Friday, August 10, 2018

Here and Now: Gone—But Not Forgotten (1942)

The Here and Now Column from the August 1942 issue of the Socialist Standard

Gone—But Not Forgotten
At the Labour Party Conference Mr. James Walker, M.P., replying for the Executive to the resolution urging the removal of the ban on the Daily Worker, said : —
  When our lads were standing on the beaches of Dunkirk, when they were wounded and bleeding on those beaches, had lost their equipment, and we called for the people of this country to rescue them, out came the ”Daily Worker” denouncing the war and telling the people that their sons and brothers were fighting a capitalists' war in the interests of the plutocracy of Britain.
 When Holland was being bombed and over-run by the Germans that paper was saying that Britain had spread the war to Holland. The “Daily Worker” has changed its attitude more than once since the war started, and how do we know if things change in the East they will not do the same thing again? (“Daily Telegraph," May 29th, 1942.)
Whatever future might be in store for the Communist Party of Great Britain, there is no doubt that it will never be allowed to forget its brazen, calculated and cynical changes of policy in relation to the present war. It is a curious thought that the inability of the Communist Party to get permission to republish the Daily Worker might in some way indicate the measure of respect held for British Communists by their Russian masters. British capitalism, in view of its debt to the Russian Government, would hardly ignore a hint from that quarter that the Daily Worker should be republished.

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Everything Will Be All Right
Everything is going to be quite all right—when this war is over. Everyone says so—except that very forthright defender of capitalist privileges, Sir Ernest Benn, and the Socialist. This is what Mr. J. C. Winant says about it:—
   Anti-Fascism is not a short-term, military job. Fascism was bred in poverty and unemployment. To crush Fascism at its roots we must crush depression democracy. We must solemnly resolve that in our future order we will not tolerate the economic evils which breed poverty and war. This is not something that we shelve “for the duration.” It is part of the war.
  We know there was something fundamentally wrong in the pre-war days when, on one side, workers were standing idle, and, on the other side, people were underfed, badly housed, short of clothes, and children were stinted on education and deprived of their heritage of good health and happiness
  What we want is not complicated. We have enough technical knowledge and organising ability to respond to this awakening of social conscience. We have enough courage. We must put it to use.
(“Daily Telegraph,” June 7th, 1942.) 
Let us prompt a line of thought for the American. Ambassador. Let us not dispute those qualities of “social conscience” and "courage” to which his Excellency draws attention. We put to him or any who think like him the question: How are the evils of capitalism to be abolished without abolishing capitalism, i.e., the private ownership of the means and instruments of production? Mr. Winant cannot answer that question. The evils of capitalism are bound up with private ownership and production for profit. Production of things for sale, the scramble for markets, unemployment, glut, a state of things where capitalists hope for the Colorado beetle to destroy crops because the markets are already full of goods which cannot be sold—these will be at least as intense problems after this war as at any time during the history of capitalism. It would be a safe bet to say that they will be more intensified. Whilst the workers are now asked to increase production to defeat Nazi capitalism, the situation is likely to arise, when that object is achieved, where they will be asked (as after the la«t war) to increase production and to accept lower wages in order to defeat the foreign competitors of British capitalists. And ponder, too, fellow worker, that among these competitors are to-day the allies of the British capitalists! Miners are likely to remember the stories that were told after the last war of the low wages paid to Polish miners which were used as an excuse by the British mineowners to press the British miner to accept lower wages. It will not—and cannot—be essentially different after the present war. If pious wishes would change it, if to will that workers should not suffer the evils of capitalism had any effect, then the workers’ social problems would have disappeared long ago. As it is, the efforts of hard-headed and well informed reformers from Shaftesbury to Rowntree and Booth, as well as the modern political reformist movements, have demonstrated that there can be only one solution for working class problems, the dispossession of the private owners and the institution of Socialism by the working class itself.

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A Noble Lord on Democracy
News Review (June 18th, 1942) reports the following interview with the Marquess of Londonderry: —
  Facing his room in Park Lane’s Dorchester Hotel, the one-time pillar of the Anglo-German Fellowship talked like an old hand trained in the Vansittart school about the German instinct for domination, fertilised cunningly by Adolf Hitler. His only quarrel with Lord Vansittart is that, since he knew all along what the Germans were up to, he did not do more about it.
  "I firmly believe in the British Empire," said wealthy Lord Londonderry. There is only one Herrenvolk, in spite of Germany’s claims. We are the Herrenvolk. "The Almighty put us outside Europe so that we could rule better.”
  After the war, thinks Lord Londonderry, the world will be ruled by great influences—Britain, America, Russia, and the greatest of these is Britain. As for Lord Selborne’s idea of an Imperial Parliament, it appeals but little to him. It is "Democracy run wild. We have done enough of asking people what they want—we know what is best for them, and must tell them."
   Said he: "There is nothing totalitarian about this; it is just a case of guiding others on the lines of our convictions. It is real Democracy."
   Of course we must do away with slums and glaring inequalities, but that does not mean scrapping the system altogether. For expressing such views, continued his lordship, some of his friends had called him a Socialist.
  "The real Fascists or Nazis in this country are the T.U.C.,” added he surprisingly. "They want everything regimented.” All these thoughts the Marquess has put into a new book, which only awaits official approval and censorship before it is published.
A very nicely expressed attitude of ruling class mentality. News Review might have asked this erstwhile friend of the German Nazi leaders how he would describe the latter if the “T.U.C. are the true Nazis.”

As for the race superiority nonsense, “The Almighty put us outside Europe so that we could rule better,” we offer no prizes to the reader who guesses who is the famous person who says no more than this concerning the “inside” of Europe.

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Equality Under the American Constitution
After the noble lord on race and democracy it is depressing to read an account of racial prejudice and ignorance among workers, who should, and usually do, show better intelligence than their masters.
  Because 350 men protested against the arrival of negro employees, the Chrysler Corporation’s Dodge army-truck factory at Detroit shut down the plant for the day and sent all their 3.000 workers home.
   "Report hack to-morrow,” they were told.
   The men were told by their trade union leaders (says Reuter) that "they will have to accept the negroes. The union’s policy calls for equal treatment of negroes, and so does the American Constitution.”
("Evening Standard,” June 7th. 1942.)
Harry Waite

1 comment:

imposs1904 said...

Waite and the SPGB - alongside many others - were wrong about Post-War Britain. They expected a variation of what happened post-WW1.