Monday, October 23, 2017

The New Mrs. Caudle. (1906)

From the July 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Right Honourable the Member for Battersea still pursues the tenor of his strenuous way and may with some degree of confidence be expected to attain to the ideal which he seems to have set before him, of going down to posterity as the possessor of lecturing talents, not less efficient than those which the notorious Mrs. Caudle exercised with such effect upon her unfortunate spouse. And, indeed, the resemblance between the celebrated lady mentioned and our “Honest John” rests upon more than that idiosyncratic volubility which has impelled both characters to erupt into torrential verbosity with little or no provocation. The substance of their disquisitions is almost identical — the same relentless logic, the same elegance of diction, the same charm of style, the same irrepressible argumentativeness, the same measure of applicability of their observations to the subject addressed. If Mrs. Caudle were alive to-day, she would be jealous indeed of her reputation now challenged so persistently by her great nude prototype. It is true she might argue with justice that Mr. Burns is afforded facilities she never had. She lived in the ante-women’s suffrage days and probably was never able to get even so close to the sounding-board of the Empire as the ladies’ gallery of the House of Commons, whereas John has his feet on the floor of the House right beneath the sounding board itself. But, then, John could retort that he started heavily handicapped, in as much as he could not commence in the nature of things as an old woman. But, however that may be, John is making palpable progress which his elevation to the proud dignity of heavily fee’d jackal to the Liberal Capitalist Party has only served to fillip. He is simply insatiable, rushing to every point of the him instruction, and who certainly have little or nothing to learn from him. Overweening, bumptious and arrogant he always was. as those who knew him intimately in the days that are past, were aware. To these undesirable qualities are added to-day a cringing servility before his paymasters and a passion for giving unsolicited advice to all and sundry, often absurdly inapplicable to the moment; when that is not so, coming with little decency from an individual of Burns’ record. A sense of humour, which he seems to entirely lack, would save him from many n ludicrous situation; a little less superficial knowledge would enable him to pose with a little more reason and a little more success in that character of Tribune of the People which he so loves to affect. And if to both were added a little more courtesy, a little more discrimination, and it were possible to subtract something of the pimp and the bully, he might conceivably become a fairly tolerable person. As it is, we fear that he is altogether intolerable, that his advice is an impertinence and his lectures an infliction, and we take solace from the knowledge that, unlike the unfortunate Mr. Caudle, who was apparently quite unable to rid himself of the incubus of his bedmate and her lectures, he will surely awake one day to find himself discovered as the vainglorious pedagogue he is, and cast off by those upon whose ignorance he relies for his success as champion curtain-lecturer. The day that witnesses the consummation of that desirable act will witness also his fall from his present high estate; for the one thing that is quite certain is that it is only by virtue of his ability to gull and hector the working class that the capitalist Liberal Party consent to fee him so liberally and invest him with a little brief authority.
John Burns as seen by the Punch cartoonist Harry Furniss.
compass in order, cuckoo-like, to find another nest in which to deposit his curtain-lecture egg. He makes surprise visits to workhouses and turns off upon the pauper inmates his famous exhortation to abstemious living and thrift. He attends temperance meetings to emphasise the folly of working men wasting their substance (which they have not got) upon four-ale and other delectable draughts. He sternly lectures the “Labour” members of the House of Commons, whose one concern is to conform to the rules of that august assembly, upon the enormity of any departure from orthodox Parliamentary procedure, and lays it down with crushing vocal inflection to the same men obsessed by the necessity for the establishment of an unquestioned reputation for respectability, that proper deportment is a personal condition to he striven for single-mindedly. He lectures tariff reformers upon the stupidity of quoting, without examination, figures relating to pauperism, and corrects their information with more figures which he has had supplied to him. and which he has never examined. He lectures women demonstrators upon their lack of self-control, and is seized with an uncontrollable desire to slap them but dare not. He attends the distribution of prizes at a girls' gymnastic school, and lectures the unfortunate pupils about the urgency of a knowledge of washing and ironing. And so on. And so on.
Always careering about fully caparisoned with bundles of lectures and packets of gratuitous advice for persons who, generally speaking, are better qualified to give

We trust John Burns may find sufficient grace to peruse in chastened mood these few plain words. We trust too, they may have the effect of causing him to reconsider himself.

However that may be, it will surely not be hurtful to him if he will desist for a few moments from trying to force his opinions upon others as though they were things of value and hearken with what respect he may to the opinion that some of the others desire for his own good to offer him.

Party Notes. (1906)

Party News from the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

According to a writer in the South London Mail for July 13, a young man on Clapham Common said he had endeavoured to become a member of the S.P.G.B., but, in consequence of his being a Christian, he was refused admission.

This is a case where the writer, if he desires to do us justice, should produce his “young man." There are no “religions tests" applied to candidates for membership of this Party. All that is asked of them is their signature to our Declaration of Principles, after which their conduct must be in strict accordance therewith or they must leave the Party.

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Last month we referred to a challenge issued by Mr. H. S. Wishart to debate the policy of the S.P.G.B. This gentleman, who is a prominent member of the Woolwich I.L.P. and chief local apologist for Mr. Will Crooks, M.P., now writes as under:—

200, Lakedale Road.
7 July, 1906.
Wm. Gifford.
Dear Sir,

Your letter asking for a debate out of what transpired at Bexley Heath, was handed by me to the Bexley Heath Branch of the I.L.P.

The members of that branch decline to countenance such debate with any member of the S.P.G.B., so that I cannot take it up.

As a member of the I.L.P. I naturally prefer to fall in with the opinion of my fellow members so long as no question of principle is concerned.
                                                                            Yours sincerely,
                                                                                      Henry Stewart Wishart.

Comment would be superfluous!

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Our translation of Karl Kautsky's "Decline of Petty Industry” has been issued as a pamphlet under the title of “From Handicraft to Capitalism.” Post free 1½d. Usual terms to branches and the trade.

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Two comrades, both speakers, intend taking a cycling tour for a week, leaving London on August 11th. Any cycling comrades wishing to join them are requested to communicate with Head Office at once. 

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At last Saturday's meeting of the Q.D.M. it was decided to organise a Party Outing, to take place on the 2nd Sunday in September, at Watford.

Tottenham Branch Report. (1906)

Party News from the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

No compromising! No slackening! No suspension of hostilities. We are still at it,—and still winning. Despite the threats of a section of the Shopocracy we still retain full possession of the "fort” at St. Ann’s (where the Band played once) and there our Thursday evening meetings continue to arouse the intelligent interest of large audiences. At West Green Corner our Sunday morning and evening meetings (which occupy some six hours of the day of Rest), continue likewise splendid propaganda efforts. In addition to maintaining these three stations we sent out a scouting party and on its report dispatched a detachment which on the 14th July captured the “fort” at the “Salisbury," Harringay, and there every Saturday evening successful meetings have since been held. Altogether since the beginning of July till the time of writing we have held over 30 very good propaganda meetings and have, at the request of the Executive Committee, undertaken the charge of meetings in Finsbury Park, where already two good meetings have been held.

As a result of this activity the Branch is in thorough good fighting form, and its Business Meetings (which are often attended by members of the public) show clearly that our recruits, young and old, realise the serious import of the Socialist Mission and are determined to take a worthy part therein.

A public challenge to debate has been accepted by a Mr. Davis, a well-known Liberal, and when this comes off a splendid opportunity will be given us to show the Workers wherein lies the path to Social Salvation.

Our membership is increasing but as this may meet the eye of some who have not yet decided, let us just say that we have room for a few more and plenty for them to do. Get a move on! Will ye?
Thos. Dicks

At Random. (1906)

From the October 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is a significant commentary on the timeworn and threadbare policy of retrenchment and reform that was going to benefit the working class so much when the Liberal Party came into power, that the only perceptible influence upon the workers of that policy of economy is the discharge of a large number of workmen from the Government workshops. Woolwich is feeling the pinch pretty severely.

Yet there are some who cannot see that the Liberal party represents the interests of the master class against the workers. In politics, as in industry, what is the capitalist's meat is the working man’s poison. In order that the capitalist ratepayer may have his burden lightened, the working class must be taught to starve.

If you lack necessaries in spite of your labour, it is because your masters enjoy luxury in spite of their idleness.

John D. Rockefeller wants the people to hold fast to the simple life. Meanwhile he holds fast to the almighty dollar.-- The Worker.

"Temporising and Reactionary" (1906)

From the November 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Prominent S.D.F. Member's Criticism of S.D.F. Methods.

133, Goswell-road, E.C.

To the Editor, The Socialist Standard.

Dear Comrade

Could you please find room in your forthcoming issue of the Standard for the following letter of resignation of my membership of the S.D.F., addressed to Comrade F. B. Buckeridge of the Southampton Branch, S.D.F. I have cancelled all my lecture engagements with the S.D.F. branches.
Yours fraternally,

P.S.—I should be obliged to be supplied with a membership form of the S.P.G.B.

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133, Goswell-road. E.C.

To Comrade F. B. Buckeridge,
St. Andrew’s-road. Southampton.

Dear Comrade.

I had delayed writing to you before, with regard to your request that I should lecture for you on September 9th. next, because I wanted to give you an answer in the affirmative. 1 have, however, after a careful study of the position. come to the conclusion that the S.D.F., mistaking numbers for efficiency and popularity for sound economics, is not a workers’ party. I regret, therefore, that I can no longer speak from the S.D.F. platform; and shall at once resign my membership, and as soon as possible settle my dues to my branch, thus leaving the party in an honourable manner. I shall apply to the Socialist Party of Great Britain for membership.
Yours fraternally,
Guy A. Aldred.

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133, Goswell-road. E.C.

To the Editor, The Socialist Standard.

Dear Comrade,

After having been, during my membership of the S.D.F., one of the most vigorous opponents of the Party of winch the Standard is the organ, and having opposed that Party's Principles in a debate with Comrade Fitzgerald, I feel I owe an explanation to your readers for having accepted its principles, even though 1 may not be allowed to join its ranks. As a matter of fact, however, my acceptance of the revolutionary principles for the inculcation of which your organisation alone among Socialist organisations avowedly stands, represents the maturity of those ideas that first led me to join the S.D.F., and, subsequently, in disgust, to throw up Parliamentary correspondence for Justice. I now see quite clearly that a revisionist policy is incompatible with a revolutionary policy and it is because of that fact that the S.D.F. is so unsatisfactory an organisation. I have got about a good deal among its rank-and-file during my membership and I was surprised to find two distinct sets of feelings existing among its members. On the one hand there were the frankly revolutionary spirits, good, earnest, and sincere comrades; on the other, tame revisionists and mere social reformers. This being so, the organisation, as such, could have no policy, and hence could not be "class-conscious.” Now, Comrade, in the past I have accused your Party of merely mouthing the Class War, and have stated that I could do that on the S.D.F. platform. There may be an element of truth in that, but further study has revealed to me this fact, that if I speak on the S,D.F. platform I ought to subscribe to its constitution; and if I did so subscribe, I should have to subscribe to temporising and reactionary political "tactics” such as find practical expression in the case of Mr. W. Thorne, M.P. I cannot honestly do so and preach the Class War; so. although not yet a member of the S.P.G.B. 1 feel I can no longer honestly mount the S.D.F. platform as a supporter of S.D.F. tactics. Again; recently I initiated a correspondence in Justice on why Socialists could not philosophically believe in the capricious effects of prayer nor be Christians. Justice indulges in the old cant about "private religious belief.” This betrays a desire to negate Marxian economics and philosophic Socialism in order to secure the support of “class-conscious Socialists ” save the mark ! —like the Rev. Conrad Noel. No! Socialism is not to be established, the workers are not to be emancipated by the revisionist and respectable tactics of official S.D.F.ers. Only when the workers have realised the meaning of class-consciousness will they be emancipated. Meanwhile the class-controllers may be depended upon to delude by granting palliative "reforms” to soften the suffering occasioned by capitalistic and class-control of the necessities of existence.

Just now I am I booked up for several engagements with comrades in the S.D.F. I admire and respect for their devotion to the cause of working-class emancipation, a devotion wrongly employed in the interest of the revisionists at the head of the S.D.F. 1 find it hard to cut myself adrift from these colleagues ; but I feel I must be true to myself.

In conclusion, therefore, Comrade, let me thank those comrades of the S.P.G.B. who have so persistently brought under my notice the logic of the revolutionary position and also the official abuses existing in the S.D.F. Whatever the future may have in store for me, I shall remember, with gratitude, the services they have rendered me. Thanking you in anticipation, Yours fraternally,
Guy A. Aldred.
(Late Parliamentary Correspondent to Justice.)

{Subsequent to the receipt of the foregoing an article by our correspondent appeared in Justice which conveyed the impression that the writer had not clearly apprehended the position of the S.P.G.B. He was written on the subject by the General Secretary of the Party and the following reply was received.}

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133, Goswell-rd, E.C.

To Comrade W. Gifford,
Gen. Sec., S.P.G.B.

Dear Comrade,

Your letter of the l4th inst to hand. In reply, I would beg to state that the letter that appeared in Justice above my name was sent some days previous to the letter I addressed to the Southampton S.D.F. and a copy of which I addressed to you. At the same time as I addressed this copy to you I addressed another copy of the same letter to the editor of Justice, and it is this letter to which reference is made in the editorial comment. When I noticed this fact I addressed a further letter of complaint to the editor of Justice ; but was informed, by Comrade A. A. Watts, in the communication I enclose, that Quelch could not publish it. These are the facts.

Coming to my attitude at the present time. Briefly. it is this: Socialism, standing for the complete revolution of the present state of Society, can only be realised when the proletariat are educated up to class-consciousness and are thus able to obtain their own emancipation. In the meantime, it is unnecessary for Socialists to ask for or to seek to obtain palliatives, since the directing of attention to these palliatives must inevitably divert attention away from the end at which we aim. .Socialism is therefore opposed, not only to both capitalist parties, but also to the humbug of the present Labour Party; the existence of a Parliamentary Labour Party without a Socialist programme and a Socialist proletariat being more or less a farce. Furthermore, seeing that Trade-Unionism tends to perpetuate the present system, and by its standing for a minimum wage, tends to play into the hands of the Capitalistic Class who need but reply by increasing the cost of the necessities of existence, Socialism must attack and denounce it as being ineffective, and tending to create an aristocracy of labour, since the unskilled do not and cannot benefit by its workings, so long as Capitalism endures. I stand therefore, for anti-revisionism, anti-palliationism, and clear and straightforward revolutionary Socialist propaganda; and am opposed to voting for either Liberal or Tory party under any circumstances. I am also opposed to the placarding of any district with bills, by a Socialist candidate for either municipal or Parliamentary office that would lead other than class conscious electors to vote for such a candidate. I also feel that many members of the S.D.F. do not understand economics. These facts notwithstanding, I have withdrawn my resignation, since 1 feel that to leave under present circumstances would be of no service to the cause. Among S.D.F.-ers it would be thought that I had been “huffed” into resignation over the religious question, whilst it seems to me that the S.P.G.B. comrades would be doubtful about my sincerity. I also find that whilst the rank and file of the S.D.F. includes many tame and inane revisionists, it also includes many avowed revolutionaries. I also find that there is nothing in the constitution forbidding one to preach revolutionary, clear-cut Socialism. Rather than be misunderstood, I propose to use the S.D.F platform for placing before members these revolutionary ideas, and where it brings me in conflict with other members to, without hesitation, oppose these members; then, if I am expelled, members and comrades will be in no doubt as to the reason of my expulsion. So far as organised representation is concerned, I will only add that, in my opinion, the S.P.G.B. embodies, in its constitution, the best organised expression of class-conscious Socialism. But under present circumstances, although I gain nothing by so doing, I believe, in order that I may not be misunderstood, it is best for me to at present expound clear-cut and uncompromising "impossibilism" on the S.D.F. platform.

With best wishes, and giving you full permission to publish this correspondence. I remain, fraternally yours,
Guy A. Aldred

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Twentieth Century Press. Ltd.
37a, Clerkenwell Green,
London E.C

Sept. 10th, 1906.
Dear Comrade

H. Quelch asks me to write round to you to say he cannot publish your letter.

Regarding your later note, respecting the article on Egypt, he would he very pleased to have it if you will send it in.
Fraternally yours,
A. A. Watts. Sec.

Imported Nonsense (1906)

From the December 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The sapient gentleman whom the Daily News is pleased to claim as its own special correspondent in Paris, in referring to the appointments of Viviani and Briand to the Clemenceau Cabinet says: "The Socialist ideal is, of course, the substitution of "collective" exploitation for "capitalistic" exploitation. The Daily News gentleman had better try again. “The Socialist ideal is of course" nothing of the kind. It is the substitution of collective ownership and control for capitalistic ownership and control with the consequent extinction of exploitation altogether. The Daily News gent has been studying the work of those Socialists who unfortunately afflict the movement in France as in England. He has correctly stated their ideal. They are for State capitalism or collective exploitation. We are not concerned with State capitalism. We are concerned with Socialism. Socialism is the negation of capitalism. Consequently State capitalism cannot be the ideal of any Socialist. Ergo those who preach State capitalism or collective exploitation are not Socialists. The Daily News gent has been studying in the wrong school.