Saturday, May 16, 2020

May Day Reflections (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Another May Day has come, but the old basis of the May Day demonstrations by labour organisations has vanished. Instead of celebrating the international unity of the working class, the leaders of the labour movement, Right, Left and Centre, are nowadays urging their followers on to greater carnage in the world war. How far away we seem now from the large open-air meetings from the platforms of which fiery orators read out, amidst shouts of applause, fraternal greetings to workers all over the world; and, bitter thought, pledges of international unity in the struggle against capitalism.

The cynic might use these old meetings as an illustration of the hollowness of popular enthusiasm. Yet, whatever may have been the real intentions and feelings of the orators, it is unquestionable that the workers who gathered around the various platforms on May Day were in earnest. Their understanding of the workers' position under capitalism was limited; they were moved by the flowery phrases of the orators and hung on their words spellbound; like the weathercock, they turned with every wind; but they felt, however dimly, a fundamental unity with their kind, and really meant those messages that were sent across the world, and that is one of the things that make the present situation so tragic.

We have always held aloof from these May Day demonstrations, because we knew they did not express the real interests of the workers, and were being used to tie the workers to the wheels of all sorts of strange vans which continually landed the workers into the bog of despair. The result has proved the truth of all our claims.

For us, however. May Day this year has a special significance. On the same day forty years ago a small band of enthusiastic and enlightened working men, without funds, literature or premises, were preparing to set on the march a party dedicated to one object and one object only—the establishment of Socialism. That party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, was founded in June, 1904, and has continued to pursue unswervingly, in spite of two world wars, the object of its founders from that day to this, without seeking to invite members by following any of the alluring byways that drew away from the struggle nearly all of the people who at the time jeered at the policy advocated. Time is showing how right we were and how wrong were our opponents.

To us the real meaning of May Day could only be the international solidarity of the workers against the master class at home and abroad, and the position in that respect remains the same to-day as it always was. Whatever may be the alluring colours in which the rulers of society masquerade, they are still the social oppressors of the working class.

Events have furnished evidence in abundance of the soundness of our outlook. Where now are the groups which used the enthusiasm of the May Day demonstrations to support all kinds of side issues, including the nationalist movements that only expressed the frustrated desires of the capitalists of subject nations? They are either supporters of capitalist governments or gone with the foul winds of war.

The last great war threw up groups of professed supporters of the working class movement, who claimed to have found new paths to lead the working class into the promised land of freedom. But their efforts did more to blind the workers to their real interests than to help them. To-day what remains of those “left” groups have undergone such modification that the originators would feel strangers in their ranks. Present tendencies convince us that the end of this war will throw up a new crop of “left” monstrosities to keep the workers dazzled and bewildered .

It may be urged, because we have grown slowly in spite of the years we have been plodding away, that this is against the soundness of our case. But it is not so. We have grown slowly because the conscious and unconscious supporters of capitalism have used every wile to bamboozle the worker and head off his aspirations for freedom. But all things come to an end in time, and the efforts of capitalist supporters to keep the workers in ignorance of the fact that society to-day is run by the workers for the benefit of idle drawers of dividends are also approaching an end. The workers are learning fast and becoming more and more difficult to fob off with the promise of better times some day if only they will suffer and wait.

We urge the workers now, as of yore, to use the sound brains they have to examine dispassionately the case we put forward in all our literature—that the only solution to the economic ills from which they suffer is the establishment of a system of society in which all that are able will participate in the production of the means to live and enjoy life, and all will participate without stint in the common enjoyment of what is commonly produced. Give us also the benefit of sincerity, because it must surely be clear that working men would not give up their hard-earned leisure year after year unless they were convinced that the end would be worth the effort.

For us, then, our thought this May Day is—Socialism and the end of oppression.
Gilmac.

The International Basis of Socialism (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

That Socialist society must, by its very nature, be of an international character, is a truism that the Socialist party has persistently stressed. This, not out of any pious sentiment, but through a recognition of the fact that production in the world to-day is based on a systematic division of labour which integrates and interlocks the whole world, or, at any rate, in wartime, large geographical sections of it. But, unfortunately, side by side with this international division of labour, or. more correctly, resting on it. there exists the capitalist system which rends society in twain by its class division, rendering impossible harmony and peace in the production and distribution of the necessities of life.

Let us take a look at the historical development in the technique of transport, which has played such a great role in the integration of world production as it is to-day.

For a long period of time man lived an essentially nomadic life, roaming the fields and forests in tribes and picking up what stray digestible food they were lucky to come across. But with the increase of population this form of life became too precarious, and he gradually settled down to produce his food. Of course, at first he did this only in those places which offered the most favourable conditions—e.g., fertility of the soil and natural protection from external marauders. He found this chiefly in four river valleys— i.e., the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus and the Ganges (India), and the Hwang-ho (China). From the point of view of transport, the chief effect of this was the development of river or water transport. This led, in the case of the Nile, to the venturing out into the enclosed sea-basin of the Mediterranean, and the consequent improvement in the types of ships and the development of the science of astronomy, which in turn made it possible to venture further afield. Marx said that the history of the human race was the history of development of the world market, and from the time when the reliable sea-going craft was firmly established. such it truly was. Subsequent history shows the development of trade in the Mediterranean and further afield out to India. Overland transport by way of caravan routes developed too, but intercommunication on land remained very limited for centuries till the recent advent of the railways. Seagoing trade saw the rise and fall of the Egyptian, Crete, Carthaginian, Persian, Greek and Roman dynasties, all of which rose and declined according to their relative military and economic strength, and their possession of vital trade routes and key geographical positions. With the decline of the Roman Empire trade moved northwards into the Baltic zone, this too being an area with enclosed sea. This stimulated the development of towns and industries in northern Germany and parts of Russia—e.g., the Republic of Novgorod. But this prosperity was to be short-lived, for with the discovery of the passage to India round the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco de Gama in 1498, and the discoveries of the Americas in the same period, a veritable revolution was wrought in the balance of power in Europe and the development of world trade. The "main street of commerce” was now the Atlantic, and remains so even to-day.

The history of the next three centuries consists of the titanic struggles between the countries bordering the west coast of Europe—i.e., England, the Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain—for maritime supremacy, out of which the English came forth triumphant. By the middle of the nineteenth century large portions of the world had been discovered and annexed by the ruling powers. The suppression of the native peoples of these countries was effected in the most cruel and brutal manner conceivable to the human mind. At the bottom of all these developments lay, of course, the growing powers of production and the avaricious greed for riches and wealth on the part of the rulers of the time. This augmentation of wealth was what Marx termed “primitive accumulation," and laid the foundations for modern industrial and financial capitalism.

The important factor to note at this stage is that up till the beginning of the nineteenth century the main bulk of commerce and trade was carried on by sea-going vessels. Consequently, the regions brought into closer inter-communication with each other were those which possessed strategical coast lines—e.g.. England, the south-west coastlines of Europe, the western colonies of America, India. and later on China and Japan. The reason for China's late development as a world power, in spite of the existence of a fertile river valley, was that no enclosed sea existed nearby, as was the case in the Nile valley, and consequently the native people of China did not have the opportunity of developing their maritime skill and their ships. The inner regions of Europe, Russia, Asia, America and Africa remained backward and undeveloped. "The means of transport by land had changed hardly at all from the earliest Mediterranean days down to the end of the eighteenth century A.D. There was no essential difference between the chariot of the barbarians who poured into the Mediterranean world 3,000 years ago and the stage-coach which was the main vehicle of passenger conveyance in Europe little more than a century ago." The advent of steam and the railways, however, brought in a new era of development and expansion. “Go West, young man," was the catch-cry in America, and in truth everything did go west. Railways, industry, population developed at a tremendous pace, and America was transformed from a few agricultural colonies in the west into an industrialist continent. In Europe the same process took place. Germany developed into a powerful industrial power, and Russia, too, came into the picture.

However, these new powers of plenty, far from easing the yoke of perpetual poverty for the mass of mankind, only succeeded in subjecting the vast majority of workers to a new and worse form of slavery—wage slavedom. And this because the new means of production became concentrated into the hands of a small and continually contracting minority of the population, the capitalist class. The situation to-day is no different, except that the insoluble problems of capitalism have become more hideously manifest with the gigantic strides in the development of the productive forces. The most important factors in the closer welding of the world to-day. and the future, are undoubtedly air transport and radio. Both of these have succeeded in annihilating space (in the sense of time) to an unprecedented degree, and have brought the peoples of the world into closer contact with each other. To-day, of course, the contact is somewhat painful, but eventually it must play a great part in inculcating an international consciousness into the minds of the world's workers and bring home to them their essentially common interests.

That our rulers do not fail to realise the international nature of capitalism is evidenced by the following from the Evening News (9.12.43): "Foreign affairs are no longer 'foreign.' They belong to hearth and home. They affect decisively every man, woman and child. They are charged with life and death." The reader, however, must not deduce from this that the capitalists have suddenly become enamoured with Socialism. The capitalist class own the means of production and consequently appropriate the wealth which the workers produce with the aid of their masters' machines, raw materials, etc. The worker receives back a relatively small amount of these goods in the shape of wages. A large surplus is left, which the capitalist endeavours to sell on the market, home or abroad. But the difference between what the workers receive and what they produce is constantly being expanded as a consequence of the unceasing development in the technique of production, and in spite of the development of new markets and the extension of the already existing ones, it becomes increasingly difficult to dispose of the surplus commodities. Hence the interest of the capitalist in international affairs. Hence, too, his desire to acquire the support of his enslaved workers for his imperialistic ambitions. But the Socialist vehemently denies any connection between the interests of the capitalist and the worker. So long as the worker remains propertyless and has as his sole means of livelihood (and a very poor one at that) his ability to work for a wage, so long will he be subject to all the hideous and demoralising effects of poverty and war. So likewise is it with his fellows abroad, be it German or Chinese, Negro or White, Jew or Gentile. Capitalism exists, and can only exist, internationally, that is to say, the motive of production in all the industrialised regions, and into all those areas where capitalist trade and commerce has spread with its tentacles, the motive of production and distribution is profit-taking. Large and enterprising combines, such as the Standard Oil Co., Anglo-Iranian, and the I.C.I., pay eloquent testimony to the capitalists' recognition of the international nature of their system. It now remains for the workers to become internationally-minded, backed with a determination to eliminate the capitalist system.

It is the mighty task of abolishing the contradiction between private ownership and control and social production that the workers of the world have to accomplish. It is to this task that the Socialist Party is dedicated, and consequently it is its prime and honoured duty to state and restate continually its adherence to the international working-class and the stressing of the common interest—i.e., the achievement of. Socialist society, which must ultimately bind the workers, at home and abroad, together in its resoluteness and Socialist consciousness.
Max Judd

When the war drums throb no longer (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “It will be the primary aim of my government to insure that in this period food, homes and employment are provided for my people, that good progress is made with the rebuilding of our damaged cities; and that in industry, mining, and agriculture smooth transition is made from war to peace."—The King's Speech
At the time of writing, the fanfare which signals the opening of the western offensive is sounding at full blast. "It will not be long now. The end of the war in Europe is in sight," so says the man in the street. It does not seem to strike him that the cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Germany may set in motion forces almost as destructive of human life and well-being as war itself. The end of the war is expected to see the beginning of a happier and fuller life for all those nations who have struggled against the tyranny imposed upon the world by Hitler and Co.—the dawn of a new era for mankind.

Our masters are glib in promises in war time. Economic security for all, medical attention for all, education for all, houses for- all—AFTER THE WAR!

The wage slave, whether at the front, on munitions or other war work, is anticipating great joys in store: they are all to be his—after the war.

History does not say so, but even when this is pointed out to him, he says, "Yes, I know what happened in the past, but this is going to be different." To some extent oar masters have improved their method of baiting the trap, and this may account for the wage slaves' optimism. During the last war the "Homes for Heroes" were displayed on posters, and this is practically all he saw of them; now we are informed there is an actual model—he can go and look at it if he so desires and has the time. The cynic was not far wrong when he said, "You can fish for ever in the bottomless pit of human credulity." He may have a new house with wages so low that to raise the eternal rent he may have to deny himself other necessities. We shall see.

Our masters are already beginning to speculate on the outcome of the war, and on what to anticipate when "peace" becomes the order of the day.

Here is the way the best informed amongst them have sized it up.

United States big business expects to come out on top, and is already preparing to boss the show. Russia may occupy second place; her position in the Far East will be strengthened by the coming defeat of Japan—the work of the Allies. Britain will be relegated to the third of the great powers, her influence both in Europe and Asia gradually declining—so they say. China is emerging as the coming nation in the Far East.

Uncle Sam wants expansion so that the capitalist class of the United States can find an opening for their investments everywhere, but the American exploiter shies at political responsibility, consequently there is indecision, which may result in a failure in the diplomatic sphere.

Russia keeps as many cards as possible up her sleeve: she will not show her hand until she is sure she has the trumps. Will she continue to make use of her "communist" agents, or will she discard them in favour of her capitalist pals? In one sense she has an advantage. Under State capitalism there is no internal competition; she can take goods from Germany as her share of reparations without any fear of causing unemployment: the other capitalist nations are not in this fortunate position.

Britain is rapidly becoming the centre, the rallying point of the forces of reaction; kings who have lost their thrones, rulers whose people have discarded them congregate here to pull the strings which the “balance of power" policy allows them to manipulate. In Spain, in Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia and many other places the peoples' will is diverted to what is considered desirable from the standpoint of the aspirations of defunct royalist groups. The "War for Democracy" brings together strange bedfellows. Britain can safely count on the support of all the conservative elements in the ruling class world.

China is building up along modern capitalist lines during the war with Japan: she is receiving considerable help from the Allies. We may calculate on her rapidly conquering the markets of the Far East. Her mineral wealth is considerable, her population greater than that of any other country, very industrious, and her business men as astute as any on the planet.

Our lords and masters expect a change in industrial plans after the defeat of Germany: they hope the war with Japan will keep industry stable during the transformation from the production of war materials to the production of consumption goods.

Wage bills are expected to drop 25 per cent., overtime will cease. The incomes of the working class will decline. It is calculated that three years after the war with Germany ends that the unemployed in the United States will number over 8,000,000 and in this country over 2,000,000.

What Europe and the rest of the capitalist world will look like, our masters' scribes have not yet ventured to forecast.

The wage slaves of Britain will be interested to learn that it is proposed in certain quarters to build air-raid shelters in the houses that are to be erected after the war. .

If capitalism is to continue, they may be ready in time for the next blood bath. The capitalist class in the meantime will promise much more to induce the slaves to go on breeding ("We want more babies").

The present writer is not a prophet: what is stated above has been obtained from a careful reading of capitalist publications, but there is one factor which our masters have never even taken into consideration, a factor which may upset things somewhat, and that is the ideas and attitude of the working class.

How will the wage-slaves react towards what is coming? Will, they take it lying down? Perhaps not.

It is our duty to explain painstakingly to our fellows what is wrong with capitalist society. We must get them to realise that neither in war or peace is there any cessation of the class struggle. Between the capitalist class and the working class there is an immeasurable gulf fixed.

All men who live by selling their labour power must get together and fight in all lands under all capitalist conditions, exclusively for their own hand. This is the only safe policy.

They must make the world theirs.

In opposition to our masters' proposal, we propose working class unity. The revolutionary watchword is the "Abolition of the wages system." Those who stand for wages stand for commodity production, wage slavery—capitalism, let us make the world the common property of the inhabitants of the earth, and so place the means of life in such a position that wealth can be produced for the well-being and enjoyment of mankind. This is the only way to end exploitation, to relegate to the limbo of forgotten things rent, interest, profit, wages, money and all the slave-owning mechanism.

Argument in this connection must be accompanied by effort. The main thing is to generate in the minds of our class—the will to be free. There would be no war anywhere, even now, if the working class willed otherwise.

All capitalist power rests upon the rock of working class ignorance, and what a solid rock it is. We must shatter this rock with the force of Socialist knowledge. We are aided by the conditions capitalist development unfolds.

Those of our class who return from the front will come home ripe and ready to organise for Socialism. We must be there to place before them the information they should have. What it is essential they should understand. They must know before they can do.

Our capitalist masters may have miscalculated somewhat. It is to be hoped they have. Engels held the view that the working class would obtain power during a crisis. This war will result in an economic crisis that will make the contradictions of capitalism glaringly apparent, and the cause of them more clear.

This may be the last war, we hope so. If capitalism is removed, we know it will be. Therefore we know our duty. To educate, and organise and educate, until the workers tackle the job they alone can successfully undertake. Then the poet's vision will have become a reality, and the time will have arrived.
"When the war-drums throb no longer.
And the battle-flags are furled,.
In the parliament of man.
The federation of the world! "
He was a Utopian! I hope to see the day when we can repeat the lines of my old American Comrade Covington Hall at a time when intelligence has permeated the ranks of our class and they take possession of the public powers with full understanding of what they are called upon to accomplish.

Here they are
"The world ye sowed is ripe, England
The harvest dance is on,
The strength of Esau rising and the strength of Jacob gone.
Oh mother of Plutocracy around your reeking heir.
The madsouled system suicides—the Revolution's Here! " 
SPEED THE DAY.
Charles Lestor

Socialism and Crime (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Measures will shortly be taken, in particular the development of ultra-short wave radio, to deal with a "possible increase in crime" following the demobilisation period—this was the substance of a recent speech by Mr. Morrison, who as Home Secretary has a special interest in this matter.

A Socialist has an attitude towards crime; he explains crime, and he explains crime along with unemployment, poverty amidst plenty, malnutrition, wars, etc., in order to get the working class to change the conditions which make these things possible. Many people, in particular Christian parsons, consider themselves qualified to speak on the subject. They continually exhort us to "change our hearts," but the Socialist knows that to expect paragons of virtue to arise in conditions of competitive society, where almost everything has its price, is foolish in the extreme. Indeed, it is a trifle ironic that the Report by the Educational Psychologist for the Bradford Educational Committee says (page 27): "The delinquency rate per 1,000 in Provided Schools is less than half that in Roman Catholic Schools, and slightly less than in Church of England Schools" (the figures being 6.6, 15.3 and 7.5 respectively) (quoted in "The New Statesman and Nation," October 9th, 1943). . ~

Non-Socialists have recognised the correctness of our conclusions, however, and Mr. D. Griffiths, who was a member of the Home Office Committee on Persistent Offenders, states in a Reservation to the Report of the above: "I have shown in detail how 98 per cent. of our serious crime is related to money and insecurity, and how only 2 per cent. can be traced to physical or mental cause" (Reynolds, October 19, 1941).

It must be obvious to a more than superficial observer that the conditions portrayed in the book, "Our Towns— A Close-Up," which was reviewed in the September 1943 Socialist Standard, are conducive to the development of vicious, cruel and unscrupulous people. It surely is no cause for surprise that where a whole family shares one or two rooms, lacks the elementary amenities of life, etc., the effects of that environment on young pliable minds must be one which makes the trite adage, "Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost," a very true one. The mental friction generated where people are in such close intimate contact that children of both sexes sleep in the same room as their parents, and indeed sometimes in the same bed, must be such that sexual relations appear sordid and tawdry, every decent instinct must be stifled and thwarted, and "sexual crimes," which not infrequently lead to terrible results, are engendered in conditions such as these.

In these "enlightened" days it is compulsory for children to acquire an "education" at school. Falsified history and nostrums about the civilising mission of our forefathers are taught therein, but it is a fact, however, that youngsters do obtain from the smattering of education taught a certain enlargement of mental vision. One consequence of this process, however, is a rebellion against squalid vermin-infested hovels, they call their home. This rebellion is a blind one, and often assumes the form of a rebellion against authority as such. The partial recognition of this fact has been made by Dr. T. L. Good, a mental specialist, who in a speech at Oxford in 1932 said:
  Owing to altered social environment, another group of moral defectives has arisen—those for whom there is not sufficient outlet for emotional energy. The scope of the adventurous emotions has been narrowed in a densely populated world, and the vigour which once found an outlet in adventure now finds a morbid outlet in crime. (Quoted in "The Criminals We Deserve," by H. T. F. Rhodes, pages 5 and 6, published by Methuen, London.)
Even anti-socialists are arriving at the same conclusions, and on the basis of a "Poverty Line" established by Mr. Seebohm Rowntree for the years 1917 and 1918, a report on juvenile delinquency was published in 1920; it was shown ‘ "that of those offenders who were found living below the Poverty Line, 76.48 per cent. had committed larceny, whereas for those not below that standard the corresponding figure was only 57.48 " ("Young Offenders," page 16, by A. M. Carr-Saunders, H. Mannheim and E. C. Rhodes, published by Cambridge University Press). According to Metropolitan Police figures, "from 1935 to 1937 the total arrests of male juveniles for indictable crimes rose from 4,587 to 5,879, an increase of 28 per cent." (Ibid, page 113), and even the authors of the above book, who continually stress what they call the absence of worship, say, on page 133, "At any rate, whatever may be the linking process, we found in our enquiry that irregularity of father's employment was associated with the boy's delinquency." It is therefore easy to see why juvenile delinquency is so rampant in slum areas. In a world which represses the natural adventurous spirit of youth, which throws them willy-nilly into blind-alley jobs, which is increasingly making men into machine minders, it it no small wonder that crime is on the increase.

Again, it is not just fortuitous that crime increases during "economic blizzards" and wars. The News Chronicle (December 21, 1943) makes the statement: ". . . but during the past two years the thieves have taken things which in peace-time they would have ignored."

The following figures will provide some indication of the increase in crime, and special notice should be taken of the increase of the years 1930-33.

"On the five-yearly average of 1900-04, 27.2 crimes of housebreaking were committed among every 100,000 of our population. For 1925-29 (the last published five-yearly average) there were 51.69. . . . The 1930-33 average was 83.85." (Quoted in "The Criminals We Deserve," by H. T. F. Rhodes, page 238). According to the same book, Mr. F. Briant wrote in "Public Opinion" (April 8, 1932): "Whatever may have happened in the past, my strong impression is that we are going to see an increase in crime among young fellows as a result of their being cut off from transitional benefit. . . (page 242). The very conditions of capitalism constantly throw up increases of crime generally known as crime waves; who does net remember the “ booze-racket" feuds in the U.S.A. in the 1920s, which sprang from "prohibition"?

The drug and narcotic trades also did well at this time, and J. Spenser, in his book "Limey," tells how film-struck girls from all over the States flock to Hollywood and its environs hoping for a break to fame . . . and how often, due to economic pressure, they take to prostitution and drugs . . . not as a result of their " wickedness," but as a result of capitalism. Added weight is given to this assertion by Rex North in an article in The People (December 12, 1943). In it he describes conditions in Amgot— rule Italy, "You can see women holding rickety, dirty, half-starved children, begging for the price of a bowl of spaghetti. They beg because, under the strain of war and German domination, Italian morals have crashed." "Walk down the main street of Naples—the Via Roma. In 50 yards you will be stopped 20 times by youngsters of eight to old men of eighty; "Roast beef, spaghetti, nice sister,' they whisper as you pass."

What a comment on capitalism, and how true the remark of Karl Marx, "But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the whole bourgeoisie in chorus." "The Communist Manifesto" (Proletarian Publ. Assoc., page 36.) (Our italics.)

Even our public schoolboys, upon leaving school, are beset with the same problems as other workers, "How to get a job and hang on to it." The tendency of capitalism is often to make skilled labour unskilled, and these young men meet fierce and keen competition from secondary schoolboys who have improved their education by evening classes, etc.: this, coupled with the ever-increasing rationalisation process in evidence in industry, may cause some to leave the “straight and narrow path." Being used to a fairly high standard of living, it is not hard to perceive that confidence tricksters and other like "shady" occupations are such that may attract the plausibility, "good breeding" and accent of these men. They often have high technical qualifications and University degrees rarely obtained by the elementary schoolboy, and men with these qualifications are in a position of being of use to illicit drug and kindred trades.

Lest we are misunderstood, however, we do not say that law-breakers spring only from the working class. Capitalists are also a product of the system. Who has not heard of Kruger and Hatry? Insecurity also affects our masters, and in point of fact literally thousands of banks and industrial enterprise went "broke" in 1931, and although it is not comparable to the insecurity of the workers, nevertheless a rule of capitalism is accumulation, and if this can be achieved "illegally," well it is just too bad for the victims.

From the foregoing, we think it should be obvious that whilst the majority of the people in this and other lauds are compelled, by their propertyless condition, to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary to another section in society who do possess the instruments for producing wealth, whilst goods are produced for profit and not solely for use—in a word, so long as we have capitalism, so long will the conditions be there that make crime and the other problems the workers know so well, a constant feature of society.

The Socialist has a solution . . . the only solution . . . make the instruments of wealth production the common property of all, introduce a system of society where the principle will obtain: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need"—in a word. Socialism. Then to quote Engels, "Man, at last master of his own form of social organisation, becomes at the same time the lord over Nature, his own master—free." ("Socialism, Utopian and Scientific," Kerr Edition, page 130).
G. J. Nehan.

The New Anti-Strike Order (1944)

Editorial from the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

In addition to the existing Regulations and penalties against workers in essential industries who come out on strike, the Government on April 18th issued new Defence Regulations providing penalties of a £500 fine, five years' imprisonment, or both, on persons found, guilty of inciting others to engage in a strike (or lockout!) which interferes with essential services.

The ostensible reason for the new measure is the belief professed in certain quarters that miners and others who have recently been on strike have not really had a grievance —as if having to work for the capitalist class is not grievance enough—but have been incited or persuaded by small outside groups like the Trotskyists. This prompts the natural question how is it that the Trotskyists can have proved themselves so much more persuasive than the more numerous and more experienced professional Union officials and Cabinet Ministers who were giving the opposite advice? If workers have so much reason to be grateful for benefits already received, and therefore have no cause for discontent, and if they have had their case adequately represented by their officials and reasonably dealt with by arbitration bodies, why have they rejected the guidance of their own Trade Union officials and members of the Government (not to mention all the newspapers) and turned to listen to the words of "agitators" outside their own ranks? If this were true, what an abject confession of bungling and incompetence on the part of the official spokesmen!

Of course, more sober observers do not believe it to be true. Here are statements from the Manchester Guardian and a miner's official:—
  Merely to gird at the offenders or to take repressive measures will be to make things worse. Nor is it any use to bemuse ourselves by discovering "subversive elements”; the so-called "Trotskyists” and the I.L.P. may profess to love strikes for their own sake, but no one has yet proved that they have ever stopped a pit. They form a convenient excuse for baffled union officials, that is all. (Manchester Guardian, April 5, 1944).
   No evidence had been discovered that there were Trotskyite or other subversive influences at work with the object of causing disturbances in the Scottish coalfield. (Abe Moffat, President of the Scottish Mineworkers, Forward, April 15, 1944.)
The Manchester Guardian is no doubt right when it said that repressive measures will make things worse. Already a gulf has grown between trade unionists and their leaders; this will widen the gulf and make the workers still more inclined to lack confidence in their appointed officials.

It is stated (Evening Standard, April 18) that this new regulation "represents the results of discussions which Mr. Bevin had with the Trade Union Congress and the British Employers' Federation,” and the Daily Herald says (April 19) that “the penalty for offenders against the new regulation has the approval both of the T.U.C. and the employers' organisations in its severity."

Back in 1926, at .the time of the miners' lock-out and national strike, Mr. Bevin and the T.U.C. and union officials were on one side, and the employers, Mr. Churchill and the Tory Party were on the other. So also in 1927, when the Trade Disputes Act was passed to curb the powers of the trade unions.

In 1943, when Sir Walter Citrine and the T.U.C. were trying to push the Government into a small modification of that Act, Mr. Bevin and Mr. Churchill and the employers and the Tory Party stood together against the T.U.C. and some of the unions.

Now we find the T.U.C. (recently so anxious to get restrictions under the 1927 Act removed) standing with the employers and with Mr. Bevin and the Government, including its Labour Party members, to add new restrictions to the old ones.

This, of course, is all done in the name of national unity. We wonder if the trade unionists who welcome this new restriction have seen what a deplorable effect it is going to have on working class unity.

Time will show what result the new restrictions will have on industrial disputes. If disputes continue, the Ministers and trade union officials who have had a hand in making a scapegoat of outside agitators will have to think again, and discover what is the real reason for working class discontent. 

Bombs and Character (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
New York, Thursday.—Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, who became High Commissioner in Canada in April, 1941, said to-day: “The British are a much better people than they were in 1939 because they have undergone a peaceful social revolution.
"We had the inestimable blessing of being bombed. This enriched British character and blasted to bits some of the worst social faults.:—(Daily Express, February 25, 1944.) 
  "Even if our generation did no more in this war than endure bombs, that would be enough to make it immortal." —(Goebbels to the Germans, News-Chronicle, April 14, 1944.)

About the Japanese (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
  "The Japanese have' proved themselves a sub-human race. . . . When they are beaten back to their own savage land, let them live there in complete isolation from the rest of the world, as in a leper compound, unclean."—(Daily Mail, January 29, 1944.) 
   "There is also the pathos of a decent people bound in the Army's fanatical tyranny. Mr. Morris has a deep affection for the Japanese. His students, without exception, loathed and did everything possible to avoid military training."—(From a review of "Traveller from Tokyo,” by John Morris, who was in Japan till July, 1942, Manchester Guardian, November 5, 1943.)

"Daily Worker" Unity Conference (1944)

From the May 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

On Sunday, April 2nd, at the Stoll Theatre, London, a conference of delegates from various working class organisations was organised by the Daily Worker, It was proclaimed as a tremendous success in the Daily Worker the following day—in the words of Mr. William Rust, the "Conference has spoken the will of the people."

Here we might well question whether the conference was representative of the people as it has been claimed. The Daily Worker (April 8, 1944) giving details of the representation states that there were 1762 delegates present, (we have totalled up the figures as given and make it 1803, but that is by the way!)

The vast majority of these represented trade union branches, district committees, shop stewards' committees, etc. The Communist Party sent 73 delegates, the Co-operative movement 66, Common Wealth 32, and local and divisional Labour Parties 17. The Labour Party had officially boycotted the conference, the Liberal Party was not represented although Mrs. Corbett Ashby, late Vice-President, claiming to speak for an enormous number of the rank and file of that party, was present as an independent, neither was the I.L.P., nor, needless to say, the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

It would seem, therefore, that Mr. William Rust has been tempted to exaggerate a little, like a proud father, perhaps over the achievements of the baby he had helped to bring into the world, especially in view of the fact that his paper claimed that the delegates represented only 2,000,000 of "the people."

Passing over this doubtful claim of speaking the will of that nebulous entity "the people," let us examine the "will" that was expressed. The conference was called to face the "urgency of unity for victory in the war, for overcoming all obstacles to the mobilisation of resources and power in the war effort, and for laying the foundations for victory in the peace, too."

In the morning session the problem of winning the war was dealt with, the chief bone of contention being picked by the Common Wealth (Mr. Tom Wintringham) and the Communist Party (Mr. W. Gallacher) on the question of the Coalition government. Wintringham wanted to see the ending of the coalition whilst Gallacher stated that it was futile to discuss getting national unity by breaking up the National Government yet at the same time we should not have a Tory-dominated coalition.

In the afternoon session dealing with post-war problems, however, more diversity of opinion was expressed. Sir Richard Acland wanted nationalisation of the mines; Krishna Menon wanted Amery sacked and the Indian leaders freed;- somebody else wanted better education; another wanted to build houses after the war; R. G. McKay of Common Wealth said that "it would not worry him which progressive M.P.s got in —so long as we got a Socialist majority in the House of Commons;" and so forth and so on.

Amidst all the welter of diverse opinions there was, however, agreement on the fact that "Unity and progress are possible only by the united action of the great mass organisations of the Labour movement—the Labour Party, the trade unions and the Conservatives."

It was stressed throughout the meeting that nothing could be done without the Labour Party, but we want to know what they want to do. We doubt whether the words "unity" and "progressive" have been used so frequently in one day before, with so little regard for what unity was wanted for or to what it was wanted to progress.

As a generalisation of the speeches made it is our impression that all the delegates were concerned with was getting rid of the Tory domination of Parliament and substituting a United Progressive Left Front Government in its place and this would appear to be the intention behind the resolution which was passed, viz.,
  "This Conference greets the decision of the Executive Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union calling on the Labour Party to convene a conference to formulate a common policy for the working class movement in readiness for the next general election and pledges itself to do all in its power in support."
It will be noted that the conference pledged its support for a "common policy" not yet decided upon at a conference to be called by the Labour Party which officially banned this one!

Thus we see that the result was that nobody got very far although everybody was in a hurry to get somewhere. The trouble was that nobody knew exactly where to go.

How much longer will the S.P.G.B. have to point out to the working class that as long as they make these futile attempts at unity simply on the flimsy basis of getting rid of the Tories or some such specious plea they will still have to travel the same old capitalist road. Unity for Socialism alone is what the working class should bother about—when this is achieved all these other pettifogging problems will disappear like chaff before the wind.
N.S.