From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard
That section of working class youth, which it has become popular to describe as “Juvenile Delinquents” is once more in the news. A leading article entitled “Lawlessness and the Family” appeared in the Yorkshire Post of March 27th, expressing concern at the increase in “crimes of violence," said to be more than four times as high in 1956 as in 1938: “Not something which a community which cares for its future health can afford to ignore." The article asked the Government:—
“Is there something in the nature of the society we have built up which encourages a light regard for morals or a weakening sense of responsibility?”
Here the editor has stumbled blindly across a situation his own paper has helped to create! Founded as the Leeds Intelligence on July 2nd, 1754, this organ of commercial influence has thus for over 200 years been supporting a buying and selling system of society with its luxury and palaces for the few, but misery, poverty, squalor, slum hovels and “dead end kids” for the masses, together with the wanton destruction of wealth in the military field—all of which is inseparable from a capitalist exploitative system.
Now—54 years after the Socialist Standard began its work of exposing the nature of capitalist society, the Yorkshire Post is timidly asking a question which was answered in 1904! We'll say there’s “something in the nature” of the society they’ve built up—and that “something” is the misery and poverty of the mass of humanity in relation to the wealth socially produced, but confiscated by a minority—the capitalist class. When the Yorkshire Post talks glibly about “a community which cares for its future health"— how does it reconcile this with its own support of the capitalistic malaise of mental and physical suffering, which as we have already pointed out is inseparable from a commercial system?
The environment and conditions of life of the millions of workers are anything but conducive to a happy, harmonious existence. Far from it! Sunless narrow streets of living quarters called homes, from which many are glad to escape to the factory! Blitzed sites of rubble as “playgrounds," “bread and marge" and “fish and chips” as food, shoddy clothes and footwear to combat a damp, foggy climate in winter.
In addition to all this there is the domestic strife due to cramped accommodation (the writer himself a victim) or a 9d. bus ride away, the onerous task of “Keeping up with the Jones’ ” on a “shoe string income."
Seeking to strengthen its “case” against “the evil in men’s hearts ” the Post calls to its aid a “star performer," Sir Hartley Shawcross. “ Time and again in cases of juvenile offenders,” said Sir Hartley yesterday, “one sees that the real offence lies in the home." Following Sir Hartley comes the chairman of the Middlesex Sessions, Mr. Ewen Montagu. “In many cases it is the parents who should be in the dock.” Not a word, mark you—of environment and conditions of poverty by these “leading citizens” of capitalism, who choose to ignore the real cause.
When men like Shawcross participate in the administration of the capitalist “Justice” of which they are so proud, it brings to mind, those memorable words of Burns:—
“Oh wad some power
The giftie gie us
To see oursels
As others see us.”
For what could be more hypocritical than to exploit the majority of mankind by dispossessing them of their real social inheritance—the crystalised labour power of their own and their forefathers’ human energy in its present form of a “vast accumulation of commodities”: hedge round this wealth with state powers of police, etc., and when any of the dispossessed attempt to retrieve a small portion thereof—clap them in “prisons” with a fanfare of trumpets, as they parade their “Goddess” of “Justice" before the eyes of a bewildered populace!
This much vaunted “Justice” of theirs rests on the slogan: “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” concealing as it does the robbery of those who produce, but do not possess. Even under present conditions, lest any “Juvenile Delinquents” be kidded into a feeling of biological inferiority by Shawcross in the Yorkshire Post, we remind them of Oscar Wilde’s words: “It is safer to beg than to steal, but it is finer to take than to beg.”
Much more important, we remind them that as Socialists we stand for the abolition of the wages system, together with the one-sided “Justice” it supports.
When this is achieved, the chains will fall simultaneously from the whole mass of suffering humanity and there will be no further cause for “Juvenile Delinquents” or for that matter, “Magistrates” sitting in “judgment” over them.
Socialism alone can foster the harmonious and brotherly behaviour of mankind which lies dormant in all of us, awaiting the freedom of expression and fulfillment that will accrue once the revolution has been accomplished.
To that end, we call on our fellow members of the working class to stop voting for the continuity of capitalism and “get moving in OUR direction"—on the “MAIN LINE” to SOCIALISM.
G. R. Russell