Saturday, September 13, 2014

Editorial: Devolution or revolution? (1979)

Editorial from the February 1979 issue of the Socialist Standard

On March 1 voters in Scotland and Wales will be called upon to decide for or against the proposal to set up elected assemblies, with limited powers, in these areas. Some see this as a step towards independence for Scotland and Wales and are calling for a "yes" or "no" vote depending on how they view this prospect. Others (more realistically) see it as an attempt by the Labour government to buy off the nationalist sentiments which have increasingly manifested themselves in recent years. We in the Socialist Party say that both the proposal and the referendum are quite irrelevant from a working-class point of view.

The social problems which face wage and salary earners in such fields as housing, schooling and transport, and the constant struggle to make ends meet from month to month, arise from the fact that the means of wealth production are monopolised by a minority class. They are caused by capitalism and cannot be solved by any amount of tinkering with its political superstructure.

As a mere political or constitutional change the setting up of elected assemblies in Scotland and Wales will contribute nothing towards helping to solve the problems facing wage and salary earners, either there or elsewhere. Since these problems arise from the way in which society is at present organised they can only be solved by a change in the social system: by the social revolution involved in replacing class monopoly and production for profit by the common ownership and production solely for use of socialism. Revolution not devolution, is what is required.

Even if the elected assemblies were to be other than glorified county councils completely dependent, like all other local authorities in Britain, on the central government for funds, or embryo parliaments of an independent Scotland or an Independent Wales, we would still say that whether or not they are to be established is an irrelevant issue.

The basic argument put forward by the SNP and Plaid Cymru is that the problems of wage and salary earners living in Scotland and Wales arise from the fact they they are governed from London rather than from Edinburgh or Cardiff. The absurdity of this claim is matched only by that of the Tory and Labour Parties which attribute these problems to the fact that the rival party is or has been in power.

It makes no difference where the governments which enforce class monopoly have their headquarters—London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Brussels or Timbuctoo. An independent Scotland or Wales would inevitably be a capitalist Scotland or a capitalist Wales where the means of production would continue to be governed by the laws of capitalism. And where the problems facing wage and salary earners would therefore continue to exist, as the eloquent example of Ireland where unemployment and emigration have continued despite nearly sixty years of political independence, clearly shows.

Because we regard Scottish or Welsh independence as an irrelevancy does not mean that we are therefore to be counted among the partisans of the maintenance of the United Kingdom as a single political unit. What we are saying is that, since the problems facing wage and salary earners are not caused by the way in which the political superstructure is arranged, changes in this superstructure—such as separation or union—are irrelevant. Hence our conclusion that workers should avoid taking sides in arguments over such issues.

What we do stand for is neither an independent Scotland or Wales nor a united Britain but a world without frontiers. Socialism cannot be established in a single country for a simple but sufficient reason: capitalism, the system it will replace, is already a world system. It exists in state capitalist Russia and China as well as in the West, and quite clearly dominates all so-called "national economies" through the operation of the world market.

Even the politicians recognise this in a vague, roundabout way. Are they not always telling us that "our" problems arise from the fact that "our" goods are not competitive enough on the world market? When you realise that politicians in America, France, Germany, Japan and all other countries are telling the same story then it becomes clear that there are no national solutions to today's social problems. They cannot be solved within the borders of particular States but only on a world scale, in a world without frontiers based on common ownership and democratic control with production solely for use not sale or profit. Only on this basis can the highly-developed, world-wide productive apparatus turn out the abundance of wealth that it is capable of, so permitting society to implement the long-standing socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs".

Recognising the potential class weapon that is the vote socialists in Scotland and Wales will be going to the polling booths and writing "SOCIALISM—SPGB" across their ballot papers. we urge all others who realise that world socialism is the only solution to their problems to do likewise.

Putting down rebellion (1913)

From the August 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Liberal Government are in power. This, of course, is equal to saying that cowardly bullying will reach its zenith during the period of the present administration. We have had many noisesome examples up to date, and now we are treated to another, in which humble people in Ireland are arrested and charged with conspiring to publish and circulate seditious libels concerning the Government and their armed forces. The offenders are alleged to have posted in the thoroughfares of Belfast placards stating that the "soldiers and police are used by the Government to crush the working man when he stands up for his rights."

We are perfectly well aware that a statement does not necessarily have to be untrue to be a libel. We know that a famous lawyer has laid it down that "the greater the truth the greater the libel," and it will be very interesting, in view of the use that was made of troops in Belfast a year or two back, in view of the part the military played in the great railway strike of August 1911, in view of the police activities in Manchester, Liverpool, and London during the last two years, in view of the menace of the gun-boats at Grimsby and Hull, and within the last fortnight, at Leith ; it will be interesting, we repeat, in view of all this, to observe whether the Government intend to rely upon the truth of the libel to magnify the enormity of the "crime."

However, we do not blame the Government for repressing every attack upon the security of the ruling class. Men holding the view that it is true that "the soldiers and police are used by the Government to crush the working man when he stands up for his rights" will by the force of logic expect those forces to be set in motion directly a blow is aimed at those who control them. To let light in upon the purpose of the armed forces was therefore bound to be "regarded by the law officers of the Crown as of the highest importance." Only what might be expected, therefore, has happened.

This latest piece of bullying, however, shows up the Liberals as what they are—the most cowardly of all political parties. For "King" Carson can openly incite to rebellion, and even go the length of enrolling and swearing thousands for the adventure, yet the Government dare not lay hands upon the powerful rebel. But when it comes to a couple of shop-assistants, then— why then it looks like a dodge of Lloyd-Georgian cunning to convert Ulster to Home Rule by the simple course of sickening it of "Saxon" tyranny.

Irish Notes (1917)

From the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

As the Sinn Fein movement appears to be gaining prominence in Ireland and enlisting the sympathies of large numbers of Irish working men, it becomes necessary for Socialists to state clearly and definitely their attitude toward this movement. With this idea in view the following lines have been penned.

The pamphlet entitled The Sinn Fein Policy, published by the national council of the Sinn Fein movement, lays down their position.

This pamphlet shows clearly that Sinn Fein is the revolt of the Irish commercial class against landlords and the Government that supports the landlords to the detriment of the industrial capitalists. This movement gains its catch-cry and working class support on account of Ireland’s peculiar national position. The landlords having been for years mainly English and the governmental powers administered from London, the landlords naturally turned to the Government for support and got it. The position was further complicated by the development of the English capitalists, who were not so foolish as to permit commercial rivalry at their very doors, especially from a country where the standard of living was comparatively low, food being fairly abundant and cheap. Consequently steps were taken to throttle the anticipated rivalry. In the same way when the early English merchants were struggling for control of the carrying trade of the world, all available methods were pressed into use to crush their principal competitors, the Dutch, and the latter eventually went down.

We are not concerned here as to whether those who support the Sinn Fein movement are sincere or not. We are endeavouring to show Irish working men the plain, bald facts of the position, regardless of whether these facts are palatable or not. People’s views are, in the main, the product of their particular social environment—they see the world from the point of view of the class into which they are born and with which their interests are bound up. Consequently the members of the small commercial firm (the germ of the large industrial concern) burn with injustice and struggle to break the bonds that interfere with the expansion of their business. They bawl at the tops of their voices for freedom, like their brothers of the 18th century in France, but bye and bye we shall see that the freedom they desire (also like that of their French brethren) is commercial freedom—the liberty to exploit nature and the worker to the fullest extent possible.

We, who are working men, however, should concern ourselves with the bonds that bind us to the wheel of capital—that doom us forever to the toil and sweat of slavery.

In the Tracts for Irishmen there is a booklet entitled Ireland Looks into the Mirror which describes with some detail Hungary’s so-called march to freedom under Louis Kossuth and Francis Deak, and a parallel is drawn between Ireland and Hungary, Irishmen being invited to emulate the Hungarians in their struggle, which has resulted in the “resurrection of Hungary”. But what is really the position in Hungary? Free Hungary and Free Italy have meant nothing to the working class of the respective countries. A short time before the Mutual Murdering Association commenced the sanguinary operations in Europe the condition of affairs in Hungary was appalling. The wages were at starvation rate and thousands were actually starving. In Buda-Pesth alone there were 30,000 unemployed; the wages were 6d to 8d for a day of 10 to 12 hours, and hundreds were employed at 2d a day. Truly Free Hungary had brought its workers to a glorious pass! In the issue of our paper that was published at the time were given full details of the position. Now the workers of Hungary, in common with the workers of other countries, are murdering each other for the great god Capital. Evidently one of the benefits conferred upon the working class of Hungary and Italy by their resurrection from oppression has been the opportunity to pour out their blood on behalf of their masters in the struggle for international trade routes and the markets of the world—a truly remarkable privilege!

In case of any doubts arising as to whether we have stated the case correctly in contending that the mainspring of the Sinn Fein movement is the desire for power and expansion on the part of Irish Industrial Capitalists we will give a few quotations from authoritative sources. In the first place we will quote from the pamphlet The Sinn Fein Policy, to which we have already referred.
“With the development of her manufacturing arm will proceed the rise of a national middle class in Ireland and a trained national democracy.” (p. 15.)
“That the General Council of the Councils should have the country surveyed with a view to the profitable development of its natural resources, and having had the cost and return estimated as accurately as possible, should then invite the Irish-American millionaires to do what, at the St. Patrick’s banquet in New York, several professed themselves anxious to do—develop the country industrially. We can offer them 174,000,000 tons of coal, the finest stone in Europe, and an inexhaustible supply of peat to operate on, and we can offer them all the facilities possessed by the County Councils and Rural Councils of Ireland, and the assistance and goodwill of the Irish people in turning our coal, our stone, and our turf into gold. They can offer us in return profitable employment for our people, and an enormous increase of strength, socially, politically, and industrially.” (p. 17.)
“A necessary organisation is an agricultural and manufacturing union—a union of manufacturers and farmers, classes who at the present time, through an extraordinary delusion, are unfriendly to each other, and fail to realise their interdependence. The farmer is indifferent about the industrial revival, failing to realise the increased market an Ireland with a manufacturing arm means to the agriculturist: the manufacturer is indifferent to the agricultural interest, failing to realise that the extension of agriculture—the extension of tillage—means the extension of the market for his products.” (p. 10.)
“Through the lack of a mercantile marine we are debarred from our best markets, deprived of our share in the world’s carrying trade, and are lost to Europe’s interest. We lost sixty years ago one of the greatest opportunities—a share in the China trade, because we had no mercantile navy, and as a consequence the China market knows nothing of our linens, and we procure our tea through England. We lose for the same reason to-day our share in the Indian trade, which would be gladly given us if we only had a marine to work it, and we are losing yearly our share in the European and American trade for the same reason.” (p. 18.)
“In an excellent letter addressed to the Board of Guardians the Cork Chemical and Drug Co., Ltd., put the issue clearly. It wrote: ‘It is a comparatively simple matter for English capitalists to crush out their Irish competitors, and we know that this has been too often the fate of Irishmen striving to promote the manufactures of the country, but once the obstacle is removed it is easy enough for them to advance prices, and thus obtain compensation for preliminary losses. It is to this system that we, as Irish manufacturers and large employers of labour, object, but we are always ready to meet the ordinary competition of business, so long as this is conducted on fair lines.’ Many of the Irish Boards of Guardians have responded to this letter, but, unfortunately, the bulk of the unions have fallen into the net spread by the English ring, and in consequence a very large sum of Irish money, not a penny of which need have passed out of the country, finds its way this year into England’s pocket. Under the Sinn Fein policy such a deplorable error could not occur. The action of the Boards would, of course, be a united one, and no possibility would be left as far as they were concerned for a syndicate of unscrupulous English capitalists to crush out the home manufacturer and the home trader.”
The Irishman of May 12th last refers to the Cork Industrial Development Association under the heading of “A Live Association”, and two of the items quoted as evidence of its usefulness are the following:
“The Information Bureau of Irish Industries attached to the Association, has been, and still continues to be, availed of by correspondents drawn from all parts of Ireland and Great Britain, and, also, from Continental and American countries, and has, admittedly, resulted in securing for Irish firms orders running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling.”
“The promotion of Industrial harmony between employers and workers in Ireland has long been a plank in the Association’s platform, and its successful endeavours to effect a satisfactory settlement of the recent disputes in the building trades in Cork City were greatly appreciated by the Cork public.”
When an association like the above has the support of the official Sinn Fein organ it shows plainly what the attitude of the principal people concerned in this movement is toward the Irish working class. The whole of the above quotations prove the truth of our contention. The continuance of the private property system is the central idea in the movement, and so long as private property remains the miseries that necessarily flow therefrom will remain also and continue to afflict the workers under the Irish Republic.

In the pamphlet from which we have quoted Germany is instanced as the country par excellence to be emulated by Ireland. But to what has industrial development brought Germany? To the dawn of the Social Revolution, some will truly reply. But then this is not the point of view of the publishers of the pamphlet. They are glorifying the pre-war state of Germany. The German peasant, who used to enjoy the fresh air working in the fields with nothing over him but the sky, while his wife spun at the cottage door, is now cooped up in a factory for the greater part of his waking hours, with the grim spectre of unemployment to haunt him for ever and make his life wretched. The once open country is now studded thickly with great factories, ugly industrial towns, and depressing mining districts. As a result of developing her industrial resources Germany has become one of the greatest industrial countries in the world. The German capitalist can put his feet under the mahogany with the capitalists of any nation, whilst the German workers, who toiled in tragic weariness to make these capitalists what they are, can hold their own with the workers of any nation for poverty, misery, and destitution.

The pamphlet in question also dilates largely on the increase of unemployment in Ireland, and the development of its resources through the investment of capital by the American millionaires. Are the Sinn Fein party anxious to see Ireland smothered with the ugly, stifling, sweating factories and mills that already encumber part of the North of Ireland, and smother England, Germany, America, and other countries? Is it employment Irish workers want, or is it the opportunity to work for themselves instead of working for others who live on the products of their toil? What the Sinn Feiners would have us believe, apparently, is that we want more employers in Ireland.

To sum it all up, the plea of this pamphlet is simply the echo of the plea of the English capitalists in their early struggle for markets. “The more markets we can get the more employment we can give,” cried they, and went merrily on their way murdering children from six years of age in their factories and destroying the lives of women and girls in their mines in the benevolent endeavour to give as much employment as possible, and of course, just by the way, rake in as much profit as possible.

The Irish Republic the Sinn Feiners are after is but the counterpart of France and America, where year by year the capitalist sweats dividends out of his helpless workers.

What part can the Irish workers, devoid of capital, take in the Industrial Revival except the toiling part? All these revivals are useless to the worker until he owns the product of his toil, then he will be able to enjoy to the full all the advantages to be obtained. So long as private property is the order of the day it matters little to the propertyless Irish worker (the vast majority of the population) who rules Ireland.

“Agin the British Government”, Separation with a King, Lords, and Commons for Ireland (Constitution of 1683), and full liberty to exploit Irish workers, are about the sum total of Sinn Fein. Some are ultra-revolutionary, and will have “no bloom’ king but a republic”—It is tantamount to the bosses saying they’ll exploit you with caps on instead of swanking in with top hats on. Republic or Constitutional Monarchy, it works out the same—the workers are always the bottom dogs.

The writers of these notes are Irish workers who have long since turned a deaf ear to the empty phrases of Nationalism, and they look forward with hopeful eyes to the day when Ireland shall be a land of peace and prosperity—its wealth owned and controlled by its workers—and a harmonious member of the great international Socialist Republic. This object, we claim, is far more worthy of the attention and support of Irish workers than the empty phrases and chimeras of Sinn Fein.
Mick and Mack

The dispossessed (1994)

Book Review from the May 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin is a tale of future worlds. One is Anarres and clearly labelled "anarchist". The other, Urras, is less clearly described as "propertarian" and "archist". The plot is briefly but dramatically outlined in the blurb.
"Shevek, a brilliant physicist. . . single-handedly attempts to re-unite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust. Anarres, Shevek's homeland, is a bleak moon settled by an anarchic Utopian civilization; Urras, the mother planet, is a world very similar to Earth, with its warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Shevek risks everything in a courageous visit to Urras  to learn, to teach, to share. But his gift becomes a threat. . . and in the profound conflict which ensues, Shevek must re-examine his philosophy of life."
The book's thirteen chapters alternate between Anarres and Urras.

Invited to dislike
LeGuin tells us much that we seem to be invited to dislike about Urras, and just a few things that we are invited to approve (although, depending on your point of view, you may have a different ratio of approval to disapproval).

Urras is an "incredibly complex society with all its nations, classes, castes, cults, customs and its magnificent, appalling and interminable history". It is organized "hierarchically, from the top down". In education there is an examination system that involves "cramming in information and disgorging it at demand". "The state recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself." So there are secret police. And the state uses force, with police helicopters and machine guns, to put down demonstrations that threaten the status quo.

Life on Urras closely resembles, and somewhat exaggerates, life in the USA in the 1970s, when the author was writing (in two decades the general picture has changed little). They burn dirty clothes because new cheap ones cost less than cleaning. There are private cars, "splendid machines of bizarre elegance". Everything is "either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use."

Rats and asylums
There are three competing mail companies. Everything comes "inside layers and layers of wrappings". The basic function of the radio "was advertising things for sale". Other delights on Urras included rats, army barracks, insane asylums, poorhouses, pawnshops, executions, thieves, tenements, rent collectors, the unemployed, and "a dead baby in a ditch".

In the realm of thought and ideas there is also much to dislike about Urras. There is religious bigotry ("He's a strict-interpretation Epiphanist. Recites the Primes every night. A totally rigid mind.") There are "birdseed papers", "written by semiliterates for semiliterates" which manufacture news. Shevek observes that Urrasti people always look anxious: "Was it because, no matter how much money they had. they always had to worry about making more, lest they die poor?"

Now to Anarres. the "anarchist country". It, too, has a system and has people doing things and thinking thoughts. Anarres is "an experiment in nonauthoritarian communism. . . (the people) are not only socialists, they are anarchists".

No law, no police
There are no laws, no governments, no police, no money. Or, to add a bit of positive qualification, there is "no law but the single principle of mutual aid between individuals. . . no government but the single principle of free association". While "nominally there's no government on Anarres. . . obviously there's administration. . ." The network of administration and management is called PDC, Production and Distribution Coordination. "They are a coordinating system for all syndicates, federatives and individuals who do productive work. They do not govern persons; they administer production". Nobody is ever punished for anything, though sometimes "they make you go away by yourself for a while".

There is no distinction between men's work and women's work: "A person chooses work according to interest, talent, strength -what has sex to do with that?" The "dirty work" is done by everyone on one day out of ten on a basis of choice from "rotating lists" "People take the dangerous, hard jobs because they take pride in doing them".

Most of what we learn that is positive about Anarres is in terms of thoughts, ideas, even moral precepts. At a personal level, members of a community were not moved by mass feeling but "there were as many emotions as there were people". The status of religion on Anarres is ambiguous. There is no established religion in the sense of churches and creeds, but "you could not seriously believe that we had no religious capacity?" Takver "had always known that all lives are in common, rejoicing in her kinship to the fish in the tanks of her laboratories, seeking the experience of existences outside the human boundary". One character offers a moralistic judgment: "Having's wrong, Sharing's right." Shevek is described as having been brought up "in a culture that relied deliberately and constantly on human solidarity, mutual aid".

Anarres has a population of only 20 million compared with a 1,000 million on Urras. It was given to the Odonians (theoretical anarchists) as a means of "buying them off with a world, before they totally undermined the authority of law and national sovereignty on Urras". There was trade between the two worlds, but in practice Anarres was a mining colony of Urras. For an anarchist society, Anarres is remarkably centralized. Abbenay is the capital, "the mind and center of Anarres. . . There had to be a center. The computers that coordinated the administration of things, the division of labor and the distribution of goods, and the central federatives of most of the work syndicates were in Abbenay, right from the start".

Despite this the people of Anarres have to put up with many shortages and deprivations. Printing had to cover the whole page because paper was short. The economy would not support the building and upkeep of individual houses and apartments. People had to save up their daily allowances for a party. and had to fetch their letters from the mail depot because there were no postmen. However, the general picture is one of high morale despite the shortages and deprivations.

Clear aim
LeGuin had an aim in writing The Dispossessed. Fortunately, we have her own account of this. Responding to a question by Lynn McCaffery, she says:
"... The only trouble with an anarchist country is going to come from its neighbors. Anarchism is like Christianity – it's never really been practised – so you can 't say it's a practical proposal. Still, it's a necessary idea. We have followed the state far enough – too far, in fact. The state is leading us to World War III. The whole idea of the state has got to be rethought from the beginning and then dismantled. One way to do this is to propose the most extreme solution imaginable: you don 't proceed little by little; you go to the extreme and say, "Let's have no government, no state at all." Then you try to figure out what you have without it, which is essentially what I was trying to do in 'The Dispossessed'. This kind of thinking is not idealistic, it's a practical necessity these days. We must begin to think in different terms, because if we just continue to follow the state, we've had it. So, yes, 'The Dispossessed' is very much in earnest about trying to rethink our assumptions about the relationships between human beings." (Across the Wounded Galaxies)
Then McCaffery asked LeGuin why-she had set her anarchist Utopia in such a bleak environment:
"The way I created Anarres was probably an unconscious economy of means: these people are going to be leading a very barren life, so I gave them a barren landscape. Anarres is a metaphor for the austere life, but I wasn't trying to make a general proposal that a Utopia has to be that way."
For LeGuin what seems to be preventing people making a better fist of life on contemporary Earth is not so much capitalism as government and the state.

It follows that what she believes desirable is not so much socialism, a system to replace capitalism, as anarchism, a system to replace "archism". That last term isn't actually in the dictionary, not even in a large one. But so much of what LeGuin writes about Urras is also a fair description of capitalism that perhaps we shouldn't be too concerned about her choice of words for its alternative.

The important difference between LeGuin's view and the socialist view is surely about the means of changing from one type of society to the other. LeGuin is vague about these means. Like most anarchists, she doesn't think in terms of democratic political organization for the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism. She is right to "see the folly of reformism ('you don't proceed little by little')". But organization is important – indeed it is vital. By allowing the "archists" to be well-organized in a favourable environment, and the anarchists to be a minority shipped off to a barren planet, she is not only giving the devil the best tunes: she is allowing him to take over the whole music profession.

One serious criticism of The Dispossessed is that we aren't told enough about the Urras "working class", and what little we are told is derogatory and disillusioning. We know they read "birdseed" papers and get massacred when they revolt, but that's about all. LeGuin sketches them in as semiliterates, as a kind of ancient Roman "bread and circuses" mob. There is something deeply pessimistic about a scenario that envisages the intellectual, material and political degradation of over 90 percent of the population.

This remarkable book stimulates the imagination and paints a picture of a future world that has a good many socialist features even if it doesn't deal at all adequately with the politics of how we can get to that world.
Stan Parker

Editorial: Bebel's Incursion Into English Politics (1906)

Editorial from the April 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

In another column we publish the correspondence which has passed between the Executive Committee of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, our comrade Bebel, and Vorwaerts, the official organ of the German Socialist Party. There is no occasion to amplify that correspondence, and the only purpose of a reference to it here is to direct attention more particularly to it in justification of the attitude taken up by this Party. That attitude which is, of course, no more than a logical expression of the class struggle, and cannot be departed from by any Socialist except by the immolation of Principle on the altar of Expediency, coincides exactly with the pronouncement made by Bebel himself in other connections. He may only object to it, therefore, at the risk of self stultification. We regret exceedingly that instead of recognising that he had allowed himself to be betrayed into an act calculated, because it lent the countenance of approval to what was merely a capitalist victory, to defeat the purpose of Socialist propaganda, he should have preferred to attempt to exonerate himself by reading into his telegram something which in point of fact was neither implied nor expressed. We expected better things of Bebel.
Our intervention in this matter, however much we may deplore the occasion for it, will, like our protest to the French Socialist Party against the fraternisation of Dr. Brousse (a member of the Party and President of the Municipal Council of Paris) with the L.C.C. representatives of capitalism in municipal politics, serve to show that in England there is now a party jealous of the integrity and the unswerving adherence to principle, of the International Socialist Movement, zealous for the elimination of all confusing elements in industrial and political warfare, and determined to do all in its power—however little or much that may be—to organise the working class upon the basis of their distinctive class interests, for the final struggle with the hosts of capitalism, whatever the form of their manifestation, and the realisation of the Co-operative Commonwealth.
Until The Socialist Party of Great Britain Came into existence our Continental comrades may well have been in lugubrious ignorance of the existence of such a party : we sincerely hope our stand for principle will remove any misapprehension they may have had on this issue.

Where Rockfeller Rules (1913)

Book Review from the June 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Poverty," by Robert Hunter. London : The Macmillan Co. 2s. net.

This is a cheap reprint of a work that originally appeared in 1904 in America. It is written by a member of that body of reformers known as the Socialist Party of America. The author defines the main object of the volume as an estimate of the extent of poverty in the United States of America, and a description of "some of its evils."

A further object of the book, we are told, is to point out certain remedial actions which society may wisely prosecute.

To one who is familiar with the investigations in this country of Mr. Charles Booth, Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, and Dr. H. H. Mann, the method of this work is certainly disappointing. As the author himself admits : "The poor of the rural districts have hardly been mentioned and the working woman and the mother are left almost entirely out of consideration."

Little information, if any, can be gleaned beyond that already to be obtained in the works of Jacob A. Riis and Mrs. Van Vorst, etc.

The estimate given by the author of this book on poverty in America is sufficient to show of how little use the work is to the serious student. "I have not the slightest doubt," he says, "that there are in the United States ten millions in precisely these conditions of poverty, but I am largely guessing at it, and there may be as many as fifteen or twenty millions."

The condition which Mr. Hunter takes for his standard of poverty he defines as the lack of those necessaries sufficient to maintain a state of physical efficiency.

The real remedy for the poverty of the workers amidst the luxury of the idlers is not shown, and the preventive measures advocated by our author are worthy of the moat zealous supporter of the present system.

Sanitary laws and shorter hours for women and children. Laws to "make industry pay the necessary and legitimate coat of producing and maintaining efficient labourers." Compensation and Insurance Acts and Anti-Immigration laws. In short, all those measures which are in operation in many lands, where they dismally fail to improve the workers' conditions. Our author shrinks from the true position, viz., that as the poverty of the working class is due to robbery the remedy is to stop the robbers by ousting them, first from political, and then from economic power. 
Adolph Kohn