Saturday, January 14, 2017

Juvenile Crime (1967)

From The Changing Face of Crime series from the January 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The reformers of past years thought that as such evils as child labour and starvation in the streets abated so crime, especially amongst the young, would diminish.

Some twenty years of relatively full employment should therefore show a marked decline in all forms of crime by different age groups.

Yet we find such evidence as this, extracted from The Home Office Criminal Statistics 1963 England and Wales.

These figures are in fact a source of controversy, especially as they only include the solved crimes. The amount unsolved is much higher although one person can commit many crimes.

About ninety per cent of all crime involves property, even if violence is used. The reasons given for the problem of juvenile crime are varied enough and must be so, as the subject is studied in different areas and at varying times.

Burt & Bagot found, as a result of their surveys in poor depressed areas, that the delinquents lived in standards below civilized requirements. Morris and Jones surveyed new housing estates and rather declaimed the effects of slum conditions. John Baron Mays points out that crime is a group activity indulged in a petty way by children generally. Poor home and social conditions where discipline is low and needs great hardens and develops this. Other groups are by no means immune as our society has strong anti-social trends. He claims that crime arises out of the normal routine of daily life. Durkheim argued that a low crime rate means society suffers from some form of dominant social evil or condition, hence greater delinquency means an economic boom. The Glueck investigation found no evidence of marked poor health in young delinquents whilst others have stressed the contrary. Edwin Sutherland stressed that most cases arise from social factors, subculture patterns and the law-breakers’ inadequate personalities. Talcott Parsons regards delinquents as being deviationists mentally retarded in various ways,

Out of this mass of evidence, which appears confusing and contradictory and in fact is, the effect of the manifold faults in our society and the pressure on people is clearly stated. The point that escapes the notice of the expert is that the various aspects they consider to be important factors in the moulding of the young delinquent are all facets of capitalist society.

No doubt children coming from the environment and raised under the care of very poor parents, as described in Collis & Poole’s work These Our Children, are very much victims of their immediate conditions. In spite of this, capitalism with its army of wage workers has flung up. and indeed found it necessary to create, slum houses and slum mentalities. The cases under review are therefore products of some generations of wage slavery carefully nurtured in poverty and ignorance. What of the delinquent who comes from the new housing estates or a nice “respectable” area? We find that in some of these homes the urge to acquire goods and to ensure a status is often at its strongest. Parents sometimes work long hours as the mortgage cannot be deferred like the old fashioned tally man and so the home never becomes a place where one really belongs. The teenager, now established as a wage earner and therefore a consumer, is very much under pressure from new trends in taste and consumption. Thus we get a coincidence of the break-down of home life and a realisation of belonging to a specific age group. The teenager have become well implanted with the concept that they are in some subtle way different from others, their needs and aspirations on a level that is different from the rest of society. Often the delinquent emerges as a social organisation — the Gang, or Mods and Rockers. They are a substitute for failure and must produce by force their own roots. They need inter-gang warfare, damage and vandalism and the Police to hate as a means of perverse social expression. Some often from higher wage bracket homes fall even lower and sink to drug addiction and that peculiar form of modern voluntary vagrancy or sturdy beggars referred to as beatniks.

Our society is riddled with graft, fiddling and place seeking and must remain so in a world of buying and selling. It does not require much pushing to acquire a car by swiping the ignition keys instead of working long hours overtime. We should not make the mistake of thinking the bulk of criminals wax very fat on their misdeeds. They are working class, steal from workers and end their days on what used to be called National Assistance. Like the wealth of capitalism, only a handful amass the millions from a big tickle like the Train Robbery.

Deep emotional conflicts probably do play an important part in many delinquents’ make up but capitalism finds a way out for it as well as often being the major cause. It is so well summed up by Terrence Morris; here is a summary of his words: The competitive society has something of the compulsory game. We are all forced to play and penalized if we do not achieve some success. The delinquent is the person who, unable to win, has sneaked around the back or turned aggressively against other competitors (Listener 4.639).

Mass production of drugs for sale has now made a pill-conscious society. It is not a far step for the unscrupulous to move into an untapped narcotics market, the customers are there ready and willing. It is a fine, business-like thing to sell bombs and flame throwers in order to realise a profit, then why should society be so shocked if someone sells heroin for the same reason?

Finally, if the theories are correct the growth of unemployment under the Labour Government should see a decline in Britain’s crime wave. It is typical of capitalism, that it “solves” one problem by replacing it with another.
Jack Law

The Definition of War Aims (1939)

Editorial from the November 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Prime Minister has been urged by the Labour Party and others to give a more precise definition of British war aims because so far his statements have been largely in the form of generalised pronouncements about destroying Hitlerism and redeeming Europe “from the perpetual and recurring fear of German aggression” (House of Commons, September 3rd and 20th). Already, however, the swift movement of events has shown one reason why the British Government maintains (as it also did in 1914) a cautious attitude lest it be committed to some course of action which would fail to fit in with changing situations. Had it announced, for example, that it would wage war against all aggressors the Russian entry into Poland and the Russian terms forced on the Baltic countries would have necessitated a declaration of war against Russia. Undoubtedly it is true, as Mr. Lloyd George maintains, that the Russo-German Pact and Russia’s subsequent expansion have created a different situation, but to that situation there are strongly divergent reactions observable in different quarters. Mr. Lloyd George and his supporters consider that an international conference now would be a very different proposition from Munich, and that Germany’s powers of aggressive action have now probably been curbed by Russia’s strengthened position.

Another group appear to hold the view that Russia’s dominance is at least as much of a menace as a help. They observe Russia pushing westwards in Europe and the Baltic, south-westwards into the Balkans, south towards the Persian Gulf, and east into China. The Daily Mail (October 19th, 1939) quotes “a high Finnish authority” as saying: —
Moscow realises . . . that Britain has huge interests in Scandinavia, with which Russia would have to count if she expanded farther west.
From Turkey (Daily Mail, October 24th) come reports of Russian pressure on Turkey for the handing over of territory which prior to 1920 was in Russian Armenia, the ultimate aim of this move being to secure “a warm seaport in the Persian Gulf.”

From Japanese sources (repudiated by the Communists) come statements about Russian troop concentrations in the Chinese provinces of Sinkiang, Inner Mongolia, and in North-Western China, and demands made on the Chinese Government directed towards increasing Russian influence in China (Daily Herald, October 21st).

It does not need stressing that Russian expansion in these various directions would present serious problems for British imperial and trading interests, in China, in India, the Persian Gulf and. the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as in Scandinavia.

The realisation of this (obviously a factor always in the mind of the Foreign Office) has induced a number of people to toy with the idea of “switching the war,” to use a phrase coined by one newspaper.

Thus on September 27th the Times published a letter suggesting that British propaganda should be concentrated on the effort to bring home to the German people the results of the Pact with Russia, then realising the situation, the German people would sweep away the Nazis, reconstitute Western Poland, “and seek an agreement with Britain, France, Italy and Spain for the defence of European civilisation.”

Other pointers in the same direction are Mr. Duff Cooper’s prediction of a military-monarchist revolt against Hitler; General Franco’s statement in an interview that, “Germany should be a sufficiently strong and solid barrier to oppose against Europe’s orientation towards the political and social aims of great and expanding Russia,” and that “it is essential to procure and make peace as soon as possible ” (Daily Telegraph, October 4th); Marshal Balbo’s revived campaign against Bolshevism in his Italian newspaper (News Chronicle, October 12th); and, of course, the French suppression of the Communist Party.

Another significant circumstance has been the obvious uneasiness in various quarters lest Germany should “go Bolshevik” and enter into close alliance with Russia. In the Times of September 30th a special correspondent points out that: —
The bloc between a Soviet Russia and a Nazi Germainy, which is likely to represent a very uncertain alliance, seems less to be feared than a bloc between a Soviet Russia and a Soviet Germany, which would follow a Bolshevist revolution in the latter country.
“Herein,” lie says, “would seem to lie the greatest danger to the Western Powers,” the danger that Russia will seek to prolong the war between the Allies and Germany until Hitlerism collapses and is replaced by a Bolshevik Government.

Another influential group thinking on similar lines is to be found in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Herald for example (October 20th), in an article by the Editor, remarks on the danger that a prolonged war “would in effect gravely imperil the very ends at which we aim,” and draws the following distinction between Nazism and Bolshevism:—
“Our view is that Nazism, while likely under stress to become more and more like Bolshevism, can still, under favourable circumstances, remain European, Fascist, and even be leavened by the 50 million Catholics and the faithful Protestants of the Reich.”
(The above remarks are, it is true, made in parenthesis, but their significance in relation to the proclaimed purpose of resisting the Soviet menace is obvious.)

As against these views tending towards the idea of reaching a settlement with a non-Hitler German Government, is the attitude of the Evening Standard, which stresses the fact that Russian expansion in Poland has been achieved “without losing even the goodwill of Hitler’s deadly enemies ” (i.e., England and France) (Evening Standard, October 23rd). The Evening Standard strongly warns its readers against paying attention “to those who invite us to embroil ourselves with Russia because of their secret wish that we should withdraw from our battle with Nazism ” (Evening Standard, October 14th).

What will be the outcome of these divergent tendencies cannot be predicted with any precision because, among other reasons, military considerations, dictated by the war itself, and the need for allies even at a price, may over-ride non-military factors. It is, however, certain that the situation facing the British and French Governments is a complex one and, consequently, other developments are possible besides the simple pursuit of the war until victory is achieved.

It is equally certain that the achievement of the Premier’s aims of abolishing “Hitlerism” and stopping German aggression in Europe will leave the British Government with quite a lot of other problems vital to them awaiting solution, problems related to other Powers besides Germany.

And, above all, when those and other capitalist problems have been solved the lot of the workers in all countries will remain essentially what it was before 1914 and what it is to-day. The workers’ supreme task of abolishing capitalism (and with it war) will remain before them.

Socialism Has Not Abandoned its Aims (1939)

From the October 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard


The Socialist Party of Great Britain has always had to challenge and denounce the avowed enemies of Socialism and the self-styled friends of Socialism who attached the name Socialism to the varied forms of State capitalism. The anti-Socialist parties and Press, often for reasons of their own, but sometimes out of pure ignorance, helped on the work of misrepresentation by describing as “Socialist” the Labour Party, the Co-operative Movement, Nazi Germany, and Bolshevist Russia. Now, with the transition from peace to war, the misrepresentation increases in volume. We read in the Daily Telegraph (September 20th) that “the Mineworkers' Federation of Great Britain has subscribed £5,000 to the funds of the Socialist Party,” meaning, of course, the Labour Party. We read in the Newbury Weekly News (September 14th) that Mr. Lewis Davison, prospective candidate of the Labour Party, speaking in the name of Socialists, declared that they "want only the destruction of Fascism.” We find the Manchester Guardian, in an editorial (September 18th), denouncing what they believe to be the foreign policy of the Russian Government, and saying, "It would not be a pretty policy for the first Socialist State. . . .”

Then, Mr. Duff Cooper, writing in the Evening Standard (September 19th), under the heading, "Two Breeds of Bolshevism,” goes much further. Though he admits that he "consistently advocated an agreement with Russia,” he has this to say about Nazism and Bolshevism, and their recent Pact: —
   In these columns I have more than once referred to the possibility of such an alliance; and the conclusion of it is indeed the most natural thing in the world, because there is no fundamental difference between the creeds of Moscow and Berlin.
    These two breeds of Bolshevism are fundamentally akin. Both are historically revolutionary, both are admittedly socialistic, both seek to break away from all ties with the past, to abolish all class distinction, to destroy all old traditions, and both are bitterly anti-Christian.
    Where they differ the Russian brand is indeed the less ignoble of the two, the German is the more efficient.
    The Communism of Karl Marx does in theory, if not in practice, aim at international peace and good will. It envisages a world in which all men shall be equal both in status and in wealth and in which all nations shall be friends.
     No such dreams haunt the baser imagination of the Nazi. He, while rejecting Christianity, has returned to the primitive tribal paganism of his barbarous ancestors. He has no faith in humanity but only in a particular branch of it out of which he has created an idol, unknown to ethnical science, whom he calls the Nordic man and whom he worships.
    The higher ideals of Communism won’t work, and the Bolsheviks of Moscow have long abandoned them. 
He recalls the difficulty the Allied Governments had in the last war in being friends of the Czar’s Government and at the same time claiming to support democracy, and adds : —
    As a result of the events of these past three weeks that difficulty, at least, exists no longer. The Powers of Evil are now united. National Socialism and International Socialism are at one. The two Governments that base their systems upon robbery, torture and murder are marching together. The anti-Christian and anti-God forces are in step.
     There can surely be no conference or compromise with the Stalin-Hitler front, which now presents itself naked and unashamed before the horrified eyes of the civilised world.
(We may remark in parenthesis that, just as the pseudo-Socialists had no great difficulty in stomaching Czarism in 1914, so we have little doubt that, with a new turn in international affairs, Mr. Duff Cooper may again have to consider accepting a Russian alliance against Germany.)

As Socialists, we are concerned to defend the name of Socialism. Let us, then, reiterate that the Socialist Party of Great Britain never has and never will lend itself to the pretence that something else than Socialism is "just as good.” We have never worked for or defended State capitalism, whether as advocated by the reformist parties in this country or as practised by the Nazis and Bolsheviks in Germany and Russia. We have never been prepared to pretend that Czarism or Bolshevism were democratic; we have never glossed over the brutalities of those two systems. We have always held that Socialism is, in its nature, democratic and international. We have never been prepared to compromise those views. In war, as in peace, we repudiate the false friends and avowed enemies of Socialism who seek to associate Socialism with various forms of capitalism and capitalism’s wars.

Mr. Duff Cooper can take it from us that “international Socialism” is not at one with Nazism or with Labourism, or British-French imperialism, or with the Bolshevist survival of the imperialism of the Czars. And in saying this we do not have to perform adroit feats of word-swallowing.

Socialists, now as always, stand for Socialism.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Churches versus Socialism (1942)

Editorial from the August 1942 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is a stirring in the ranks of the Churchmen. They are interesting themselves in social problems. They are, or so we are told, coming nearer to Socialism, or at least they are being “enlightened” and “progressive” and adopting “advanced” social reforms. For proof we are referred to the recent declaration by the Catholic Archbishops and to the Archbishop of York’s Conference at Malvern. Where then do the Churches stand to the major issue of our age, the struggle between Capitalism and Socialism? Do they fight with Socialists for the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and distribution and for the ending of the class system under which human labour-power is a commodity bought and sold? Or do they stand openly for capitalism? Truth to tell, they don’t do either. They are definitely and flatly against Socialism, but they never avow themselves frankly supporters of capitalism. Instead, they dwell on the need for fine sounding remedies for the “abuses” of capitalism. Like 19th century defenders of slavery in the British Empire and the U.S.A. who wanted slavery to be retained but wanted the slaveowners to be “just” and “kind” to their slaves, these Christian social reformers abhor the idea of abolishing Capitalist wage-slavery but they earnestly desire that it should be run according to modified rules. They side with the workers against “unjust” capitalists, but ever so much more they side with the capitalists against workers who want to abolish capitalism. Is this an unfair criticism? Let their own words give the answer.

The Catholic Church gave its answer in the Encyclical “Rerum Novarum” issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 (published in translation under the title “The Condition of the Working Classes,” by the Catholic Truth Society, price 6d.). It is open in .its hostility towards Socialism on the ground that the abolition of private ownership “is manifestly against justice. For every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own” (page 14), and that Socialists would “strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his stock and of bettering his condition in life ” (pages 13 and 14).

It would seem a sufficient Socialist answer to this to point out that capitalism also must be “manifestly against justice” since it prevents the mass of workers, whether in Catholic or Protestant countries, from possessing any property worth mentioning. Socialism, by making the means of production the common property will for the first time enable all the community to have personal possessions in useful amount.

The Encyclical envisages the continuance of the class division of society, rich and poor, and of the system of wage-labour, but (in the words of the sub-titles) “Class should help class,” “The rich must help the poor” (but not so much that the rich man is thus prevented from being able “to keep up becomingly his condition, in life” page 25), but "The poor must accept their lot.” 

That was in 1891, but it still stands as the official view, and lest there be any doubt about it Pope Pius XI, in 1931, issued a further Encyclical which affirmed that “no one can be at one and the same time a good Catholic and a true Socialist” (Manchester Guardian, May 18th, 1931). This led to some controversy, as it was awkward for those Labour Party supporters who proclaimed their doctrines to be Socialism, and led to an explanation by Father Henry Day, S.J., reported as follows in the Daily Telegraph (May 25th, 1931):—
Father Day said that it must be taken literally, and applied to every recognised form of Socialism . . . . The fundamental and necessary opposition between Catholicism and Socialism lay in the assertion by the one and the denial by the other of the right of individual property in capital. If this was grasped it would be clear that a good Catholic could not be a true Socialist.
Father Day ended with a special reference to Sir James Sexton, M.P., who had defended his membership of the Labour Party:—
Nationalisation of railways and mines was outside the question. If the politics of Sir James Sexton and the British Labour Party were confined to such measures, neither he nor they had any right to the title of Socialist. 
More recently the Catholic Church issued a pastoral letter signed by Cardinal Hinsley and the Catholic Archbishops of Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff (Times, June 22nd, 1942). Regarded as a programme for reforming capitalism, it bears interesting comparison with such documents as the I.L.P. Living Income Programme issued some years ago. It includes a proposal for a living wage (amount not stated) which should be a first charge on industry, enabling a family not only to live a moderately comfortable life, but also to save. According to the Manchester Guardian (June 22nd, 1942) it provides also that if the employer cannot afford this minimum wage the difference should be made up by the whole industry or by the State. It would take us beyond the scope of this article to deal with the objections to this and other such proposals, but it may be conceded that in its intention it is at least superior to those family allowance schemes which propose allowances for children but overlook the possibility of wages generally being reduced and so wiping out the effect of the allowances.'

What, however, we are concerned with here is that the whole document deals only with the so-called abuses of capitalism and wage slavery, and does not admit the case against the system. It says that Christianity will not tolerate attacks on the dignity of man caused by unemployment and “the necessity of selling labour for less than a just wage”—but is prepared to tolerate the basic indignity of man having to sell his labour power at all!

Similarly with the Malvern Conference Report of the Church of England (published as “Life of the Church and the order of Society,” Industrial Christian Fellowship, 2d.), it holds, like the Catholic Church, that “property is necessary to fulness of personal life; all citizens should be enabled to hold such property as contributes to moral independence and spiritual freedom,” but again, like the Catholic Church, is fails to show how the mass of the population can ever reach that state while the means of production and distribution are privately owned by the capitalist class. All it concedes (and this again is in line with Catholic views), is that “where the rights of property conflict with the establishment of social justice or the general social welfare, those rights should be overridden, modified, or, if need be, abolished.” (Page 9.)

Why this evasion of what is the major issue? Had the delegates at the Malvern Conference never heard of the Socialist contention that private ownership of the means of production, etc., is against the general social welfare? Where then do they stand on the question? Are they for or against the Socialist view? If they are against it what exactly is their case for private ownership of other than personal articles? Subsequently, in conjunction with representatives of the Catholic Church and the Free Church Federal Council, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a supplementary statement of five points, the first being " Extreme inequality in wealth and possessions should be abolished."

Here again we see the evasive nature of their proposals; they are all things to all men. They are not against capitalism but against some features of it. They do not set out to disprove the Socialist contention that the riches of the rich are the cause of the poverty of the poor. They do not come down flatly for capitalism, which engenders riches and poverty, or for Socialism, which will abolish both rich and poor and inaugurate a classless society, but they sit on the fence and boldly proclaim the empty intention of ending “extreme inequality” but without defining what they regard as extreme. All but the multi millionaires will heartily approve and even they will concede that some reduction of their possessions will be a small price to pay for keeping the remainder.

So much for the politically-minded Bishops. We may conclude with a brief reference to a Church-minded politician. President Roosevelt. On “United Nations Day” he ended a broadcast with a Prayer which dealt with victory in the war and reconstruction after it, and contained one passage interesting chiefly because of what it did not say:—
   Grant us brotherhood in hope and union, not only for the space of this biller war. but for the days to come, which shall and must unite all the children of the earth.
  Our earth it but a small star in the great universe, yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, and undivided by senseless distinctions of race, colour or theory. ("Daily Express," June 16th.)
Notice the significant omission of any reference to the one thing that deeply divides every nation on the earth, the division into a propertied class and a property, lets class, out of which arises all the bitterness of class struggle. It is a cardinal fact, not a theory; but it is not mentioned. Like the Churches, the President hopes for the removal of the theories which spring from the fact of class divided society—but not the removal of the class basis. Like them he is not for Socialism but against it.

Bolshevism and the Russian Peasants (1924)

From the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the early days of the Bolshevik regime, when we were giving Bolsheviks full credit for the magnificent efforts they were making on behalf of the working class, we met with violent abuse from many 100 per cent. revolutionaries, who, fresh from supporting the war, had just discovered that Kerensky whom they hailed was no better than President Wilson whom they hailed before him.

They were unable to understand that it is not wise, nor even helpful, to credit men with actions which are in the nature of the case impossible. We said then that, with the best will in the world, the Bolsheviks could not establish Socialism in Russia; certain other things they could do and did do. In particular we said that the peasants, the great majority, did not understand Socialism, and did not want it. It was also quite apparent that nothing fundamental could be done without their consent.

The Soviet Government was, of course, concentrating on Socialist propaganda, but apart from the fact that the most definite want felt by the peasants was satisfied by the acquisition of land, the Bolsheviks were also faced with the difficulty of reaching people who in the main could not read.

This enormous obstacle was airily disposed of by our critics, and we were often assured that the Bolsheviks had done in a few months what could not be done in this country by years of persistent propaganda.

It is, therefore, of interest to learn just how much has really been accomplished. The following extract is from a report of a recent congress on “The Peasant Press” contained in Russian Information and Review (January 12th, 1924):—
“Throughout the R.S.F.S.R. there are only 32 regional peasant newspapers, with a circulation of 115,000; 39 county newspapers, with a circulation of 50,000: and the Moscow Bicdnota, with a circulation- of 45,000.”
Thus, after 6 years of State aided propaganda, only 1 peasant household out of every 100 takes a copy of a newspaper.

Hopes are entertained that by 1925 this circulation can be multiplied 10 times, so that 1 household in 10 will receive a copy.

Consideration of these figures will show what work has to be done and how incredibly foolish were those who in 1917 and 1918 [who] believed that the establishment of Socialism in Russia was even imminent. 
Edgar Hardcastle