Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cyprus Report (1964)

From the November 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is now almost a year since Cyprus’ Black Christmas erupted into the headlines. Since then, frequent murders and incidents of vandalism have kept the inter-communal mistrust simmering; a lasting settlement between the Greek and Turkish populations seems almost impossible.

The dispute between the Greek and Turkish factions centres round the island’s Constitution. This, in its first article, prohibits activities aimed at promoting the union of Cyprus with any other country or at the partition of the island. The Turks have insisted on the inviolability of the Constitution as their best hope of defeating enosis; by the same token, the Greeks have tried to amend it. In fact, in a population openly divided by national allegiances, the Constitution has proved unworkable.

Whichever side started the fighting last December, it is a fact that both had been spoiling for it for a long time. The Turkish underground (TMT) had secretly landed arms and EOKA was still in organised existence. When the flare-up came, nobody should have been surprised.

The Turks probably erred in walking out of the Cypriot government. Although in theory this made illegal any decision by the Greek side, in fact it left the Greeks to perform all the necessary state business, including sending a delegation to UNO. This in turn made the Turkish Cypriots appear to be an insurgent minority; the whole weight of the state forces was turned against them. The police force (minus its disaffected Turkish members), the Army and the Greek vigilante groups (transformed by some propaganda alchemy into “Security Forces”) were used in the fighting.

The Greeks also took over the organs of propaganda. Mr. Yiorgadjis took charge at the Ministry of Defence and in his other capacity of Minister of the Interior dictated policy to the press, radio and Public Information Office. The Turks erected their “Bayrak" radio station but this was quickly jammed. Revolting atrocities committed by the “legally established State Security Forces” lighting the “insurgent illegally armed Turks’’ were either not mentioned, or reported only when given prominent publicity in the foreign press. This is not to say that the Turks were innocent of committing atrocities, but the Greeks' control of the official propaganda channels enabled them to distort the news in their own favour.

Television and radio appeals by Makarios and Küçük for an end to the fighting were ignored. The arrival of the British troops and the Red Cross workers brought a lull, but. the fighting soon broke out again on the news of more atrocities. A press campaign against the British troops (who were themselves guilty of acts of vandalism) was supported by demonstrations of school children shouting for the return of General Grivas. Such demonstrations, with their inculcation of nationalism into young minds, were one of the most frightening and disgusting aspects of the crisis. I saw the logical consequences of it all, as a small group of young Greeks watched with callous disregard the shot and still bleeding body of an unarmed Turkish driver, lying beside his NAAFI vehicle.

What is the background to the bloody struggle? in Cyprus the class structure has not yet hardened into the classical capitalist form. The majority of the subject part of the islands’ population are not proletariat, landless and propertyless in the means of production. Agriculture accounts for over half the labour force and in both Greek and Turkish communities there are many peasant farmers, often struggling in debt. In this situation official decisions on matters like the provision of irrigation become not only a subject of husbandry but also of politics, with many only too ready to suspect officialdom of partisan bias. This makes the nationalists’ exhortations more readily accepted.

The official Turkish attitude, according to the press, lay in conformity to the strict letter of the Constitution. But that was not the whole story. The Turkish Cypriot aim, based on their claims to be a separate community, is Taksim, or perhaps federation. The statement of their leaders Küçük and Denktash, backed by the voice of Ankara, leave no doubt on this point. The Turkish suffering at the hands of Greek terrorists created sympathy for their aims but should not persuade anyone that these are any better than the other so-called solutions to the Cyprus crisis.

The apparent Greek aim of a unitary and independent state can see nothing strange in a strategically important island of half a million people trying to steer its own course through the tortuous channels of big power line ups. American intervention now seems to indicate that, if enosis comes, it will do so on some sort of compromise. For sure, the Turkish desire for partition would cut across the complex Cypriot landholding system, since most of the land, livestock and industry is in Greek hands.

The Greeks, who make up 80 per cent, of Cyprus’ population, say that they will not be thwarted. They make much play of what they call ancient Greek democracy, overlooking the fact that 80 per cent. of that society's population—the chattel slaves—were ruled by the other 20 per cent. Enosis remains the real object of the Greek struggle; their spokesmen have often referred to the London and Zurich agreements as stepping stones to this end. The demands for enosis were noticeably absent from Cypriot government functions after the Spring of 1963, which led some people to conclude that the idea had been shelved. Now all that is changed.

The Greek faction in Cyprus is now faced with a considerable problem, of its own making. Legalising the bands of gunmen in the “Security Force” meant condoning the private armies of men like Nicos Samson. These men had wielded considerable power, and caused the Greek Cypriot leaders much embarrassment. The Conscription Bill passed in June, ostensibly “to defend the country from aggression from without, or subversion . . .  was in fact designed to regularise the State Forces and to disarm and outlaw the volunteers.” In this way, apprehensive Greek ministers hoped to neutralise the power of the private armies.

Inevitably, the businessmen of Cyprus are concerned to procure political and economic stability. Some have suffered heavy financial losses and in private will admit indifference to enosis. For them, self determination is one thing, enosis another. Characteristically, the Cyprus Employers Consultative Association, during the crisis, called on all employers and workers to return to work, as the best way of solving the problem.

If only because it is numerically strong, and stands an outside chance of coming to power, we should mention the Communist Party. Almost exclusively Greek, and not having studied such foreign vote-catching plans as Home Rule for Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, etc., it regards the Turkish advocacy of partition as subversive. As usual, the Communists are hunting with the hounds while also being prepared to run with the hare.

But hypocrisy does not end with the Communist Party. With the return of Grivas—now probably on his way back to respectability—and the apparent United States support for enosis, things seem to be going Athens’ way. Behind the cloak of legal arguments, and in the name of self-determination, enosis, federation, taksim and the rest, thousands of people have been killed, have been made homeless, have suffered in a multitude of ways.

That is not the end of the tragedy. The young man next door who takes up a gun in the Cyprus struggle is not a barbarian. He exists, in one way or another, all over the world. Ignorant as yet of the real nature of the inhuman society of sovereign states, political and economic blocs, nationalism and the rest, be blindly follows his leader, if necessary to kill and be killed.

In that fact, and in no other, is to be found the ultimate cause of the suffering in Cyprus and in the rest of the world.
W. Robertson

Report on a visit to USA and Canada (1964)

Party News from the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

During the months July, August and September I was in the United States on a student vacation scheme. During this time I was in Boston for 10 weeks and in Montreal and Toronto for one week. In Boston I was able to take part in all the activities of the local, indoor and outdoor meetings, socials and leaflet distribution as well as attend the W.S.P. conference as our fraternal delegate. In September, together with W.S.P. members Rab and Lyle [I] visited Montreal and Toronto to meet members of the Socialist Party of Canada and attend various meetings that had been arranged.

BOSTON
The local (Branch) has a very active membership, both locally and nationally. As will be appreciated the political atmosphere in the United States is considerably different from that in Britain. There the working class have no interest in politics which quite literally is an in-fight between members of various rival political gangs without even the popular participation which occurs in Britain. This makes it all the harder for the American Socialists to put over our case. It means that some of the traditional activities of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, such as debates with opponents and large indoor meetings cannot be carried on. On the other hand, members in the U.S. have openings which we have not as for instance, the purchase of radio time and radio programmes in which listeners can participate by telephone.

In Boston activities are in the hands of a Local Administrative Committee, composed of the younger members of the Party. They are responsible for organising all activities which consist of indoor and outdoor meetings and leaflet distribution. Indoor meetings each week take the form of a talk or tape-recordings or a film followed by discussion. Outdoor meetings arc held every Sunday on Boston Common. The W.S.P. is the only organisation to avail themselves of these opportunities, although the conditions are not ideal owing to the persistent attempts by Cuban refugees and various patriots to shout down our speakers. Occasionally protest meetings on Civil Rights, peace, slum clearance etc. are covered by the Local’s literature sellers. During the University term other opportunities for putting over our case are available. All in all, prospects in Boston are hopeful.

MONTREAL
Members here speak French, but to assist in their activities, leaflets and literature in French are needed, especially as French Canada is in the middle of a period of political ferment, following the overthrow of the backward-looking Duplessis regime in 1960. Many ideas on Marxism and on separatism are circulated and it is important that our voice be heard.

TORONTO
Regular indoor and outdoor meetings are held in Toronto which, like Montreal is hoping soon to form a Local. Literature is sold, and it is hoped that with the help from other Locals, the support here will increase in the near future.

The hospitality and help received from members in both the United States and Canada was greatly appreciated and for which I am extremely grateful. It is a sign of the genuine fraternal relations which exist between the various sections of the Socialist Movement.
Adam Buick

The "World's Fair" of Politics. (1922)

From the January 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is usual at this time of the year to see displayed on some of the hoardings large posters advertising the “World’s Fair.” This annual conglomeration of “freaks” and “side-shows” undoubtedly attracts quite a large number of members of the working class, who, anxious to forget for a few moments the wretched conditions of the factory, and also the unhealthy surroundings of their homes, part with a few of their hard-earned coppers to gain admission. Having seen the show, their superficial pleasure is ended; and they return once again to face the real facts of life under capitalism.

These facts are only too apparent to the Socialist, and consequently he becomes more keenly interested in something that happens all the year round; and for the purpose of analogy, we can call it the “World’s Fair” of Politics; wherein the average member of the working class can have an endless variety of side-shows to distract his attention from the real cause of his poverty. Every performance is very effectively carried out by a host of “Political Jugglers,” Christian "Fortune Tellers,” and a troupe of Labour Tamers, who usually perform the celebrated “Red Herring” trick successfully.

After many months the great “Wizard” from Wales has accomplished the “Irish” trick, amidst great applause from the working class—and the “Red” element that we hear so much about are as “Green” as ever.

The Socialist remains cold; such incidents fail to move him from the task he set out to accomplish. That task is to distribute, wherever it is possible, the knowledge of Socialism that he possesses. So long as the workers continue to place political power in the hands of their masters, so long will capitalism remain. Whilst capitalism remains, the capitalists, only a small section of the community, own all the tools and instruments of wealth production, and the working class, which comprise the largest portion in Society, will be forced to sell the only thing that they possess—their labour power—to the capitalist class in order to get food, clothing and shelter.

Whether it be in the form of a "Washington Conflab” or a “League of Take All,” as the Socialist points out over and over again, they are no concern of the worker. Whilst capitalism continues the conditions of the working class must tend to grow worse.

Therefore, we urge upon all members of the working class to take advantage of the knowledge distributed by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, become organised into its ranks, and help to bring nearer the day when Socialism will become possible.
A. Spratt.

A Striking Coincidence. (1922)

From the February 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

Although written by a man who lived too early to have studied Marx (and who, in addition, stated, he was no economist, and merely wished to learn from the public men of his day) the following analysis of the causes of the misery following upon the close of the Napoleonic wars is as applicable in its main points to-day as when written over a hundred years ago.
   “I said the cause of this apparently unaccountable distress seemed to me to be the new extraordinary changes which had occurred during so long a war, when men and materials had been for a quarter of a century in such urgent demand, to support the waste of our armies and navies upon so extensive a scale for so long a period. All things had attained to war prices, and these had been so long maintained, that they appeared to the present generation the natural state of business and public affairs. The want of hands and materials, with the lavish expenditure, created a demand for and gave great encouragement to new mechanical inventions and chemical discoveries, to supersede manual labour in supplying the materials required for warlike purposes, and these, direct and indirect, were innumerable. The war was a great and most extravagant customer to farmers, manufacturers, and other producers of wealth, and many during this period became very wealthy. The expenditure of the last year of the war for this country alone was one hundred and thirty millions sterling, or an excess of eighty millions of pounds sterling over the peace expenditure. And on the day on which peace was signed, this great customer of the producers died, and prices fell as the demand diminished, until the prime cost of the articles required for war could not be obtained. The barns and farmyards were full, warehouses loaded, and such was our artificial state of society that this very superabundance of wealth was the sole cause of the existing distress. Burn the stock in the farmyards and warehouses, and prosperity would immediately recommence in the same manner as if the war had continued. This want of demand at remunerating prices compelled the master producers to consider what they could do to diminish the amount of their productions and the cost of producing until these surplus stocks could be taken off the market. To effect these results, every economy in producing was resorted to, and men, being more expensive machines for producing than mechanical and chemical invention and discoveries, so extensively brought into action during the war, the men were discharged, and the machines were made to supersede them, while the numbers unemployed were increased by the discharge of men from the Army and Navy.
 
    Hence the great distress for want of work among all classes whose labour was so much in demand while the war continued. This increase of mechanical and chemical power was continually diminishing the demand for and value of manual labour, and would continue to do so, and would effect great changes throughout society. For the new power created by these new inventions and discoveries was already enormous, and was superseding manual power."—Robert Owen (page 171, “Life of Robert Owen," Bohn's Popular Library.)

An Impartial Critic. (1922)

Editorial from the March 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

A story is related of Mark Twain that he once offered to deliver a lecture to the members of a great scientific society upon their own special subject. The secretary of the society suavely pointed out that Mr. Twain’s equipment for such a lecture consisted of an entire absence of any knowledge of the subject chosen. "All the better,” replied Twain. "I shall be quite impartial in my treatment of the matter.” Somehow this failed to satisfy the secretary and the lecture was never delivered.

Undeterred by this example, we still find people willing to deal with subjects, or criticise them, whose only qualification for the purpose is a complete lack of acquaintance with the subject they attempt to discuss.

An instance of this kind occurs in the February issue of the “English Review,” where a writer calling' himself "Judex” contributes an article entitled “The Lesson of Bolshevism.” 

“Judex” scorns to burden his article with any facts, evidence, or quotations to support the various statements he makes. This may be a sign of wisdom, for had he attempted to quote any authority for many of his remarks he could at once have been exposed for an imposter, whereas now one may conclude that he is merely ignorant.

He claims that Marxian Socialism has been tried in Russia and been found a failure when he says :
  “The orthodox expropriation of the expropriators (according to Marx) has been completely tried.”
The most superficial reader of Marx’s writings knows that the above statement is not only false, but is in complete contradiction to the whole of Marx’s teachings. From the world-renowned “Communist Manifesto” down to the “Civil War in France,” Marx showed how human societies have developed from primitive communism to Capitalism, and how Capitalism, when it has passed through the stages of its development, must be followed by Socialism. In the preface to the "Critique of Political Economy” (page 12, Kerr ed.), Marx says:
  “No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions for their existence have matured in the womb of the old society.”
Later on, in the preface to “Capital,” Marx extends and amplifies this point in the famous, oft-quoted passage where he says :
    "One nation can and should learn from others. And even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement—and it is the ultimate aim of this work to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society-it can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth pangs.”
(Page XIX, Sonnenschein Ed.) 
These quotations prove not only that Marx did not expect a country in a backward condition economically to be able to establish Socialism, but also that he expressly denied such a thing being possible. So far from following Marx, as "Judex” suggests, Lenin has acted in direct opposition to Marx’s teaching. To suggest that a country like Russia, still largely feudalistic, with only the beginnings of Capitalism, is “most suitable for applied Socialism,” shows a most complete ignorance of Marx, coupled with a boundless recklessness of assertion.

After such a brilliant display of his marvellous intellect, one is not surprised to find such a gem as the following in "Judex’s” article :
   "In highly industrialised countries such as England, Germany, Belgium, and even France, Socialism could only function with enormously reduced populations. In Britain certainly 10,000,000 people would have to die or emigrate; in Belgium 2,000,000; in France 5,000,000; because Socialism would imply the elimination of all production of a luxury or surplus character, thereby implying the elimination of an export trade which is the strength of highly industrial people."
Not a tittle of evidence nor a single fact is given to support this bundle of nonsense.

As Socialism will mean the abolition of the idle class of present society—the Capitalist class—who gather all the best of what is produced to themselves to lead lives of barbaric luxury, the first result of the establishment of Socialism will be that a large quantity of wealth will become available for distribution among the producers that was never within their reach under Capitalism. So far from it being necessary to reduce the populations under Socialism, the elimination of the idle thieves will be one factor in making it possible to support far larger numbers than the present system is doing.

“Judex’s” complete innocence of the simplest economic facts is shown in the scintillating assertion that “the purest Socialist State must function on capital or credit of some kind. " Evidently he has not the faintest conception of what capital is, or upon what credit is based.

Capital is wealth used for the purpose of producing a profit. Profit is a portion of that wealth produced by the worker, but robbed from him under the present system. Hence capital is wealth used for the purpose of robbery. Clearly, when the system of robbery is abolished, capital will disappear. Production will then be carried on for use; wealth will be used to promote the well-being of all.



Direct Action in South Africa. (1922)

From the April 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

The recent attempts on the part of the Rand miners at Johannesburg to gain their ends by force of arms affords another striking instance of the futility of adopting such methods in the face of the organised, well-disciplined force of the governing class. Into the pros and cons of this particular case we do not propose to go. The broad facts of the case are sufficient for our purpose. In the mining districts of South Africa we find the masters organising for wage reductions; in fact, throughout the Capitalist world the same thing is going on all round. In England we had the coal mine owners making the first grand onslaught towards wage reductions. The Engineering industry at the present moment witnesses another great move on the part of the masters to force a reduction of wages.

In both instances the workers have been locked out. In all these contests we have the advocates of direct action on the industrial field proclaiming that this is the appointed time for the workers to use their “industrial power.” These people do not explain what this industrial power of the workers is. The reason is simple—there is no such thing as this so-called “industrial power” or “economic power,” as some prefer to call it; it is just a phrase, mouthed about by “revolutionary” Labour leaders, to impress their sheep-like followers with their “revolutionary heroism.” “Industrial power,” “ the power of industry,” “economic power,” are meaningless terms so far as advantage to the workers’ cause is concerned.

The fact that has to be solidly grasped is that, a ruling class exists to-day—the owners and controllers of the means of life. It matters not under what national banner or flag these captains of industry — the Capitalist class—are domiciled, whether it be in South Africa, Australia, America, the same force is used—the army, navy, and aerial contingents—to impose the masters’ will over the subject class, the working class. Therefore, while the workers of the world remain politically ignorant—i.e., vote their enemies into the seat of power—then it logically follows that that power, which gives them control of the forces of the State, be used whenever occasion demands, as witness on the Rand in South Africa.

As a writer in the Manchester Guardian, 17/3/22, says, commenting on the matter—
   “There certainly has been no indecision about General Smuts' way of taking up a clear challenge; not, of course, that the challenge from the rioters on the Rand was personal to him. He received it as the chosen head man of the European .Democracy in South Africa. It was no individual will, but the will of the majority—evidently a vast majority—of South African voters."
In this case the "vast majority” in their political ignorance voted for the return to the seat of power—the State Assembly—representatives of the owners of property in land, mines, railways, etc. Therefore, when this property is attacked by bands of rebel workers, it is naturally defended by the forces of the State.

Now listen to the champions of "industrial action"—"Workers' Dreadnought" (18/3/22) —commenting on the South African trouble :—
   “Labour will not be victorious whilst it merely strikes and starves. It must take control of production and distribution before it can achieve anything.”
We agree, but we are not told how the workers are to get control. Also same authority commenting on the Engineers' lock-out: -
  “They must show themselves able and ready to supply their own needs and those of the proletarian community as a whole.”
We agree, but how? And further same authority :—
   “The questions the locked-out workers have to ask themselves are just these :—
1. 'Why should we suffer want in a land of plenty? ’
2. 'How can we avoid doing so? ”
The answer to No. 1 is that the workers will continue to suffer want, so long as the means of life are owned by a few—the ruling Capitalist class.

The question as to how this state of things may be avoided is readily answered by the Socialist, who claims that the means of life must be made the common property of the people—i.e., by the establishment of Socialism, viz., "a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community." The Declaration of Principles on the back page of this issue sets out concisely but clearly how that object may be attained.

Revolutionary wind may be very relieving to people like the writer in the “Workers’ Dreadnought," quoted above; there’s been an epidemic of it since Bolshevism was discovered in Russia. What the workers need is Revolutionary knowledge. Study our position and then act.
B. I.

Psychology and Industry (1922)

Editorial from the May 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard

For the last few years there has been a boom in psychology. Most bookshops exhibit ponderous volumes dealing with this particular subject. Booksellers’ lists advertise numerous books setting forth conflicting theories.

As a general rule, when there is a boom in the scientific or pseudo scientific world in any particular subject, a close examination of the matter will disclose some important material interest lying at the back of the boom; or some material interest that is served by assisting to boom whatever matter is in question.

To this general rule psychology is no exception.

A short time ago a little book was published by Methuen & Co., Ltd., entitled "Present-Day Applications of Psychology, with special reference to Industry, Education, and Nervous Breakdown,” by Charles S. Myers, M.A., M.D., Sc.D., F.R.S., Director of the Psychological Laboratory, Cambridge.

The author defines Psychology as the scientific study of the human and animal mind. He advocates the appointment of trained Psychologists in all branches of industry as a profitable proposition from a commercial point of view. In order to illustrate how valuable such a proposition would be to employers he gives a description of certain experiments that have been made.

One such experiment he describes as follows—with reference to the principle of the number of contractions that could be carried out in lifting weights before exhaustion ensues:—
   “This principle has been applied practically in the case of 500 shovellers who were being employed in shovelling, with a shovel of constant size, material of very varying weight—sometimes coal, sometimes ashes, at other times heavy iron ore, etc., etc. Experiments were conducted with shovels of different sizes in order to ascertain the optimal weight per shovel load of a good shoveller. The best average weight was found to be 21 lbs. Accordingly, shovels were made of different sizes, in proportion to the heaviness of the material shovelled, so that each shovel whether full of coal, ash or iron, etc., weighed 21 lbs. This was the  most important innovation, although others were at the same time carried out. The results were as follows :—(i) the average amount shovelled per day rose by nearly 270 per cent—from 16 to 59 tons per man; (ii) 150 men could now perform what 500 men had performed under previous conditions ; (iii) the average earnings of the shovellers increased by 60 per cent,; (iv) the cost of the management, after paying all extra expenses, was reduced by 50 per cent.; (v) there was no evidence of increased fatigue of the shovellers.” (Page 9— italics ours.)
From the above it will be seen that by applying the results of scientific psychology in this particular case the gain to the capitalist would be 270 per cent, in the amount shovelled, whilst the increase in shovellers’ earnings was only 60 per cent., i.e., a nett gain to the capitalist of 210 per cent. Of course, experience tells us that the workers in question would not be long in receipt of the 60 per cent. increase. There is little doubt that in such a case a revision of piece-work rates would soon occur.

On top of the nett gain of 210 per cent, there is a further advantage to the capitalist of 50 per cent, decrease in the cost of management.

The following quotation from the "Daily News" (11/3/22) gives an illustration of the application of scientific psychology in another branch of industry. The quotation refers to the activity of the National Institute of Industrial Psychology: -
  “Dr. C. S. Myers, the director of the institute, who stated that he had resigned the chair of psychology at Cambridge University to devote himself to the work of the institute, said that during the year investigators had examined into the methods of packing chocolates for Messrs. J. Lyons & Co. By favouring rhythmical movements and abolishing unnecessary ones, an average increase of output amounting to 35 per cent. had been obtained." (Italics ours.)
Here again we have the same point illustrated—a gain to the employers.

According to the above two quotations it will be seen that the nett result obtained by the application of scientific psychology to industry may be stated as follows: A larger amount of surplus value will be obtained by the capitalist and there will be less employment to be obtained by the workers. This will be due to the more economical handling of the means of wealth production.

One main point is forced to our notice here. The application of science to industry under capitalism has two general effects: it increases the productiveness of a given quantity of human labour power, thereby increasing the profits of the capitalists, and at the same time increasing the unemployment and consequent misery of the workers.

How topsy-turvy, then, is a system of society in which the valuable productive methods provided by scientific research are of necessity converted into a source of profit for the few and a source of misery for the mass of the population?

The only way to avoid such an anomaly is to substitute for the present form of society another form in which all the means and methods that science can discover to aid in the production of wealth and lessen the toil of the producers will be welcomed by the whole of society as means to obtain increased leisure and enjoyment.