Sunday, August 6, 2017

Anti-Truth (1911)

From the September 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

A not uncertain test of a book's worth is the interval that elapses between its publication and its relegation to the second-hand bookstall. Hardly had the world been startled by the announcement of the appearance of "The Superstition called Socialism,” when I observed a copy in a dealer’s box. Taking advantage of the proprietor's amiability, I sampled at random the choice pearls of thought that are scattered throughout the work. Curious at seeing Kropotkin's name in the index of a book dealing with Socialism, I turned to page 108 and read :
   “With that glorious revolutionary enthusiasm which inflamed the souls of our ancestors, let them wish to stab all tyrants there and then.” 
This, from Kropotkin the meek, seemed, to say the least, curious, so I took an early opportunity of perusing his “Appeal to the Young” —the authority quoted—in order to verify.

A careful perusal revealed the astonishing fact that the sentence quoted appears nowhere in Kropotkin’s work, but is made up of two distinct fragments of sentences occurring pages apart.

On page 15 (Kerr & Co.’s edition) Kropotkin reminds schoolteachers that:
   ‘‘This very day your favourite pupil . . .  recited the story of William Tell with so much vigour! His eyes sparkled; he seemed to wish to stab all tyrants there and then; he gave with such fire the passionate lines of Schiller.”
On page 23 Kropotkin invites poets, sculptors, painters and musicians to “fire the hearts of our youth with that revolutionary enthusiasm which inflamed the souls of our ancestors."

So the cunning Tunzelmann has to resort to the filthy practice of piecing together separate and unconnected utterances, and trotting the resulting patchwork out as an authorative statement. The mean and paltry shifts to which the “Anties” have been reduced in order to manufacture their alleged arguments have been long known to us. Their reluctance to and avoidance of debate; their dodging and wriggling out of questions; their garbled and incomplete statistics, are all phases with which we have become acquainted. To this must now be added the lie deliberate. Tunzelmann’s own explanation would be interesting. The incident is of importance as showing that the “Anties” are in a pretty bad way. We can safely assume that the methods of Ananias must be particularly commendable to those whose stock of truth is slender. We are given to understand that the “Anties” contemplate the publication of a new edition of the Bible (edited by Tunzelmann) in which, by a judicious re-arrangement of the text and a general bringing up to date, we shall read that 'What shall I do to be saved?” should be answered "Sell all that thou hast and give to the Anti Socialist Union.” We shall be exhorted to consider "What shall it profit a man if he gain his own soul and lose the rent of a block of slums?” It will include "Blessed are ye who grind the faces of the poor.” "Blessed are the bloodthirsty, they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you for working them 18 hours a day for 17s. 3d per week. Rejoice! and load up with ball cartridge, and blow them into the middle of next week, for so persecuted they the slavedrivers which were before you.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall he trampled upon.” ; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they make jolly fine wage slaves.” "Blessed are they who handle truth very carelessly, apply for a job at the A.S.U."

Obituary: John Jahreis (1911)

Obituary from the October 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

With great regret we learn of death the our old comrade, John Jahreis. Many years ago our late comrade joined the S.D.F., but finally he came to see the capitalist nature of that organisation. and he therefore threw in his lot with the S.P.G.B.

Despite his 62 years and his indifferent health, Comrade Jahries was an ever-willing and strenuous worker in the cause he loved so well, and our Paddington Branch keenly feel his loss. He had a bitter struggle to gain a livelihood, but, undaunted, worked for Socialism right up to the very end.

We extend our sincere sympathy to his sorrowing wife and children, now left to struggle alone.

Woe to the Vanquished. (1911)

From the November 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

Evidently the capitalist class were convinced of one thing by the railway men’s strike, and that is that under the present conciliation scheme the long, dreary delays in dealing— or pretending to deal —with matters in dispute gave a good excuse for a strike. Hence the appointment of the Royal Commission to investigate the workings of that scheme and to report changes with a view to the prompt and satisfactory settlement of differences, directly the men had been swindled over the strike and persuaded to return to work by their treacherous leaders.

This commission has, after examining a number of witnesses, issued its Report, and the most satisfactory result has been the derision and repudiation by numbers of the men of this document, signed though it is by Arthur Henderson, “Labour” M.P., as chief decoy duck for the Liberal party.

The examination of the witnesses threw a lurid light upon the work Mr. Henderson had in hand. Every witness from the men’s side was pressed by this sycophant to state or agree with some scheme that would keep the men from striking, no matter what conditions were in dispute or how long the “arbitration" was in reaching a settlement.

In summing up the evidence from the men’s side the report says :
  “Complaint is made that where advantages accrued to the men by the agreements arrived at by the Boards, or the awards of arbitrators, these advantages were counterbalanced, or altogether taken away by changes in the 'management.' The chief instances given are the reclassification of grades, the employment of men in a lower grade to discharge the duties of men in a higher grade, adjustment of hours of duty so that Sunday rates of wages and overtime are avoided, and, where hours of labour were shortened, the arrangement of hours of going on and coming off duty in a way that spread the period of duty over a greater number of hours.”

To this the employers replied that “the changes in matters of management which the men allege deprive them of the benefits granted by awards, were not carried out with that object.” (Italics ours.)

Here we see that it is not even attempted to deny the men’s statement, but only the motive for such actions.

Yet in spite of this the Commission says :
   “We think that with their great responsibilities the companies cannot, and should not be expected to, permit, any intervention between them and their men on the subjects of discipline and management."
No wonder their Report met with the derision of the men when the most vital questions are to be left entirely in the hands of the employers for settlement!

The suggested amendments to the 1907 Conciliation Scheme are worthy of notice.

The Central Boards are to be abolished. The Sectional Boards are to be retained. But the latter are to have a chairman selected from a panel to be constituted by the Board of Trade. If the Sectional Board does not agree upon a name from this panel, the Board of Trade selects one. His powers and decisions are peculiar. The Boards are to meet twice a year, but a special meeting may be asked for by either side to be held in fourteen days. Should a difference arise as to the date or necessity of holding such special meeting, the chairman’s decision settles the matter.

If the two sides of the Board fail to reach an agreement the chairman gives a decision!
   “Settlements arrived at by agreement between the two sides of a Conciliation Board shall have effect for at least twelve months." 
But —
    “Settlements by decision of the chairman of a Board shall have effect for at least two years.”

And as before, no meeting be held during August or September, except by mutual consent.

Here we see how the official representative of the capitalist class—the chairman—has enormous powers in ending any dispute that arises and so deprive the men of the old excuse of delays.

In all essentials the scheme will work more rapidly and strike its blows in greater number than before. The men have not yet gained a single essential point they did not possess before, while the companies’ interests are more rigidly safeguarded under the swifter moving machinery now available.
Jack Fitzgerald

Soap. (1911)

From the December 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

When I hear of the master class advocating better conditions and higher wages for the worker, as a Socialist I am naturally suspicious. For instance : “If we are to have trade and commerce we must look upon the worker as a brother" savours of a consummation much desired by certain (mis)leaders of the working class.

The above quotation is from a speech delivered by Sir W. H. Lever, on the occasion of his presentation of Rivington Hall to the town of Bolton recently.

Personally, Sir William may have great faith in the efficacy of soap — for more reasons than one — but his partiality for the “soft" variety is easily seen. He has employed it on various occasions with more or less success.

“A man who has worked all through the day at an employment which, compared with ours as employers, is monotonous and wearing, wants more opportunities of elevating himself, and if he doesn’t get them sinks to the level of a machine . . . Low wages mean insufficient food and clothing, child labour and low intelligence, and with a low intelligence we can never have the power to withstand the competition of other nations."

There you have it! The cat is out!

It is the fear of foreign competition that alarms him ; fear that some brother shark might snatch some of the trade that he is "entitled to." For after all it is a case of big robber and little robber. The bigger the trade the bigger the spoils. It is himself and his shareholders he is thinking about, and not the condition of the workers — at least, only to the extent that their “bettered" condition will be of benefit to himself. As a capitalist he seeks slaves who are productive, for is it not cheaper to have a worker who is “fit" than one who is underfed and worn out? Mr. Lever has probably discovered that "well paid" workers pay the best.

But what is it that prevents the worker from having “more opportunities of elevating himself"? What factor is it that tends to push the worker below the level of a machine?

Simply this. That the means of producing the necessaries of life are held by the class of which Mr. Lever is a representative. Whether the worker is engaged in making soap or shrouds he is dominated by the machine. It is the control of the machine, and therefore of the product, that is responsible for the modern capitalist: and the robbery of the workers is its inevitable result.

It means that Mr. Lever and his class stand in the way. When the workers acquire sufficient sense to kick them out, then they will have a chance to “elevate" themselves. That's all.
Tom Sala

Editorial: Profit and Public Service (1958)

Editorial from the January 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the tragedies of misplaced enthusiasm and wasted effort has been the campaign for nationalisation. The earliest advocates could be divided into two groups, those who thought that State concerns are more efficient than private companies and who had no interest in anything else; and those who wanted to replace capitalism by Socialism and who thought that the centralised organisation of State industries would make it easier to introduce Socialism. The latter (Keir Hardie, for example) did not think there was any other merit in nationalisation. They did not think that it was itself Socialism or that it would benefit the workers.

But that was a long while ago. Since then the idea got around that nationalisation would be good for the workers and a good vote-catcher for Labour candidates. And this slipped imperceptibly into the idea that nationalisation is Socialism and would solve all problems. It was supposed to be based on the principle of “public service” not profit.

Now we have seen the nationalised undertakings in operation under laws passed by the Labour Government. We see them being run on methods hardly distinguishable from those of any large private company. The law requires them all to be run to make a profit, so the nationalised Railways close down branch lines which do not pay, ignoring the inconvenience and hardship caused to the load population; fares, coal prices, electricity and gas, etc., charges, are raised just like other prices. Workers' wage claims are resisted, strikes occur, and from time to time miners and others are prosecuted for breach of contract.

Disappointed about this, some workers have thought that the trouble is due to having the wrong people in control of the nationalised industries, not recognising that whoever is in control the Nationalisation Acts impose the same obligation to make a profit

A recent example is the ex-miner Sir James Bowman, Chairman of the National Coal Board. In evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee he complained that the Board is in an ambiguous position in that their freedom of commercial action is limited by obligations placed on them by the Government. In particular, the Board is prevented from selling coal at the higher prices they think they could get if given a free hand. He said:—
    "It would not be a bad thing if you were just to say to the Coal Board—and how I would welcome it!—'From now on you are free to act as a commercial concern.' Then I think, we might be able to show some different results,
    “But full employment might suffer, and British industry would not be subsidised with the price of coal at the level it is at the moment, compared with what we can get abroad."
(Daily Telegraph, 30/11/57.)
He added that if given a free hand the Board could show “tremendous profits.” It all comes back to the elementary truth that you cannot have Socialist industries under capitalism. Sir J. Bowman is a man doing the job required of him, making the Coal Board a profitable, State capitalist concern.

No other method is possible under capitalism: the assumed alternative of running the industry at continuous heavy losses would merely lead to a demand either for reorganisation, so that profit would be made or a demand for selling back to private companies.

Going in for nationalisation, in the belief that it would be a step to Socialism, was a false move. It has not achieved anything. It never had the support of the Socialist Party. 

Bank of England Swindle (1958)

From the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Shabby "Tribune" Stunt
Professional politicians put over so many impudent stunts, made possible by the short memories of the electors, that they understandably grow careless and expect to get away with murder. But surely they cannot perpetrate the same swindle twice in a dozen years? It seems that Tribune, “Labour’s Independent Weekly,” is confident that they can. Its stunt at the end of 1957 was to launch a campaign for the next Labour Government to “take over the Bank of England.” Its issue of 20th December, 1957, carried the bold, front-page headline: “Let’s Nationalise the Bank of England!” with the sub-heading: “You thought we had done it already? You were wrong.”

Who Led the Workers Up the Garden?
As a fact, of course, the Bank was nationalised in 1946 by the Labour Government's “Bank of England Act.” So when Tribune comes along now and pretends that it wasn’t, it is a piece of trickery, designed to cover up the blatant failure of nationalisation to make any difference to the workers. The nationalised Bank is no more popular with the voters than was its privately-owned predecessor under Montague Norman, and Tribune is trying to lay the blame for the failure of Nationalisation on other shoulders. But the responsibility rests squarely on the Labour Party, including the group behind Tribune, who, as M.P.s or Ministers, fully supported that Act in 1946. It was they who told us what a fine thing it was going to be; an instalment of Socialism, they said. It was they who spoke and voted for the Act and later boasted of its “success” when they fought the next election in 1950. Bevan and Mikardo were two of those who voted for the Act, and neither they nor any others got up, in the House or outside, to say that it was a fraud and would not make a ha’porth of difference to the workers—that was left to the S.P.G.B. to say.

It is only now that Tribune, in effect, admits that the Act changed nothing.

Then the story was different. Typical claims made by Labour Ministers and M.P.s (backed by the Tribune group) were that the Act had given the Government “undivided control ”; which was said to be “helping the Government to maintain full employment and to further economic recovery” (Labour Party, Speakers' Handbook, 1949-50, page 115). And: “The Bank is another industry under public ownership which is both serving the national interest and paying its way.”

When the Act for Nationalisation was being voted in Parliament the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dalton, rapturously declared that “it is a model It will, in due course, make a streamlined Socialist Statute” (House of Commons Report, 29th October, 1945).

"Tribune's" Charges
To the thoughtless reader who has forgotten what happened when the Bank was nationalised Tribune's slashing charges may make convincing reading. How telling for Tribune to point out that only one of the 18 directors “comes from the trade union movement”; that 15 of them went to those “well-known nurseries of privilege,” Winchester, Marlborough, Rugby and Wellington; that “ten of the eighteen spend only a small part of their time at Threadneedle Street. The rest is devoted to running some of Britain's most powerful industrial and financial groups.” And is it not true, as Tribune says, that these, part-time directors, “are bound to think and act as businessmen and there is' plenty of doubt whether what is good for capitalism is good for Britain.”?

Tribune (20/12/57) publishes the photon of ten of these part-time directors of the Bank with the caption: “They’re all Bank of England directors and City men!”

Fine virile stuff, you think ? But it is less than half of the full story. Let us now look at the rest

What "Tribune” Keeps Dark
Of course it does not really matter whether the men in charge of a capitalist institution came from the coal mine and the elementary school or from Eton and Winchester, but Tribune now pretends that it does and the innocent reader may think that the selection of men from those public schools is a nasty Tory plot. But Mr. Dalton, who piloted the Nationalisation Act through the Commons went to Eton, and one of Winchester’s proud sons is Mr. Gaitskell, present leader of the Labour Party, whom Tribune will be supporting at the next election. And who is responsible for many of the directors being part-timers (as if that mattered either)? The answer is that the provision for part-time directors is in the 1946 Act that the Tribune group then supported. And is it true that ten of them have other business and banking interests? Sure it is, but so it was when the Labour Government (including the Tribune's idols) appointed the court of governors in the years 1946-1951. Seven of the men now named by Tribune (L. J. Cadbury, Sir John Hanbury-Williams, Basil Sanderson, Geoffrey Eley, Lord Kindersley, Michael Babington Smith and Sir Charles Hambro) were actually appointed directors in the first place by the Labour Government—supported by Tribune. So that everything that Tribune lists as items in the present spurious campaign about the Bank of England was true also in 1946-1951 when Tribune was backing the Nationalisation Act and the Labour Government that carried it through. The only change is that then they were promising what great "socialist” benefits it would bring and now the voters don't believe this any more.

Trick in Preparation for the Next Election
Tribune now declares that control of the Bank of England is not in the hands of the Government but is “kept in the hands of a formidable team representing the Minority rent, interest and profit class.” They say this is intolerable and must be put right; presumably at the next election.

As we have already pointed out, the existing arrangements were created by the Tribune group and the rest of the Labour Party.

But the deception has another angle too. The Labour candidates and M.P.s who backed Tribune, fought the 1950 General Election on the Labour Party Declaration of Policy called “Let Us Win Through Together." It contained the following clause :-
  “Finance must be the servant and not the master of employment policy. Public ownership of the Bank of England has enabled the Government to control monetary policy. Subject to the will of Parliament, we shall take whatever measures may be required to control financial forces, so as to maintain full employment and promote the welfare of the nation.”
So Tribune were telling the electors in 1950 that the nationalisation of the Bank of England, already five years old, had “enabled the Government to control monetary policy.” Now they say that control is really in the hands of a group of capitalists, yet this very group were put there, as directors of the Bank, by Tribune's political friends! And the Labour Government, returned again to power in 1950, kept the same arrangements in being. Now Tribune says that the Bank of England is “run by the same old crowd as before,” that is by the crowd they put in control! Could humbug go further?

Bits of Socialism
When the Labour Government nationalised the Bank of England the S.P.G.B. stated that it was no concern of the workers and nothing to do with Socialism. Tribune, of course, was telling a different tale. Now Tribune largely admits the truth of what we said :-
  “What has actually happened provides a classic illustration of the failure which follows from the attempt to insert a small element of Socialism into institutions left in capitalist hands—the very doctrine since revived by the Labour Party Executive in Industry and Society. The small dose of Socialism is quickly swallowed up in the capitalist mass and nothing is changed.”
Of course as a statement of principle this is true, you cannot insert bits of socialism into capitalism, but for Tribune to say so is humbug. They were believers in that futility in 1946, are in favour of it now, and will be asking the workers to vote for it (and for the ex-Winchester leader of the Labour Party) when the next election comes.

What is more, the Tribune writer takes care to let us know that when he talks about Socialism it is with his tongue in his cheek. If he were a Socialist he would know that Socialism will have no use whatever for the financial banking, and currency machinery of capitalism, including its central organ the Bank of England. Yet the forefront of his demand on the next Labour Government is that it shall make the directors full-time instead of part-time; as if the difference between the capitalism that we have and the Socialism socialists want, is a question of the number of directorships capitalists shall hold.

If Tribune were interested in Socialism it would know that the way the Bank of England is owned, controlled and administered is a concern of the capitalist not of the workers, but Tribune couldn’t care less.

Here's hoping that at least some of Tribune's readers have long memories.
Edgar Hardcastle

Moonshine and Satellites (1958)

From the March 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is now evident that the science-fiction stories of yesterday are becoming the realities of today. Man is now literally “reaching for the stars” even though his feet still remain embedded in the mire of archaic institutions. Can it be that nauseated, malnourished and diseased—as it is—Humanity feels that its only salvation lies in the vastness of outer space? Does the cold, impersonality of the twinkling Firmament suggest that somewhere. Earth’s children will find ultimate rest on some plane different from that of their native element? This, if it is the case, savours somewhat of the idealistic religious philosophies with which man has sustained himself throughout the ages of his painful conquest of physical environment. Some, there are, who do, indeed, find solace in the constant stretching of the sinews of science out and beyond the confines of Earth for the above-mentioned reasons. This is of course a naive as well as a dangerous outlook.

We agree that it is in man’s nature as a thinking animal that he should continue to drag his way, relentlessly forward avoiding here, overcoming there, moving at an irregular pace, sometimes crawling, sometimes plunging—always with courage—towards some goal which some day will satisfy his dignity. This is no mere speculation. History is the story of the tortuous caravansery of human progress; the countless mirages that have beckoned only to deceive; the countless pitfalls dug with the tools of ignorance. It is a tale of leaders and the leadership cult: The Moses and the Moguls. Popes and Princes and all the fakirs and financiers that ever were. It is the tale of the primitive creature laboriously shaping his piece of stone and the gradual birth of the aesthetic. It is the mural winding its way back through time depicting courage, and above all concern for one’s own kind, the individual and the tribe. It is an examination of what goes to make up the fabric of total existence.

We feel that we must raise our small voice at this juncture. In an age of, among other things, the big lie we ask our readers to pause and think. It is easy to be carried away by the romance of the red satellite and to be over-awed by the destructive force of the hydrogen bomb (both the home and away variety). It is indeed easier for us to stop thinking altogether—to allow others to do it for us. On the other hand, if we are not content that this shall be the age of the last historian, the utter finality of reason the supreme violation of nature and human life, we, the vast majority, must cry “cease.” We must recognise the true nature of what is going on. Divorced of romanticism, we should realise that the various agents of world capitalism have reached the stage of being no longer able to disagree in the old-fashioned way, i.e., to compete with each other at the expense of wars that can be conducted with some degree of assurance; a kind of war where all is not lost apart from the loss of life for which due preparation and allowance is made. The fact now is, that capitalism has resolved itself into large power groups with the Russian and American orbits the most powerful. The next step is, obviously, to find ways and means whereby one or the other is to assume complete control of the world. The answer appears to be that this can be done by means of devices of which the inter-Continental rocket and the artificial earth satellite are the fore-runners.

It is perfectly obvious that Capitalism is not imbued with the romantic ideals that so many workers have regarding the experiments now going on to conquer outer space. Trips to the moon may sound thrilling enough to some people. Capitalism is far more “down to earth” than they give it credit for.

In the meantime we urge fellow members of the working class to see this politic moonshine in its true light and to do a little prospecting on their own account. This old planet of ours is far from finished despite the maltreatment handed out to it of late.

There are plenty of conquests to be made here and now. e.g., disease, poverty, ignorance and subjection. The rub is. that they will never be vanquished by any form of space warfare other than complete destruction of the human race. Our task may not sound as interesting as the work now going on to master space. Never-the-less it is the most important job facing the world’s people at the present time. It is the eradication of Capitalism itself—and we need not go to the moon or anywhere else to do this job.
W. Brain

Party News Briefs (1958)

Party News from the April 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

A last minute reminder that Conference is being held at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 4th, 5th and 6th, Fuller details elsewhere in this issue.

The Social Committee is making special arrangements to see that the Social and Dance being held on the Saturday shall be successful. It remains for comrades to bring friends along and arrive early so that full benefit shall be had from the Dance and Social. It is a few years now since we could say that this annual event was really what it ought to be, and with this in mind the Social Committee is “going all-out” to see that everyone has a really happy evening. A social is also being held on the Friday at Head Office. This commences about 8 o'clock and there will be refreshments available for all. These gatherings at Head Office are a good opportunity for London and Provincial Comrades to have an informal social evening after the first day of the Conference.

Ealing Branch. The winter series of lectures and discussions has come to an end, and the preparations for Annual Conference have been the main concern over the past few weeks. It is hoped, however, to run one discussion per month during the summer period when ordinary Branch business tends to fall off.

Preliminary plans have been made for a special propaganda effort when the by-election is definitely declared in Ealing South. Special meetings, indoor and outdoor, will be held and a special drive to sell literature by canvassing and at our opponents' meetings will also be carried out.

A visit was made to the London Museum on 2nd March and was very much enjoyed. There was the usual successful social at a member’s home in the evening.

Will all members please note that the Branch outing this year is to Eastbourne on Sunday, 22nd June. There has been a very quick response for tickets and there are now only a few left. Members requiring seats are therefore asked to apply immediately, otherwise they will be disappointed. The price of the seats is 12s. 6d.

L.C.C. Election at Hackney. Members of Hackney Branch welcome the assistance of comrades in the forthcoming Council elections which take place on April 16th. Meetings to be held are advertised in this issue and there is plenty of other work to be done, particularly during the first two weeks of the month. Members should attend at the Election Headquarters, 56, Weymouth Terrace, E.2, on any weekday evening from 7 p.m.

Socialist Standard. The Central Literature Committee is now very well organised and with the opening of the Summer Outdoor season, it is hoped that members will co-operate more than ever to see that the circulation of the Standard increases. If every member made even a little more effort, the Committee are sure that sales will increase. We cannot all be speakers and writers, but everyone can be a "seller,” and what better medium to sell than the Socialist Standard.
Phyllis Howard

Aldermaston (Easter 1958) (1958)

Aldermaston March 1958.
From the May 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Text of leaflet distributed to demonstrators on the march 

This Demonstration is evidence of the strong feeling throughout the country. We share your revulsion that the threat of nuclear weapons has aroused against the Hydrogen Bomb and are fully aware of its devastating consequences. But we disagree with the manner of your protest, which we hold is basically unsound and can only prove ineffective.

Mere emotion, however passionately directed against the horror of war, does not prevent war. Effective protest and action demands both an understanding of the cause of war and a practical idea of how war can be prevented.

The cause of war today is the capitalist organisation of society, a society based on the private ownership of the means of life and on production of goods and services to make a profit. Capitalism creates ruling groups who constantly struggle with each other for control of the wealth of the world. Governments represent the interest of these ruling groups. Their conflicts are economic ones: the competition for markets, the race for sources of raw material, the mastery of strategic positions.

Russia, with its state-controlled capitalism, is no less involved in this sordid business than are the U.S.A. and Great Britain.

Governments cannot be moved to disarm by appeals to their humanity. History shows to the contrary that governments always prepare for war, that the horrific consequences of war do not minimise the likelihood of war, and that “agreements” between governments are no guarantee of peace.
  Effective protest against nuclear weapons demands protest against the whole monstrosity of war.    The abolition of war tan only be effected by the reorganisation of human society.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain in its pamphlet on war states: 
    “War can solve no working class problem. It cuts across the fundamental identity of interest of the workers of the world, setting sections of this class at enmity with each other in the interests of sections of the capitalist class. 
     “War elevates force into the position of arbiter in place of the common human desire for mutual peace and happiness. Its effect is wholly evil. It depraves all the participants by forcing them to concentrate upon the best methods of producing misery and of annihilating each other. 
    "War elevates lying, cheating, disabling and murdering opponents into virtues, confers distinctions upon those who practise these means most successfully.  
    “Young men and women, in their most impressionable years, have the vile methods of warfare impressed upon them so thoroughly that they lose a balanced outlook on life and are impregnated with the idea that force, with all its baseness, and not reason, is the final solution in all problems. 
   “Socialism is completely opposed to war and to what war represents. At the same time it is the only solution to the conditions that breed war. It is a new form of society in which the people of the world will work harmoniously together for their mutual benefit, for there will be neither privilege nor property to cause enmity. 
   “No coercion will be needed in Socialism because each will gain from co-operating harmoniously with his fellows. But it is a new social system that demands understanding of its implications from those who seek to establish it. 
    “With the establishment of Socialism war will disappear and humanity will have taken the first step out of the jungle.”

Editorial: The Liberal Revival (1958)

Editorial from the June 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The managers of the Tory and Labour Parties, during the past year, have had to endure a nagging worry of a kind they both thought had gone for ever, the revival of the Liberal vote. To make it worse they see that it has happened not because voters particularly like the Liberals, but because the voters in increasing numbers have had a lively urge to register their dislike of Labour and Tory.

The suffering Labour and Tory leaders, as if by agreement, jeered at the Liberals for having no policy, until Lord Rea, Liberal Leader in the House of Lords, undertook to tell the readers of the Daily Telegraph (18th March, 1958) what that policy is.

He did not make a very good job of it for, like the spokesmen of the two big rival parties, he had the delicate task of steering between the fault of saying too little to please anyone and the risk of saying too much and scaring off some potential voters. In this country, with wage and salary earners making up nine-tenths of the electorate, competition for their votes is a tricky business and the three parties have given much thought to working out the best tactics. What has evolved is the situation in which the Tory, Liberal and Labour parties each has a list of vague general principles, and the three lists are almost identical, except for small differences of emphasis. Thus they all say they are working for Peace, Disarmament, low prices, high wages, and making everybody happy, and all declare themselves to be not a class party, but a party of the nation. In practice, this means that the Labour Party thinks it can depend on the confuted support of the bulk of organised industrial workers and therefore concentrates its attention on getting additional votes from outside that area. So in its 1950 Election Manifesto it declared:—
  “We appeal to manual workers—skilled, semi-skilled and so-called unskilled; farmers and agricultural workers; active and able managers and administrators in industry and the public services; professional workers, technicians and scientists; and housewives and women workers of all kinds."
The Tories, on the other hand, being strongly represented among clerical and professional workers, as well as among farmers and property owners, hopes to make headway among the better paid skilled workers. Mr. T. E Utley, writing on “ What is a Tory? ” in the Daily Telegraph (24th October, 1957) laid down the tactic and its application:

Holding that “any political party tends at any moment to draw its most assured support from a particular social class," he went on to define the new recruits wooed by the Tory Party propagandists as the "skilled worker on the up and up,” meaning the man with a TV set, a motor cycle, some money in the Savings Bank. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph (8th May, 1958), Mr. Colm Brogan put it more fully: "The Conservative party ought to stand openly as the guardian of the middle class, and affirm that the whole nation needs a contorted and expanding middle class. . . .  The Conservative party should set its free like flint against inflation, which bears such special harshness on the large army of thrifty workers who have their savings in cash or fixed interest stocks.”

How can the Liberals break in?
This is the situation facing the Liberals. They see the Labour and Tory parties well dug in on their respective fields and trying to entice over the floating voters in no-man’s land. The only way for the Liberals to hope to break in is to attack both the other parties and try to detach lukewarm supporters. So Lord Rea in his article had to make as much as he could of the case that Liberalism is different from Toryism and Labourism, not just in respect of practical measures, but in principle. He did this by claiming that Liberalism is "much more of a philosophy and a faith than a set of rules made to benefit one section of society at the expense of another section. . . . That is why its supporters are a cross section of every social class and of every income bracket . . .  people who do not join a party for what they personally can get out of it”

Then Lord Rea came down to practical questions and told his readers that what the Liberals aim to do is to cut taxation drastically, mainly by cutting armament expenditure; give the workers an incentive to work harder by having a share of profits or by owning shares in companies; curbing the monopolistic trade associations of manufacturers and the trade unions; giving the individual protection against having his property and his freedom infringed by the State; resist Labour Party nationalisation schemes; and generally to safeguard us all against the hidebound extremists in the Tory and Labour parties.

The Question of Capitalism
When we look for Liberal and Tory and Labour views on the basic question of the class-divided capitalist social system in which we live we find, under wordy phrases that indicate differences between the parties, what is in fact an almost identical outlook. The Liberals want to keep capitalism but modify it by letting the worker share in profits. The Tories frankly accept the class division: -
   "He [the Tory] seeks peace and justice by harmonising contending interests with each other rather than by nursing the dream of a society altogether free from conflict and friction.”—(Daily Telegraph, 24th October, 1957.)
At the time of writing the failure of the Tory government to harmonise contending class interests has been glaringly exhibited in the strike of bus workers and the threatened strikes of railwaymen and others; events which also demonstrate the idle dream of the Labour Party that nationalisation would bring peace to industry.

We had 50 years of Liberalism
In March the Liberal Leader, Jo Grimond told a young Liberal mass meeting that what Britain needs is 50 years of Liberalism. In spite of their youth there is nothing to prevent them from learning from their history books that between 1834 and 1916 we did in fact have fifty years of Liberal government, and that it left this country in the same sorry mess that it had been left by Tory governments and was later on to be left by Labour governments.

When we, as Socialists, examine the records of government by the three parties, separately and in coalitions, we are reinforced in our conviction that the only solution is the one sneered at by the Tory writer, and rejected alike by Liberal and Labour, the “dream of a society altogether free from conflict and friction”—a Socialist world.

“Juvenile Delinquents” Again! (1958)

From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

That section of working class youth, which it has become popular to describe as “Juvenile Delinquents” is once more in the news. A leading article entitled “Lawlessness and the Family” appeared in the Yorkshire Post of March 27th, expressing concern at the increase in “crimes of violence," said to be more than four times as high in 1956 as in 1938: “Not something which a community which cares for its future health can afford to ignore." The article asked the Government:—
  “Is there something in the nature of the society we have built up which encourages a light regard for morals or a weakening sense of responsibility?”
Here the editor has stumbled blindly across a situation his own paper has helped to create! Founded as the Leeds Intelligence on July 2nd, 1754, this organ of commercial influence has thus for over 200 years been supporting a buying and selling system of society with its luxury and palaces for the few, but misery, poverty, squalor, slum hovels and “dead end kids” for the masses, together with the wanton destruction of wealth in the military field—all of which is inseparable from a capitalist exploitative system.

Now—54 years after the Socialist Standard began its work of exposing the nature of capitalist society, the Yorkshire Post is timidly asking a question which was answered in 1904! We'll say there’s “something in the nature” of the society they’ve built up—and that “something” is the misery and poverty of the mass of humanity in relation to the wealth socially produced, but confiscated by a minority—the capitalist class. When the Yorkshire Post talks glibly about “a community which cares for its future health"— how does it reconcile this with its own support of the capitalistic malaise of mental and physical suffering, which as we have already pointed out is inseparable from a commercial system?

The environment and conditions of life of the millions of workers are anything but conducive to a happy, harmonious existence. Far from it! Sunless narrow streets of living quarters called homes, from which many are glad to escape to the factory! Blitzed sites of rubble as “playgrounds," “bread and marge" and “fish and chips” as food, shoddy clothes and footwear to combat a damp, foggy climate in winter.

In addition to all this there is the domestic strife due to cramped accommodation (the writer himself a victim) or a 9d. bus ride away, the onerous task of “Keeping up with the Jones’ ” on a “shoe string income."

Seeking to strengthen its “case” against “the evil in men’s hearts ” the Post calls to its aid a “star performer," Sir Hartley Shawcross. “ Time and again in cases of juvenile offenders,” said Sir Hartley yesterday, “one sees that the real offence lies in the home." Following Sir Hartley comes the chairman of the Middlesex Sessions, Mr. Ewen Montagu. “In many cases it is the parents who should be in the dock.” Not a word, mark you—of environment and conditions of poverty by these “leading citizens” of capitalism, who choose to ignore the real cause.

When men like Shawcross participate in the administration of the capitalist “Justice” of which they are so proud, it brings to mind, those memorable words of Burns:—
“Oh wad some power
The giftie gie us
To see oursels
As others see us.”
For what could be more hypocritical than to exploit the majority of mankind by dispossessing them of their real social inheritance—the crystalised labour power of their own and their forefathers’ human energy in its present form of a “vast accumulation of commodities”: hedge round this wealth with state powers of police, etc., and when any of the dispossessed attempt to retrieve a small portion thereof—clap them in “prisons” with a fanfare of trumpets, as they parade their “Goddess” of “Justice" before the eyes of a bewildered populace!

This much vaunted “Justice” of theirs rests on the slogan: “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” concealing as it does the robbery of those who produce, but do not possess. Even under present conditions, lest any “Juvenile Delinquents” be kidded into a feeling of biological inferiority by Shawcross in the Yorkshire Post, we remind them of Oscar Wilde’s words: “It is safer to beg than to steal, but it is finer to take than to beg.”

Much more important, we remind them that as Socialists we stand for the abolition of the wages system, together with the one-sided “Justice” it supports.

When this is achieved, the chains will fall simultaneously from the whole mass of suffering humanity and there will be no further cause for “Juvenile Delinquents” or for that matter, “Magistrates” sitting in “judgment” over them.

Socialism alone can foster the harmonious and brotherly behaviour of mankind which lies dormant in all of us, awaiting the freedom of expression and fulfillment that will accrue once the revolution has been accomplished.

To that end, we call on our fellow members of the working class to stop voting for the continuity of capitalism and “get moving in OUR direction"—on the “MAIN LINE” to SOCIALISM.
G. R. Russell

Labour Party Drops Land Nationalisation (1958)

Editorial from the August 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The most important feature of the Labour Party’s new programme for Agriculture is something it does not say, but which was disclosed at a Press conference, conducted by Mr. Tom Williams, M.P., Minister for Agriculture in the last Labour Government.

Mr. Williams is reported by the Daily Herald to have told the newspapermen:—
“ Land nationalisation is not now a part of Labour’s agricultural policy.” (Daily Herald, July 7th, 1959.)
So instead of frightening voters by Nationalisation the Labour Party prefers to woo the farmers with subsidies and guaranteed prices, and woo the landworkers by the minimum wage.

But the Party may not get away with this as easily as Mr. Williams did, for there are many Labour Party supporters who still think that nationalisation is what the Labour Party ought to want. Tribune (11th July, 1958) is so angry that it called the new agricultural policy “The worst Labour Policy Yet”

What incensed Tribune particularly was that the National Farmers’ Union welcomed the policy, and the Times (7th July, 1957) made things worse by being unable to find any particular difference between Tory policy on agriculture and Labour policy:— 

"How far does Labour policy on agriculture differ from the Conservative?” asked the Times and answered its own question:—
    "The impression given by the new statement ‘Prosper the Plough,' is that in most practical respects their policy is almost the same, but less astringent.”
The Financial Times (7th July) was disappointed with the Labour Party document, but conceded that it should please the farmers “because it seems to foreshadow bigger subsidies for everyone.”

“Pleasing the farmers” is, of course, one of the purposes of the pamphlet, because, as the Manchester Guardian points out, the Labour Party sets “high hopes on winning some of the marginal rural seats away from the Conservatives and is anxious to avoid giving serious offence to the farmers.”

Tribune and other last ditchers for nationalisation can certainly quote ancient authority for their belief. In 1891 the T.U.C. passed one of its many resolutions in favour of land nationalisation, and added the suggestion that it should be made a test question at the next general election.

And in the Labour Party’s earlier agricultural programme, The Labour Party and the Countryside (published in the early nineteen twenties) was the categorical declaration:—
    "For the Labour Party, the substitution of public for private ownership in the land . . . underlies, in principle, all its specific proposals.”
Agriculture, because of the large numbers of working farmers who employ few or no workers outside their own family, has always been a difficult problem for the Labour Parties of the world. In line with trade union tradition one group demanded that the Labour Parties should back the wage-earning landworker against his employer, the farmer; but others wanted to try to win over the farmers, large and small, to support the Labour Party programme. After all, there are very large numbers of farmers and they all have votes, and, as the Russian government has found, they are extremely difficult to win away from their traditional habits and their desire to own, or at least to occupy, a parcel of land they could treat as their own, and they do not want to become employees on State farms or tenants of the State landlord.

For Socialists there is no particular problem. It is a hard task to educate the town workers away from support of Capitalism and reform of Capitalism, over to an understanding of Socialism.

It is not noticeably more difficult to win over landworkers and peasant farmers to Socialism. When they can be got to consider the question they all will see that land nationalisation leads nowhere and that Socialism alone offers them the means to use the land, without financial hindrance, to supply the food needs of the human race, and at the same time enable them to enjoy, along with everyone else, all the amenities social production in field and factory can provide.

"We have been here before!" (1958)

By Clifford Harper.
From the September 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard
   "If I had kept a diary for the last twenty-four years and inscribed in it all the devotion and self-sacrifice which I came across in the Socialist movement, the reader of such a diary would have had the word ‘heroism’ constantly on his lips. But the men 1 would have spoken of were not heroes; they were average men, inspired by a grand idea. Every Socialist newspaper has the same history of years of sacrifice without any hope of reward, and in the overwhelming majority of cases, even without any personal ambition. I have seen families living without knowing what would be their food tomorrow, the husband boycotted all round in his little town for his part in the paper, and the wife supporting the family by sewing, and such a situation lasting for years, until the family would, retire, without a word of reproach, simply saying; ‘Comrades, we can hold on no more!’ 
   I have seen men, dying from consumption, and knowing it, and yet knocking about in snow and fog to prepare meetings, and speaking at meetings within a few weeks from death, and only then retiring to the hospital with the words: ‘Now, friends, I am done; the doctors say I have but a few weeks to live. Tell the comrades that I shall be happy if they come and see me.’ I have seen facts which would be described as ‘idealisation’ if 1 told them in this place; and the names of these very men, hardly known outside a narrow circle of friends, will soon be forgotten when the friends, too, have passed away. In fact, I don’t know myself which most to admire, the unbounded devotion of these few, or the sum total of petty acts of devotion of the great number. Every quire of a penny paper sold, every meeting, every hundred votes which are won at a Socialist election, represent an amount of energy and sacrifice of which no outsider has the faintest idea. And what is now done by Socialists has been done in every popular and advanced party, political and religious, in the past. 
    All past progress has been prompted by like men and by a like devotion.’’
—(From Mutual Aid, by. Prince Peter Kropotkin, Pelican Book A.49.)

Production for Use? (1958)

From the October 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

When I was a child ray father used to sing me songs. One of them I remember was extremely melodramatic and accompanied by the appropriate gestures began: “Don’t go down the mine, daddy, it’s safer to stay at home.” I loved this one and requested it again and again.

I was therefore agreeably surprised to read in the News of the World on the 24th August an account of a man who had taken these words to heart, with the slight variation of “Don’t go down the mine daddy, its safer to dig your own.”

Mr. Squires had been a miner until he contracted lung trouble in 1948. Now it so happened that his back garden led into an open cast coal mine, and being out of work and in need of a little warmth. Mr. Squires, with considerable ingenuity, soon managed to have the coal mine leading into his back garden, which, as you must agree, made all the difference between having and not having coal.

Now Mr. Squires seems to be a man who takes words to heart, and therein lies his mistake. It is well known to every member of the working class that the mines belong to us, and that the National Coal Board are merely our agents. Do we not hear this every day, and from the most reliable sources? Press, pulpit and parliament have all assured us that the coal mines are our property. The Labour government even told us it was Socialism. Mr. Squires took them at their word and established his own little bit of Socialism. He put into his home-made mine according to his abilities, and drew from it according to his needs. He mined about ten tons a year, all used by his family, truly production for use. He was also a most honourable man, during his ten years of free access he never once applied for the concessionary coal allowed to miners.

But poor Mr. Squires overlooked one important thing. It is not advisable to believe everything you hear, and to be told by politicians that you own the mines does not necessarily mean you do. Nationalisation alters nothing as far as the workers are concerned, and the National Coal Board is just as much concerned with property and profits as the private owner.

So we leave Mr. Squires awaiting his trial to face charges of stealing.
John Higgins

The Labour Party Conference (1958)

From the November 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Labourites went to Scarborough this year, but having arrived, they had nowhere else to go. Why should they? Apparently Labourites have not yet grasped the fact that after the 1945 term of office they had no claim to be considered in the eyes of the voters as an alternative government. In 1945 they went in on a wave of post-war enthusiasm. They put into effect what was for Capitalism a necessary reorganisation of certain sectors of British industry via nationalisation. They initiated the necessary policies for restoring the debilitated condition of the post-war economy and bringing the social services in line with the requirements of Capitalism.

What else was left in their political ragbag? Only dull odd remnants which did not show up so well with the more brightly coloured Tory jumble sale, and now to vary the metaphor the Labour Party’s only appeal to the voters: “Play the game, you chaps, you’ve put the other side in twice, let us have a turn at batting.”

Nationalisation, which was once the great plank of the Labour Party, is now a heap of sawdust and shavings which was quietly swept up. Even the 50 odd year Labour project, land nationalisation was rejected. Nationalisation, which once helped to float S.S. “Labour,” is now in danger of sinking it. Nationalisation rouses no enthusiasm among electors and is a source of disillusionment to the Labour rank and file.

The slogan of the Labour Party should be. “Divided we stand—United we fall,” for it is only when there are internal conflicts within the Labour Party is it at one with itself. It is only when it has a vociferously organised element demanding a more militant approach and offering vague threats about storming the citadels of privilege, which give the Labour Party the semblance if not the reality of being different from the Tories. It is only this which raises the pulse and tingles the blood of the hard core of the rank and file and makes them believe that the movement has not yet lost its ideals. Without this there is despondency and gloom and the Labour Party is divided against itself.

At Scarborough there was no Mr. Bevan riding cap- a-pie against Mr. Gaitskell. Instead, they sat on the same steed with Mr. Gaitskell in front holding the reins and Mr. Bevan behind, not even pulling the horse's tail. The Bevanites without their leader and shepherd would only utter a few piteous sheep-like bleats.

Mr. Driberg, the conference chairman, wanted a new public face—he called it an image—different from the public face of the Tories. But there was nothing at the conference which could lead anyone to any other view than that the parties were “ identical twins.” And even if the Labour Party went in for political plastic surgery or whitewashed their “public face,” it would still have the same old dirty Capitalist look.

On Education the Labourites were at one with the Tories. They want smaller classes and more teachers. So do the Tories. If and when they were returned to office Labourites said they would take steps to overcome the teacher famine. But they never concretised what these steps would be. The one thing it seemed was not mentioned in order to overcome the shortage was improved conditions and wages. Labourites want the “ best education,” it’s only the educators they want on the cheap.

They proposed to abolish the 11-plus, but were still going to keep the rat race of competitive scholarships going. They, like the Tories, are anxious to scoop off what they call the cream of working class children essential for the technical and commercial needs of Capitalism, their so-called educational proposals simply want to make the cream scooping more efficient and bigger.

The conference also voted against the abolition of Public schools. Many moons ago Labourites used to refer to them as seminaries of ruling class education. Now it seems they are of some value to the community. Perhaps if only for the reason that many prominent Labourites have gone there in the past and many more future Labour leaders might take advantage of them at the present. It may be that “On the playing fields of Eton the elections of England are won.”

The debate on the Hydrogen Bomb was not as explosive as the year before and as a result there was less political fall-out. That the Hydrogen Bomb would be an issue was fairly obvious because as there were no domestic issues which really divided them from the Tories, whatever differences there were had to be exploited in other fields.

As usual, there were those who opposed the manufacture of the Hydrogen Bomb and wanted this country to join up with other countries in a sort of non-nuclear club. Their motives like their thinking were confused. They don't want to abolish armaments, they merely want the time-honoured, decent and humane armaments, like tanks and bombers, liquid fire and atomic artillery.

Apparently none of the anti-H. B’ers. were prepared to cut all N.A.T.O. commitments. And so, in the event of this country going to war in alliance with the U.S.A., Hydrogen Bombs might still be dropped on “our behalf,” but at least we would not have made them. Surely this is a piece of moral perversion.
It was left to Mr. Gaitskell to say what we had ourselves said a year ago, that if America and Russia went it alone, no one could predict the outcome. And even if there was an attempt on the part of British Capitalism to isolate and get other countries to isolate themselves from military commitments with U.S.A. Capitalism, its effects might initiate an even more ruthless policy by American Capitalism, and in turn by Russia, and with it increased strain and tension. The notion that this country could escape a possible holocaust is a piece of dangerous and delusive thinking.

The left wing idealists might also ponder the fact that the abolition of the H.B., if it were possible, might well increase the probability of war.

And if some of the same well-meaning idealistic left-wingers were to take the ideas to their logical conclusion and opt for military isolation from America that, it is pretty certain, would lead to economic isolation, too, and its effects on British Capitalism would be quite disastrous. Such is the unreal world in which many of the would-be militants of the Labour Party live.

The Labour Conference agreed then by a big majority to go on manufacturing the Hydrogen Bomb. But with a broad sweeping humanitarian gesture it decided to suspend testing them. And in this way they sought to assuage their guilt

But at the very moment certain people raise their cry for the abolition of the H.B., other countries have decided to have a bash. France, Sweden, Switzerland and China have derided to take steps towards joining the nuclear as against the non-nuclear group. Soon it will be unfashionable for a country not to have an Hydrogen Bomb.

Perhaps the U.S.A will give a small Hydrogen Bomb to Israel as a token of friendly relations and Russia might do the same for Nasser, and Nasser with an Hydrogen Bomb can hardly be conducive to one's peace of mind. No doubt the Hydrogen Bomb chickens are coming home to roost with a vengeance, and there's nothing the Labour Party can do about it.

The Conference at the end went through their usual emotional purging by singing the Red Flag. Then the delegates went home, but why did they ever leave their homes in the first place?
Ted Wilmott