of the working class. He bequeathed his money to Marx’s children and thus brightened their closing years.

The three volumes of correspondence between Marx and Engels published by Franz Mehring, as the “Manchester Guardian” well says, are a beautiful and rare example of lasting friendship of two gifted men whose work was indissolubly interwoven. What they owed to each other and what we owe to both may be glimpsed from their almost daily correspondence.

The test of Engels' foresight may be seen to-day, 21 years after his death, in the action of the so-called leaders of Socialism in England and Germany. Engels never trusted H. M. Hyndman, and the latter retorted by calling him the “Grand Llama of Regents Park Road ”

But if Engels could see Hyndman supporting the jingoes and bitterest enemies of our class as he is now doing, what a justification he would feel! For the Palmers Weekly he wrote , whilst he was in the grip of his illness, an article, "The Awakening," which closed with words so appropriate in spirit for our time.
    "Above all let the oppressed close up their ranks and reach out to each other across the boundary lines of every nation. Let the International Proletariat develop and organise until the beginning of the new century shall lead it on to victory."
Adolph Kohn


NOTE:
[1] The Economic Interpretation of History by Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman