Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Enemy on the Left! - New Statesman (1973)

From the March 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard

A regular column dealing with the antics of those who call themselves socialist but in practice do nothing but harm to the cause.

Last month this column dealt with Tribune but that other fraudulent socialist paper, the New Statesman is of course just as guilty of these attempts (often all too successful) to con the working class out of their votes. I well remember in the '64 election, reading out at an SPGB meeting a leading article from that paper which actually went through the various issues and could not avoid showing that there was not a pin to choose even between the promises of Tory and Labour. But you should turn out the Tories because Wilson is such a good chap! You may find it difficult to credit that an "intellectual" paper could be so pathetic. And ironically, the same paper now tells its readers that Wilson pollutes the political atmosphere! It takes an "intellectual" rather a long time to spot a blinding glimpse of the obvious. But I wanted to deal with its attitude to democracy (which is an essential facet of Socialism). They recently ran an article on Kaunda's one-party state in Zambia. Now it is clear to the meanest intelligence that a one-party state us just a euphemism for a dictatorial tyranny. For it means that anyone who wishes to oppose the government (or is even suspected of such ideas) finds himself not in Parliament, not even on the hustings, but in a gaol, or a concentration camp, or cemetery. This is true whether the one-party is white Nazis or black Kaunda-ists.

Just to underline this the Guardian reported some time ago that the "socialist" Kaunda had taken to ending his meetings with a ringing slogan: "One State! One Zambia!" Consciously or otherwise taking a leaf out of Hitler's book, he might as well amend that to "Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Kaunda!" But the point here is that you might think that the NS article was a denunciation of dictatorship. What a hope! The writer was their "Africa expert", the same John Hatch who used to defend in the same NS the régime of that even worse black Hitler, Nkrumah. The article was an apologia from beginning to end. And to hell with those who rot in tyrants' gaols. These inverted racialists scream for "One Man, one vote" in South Africa or Rhodesia. Quite right, too. Why shouldn't blacks have votes> But when Kaunda or Nyerere, these pseudo-socialist darlings of the lefties, effectively decree "All blacks, no votes!" (for what is a vote without a choice?), the lefties organise no demos, break no embassy windows (not that emotional outbursts of that nature are any use, of course). They really are inverted racialists who say that black subjects of leaders like Kaunda whom lefties have spent their lives arse-licking are not fit for votes.
L. E. Weidberg

The Enemy on the Left! - Tribune (1973)

The Enemy on the Left Column from the February 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard

A regular column dealing with the antics of those who call themselves socialist but in practice do nothing but harm to the cause.

The antics (no other word will do) of the pseudo-socialists of the world — needless to say they are by no means confined to this country — fill just about half the acreage of every day's papers, so it is difficult to pick one or two items out of the available abundance for discussion in this column. If one sees something particularly gruesome from, say, Foot or Wilson or Nyerere (they are all socialists now, of course, even the grotesque Amin) one knows that tomorrow's press will produce something even more heinous. However, it should be instructive if this month we look at an item from one of the best-known left-wing papers in this country.

Tribune has of course been associated since its foundation with all the best Labour lefties from Nye Bevan (late, but I fear, unlamented) through his successor at Ebbw Vale, Foot, along with Atkinson, Allaun, Heffer and the rest of the menagerie. A few weeks ago they ran a piece getting all hot under the collar about a remark made by Reg Prentice who is on Wilson's front bench and is in fact his Minister for Unemployment designate. It seems that this pseudo had the impudence to say that a figure of 400,000 unemployed was "acceptable" and the Tribune pseudos were quite ready to tear him to pieces over it. First let us just have a think about the statement itself (which was not repudiated by Wilson or any other front-bencher to my knowledge). If one includes dependents, it means that about a million members of the British working class must find it acceptable to be members of the non-working class (I know they would find it acceptable if they were made members of the real non-working class, the capitalists, but I don't think that's what Prentice meant.) It appears, therefore, that the Labour leadership find the fate of a million people living on doles and social security in our so-called affluent society to be acceptable. How jolly of them. Whether it is acceptable to the million poor devils themselves, or whether anyone but a lunatic should support a party which finds this sort of thing acceptable, well, you don't really expect Labour politicians to lose sleep over that as long as they're all right Jack.

But the Tribune types are different? You could have fooled me. The Foots and the rest were all there at Westminster keeping their Labour government in power a few years ago when the unemployed figure was not 400,000 but 600,000. Acceptable or otherwise, Tribune MPs had to accept it, didn't they? And of course there was only one reason why the figure did not rise to a million (i.e. at least two million people suffering from the pernicious disease of capitalism) while Labour was in power. And that was that in 1970 the electorate threw them out, so that the honour of achieving the million was won by the Tories. It has long been clear to all but the wilfully blind that capitalism will produce its ups and downs in unemployment along with the other evils which afflict society, irrespective of whether the capitalist managers call themselves Tories or Labour (or, god help us, socialist). And it is just another of the crimes of the lefties that they hypocritically deride the Tory government for doing exactly the same sort of things which their own party did before them.
L. E. Weidberg

Should Aliens Be Allowed In? (1938)

Editorial from the September 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

The persecution of minorities in many countries has made more acute the problem of the refugee, seeking a land where he will be permitted to live in comparative peace. But with hardly a single exception there are no countries which will freely admit the penniless wanderer, no matter how good his credentials or how great his need. A London magistrate, in passing a heavy sentence on some refugees who were smuggled in without the consent of the Government, angrily denounced them and upheld the policy of punishing before expelling those who try to break in. He was only echoing what many people and many newspapers say. One of the common arguments against giving refuge is that some refugees are "undesirables," but those who say this do not go on to advocate admitting the "desirable" refugees freely nor indeed do they examine what does and what does not constitute an "undesirable." If it meant professional burglars it would at least be clear, but more often than not it means anyone who may be described as an "agitator"—that is one who wants to make the world a better place by exposing existing evils. A sensibly run community, anxious to improve itself, would welcome assistance from any quarter, but capitalism is not a sensibly run system of society, and the capitalists want to maintain capitalism more than they want anything else. So in their eyes a Socialist is an "undesirable," whether born in Germany of Jewish parents or born in London of the native blend of invading races of long ago. Not so a member of a foreign ruling class. If a Baron Franckenstein wants refuge in England then the formalities which the penniless refugee must observe can be waived, and he can have a knighthood bestowed on him, all without a murmur of protest from the magistracy or the capitalist Press. Not that the Austrian Baron is a criminal, but, after all, he does belong to a thoroughly undesirable class, the class which lives on property incomes—that is, by the sweat of the brows of the working-class. To the clear-sighted worker the capitalist class are all undesirables, no matter where they originate.

The problem is, of course, obscured by arguments about unemployment. We are asked if we want foreign workers to take jobs away from British workers, and on the surface it looks like a reasonable point of view. Actually it is baseless. It is true that if an Italian waiter comes to London he may get a job in preference to a British waiter, just as hundreds of thousands of British workers have in the past managed to get jobs in America and many other foreign countries. But unemployment in the mass is not caused by the size of the population and does not increase because the population is increased, whether by births or by immigration. Capitalism everywhere normally has its unemployed, no matter what the population figures may be. If unemployment disappeared, then the workers would be able to demand more wages, and this would reduce profits to the vanishing point. Unemployment is, therefore, a capitalist necessity. The capitalist himself deliberately creates it by installing labour-displacing machinery in the effort to keep costs down and profits up.

The truth is that capitalism to-day is an anti-social arrangement and produces anti-social ideas, even contradictory ones. Human beings intelligently carrying on the production of wealth for all to consume would welcome additional willing hands, quite apart from the natural desire to give refuge to the persecuted. Instead, the competitive struggle arising out of capitalism makes the worker shun his foreign fellow-workers in distress, and makes him welcome the wealthy idlers born at home or abroad who consume the wealth produced by the working-class without giving any help in the process of production.

As for contradictory ideas born of capitalist economic contradictions we see the very newspapers and public men who are now crying out about the falling birth rate and consequent decline of population opposing the entry of able-bodied, industrious refugee whose numbers would help to arrest the decline.

A few years ago these same people—before the scientists got busy on population trends—were preaching smaller families as a way to get rid of unemployment. Now they first forget the unemployment and demand larger families, then remember the unemployment again as a reason for keeping out the poor refugees (but not the Baron Franckensteins). 

A Ghost of the Past (1938)

From the September 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

As a propagandist, the present writer has recently met with some violent abuse from Communists when referring to the changing policies of the Communist Party. The abuse has often reached the point of accusing the S.P.G.B. and its speakers of deliberate lying and even of fabricating evidence of the Communist Party's past hostility to the Labour Party. A case in point which provokes Communists to accuse us of lying is reference to a statement made in 1930 by Mr. H. Pollitt, which encouraged Communists to break up Labour meetings. Mr. Pollitt's statement is so often denied at our meetings that there can be no harm in reproducing it. It appeared in The Daily Worker on January 29th, 1930, and reads: —
"A Labour meeting should not be allowed to be held anywhere. This will bring us into conflict with the Authorities, but must be done. The Daily Worker will lead the revolutionary workers boldly and openly against this Government of scoundrels and agents of capitalism."
Perhaps, quite naturally, in view of the Communist Party's present genteel drawing-room methods of wooing the Labour Party, any evidence of its apostasy is likely to arouse hatred.
Sammy Cash

Material World: No Peace in the Pacific (2015)

The Material World Column from the September 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard

After Costa Rica’s civil war in 1948, Jose Figueres, the then president of Costa Rica, abolished the army, took a sledgehammer and began the demolition of the nation's military headquarters. That fundamental decision was enshrined in the 1949 Constitution. To this day, Costa Rica has no army, navy or air force, no heavy weapons of any kind but instead they have the Fuerza Pública (Public Force) responsible for law enforcement and border patrol.  

On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. After its defeat in World War Two, Japan, as an act of remorse at its previous expansionist aggression, declared in the country’s post-war constitution’s Article 9, that the Japanese people ‘forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes’ and thus restricted the Japanese military, known as the Self-Defence Forces, to engage only in self-defence. It meant that a large and technologically advanced state could not engage in any collective alliances or coalitions aiding friendly countries under attack, principally the United States or its proxy forces such as the Philippines. In the mounting tensions of the Chinese territorial claims to much of the South China Sea and its numerous islands, the full military potential of Japan requires to be deployed to protect or acquire whatever rich resources the region possesses.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants Japan's armed forces to join in military activities abroad and actively assist allies. Abe’s right-wing nationalism has created suspicion among many that it would lead a country that has long embraced pacifism into war again. The Abe government has yet to offer a full and unconditional apology for past aggression and atrocities committed by previous Japanese militarism during its period of colonisation. Abe seeks to ‘normalise’ the Japanese armed forces’ role in foreign policy and he defends the bills creating a more muscular military by saying they ‘are not for engaging in wars’ but are a deterrent to ‘prevent war.’ He has argued that the bills will allow Japan to better defend its allies under the United Nation’s collective self-defence doctrine, which allows for ‘individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs.’  He describes this by the oxymoronic term, ‘proactive pacifism’ and hopes it will draw the Japanese people away from their anti-war sentiments.

Normally, amending the Constitution would require two-thirds approval in both houses of Parliament, followed by a national referendum. Abe has circumvented that process by having his government declare a reinterpretation of the Constitution and then following up a package of eleven security-related bills which, unlike a formal constitutional change, requires only a majority vote and there is no referendum. A recent survey by Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed only 26 percent support the legislation that will enable Japan's Self-Defense Forces to engage in wars overseas. 56 percent of those polled expressed opposition.

Many countries try to bamboozle us with Orwellian language. America’s ‘Department of War’, a more truthful name, thought it wiser to re-name itself ‘Department of Defense’. Israel describes its military as a ‘Defence Force’, and by doing so, hopes it explains away the occupation of and the offensive actions against Palestinians. Wars are now called ‘peace-keeping’ missions or ‘humanitarian’ interventions.

The Socialist Party has always held that the menace of war cannot be done away with and will always loom over us while its cause, the capitalist system, remains. Modern war is really an extension of business when the economic rivalries between the vying national sections of the capitalist class can no longer be peacefully resolved or controlled. The Japanese people are to be applauded for the stand they have taken against wars of aggression. However, the realities of diplomacy and nationalism mean that the capitalist class will protect their interests in whatever way they can … and perhaps the reason their armies are called ‘defence’ forces is that they exist to defend the ruling class. It would be encouraging if all nations could follow in the steps of Costa Rica but sadly it won’t happen.  While we have capitalism we cannot have stability. Always new crises will occur and new sources of conflict will appear over markets, the sources of raw material and geo-political strategic points. Seeing the world as it really is, we know that we shall have wars because the capitalist basis for them remains.

Remember! (1915)

From the December 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard
Surely we will remember. When the time
Of reparation comes, as come it must,
We will remember many an age and clime,
Many a life down-trodden in the dust;
The Negroes bent and broken by the whip,
The Chinese children bought and sold in shame,
The white girl held in prostitution's grip,
The white man free in nothing but in name.
We will remember those who died in vain
To quench a nation's blood-thirst; all the scorn,
Indignities and insults that we bore.
And you, our masters, you, our curse and bane,
Shall bear a tithe of what we slaves have borne
Ere gladly you forget for evermore.
F. J. Webb