Thursday, March 21, 2019

Letter: This “Age of Plenty” (1934)

Letter to the Editors from the August 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

A correspondent (Jacobus, Heme Bay) writes as follows: —
   “This is declared to be an age of plenty, but there does not seem to be much sign of it. Can you say what means will have to be adopted so that all can share in the plenty? Will the State have to devise the means ?”

Reply.
The phrase "Age of Plenty" has been popularised in recent times chiefly by the American "Technocrats” and the followers of Major Douglas. It is also used by Sir Oswald Mosley on the one hand, and by sections of the Labour Party and I.L.P. on the other. The meaning they attach to it is that there has recently been a stupendous increase in the powers of production, resulting from machinery and other improvements, and that it only requires some modification of the monetary system to enable those powers to be utilised, thus supplying plenty for everybody with a negligible expenditure of labour and without interfering with the essentials of the capitalist system of society. In this sense the notion of an "Age of Plenty" is almost wholly false. In addition it is exceedingly dangerous, since the acceptance of it turns attention away from the real problem facing the working class, and from the solution to that problem. For example, one conclusion arrived at by the Douglasites is that machinery is rapidly reducing to a negligible quantity the need for human labour in production. Therefore, say the Douglasites, there will soon be no working class, all will be unemployed, thus destroying the very basis of the working-class movement. Anyone who accepts this false argument will naturally come to believe that the possibility of the conquest of political power by a Socialist working class has also been destroyed. For these and other reasons the believers in an "Age of Plenty" necessarily find themselves on the side of the opponents of Socialism.

The true position can be summed up as follows. From the point of view of what would be possible under common ownership the present powers of production are to a large extent wasted, the waste showing itself in the voluntary idleness of many able-bodied persons whose property incomes enable them to live without working, in the compulsory idleness of the unemployed, the waste of competition and advertising, the waste of armaments, and the maintenance of armed forces, etc., etc. This aspect of capitalism has been known to Socialists ever since the beginnings of the Socialist movement. The question is gone into in our pamphlet, “Socialism," where it is shown that as regards the technical conditions of production, the volume of wealth produced could be approximately doubled if these various forms of waste were eliminated.

But how can they be eliminated? Only the Socialist can provide the answer. It is impossible to eliminate this waste until capitalism itself has been abolished. The waste arises naturally and inevitably out of capitalism; it is not accidental. Unemployment under capitalism is a necessity to the running of industry on a profit-making basis. The rivalry of interests of national groups of capitalists inevitably produces the danger of war and therefore necessitates the maintenance of armed forces. Likewise capitalism, by the stigma it attaches to work, will always encourage members of the propertied class to cultivate idleness and non-productive occupations.

Under capitalism the capitalist class own and control the means of production and distribution and there is no way whatsoever of getting those means utilised for “production for use" instead of "production for profit,” except by first taking them out of the ownership and control of the capitalists and making them the common property of society as a whole. That can only be done by a Socialist majority first obtaining control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces. When that has been achieved, the world’s powers of production will be utilised to the full, freed from the wastes and hindrances of capitalism. Even so, there will still be no question of an "Age of Plenty,” as envisaged by the Douglasites and others, for their fantastic visions of productivity already increasing tenfold and a hundredfold are the result of ignorant misreading of the facts before them. Human labour has not been ousted by machinery; productivity increases very slowly indeed, and although under Socialism all sorts of barriers will have been removed, the powers of production as they exist at present will not by any means suffice to enable the world to live without work, as is the fallacious belief of many who use the term "Age of Plenty.” 
Edgar Hardcastle


The Church and Slums (1934)

From the August 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

Some eighteen months ago, public attention was focussed on the Church’s activities as ground landlords of large estates, notably one at Paddington, and criticism was very outspoken as to the state of the property. (See Daily Herald, January 23rd, 1933, and Socialist Standard, June, 1933.)

Speaking of the Church’s attitude to the matter at that time, Mr. G. W. Currie, of the Westminster Survey Group, said:
  “For three years past every effort has been used to stir the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to take some action in their capacity as ground landlords. It is true they have indicated their willingness to fall in with any improvement scheme that may be started, but nothing has been done.” (Daily Herald, January 23rd, 1933.)
Apparently since then, some move has been made, perhaps as a result of “misdirected criticism” and “misrepresentation of motive” (i.e., as a result of the limelight), together with “falling in with a scheme” started by someone else, for we learn from the Daily Chronicle (January 19th, 1934) that “improvements are put in hand to the tune of £500,000," and Mr. Geo. Middleton, First Church Estates Commissioner, in a White Paper issued by the Commissioner, says:
  “The Commissioners are not slum landlords. They are good and public spirited landlords. They have never pretended that they do not possess property 'no longer satisfactory for family occupation,’ but they are always reviewing the state of property in their hands.” (Daily Chronicle, ibid.)
That apathy describes the Church’s attitude to all social activities for centuries. In this case they expect 3 per cent. on their outlay, and any more to come, glad of it.

Let Mr. Middleton continue from his White Paper: —
   “Their London reconditioning scheme now on hand up to £500,000, is not an act of philanthropy, but an investment of capital in acceptance of the responsibilities of good and enlightened ownership.”
And, we learn, “They cannot look for a return of more than 3 per cent.”

So we see that they are out on the search for profit, like their patrons, the capitalists, and the grudging nature of the “improvements” they are undertaking can be seen from this further quotation from their White Paper.
  “While in the past we have been able to help Public Utility Societies by the investment of their money, or by offering sites on most favourable terms, we cannot at present entertain applications for help of this kind because of the large direct commitments they are undertaking.”
The Church, like other property owners, is not a philanthropic body, but exists as regards its income from property upon the exploitation of the workers; as such it upholds the present system. Let any major labour issue crop up, and the Church will usually be found siding with the masters, and any faith or trust imposed on them is, from a working-class standpoint, misplaced. Rather should the workers get to understand their position and organise for Socialism and the abolition of poverty.
C. V. R.

SPGB Open Air Meetings (1934)

From the August 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

Click on the picture to enlarge.

The Passing of Comrade Henderson (1957)

Obituary from the Nov-Dec 1957 issue of The Western Socialist

Comrade Walter Henderson was born at Fifeshire, Scotland, one of a family of twelve brothers, and came across to Canada in 1911. He had been raised in a strict religious environment. In about 1913-14 some comrades first contacted him at Brandon, Manitoba, where he was conducting a Sunday school class in St. Paul’s church. In 1914 with the outbreak of World War I work was disrupted and suspended in that part of Canada. Henderson, with thousands of others, lost his job. He drifted into Winnipeg and hung around the Labor Temple where he met some members of the Socialist Party of Canada. He listened to them attentively, and by the time the war was over he had dropped his religion completely and was an enthusiastic member of the Winnipeg Local of the Socialist Party of Canada.

For a time he worked on the Winnipeg Street Railway. During the Winnipeg strike he was a most valiant and militant fighter. Later on he went to work in the Fort Rouge Railroad shops, where workers in the boiler department made him a delegate to the Trades & Labour Council. 

In 1923 Henderson came to Los Angeles. He got a job at the trade he had learned back in Scotland — plastering. With no jobs available in the depression, 1929, he and his wife Bridget, started a small bakery. After about four years of this he found himself back in the plasterer’s game.

From 1923 on he was a member of the Plasterers’ Local No. 2. For thirty years he was their delegate to the Los Angeles Central Labor Council and for about two years he was a business agent.

The present writer knew Com. Henderson for forty years, having worked with him most of the time. We both were charter members of Local Los Angeles WSP back in 1931. It was always a pleasure to be in his company. At all our social gatherings he was the life of the party. He was active in Party work until the very last. I ’phoned him about three hours before he passed away. He was, as always, full of enthusiasm, telling me he had just written four letters to San Francisco comrades making arrangements for them to hear tape recordings heard at recent WSP conference at Boston.

On Sunday, November 10th, two days before he passed away, our local group met at a comrade’s house. He was full of fun, but said he was not feeling up to par. He told us at this time he was much concerned about increasing the sale of our papers on the newsstands. He was also elated that he had collected $18.00 to send to the national office. I do not remember him ever missing a business meeting unless he was out of town.

Our comrade had hundreds of friends in the labor movement, many of whom disagreed with his Socialist principles but respected his sincerity. He was always outspoken and never hesitant in exposing those whom he thought were guilty of deception and hocus pocus in the labor movement.

At his funeral several hundred crowded the two rooms of the funeral parlor, with as many more unable to get inside. A summarized account of his life in the Socialist movement was given by W. A. Pritchard, a friend of his with whom he had worked in the Socialist Party of Canada years before.

He is survived by his widow, who shared with him the same social concepts of life, and two married daughters He is also survived by a brother Dave, with whom many of the comrades are well acquainted. To the entire family we extend our deepest sympathy at their great loss.

His passing is an irretrievable loss to all that knew him as a Socialist. All we can do now is to say farewell to a loyal friend and ardent comrade. We will carry on.
Fred Evans

Ethnic cleansing the desert (2019)

The Material World Column from the March 2019 issue of the Socialist Standard

In Israel/Palestine there exist communities of what some call the ‘Invisible Citizens’ and with echoes of past justifications for the establishment of Israel assert that the Negev desert where they dwell is vacant and undeveloped. These are the Bedouin who make up around 3.5 percent of Israel’s population and thousands of Bedouin serve in the Israeli army. Although sharing a common language and some traditions there are significant cultural differences between the Bedouin and Palestinian Arabs.

The Bedouin comprise the youngest population in Israeli society – about 54 percent of the Bedouin population is younger than 14 and in 2003 the Israeli daily Ma’ariv published an article entitled ‘Special Report: Polygamy is a Security Threat’, detailing a report put forth by the Director of the Population Administration at the time, Herzl Gedj, which described polygamy in the Bedouin sector as a ‘security threat’ and advocated means of reducing the birth rate. Israel outlawed polygamy but it is widespread among the Bedouin. Israel is now trying to end the custom, prosecuting suspected Bedouin polygamists. But it is seen only as a ploy to curb their population growth and criminalise their community members.

‘It’s simple: polygamy means more Bedouin children, and that means more demographic concerns from a Zionist perspective,’ said human rights lawyer Rawia Aburabia.

The proposed mass expulsion of Bedouin under the Prawer Plan raised concerns from human rights groups. In 2013, the Israeli government shelved the plan to forcibly relocate about 40,000 Bedouin Arabs to government designated towns. One of the plan’s architects stated that the Bedouin had neither been consulted nor agreed to the move. ‘I didn’t tell anyone that the Bedouin agreed to my plan. I couldn’t say that because I didn’t present the plan to them,’ said the former minister Benny Begin.

While the Prawer Plan as originally conceived has been thwarted, demolition of homes and the displacement of Bedouins has continued albeit in piecemeal form through a process of ‘development’ and building ‘infrastructure’. Israel approved an $800 million redevelopment project in 2017 as it moved two huge military bases into its southern desert.

‘We’re always hearing about billion dollar budgets but we only see more demolitions, more police, and more Jewish settlements,’ said Bedouin lawyer Khalil Alamour.

The Housing and Construction Ministry launched a plan for housing units in the Negev as ‘a significant step towards realising the Zionist vision of settlement’. The then minister Yoaf Galant said ‘We must not lose our hold on the south. I have been in the southern sector for many years. Today, when I come to the Negev and look at the surroundings of Be’er Sheva, I am shocked by the amount of illegal Bedouin construction in recent years.’ He stated that, ‘For all of us, a national home is the Land of Israel. In addition to building houses, we in the Construction and Housing Ministry see as a mission the construction of the Zionist youth spirit that builds and settles the land and I pin my hopes on our excellent youth, who will lead the development and settlement of the country in all its parts.’ He later told the Knesset: ‘The south is under attack not only from Gaza – the illegal and hostile construction in the rural Bedouin areas in the Negev… has spun out of control… The programme to reinforce Jewish settlement in the Negev constitutes a long term and stable solution for a Jewish hold over the region.’

Rafat Abu Aish told Al Jazeera how his home village of Laqiya is hemmed in by Israeli military infrastructure and the Jewish community of Carmit, ‘leaving no room for the village to grow… Soon you will find that between all the Bedouin communities are Jewish communities or army bases separating us from each other’, adding ‘it’s very planned.’

As many as 1,000 Bedouin Palestinian families are threatened with forcible relocation by government plans for a major new highway, Road 6. Originally 100 Bedouin families were to be moved but in December 2018, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel declared he intended to take advantage of the situation to expel a further 900 families. ‘The government is committed to demonstrating governance in the Negev,’ Ariel declared, describing the construction of the road as an opportunity to ‘return to the state huge tracts of land’.

There are several other large-scale infrastructure plans that will displace Bedouin, including a rail line that will swallow up extensive tracts of land and impact on the 1,400-strong Bedouin community of Rahma. A new phosphate mine will also entail the forced relocation of at least 10,000 Bedouin citizens. The Israeli armament corporation IMI is locating a massive testing facility in the Negev which will put some 1,200 Bedouin homes and other buildings at risk of forced displacement.

Israeli government policy towards the Bedouin has remained constant. The Goldberg report described it as a three-part plan: ‘No recognition of Bedouin rights over the land, a willingness to offer land claimants compensation ‘beyond the letter of the law,’ and conditioning the payment of compensation on the evacuation of the land and transfer to one of the recognised settlements’.

Israel’s Bedouins have a daunting struggle to preserve their land, their homes and livelihood in the face of a formidable foe.
ALJO

Voice From The Back: A Wasteful Society (2015)

The Voice From The Back column from the January 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Wasteful Society
The mad wastefulness of capitalism is staggering. Take the expenditure of the USA in their recent military efforts. ‘President Barrack Obama will ask lawmakers on Friday for an additional $3.2 billion to pay for the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq officials said Thursday …. The air war in Syria and Iraq – which commanders say could last years –  has involved thousands of sorties and hundreds of bombing raids, at a daily cost of $8.3 million, according to the Pentagon’ (Hindustan Times, 2 December). This immense expenditure represents a lot of human effort and energy. Think what that could mean inside a socialist society producing food, clothing and shelter for all. 


Troubles Ahead
Despite the picture the government is trying to draw about how they are coping with the economic crisis, some economic institutions are drawing vastly different conclusions. ‘The plans set out by George Osborne in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday will require government spending cuts “on a colossal scale” after the election, an independent forecaster has warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said just £35bn of cuts had already happened, with £55bn yet to come. The detail of reductions had not yet been spelled out, IFS director Paul Johnson said’ (BBC News, 4 December). The reason for the vagueness about future welfare cuts is of course the approaching election.


Capitalism And Cuts
The increasing rationing of state-funded care, as councils attempted to slash costs, has left growing numbers of elderly people without access to the care system. In turn it has forced millions of family members to step in, many of them giving up their own jobs. ‘The acute shortage of care for older people in Britain is exposed in official figures showing how the population of care homes was left virtually unchanged during a decade which saw the biggest expansion in the overall elderly population ever. According to a study published by the Office for National Statistics the number of people in care homes in England and Wales rose by only 0.3 per cent in the decade between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, standing at just short of 291,000. But the overall number of over 65s jumped by 11 per cent in the same period – 37 times faster’ (Daily Telegraph, 6 December). Having suffered a life of exploitation and poverty old workers’ misery continues.


God And Mammon
The Christian churches are adamant that they care nothing for the material aspects of this world and concentrate on spiritual values. The Roman Catholic Church, with its new Pope is particularly concerned about its recent past history. ‘The Vatican’s bank – which he threatened to shut down – is now closing hundreds of suspect accounts as it tries to shrug off its scandalous reputation after decades in which it was a by-word for money laundering and tax evasion’ (Times, 5 December).


A Torturing Society (1)
Torture according to the press is something carried out by unscrupulous foreigners but just isn’t British. So how come a letter discovered in Downing Street at the National Archives has placed Britain in the dock at European Court of Human Rights accused of torturing detainees in Northern Ireland in the 1970s? ‘The confidential memo written in March 1977 by Merlyn Rees, then Labour Home Secretary, states that, six years earlier, Tory ministers had authorised the use of torture in Ulster. Mr Rees told Prime Minister James Callaghan that he thought individuals or soldiers should not be prosecuted because “a political decision was taken” to use the so-called deep interrogation techniques’ (Times, 6 December). These techniques included wall standing in stress positions, white noise, hooding, sleep deprivation and withholding of food and water.                                


A Torturing Society (2)
It is not only Britain of the so-called free nations that carries out torture as the US has recently confessed. ‘The CIA carried out “brutal” interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, a US senate report has said. The summary of the report compiled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said that the CIA misled Americans about what it said it was doing’ (BBC News, 9 December).




50 Years Ago: Churchill’s Birthday (2015)

The 50 Years Ago column from the January 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

Here, it was obvious, was what they call a great man. Propped-up, glassy eyed, at the window, flapping his hand at the crowd outside. Oozing in his senility, like the old Disraeli with his corsets and lacquered hair. Famous visitors came and went. An enormous cake was carried in, with sacks full of cards and telegrams. The flashlights popped and the television cameras Chirred. Winston Churchill was ninety years old.

Most people were agreed that this was a remarkable achievement. Perhaps it was, in a way. An impressive feature of the many newspaper reminiscences of the old man in his heyday was the amount of hard liquor which he has put down. One article said that when he was Prime Minister, he drank champagne and brandy with every meal and sipped at tumblers of whisky and soda all through the day. A man of lesser constitution would almost certainly have been killed by such a deluge of alcohol.

Churchill’s consumption of drink is typical of the gusto with which he has lived his life, and it is this gusto which has been the subject of much recent hypocrisy. First, the business of those ninety years. It is too obvious that to be born into a family like the Churchills gives a person a built in advantage in their prospects of longevity because, everything else being equal they are going to get the best of everything. The best food. A secure and comfortable home. The best education and, if they want it, an interesting job.

It is a different matter for the people who were cheering so enthusiastically outside Churchill’s window on his birthday and it is worthwhile to take a look at how they live.  Their lives may be summed up in one word poverty, although it is a different kind from the poverty their parents knew, in the days when Churchill was a young man. They are, first of all, the people who make the wealth of the world.

(from article by Ivan, Socialist Standard, January 1965)

Too Much Ado About: Primitive Fables, Hallucinations, Dreams, Myths (2015)

From the January 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every race, nation, tribe had/has its portion of these, the Zezuru, Zulu, Xhosa, Nyanja, Sena (Southern Africa) are no exception but, sadly unlike the Jews, Greeks, Romans etc, literacy came much too late to this region. Add the inferiority complex, the psychological defeat and awe of the conqueror. How can the subdued, timid, submissive, inferior native ever have confidence in himself or his defeated elder? Moreover, the aforementioned aliens have their myths well written down.

The local myths are not written down to date… our ancestors when hungry, would just go under a tree, clap their hands, tell the creator their needs and immediately food presented to them… that their neighbour can go from Harare to London and back within 3 hours in a rusero (winnowing tray) – an aeroplane takes two days  – and in most cases a person alleged to have such mystical powers is among the poorest and cannot point to Harare, let alone London, on a map.

But after consulting some prophet such a person might be axed to death. ‘Our daughter was doing very well in England until that their witch made the “visitation” … So, any wonder that people who can believe such silly tales are very cheap prey to the highly propagated, highly mystified Jesus who is but forever coming yesterday! The everlasting lie of course! While most Africans, due to wishful thinking are convinced by the silly eternal lie, in Zim in 2001, at 3.00 o’clock on 15 June (or was it 3rd June) and again (was it 9 December 2002) at 9.00 am, the much criticised scientists accurately forecast the eclipse of the sun, the exact date, the exact hour and duration. Which of the biblical wafflings has come true?

Poor backward Africa! While the West, Russia and China have learnt that all phenomena considered mysterious and transcendental can be mathematically and scientifically proved or disproved, the majority of Africans are still (in mentality) in the era of the Christian believers who shun reality, like the condemners of the Galileo Group. As such, as Galileo said that recanting would never make the Earth flat, the Jews were never wrong for dismissing the Christ Myth. And, like all dead people, he will not arise. In fact the catch trick (to fool weak minds, the timid and gullible) is in (a) John 14:19, (b) Acts 1:6, 10, 11.

Anyway, by saying that such utterances are from God (and not from cunning, dogmatic/despotic humans) are you (Christians) not depicting the same kind of loving/fair God as worse than a primitive ritualist (sacrificing his only son to end sin which has since multiplied) a tribalist, a liar who did not even know that before the 21st century there would be no more war of horses and swords but missiles from the Pentagon, Sandhurst, Seoul etc?
Godwin Hatitye
Harare, Zimbabwe

Defending the indefensible (2015)

The Halo Halo! column from the January 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles, etc. etc. is obviously a man with a liking for job titles, and his collection so far is only overshadowed by the collection of military medals and uniforms he wears to go with them. And, despite his less than impressive record of any actual employment so far he’s looking forward to getting a new one.

‘Defender of faith’ he wants to be known as rather than ‘Defender of the faith’ when the family business, consisting of travelling around the world waving at the natives, is finally handed to him. And this makes perfect sense. The current title seems to imply that there’s only one faith that needs defending, whereas of course, they’re all at each other’s throats, and so need defending from each other. There’s also the fact that he and his chums who collectively own the planet don’t give a sod which faith the proles go for, as long as they can be kept in a state of obedient, religious stupor by believing in one of them.

In the good old days, of course, the gods were omnipotent and could easily defend themselves. Thor had a ruddy great hammer to show who was boss and Zeus was known for hurling thunderbolts at anyone who crossed his path. But now, it seems, they need a mortal to consult with and advise them on the defence of their various faiths. And Charlie, the man who has devoted so much of his life to talking to plants and studying quack herbal remedies is apparently uniquely qualified to do it.

And now someone is taking his wish to become ‘defender of faith’ to all the gods seriously. Lord Harries, a former Bishop of Oxford, and a ‘leading CofE liberal thinker’ according to the Daily Mail (28 November) suggests that Charles’s coronation service should be opened with a reading from the Koran. Unsurprisingly, many of his colleagues strongly disagree.

In any event, one passage it may be wise to avoid will be Surah 5 verse 51: ‘O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk’.

Lord Harries is sure, however, that it would be ‘a creative act of accommodation’ and make Muslims feel ‘embraced’ by the nation. Whether some of the more extreme Islamists of Isis, for example, who want an Islamic state and prefer to deal with those of a different persuasion by beheading them feel the need to be ‘embraced’ or have their faith ‘defended’ by the new King Charlie of the UK is another matter.

A report on the World Bulletin website (11 November) suggests that in Egypt, at least, panicking Moslems and Christians are being forced to join forces to fight what they see as a new danger: a ‘growing trend of atheism’ which has ‘alarmed the country’s religious institutions’. It seems that since the 2011 uprising many young Egyptians have begun to openly declare their atheist views.

Strange, isn’t it, that after being divided for centuries by their religions it’s the rejection of religion that’s getting them together? Funny old world isn’t it? Perhaps now that they’ve found this new understanding they can tell us which god is the real one, and which the imposter.
NW

The Fiftieth Trade Union Congress (1918)

From the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

There has been a Jubilee at Derby. Fifty years ago the Trade Union Congress was inaugurated at Manchester, and this year celebrated its golden anniversary. How far have the organised workers travelled in their struggles, their views and their understanding of the position they occupy in society in this stride of time? A brief glance at this year’s gathering may help us to answer this question.

In point of numbers the Congress was the largest representation of organised workers in the world, as the affiliated membership totalled over four and half millions. Compared with the 118,367 at its first meeting this looks a splendid advance. But these numbers alone do not necessarily mean progress.

Then take another view. In 1868 the trades unions had not a single member in Parliament; at Derby there were 17 M.P’s., members of trade unions, amongst the delegates. Even more important in the eyes of the man in the street real, live, Ministers of Government, receiving real, live, salaries were present as delegates of their trade unions. Mr. Clynes, the Minister for Food, was supported by Mr. Roberts, the Minister for Labour, while Mr. Hodge, the Minister for Pensions, certainly added weight, if nothing else, to the Ministerial bench. There were others willing—nay, anxious—to become M.P’s and Ministers, but the Paper Restriction Order presents us publishing so long a list.

These M.P’s. and Ministers, however, hold their positions as gifts from the master class, and they have to dance to the tune the masters play. They thus testify rather to the masters’ fear of the working class awakening to their slave position than they do to the awakening itself.

If we turn to matters that should form the real work of such a congress, such as the co-ordination of the views of its constituent bodies into a sound policy of action for the whole, the solidifying and strengthening of the structure of organisation, and the working out of the adaptation of methods and scope of organisation to meet the changing conditions of production, we find scant time given to these things. There were two resolutions on the agenda dealing with amalgamation and Industrial Unionism that were combined and presented as one composite resolution by a grouping committee. But Industrial Unionism as such was not discussed at all, and the phrase was merely used as a peg on which to hang the old quarrel as to which of the existing unions a worker should pay his dues to.

Evolution in the means of production is breaking down the old lines of demarkation between occupations, and the so-called “skilled” unions are endeavouring to maintain their position by trying to draw in the kindred workers. The so called “unskilled” unions who catered for these kindred workers fight hard to retain them. In these fights the weaker unions appeal to the Congress to curtail the operations of the stronger unions so that the officials of the former may be able to continue their official existence. The “unskilled” unions often carry the fight into the “skilled” unions’ camp. Thus the Workers Union, disdaining the silly limitations of either craft or industry, cheerfully grabs up members in any and every occupation, irrespective of whether unions already exist there or not.

In some parts of the country a fight is going on between the Workers Union and the Agricultural Labourers Union as to who should have the right to organise the agricultural labourers. The Gasworkers and General Labourers Union, feeling the effects of this competition, have lately changed their title to “The National Union of General Workers,” and follows the same path. While it was fiercely debated, as to whether a clerk should be a docker or an engineman a miner, the important points of the best form of organisation for the workers, and how to reduce the confusion and chaos among the plethora of existing organisations were hardly touched.

Mr. Elvin (Clerk’s Union) in seconding the resolution referred to, knocked the bottom out of its “Industrial Unionism” by pointing out that capitalists are organising beyond the “industrial” limit and seeking to control processes from the acquisition of the raw materials to the finishing of the product, and said the workers must organise in line with this development.

Yet two days before he had been fiercely attacking an organisation formed on this basis—the Amalgamated Union of Co-operative Employees—because it cut into the ranks of his own and other craft unions. One of these was the Shop Assistants Union, and it was interesting to see John Turner, one-time Anarchist, pleading for loyalty to the employers in this particular quarrel.

Thus from the standpoint of helping the workers in their struggle with the master class on the economic field, the Trades Union Congress is a farce. The reasons for this are easy to see.

The majority of the trade unions take little, if any, interest in the Congress, and their ignorance of their slave position in society prevents them seeing how this apathy leads to their own injury.

Year after year, the same permanent officials attend the Congress and in the vast majority of cases do not even go through the formality of being elected to it by their members, but draw their representation from their official position. This necessarily results in the fixing of the old methods and makes it almost a hopeless task, while such conditions exist, to use the Congress for the benefit of the workers. The old quarrels are maintained, the old intrigues carried on, the old bargaining for offices and endeavours to obtains advertisement are perpetrated. New delegates, especially if they are not officials, are unable to “catch the Speaker’s eye” because it is filled with the “hardy perennials” and “big guns.”

If the rank and file of the trade unions desire the Congress to become a useful gathering, they must drop their apathy, take an interest in its actions and, above all, send representatives from their own ranks instead of the case-hardened officials with their dirty tricks and old ambitions, who use the Congress to crawl further into the graces—and the jobs—of the master class. Only by so selecting men from their own ranks, men who have no “official” interests to support, and over whom the membership have complete control, can the organised workers ever get these problems of organisation settled in their own interests, and achieve the unity vital to the successful struggle on the industrial field.
Jack Fitzgerald

By The Way (1918)

The By The Way Column from the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

The question of the war worker and the fabulous wealth which he gets in return for his labour is a theme which is ever dear to the heart of some writers in the Press, and waxes not old. That there are other people inside capitalist society who also receive fabulous sums and yet never have to function inside office, field, factory, mine, or workshop—the absentee shareholder, and so on—never calls for any comment: it is all part of the “natural order” of things. Then there is another type of person who has come into the light during the war and whose “honorary services appear to be very lucrative. (Concerning these interesting persons a question was asked regarding payments made thereto, and I read that—
  Mr. Kellaway yesterday, in answer to a question by Mr. Gilbert in the House of Commons, stated that subsistence allowances were paid to persons on the Headquarters Staff of the Ministry of Munitions for honorary services amounting to £14,460 per annum. These allowances were on the scale of £1 per working or calendar day, and were paid to 41 persons. —“Daily News,” 16th, 1918.
One therefore concludes that this measure of gratefulness is to fulfill the prophecy, or saying, of old: “The devil is good to his own.”

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In spite of “League of Nations” twaddle and the story that this is the “war to end war,” one remains unconvinced. One cause of the present scribe’s scepticism is to be found in the Press, which states that the Japanese are reported to have come to the decision to increase their army. The announcement goes on to say that—“The program, when completed, implies an increase of 50 per cent. in the present standing army.  .  . . The standing army of Japan would then consist of 126 regiments as compared with 84 regiments.” (“Daily News,” July 9th, 1918.) To remove all doubt and dispel disputation concerning this item of news, the para-graph opens thus: “From an authoritative Japanese source Reuter’s Agency learns with regard to the reported decision to increase the Japanese army that the step in question has no connection with the situation arising out of the war.”


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A short while ago there appeared in the papers a brief reference to the case of two ex-soldiers who, after having fought for “King and Country,” were now finding their habitation in disused pig-sties. The facts were referred to in the Commons, but I will content myself by giving the newspaper announcement on the subject. Here it is—
  Two cases of discharged soldiers and their families living in disused wooden pig-sties on vacant land were reported by an inspector to the Sheffield Corporation. The Committee of the Corporation declares: “That this state of things proves the urgent necessity of providing further housing accommodation, and suggests that the Corporation should promise such accommodation, permanent or temporary, as early as possible." —“Daily News,” July 9th, 1918.
When such things happen before the war is terminated one is forced to the conclusion that such untoward events do not auger well for the future. The Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Federation might more profitably employ their time and energy in studying this and similar questions, and the Socialist way out, which is of paramount importance to them and their class, rather than chasing capitalist will-o’-the-wisps.

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The following observation is extremely candid and well worthy of notice. We have said the same ourselves— but then we are Socialists. Hark! while the canon roars.
  Canon Rawnsley, speaking at the annual meeting of the Secondary Schools Association yesterday, said that if there was to be a League of Nations we must begin to prepare for it in the schools. The text-books of history at present in use in all countries were prejudiced against other countries. They gave mere globules of information, and did not tell the consecutive story for which the child mind longed.
Daily News" July 18th, 1918.
Now the canon will have to mind his p’s and q’s or he will find himself outranged by DORA. For
small mercies we thank him.


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Pressure of space forbids any lengthy reference to the Education discussion which recently took place at Westminster. But one interesting point must notice. An amendment was accepted providing that a young person up to 16 years of age may secure withdrawal from instruction which is objected to as being contrary or offensive to his religious belief. A hon. member ironically contrasted the attitude of the Government towards conscientious objectors in the schools at 14 and in the Army at 18.


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One of the most general complaints among the workers in the semi-rural districts at the present time is that the German prisoners of war have too much freedom. The way in which they are permitted to walk two or three miles from their quarters to the fields in which they are employed, it seems without any supervision, or to drive farm carts and waggons through country lanes, all on their lonesome, is regarded as a mark of criminal folly on the part of those in authority, as a danger to the peaceable inhabitants of the locality, and as a most unfitting contrast to the treatment of “our boys” who are prisoners in German hands.

This feeling, of course, is deliberately fostered by every Government which is engaged in the war, no matter on which side they may be. Tales of brutality are seized on with avidity, published broadcast, and made the most of, by each and every belligerent Government, with the two-fold object of inflaming popular passion and making soldiers avoid capture. But occasionally a straw is permitted to flutter across the landscape and below the direction of the wind. One such is the following, taken from the “Daily Chronicle” of Sept. 20th last.
  The Rev. Oliver Ayres, Baptist minister, Newport, Isle of Wight, has recently received a letter from hit cousin, Pte. Short, a Kettering man, in which he states that he is a prisoner of war in Germany.
  He is staying, he says, with an elderly couple on a small dairy farm in view of the Swiss mountains. He writes, “I am very well treated, and have a comfortable bed to lie on. I like my work, and when I get my new suit I shall be the happiest war prisoner in Germany."
This indicates that British prisoners of war in Germany may possibly be the recipients of treatment as humane, as positively kind, as German war prisoners in England.


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Moving among one’s fellow workers in the war munitions factory one finds the hope quite freely expressed that the war will not come to an end before “we” have carried the fighting into Germany and “blown German towns to bits and let Fritz have a taste of his own medicine.” To such might almost have been addressed portions of the article of the Austrian statesman, Count Czernin, which appeared in the “Neue Freie Presse,” and received prominent notice in British newspapers. For instance, the following gets home as well in England as in Austria.
  If a soldier who had returned from the front, having experienced the horror of war, were to reject a compromise and demand a fight to a finish, then I should take my hat off to such a man. If, however, a man from the hinterland, a hinterland hero who has never heard the whistle of a bullet, who has hardly felt anything of the war, who lives in comfort while the war goes on—if such a man writes bloodthirsty articles against an understanding, while continually demanding sacrifices from the others, for such an individual I do not feel any sympathy.
While the present scribe, in common with other Socialists, does not feel any particular horror at the idea of the destruction of German—or other—property (such destruction at least has the merit of finding work for workers’ hands to do in the matter of replacement), the fact remains that vengeance can only be bought by the expenditure of precious working-class lives, and I ask those “hinterland heroes” who are hungering to administer to Fritz a “dose of his own medicine”—if it is going to cost a hundred thousand British soldiers’ lives to “blow German towns to bits” (and it will cost far more than that), is it worth it ? Speak up! the answer to that little question is well worth listening to.
The Scout.

The Saviours of Russia (1918)

Editorial from the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

The hand of the capitalist is slowly but surely revealing itself in Russian affairs. It will be remembered with what haste the capitalist Governments rushed to congratulate their triumphant (as they thought) fellow thieves upon their overthrow of the monarchy. They did not then stop to lecture on the enormity of “internal dissention” in the midst of war. No, they tumbled over each other in their anxiety to deliver their congratulations — because the “victors” were of their own kidney.

They made a mistake, however. In the ultimate it proved to he more than the revolutionary capitalist class in Russia could do, once they had broken the tyrannical organisation which had kept the conscripted forces in subjection, to regain for themselves control of those forces. It was not for the want of trying that they failed. They soon got busy butchering soldiers who refused to go on with the war which they had not made, which they had never wanted, and which they realised could bring them no benefit. So the revolutionary capitalists, who were never for a moment strong enough to establish their authority over the forces and powers of State, were “recognised” and accepted by their fellow capitalists as the “representatives of the Russian people,” as the Russian people, as the natural successors, quite as a matter of course, to Bloody Nick and his crew. That they had no power as a Government made no difference.

How different, however, was the conduct of the capitalist Governments toward the Bolsheviks when the latter took the reins from the palsied grasp of the “triumphant bourgeoisie"! Their accredited envoys received only “unofficial recognition, for the purpose of communication.” The London representative was even permitted to be turned out of his office, and the law was strained order to prevent that Russian representative enjoying the use of the premises he was in perfectly legal possession of.

Thus it is seen that from the very commencement the capitalist governments have been bitterly antagonistic to the Bolshevik Government. They have refused to receive their accredited representatives, they have declined to recognise them as a government, they have deprived their ambassadors or envoys (of course, they will quarrel over the terms) of the common means and conveniences for carrying on their work, even to the extent of interrupting their communications.

Nor is this by any means the worst. Fearful that if the Bolshevik enterprise should meet with success it might prove contagious, they have determined to crush it and restore their friends and allies, the Russian capitalists, to dominance. So we have a “league of nations” in being against the Bolshevik Government. Under the plea that they are going to save Russia from the Germans they invade the country at various points. “We come as the friends of Russia,” they declare, and disown any intention of interfering with “the internal politics of the country.”

But the shallow falsity of all these claims is quite easy to see. No efforts of the Allies in Russia can “save Russia from Germany,” for the force which they can send into that country must be expended, not against Germany, but against new enemies the allied invasion must necessarily raise up—the Bolsheviks themselves. Hence the effort of the Allies can only be on the one hand a provocative of further opposition to them, and on the other hand a subtraction from the forces operating in the regions where the question of the German exploitation of Russia really will be decided—in the main theatre of war, the West European front.

As to the claim that they go into Russia as “the friends of Russia,” this must be translated into “the friends of Russian capitalists” if it is to have any truth at all. It is only by the continued exploitation of the Russian working class that the Allied capitalists can ever hope to recover the many millions which they have advanced, both before and since the outbreak of the war, to Russia, with the object of strengthening her against Germany. It is only by setting up capitalist domination anew in Eastern Europe, that they can maintain that counterpoise to industrially advancing Germany, that thorn in the side of the double eagle, which is so necessary if they are to retain their place in the world markets. It is only by securing the downfall of the Bolshevik regime, by throwing upon that movement the odium of failure, that they can stave off their own demise, as a class proven to be useless, for any considerable period. These are the reasons which underlie their actions, which bring Allied soldiers to the Murman coast, call Japanese troops to Eastern Siberia, and turn even Chinese artillery on Bolshevik workmen.

Now with regard to the ludicrous statement that there is no intention of interfering with Russian internal politics. Everyone knows that it is openly admitted that one of the main objects of the Allies in invading Russia is “to save Russia from the Bolsheviks.” The capitalist Press has made no secret of it. Capitalist agents, both here and in Russia, have striven for it. In particular one may instance Dr. Harold Williams, when special correspondent to the "Daily Chronicle” in Petrograd, and since his return to this country. His filthy diatribes against the Bolsheviks leave no doubt as to their object—the overthrow of those against whom he inveighed.

What sort of game has been played is unwittingly revealed in an eulogy of Capt. Cromie which appeared in the “Daily Chronicle” on Sept. 14th, wherein, after retailing some of Cromie’s activities in favour of the capitalist interests, it is stated that, he went to Petrograd and strove to hold the forces of “sanity and reason” together. Needless to say, in the capitalist view, neither sanity nor reason can reside in Bolshevik craniums, and to scheme their overthrow is not interfering in internal politics of course!

Society and Morals (1918)

From the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Part IX. — Socialism, its economic and theoretical basis
Among the many factors which are to-day preparing and disciplining the workers for the revolutionary struggle of the future is the struggle on the industrial field carried on by the organised labour unions. Trade union organisation gathers large numbers of workers together for concerted action and shows the immense superiority of co-operative over individual effort. The struggle promotes the sense of solidarity, which, as “sympathetic” strikes have shown, can transcend, even to-day, immediate and sectional interests. Union meetings being purely working-class gatherings, become centres of discussion, where political, social and economic theories can be thrashed out, and they can therefore become fertile fields for revolutionary propaganda. On the other hand the failure even of “successful” strikes to materially or permanently improve the economic position of the workers will reveal the economic limitations of the economic struggle and will show to the workers the titanic forces they are up against; while the solidarity of their employers in their associations, especially when made manifest, as has recently been done, throughout entire groups of industries, will make the conflict more and more obviously a class struggle. In this latter connection the ready use by the ruling class of the armed forces of the State to defeat the striking workers will be of significance also in showing that the basic power upon which the bourgeoisie relies is in the last resort political.

With the constant application of science to production, not only in the shape of ever more perfect mechanical instruments of production, but also, as has been increasingly done in recent years, in the more efficient management and organisation of the labour process, the exploitation of the workers is correspondingly intensified. In proportion to the total wealth produced, the share produced in wages by the proletariat grows less and less. The rapid growth thus caused in the wealth of the exploiting class, with its concomitant increase in ostentatious display, throws into ever more glaring contrast the gay, luxurious living of the idlers on the one hand, and the drab, monotonous, toiling lives of the working class on the other. At the same time the rise of trusts and of the multi-millionaire has made more obvious than ever the colossal social power wielded by those who control the means of production, whilst (and this applies with ever greater force to industrial concerns under government control) it has also demonstrated to all the absolute uselessness of the capitalist class in the field of production.

Thus every development makes for a deeper cleavage between the classes, the growth of the antagonism between them, and an intensification of the class struggle. We have already seen how prior to the war there had already been for years a growing volume of proletarian discontent which manifested itself primarily in an unprecedented industrial strife, both in the number and the bitterness of the disputes. The war itself, while temporarily acting as a soporific bringing a lull in the storm of the class struggle, has nevertheless only served to force on those very economic developments which make the struggle increasingly severe. The simplification of processes which has taken place, the “dilution” of “skilled” by “unskilled ” labour and the rapid influx into the ranks of the wage-earners of millions of females, while tending towards an increased exploitation, will also make for the breaking down of craft and sex prejudices among the workers and the fuller recognition of the uniformity of their interests.

Now that the age of Imperialism is upon us there will be, as we have previously pointed out, a growing community of interests among the capitalists of each rival national (or quasi-national) group; strikes will more and more be regarded as “national” calamities, no longer the private affairs of individual firms but matters of vital interest to the whole capitalist class. We may therefore expect that forcible suppression will become more frequent and ruthless, and thus the class nature of the State, and the mercilessness of the bourgeoisie will be unmasked.

Among the developments which tend to prepare the worker’s mind for revolutionary concepts we may therefore place the ever more glaring contradictions presented by existing society, and the intensification of the antagonism and severity of the conflict between the capitalist class and the working class. But other factors are not without importance.

For the first time in history there exists a working class among which reading is universal. The application of science to industry has led to a widespread knowledge of natural forces among the workers. A growing interest in natural science has stimulated the demand for popular, cheap books upon its several branches. Not only has this scientific popularisation led to a decline in superstition and religious belief, and also to a closer acquaintance with scientific methods of reasoning, but with the growing acuteness of social problems, to a wider interest in social science.

True, this interest is to-day fed on every hand by the apologists of capitalism, advocating manifold schemes of social reform and regeneration. But in so far as these various palliatives are tried and found wanting (as they assuredly will be) leaving the fundamental basis of capitalism untouched, to that extent will they be discredited in the eyes of the workers.

The growth of huge reformist or pseudo-Socialist parties which has been one of the features of modern politics, while giving little guide to the actual amount of sound Socialist knowledge among the workers who have flocked to them, are certainly a proof of the fact that millions of the world’s producers are profoundly dissatisfied with capitalist conditions. Marxian writings are to-day read and discussed wherever capitalism has established itself, and to an ever-increasing extent. In proportion as this influence gains ground will the workers obtain a dear grip of social realities and economic phenomena. As the general level of sociological knowledge is raised the working class will be enabled to take the control of their industrial organisations completely into their own hands, and to dispense with leaders, and thus will be fitted for a more definite and uncompromising attitude toward the employing class. At the same time we may expect, with the growing perception of the futility of palliatives within the structure of capitalism, the increasing acceptance of the true Socialist position and the gradual growth around the nuclei which already exist in most countries, of those political parties which have for their avowed aim the waging of the class struggle to a successful revolutionary conclusion—the expropriation of the capitalist class and the institution of the co-operative commonwealth.

It is evident that this final struggle must be international in its span and primarily political in character. The class struggle between the capitalists and the workers is necessarily as world-wide as is the capitalist system itself. That the bourgeoisie of all nations are prepared to sink their differences in the face of working-class rebellion and to join hands in the work of suppression we have already ample evidence. Recent events in Russia and Finland have brought further proof to that provided by the notorious repression of the Paris Commune. As the consciousness of the proletariat grows and is translated into action we may dearly expect further manifestation of the international solidarity of the capitalists in defence of their mutual interests. Moreover, the international character of modern scientific production demands a correspondingly wide social organisation and therefore the society of the future must be world-embracing and its establishment will mean the obliteration of national divisions.

Apart from the evidence of history the necessity for the political organisation and action of the class-conscious proletariat is shown by the fact that the capitalist class to-day are only able to dominate society because of their control over the political machinery.

Representatives of the bourgeoisie are elected to power by the votes of the politically ignorant workers, and will continue to be so long as this ignorance remains. Once it is dissipated, however, the workers can just as easily gain control over the complex organisation of government (which is not as the Anarchists think, a mere arbitrarily imposed power, but has grown through centuries of evolution, step by step with economic development, and is firmly rooted in the social and intellectual life) for themselves.

After constituting themselves the ruling class the working class can. proceed with the work of socialisation, and of levelling to the ground the old, tottering edifice of class rule and class subjugation. But to speculate on the manner of doing this is to-day futile. Both the tactics of the revolutionary struggle and the actions taken in the event of victory will be determined by the precise conditions which obtain at the time. It is not for us to dictate to, or even to advise, the men of the future. We who live in the present have our own duty to perform—incessant agitation, persistent education, so that we may build up our organisations strong in principle and discipline, without compromise or falter, and armed at every point to withstand the assaults, either open or covert, of the enemy without, or perchance within.
R. W. Housley.

(To be Continued.)

Letter: Correspondence (1918)

Letter to the Editors from the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Sirs,

—in your issue for June 1918 your contributor, S.H.S., in an article entitled “The Passing of the Barricade," declares the futility of armed action by the workers, and advocates political action as “the only way to achieve the Social Revolution and establish Socialism.” Now in my opinion S.H.S. ends his article just when it becomes most interesting—at the very point where it should begin. Other of your writers do the same sort of thing. For instance, in your journal for April W. L. Wake writes on p. 59, col. 3, “The first step, therefore, towards their overthrow, is to secure political power.” In the same issue F.F. writes (p. 61, col. 3.) “they will organise with us to capture the machinery of government . . . " In the issue for May A. E. J. writes (p. 67, col. 3) “For politics are the means which will give them control over the armed forces . . . ” And on p. 70, col. 1 J. Fitzgerald writes : “As they do this they will realise the. . . correctness of the teachings of Marx, Morgan, and Engels, and will organise to take control of political power.” I want you to note that each of the foregoing quotations is taken from about the end of the article, so that in effect the writer takes the reader along the road only as far as a certain point, labelled "Political Action,” and says: “There you are, Mr. Reader, you can go on or stick where you are, just as you like” ; after saying which he vanishes into thin air.

Now, let us see where the phrase “political action” leads to. When you use these words I understand you to infer that when you consider the time ripe and the conditions suitable you will put up candidates to “run” at every election that occurs, who will represent the workers’ interest in Parliament. And as each election is fought, so shall we see Socialists sailing merrily into the House of Commons to “collar” those seats.

But do you think that the capitalists or their agents will watch the tide of Socialists in Parliament rise higher and higher, growing ever stronger, whilst they (the capitalists) remain dumb and inactive? I am sure you don’t. It would be an insult to your super-intellects to even think it!

Equally I am sure that you are acquainted with political corruption, bribery, intrigue, and so forth. When governments or parties want a majority on their side they trot round offering official posts with fat salaries or “birthday honours” to as many members as will take them. And since bureaucratic government has grown largely recently, the opportunity to offer posts in the various departments has increased enormously.

So that if, at any time, Socialists in Parliament make such powerful, damaging, and brilliant speeches against the Government as to leave them dumb it won’t matter, for when voting time comes they can rest assured that their money will do its work.

Now, suppose a general election comes round and the number of Socialists returned to Parliament amounts to 90 per cent. of the whole membership. What then? The capitalists may re-organise Parliament, put it on an entirely new basis to enable them to retain a voting majority. But suppose, no matter how they scheme, wriggle, twist, or turn, that in a very short time they fail utterly. Again, what then?

They have still one card to play. They can close Parliament and say to the workers: “We've got the armed forces, you can go and hang yourselves. If you declare a general strike you'll starve first. If you continue to work but ‘go slow' we can send soldiers with bayonets to speed you up. Or if you become troublesome in any way we’ll give you an unrestricted diet of bullets, bombs, and gas—and see how you like that! Submit— or be damned! ”

So we arrive at the following position of the workers:

Political action is denied them; physical force is futile (because the capitalists control the armed forces); and passive resistance, that is, the strike, means starvation.

Now, I ask you, as guardians of the condensed cream of working-class knowledge, of what use would your “political action” be in such circumstances?

Yours sincerely, 
“Slim.”


Reply:
First of all, do you really know what it is you want ? Our correspondent “S.H S.” saw that the “march of Time has left behind the barricade and established the truth of our contention that the working class can only emancipate themselves by capturing the political machinery” and he expressed himself thusly. He did not declare “the futility of armed action by the workers" but the hopelessness of opposing “overturned carts and piled paving stones and sniping from roofs”—the methods of the barricade—to the mighty forces controlled by the capitalists so long as they are in possession of the political machinery. That is one of your misstatements corrected.

As regards your point against E. L. Wake, you very conveniently overlook that the immediately preceding passage to that you quote is: “Since, therefore, the whole of the evil conditions of working-class existence spring from this property condition, the workers must make those things needed for the production and distribution of wealth the common property of society. The defenders of private property having, through their political power, control of the armed forces, use them to support their position.” Then follows your quotation: “The first step, therefore, towards their overthrow, is to secure political power.” Clearly, in this instance, at all events, it is incorrect to say that “ the writer takes the reader along the road only as far as a certain point, labelled 'political action' ” for the political action is plainly indicated as the means to a point further on—a point, indeed, which is the realisation of the object of Socialist organisation—the point of making the means of producing and distributing wealth the common property of society.

Exactly the same remark applies in the case of your quotation of our correspondent “F.F.,” for, far from carrying “the reader along the road only as far as a certain point, labelled 'political action' ” and then leaving him to “go on or stick where you are,” when he has said that the workers “will organise with us to capture the machinery of government,” proceeds to say that they will do this “in order that they may establish a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of all the means and instruments of wealth production and distribution—which is ‘Socialism.” Your statements, therefore, are incorrect.

We will endeavour to deal with your other points in our next issue.
Editorial Committee


The Socialist Standard (1918)

Party Notice from the September 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Readers will observe that, with our customary ingenuity, we have risen superior to the paper difficulty, and once more become an eight page journal. The price is still the same.

Readers who find it difficult or impossible to obtain the Socialist Standard through the usual annels should communicate with the Head Office, 28 Union Street, W. 1., when regular delivery will be arranged.