Thursday, November 2, 2017

Notes by the Way: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1940)

The Notes by the Way column from the September 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
"One thing which has struck deeply on English and American imagination in connection with the French "revolution of Vichy” is the disappearance of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ” from the “motto" of the French Government. But what is the origin of those words? It is generally supposed that they were invented for the first French Revolution of 1789, but this does not seem to be the case. Bodley, in a note to his “ France," points out that the words seem to have come from London, not Paris, and from Montesquieu, not from the revolutionaries. Montesquieu wrote from England in 1729, sixty years before the Revolution, “A Londres Liberté et Egalité."

The next step is the coat-of-arms of the Museum of Bordeaux engraved in 1783, also before the Revolution, in which the “Liberté, Egalité" are engraved, in honour, it is conjectured, of Montesquieu. The only word of the three belonging entirely to the Revolution was Fraternity, and that came late, during the Terror.”—(Manchester Guardian, July 13th, 1940.)

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Mr. Herbert Morrison
(From a speech at the National Trade Union Club, July 25th.)
"What he hoped we might be beginning to shape upon the anvil of war was our own particular British form of co-operative society, a free partnership of freely active groups in which there was no room for mutual attempts at exploitation or for sharply differing levels of social and economic opportunity Such an ideal would be found practicable if the spirit of unity, the sense of common purpose bred in us by our common danger and by the stimulus of war, could be continued in our approach to the tasks of reconstruction and re-creation which await us later on.
They might say: “This is all very fine and Utopian, but are you not mistaking a set of wartime expedients for the beginnings of a new social order?” He thought not. During the past three or four years the British people had been through a crammer’s course in political education both at home and abroad, and he did not think it likely that they could forget lessons learned so bitterly and under such intense pressure. He believed the great majority of people know that to allow ourselves to drift back into the sort of world out of which this war sprang would mean defeat even if it followed upon a show of military victory.”— (Times, July 26th, 1940.)
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Early Use of the Word Socialism 
The Manchester Guardian (August 3rd, 1940) reproduces a passage from the Liverpool Mail of 100 years earlier (August 1st, 1840): —
  At the present moment the sick lion of England is kicked most courageously by every foreign and homebred jackass; while his keeper, in a fit of drunkenness, or dancing with the Socialists, is utterly incapable of rendering the noble animal the slightest assistance.
According to Thomas Kirkup (“A History of Socialism" (1920, page 3) ) “the word ‘Socialism’ appears to have been first used in The Poor Man's Guardian in 1833. In 1835 a society, which received the grandiloquent name of the Association of all Classes of all Nations, was founded under the auspices of Robert Owen; and the words socialist and socialism became current during the discussions which arose in connection with it.”

* * * * *

Red Braid
It was announced in Moscow yesterday, says Reuter, that Soviet generals are to wear braid and gold buttons “in order to increase the effectiveness of the Red Army."—(Sunday Express, July 21st, 1940.)

* * * * *

“A powerful group of German industrialists is in the Argentine planning to resume commercial relations as soon as the war is over. The group is prepared to be pro-Nazi or anti-Nazi whichever is appropriate when the time comes.—Sunday Express, May 12th, 1940.) "

* * * * *

Thinner Bus Tickets
Owing to the war-time scarcity of paper and the need to conserve supplies the London Passenger Transport Board thought of the idea of asking travellers to take care of their tickets, refrain from screwing them up or tearing them, and deposit them in the box at the back of the bus so that they could be used again for the manufacture of paper. After a few weeks they thought of a more ingenious scheme. They decided to save nearly 500 tons of paper a year by cutting the tickets thinner.

As we live in a world where money is the medium to express relationships between buyer and seller and the L.P.T.B. is a profit-making organisation, it did not occur to them that if there is a dire shortage of paper the direct and simple way of saving paper would have been to dispense with tickets altogether. We invite the Board to think it over.

* * * * *

The Cap that Doesn't Fit, or What Price Independence?
(A reader sends us the following passages, all from articles in the same issue of “World News and Views," No. 31, August 3rd, 1940. The title of the article and the name of the writer is given at the end of each quotation.)
  “The task to-day is to mobilize and build up, to give organisation and leadership to the mass awakening and developing mass movement, such as can alone enable it to realise its aims. For this task of leadership the Communist Party is indispensable. The rapid strengthening of the Communist Party is imperative.
   “ ‘For the proletariat to be strong enough to conquer on the day of decision, it is necessary, and this view Marx and I have upheld since 1847, that it should form its own party, separated from all others and opposed to them, a class-conscious class-party.'
 “(Engels to Trier, December 18th, 1889.)” 
  (Twentieth Anniversary of the Communist Party of Great Britain.R. Palme Dutt.)
  “On looking back over these last twenty years, it is really impressive to note the sincere and systematic efforts which the Communist Party has made in endeavouring to secure an understanding with the Labour Party. Not only in regard to repeated applications for affiliation of the Communist Party to the Labour Party, but in the suggestions and proposals for forms of united action and co-operation during every one of the important political situations and crises that have taken place in these last twenty years."
(The Communist Party and the Labour Party. —Harry Pollitt.)
  (Incidentally! “The path of the Labour Party is revealed as a false path, leading to misery, massacre and enslavement"—Twentieth Anniversary, etc.—R. Palme Dutt) 
   “In almost every statement of our Party policy, at every Congress of the Party, the burning need for uniting the forces of all who were for peace and against war, reaction and Fascism has occupied a foremost place." (The Communist Party and Peace.—William Gallacher, M.P.)
   “Saklatvala was elected to Parliament on two occasions—in 1922 and 1924—when he stood as a Labour Candidate with the support of the North Battersea Labour Party and the Battersea Trades and Labour Council." (The Communist Party and Parliament.—William Rust.)
* * * * * 

The “Daily Worker ” writes about its Former Hero
There was a time when the British Communists were showing towards Trotsky the blind and extravagant hero worship they now bestow on Stalin. Even as late as 1925 when Trotsky was already on the blacklist (having just resigned from his post as chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Russian Government) the Workers’ Weekly, was still able to refrain from the worst extremes of prejudice in its estimate of his work. In its issue of January 23rd, 1925, it published an article containing the following:—
  "Trotsky entered the Party in July, 1917, and went through the November Revolution side by side with Lenin. During the next three years he made a great name for himself in history, and did splendid service to the Revolution as organiser and inspirer of the Red Army."
But by 1940, writing on Trotsky's assassination the Daily Worker (August 23rd, 1940) can descend to publishing an article with the title “A Counter Revolutionary Gangster Passes," written by J. R. Campbell. The article manages to sketch Trotsky's life without ever mentioning his work in the Russian Government.

According to the Star (August 24th, 1940) the Moscow “Pravda" delivered itself of the following:—
  Under the heading “Death of an International Spy," "Pravda," organ of the Russian Communist party, to-day discloses to its readers the "inglorious end" of Trotsky.
  Trotsky is accused of having planned the assassination of Lenin and Stalin as early as 1918 and organised the murder of Gorki, Kuibyshev and Kirov.
   Trotsky, adds "Pravda," finally fell a victim to his own weapon.
  Finally, "Pravda" alleges that Trotsky was a paid agent of the British, French, German and Japanese secret services. 
“Great men " do not make history but some little men certainly know how to write, (and rewrite), it.

* * * * *

Fares in London and Fares in Glasgow
While numerous trade union and labour bodies, including the Labour-controlled London County Council are protesting in London against the proposed 7½% increase of railway fares the Labour-controlled Council in Glasgow is again raising the fares on the Corporation Buses—which just shows the tangle Labour organisations get themselves into when they try to administer the capitalist system. The Glasgow Forward (August 10th, 1940) publishes an article explaining and defending the increase of bus fares. It contains a startling argument that deserves to be placed on record. The writer of the article ("Knight Watchman") explains that costs, including wage costs, have been rising but income from fares has not kept pace.

He continues :—
  "Some months ago a new schedule of fares was established to take care of the deficit that was then at £800,000 and still mounting higher.
  At that time I thought the advances were too modest and would merely compel the Corporation to come back again for more. As a political tactic to take two bites at the unpopular cherry of fare increases is the worst possible."
After pointing out that the present increase will still probably not be the last he makes the following observations:—
  "Why the transport committee cannot submit to the public a schedule of fares that will meet all the costs of running the service, without those annoying slight increases every so often, I can’t imagine. Socialists have never stood for a cheap service in transport or anything else.
   We have always stood for an adequate service, properly manned on decent wage levels with track and rolling stock in good serviceable condition, paying its way by levying charges that would cover all the costs.
    These pettifogging annoyances of periodical increases ought to stop."
The above needs no further comment except the obvious one that someday “Knight Watchman" will stumble on the astounding truth that Socialists do not stand for cheap capitalism or dear capitalism but for Socialism. Let us hope that the shock will not be too much for him.

* * * * *

“Communism” at 4%
The following is from the Manchester Guardian (July 2nd, 1940).
  "A Soviet Government loan of 8,000,000,000 roubles 'for financing economic and cultural construction under the third Five-year Plan and for strengthening the defences of the Soviet Union’ was launched in Moscow yesterday. The loan will be for twenty years and will carry 4 per cent, interest."
Edgar Hardcastle

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

World News and Views was a Communist journal focussing on world events.