Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sting in the Tail: Death Ships (1993)

The Sting in the Tail column from the April 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard

Death Ships
When the oil tanker Braer sank off Shetlands in January it was a media event. It was great TV. Storm-struck shores, dying sea birds and earnest local politicians looking grim and concerned.

What is not generally realized is that it was not an isolated episode.
   In the past three years alone, 38 vast hulk carriers, have either sunk without trace or suffered severe structural damage. Around 40 oil tankers . . . have also been lost during the same period. (Observer, 14 February).
In a Panorama programme Scandal at Sea (BBC1, 15 February) it was reported that in the last three years 300 seamen had lost their lives in “accidents" in bulk carriers. As one bitter seaman said “people are concerned about the plight of birds but little is done about dead seaman”.

It's just another example of the callousness of capitalism. What are the lives of workers worth compared to the insatiable drive for profit?


Menace of the Mob
The killing of James Bulger was a dreadful event but so was the behaviour of some of the crowd outside Bootle magistrates' court. This lynch-mob mentality has shown itself on many similar occasions. Indeed, the mob wanted the blood of an innocent 12-year-old boy who was wrongly detained by the investigating police.

Are these people so blind that they have never noticed how often the police hold suspects during murder enquiries only to later release them? After the murder of the young woman on Wimbledon Common last year the police held several unfortunate men w ho had nothing to do with the killing.

All this plus the numerous examples of people being “fitted-up" for crimes they did not commit should be warning enough for anyone that an arrest is proof neither of guilt nor of police infallibility.


Services Rendered
Two men got a pay-off in February for services rendered. One was a Glasgow man who had worked for 47 years at Albion, part of Leyland-DAF. He never had a day off sick but his severance pay was £6,150 (£135 per year), the very minimum he could get. To add insult to injury the company thanked him for his “exemplary conduct and faultless timekeeping” (Daily Record, 18 February).

The other man got £5.2 million. He was Thomas Ward, an American lawyer, and the money was his “success fee” for the part he played in helping Guinness take over Distillers in 1986.

One man spends a lifetime creating real wealth and is sent packing with a pittance while another is paid 845 times as much for a spot of legalistic ducking and diving. There could hardly be a more accurate measure of capitalism's values than this.


Market Madness
Like every other car-maker, Mercedes of Germany have problems. Because of falling sales and profits the company wants to cut production from 600,000 cars to 505,000 in 1993.

This has meant the introduction of short-time working plus plans to cut 15,000 jobs. Problems solved? Not one bit because Mercedes workers are so worried by all this that they are refusing to go sick and are, as a company official put it, “working like madmen”. i he result is that output has increased so there will have to be even more short-time working!

In socialism cars will be produced for use instead of for sale, so the madness of the market won't come into it. Enough cars will be produced to satisfy society's requirements and the people who make them can then do other things and not be reduced to “working like madmen".


Advice to a Prof
Professor Alan Walters, Mrs Thatcher's former economic adviser, has accused John Major of lacking “any firm set of ideas” and of not having “understood markets at all" (A Brief History Of Our Time, C4, 14 Feb).

Who does, prof, who does? For example, did all those stock market dealers and analysts understand their market was about to collapse before Black Monday in October 1987?

And it’s easy for the prof to lecture politicians, but they, unlike him, have to take political as well as economic considerations into account and all too often the two simply don't mix. Just look at all those ideologues, left and right, who came into office armed with a “firm set of ideas” and then had to throw the lot overboard!

The prof should stick to his ivory tower and give heartfelt thanks that he doesn't have to wrestle with capitalism in all its bewildering complexity.


A Familiar Tale
Fveryone knows how the recession has hit people in the inner cities, the black community, the big council ghettoes and even business executives, but how has it affected Britain's Jewish population?

An article in the Jewish Chronicle on 29 January makes clear that Jews are faring no better than any other group, with 10 percent unemployed, people forced to give up their homes, many appealing to charities for help, money problems causing marital breakdown, and school leavers unable to get jobs.

And this applies especially to those who come from the leafy suburbs of London and other major cities, people who had thought themselves immune to hardship:
   In 1993, the stereotype of the community, successful, wealthy and middle-class is far removed from the reality.
The common idea that all Jews are rich always was nonsense, but many who were at least “comfortable” are no longer even that.

Marx in his Time (1973)

From the September 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard

Marxism is not a dogma, not a record of the sayings and doings of Karl Marx to be carefully preserved and uncritically applied whatever the circumstances. Marxism is a method of assessing what, at any particular time, is in the best interest of the working class and should be done to hasten the establishment of Socialism.

Marx was born in 1818 and died in 1883. He became a Socialist around the end of 1843 so his period of socialist political activity covered nearly forty years between 1843 and 1883. Inevitably, and in accordance with his own theories, Marx’s political activity to further the cause of Socialism was shaped by the conditions of this time. Let us recall what those conditions were.

Capitalism was then a comparative new social system, still in its phase of expansion. By today’s standards its technology, though immensely productive compared with what went before, was backward being based on coal and iron. The electric motor and the diesel engine were unknown; transport was by steam locomotive or horse-drawn carriage; houses and streets were lit by gas; many — no, most — workers were still employed in small workshops not the large factories we know today.

On the political side too capitalism was still in its growth stage. Capitalist political forms — parliamentary control, a wide suffrage, a professional civil service — only existed in a few countries, and then incompletely. Most of Europe was governed by openly anti-democratic regimes under hereditary rulers supported by a landed aristocracy. The three most powerful of these — Tsarist Russia, Hapsburg Austria and the Kingdom of Prussia — constituted a permanent threat to capitalist political forms wherever they had begun to be established.

Marx, in short, was politically active in an age when capitalism had yet to become the dominant world system, economically or politically. This decisively shaped his political tactics. Since he believed that capitalism paved the way for Socialism and that it still had part of this work to do, he advocated that, in this circumstance, socialists ought to work not only for Socialism but also for the progress of capitalism at the expense of reactionary political and social forms. This involved Marx in supporting campaigns to establish political democracy or which he felt would have the effect of stabilizing or protecting it. So we find him supporting independence for Ireland in order to weaken the power of the English landed aristocracy, who were an obstacle to the development of political democracy in Britain, and Polish independence in order to set up a buffer state between Tsarist Russia and the rest of Europe so as to give political democracy a chance to develop there.

Marx in fact was very anti-Tsarist Russia, so much so that it led him to support the British-French side in the Crimean war (a clear error of judgement in our view) and to be lukewarm about Slav movements for independence from Austria or Turkey (which at least shows that Marx never supported independence movements because he believed in some mythical abstract “right to self-determination for small nations”). Marx supported the establishment of centralized States in Germany and Italy as he felt this would allow a more rapid capitalist development in these countries; and he supported the North in the American Civil War since he felt that a victory for the slave-owning South would slow down the development of capitalism in America.

These policies made certain sense at a time when capitalism had not yet fully created the material basis for Socialism as a means of hastening this. But once capitalism had done this, as it did within thirty years of Marx’s death, then they became, in accordance with Marx’s own theory, outdated and reactionary. The thirty years following Marx’s death saw the electrification of industry, the invention of the internal combustion engine, the coming of radio and other technological developments which clearly showed that the problem of production had been solved, that scarcity had finally been conquered and that mankind could at last begin to enjoy the benefits of the forced labour of past generations of toiling producers — provided they abolished capitalism and established Socialism. Then in 1914 came the aptly-named first world war which marked the emergence of capitalism as the unchallenged and predominating world system and ended in the break-up of the three reactionary Empires Marx had seen as threats to democratic and socialist advance in his time.

In these changed circumstances, an application of the Marxist method showed that Socialists need no longer help capitalism prepare the way for Socialism — it had now done this and so became a completely reactionary social system — but should rather concentrate exclusively on encouraging the growth of socialist consciousness and organization amongst the working class. This has been the policy of the Socialist Party of Great Britain since our formation in 1904 and why we have always refused to be sidetracked into advocating or supporting democratic or social reforms or movements to set up new States or to take sides in wars.

There is one other problem that concerned Marx which the further development of capitalism since his day has solved: the transition to Socialism. Living in the age he did when, as we saw, capitalism had not yet fully created the material basis for Socialism, Marx stated, when pressed on the question, that had the working class won political power at that time (which we can now see was most unlikely in view of its political immaturity, indeed in view of the fact that many of them still worked in petty industry) there would have had to be a longish period during which, first, control of the not yet fully socialized means of production would be centralized in the hands of society and then, this done, the means of production would be rapidly developed towards the stage at which they could provide plenty for all. In the meantime, even on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, consumption would have to be restricted (Marx mentioned labour-time vouchers as a possible way of doing this). Free access according to individual needs could not be implemented till the means of production had been further developed. Marx did not mention how long he felt this might take but, judging by the subsequent technological advance under capitalism it could have been up to thirty years.

Once again this perspective made some sense in Marx’s day, but not now. Today “transition periods”, “revolutionary dictatorships”, “labour-time vouchers”, “first phases of socialism” are irrelevant, nineteenth-century concepts. Full free access to goods and services can be introduced almost immediately after Socialism has been established, and Socialism can be established almost immediately after the socialist-minded working class wins political power. This is what Marxism implies today and why we in the Socialist Party of Great Britain feel fully justified in claiming to be the Marxists of the twentieth century .
Adam Buick

Middle East Diary (1956)

From the March 1956 issue of the Socialist Standard

Tory Nationalisation
Nationalisation—that is the state control and regulation of industry on behalf of the Capitalist owners—has, as our pamphlet “Nationalisation Or Socialism” shows, been advocated or put into practice by most political parties. Of recent years, it has become the almost exclusive prerogative of Labour and Communist parties. (Since the recent election defeats, however, the British Labour Party have soft pedaled it, as it is not the vote-catcher it used to be, some workers presumably realising that nationalisation doesn’t solve their problems). So that when one hears of a Conservative Party putting forward such measures, one feels the wheel has swung full circle!

One of the most recent and rather curious examples to appear on the nationalisation scene, is the Israeli General Zionist (Conservative) Party. They want to nationalise the various Israeli water-schemes, the Health Service and the Labour Exchanges.

Strangely enough the Mapai (Labour) Party, who have been in power since 1948 are bitterly opposed. Through their domination of the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut (roughly analagous to the T.U.C. but also owning and controlling the major part of Israel’s industry) the Mapai control most of Israel’s economy and are extremely loth to give up their political plums!

The General Zionists, on the other hand, want nationalisation measures to break the Mapai Party’s hold on the state machine, all of which we can well understand, sectional struggles amongst the Capitalist class being a regular feature of Capitalism. The tragedy is that Israeli workers take sides in this struggle between these parties, (both of whom are only interested in perpetuating Capitalism) instead of organising for Socialism.


Two Classes in Israeli Society
In March of last year the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review (25.3.55) informed its readers that
   “Israel has become divided into two nations . . .  an upper crust and a lower layer. The privileged crust is composed of a variety of substantial and mixed elements who enjoy a privileged position in the country. They are made up by the plutocracy of some three hundred families, by the Government ‘aristocracy’ which includes a wide range of officialdom, the Histadrutocracy with its manifold operations, the business pressure groups entrenched in the upper reaches of the General Zionists, the old Kibbutzim, such workers' organisations as the Dan and Egged Bus Co-operatives, the upper reaches of such institutions as the Jewish Agency and of the main political parties—Mapai, the General Zionists . . . ”
   “The four per cent.: These are the people in the swim. They can get things—flats, cars, trips abroad, the comforts and conveniences of life, or the profits of business, or the positions of power, according to the category to which they belong. . . .
  “Newcomers since 1948 comprise 60 per cent. of the population and occupy one per cent. of all Government posts and virtually none in the high grades.’'
The article goes on to point out that the personal consumption budgets of the above mentioned 300 families is “around £50,000 per year per family at a time when the income of the highest official is less than a tenth of this amount.”

All of which was pointed out by the Socialist Party of Great Britain years ago and only goes to prove our contention, that national struggles—whether of the Zionist (Jewish Home) category or otherwise, are not in the interest of the working-class.


"Socialist” Egypt
On Monday, the 16th of January, Mr. Nasser, the Egyptian Premier, announced Egypt’s new constitution. The constitution, according to Nasser, provides for the establishment of a “Socialist democratic system of government," (Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, 20.1.56. All quotations in this article are from the above dated journal).

With this announcement we see yet another ruling group ushering in Capitalism under the name of Socialism.

The idea of introducing Socialism in Egypt is even more ludicrous than the idea was in Russia in 1917. For (apart from the fact that Socialism must be world-wide) Egypt, like Russia in 1917, is still largely feudal in character, with an agrarian economy—very little industry and an illiterate peasantry and a landowning class, but not the vast resources, mineral and other, that Russia had. This is certainly not the sort of soil in which one would expect to sow successfully the seeds of Socialism—let alone establish it.

Nasser and his Liberation Rally have their historical counterparts in Cromwell and the Roundheads, and of course the Moslem Brotherhood (which supports them) is not unlike the Puritanical sects that backed up Cromwell initially. In his speech. Nasser said that “Capitalism shall not be allowed to control the Government” but one can take that with a pinch of salt, for Nasser and his confederates, like Cromwell and his gang before them, arc acting as the handmaiden of Egyptian Capitalism.

The legislation (decreed by them) on land reform to limit the power of the Landlords; the dethroning of Farouk and declaration of Egypt as a Republic; have all been part of the process. The announcement of this constitution and the ideas contained within it are a continuation of that ineluctible process which is establishing Capitalism in Egypt. The constitution in line with Capitalist ideology declares the “sanctity of private property,” but “limits land ownership . . . ” “Private economic activity,” that is the right to rob (exploit) wage labour, “is free from state interference providing it does not prejudice public interests, endanger the people’s security or infringe upon their freedom and dignity.” All of which must give any Socialist a big laugh, for who can imagine a wage slavery-capital set-up where the wage slaves are free and dignified. Obviously it is a contradiction in terms; people who have to prostitute their mental and physical capabilities in order to get a wage or salary so that they can live, are not free, except to starve. They are dependent on the Capitalist, and those who are dependent in that sense are certainly not dignified.

The constitution apparently has many of the Labour, Communist, nostrums, such as equality of opportunity (whatever that may be), abolition of social distinctions and social justice, none of which mean anything to a worker under Capitalism. Also provided for are social insurance, public health services and free compulsory education, the last measure of course, being a truly Capitalist “must,” for how can one have an efficient Capitalist State without a literate working-class?
Jon Keys

The Pilgrims to Peking (1974)

From the October 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the nastiest aspects of the fake-socialist revolution perpetrated against the Russian workers and peasants was the slimy stream of western intellectuals who, in the '20s and ’30s, made their pilgrimages to Russia (almost always paid for, on VIP level of course, by the Bolshevik government out of the surplus-value wrung from the Russian masses who were literally starving in those days.) The pilgrims returned to the west to tell (and sell) their stories of Russian “socialism” from the comfort of their western-capitalist armchairs. Such execrable names as the Webbs (who wrote a great monstrous book in praise of Stalinism), Shaw and Kingsley Martin spring to mind, but there were innumerable others. They could have known all about the anti-Socialist tyranny of Lenin and Stalin (and Trotsky, of course, despite the latter-day idiots who call themselves Trotskyists) without leaving these shores. It was all in the Socialist Standard of those days (and quite often in the newspapers too).

The miracle did happen at least once, oddly enough, The French writer André Gide went to Moscow as a propagandist for their cause (he would not have been invited otherwise) and the eyes which he had kept closed in France refused to stay closed when he saw Stalinism at close quarters so he spilled the beans when he got back. The CP’s answer was to revile him as a homosexual. (Oddly enough, Hitler did the same trick when he murdered his henchmen Roehm, Heines and company. He said they were homosexuals — as though unaware of this when they were his faithful lieutenants. Just another instance of the close relationship between red-fascism and the other kind.)

In recent years, specially since the Khrushchev “secret speech” in ’56, the new generation of intellectuals have been busy writing books like Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror which have exposed the turpitude of the western fellow-travellers of those days. But does that mean that the present lot of academics and other politicians and scribblers have learnt the lesson of history? You must be joking Having learnt only that Moscow is no longer the Mecca for leftist hypocrites to visit, they have looked around to find “a substitute for a prostitute” as an old joke has it. There is the pudgy face of Mao Tse-tung beckoning benignly to them just as Uncle Joe did in days of yore. The East is Red, so is the carpet; the grub is better than the Chinese Take-away and you can come back from your free holiday and make your fame and fortune scribbling and gibbering about your first-hand knowledge of the Utopia which has replaced Russia. (Up to a decade ago, the word was “supplemented,” not “replaced”. But now the two “socialist” giants are calling each other fascists as loud as they can. And how right both are!)

If it were not that so many students and workers in the west fall for the lies about Socialism in China (as their fathers did about Russia), “hilarious” would really be the word for it. An article in the June Socialist Standard referred to the leftist intellectuals like Professor John Galbraith and Baroness Barbara Wootton, both of whom returned from VIP trips to China to sell confusion to the western press. The former said “it works for the Chinese”, thus using practically the same words as a previous generation Yankee intellectual, Lincoln Steffens, who came back from Moscow to pronounce: “I have seen the future and it works”. Presumably even Galbraith wouldn’t dare to say that it would work for the west where only a handful of half-baked students seem to respond to the call.

It is also worth noting that neither Galbraith nor Steffens before him ever dreamt of living in the paradises they described, but put 10,000 miles between themselves and Utopia. (Which recalls the case of that other modern scribbler Graham Greene who said he would rather live in Russia than America. And merrily carried on living in his fabulous villa. On the French Riviera!)

It was more than interesting to learn from that same Standard (our 70th Anniversary number) that this same Baroness Wootton, who says she agrees with Mao for not allowing trade unionism among his 700 million blue ants, debated against the SPGB. She was then a youngish economist and Labourite. Now she is an old Baroness and clearly more pseudo than ever. How sad that the comparatively free workers of the west should then and now permit this monstrous nonsense to be talked at them.

As the latest prime example of the genre a Labour MP, Joel Barnett (a year or so ago when he was in opposition; now he is in Wilson’s government) had the luck to get on one of the jaunts (which must be worth a few thousand quid in any language — quite apart from the fact that you can’t get into China without being approved by the red-fascists who rule the roost, the fact that there are about 700 million who can’t get out). Joel made sure that he copped for a spot of extra publicity which would be read by his friends and relations and constituents, not to speak of us. When the time came for him to be red-carpeted around the Great Wall of China, which is one of the highlights of all these picnics, Joel told them he insisted on seeing some genuine Chinese workers instead. This may not have been reported in the Peking Daily Liar but imagine what a sensational scoop it would make for the local rag in Rochdale or whenever. Our Labourite friend not only wanted to see real workers — he actually insisted on talking to them. What did he want to say? Nothing less than the 64-dollar question: “What do you really think about Mao Tse-tung?” Well, that’s what I read in the Guardian. But, I fancy, not quite. Because our Joel doesn’t speak much Chinese (seeing that most MP’s don’t speak English very well, this must not be regarded as surprising).

So what happened was that Joel popped it to the interpreter, who, as in Russia, is just another minion. Whether the minion really asked Joel’s question I can’t really say. Neither, of course, can Barnett. For all either of us knows, he may have merely mouthed the ancient Confucian proverb (before Confucius was arrested as an ally of Lin Piao): Ooh flung dung? Equally, we don’t know what the wage-slave replied. All we know is that the minion told our visitor that the reply was in the affirmative. Of course, Barnett was quite aware of the charade he was acting — at the expense of the Chinese working class and of the British working class too. What did he expect the worker to say under the noses of Mao’s very own thugs? And what could this poor devil have thought Barnett was? To a Chinese slave, a bespectacled accountant from Manchester would appear to be a different species. He might have been a Dalek from Outer Space. No matter, the purpose was served.

The Chinese workers are there for the purpose of producing all the wealth of the state-capitalist system so that the rulers can live high off the hog, as they do in Russia. And to provide good propaganda for the privileged trippers who are allowed to make the pilgrimage. The odd thing is that (as the writer happens to know), Barnett is by no means the most obnoxious type of politician. He may even think himself to be honest. But it comes to the same thing in the end. As long as the workers in England, China, Russia and the rest of the capitalist world, fail to grasp the true meaning of their class subjection and to realise that only a revolutionary change to Socialism (as distinct from the monstrosity that exists in China and Russia) will free them for a life worth living, then they will continue to be battened on by the jackals of capitalism.
L. E. Weidberg


Irish Partition Discussed (1970)

Party News from the February 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

Following a lecture on Ireland on 13th August, Westminster branch members discussed Partition with members of the Irish Communist Organisation, a Maoist group. The ICO argued that Irish workers should support the abolition of Partition (i.e. the incorporation of Northern Ireland into an all-Ireland Republic) as this would, they thought, remove the cause of the sectarian division of the working class of the Irish Nation. Party members replied that the Border was irrelevant from a working class point of view since its removal would not solve any working class problem: it would just be a change of masters for the workers of Northern Ireland just as independence for the 26 counties in 1922 was for the workers of the South. Socialists in Ireland should keep off the Anti-Partition bandwagon and campaign for Socialism. Members also challenged the ICO on their concept of “the Irish Nation”, saying that like all so-called nations this was a myth. The nation was a capitalist idea that originated with their rise to political power in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Propertied groups used a common history and culture as a device to get their workers first to help them to power and then to submit to their rule. Marx had long ago pointed out that the workers had no country. This was the socialist position.

Stalin's Successors & Censorship (1972)

From the November 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard
  In this, our age of infamy, 
Man’s choice is but to be  
A tyrant, traitor, prisoner. 
No other choice has he.
                               (Pushkin)
Under the capitalist system we are not free from material want, and neither are we free from intellectual oppression and the blue pencil of censorship. “All over the world censorship is being employed as an instrument of government”, writes the editor of Index, a journal published by the Writers and Scholars International.

Index performs a useful rôle in exposing those who seek to burn and ban books or to purge and prohibit art. Its first issue indicates the universality of this mediaeval practice, as universal as the social system which leans on it so heavily. There are laws to prohibit publications “that threaten the national interest” (Antigua) and in Brazil “the discussion of ideas” may land you in jail. French journalists are given a police chaperon when covering demonstrations and Portuguese journalists have to be state-registered, like prostitutes. So much for parts of the “free world”. What of the rest of this planet? It is worth examining practices in the so-called “socialist countries”.

Russian censorship has been blatant and crushing in its effects, both cultural and political. It has enabled the so-called Communist Party and its collaborators to portray Russia as a Workers’ Paradise throughout the Thirties and the post war years and even, it must be said, right up to now. Long ago, Orwell attacked the Left on this point. The sin of the Left, he said, is that it wants to be anti-Fascist without being anti-totalitarian. This is still true: even now, the Left concentrates its attacks on Greece and Spain, Portugal and South Africa. Yet there is no form of atrocity practised by these governments which is not practised by the Russian State. Imprisonment of opponents, torture, deportation, forced labour, exile, racism—all these are common practices in Russia.

It is almost incredible that people still accept Soviet lies at their face value even now, even after Krushchev and “de-Stalinisation”. Evidently many left-wingers practise doublethink. They knew of Krushchev’s revelations about Stalinism made at the 20th and 22nd Congresses of the CPSU (1956 and 1961) but gradually, as “neo-Stalinism” took over in Russia, as Krushchev fell and was replaced by Brezhnev and Kosygin, they gladly accepted the comforting new dogma that those regrettable mistakes and massacres were all a weird consequence of the “cult of personality”, a relic of a bygone age.

Unfortunately for the Kremlin’s fan-club, there are many Russians who are not content with such facile explanations. They want to know who were the jailers, the prosecutors, the judges; like Yevtushenko they demand to know where these “heirs of Stalin” are now, and they want guaranteed protection from State terror. They publish underground journals such as the Chronicle of Current Affairs and circulate samizdat (do-it-yourself) copies of unpublished novels, poems, plays and essays. They have also formed a Committee for Human Rights in the Soviet Union and have built an active alliance of writers, historians, musicians, film-makers, artists and scientists. Together they effectively expose and publicise the régime’s policy of terror and despotism.

Illusion of Freedom
It is doubtful if such a movement could have developed without the thaw. This term relates to the period of “de-Stalinisation” which started in 1956 and, in terms of cultural freedom, began to die in 1962.

But why did Stalin’s heirs find it necessary to "de-Stalinize” in the first place? Certainly not from feelings of benevolence or remorse! And equally certainly, not very willingly either—they knew they ran considerable risks in this policy.

When Stalin died in 1953 the economy was stagnating and the people were sullenly apathetic. Something was desperately needed to jog them into co-operation and increased efficiency. This applied especially to workers like engineers, managers, planners and bureaucrats, since their apathy or its reverse must have a considerable effect on the economy. Stalin’s old method had been the stick—fear of the camps and the KGB—but this had evidently lost its former effectiveness. So the new bosses decided to try the carrot. They promised material incentives—better living and working conditions—and at the same time they offered political reform—more personal freedom and security. Reassurance was needed that this was for keeps (Stalin had a bad record in such matters) and, as Abraham Rothberg comments wryly in his The Hours of Stalin: Dissidence in the Soviet Union 1953- 1970, “One startling and effective way of reassuring the people was to inform them of some of the truth about Stalin’s tyranny’’ (p. 5). Very reassuring indeed!

What About the Others?
The first startling revelations were made only to the Party and a few key people outside the Party. But in 1961 Krushchev washed the dirty linen publicly, to use his own expression. The shock produced by the 22nd Congress showed how little the general public in Russia had been told in the eight years since Stalin’s death. Significantly the crimes that Krushchev was exposing were “repressions against Party, government, economic, military and Komsomol personnel” (our emphasis) — not against Ivan Denisovich, proletarian, and the millions like him who perished without record in Stalin’s extermination machine. As Yesenin-Volpin said of Sinyavsky and Daniel: “They are lucky for their case has been taken up by the whole civilised world. There were so many others about whom the civilised world knew nothing—knew as little as people know of a rabbit eaten by the wolves in a forest” (quoted in Rothberg, p. 158).

The reforms were first conceived as an internal Party and top management concern, in the hope that these people would succeed in galvanising the economy. The connection with economic policy is underlined by the Twentieth Congress’s approval of the Sixth Five Year Plan and the announcement of the campaign to catch up America in the production of meat, milk and butter, which “would mean at least trebling Soviet output”.
Freezing Again
The thaw in cultural life resulted from the régime’s mobilisation of writers to illustrate the theme of “de- Stalinisation.” Many key works appeared, notably Dudintsev’s novel Not by Bread Alone, Ehrenburg’s novel The Thaw and his memoirs, Yevtushenko’s poems Babi Yar and Heirs of Stalin, Bondarev’s novel Silence, and, in November 1962, Solzhenitsyn’s prison-camp story, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This became a barometer registering official attitudes to “de-Stalinisation” and is now almost unobtainable in Russia. However at that time, backed as it was by Krushchev personally, it received accolades from most official publications.

Soon however the regime began to crack down. At the Manezh art gallery, Krushchev announced bluntly: “Gentlemen, we are declaring war on you!” Since then the Kremlin has tried persistently to close the slightly opened door. There have been trials of writers like Sinyavsky and Daniel, of historians like Amalrik and scientists like Medvedev. The penalties have been draconian, including hard labour in Arctic concentration camps, psychiatric prison and perpetual exile. And, just to make things quite clear to all concerned, in 1966 Brezhnev and Kosygin added to the Criminal Code two new articles to make spreading “slanderous inventions about the Soviet State and social system, and disturbance of public order punishable offences”—a portmanteau law which conflicts with Article 125 of the Soviet Constitution which theoretically guarantees “freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings” and “freedom of street processions and demonstrations”.

Question and Answer
Next year will be the twentieth since Stalin’s death and these questions are still debated in Russia.. Were the instruments of repression—the secret police, the camps, the bureaucracy—were they caused by the “cult of the individual” and, if so, why are they still operating nearly a generation after that cult officially ceased?

The régime’s answers are contradictory and muddled. For instance, in 1956 the Central Committee’s resolution On Overcoming the Cult of the Individual and Its Consequences (Soviet News Booklet No. 50) speaks again and again of the “grave consequences of the cult of the individual”, “the cult of the person of Stalin, with all the attendant adverse consequences” and “the negative consequences of the cult of the individual”. But it also significantly disputes this superficial view:
  To think that one personality, even such a great one as Stalin, could change our social and political system is to lapse into profound contradiction with the facts, with Marxism, with truth, is to lapse into idealism.
Precisely! Stalin alone was not the cause of the terror, any more than he was the ultimate cause of the leadership cult. The cult and the terror were both resultant from the “social and political system”—the state capitalism used to industrialise backward Russia. So that the Russian State of the twentieth century continues to repress the intelligentsia who have continued their traditional rôle—one of lament and protest, the mouthpiece of political and social debate under the new despotism just as they were under the old.
Charmian Skelton

Doctor's Dilemma (1955)

From the January 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many workers have weird and wonderful ideas about doctors. In some a childlike faith in the doctor’s healing powers is matched only by the belief that he belongs to a class immeasurably above their own. And many even of those who pour scorn upon the “quack,” as they choose to call him, still hold firm to the delusion that he belongs to the ranks of the wealthy.

The truth is, nevertheless, that the great majority of doctors belong to the working-class. Like bricklayers, clerks, lorry drivers, and the rest, they have to get a job to get a living. They come out from their medical schools, like sausages from the machine, and then begins for most of them the long and weary search for employment. It does not matter in the least that most of their eventual jobs are now in the hands of the State; nor that their masters choose to call them “appointments"; nor that they work for a salary and not for wages. Call it a job, or an appointment, the important thing for a doctor, as for every worker, is to find one.

The trouble for the doctors is that whilst in these days of full employment bricklayers, clerks, and lorry drivers, are finding jobs easy to get, they are complaining about how hard it is to get one.

“Every year,” says Dean, of Postgraduate Medical Studies, in the Medical School Gazette, of Manchester University, “several hundred more men and women become doctors than there are jobs for; if the medical schools continue to take in their present numbers of students, there may easily be 5,000 to 6,000 surplus doctors by 1959.”

And he goes on to say:—
   “The numbers on the Medical Register have increased since 1933 from just below 60,000 to above 80,000—an alarming prospect.”
In the higher ranges, the problem is no better and is probably worse. “Recently." says the Gazette, “there were more than 60 applicants for an appointment as a surgeon to a regional hospital.” At least 40 of these men were capable of doing the job and doing it well, and the Dean asks the question:—
   “What prospect is there for these men, since there is little likelihood of more consultant posts being created in the near future?”
The question gives its own answer—there is no prospect. Like the rest of the workers, they will have to take their chance, living as best they can on what they have been lucky enough to get.

One thing only we would ask. Spare us any further homilies about what superior people they are. Let them realise, in other words, that they are workers trying to get by under Capitalism, like the rest of us;
Stan Hampson

The Regime in China (1976)

From the December 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

Events have moved rapidly, and sometimes bewilderingly, in China since the death of Mao Tse-tung. However it can now be said that some degree of stability has been reached among the top echelons of the “Communist” Party and state apparatus, with the confirmation of Hua-Kuo-feng as the new Chairman and the arrest of the so-called radical “gang of four” including Mao’s widow Chiang Ch’ing. The personal in-fighting and struggle for power have had undeniably sordid aspects, with each side claiming to be the true successors to Mao’s line, but it seems that the "moderates” have won a conclusive victory.

The radicals, whose power base was China’s largest city Shanghai, had earlier this year been strong enough to achieve the dismissal of Teng Hsiao-p’ing, formerly purged during the Cultural Revolution but since restored to favour and indeed appointed Vice-Premier. Now the same fate has befallen the gang of four: they have been accused of having been over-ambitious and of making an attempt to seize power, of having been “ultra-rightists” who plotted to “restore capitalism”. It is reported that they are at present being closely questioned as to their “anti-party” activities, which allegedly stretch back over a great many years.

This is what always happens when a top Chinese politician falls from power: he or she is immediately depicted as a blackguard of the worst possible sort who has for years — undetected, apparently — been plotting counter-revolution, opposing Mao’s policies and trying to betray China’s interests abroad. Sometimes the charges are just plain ludicrous, such as that Chiang Ch’ing tried to have her husband moved as he lay desperately ill, against doctor’s orders. It has not yet been explained, though, how she managed to trick Mao into marrying her.

Right from the early days of the CCP, leaders have been removed and then calumniated. Ch’en Tu-hsiu, for instance, was the Party’s first General Secretary, in 1921. But in 1927 he was dismissed, as a scapegoat for the disastrous failures of Stalin’s policies, and is now stigmatized with perhaps the worst swearword of all, “Trotskyist”. His successor was Ch’u Ch’iu-pai, whose name is also anathema in China nowadays. Right down through the anti-Japanese war and since the conquest of power in 1949, Party and state leaders have been cast aside and denounced as "rightists” and “counter-revolutionaries”. Only a small number of top leaders, such as Mao and Chou En lai, survived unscathed. It is almost more secure to be a football manager than a top member of the Chinese ruling class!

What is the exact nature of the disagreements thus revealed? Has the CCP really been consistently unlucky in the men it has appointed to high office, that so many of them have been secret enemies of the Party line? Sometimes issues of policy genuinely are at stake, at others it is merely a matter of personal conflicts and opposing power-groups — though the victors will dress the latter cases up to look like the former. But the policy differences do not concern “left” versus “right”, “the mass line” versus “counter-revolution”, instead they represent different views on how best to develop capitalism in China. It is quite natural that within Chinese ruling circles there should be disagreements as to how much emphasis state plans should give to industry and agriculture and to the various sections of these, as to the importance of material incentives in the wages system, as to the role of literature and art, and as to how best to pursue China’s interests in foreign policy. In China these differences are argued out in vague references in newspapers and journals, and behind the closed doors of the Politburo and State Council. Normally the losers will submit, but sometimes they will fight and matters will be brought to a head. But all sides in the disputes are concerned with the development and planning of a modern capitalist system and with the most efficient exploitation possible of Chinese workers and peasants.

It is these very peasants and workers whose support for the new leadership is at present being sought — apparently with success, for even in Shanghai there have been demonstrations against the gang of four and less important “radicals” in the city’s administration. One significant indication of Hua Kuo-feng’s consolidation in power is that portraits of him are now being distributed throughout the country — it will be interesting to see if these replace or stand alongside the ubiquitous pictures of Chairman Mao. The leadership tussles having been decided over their heads, the workers are presented with the face of their new master.

It is high time that the workers of China and all other countries realized that whoever rules over them will continue to serve the interests of only one section of society, the capitalist class. In Socialism there will be no ruling class and no working class, just free and equal human beings who will run society’s affairs communally and democratically. Socialist society will serve the interests of all.
Paul Bennett

A Thought for the Times (1938)

From the August 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is evening. One of those warm evenings after rain. There are heavy clouds over most of the sky with a steely reflection from the sun, which is sinking in a dull red mist. On the lake the swallows are swooping and skimming along the surface of the water in swift waves of flight. The swallows are numerous and they dip to the water, rise over the island, and circle back again. Here and there a boat moves quietly along with the soft, leisurely plash of oars. Strolling by the water one is filled with a peace that it seems impossible to disturb.

Three girls pass by talking. One of them is German and she is saying to her companions, in the quaint English of a foreigner: “I learnt English first, and then French."

Suddenly the quietness is broken by the throb of an engine, and an aeroplane wheels in a circle out of the clouds above. Immediately an element of dread stirs one to give a frightened glance up. There is something ominous in the drone of the engine overhead. Is it a bombing machine? Whatever it may be it is a harbinger of the force that can shatter to pieces this peaceful scene.

The three girls have crossed the bridge and are strolling along on the other side of the lake, talking to each other with the animation of joyous youth. They have no quarrel with each other, although they belong to different nations that may be at one another’s throats at any moment.

What is it that stirs up peaceful and friendly people to make war on one another? War with all its bloodshed and destruction; its maiming of youth and desolating of homes; its glorification of poor shivering boys in trenches, longing pitifully for the home fires so many of them never live to see.

What are wars for, anyhow? What was the last great war fought for? Not national glory, not democracy, not even to safeguard the rights of small nations. No! Those things were, and are, only blinds; clouds of high sounding phrases to hide the sordid reality. That reality behind the false, enticing phrases was—profit. The struggle between sections of wealthy capitalists for freedom to exploit and wring profit from the work of property less wage workers in different parts of the earth.

Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at a National Government demonstration at Kettering on July 2nd, described the present world situation in the following words:—
   It is a striking fact, and a tragic one, that at the present time foreign affairs are dominating the minds of the people of this country, almost to the exclusion of subjects which, in ordinary times, would have occupied their whole attention. Indeed, we are not alone in that respect, for I think all the peoples of the world are asking themselves this same question : “Are we to be allowed to live our lives in peace or are we to be plunged against our will into war?”
  When I look round the world I must say I am appalled at the prospects. War, accompanied by horrible barbarities, inflicted either wittingly or unwittingly upon civilian populations, is going on to-day in China, and much nearer to us in Spain.
    Almost every week we hear rumours of war on this question or on that in other parts of the world, and all the principal nations are spending their precious savings on devising and manufacturing the most efficient instruments for the destruction of one another. I wonder whether, since the world began, has it ever seen such a spectacle of human madness and folly?—(Sunday Times, July 3rd.)
These are the words of the Prime Minister of the Government of one of the oldest and most important imperialist countries. The only solution he can offer is to build up mightier armaments “to preserve peace.”

This is the inglorious end to which centuries of civilization has brought the most advanced nations of the earth.

Does capitalism deserve to be supported any longer? It brings hard work, misery and desolation, in peace and in war, to the mass of the people. It is time those who bear the sufferings took time to think how those sufferings could be abolished. The only way to do so is to destroy the source from which they flow—the private ownership of the means of production.
Gilmac. 

Inconsistencies of anarchism (1996)

Book Review from the November 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Re-inventing Anarchy, Again Edited by Howard Ehrlich (AK Press £13.95.)

This is an updated reprint of an anthology of modern anarchist writings, mostly from North America, that first appeared in 1979. The aim is to show what anarchists today think rather than what the classic anarchist texts said. It succeeds in this, but at the price of bringing out the two main inconsistencies of anarchism as a political theory: its claims that people don't have to abide by majority decisions unless they want to and that big is bad.

It was anarchist insistence on denouncing "the tyranny of the majority" and on upholding the right of individuals to do whatever they liked that led William Morris to declare that he was not an anarchist because no society could exist on that basis, certainly not one based on common ownership and common decision-making. Some, though by no means all, of the writers in this anthology do seem to stand for such a society but appear not to realise how inconsistent they are in at the same time challenging the legitimacy of majority voting.

One of the consequences of believing that big is bad is that certain key aspects of capitalism—such as markets, money, and buying and selling—can come to be seen as acceptable provided they only exist on a small-scale; then they become beautiful. This has happened to the four editors of the previous edition of the book who put their names to the incredible statement that "it is hard to conceive of a serious alternative to the market economy". As “market anarchists" what they envisage as the alternative to existing society is one where there might be no profits, exploitation or a centralised state but there would be local cooperatives and small businesses producing for local markets, local currencies, and small-scale trading between local communities.

In other words, a small-scale, decentralised market economy where goods and services would be bought and sold for use not profit. We can't go back to this which Marx called "petty commodity production" and. if we did, it would develop again into the large-scale commodity production that is capitalism.

What is needed is not a completely decentralised society without any central institutions. but a proper balance (which can be left to the people of socialist society to work out) between centralisation and decentralisation and the replacement of the market economy by production and distribution directly to satisfy human needs and wants.

Market towns, each with their own currency and where anyone is free to ignore commonly-reached decisions, is not our cup of tea. This said, there are some interesting articles in this book, in particular the ones on work by David DeLeon and Bob Black.
Adam Buick

No desire for the Middle Ages (1996)

Book Review from the November 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

William Morris on History Edited by Nicholas Salmon (Sheffield Academic Press. £6.95.)

This is yet another book published to take advantage of the fact that this year is the centenary of William Morris’s death. Not that we are complaining. Far from it. The cause of socialism can only gain from the wider diffusion of Morris’s political writings.

Morris didn't claim to be a historian. He was. in this context, just a socialist writer and speaker who from time to time wrote and spoke on historical (as on other) subjects. All the pieces included in this book were composed after he had become a socialist. They cover such subjects as English society before and after the Norman conquest, the Middle Ages, the medieval guilds, the Peasants’ Revolt, and the rise of capitalism.

After reading them nobody will be able to claim, as some still do. that Morris proposed "a return to the Middle Ages". He did think that skilled craftsmen had enjoyed somewhat of a golden age for part of the Middle Ages, and did want to revive this but in a socialist society. not by going back to feudalism where he was well aware most producers were not guild craftsmen but serfs exploited by a class of feudal lords.

Morris became a socialist when he was nearly fifty, so it was only normal that he already had set views on certain subjects. One of these, for instance, was that the moral attitudes of the "Teutonic” peoples of Northern Europe—what he called their “manly” virtues— were superior to those of the Roman Empire.

Despite such personal views (and despite one bad talk in which he gives out good and bad points to the various English kings of the feudal period after the fashion of conventional history textbooks) Morris’s general approach is that of the materialist conception of history.

In other words, he starts from the premise that it is the way humans in any society are related to each other, with regard to the production and distribution of the material means by which society and its individual members survive, that in the end determines the ideas and political structure of that society; and that social change occurs when advances in technology change these basic social relations of production and give rise to a new economic class which struggles against the established ruling class to consolidate the new mode of production economically, politically and ideologically.
Adam Buick

Brexit: will it all be a fuss about nothing? (2018)

From the August 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

‘Iain Duncan Smith: Cabinet’s Brexit proposal is a betrayal of 17.5 million voters who wanted to take back control of their own laws, borders, money and regulations’, was the heading of his article in the Mail Online on 8 July. That’s only his opinion. Actually, 17,410,742 voted ‘Leave’ to the question on the ballot paper ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’ while 16,141,241 vote ‘Remain’. Strictly speaking, then, what there was a majority for, was for the UK to withdraw from the Treaty under which it joined the EU and so from the EU’s decision-making institutions (Commission, Parliament, Court of Justice, etc).

Iain Duncan Smith may have voted Leave because he wanted the British capitalist state to take back formal control of UK ‘laws, borders, money and regulations’. Many others may well have done so too, but others will have voted to withdraw merely from the political side of the EU project. As the Tory MEP, and prominent Leave campaigner, Daniel Hannan noted, one argument used to attract Leave voters was that things had changed since they had voted in the 1975 referendum to confirm staying in: ‘I voted to stay in the common market. No one ever mentioned a political union’ (Spectator, 28 April). It will only have taken 634,751 (half the difference between the Leave and Remain votes plus 1) to have been convinced to vote Leave on this ground and Iain Duncan Smith’s claim that a majority voted for what he wants falls.

Hannan himself is pretty relaxed about just withdrawing from the EU’s political institutions as long as the UK has some scope to do its own trade deals, writing on a Tory discussion forum:
‘A 52-48 outcome pointed to some sort of association that stopped short of membership. Britain would keep most of the economic aspects of the EU while losing most of the political ones . . .  We’d end up very broadly, in an EFTA-type arrangement à la Suisse’ (Conservativehome, 10 May).
We can leave these two high-profile Leavers to slug it out. The Tory party can split over the issue for all we need to care.

People will have voted Leave for all sorts of reasons – to kick out the Poles, to do down the government, because they believed the promises that they’d be better off, to protest against their personal economic plight. Who knows? In the end it doesn’t matter why, since the outcome will depend on jostling between different sections of the capitalist class.

Most of them were in favour of Remain. A minority, mainly financiers who didn’t want their dealings to be regulated by the EU (and who largely financed the Leave campaign), favoured Leave. Perhaps unexpectedly, they won. Ever since, the majority section, and the politicians who represent them, have campaigned and lobbied to limit the damage to their interests. The plan agreed at Chequers on 6 July goes a long way to catering for their interests. It is more or less what Hannan envisaged as a compromise between the two sections of the capitalist class, even if Jacob Rees-Mogg, the cartoon toff – Lord Snooty in the Beano – doesn’t like it. But then, he’s a financier with interests in Hong Kong.

A customised union
A ‘customs union’ is an arrangement between capitalist states under which there is tariff-free trade between them. A ‘single market’ takes this a step further by also removing non-tariff barriers to free trade such as differing technical, safety and environmental standards. This means that trade within the area can be ‘frictionless’ as there is no need for border checks to see if the goods conform to these standards since they are the same in all the participating states. Another way of defining a ‘single market’ would be that it is a customs union with a ‘common rulebook’.

At Chequers the government agreed that the UK should in effect stay in the EU single market for goods (if not services). It is what the manufacturing section of the capitalist class, as represented by the CBI, wanted, even if it won’t be as good for them as now since they won’t have a say, via the government, in drawing up future additions or amendments to the common rulebook.

Trump had a point when he blurted out that this could sink a US-UK trade deal in goods. There would be no point. As he said, the US would deal with the EU as what was agreed with them would apply to the UK as part of the single market:
  ‘If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal’ (Sun, 13 July).
He’s not all that badly briefed. The government replied that he hadn’t read the small print, and it is true that the Chequers proposal does come up with a novel way for the UK to be able to do trade deals with non-EU countries, if any are interested. Normally, a customs union (which is what a single market implies) involves a common external tariff against imports into the area. The government is proposing that this should only apply to goods intended for parts of the single market other than the UK. So, as now, the UK would collect the common tariff on these goods entering the UK (and pass the money on to the EU), but not on goods from outside the EU intended for the UK market only.
In theory this might work, but it wouldn’t make a trade deal only with the UK that attractive since the EU market is much larger. Conceivably the US might agree to a deal that would allow chlorinated chickens and GM foods to be imported into the UK but there would have to be some way of preventing these getting into the rest of the single market by, for instance, being smuggled across the Irish land border.

It might work if the EU agrees to go along with it. The EU might if they can get guarantees against smuggling but they can be expected to insist on the Court of Justice having a decisive say in any disputes. And there will have to be a deal rowing back on the free movement of people (incidentally, one of the few benefits of the EU for ordinary people) towards the free movement for employment that was part of the original Treaty.

Services (which are mainly financial) are to be excluded from the common rulebook. This should please those financiers who funded the Leave campaign – they won’t be subjected to EU regulation. On the other hand, less shady financiers won’t be happy as they will be excluded from some trading with the EU. To get round this they will have to move a part of their business from London to Frankfurt or Paris or Dublin but no doubt they will be able to live with this. And maybe they will bargain US access to providing services to the NHS for more access to Wall Street.

One thing that won’t happen is the UK crashing out of the EU with no deal. That would provoke an instant economic crisis that would have global consequences, as well as likely to re-ignite the Irish Republican armed struggle in Northern Ireland. It’s in nobody’s interest. Even those who feign to believe that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ don’t really believe this. It’s only bluster to try to strengthen the UK’s negotiating hand.

So, in the end, it looks as if it’s all going to turn out to be a fuss about nothing. Britain will stay in the single market and business will continue as usual. Maybe many of those who voted Leave will feel betrayed but they would also come to feel betrayed, if the hard Brexiteers had their way, when these cynical ambitious politicians failed to deliver on their promises of a better life. They wouldn’t be able to deliver because, no more than a change of government, can a change of trading arrangements make capitalism work in the interest of wage and salary workers and their dependants.
Adam Buick

This Month's Quotation: Cardinal Newman (1940)

The Front Page quote from the December 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
   “The strength of any Party lies in it being true to its theory. Consistency is the life of a movement.”

This Month's Quotation: Frederick the Great (1940)

The Front Page quote from the November 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
    “I take what I want, I can always find pedants to prove my rights.”

This Month's Quotation: Henry David Thoreau (1940)

The Front Page quote from the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high ”
Henry David Thoreau (“Walden” Chap. I)

This Month's Quotation: H. G. Wells (1940)

The Front Page quote from the September 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
   "No such hasty improvisation as the League of Nations, no patched-up system of Conferences between this group of states and that, which change nothing with an air of settling everything, will meet the complex political needs of the new age that lies before us." 
H. G. Wells (“A Short History of the World, 1924”)

This Month's Quotation: H. G. Wells (1940)

The Front Page quote from the August 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “What man has done, the little triumphs of his present state, and all this history we have told, form but the prelude to the things that man has yet to do".
H. G. Wells ("A Short History of the World,” 1924, Page 262)

This Month's Quotation: Richard Rumbold (1940)

The Front Page quote from the July 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “I never could believe that providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.” 
Richard Rumbold. (When on the scaffold 1685)

This Month's Quotation: Professor G. D. Herron (1940)

The Front Page quote from the June 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “The task of creating a coherent and free society is the mightiest to which man has summoned himself, and it is the task which now presses urgently upon us"
Professor G. D. Herron
This Month’s Quotation.
The passage quoted on the front cover is from Professor G. D. Herron’s Why I am a Socialist (published by C. H. Kerr, Chicago, 1900).

This Month's Quotation: Socialist (1940)

The Front Page quote from the May 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
Two thousand years ago Chinese philosophers were deploring the miseries of war. Modern philosophers still deplore them but war remains in all its ugliness. Only the victims can alter this.