Thursday, November 2, 2017

What They Say About Socialism (1940)

Editorial from the October 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard

It might have been expected that the war would have helped to disabuse people’s minds of some of the grossest forms of ignorance concerning the nature of Socialism and its utter incompatibility with forms of dictatorship-capitalism such as those in Germany and Italy. Yet we still see writers who claim to be well- informed perpetrating the old falsehoods.

Miss Margaret Cole, writing in the Tribune (August 30th, 1940), about the modernising of Turkey under the late Kemal Ataturk, credits him with seeing the need “to establish the amount of ‘totalitarianism’ or 'Socialism’—call it what you will—which is imperative to the twentieth century." 

“This necessity,” she says, ‘‘has been demonstrated in Italy, Germany and Russia; under stress of war it is being demonstrated in this country and in France. . ."

Miss Cole claims to be a Socialist and the Tribune claims to be a Socialist journal, yet they can tell their readers that “totalitarianism” and “Socialism” are much alike, merely a matter of names!

Then in the Sunday Express (August 18th, 1940), an article on the Nazi Leader, Dr. Ley, says that if Germany won the war "Ley would go down in history as the greatest Socialist of the new and greater Germany.”

The Sunday Express's offence is rather less than that of the Tribune, for they do not pretend to be supporters of Socialism.

It was, of course, Mr. Bernard Shaw who set the fashion in recent years of calling Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin Socialists, though now in the Daily Express (September 24th, 1940), he is telling how to defeat the first two whom he describes as “upstart autocrats.” This is a far cry from his former praise of them.

The latest discovery is that the Germans in Guernsey have introduced “State Socialism” (whatever that term is supposed to mean) since they occupied it in June. “State Socialism,” says a Daily Mail reporter after interviewing Guernsey refugees, "was introduced in Guernsey from the start, and everybody was compelled to work.”— (Daily Mail, September 27th, 1940.)
  Earnings are restricted and are paid by the State. The normal pay for a single man is 30s. a week. A married man gets 38s., with a few shillings extra for each child.
  Foremen and employers of labour receive 2s. a week above the flat rates.
Of course what makes the Daily Mail reporter think this is “Socialism” is the fact that wages are all paid by the State. If he has been listening to Labour Party propaganda over a period of years he may be excused for his ignorance of what Socialism really is.

But let us say once more that Socialism does not mean that wages are paid by the State instead of by the employer. It means a system of society in which there is no wages system at all.

It is people like the Labour Party who have fostered these erroneous notions of Socialism. What they really mean is “State Capitalism.”

On the present occasion, although the Daily Mail, the Times and other papers agree in calling the Nazi scheme in Guernsey “State Socialism,” the Daily Herald refrains from giving it a name. It is rather late in the day for the Herald to repent its past misuse of the term Socialism.

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