Monday, October 7, 2019

Socialism, What It Is Not—What It Is (1943)

From the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

We believe that Socialism is the only way of living which will clear away the economic worries of the world. So, believing thus, we strive at all times to bring to the notice of the workers of the world our ideas and our thoughts on the subject.

But the good which our endeavours do is too often dissipated because of the confusing influence of what we call "pseudo-Socialists."

The workers are many and we are few. Because our time and money is, like theirs, limited, we cannot reach them all with our ideas as frequently as we would wish.

So it often happens that we speak to a worker and convince him, if not that our arguments are watertight, that there is "something in them." Then he has gone away and heard, or maybe read in a newspaper, that "National Planning is Socialism." He becomes confused mentally, and he attaches to national planning all the worthiness he formerly had credited to our ideas. And the next time we meet we have to start all over again to clear up his new misconceptions.

The frequency with which this happens not only angers us—that, after all, is an emotion which can easily be shrugged off—but it makes our work as Socialists harder, and that fact is not so easily disposed of. These misleading reports give people who have heard of the S.P.G.B. only vaguely a distorted picture of the effects which Common Ownership will have on human life. It is part of our job to correct those wrong ideas, so here are a few of the things which are not Socialism.

Socialism is not National Planning. It is not nationalisation of the banks, railways, transport, coal mines and heavy industries. It does not mean the bureaucratic dictatorship which rules the workers in Russia, nor the terrestrial manifestations of pie-in-the-sky which clog the minds of the Christian Socialists. It is entirely apart from both the Archbishop of Canterbury's picture of after-the-war England and from the Beveridge Plan. The last fills two hundred small printed pages, but, despite that, Socialism makes it look like "small-time stuff." None of these are common ownership. These are some of the things which are not Socialism. We will now show what it is.

Socialism will have been reached when all the following belong in their totality to the world's population: the raw materials contained in the earth, and all the industrial processes and tools which men use to make those raw materials into useful articles; the railways, steamships, aeroplanes, and all other methods of transportation which carry those articles —and, of course, human beings—about the earth; all the radio stations, postal and telegraph facilities and other means of communication between countries. All those instruments of production and distribution will be commonly owned, and in that day there will be no nations, but only a community of' people, the earth; therefore the absurdity of the word "nationalisation" is apparent.

Another cause of confusion in the minds of even some who sympathise with us is the notion that the earth will then be "State-controlled." This confusing notion arises from two sources. They are a misunderstanding of the term State and of the phrase "Democratic Control," which is part of our Object. Now democratic control means majority control, and that is directly opposite to State control, which is government for a minority, even though elected by the majority.

At the present time the ruling class in each of the various nations of the world makes its power over that country's workers legal by Government Acts. These acts are translated into the law of the land, and so the masters do their ruling through their respective Governments. It is that Government, and all the paraphernalia and trappings which go with it, that is called the "State." The judges and magistrates tax collectors and prison governors are officials of the State. The Army, Navy, and Air Force exist to preserve it and to protect the property of the masters. Hitler's Gestapo and the Russian O.G.P.U. are part of it. The workers of every country are dimly conscious that the capitalists exploit them. So the State machinery uses propaganda to check their consciousness so long as it is quiescent, and force to put them down if it becomes, as in the case of the General Strike, a widespread act of revolt. The educational machine is used by the State to instil into the minds of children the idea that each nation, and the people living in it, is an almost divine unit that is held together by ties of blood, language, love of country, religion, and way of life. That is the job of the State, to bully and persuade the workers over whom it has power into a perpetual belief that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Those workers who succumb to its influence just rub along, willing wage-slaves. Of those who do not, some become Socialists.

Now while we to-day cannot attempt to dictate a plan for Socialist administration—the workers who establish Socialism will have their own ideas about that!—we can most emphatically say that the machinery we have just outlined will have no place in that administration. Because, as we have seen, State machinery exists to preserve and protect not only the substance but the idea of private property. And Common Ownership means the disappearance of private property. As Frederick Engels wrote in "Socialism : Utopian and Scientific," "The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and, by the conduct of the process of production."

So "State Control" is another demonstrated absurdity. Incidentally, we hope that in trying to destroy some misunderstandings of Common Ownership, we have interested our readers sufficiently to make them try, whenever they bear the term misused, to explain to those workers around them the correct interpretation of Socialism.
R. T. Bowley.

The Doctrine of the Half-Loaf (1943)

Editorial from the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

In working-class political circles the doctrine of the half-loaf is deep-rooted, insidious and difficult to combat. It seems so obviously the teaching of common-sense to welcome the half-loaf rather than stand out for an uncertain time trying to get the whole one; yet the Socialist resolutely affirms that to achieve Socialism the policy of the half-loaf is not sensible at all.

It is admitted that in many human activities it is sensible and necessary to take what is immediately practicable rather than sacrifice the moderate but certain gain for the more attractive but remote ideal. A settler in virgin territory who could throw up a log hut in a few hours would be foolish to die of exposure trying to build a larger house more to his liking; he could always turn to the larger task when he had secured his immediate needs—but the achievement of Socialism is not a problem of that kind. The position of the working class under capitalism is not that of a man steadily climbing a mountain, hewing out steps one after the other at higher levels, but rather of a man trying to climb step by step up a moving escalator that is moving downwards.

With his eyes fixed on the next step he listens to his leaders, who tell him that it is certainly better to be on that step than where he is now, and he refuses to listen to those who advise him to climb off the escalator and seek to gain control of the machinery which governs its movements.

The task of achieving Socialism is the task of changing the foundation of the social system. The change-over cannot begin until the workers become convinced of the practicability of Socialism, and gain control of the machinery of Government for the purpose of introducing Socialism. Even from the point of view of getting some immediate benefits from the capitalists, the step-at-a-time doctrine is a hollow fraud. For see the attitude of mind it breeds. It encourages the political vice of always accepting some meagre whittled down concession lest worse befall. Remember the early self-styled Socialists who said Socialism is not immediately attainable, so let us demand nationalisation under capitalism, the husk without the grain. “It will,” they said, "be the stepping stone.” In 1918 the Labour Party said it stood for “immediate nationalisation.” But this, too, proved to be not immediately attainable, so they dropped it quietly and asked for Public Utility Corporations as a step to nationalisation. Now Mr. Herbert Morrison has conceded that Public Utility Corporations are not suitable for all industries, and suggests that these industries be turned over to "some form of management under a board of directors with a nationally nominated chairman” (Times, December 21st, 1942). What will be the next step away from the next step to Socialism remains to be seen.

Or take the housing problem. Some reformers used to ask for proper houses for the workers at rents they could afford. In practice some Council-built houses have rents out of reach of the average worker, and some with low rents are seriously cramped and inconvenient to live in. After the last war, as even these dwellings were sadly deficient in number and too costly to build, they tried for a time to popularise still cheaper dwellings made of steel. The final depths to which the doctrine of being immediately practical could lead well-meaning people was the proposal mooted some 20 years ago that wooden shelters should be erected at a trifling cost in Hyde Park so that homeless tramps could sleep in a standing position, protected from the rain. And, indeed, why not? The tramp could not afford to rent houses, and it is not practical to build houses under capitalism for those who cannot rent them, and no one can deny that the tramp would be better off with such shelters than without them! Or take the national minimum wage. Fifty years ago this was the "bold” demand of reformers who said, "Let us get something definite now and go for Socialism later on.” So the mountain laboured for years, and eventually Mr. Churchill in a Liberal Government produced the Trade Boards for sweated industries; surely an instalment towards an instalment of Socialism? But the Labour Party reformers were not satisfied. They would, when in office, carry out the original instalment. In 1924 they were too busy; and in 1930, when in office again, they simply disowned it: the practical instalment was not practical! The only times when a national minimum wage for agricultural workers was practical was during the two world wars, not because reformers asked for it but because of the U-Boat blockade!

A little light relief in the minimum wage campaign was provided by the New Leader, organ of the I.L.P., which years ago ran a prize competition for a programme of immediate demands. Among the proposals of the winning competitor was that a minimum wage be fixed and enforced, but at a level moderate enough not to be opposed by the employing class!

The latest tragi-comedy is the complete out-manoeuvring of the Labour Party on the Beveridge Report. They have demanded for years (as a stepping-stone to something or other) a much improved system of unemployment and sickness benefits and old-age pensions. One familiar demand put forward by Labour Party Conferences (e.g., in 1923) was that unemployment pay should be at trade union rates. Along, comes the capitalist politician Beveridge with a much less favourable scheme, and the Labour Party, fearful lest this second-best scheme should be endangered, give it their qualified approval. Now the Government announces that it too approves of the scheme, but with modifications and postponements. The Labour Party, now fearful of “diehard” opposition, finds itself hesitant and divided about endangering the modified scheme, which is itself two steps backward from its own. But how can it deny its own doctrine that "anything is better than nothing ”?

The Labour Party may argue that the Beveridge Scheme even as modified is a stepping-stone (though a smaller step than the one they wanted) towards Socialism. It is interesting to see that its author. Sir William Beveridge, denies this and says “It is a move neither towards Socialism nor away from it. Nor towards Capitalism. It is straight down the middle of the road.” (Daily Express, December 10th, 1942). His rather cryptic illustration is really very appropriate. He leaves us to suppose that the road is a meandering one which leads nowhere.

The unqualified tragedy is war. Socialists always held that war is inseparable from capitalism, but the reformers said surely you don't suggest that war cannot be abolished until Socialism is achieved? So the reformers left capitalism alone and concentrated on the immediately practical issue of abolishing war by the League of Nations. The result needs no comment.

The sum total of the diligent hunt after the "practical” is that the real quarry, the king of beasts, has gone on fattening in untroubled strength, and even the hoped for immediate captures have proved about as elusive and unsatisfying as electric hares on the greyhound track.

An Employer's View of the Beveridge Plan (1943)

From the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Labour Party supporters of the Beveridge Plan say they believe it will cut into the power and wealth of the capitalist class and help towards undermining the capitalist system. They say the same about other demands that feature in their present programme. It is interesting therefore to read the remarks made by Mr. Samuel Courtauld, millionaire chairman of the great rayon firm. Speaking at the Manchester Rotary Club on February 18th, he declared himself "strongly in favour of the principles and almost all the proposals of the Beveridge Report ” (Manchester Guardian, February 19th). "I have not the faintest doubt,” he said, “that if we can survive the first severe business contraction which arises after the war, social security of this nature will be about the most profitable long-term investment the country could make. It will not undermine the moral of the nation's workers: it will ultimately lead to higher efficiency among them and a lowering of production costs " (italics ours).

This last remark incidentally is very much like one made by Beveridge himself in a broadcast reported in the Sunday Despatch (January 17th, 1943).

He said then that his proposal of compulsory insurance “is ensuring that people have the necessary means of keeping healthy and efficient producers.”

Mr. Samuel Courtauld sees nothing to fear in Beveridge. Likewise he supports various other Labour Party demands. In an article in the Economic Journal (April, 1942) he declared, speaking personally and not necessarily putting the views of his company, that he is favourably disposed towards the nationalisation of the railways, and if not nationalisation, then further State control of road transport and various other industries. One proposal was that the Government should appoint directors to the boards of all companies above a certain size, and at the same time the trade unions should have the right to appoint a director. This, he thought, would keep the workers' interests well in sight and make the rising generation feel that they had a personal interest and "were not mere cogs in someone else's soulless machine.” (Manchester Guardian, February 19th.)

Among other views he expressed in the Economic Journal was that he, as a manufacturer, thinks that bankers, landlords, merchants, and the Stock Exchange are greatly overpaid, and he wants all speculation in industrial stocks and shares eliminated. Here, of course, he voices the interest of the manufacturing capitalist against other sections of the owning class, but beyond that he has an interest in common with the other sections in safeguarding capitalism. In the speech at Manchester he warns them not to disregard the signs of the times. It is a fact, he says,—
  That the majority of the electorate are hostile to the present capitalist system. This hostility may or may not be justified; the important and dangerous fact is that it exists. The masses now realise that it is in their power to introduce any changes which they desire. There is no putting the clock back: and some changes they are certainly going to have. (Manchester Guardian, February 19th.)
In short, his warning to his fellow capitalists is that if they are stiff-necked they will be risking everything:—
  Now some of the experiments which I would suggest may be risky, but it is infinitely more dangerous for employers to dig in their toes and resist every radical change.
It will be noticed that if all of Mr. Courtauld's proposals are carried out the working class will still be a propertyless class, working "with higher efficiency” and with "a lowering of production costs” to produce profit for the owners. The workers may have been made to feel that they are not mere cogs in someone else's soulless machine, but the machine will still be someone else's. The Manchester Guardian may (April 11th, 1942) describe Mr. Courtauld's plans as “Socialism,” but it will still be the capitalist system.

By The Way: Beveridge on Want—and Adventure (1943)

The By The Way Column from the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Beveridge on Want—and Adventure
"'Winter and want tame man and beast'. Adventure comes not from the half-starved, but from those who are well fed enough to feel ambition."
Thus Sir William Beveridge, on January 19th, at Plymouth, in answer to criticism by "an American” that if there had been a Beveridge Plan in Queen Elizabeth's day there would have been no Drake or Hawkins or Raleigh.

Socialists might be tempted to add that the world would have been no worse off without them, especially the first two.

What does strike us is the confirmation, from a very unexpected quarter, of a Socialist contention—i.e., that starvation does not make revolutions, or revolutionaries.

Starvation may provoke blind elemental revolts, which are sometimes welcomed by the ruling class as an opportunity to "teach the workers a lesson.”

Despite the belief of Anarchists, based on Bakunin’s views, and despite the unemployed movements of pre-war days, starvation alone will not bring about Socialism, which requires socialist knowledge.

"One advantage the workers do have—that of numbers," wrote Marx in the Inaugural Address of the First International. "but numbers are useless unless organised by experience and guided by knowledge."

#    #    #    #

The Hungerford Club
Members of Bloomsbury Branch, distributing leaflets advertising Party lectures outside the Kingsway Hall recently, found themselves standing next to a kindly lady distributing tickets for a poetry reading by Miss Sybil Thorndike at the Friends' Meeting House, where there was to be a collection in aid of Hungerford Club.

The back of the ticket gave the following details:—
  The Hungerford Club, in one of the arches under Charing Cross Station, is the war-time home of many who used to sleep on the Embankment or in the Parks. For these men and women public shelters were unsuitable, but people accustomed to a vagrant life avoid ordinary public institutions. Thus the Unit that had provided the male staff for the Crypt at St. Martin's launched the Club with the co-operation of the Westminster City Council. Since the beginning of 1941 more than a hundred people have remained at the Club from early evening until morning, and many have found in it a home and a friendship such as they have seldom known before.
In 1943, therefore, despite a tremendous artificial war prosperity boom, in the West End of London, when it is almost impossible to get into the Berkeley, the Ritz or the Carlton unless you are really very rich, when there are regular traffic jams outside the Savoy of taxis and large saloon cars, which somehow, despite war restrictions, the same wealthy class still ride in, when grapes are offered from stalls in Piccadilly at 12s. 6d a pound and roses sold at 7s. 6d. a bloom, one hundred pitiful battered human wrecks regularly congregate in the arches under Hungerford Bridge, Charing Cross, because they are so utterly destitute and demoralised that they cannot even make use of the so-called “public shelters.” Socialists have never claimed that the majority of the working class are completely destitute, or would become so. Nor have they thought that it would improve matters if they did.

But the fact of the existence of these destitute wretches, literally infinitely inferior in their position to animals, in the midst of one of the greatest aggregations of wealth in the world, is itself shattering comment on contemporary capitalist society. These hundred completely destitute, pre-suppose many thousands (in Westminster, in this case) only slightly better off. Above these again, is the general level of the working class. Seebohm Rowntree calculated, before the war, that one in every six working people in York were definitely below the poverty line—i.e., going short of necessities.

As for the misguided but well-intentioned efforts of the members of the Society of Friends—surely no more flagrant example of the futility of philanthropy under capitalism can be found. How footling are the efforts of these "welfare workers" in trying to make the damp, dark, stinking arches of the Southern Railway into a “Hungerford Club." “A home such as they have seldom known before," and yet within a stone's throw there are scores of huge mansions deserted by the rich since the first blitz.

We are very well aware that even if these poor wretches were quartered in the empty London mansions of the wealthy, nothing fundamental would be achieved.

The fundamental problem is the poverty of the poor. Only when the class who produce houses and wealth in general also own the means whereby it is produced will there be an end to such revolting abominations as the “Hungerford Club."
Horatio.

The March From Rome - Part 2 (1943)

From the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard



Italy's war on Turkey was not looked upon with favour by other powers. German capitalism was slowly penetrating the Turkish Empire, where German financial groups were obtaining concessions and had made of Tripoli a port of call for her steamship lines. The Turks tried concessions and compromise, but Italian capitalism was desperate and declared war on Turkey on September 29th, 1911. She emerged victorious, acquiring Tripoli, Cyrenaica and the Dodecanese Islands. British and French capitalism did not like this and offered open bitter criticism. Such wanton aggression should have been left to older established firms. This created bitterness in Italy, and played into the hands of Germany, who were able to bring about, as a result, a renewal of the Triple Alliance long before its end was due. Italy and Austria now co-operated in the Balkan "problems" and asserted the inviolability of Albania, a direct challenge to the Russo-Slav dreams of a march to the Adriatic.

In 1913 Italy now begins to talk of her "Asiatic policy," and a group of Italian financiers "obtain" a concession to build a railway to link up with the Bagdad Railway. The stronger Italy became the louder the clamour for the provinces still held by her Austrian ally. These cross-currents of economic conflict made it no easier for Italian expansion, as "peaceful" progress is but periodic within the framework of capitalism. The manoeuvres, bargainings and concession-hunting during the first decade of the present century were just moves on the chessboard for the grand slam. It came in 1914. Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance and therefore bound to Germany, but she decided to "wait and see." Capitalism has no room for " loyalty " unless it has a cash basis. In May, 1915, Italian capitalism had checked up its chances and plumped against its ally. Not for nothing was this done. Virtue is its own reward, but it is just as well to "help" nature and Providence, and Italy's virtue was reinforced by the "secret" agreement into which she entered with her new allies. By this she was to obtain the return of Trentino and Istria, a gift of Dalmatia, Valona, and a few islands off that coast. Thus she would become the one and only Adriatic power. In addition, after the carving up of Turkey was arranged, she would receive her share as a "sphere of influence." She was to receive a proportion of the indemnity and the treaty was "to be kept secret."

This "secret" treaty, April 26th, 1915, was signed by that pillar of Liberalism and the League of Nations, Sir Edward Grey, and published in the Manchester Guardian, January 18th, 1918. On that same day Mr. Lloyd George addressed the Trade Union Congress and said, "The British Empire is finding its purpose in the great design of Providence on earth, finding it in this great war for liberty and right throughout the world." Poor Congress! Happy Lloyd George! The settlement of the world war double-crossed Italian capitalism, and after the seizure of Fiume by the freebooter D'Annunzio this city was made into a "Free" city. For her "sphere of influence" resulting from the Turkish carve-up, Italy inherited a desert—Libya.

Economic depression became rampant in Italian cities and unemployment the order of the day. Large Communist parties, Anarchist groups and Syndicalist organisations bewildered the masses by their wild slogans. Ex-officers, now jobless, gathered the slum elements and formed themselves in gangs of desperadoes, robbing and pillaging at wilL These gangs took the name of Fascia, and Mussolini placed himself at their head, organising them into a disciplined body. Groups of workers, trained in Anarchist and Syndicalist beliefs, seized a number of factories, which they evacuated on the advice of the Liberal, Giolitti. The industrial capitalists, the Monarchy, the landowners began to look round for a weapon to crush the workers. They found it ready to hand in Mussolini and his Fascia, thugs and criminals and the dregs of Italian society.

During the early post-war years a wave of "Labourism" swept Europe, and Labour governments, national and municipal, were returned to power throughout the Continent, masquerading under the name of "Socialism." In Italy the Labour Party obtained 156 seats, three times their previous number. but being Non-Socialist votes the fever soon passed. Fascism, born in Milan, now spread over Northern Italy, with the willing assistance of landowners and industrial capitalists. In 1921 Mussolini entered Parliament, and Fascism took on its legal character. The government of Facta appealed to the King to sign a decree declaring a state of siege against the now armed Fascists. The King refused, but sent a telegram inviting Mussolini to come to Rome and form a new ministry. Mussolini "marched to Rome" in a sleeping car, with the list of new ministers in his pocket. Here he was met by the King and the job settled.
Lew Jones

New Light on the "New" World (1943)

From the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

A vast number of workers who previously took no interest in politics or questions of social significance are now asking themselves the question, What will happen after the war?

They are wondering whether the grandiose promises of Government spokesmen and planners will become reality; whether their present hardships and sufferings will really result in a world of peace and security.

They have been answered. An illuminating speech by Sir Kingsley Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, throws a ray of cold, clear light on the subject.
  We should be living in a fool's paradise, he said, if wishful thinking led us to believe that a great and cruel war brought in itself better and happier times.
 Some people, he went on, might be inclined to regard the end of the war as a time for ease and the spending of money freely. But in many respects the days after the war would be very much like those of the war itself. In some ways they would be even more difficult. (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)
The Chancellor stated that after the war world markets would be subject to strong competition, and declared that "we shall want to secure a large volume of international commerce under conditions as free from restrictions as possible." (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)

He also suggested that international co-operation would be active in the economic field. But, as the News Chronicle correspondent rightly points out, he did not explain how competition and co-operation could exist together.

This gives the workers some idea of the state of affairs they will “enjoy" when the present bloody conflict is ended. The "new" world is just a myth. What will exist will be the same old capitalist world, with its private ownership of the means of life. The workers will still be wage-slaves striving to earn a meagre existence by selling their energies to the master class, whilst the international capitalist class will continue their scramble for world markets, thus creating the very conditions that will pave the way for future wars.

Far from there being any marked improvement in their conditions, the working class will find that they will have to struggle to maintain their pre-war standard of life. Sir Kingsley Wood has already warned us.
  Unless we can make a great move forward in our export trade our standard of living must inevitably fall. We shall have to compete with others in price and quality, and we must make a profit. (News Chronicle, February 3rd, 1943.)
Yes, the capitalist class must make a profit out of the sweat and toil of the workers!

The picture provided by this glimpse into the future is indeed a gloomy one. But we Socialists are not discouraged. We have a message for the working class—a message of hope. We say that the remedy to all the evils that confront us— and which will still be present when “peace" returns—lies in the hands of the working class. The workers can change the present system of society in which the minority own everything and the majority own nothing, into a system based on the common ownership of the means of life. The workers can erect a New World, a free world, which will cater for the well-being of the whole of society.
S. Pizer

The "Daily Worker" and the S.P.G.B. (1943)

Party News from the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the “Daily Worker" on February 25th appeared a statement that the British National Party was holding what was described as a "Fascist Conference" at Easter in the Lysbeth Hall, Soho Square, and that the booking had been made in the name of the Socialist Party. As our Annual Conference is being held in the Lysbeth Hall at Easter, we drew the attention of the "Daily Worker" to the fact that their statement was entirely baseless and that we have not at any time had any association whatever with the British National Party and had not booked that or any other hall for anyone but ourselves. On 27th February the "Daily Worker" published the following retraction:—
"LYSBETH HALL
We are informed that the Lysbeth Hall, London, has not been booked by the British National Party, or anyone acting on their behalf. The booking has, in fact, been made by the Socialist Party of Great Britain for their Annual Conference."
It will be noticed that the "Daily Worker" did not see fit to offer any word of apology.
Executive Committee S.P.G.B.

Is There a “Managerial” Revolution? (1943)

From the February 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The capitalist class are able to maintain their ownership and control of society’s means of life because they have control of the machinery of government through which laws acceptable to the owning class are made and enforced. That is why Socialists point to the necessity of a Socialist working class democratically obtaining control of the machinery of Government in order to introduce Socialism. Various opponents of Socialism give other interpretations of the facts and one of the theories now achieving some acceptance is that effective control has passed, or is passing, out of the hands of the capitalist class, not into the hands of the working class, but into the hands of the managerial section of industry. A recent book (The Managerial Revolution, by J. Burnham; Putnam; 7/6)) states the case for this view. It was reviewed by the City Editor of the News-Chronicle, the argument in the book being summarised as follows : —
  His (Mr. Burnham’s) thesis briefly is this. The dominant political power was once in the hands of the great landowners, the feudal lords; then it passed to the big merchants and manufacturers—the capitalists. But capitalism is now moribund, because the people who own the instruments of production no longer manage them. The next phase is not socialism . . . but—if I may coin the word, “managism.” Power is now passing to the “social group or class of the managers,” who, in the course of a generation or so, will have achieved social dominance, will be the ruling class in society all over the world.— (News-Chronicle, August 10, 1942.)
It is interesting to observe that the City Editor of the News-Chronicle, Mr. Oscar Hobson. whose views on this matter are certainly entitled to be given some weight, can see no signs that such a development is taking place. He writes : —
  The works managers I know are not of the stuff of which revolutions are made. In this country they are singularly unvocal. They are not a class apart, differentiated from finance executives and all the rest of the capitalist hierarchy. And when Mr. Burnham sees the rise of Nazidom in Germany as part and parcel of the managerial revolution I almost scoff! Where among the Nazi leaders will he find a “manager”?
Who Controls Whom ?
Actual incidents in contemporary capitalism support Hobson’s view as against Burnham’s. All the evidence is that in Germany and Italy it has not been the case that managers have become the political ruling class, but that the Nazi and Fascist leaders, once they have achieved control of the machinery of Government, have set about acquiring or extending their ownership of industrial, commercial and financial concerns. Their actions prove that they at least do not believe that management is the thing that matters, they have gone all out to become owners. A writer in the Times recently described how the Fascist leaders in Italy have used their hold on political power to acquire ownership or shareholdings in businesses; their political control has been used to make them rich. The Times writer summed it up by saying that whereas the Fascists jibe at Britain and America as countries of “plutocrats,” i.e., countries where the wealthy have acquired political power, Italy under Fascism may be described as a country of “cratoplutes,” a country in which the Party bosses have used political power in order to acquire wealth.

In this country recently we have had some examples of how capitalist industry is controlled and the way that control is exercised. On November 17 the case of Sir Roy Fedden was discussed in the House of Lords. According to Lord Brabazon (reported in the Times, November 18) Sir Roy Fedden was chief engineer of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and was reputed to have outstanding technical achievements to his credit, among them “the most successful radial air-cooled engines in the world,” and Lord Sempill claimed that Fedden is “one of the greatest geniuses in aircraft design in the world.” But the Company, which was originally founded by Sir George White, is controlled by the family—”Never had anyone but the family and relations of it been allowed on the board. Of the present board, none was an engineer ” (Lord Brabazon). But trouble arose and when Sir Roy Fedden refused to agree to the board’s order that part of his  organisation was to be controlled by the Production Manager he was dismissed. Sir Roy Fedden’s own statement was:—
  On February 6 the Chairman gave me six months’ notice, on the grounds they wanted to make a new agreement. … I have never wished to leave the company. While negotiations were going forward I was dismissed on October 1.” (Evening News, October 31, 1942.)
Lord Sempill also stated in the House of Lords (Times, November 18, 1942) : —
  The trouble was a symptom of other troubles in the aircraft industry. Something should be done to prevent a repercussion of the same kind of difficulties in which people on the financial side made war against those on the technical side, and, as in the case of Sir Roy Fedden, threw them out of a job. The other companies specifically concerned with such trouble were the De Havilland Company,, the Fairey Aviation Company, Napiers and Sons, and Short Brothers. There was another, but the matter was sub judice and he would not mention the name.
It will be seen from this that the man with the technical knowledge was entirely at the disposal of the family who owned and controlled.

Another illustration of the vital importance of ownership was given by the case of Sir Edward Baron and Carreras, Ltd., the £5,000,000 tobacco concern. Here the position was that the Baron family hold 150,000 out of 240,000 £1 ordinary shares and it is only the ordinary shareholders who, under the articles of the company, have voting rights on the Board. The case taken to Court revolved around the question whether Sir Edward Baron, the Managing Director, should persist in his refusal to let the majority of directors make their own choice of a director to be re-elected to the Board, it being alleged that Sir Edward Baron had given a verbal contract not to use his voting rights. The Court held that no such contract had been entered into (Times, December 19, 1942), so the family group of shareholders will continue to control the management of the Company. Where, it may be asked, do Mr. Burnham’s managerial group come into this picture? It was solely a dispute between two groups of owners and their nominees, the Baron group and the minority group—nobody ever thought of mentioning the non-owning managers.

It is quite true that with the growth of mammoth amalgamated concerns the direct control of family groups declines, and that in the public utility corporations the State itself takes a hand in the appointment of the boards of directors. This is, so to speak, an interference by the capitalist State, representing the capitalist class as a whole, in the affairs of individual capitalist undertakings, but two points of paramount importance should be observed. One is that the main interest of the owners, the safeguarding of their income from their investments, is not interfered with. The second is that the creation of public utility corporations under some kind of Governmental control is not in the slightest degree the work of the managerial group but is carried out by those who control the machinery of government.

Russia also has been instanced as a country where the so-called managerial revolution, is in progress, but according to a writer in the Economist who refers to Schwarz’s ”Heads of Russian Factories” (Economist, January 9, 1943), Russia has now gone over to one-man control, the controller being the industrial manager appointed by the State. The Economist writer claims that as a result of recent changes the new type of industrial manager in Russia has as his aims : "Fulfilment of the monthly plan, a rising graph of production, absolute obedience and discipline in the workshop, and one-man direction of the plant.” He has “almost unlimited powers to establish his authority and to deal with slackness and infringements of labour discipline.” True he has to deal with the Bolshevik Party “cell” but ”the once familiar conflict between party cell and factory director has long been forgotten. The fullest unity between party and management has in fact been achieved. The manager is now only very rarely a non-party man. The Party on the other hand has evolved into an almost non-political body. All its interests and activities have been centred on the problems of production.”

Here again we see that the State and those who have its backing are supreme against other groups.

In spite of Mr. Burnham the managers will not become a new ruling class unless they do so through political control. The task of the workers still remains that of gaining political control for Socialism.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Post-War World (1943)

From the February 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

What will be the character of the world after this war? Few will want to return to the pre-war world. Most people will have experienced many changes in their normal life even in the present generation. Have a conversation with anyone yon like, ask them if they remember the horse-drawn trams; would they like to return to those days? They would answer No. Yet although many recognise that changes occur, they are rather perplexed as to the future, and what will happen next. At the moment there seem to be two schools of thought, one embodied in the Beveridge plan to unify social insurance and the plan of the Federation of British Industries on Reconstruction, and the other to unify the world or to federate. One is to reconstruct conditions inside the country, the other outside.

In a pamphlet by R. H. Tawney, "Why Britain Fights," he pertinently says, "Nothing does more than insecurity to embitter life for large numbers of our fellow citizens. We have acquiesced with astonishing callousness in the destruction of others by unemployment. When they have saved the nation in the field and the factory, to what are they to return? More of the same kind of thing?"

There is, however, no indication that our rulers can cure unemployment. The capitalist employs a man for the purpose of producing a profit. If he can make no profit, he will not hire the worker, but will fire him, and so the unemployed army is created and will number millions, as our experience has shown us prior to the war.

The Socialist way is to cure unemployment by socialising the machines and factories so that no man can be hired or fired by a capitalist owner, who now is solely concerned with a profit. Under Socialism, there would be no private owner to dictate to labour, and as a corollary there would he no profit. A man would have the right to work and the right to live. There would be no inequality of income, no money required to buy goods, and the wealth produced would be freely consumed by its creators, that is, the entire population.

Our rulers have many conflicting plans to deal with this country after the war, but in the main they visualise a capitalist world, and look to the State to help them financially in their hour of need.

They are keenly concerned to recapture the export markets as may be seen in the Reconstruction report of the Federation of British Industries.

Our masters will reconstruct this country, but will most certainly not introduce Socialism. One cannot expect them to do so, to liquidate their source of privilege and power. Only the workers, conscious of their class, Socialist conscious, could do this. So the question at the moment still remains: To what are they to return? The answer of our rulers is a return to capitalism.

Professor Tawney visualised a super-national authority after the war. He says: "If it has force, i.e., a superior force, war, as we know it to-day, can be stopped. If it has not, war will continue. There is no middle course." This force will be wielded presumably by the victorious allies, U.S.A., Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. and China.

He points out that there were some 16 sovereign states, exclusive of Russia, in 1875, and some 22 in 1914. By 1920, 29 such states were packed into an area smaller than that of the American Union. He asks: Shall we add yet one more suicidal nationalism to those already rampant? He says that the national state was a constructive economic force in the past; when, as to-day, the productive energies have outgrown the limits set by national frontiers, it has become an obstructive force.

It will be interesting to see how this will work out. The world would still be based upon competition, and the struggle for markets must inevitably result in a struggle with armed force among the leading capitalist rival powers. It took only a few years for Germany to re-arm and become a formidable military power. Is it possible to retain capitalism and avoid its consequences in wars, or unemployment for the surplus unemployed army of labour? These are the problems which will confront our rulers after the war.

They are seriously perturbed about the future. In the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "International Conciliation." for April, 1942, one writer frankly says that "Free enterprise could hardly survive a post-war economic collapse, nor could free political institutions either."

So that the world after the war will have grave economic problems for our rulers and the workers are by no means sure of having a better world than the pre-war one.

The contradictions of capitalism which have produced two wars in one generation and mass unemployment, can be remedied, but not by our rulers. The workers alone have the power to change the world, provided they understand and apply the Socialist remedy, i.e., of expropriating the machines and factories from their masters and making them into social property.
I. F.

An Irish Problem in English Agriculture (1943)

From the February 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The need for food in war time is one of the State's greatest problems.

To feed a great hungering populace is vital to the war effort, and every conceivable method is put forth to produce the necessities of life at home. Since the advent of the war agriculture has come into its own, so to speak. Farmers have stepped from lean years to fat ones; with guaranteed prices and markets and modern machinery thrust into the industry, the British farmer now finds himself sitting pretty.

Changes have also been effected with our agricultural labourer. From his wage of about 35/- per week before the war, he now finds himself receiving a £3 minimum rate in all counties. Indeed, many labourers now come under income tax schedules for the first time in their lives, and most of them think themselves well off. Actually, of course, our farm hand is still living on a meagre subsistence level. True, his rent has remained at the same figure. Some time back a move was put forward by many big farmers to increase labourers' rents to coincide with increased wages, but the motion was shelved for the time being, and it was agreed to leave rents at the fixed rate, usually of 3/- per week.

Many of these cottages the average townsfolk would hardly accept rent free. Small hovels built in out of the way fens, several miles from shopping centres, no modern conveniences, bad sanitation, some of them not even built near a hard road, and often in need of repairs.

Of course, the farmer has his excuse just now, what with war-time restrictions, labour shortage, lack of materials, repairs are out of the question.

All these things, we are told, will be righted in that rosy period to come after the bullets have ceased to whistle.

Some of the labourers live rent free on these farms. For this little privilege a few head of cattle are kept around the place, which need to be taken care of and fed in return. This is called garthing, and, of course, entails Sunday work, so incidentally these farm hands are tied to the farm seven days a week.

But somehow our agricultural labourer is not entirely satisfied. Just now he is concerned in a little trouble known as the Irish problem. Owing to the increased production and cultivation of wide tracts To-day, what worries the land worker is the Irish problem. With the labour shortage the Government has allowed an influx of Irish labour into the country. It is a joint agreement of the two Governments concerned, and any Irishman who desires agricultural work can obtain a permit to come to England for six months. Work is guaranteed, and comparatively attractive piece rates are offered; often the English farmer will give a small gang of Irishmen one of those cottages rent free; incidentally no garthing is required. These Irishmen, for working long hours at piece rates, can earn much more than the English land worker's £3 a week, and some of the latter resent the employment of the Irish labourers. It also sets them wondering. Often at one end of a field two Irishmen are earthing a clamp of potatoes at 7/- a chain, while at the other end two English hands are doing similar work for 10/- a day.


Incidents like this have caused a growing antagonism between our English farm hand and his Irish brethren. When Saturday night comes our landworker wends his way to the village “pub,"and there he sees an Irish lad laying down his £1 note on the bar counter. That is when the canker grows. Quite heedless of the fact that well known brewers, Messrs. Ind, Coope & Allsop, recently paid a dividend of 33 per cent., the average farm hand likes his pint or two, even if it does cost 1/- or more a pint; and he finds it hard to the pocket to keep pace with his Irish colleague.


Because his wage-packet is small he blames the Irishman. He says, “The Paddies get all the piece work, they pick and choose what work they want; I get all the dirty jobs for a weekly wage. If he's not satisfied he cashes in; I'm tied till Michaelmass; besides, the guv'nor might stop me leaving or get me put in the army." And so the talk goes on.


In actual truth, the Irishman is being blamed for the Englishman's own shortcomings. It is not the Irishman's fault that English farmers pay less to English labourers. It is not the Irishman's fault that English labourers have always been miserably paid, nor is it his fault that it is only in war-time that English capitalism discovers that it greatly needs farm workers. In peace time English farmers took advantage of unemployment and the lack of organisation of farm workers to depress wages to the lowest possible level. He opposed every effort of the landworker and his union to improve wages. If, then, in war time Irish labourers are able to exact a higher wage why blame them? The English workers (and their Irish brothers) should recognise that at all times they are sufferers from the same evil, the capitalist system which divides society into a class of capitalists and a class of workers. Only then will English and Irish cease to curse each other.
G. D. Bailey.



The March From Rome - Part 1 (1943)

From the February 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Italian capitalism achieved its local unity by the year 1870, which was fairly late for a European State, and was therefore late in the scramble for expansion. The motive force, in material, for easy expansion in the latter half of the nineteenth century, was coal and railways. Italy's almost total lack of coal made her capitalist growth and expansion semi-dependent upon coal from abroad, mainly Britain. Labour reformists who misled the workers by calling State subsidies and grants "Socialist" may note that in the seventies the Italian Government passed many tariff laws and made regular subsidies to newly growing industries in order to help on her growing capitalism. In spite of the various handicaps, Italian capitalism made good progress. From the nineties to the outbreak of the world war (1914), her imports and exports had risen from £90 millions to £240 millions. The export of silk grew until Milan ousted the French exporters of Lyons and became the foremost silk market in the world. This “prosperity” manifested itself internally in the establishment of military conscription and an ambitious policy externally. Like her French neighbour, she had to be careful where she trod, for powerful Imperialist rivals already existed with older and more stabilised capitalisms. In 1880 she completed her first small arms factory and a naval programme was arranged, French capitalists obtaining the contracts. In 1884 Italy laid down an eight years' plan or military programme to cost round £10 million. Ignorant Communists refer to planning as being a "Socialist" discovery and boost Russia's five years' plan as though it was original. By now Italy was swept into the general current of aggressive Imperialism and began to look round for "safe" conquests. Her geographical position gave her two ways of expansion: (1) Northwards in an Alpine direction; (2) Southwards, in the Mediterranean and North African coast. Both directions, however, were difficult. Northward, the Austro-German bloc barred her way; southward, the French in Algeria and Tunis, and the British Navy dominated the African coast route to Egypt.

The French invasion of Tunis aroused antagonisms among the ruling class in Italy (not through any noble motives) because they were just too late. Diplomacy under capitalism is more than "the art of lying." It is the art of "duplicity." For some years Italian jingoes had been clamouring for the return to Italy of the Italian provinces still in Austrian hands—Trieste, Istria, Trentino. As a reply to the French occupation of Tunis, she joined Germany and Austria in the Triple Alliance, surrendering her claim to the Italian provinces, in return for help in her Mediterranean-Africa ambitions. A military alliance was signed for five years. The Alliance, however, did not guarantee any assistance if Italy was attacked by a fourth Power.

Dead sea fruit. 
Towards the time when the treaty would end France and Russia asked Italy to leave the Alliance with a view to a new one aimed at Britain in return for which they both offered help to regain the Austrian held provinces Italy had previously bawled about and then relinquished. Yon can't teach old dogs new tricks. British capitalism, well versed in all the moves of the game of diplomacy, adroitly gave Italy an assurance of help if she was threatened in the Mediterranean (by someone else). Thus by playing on other capitalists' interests, Crispi secured for Italian capitalism n free period for an aggressive expansionist policy. All that was necessary was to avoid poaching on other capitalist, preserves. Beaten by the French in Tunis, she went a bit further afield, and in 1885 got Massawa, etc., on the Red Sea (Eritrea). These places were of very little use in themselves, but good jumping-off grounds for an assault on the fertile rich land of Abyssinia. Italy made war on this country but was smashed in 1887. She was able to expand here, as her rivals, French and British, were at logger- heads in the area of Egypt. Italy's defeat in a frontal attack did not,. however, deter her from her aims; it was merely a question of learning the tricks of the trade. By playing off one native leader against another (fifth column work long ago) she succeeded in establishing a “protectorate" over a part of Somaliland. With the death of the Emperor of Abyssinia came Italy's chance. They successfully championed Menelik, one of the claimants to the throne. For this Italy was granted part of the territory and the "privilege" of supplying such arms and loans as Abyssinia (or its slave owners) might need. Italy also established by bribes a number of “Quisling" groups among the native chiefs in Tripoli (for use later on). At this time German capitalism was becoming dangerously strong and France becoming increasingly apprehensive. Germany's policy aimed at keeping Italy “outside" the French orbit. This fear increased when in 1893, at the German Grand Army manoeuvres, there appeared the Italian Crown Prince. French finance quickly replied by liquidating her Italian securities (£40 millions). This created a financial panic in Italy. These European relations, internal disorders and economic depression, forced the Italian Government to turn the people's minds elsewhere, and capitalist hopes too, so attention was again given to East Africa.

Menelik now double-crossed his Italian ally, rallied the native chiefs, and at Adawo, March, 1896, smashed the Italians and pushed Italian capitalism out of it. Italy now had to seek help in Europe.

In 1895 German financiers established in Italy the Commercial Bank with £200,000 capital; by 1914 its capital had reached £6 millions. The economic crisis resulting from the Abyssinian failure, plus the falling price of government bonds, compelled Italian capitalism to end her tariff war and become “Liberal" and pursue a policy of peace, retrenchment and reform. "Liberal" capitalism, however, is only a phase, and as Italy did not live in a vacuum, she was subject to the laws of capitalism and its inherent contradictions. Capitalist Imperialism cannot leave any part of the world outside its orbit for ever. Each capitalist as an individual and each section of capitalism fishes in troubled waters for gain at each other’s expense. It is against the workers that capitalists unite as a class. Hence, in 1900, during a German financial crisis, France became the financial pool for Italy. Paris bought up some £5 million worth of Italy's national debt, giving France a lever against Germany and making her Italy's banker. Agreements were now reached for "spheres of influence," and thus dealt a smashing blow at the Triple Alliance. The culminating stroke was delivered when at this time was formed their Entente-Cordiale, bringing Britain and France together. Italy, dependent for coal on Britain and for money on France, moved further away from her alliance with Germany. In return for a free hand in Tripoli, Italy agreed not to obstruct French policy in Morocco, The treaty of November, 1911, securing to France the “protectorate" over Morocco, was the signal for Italy's bid for Tripoli. She entered this war with Turkey full of confidence.
Lew Jones


(To be concluded.)


The Barbary Coast (1943)

From the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is much in the saying, one thing leads to another. When Wellington’s military alliance knocked out Napoleon they ended one thing and laid the foundations of another. French capitalism, new and vigorously youthful, lost for all time it’s hope of becoming the dominant power in Europe. Being young and healthy, it soon recovered from its fall and set out to become a colonial power with an Empire outside Europe in place of the once dreamed of one inside Europe. It was now a question of where? Capitalism always seeks to advance its expansion as cheaply and with as little conflict as possible. French capitalism had to take into account the wisdom of not muscling in on any other powerful capitalist power's preserves. In addition to this, her Napoleonic venture had left her weak and in consequence the founding of an Empire must not put too big a strain on her resources in man power or money. This meant grabbing territory within striking distance without dangerous opposition from other powers. All the fore-mentioned factors favoured her in one part only—the tip of North Africa, which was accessible from her Southern ports (Marseilles, etc.), and where the only opposition that could come (Spain or Italy) did not count. At this period the whole of North Africa, from Tangier to Egypt, was "nominally" part of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire.

In Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia there was a limited form of "independence" under Turkish appointed vassal rulers (Beys), but conquest would not entail much trouble in this ramshackle Empire. For a couple of centuries this coast had been the regular haunt of the Arab slaver and Moorish pirate, and Christian Europe found no cause for its suppression; in fact, they joined in the merry game and shared the spoils, building the city of Bristol out of the profits. When capitalism, however, chooses to make a move it can always find a good slogan. One time it is “freedom of the seas," another time it is "democracy," and this time the slogan suited to French capitalism was the “suppression of piracy."

In the early years of the nineteenth century there lived in Algeria a firm of financiers—Bacri. This firm lent money to Europeans just as Europeans lent money to them. During the Napoleonic wars the French Government borrowed large sums of money from the Bacri firm to pay for the army's supplies in Africa. When the wars ended the money was not repaid, and the debt owed by a “civilised" government to an "uncivilised" financier was allowed to lie in cold storage. It was the custom in later times for European States to see that Europeans got any money they lent repaid to them by threats of force. The Bey of Algeria (Hussein), as ruler of his country, tried to do the same on behalf of one of his firms. Repeated evasions of the subject by the French Government so exasperated this tin-pot ruler that he struck the French Consul in the face. That settled it! That smack not only cost him the 13,000,000 francs owing, but his kingdom as well.

The French capitalists now had two slogans to work upon : (1) The suppression of piracy; (2) their “National honour". How swiftly they discovered their "honour" except when it came to paying their debts! In a memorandum read to the Council of the King (Charles X) reference was made by the Minister of War, De-Tonnere to "all the advantages France might derive from the conquest of a fertile country whose mountains contained mines." The projected seizure of Algeria led to a lot of hot air on the part of Wellington, Lord Aberdeen, etc. The Times of May 23, 1830, remarked as follows: "The French Government cannot seriously think of forming colonies on the coast of Africa, for a war would break out between France and England." This was followed by an ultimatum from the British Government; however, on May 25, 1830, the French army sailed from Toulon. Algeria was conquered. The English Press yelled for blood, the Balance of Power was upset, the status quo disturbed, the French King driven from his throne, and—retired to England! (Some 90 years later the Kaiser settled in Holland after they were going to hang him.) French capitalism was now on the march; she had acquired her first colony in Africa.

The acquisition of Tunis (1881) was the next point of penetration in the Imperialist programme of French capitalism. The seizure of Algeria now brought colonial France to the border of Tunis—a Moslem kingdom, and therefore ripe for conversion. Tunisia is very rich in phosphates, iron-ore, copper, lead and mercury, and these were also ripe for conversion. In 1857 Tunis was ruled by a Bey— Muhammed. According to these Moslems blasphemy and adultery is punishable by death. In the sixties a young Italian was convicted of adultery with a Moslem woman. The woman was thrown into a lake, and the Italian executed. Here was the excuse! Under pressure from the European Powers the Bey signed a declaration of "rights" for Jews and Christians. French capitalism obtained concessions in the form of (1) Control of all telegraphic services; (2) The reconstruction of aqueducts and supplying of water. British capitalism obtained the "right" to construct a railway from Tunis to Goleta.

There now descended on Tunis a storm of traders, financiers and speculators from Europe. They lent money to the Bey on ruinous terms. In payment of interest they extorted further concessions for opening up unexploited mines. Under threats the Bey made the concessions exempt from taxation. An era of rapacity set in for the speculators, money-lenders, and joint stock companies of Paris, London and Rome. To do this the Tunisian peasant and craftsman was bled white. Hunger, misery and starvation led to numerous revolts, all brutally suppressed. About this time France had to face the opposition of Italy, now a fully-fledged capitalist power geographically nearer to Tunis.

At the beginning of the eighties France had become financially interested in Egypt and the Suez Canal. Smashed in the Franco-Prussian war the loss of her rich Alsace and Lorraine iron and coal compelled her to seek elsewhere for them. Now firmly settled in Algeria she sought to extend eastward. Bismarck said at the Congress of Berlin (1878), "England should let Russia have Constantinople and should take Egypt in return. France might be given Syria or Tunis." All nicely arranged! Britain agreed that France should have Tunis as long as she was blind when Britain took Cyprus. One good turn deserves another. Using as an excuse a petty raiding border tribe, France in 1881 invaded the province and forced a "protectorate” on the Bey, disclaiming all attempts at annexation, but has been there ever since. As one thing leads to another, this was the decisive factor which forced Italy into the Austro-German alliance until the war of 1914-18. Italy, through the medium of her Blackshirt shouters, still calls in slogan form for Nice, Savoy and Tunis. Not Rome or Carthage, but Rome—Paris—or New York. Not negro slaves this time, but the exploitation of wage-slaves and the seizing of mineral resources from the land where Carthage ruled.
Lew Jones

Work for Socialism (A Thought for the New Year) (1943)

From the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Three years have passed since the outbreak of the Second World War. Three years which have taken their toll on the aspirations and hopes of millions; three years which have undermined many desperately held illusions. The first bomb that dropped destroyed the illusion that capitalism could continue without war. Many thousands of sincere men and women who held anti-war views veered in viewpoint almost overnight. Leaving out of account the Communists, the considerable anti-war sentiment which existed and grew between the two wars died on the first day of world war the second. The spectacle was not inspiring. Except for conscientious objectors, many of whose objections were mostly personal anyway, any hope that optimists had nursed of any real resistance to war was annihilated. Those who for years had cried "never again” now argued that Nazism must be defeated, and the only way to achieve that end was in the military defeat of Germany. To that end millions, most of whom yet knew little of life, must die. Millions have died. Millions more will surely die in the battles yet to be fought: "decisive” battles, we are told. To the Socialist, as the non-Socialist, supporter or opponent of the war, the prospect arouses anything but joy. True we are free from that pious respect for human life which is proclaimed but less often practised by the religious-minded, nevertheless, we experience the primitive will to live as strongly as all normal social beings, plus the conscious will to organise society so that all will live to the full. And young human life is precious: yes, and not because of sentiment only. The Socialist movement cannot afford the loss of the eager, inquiring mind of youth, particularly in a world where the numerical balance of the age groups grows more to its disadvantage.

The point surely does not need to be laboured.

The stark tragedy of world war fosters self delusions. One, a completely false evaluation, interprets the willing support given to the war by the workers as expressing a conscious seeking after a new or better social order. The most that could be said of some workers is that they believe they fight to avoid a worse world than the one they have known. Of others (perhaps the majority) the only explanation is that they are completely State-disciplined, the result of inheriting the accumulated experience of generations of workers. It is the job of the Socialist to face the facts. It is no service to the Socialist movement to paint rosy pictures or make "optimistic” prophecies except they rest on the surest of foundations. In the face of the present activities of the world's workers the surest prophecy that could be made is that the Socialist is faced with years of plodding propaganda and educational work for which no measurable result can yet be seen. Socialism will yet gain recruits, conscious of all the difficulties and despite them. They will work for Socialism with the will of those who know that the world is ready for the Socialist solution for its problems and its achievement is possible the moment a sufficient number of workers want it. Now, if events could produce that moment out of a hat now. They will work for Socialism now because there can be no other alternative to the world we know, and in order to enjoy its benefits with their fellow men. If in the years following the war the worker is lured again from Socialism by rosy promises of reform, so that those whose active life is behind them would cease to hope to see the dawn of Socialism, this would not affect their work for Socialism. It is in the nature of man as a social being that he works not only for himself but for society and posterity. The worker who understands what Socialism offers to the world will work for it that his children escape the horrors he had to endure. Can it be denied, for example, that many who are fighting in the present military struggle are not conscious of what chance they have of surviving to enjoy the world they risk their lives to save.

But of the capitalist world after the war? What sort of place will it be? If the assurances of the social reformer meant anything then doubtless it would be a very different world indeed. Poverty, insecurity and unemployment will be things of the past; and profit, says the new Archbishop of Canterbury, will be relegated to second place. It all seems so simple to the social reformer: Just so much a question of goodwill, of so many do's and don'ts on the Statute Book. But what is conspicuously absent in the proposals of the advocates of a “New World" after the war is that private ownership should give way to common ownership, and production for profit to production solely for use. They fail to propose this mainly for two reasons. First, they have not grasped the fact that there can be no fundamental social changes without it, and, two, even if this had been grasped, few of them would want to abolish the capitalist form of ownership anyway. What is likely to happen after the war, therefore, is that a number of social reforms will be introduced; that is unless the inevitable competitive struggle which must break out between different sections of the capitalist class tempers capitalist gratitude first. But no number of reforms, whatever the sincerity of the promoters, will touch the problems of poverty, insecurity, and the industrial crisis. Whilst production is for the purpose of profit and not for the purpose of satisfying the needs of the producers, capitalism will throw up these problems. For a few years after the war production of peace-time products is likely to expand rapidly as a consequence of the removal of the restriction on production that has operated during the war. Whilst this is so, conditions for the workers may be relatively good. The pendulum, however, will swing back. Competing capitalists will glut the markets, goods will become unsaleable, unemployment will grow, there will be strikes and lock-outs and reductions in wages. These things will happen because they are inseparable from capitalism—in fact, they are capitalism. There will be friction and "misunderstandings" between national groups of capitalists, as happened in the early thirties between British and American capitalists: "We cannot pay our war debts," and "buy British goods " were the high spots of those years. Fools, cranks, and the "experts” will strut the stage, offering their solutions. One is reminded of a famous and respected British economist who, in 1930, begged that all should spend another five shillings a week, and gave the solemn assurance that unemployment would disappear as a result!

These things happened after the Great War. Will they happen again? They will—because it is certain that the workers are not going to abolish capitalism in' the years immediately following the war. And whilst this is so, capitalism will provide abundant opportunities for the ill-informed social reformers and the charlatans. New movements will arise which promise an easy road to the "New World.” There will be disappointments and set-backs. But out of the struggles and their lessons there will be some who will learn, and they will add to the strength of the Socialist movement, preparing the way for the inevitable time when masses must accept the Socialist message. Historically, the stage has not yet been reached when workers in large numbers grasp the Socialist's message. But it can be hastened the more our message is spread. It is the business of all Socialists to work for this end. We are confident in the soundness of our case and tenacious in our purpose. The terrible wounds on the social organism which the present world war must surely inflict will harden us in our purpose: our hatred of capitalism and what it stands for, undiminished and increased. Socialism is an historical necessity thrown up by the economic and social development of centuries. The alternative to it is chaos and conflict. As Socialists we are conscious agents of the process of history.

Our job is to continue the work of Socialist propaganda at all times without fear or compromise. It is your job, friend and reader, if you are a Socialist, to lend a hand in every possible way and so help the movement to take all the shocks and use all the opportunities that the future may hold for it.

In this, the first month of the year 1943, we do not wish workers a "Happy New Year”—we point them to a new world, Socialism. When they want it it is within their grasp. If they have to fight for it with only a fraction of the courage, sacrifice and determination they fight the quarrels of their masters, then no combination of powers, even were they a thousand times more powerful than they are, could stand against it.
Harry Waite

Notes By The Way: Should Coal Miners be Abolished? (1943)

The Notes By The Way column from the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Should Coal Miners be Abolished?
Socialists are always being asked who will do the dirty, dangerous, arduous or menial tasks under Socialism. It is a question that seems to worry some people, though we have not noticed that the workers actually performing such tasks under capitalism arc overmuch concerned. The simple answer to the question is that if dirt, fatigue, and danger cannot be eliminated, then a sensible solution would be that all should take their turn at such tasks. As for so-called “menial” work this is merely a piece of capitalist snobbery—no useful work is inherently menial. Too little attention is, however, paid to the possibility of eliminating the particularly objectionable features now attaching to certain kinds of work. It should not be assumed that because capitalism has not eliminated them that they could not be eliminated. An illustration of this was provided in an article by J. B. Davidson in the Sunday Express (December 13, 1942). He relates that over 60 years ago an eminent scientist, Professor Ramsay, suggested a scheme for the utilisation of coal by converting it into gas in the seams of the earth. The coal-owners were not interested, but Lenin, 40 years ago, came across an account of Ramsay's scheme in the British Museum, and "to him the idea seemed to offer a heaven-sent opportunity for saving the back-breaking toil and degradation of millions of workers." Davison states that by 1938 Russian engineers and scientists successfully applied the idea in a Russian mine and "gas from subterranean gasification had been supplied to the furnaces of a chemical coking plant." Davison ends his article with a quotation from Professor I. Bardin, of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Science:—
   By the application of this technological process, coal can be used in its most convenient form (gas) and the miner's arduous toil thus eliminated.
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The Socialist and the Reformer Contrasted
The Socialist aim is to abolish poverty. That can be done only by abolishing the system based on class division—those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

The social reformer does not want to abolish poverty in the only way in which it can be done. Instead he wants to diminish poverty or remove some of the features that result from poverty. The most fatuous form this desire takes is to be found in the recurrent schemes for keeping rich and poor, but mixing them up a little—just as a defender of slavery might dwell on the beautiful thought of occasional friendly gatherings of slaves and slave owners.

Thus at the Conference of the Association of Headmistresses a speaker urged what she called "equality" in education—"Let the Duke’s son learn with the Dustman's son." “The first essential was that all children, rich and poor, should spend their school life together, irrespective of the incomes of their fathers.”—(Daily Herald, April 9, 1942.)

A similar proposal conies from the Bishop of Leicester, who asked that we abolish for good "that snobbish expression, 'the better class residential districts.' "—(Evening Standard, December 2, 1942.)
  The bishop said England took a wrong turning in the last century when great cities were built, so that the poor lived at one end and the rich at the other. 
War has the result of enforcing temporarily a certain amount of contact between rich and poor. Did they not meet together in the same air-raid shelters? But note the comment made by Father Groser. of Stepney: —
  When Mrs. Churchill went to see him in the heavy air-raid period and asked how people sleeping in the shelters could remain so cheerful, he told her : 'These shelters are better than their homes. They have at least a bed each, and more privacy than ever before in their lives."—(Manchester Guardian, April 15, 1942.)
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The Rich are no Longer with Us
All sorts of people who profess to know the facts go on telling us that the old inequalities have disappeared and the rich are no longer with us. All we can say is that if the rich have gone there are still some people about who are able to spend a lot of money as witness the following headline in the News-Chronicle (December 23, 1942): " Grapes 85/- a pound; Roses 4/6 each in West End Orgy of Spending.”

But the facts are not really in dispute. The ownership of land, factories, railways, etc., is still predominantly vested in the numerically small capitalist class, and if their profits are being heavily taxed during the war they have no doubt that things will improve for them when the war is over. We have yet to hear of heirs to millionaire estates refusing to accept them because they will be valueless or unnecessary in the new world after the war.

Lord Glanely, 71-year-old shipowner and racehorse owner, recently left estate worth £1,813,625, on which death duties amounted to £860,722 (Daily Telegraph, November 27, 1942), and note the following from the Evening Standard (December 15, 1942) :—
  The Duke of Westminster's estates have been estimated to be worth about £20,000,000. He has sold portions of them, such as the great family mansion in Park Lane, on the site of which Grosvenor House now stands, and eight acres in Millbank, on which Thames House stands. He still owns 600 acres in Mayfair and Belgravia, in addition to 30,000 in Cheshire, and an estate in Scotland.
  The Duke, now 62, lives at Eaton, in Cheshire. He was in the Home Guard for a time, but the reduction of the age limit barred him from further service.
   He has been married three times. His first wife was Constance Edwina, daughter of Colonel William Cornwallis-West; she obtained a divorce in 1919. His second wife was Violet Mary Geraldine, daughter of Sir William Nelson; she obtained a divorce in 1926. In 1930 he married the Hon. Loelia, daughter of Lord Sysonby.
   There is no direct heir to the title. It will pass to a cousin, Captain Robert Arthur Grosvenor. Captain Grosvenor is 47. He was at Dunkirk, but was invalided out of the Army in October last year. He is now farming near Banbury.
Then there was the court case in which Lady Furness secured an Order that the annuity of £8,380 a year (about £160 a week) left to her by Lord Furness, which had been stopped by the Board of Trade owing to her residence in France, should be continued (Manchester Guardian, December 22, 1942).

After all, it does not seem that the rich are expecting, after the war, to work for their living or depend on the Beveridge Report to save them from want.

It is only for the workers that the social reformers hand out Beveridge pension schemes.

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New Political Constitutions in China and Abyssinia
Much of the vague talk about democratic political methods as understood in a country like Great Britain, where the Parliamentary system has had centuries in which to evolve, has not much relationship to the political trends now at work over a large part of the globe even outside the Nazi- Fascist countries. Russia, of course, has its one-Party system—as Bukharin said many years ago, one Party in power the other in prison. Now it is reported that China has formally gone over to a one-party system. The Manchester Guardian correspondent in Chungking, Mr. Gunther Stein, reports decisions reached by the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Government party: —
  First it has strengthened the basis of single party rule and made closer the integration of party and Government in local as well as national administration through the decision that from now on the district Kuomintang secretary shall be simultaneously the district magistrate. Secondly, there is a more uncompromising exclusion of the opposition with the exception of those who have "repented."—(Manchester Guardian, December 3rd, 1942.)
Earlier in 1942 Abyssinia, when freed from Italian rule, reverted to the Constitution of 1931. Here is a description from the Manchester Guardian (May 6, 1942):—
  "This provides for certain limitations upon his (the Emperor's) powers as monarch. A legislative body will, under the Constitution, be set up. It provides for two Chambers—an Upper Chamber of nobles nominated by the Emperor, and a Lower Chamber whose members are nominated by the nobles and local chiefs."
The Guardian's comment is interesting: —
  This is, of course, far removed from a Parliament on the democratic model, but it corresponds to the needs of Abyssinian society. Above all, it expresses and preserves social discipline.
The Guardian writer also makes the significant remark that "Ethiopian society is in the feudal stage and was disrupted by the Italian conquest."

Whatever he may think about this Constitution corresponding to the needs of Abyssinian society, it seems highly improbable that this intention of reverting to the condition of affairs before the Italian conquest is going to satisfy the lower orders for long. Abyssinia will find itself forced into growing relationship with and dependence on, the capitalist world, and the growing needs of capitalism will not for long accept the fetters of a feudal order.
Edgar Hardcastle

Suffer Little Children (1943)

From the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The “Children’s Magazine” of May, 1920, affords some interesting reading. “It has shut her out from real knowledge of the world. . . . It has shackled her afresh with a system of government based upon spying, on force, and on secret punishments as bad as in the worst days of the Tsar.” A wealth of accompanying pictures reveal to the young mind such horrors as “Aristocratic women cleaning the streets,” “ Peasant shot at sight for stealing bread.”

Of course, the blessings of Deans and Archbishops has wiped all memories of these things out. What truth was there in the allegations. If true, by what miracle has the Soviet regime transformed itself just at the time when a super gangster crowd is threatening the existence of a smugly reformed Old Times and its Artful Dodger young “Ally”?