Sunday, October 29, 2017

Racing For Markets (1952)

From the September 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Behind the thrill and excitement of motor racing, lies yet another example of the means used to satisfy the ever growing necessity to maintain and increase export markets. The constant stream of vehicles pouring out of motor factories must be disposed of, and what better advertisement is there for a firm in pursuance of this purpose than to show prowess on the race track. This year’s Le Mans, the 24-hour race for production cars, ended in a triumph for the German Mercedes-Benz Company, and Mr. Robert Raymond, writing in the Picture Post (28th June) has this to say on the matter:
   "The result of the Le Mans 24-hour race comes, unfortunately, not as a shock, but as a confirmation of an uneasiness many thoughtful people feel about the British attitude to motor racing.
   “One can make out a case for the casual and truly amateur British attitude to most sports, but motor racing is more than a sport, it is a business—a big and serious business.
   “And success or failure in an international race has far-reaching effects on one of our biggest export industries.
  “Remembering this, one cannot shrug off Le Mans . . .  After the B.R.M. fiasco this débâcle has done untold damage to our prestige and exports abroad.”
Mr. Raymond has obviously no illusions as to which aspect of motor racing is the most important. The race track, besides being the scene of first-class driving, is also a battle-ground of commerce, where the friendly rivalry of sportsmen is overcast by the dark shadow of the profit motive, producing rivalry of a very different kind, which often ends in disaster, and sometimes—greatest disaster of all—war.

Behind the careering chariot of Capitalism in its race for markets comes the working class, chained by their ignorance to a system which does not and cannot run in their interests, but is only the cause of their troubles. It is time you broke the chain, took the wheel yourselves, and drove all out for Socialism.

It is up to you.
Ian Jones

An American Troopship (1952)

From the October 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

The S.S. “United States,” by crossing the Atlantic in shorter time than any liner previously, became eligible for the Blue Riband trophy.

At both Le Havre and Southampton there were great celebrations.

The accomplishment of this magnificently constructed ship caused pleasure and a feeling of pride to many people, both in this country and abroad. It is therefore understandable that so much interest has been displayed in the performance of the vessel and in the celebrations that followed.

After hearing for so many years of the marvels produced for the purposes of war, it must have been refreshing news to hear of a feat of modem engineering ship construction that the design and building of the “United States”. undoubtedly represents, being produced for apparently purely civilian purposes.

To those who revel in this artless view it would probably come as an awakening draught to know that the planners designed the liner as a troopship.

An article in the July issue of “Readers’ Digest” gives some interesting though sinister facts about this awesome super-liner of steel and aluminium. The warship designing firm of Gibbs & Cox spent over one million dollars from 1944 to 1948 before plans were finally complete.

Two plans for the ship were developed simultaneously, one for a troopship and one for a passenger liner. Whenever the two conflicted the troopship plan was followed. When the Navy wanted special stairways, air ducts, safety doors, control stations, the Navy got them. In one of the smoking rooms the decorators wanted to put some windows looking out to sea over the stern. The Navy objected on the grounds that it would weaken the structure. The decorators then suggested leather panels but the Navy objected on the grounds that these were not fireproof.

With a beam of 101½ feet the “ United States” can squeeze through the Panama Canal, whereas the “Queen Mary” with a beam of 118 feet, cannot.

Her underwater hull remains a secret. By mistake a photo once slipped into a trade magazine, but the edition was destroyed before it was distributed. She was built in a dry dock, not on conventional launching ways. When the guests arrived for the christening, they found that the water bad already been let into the dock so that the lower hull was covered. Her speed and horsepower are also secret.

Her operation is so efficient that she could go from San Francisco to the coast of Asia, drop 14,000 troops with equipment, and return home without refuelling.

The United States Lines put up $28,000,000, the Government $42,000,000.

Although as a liner the ship will carry 2,000 passengers, the plumbing, kitchens and ventilation are built to accommodate 14,000.

Under a socialist system of society this waste of labour on unproductive war equipment schemes will stop, and with it the mental strain that the preparations for war create.
Frank Offord

The Morecambe Labour Party Conference (1952)

From the November 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Morecambe was for the Labour Party less a ground for common political activity than a battleground of warring factions and rival political ambitions. There were a number of casualties.

Among the “casualties” were Mr. Morrison and Mr. Dalton. Both failed to get re-elected to the Labour Party executive. In the executive voting, that doughty working class warrior Mr. Bevan headed the “lists” to a fanfare of cheers and clapping. Others elected to executive posts were those horny handed sons of toil, Messrs. Driberg, Wilson, Mikardo and Crossman, who rode on the Bevan band-wagon.

The two great rival standard bearers were Bevan and Morrison. Bevan’s contribution was never more than a piece of conference tub thumping; Morrison's never less than the slick performance of the accomplished party hack.

Of Mr. Attlee it could hardly be said that the conference was his finest hour. He preferred the somewhat enigmatic role of a political Nero, content to doodle while Morecambe was alight In contrast to Bevan’s frothy utterances his contribution was as flat as last night’s beer.

A spectacle, now a commonplace at Labour Party conferences, was that of ex-ministers reverently touching their political rosaries and dedicating themselves to “socialist ideals.” Then followed the usual attempt to squeeze the quart of socialist ideals into the pint bottle of capitalism.

There was a demand from delegates for more nationalisation and “socialist” measures. Doubtless Mr. Morrison and other Labour leaders are ruefully realising that it is easier for people to learn political nostrums than to unlearn them. These leaders having misinformed workers in the past that nationalisation was the panacea for their problems, now blandly inform them that these problems cannot be automatically solved by the mere transference of industries from private to public ownership. What, according to Mr. Morrison is most important, is not so much that industries should be nationalised but that “they should be efficient.”

For generations Labourites have been reared on the mother’s milk of old time Fabian planning. Now the milk has turned sour. “Planning for planning’s sake” it seems is merely a pipe dream for political opium smokers.

Mr. Morrison and others have now discovered more “prior and urgent” problems than nationalisation. Problems such as trade balances, exports and the need for increased output in order to meet foreign competition successfully especially the German and Japanese variety. These “urgent and prior problems” were just as urgent and prior for Capitalism when Mr. Morrison and other Labour leaders were merely up and coming politicians.

Nevertheless the fact that Labour politicians have discovered some simple economic facts about Capitalism, has, according to sections of the press, elevated them to the status of statesmen.

From the tone of the speeches of ex-ministers in explaining to delegates these simple facts, one might imagine they were addressing children. Listening to the criticism levelled at them on occasions by delegates, they may have thought that there are times when children should be seen and not heard.

Although conference instructed the executive to compile a further list of industries to be nationalised, Mr. Robertson for the United Textile Factory Workers' Association opposed an amendment asking for the nationalisation of the cotton industry. He urged conference "not to embarrass a Labour Government in that way.”

Although Mr. Bevan himself was in favour of more nationalisation, etc., Bevanite Mr. Mikardo in submitting a resolution asking for the building trade to be nationalised, said, “They might find the industry better suited to competitive public enterprise than nationalisation outright." Mrs. Braddock, M.P., reminded conference that "the person who opposed most strongly the nationalisation of the building industry with his usual bad faith was Mr. Bevan, when he was Minister of Health.”

Mr. Morrison touched a new political low when he attempted to make working class political ignorance the whipping boy of the Labour Government’s failure to fulfil its promises. He said “We have got to change the minds and hearts and souls of men and women so that they think in terms of socialist ethics and the old capitalist outlook that millions have, has passed away.”

This is certainly the devil citing scripture for his own purposes with a vengeance. Mr. Morrison’s own contribution to working class understanding is gravely on the debit side of his political balance sheet. Mr. Morrison’s role in the ranks of the working class has been that of a fifth columnist. By plausibly presenting to workers a planned capitalist—as good as socialism —model, he and others like him have obscured and distorted basic working class issues. The work of teaching Socialism has thus been made infinitely harder.

The shadow-play of political rivalry thrown on the Morecambe screen is not a reflection of any basic differences within the Labour Party. Dr. Bevan with his finger on the pulse of working class discontent prescribes bigger doses of nationalisation, Mr. Morrison not to be outdone retorted that “the Labour Party would never rest until it had nationalised all the means of production, distribution and exchange.”

Mr. Bevan wants a smaller armament programme than that laid down by the last Labour Government, yet it was Mr. Bevan himself who piloted Labour's defence programme through the House of Commons. Then he begged people not to "jeer about the armament programme we are putting under way.” He added, “we shall carry it out; we shall fulfil our obligations to our friends and allies.”

Ironically enough, owing to the difficulties which have arisen over balance of payments since the Tories came in, they have been compelled to cut considerably the yearly expenditure on armaments. The “socialist” Bevan is not opposed to war preparation. He only wants to reduce the cost entailed. Incidentally his proposed peace-time expenditure on armaments involves greater sums of money than those spent in peace time by Tory or Liberal Governments.

Mr. Bevan’s militancy is not, as imagined by his supporters, a realistic step forward for the Labour Party but a retreat to its romantic pioneering past. Then, the Labour Party could indulge in pseudo socialist phraseology, with its promise of “changing things nearer to the heart's desire.” It is this vague working class sentiment that Mr. Bevan seeks to tap.

In the good old days of the Labour Party the “Labour Commonwealth” was a distant goal wrapped in mist and obscurity. Nevertheless Labour was on the march! There may have been differences, even dissidents, within the ranks, but the road was accommodatingly broad. Swings to the “left” or "right” made little difference. They were all bound for the same place.

Now they have arrived and the New Jerusalem is but old Babylon writ large. The Welfare State turns out to be the merest Utility Utopia.

“The New Social Era” has all the old working class problems—poverty, insecurity, low wages, high prices and the threat of war. The outward pressure of capitalism produces within the Labour Party its fissions and rifts.

In order to ease off working class political pressure the Labour Party would like to go further. But they have nowhere to go. Because one basic reason for their existence is their claim that they can go one better than the Tories, they have to simulate the semblance if not the reality of being in the vanguard of social progress. The Tories in turn pose as the great stabilising force of British political life. Their appeal to the working class is consequently pitched in a slightly lower key. Their political strategy merely consists of waiting for the inevitable disappointments that result from a term of Labour Government and then adroitly manipulating them for the purpose of winning the next election.

Bevan is merely a symptom of the failure of Labour Party reformism to make a world fit for ordinary men and women to live in. He is the price Labour leaders pay for their political sins. His role in the Labour Party is the old familiar one of today’s rebel being tomorrow’s leader.

The resentment and frustration felt by the Labour rank and file has placed high cards in his hand. Yet even if he succeeds in winning the game against the old leadership he in turn will become vulnerable.

Little wonder that many Labour Party members are acquiring a nostalgia for the past. Truly, for those who pin their hopes on reformism it is always the case —“That it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”
Ted Wilmott

Radio Commentary (1952)

From the December 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Book by the fire,” Light Programme, 5 p.m. on K Sundays, during the winter months.

In the “Radio Times” this programme is listed as “a series of weekly talks by Alan Melville about recently published books he has enjoyed, with dramatised illustrations acted by . . ." and here follows a list of the various actors and actresses who are contributing to these epic cameos. The companion programme which runs during the summer months is called “Book in the sun.” These talks are not a straightforward review or criticism of the books mentioned in the programme. They are put forward because they have met with the approval of the speaker, and are supposed to send you galloping off down to the Library. In these circumstances they receive a tremendous degree of publicity which it is difficult to reconcile with the much vaunted policy of the B.B.C., “no advertising.” The books are mostly fiction, a few “Whodunits,” some biographies and true stories of exploration and travel.

On Sunday, 2nd November, this programme touched a new low when Alan Melville brought to our notice a collection of short stories about an Italian priest. Some of the tales, he said, had a certain amount of political significance, which he wanted to avoid. He thereupon related the story of the aforesaid priest and an angel which perched on the spire of his village church. We received the impression that Mr. Melville wholeheartedly approved of the significance and sanctity of these symbols in general and this one in particular.

The second book to earn Mr. Melville’s commendation is written by one of those “pukka Sahibs” to whom we owe so much in “our” far flung Empire. He gives unstinted praise to Mr. Grimble, the modest and diffident chap who goes forth to lead the faltering footsteps of one of those “inferior races.” This officer drops clangers, belittles his own efforts, but “makes out ” in the end. Mr. Melville thinks he is a great guy and “where would the British Empire be if it weren’t for him and others like him? ” The programme concludes with a nauseatingly sentimental scene, acted by the players. To the sound of subdued chanting, a very old native woman of the Islands, gives drooling thanks to the British and this particular officer for ending war between the tribes, thus ensuring for her oodles of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Since the British have arrived, she says, peace has prevailed.

This must be one of the exceptions that proves the rule, as Great Britain’s record of imperialism and exploitation will testify.

Our hours of relaxation are few, and Mr. Melville’s somewhat corny literary recommendations singularly unattractive.

It has been truly said that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and the discriminating listener can always resort to the switch. This programme has a certain propaganda value, being a mixture of fact and fiction. Many people unconsciously fail to separate the two when forming their opinions. As the foregoing shows, Mr. Melville is orthodox, mid-Victorian and sentimental. In addition he has an archly humorous method of speaking, a pill which could be digested uncomplainingly if the main dish were a trifle more appetising.

Further to the question of propaganda, it is not possible to assess the influence on the public of books, films and the theatre in formulating their opinions and ideas. The recent drift of the “spy” or “villain” from German to Russian nationality adds up to a gradual conditioning of the people to the idea of war with that nation.
F. M. Robins

The Socialist Labor Party Runs Away (1930)

From the January 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

In previous issues of The Socialist Standard we have challenged the Weekly People of New York to quote any reference Where Marx made the statement quoted by them on Trade Unionism. Many issues of the People have appeared, but we still wait for an answer. The only attempt made by them to refer to our challenge was in the issue of August 10th, where the National Secretary, Arnold Petersen, spends a column and a quarter on abusing us, but fails to meet the challenge.

The statement which they allege Marx to have made was as follows :—
  Only the Trade Union is capable of setting on foot a true political party of labor and thus raise a bulwark against the power of Capital.
For many years the S.L.P. used this “quotation” to justify their advocacy of an industrial union which could take and hold the means of production. They also used it to support their argument that only an economic organisation could “take and hold” and that a political party was doomed to defeat without an economic organisation ready to supply the “might.”

The S.L.P. say that they got the "quotation" from a magazine which is opposed to Marxism—their only "authority” is a reform journal called The New Yorker Volkzeitung, run by the German section of the social democrats of New York. This was a paper which De Leon never tired of denouncing—but in face of our challenge they fall back on that paper as their authority.

To avoid dealing with our challenge The Weekly People talk about something else.

We quoted “Value, Price & Profit,” to show that Marx had no illusions about Unions being the instrument of emancipation. When dealing there with the limitation of hours of work he said:—
  As to the limitation of the working day in England, as in all other countries, it has never been settled, except by legislative interference. Without the working men’s continuous pressure from without, that interference would never have taken place. But, at all events, the result was not to be attained by private settlement between the working men and the Capitalists. This very necessity of general political action affords the proof that in its merely economic action, Capital is the stronger side.
This quotation amply shows his view of the weakness of economic action. But the S.L.P. say that it only refers to action under Capitalism. If, however, the economic action of the workers is unable to win in the smaller battles under Capitalism how much less could economic action "take and hold” the means of wealth production!

Instead of meeting this point, The Weekly People quote the last few lines of ”Value, Price & Profit,” which tell the Trade Unions that they should use their organised forces “as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class—that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system.”

In their article, The People assert that Marx stated that the economic organisation was the lever of emancipation. Nowhere did Marx make such a statement. The Socialist Party does not deny that the Trade Unions can assist in the struggle, but we hold with Marx that political action is the stronger action. We hold with Marx that the FIRST step in the emancipation of the working class “is to win political power.” (See Communist Manifesto.)

The People's quotation from “Value, Price & Profit,” has no reference whatever to the mare's nest discovered by the S.L.P. —that only the economic organisation can set on foot the political party of Labour.
Adolph Kohn

A Labour Party Promise and a Capitalist Admission. (1930)

From the February 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Tom Shaw, speaking at Wandsworth on December 16th, 1929, gave the following interesting pledge on behalf of the Labour Party: —
  We make no apology for saying that the instant we are powerful enough to do it, poverty shall be abolished.
—(“Evening News,” 17th Dec.) 
The “Evening News,” in an editorial, expressed its doubts about the matter :—
  That is not the maundering of a street-corner spell-binder. It is the considered utterance of Mr. Tom Shaw, one of His Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State in the Labour Government and incidentally the man who once complained piteously that he could not produce a remedy for unemployment “ like rabbits out of a hat.”
  We make no apology for saying that though Mr. Shaw and his friends should be returned to Parliament with no opposition at all poverty will not be abolished. We venture to add that the type of mind that could produce such a statement as Mr. Shaw made at Wandsworth last night will never decrease poverty, let alone abolish it.
We are strongly of the opinion that the “Evening News” is right; we also do not think that the Labour Party will succeed in fulfilling Mr. Shaw’s promise. We are quite certain that poverty will not, and cannot, be abolished under Capitalism, although the administration of the system is in the hands of “Labour” men. But what surprises us is the further admission of the "Evening News” that the problem has not been solved in the U.S.A., which the “Evening News” is always telling us to imitate.
  We might begin by reminding Mr. Shaw that the world has never been without poverty and that in the United States to-day, the richest nation in material wealth that the world has ever known, there is plenty of it—not relative poverty merely, but want and destitution.
Next time we are invited to copy American methods, perhaps the “Evening News” will tell us in what way “want and destitution" in the U.S.A. are preferable to “want and destitution” in the United Kingdom."

Socialism and the Economic "Experts" (1930)

From the March 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many people to whom Socialist teachings seem unanswerable and in every way satisfactory, are still reluctant to accept the Socialist case because they cannot believe that Capitalist theories can be unsound and yet be accepted by so many clever men, economists, financial and industrial experts, professors, scientists, and so on. They ask us how we can be so confident that we are right when so many apparently great economists say that we are wrong.

Our answer is two-fold. We claim in the first place that the only final test of a theory is that it should explain the facts and not be out of keeping with the facts. So, for example, we can quite confidently assert that the various theories which try to prove that permanent unemployment is impossible are shown to be wrong by the facts of permanent unemployment. Secondly, we ask you to remember that great reputations can be, to a large extent, created out of very little substance and that universities and such places, being dependent on the financial support of Capitalist Governments, wealthy companies, etc., do not shower honours on and give prominent posts to men whose ideas clash violently with the accepted ideas of Capitalism.

When we come to examine the theories of the learned men with whom we are especially concerned, the economists, we find that there are one or two facts which alone should justify the abandonment of that attitude of worshipping their declarations as If they were above criticism. Firstly, we observe that these "great” men rarely agree among themselves; secondly, their inability to give useful advice in practical problems is notorious; and thirdly, they themselves on occasion admit the unsatisfactory nature of their whole body of doctrines.

We give below two quotations which illustrate these points. The first is taken from a review, published in the New Statesman, of a recent book by Professor Edwin Cannan, who is one of the most famous of living economists. The book is his "Review of Economic Theory.” The reviewer calls Professor Cannan the "Economic Socrates,” and says :—
  Let no one, then, go to this Review of Economic Theory in the hope of discovering in it new truth of a positive sort. It may help readers to new truth, but only indirectly, through the exposure of old error. This, however, it achieves with signal success. Professor Cannan has no difficulty at all in proving his case that economic theory has been throughout its life, and is still, in a state of deplorable confusion, and that not only do the text-books talk a great deal of utter nonsense, but even the classical practitioners of the art or science are in a terribly muddled condition. His handling of Marshall is as devastating as his handling of Mill; and his comments on Marshall's living disciples are mostly to the effect that they have made the confusion worse. This is a real service; for economics stand in real need of an iconoclast, and an economic Socrates may well be the indispensable forerunner of an economic Plato. (The New Statesman, Oct. 19, 1929.)
Our next quotation is taken from "The Founders of Political Economy,” by Jan St. Lewinski, D.Ec.Sc., Professor of Political Economy in the University of Lublin, Poland. The book was published in 1922 by P. S. King & Son, Ltd. :—
   The Great War has clearly shown of what little use all our economic knowledge has been where most simple theoretical problems had to be solved. When, for instance, the question if after the war the rate of interest will be high or low became acute, writers began to discuss what capital really is, and each gave a different definition and different solutions of the problem. In Germany economic writers of high standing, as, for instance, the Vice-Chancellor and former Professor of Political Economy at the University of Berlin, Helfferich claimed that Germany can wage war indefinitely because “money remains in the country." They imagined that money expended in financing military operations would return in form of war loans, and that this circle could last for centuries. Almost all economists in Germany believed in the truth of this absurd doctrine, and only the University of Breslau, which was a little doubtful about it, organised an inquiry on the subject.
  All the rich economic literature which had been accumulating for more than a century could not afford a solution of a problem which really belongs to the A B C of our science. Could anything illustrate better the deplorable state of political economy? (Page 167.)
The next time somebody tells you that Socialist theory must be unsound because this or the other professor of economics says so, you may reject that the views of these gentlemen on the subject of Socialism would carry more weight if they had first succeeded in reducing to order the chaotic jumble of theories which make up their own department of study.
Edgar Hardcastle

Socialism and Psychology: An Open Letter to a Critic. (1930)

From the April 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear X,

You ask me what I am doing for the community, and whether I have not underestimated the important differences of type or character in human beings which you consider such a formidable obstacle to the establishment of Socialism. I will try and answer your questions.

In the first place, let me direct your attention to the fact that the “community,” for which you expect me to do something, is sharply divided into two distinct classes, one of which owns the means of living of the other. Do not take my word for this! Professor Clay (I know you are impressed by Professors), a most respectable person, told us, on February 19th, 1925, in the sober columns of the Manchester Guardian, that less than 6 per cent. of the population held four-fifths of the national capital and received nearly half the national income. Just think that over carefully and you will cease to wonder that the majority of people are poor, no matter how hard they toil.

No psychologist has ever yet discovered how to live upon fresh air! He or she always wants food in his or her tummy, clothes to prevent arrest, if nothing else, and a "home” ! And to-day, the means whereby food, clothing and shelter are produced are owned in the main by considerably less than a tenth of the population.

The vast mass of the community feed and breed only by permission of the tiny section which owns the resources (land, factories, machinery, etc.), without which feeding and breeding are impossible to-day; and the conditions upon which this permission is granted are that the propertyless ones shall toil for the profit of those who own and control the means of existence.

The members of the class to which you and I belong surrender the product of their toil to their kind employers, who graciously return to them a sum of money capable of buying back goods to the value of only a fraction of their product. The masterclass (mostly composed of inactive shareholders) are enabled to live in luxury and also amass fresh capital to make still more profit.

This has not always been so. In the Middle Ages the class which attempted to live by trade and money-lending was despised and persecuted by the feudal lords and their vassal land-holders, and condemned by the Church. One day, when you have nothing better to do, you might ask your psychological tutor to explain the curious volte-face on the part of the reformed Church towards the taking of interest. As he believes that the human mind is an independent entity, which develops regardless of material conditions and social environment, I can readily imagine some entertaining mental contortions on his part. To maintain any degree of consistency he will have to maintain that—the Church received a sudden revelation from those "forces” which are hidden so mysteriously somewhere "behind the universe” ! But the above is only one of the many changes in social life and in men's corresponding ideas and customs.

Go far back in history and you will come to a time when neither money nor territory nor chattels but kinship formed the root condition of social organisation, and it is from this misty past that the creatures of religious fancy take their rise.

In those days a few crude tools and weapons were men's only equipment against nature (animal, vegetable and mineral), yet even these represented ages of experiment. Ideas of practical utility were hard to come by and slow in growth, and so, men's wishes outstripped their acts and built up an imaginary world transcending ordinary human limitations wherein men's shades became transfigured into gods. It is from this primitive ignorance of men that the concept of a "soul” (or psyche) was derived. The individual was credited with possessing an immortal shadow or second self, which controlled his body as a man operates any other inert object. “Mind” was held to dominate “matter,” and the “modern” psychologist, who clings tenaciously to this superstition does but proclaim how little, in this respect, he has progressed beyond the savage.

The materialistic Socialist, however, reviewing human history perceives how overwhelming has been the effect of economic development upon the habits of mankind and how, in practice, Christians and other metaphysicians have flown in the face of their avowed doctrines in the pursuit of their material interests.

The ruling classes throughout history have imposed systems of discipline and so-called education upon their subjects which would be meaningless if man’s “soul” controlled man’s behaviour. Is the “immortal” susceptible to training and the environment of the school? But let us return to our boiled beef and carrots!

The class to which you and I belong consists of individuals whose characters are as varied as their physical make-ups. In this respect it does not differ from the master-class nor, indeed, from any class that has ever existed. From this fact it is clear that social position does not rest upon individual character. A man is either a worker or a capitalist, not because he has a peculiar temperament or disposition, but because his environment and history have so determined. To explain the difference between him and others we can only refer to this same environmental history. Try how we will we cannot discover any mysterious entity which decides that certain individuals shall dig coal for a living while others clip coupons. In short, the illusion that “character is destiny” sums up the stupid conceit of the master-class, who childishly fancy that ”God” or “Fate” has blessed them with “superior natures.” They mistake the effect for the cause, and imagine that their privileged position is due to their “culture,” instead of realising that their "culture ” is the fruit of their privileged position in society.

Socialists aim at the foundation of a system based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means of living. In such a society individuals will continue to vary, but it is in the common necessities of all that social life is rooted. Capitalist society has long since ceased to be consistent with the satisfactory distribution of these necessities. Hence the turmoil of modern social life. The "superior persons” of the master-class will, no doubt, resist the change as long as possible; but every ruling class in history has bitten the dust in due course when economic development has dug its grave. Psychological trickery may delay, it cannot prevent, the slow but sure awakening of the working-class, the class whose mission is to give to capitalism a conclusive exit to the land of shades.
Eric Boden

A Commentary on the Communist Manifesto (1930)

Book Review from the May 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels with an introduction and notes by D. Ryazanoff, Director of the Marx-Engels Institute, Moscow. Published by Martin Lawrence, Bedford Row, London, W.C., 15/-. (Special cheap edition, 6/-, obtainable through this office)

This work is the summary of lectures given in Russia by the head of the Marx-Engels Institute during 1921 and 1922. The book takes the form of a re-translation of the Communist Manifesto into English by Eden and Cedar Paul, and a series of historical and other notes commenting on the persons, events and policies dealt with in the manifesto itself. It includes a chronology of events in the “working class” movements from 1516-1871. The draft of a proposed manifesto for the Communist League by Frederick Engels, and also the Rules and Constitution of the League are reprinted in the book.

Two very interesting articles by Engels on the Communist League and the Revolutionary Movements of 1847, are given for the first time in English. There is also a reprint of a trial number of the Communist Journal of September, 1847, which was to be the London organ of the Workers' Educational Society, a body with whom Marx and Engels were associated.

The New Translation of the Manifesto.
Eden and Cedar Paul’s translation of the Communist manifesto is certainly no improvement on the authorised edition published in England by Reeves, translated by Samuel Moore, and revised by Engels. The language used by the new translators is not as simple and clear as the old. One or two examples will illustrate the curious efforts of the translators to use new and strange words in place of the easier and more popular English of the old translation. The new translation refers to the bourgeoisie and proletariat as “two great and directly contraposed classes,” whereas in the Reeves’ edition we have ”two great classes directly facing each other.” In place of ”political sway” in the Reeves’ edition, Eden and Cedar Paul put “political hegemony.” In the old translation the manifesto refers to the “scattered state of the population,” etc., but the new translation prefers to use such a difficult, ugly word as “fractionisation. ” Where the Reeves’ edition talks of "the abolition of existing property relations," the Pauls say, “pre-existent property relations." In another paragraph we get the formal lawyer-like language, “pre-existent private proprietary securities” to replace “previous securities for, and insurances of individual property.” Where the old translation refers to the wage-labourer, the new one adopts the harder phrase, “the proletarianised worker.” Many similar instances could be quoted to show that the translators have forgotten that this great historic manifesto was written for the working class and that the language should be as simple as possible. In one place where Marx refers to Communism abolishing the bourgeois family, the new translation makes Communism abolish the family!

Ryazanoff, however, is not responsible for the translation. In the Russian edition of his work he used Plechanoff’s translation of the manifesto.

The Commentary on the Manifesto.
The lengthy notes to illustrate and explain characters and events will be very useful for the student. Marx’s “Capital,” and also his “Poverty of Philosophy,” are drawn upon for quotations to help the reader. Engels' “Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844,” is much quoted by Ryazanoff to furnish the historical background of the manifesto in England.

The author of this work states that it is not the commentary on the manifesto that is really needed, but time has not permitted a more suitable work. His view as to what a commentary should be is quite correct and he hopes to be able to write a fuller work in the future. What the student needs is a history of the previous “Communist ” and allied movements and a history of the Early “Socialist ” theories, together with a study of the class struggles prevailing.

The manifesto is a historical work and can be best understood with a knowledge of the social and historical conditions that led up to it. The notes given by Ryazanoff will be useful as an outline.

There are many extracts from little known writings of Marx and Engels now translated for the first time in this book. Some of them on Christianity, Law, etc., will be reproduced in the Socialist Standard as space permits. The famous quotation containing Marx’s phrase, “Religion is the opium of the people,” is given from Marx’s Criticism of Hegel's' “ Philosophy of Rights.”

Proletarian Democracy!
The author comments on the well-known attitude of Marx in the manifesto that the workers must first of all win political supremacy—become the ruling class by winning the battle of democracy. Ryazanoff says this must be understood as “proletarian democracy,” but gives no evidence that Marx, meant anything different from what he said—“democracy.” Winning the battle of democracy in modern times means winning the majority of the population— which is the working class. Marx pointed out at the time in his article on Chartism (quoted in the March Socialist Standard), that the majority of voters in England under manhood suffrage would constitute the mass of the workers who could become politically supreme if they used their votes to do so.

If the workers are to win the battle of democracy and become supreme, then it is obvious that where the working class are the majority of the nation they become supreme by using existing democracy and not waiting till a new society is already established. The statement of the author that “democracy” here means “proletarian democracy” makes nonsense of Marx’s phrase, because the workers have to rise to power before they could (if they wished) disfranchise the capitalists.

Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Ryazanoff says that though the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” is not used in the Communist manifesto the basis of it is there. He says the phrase was coined after the 1848 revolution in Paris. But he forgets that in none of the many prefaces to the manifesto which Marx and Engels wrote in later years did they use the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat.” In two writings where it was used it was simply used to mean the rule of the working class in a society not ready for Socialism. In a private letter criticising the “free people’s State” Marx once used it and also in the early ’fifties in magazine articles on “Class Struggles in France.” The latter were not published in book form till 1895, long after Marx’s death. And it was in that work where Marx, dealing with the large peasantry and the small working class in France, said that if the workers got power there would be a “dictatorship of the proletariat."

"The Class Struggles in France” is a review of events from 1848-1850, and the views set out there depend upon the conditions of the time. Engels, in his long introduction, shows that minority action and the violent methods, advocated at the time Marx wrote the work, had been proved wrong by history, and that social changes had transformed completely the conditions under which the workers had to struggle. Engels advocates political action and also tells us that a democratic republic affords the best conditions for political success. He did not repeat the advice about dictatorship given by Marx nearly 50 years before. In none of the published works of Marx and Engels did they lay down dictatorship as the object of a working class party. As Engels says (“Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”), the working class seizes the power of the State and at once converts the means of production into social property. Whether we examine the Communist League, the International Working Men’s Association or any other body Marx was identified with; their object was always defined as the capture of political power by the working class.

Long after the Paris Commune of 1871 was over Engels wrote in the preface to Marx’s “Civil War in France (1871),” that in the Paris Commune, with its universal suffrage and democracy, you could see what the dictatorship of the proletariat was like.

Finally, we suggest to the head of the Marx-Engels Institute that the "smash the State" theory which he associates with Marx and Engels has no foundation in the philosophy of Marx and Engels. The most widely read book of Engels, written with the co-operation of Marx against Duhring (“Socialism: Utopian and Scientific"), says:

"The first action undertaken by the State as genuinely representative of society at large, the seizure of the means of production in the name of society at large, is simultaneously its last independent action as a State.” And he goes on to say, “The State is not 'abolished,’ it dies but.” (Ryazanoff translation).

Apart from the matters to which we have drawn attention, the book well deserves reading and will prove worthy of any worker’s, time.

One of its chief drawbacks is that it does not generally deal with the usefulness or otherwise, to-day, of the various measures or policies advocated in the manifesto.

The book is published at 15/-, but working class bodies can have a special edition at 6/-. It really should be published in cheap covers at about 2/-, so that most workers could get it.
Adolph Kohn

Minds and Muddle (1930)

From the June 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard
It is painfully obvious that workers can only be employed by those who purchase the goods they produce; yet so persistently has the word “employer” been wrongly used, that it is difficult to disabuse people's minds of the muddled idea that workers’ wages are paid by those who own the means of production. . . .  If everybody realised clearly that there is no such thing as an “employing class,” that everyone who uses or consumes any product (that is, every man, woman, and child in the country) is an employer, there would be a perfect revolution of thought on the question of wages, taxation and other vital problems.
So wrote Miss Minnie Pallister in an article entitled “Muddled Minds" in The New Leader (9/5/1930).

If there is no such thing as an employing class, what do we mean when we speak of employers and employees? Most people, whether socialists or not, will agree that there is one class in modern society that employs workers and pays them wages. If we are not to use terms inaccurately, by what name must we designate this class?

We distinguish the capitalist system from previous forms of society by the fact that it is made up of a capitalist, or employing class, and a class of wage workers. This division is self-evident, and easily the most important characteristic of this form of society.

The employing class own the means of production. They pay wages. They own the wealth that is produced by the workers. That wealth is in the form of commodities, which must be sold before its owners can realise the value contained in them over and above the wages paid for their production. These are the essential facts of capitalism as revealed to us in our daily efforts to obtain a living. Miss Pallister denies the obvious.

It has been the fashion for years with supporters of capitalism to refer to the savings, and even the tools of working-men, as capital. Now we have it from a member of the I.L.P., that every child sucking milk from a feeding bottle, or kicking out its shoes at play is an employer of labour.

If there is not a separate employing class that pays wages, there is no case for Socialism. Capitalism, with its opposing classes of employers and wage-workers, simply does not exist.
F. Foan