Monday, March 27, 2017

Review (1910)

Book Review from the March 1910 issue of the Socialist Standard

The True Story of Jack Cade, by Joseph Clayton. (Frank Palmer. London. 1s. net.) 

It it a great pity the volume under notice is not the work of a Socialist; one acquainted in some degree with the materialist conception of history. As a careful monograph upon the doings of a little known personage it has distinct value and is certainly corrective of the travesty of Cade set up by the immortal William, in "Henry VI." But—the inevitable but — Socialists would have welcomed a fuller reference to the material causes of the insurrection in preference to the simple narration of events. The evidence adduced by Mr. Clayton would appear to indicate that it was far from a rising of labourers, although the author himself is manifestly of the contrary opinion. Of Cade's ancestry and position little is known, but as Mortimer (as some called him) was "a good name for the rallying of the gentry,” and as the squires took the lead in calling the men to arms, employing the parish constable for the purpose; and as further, Sir John Cheyne, Robert Poynings (uncle to the Countess of Nottingham), eighteen squires, seventy-four country gentlemen, many a yeoman and some five ordained church ministers, followed the camp to Blackheath, we are compelled to believe that Jack Cade's rebellion was another of those instances, dotted throughout history, where the toilers were called upon to break one another's heads in the interests of their lords and masters. This view is lent considerable colour by the fact that the period dealt with was that known as tbs “Golden Age of Labour,'’ when in spite of the infamous Statute of Labourers, the wages of labour rose above the attempted restriction by legal enactment The celerity with which the men of Kent disbanded and returned to their homes is also a noteworthy fact.

One hint we are given of a material basis for the rising, as thus : “Kent, too, had its grievances. Piracy swept the English Channel unchecked, and the highways were infested with robbers Moreover, its trade was passing. Formerly there had been no better wool than that of Kent, but now the sheep of Lincolnshire and Shropshire, and of the Cotswolds, was found to give a better article.” (Italics ours.) To which we would add Verb Sap.

One makes the interesting discovery in perusing the volume, that at least two of the "immediate demands" of the modem labour crowd were anticipated in the fifteenth century. We refer to Payment of Members and Graduated Income Tax. Ye gods! Nearly five hundred years ago and yet some people treat them seriously. Shall we call this condition of mind political atavism or does it masquerade under the plausible patronymic of “possibilism"?
W. T. Hopley

Asked & Answered (1913)

Letters to the Editors from the March 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

Much Ado About Nothing

To The Editor.

An article appeared in the January issue of our paper under the title "The Pace That Kills" in which the writer. F.C.W., says: "If a cyclist is scared off " (the road) "he becomes s passenger the more for the bus, and another source of profit for the trust." etc.

This, to me, conveys an idea which is damaging to the revolutionary position of the S.P.G.B. The idea impressed on my mind by reading the passage is that it is as consumers (buyers) we are robbed.

I deny that a passenger is “another source of profit for the trust", who happens for the reasons given to become a passenger the more on the bus owned by the trust.

Profit is a part of surplus-value, and this is taken from the workers during the time in the process of production. Hence the source of profit is surplus-value. This point is made clear by Karl Marx in "Value, Price, and Profit." In that work (c. XI, p. 37) will be found the following: —
“Rent, Interest and Industrial Profit are only different names for different parts of the surplus value of the commodity, or the unpaid labour enclosed in it, and they are equally derived from this source and from this source alone."
Even emphasised !

Those who have read this brilliant work will now understand the importance of the distinction.

On the same page you will find : —
"The surplus value or that part of the total value of the commodity in which surplus labour or unpaid labour of the workingman is realised, I call Profit. The whole of that Profit is not pocketed by the employing capitalist. The monopoly of land enables the landlord to take one part of that surplus value under the name of rent, whether the land is used for agricultural buildings or railways, or for any other productive purpose. On the other hand, the very fact that the possession of the instruments of labour enable the employing capitalist to produce surplus value, or what comes to the same, to appropriate to himself a certain amount of unpaid labour, enables the owner of the means of labour, which he lends wholly or partly to the employing capitalist—enables, in one word, the money-lending capitalist to claim for himself under the name of interest another part of surplus value, so that there remains to the employing capitalist as such only what is called industrial or commercial profit"
The distinction is clear.

F.C.W. is wrong in what he impresses on the mind of at least one of his readers.

I would suggest the substitution of the word "means" is place of "source," and the word '‘realising" before "profit." The passage would then read: "If a cyclist is scared off be becomes a passenger the more for the bus. and another means of realising profit for the trust." etc. 
Yours fraternally.
Comrade F. Coates.

Obviously rent, interest, and profit are all derived in the last resort from surplus labour. and as this great truth is not disputed in the article in question. Comrade Coates's anxiety for the safety of the cause is a little premature. All is not yet lost. 

The sentence referred to does not indicate that we are robbed as consumers, nor does it say that passengers are the source of the trust's profits. The comrade has simply misunderstood. Two quotations from "Value, Price, and Profit" are quite gratuitous. Marx is emphasising in an elementary way to au audience of working men that labour, though not the sole source of wealth, is yet the sole source of exchange value, in opposition to Weston's argument that value was the sum of wages, plus profit, plus rent. Nicer distinctions be perforce left for “Capital,” contenting himself with making broad statements of fact, such as "Profit is made by selling a commodity at its value;" to which, perhaps, the captious critic would object that "profit is made in the factory."

Comrade Coates has not grasped the fact that surplus labour, surplus value, and profit are not, strictly speaking merely different names for the same thing. They are distinct stages of a process. Without the change of form, realisation, or sale of the repository of surplus value, the last stage, “profit." cannot come into being. As Marx says ("Capital,” Vol. I., p. 79):-
  "The leap taken by value from the body of the commodity, into the body of the gold, in the salto mortale of the commodity. If it falls short, then, although the commodity is not harmed, its owner decidedly is.”
Surplus labour (and the same applies to all labour) does not become surplus value unless it is embodied in a use-value to someone else, and there can be no profit unless this use-value is sold. In this sense, therefore, and in this limited sense only, the act of realising surplus value is a source of profit.

Taking the bus trust as a normal capitalist concern, it is clear that the number of fares is of vital importance to it, for on this depends its profit Yet from Comrade Coates’s bald statements one might infer that the trust would be just as prosperous if its buses ran empty! Obviously the advent of the passenger is essential to the making of profit. Each additional fare enables more surplus labour to be realised and more profit obtained, and may in consequence be not inaccurately described as a farther source of profit to the trust.

The sentence disputed would not be improved by the wording proposed by Comrade Coates, which only says the same thing more awkwardly. It was, moreover, quite beside the purpose of the article to give a scientific dissertation on value. Brevity was necessary in order to confine attention to the main issue.

Notwithstanding this, it is difficult for the poor scribe to believe that the phrase could be misunderstood except by by means of a deliberate mental squint.

An Explanation
W. Austin (Small Heath) asks us to explain the meaning of the passage in the “Communist Manifesto": -
  "In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present. In communist society the present dominates the past."

Under capitalism the past dominates the present because the mesas of production, developed from the past, and possessed to-day by the few, dominate the lives of the producers, and forms the general structure sod relations of society.

Under communism the means of production would be consciously manipulated for the benefit and happiness of the members of society. The past development and experience would then be used knowingly by the members of the communist society for their well being. This would be the domination of the past by the present as, instead of the members being dominated by a method of production, the method of production would be controlled by them.
Jack Fitzgerald

Answers To Correspondents.

L. Marks, Manchester. 
Your claim that "a Socialist party cannot afford to wait until the conditions are ripe for a sound economic organisation” needs explaining before we can assent, otherwise you state the position pretty correctly. There is room in our party for all who hold with our principles and policy, and we know of nothing that is keeping you out and preventing you from putting into practice the theories you proclaim so well in your letter.

Our Allies and Neutrality (1915)

From the March 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is a very strange thing how deeply the average worker of to day is concerned about the independence and neutrality of “Plucky Little Belgium.” One would think to hear some of them talk, that it was the alpha and omega of this country, to protect the smaller and weaker States of the world from the continual encroachments of their larger and more powerful enemies. The capitalist Press is devoting much ink and paper in telling us that the present crisis into which we have been drawn, "to maintain our dignity and honour,” is due to Germany's disregard for the neutrality and independence of Belgium, which had been guaranteed to them by treaty, and Lt. Gen. Imhoff, at Urania Hall, Berlin, is reported by the "Daily Call," of the 8th October. 1914. to have made the following remark: "Foreign policy is the expression of national egoism, consequently every treaty is worthless when national interests demand that they should be broken." This with reference to agreements signed by the capitalist governments of to-day (with which I shall deal later) hits the nail squarely on the head. He then went on to say that "necessity breaks even iron itself.'' and as one of the greatest necessities of the capitalist class is the extension of markets for the expansion of their trade, it is quite obvious why agreements signed one day are broken the next.

We are therefore called upon by our masters to down tools at once and fight for "freedom and democracy" against the tyrannous aggression of Belgium by the Kaiser and his hordes.

Now before accepting the statement that England and her allies are fighting for freedom, it would he advisable to first of all examine a little of the past history of these "champions of the smaller States," to see how they have performed in this respect, in the past, before joining bands with them in the present.

We will then, in the first place, take the noble and liberty loving government of Russia, which in 1911, to show their love of freedom and independence of the smaller States, violently attacked Persia, in collusion with Great Britain, in spite of the fact that they were pledged by agreement signed in 1907, to maintain the independence and integrity of this small country. And her continued encroachments on the liberties of Finland from 1906 to 1911 was, of course, also due to her "desire to defend the smaller States."

France, another of our allies, has by her occupation of Fez, in 1911, overthrown the independence of Morocco, which, by the Act of Algeciras, she and other Powers pledged themselves to maintain.

Japan, another country with which England is allied, and which has promised to support them in maintaining the independence of Belgium, annexed Korea in 1911, thus violating the agreement of 1904, which was supposed to guarantee Korea's independence and integrity.

England, with her anxiety for the "independence" of the smaller States, could not be out of this "good work,” so she absorbed with the aid of blood and fire the Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics of South Africa in 1902. And even now while this war is still raging and while the hirelings of the allied Press are foaming with anger about the broken agreement of Belgium's neutrality by Germany, they themselves are losing no time in snatching colonies from the latter, quite irrespective of the wishes of the inhabitants thereof.

And again, while England has repeatedly promised to evacuate Egypt, she has for more than thirty years continued to maintain her hold on that country, and has finally annexed it — of course, for the good of the Egyptians; and these are the countries which appear so troubled about the broken agreement concerning the independence and neutrality of Belgium.

No, dear reader, it is not the freedom of "Brave Little Belgium” that the allies are so anxious about, but the freedom of the capitalist class of England, France and Russia from the competition of their greatest rivals and pacemakers, the German capitalist class. A government like ours, which could not see its way clear to incorporate a 5s. per day minimum wage in the Miners’ Act 1912 does not suddenly become loaded with the burden of protecting the smaller States, at the expense of (according to "Reynolds,” 27th Oct., 1914) £39,000,000 per month.

De B. Gibbon, in the “Industrial History of England,” tells us that all the wars of the nineteenth century in which England was engaged were fought in the interests of commerce, and the wars of the present century appear to be pretty much the same.

Your enemy is here at home, as the enemy of the German working class is in Germany, consequently we ask you to study the facts, and when yon have analysed them with the same intelligence as you use in your daily toil, yon will join with us in the great struggle, not for Belgium for the Belgians, nor Europe for the Europeans, but of the world for the workers.
H. Barnett.

The Slaughter of the Innocents (1916)

From the March 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Neo-Malthusian Fable.

It seems strange at a time when proletarians are being butchered by millions, to find Neo-malthusians still advocating the reduction of the population as the cure for all social ills; yet such is the case. In a booklet ['How to Prevent Pregnancy.' G. Hardy, Paris, 19l6.] recently published in English it is roundly asserted that the limitation of births “means simply the suppression of misery, the solution of the social question.” Simply that!

Socialists are in no way opposed to the diffusion of complete scientific knowledge in sexual matters; they fully recognise the right of men and women to limit the number of their offspring on grounds of personal health and comfort. Neo-malthusians, in fact, have a wide field for useful activity, but their ambitions outstrip their means. They offer a check pessary for the earthquake!

The matter will repay a moment’s thought; but let us first take our medicine like men by quoting the passages bearing on this point.
  The initial cause of pauperism and the evils which follow it (prostitution, alcoholism, premature death, degeneration, war, etc.) is not the result of the unequal division of wealth but of the insufficiency of produce, the constant absence of an equilibrium between the population and the means of subsistence, the constant contradiction between human fecundity even when attenuated by the wisdom of a few, and the production of the soil even when amplified by scientific culture, and the opposition between hunger and love.
  In short, it is not true to-day that there is enough bread for all. However paradoxical it may appear it is because there never has been enough of primordial products to satisfy everybody with an equal share that some have too much. That is what the Malthusian doctrine says and demonstrates. . .
  There will no longer be a proletariat or any misery when procreative prudence will have penetrated every home, and the want of sexual forethought of some will not annul the happy effects brought about by others, when all couples will know how to avoid conception and, when those children really wanted and desired will be born in numbers wisely limited to the family and social resources under the best conditions of heredity, education and environment.
  There are no other means whatever to bring about the amelioration of material conditions and therefrom intellectual and moral perfection. (Pages 17-19) ibid.)
Even if it were true that there be not sufficient bread for all it would hardly follow that the remedy is to decrease the number of producers, since each average producer is variously estimated to produce up to eight times the equivalent of his keep. Such a “remedy” would be an intensification of the supposed inadequacy of the food supply. But the assertion is a ludicrous perversion of the truth. The average modern worker produces many times more wealth than did his predecessor of a century ago. In fact, the power to produce increases much faster than the population. This is incontestihle. It is admitted by every competent economist and statistician. And if a tithe of the labour now spent in producing senseless luxuries for the idle rich were devoted to the production of the prime necessaries of life, there would be a superabundance for a much larger population than is likely to exist for many years to come. Consequently Neo-malthusianism goes to pieces on the bed-rock fact of labour’s productivity.

The present war has demonstrated the truth of this; it has shown how very few workers are required to produce the necessaries of the whole population, and what an immense proportion of the available labour can yet be thrown away in the making and working of an overwhelming mass of instruments of slaughter.

It therefore follows inevitably that if workers lack the means of comfort the actual cause cannot possibly be that there are too many producers. Obviously the cause must be sought in the social conditions which waste and divert to a few the results of man’s super-productivity.

The essential facts are very simple. The land and productive instruments are owned and exploited by a comparatively small number of persons. The workers, therefore, can only obtain a livelihood as the beasts of burden, the hirelings, of these capitalists. It further follows that the more of the good things of life the workers can make the fewer labourers need the exploiters hire. It is therefore not lack of necessaries, but the worker’s ability to produce more than is in demand, that enables the capitalists to create that powerful means of keeping the workers poor, the unemployed.

The poverty that afflicts the working class is thus obviously not due to any impossibility of producing sufficient, since it is consequent upon the very opposite! And the seeming excess population that is the Malthusian stalking horse is by the same fact shown to be an artificial product. It is an effect of class ownership in the means of life. Yet Neo-malthusians, with pitiful short-sightedness, take this effect for the cause!

How entirely an effect of a baneful social system is this artificial redundancy of population that is raved about is readily seen in the matter of machinery. “Labour-saving” devices and automatic machinery enable an ever-greater proportion of goods of all kinds to be produced with less labour. Under capitalist ownership the machines progressively displace wage-workers, making more and more of them superfluous. No probable reduction in population could keep pace with this increasing displacement. Now, is the remedy to smash the machines ? Obviously not. Yet such a thing is more logical and reasonable than the Malthusian cure for poverty. It is, in fact, the true application of their form of argument. The Socialist is saved from such absurdity. He knows they are not the prime cause of working-class poverty and redundancy. The cause is the manner in which they are owned and used. The question is a politico-economic one, and no Neo-malthusian appliance will touch it.

The war is again a case in point. Throughout Europe millions of workers are being annihilated, and if there were any truth in the Malthusian argument, this reduction of the population should solve the social problem; but does anyone outside of Colney Hatch believe that it will ? Is not organisation and machinery making wage-workers redundant at an even faster rate? Clearly! And after this war the workers will be face to face with the social problem in its most acute form.

France has long been the happy hunting ground of Neo-malthusians. Economic conditions have facilitated their propaganda in that country. It has long been the classic land of fewer births. Yet did the working population of France increase in prosperity compared with the teeming and increasing millions beyond the Rhine? Not at all! The exact contrary is what occurred. The extravagant claims of the Neo-malthusians cause them to leap from folly to folly. In one breath they state that population always tends to exceed the food supply, and in the next they say the exact opposite. Thus Mr. Hardy shows that those sections of society who are most comfortably off and have the most food, have the smallest families, while the poorest, who have least food, have the largest number of children. In other words, the more food the fewer children! It is amusing to find them unable to see their inconsistency.

The so-called Malthusian Law of Population is, indeed, a misstatement. Among civilised humans, though the sparsity of offspring among the well-to-do, and the plethora of children among the poor, is partly due to conscious effort, yet it is a physiological fact that it is not due to this cause to the extent popularly believed. It is not merely a matter of the atrophy due to luxury and in-breeding, for there is traceable a tendency for the procreative effort to increase with the keener struggle for existence, not vice versa. Even in the garden it is well known that plants put into rich soil run to leaf and set but little seed. In man, indeed, over-fatigue is known to be highly stimulating to the sexual impulse.. On the basis of the struggle for existence itself, such a tendency is to be expected. In the life history of each species those varieties would stand the beat chance of survival which met periods of intense struggle and threatened extinction with the greatest procreative effort. Those varieties which propagated least under such conditions would become extinct. Thus there would become hereditary in most species a tendency to propagate most under conditions of stress, a tendency due to the natural selection of ancestral varieties with that tendency, which successfully emerged from the innumerable periods of threatened extinction through which each must have passed.

Such an inherited tendency, which explains many facts in natural history, must profoundly modify the so-called law of population.

But even so far as conscious preventives of birth among human beings are concerned, the Neo-malthusians fail to touch the spot. As they tell us, the successful use of preventive checks requires knowledge, self-discipline, and persevering cleanliness of no mean order. Now this is precisely what is unattainable among the very poorest, which, as Malthusians say, it is really necessary to reach! Economic conditions bar the way. Consequently upon its own ground Neo-malthusianism fails. It tends to decrease that portion of the population that can well afford to rear children, much more than it does the more wretched and more prolific. The latter it scarcely touches. As always, the economic laws are at the back of population. In fact, as Marx has said:
every special historic mode of production has its own special laws of population, historically valid within its limits alone. An abstract law of population exists for plants and animals only, and only in so far as man has not interfered with them.
Concerning the rest of Mr. Hardy’s book (which deals with the functions of the sexual organs and explains the various preventive checks that are usable) there is little to say. The economic idiocies of the book do not inspire confidence in the practical sections, with which the author is conceivably more qualified to deal. Nevertheless, having been compelled in the interests of truth to jump with both feet upon the theoretic portion, one reels inclined to be generous with regard to the rest. As far as a mere amateur can judge it appears to contain useful information. It may prove a boon to those about to marry — unless, of course, they go one better and adopt Punchs’ advice.
F. C. Watts

The "Movement" In America. (1917)

From the March 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

Practical Politics!
For the first time in the history of Socialism in the United States, we have lost votes in a presidential election. Let us not blink the fact. In 1912 we had 900,000. Last November it now appears we fell back to about 660,000—not much more than the vote in 1910.
So writes Algernon Lee, one of the prominent leaders of the Socialist Party of America, in the “New York Call” (Jan. 7, 1917). In spite of the frenzied efforts of Allan Benson, the Presidential Candidate, the vote fell back by 240,000 compared to 1912. Such is the success of our eminently practical politicians. But that is not all. Lee writes further:
As a matter of fact, if only 5,000 more of the Californians who voted for Debs in 1912 had stuck to Benson in 1916 Hughes would have been elected”! ! !
Interviewed by the Socialist Party newspaper (see “Michigan Socialist,” Nov. 17, 1916) after the campaign of Nov. 7,1916, Benson was bitter and furious.
In April, 1912 we had a party membership of 135,000 and polled a vote of 901,000. . . . We entered the Presidential Campaign of 1916 with our organisation thoroughly discouraged, with our membership below 80,000.
Although a period of intense depression followed by intense “prosperity” had intervened between the two elections, 1912 and 196, the Socialist Party of A. lost 55,000 in membership! Speaking of the lessons of the election he said :
One thing we must do is to kick out the gentlemen in our Party who are fighting Socialists instead of outsiders. I mean the few intellectuals so called, who spend the time between campaigns criticising, fighting, hampering the Party and then, before election time, go to the capitalist papers with long statements as to which of the two capitalist candidates they prefer.
After referring to the Government spies in the Russian movement, Benson says:
  Why should we be blind to the probability that the same tactics are being worked in the Socialist Party? Why should we ignore the probability that these men who are fighting inside the Party and not outside it, are in the pay of the capitalist class to disrupt the Party?
  There are not many of these men. They are few. I know who they are, and by God! (his fist came down with a bang on the table) if they don’t quit, I’m going to blazon their names forth and nail their hides upon the wall. And you can say that one of them lives in Brooklyn.
Codlin, not Short.
If we had said that certain prominent men in the “Socialist” Party were paid by the capitalists we should have been called “foul slanderers.” But Mr. Benson is disappointed in not receiving his much talked of two million votes, hence his tears. One of the prominent men he was thundering at is Max Eastman, editor of the illustrated monthly review, “The Masses,” which widely circulates amongst the “intellectuals” styling themselves "advanced thinkers.” Like Wm. English Walling, “the great American Socialist,” he suggested to newspaper reporters that he would rather see Woodrow Wilson elected than Republican Hughes. But, of course, that’s permissible in the S.P. of A.

Socialism as It Is Not.
Max Eastman’s statement to the Woodrow Wilson Independence League was flashed to the newspapers of every part of the country and used to advantage. Here it is:
 I would rather see Woodrow Wilson elected than Charles Hughes because Wilson aggressively believes, not only in keeping out of war but in organising the nations of the world to prevent war. His official endorsement of propaganda for international federation in the interest of peace is the most important step that any President of the United States has taken towards civilising the world since Lincoln.
  His announcement that the best judgement of mankind accepts the principle of the eight hour day is another proof that he has vision and sympathy with human progress.
A “Great” Party.
In “The Masses" following the election, “Comrade" Max Eastman thus replied to his critics:
The American Socialist Party tends to become a religious sect, rather than the political instrument of the working class. This was shown in the selection of Allan L. Benson, a journalist of middle-class connections, to be the candidate for President, when a militant labor union leader of the ability of James H. Maurer was available. I like Benson; I have a special respect and admiration for his grouch; I voted for him; but I do not think he should have been the candidate of a working-class party, and I do not think he was. Sometimes I feel as though he were the candidate of a sectarian Sunday School.
The “intellectuals” of the Socialist Party of America are very busy explaining and regretting the slump in votes and treachery of shining lights. It reminds one of the controversy which has been carried on in Germany about the action of the great men in the Social Democratic Party.

“Feed America First”!
The nonsense taught by the “Appeal to Reason” here is like its circulation—immense. Just now, apart from Allan L. Benson’s reform rubbish, they are carrying on a campaign to “Feed America First.” Their argument is that the American working class should not have to pay high prices owing to necessities being shipped to Europe—thereby reducing supplies. In other words, they are preaching the narrow, insular doctrine so well known to us in tariff agitation. They appeal to the same narrow nationalism and patriotism they profess to condemn.

The chief point to be remembered by the workers is that while the capitalist class rule, and therefore as long as capitalism lasts, the national policy will be shaped and put into operation by the capitalists. Further, the cry of “Feed America First” creates the false view that the deep poverty of the working class here is due to the lack of wealth left for home consumption.

Debs Damns His Party.
In the “National Rip Saw” magazine for Jan., 1917, Eugene V. Debs writes on the “Decline of the Socialist Vote.” He says:
  There are doubtless a number of reasons why our vote declined so materially in the recent campaign but I think there is one principal and dominating reason and that this reason is responsible for the rest. This reason is that the Socialist Party has become too much of a political party and that in the late campaign it was controlled too largely by political considerations and paid too much attention to catching votes.
  The lesson of this decline is that the Socialist Party must pursue the straight and uncompromising course and steer clear of the vote-chasing, fusing, office-seeking, and grafting and boodling methods of capitalist politics.
After every election we read the same self-criticism but the opportunist methods still continue.

The Socialist-Labour Trimmers.
In New York City the S.L.P. joined with other organisations in an anti-militarist movement against military preparedness and it was announced as such in their “Weekly People.” In Buffalo their local reporter wrote to the "People,” saying, “We began the campaign here by holding an anti-war demonstration, jointly with the Socialist Party.” Such action, of course, demonstrates that the existence of the two parties is an anomaly. If there are sufficient points of policy upon which these two parties can agree to hold anti-war demonstrations it is time they ceased their separate existence. Let all the fools and befoolers get together and form a single target for a real Socialist Party. Mere opposition to war or to capitalism is not a common platform for Socialist workers, but unity for establishing Socialism must be the all- important object.

The New Unionism.
The Industrial Workers of the World, formed in 1905 at Chicago, which was to unite the working class economically and also politically, has had an eventful history. Since the S.L.P. separated in 1908 there have been two I.W. W.’s Recently, however, the original (S.L.P.) section of the I.W.W. changed its name to the Workers' International Industrial Union—the W.I.I.U.—thus giving a clear field to the Chicago I.W.W. for its claim to be the only I. W. W. Subsequently the speakers of the S.L.P. lectured through the country on “The death of the I.W.W.” The W.I.I.U. refuses, however, to endorse its parent, the S.L.P., and hence we have the conditions of 1905 over again. Men of every brand of politics and those without any can unite in the economic organisation.

A Revolutionary Union!
Evidence of this lack of real knowledge and also of unity, abounds. W. W. Cox, a well-known speaker of the S.L.P. in St. Louis and a member of the Party for 20 years wrote to the "Weekly People" (Dec. 30, 1916) as follows:
  The Workers’ International Industrial Union recognises no political party and it has a Republican, Democratic, Progressive, Prohibitionist and Socialist Party as well as S.L.P. membership. Confusion. I repeat it remains for the S.L.P. to dispel this confusion. It is no more the duty of the W.I.I.U. than it is the duty of the S.L.P.
  The S.L.P. as the educational movement should force the issue. How? By helping to build up the W.I.I.U. to the point where it will set on foot the political party of labor.
Evidently the Socialist Labour Party is not "“the political party of labour"!

Socialism and Religion.
The unsound position of the S.L.P. economically is on a par with its unscientific attitude towards religion. It takes the view that religion is a private matter and bitterly assails those who hold that religion is a matter of social origin and influence. The curious attitude of such a party claiming to accept the materialist conception of history makes one ponder on the water-tight compartments in which some people keep their religious views.

The materialist conception of history teaches that material conditions give rise to religious conceptions and organisations in harmony with them; hence one cannot oppose the economic system logically without opposing the ideological institutions it has generated in its defence. Further, religion has ever been a powerful weapon for poisoning the proletarian mind.

Jack London.
The death of Jack London recalls his burning criticism of the “Socialist" Party of America. London joined the Socialist Labour Party in Los Angeles in 1895. He was then a boy in his teens. Soon after the “Socialist Party" was formed in Oakland, California, J. London became a member. In 1896 he was chosen as Party candidate for State Senator but had to decline being under 21. In March 1897, whilst still a student at the University of California he was Party nominee for school director at large. When subsequently the Oakland authorities forbade Socialist street meetings London volunteered as a speaker and was arrested. He pleaded his own case and was acquitted. In 1899 he ran for Mayor in Oakland on behalf of the local “Socialist" Party. In 1905 he ran again. By this time his fame as a writer was spreading abroad but he was not elected.

Jack London’s Politics.
Unlike most of the noted members of the S.P. of America he gave a good deal of his time freely to lecturing for the Party. He was a dues-paying member of the Oakland local until a branch was formed at Glen Ellen, where his ranch is situated, in the beautiful Sonoma Valley (“The valley of the moon").
At a memorial meeting in Oakland (California) the following message was read from Charmian London (his wife):
  Mrs. London wishes you to know that she feels that this meeting to-night is the one meeting that will put Jack London in his true light, and that will bring out the character and purpose of his whole life. She also wants you to know that he never went back on a principle, and that he was as much a Socialist when he died as he ever was, and that the only position he ever took in opposition to the Party was that it was not radical enough in its battle against the evils of capitalism.
An Interesting Letter.
                                                                                                                           Glen Ellen,
                                                                                                                               Sonoma County,
                                                                                                                               Sept. 21st, 1916.

To Wm. Davenport,
                The Socialist Party of the United States,
                       1056, Frederick St,
                                         Detroit, Mich.

Dear Wm. Davenport,

In reply to yours of Aug. 29th, 1916 with which I received copy of the "Manifesto.’’

Please read my resignation from the Socialist Party and find that I resigned from same for the same reasons that impel you to form this new party.

I was a member of the old Socialist Labour Party. I gave a quarter of a century of the flower of my life to the revolutionary movement only to find that it was as supine under the heel as it was a thousand centuries before Christ was born. 
Will the proletariat save itself? If it won’t it is unsaveable.

I congratulate you and wish you well on your adventure. I am not bitter. I am only sad in that within itself the proletariat seems to perpetuate the seed of its proletariat.
                                                                                                                     (Signed) JACK LONDON.

The New Party.
The above letter was sent to the Secretary of the new party recently formed in Detroit, in reply to the “manifesto” of the Party sent him. London’s letter, whilst inclining towards pessimism, at the same time establishes the fact that he still accepted political action. The I.W.W. created the impression that London was in favour of the General Strike, but not even the Iron Heel shows the success of the latter idea.

The new party (The Socialist Party of the United States) was formed in response to the utter disgust of several active local members of the “Socialist Party of America,” reinforced by members of the “Socialist Party of Canada” and the “Socialist Party of North America" who emigrated to the U.S.A. At the time of writing the Constitution of the new party has not been definitely drawn up and hence a full valuation of the Party’s position cannot be laid down. Its manifesto, however, shows signs of undigested statements besides erroneous views on questions of social importance. However, even the short few months the Party has existed has purged the organisation of useless elements and we look for a somewhat changed attitude and policy in the promised second “manifesto." The Party contains for the most part young, earnest and studious workers.

It is an open question whether the Party will survive, as the necessary work of preparing the ground throughout the entire country was not taken in hand prior to formation, and consequently small new organisations have grown up independently elsewhere. 
Adolph Kohn

An Odious Comparison (1919)

From the March 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

At a time when a flood of slobber is being poured out through the capitalist Press concerning the “red-terror” in Russia it might not be inopportune to reproduce a report of a characteristic incident of the suppression of the Paris Commune of 1871. It illustrates the capitalist method of securing order when their supremacy is threatened by the working class. It is to be remembered that these butcheries, of which the following was but a small example, took place, not in the course of fighting, but after the struggle had ceased—not, therefore, under the influence of the fear and anxiety as to the course of the battle, but in cold-blooded lust of revenge.
  "The column of prisoners halted in the Avenue Uhrich and was drawn up four or five deep on the footway facing to the road. General the Marquis de Gallifet and his staff, who had preceded us there, dismounted, and commenced an inspection from the left of the line and near where I was. Walking down slowly, and eyeing the ranks as if at an inspection, the General stopped here and there, tapping a man on the shoulder or beckoning him out of the rear ranks. In most cases, without further parley, the individual thus selected was marched out into the centre of the road, where a small supplementary column was thus soon formed. . . . They evidently knew too well that their last hour had come, and it was fearfully interesting to see their different demeanours. One, already wounded, his shirt soaked with blood, sat down in the road and howled with anguish ; . . . others wept in silence. . , . It was an awful thing to see one man thus picking out a batch of his fellow-creatures to be put to a violent death in a few minutes without further trial. . . .  A few paces from where I stood a mounted officer pointed out to General Gallifet a man and a woman for some particular offence. The woman, rushing out of the ranks, threw herself on her knees and with outstretched arms implored mercy, and protested her innocence in passionate terms. The General waited for a pause, and then, with most impassive face and unmoved demeanour, said: 'Madame, I have visited every theatre in Paris; your acting will have no effect on me.' . . . I followed the General closely down the line, still a prisoner, but honoured with a special escort of two chasseurs-a cheval, and endeavoured to arrive at what guided him in his selections. The result of my observations was that it was not a good thing on that day to be noticeably taller, dirtier, cleaner, older, or uglier than one’s neighbour. One individual in particular struck me as probably owing his speedy release from the ills of this world to his having a broken nose on what might have been otherwise an ordinary face, and being unable from his height to conceal it. Over a hundred being thus chosen, a firing party was chosen, and the column resumed its marching, leaving them behind. In a few minutes afterwards a dropping fire in our rear commenced and continued for over a quarter of an hour. It was the execution of these summarily convicted wretches.”—“The Daily News,” June 8,1871.
Here is another report, referring to another case, showing how capitalist butchers dealt with those working men and women of Paris who dared to challenge their supremacy.
  “On the 26th of last May we formed part of the column of prisoners who had left the Boulevard Malesherbes at eight o’clock in the morning in the direction of Versailles. We stopped at the Chateau of La Muette, where General Gallifet, after having dismounted from his horse, passed into our ranks, and then making a choice, he pointed out eighty-three men and three women. They were taken away along the talus of the fortifications and shot before us. After this exploit the General said to us: 'My name is Gallifet. Your journals in Paris have sullied me enough. I take my revenge.’ ”
The Liberte, Brussels, 26th May, 1871.
Here is a report of a third instance:
  “Yesterday (Sunday, 28th), about one o’clock, General Gallifet appeared at the head of about 9,000 prisoners. . . . They were evidently prepared for the worst fate, and dragged listlessly along, as though it were not worth while to walk to Versailles to be shot. M. de Gallifet seemed to be of the same opinion, and a little beyond the Arc-de-Triompne he halted the column, selected eighty-two, and had them shot there and then.
—“The Times,’’ May 31st, 1871.
Did the capitalist Press rise up in horror and indignation at these ruthless butcheries of daily occurrence? Did the journalists and parsons and public men of the capitalist world heap invective and insult upon the heads of these capitalist murderers who were executing capitalist vengeance on the workers of Paris? Here is what one English newspaper (The “Naval-and Military Gazette” of May 27th, 1871) said, referring, of course, to the Communards, not to their butchers : “We are deliberately of the opinion that hanging is too good a death for such villains to die, and if medical science could be advanced by operating on the living body of the malefactors who have crucified their country, we at least should find no fault with the experiment.”

As to how far the slaughtered were guilty even of the crimes which served to excuse their massacre is shown by the remark of a French capitalist paper (Opinion Nationale, June 1st, 1871), under the fear that the unburied corpses would give rise to pestilence : .“A serious examination of the accused is imperative. One would like to see only the really guilty die.”

This wholesale and absolutely indiscriminate massacre went on for weeks, after which farcical trials provided victims for bourgeois bullets for eighteen months, and for imprisonment and transportation for six years.

And if the workers wish to know how the capitalists really viewed this butchery of over thirty- thousand workers, AFTER THEY HAD LAID DOWN THEIR ARMS, it can be judged from the fact that to the day of his death that English monarch Edward VII, always so careful of bourgeois “public” opinion, maintained the relations of intimate friendship with one of the chief assassins of the piece, the man who used to wait daily for the processions of prisoners, and levy his toll at the city gates because the Paris journals had sullied him—General Gallifet. Well might such a class of vampires palpitate with horror because the Bolsheviks are (they allege) treating their bourgeois opponents to a mild dose of their own physic. Their own hideous example is looming ominously before their affrighted eyes.
A. E. Jacomb

Old Anarchy Writ New (1922)

Book Review from the March 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

Socialism and Personal Liberty." By Robert Dell (Leonard Parsons, 4 s. 6d. net.) 

In what was perhaps the finest novel of the 19th century, George Meredith wrote an aphorism, “Our new thoughts have thrilled dead bosoms." This aphorism at once springs to the mind on reading Mr. Dell’s book. The old Anarchist fallacies that were pulverised years ago are trotted out as new and profound truths. Moreover, to the anger, no doubt, of Anarchists, he hails the Guild Socialists as the discoverers of ideas that are nearly a century old in the Anarchist armoury. Thus he gives the Guild Socialists credit for the statement that “a human being as an individual is fundamentally incapable of being represented” (p. 39). As a matter of fact, this fallacy is as old as Stirner, though the latter certainly followed the idea to a logical conclusion, which the Guild Socialists do not. Mr. G. D. H. Cole is quoted as saying that:—
"He can be represented only in relation to some particular purpose or group of purposes ” (ibid).
As this is the only possible meaning to representation, Mr. Cole gives away his whole case, though Mr. Dell fails to see this glaring fact.

The objections he raises against the “State” are simply those of Bakunin, and have formed part of the Anarchist propaganda for over half a century. Mr. Dell, however, admits one or two facts that Anarchists deny. Thus he says :—
“In any form of society there will have to be regulations in collective production’’ (p. 32). 
and on page 33 :—
“Socialism—the socialisation or collective ownership of the means of production—is now the only alternative to private monopoly.”
After placing himself in a dilemma by his contradictory attitudes, Mr. Dell flounders further in his attempts to reconcile the oppositions of his case. A, few years ago he supported the Syndicalists, who, in their crude ignorance, claimed that the various means of production should belong to those operating them, as: "The Mines to the Miners," "The Railways to the Railwaymen," etc. One enthusiast suggested that they should carry their list to a logical conclusion by adding such items as "The Sewers to the Scavengers," "The Prisons to the Convicts," “The Asylums to the Insane," etc; but his suggestions were not received with any enthusiasm.

Mr. Dell now realises that there are many difficulties in the Syndicalist case, and he finds partial salvation in Guild "Socialism." But his dread of democracy is so great that he wishes to combine certain features of both Syndicalism and Guild "Socialism." While Mr. Cole would have collective ownership of the means of production, with management and operation of the various industries by the different Guilds, Mr. Dell prefers that—except for certain collective services as railways, banks, posts, .mines, etc.—the workers in the various industries should have "absolute ownership" of their particular branch. The idiocy of this proposal should be apparent to a child. Food is of immensely greater importance to the members of society than railways. Yet the production and distribution of food is left in the "absolute ownership" of a particular group, while the railways are to be collectively owned! And this although he had previously admitted that "collective ownership of the means of production is now the only alternative to private monopoly."

The fear of democracy carries Mr. Dell into other contradictions. A long chapter is devoted to "The Dictatorship of the Proletariat," where he opposes both Marxian Socialism and the system established in Russia by the Bolsheviks. What does Mr. Dell offer as an alternative? This :—
“But democracy is impossible except in small areas where the elector can always be in close touch with his representatives, and no real control of representatives is possible without the right of recall, which can be efficiently exercised only in small areas. Democracy, therefore, involves decentralisation. Direct election should be restricted to small areas—the commune or ward— and the representatives so elected should send delegates to the provincial or national bodies ” (p. 39. Italics ours).
To the questions that at once spring forward, "Why is democracy only possible in small areas?" "Why cannot the right of recall be exercised in large areas?" no answers are given—and for the best of reasons. There are none that would bear a moment’s examination. But the cream of the joke is that this scheme of Mr. Dell’s is what operates in Russia, and which he condemns there.

We have criticised this anti-Socialist system before, and have shown that it is ruled by oligarchy, and is deliberately designed to prevent the members of society having control over the national executives. With all its faults, the Parliamentary system in England and France, that Mr. Dell condemns, does give this power to the electors if they care to exercise it. 

Other contradictions and fallacies abound in this book, but we have no room to deal with them all. One other example, however, is worth noting. On page 64 he says that “an extraordinary ignorance of Marxism is general in England," and quotes a writer in the “Times” as an example. He then says (p. 65): “Everybody has not time to read ‘Das Kapital,’ which is not easy reading,” and he suggests that the “Times” writer might, at least, have read the “Civil War in France.” We know from experience that it is the common practise for journalists and others to criticise and condemn Marx before they have read his works, but this reads suspiciously like an apology for Mr. Dell himself, for in the section on pages 144-150 he not only confuses price and value, but displays a complete ignorance of Marx’s discovery of the base of value in social labour-time, when he (Mr. Dell) is dealing with two articles produced by two individuals. His other absurdities of money, wages, competition, employment of one person by another for private gain, etc., all being necessary under Socialism, shows how a lack of knowledge of Marxism may cause a writer to flounder among endless contradictions. Still, his taste in drama is exquisite. He believes Charlie Chaplin is a great artist.
Jack Fitzgerald

Willie Gallacher's Political Indigestion (1925)

From the March 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

We say that when the workers want Socialism they can and must control the political machinery, including Parliament. Mr. W. Gallacher, a Communist leader, who writes a weekly two columns of animated abuse in the Glasgow "Worker," thinks that we err, and offers to put us right (February 21st, 1925). He has read our leaflet "The Socialist and the Vote-catcher," reprinted from the November, 1924, Socialist Standard, and is frankly disgusted with it. He finds that it is not the “brief outline of Socialism" it claims to be; that it "is hard to believe that anyone could write anything so foolish" as its "melancholy conclusion" or that "anyone could be found to hand it out and call it spreading the light." The conclusion he dislikes so much is this:—
"Don’t trust any more to people who are going to bring Utopia here without the least effort on your part, but come into the Socialist Party and work for Socialism. Socialism will come when enough of you want it."
Gallacher says that we do not tell him how Socialism will come. He asks if we are prepared for the possible resistance of the Churchills and Birkenheads, and if they "should take action to prevent our majority operating what do the light-spreaders propose doing about it."

He assumes that our answer would be "Time enough when that happens" to consider the possibility, and proceeds to be very scornful about it. We are further accused of wanting "the workers to go forward blindly without any preparation or any organisation whatever." We are likened to the I.L.P. vote-catchers to whom elections are everything and who must do nothing which might cause them to lose votes.

He thinks that the King or a capitalist minority could defy a Socialist majority in Parliament, because this minority would be backed up by "the overwhelming majority of officers and through these controlling the rank and file." Then "What would the majority do?" he asks.

The real and only way to Socialism, according to Gallacher, is to smash capitalism, a statement with which we are not likely to disagree, but "capitalism won’t smash simply because a majority would like to see it smashed.” Then after bringing us so far, Gallacher suddenly decides not to put us right after all. Instead of telling us how to smash capitalism, he rambles airily about the need “for us who are in earnest . . . to fight against the organised forces of capitalism.” And there he finishes.

In striking contrast with Gallacher’s vagueness, the S.P.G.B. is quite open and definite about the method of obtaining Socialism and of dealing with any resistance there may be. And in face of the plain statement of our position contained in our Declaration of Principles and other literature, not a line of Gallacher's would-be criticism has any bearing on the matter whatever. Instead of dealing with our policy he has the brazen impudence to attack the I.L.P. and the Labour Party, and link us up with their actions. He forgets that it is not the Socialist Party but he, and his own party, the Communists, who urge the workers to vote for those two anti-Socialist bodies.

We state that we want the workers to conquer the powers of government in order to use the political machinery, including the armed forces, for the purpose of overthrowing capitalism. We hold (and let Gallacher dispute it if he disagrees) that Socialism can exist only when the majority of workers want it. We also hold that a Socialist majority organised in the Socialist Party can obtain effective control by using its majority to capture the machinery of government. This disposes of our alleged neglect of organisation. Lastly, we hold that political control will give a Socialist working class control of the armed forces, and they will deal with capitalist minorities who rebel, in the way in which rebels are usually dealt with. Gallacher, be if noted, believes that the workers in the Army will, at such a time, not be influenced to support the Socialist majority either by their loyalty to constitutional authority or by their class sympathies, or by their knowledge of their own interests, but will follow those officers who decide to lead a revolt. He fails, however, to give a single argument in support of this fantastic belief.

So much for Gallacher’s criticism of the S.P.G.B. Now let us examine Gallacher and his party.

The capitalist forces must be fought, and capitalism smashed, he says, but. he leaves us to guess how and by whom. The “Workers' Weekly" (February 24th, 1923) set out to tell us how it was to be done. "The capitalists will resist any change by all means at their disposal. The power of the capitalists must be wrested from them. The workers must set up their own State . . . ." But just when we were about to learn how it was going to happen we find, instead of an answer to the vital question, three little dots and the words "Censored by the printer.” Then they go on to deal with their programme for the period after the capitalists have been disposed of. If the excuse were a true one, the position would be funny enough. These embryo dictators who are going to smash capitalism, and fight the whole forces of the State, cannot even dictate to a little back-street printer. But the excuse is simply a subterfuge to escape answering an awkward question. If they were not afraid to do so, everyone knows they could get their printing done in or out of the country.

And what are Gallacher's credentials for putting us right? He doesn’t believe in Parliament, yet he belongs to a party which advocates. “revolutionary parliamentarianism," and runs candidates. He believes Parliament is useless, and runs for it himself. He doesn’t believe in waiting for a majority, yet he appeals (on a reform programme) to what he dubs “the heterogeneous crowd" in a constituency, for a majority so that he can get into the House. He believes in fighting unceasingly against capitalism, and asks you to vote for I.L.P. and Labour candidates whom he regards as capitalist agents. In the recent Dundee by-election he was canvassing for T. Johnston, just as he had supported his predecessor the late E. D. Morel another anti-Socialist. His appeal was drawn up somewhat as follows:—
“Johnston is an anti-Socialist; all who want Socialism should vote for Johnston! Johnston is a humbug. Long live Johnston. Johnston is a scoundrel. Johnston for ever!”
He was almost in tears when he was falsely charged with having opposed this anti-Socialist. For some unaccountable reason Gallacher's articles are described as “Political Notes.”

He belongs to the party which tells the workers to vote for Thomas, Clynes, MacDonald and the rest of the Labour Party defenders of capitalism. He speaks of Churchill and Birkenhead, and himself supports the party which has the honour of having assisted Churchill into the House at the beginning of his career, and which was not averse from assisting Birkenhead and his party in the prosecution of the late war. He denounces vote-catching; Gallacher, who in a chequered career, has never known from one month to the next where he stood politically, or where he was going; who has drifted and tossed with every wind that blew; who has alternately supported and denounced nearly every pettifogging reform that was every proposed; who still advocates the treacherous communist tactic of giving insincere allegiance to the capitalist principles of the Labour Party, and the anti-Socialist tactic of asking workers to support those men and those principles. This is the man who implies that the S.P.G.B. trims to catch votes. Will Gallacher back up this or any other of his criticisms of the S.P.G.B.?

In 1920 Gallacher wrote that “any support of the Parliamentary opportunists is simply playing into the hands of the former.” (“Workers’ Dreadnought,” February, 1920). It was true then, and is true now, that he does it. Was there also some truth in his statement that it is the “personal ambition” of the “professional politician” which makes revolutionaries help the enemy in this way? Or would it be kinder and more accurate for us to recognise that Gallacher is the distressed victim of his natural muddle-headedness on the one hand, and on the other of his uncontrolled and uninstructed hatred of a purely mythical “capitalism” created by his imagination? 
Edgar Hardcastle