Monday, August 7, 2017

Speeding-Up The Admirals (1911)

From the March 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

Avast there, comrades! Haul in your slacks while I shiver my timbers.

The Navy, sirs, is going to the dogs. Senior officers are now expected to know something, and a special instructional course began at Portsmouth on Feb 13, with fifty rear admirals, captains, and commanders as pupils. How George must congratulate himself upon his shore appointment!

Feel for a proud flag officer like W. B. Fisher, fifty-seven years old and second in seniority, having to study gunnery and torpedoes. It is related of a distinguished admiral, who sometimes neglects to eat between drinks, that he once rolled up on deck and, gazing wildly at the far horizon gasped “Say, is that a sea-serpent?" He was told that it was. “Thank heaven!" he exclaimed, with relief. “I thought 1 had 'em again." Now, so absurd a position could not have occurred had the great man learned at a special instructional course for senior officers to recognise submarines at sight.

Cato studied Greek long after he became entitled to the old age pension — at eighty, I believe. But Greek is less undignified than signals and naval war, through a course of which Admirals F. T. Hamilton and Herbert Lyon, aged fifty-four. are compulsorily fagging. Waterloo was won in order to advertise the playing fields of Eton and Harrow. Let us hope the Government won't get up another Trafalgar in order to star their special instructional course for senior officers.

Seriously. this speeding-up is a national menace. While it affected only the productive working class, it did not much matter. But if it spreads to the upper ranks of employment, it may reach the Civil Service and compel the bureaucrats to work. In winch case the "end of all" is a safe prediction.
A. Hoskyns

The Attempted Suppression of Free Speech in Islington. (1911)

Party News from the April 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

The attempt of the Islington Borough Council to suppress Socialist propaganda in their midst has proved ineffectual. Refused the hall of the Caledonian-road Baths, the Islington Branch of the Socialist Party commemorated the 40th. anniversary of the Paris Commune on Monday, March 20, at Myddleton Hall, Almeida Street. N. The meeting was largely attended, and, unlike so many Tory and Liberal gatherings, was marked by equal enthusiasm and orderliness.

Islington ratepayers may with advantage be reminded of the circumstances that led to this futile effort on the part of their municipal representatives to dictate what subjects may or may not be discussed in the borough.

In March last year our Islington comrades applied for and were granted the use of the Caledonian-road Baths for Commune-commemoration purposes. A deputation of ratepayers thereupon waited upon the Council to protest against the letting of the hall and to urge that our contract should be illegally cancelled. Their spokesman melodramatically predicted that, as the result of our teaching, the streets of Islington would be ”bathed in blood.” By a majority of sixteen the Council rejected the deputation’s appeal. Our meeting was held and was officially reported by the superintendent of the Baths as having been “conducted in a very quiet and orderly manner.”

Moreover, despite bourgeois apprehensions, the streets of the “merrie” mediaeval suburb did not run with blood. As a matter of fact, they did not even run with water, then or since; and, notwithstanding legitimate complaint, the filth which disfigured them in 1910 may be seen, with a year’s accretion, in 1911. So wretched an environment has its natural reflex in the conduct of certain residents and their elected representatives. To what other opinion can one come, after reading these observations from the Council’s discussion published in the Islington Daily Gazette of March 21, 1910 (italics ours):         
    “Alderman. Crole-Rees held that they ought to cancel, rule or no rule, whatever the cost might be. It was a sacrilege to hold such a gathering in the baths.
   Alderman. Vorley thought technicalities ought not to stand in the way of cancelling. The meeting was not political—it was revolutionary, and something near to treason.
   Mr. A. O. Clarke said any damages that might be obtained from the Council would be remote and small."
That is to say, break the law of contract as against Socialists and trust the courts to uphold such breach.

The Islington Daily Gazette, an avowedly anti-Socialist paper, expressed in unstinted terms, in its issue of March 23, 1910, its view of the matter. The editor wrote:
    "We are a little surprised that the Islington Borough Council should have made itself look ridiculous in the eyes of the public by endeavouring to prevent a meeting.  . . . The conduct of the meeting has proved how childish were the objections raised in the Council to the letting of the hall to the Socialist Party. . . . The uninitiated might have thought, after listening to the debate on Friday night at the Town Hall, that the Socialists of England were suddenly overcome with blood lust.”
Yet, in defiance of the ridicule and censure thus heaped upon last year’s attempt to suppress free speech, the Council did not hesitate to reject this year’s application by our Islington comrades for the same meeting-place. The Baths and Wash-houses Committee wrote: “ Having regard to the fact that a large number of ratepayers objected to the meeting held last year at the Public Hall, and that a deputation waited upon the Council to protest against the meeting, the Committee do not feel justified in letting the hall again for the purpose named ”

On this refusal becoming known, Mr. B S. Bailey, an Islington ratepayer, published in the Islington Daily Gazette of March 14, 1911 an emphatic protest and a stinging rebuke of the Council’s own disregard of the amenities of public life. He said :
   "I attended the Commune meeting held at the Baths last year, and I say (and challenge contradiction) that it was the most orderly and best conducted meeting that has been held in Islington by any political party. Surely a deputation of a dozen bigoted ratepayers and the Borough Council are not going to place themselves on a pedestal and tell us what we shall hear and what we shall not hear. . . .  I would advise our servants (and I hope the Council will not object to this description since they address themselves as such when appealing for our suffrage at elections) to conduct their meetings in as orderly a manner as the Socialist Party, then we shall not have so many bear-garden meetings, for which West Islington is notorious.”
We ourselves were as little surprised at the absurd protest of the deputation as we are unmoved by the foolish action of the Council. The Paris Commune, alike in its mistakes and its achievements, is to us a guiding cresset. That alone would make it an object of hatred and fear to capitalism, the antagonism of whose puny champions, therefore, appears in our view not less natural than contemptible. How expect such dunces to know, or care for, the truth? No doubt, they willingly believe the deliberate lie that the Conmune caused the streets of Paris to run with blood. But, in very fact, the 1871 massacres were the work of the cowardly French master class and their criminal hangers-on. When these found heart to return from flight, with the support of their German conquerers, they were maddened at the successful efforts of the proletariat to direct, as themselves had failed to do, the machinery of administration. So they glutted their vengeance in a popular butchery, which ceased only through fear of a pestilence from the growing heaps of slain.

As the British heirs of those brave dead, brutally sacrificed to class interests, we welcome from the myrmidons of Capital any earnest of the class struggle already long declared. It is enough that with them fraternise the Social-Democrats, the Labourites, and other spurious friends of the exploited and oppressed worker. For us it is battle now and all the time!

The truth is, those struggling tradesman and professional snobs of Islington — parasites on parasites — obey blindly the preservative instincts engendered by our iniquitous system. They are slowly but surely being crushed between the upper and nether millstones of economic development, and their desperate hope to “get on” is only paralleled by their abject fear of “falling out.” Sycophants to their “betters,” bullies to their "inferiors,” they seek a frantic sanctuary in property, sacrificing to Mammon their present peace, their children’s future, and the whole welfare of their kind.

They hate the proletariat, because through the slightest mishap they may themselves be proletarianised. They oppress the toilers, because through their exploitation only can they hope to attain economic safety. And they, who scarcely know a night’s rest free from business worry, warn the still more miserable wage-slave to beware of Socialism. They are whited sepulchres from which judgment and conscience have been snatched. Is it other than madness to bolster up the competitive system when even a capitalist organ like the Daily News (March 23, 1911), in dealing editorially with the appalling universal increase of suicide, admits that to-day “even to live with an independent income is more of a strain than to struggle for a living was a century ago.”

Workers, we are out to destroy this man-made hell on earth. We can show you that the greatest of our social evils are directly traceable to the fundamental wrong of stealing from you the product of your work. We ask you to unite with us for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth.
A. Hoskyns

Free Trade in Females. (1911)

From the May 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Mormons are busy in our midst.

The Christian henchmen of the capitalists are busy in their midst.

At Birkenhead, where the meek ministers of the “gentle Jesus” are always fighting over something, there has been an anti-Mormon riot.

The American Latter Day Saints want women for the Salt Lake market. The English Latter Day Saints want women for the home market. Now, polygamy is a horrible thing, against which the Christian raves. Promiscuity is a mere incident, regrettable but unavoidable.

You remember how angry the Church was with that clergyman who married a Frenchwoman while his English wife still lived, undivorced from him. You cm hardly have forgotten how indignant the Church was with one of its curates, the Rev. Smythe-Piggott, for living at the Abode of Love with several spiritually-spliced darlings. And you must have noticed how shocked the Church was with that vicar whose Lax conduct created so much scandal and with those other holy clerks who recently figured in divorce and affiliation cases.

But the Mormons are a great danger.

They evidently offer certain sinister inducements to our women, for the latter are willing, nay eager, to go with them. And what are the counter-inducements to stay home?

Let us note some of them.

At the Easter conference of Telephone employees, a delegate described the conditions under which telephone girls work:
   “They are slaves. They sit at the (operator's) board and are driven as if they were slaves. These girls stand from nine to one and then from two to six. It is ruining the health of our girls. Large numbers of them are constantly off sick. Nervous prostration is what they suffer from. At one exchange in Manchester girls are taken downstairs in hysterics. Those girls will be the mothers of the future generation, and they are having their nerves absolutely torn away."
The Women’s Trade Union League has just exposed the conditions under which waitresses work:
   “Many are at work sixteen hours a day, and the general rule in almost all establishments is twelve hours a day on duty. Wages are very low — starvation wages. The girls in some places live in constant danger of the traps and pitfalls laid in their way by unscrupulous men."
Can it be that those base. unprincipled Mormons offer English women an existence in Utah which is not body-wearing, nerve racking, and soul-degrading, and that English women have so far forgotten the lessons of the Church as to prefer a polygamous marriage there to a life of sweating or prostitution here?

If so, the thing must be stopped. We have only 80,000 acknowledged unfortunates, not including future peeresses, on London’s streets, and pro rata elsewhere. To relieve this market, ere it be quite congested, is a crime in the eyes of honest, virtuous Christian capitalism.
A. Hoskyns

Mechanical Loyalty. (1911)

From the June 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

An English nobleman once tried to train a mule to box scientifically with its hind hoofs. The verdict was “Death from very natural causes."

When the capitalists created a cheap gutter Press they little suspected it would contribute to their undoing. Yet the rags continually, if unconsciously, deal murderous blows at the system they were intended to strengthen.

Just an instance:

That the Queen rehearses her train-bearers may be good reading, but it scarcely conduces to popular acceptance of her inherent grace. Snapshots of the State horses being inured to cheering, firing, and flag-waving seems calculated to take the gilt off the ginger-bread—or even off the State coach.

The people should be given to understand that all things royal are spontaneously dignified. Else what price a circus parade?

But the cruellest Press photos were those of the elephants learning to kneel, the dromedary and pony learning to bow. Not so would the show have been given away in the past. Our forefathers believed that the very animals recognised and did homage to anointed majesty.

Coronation—hungry children—Church and armed forces—full pubs.—full gaols. What a hotch-potch! Also enthusiastic obeisance from well-trained quadrupeds and well-drilled humans.

And the royal nonentities will carry on as if they swallowed it all. Poor henpecked George will try not to look thirsty, while his grim-faced consort conveniently forgets that she married him after his brother (her first betrothed) died, selling her body for a crown as surely as some of her less fortunate sisters sell theirs for five shillings.
A. Hoskyns

The Road to Socialism (1911)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

Raymond Tune, of Petone, New Zealand, writes asking us to answer in our correspondence column the following questions:
(1) Is there any foundation in the charge that the position of the S.P.G.B. is too academic and scientific for the average discontented proletarian to grasp, and that some such elementary party like the I.L.P. or S.D.P. is necessary to serve as a sort of primary school from which a proletarian can graduate later on ?
(2) Also is there any foundation in the charge that the S.P.G.B. never obtains members direct from the clutches of the capitalist class, but on the contrary, that they come from the more intelligent and discontented members of other organisations ?

Reply:
The charge against the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain of being too academic and scientific to be readily grasped by the average member of the working class is usually made by some unfortunate member of the I.L.P. or S.D.P., whose mental outlook upon life has been so confused and maltreated by the teachings of these pseudo-Socialist parties as to have become practically atrophied.

Science is the systemisation (ergo, the simplification) of knowledge. The very fact, therefore (admitted by our would-be detractors), of the scientific nature of our position, should be sufficient in itself to convince our correspondent that the average discontented proletarian can, if he so desires, readily grasp all the essential points necessary for the proper understanding of Socialism.

A careful reading of the Declaration of Principles printed on the back page of the Socialist Standard, will at once clearly and unmistakably show both the strength and the simplicity of the Socialist position. Not one of the principles on which that position stands has been, or can be, refuted.

As to the advisability or possibility of graduating from the I.L.P. or S.D.P. into the Socialist Party (why not also from the Anti-Socialist Union or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?), one might as reasonably expect a student to join the Salvation Army or the Roman Catholic Church in order to graduate eventually therefrom as a professor of biology.

The I.L.P. and the S.D.P. have never taught anything but the pseudo-Socialism of the reformist school. The idea that anyone could possibly obtain the most elementary knowledge of Socialism from either of these parties is manifestly absurd.

With regard to the second question, the Socialist Party obtains members from all sources: some from other political organisations, some from the ranks of those who have never been in any party. Those members who leave other organisations to join the Socialist Party do so for obvious reasons. The members of the working class, leaving school with practically no education (certainly without any education in political or economic thought), have to educate themselves in the only school open to them — that of experience. It thus sometimes happens that the specious promises and high-falutin’ ideals held out to them, lead the uneducated or semi-educated workers into one or other of these particular organisations. But with ripening intelligence and an increased desire to understand their real position in society, they very soon see through the trickery and confusion among which they have strayed. They learn — often from bitter experience — not what Socialism is, but what it is not. If they still desire to become Socialists, and are not so disgusted as to sink into apathy, they seek until they find, at last, a party that is really a Socialist Party - the S.P.G.B.

The schools of reformist thought presided over by Mr. Hyndman and Mr Ramsay MacDonald, may very well be good training-grounds for budding bureaucrats, Labour decoys and prospective  Cabinet Ministers but, except altogether in a negative manner, they are unthinkable as doing anything in the way of making Socialists. As a matter of fact, the confusion and mental decrepitude engendered by the teachings of the I.L.P. and the S.D.P. have done more to retard the progress of Socialism than all the efforts of the orthodox political parties.
F. J. Webb



Take Up The Sword (1911)

From the August 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard
War ! Well, let it be War,
   While an enemy stands in the way of what we desire!
    Only the strong may aspire
 To life in a land where the sword is the giver of law.
 Then burn! O heart, burn ! with the fire
Of unquenchable hatred and ire,
And tear with a maddened talon and claw
And win or defeated expire.  
Lo, they have taken the earth.
   They have chained us to labour and heaped
                us with sorrow and pain ;
    Have wrung out our blood to their gain.
They have sneered at our anguish and counted
              it due to our birth
      That we pull with the ox in the rain.
     That we share in the flush-time of grain
With the shoat, and starve with the sparrow in dearth —
  All our agonised labour in vain.  
Oh' we have eaten our fill
  Of the husk, and laid down long enough with
        the oxen and swine;
  We have drunk blood and tears for our wine,
And wept out the dregs of our hope in the
                         merciless mill.
   We have paid cruel toll in the mine —
   Where the quick and the dead intertwine;
But now we are turning our backs to the swill,
Our breasts to the red battle line.  
Those who bespoil us and take
   The harvest we tear from the earth and drag up
       from the deep,
   Who, whether we wake or we sleep,
Plunge their beaks in our hearts in a blood-thirst
         no blood-feast can slake.
   They have taught us 'tis folly to weep —
 The Law is to take and to keep
Who have power. Let them hear it who taught it and quake! —
 They have broken the dream of their sheep.
     
 Take up the sword, then, and fight;
       Having joy in the battle and faith in the
                   winning at last;
            For the day of repining is past.
       And the sun of our hope is dispersing the shadows of night.
           Though we win to it slowly or fast,
           The die of our destiny’s cast.
       They have taught us that only the will of the
               mighty is Right —
            Then we will be mighty at last.
A. E. Jacomb