Monday, March 30, 2020

By The Way. (1920)

The By The Way Column from the March 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

The number of bye-elections which have lately taken place has caused a lively interest to be taken in things political. Perhaps the contest at Paisley has been the election most in the public eye, owing to the fact that one of the candidates was the “hero of Featherstone,” H. H. Asquith. Liberalism having of late received a set-back, the eyes of the “Wee-Free Liberals” were turned toward Paisley in the hope that the honourable Herbert would re-declare the Liberal faith and, if possible, help once again to close up their scattered ranks.

However, the point to which I desire to draw attention is contained in a question addressed to Mr. Asquith at the conclusion of one of his electioneering speeches and the reply he made thereto. The following is the dialogue
  An elector asked if when he was Prime Minister he considered 12s. 6d. a week sufficient to maintain a soldier’s wife, and why he didn’t take steps to increase it ?
  Mr. Asquith: I believe the figure yon quote is correct, but it was done with the concert, co-operation and advice of Mr. Arthur Henderson.—“Daily News,” Jan. 28th, 1920.
Though this reply of the wily one was smart and possibly might have the effect of telling against his “labour opponent,” yet the mere fact that the prominent labour leaders, from the very commencement of the war down to the ratification of the “peace” treaty with Germany, were assisting the capitalist politicians to maim and kill other members of the working class, carries with it joint responsibility for all acts done in furtherance of the war.

The question and answer quoted above reveals a specific instance of this joint responsibility, and is another illustration of the treachery of these self-styled labour leaders.

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At another public meeting addressed by the ex-Prime Minister a somewhat new type of question was addressed to the speaker. Indeed, it is a welcome change from the question of the ordinary kind where the questioner wants to know why we cannot have pensions at 65 years of age, or should co-operators' “divvy” be subject to taxation, and so on. This kind of question may be interesting from some points of view, but it presupposes a continuance of capitalist conditions.

To return to the subject of the question, I note that on this occasion most of the interrogations were handed to the chairman in writing, and the first was:
  If the people want Socialism, can they get it ?
 That, replied Mr. Asquith, depends on the electorate.
—"Daily Express,” Jan. 20th, 1920.
Now we of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, want Socialism. We want it because it is the only “ism" that can and will abolish the struggle for existence. It will remove the anomaly of starvation and misery in the midst of plenty. It will end the day of the wage-slave and the slave master. In society to-day there are two classes, the master class and the working class: the former owning the means of wealth production and the latter alone operating them. While we, the working class, socially produce the things needful for man's use, at the conclusion of the operation the product is individually owned—by the capitalists. The capitalist class, therefore, waxes fat on the unpaid labour of the working class. The reward of the workers for their toil is a bare minimum of existence while they are young and vigorous, and when they get old, then, in the words of Mr. Claude Lowther, of the Anti-Socialist Union, “the goal of honest toil is the workhouse”

We seek the co-operation of our fellow workers to hasten the day of our emancipation.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, exists as a propagandist organisation preaching Socialism to the multitude by word of mouth and by the printed page. To all those who are asking a similar question to that quoted above we say: study Socialism, and if you desire it come and join us and help to secure it. While you remain unorganised your identity is obscured. Organise, then, with others of your class and help to spread the light.

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Our masters and pastors who so jauntily set out in 1914 to “make the world safe for democracy” and to dethrone Prussian militarism, are “getting the wind up" rather badly now that their noble aims have been achieved.

During the “fight for freedom" we had frequently dished up in the Press many phrases which did service as a stimulus to recruiting. We were told that war brought out the best that was in us (the bad was quietly and conveniently forgotten), and many went into ecstasy when dilating on the “purifying flame of war.” Now that the war “over there” is a thing of the past, and the one-time heroes have returned to industrial monotony and a vain endeavour to find an employer to exploit them, our bosses are getting a little perturbed at the prospect of these “new’’criminals applying Army methods to civil life. In this connection the following extract is illuminating:
  Not only does war not “purify”: it eats like a cancer into the morals of all the nations engaged in it, victorious or vanquished. Its effect upon sexual morality is too obvious to need more than a mention. And now, too, we begin to note its reactions upon the minds of many whom it has trained to brutality and violence.
  Let us remember these things—and indeed we shall be constantly reminded of them by the facts of daily life when next a patriotic stay-at-home rises in some newspaper pulpit to tell us that war purifies the world.—"Daily Mirror," January 26th, 1920.
How wise are we becoming now, and how bold! What attitude did the writer of the above take up three years ago when the young working men were being “trained to brutality and violence," and when vice was being made easy and as “safe” as can be for “our" glorious troops? Then everything done by “us” was right, and any man who dared to speak to the contrary was pro-German and in eminent danger of being treated to a dose of “mailed fist argument". Now that these things are being brought home to the patriotic stay-at-homes they are hemming to squirm, and their henchmen in the Press are once again writing according to the signs of the times.

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The evidence being given at the Industrial Court which is inquiring into the Dockers’ claim for a higher wage, and which, of course, is perfectly in order seeing that we, the workers, have been told so often by Lloyd George and his satellites that we were to have a “new world” on the cessation of hostilities, is exceedingly interesting. Take the following, for instance:
  Mr. Bevin asked what, assuming a docker worked . 44 hours a week, would be his present rate of earnings in Liverpool.
  Witness (Sir Alfred Booth): £3 4s. 6d.
  Do you really suggest that is a living wage?—Yes.
  Could you maintain your family upon it?—No, I could not.
  Is it right to ask a man to maintain himself on what yon would not dream of maintaining yourself on?— It is not a question of what I ask him to live upon, but what economic conditions allow.—"Daily News," February 13th, 1920.
How dare any man suggest that members of the master class try and live on such fabulous wealth! Why, the idea is preposterous! It would not be the price of one night out! But it is quite good enough for a wage-slave. Who now would be bold enough to tell us that there are not two classes in society ? True, during the war they tried to kid us that we were one, but when the masters' quarrel is over, then the class war reveals itself again in all its grim sordidness. Higher Wages? What? No, economic conditions will not permit of it. The bosses want their pound of flesh.

Why tinker with the system? Let us end it!

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If we wanted to find evidence in support of the statement that the Labour Party is unworthy of the support of the working class the task would certainly not be a difficult one. Within the last few months that party has gained quite a number of ex-Liberals who, while ‘professing sympathy toward the labour movement, are still staunch supporters of the capitalist system of society, A change of name after all matters little. Actions speak louder than words.

Only recently Lord Haldane informed us that “Labour has captured the heights,” whilst Liberalism is in the plain, from which one would gather that as Liberalism fell lower the office-seekers chances would rise correspondingly higher through the the medium of a profession of Labour ideals.

How little a Labour government is to be feared can be instanced by the praise which is bestowed upon Labour officials in many quarters. A short while ago Lord Riddell was presiding at a Lecture given by Mr. T. E. Naylor on “Trade Unionism and Output," and from a newspaper report I cull the following:
  Paying a tribute, to British trade anion leaders, Lord Riddell said he would not fear a Labour Government.—“Daily News," February 26th, 1920.
No, the Labour movement is not out to stop the robbery of the workers, but only to endeavour to increase the masters’ plunder. Support of that party means support for Rent, Interest, and Profit.

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To-day's headlines:—
Ideal Homes.
Public's Last Chance to see them.
So ran an announcement in the “Star” (24.2 20). Yes, in spite of all the flowery talk about “a land fit for heroes,” and “better houses for the workers,” it would seem that with the closing of the above exhibition all opportunities of the workers obtaining even a glimpse (at 2s. a time) of the Ideal Home will have vanished into thin air. Strange, is it not, that the workers produce Ideal Homes and yet content themselves in hovels whets the master class would not house their dumb animals.
The Scout.


Our £1,000 Fund. (1920)

Party News from the March 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

Below we present the Fourteenth Honours List in connection with our Thousand Pounds Fund. Considering that we are informed that some 240 people in this country have made two hundred million, we are not getting very fast There seems to be a certain deplorable shyness abroad among those who hunger and thirsteth after Socialism which passeth our understanding and resists all our efforts to cure. Few indeed have acquired the monthly habit, yet it is a most desirable habit to possess. Not one has had the goodness to make a will in our favour and kick the bucket. We have not room for further suggestions, but remind you that anything you may send us is safe from excess profits tax, capital levy, and amusement tax.



The Social Quacks On Revolution. (1920)

From the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Economic Determinant.
In his masterly essay, "Causes of Belief in God," Paul Lafargue shows how the capitalist method of production divides society into superstitious capitalists and materialist workers. The buying and selling of stocks and shares are to the average capitalist a gamble. He knows little or nothing of the actual concerns. He often has friends who have lost heavily in dealings on the Stock Exchange. He receives rude shocks occasionally through rumours affecting his own investments, and not being able to control the conditions that bring success or failure, regards the whole question as one of chance.

The Worker's Earthly Wisdom.
The worker, on the other hand, is concerned with the material processes of production and distribution. He sees in these processes nothing marvellous because they are the result of the combined efforts of his fellow workers, and he himself takes a hand. Powerful engines, and the terrific force generated by them, have no terrors for the worker, because he controls them. His share of the industrial process, wages, is not subject to chance. They do not fluctuate from a standard of exquisite luxury to one of poverty; he remains always poor, not expecting, or even dreaming of, obtaining a fancy price for his labour-power. When the prices of necessaries are raised to him, he blames those who raise them. When his wages are reduced, his hours of labour prolonged, or the speed of the machine increased against him, he does not whine that it is the will of God. Neither does he try to explain such misfortunes by economic law. To him it is a personal matter and the capitalist is the person responsible; he therefore takes organised action against him.

The Chance for Dinkey-Doo.
The worker does not look for abstruse explanations of the economic disturbances that hurt him : he blames the capitalist. But the latter, sometimes hit by the same disturbances, blames his luck and tries to ward off disaster with mascots. He believes in lucky days, fortune tellers, and spiritualist revelations. When some mad professor of physical science predicts the end of the world because one side of the solar system seems overweighted with planets, the big luminaries of the scientific world rush into print to re-assure the wealthy idlers, who are in the main, just as void of scientific knowledge as the workers. The professors who ridiculed the idea knew they were safe in this case, because they alone would have been able to say "we told you so."

The Propheteers' Harvest.
When financial or trade crises ruin many capitalists, economic and social quacks get busy explaining causes; prophesying rapid recovery, and generally offering advice and administering comfort to those who are threatened with disaster. But it is when industrial disputes develop and spread from one occupation to another, when waves of discontent surge backwards and forwards, and the structure of civilisation seems threatened, when Bolshevism is triumphant in Russia and all middle Europe seems affected by it, then it is that the experts get busy explaining, warning, and advising their capitalist masters. Revolution is hinted at, prophesied for the near future, already here, and utterly discredited by politicians, economists, and social reformers with equally plausible arguments.

The Prime Minister says that "a revolutionary spirit in the air." In his usual self-advertising style he proclaims his ability to turn it. "It is simply the flood," he goes on, "the spade in the stream. What it wants is direction." Mr. Bonar Law said : "I am not afraid of the revolutionary spirit; revolution and the danger of it will come only if the social and economic conditions become intolerable." And of course they are not intolerable for these two gentlemen and the class they represent.

After them comes Mr. McCurdy, M.P., who says : "Not one man in a hundred of our strikers knows anything, or cares to know anything, about the philosophy of anarchism or syndicalism. He is looking for a way out of his own personal troubles—high prices, the irritation of profiteering, the limited share he gets of the comforts of life."

This is pleasant reading for the average capitalist, who wants to believe that the workers still lack the knowledge and intelligence necessary for combination against him on sound lines. But in his further remarks Mr. McCurdy goes far to prove that conditions are forcing the workers to become revolutionary.

"Higher wages," he says,"lead to higher prices, unless there is increased production." But, like all the advocates of greater production, he means greater production per worker, who cannot, therefore, get his better conditions, because prices will not fall until demand has contracted, which means increased unemployment and lower wages to correspond with the reduced prices.

The worker is never in a position ta take advantage of the redactions in price. Whether his wages are high or low, prices always soar at a level that prevents him attaining to a comfortable standard of living. Resolutions demanding drastic government action against the "profiteer" have no effect because profiteers are capitalists just the same as other capitalists not "lucky" enough to be profiteers, but hoping to be so shortly. The workers are baffled whatever action they take along the lines they have so far been accustomed to follow. But Socialism is at their elbows—will they pause and examine it ?

Another mistake that Mr. McCurdy makes is in thinking that Syndicalism or Anarchism are really dangers to the stability of capitalist society. Their real danger is to the working class, which, in so far as it heeds these things, neglects the obvious course of gaining control of the political machine, and lays itself open to militant suppression by the Government—a form of suppression the ruling class have proved themselves only too ready to adopt, many of them, without doubt, considering it necessary that society should be periodically purged of its revolutionary elements. And what more favourable opportunity could present itself than large numbers of workers imbued with the belief that they can carry through the Revolution by means of strikes or looting, or by physical force ?

It was this belief on the part of the Parisian workers that gave Theirs and the French capitalists the opportunity to massacre the communards; and that massacre will no doubt be repeated on a more colossal scale in Russia unless the Bolshevik leaders are wise enough to effect a compromise before the full weight of surrounding capitalist forces is hurled against them and their premature revolution.

The economist is an adjunct of the political party and manufactures arguments, principles, and even economic "laws" according to the needs of his party. When he speaks of revolution as the outcome of present working-class discontent he refers to it as a convulsion of society, with nothing to follow but brutal dictatorships or universal chaos. It would not suit capitalist ideas and interests to even admit the possibility of an alternative system of society. Capitalism, in the opinion of capitalists, is the highest expression of social organisation. Consequently the Russian movement and the general unrest, if it means revolution, is the beginning of the end: the annihilation of the human race through the absence of law and order.

In the "Review of Reviews" (Aug. 1919) Mr. J. A. Hobson says that the "scientific Socialist hails this intestinal warfare with a sombre satisfaction as the fulfilment of his law of economic determination." It is far easier to hazard sneering guesses about the emotions of Socialist opponents than it is to pulverise the "law of economic determination." though it matters nothing what the Socialist, or even Hobson, feels about it. if it is a law. Grudgingly he admits that the Socialist is right when he says that the development of capitalist society means the growing antagonism of the working class towards capitalism and all those who seek to maintain it. But his admission matters very little; the fact remains that "human society is out of harmony with its surroundings and must re-adapt itself in order to continue its existence." But to re-adapt itself means, not superficial, but fundamental changes, and Socialism alone contains such fundamental changes.

Mr. Hobson concedes to the Socialist the correctness of his diagnosis, and, therefore, admits the inevitability of the class war. But he asks, "need we succumb to this terrible philosophy ? I think not." And then he tries to comfort his friends the capitalists by assuring them that "the vast majority of the workers mistrusts all conscious formulation of aims and policy except for short range and concrete objects." These "concrete objects are, a voice in workshop control, security of tenure, a reasonable standard of comfort and leisure. "

But capitalism has always refused these to the workers, except in rare instances when labour-power has been in great demand. Wages must be kept down while industry is carried on for profits, consequently there must be an unemployed army which imposes on the work the competitive struggle for jobs and a reasonable standard of comfort and leisure is an impossibility under the system for all those who sell their energy for wages

Then Mr. Hobson shows how "short range" are capitalist "politics and economics." He is confident "that the great mass of the workers would accept these substantial gains and would not clamour for the destruction of the wage system" But he realises that "no present settlement on these, or any, lines would have permanency"—another admission that must give "sombre satisfaction to the scientific Socialist." 

Politicians and economists alike, with all efforts to bring comfort and assurance to their friends the capitalists, cannot conceal the pessimism they feel. They rack their brains for rough and ready arguments that will deceive the workers and bolster up a rotten system, carrying it on from day to day. They declare that revolutionary Socialists are small in number and that the mass of the workers are not affected. They indulge in cheap sneers at the founders of modern Socialism, and denounce the workers as the enemies of society when, driven by actual want, they strike for some slight improvement in their conditions. But they cannot explain, scientifically, the growing universal antagonism of the workers towards the ruling class.

There is an element of uncertainty about the growth of the Socialist movement. Not even the Socialist can tell how far the minds of the workers are turned to receive the principles of 
Socialism, or how many, already understanding them, are only waiting a popular movement basis on Socialism. The working-class mind, trained to materialism in industry, quite easily grasps the principles of Socialism when clearly presented. The avowed numbers to-day may be small but it is the soundness of the principles, and the ease with which they can be understood, and the growing realisation by the workers that their accustomed methods achieve nothing, that is driving them to Socialism. The capitalists' fear of the future is a convincing answer upon this point, while no Socialist has any doubt as to the future.
F. Foan

By The Way. (1920)

The By The Way Column from the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

The master class and their satellites never weary in their campaign of extolling the "virtues" of practising thrift, increasing production, and diminishing consumption on the part of the workers.

That these things are the inevitable lot of working-class existence, and consequently the majority could not partake of the schemes for saving, even if they would, never seems to dawn upon those engaged in boosting appeals, so far are they removed from the actual facts of life.

On the other hand, while we are engaged in these slavish practices from economic compulsion, our bosses are enjoying themselves at "Victory Balls" or ski-ing at some Swiss resort.

Only a few days ago the National Savings Assembly held a meeting in London, and on this occasion a message from the King was read, from which I cull the following:
  It will be your endeavour to explain and to encourage the reduction of unnecessary consumption, and the increase of production, in order that the whole national standard of living may be improved. . . I am to express the King's hope that both employers and employed will lend their support to increase the number of Savings Associations in the works and factories throughout the realm. —"Daily News," January 17th, 1920.
One of the promoters of the movement, Sir Robert Kindersley, speaking at this meeting admitted the poverty position of the workers, though, of course, quite accidentally, when he said "there were still literally tens of thousands of factories and works throughout the country without a War Savings Association."

How the "national standard of living is to be improved" we are never told, though the phrase is an oft-recurring one. Of course, during the early days of the war, when various bodies of workers were discussing with Lloyd George the questions of dilution, speeding-up of munitions, and so forth, he then suggested that this matter of a "higher standard" should be deferred until the war with Germany was concluded, and it was about this period that we were treated to the Lloyd Georgian slogan—"Audacity Wins." However, it is demonstrably clear it was merely words, words, words.

That such a state of things is seriously contemplated is untrue, and can be easily proven, for even in the Government's wages agreement with the railwaymen provision is made for a reduction of one shilling for every 5 points fall in the cost of living. This, then, is the way not to improve the standard of living.

To those who are continually shouting about the wave of working-class prosperity brought about as the result of the war a study of the conditions under which the workers live, move, and have their being would, indeed, be an eye-opener. In spite of the "fabulous" sums which we receive as wages at the end of the week, we, unlike the members of the idle, parasitic class, are unable to take ourselves to Monte Carlo and other fashionable resorts. No, these "high wages" merely suffice to keep us going just about another week, so with clockwork regularity we present ourselves at the bosses' warehouses and factory gates in order to obtain the wherewithal to exist.

While our masters may gamble at Monte Carlo and elsewhere, we, the working class, are told by some who should know a little about these matters that we are too poor to have a flutter on premium bonds.

In this connection I would quote the following comment on premium bonds which recently appeared in the Monthly Review of the London Joint City and Midland Bank :
  It must not be forgotten that, great as have been the wage-increases of the community, they have, taken as a whole, barely kept pace with the still rising cost of living, and certainly do not yield a large margin for investment such as the advocates of Premium Bonds believe to be possible. 
So once again is our diagnosis of the working-class position confirmed even by the "enemy" himself.

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In the far-off days before the war, Mr. Lloyd George (speaking of the "boon" he was confering upon those veterans of industry who had been so busily engaged in creating wealth for others to enjoy that at the age of three score years and ten they found the only haven of refuge was the workhouse), delivered himself of the following concerning old-age pensions :
  By this act of justice we have sweetened the bitterest thoughts of the poor and lightened the darkest hours of their existence. That which they most dreaded—old age—is now an anticipation of honourable ease. The workhouse has become the chimney-corner. The spectre has become an angel.
Beautiful swank ! We said at the time that it was mere humbug—a capitalist rate-saving device.

Having given the picture as portrayed by the author, let me give the facts as recited (one account of many) in that organ of Liberalism and Lloyd George, "Reynolds's Newspaper," (December 31st, 1919).
  The pathetic details of the death of two aged sisters who starved in a city of wealth and plenty w«re related at the inquest at Liverpool on Mary Gray aged 81, widow, and Ann Coyne, aged 74, spinster.
  The women were found lying dead on the floor of their kitchen, and it was stated that they existed on their old age pensions and 7s. subscribed fortnightly by friends. There was no bed. Mary, who was blind, slept on an old armchair. A piece of dried crust was the only food in the house.
  A doctor gave evidence that their clothing was simply rags. Ann evidently had fallen over a tattered rug and lain helpless through weakness, dying of concussion of the brain. Mary died more recently, and had sat in a chair for a day or two without anything to eat. Both were very emaciated.
  The Coroner said it was a horrible thing that in a city like Liverpool these poor old women had died in this manner. " —"Reynolds's," Dec. 21st, 1919.
I can just imagine how these old ladies' "darkest hours were lightened" by the possession of such unbounded Christian generosity in the shape of 15 whole shillings per week. In similar circumstances I would far rather have the "workhouse" than the "chimney corner."

Fellow worker, have you ever thought what your support of capitalist society means to you and your class? It means a life of toil and poverty, and at the end of the journey, when you are no longer useful as a profit-producing machine, the workhouse stares you in the face, or if you should reach the prescribed term of years a grateful country may allow you 10s. a week to commit suicide with. Is it worth fighting for? Think it over. If you desire something better, then come and join us and help to win the World for the Workers.

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At the time when the results of the Borough Council Elections were made known in November last there was much joy and jubilation because it had come to pass that Labour had captured many seats on the various councils throughout the country. After all, there is little cause for rejoicing, for Capitalism has won again. There is, indeed, much hard spade work yet to be done. It is Tweedledum and Tweedledee. True, according to the various "programmes" of the Labour Party which I have seen, they are going to try and make capitalism more bearable. The feeding of school children and the supply of milk to necessitous mothers, free libraries and mixed bathing for the unemployed advocated by them, have for long years formed part of the "progressive" ticket.

The fact that in society to-day there exists underfed school children and necessitous mothers is part of the indictment against capitalism and a strong reason for revolutionary action and not reform. Tinkering with the effects of the system is of no avail. The cause of poverty in the midst of plenty is to be found in the private ownership of the means of life. Social ownership can alone effect the change. And this the Labour Party does not stand for.

During the war period case after case could be cited to show that the Labour men were nothing but capitalist hacks. To all students of politics a whole host of names will readily suggest itself. Coming to a more recent date we have the notorious case of Manchester's Lord Mayor, which is worth recording :
  Manchester's Labour Lord Mayor, Alderman Tom Fox, uttered a stern warning to a deputation of unemployed on Saturday.
 Vague threats of violence in the event of work not being forthcoming have been made. Such procedure was roundly condemned by Alderman Fox. "Thirty years ago," he frankly said, "I was one of you, using the same sort of talk, but it leads nowhere!
   It is time all this nonsense was knocked on the head.
  Suppose anything of this happened, then you would come up against authority, and that authority in this city is vested in myself for the time being, as well as in the police force.
  Then you are up against the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force—all in their full strength. There are a few of you. I know what would happen, and it is as well that you knew too.
  There would be an appeal to the Lord Mayor for order, and I am prepared to take action with all the energy I am capable of, and don't you forget it, my friends. I am the Lord Mayor, and I am bound to keep order, and as the Lord Mayor I would do it. Don't make any mistake about it. " —"Daily News," Dec. 1st, 1919.
So there you have it ''naked and unashamed." I, the representative of King Capital, will use all the forces of capitalism against you, the workers, if and when necessary. What think ye now, ye workers who voted Labour not understanding that Labourism is but another name for Capitalism ?

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A meeting was held in December last at the Mansion House for the purpose of laying the foundation of a movement for linking together in active co-operation all bodies and organisations—religious, social, or industrial—which are striving to break down the barriers between class and class and to establish relations of mutual confidence between employers and employed. Notwithstanding the efforts of these enterprising people, I feel bound to add that they have a big job on hand.

Judging from the weighty words of wisdom which fell from the lips of the Bishop of Peterborough, we have great cause for thankfulness, my brethren, that our erring Christian friend has at last grasped a sublime truth. He said : "Industry was made for man and not man for industry. We have had too much of the soul-destroying competition of the past." Verily, we move.

Another gentleman of the cloth, the Rev. Father Plater, who evidently knew his fellow religionists well, stated that; "Religion was not praying into a top hat on Sunday morning with liberty to prey upon our neighbours the rest of the week." ("Daily News," December 10th. 1919.)

Why, oh why, my masters, is it now necessary, seeing that the world has been made safe for democracy, to form associations to "break down the barriers between class and class"? With wearying monotony throughout the last four years you have time and again told us that the war had accomplished this thing for you, and that the unity formed in the trenches would stand you in good stead in the days ahead.

No, sirs, you have been cherishing a delusion. It cannot be done. Look around you on every hand and you will see signs that there is an antagonism of interest between the two sections in the community— a class war—which can only be terminated by the abolition of classes in and through the institution of the Socialist Commonwealth.
The Scout

"Accumulated Experiences." (1920)

From the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the early days of the war, when all kinds of devices were being used to induce young men to enlist in the Army, Mr. Lloyd George used his famous rhetoric to assist the cause of his employers. We called attention at the time to many of his remarks in speeches urging young men of our class to join their comrades in eternity, but it may not be out of place here to recall some of his statements—just to keep their memory green !

When speaking in Wales on the 29th Sept., 1914, at a national Welsh Conference for the purpose of assisting in the formation of a Welsh Army Corps, he made the following remarks :
  The vast majority return from a war to tell the tale and they will have accumulated experiences which will illumine their lives for ever after. Most people's lives are dull, grey, and monotonous, and these men will come back with a fund of recollection to draw upon which should cheer and brighten their lives at the dreariest moment. . . . I am glad that the War Office are recognising the value of this national sentiment as a military asset. —"Manchester Guardian,'' 30.9.14.
We now have plenty of evidence of the "joys " those returned from the war have accumulated. Ask any of the returned soldiers how they would like to go through their war horrors again! And what was the nature of these experiences? They saw the heads of their chums blown off while standing beside them; their friends disemboweled by murderous iron splinters. They experienced the horrors of battle, with the nerve strain and tension of going "over the top," the verminous sleeping places, the months of wallowing in mud and water to the hips in the depth of winter, the lack of food and the ravages of disease, the lying, perhaps for days, stricken things on the shell-swept field, the ever-present spectre of Death.

Many have lost their reason on account of the experiences they have gone through. Many more have been converted into permanent wrecks. Many of those who returned home found homes that had been wrecked by their thankless rulers in their absence.

What a fund of recollections to brighten their lives at the dreariest moment !

The "vast majority" who were to return turned out to be a rather small "vast majority." According to the latest figures (and we may be sure it is an under-estimation), nearly a million British soldiers were killed, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands totally or partially disabled for life. A walk through the streets of any town will provide the observer with numerous illustrations of the havoc wrought by the war that, according to Lloyd George, was to accumulate experiences that would illumine lives for ever after. The blinded or limbless soldier can have little but bitterness in his heart for the rest of his life.

In spite of all the cant and humbug of early war days the war veteran has returned to working conditions even worse than obtained formerly. While the papers are prating about "booms" in the cotton, woollen, boot and shoe, and other industries, and labour leaders are urging workers to greater efforts in production, ex-soldiers are scouring the country in vain for the elusive job.

Earl Haig (who is not one of them) has been appealing to employers all over the country on behalf of the thousands of ex-soldiers unemployed. Speaking at Leeds the other day he made following remarks:
  It was impossible to suggest that the nation's debt had been discharged while men who had fought in the desperate battles at Cambrai, Ypres, and Arras were seeking employment and finding none. They were asking some small share in the prosperity which their efforts had made possible. —"Daily News," 24.1.1920.
The callous indifference to the claims of the soldiers shows once again the hollowness and fraudulent nature of capitalist promises. The general attitude of the masters was fittingly illustrated by the remarks of Judge Cluer last year in a case where an ex-soldier (five years in the Army and thrice wounded), his wife, and three children were evicted from their home and forced into the workhouse. The following quotation was taken from the "Daily Chronicle," 16.7.19.
The Solicitor : But this is the case of a hero and his family. He has sacrificed everything for his country. To be turned into the street to go into the workhouse is a scandal. He is entitled to special consideration.
Judge Cluer : He is entitled to the same consideration as anybody else. The reasons given for wanting possession are good. 
At the present moment a wail is going up about a wave of "robbery with violence" that is sweeping the country. Referring to this Sir Robert Wallace (Chairman of the London Sessions) said:
  It is sad to see the enormous number of men in Khaki, or recently demobilised, in the dock, but there was a carelessness about property in campaign life. Habits which we may call military but not wicked have unfortunately transplanted themselves into civil life, and this won't do. —"Daily Sketch," 22,1.1920.
Aha ! there is an awkward side to war experiences for the capitalists; the "accumulated experiences" are apt to lead to capitalist discomfort. The violation of working-class lives is a detail, but heaven forbid that private property should be violated— in civil life.

Numberless are the cases of returned soldiers evicted from their homes. The pensions to the disabled and the bereaved are an insult to the memory of the living and the dead, and a crushing illustration of the parsimony and cold-blooded selfishness of the worst slave-owners known to history. Out of the many instances that spring to the writer's memory the following will suffice for illustration :
  The pathetic circumstances of a soldier's widow, with nine children, who had to apply for out relief in consequence of a refusal by the Ministry of Pensions to allow her more than 6s. 10d. a week was strongly commented on at the East Preston (Sussex) Guardians yesterday.  —"Daily News," 3.9.19.
To such a state as this has the "national sentiment as a military asset" brought numbers of our fellow workers. How some of us must love Lloyd George and his tribe may easily be imagined!

As to the "accumulated experiences which will illumine their lives for ever after," the following extracts will provide a perfectly fitting commentary :
  Reverting to influences which might help crime, the commissioner (Sir Nevil Macready) said men had taken life lightly and been encouraged to do so. It could not be expected that every individual would get back to a normal state of mind immediately. —"Daily News," 24.1.20.
The same paper, same date, referring to a meeting of Birmingham magistrates to discuss after-the-war crime, stated :
  It is largely a post-war problem. The experiences which men have gone through in the last five years have left a mental disturbance that has led to wrongdoing.
The experiences of the war wrecked many a working-class home, and the experiences of "peace" are extending the havoc further. It is small wonder that those who have been taught for years to spread ruin and destruction everywhere, whose lives were held cheap and who were brought to hold the lives of others equally cheap, should carry these ideas into civil life. The thorn in the side of our rulers is, however, that they are being to some extent hoist with their own petard. Working men were strenuously urged to ruin and destroy during the war, and consequently they have a tendency to ignore the glorious and eternal rights of private property now that they have returned to their ordinary occupation of producing wealth for idlers to enjoy.

However, Lloyd George was somewhere near the mark. Working men have "accumulated
experiences" during the war which, along with other experiences which will help them to an understanding of their wage-slave position, and in due course they will take measures to ensure
 a cheering and brightening of their lives by abolishing capitalism and introducing Socialism
 from the ruins.
Gilmac.

A Brief Exposition of Socialist Theory. (Continued.) (1920)

From the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard


The example of the difference of the relations between men getting their livelihood by means of simple instruments of labour (typified by the threshing flail) and those producing their sustenance by means of more advanced means of production (typified by the threshing machine) which we have given by no means exhausts the field. Just as the social structure consists of much more than these primary and personal relations, so much more in the social life takes shape from the character of the instruments of labour and the methods in which they are used. Man stands not only in relations with his fellow men, but also with the world about him, and as far as these relations are within society they have their base in the conditions of wealth production.

In the classic age of the flail, for instance, the general means of producing wealth were about on a par with that implement. It was the day of the windmill, the spinning wheel and distaff, and the primitive loom. In the towns the smith's hammer rang out, without a rival in the production of ferrous ware. Everywhere was handwork, everywhere tools. Machinery, if not unknown, was of so little importance as to have practically no influence upon the method of production.

In such conditions as this what was the relation of men toward the world ? We have already seen that the instruments of labour in general belonged to those who operated them. Among the artizans of the towns, possibly, were many exceptions, but the lower we descend in the scale of the development of the instruments of labour, the more do we find the energies of the workers occupied in the production of the primary necessaries, food, shelter, and clothing. Therefore, in the period of which we are speaking, the production of these things were the predominating industries, and it was the general conditions prevailing in these industries which determined the general social relations.

It was not, therefore, the handicraft of the towns which determined the social form, but the economic conditions of rural industries.

Ignoring, then, the seeming contradictions of the towns, where goods were certainly produced for sale, let us turn to the countryside.

The worker of the Middle Ages, owning the simple means by which he produced his living, had an outlook upon the world entirely different from that of the modern worker. This difference commenced with his relation to the product of his toil. His very object was different when he took his instruments of labour in hand. The modern worker starts out to produced wealth which shall be the property of the owner of the implements he operates, but the feudal worker, owning the tools with which he worked, laboured to produce wealth for himself. Hence while the modern worker realises that his function in life, and therefore the reason he is permitted to live, is to work, the mediaeval worker could not take this view of himself and his relation to the world.

He worked to live. The product of his labour was a different thing at the moment of its production, from the product of the toil of his present-day prototype. The latter, producing wealth which, on production, belongs to someone else, necessarily produces what that other requires, and he cannot escape the conviction that he is only permitted to work (and therefore to live) in order to produce it. The feudal worker, on the other band, producing wealth for himself, produced those things which he required to satisfy his own needs, hence he saw himself only working to live, and took an opposite view of his place in the world to that of the wage worker of our present system.
A. E. Jacomb

Mr. Clynes' Call For "Trust." (1920)

Editorial from the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

How far the "labour leaders" have to depend upon the sheep-like following of the rank and file for their "power" and their "reputation," instead of upon any particular ability or genius of their own, is shown when that following give any signs of ignoring their "leaders." An instance has occurred lately that has been used by one of the most prominent of these "leaders" as a lesson for their sheep, pointing the moral of unquestioning obedience and docile following.

This is the case of the Ironmoulders' strike for an increase of wages. Contrary to the usual custom the men, while sending a deputation to meet and negotiate with the employers, insisted that no terms should be accepted until they had been submitted to a ballot-vote of the rank and file. As it is this rank and file and not the leaders, who have to bear the cost and suffering of the struggle, it would appear obvious sense that they should decide the acceptance or rejection of any terms offered. But this means the taking away from the "leaders" of the very thing that gives them importance in the employers' eyes, namely, the power to negotiate and settle the terms to be accepted, without any reference to the rank and file.

The fact that the moulders lost their strike is used by Mr. Clynes, M.P., as an argument against the moulders' method of action, and he makes some curious statements that, quite unintentionally, of course, contradicts the argument he puts forward. He says;
  The leaders had many opportunities of understanding the material and moral factors which were operating against the workmen. And the men in the main were not able to appreciate the difficulties of their leaders, or understand the strength of their employers. 
Coming from such a source this is a striking condemnation of the "leaders" and their actions. Why did not the "leaders" explain the "material and moral factors" operating against the men? What were the "difficulties" in front of them? And why—if they knew, did not they explain "the strength of the employers" to the men ?

Mr. Clynes, of course, dares not answer such questions, simple though they are. Either he is bluffing in stating that the "leaders" knew these things, or the latter were deliberately swindling the men by withholding such important information.

Further on Mr. Clynes makes another assertion to support his tottering case :
  Leaders of experience should be viewed, not only as trustworthy, but as extremely anxious for their own credit to secure for their following the best possible terms. (Italics ours.)
At once the question arises: Why? In the columns of the Socialist Standard will be found hundreds of instances showing that the only "trustworthiness" of the "labour leaders" was for the employers' interest and against that of the men. But even if Mr. Clynes' claim were true it would have no weight. The men, who have to bear the brunt of the fight, should decide, not the "leaders," whose comfortable position remains intact.

Further to support his case Mr. Clynes refers to the railwaymen's struggle and states :
  . . . workmen would not, I believe, have their interests endangered by giving powers to their representatives similar to those exercised by the leaders who recently acted for the railway servants. 
It is unlikely that the railwaymen would have done better by balloting on the terms their so-called leaders secured. It is just possible that they might have done worse. It is difficult to see how they could have done worse, but they had far better run the "risk" than allow themselves to be pawns in the game played by their "leaders" and the employers. And after all, what results did their "leaders" obtain?

The Government offer contained two essential points, the rest being details of application. The first was that the average wage of each grade should be taken as the basis for calculating the increased percentages. The second was the establishment of a sliding scale of wages dependent upon the cost of living. This point has a significance worthy of the workers' notice.

Labour "leaders," including, of course, Mr. Clynes, have been urging the workers to "produce more" on the plea that they, the workers, can obtain a larger share of wealth. We have exposed this lie on several occasions. Now comes the Government with official support of our exposure, and proof of the fraudulent character of these "trustworthy" henchmen of the masters.

If, as a result of increased production (or any other cause) prices should fall, then, instead of having a greater share of the products, the railwaymen will have their wages reduced so that they will obtain only about the same quantity of products as before, though they will have the consolation of seeing the masters' profits rising faster than before. What a victory for the "trustworthy leaders"!

Nor is this the whole case. According to reports the majority of the delegates to the Special Delegate Meeting called to consider this offer were instructed by their constituents to reject these terms. The fact that, at first, they did reject them is evidence of the correctness of the reports. On the second presentation, however, they accepted the terms embodying these two essential points. Why? Perhaps a reference to a previous action may supply the answer.

When a Delegate Meeting in March, 1919, threatened to call a strike of railwaymen Mr. J. H. Thomas, M.P., the General Secretary, told the delegates he would "stump the country to turn the men against them." His threat succeeded. Apparently he still has a large following among the rank and file. Did he threaten the delegates this time ? It ii well known that he strongly favoured the acceptance of the Government's terms, and would, therefore, be ready to do all he could to persuade the men to adopt them. This shows how "trustworthy" he is— for the Government. We would like to ask him this question : "How long was he in possession of the Government's terms before he submitted them to the delegates?" If they were not submitted as soon as they were obtained may we ask, why not?

The answers should at least be interesting. 

When Mr. Clynes pleads with the men to retain the system of "authorised and trusted delegation," he fails to produce a single argument to support so rotten a system. The moulders lost their strike, but it was the only method open to them to test the resistance the masters were prepared to make. "Trusted delegates" could not have told them this. The railwaymen, who accepted the theory of "trusted delegation," have lost even worse than the moulders, because they have accepted the vicious principle that they must make no attempt to alter their standard of living, no matter how much the methods of wealth production may improve.

Mr. Clynes' pleading for continued "trust" in himself and his fellow labour misleaders, is shown by this simple analysis to be a boomerang that returns on himself, and knocks down the case he puts before us.

An Aspect of Socialism. (1920)

From the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

The aim of the Socialist Party is to make Socialists ! That is a truism so obvious that it would seem that only a platitudinarian would think it worth his while to repeat it. But the fact is that this truism—perhaps because it is so obvious—is sometimes lost sight of by many whose theory and practice of the principles of Socialism are beyond dispute.

Socialism has two aspects, one of which may be called the "present," and the other the "future" aspect, and because of the presence of these two aspects, a certain amount of confusion often occurs.

The "present" aspect of Socialism may be defined as those activities, exercised by the men and women who have realised their position as wage-slaves, and who have, therefore, a desire for a system of society wherein they shall be economically free, which have for their object the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth. The "future" aspect of Socialism comprises all the manifold activities which will be possible when the new social system—Socialism—has been established.

Many Socialists forget, if they have ever known, that Socialism is not an end in itself, but the means to a fuller and more richly endowed way of life. No manifestation of life, whether it be economic or political, artistic or philosophical, is or can be an end in itself. Life moves on to a higher or lower plane, aided or hindered, as the case may be, by the activities of its agents, who, in their turn, are acted upon, and re-act upon, the eternal and unresting forces of nature.

The aim of the Socialist Party is to make Socialists! How, then, shall we, who have torn the veil of illusion from our modern social system and seen the naked body of Capitalism in all its hideous deformity, use our knowledge to bring to our way of thinking the men and women of the working class, without whose assistance our ultimate object is unattainable? We must show that capitalism has outlasted its usefulness; must emphasise and criticise the evils which are now the inevitable consequence of its continuance; we must point out that capitalism as a social force has played its part and that the time is ripe for the next stage in the evolution of society to be born.

Capitalism is in its death-throes, but its time in dying will be determined by the efforts of the working class as a whole to hasten its demise. Even the question as to whether or not the death-night of Capitalism will herald the dawn of the Socialist Commonwealth depends upon the growth of the political and economic intelligence of the workers.

The first aspect of Socialism, the "present" aspect, is more applicable to actual members of the Socialist Party. This can, therefore, be left for the time being. The writer will, perhaps, revert to it in a future article.

The second aspect, the "future" aspect, is particularly important with regard to the making of Socialists. Many people, while sympathetic to the idea of Socialism, hesitate to join up with the Socialist Party because they are unable to visualise what conditions of life, other than the material, will obtain when the old system of Capitalism has passed and the new system of Socialism has taken its place. Many people consider, for instance, that under a system where the necessities and comforts of life are assured to everyone, society will lapse into a state of apathy and negligence. They cannot understand that, where people work for use and not for profit, the better the work done by the individual, the greater the benefit bestowed upon the society of which the better worker is a unit. The workers under the Socialist regime will work for themselves as a collective body and not, as now, for a comparatively few social parasites, who by reason of their class position as capitalists as against the workers' position as wage-slaves, hold in their hands the power of dealing with the very lives of the majority of the community, not as they will, but as the fluctuations of economic circumstance may force them to.

Again, many sympathisers with Socialism and Socialists, who have a smattering of artistic knowledge and appreciation—in most cases only a very minute smattering is possible to a member of the working class—seem obsessed with the idea that the advent of Socialism would mean the cessation of all artistic activities. Actually, the advent of Socialism would have the opposite effect. At present the working-class boy who happens to show any aptitude for literature or art very soon learns that such things are not for him. He learns that they are the prerogative of those people whom he is taught to consider as his "betters." Without help or encouragement, any desire he may have to become a writer or a composer quickly dies of inanition—before it has even had time to try its wings. Moreover, when it is considered that, generally speaking, a long and costly training is necessary in order to develop the literary and artistic faculties, it can be seen how improbable it is for a boy, say of 14 years or younger, who is compelled on leaving school to find work as an errand- or office-boy, or in some suchlike inane and enervating capacity, ever to know the joy of creating a great work in the realm of literature or art. He is soon too busy trying to discover how to earn a few more shillings a week to trouble himself about such unremunerative things as books, or painting, or musical notation.

Under Socialism, which we who are Socialists conceive as an intelligent and ordered system of society, the youthful mind would be encouraged to develop along the lines most in accordance with its particular receptivity. There would be no need for the youth of either sex to stampede, immediately on leaving school, to the factory or office door. They would have advantages similar to those now enjoyed by the children of the wealthy class, and it is not too much to say, I think, keeping in mind our knowledge of the modern university and college product, that the children of the working class would far outstrip, in the way of science, art and literature, the individuals who now leave their universities and colleges, in the majority of cases, with little else to show for their training than an "Oxford accent" and an unbounded conceit.

Socialism would mean the opening to the youth of the working class of a world undreamt of by them at present. To those members of the working class who cavil at Socialism because they fear that the downfall of Capitalism would mean the downfall of what they consider "art" and "literature," I would ask, "What are art and literature to you? What really do you know or care about the great artistic products of the world ? You have neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the means, to make a study of such things. Your business is to work in order to get the wherewithal to live. Leave such things to your masters, so long as you are content to have masters."

Even if the destruction of Capitalism meant the destruction of all known art and literature, what then? If the men and women of the working class are incapable of building a more lofty tower of art than any that has yet been erected, they are not worthy to occupy the somewhat stunted edifice which by much toil and suffering has grown to what it is. The writer, however, is confident that, given the opportunity that Socialism would give to every member of the community, art and science would advance in an irresistible fashion far beyond anything yet known. Men, take them all an all, do not desire to rise superior in their activities to the activities manifested by the men preceding them.

One word more to those who, although themselves members of the working class, have such a poor opinion of the potentialities of their fellows. Why not change your tactics? Why not employ the powers you possess in helping to found a state of affairs wherein the members of the working class—your own class— shall have a chance of showing what they can do? Understand Socialism. Organise for Socialism. Propagate Socialism. Work for Socialism. Do not worry so much about the future. The future, you may be assured, will be quite safe in the hands of an intelligent democracy. We ask for the co-operation of all who accept the principles of Socialism, so that when the inevitable disintegration of Capitalism takes place, we, the workers as a whole, shall be ready, equipped for any emergency, to enter into the new world to be won.
F. J. Webb

The Materialist Conception of History. by Frederick Engels. (1920)

From the February 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

Translated for "The Proletarian" by Prof. J. I. Cheskis, of the University of Michigan.
[The letter printed below is interesting to students of Socialism as one of the instances that show how false is the charge of the superior persons of the Labour Party and the I.L.P., of the "dogmatism" of Marx and Engels. It should also be remembered that a fight was being waged at the time the letter was written between the followers of Marx and the Anarchists of Germany, in which the latter were attempting to stretch some of the phrases of Marx and Engels on the Class War into a support of street fighting and barricades as the essential method of working-class emancipation. Similar tales are sometimes told in this country, and it is a significant fact that every new translation of Marx's and Engels' writings shows still further the falsity of these tales, and how all through their propaganda it was the capture of political power they insisted upon, as the essential that the working class must rely upon for their escape from slavery.—Ed. Com., "S.S."

In the course of a discussion that followed a public lecture, given at a seminary, a student asked Engels to give him precise explanations of the two following points:
  1. To what extent do economic conditions act as a causative influence ?
  2. What part is played by the race and by the individual according to the "historical materialism" of Marx and Engels ?

Engels replied:

London. Jan. 25, 1895. 
122 Regents Park Road, N.W. 

Dear Sir,—Following is the reply to your two questions :

1. The economic conditions, which we consider as the determinative basis in the history of society, we understand to be the manner in which men in a given society produce their means of subsistence and the ways in which they effect the exchange of products among themselves (this as long as division of labour exists). The entire technique of production and transportation is here included. According to our conception this technique determines the mode of exchange, of distribution of products, and—after the disintegration of the tribal system—the division of society into classes, the conditions of master and slave, of State, of politics, law, etc. Further, among the economic conditions under which these phenomena obtain, must be included the geographical environment, and also the actual remains of former phases of economic evolution which often persisted by force of tradition, inertia, or because of circumstances which surrounds that form of society.

Even if, as you say, technique largely depends on the conditions of science, yet, in a greater measure, does the latter depend on the conditions of and the need for technique. If society is in the need of the development of a certain technique, this helps science more than ten universities. The science of hydrostatics was the sole result of the need that Italy felt in the 16th and 17th centuries of controlling the course of her torrents in the mountains. We began to understand the science of electricity only when we discovered its practical application. In Germany, however, they have become accustomed to treat the history of science as though it had fallen out of the sky.

2. We hold, that in the final analysis, economic conditions constitute the determinative factor in historical evolution. Here, therefore, we must hold in view two points:

(A). That the political, juridical, philosophical, religious, literary, artistic, etc. evolutions are based on the economic evolution. They all re-act upon each other and upon the economic basis. It does not mean that the economic factor is the sole active cause and all the others merely passive effects. But the whole situation presents a mutual interaction among the various forces on the basis of economic necessity, which latter force ultimately prevails. The State, for instance, exerts an influence by means of protective tariffs, free exchange, good or bad revenue laws; and even the boundless stupidity and impotence of the German petty Bourgeoisie—which grew out of Germany's economic misery during the period from 1648 to 1830, and which first manifested itself in piety, then in sentimentality and fawning servility before the nobles and princes— was not without its economic consequences. It was one of the greatest obstacles to the renaissance and was not shaken off until the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars made the economic wretchedness unbearable. History is not as some would imagine for the sake of their greater convenience, an automatic effect of the economic situation, but men themselves make their own history. Certain it is, however, that men act in accordance with the prevailing conditions that dominate their field of action. And among these the economic circumstances, however much influenced by political and ideological forces, are always of chief importance. In the final reckoning they constitute the decisive factor and form the golden thread which guides the student to the correct, all-comprehensive, understanding of the subject.

(B). Men make their own history, but not as the result of a general volition nor in accordance with some general plan,—not even in a given limited social group. Men's aspirations oppose each other. Out of this circumstance, in every similar group, arises an imperative need whose chance concomitant or accidentality is at once the complement and the form of its manifestation. The need or necessity which here underlies every chance appearance is in the end the economic necessity. The so-called great man appears. But the fact that it happens to be a certain great man, appearing at a certain time and at a certain given place, is simply mere chance. But if we eliminate him there arises an immediate demand for a substitute, and this substitute in time found, tant bien que mal. That Napoleon became a military dictator —of which the French republic, exhausted by civil wars, stood in need—was merest chance ; but that in the event of Napoleon's non-appearance there would have been another to occupy his place is proven by the fact that in every instance in which there was such a need the man was found—Caesar, Augustus, Cromwell, etc. If it happened to be Marx who discovered the law of historical materialism, yet Thierry, Mignet, Guizot, who up to 1850 were writing English histories, proves that such a notion already existed, and the discovery of the same idea by Morgan further proves that the times were ripe for such an event and the discovery was an imperative need.

And so it is with every other true or apparent accidentality in history. The farther the field that we may be examining recedes from the economic, and the nearer it approaches the merely abstract ideologic, the more we shall find—in its evolution—such accidentalities appearing on the scene, and the more does the curve of its evolution fluctuate. If one should attempt, however, to trace the axis of this curve, one should find that the longer the time period observed and the larger the field thus treated, the more nearly does this axis run parallel to the axis of the economic evolution.

In Germany the great hindrance to a true understanding of these things lies in the inexcusable neglect of this subject by the writers of economic history. It is so difficult to rid oneself of the historical conceptions inculcated by schools, and still more difficult to collect the necessary materials. Who, for example, has read old J. V. Julich, who includes in his dry collections so many explanations of various political phenomena!

Moreover, it seems to me the beautiful example given us by Marx in his "Eighteenth Brumaire" furnishes a sufficient answer to your questions—the more so because it is a practical illustration. And I believe myself to have touched upon those points in "Anti-Duehring," I., chapters 9-11, II., chapters 2-4, and III., chapter 1, and also in the introduction and in the last chapter of "Feuerbach."

I would ask you not to pass judgment on this letter, but to consider only the thoughts it conveys. I am sorry I have not the time to write you with that exactness I should employ when writing for the public.

Kindly give my regards to Mr. _____ and thank him for the . . . which has given me much pleasure.
With profound respect,
Most devotedly yours,
F. Engels.


Blogger's Note:

"The Master(s') Key." (1920)

From the January 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

The high priest of Nonconformity—Dr. John Clifford—reached his 83rd birthday recently and was duly interviewed by a "Star" correspondent. Some very amusing opinions on the "Labour Outlook" were expressed by Dr. Clifford. To quote the " Star" (16.10.19):
LABOUR OUTLOOK.
  Dealing with the situation in the Labour world, Dr. Clifford said he thought the outlook was healthy and reassuring.
  "What is necessary is the internationalisation of labour conditions. There are four classes of people that have to be considered, and it is only when they meet and try to arrange matters on just and sound principles that there can be harmony.
  These four classes are the men with means, called capitalists ; the men who have land and rents ; the men who live on dividends and make their demand for their share on the profits of labour ; and the men who are really doing the work. They all have just claims, and these claims  can be met.

SPIRIT OF TRUST.
  The great thing is to foster the spirit of trust. Nothing wrecks labour so much as distrust, and our business is to fight everything that is creative of distrust and to nourish and strengthen all that creates confidence.
  Hence, the dissemination of the spirit of brotherhood is the key to and the secret of the full productiveness of industry and of the happiness of the world."
One would have thought that 83 years of experience in a world torn with social strife and the results of capitalist exploitation, and an ever-increasing class war caused by a damnable system based upon the enslavement and robbery of a propertyless working class, would have given him an insight into the fundamental fabric of society.

Unfortunately, the "internationalisation of labour conditions" necessary, in Dr. Clifford's opinion, is already accomplished, for everywhere the workers are wage slaves—exploited and robbed of the greater part of the wealth they alone produce. The "internationalisation of labour conditions" exists in the fact that the

WHOLE WORLD

is at present under the blighting, ruthless, influence of capitalism.

King Capital rules. The Earth is the capitalist's, aud the fulness thereof. Unemployment, chronic poverty, overwork and exploitation, like the poor, are always with us. War after war is waged for the sacred rights of the profit-mongers.

Yet the outlook is "healthy and reassuring," says Dr. Clifford. What optimism! What frankness'.

He mentally visualises, and tries to create, harmony out of the inevitable social discord ; out of a chaos of conflicting interests, order.

But he brings no philosophy built out of facts, wherewith to formulate scientific proposals. There are many notes on the piano keyboard : the science of musical composition alone can arrange them to avoid discord and create music.

Amid essentially warring claims he cries

PEACE !

when there can be only strife.

Let us consider the validity of the "just claims" of the "four classes of men."

(1) The capitalists own all the means and instruments of wealth-production and distribution, essential to life. They produce as a class—nothing! They appropriate, nevertheless, all the wealth produced by their human, wealth-producing machines—the working class.

(2) The men who own lands and exact rents tax the community for living on and using that land, which rightfully should belong to the whole people.

(3) The men who live on dividends are simply unproductive, anti-social parasites. They live by appropriating a portion of the surplus-value created by the workers.

(4) "The men who are really doing the work" are the working class. Divorced from the land, and possessing no means and instruments of production, they have to sell, in order to gain their livelihood, the only thing they possess—their labour-power of hand or brain.
That they sell as a commodity to their capitalist masters. They must either sell it or starve, and 

MANY DO STARVE 

because they are unable to sell their labour-power. They only sell it— in other words they only get work—when it suits the masters' purpose to employ them. They are compelled by economic conditions to accept the terms which the masters dictate, and for the time which they desire them to labour. They are employed, as the machine is, for the owners' use and benefit. As wage slaves their sole function is to create surplus-value. 

Receiving on an average only sufficient to keep themselves and an average family in a state that just suffices to provide the continuity of efficient workers required by the exploiting class, the workers are used to produce far more wealth for their capitalist masters than they themselves receive in the form of wages. All the surplus-value—all the value, that is, which the worker adds to the material in excess of the amount of his wages—is appropriated by their exploiters.

The latter divide the spoils amongst other sections of non-producers.

A portion of the surplus-value, in the form of economic rent, goes to the idle landowners, etc. Interest goes to moneylenders, financiers, and the like, who also do not create wealth. Profit, the remaining portion of the surplus-value or unpaid labour, is appropriated by the employing capitalists.

Thus the result of the present system is that a whole band of plutocratic brigands exists on the proceeds of working class robbery, and the workers themselves are daily strengthening

THE BONDS THAT BIND THEM.

Result: the capitalists as a class grow ever richer, both absolutely and in relation to their wage slaves, and the poverty of the workers is deepened with their increasing exploitation.

Thus, in dealing with adamantine facts, the Socialist smashes the fabled "identity of interest of Capital and Labour."

The "harmony" of those who are robbed and those who rob cannot be "arranged" on "just and sound principles"—even by Dr. Clifford and his fellow magicians. So long as the capitalist system continues there will be robbers and robbed, and so long as there are robbers and robbed there will be discord and strife.

Exploitation and the plunder of a property-less class through the wages system is the very essence of the present system, and will accompany it to the end.

The pro-capitalist John Cliffords will also continue to be a characteristic of the capitalist regime as long as it endures. They help to support the rotten fabric of an effete social order. Their part is to obscure the issues, to be "all things to all men" and keep the workers docile and diligent while the shameless plundering proceeds.

"The great thing is to foster the spirit of trust," says Dr. Clifford. There is an old saying:

POOR TRUST IS DEAD,

Bad Pay killed him." The workers do all the work of the world, and get damnably paid for doing it! They have lost trust in their leaders and their kind masters : they are beginning to take their blinkers off and to see around them some of the facts of things as they are. Let them bat study economics find Socialism, and then trust—THEMSELVES ! The working class alone can and will effect its own emancipation.

"Our business is to fight everything that is creative of distrust," declares the hoary old dope merchant. We have been urged to "trust Asquith" ; to "wait and see." We have had a notorious Welsh wizard conjuring up visions of "The Future"—a fantastic dream that resolves itself into a future menace of dire reality to the workers. With ever-increasing poverty and distress, and an accentuated class struggle, with the price of necessaries ever soaring and unemployment stalking the land, who amongst us can think the labour outlook "healthy and reassuring" ?

Dr. Clifford can, and does. He holds "the Key to the secret of full productiveness of industry and of the happiness of the world." It is evidently the master-key that unlocks the door barring the way to Lloyd George's

"BEAUTIFUL NEW WORLD."

Or is it—the Masters' Key?

Yea, verily it must be so, for by his doctrine the capitalists, the men who have land and rents and the men who live on dividends, "have all just claims," as well as "the men who are really doing the work."

That word "really" is most appropriate. It is amusingly used, too, to qualify things by implying that there are others who are not doing anything.

Dr. Clifford has hit the mark. There are men really doing the work. They are doing all of it because idlers do nothing to produce the wealth they appropriate.

The class that does all the work—the working class—receives the least benefit, which is a very fine example of "inverse proportion." But that state of affairs is not conducive to fostering a "spirit of trust."

It is because the workers keep a class of parasitic idlers in affluence that they themselves have to work so hard, so long, and for such a pitiful reward for their toil.

The "spirit of brotherhood between Capital and Labour" is an impossible thing to realise. The "full productiveness of industry" only means an increased production, and a consequent glut of the goods for which our exploiters must seek a market.

WAR AFTER WAR

has resulted through competition for markets. "Full productiveness" is inevitably bound to produce the usual over-production, the consequent stagnation and unemployment, the same old struggle for markets, and the next war.

No! Dr. Clifford's key is no key to better conditions for the workers. It is our masters' key that is used to help  increase the wealth and power of the capitalist class.

The "spirit of brotherhood" can only come with Socialism, when the means of wealth-production (even to-day socially produced) are socially owned and controlled for the use and benefit of all.

The master-key that opens the door to mankind's splendid future is POLITICAL POWER. When the workers understand their present wage-slavery and the plundering of their class by the capitalist system, they will see also, if they study Socialism, that in freeing themselves from the bondage of capitalism they will set the whole world free. They will then

TRUST THEMSELVES

to do so. Organising on the economic field, in factory, workshop, and. every sphere of toil, they will fit themselves for controlling wealth-production for society's needs and benefit. Organising, above all, on the political field for the capture and control of political power, they will, in obtaining it, hold the key to freedom in their hand, and will use it for the paramount purpose of establishing the Socialist Commonwealth. The World for the Workers !
Graham May