Friday, September 29, 2017

A World Without Commodities (2017)

From the September 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

In explaining the conditions under which commodity production and money exist, Marx helps us understand the characteristics of a new society in which they would no longer exist. 

A new society without commodity production, money, and markets? A society where production is carried out solely to meet our human needs, with all the social wealth held in common. Why is this idea still so widely ridiculed as a utopian daydream, even by those who are deeply dissatisfied with the ‘status quo’? ‘That sounds nice but it’ll never work’—is the predictable response we hear. 

It seems to our critics that we socialists are offering nothing more than wishful thinking. But the notion that commodities, money, profit, private property, wages, etc. would no longer exist in a socialist world is actually premised on understanding why such things exist under capitalism in the first place. Once we have understood the why (and how) of such economic forms, it becomes possible to imagine the social conditions in which they would no longer have any room to exist.

This crucial relationship between understanding the fundamentals of capitalism and grasping the essence of socialism as its alternative points to the continued importance of Karl Marx’s Capital, particularly its first volume, which was first published 150 years ago. Even though Marx—as many have pointed out—does not provide a ‘blueprint’ for socialism in his book, his critique of capitalism brings the characteristics of that new society into view by clarifying the fundamental boundaries and limitations of capitalism as one historical ‘mode of production’ among others that had existed or might exist in the future.

A short article like this cannot cover all the ways that Capital traces the boundaries of capitalism beyond which lies a new and unprecedented society, so here we will limit ourselves to the crucial first chapter in which Marx analyses the commodity, which he describes as the ‘elementary form’ of wealth under the capitalist mode of production.

Use-value and exchange-value
Today the terms ‘commodity’ and ‘product’ have become almost synonymous because we are so accustomed to the reality of production for the market, but Marx clearly distinguishes between the two. He uses the term ‘commodity’ to indicate products that are produced for exchange, so that they not only have a ‘use-value’ that meets a particular human need (as any product does), but also an ‘exchange-value’ on the market.

Under capitalism, the vast majority of products take the commodity form, as Marx notes in the opening sentence of Capital: ‘The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities”’.

There is ‘wealth’ in any mode of production, which is to say material products that meet human needs, but only when capitalism has taken hold of a society do the vast majority of those products take the form of ‘commodities’ bought and sold on the market. Although commodity production existed under some of the pre-capitalist modes of production, it was subordinate to the dominant production relations in which the products of human labour did not take the form of commodities.

And even under capitalism we can see some examples of products of labour that do not take the commodity form. The tomatoes grown in a family’s garden for its members’ own consumption, for instance, would have the use-value of satisfying their hunger, but no exchange-value under those circumstances.

At the end of the first section of Chapter 1, Marx sums up the distinction between product and commodity, noting that to produce commodities one must not only produce use-values, but use-values for others or social use-values, and that these useful things must not only be produced for others but also transferred to them by means of exchange. He notes, in contrast, how the ‘quit-rent-corn’ and ‘tithe-corn’ produced by the mediaeval peasant for the feudal lord and parson, respectively, are not commodities, even though produced for others, because there is no exchange between the two sides.

The distinction between product and commodity (and between use-value and exchange-value) is not at all difficult to grasp, but it has great significance to the case for socialism: it reminds us that there is nothing eternal about production for the market, which has, in fact, been the exception, not the rule, over the course of human history.

‘Social relations between things’
Marx explains the conditions under which products take the commodity form, writing that, ‘as a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, only because they are products of the labour of private individuals or groups of individuals who carry on their work independently of each other’; adding that these ‘producers do not come into social contact with each other until they exchange their products’. Since these private individuals or groups operate apart from each other, with an eye only to the market, it is only in the act of exchange that the ‘specific social character of each producer’s labour . . . show[s] itself’.

This state of affairs is quite different from the examples raised earlier of the gardening family or the medieval peasant. In such cases, the social relations between those involved in production and distribution are clear from the outset, rather than being established by means of exchange. The family members already form a unit, just as the (subordinate) relationship between peasant and feudal lord is clear to begin with, and the products of labour produced under those conditions are then distributed in line with those specific relations

Instead of ‘direct social relations between individuals at work’, what we have under capitalism, as a system of generalised commodity production, are ‘material relations between persons and social relations between things’. This creates what Marx calls the ‘fetishism of commodities’, where ‘definite social relations between men’ assume ‘in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things’.

An overriding characteristic of capitalism as a society of generalised commodity production is the roundabout way in which production is carried out. Instead of the members of society directly producing useful things to meet their own individual and common needs, we have production carried out for the market. And only those goods that are successfully sold can meet those human needs and constitute a part of the aggregate social labour. This is an almost ridiculously complex way to organise production.

Yet those who take this system for granted dismiss a more straightforward and transparent approach to production and distribution as infeasible. Part of the reason is the notion that without the ‘invisible hand’ of the market to regulate production and exchange, a society would bog down in hopeless inefficiency or descend into the despotism of a select group dictating production and consumption. But really it is the capitalist system itself, as a system of commodity production, that is mired in inefficiency and inequality.

As already noted, objects of utility can only meet human needs under this system if they are successfully sold—otherwise they will rot or rust on the shelf. On top of this, society is unequally divided between a small minority of those who own and operate the means of production (whether as individuals, corporate directors, or state bureaucrats), on the one hand, and the overwhelming majority of workers obliged to sell their labour-power to those owners in return for a wage.

But even the ruling class under capitalism is not the master of the market economy. Marx explains in chapter one that the exchange of commodities is fundamentally determined by the labour time socially necessary to produce them, rather than being under the conscious control of human beings. In this way, the economy manifests itself as a force of nature, whose behaviour is far more difficult to anticipate than the weather. We live in a social world that is beyond human control, even though production is carried out by human beings.

Getting along without commodities
Near the end of chapter one, Marx contrasts the absurdly complex and roundabout system of capitalist commodity production with other ways to organise production, where products would not take the commodity form. These are some of the most illuminating passages in all of Capital regarding the possibility of a new society beyond capitalism.

Marx begins, tongue-in-cheek, by looking at the fictional case of Robinson Crusoe, who is producing for his own needs, using the resources available on his island. He must do a ‘little useful work of various sorts’ to satisfy his wants, but he knows that ‘his labour, whatever its form, is but different modes of human labour’. ‘All the relations of Robinson and the objects that form this wealth of his own creation are here so simple and clear as to be intelligible without exertion.' None of the objects of utility that Robinson creates would confront him as commodities, since there would be no need for any sort of exchange.

The second example Marx raises is production in Europe in the Middle Ages. What ‘characterises the social relations of production’ here is ‘personal dependence’. That is, ‘instead of independent man, we find everyone dependent, serfs and lords, vassals and suzerains, laymen and clergy’. But precisely because these social relations of personal dependence exist from the outset and form the ‘ground-work of society’, Marx explains, ‘there is no necessity for labour and its products to assume a fantastic form different from their reality’; rather ‘they take the shape . . . of services in kind and payments in kind’. The social relations between the individuals engaged in production ‘are not disguised under the shape of social relations between the products of labour’.

In his next example, Marx looks at production in the case of ‘labour in common or directly associated labour’, taking as his example the ‘patriarchal industries of a peasant family’ that produces some articles for their home use’. ‘The labour-power of each individual . . . operates in this case merely as a definite portion of the whole labour-power of the family’, much like the example raised above of a family growing tomatoes in its garden. The aim of production is to meet the needs of the family members, rather than supply the market, so once again we are dealing with simple products or objects of utility—not commodities.

If we expand the case of Robinson or the family to a social scale, we have in essence the production relations in a new socialist world. This is what Marx sketches in his next example, where he describes an ‘association of free men’ who are ‘carrying on their work with the means of production in common’ so that the ‘labour-power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour-power of the community’.

The only difference in the characteristics of labour in this society with the example of Robinson on his island, Marx explains, is that now everything is social instead of individual. One portion of what is produced would be ‘consumed by the members as means of subsistence’, while another portion would serve as ‘fresh means of production’ and thus remain social.

There is no need in this society for its members to confront each other as individual commodity producers or to first come into a relationship via exchange because they are already in a relationship from the outset as the common holders of the wealth and resources of society, much like the ties between family members in Marx’s earlier example. In socialism, therefore, the ‘social relations of the individual producers’ are ‘perfectly simple and intelligible’ and there is no need for commodities or money to exist.

Here we have only scratched the surface of how Marx’s analysis of capitalism can stimulate an understanding of the characteristics of socialism as a commodity- and money-free world. The better we understand the essential characteristics of capitalism and how they determine the social problems we face, the clearer will be our image of socialism as a realistic alternative and means to overcoming those problems. 
Michael Schauerte

The Strike and the Vote. (1929)

From the July 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Although Socialists do not exaggerate the importance of a General Election, much amusement and instruction may be derived from a consideration of the antics of the various parties involved. At the time of writing the Conservative leaders are endeavouring to insinuate into the minds of the workers that their position would have been much more favourable had several millions of them not participated in the so-called general strike of 1926.
  That Strike was directly responsible for the loss of trade and consequent failure of the unemployed to evaporate; the Labour leaders were responsible for the Strike, and have thus contributed to the sufferings of the workers.
Thus argue the Tories.

Of course, the leaders of the Labour Party resent this attack upon their respectability.
  Us responsible for the Strike? Perish the thought! It was the wicked Tory Government which provoked it by refusing to continue negotiations.
The argument never goes beneath the surface. It would not suit the interests of either party that it should do so. The strike was a fiasco from the workers' viewpoint. It certainly did leave their position worse than before; but neither Tories nor Labour leaders are concerned with pointing out why the fiasco occurred.

Each party disclaims responsibility, in order to retain the confidence of their electoral supporters, the majority of whom are members of the working class; and ignores the fact that this very confidence was a contributory factor to the overwhelming defeat which the workers sustained. The rank and file trusted their leaders on the General Council, and the Council trusted Baldwin.

The strike arose, as most strikes do, out of the antagonistic interests of the workers and their exploiters. It was the belated reply to a prolonged process of wage reductions which, in turn, followed upon the collapse of the demand for war materials, and the flooding of the labour market with discharged soliders, munition workers, etc. The argument that the strike is the cause of the aggravated misery of the workers is thus a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.

That the workers failed to accomplish their objects in striking (which were modest enough) was due to the superior organisation of the master class, the better understanding that class has of its material interests, and its grip of the political power of the State. These factors were clearly in evidence throughout the episode.

The workers are not yet organised on the basis of their class; they have a very imperfect knowledge of their position, and their political activity is restricted to supporting different groups of leaders. The steady deterioration of their conditions of life is ample evidence of the futility of this policy, and clear proof of the need for Socialist knowledge, organisation and action.

The open champions of the master class can afford to indulge in gloating over the helplessness of their victims, because they have taken the measure of their pretended opponents. The attitude of the Labour leaders during the war, their readiness to take office in 1924, their grovelling dependence upon negotiations prior to the strike, all testify to the weakness in the workers' ranks.

The Socialist Party exists for the purpose of replacing that weakness with strength; it seeks to substitute knowledge for ignorance, organisation for chaos, a steady class advance for sectional rout. Of what value are the strike and the vote in this process?

Historically, the strike preceded the vote as a weapon of the workers. In the early days of capitalism it was the only means they possessed of placing any limit to their oppression by their capitalist masters. By jointly withholding their commodity, i.e., their power to labour, they managed to obtain its value in the shape of a subsistence wage. They showed their employers that it was as easy to play for nothing as to work for nothing. In doing this, however, they exhausted the value of the strike.

They could not stop the onward march of the machine. Where, here and there, they eliminated competition between themselves, and secured a higher subsistence level, there stepped in the mechanical force which rendered many of them superfluous, and brought wages down again to a point consistent with normal profit-making.

True, so long as the wages and profits system lasts no section of the workers can afford to abandon the strike, but it is equally true that the strike holds out no possibility of solving the problem of working-class servitude. Many of our political and industrial opponents claim that the “day-to-day struggle,” i.e., the succession of strikes and lock-outs, leads of itself to the workers’ emancipation, and they point to the widening of the circle of the strike as evidence.

The fiasco of the “general” strike refutes the argument. Then, if ever, it should have been proved sound; but instead of an advance, we witnessed a demoralising retreat; not even an orderly one, with the enemy held at any point, but wholesale rout.

So long as the workers in the main regard their affairs from the so-called “immediate” standpoint, a continuance of the rout is inevitable. The nationalisation of industry under the control of the financiers, knocks the last nail in the coffin of orthodox trades unionism as a fighting force; and “minority” trades unionism is in no better case.

The “immediate” interests of the workers are invariably special or sectional interests. A given rate of wages or set of hours has a different value in different industries and areas. Even the Communists have at last awakened to this fact sufficiently to “demand” a six-hours day for miners, as distinct from seven for other trades; but it is clear that no general programme of immediate demands can take into account the total variations in the workers’ conditions. To have any real use the demands of any section of the workers for modifications of their conditions under capitalism must be framed by the section itself.

The political party of the workers can only express the general interests; the interests the workers have in common, irrespective of local or industrial variations;, in other words, the interests of their class as a whole. As such it stands for solidarity between the different sections and the rendering of mutual support wherever possible in the defensive warfare waged by means of strikes. Its special function,, however, is to point out the limited value of this warfare, and to emphasize the fact that the fight carried on along these lines only is a losing one.

So long as the workers are content to struggle for a subsistence wage only, that is the most they will obtain, with their security growing ever less. The Socialist Party summons them to struggle for possession of the means of life. Instead of voting sectionally every now and again for a cessation of work, we counsel the workers to vote as a class for the abolition of the system whereby they are compelled to work for the profit of a few, the present owners of the means of life.

Instead of voting first for this party and then for that in the effort to secure the improvement which strikes have failed to achieve, we call upon them to organise to obtain control of the political machinery, which has served their masters so effectively.

In Queensland (Australia) the workers have recently turned out a “Labour” Government merely in order to put a “Nationalist” Party in its place, thus exploding the fallacy recently held in Communist circles that the return of a Labour Party to power was the essential preliminary to the success of the Communists. The pursuit of red-herrings merely leads to apathy, re-action and despair.

Socialist education is the only solvent of working-class difficulties. When the workers realise that, in spite of all the differences in their respective conditions, they are one as slaves, then only will they feel the need and possibility of emancipation, and act accordingly.
Eric Boden

Mr. Wheatley's Lapse (1929)

From the August 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Strange Story of a Little Child
During 1924 Mr. Wheatley, M.P., was Minister of Health in the Labour Cabinet, described by the "New Leader" as being "to an overwhelming extent an I.L.P. Government" (see "New Leader” of February 8, '24). In the present Labour Government Mr. Wheatley has been supplanted by the Right Hon. Arthur Greenwood, M.P.

Speaking in the House on July 15, Mr. Wheatley found occasion to criticise his successor and, in passing, to pat himself on the back for his Housing Act of 1924. He said :—
   The one piece of Socialistic legislation that has been placed on the Statute Book is the Act of 1924. Members opposite have said that, as far as they can manage it, it will be a long time before there is an increase in the family. We must, therefore, go on with this one little Socialist child while they control the House of Commons. (Hansard, 15 July, 1929.)
Those who know of Mr. Wheatley’s political associations and activities, or have seen his Act, will hardly need to be told that the description of the child is grossly inaccurate.

Young Wheatley’s capitalist parentage stands out in every feature, and the birth certificate bearing the father’s signature and dated June, 1924, certifies to this effect. It is, moreover, worded quite emphatically, because the father had had to repudiate certain malicious assertions on the point made by a man called Jix.

Speaking in the House on June 3, ’24 (see Hansard of that date) Mr. Wheatley said :— 
   I notice that the right hon. Member for Twickenham, in criticising my proposals the other day, said, “This is real Socialism! ” I can compliment my right hon. Friend on many things, but I cannot say that he is good judge of Socialism . . . The proposals which I am submitting are real capitalism—an attempt to patch up, in the interests of humanity, a capitalist ordered society.
"Why, then,” the reader may well ask, "does Mr. Wheatley so malign his own five-year-old son?” The truth is, perhaps, that the father, like his friend Jix, is not a good judge of Socialism and cannot be held fully responsible. Certainly, the real fault lies with the mother, a Labour person, calling herself I.L.P., who has time and time again been found misrepresenting herself as a Socialist party. This leads many uninformed persons to believe that the progeny of the Labour Party which the I.L.P. perambulates about are Socialist children, whereas in fact they are only the same little brats as before, dressed up in new clothes. I.L.P. is, however, fairly smart, and it is not often that she allows herself to be caught in the very act of kidnapping capitalist children like this and attempting to pass them off merely by dressing them up differently. She and her 200 members in Parliament are engaged in the business of administering capitalism. Mr. Wheatley, while still standing in some rather uneasy relationship with the Labour firm, has lost his previous lucrative position as producer of capitalist Housing Acts, and in his desire for revenge tries to embarrass his former employers and their new Minister of Health by disseminating these untrue stories about his own favourite son. It can therefore be stated quite definitely that this child of Wheatley and the I.L.P. was born and remains a capitalist child. It has not in the meantime suffered a strange transformation as his callous parent pretends.

All of which goes to show the value of birth certificates when parents are so forgetful or dishonest.
Edgar Hardcastle

Tory Gold in Battersea: An Ancient Gibe. (1929)

Party News from the September 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

It was our intention, as we stated before the General Election, to run a candidate in North Battersea provided the necessary financial support were forthcoming. Outdoor and indoor meetings were held making known our intention, but when nomination day came the minimum amount necessary had not been secured.

The former M.P. (Mr. Saklatvala) lost his seat because, although he is a reformist politician, he is not a popular politician. Whether it was as a result of gloomy disappointment at the election results, one cannot tell, but supporters of the ex-member for North Battersea have been trying to spread the view that our adopted candidate was intended to conjure money from Tory pockets. This took the form of a question at an open-air meeting addressed by the present writer, and was as follows : “Is it not a fact that Commander Marsden offered to pay Barker’s election expenses?” Now of all the things ever said about us, the implication in that question is about the silliest, but when the speaker replied to the question in the negative, he was called a liar by another member of the audience. It has since been established that, in spite of the denial, the statement is being given currency by persons who, it seems, do not relish the idea of a Socialist candidate putting up for the first time in the constituency. We therefore declare here that the statement is entirely untrue. No such offer of financial assistance was made by the Tories or anyone else, and if money were offered from doubtful sources it would be refused by the Socialist Party as it has been refused in the past when that situation has arisen.

While on the subject of the North Battersea election, we notice with interest that the Communist Party, who pleaded poverty as their reason for not contesting more constituencies, were able to spend on Mr. Saklatvala’s contest £845 4s. 8d., which is hardly less than the amount (£847 6s.) spent by the Tory, Commander A. Marsden.

The successful Labour candidate spent only £431 2s. 4d. (See Returning Officer’s statement, South-Western Star, July 5th.)
J. B.

The 61st Trades Union Congress. (1929)

From the October 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ben Tillett's Day Out.
The 1929 Annual Congress of the T.U.C. was held this year at Belfast under the chairmanship of Mr. Ben Tillett, M.P.

What decided the choice of Belfast, we do not know. That Belfast is far enough away to preclude the embarrassing presence of embittered workers from the mining and cotton districts is fairly certain. Windy platitudes, therefore, had free play.

Mr. Tillett’s presidential address was received by the Press with more than the usual flattery that is doled out to the trade union and Labour leader.

Says the Daily Herald: “He acquitted himself in a manner which has given the keynote to the Congress—that of business efficiency tempered with humanity." Mr. Tillett’s form—on the one occasion when the present writer heard him, corresponded more closely to Billy Sunday revivalism, tempered with acrobatics. But different audiences call for different turns— as variety artists know.

Mr. Tillett, pre-war firebrand, war-time jingo, and recent communist pet, delivered a flamboyant speech, whose main argument was a characteristic piece of nonsense. He declared “with an air of triumph ” that “To-day the trade unions are an integral part of the organisation of industry" (Daily Herald report, September 3rd).
    They negotiated as equals, and did not deal only with hours, wages and conditions, but with policy and economic organisation in the widest aspects. . . . They hold an unchallenged position as representatives of the working class in all negotiations affecting conditions of employment. . . . There is nothing in the organisation and direction that can now be regarded as the exclusive concern of the employer.
What comforting news to miners and cotton-workers in the desolate poverty-stricken villages of Northumberland, Lanarkshire and Manchester. It might, of course, strike them as curious that there are ever industrial disputes at all. And, more curious still, that disputes of recent years have led to an encroachment on their already low standard of living.

If Mr. Tillett meant that many employers have now learned that it is an advantage to them to deal with an organised body of workers, and that they sometimes negotiate with trade union officials about adjustments of wages, conditions and hours, his statement is not untrue; but why the “air of triumph"?

What cause is there to be triumphant because the cotton masters consulted cotton trade union officials and allowed other trade union leaders to negotiate the recent wage reduction?

If Mr. Tillett’s words were intended to mean what they say, then they were just bluff. The trade unions are not to-day, and never have been, an “ integral part ” of the organisation of industry. They do not, and never have, been able to negotiate “as equals nor do they deal “with policy and economic organisation in the widest aspects.” The trade unions do not do any of these things because they have not the power. They neither own nor control the machinery of production and distribution, and those who own and control have no need and no intention of relinquishing their ownership or their control or the power over policy which accompanies ownership and control.

Turning to rationalisation, Mr. Tillett said:—
   They had already given official support to the rationalisation of industry provided adequate safeguards were given to the workers . . . rationalisation meant the most complete application of science and scientific organisation to industry—in plant, processes and production.
Rationalisation is a new name for a process as old as capitalism. Improvements in machinery are introduced by the capitalists for the benefit of capitalists. They are the outcome of competition between sections of the capitalist class, and can only have the effect of reducing the human labour required in production. The less labour-power required for the production of a given quantity of wealth—the more profits there are for the capitalist. This process is, and always has been, a feature of Capitalism. To-day the only difference is, that the pace has become quicker, and the trusts and combines more powerful. The smaller capitalists are vanishing; the position of the working class grows more insecure ; and their relative portion of the wealth produced becomes less and less.

Mr. Tillett went on to say of rationalisation that, “It was their duty to see that the results of the tendency were beneficial to the workers.” But he omitted to explain how this is to be done. The rationalisation of their industrial organisation is dictated by the employers in their own interest. The trade unions have not the power to stop it (Mr. Tillett himself described it as “ inevitable ”) and they have not the power to impose conditions on the employers. Point was given to this by the admission of Congress that is impotent to save the musicians from the unemployment and other effects of the introduction of sound films. The unions have not succeeded, and cannot succeed, in making it a condition of rationalisation that it shall take place only if the results are “beneficial to the workers." Trade unions can perform a useful and necessary service to the workers under Capitalism, but—not being the owners and controllers of industry—they cannot control industrial development; and when Mr. Tillett states that they can, he is doing a definite disservice to those whose interests he is paid to represent.

Mr. Tillett's further contribution to our knowledge was a boost of Empire trade and Empire development “in the interests of the workers,” and in imitation of the U.S.A. In answer to this dangerous doctrine that working-class interests may be promoted by the development of capitalist industry and trade, whether in Great Britain, Europe, the Empire or in any other geographical unit, it is only necessary to consider the U.S.A., which, for the moment, is the object of Mr. Tillett’s admiration. In the U.S.A. every feature of capitalism as we know it here, is faithfully reproduced— with some aggravations. Inequality of wealth is even more striking than here, unemployment is no less—some estimates place it higher; insecurity there is as great, pauperism, overcrowded slums, the brutal crushing of strikes, and, last but not the less harmful, Yankee Ben Tilletts—all the features of triumphant capitalism exist in their profusion over the water.

At the same time, it is wonderful how ideas catch on. Sidney Webb dines with the King, Snowden stays with the King, Macdonald visits the King to say good-bye when he goes abroad—and, not to be behind, Tillett does his bit and becomes “Imperial.” Of course, Tillett has drunk much that inspires since the celebrated Devonport Farce on Tower Hill years ago.

Industrial Unionism.
Congress rejected a resolution, moved by Mr. A. J. Cook, asking the General Committee to try to promote organisation on the basis of “ one union for each industry.”

Mr. Ernest Bevin, on behalf of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, opposed the resolution, and pointed out that it would mean breaking up his organisation into 180 separate unions. He instanced the difficulty even of defining an industry in the face of continued capitalist combinations, in which financial control extended over all kinds of processes. He stated that "one of the associated companies of the Imperial Chemical Industries controlled 78 distinct processes ” (Daily Herald, September 4th).

The Daily Herald.
On Wednesday, September 4th, it was announced in the Daily Herald that the T.U.C. in private session had agreed, by 3,404,000 votes to 47,000 to make certain new arrangements for the development of the paper. Other newspapers announced that the new arrangement contemplated the handing over the the Daily Herald to a private company, with, however, explicit guarantees that policy will remain under the , control of the T.U.C.

Workers Banks.
A Fraternal Delegate from the American Federation of Labour did his best to outshine Mr. Tillett's home-produced nonsense by advocating "workers' banks.” He described experiments in this direction which have been made in the U.S.A., and expressed the opinion that if all workers patronised their own banks “a chill would be sent along the spinal columns of the financial captains.”

How perfectly simple! How is it that nobody has thought of it before! So easy, fellow workers; just put your surplus wealth in your own banks and show Rothschild and Sassoon what you are made of. What puerile inanities. It is difficult to believe that such piffle comes from paid representatives of the workers. The working class receive as the price of their labour power just that which will purchase the barest necessities in the form of food, clothing, and shelter. They simply cannot save enough to matter. The capitalist class appropriate the enormous remainder.

Then he gave the answer to his own hot-air by informing Congress (Daily Herald, September 5th) that in U.S.A. they are faced with the "difficulty of keeping men of 50 and over employed . . . particularly where labour-saving machinery had been introduced."

It looks very much as if U.S.A. workers of 50 and over are not likely to have any savings or anything else, and those under 50 will be busy enough, when they are in work, trying to provide for their over-fifty relatives. 

The Cotton Arbitration.
Attacks were made on Mr. C. T. Cramp and Mr. A. G. Walkden for their part in the arbitration, which resulted in a 6¼ per cent. reduction in wages for cotton operatives. They made the extraordinary defence (see Daily Herald, September 6th) that they "did not believe, and had never believed, that any wage cut would improve the cotton trade,” but that the terms of arbitration gave full power to the Chairman, alone if necessary, to "give the award both on the principle and the amount of reduction.”

This is, of course, no defence at all, even taken in conjunction with their further plea that if they had not agreed to a 6¼ per cent. reduction, the "cut would have been double.” Since this term of the arbitration was not known to the operatives, but was known to Mr. Cramp and Mr. Walkden, they could either have refused appointment to the Board or have insisted on the operatives making their own decision. It is at least probable that the latter would have rejected arbitration on such terms.

How does this square with the Chairman of Conference’s speech?

The Turner-Mond Conferences.
A resolution calling for the discontinuance of the Industrial Peace negotiations between the General Council and the T.U.C. was rejected by a large majority. Peace! for whom?—robber and robbed? Are the workers to abandon the only industrial weapon they possess, and leave themselves open to the systematic attacks of their masters? What else can peace mean? To babble of peace whilst the cotton dispute is still fresh in the memory and another attack on the miners is impending, is sheer hypocrisy. Peace—who asks for war anyway? The workers cannot afford to strike from pure frivolity. It is they who suffer during a strike, not their masters. It is they who see their children go hungry and without adequate clothing, who see their homes depleted and sold up.

The tone of the Congress was quiet and expectant—their friends now being the Government and A. J. Cook having dropped the game of sniping at the General Council and coining silly slogans. But throughout the five days the cause of all the evils from which the workers suffer were not even glimpsed by the delegates. The cause is the private ownership in the means of life and the only solution is common ownership. Then those parasites who live by robbing the workers and exploiting their ignorance will disappear.
Harry Waite