Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Champions of Labour! (1929)

From the January 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

After continually telling us recently that the Labour Party is a third Capitalist Party, we are somewhat amused to find the Communists in the new edition of “Communism is Commonsense” giving us the following:
   Originally we claimed the right to belong to and work in the Labour Party merely because we were a part of the working-class movement, and the Labour Party, formed as it was mainly from the trade unions on a free federal basis, was intended by its founders as a common organisation for the whole workers’ movement. But to-day we demand affiliation to the Labour Party, and our members in the trade unions try to get their union to support Communist affiliation, for a wider political reason, viz., that only the Communists can effectively lead the workers against the reactionary leadership of the Labour Party. The workers in the Labour Party need our Party to champion their cause against MacDonald and Co. (p. 23).
“Only Communists can lead the workers” ! ! considering the brilliant array of leaders of Communism pushed into jobs and afterwards denounced for being worse than the other leaders.

What the workers want is knowledge, not leaders. What the Communists in the Labour Party want is the leaders’ jobs.

The Censor in Australia. (1929)

From the February 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Socialist Standard" Barred.
Mr. E. M. Higgins, a contributor to the Communist journal, “The Labour Monthly” (January, 1929), gives an account of the prohibition imposed by the Australian Federal Government on the importation of various publications.

The Australian Minister of Customs drew up, in December, 1927, and submitted to the Federal Parliament a list of 128 publications which are “prohibited, seized and forfeited.” During 1928 some 40 publications were added to the list. It includes such works as “The Communist Manifesto,” De Leon’s “Two Pages from Roman History,” all publications of the British Communist Party, many works which Mussolini’s Government allows to circulate in Italy. Among the list of English periodicals are the "Labour Monthly.” "The Worker,” "Worker’s Life” (Communist Party), and the Socialist Standard.

The prohibition operates under the Customs Act, which empowers the authorities to exclude the import of certain goods by proclamation. "Seditious” literature has been "proclaimed,” under a penalty of £100.

Such treatment of the Socialist Standard is not, of course, new. Export was entirely prohibited from this country during the War, and we have also since the War been excluded from New Zealand.

While such exclusion naturally interferes with our sales, it is obviously useless for the object the Government has in view, i.e., the prevention of the spread of Socialist ideas. Capitalism, wherever it exists, inevitably leads to the growth of Socialist ideas among the workers.

The work of active propaganda for Socialism can be carried on just as well by native-born Australians as by foreigners. Socialist ideas are not confined to one country nor are they dependent on the written word of foreign residents. Our comrades in Australia are well able to organise their own propaganda, and are doing so with promising prospects. 
Edgar Hardcastle

"Capital," by Karl Marx: A Review. (1929)

Book Review from the March 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

A New Translation of Marx’s famous work, "Capital,” by Eden & Cedar Paul, from the Fourth German Edition, the final edition revised by Engels. Published by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., Museum Street, London, W.C.l. Price 12/6 net.

The first volume of Karl Marx’s masterly analysis of capitalist production, entitled “Capital,” was published in German in 1867. In the preface he stated that other volumes were in preparation, and outlined the portions of the subject with which each would deal. Unfortunately he did not live long enough to see these latter volumes through the press, and it was left for his life-long friend and co-worker, Frederick Engels, to construct volumes 2 and 3 out of the mass of material left by Marx, aided to a very large extent by his own great knowledge both of the subject itself and of Marx’s views and intentions.

A second edition of volume 1 appeared in German in 1873 and Marx was preparing the materials for a third edition in 1883 when he died. Engels saw this third edition through the press, with such alterations as Marx had indicated in the manuscript, in November, 1883.

It was from this edition that the first translation of volume 1 into English was made in 1886 by Mr. Samuel Moore and Dr. Aveling, under the general editorship of Engels (who took responsibility for the work as a whole) and published by Swan, Sonnenschein & Co., of London. A fourth edition in German was published by Engels in 1890. In the meantime, Engels had published Volume 2 in 1885 (a second edition in 1893), and Volume 3 appeared in 1894. From the materials left behind by Marx and Engels, Karl Kautsky has published three volumes under the title “Theories of Surplus Value.”

The Sonnenschein edition has been out of print for some years and now a new translation from the fourth German edition has been prepared by Eden and Cedar Paul, and published by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd.

For some reason not easy to discover, these publishers have gone out of their way in a stupid attempt to disparage the translation supervised by Engels. On the paper cover to the book they state:—
  This great work has hitherto been available only in a somewhat unliterary translation made from the third German edition, which was not the final edition.
What is “literary” or “unliterary” may be a matter of opinion, but we are quite certain that the majority of readers will hold that the present translation—as far as comparisons can be made—is no way superior, if as good as, the Sonnenschein edition. Thus the use of the ugly word “machinofacture” in place of “modern industry” will hardly seem an improvement to many. Neither is the word “febrile” in any way superior to the word “feverish” as used by Engels, while to talk of the “spiritual” wants of the workers (p. 232), where Engels says “intellectual” is in contradiction to Marx’s essential views. And it may be remarked that the Sonnenschein edition was translated from the latest German edition available at the time.

Neither is it entirely true to say that only the Sonnenschein edition has been available in English. For, if it is agreed that the American language is English, then Kerr & Co., of Chicago, published a translation of the third German edition “revised and amplified according to the fourth German edition by Ernest Untermann," in 1906 that has been on sale here. Untermann also translated the second and third volumes of “Capital" into English. Therefore the matter, if not a word for word translation of the fourth German edition, has been available here. Following the Russian fashion of numeration, we may perhaps call it the three and a half edition!

The chief additions in the fourth edition as compared with the third are the footnote on Bimetallism (p. 126); the footnote on the Factory and Workshops Act (p. 546), four pages of text (642-645) on “Surplus Value Transformed into Capital," and three pages of text (691-694) on “Law of Capitalist Accumulation." The latter section is of special interest because, in addition to treating of credit, it deals with a detail of development—centralisation of capital into the hands of a few—that Marx had been accused of failing to foresee by certain Fabian critics. 

While the present translation is a new one direct from the fourth German edition, it is interesting to note the translators' statement in their preface :—
   Of course Moore & Aveling’s translation, which appeared in 1886, and J.B.’s translation of the first nine chapters (Bellamy Library), have not been ignored; the former, in particular, deserved close study, as it was published under the auspices of Frederick Engels . . . .  In the present version we have relied throughout upon the definitive German text as final arbiter.
It may be mentioned that “J. B.’s" translation is a very poor one and was severely criticised by Engels when it appeared.

The translators are to be congratulated on one decision. “Capital" is a book intended primarily for working-class readers, the majority of whom have little or no opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of foreign languages. Marx’s work abounds in quotations from Greek, Italian, French, etc., that form stumbling-blocks to the average worker. The translators decided to give all these quotations in English without unduly burdening the volume with the original languages, a course which, in our opinion, was the right one to take.

Some printer’s errors occur that should receive attention when the next edition is being prepared. On page 15 the word "twice" is, of course, redundant. The word "being," page 49 (sixth line from bottom) is a misprint for "bring." In the second paragraph, page 102, the word “ diminishes " should be replaced by "increases." On page 391 the description of one of the mechanical powers as an "oblique" plane is incorrect, the proper term being “inclined" plane. The word "not" on page 437 is a misprint for “now."

This new volume, with its black cover and gold lettering, has a striking appearance and is well bound and printed, but one wishes at times that the paper had been a little more opaque, as in several places the print from the other side of the sheet shows through. The price of 12s. 6d., though, unfortunately, high for a worker’s pocket, is certainly cheap for a technical work as books are priced to-day.

But the importance of its contents and the vast store of information it contains renders it a volume well worthy of some sacrifice on the part of a worker to obtain a copy.
Jack Fitzgerald

Love Your Enemies. (1929)

From the April 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Was Jesus a Communist ? I don’t know, search me! Bernard Shaw and the Rev. “Dick” Sheppard say that he was. Prebendary Gough and the Very Rev Dean Inge, of St. Pauls, on the other hand will not stand for this. In fact one could almost say that the latter gentleman in particular, regards Communists as very unnice people. In the course of an article in the Evening Standard (13. 3. 29) entitled “ Should Blood Sports be Banned?” our kindly and Very Rev. Dean becomes almost irrev.:—
  There is the question of field sports and big game shooting, I have never killed anything target than a wasp, and that was in self-defence, and it would give me no pleasure to shoot any noxious animals, except Communists.
Turn the other cheek ? Well, that might do for people with less cheek!

The I.L.P. and the Election. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the “New Leader” (26th April, 1929) the Chairman of the I.L.P., Mr. James Maxton, M.P., issues a special appeal for funds in order that the I.L.P. may play its part “in the achievement of Socialism.” Surrounding the appeal are the photographs of some of the I.L.P. candidates, one of them being Miss Jennie Lee, who was recently elected as Labour M.P. for North Lanark. She was the I.L.P. nominee, and was financed by the I.L.P. It is interesting, therefore, to notice that she played her part “in the achievement of Socialism,” by standing for election on a Programme which contains no reference, direct or indirect, to Socialism. It does not mention the word Socialism, and does not contain any reference to the I.L.P.’s latest programme—“Socialism in our Time.” It does not mention the I.L.P. nor Miss Lee’s membership of that body, and this in spite of the fact that they financed her and were responsible for her candidature. Like every other member of the I.L.P. who succeeds in getting into Parliament, as Labour M.P. Miss Lee was prevented by the Labour Party from running as a Socialist candidate, even if she wished to do so. She was compelled to stand as Labour candidate on a programme of reforms acceptable to the Labour Party, a party of which Mr. Maxton wrote only last year that its programme “must be regarded not as a Socialist programme but an enlightened Liberal programme.” (See one case by A. J. Cook and J. Maxton, M.P. Page 11). Mr. Maxton added:—
  If every measure in the Labour Party Programme was carried, then we would not have Socialism, but rationalised capitalism. (Ibid, p. 17).
Thus does the I.L.P. win illusory “victories” for “Socialism.”

The reason is obvious, and was frankly admitted by Dr. Alfred Salter, member of the I.L.P. and Labour M.P. for Bermondsey, in a letter to the “New Leader” (12th October, 1928). He said:—
   There is not a single constituency in the country where there is a majority of convinced Socialist electors. We have plenty of districts, such as Bermondsey, where there is an overwhelming Labour majority, but it is a sheer delusion to think that the greater number of these people understand what we mean by Socialism. They nether understand it nor want it.
The only way to secure the return of Socialist candidates on a Socialist programme is to win the working class over to Socialism. Instead of doing this the I.L.P. devotes its resources to the preaching of reforms and deludes itself that it is “achieving Socialism” by securing the return of Labour M.P.’s on the votes of non-Socialists. Only the Socialist Party devotes its energies to the propagation of Socialist principles, and refrains from securing Parliamentary seats under false pretences.
Edgar Hardcastle

Saklatvala on Socialism (1929)

Pamphlet Review from the June 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communist Party of Great Britain have recently published a small pamphlet entitled "Socialism and Labouralism," which is an "edited" report of a speech delivered by Mr. Saklatvala in the House of Commons on March 21st, 1928.

Judging by the speech as a whole, Mr. Saklatvala is either ignorant as to the meaning of Socialism, or is prepared to withhold his knowledge from the workers. Let us take one or two points from the speech. On page 5 of the pamphlet he says:—
  It may be possible without at all disturbing the Capitalist character of society and without coming near Socialism, to extend the ownership of any particular enterprise to all the citizens of a country.
It may be possible, but it is difficult to see how it is possible to extend ownership to all under Capitalism, which is based on ownership by a class. One of the most patent features of Capitalism is that, as the system develops wealth becomes concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, the smaller Capitalists being thrust by competition, etc., into the ranks of the workers, whose numbers become greater and greater in relation to the numbers of the Capitalists. A relatively few people now own the wealth of society as a result of Capitalist development. How in the name of commonsense, then, can the workers have the opportunity to own more whilst the processes that make them non-owners are still retained?

An explanation of this contradiction is given on page 6 :—
   The Post Office is private enterprise, but the shareholders are all the citizens of the nation. . . . That although there is no Socialism about a Post Office in a capitalist country, there is certainly the compensation that the shareholders are so expanded that everybody within the State stands to lose or gain by its losses or profits.
Here we have the familiar assumption that the workers are concerned with taxation, and are therefore interested in the rise and fall of the revenue of the Post Office, or other “nationalised ” concerns. The statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the economic position of the workers in society. Actually, the workers as a whole own nothing but their working power, which they are forced to sell to their Capitalist masters in order to live. The price the workers receive for this labour power is called salary or wages and, like all other commodities, is based on the cost of production. In other words, they receive in the long run a bare sufficiency in wages to reproduce the energy which has been expended in the production of wealth for the profit of their masters. Without wages the workers could not exist to carry on wealth production under Capitalism. We see, therefore, that the high cost of living must be accompanied by higher wages, while, inversely, a fall in the cost of living brings about a fall in wages. Of course, wages will tend to fall in those industries where the supply of "labour-power” is greater than the demand, and a rise in wages is the almost inevitable result of a scarcity of "labour-power.” Here again the strength or weakness of the workers' economic organisations may assist somewhat in determining the measure of gain or loss to the workers under these conditions. But these fluctuations in wages are the effect of “supply" and "demand,” and they do not affect the basis (i.e., the cost of production) which determines the wages of the worker. It will be seen, then, that the incidence of taxation, direct or indirect, cannot permanently influence the condition of the workers, and is of importance only to their Capitalist masters and Capitalist politicians like, Mr. Saklatvala, who, unthinkingly, pander to the political ignorance of the workers.

Another typical example of confusion is to be found on pp. 6 and 7 of the pamphlet :
   What is the real problem before the country as between Socialism and Capitalism? . . .  It is a question of overthrowing the system of private-ownership and introducing public ownership.
But what is "public" ownership? Mr. Saklatvala does not explain. The Post Office, Municipal "Trams," Borough Council Houses and other national or municipal services, are generally regarded by the workers as examples of "public” ownership, because of their pathetic belief that they pay rates and taxes for the upkeep of these concerns. A survey of the list of holders of "Government Consols" and "Municipal Stock," however, would soon shatter this illusion. There is outstanding on the Post Office services a debt of £68 millions and on the L.C.C. a debt of about £120 millions. It is the investors who hold and receive interest on these loans who are the owners of what Mr. Saklatvala calls "public" property.

The Socialist rendering of the last sentence of the passage quoted would be as follows:—"It is a question of overthrowing the system of private ownership, and instituting a system based on Common Ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments of wealth production and distribution.” The substitution of this sentence for the other would produce the change from a foggy abstraction to a crystal clear definition of object.

Again on p. 8 Mr. Saklatvala reveals his ignorance as to what Socialism implies:—
   If we were to apply the real principles of Socialism to the coal mines, the first consideration would be to secure the control of the miners themselves over their own industry.
Substitute "syndicalism” for “Socialism” and this passage would read all right! To bring forward once again this old exploded nonsense of "Mines for the Miners,” "Printing Machines for the Printers,” "Railways for Railwayworkers,” "Sewers for the Sewermen” is surely intended as a joke in these days, when it is so evident that all industries are interdependent and production is social in character. Only the replacement of private ownership by social (or common) ownership can harmonize the relations of wealth production and ownership.

On page 9 we find the amazing assertion, without an attempt to offer any evidence in its support, that
there is one country which hat achieved Socialism. 
Presumably Russia? If so, then it would be necessary to suppose that under Socialism we would still have a wages system, still have peasant proprietorship of land, still have buying and selling, still have an owning and a non-owning class, and still have an ever-increasing army of unemployed workers. Russia has all of these luxuries in abundance! The truth is, unfortunately, that Russia, far from achieving Socialism, which involves the abolition of all of these features of Capitalism, is a very tardy entrant into the ranks of countries seeking development on Capitalist lines.

References to Capitalist society being "unjust” (p. 12), and to "equal remuneration” (p. 14) provide further evidence of "Communist” confusion. "Justice” and "Injustice” are purely relative terms decided by those in power. The Capitalist class are in power to-day, and therefore it is “just” for them to exploit the workers. When the workers have gained control of power (i.e., Political Control) they will abolish this particular form of "justice.” It is the RIGHT OF POWER which decides all questions of "justice ” and "injustice." As “wages” will no longer exist under Socialism, and wealth will be distributed and apportioned according to the varying needs of members of society, the question of "equal remuneration ” becomes ridiculous.

In the introductory note to the pamphlet the C.P. state that in order to ensure wide distribution of the pamphlet at one penny it has been necessary to abridge portions of Mr. Saklatvala’s speech. It is interesting to note that one of the excisions deemed necessary is the following admission regarding Russia:—
  M. Stalin’s argument that, deplorable as the industrial development of Russia is at the present time, the needs and requirements of the people of Russia make them dependent upon other countries for manufactured articles which cannot be supplied in Russia owing to the backwardness and the apathy of the working classes, who have not yet developed as far as a Socialist revolution.
We suspect that space was not the real reason for leaving out this passage.

Many absurdities are to be found in the pamphlet, but enough examples have been shewn to afford an explanation as to why our task of educating the workers in Socialist knowledge is so difficult and to demonstrate clearly that the Communist Party is a hindrance and not a help in the struggle of the workers to achieve their emancipation.
E. J. M.