Thursday, August 31, 2017

"The Battle For Peace" (1938)

Book Review from the October 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Battle For Peace by F. Elwyn Jones (Left Book Club.)

This book, published at 2s. 6d., as the August choice of the Left Book Club, can fairly be said to be representative of the opinions of those who see in an effectively functioning League of Nations, collective security, and Peace Blocs, a guarantee for the preservation of peace, and the downfall of the “ aggressors." Like so much Communist-inspired propaganda, the cause of war is sought, not so much in the social forces that operate in society, as in the evil intentions of individuals and governments. Now Chamberlain; now Hitler; now Mussolini; and now the whole lot together are represented as the villains of the piece. The inevitable outcome of the mode of thought is to insist that all that is necessary to establish peace is to replace those governments that are “aggressive" with governments of “peace-lovers"; as well as replacing those governments that show lack of zeal in standing up to the dictators (non-Russian, of course), by gentlemen who are determined, in the interests of peace and democracy, to tell the dictators where they get off, even though the sacrifice of millions of lives might be necessary to lend emphasis to this pacific gesture.

Needless to say, black is not black enough with which to paint the opponents of democracy; but when it comes to speaking of the “peace-loving nations," the democracies, no turtle-dove could coo softer. From this book it would appear that the Fascist powers have developed what our author is pleased to call a “new technique of aggression" which consists “of stirring up rebellion by a national or social minority within the territory of the proposed victim and supplying the rebellion with arms, men, and money" (p. 14). This assertion is reinforced by numerous quotations from the world Press. Indisputably, Germany, Italy, and Japan, are spending huge sums of money in the hope of weakening their opponents through “Trojan Horse" tactics. But to imply that they are alone in so doing is nothing short of absurd. This “new technique of aggression" is as old as Imperialism itself, and has been practised, and is being practised with extraordinary success, by that buttress of world peace and democracy, the British Empire. Mr. H. N. Brailsford, for example, quotes in his “War of Steel and Gold" the following extract from a despatch from Sir Edward Malet (Egyptian blue Book, No. 7 (1882),, p„ 107): —

“It should be remembered that the present (Nationalist) Ministry is distinctly hitherto bent upon diminishing the Anglo-French protection (sic), and that, as a matter of fact, our influence is daily decreasing. It will not be possible for us to regain our ascendency until the military supremacy which at present weighs upon the country is broken. . . . I believe that some complication of an acute nature must supervene before any satisfactory solution of the Egyptian question can be attained, and that it would be wiser to hasten it, than to endeavour to retard it." A pretext was found; Alexandria was bombarded in 1882, and Britain shouldered yet another part of the “White Man's Burden." That at the same time it secured twelve per cent, on an usurious debt is, of course, irrelevant.

The “new technique of peace" outlined by the author in his final chapter, is as moth-eaten as his “new technique of aggression." It consists of an alliance of the powers “that wish to remain faithful to the principles of international order— Great Britain, France, Soviet Russia, and the smaller powers who would fall in line with a firm policy led by these states." They would then agree to use their armed forces in defence of any country faced with an unprovoked attack. As if such a thing as an unprovoked attack were likely to happen! Never has any capitalist power gone to war in a spirit of aggression—it has always been the other fellow who started first.

For people who are always mouthing the word “dialectics" this dividing the world up into “peace loving" powers and aggressive powers seems a curiously undialectical way of viewing the relationship of world capitalist forces. Isn’t it crystal clear that the one group is but the looking-glass image, the reverse side of the medal, of the other ? In a world of states whose policies are based on the plunder of the world working class and each other, the “peaceful" powers (those interested in maintaining the status quo) are a condition of the existence of the aggressive powers (those interested in upsetting the status quo). The fact that the one group is more or less interested in maintaining peace, whilst the other group drives to war, is incidental. The policies pursued by both are the inevitable result of the social relationships that operate in each.

Unlike the Communist Party and the Labour Party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain is indifferent whether or not Mr. Chamberlain and his National Government know how to manage the affairs of British Imperialism as well as is humanly possible in the most difficult circumstances. Because Mr. Chamberlain appears reluctant, wisely or unwisely, to embrace whole-heartedly the advice given by the Communist and Labour Parties as to what the foreign policy of British Imperialism should be, Mr. Chamberlain is dubbed a Fascist. Let us be sure that if the British Government now leans towards the Fascist powers, and now towards the Democracies, its policy is always determined by the interests of British capitalism. In passing, let it be noted that it can hardly be an accident that the "have” powers are democratic, whilst the "have nots” are Fascist. Even Soviet Russia has entered the list of democracies with a brand-new "constitution.” However, it does seem that the Communists may be satisfied eventually; for the line-up in the future war to save peace, democracy, and Socialism, seems to be coming clearer. The old firms re-emerge; on the one hand, Germany and her satellites; on the other hand, Britain, France, and Russia, with Italy prepared to play her traditional rôle of selling herself to the highest bidder. As far as Russia is concerned, as has been said in effect elsewhere, if it was good enough to make Russia of Tsar Nicholas the cornerstone of European democracy in 1914, surely it is good enough to confer the same honour on the Russia of his successor, Comrade Stalin.

As Socialists, we are more concerned as to what will be the attitude of the working class, and, unfortunately, that already seems to be decided. The T.U.C., speaking: in the name of 5,000,000 organised British workers, has, with the almost unanimous support of the assembled delegates, committed itself to stampeding the working class into a holy‘ war against Fascism. As the Sunday Times, commenting on this in a leader on September 11th, states: "No one whose memory goes back to 1914 will miss the contrast between the two occasions. In 1914 the British Labour movement was strongly pacifist—not till the eleventh hour, but till the twelfth hour. Only when war broke out did the scales drop from its eyes; till then it had been criticising a very pacific British Government for supposed bellicosity. Now the boot is on the other leg; the Government of the day is reproached, in effect, with not seeming bellicose enough.” And goes on to say : " . . .  its [the T.U.C.] pronouncements were made with a sense of their implication. What they imply is the acceptance of war as something preferable to the ‘destruction of peace by savage aggression.’ ”

How envious Hitler must be of the British ruling class! No need for them to stage circuses, demonstrations, or indulge in exhausting bouts of spell-binding, for the; purpose of infecting the masses with war-fever! Our anti-Fascist Communist and Labour Radicals have successfully destroyed what pacific sentiments the British workers might have had, and, holding aloft the banner of anti-Fascism, are doing the dirty work of capitalism in a thoroughly efficient manner. This book, ”The Battle for Peace,” is, in its own way, a contribution towards that dirty work.
Arthur Mertons

Rally in Hyde Park (1938)

Party News from the October 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

A successful Rally was held at Hyde Park on Sunday, September 18th, 6 p.m. Thousands crowded around our two platforms and listened with sympathy and interest as our speaker dealt with the international crisis and the threat of war. A large amount of literature was sold and once again the S.P.G.B. demonstrated its ability to seize every opportunity for making the working class conscious of Socialism as the only ultimate answer to the machinations of international capitalism.

Hitler the "Socialist" (1938)

From the November 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many anti-Nazis who are also anti-Socialist are only too pleased to discredit Socialism by pretending that Hitlerism is what Hitler claims: a form of Socialism. The Evening Standard, serialising “My Struggle," headed its extracts on October 6th, 1938, “Hitler—Socialist." This is what the Evening Standard says: —
  It required an Austrian to lift up Germany, and an anti-Marxist to impose Socialism upon her. Hitler gave fair warning. Roughly half of the Twenty-five Unalterable Points of the Nazi creed, laid down in 1920, would make the British Labour Party shudder at their extremism.
   (i) Abolition of unearned income; (ii) ruthless seizure of all war profits ; (iii) nationalisation of trusts; (iv) share-out of profits from wholesale trade; (v) ban on land speculation; (vi) death for crimes against the nation, for profiteers, usurers and exploiters; (vii) communalisation of chain stores; and so on.
  As for “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle), there Hitler pours forth sentiments that have brought cheering to their feet millions of workers, and hundreds of thousands of ex-Socialists and Communists.
This might make the British Labour Party shudder, but it does not make Hitler’s programme a Socialist programme. Here it is necessary to add a word of explanation. When Hitler talked of the “abolition of unearned income” he did not mean what Socialists mean, for he borrowed from the Labourites the absurd notion that there are “two kinds of capital, one which is the outcome of creative labour, the other which owes its existence to speculation." It was the latter only that he promised to abolish. So even if Hitler had kept his promises (which he has not) Germany would still be what it is now: a capitalist country operating under fairly rigid State control.

One of the popular ideas about Germany is that Hitler has made life impossible for the capitalist. It has even been claimed that profit has been extinguished. That this is untrue can easily be shown by the fact that one of the major sources of Government revenue is a tax on profits. The Economist correspondent in Berlin wrote as follows (Economist, August 6th, 1938): —
  . . .  Now the taxation of profits has been sharply increased. . . . The increase is in the corporation tax. This tax is levied on the net profits of joint stock companies at a uniform rate (with some inconsiderable exceptions) of 30 per cent. Compared with depression times, its yield has increased more than that of any other impost, owing partly to the increase in its rate from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, made in 1936, but mainly to the revival of company profits.
Before leaving Hitler and his attitude towards reformism it is interesting to read (Daily Telegraph, October 22nd, 1938) an official admission by the Nazi authorities that last winter no fewer than 9,000,000 German workers received help from the Winter Aid Fund, the reason being that their wages are too low to provide the necessities of life. The excuse given by the Nazis is that this condition of affairs is a legacy from the Government which preceded them, which they describe as a Government of “Marxists." Precisely the same excuse was used by that Government and is used by every Government unable to make capitalism satisfactory to the workers.

Another fact which indicates how little changed Germany is under Hitler, in spite of his nearly six years in office, is given by the Berlin correspondent of the Sunday Times (October 23rd, 1938). He gives figures showing that there are about 2,000,000 domestic servants in Germany, obviously indicating the continued existence of a large propertied class able to pay to be served and waited on.

In conclusion, the following statement by Hitler in "My Struggle" should serve as a warning to those who interfere with Mosley's meetings: —
  We chose red (as the Nazi Party colour) after exact and careful consideration; our intention was to anger the Left, get them in a rage, and so induce them to come to our meetings—if only in order to break them up—so we got our chance of talking to them.
Edgar Hardcastle

Letter: The Russian Workers under the Czar and under the Bolshevists. (1938)

Letter to the Editors from the December 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Comrade,

Reginald, in the August “Socialist Standard," makes a most bitter attack upon Soviet Union. With part of what he says (growth of nationalism, adoration of Stalin) I am in agreement. He goes gravely wrong, however, when he attempts to show that there hasn’t been an “all-round amelioration of conditions for the worker."

He quotes Kléber Legay and Yvon as authorities. Now I have never heard of these gentlemen before. As far as I know they may not exist and may only be the disguises assumed by anti-Socialist publicists. I prefer to get my information about Russia from sources in which I can place greater confidence—Sydney and Beatrice Webb, Sir E. D. Simon, the various official delegations of British trade unionists to Russia, Walter Duranty, Sir B. Pares. Now these aren’t Communists or Communist sympathisers. But they all tell the same tale, and that is that material conditions in Soviet Russia are very much better than they were in Czarist Russia. Not only has the output of industry and agriculture been enormously increased, but health services (1917—13,000 doctors, 1937—106,000 doctors) and education services (1913—8,000,000 children at school; 1937—30,000,000) have been improved; output of books increased five-fold since 1913, illiteracy almost stamped out.

All these are solid improvements, and we will be foolish if we shut our eyes to them. They have been made possible by the introduction of the rudiments of Socialism. Russia is far from perfect and has a long way to go before it reaches Socialism, but Russia of to-day is enormously better from the workers’ point of view than Russia of Czarist days.
Yours fraternally,
H. Heather

Our contributor, “Reginald,” in the August The Socialist Standard, in an article headed "Stepfather Stalin,” quoted from André Gide, Kléber Legay, and Yvon, statements made by them about things they saw in Russia. “Reginald’s ” conclusion was that “claims for a general, widespread, all-round amelioration of conditions for the worker must be received with the utmost caution”; surely a very reasonable conclusion to reach in face of the statements made by the admirers and the critics of Russian conditions. But our correspondent, Mr. Heather, will not have it. He has read the admirers and has not read the critics, and he does not want to read the critics. In fact, he doubts whether they exist at all! May we suggest that his first obligation, if he really wants to know the truth, is to supplement his reading of the admirers by reading the statements of such men as Gide and Yvon, who were formerly supporters of the Bolshevist regime but who, on further knowledge, have become critical? Yvon, for example, lived for eleven years in Russia and was a Communist. (Yvon’s pamphlet is obtainable at 1s. and was reviewed in The Socialist Standard for June, 1937. Gide’s “Return from Russia” was reviewed in The Socialist Standard for December, 1937.)

Our correspondent says that he places greater confidence in the writings of the Webbs, Sir E. D. Simon, the various official delegates of British trade unionists, Walter Duranty and Sir B. Pares. He does not mention Sir Walter Citrine’s book, which is decidedly critical of many aspects of working class life in Russia.

The one thing, of course, which ought to be available, and which would be more valuable than all the rest put together, is the freely expressed views of the Russian workers’ own democratically controlled organisations, trade union and political. These views are not available because such organisations are not allowed to exist under the Russian dictatorship. If, therefore, the truth is hard to come by, the dictatorship itself is responsible.

Our correspondent points to the unquestioned advances made in Russia in such matters as getting rid of illiteracy, but claims that these advances “have been made possible by the introduction of the rudiments of Socialism.” The latter claim is utterly unsupported and unsupportable by any evidence. Similar and greater advances have been made in countries such as Britain, which make no claim to being Socialist.
Editorial Committee.

The Priest and His Piffle. (1916)

From the January 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

One, Father Bernard Vaughan, of the Roman Catholic Church in England, has been setting about his congregation with the jaw-bone of an ass. The jaw-bone was the reverend father’s own. The oily priest has been ass enough to attempt to answer the question: Why does not God stop this war? and he had better have kept his jaw-bone engaged upon the comparatively un-asinine occupation of chewing thistles. He couldn’t have made such a mess of thistles, and thistles couldn’t have made such a mess of him, however they may have revolted his belly.

The thesis of this detestable churchman’s onslaught, delivered at his church in Farln-st, W., on December 12th, is thus given by the “Daily Chronicle” (December 13th):
   Why does not God stop this war? If he were Almighty and All-loving he would have done so long ago.
The preacher spoke of this question as “a sample of the blasphemies sent by post” A sample of the bogey-man's correspondence it well may be, for without doubt thousands of the earnest befogged are daily propounding to themselves that riddle—hourly trying, and failing, to reconcile the idea of an All-loving Almighty with the hard, stern fact of world-wide war, and it would be strange indeed if some of these seekers after light did not take their enquiry direct to those who know all about God and his ways and his motives, not to speak of his love that passeth all understanding, and his strap-oil that sur-passeth his love. That the Holy Joe should publicly try his fist at such a reconciliation may be taken as symptomatic of his consciousness of the wide harbouring of this and kindred “blasphemies,” whether they find expression through the post or not.

It has been the custom among the aristocratic plunderers, we are told, to shove the fool of the family in the Church. The idea, of course, is that of all fields of roguery the Church offers the easiest opportunity. There, where the very choicest mugs foregather, a child could work the oracle. As a matter of fact children sometimes do, though the infant prodigy is now more often to be found practicing “practical Christianity” in the trenches as the more manly way of bringing to fulfilment the Scriptural prophecy: “A little child shall bleed them.” Anyway, it did not need any superman to invent the answer to the riddle which the reverend father made “revelation ” to his flock, though perhaps only divine inspiration enabled him to cut his coat in such true and exact knowledge of his sheepskin. He answered the whydiddle thus :
   God did not stop the war because, being Almighty, He could draw good out of it, and, being All-loving, He did so.
You see how beautifully plain it is. Military experts who have explained in the columns of the seven-times daily Press every military move long before it didn’t come off, the prophets who prophesied all sorts of happenings from “Constantinople in a week” to “war babies by the million ’ (and they didn’t mean Group 1), the blusterers who were going to “dig them [the German fleet] out like rats’ and “fetch” us if we didn’t go—all these have draped their words in obfuscation. One hardly knew what they meant. But the priest is clear as claret. God, being Almighty, could draw good out of war, and being All-loving, he does so. Of course, being Almighty, He could draw good out of peace, but it would be rank blasphemy against heaven and treason against the realm to suggest that he should find it in his tender, loving heart to do so. That, the corollary of the reverend gent’s tale, we can all understand, without doubt.

Nevertheless, not all truths are pleasant, however clearly they may be presented, and in times like the present, when so many thousands of mothers and widows and sisters are more than a little bit impatient under the process of being put through the mangle of war in order that good (for somebody) may be drawn from their sufferings, it would not ill-become the servant of All-loving God to make some excusably hypocritical concession to public opinion. None can resist the power of conviction attaching to the reverend gentleman’s illustration, which I give as reported in the “Daily Chronicle” :
     By the way of illustration Father Vaughan told the story of'a young cavalry officer who, before going into the trenches—where he was blown to pieces—wrote to a friend, saying: “If I am killed, tell my mother not to worry, because, but for this war she would never have met me in Heaven. This war has brought me back to my own self, and I have made it all right in the confessional."
    If that instance were multiplied ten thousand times, continued the preacher, they could see how good was drawn out of the physical evil of the war.
The dullest can comprehend that if ten thousand young cavalry officers are going to meet their mothers in Heaven who would otherwise never have done so, the war was jolly well worthwhile. That the All-loving Almighty should find more acceptable one of His lambs who happens to be returned to him in pieces is also only in accordance with human ideas. We also know that the road to Heaven is broadened to those who traverse it with feet and hands soaked with the blood of their fellows slain in battle—the All-loving would see to that. But it would have been interesting to have been informed whether the ten thousand cavalry officers who have to thank the war for the opportunity of meeting their very fond mammas in Heaven, would not have done so because but for the war they would have lived for ever, or because the devil was finding work for their idle hands to do before the All-loving busied them with butchery. If the latter, a class whose sons so regularly go to hell except they find salvation in homicide are worth all the sacrifice the workers are making.

The all-abounding love and wisdom of God are not things patent to the untrained eye of the man in the street. But, luckily, our reverend fathers are always alive to these matters. Here is light and leading from Daddy Vaughan: 
   Personally, I feel that it would take eternity to thank God for not having stopped this war as He might have done. If it had been deferred for ten years, my beloved country would hare been a Mongolian desert. . . . Our dear island home, with its cathedrals, minsters, and abbeys would have been utterly destroyed; we should have had nothing left us but “our eyes to weep with."
But a “but” saved us from the dismal plight of having nothing left to weep with but our eyes, to say nothing of the destruction of our cathedrals, minsters, and abbeys, and perchance also the slums, prisons, lunatic asylums, work-houses, mansions, broad-acred, well-wooded and watered ancestral domains concerning which the war poster asks Bill Higgins, ‘Isn’t this worth fighting for? ” The preacher proceeded :
    But God, being Almighty and wise, and loving, has spared us the horrors of Belgium and Poland and the despair of the Armenians.
The wisdom and the love of God, the priest thus shows, are not revealed alone in the fact of what He has saved us from: they are revealed even more forceably in what, evidently for our worthy sakes, he has put upon Belgium, Poland, and Armenia. There’s love for you; verily it passeth all understanding!

See how Father Vaughan flattens out the man who asks the fool question: “Can you deny that Christianity has been proved by this war to be a ghastly failure?” He replies :
  Christianity has not failed, because it has not been used. If Christianity had been used and recognised, there would have been no war at all.
So it is seen what a good thing Christianity would have robbed us of had it been “used and recognised.” If it will take all eternity to thank God for the war, surely it will also take some time to thank Him for rendering futile the efforts of His (don’t forget the capitals, Mr. Printer) clergy to get Christianity “used and recognised.” 

Meanwhile, eternity is a long time; and a job that is going [to] last for eternity ought to be got on with. Would it be out of place to suggest that the reverend gentleman go out into the highways and bye-ways and call upon the multitude to thank God for the war? One interested spectator would be.
Bill Bailey

Our Case in Brief. (1916)

From the February 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have seen how the whole structure of present-day, or any other society, rests upon and takes its shape from the property base; and now we can proceed to consider what, broadly, must he the result of the carrying out of the Socialist proposal to change the social basis from private ownership of the means necessary to satisfy the economic needs of the community to one in which these things are owned and controlled by the whole of the people.

The first and most important effect must be to abolish class distinctions. Just as, when the means of gaining a livelihood had only reached such a stage that common ownership in the land was the only form of ownership that was useful to either the community or the individual, and therefore the only form that was possible in the circumstances (i.e., when the chase offered the highest reward to human productive activity), there were no class divisions, so in the society arising from the new social base there could be no classes. Where property is owned by only some of the people, those who own are marked off from those who do not; they are a class apart, and their interests are to try their utmost to maintain and increase the advantage which their property gives them over the propertyless. In the nature of things, these endeavours are more effective if carried out collectively, hence they harden into class effort to support class interests.

But when all those things necessary for the well-being of the community cease to belong to individuals, but are owned as a single undivided instrument of production and distribution by the whole people as an organic unit, none are possessors and none have any advantage over others. Since all are in the same situation, all have the same interest, namely, to make the means of gaining the common livelihood serve with the utmost efficiency the common purpose. Society, therefore, so long rent by class divisions. founded upon unequal property conditions, at once loses its class nature with the abolition of private property, and being classless, there can be no class interests. The putting of all men and women on the same economic plane reconciles their interests, and just as those with the same interests under the class system combined to strive for the class interest, so the whole of society, having been made one by their unified interests, will combine to further the common interest. The old and bitter struggles between sections of the community, which Socialists know as class struggles, will then be known no more.

As a corollary of this abolition of economic inequality, or rather as a part of it, the wage-labour system will come to an end —that is to say, men will cease to work for wages. To-day men work for wages because they do not get an opportunity of working directly for themselves. All the instruments of labour, all the raw materials, all means by which alone men and women can gain their livelihood, are in the hands and under the control of comparatively few or the people, hence the others have no opportunity of gaining a livelihood save by placing themselves at the disposal of the possessors of the things above enumerated. It is safe to say that were there opportunity for each man and woman to work directly for himself or herself, enjoying the entire fruits of his or her labour, and without coming under the disability or uneconomic returns which must almost always accompany individual effort nowadays—if men and women could do this, I repeat, it is safe to say that none would be so foolish as to sell their labour-power to others, whose only possible object in buying it could be to make a profit out of it, that is, to give for it less than it could produce.

It is, of course, utterly impossible for such opportunity to be afforded to the individual. The very corner-stone of that development of the means of production which has resulted in such vastly increased fertility of human productive effort, is division of labour. Division of labour necessarily means also associated or social labour. The very moment we try to introduce individual labour to production generally the whole vast system of machinery comes to a standstill. Thus a dozen or so men with a modem threshing machine, can thresh corn at a tremendous pace. But if each is to be able to say “ I have threshed this corn," then they must abandon their associated labour. The engine driver must leave his engine, the pitchers must leave the stack, the sack-shifters must leave the delivery spouts, and the boy who fetches the beer must leave his social and sociable occupation, and each must take up the flail and flog.

The flail was an instrument of individual labour; the threshing-machine is an instrument of social labour. The first shows individual results, the second shows social results. The individual instrument does not afford scope for any advanced form of associated effort — a dozen men cannot use it at one time; the social-labour instrument cannot be operated by individual labour — one man cannot run a threshing machine by himself.

When, therefore, the private ownership of the means of living is abolished, men and women will cease to sell their labour-power for wages because the opportunity of obtaining their living without such sale will be opened up to them. But they will not be able to set about production each in his own way and each on his own hook. Man is largely what his means of living make him. His means of living having developed to that stage where they can only be operated by associated labour, man must, remain an associated labourer, even though he cease to be a wage labourer.

And now mark how all these things hang together. The same development of the means of production which has made them impossible of individual operation, has made them also impossible of being owned by the individuals who operate them—that is to say, individually owned by those individuals. Just as the threshing machine cannot be operated by individual labour, so it cannot be owned separately by those who operate it. They might own it jointly, but for each to own and control a portion would put an end to its efficiency as an economical instrument of labour.

But the means of production and distribution have developed even beyond the stage where they could be owned and controlled by the actual groups operating them. Even the threshing machine is not a complete productive plant in itself: it needs an engine to drive it and to draw it about. In other industries, however, the instruments of production have developed a far wider interdependence. The water supply, for instance, upon which hundreds of great concerns in manufacturing districts depend, as also the gas and electricity supplies, show quite plainly how the means of production have developed into a vast system of machinery, which , can only be efficiently owned and and controlled as a whole and by the whole community.

These things, then, must shape the character of man as a producer. When he ceases to be a wage slave he must be a worker for the community. He surrenders his labour-power to the community instead of to a boss. 
A. E. Jacomb

News From Heaven: The Bishop's Special. (1916)

From the March 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the January issue of this journal were recorded the statements of the Rev. Father Vaughan anent the reason God did not intervene to stop the war. The unmarried father showed us very clearly that only his—pardon. His—great love prevented Him from doing so. God, like the munition manufacturer and the ship-owner, was drawing good out of the war, and in such circumstances it was not to be expected that the merry mill which the bulk of the world finds so amusing, and which some (not excluding even Bishops, who in this respect are luckier than beershops) find so profitable, would be interfered with by the Divine hand. No, God, who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to be nailed up on a stick, as the only way in which he could prevail upon himself to refrain from strafing the world with fire and brimstone, was certainly not the bloke to prevent his children stirring up one another’s vitals with bayonets and other eminently suitable implements. The reverend father led us to that conclusion by ways so logically sound that to most of us he spoke absolutely the last word on the subject.

But after the Roman Catholic Church comes the Catholic Church of England. The Bishop of Chelmsford, speaking at Queen’s Hall on the 7th February, in the Day of United Intercession arranged by the World’s Evangelical Alliance, stoutly combatted (without mentioning names) the claim of the rival show to know all about Cod and his whys and wherefores.

The Essex bishop, far from ascribing the non-interference of God in this game of butcher my neighbour to boundless love, declares that it is a question of politics. “God has his politics,” the bishop assures us, “and would never be an ally of any nation that was not clean.” So the fiat has gone forth. The reason England has not wiped the floor with Germany is that the English are so damned dirty—a bishop has said it.

As between the Romish father and the Anglican bishop, the present writer does not presume to judge. The theory that God so loves the world that he wouldn’t for anything save it from self-annihilation, has attractions for the reverent mind; on the other hand, the idea of God as a politician, making known through his agents that cleanliness is one of the planks of his platform, and that, no matter what the demerits of the Germans, he will not ally himself with the itchy and the crumby—that idea is irresistible to those who dabble in the singularly clean and spotless game of politics.

But after all, these reflections do but touch the fringe of the question. Though Father Vaughan opines that it will take all eternity to thank God for the war, he will agree that it would he a mistake to carry the thing so far that there was no one left alive to thank God for having killed off all the others,. He cannot, then, object to the All-loving being persuaded to temper his love with so much of Spartan sternness as will put a stopper on our murderous indulgences. So much for Father Vaughan.

Now the Bishop of Chelmsford tells us that “God is sitting on the fence,” and plaintively asks, “how can we get Him to come down on our side and give us a mighty victory?"

Much smaller bugs than bishops are may be permitted to offer suggestions on a subject of such universal interest as getting God to come down off his perch. An old bird-catcher whom I consulted on the off-chance declared “if yer can’t call him down yer must feed him down, and if yer can’t feed him down yer must call him down, and if yer can’t neither feed him down nor call him down ye’d better try a 'en angel, and if that aint no good why yer won’t never take him up to Club Row.”

But we may reject that advice with scorn. Obviously the first step is to get ourselves clean. “We must cleanse England," says the bishop, and he is right. Let’s wash our shirts and our shifts ; let’s scrape ourselves, pumice-stone ourselves, boil ourselves if necessary. Let’s co-operate for the job—my Lord Bishop, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours : I’m ready for any dirty job so long as we get the muck off. Then, when we have got through with that we might pursue the course which has proved so efficacious in the past. We might plaster the fence whereon God is sitting with such announcements as “Your King and Country Need You"; "Isn't This Worth Fighting For?” “What Did You Do, Daddy?” “Go! Don’t be Pushed!” “I wasn't among the first to go, but I went, thank God, I went.” And if this was followed up by a visit from the recruiting sergeant, or, to stretch a point in view of the greatness of the occasion, from Lord Derby himself, murmuring the magic “What abaut it?” we should surely “get God out of this dilemma,” and “get him down on our side” (as the bishop “reverently” and gracefully put it)—unless the irreverent but far-sighted Germans have taken the precaution to lime His perch, in which case, perish me pink, there is a dilemma indeed.
Bill Bailey