Sunday, March 26, 2017

Socialism and Religion (1926)

From the March 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Forward" looks Backward!
'Tis said that truth, like murder, will out; likewise, that when rogues fall out honest men come by their own. These old saws are called to mind by signs that the existence of the S.P.G.B. cannot be ignored indefinitely by its opponents. In their vote-catching contests these opponents see the party of revolution, watching and waiting, rigid and relentless, ready for the time when the workers shall tire of sham fights, and the game of the professional politicians is up for good.

The rise of the Labour Party, that vague, flimsy shadow of the substantial event that is to come, has provided frankly reactionary groups and individuals with the opportunity to indulge in attempts to raise the hair of the average elector by such means as the cry that “Socialism is Atheism!” The fact that the Labour Party does not stand for Socialism in the scientific sense of the term and consequently does not deserve to be reproached with materialism is, of course, ignored. The object is not merely to score points off the Labour Party, but to confuse the minds of the workers. If they can be persuaded that the Labour Party is Socialist, then the inevitable failure of that Party to justify the support it receives will be proclaimed far and wide as the “failure of Socialism." In its turn the Labour Party tells the workers that its “Socialism” has nothing to do with materialism and scornfully disowns any connection with the S.P.G.B.—fortunately for us!

An instance of this sort of thing is to hand in "Forward” (Jan. 16th). A certain Hon. Alan Boyle, in an effort to discredit the candidature of a “Labour” parson, quotes the “Catholic Herald,” which in turn quotes our pamphlet (No., 6) "Socialism and Religion.” Instead of facing the challenge from the Socialist point of view "Forward” sneers at us as an “insignificant organisation” with probably half-a-dozen members and professes to have had to drag in John S. Clarke “an antiquarian authority” (and, let us add, ex-member of another ‘‘insignificant organisation,” the S.L.P.), in order to discover the facts about our existence.

This would be a poor world without a sense of humour and we do not begrudge "Forward” and its like their little jokes. They have so little else to offer the workers. What “Forward” apparently overlooks is that by falling for the Tory bait it is helping to advertise its most determined enemies. There are three methods by which truth may be held back—persecution, ridicule and silence; and the most powerful of these is silence. Silence, both in the Capitalist press and the Labour rags alike, has helped to keep down the numbers of the S.P.G.B., but in their endeavour to settle accounts with one another our opponents are breaking the silence which has for so long been their only reply to our attack.
Eric Boden


Why Not Join Us? (1927)

From the March 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

There are readers of the Socialist Standard and supporters of the party in the districts around London and in the Provinces who feel too far from any centre of party activity to think it worth while joining us. There are others again who, while agreeing with us, yet have a fancy that we are “intellectuals” or “too tolerant." To such I address the following few lines:

Those who are waiting until the party grows in strength in different places would be wise to remember that not only must there be a beginning with someone, but also there may be quite a number like themselves in a district just waiting for someone else to get going. If all those who agree with us join up, we can put members in a given district in touch with each other in order to form a branch. It is much more interesting and useful to work in harness with others than in isolation.

There is no mystery about the principles, policy or internal organisation of our party; there are no cliques or job-hunters. The party’s methods are too democratic to allow of that. We are a group of working men and women who have laid down a set of principles and a policy that are clear and definite, and are carried out by methods that leave no room for the crafty to achieve either position or pelf. All our meetings are open to the public, because we have nothing to hide and no wire-pulling to take part in.

We are not “intellectuals”; we just know what we want and are determined to get it. We are neither intolerant nor bitter towards our fellow workers. We know that the mass of those who support the Labour Party, the Communist Party and others, are honest, sincere, and self-sacrificing in their efforts. It is the foundation and policy of the other parties that is wrong, and that allows groups of self-seekers to climb on the backs of their fellows and to twist the enthusiasm of the workers to their own private ends.

There are "Labour Leaders” who are sincere though misguided, but, in the main, it is the trickster who flourishes in the “Labour Movement ” and forms close corporations for the sharing of offices and emoluments. We are only intolerant and bitterly opposed to the existing order of society and the shams in which it cloaks its fierce oppression.

Where a few members are congregated in a district they have the many advantages organisation confers. For instance, bundles of specimen copies of the “S.S.”—back numbers—can be sent to help them in their propagandist efforts.

Recently, workers in Paddington, in Becontree and in Hull have been enrolled in the party and joined into branches which have enabled them not only to take advantage of the benefits of organisation, but also to get in close touch with us all and to see how democratic and above board the internal work of the party is.

We are steadily growing in strength, and hope soon to be able to record new branches in other places, such as Reading and Sheffield, Woolwich and Sittingbourne. Here and there throughout the world we have associates of a similar outlook to ourselves who are endeavouring to form parties abroad on similar lines to our own.

Now reader and fellow-worker, what about joining up with us and helping on the good work? We offer you, among other things, our comradeship in a cause that is worth your best efforts and enthusiasm.
Gilmac.

The Socialist Outlook (1929)

From the March 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist's view of life is essentially historical. That is to say, he takes the widest possible view of human experience, seeing in the past the raw material which the present is constantly converting into the future.

Old facts and new facts alike provide food for his mind, and having inwardly digested them, he reviews ideas, both new and old, in the light of the knowledge so obtained. In all this he follows the scientific method.

The stage of social life is his laboratory. By abstract analysis he discovers the inner forces of that life and, having traced their laws, he comprehends the play; but he is not an inactive spectator merely. He is also one of the players, and his understanding is necessary to the effective performance of his part.

For the drama of human development has reached a crisis. Men and women are about to become the masters of things which have used them hitherto as puppets. “From slavery to freedom'' is the battle cry taken up by an ever-increasing number of the players.

What is this slavery? And what, this freedom? For ages the primary and fundamental activity of mankind has been work, work! To win from Nature a firmer footing for the race. To develop the powers slumbering in human nerve and sinew. To construct an artificial substitute for the crude, merciless, “God-given” arena of savage strife.

Few have lived to enjoy the fruits of their toil. Fewer still have managed to live upon the toil of others. The many have toiled under varying conditions, that these few, the brave, the powerful and the crafty should fight and govern and scheme to enjoy the wealth and leisure so created. For who, given the choice, would prefer toil to the life of ease?

The whip of the slave-driver, the sword of the baron, and the menace of hunger. These have been, and are, the weapons which have flogged, prodded and terrified men and women to their daily task; and, as each weapon has given way in turn to a more effective one, so the productivity of toil has grown till even the most gigantic scheme of waste cannot rid the markets of the wares which glut them. So numbers now know idleness, indeed, but starve!

They may not work! Refinement of slavery—even the slave’s first need is denied them. They must not feed and clothe and house themselves, for much of the food, clothing and housing in existence cannot be sold!

Money, devised to circulate commodities, gravitates in narrowing circles and decrees stagnation. Choked with wealth, the masters condemn their slaves to poverty.

“Enough! Cease toil!"

“Cease toil?" the workers cry. “Is this some sudden freak, or mockery of Fate, that, not having won the ease for which we strive, we yield its only pledge?" And yet there is no cloud but has its lining of shining silver. Let but the toilers turn the cloud of oppression about and they will see the answer to their riddle.

Mankind has won the age-long battle with external Nature. Security for all is ours for the taking. There, in the idle factories, pits and deserted fields lie the means to feed and clothe and house the human race. Here are our hands, brains and muscles ready, willing and eager for the task.

What holds them back? The Law!

Framed through centuries by the rich and mighty, by the aid of their hirelings to fetter the creative giant.

Yet even the guns which thunder at their bidding, the swords they rattle, the latest fiend's device of prostituted science, they, too, are the products of our toil. What we produce shall we not control? Do we lack the will to struggle and endure till victory be ours, who all our lives have known nought else but ceaseless struggle and grim endurance with empty pockets for our pains?
Eric Boden

A Diary of Labour Government. (1931)

From the March 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

Here in Great Britain, about twenty-seven years ago, there was a sharp difference of opinion. There were those who held that there was but one cause of working-class poverty, and one only, and but one way to end it. These formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain, with the aim and object of capturing political power and achieving Socialism. There were others who denounced this as a dream, too far removed from present needs to be practicable. What was wanted, they said, was something now, something tangible, something realisable, something which we could see in our time. These supported immediate reforms, palliatives, and the Labour Party. They have been wonderfully fortunate. In a mere twenty-five years they have achieved their practical object and seated a Labour Government in Parliament. That Government has been there nearly two years, and we think we may be doing posterity a service by setting down a rough diary of what life for the workers means under a Labour Government. Something now was their object; this is the something.

On January 1st, 1931, two and a half millions of working men were unable to find a master. On this day, also, 161,300 miners were locked out in South Wales.

On January 2nd the railways of the country announced they contemplated spending £30,000,000 on improvements. Meanwhile, they were negotiating with their employees to slice £11,000,000 off their wages.

About this time, some thousands of cotton workers were locked out because they protested against an intensification of their work, and more thousands of boot and shoe operatives and agricultural workers were threatened with wage cuts. Labour was still in power.

A man named Lansbury, a high Labour official, wrote to the Press suggesting that what was really needed was more prayers and Christian spirit.

A feeble-witted Christian, known as Jix, hurried to assure the people that Mr. Lansbury was quite wrong, and that Christianity had nothing to do with politics.

On January 12th the Daily Herald, Labour’s own newspaper, announced that "business men realised that the Daily Herald is a magnificent business-building power.”

On January 13th the papers announced that 27,000 tinplate workers were to be thrown out of work. Labour was still in power.

On January 16th, such was the poverty of the nation, ground down with the burden of taxation, and such the need for national economy, that the two Royal Princes started out with a shipload of accessories on an 18,000 miles tour.

January 19th.—The official attack on the railwaymen opened. Official figures of unemployed, 2,608,406. Labour still in power.

January 20th.—Miss Ellen Wilkinson, one of the Labour Government, hard at work solving the workers' problems by touring America, writes that she is astonished at the bread-lines in New York. What says the Bible: “The fool has his eyes on the ends of the earth.”

Speaking of the Bible recalls that on January 20th an article in the News Chronicle records the appalling poverty of the clergy. It seems that their average salary is only £350 per annum—nearly £7 per week. How do they live, poor men? The railway companies suggest 38s. per week for their rapacious hirelings. Yes! Labour is still in power.

There was a tremendous happening about this time. The Labour Government was defeated. In the midst of this poverty, unemployment and slaughter of working-class wages, they made a determined stand on one phase of the question of religion in schools. The Roman Catholics, perhaps the most fanatical opposers of Socialism in existence, represented that the Government’s Education Bill would cost them £1,000,000, and wanted a guarantee that it would not come out of their own pockets. Labour members rallied to the Catholic standard and defeated their own Government by 33 votes. Did the Government resign? Of course not; they must continue the good work of getting something now.

January 20th.—Ramsay MacDonald (re Princess Royal) “moved a humble address to assure His Majesty that this House will ever participate with the most affectionate and dutiful attachment in whatever may concern the feelings and interests of His Majesty.”

January 23rd.—Another determined stand made on the Trades Disputes Bill. The great question was, whether the Labour Party shall have the power to grab the coppers of uninterested trade unionists or not. A Second Reading was obtained with a majority of 27. They breathe again. The poor remained poor, the unemployed remained workless, and the victims of wage cuts remained cut. The Labour Government was still in office.

On January 26th the Labour Government, friends of the poor, the downtrodden and the helpless, released an agitator named Gandhi (whom they had held in prison very much like Capitalist Governments do), but overlooked 60,000 of his pals who had been awaiting trial since May 5th.

January 30th.—Whitehaven pit disaster; 26 miners killed. The News Chronicle suggests, in view of frequent mishaps at this pit, that an enquiry be instituted. They are twenty years late. We commented upon a worse happening in the same pit as long ago as that. Those in favour of “something now,” please note.

Just to wind up the month, on January 31st Mr. Graham indicated (according to the News Chronicle) that the Government accepted the Liberal proposals for unemployment. He is credited with saying: “The simple truth is that the industrial problem is now so grave that the old division of parties becomes' meaningless.” An equally simple truth is that the old division referred to has never been more than simple eyewash. Mr. Graham is thirty years behind the times. He should give his newsagent an order for the regular delivery of The Socialist Standard.

However, this has not been an entirely dull month. There were 300 guests at the Hunt Ball held at Newnham Abbey, and Lady Houston offered £100,000 so that Great Britain should be able to compete for the Schneider Cup. She gave this to implement her belief that one Englishman was still worth three foreigners. Our engineers —also worth three foreigners—were told that their wages—average 58s. 1½d.—were too high, and would have to come down to a level that would enable us to beat the foreigner. No! not altogether a dull month. The poor remain poor, the unemployed remain workless, and wage cuts are as regular as a bacon-slicer.

Of course, space is too precious in our little Standard for diaries of this description, but—unless one takes a tragic view of poverty and unemployment—they can be quite amusing. For instance, on February 3rd the House of Commons engrossed itself in the Representation of the People Bill. The question of the City of London retaining special representation was discussed. Mr. Clynes, a Labour man, said “ it was inconceivable that it should not be represented in the House.”

Inconceivable, mark you! Those who are still looking for “something now” will be relieved to hear that under the heading, “Business Done,” for this day appears “A Bill for the better protection of trout in Scotland, read a first time.” No doubt this is the Bill that caused a drop of 27,000 in the unemployed this week. On February 4th it was stated there were only 2,592,650 without a master in the week ending January 26th. This was before the Trout Bill was passed. 

On February 5th Mr. Lansbury, ever practical, ever a realist, brought us back to the facts of working-class life by intimating that he had finally approved of the Haig statue. The Engineering Employers; somewhat more out of touch with reality, delivered their ultimatum to their workers, worsening hours, wages and conditions, and threatening “if you or your members fail to make your contribution . . .  to take what steps they consider necessary.”

“Something now” is a curious policy, isn’t it! Why not try the other way? Socialism, next year, if we can’t get it before, but—nothing less
W. T. Hopley

Marx and the "Blackcoats" (1935)

From the March 1935 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is a sign of the times that the name of Karl Marx is so often mentioned wherever social problems are discussed. His opponents, and they number many, including such bitter “opponents" of each other as Conservatives and Labourites, pay an unwitting tribute to the soundness of Marxism each time they attempt to “prove" Marx wrong.

To give an example of the manner in which his critics “dispose" of Marx, here is an extract from the Daily Herald, “Labour's own paper." Under the heading, “All Together," it printed a leader dealing with the proposed affiliation of the Medical Practitioners' Union to the T.U.C., which it described as being “full of significance." “The middle-class workers," it says (italics ours) “in the professions, in commerce, and in industry, are established in positions of great influence and power. Their numbers are growing with astonishing rapidity. The class whose decline Marx foretold in his certain accents is expanding in numbers, growing in power and developing its own outlook as a great new factor in politics." (December 15th, 1934. Italics ours.)

"The class whose decline Marx foretold in his certain accents . . . . "! Which class? In the Daily Herald's own words, the "middle-class workers! The managers, foremen, architects, clerks, salesmen, etc.? Since when have these types of workers constituted a separate class? And when and where did Marx “foretell their decline" ? Not a word from the Herald in support of their allegation.

In fact, Marx quite clearly foresaw that the work of administration would be taken over by the workers. In his work, “Capital" Marx says: “Just as at first the capitalist is relieved from actual labour so soon as his capital has reached that minimum amount with which capitalist production, as such, begins, so now, he hands over the work of direct and constant supervision of the individual workmen and groups of workmen, to a special kind of wage labourer. . . . The work of supervision becomes their established and exclusive function." (Vol. 1. Swan Sonnenschien. Edited by F. Engels. Page 322.)

Further, in dealing with clerks, etc., he states: “The commercial labourer, in the strict meaning of the term, belongs to the better-paid classes of wage-workers, he belongs to the class of skilled labourers, which is above the average. . . . The generalisation of public education makes it possible to recruit this line of labourers from classes that had formerly no access to such education and that were accustomed to a lower scale of living. . . . The capitalist increases the number of these labourers whenever he has more value and profits to realise." (Italics ours. Vol. 3, Kerr and Co. Trans, by E. Untermann. Edited by F. Engels. Page 354.)

These are "certain accents" of Marx all right, but they give no support to the case of the Daily Herald. Marx did not make the mistake of confusing the better paid workers with the smaller capitalists, as the Herald writer apparently does.

Perhaps the “subjects" of this controversy, namely the Daily Herald's “middle-class workers," those who are established in positions of “great influence" and “power" may derive small comfort from what Karl Marx or the Daily Herald says about them. But they will sooner or later be forced to listen to what the Socialist Party has to say to them.

Firstly, there is no fundamental distinction between the workers by “hand" and those by "brain." In fact, all workers have to use both, and because all of them have to sell their working ability, whatever its character, to an employer for a livelihood, all of them belong to that economic category, the working-class.

The clerks, architects, and many other of the “superior" sections of the workers face the same problems, generally speaking, as tailors, bricklayers or engineers. All those problems can be traced to one root cause—the private ownership of the means of living. In many cases, the position of the professional workers and clerks is worse than that of their “manual" brethren. When in work, it.is a constant struggle to keep up appearances; when out of work, some do not even get the dole. And mechanisation and rationalisation have wrought havoc in their ranks, too.

Therefore, the Socialist Party does not select particular sections of the working-class for special mention.

Misunderstanding of the Socialist case is prevalent amongst all grades of workers to-day. Professional workers do not possess some mental kink which will make it impossible for us to convert them. Even the snobbish outlook born of “semi-detacheds’’ in Suburbia cannot withstand for ever the bitter lessons which capitalism is teaching.

Marxian Socialism — Scientific Socialism — stands primarily for the recognition of the fact that the working-class, nine-tenths of the population here, cannot live without getting permission to use the land, the factories, railways, etc., from the capitalists who own them. This means nothing but slavery and exploitation for all working-men and women, no matter what their jobs are.

And therefore, we of the Socialist Party ask you, whether you are “black-coated workers, or workers with no coats at all, to join us?" Because the task we have set ourselves is the most vital of all, the task of taking the means of life out of the hands of the minority and securing them for common ownership.
Sid Rubin

Frederick Engels (1936)

Book Review from the March 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard

Frederick Engels: A Biography by Gustav Mayer (Pub. Chapman fir Hall. 15s. 323 pages) 

Frederick Engels has so often been referred to as the co-worker of Marx that it is really surprising that Mayer’s book is the first biography. Though Engels collaborated with Marx from the days of their youth until Marx's death, he lived so much in the shadow of the dominant personality and the brilliant intellect of Marx that his real place in the partnership has been difficult to assess. Engels, like Marx, was not of working class parentage. His father was a prosperous mill-owner and Marx's father a lawyer. Engels was born at Barmen, one of Germany's earliest industrial towns. At the time of his youth, Germany, later than England and France, was in the throes of social and political conflicts, which were the result of incipient capitalism. He was highly sensitive to the intellectual controversies of the time. Strauss' "Life of Jesus" undermined his belief in Christianity, in which he had been well primed in his childhood. Before he was twenty he was writing poetry, debating Hegelian philosophy, and challenging the accepted ideas of leading philosophers and writers, in pamphlets and articles to the Press. The social and intellectual ferment of the time, and the miserable conditions of the workers in his father's factory, profoundly influenced him and prepared his mind for those definitely Socialist ideas which he evolved a few years later.

After leaving high school, Engels entered the army for one year as a volunteer. It was this brief period in the army that laid the foundation for the reputation he achieved later on as an expert in military warfare. He early described himself as a Communist, and took an active part in the risings in Germany, greatly shocking his respectable parents. He was coerced into a business career which he disliked intensely. When, however, he was offered a salaried position in a mill his father had purchased in Manchester in 1842, he accepted with enthusiasm, because of the opportunity it gave to study industrial conditions where they were more highly developed than in any other place in the world. Manchester was then the world’s industrial capital. On his way to England he visited the offices of the Rheinische Zeitung, and met Marx. The first meeting is said to have been cool and unfriendly. Marx wrote to Bruno Bauer that he wanted nothing to do with the "Atheist and Communist."

Once in Manchester, Engels studied industrial capitalism at first hand. He joined and became active in the Chartist movement, and became acquainted with most of its leaders. He read the literature which dealt seriously with the social questions of the time, and wrote for the Chartist newspapers and for the German Rheinische Zeitung, of which Marx was editor. Two essays he wrote at this time, and which drew attention, were one on Carlyle's "Past and Present" and a "Sketch for a Critique of Political Economy." In the latter work he dealt with financial crises and the accumulation of capital. In later years, Marx referred to the work as having "genius," and declared that "Engels had discovered the decisive objection to Ricardo's theory of ground rent." Engels was instrumental in putting Marx right on this question.

Engels’ writings while still a young man show that he understood the place of capitalism in social evolution, and that the historic mission of the working class was Socialism. A keen student and observer, he had formed these ideas before his collaboration with Marx, and had in some respects anticipated him. His book, “The Condition of the Working Class in 1844," written in 1844-5, the year that he commenced his life association with Marx, is evidence of this.

The year 1845 found both of them in Manchester (Marx at Engels' pressing invitation) studying at the Subscription Library rooms. Marx used the opportunity to read and take extracts from the works of Sir William Petty, Thomas Cooper the Chartist, T. P. Thompson, William Cobbett, and—most important of all—Thomas Tooke, whose "History of Prices" and sketch of the Corn Trade during the preceding two centuries, fascinated Marx. Engels had the opportunity of renewing his intimacy with Mary Burns, the Irish working girl, who introduced him to proletarian circles and enlarged his sympathy for the Irish workers in their sufferings.

The following years, until he returned to England in 1849, Engels took an active part with Marx in the political risings in Europe. During this period he wrote jointly with Marx several works, the most important' being the "Communist Manifesto." Each produced his own draft of this work with great care before the finished version was ultimately published. The style of writing in the published version, the powerful urgency of its message, is unmistakably the work of Marx. Apart from the difference in form, however, it contained nothing that had not appeared in the earlier writings of Engels (especially in "German Ideology,” which had not found a publisher). Marx, with Engels' permission, used material from this work to write his book on Proudhon.

Marx held a very high opinion of Engels' abilities. He is quoted by Mayer as having said of Engels: "He can work at any hour of the day or night, fed or fasting; he writes and composes with incomparable fluency." And many years later, in a conversation with Engels, he remarks: “You know that in the first place everything comes late with me; and secondly, that I always follow in your footsteps." If this estimation of Engels is a correct one, then it would seem that the more profound, if slower, mind of Marx was less inclined to hasty judgment and error. Engels’ optimism in the Chartist movement, and his view that succeeding industrial crises would result in a widespread acceptance of Socialist principles among the workers and would present the capitalists with insuperable difficulties in the world’s markets, were not justified by events. At one time he came very near giving his endorsement to the Fenian (Nationalist) movement in Ireland: Marx’s clear-sightedness, however, prevented his doing so. Marx was very critical of the movement and constantly warned Engels. His letter of November 28th, 1867, bore fruit, and, two days later, Engels gave evidence of complete agreement with Marx’s sceptical attitude. In fact, Engels went further than mere criticism, and denounced the Fenian leaders as asses, conspirators and exploiters (Letter of November 30th, 1867).

Engels' time was divided between his business interests and his studies and writings. He would gladly have forsaken the former for the latter, but was constrained by quite impersonal considerations. At first he was only his father’s salaried employee. When ultimately he became a partner he would not sell his interest in “the firm,” because the capital realised would not have been sufficient to provide an income for both himself and Marx. Marx’s poverty was painful to him, and he made great sacrifices to lighten its pressure. That nothing that could be prevented should interrupt Marx’s studies was, to Engels, of first importance.

Mayer repeats the statement that various articles formerly attributed to Marx were really written by Engels, but the position still appears to be by no means clear. Mayer says (p. 137) that Engels, between August, 1851, and October, 1852, “wrote a group of articles ‘Germany, Revolution and Counter Revolution' ”; and on page 142, “he wrote many of Marx’s articles on current affairs in the New York Tribune, and later, in the Breslau Neue Oder-Zeitung.”

Karl Marx’s daughter, Eleanor, in her preface (written in 1896) to Revolution and Counter Revolution, says nothing of this. Indeed, she quotes Engels as saying of them that they were “excellent specimens of that marvellous gift of Marx . . .”— surely an odd thing to say if he wrote them himself. Riazanov, in his Marx and Engels (p. 105), describes Engels as having “performed the major task,” calls him “the author” of the articles, and says that they were written “on the basis of the articles which they had both been writing for the Neue Rheinische Zeitung . . ." Riazanov also states that “ one year later ” (i.e., in 1852) Marx had “gained sufficient mastery of the English language to be able to write his own articles.”

Perhaps the correspondence of Marx and Engels will enable this point to be cleared up, but so far the statements made about it are not satisfactory.

Perhaps the most surprising of Engels' many activities is the reputation he made as a military writer. He wrote articles on the Austro-Prussian War in the Manchester Guardian, which were quoted and plagiarised by newspapers all over the world. Engels was, however, hopelessly wrong in forecasting the defeat of Prussia. Anonymous writings of Engels in a pamphlet, Po and Rhein, and on the American Civil War, were attributed to famous military men. During the Franco-Prussian War he wrote sixty articles, entitled “ Notes of the War,” for the Pall Mall Gazette. These were described by observers as the most important articles on the war appearing at the time, and they were republished during the World War in book form.

In private life he was a good "mixer.” He “rode to the hounds” with the "gentry,” but lived in a working class district in Manchester, and enjoyed both. He formed a union (without legal ceremony) with Mary Burns, and after her death with her sister, Lizzie. He was devoted to them both. To make Lizzie Burns' last moments happy he married her on her death-bed. He had a healthy contempt for Bohemian habits and for the moral and physical sloth (mistaken for revolutionary attributes) of the emigres among whom Marx lived in London.

It is perhaps idle to speculate on what Engels might have achieved had he been able to follow the studious life of research that Marx did. What he did achieve was amazing enough. Despite his business ties he managed to collaborate with Marx and supply him with enormous data for his economic writings, to write arduous theoretical works, and to contribute to the Press in all parts of the world enough matter to occupy the time of any one full-time journalist. He also acted as unpaid secretary in nearly a dozen languages, keeping in touch with working class organisations throughout the world.

After the death of Marx in 1883, he published the second and third volumes of Capital from the notes and papers left by Marx. Gustav Mayer describes Engels as one of the “most original thinkers of the 19th century.” That description is not exaggerated. Unquestionably, without Engels the history of Socialist thought would make quite different reading to-day. This book certainly reveals Engels in a role much less modest than he claimed for himself, as well as it reveals many weaknesses in the views of Marx and Engels on certain 19th century events.

At fifteen shillings, Mayer’s book is not likely to have a very large sale among workers who are interested, and it is to be hoped that the publishers will issue a cheaper edition.

In the next edition, may we hope that Engels’ relations with Samuel Moore, the Manchester barrister, tried and trusty friend of both Marx and Engels, will be explored more fully? Moore, whilst acting as Chief Justice of the Territory of the Niger Co., was actually translating part of Vol. Ill of Capital, which was not even published in German until 1894. This information is derived from an unpublished letter, dated January 4th, 1889, from Engels to Dr. Danielson.

Mayer does not seem to have made any effort to unearth the part played by Moore in the translation and publication of each of the volumes of Marx’s Capital.
Harry Waite

The Socialist Party versus The Labour Party (1937)

From the March 1937 issue of the Socialist Standard

When the so-called Socialist League was recently expelled from the Labour Party it was stated in certain sections of the capitalist Press that the expulsion was effected by the “National Executive of the Socialist Party." But we of the Socialist Party emphatically deny that statement.

Sir Stafford Cripps and his “Socialist League" have never been part of the Socialist movement in this country and, therefore, could not have been expelled by our Executive.

It was from the Labour Party that these people were expelled, and that organisation is no more Socialist than the old Radical-Liberal Party, whose political position the Labour Party inherited, extended and has largely practised throughout its history. In point of actual fact it is only within recent years that the Labour Party has taken to use the name of Socialism. For many years it openly repudiated any allegiance to Socialist principles. As recently as 1934 the National Executive of the Labour Party, in its report to the Annual Conference at Southport, said: —
It considers no useful purpose would be served in changing the name of the party to “The Socialist Party,” because an enormous amount of goodwill and propaganda had been built up round “The Labour Party,” and it has become honourably known to the electorate at large.
That statement is symptomatic of many things. If it were in reality a Socialist Party, why does it shirk the title? We suggest that those who really run the Labour Party know well enough that its past political history has been so much enmeshed in capitalist politics, upon which it has gained much of its support, that it has thus become “honourably known" as a party aiming at no fundamental change of the present form of society. As Socialists, we prefer that the Labour Party should not only refuse the title of Socialist but likewise should drop its false claim to be striving for Socialism. The rise of the Labour Party has been largely conditioned by its exploitation of the political and economic ignorance of the workers, as this in turn has expressed itself in the workers finding nothing fundamentally wrong in the capitalist form of society. Let us take a glance at the position. The condition of the working class, despite its traditional persuasion to the contrary, is that of a slave class. Its dependence under existing conditions upon the permission of the capitalist class for its livelihood is a fact. Class economic dependence means class subjection, no matter how much freedom may be apparent on the surface of the lives of those enslaved. It is a law of history that a class subjected must, if it is to win its emancipation, gain power, political power, from those who hold it in subjection, so as to build up a set of social conditions in harmony with its own interest. In other words, a dominant class simply does not run human society to suit the interests of those whom it dominates; to attempt to do so would result in its social suicide. But a ruling class does, because of its desire to retain its supremacy, placate its subject class with measures of “social amelioration." And this is one of the most potent forces for obscuring the basic cause of the class division. What is ambiguously styled as "the inertia of the human mind," when taken to mean the slowness of the human mind to move along lines of social change, is also one of the contributory causes of the persistence of class society. But how does the Labour Party, an organisation which claims to represent the interests of a slave class, respond to the facts of the situation? As indicated above, it finds, in the first place, a working class ready to “kick against the pricks” of class oppression. But instead of insisting upon a basic understanding of the root causes of class subjection and exploitation it proceeds upon the principle of dealing with the effects of the system instead of with its causes. Hence, instead of the workers being trained to think along lines of the abolition of the private property institution they centre their minds upon unemployment, low wages, high rents, war, bad housing, relief schemes, etc., all of which, no matter how they might be dealt with by the capitalist class, leave the source of working-class evils intact. Thus a valuable opportunity of exposing the foundations of the class division is lost and a consequent perpetuation of a “capitalist mentality" among the workers is maintained. The failure of the Labour Party to stress the class struggle feature of real working-class interest marks it off as an organisation unsuitable to the emancipation of the working class, and one which can only end in class collaboration and compromise. There is nothing like ignoring an elementary and basic principle as a means of distorting the real issues of the social problem—or any other problem for that matter. Thus does the Labour Party give us the key to its “mind" in the following pronouncement. Speaking of its appeal for support from all and sundry, the National Executive of the Labour Party has declared : —
Its call is to all men and women of goodwill and understanding to rally to its ranks as the one sure way of converting class antagonism into true community of spirit.—(Italics ours.)
This is after saying that "Labour's creed is based" not on any “narrow class appeal." Goodwill and understanding! Community of spirit! As though the problem were on a par with the mission of the Charity Organisation Society. The goodwill of the capitalists will never dissuade them from being capitalists however much they may be inclined to soften the effects of their exploitation of the workers. Whilst the "community of spirit" is something with which nearly all capitalists will agree and is, in fact, what they have always hankered after. It seems that it is entirely beyond the vision of the Labour Party to appreciate the science of class distinctions at all. Hence their entire outlook is vitiated by the illusion that they can build within the framework of capitalist society a state of affairs favourable to the workers. But the thing cannot be done. And we suggest that many a Labour leader knows this to be a fact, but other “reasons" compel them to “think" otherwise. For various reasons, personal and otherwise, they shirk not only the facts of the present situation but also the lessons of history. Yet, tragically enough, they are permitted to persist in this through the immature class understanding of those upon whose backs they have advanced to "social prominence."

Were it otherwise we would not have experienced the latest utterance of one of their leading lights, Mr. Ernest Bevin. Speaking at a luncheon (how these Labour blokes do like their luncheons) of the Foreign Press Association, Mr. Bevin said: “If there is a resort to war for dominance do not take the Labour movement too cheaply; we would defend our country. Labour wanted a planned world, but if that meant breaking up the British Commonwealth in a mad scramble of war amongst the nations they would oppose it. If, however, it meant a world movement with all the nations co-operating they would support it. As a means towards world stability raw materials should be socialised all over the world. They should be placed under public ownership and control and obtainable by all by purchase instead of conquest." (News Chronicle, February 5th, 1937.)

The vagaries and confusion of this statement would be hard to beat, apart from the fact that Mr. Bevin did not disclose his authority for partly pledging the Labour movement in the event of a war. But we take it that Mr. Bevin knows the supporters of the “Labour movement." Anyhow, what does the British Commonwealth mean to the working class except as a name to be worshipped? It doesn't belong to the workers but to the capitalists, whose sole interest in it is one of profit. We contend that if Mr. Bevin and his associates are so much concerned with the British Commonwealth (that word “Commonwealth" does make us laugh) then they should be compelled to face the guns of those who want to steal it. But we fancy that Labour leaders would be far removed from the danger zone. They are more likely to be found in the Government, as they were in the late European War. And what does Mr. Bevin mean by the raw materials being socialised, to be obtained by purchase? Does he know what he is talking about? Buying and selling is impossible under socialisation, for both imply the exchange of things which are privately owned. We can only presume that Mr. Bevin has in mind the State-ownership of things, each State buying and selling from the other. But that is totally different from socialisation, and is in reality nothing more than State capitalism. The workers employed in any State concern, such as the British Post Office, will fail to see the advantages of the so-called socialisation except to the capitalists. It is this theory which the Labour Party has spuriously called Socialism and which we have exposed time and again. Even supporters of capitalism have exposed the shallowness of the Labour Party’s "socialisation'’ and "public utility corporation" schemes. When the London Passenger Transport Act, which was introduced by a Labour Government, was passing through its final stages under the control of a Conservative Government, the Times (reputable organ of British capitalism) had to say of this so-called "Socialist" Act:—
The principal objections which have been raised may be grouped under three main heads—namely, that the Bill is a “Socialist” measure; that it creates a dangerous monopoly; and that it will raise the cost of transport. None of these criticisms will really bear very prolonged examination. It is true that the Bill in its original form was produced by a Socialist Government, and that the then Minister of Transport, Mr. Morrison, nearly succeeded in damning it for ever by claiming it as a triumph of Socialism. But where in fact does the Socialism come in? In what point of principle will the new transport undertaking differ from the Central Electricity Board or from Imperial Communications Company, both of which were created by a Conservative Government? Like them, indeed, it is a statutory monopoly, and therefore subject to a certain degree of public control; but it is privately, not publicly, owned.—(Italics ours.)
Thus, Lord Ashfield and his class can well enjoy the "public utility corporationism” of the Labour Party and well may they sigh with the Victorian statesmen who declared "we are all Socialists now." The workers have got to learn the distinction between the Labour Party and the Socialist Party if they are to be rid of the evils which afflict them. They have first to learn that they are the producers of the world's wealth and that this is in no way due to the so-called superior intelligence of their masters. Next that their position of poverty and insecurity of existence is due to capitalist control of the means of life. That this class can only be removed from power by the workers themselves gaining power and changing the system completely. This is no purely national affair but an international one comprising practically the whole world. Upon their own efforts must the workers rely for their emancipation from wage slavery. For "trust" in the Labour leader is but a substitute for trust in the capitalists, their Press and their priests. The Socialist Party urges the workers to think below the surface of things and they will find that many of the ideas they have are but based upon the mere appearance of conditions instead of upon their underlying causes. If they will do that they will see the barren nonsense of the Bevins, who talk of defending "our country" and preserving the "British .Commonwealth." The world can be theirs if they will it. Not the Labour Party but the Socialist Party points the way.
Robert Reynolds

Reaction in Germany and Spain (1938)

Book Review from the March 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Germany Puts the Clock Back, Edgar Mowrer (Penguin Special, 6d.).
Spanish Testament, Arthur Koestler (Gollancz. Left Book Club, 2s. 6d.).

These two books have much in common. Both are written by working journalists, both are easy to read, and both seek to provide a background to the events which they portray. Mowrer, in his “Germany Puts the Clock Back," paints a vivid picture of the social disintegration which eventually led to the triumph of Hitler and the National Socialist Workers' Party of Germany. In so doing he also partially provides an answer to a question so frequently asked of Socialists: “How is it that the German workers, with their numerically strong Social-Democratic and Communist Parties, their highly-organised and well-disciplined trade unions, fell so easy a prey to the Nazis?" The answer is to be sought in the political and economic background of German capitalism. German capitalism made its appearance at a relatively late stage, and a preponderant part was played by the State in its consolidation. The state bureaucracy, with its Prussian ideals of unquestioning obedience and strict discipline, early became a strong social force, and its outlook undoubtedly impressed itself on German society as a whole. Only personal experience can give an idea of the awe in which even the most insignficant “Staatsbeamte” (State official) was held. This reverence for “duly constituted authority” was no less reflected in the ranks of the German workers themselves. And the leadership of the German workers’ organisations could count on this tradition of blind obedience and discipline, no matter how contrary to working-class interests the actions of those leaders might be.

The upheaval of 1918, although largely the work of the working class, was not Socialist. It was the outcome of a widespread distrust of the monarchy and of the military clique, reinforced by an extreme war-weariness that affected civilians and troops alike. The Social-Democratic Party found itself the largest party in the Reich, and promptly proceeded to usher in the dawn of a new world by enlisting discredited generals and military adventurers to bloodily dispel any misguided notions entertained by radical sections of the working class. Having successfully accomplished this, the most democratic constitution in the world (on paper) was created, in the shape of the so-called “Weimar” Republic; a republic which entrusted its administration to officials who took no pains to conceal their contempt of the constitution they had sworn to serve. It is impossible to read the account of this sorry episode without forming the conclusion that the entire shabby, paltry edifice of this most “democratic” republic was designed to serve as a screen, behind which the old bureaucratic and militarist elements could rehabilitate themselves. Like many other observers of the German scene, Mowrer is misled by the preponderant part the military machine plays in German affairs, to the extent that he assigns it an independent role. That is, as if the German ruling class existed for the army, and not the other way about. Olden makes a similar mistake in his “Hitler the Pawn.” The army is an indispensable tool of German capitalism, and as such has received loving attention from politicians of all shades, from radical Social-Democrats to reactionary Nazis. But it still remains a tool, to be used when, where and how the ruling class of Germany thinks politic.

Expressed tentatively, it would appear that the later a particular national capitalism makes its appearance the more important is the part played by the State in making that appearance effective; the more important the State, the more outstanding the role of one of its organs: the armed forces. This would explain the prominent part played by the armed forces in such countries as Japan, Russia and Turkey.

Mowrer effectively disposes of the myth, broadcast by both the Communists and Hitler— but for different reasons—that Hitler saved Germany from Bolshevism, or, if the other version be preferred, that Hitler was the last desperate throw of a capitalist class faced with imminent social revolution. The truth of the matter is that German capitalism found itself in profound difficulties, and that the increasing misery of the masses, instead of manifesting itself in intelligent organisation for the purpose of abolishing the cause of that misery, found expression in sporadic strikes, street battles, and blind kicking against the effects of capitalism. Although this in itself did not constitute a threat to the capitalist system, yet it did interfere with smooth running of German economy. Hitler, leader of the largest single party in Germany, was entrusted with the task of “pacifying” the German proletariat; and, of course, he has more than fulfilled his promise. For the time being, political brawls, strikes, and social disturbances are a thing of the past in Germany. Hitler has created the profound peace of the graveyard, the peace of penal settlement. Notwithstanding, since Hitler, like his predecessors, is committed to administering capitalism, the causes that make for social unrest still exist, and not all the concentration camps or the terrorism can in the end suffice to prevent expression of that unrest. It is only to be hoped that the German workers have learned their lesson, and that the mistakes of 1918 will not be again repeated.

This book also provides an explanation of the ease with which the German reactionaries prevailed upon the German people to make such tremendous sacrifices—sacrifices which have subsequently been epitomised in the phrase “Guns instead of butter.” On all occasions the parties of “national resurgence” urged that the distress of the masses was due to the Versailles Treaty, to "Versailles Slavery.” The masses were told that their well-being could only be achieved when Germany was free (i.e., when the German capitalist class had regained its political and economic freedom of action). To this end sacrifices had to be made, so that the means of effecting this freedom, a strong army, could be built up. Consequently, the attention of the workers was largely diverted from the capitalist system to a quarrel between different national capitalist interests, and in this they were ably aided and abetted by social reformers of all kinds, from the late General Ludendorff’s Freedom Party to the Communist Party of Germany.

As far as the limitations of this book are concerned, Socialists hardly need to be made aware of them. The author bears all the hall-marks of a sentimental Liberal of the old school that persists in confusing State-intervention in social and economic affairs with Socialism. His solution of the problem of Fascism is a “renewal of the belief in universal(!) values—in international organisation, in collective security, in democracy and personal freedom.” Of an understanding that these “values” can only be realised when the international working class achieves its emancipation there is not the slightest inkling. And this can only be accomplished, not merely through belief, but through organisation under the banner of Socialism and the class-struggle.

“Spanish Testament” was the December choice of the Left Book Club, and thus assured of a large public. The author was for a time imprisoned by the Franco forces in Spain, and part of the book is taken up by a description of his prison experiences. Like the preceding book, Koestler also provides a background to the events he seeks to portray, and the importance of the agrarian question is well brought out. The author more than once draws attention to the similarity between the present condition of Spain and that of Tsarist Russia. A mediaeval agrarian economy predominated in Russia, as it predominates in Spain to-day. The driving force in the former was a land-hungry peasantry, plus a weakly-established capitalist class striving to assert itself; the same driving force operates in the latter. One thing emerges quite clearly, all talk of a Socialist revolution in Spain at the moment, such as is indulged in by the P.O.U.M. and its brother party here, the I.L.P., is so much romantic Utopianism, which can only spell disaster to those sections of the Spanish working class that fall for it. The Communists here are proving for the time being much greater realists. Their aim is one within the realm of possibilities, the establishment of a Liberal, Democratic capitalist republic, with a constitution resembling in all essentials those prevailing in England and France. The Communist case against the P.O.U.M. and I.L.P., however, is considerably weakened if the conditions in present-day Spain and pre-revolutionary Russia are closely analogous, for in that case there is no more justification for the Communist characterisation of the Russian revolution as Socialist than there is for the I.L.P. claim that possibilities for Socialism exist in Spain to-day. In spite of a vicious campaign waged by the Communists against the I.L.P. and P.O.U.M. (in the case of the P.O.U.M. embracing such tactical niceties as political murder), the leadership of the I.L.P. still retains a pathetic belief in the Socialist “basis” of Soviet Russia, and is never tired of appealing to dear “Comrade” Stalin to mend his ways.

In dealing with the role of the Roman Catholic Church emphasis is laid on the nature of the opposition to that church in Republican Spain. This opposition is by no means the outcome of antagonism to religion as such, but is largely the result of the secular and political part played by the priesthood in the Spanish social system. Closely bound up as the Church is with those reactionary elements from which it derives its economic and social influence, it is hardly to be wondered that particularly this aspect of the “Holy Church” arouses almost fanatical hatred amongst Spaniards having the slightest pretensions to enlightenment. One need not be a prophet to predict that if the Church is to survive in the Spain of the future it will have to considerably adapt itself.

The account of the atrocities committed by the Franco forces, although sickening enough, are, on the whole, not treated sensationally. The author argues, where the mass of the population are opposed to you, terrorism becomes not solely an expression of individual sadism, but also, and chiefly, a political necessity. One thing seems certain, that without the aid given by foreign powers Franco would have been long since vanquished. In fact, it is more than doubtful whether he would have started his insurrection in the first place had he not been assured beforehand of military aid from outside sources. Although the author advances convincing proof of the existence of Italian and German support for the rebels, hardly any mention is made of the nature and extent of Russian aid to the Republican Government of Spain. The role of Russia in Spain seems clear enough. German and Italian domination in Spain would seriously diminish the value of France as a partner in the Franco-Soviet Pact. Consequently, it is in the interests of Soviet Russian foreign policy to see that the pro-German and Italian forces are defeated in Spain, whilst at the same time the movement is kept within bounds acceptable to Russia's present allies and to any probable allies of the future.

Like Hitler and Mussolini, Franco has appointed himself one of the co-saviours of the world from "Bolshevism." In spite of the frenzied declarations of political respectability on the part of the Communists, their murky past of the period of "heavy civil wars," "revolutionary upsurges," and all the rest of the pseudo-revolutionary tarradiddle is utilised by the reactionaries to justify the massacre of all working-class opposition.

That section of the book which deals with the personal experiences of Koestler make interesting reading, but need not be dealt with here. It only remains to remark that the Duchess of Atholl contributes the introduction.
Arthur Mertons