From the June 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard
Anomalous as it may sound, Sentiment and Cruelty are very closely akin, and although we may perhaps give our short-sighted humanitarians credit for a real desire to alleviate the sufferings of the babies of Central Europe we cannot but recognise that their charity in its present form tends only to prolong the sufferings of the wage-workers' children all the world over. The root cause of the problem of starving Europe is the ownership of the means of wealth production by one small section of society. There is no shortage of food actually. Nature has not failed us. But the promoters of the “Save the Children” movement do not understand this.: Their notions are capitalist notions. To them all is well with the world except that five million little Austrians are in danger of a terrible death. But bate they never walked, say for instance, through a Lancashire industrial centre? There they would see children distorted in limbs, stunted in growth, faces and eyes eaten by disease, and covered with grime and dirt Capitalism chains their mothers to toil throughout the long day with the result that the children go neglected. In some places it is the custom for one of the elder children to bring the latest unweaned baby to the factory gates at certain stipulated hours so that the mother may leave her work for a short while to suckle it. Under capitalism the children of the workers are but potential wage-slaves. Their happiness does not count. It is nothing new to us to learn that same children somewhere are being starved to death. In New York, London, Paris, Rome, in fact, everywhere where capitalism exists children are starved and will continue to starve.
Our leading article last month pointed out the failure of capitalism to solve the problem of starvation. There is, therefore, only one method left. That is the Socialist method—the abolition of capitalism. Send all the foodships you may and you but abrogate the misery of but an infinitesimal number of those who suffer. And what is more, the position must worsen as capitalism reaches its final stage of development. The sooner you realise that the sooner will you desire to end it. Does it need those heart-rending photographs we have been seeing lately, of children, emaciated and twisted beyond recognition with rickets, to bring home to you the rottenness and vile inhumanity of the system you tolerate? Do you plead ignorance of the misery and squalor that must confront you every day of your lives? We cannot believe that. All the world knows that Queen Alexandra has got something in her eye or that President Deschanel fell out of the train in his pyjamas. Why, then, does not all the world display an equal interest in the wrongs that little children, and their parents, are subjected to in every part of the globe?
Thus we tell you that we are the only ones that can save the starving children, and we cannot do that without your support. Your charitable ladies of a generation hence will be appealing for starving babies to be fed, just an they are to-day, just as they were a generation ago.
If, therefore, it hurts you to see babies die a terrible death; if it even hurts you to see them live terrible lives, your duty is plain. That is to wipe out the system which is responsible and to establish in its place a system that will mean security of life for the individual from the cradle to the grave.
And if you must contribute to a fund for starving children, that fund and the only really effective fund is the Socialist Party’s £1,000 Fund.
Stanley H. Steele