Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Look Round. (1930)

From the January 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communist "Intellectual."
Many workers imagined that the Communist Party were Revolutionary; but one of their leaders, R. Palme Dutt, admits in The Workers' Life (Nov. 15th), that it is not so. He says :—
  “The chief task of the coming congress is to revolutionise the party and its leadership in readiness for the developing period of mass struggles.”
According to his view they need to get rid of relics of Social Democracy and find new leaders and to get into contact with the masses. He is still talking of factory groups years after the “thesis” merchants declared that factory nuclei were the basis of the party. He states that “the question of leadership is at the centre of the whole situation.”

The article is full of the usual high-sounding phrases like “orientation,” “dialectics," “objective situations,” but one looks in vain for any understanding of the road to Socialism. He talks of the need “to press fighting demands on the Labour Government,” and never once points out that the sole need of the working class is to organise to control political power to establish Socialism.

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Labour Deals With Unemployment.
The Labour Government, through its leaders, MacDonald and Thomas, are continually telling us that the only real road to curing unemployment is to increase our trade—especially our export trade. One of the chief defenders of the Labour Party is Forward of Glasgow, which has to admit that their leaders’ theory is all wrong. Forward quotes an answer in the House of Commons (Nov. 26th) by the President of the Board of Trade, and heads the paragraph, "More Work and Fewer Men.” This is the information given by the Board of Trade:—
  “The total mercantile tonnage launched in the United Kingdom in 1925 (excluding unregistered vessels of under 15 tons gross) was 1,123, 049, while the estimated number of persons in the ship-building, ship-repairing, and marine engineering, etc., industries, who were insured against unemployment in July was 301,340.
   “But while in 1928, the comparable tonnage had risen to 1,458,058, the insured workers in these trades had fallen to 257,460.”
The “great” schemes of granting millions to railways, gas companies, road boards, etc., to make these services more efficient; plans to cheapen costs in coal and steel industries, and similar policies, are therefore bound to fail to reduce or arrest unemployment, because efficient industry increases output faster than trade increases.

Mr. Thomas said in the House of Commons (Nov. 4th) that he did not attach so much importance to work schemes as a solution of our unemployment problem as he did to the wider aspect of the “development of our export trade.”

But the Labour Leaders know that when Britain’s export trade was good unemployment and poverty were widespread and now that productive powers have been vastly increased in every country the increase of export trade cannot cure unemployment.

Look at America with its vast Home market and great export trade—a country in which the Telegraph tells us there are millions of “out-of-works”! Was it not only the other day that leading commercial men warned the motor trade that there were a million surplus motor cars in the U.S.A. looking for a market!

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The Labour Liberals.
Labour supporters criticise the Liberal Party’s legislation but they forget that the Labour Party supported all the leading measures passed from 1906 to 1914, although ever since they have claimed these measures were miserly and ineffectual. How close the Liberal Party and the Labour Party were during those years can be gathered from a quotation from the “Life of Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer,” by Mr. Bechofer Roberts. The reader can gather how great was the Labour Party’s support of the Capitalist Reform Legislation of the Liberals.
  On the Insurance Act. Snowden took a line directly opposed to the majority of his colleagues, led by Ramsay MacDonald. The Labour Party had put down amendments to the Bill; MacDonald came to an arrangement with the Government not to embarrass it by moving them. Snowden thereupon stood down from the executive of the Labour Party, and threatened to leave it altogether if these tactics were continued. What was the I.L.P. doing, he demanded, to permit such backsliding among its nominees in the House of Commons? Really, the I.L.P. might just as well dissolve, and consider merging itself in the National Liberal Federation; there was simply no difference any longer between the Labour Party and the Liberal Party. And for his part, he wasn't going to acquiesce in this sacrifice of principles to prudence.
  Followed by George Lansbury, F. W. Jowett and Will Thorne, he refused to obey the Labour Whip; they voted against their colleagues. In articles and speeches, Snowden derided the motives which dictated the tactics of MacDonald and the others. Everyone knew, he said, that four-fifths of the Labour Party's members held their seats through arrangements in their constituencies with the local Liberals; was it not ridiculous, therefore, to expect that they would dare to quarrel with the party to whose goodwill they owed their election?
The Labour Party still appeals to and depends on Liberal "goodwill.”

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The Great Left Wing.
Mr. Cook, the Miner’s leader, has declared his entire support for the Labour Government. Mr. Cook, who said that he had a pledge for a 7-hours’ day given by Mr. MacDonald locked up in his desk, is still keen on the Labour Government after they have declined to redeem that pledge. Cook still supports the Labour Government though he confesses that "during the last five months, up to October, 92,655 claims were disallowed by Insurance Officers on the grounds of "not genuinely seeking work'." During the same period, "308,001 claims were disallowed under all the various vile provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act.” Mr. Cook evidently "forgets” that the "vile” clauses of the Insurance Act were a part of the Insurance Bill passed by the Labour Government in 1924. Yet he sobs, "he has played the game with the Labour Government.” He has ! The Editor of the I.L.P. paper, Forward, describes him (Dec. 14th) as "The greatest cry-baby in Socialist Politics,” but forgets to mention that neither Cook nor the I.L.P. has ever entered Socialist Politics. Forward refers to that curious document called "The Cook-Maxton Manifesto,” in which Maxton and Co. demanded that the unemployed should get maintenance at the same scale as the employed man (since reduced by Maxton and Co. to £l per week). Forward quotes a speech by W. Gallagher, the alleged Communist, to show that he wrote the Manifesto for Cook and Maxton. The Communist Party, it should be recalled, allowed their members to join the Cook-Maxton campaign though they didn’t like the Manifesto.

Gallagher’s speech at a Communist meeting in Glasgow City Hall, on April 7th, was as follows:—
  I have worked with them for years, trying to instil a working-class point of view into them, and all to no purpose. They sent for me to the House or Commons, and there I took Cook down to meet them. There was Wheatley, Buchanan, Campbell Stephen, Kirkwood, and Maxton, and they informed me that they had decided to fight MacDonald and the Labour Party leaders, and wanted my advice as to what they were to do. I told them that a manifesto must be issued and I wrote it for them, and helped them to organise the campaign, and persuaded Cook to go down to St. Andrew's Hall for the opening meeting. When Wheatley was assuring me that he was out to fight the Labour Party leaders, he was busy arranging to bring Arthur Henderson down to Shettleston to speak on his behalf. No, I am absolutely finished with them, and am out to fight them.
Such is the mess that Labour and Communist Politics result in. All reform and "something now” politicians are inevitably involved in the rotten game which Cook says he has played so well.

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Too Much Production.
"Is there enough wealth for all?” is a common question put by anti-Socialists. The existence of luxury all round us and the stored-up wealth that cannot find a market to-day is one aspect of the answer. But what would be the possibilities of wealth production in a society where the workers had access to the raw materials and the machines? That can be seen by the continual reports of the deliberate limitation of production to-day. In the Observer (Dec. 15th) there is a long article on the "Sugar Crisis,” which explains that the only solution for the owners of that industry is to restrict the supply and limit production in Cuba, Java, Czechoslovakia, etc.

The increase in production of sugar has been so immense that the firms such as the Sugar Trust of America are working out a policy to keep the price up by cutting down the production.

In the same paper, on another page, there is an article on "Tin Restriction,” which states that the Tin Producers’ Association, in order to maintain an "economic price” for their metal, propose the cessation of work for 32 hours each week in the mines, and a total cessation of work for one week in January and February, and, if necessary, in March. This applies to all Eastern sources of supply, and also places like Nigeria.

In modern society the ease with which wealth can be produced means lack of work for the worker but only to assure the maintenance of owners’ profits. More wealth could be produced but it does not "pay” the owners to allow that to be done.

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A Social Democratic Curiosity.
Walton Newbold, late Communist M.P., previously in the I.L.P. and now in the S.D.F., explains his "ideas” in the issue of Forward for Dec. 14th. He says :—
   “I am convinced that the propertied classes will never evacuate without the exercise of force. By force I mean physical compulsion. And physical compulsion is absolutely certain, in some phases, to involve an armed clash.”
Walton Newbold, the Labour Party Candidate for Epping, has recently joined the Social Democratic Federation, which holds that the road to Emancipation is by means of the Labour Party. Newbold says that you can only get emancipation by an armed clash, so he joins an organisation that is opposed to it! He does not tell the electors of Epping about the "armed clash” stuff, although he claims, “I did not say one thing on the public platform and do a different thing in Parliament.” And to crown all, he says, “I accept as axiomatic the Class War.” In the next sentence he says, "That is why, viewing the forces ranged on either side, I have declared for a truce.” So he accepts the Class War but wants it suspended for a while! No wonder the S.D.F. welcomes Newbold. He ought to make a good addition to their professional politicians. The Class War with truce!

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More Bibles In Russia.
An answer both to screeching Christians and uninformed Communists is contained in The Tory Daily Record of Glasgow (Dec. 3rd), which reported a meeting of the directors of the Royal National Bible Society of Scotland.

Letters were read from Germany with regard to the introduction of Russian Scriptures into Russia. It was stated that the demand was so great that for some time it had been out of print. "The Soviet Government had itself been printing large numbers of Bibles in Leningrad, Kiev and Odessa.”

Religion is evidently still widespread in Russia under dictatorship.

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The Class Warriors of the I.L.P.
Mr. James Maxton’s recent opposition to Ramsay MacDonald on details of Unemployment Insurance recalls to us how often he has voted for him as leader, and made the usual sentimental eulogies and declarations of loyalty to MacDonald. At the Memorial Hall debate with our late comrade, Fitzgerald, Mr. Maxton said the I.L.P. were not heresy hunters and therefore did not expel their members who supported the Capitalists. Of course, the I.L.P. could not be expected to do this as it would leave them without a membership. When, however, it helps them to catch votes they do expel members, but not on Socialist grounds. They expelled some of their members in Glasgow recently for voting for booze licences. They did not want to lose a lot of their "unco guid” supporters.

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Peace!—But More Arms.
How much nonsense is being written and spoken of the great achievements of the Labour Government in promoting peace schemes! The Kellogg pact was one of the so-called great pillars of peace of which Labour is proud; and it is interesting, therefore, to read in The Daily Herald (Dec. 16th) of the U.S.A. Senator Borah’s speech:—
  "I think that the best evidence of a belief that the Kellogg Pact had removed all question of neutral rights at sea would be a drastic reduction in armaments.
   "If the Peace Pact eliminated all question of rights of neutrals at sea, what can be the reasons for such vast navies? If we do not expect any conflicts at sea, and all conditions in that regard are removed by the Kellogg Pact, then let us manifest our faith in the Pact by taking away the crushing burden of armaments which we are now carrying".
The Senator doesn’t realise that Labour Governments intend to "humanise” war!
Adolph Kohn

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