Thursday, January 10, 2019

50 Years Ago: The Troubles of Shipbuilding Workers (1964)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

An ancient occupation, that of a shipwright. According to a gospel-grinding chippy of the writer's acquaintance, it dates from one Noah, who is supposed to have built an ark to keep a menagerie from getting wet feet. An obstinately bigoted and reactionary body of men, the Ship-constructors and Shipwrights Association. Much the same as other craft unions, of course, no better and no worse. Officered by such Labour jackals as Alex Wilkie, M.P.; John Jenkins, ex-M.P., and other equally ignorant shepherds of two-legged sheep, it is not to be wondered at that these one-time aristocrats of Labour find their economic position as bad as that of the docker, whom they secretly despise.

Modern developments in the shipbuilding industry enable the shipwright to see his skill gradually leaving his conceited carcase and inhabiting various machines, while our ultra-respectable mechanic, when not pawning the few remaining tools he needs, perforce becomes a fixer of machine made parts. This not only applies to shipwrights, but to all other artisans. It is the capitalist method of production and is therefore inevitable.

Shipwrights, like all other workers, have to learn that they arc only tolerated at all upon the earth because they are useful in the wealth producing processes of their masters. When, by the development of machine production, their slight remaining skill is absorbed by the machine, shipwrights will be things of memory only, their tasks divided and sub-divided among machine operatives.
From the Socialist Standard, February 1914

1964 Electoral Campaign (1964)

Party News from the February 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

VERY URGENT. We wish to contest as many constituencies as we can in the next General Election. It is our hope to put at least three candidates in the field and a deposit of £150 has to be put up for each. We therefore need £450 for this alone in the next few weeks in order to be assured that, if an election takes place early this year, this sum will be in hand. In addition, we need at least another £350 to cover the cost of printing, hall hire and so on. Thus, in all, we need not less than £800. Will all those who support us and wish us well, please make a tangible gesture of such support by sending quickly as large a sum as they can to the Party Treasurer, E. Lake, 52 Clapham High Street, SW4, clearly stating that the contributions are for the Parliamentary Fund.

The Coming Election (1964)

Editorial from the February 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

It would be a very dull person indeed who did not notice a certain something in the political air; a flurry of optimistic statements from members of the government, a series of sober suggestions which are supposed to help improve the world from the opposition. The two great political parties resemble nothing so much as a couple of shopkeepers who, anxious to attract the larger share of a spending spree, are frantically decorating their windows with every tawdry piece of tinsel they can find in their lumber rooms.

Mr. Harold Wilson, for example, recently made some proposals about disarmament. Speaking at Belper on 9th January last, he suggested, among other things; an international freeze on defence spending, restrictions upon the supply of nuclear weapons to the two Germanys, an agreement to ban all bomb tests. Now it is immediately obvious that there is absolutely nothing new about these suggestions. It is also obvious that they could equally well have come from any of the other capitalist parties and that in any case, because they take no account of the basic cause of modern war, they are quite impractical.

In the same way Sir Alec Douglas-Home, because he is the man in charge, must walk around with a perpetual sunny smile, as if the future were golden with hope. His New Year message held out the prospect of better schools, roads, houses, hospitals; exciting progress, splendid opportunity, and a great victory. The condition, upon which these hopes are based is, of course, the necessity for the electorate to show their gratitude for twelve years of Tory government, for the wage pause, for the housing difficulties, for the international crises, by sending a Conservative majority back to Westminster. The Tories will do all they can, by way of promises, to ensure that that is the result of the election. Lord Blakenham's foreword to their last annual report pledged that the party's policy committees "will strive, in the years ahead, to make whatever adjustments of policies may be needed so as to optimise their electoral attractiveness."

The reason, we need hardly say, for all this frantic activity is that this is general election year—indeed, by the time this issue of the Socialist Standard is in our readers' hands it may well be that the date of the election has been announced and the battle has commenced.

There is no point in our trying to predict who will win—even if that were possible. But we can confidently forecast what will follow the election, whichever party forms the next government.

The working class will continue to struggle over their wages and other working conditions; in other words there will be more strikes and similar disputes. The government will attempt to hold wages in check and to persuade the working class that any rise they may have should be only a small one, and one related to a more intensive productive effort. There will be more tension on the international field—more clashes at places like Berlin, Cyprus, Borneo. There will be more conferences on how to ease these tensions and how to disarm capitalism. None of them will come to anything.

The working class, afflicted by the usual struggle to live, will become dissatisfied with their new government and may express this dissatisfaction by defeating government candidates in by-elections and replacing them with those of another party pledged to carry on the capitalist social system. This dissatisfaction is an inevitable part of capitalism because the problems which give rise to unrest are also part of the private property system.

The only solution to this calamitous muddle is the establishment of Socialism. It is simply not possible for any leader to make glamorous promises about that because the key to Socialism is the knowledge of the people who will set it up. In the election campaigns of the capitalist parties, knowledge is an alien word. How many people, among the mass who are hypnotised by the tinsel, will stand out by knowing and understanding and voting for Socialism?

It's the Poor What Gets the Blame — Official (1974)

From the December 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

One way of assessing Sir Keith Joseph’s comments on “whole groups and classes of people” is to imagine a speech he would have made if Britain were at war. Would he then have said a large section of the working class was moronic, lecherous and irresponsible, and should be stopped from breeding the criminals and lowlifes who are its heirs? Ah, no. “Social classes 4 and 5” would be the bulwark of civilization, and their babies — however many — deserve orange-juice and vitamin pills. These kinds of bombast are exchangeable as an organ-grinder’s tunes, though the underlying contempt remains the same.

Joseph’s speech was made to Conservatives on 19th October. He suggested they put aside economic affairs —“never really the main thing”—and instead aim to “remoralize our national life”. His case was that present- day society is a decadent morass. It has been made so by “socialist intellectuals” and “permissiveness” and, in particular, letting the working class into universities. As an example of the ruin these tendencies have led to, “our human stock is threatened” by the persistent breeding now from parents unsuitable to have children:
   Many of these girls are unmarried, many are deserted or divorced or soon will be. Some are of low intelligence, most are of low educational attainment . . . They are producing problem children, the future unmarried mothers, delinquents, denizens of our borstals, subnormal educational establishments, prisons, hostels for drifters. Yet these mothers, the under-twenties in many cases, single parents, from classes 4 and 5, are now producing a third of all births.
It may be useful, before going further, to say what is meant by “classes 4 and 5”. The groupings are made by the Government on the basis of the job of the family breadwinner, and these two divisions comprise semi-skilled and unskilled workers If they are assumed to be about two-fifths of the population, Joseph’s protest because they have one-third of the births is absurd. Summaries from the 1971 Census, given in the Sunday Times on 27th October, show that family size is practically the same in all five groups—about three-and-a- quarter persons.

Capitalist Hacks Unanimous
The central point of Joseph’s attack might have been, had it come from a more thinking person, a demonstration of the uselessness of social — including “moral” — reform as tried equally by the Tory, Labour and Liberal parties.
  Real incomes per head have risen beyond what anyone dreamed of a generation back; so have education budgets and welfare budgets; so also have delinquency, truancy, vandalism, hooliganism, illiteracy, decline in educational standards.
But he was only reviving his political forefathers’ dictum that if you give the undeserving poor money they only get into trouble, and if you teach them to read they write rude words on walls. The working class is used to this sort of thing, and being told it is to blame when capitalism has problems. Indeed, Joseph was being unfair to his Labour opponents: they share that standpoint. Following the Budget on 12th November the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Denis Healey, announced on TV that if he failed to stop a slump or inflation it would be the fault of “the British people”:
  The choice is yours. If you really prefer mass unemployment and rising prices you can always have it.
To add more, practically no-one in the chorus of critics of Joseph denied his thesis. Other Conservatives thought it “a sad mistake . . . which would inevitably cause serious doubts about his political judgement”. Frank Field of the Child Poverty Action Group acknowledged Joseph’s “problem” of breeding by sub-standard people, and “blamed this on the failure of the family planning system and suggested that the solution was to give women more incentive to limit their family size”. (Both quotations from The Guardian, 21st October.) The Bishop of Southwark put it down to “Conservative policies of 50 years ago” (Observer, 20th October) and “human nature” (News of the World, 27th October).

Official Labour replies were on the same lines. Ian Mikardo, the party chairman
  appeared to accept the gist of what Sir Keith Joseph said in his controversial weekend speech on the nation’s morals, but he neatly turned it to Labour’s advantage . . . he blamed individualist, self-centred Conservative doctrine.
(Guardian, 25th October)
Mrs. Castle, the Secretary for Social Services, accused Joseph of wrong statistics and expressed herself as equally anxious over the problems named. And Renee Short, another Labour MP, spoke of the need for a minister to deal with population problems and said:
  It is absolutely right for Sir Keith to say we need considerable extensions of education about family planning, but it is not only needed in the fourth and fifth social groups.
All agreed that the working class must be kept decent, and sneered at one another for legislation having failed to do so.

Class and Intelligence
None of the critics appears to have noticed one extraordinary implication of Joseph’s speech. Like the Victorian moralists, over human behaviour he wants to have things both ways—people are born bad but also influenced to be bad: the teaching of Eric, or Little by Little. But, in addition, Joseph was propounding what looks like Lysenko’s theory that acquired characteristics can be transmitted. Given mothers of “low educational attainment” who have learned immoral attitudes, there will be babies destined to be illiterates and criminals. Since reform cannot change heredity, the prevention of birth is the only answer — “the lesser evil”, he said.

This kind of rubbish was exploded long ago. However, there is a more cogent answer to Joseph’s contentions. Being in classes 4 and 5 — or any of the others — has nothing to do with intelligence or probity. People are in these “classes” because of their relationship to the means of production: specifically, because they own nothing and have to work as capitalism allows them. In fact the groupings are not social classes at all, but lists made for administrative purposes. The only two classes are of owners and non-owners of the means of living. People are born not into “free choice” but into one or the other class and all the implications of its position.

If intelligence were a factor, we should like to be told the intelligence quotients of, say, shareholders in big companies; the royal family; or politicians who have their speeches written for them. Would Joseph say that breeding by any number of these who were of “low intelligence” was a threat to human stock? Of course not. There are, in any case, different answers for them. The slow-learning or recalcitrant offspring of the well-to-do are put out to private tutors in country vicarages to get them in shape for Oxbridge. The idea of intelligence is irrelevant to that sort of life. It is a yardstick-concept by which the ruling class picks over the working class for its own purposes; the working class insults itself by accepting it.

Different Meanings
Joseph spoke about “responsibility”. The fact is that the capitalist system which he represents and upholds depends on irresponsibility. To hand over control of one’s life, have its activity appropriated and accept the say-so of leaders and rulers, is irresponsible. Yet that is precisely what Joseph requires, the “choice” he wants exercised. It is not a question of Doublethink, but of class terminology. For his class, following its interests, the working class acts “responsibly” by not following its own!

If you look at the occupations which make up groups 3, 4 and 5, the matter becomes clearer still. They are nearly all useful occupations — manufacture, building, mining, transport, the essentials for social existence. Not so most of the occupations in groups 1 and 2. A few are; the majority are about as useful as a tapeworm. What do “intelligence” and “educational attainment” mean when they are put to the non-uses generated by capitalist society? A former drama student has remarked to the writer that when he sees acquaintances on TV it is always in commercials: singing the praises of canned soup, zooming through space with packets of Tasty Morsels. For this, they studied Shakespeare and toiled at voice and movement—now, humans behaving like idiots.

Let us tell Sir Keith Joseph and the co-diagnosers of his “problem” the truth. The working class is the intelligent, educated class which makes the wonders, and competently carries out the humdrum tasks, of the world we live in. Without that being so, there would be no electronic marvels or university buildings. Nor would there be the sumptuous dinners from which capitalist politicians rise to make their self-important speeches. Or dividends for the shareholders of Bovis Ltd., of which Joseph is vice-chairman.

Moral Humbug
The so-called moral questions can be put in perspective by referring to the 1949 Report of the Royal Commission on Population. This was concerned with finding ways to induce people of all groups and grades to have more children: to maintain the work force, for "military strength and security”, and for “the maintenance and extension of Western values and culture”. There was no talk then of threatening the human stock, or the immorality of girls under twenty having babies.

Of course the family as a socio-economic unit has largely broken down, but Joseph’s conception of why this happens is extremely naive. Apparently he believes a currency of “immoral” ideas is the cause of such a breakdown, whereas the opposite is true. The family’s life and functions were disrupted by the extension and intensification of the division of labour; following that, fresh ideas of morality were generated — without, however, affecting the existence of capitalism.

But what kind of society are we living in? Sex and reproduction are the strongest of human instincts and pleasures. The tragedy for the poor is being swindled out of enjoyment and fulfilment by poverty, inadequate housing, worry, and living on the edge of a high-priced culture. Many girls in that situation, said Joseph, are unmarried or deserted or divorced: how nice of him to point it out, from the comfort of Class 1. How nice of Mrs. Castle too, to deny that “socialism is synonymous with permissiveness”. Indeed, she is right. “Permission” means condescending to allow, and that has nothing to do with the free, responsible world Socialists envisage: Mrs. Castle’s “socialism” is not synonymous with Socialism.

It will not be too long before the working class demonstrates its intelligence, and its contempt for the Josephs and Castles, by getting rid of the system they stand for.
Robert Barltrop

Noise, Health and Capitalism (1974)

From the December 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

Noise is the invisible pollution of our time. This article will not dwell on the degree of annoyance it causes — the reader can very well judge this for himself and, in any case, annoyance varies considerably from individual to individual. Nor will it discuss the effect of noise on working efficiency. This problem can be left to our employers. It will, as the title suggests, deal mainly with the effect of noise on health, the reasons for the increase of noise in modern society and the prospects for a reduction of noise in the future.

The Effects of Noise on Health
Noise affects health directly and indirectly. By this is meant that noise can cause direct physical damage to the mechanism of hearing — or it may harm physical and mental health by a kind of chain reaction. An obvious example of the indirect effect is loss of sleep due to noise, the loss of sleep affecting health.

How important are the direct effects of noise? In terms of numbers of people becoming completely deaf, not at present very great. But for those unfortunate enough to be continually exposed to high levels of noise the result can be serious. What is called “occupational deafness” is due to damage of the delicate nerve endings of the inner ear, caused typically by factory noise suffered over an extended period of time. The levels of noise which can cause occupational deafness are not very high. It is estimated that workers are at risk when factory noise rises above 85 decibels. [1] This corresponds to the noise emitted by an average lorry, measured at 25 feet distance.

The effect of occupational deafness is insidious. First, the nerve endings which respond to high frequencies — that is, sounds of high pitch — are affected. The worker is not aware that deterioration has started. Gradually, however, the damage is extended down the frequency scale until he becomes deaf to the important upper speech frequencies. He finds conversation difficult and, later, impossible. He can ultimately become quite deaf.

As far as certain types of factory work are concerned, this hazard has now been met by the wearing of ear-muffs. Nevertheless, it was recently discovered that a quarter of the loom workers in Fife mills were deaf to the point of requiring hearing aids. [2] There are still however many workers, such as lorry drivers, operators of road drills and “pop” groups for whom defence measures are either neglected or are impractical.

But the effect of a generally noisy environment is of concern to us all. It was recently established that the hearing acuity of the natives of an African tribe between the ages of 70 and 79 was better than American males between the ages of 30 and 39. This was attributed to the quieter environment of the African tribesmen. [3]

This view is reinforced by the fact that in urbanized societies the hearing of men deteriorates, with age, much more rapidly than for women. This was at first thought to indicate a physiological difference between the sexes. But for the natives of the African tribe there was no difference between men and women. Evidently, in Western civilisations, the difference between men and women aurally is due to the fact that, on the whole, men are exposed to more noise than women.

Urban noise in many areas has now passed the danger level of 85 decibels due to road traffic, and is much higher near airports. One wonders whether the wearing of hearing aids may not one day be as common as the wearing of spectacles.

The indirect effects of noise on health are far more widespread and may indeed be more serious. Indirect effects are difficult to evaluate. If we take the example of noise causing loss of sleep, it is evident that ill-health among people living in noisy environments can be due not only to loss of sleep but also to poverty and poor diet, insecurity and mental strain, and many other factors associated with income groups which cannot afford quieter surroundings — or double glazing.

But the fact that the indirect effects of noise cannot be isolated and measured does not mean that they are any less serious. We know that loss of sleep — or depth of sleep — affects physical and mental health. We know that the frustrations to mental work caused by noise can result in nervous and digestive disorders. We know the need for the solace of a quiet garden after a hard day’s work.

The Reasons for the Increase of Noise
Why then is noise increasing in modern society? The immediate cause is obviously the increasing use of machinery in the factory, in the home, on building sites, for road works — and for transport.

When a machine produces noise there is a small wastage of energy in the form of sonic vibrations, that is, sound. Unfortunately this wastage is extremely small compared with the kinetic, or work-energy developed by the machine. There is therefore no commercial incentive to save this energy by reducing the noise. Unless the purchasers of machinery demand noise reduction, then no manufacturer will readily add to the cost of his machine, in the face of fierce competition, by quietening it — whether it be a lathe or a lorry.

If this is the immediate cause of increasing noise then the more basic cause becomes evident: the factor of cost in the competitive world of capitalism.

There are however subsidiary causes of increased noise, also linked with the economic constraints of capitalism. If one man can drive a large lorry which carries the same bulk of goods as would be carried by two smaller lorries, there will be a saving in wages. Employers as well as Socialists are aware that profits can be increased by a reduction in the wage bill. But the larger lorries require more powerful engines and noise is increased.

In the cut-throat competition between motor-car manufacturers the need to reduce steel has resulted in light metal bodies which amplify noise. Speed is a selling point. To produce a cheap car with low petrol consumption and high speed it is necessary to install “high-revving” engines. High “revs” result in high-pitch noise. The ear is far more sensitive to high frequencies than low. The noise produced is louder.

Similarly in the case of aircraft, importance is attached to a continuing increase of speed. The reader will be familiar with some of the reasons: getting to cheaper and sunnier holiday resorts within the worker’s annual fortnight, getting business executives to their trading destinations before their rivals. It may not be so obvious that a substantial saving in high salaries can be made by reducing the time business men and crews spend in the air. Setting aside the rather immature glorification of speed, its increase can be seen to have more powerful economic motives and the result has been a corresponding increase in noise.

These then are some of the causes of increased noise in modern society. Whether capitalist groups do, in the end, save money and increase profits by the introduction of more powerful machines and faster transport is open to question. Let us consider the numerous office blocks which are being built near main roads in our towns and cities, mostly without double glazing. The loss in efficiency due to noise disturbance for hundreds of thousands of workers is of increasing concern to their employers. Yet traffic noise is allowed to increase year by year. Already, employers are having to instal double glazing and artificial ventilation, the total cost of which may be far greater than the cost of quietening the vehicles which produce the noise.

But capitalists suffer from two handicaps: a need to make immediate profits and an inability to cooperate for their mutual advantage. While car manufacturers are only concerned with the profits of their own industry, they are not likely to consider the needs of those who employ office workers.

How Much is Noise Likely to be Reduced ?
So we have to ask the question: what chance is there, in a capitalist society, of materially reducing noise pollution ? It is evident that, so far, the situation is deteriorating. The Government, three years ago, introduced legislation to reduce the permissible levels of noise emitted by existing road vehicles to a maximum of 92 decibels, for lorries — and 89 decibels for lorries in production. The writer has measured everyday noise levels on some urban main roads at around 87 decibels and the reader will know how loud this is from his own experience. The legislation is obviously ineffective. Add to this the recent decision to allow EEC lorries to exceed the above limits by 3 decibels; take into account the increasing volume of traffic and we. cannot be very optimistic about the future. [4]

The outlook for aircraft noise is no better. In recent years aircraft disturbance has steadily increased — both in noise intensity and number of flights. There is only one large aircraft, the TriStar turbofan jet, which is substantially quieter than its competitors. The Concorde is as noisy as its predecessors. Of twelve types of large aircraft recently monitored all except the TriStar produced about the same level of noise — and these aircraft will be in the air for many years to come. [5] The average life expectancy of such aircraft is said to be 15 years. The only way of materially reducing the noise of existing aircraft over the next 15 years is to fit them with modified engines. This has been estimated to cost about £400,000 per aircraft and is generally considered to be economically impractical. [6]

In a book published after the Government’s rejection of Cublington as a site for a third London airport, it was stated that “it was the considered opinion of the Roskill Commission that the continued use of present-day aircraft and the increased weight of new aircraft like the Jumbo jets would produce a net increase in noise levels up to the 1980’s. Not until 1985.” said the Commission, “could one expect the noise levels of aircraft to drop to the level they were in 1967 and one could not reasonably hope for any real alleviation of the problem before the end of the century”. [7]

The history of noise pollution, like other forms of pollution is typical of capitalist development: the creation of social problems followed by the most feeble attempts to remedy them. It is no use blaming the people caught up in the pressures of capitalist competition. We need an economic and social system from which the profit motive has been removed, in which there is no longer national or international competition, in which progress is measured in terms of human welfare.

That system is Socialism.

References :
[1] Noise, (The Wilson Report) H.M.S.O. 1963, page 125.
[2] “The Danger to Health of Excessive Noise” Adam Fergusson, Times March 17th 1970.
[3] Hearing, Journal of the Royal National Institute for Deaf.
[4] Times, August 8th. 1974.
[5] “Aircraft Noise”, Which, August 1974.
[6] Observer March 12th. 1972.
[7] Cublington, A Blueprint for Resistance, David Perman, 1973, page 28.
John Moore

Socialism Means Free Access (1974)

From the December 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

The case for a classless society, in which production is geared to satisfying human needs, and in which production for sale and the market economy are abolished, is underlined by the fact that modern industry and technology have now been developed to the stage where they could provide an abundance of consumer goods and services for all the people of the world. The problem of production — of how to produce enough for everybody — has been solved. Man’s long battle to conquer scarcity has been won. Potential abundance is a reality. The task is to make abundance itself a reality.

This can never be done within a society based on the class ownership of the means of production, where wealth is produced for sale with a view to profit. The only framework within which abundance can be realized is a society where all resources, manmade as well as natural, have become the common heritage of all mankind, under their democratic control. On this basis production can be democratically planned to provide what human beings need. In such a society, the market, wages, profits, buying and selling, and money, would have no place. They would cease to exist.

A society of abundance is not an extension of today’s so-called “consumer society”, with its enormous waste of resources. It does not mean people will come to acquire more and more useless and wasteful gadgets. It simply means that people’s material needs, both as individuals and as a community, will be fully satisfied in a rational way.

Contrary to what is popularly believed (and carefully cultivated by the defenders of capitalism), man is not inherently greedy; human needs are not limitless. From a material point of view, human beings need a certain amount and variety of food, clothing and shelter; what this is in individual cases can soon be discovered by the individual himself — and would be if there were free access to consumer goods and services. But, it may be objected, with free access wouldn’t people take more than they needed? But why should they if they can be certain (as they would, be given the productive power of modern industry and the common ownership of the means of production) that there would always be enough to go round? After all, today when access to water (or at least to the amount of water consumed in any one period) is free, people only use what they need for washing, cooking etc. Similarly, when all consumer goods and services are freely available people could be expected to take only as much food, clothing etc. as they felt they needed. To take any more would be abnormal and pointless.

But could modern industry really supply enough for everybody to have free access to consumer goods and services? Certainly, the waste of capitalism wastes resources. First, there are the armed forces and armaments. Second, there are all the people, buildings and equipment involved with the market and money economy generally: banking, insurance, government pension and tax departments, salesmen, ticket collectors, accountants, cashiers etc. Indeed, it might be said that under capitalism well over half the population are engaged in such unproductive activities. Third, there is planned obsolescence, the deliberate manufacture of shoddy goods made to break down or wear out after a comparatively short period of time. In a rationally organized society, consumer goods could be made to last; this would mean an immense saving of resources. With the elimination of these three sources of waste that are inherent in capitalism, enough to adequately feed, clothe and house everybody could easily be produced.

Letters: Parliament and Dictators (1974)

Letters to the Editors from the December 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

Parliament and Dictators
R. Barltrop in “Parliament and Private Armies” may be right but I am not so sure. He says: “If a military-minded group seeks power it must do so as a political party.” Did Franco achieve it so? Or the Greek colonels, Chilean generals, Nasser, to mention a few?

“Political power”, he states, "cannot be transferred to bodies which do not hold it.” Perhaps not, but they could usurp it. “The Nazis were ineffectual until the majority of the German people elected them.” This is not the impression I got from William Sheridan Allen’s How the Nazis Gained Power, or from Robert Cecil’s The Myth of the Master Race: The Rosenberg Ideology. Rather the power was gained by fake, coercion, bully-boys. H. W. Schneider in Making the Fascist State tells a similar story with Mussolini.

If they need the backing of capital it will be provided should capital accept them as saviours whether with cross or truncheon.

The people here and the world over will probably have to seize power. As R. Barltrop wrote in the July ’73 Standard, “Our business is revolution”. The operative word is defined, great change; forcible substitution.

The SPGB is right in that people need no élite  to lead them. We have had far too much experience of middle-class aspirants to working-class leadership referring to them in a detached manner as though not of them. Some “intellectualize” the intellect until it bears no resemblance to the brain.

Westminster’s Hall of Clowns provides the evidence where performances equate with qualifications. It proves the truth of R. L. Stevenson’s words : “Of all professions, politics is generally regarded as the one for which no preparation is considered necessary." Generals could perform as well and if conditions demand it will undoubtedly do so.

The quality of writing in the Standard is high, contrasting sharply with meanderings elsewhere which for all the professional literacy could be adduced as emanating from the ill-educated such as myself. It is elating to realize that there are those of the common people, unsung by the minions of the media, who can confront and defeat them on most occasions.
W. Rellenck
London S.E.

The facts of the Nazis’ rise to power are as follows. In the German elections in March 1933 Hitler received 17,266,000 votes (43.9 per cent.) and his allies, the Nationalists, received 3,132,000 (8 per cent.), giving the Nazis and their supporters 51.9 per cent, of the votes and a clear majority. The Social Democrats received 7,176,000 (18.3 per cent.) and the Communists 4,845,000 (12.1 per cent.).

Six months earlier, though the Nazis were the largest party in Germany they were not in control of the political machinery. Hitler was derided by President Hindenburg and members of the government; his officers were charged and imprisoned, and their activities suppressed. But once in power, Hitler was able to turn the tables, to suppress and tyrannize his former opponents.

To say the power was gained by "fake, coercion, bully-boys” is another way of saying the Nazis gained support by crudely exploiting discontent; a familiar political course, which was attempted by the Communists and Social Democrats also. You are correct, of course, in saying the backing of capital is always provided. Hitler was supplied with funds by German industrial capitalists, armaments manufacturers in Germany and France, and American and other foreign investors who needed protection.

It is likewise a myth that Mussolini "seized power”. The Italian government (a democratic, constitutional one) and monarch wanted him in office, and arrangements to this end were made before the farcical “March on Rome”. Mussolini’s first Cabinet included a number of non-Fascists, and Parliament voted him emergency powers; while outside Parliament the Fascists exploited discontent with the so-called Socialist Party to gain support.

In the more recent examples you give, of course violent upheavals take place, but whoever is successful must (a) placate the mass of the population and (b) harness his aims to the needs of the capitalist system, if power is to be maintained by him. You assert that: “The people here and the world over will probably have to seize power.” If you mean the people, i.e. the great majority, capitalism will be impotent against their will when they become Socialist. The outcome will be not “seizing power” — which implies some kind of desperate fling — but taking control of the political machinery to abolish capitalism and establish Socalism.

Women's Lib. & "Bigots”
I was disgusted to read that at the 70th Annual Conference it was decided that being a member of Women’s Lib. is incompatible with membership of the SPGB. At the moment I have no wish to join Women’s Lib. but one of the reasons I left the Party was that I objected to having my life ordered about by a group of narrow-minded, authoritarian bigots. I thought maybe the Party would, however, gradually become more libertarian as time went on but it does not appear to be so. It is a great pity because the Socialist message is itself invincible. Soon Party members will have to get permission before they can join the local choir, I expect — a heinous crime to sing Christmas carols or vote for anything that is going to improve the lot of the workers, both men and women.
Jeanne Conn
London S.E.9.

We are sorry that you think single-minded determination to pursue an object is bigotry However, the reasons why we find membership of Women’s Lib. incompatible with membership of the Socialist Party were set out at length in our July issue and in a reply to a correspondent in October. It would be more constructive if you explained where, in your opinion, that reasoning is wrong.

Have you considered that the left-wing parties — Communists, International Socialists and so on — which support Women’s Lib. stand for the establishment of dictatorial regimes, and exclude democracy from their practice?

Your letter makes some wild assertions which are quite untrue, and you should be ashamed of them. As you know, members of the SPGB have interests and pursuits from football and painting to the cinema and genealogy (don’t know if there are choristers) and lead what lives they wish without interference by the Party. Would you have expected your letter to be published if half of what you say were true?

Enclosed is money order for the next 12 issues of the Socialist Standard.

I would like to compliment you on the recent Anniversary issue which I thought quite outstanding. Also I believe the SS is now much more interesting than previously due to the correspondence columns being given greater prominence.

Keep up the good work. You might be interested in the enclosed cartoon which appeared recently in the Sydney Morning Herald. As you can see we still have a long way to go.

With best wishes from "down under".
George Boldison,
New South Wales

Obituary: Tom Simpson (1994)

Obituary from the October 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard

Tom's rather sudden death in July deprives the Party of a member of long standing. After joining Hackney Branch in November 1941, Tom heartily involved himself in socialist agitation. He was particularly active during the war years — one of the most testing times for Socialist Party members — and served three months of a twelve-month sentence in Wormwood Scrubs prison for his refusal to undertake military service. Subsequently he became secretary and then treasurer of Hackney Branch until its eventual break-up. In the post-war period Tom moved to Putney and became a member of the South West London Branch until the difficulties of late-night transport forced him to transfer to Central Branch.

His death ended fifty-two years of Party membership. He will be missed not only as a twin brother and close personal friend but as a Party member whose concepts were rooted in the fundamentals of the socialist case.
R. S.

50 Years Ago: ‘1984’ unthinkable? (2005)

The 50 Years Ago column from the January 2005 issue of the Socialist Standard

Last month an adaptation of George Orwell’s famous novel, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four” appeared as a  television play. The impact on audiences was generally agreed to have been startling—too startling, according to newspaper complaints about unsuitability and lack of “entertainment value.” The intention of the author, however,was not to horrify people, but to make them think and reflect, and certainly the play must have succeeded to a large extent in doing just that.

The story is set in London of the future, which has become Airstrip One in Oceania, one of three States into which the world is divided. These states are permanently at war with each other, though the actual fighting takes place in remote parts, in the jungle or the desert. The social structure in Oceania is a  hierarchy consisting of the Proles, the Outer Party and the Inner Party. At the bottom are the Proles, people doing purely routine work, ignorant, stupefied by abysmal and degrading conditions. Not very different are the Outer Party members, without privileges, living and working like automata, named and numbered on their clothing, rationed—and ceaselessly spied on by the two-way tele-screen through which the Thought Police watch and rule.

By contrast, the Inner Party members are the privileged, the givers of orders, the only people with  servants, with such luxuries as wine, and with freedom to switch off their tele screens when they wish. Above all stands the figure of the leader, Big Brother. Whether he is a real person is immaterial—he is the “expression of the Party.” (…)

All the most detestable aspects of the world today are enlarged and caricatured; the slogans like  “Ignorance Is Strength,” “War Is Peace”; the Ministry of Plenty announcing ration reductions as increases, the Ministry of Peace proclaiming “another great victor over our enemies,” the Ministry of Truth adjusting the facts of past history and “amending all records accordingly.”

The newspaper critics of this television play generally assumed that it was to be taken as a warning against totalitarianism as exemplified by Hitler’sGermany and in Russia today. When he wrote the book in 1949, Orwell doubtless drew inspiration from the Nazi regime and “Big Brother” Stalin. Yet the warning is not really against the tendencies and conditions in one “bad” part of the world sullying the “good.” It is against the actual and potential denial of human qualities that is implicit in the world set-up today. The theme is a powerful condemnation of the whole system of privileged and subject classes, of governmental control to preserve the system by crushing out any opposing idea. More than anything, perhaps, it is a warning of the effect of the mass-production of ideas on those who lose the desire to think for themselves, and who leave everything to “Big Brother.”

(From an article by “Stan”, Socialist Standard, January 1955)

Dear Theresa . . . (2019)

From the January 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Theresa,

Did you have a good Christmas?  Was it turkey or duck?  I hope that you didn’t succumb to any of that vegan nut roast nonsense!  Those green terrorists have got a lot to answer for.  The next thing you know they’ll be trying to cancel Christmas altogether on some flimsy excuse that it is an orgy of gluttonous over-consumption which is destroying the planet.

Did you get any time for Christmas shopping at all?  Hopefully you managed to grab a couple of hours in between yet another of those whistle-stop tours around the capitals of Europe to secure a few more crumbs from those stingy foreigners.

I was ready to settle down in front of the telly one Tuesday in December for the Brexit vote, only to find that the show had been cancelled.  Then, on the Wednesday, came the announcement of a vote of no confidence in your leadership, but that turned out to be a damp squib as well.  You are nothing if not tenacious – a characteristic for which you are often lauded by your dwindling band of supporters.  Although I’m not sure tenacity, of itself, is a desirable attribute without a qualifier.  Hitler was very tenacious, but most people would have preferred that he had been less so.

I dread to think what the corporate media will do with themselves when the curtain finally comes down on the Brexit circus.  They will need another good war.  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria all seem to be losing their puff.  Even the War on Terror is getting jaded.  The media is rather churlish about covering the war in Yemen; probably because of the genocide, mass starvation, cholera, and such like raining down on those poor people; in large measure compliments of the UK Government.  Do you have any concerns about being hauled before the ICC for war crimes?  I shouldn’t worry.  They are a spineless bunch when it comes to prosecuting leaders from rich Western countries.  If you could conjure up a fresh war it would also have the advantage of distracting from your problems at home; a tried and tested device for political leaders to boost their flagging popularity.

But let’s get back to Brexit.  For us in the Socialist Party it is of no consequence whether we are ruled by a plutocratic feckless elite from Brussels, or a plutocratic feckless elite from Westminster.  As socialists we don’t believe in borders, in fact we don’t believe in nation states; without which there can be no immigration problem, nor any wars.  What a bummer!  We want to create a decentralised democratic society living in harmony with the rest of life on our planet; where everyone contributes according to their ability and takes according to their need.  Now there’s a novelty for you!

Anyway, time to get into the New Year spirit!  There’s nothing like the chance to gobble up what remains of our depleted planet to fend off the winter blues.  You’ve already been doing your bit by expanding the fossil fuel industry and reducing incentives for green energy.  Did you get an opportunity to read the latest IPCC report?  I wouldn’t bother.  It’s depressing stuff.  You’d think they could have brought out something more upbeat for Christmas.

And while I remember there’s just that little matter of the government’s contempt of parliament to put to bed.  I think you should go, cap in hand, to Speaker Bercow’s study and accept your punishment.  I always found that a magazine down the back of the trousers helps soften the blows.


Tim Hart

Ideology and Revolution pt.3 (2017)

From the December 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

Part 2
The concluding part of our series on revolutions and the ideology under which they are carried out.
Russia has always represented an enigma to historians. It is obviously connected to European culture but it is also recognisably very different. The reasons for this have pre-occupied many politicians, historians and economists in the west for centuries; Marx, famously, thought of it as a dangerous bastion of reaction that would confront and oppose the development of socialism. One element of consensus among the attempts to understand Russia’s relatively slow economic progress is the overwhelming scale of the country. Until the 19th century the population was too small to serve the needs of both agrarian feudalism and the developing capitalism of the cities. A series of military defeats seriously curtailed international trade and the internal market was enfeebled by the population’s lack of spending power. The retention of serfdom was a mechanism specifically devised by the feudal lords to chain workers to their estates and prevent them from either drifting off into the vast wilderness to farm for themselves or search for better wages in the cities. This was recognised as a handicap by some of the more progressive elements within the Russian hierarchy, including some of the Tsars. Economically they could not compete with the industrial might of Britain, America and Germany and so were trapped in a backward economic cycle. Many of the powerful aristocrats were aware that industrialisation needed better educated workers and a wealthy middle class, and they feared the political implications (the French Revolution being their nightmare scenario). However these economic changes were unstoppable and the collision between the anachronistic Tsarist autocracy and emerging capitalism became devastatingly obvious with the disaster of the First World War. Of all the great powers Russia was the least equipped to fight such an industrialised conflict and the stage was set for the Russians to make their revolution.

In 1905 the Russian bourgeoisie entered into a coalition of rebellion which petitioned the Tsar for political change but it was ruthlessly crushed and many were killed. In a concession to the mood of the country together with the need to end a nation-wide strike a parliament (Duma) was promised. When it did not do as it was told, it was promptly shut down by a Tsar who, like Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France, could not countenance any challenge to his power of ‘divine right’. In the spring of 1917 the war was going so badly that the Tsar was forced to abdicate and the Duma was again reassembled. Among the political parties present within this parliament were the Russian Social Democratic Party who, like the other members of the ‘Second International’, gave lip service to the ideas of Marxist socialism but were, in fact, bourgeois reformists. If they had not tried to continue the war in coalition with liberals and conservatives it is possible that Russia would have followed the traditional path to capitalism. When they made this tragic mistake and the country fell into chaos again the local and regional councils or ‘soviets’, formed during the struggles of 1905, filled the power vacuum. Not unlike the ‘communes’of the sans-culottes during the French Revolution these organisations competed with central government for power. As has been already discussed in depth by this journal in October, the Bolsheviks came to power by promising to stop the war and feed the people. They at least managed the former undertaking but at the cost of a military dictatorship together with the nationalisation of the means of production that was to give the state complete power over every aspect of Russian life. At first the new regime embraced the soviets but it was only a matter of time before their power was usurped by the Bolsheviks and they survived in name only. As with the English and French revolutions the result was capitalism, or rather in the case of Bolshevik Russia something called state capitalism. For the immense majority, it amounted to the same thing: exploitation by, and subjugation to, a small power elite.

If we look at the ideologies of those competing for power in Russia at that time what do we see? Certainly the liberals and conservatives believed in some of the enlightenment ideals that preceded the French revolution but, ironically, it was Lenin who really admired the Machiavellian tactics of the likes of Robespierre. Lenin’s obsession with power and leadership was essentially bourgeois as were, to the surprise of Rosa Luxemburg upon meeting him, most of his moral and cultural values. Why was it then that he so doggedly proclaimed himself and his regime as socialist?  Perhaps he was so enamoured by the political insights and intellectual rigour of socialism, especially through the works of Karl Marx, that he was reluctant to abandon them in the light of Russian political reality even after the non-appearance of the anticipated European-wide socialist revolution. He identified himself with socialism to the extent that he was prepared to pervert the concept into its antithesis. Marx’s quip about ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’(i.e. democracy) became the excuse for a totalitarian regime. He would not admit the impossibility of creating socialism in one country, especially one that had yet to experience the political consequences of capitalism. The other possibility, of course, is that once he had tasted power he could not give it up and his ‘socialism’served as a justification for this. There is little evidence that many understood slogans like ‘all power to the soviets’as having anything to do with socialism and, as we have seen, many who did think of themselves as socialist were reformists who did not believe in revolution. Yet again the slogans used were primarily expedients to manipulate those who could enable the elite’s rise to power.

The failure of the Bolshevik regime to produce anything remotely resembling socialism is testament to the Marxist understanding of how history proceeds. Without the potential for abundance and the class consciousness created by industrial capitalism, socialism is impossible. That so many of Europe’s intellectuals were seduced by Bolshevik propaganda underlines their idealism and the political danger inherent in the ignorance of historical materialism. To paraphrase Marx: ‘men create history but only within the limitations of their historical context’. To understand any political activity it is first necessary to comprehend the tectonics of economic evolution and the historical level of the class struggle it has enabled.

The historical reality of the English, French and Russian revolutions was the political consolidation of the transition from feudalism to capitalism which no superficial ideological differences can conceal. The subsequent history of these countries is entirely due to the economic and political logic of capitalism and has nothing to do with the ideals of Puritan Christianity, The Enlightenment, or Marxism. Socialism will not be ideological in so far as it will resolve the class struggle that has created the need for ideals within which class minorities struggle for intellectual and political supremacy. With its emphasis on reason and its rejection of faith Marxism has its roots within the European Enlightenment, but it is the antithesis of the idealism of Voltaire and Rousseau which, in the hands of Robespierre and Napoleon, became excuses for political authoritarianism—the true  essence of all bourgeois ideology. By understanding the class struggle socialists cannot be manipulated by ideology. Once they become the immense majority the revolution becomes inevitable as does the dissolution of all political parties, including the socialist party itself, after its conclusion. Lenin did not live to see the nemesis (Stalin, the gulags and starvation) that his hubris had helped to create for the Russian people. They still await their liberation. Let’s hope that it’s not another hundred years before this is accomplished, with their help, by a real global socialist revolution.

Ideology and Revolution pt.2 (2017)

From the November 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

Part 1
In the second part of this three-part series we look at the French Revolution
On the 4th April 1727 a leading French intellectual was present at the state funeral of Sir Isaac Newton in London. His name was Voltaire and what he found most impressive about the grand occasion was that although Newton was born a commoner his work had gained him such prestige as to warrant so high a national honour. Such a thing could never have happened in France at that time where only members of the nobility could hope to provoke such national recognition. This was a testament to the complete political domination of the English bourgeoisie who, after their revolution in the 1640s, had fought off an attempted counter revolution in 1688 and installed a constitutional monarch, an act of religious tolerance, free trade and even a ‘bill of rights’; something which the French middle class could only dream of. The new English ruling class embraced the symbiotic relationship of science and technology which was soon, through the immanent ‘industrial revolution’, to make them far wealthier than many of the petty European feudal monarchies. Isaac Newton became one of the first icons of the intellectual movement that turned its focus from religious faith to scientific reason in what we now call ‘The Enlightenment’. Newton presented society with a universal natural mechanism that had the potential to explain everything – including, in the hands of philosophers and political radicals, the perceived intellectual and moral progression of human cultural activity through history. It was to be the French intellectuals who were to transform this radical philosophy into a political ideology with which to fuel their own bourgeois revolution.

We have seen that it was the Protestant Reformation that enabled the English bourgeoisie to intellectually challenge the might of reactionary international Catholicism and which, in turn, informed the ideological propaganda used in their revolutionary struggle with their king. In France the Reformation was only ever partially successful and eventually almost entirely succumbed to the ‘counter reformation’. As a result the capitalist mode of production was continually handicapped by the very same feudal economic relationships that had so frustrated the English middle classes in the first part of the 17th century. This underlying class struggle was simmering and waiting to burst into revolution in France by the mid to late 18th century. As we have seen, it was the French intellectuals’ use of Enlightenment philosophy which was to reflect this remorseless economic and political tension. Foremost among these was Dennis Diderot’s Encyclopaedia which attempted the complete reformulation of knowledge through an enlightenment perspective. Together with writers such as Rousseau and Voltaire they began work on this monumental undertaking which was immediately recognised as a threat to the establishment by those who sought to defend the ‘Ancien Régime’. Another surprising element that served to weaken the paradigms of continental Catholicism came from a most unlikely source. Portugal had always been devout and, like its neighbour Spain, a bastion of reactionary autocracy. In 1755 a mighty earthquake hit its capital Lisbon destroying most of the city including many churches together with their congregations. A reciprocal tsunami augmented the devastation and death toll. Many believed this to be a breach of the covenant with the Christian god and served to seriously weaken belief in traditional religion and the social structures that went with it. All of these uncertainties, new intellectual paradigms and the manifest injustices of feudal autocracy were about to find their political expression as part of the explosion that was the French Revolution.

Action replay
It all started, as almost an action replay of the English revolution, when the French king was forced to call a parliament (Estates General) to deal with a financial crisis. France was near bankruptcy as a result, ironically, of Louis XVI helping to finance the American republican struggle against England. This parliament was composed of three ‘estates’: nobility, clergy and the commons. Although the deputies of the commons represented over 90 percent of the French people they only had a third of the votes, the other two thirds belonging to the nobility and clergy. This made it inevitable that they would be out-voted by the other two estates on most issues of contention. Upon being called to Versailles the members of the commons produced a book of grievances which addressed, together with many other problems, this profoundly anti-democratic arrangement. Unsurprisingly the other estates prevaricated and the commons lost patience and proclaimed itself as a National Assembly which represented the entire population of France and on its return to Versailles, some days later, to begin its work the delegates found themselves locked out of their former meeting place. Undeterred they proceeded to the nearest large interior space within the massive palace complex (a tennis court) where they took an oath not to separate until they had produced a political national constitution.

Thus began the revolution on 20 June 1789. Despite a provocative build-up of reactionary military forces the Assembly quickly got to work abolishing feudalism and producing a Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (again very reminiscent of the English parliament’s Petition of Right and then its revolutionary ‘Grand Remonstrance’ of some 150 years before). In Paris, meanwhile, the decades of oppression of the poor had exploded into violence which culminated in the storming of the Bastille and the subsequent arming of the ‘sans culottes’ (proto working class) who were to defend the revolution against both traitors within the country and then to fight the revolutionary wars against the other nations which sought to destroy the new regime. The French bourgeoisie originally, as had the English, wanted a constitutional monarchy rather than a Republic but when Louis, like Charles I, was proven a traitor he was executed. By now the Assembly had moved to Paris where it came under the influence of a radical republican group (the Jacobins) and their most prominent member Maximilien Robespierre who, arguably, took the revolution in a direction that the moderate members of the bourgeoisie had never intended and which certainly did not correspond with the values of the Enlightenment.

These radicals would have been unable to take control of the revolution without the confluence of a series of events; civil war, international war, inflation and sectarian rivalry all contributed to what we now call ‘The Terror’ and the reign of Madame La Guillotine. In some ways this goes to prove that the ideology of the Enlightenment was, at best, only an idealistic aspiration and, at worst, merely empty propaganda to motivate those who did the fighting. Certainly when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power during a coup d’état in 1799 and subsequently ‘exported’ the revolution to most of continental Europe it was seen eventually for what it really was – an empire of exploitation and plunder. Oliver Cromwell had preceded Napoleon in this by his violent imperial activities in Ireland and both individuals represented the realities of bourgeois rule, stripped of its high minded rhetoric.

Since the days of these capitalist revolutions many millions of workers have continued to kill and be killed in the name of high ideals such as liberty, fraternity and equality. This does not, of course, invalidate these ideals and the integrity of those like Rousseau and Diderot who believed in them but, like the radical Christian ideals of the Puritans, they captured the ‘zeitgeist’ of their time, and as such, were open to manipulation by the powerful. That power, in the end, derived not from ideals but from economic and political forces which were little understood at that time. Both the French and English revolutions had the same result – the coming to power of the capitalist class despite the use of seemingly opposite ideologies (philosophical reason as opposed to religious faith); dialectically speaking such ideas are taken up because they seem to contain, however vaguely understood, antithetical elements with regard to the prevailing paradigms that rationalise the existing system. Such ideas always find an audience because of the oppression and exploitation necessary to sustain any private property system. These ideas are catapulted into the political spotlight when economic and historical circumstances make revolutionary change inevitable. Socialists, with the invaluable help of Karl Marx, have understood this for over a hundred years but, ironically, this political insight also fell victim to the manipulation of a new ruling class – namely the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. Does this imply that Marxism/socialism is merely just another form of idealism that can be manipulated and used as propaganda by power elites?

In part three we investigate the relationship between the revolutionary events in Russia in 1917 and the political theory of socialism and what both owed, if anything, to the Enlightenment.

The Economic League Discover Some "Socialist" Fallacies. (1929)

From the January 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Why should blue papers cause us trepidation Why do we look upon them with suspicion? Seidlitz powders? Possibly. A pink wrapper would be an affront both to human intelligence and to medical science. Or is it that we associate blue papers with somewhat peremptory requests to show cause why, etc., or with polite invitations to appear at certain not greatly sought after institutions? Whatever the reason may be, I must say that the blue paper which was thrust into my hands recently, though possessing the conventional aspect of terror, did not justify the fears aroused by its presentment. But, like most productions of the “Economic League”—for it proved to be one of' their efforts—it was not only harmless, but a really fine piece of imaginative literature, which fully excuses the existence of this obscure but very “well breached” body of “economists." (What they actually economise with will be shown later.)

The title of this leaflet intrigued me greatly—“Some Socialist Fallacies Exploded"—and I was astounded to find that the perpetrator was none other than (well, guess—wrong first time!) the great C. E. Ross, whose name should be a household word, but who is unfortunately unknown to the writer. Of the Indian Finance Department, too—think of that! (Whether of the League of Nations or Woolworth's, we are left to wonder.) Retired, of course. After reading a little, I discovered that the title was most apt, except perhaps in one trifling particular—due to a printer's error, I assume. (With these delicate penny-a-liner-linotype machines, the tiddy-pin occasionally jams in the collychuff, thus disconnecting the caggle-waggle—and hence misprints occur.) In this case it is apparent that the word “Socialist’' has got substituted for "Capitalist"—not that such a detail should inconvenience the Economic League, who can always plead their innocence to any charge of being fastidious with regard to such meticulous, hair-splitting distinctions.

The first item on the menu contains real mental pabulum :—
   Fallacy No. I.—All wealth is created by the labour of the working-class alone. Therefore it should be owned and controlled by that class. This is the first of the fundamental principles laid down in the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. It is the real foundation of the whole Socialist creed, as all the other principles and objects of Socialism are more or less dependent upon it. It has often been called “the great Socialist Lie," but I prefer to call it a grossly misleading half-truth. It is perfectly true that labour is a most important factor in the creation of wealth, but it is not the only factor, and the principle, as laid down, is misleading for two reasons. In the first place, because it ignores the other two factors, viz., Natural Resources and Capital
I patiently waded through the “Manifesto" referred to, but I was most annoyed to find the printer had left this “ first of the fundamental principles " out of my copy, and in fact the Socialist Party has never “laid down" any such principle. To a well-attuned ear (not a cabbage-leaf flap like my own) the word “Manifesto" is acoustically synonymous with “Declaration of Principles,” and possibly would look the same to a member of the Economic League. On this assumption, therefore, the reader is invited to compare this Fallacy No. 1 with what is stated in the Declaration of Principles on the back page of this Journal. Comparisons are odious, of course, but I have no doubt the reader will note how punctilious the Economic League have been in rendering an exact replica of our principles. On the other hand, if he is of a perverse disposition, he may not! Except for the fact that the principles state that the working-class have not the spook-like quality of being able to “create” wealth, but merely “produce” wealth by expending their labour upon “natural resources” (implied by the use of the term “land"), the fact that no ethical deductions are drawn as to what the working-class should or should not own and control, and the further fact that the principles very definitely and emphatically state how the working-class can abolish classes altogether and bring into being a classless society, which will democratically own and control the “means of living" in the interest of the whole community—not in the interest of a class which has ceased to exist; except for these paltry differences, the Economic League has "edited” our principles in the pleasing fashion usually associated with their propaganda, which invariably subordinates mere expediency to unequivocal expression of the truth. It may be excusable, however, on their part to refrain from adding difficulty to their case by taking the Socialist principles too literally.

That the Socialist dog may be beaten by any old stick—and quite jolly right, too!— is again ably demonstrated in the passage which follows on from the one last quoted:
  And, secondly, because it defines labour as that of the working-class alone, by which is implied, and evidently intended to imply for the delusion of the uninitiated, the labour of the so-called wage slave only, to the exclusion of mental (i.e. inventive and administrative) labour. The omission of natural resources as a factor in the creation of wealth is significant. Without natural resources there could be no wealth, and it is to be noted that, in the creation of this essential factor, neither industrial capital nor labour had any part or lot whatsoever. Many people, besides Socialists, do not seem to realise the importance and significance of the fact that the word "Capital” is derived from caput, the head, and this, coupled with the physiological fact that all physical actions emanate from the brain, clearly demonstrates that, in the creation of wealth, the work of caput, the head, is of infinitely greater importance than that of manus, the hand.
I should hate to presume, but might j not the term "Capital” be derived from “capio—I take ”? If this should be the case, "capital” would apparently mean "I take all,” but such an expression could only have significance in games of cards, so this derivation does not seem to fill the bill.

Obviously caput, the head, is of far more importance than manus, the hand, though both might be of equal utility in, say, knocking a nail in a wall—with a hammer, I mean! But these Capitalists have developed their heads to such a degree that they could knock screws into the sides of battleships with them, and in the event of a coal dispute they would be able to provide all the necessary fuel simply by meeting and putting, their heads together, wooden they? (Steady!)

Whilst I might agree with the Economic League that the Capitalist is far too brainy to indulge in such a coarse expedient as WORK while he can buy working-class brains to perform the functions of inventors, managers, supervisors, agents, administrators, foremen, and indeed every function necessary to the effective running of the Capitalist system, yet I think they are somewhat unkind to saddle the poor chap with the responsibility for the "direction” of industry. Take the coal industry, for example. The remarks of Lord Melchett (Alf Mond to myself and other intimates) in his presidential address to the Institute of Fuel (“Daily Herald,” November 22nd), if they refer to the Capitalist in the coal industry, do not accord them the justice they deserve.
  The present methods of coal distribution in this country arc in a shockingly primitive condition.
 Coal was being dragged in small quantities, and in a quite unsystematic manner, about the towns. Two or three coal carts could often be seen in one street, each delivering a few hundredweights at a time.
  Then they had the so-called “qualities” of coal, which scientifically they knew did not exist.
  If all this could be standardised, simplified and unified, everybody would do much better. Whatever corner one touched there was an entire waste going on.
  Turning to the productive side, Lord Melchett professed to see efforts made by the colliery owners towards peace in industry. He expressed his pleasure, and added: "If they had only done one-tenth of what they are doing now two years ago, we should never have had the strike." The coal trade was faced with the problem of tiding over the present period of disorganisation and over-production in such a way that the world's output of coal when used with the greatest economy would satisfy its needs.
  Nearly 300,000 miners were unemployed, and it was said that between 200,000 and 250,000 were a permanent unemployable surplus in the industry. It was a desperate load for an industry to assume, and the general desolation caused was almost too dreadful to think about.
  Internal reorganisation should take place promptly. In what other industry would unproductive units be tolerated, such as were seen in the coal trade the world over?
One would almost think that that was said by a naughty Socialist, wouldn’t one? It may be, however, that the Capitalist "directs” in every industry but the coal industry, and the Economic League may be right after all!

But how refreshing it is to find that the Economic League can agree with us that sunshine, rain, the ocean, land, etc. (or "natural resources” so called) were not "created” by the Capitalist, and that this "is significant.” They do not state, however, whether the significance lies in the fact that the Capitalist draws most of the advantages from them, or in the fact that wealth is produced from them by the labour of the working-class alone—the Capitalist is far too busy with other amusements to bother about this one. If the Economic League can afford the sum of 2d. from their coffers for the pamphlet “Socialism,” they will find additional evidence of the subtle manner in which these Socialists “exclude” “mental” labour from their calculations. On page 2, for instance, it states :—
  The essential thing is that the member of the working-class has to sell his labour-power in order to live. Beside this salient fact all else pales into insignificance. The differences of dress, pay, education, habits, work, and so on that are to be observed among those who have to sell their working power in order to live are as nothing compared with the differences which mark them off from the capitalists. No matter how well paid the former is, or how many have to obey his commands, he himself has a master. He has to render obedience to another, to someone who can send him adrift to endure the torments of unemployment. Because he has to sell his labour-power, his whole life must be lived within prescribed limits. His release from labour is short and seldom; he has no security of livelihood; he has always to fear that a rival may displace him.
No! We have not noticed that the “abilities" of the Capitalist are used to "blackleg" on the working-class, who appear to have the monopoly of WORK, mental or physical—he does not keep dogs and bark himself.

Well, reader, the first “Socialist" fallacy having gone off with an appropriate bang, the consideration of the others can be left over for our next issue.