Monday, October 30, 2017

Attlee and Bevan: Much Ado About Nothing (1952)

From the April 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Who shall lead the Labour Party, Attlee or Bevan? Who shall become Prime Minister after the next election, Attlee, or Bevan, Butler or Churchill, Churchill or Eden? A, or B, or C, or D, or E? Who shall administer British capitalism in the critical days ahead, who shall persuade the working class to give capitalism another chance, and another and another? It makes such very little difference to its victims, the working class.

Everybody says that Mr. Bevan is out to get the leadership of the Labour Party—everybody, that is, except Mr. Bevan, who challenges “any journal, magazine or newspaper, or any responsible person to find a single statement on writing of my own to justify that" (Report of speech in Daily Herald, 10/3/1952.)

And why shouldn’t Mr. Bevan want to become leader? He believes that Mr. Attlee's policy is wrong and that his own is right. He claims that his policy truly represents the views of the Labour Party rank and file. He believes in the doctrine of leadership and belongs to a Party which has the officially recognised position of “leader” of the Parliamentary Labour Party, now occupied by Mr. Attlee. Surely Mr. Bevan protests too much, especially in the light of his speech at Cumnock in June of last year, when he protested against the Labour Government’s “ strong tendency . . . .  to take its leaders from the “top drawer of society.'" (Manchester Guardian, 18/6/1951.) He said that what his party needed was leaders who “not only understood Socialism with their heads but knew it with their hearts," men with “guts” and "character." Can it not be that Mr. Bevan had a certain person in mind?

That is an issue between Mr. Bevan and his Party; but what of his idea that the kind of leader the Labour Party has makes an important difference in its policy and actions? The Labour Party has had all sorts of leaders. Perhaps Attlee and some of his colleagues may be described in Mr. Bevan’s phrase as being “from the top drawer," but before Attlee there were many others. There was Keir Hardie, ex-miner; Henderson, ex-ironmoulder; Wardle and Thomas, ex-railwaymen; Adamson, another ex-miner: Clynes. ex-cotton worker; and MacDonald, who had worked on the land, then as pupil-teacher, then warehouse clerk and journalist. There was also the late Ernest Bevin, who had worked on the land, in a restaurant, as a tram conductor and lorry driver, and who perfectly fitted Mr. Bevan’s model of the men of heart, with character and guts. The leaders of the Labour Party base included every type, but the variations have made no difference to the Party. Under all its leaders it has clamoured for reforms of capitalism when out of office and then when in office got bogged down in capitalist crises because that is the fate of all parties that try to run capitalism.

If and when Mr. Bevan becomes Prime Minister it will be just the same story over again, by which time there will be other men of "guts” and “character” proposing to clean up the mess made by Mr. Bevan.

What indeed separates Mr. Bevan from Mr. Attlee (or from Mr. Churchill)?

Mr. Attlee and Mr. Churchill agree that British capitalism must re-arm, and so does Mr. Bevan. “I believe it is necessary to re-arm prudently, in such a fashion that it will not be too much a disturbance to the standard of living . . . ” (Speech at Rugby. Observer, 10/6/1951.)

Or, as his supporter, Mr. Driberg, M.P., wrote in Reynolds News (9/3/1952): “All of us (except the pacifists, whose position is understood and respected) agreed that some re-armament was necessary. We differed on the extent of this re-armament.”

One ironical feature was that Mr. Churchill has admitted that Bevan was right in saying that the Labour Government was pressing on with re-armament faster than was practicable.

Is Mr. Bevan against using the arms in war or against extending the Korean war in certain circumstances? He was, of course, a Minister in the Labour Government that sent troops to Korea, and when asked what he would do if troops in Korea were bombed from airfields in China, he replied:—
   "I would have replied, ‘Tell the Chinese that if they do send aeroplanes from airfields inside China we shall bomb them, but that we are abandoning Chiang Kai-shek’s forces in Formosa.' In other words, pursue peace as well as war." (Speech at Rhymney. Manchester Guardian, 10/3/1952.)
Is Mr. Bevan against conscription, or against the use of troops in industrial disputes? He was a member of the Government for six years while these policies were pursued.

Is Mr. Bevan against capitalism’s instrument for speeding up production, piece-rate systems? By no means, for he was Minister of Labour when his Ministry issued the booklet, “Wage Incentive Schemes” (January, 1951), which urged the extension of such schemes to help exports and re-armament. In the Foreword it was stated by Mr. Bevan’s Ministry:—
  “The need for reduced costs of production and increased output has become even more urgent in face of the unavoidable diversion of a substantial portion of the labour force to the carrying out of the Government’s defence programme.”
Over-riding every other consideration, is Mr. Bevan against Capitalism and for Socialism? Again the answer is no. He calls himself a socialist but has the same muddled conception of what the term means as have all his Labour Party rivals whom he seeks to displace, the conception that Socialism consists of nationalisation and reforms like the Health Service scheme. Thus he could say at the Labour Party Conference in 1950:-
  “Great Britain is not a socialist country. Because we have a socialist government is no evidence that we are a socialist country. We are on the way there, but . . . 80 per cent. of the national economy is still in private hands.  . . . " (Report, page 132.)
Mr. Bevan and all his supporters have proclaimed their hope that their disagreement with Attlee can be healed. All that they demand, in Mr. Bevan’s words, is that the struggle with Toryism shall be vigorously pursued. They disclaim any disagreement with the Labour Party’s principles. In so doing they show themselves to be as unworthy of working-class support as the rest of the Labour Party.

What the working class needs here and in all countries is the abolition of capitalism and inauguration of Socialism. A change of social systems, not a mere change of government from Tory to Labour to try to run capitalism in a slightly different way.

The working class do not need different leaders, but to shed their dependence on leadership.

Supporting Bevan against Attlee or supporting Attlee against Churchill means nothing whatever from the standpoint of Socialism and the interest of the working class.

Mr. Hannen Swaffer, writing in the People (9/3/1952), thinks that Mr. Attlee has shown “six year of brilliant leadership,” but “no longer controls his own side ”; while a Labour M.P., Mr. John Taylor (Forward, 8/3/1952), holds that Bevan “is the greatest orator in Parliament In my view he is more gifted in this respect than Churchill. I never heard Lloyd George, so cannot compare him with his distinguished compatriot.”

Here is indeed a fitting measure of the value of leadership to the working class. Attlee led his followers “brilliantly” for six years, but so lamentable is the condition of the workers at the end of it that they are out of control. According to Mr. Taylor, among the Labour Party rank and file in the country Bevan’s “popularity grows with phenomenal rapidity” —on nothing more substantial than his opposition to the brilliant Attlee!

About Churchill, his brilliance, and the results thereof, we need say nothing. Nor should it be necessary to recall how Lloyd George, the fiery rebel who climbed to power by promising benefits of all kinds to the poverty-stricken workers, left them at the end after the first world war in a state as miserable as when he began.

Now Bevan, perhaps the greatest spouter of them all, gets ready to turn the disillusionment of his Party into a means of raising him to the leadership and Premiership. Workers who ponder over the futility of Labourism as demonstrated under all its leaders will see the folly of it all and refuse to be deluded into giving a new lease of life to capitalism under Aneurin Bevan.
Edgar Hardcastle

Is Stalin a Marxist? (1952)

From the May 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Barbara Ward in “Policy for the West” has examined most of the wishful projects popularised during the last few years by top-level politicians to deal with the “Russian menace.” She is an economist of some note, one among many who, as Marx said, seek to serve the day to day needs of capitalism. In other words, she is concerned to make capitalism work.

Russia, she thinks, will not start a third world war. She doesn't need to, because according to beliefs which the Communists say they derive from Marx, she has only to wait for the breakdown of western capitalism, in the meantime continuing her policy of aggression on the Korean pattern, sowing discord between the western nations wherever possible, and assisting Communist Parties everywhere to achieve power.

But this idea of the breakdown of capitalism in the west—or anywhere else—does not derive from Marx. Such a contingency was never subscribed to by turn. It does not come within the limits of rational thought. Stalin himself, quite obviously, does not think that capitalism will collapse anywhere, or he would not rely on the system to endure while building an industrial empire to rival America. Whatever her ideology may be, Russia's economy is capitalist with the usual set-up of production for profit and a wage-slave class.

Russia's foreign policy is capitalist—grabbing fresh markets, sources of supply of essential materials, and extending her spheres of influence—like the similar policy in the West.

According to Miss Ward containment of Russia is of first importance in the policy of the West. But this must be effected without disrupting the economy of any of the member states, whose armed forces must be sufficiently strong and mobile to deter aggression at any point in the Russian perimeter. They must have a police system that will render each nation proof against spies and saboteurs. And the backward peoples of the Far East must be won for the West by the investment of western capital for their industrialisation.

Lenin once said that imperialism was the highest phase of capitalism. Russia had reached that phase before the outbreak of world war two. During the war she proved herself equal to any of the allies in military strength; and after victory just as rapacious for annexations and reparations.

A nation can only be judged by its policy and its actions, and Russia's policy, including her suspicious peace campaign is based on her needs as a capitalist state. How then, can Miss Ward have been deceived into the belief that Russia is Socialist or, same thing, Communist?

When Charlie Chaplin ((Daily Herald, 25/9/51), was asked if he was a communist he replied, “Communist? I'm a comic! 1 can't understand Karl Marx so how can I be a communist." Nut unlike Miss Ward who accepts the popular notion that Russia is Marxist because Stalin says so, Chaplin sees something of the reality behind the witch-hunt and goes on "Those men down there, they are mad! mad with the lust for blood/ When they talk about communists I don't mind, but I wish they would be honest. They don't hate communists, they simply hate the men who may take their money away from them.''

That is what the Bolsheviks did in 1917. On achieving power they proclaimed themselves the state, nationalised the means of production and distribution without compensation, and acquired almost complete right of exploitation over the Russian workers in industry.

Had Marx lived to-day he would have dissected Soviet capitalism just as ruthlessly as he did its nineteenth century predecessor in Britain. He would have exposed their "democratic ” constitution as a shallow fraud, just as socialists in half-a-dozen countries have been doing ever since its adoption in 1937.

Miss Ward has several chapters on the economic and financial side of the containment policy. The risk of inflation, she says, must be met by increased production and a readiness not to take advantage of the nation's needs by excessive demands for higher wages.

When discussing trade cycles Miss Ward admits that the west has no more guarantee against slumps than it had in the twenties. She does not explain the cause. Apparently the cause is just as much a mystery as it was throughout the 19th century. But she does think that the regularity of the cycles seems to suggest that they are not dependent on "crop failure or technical change.” Nor, to do her credit, does she attempt to revive the theory of sun spots. As for some innate trend in the system that idea she says, came from the communists, who are also responsible for "the innate contradictions of capitalist society” and "the dialectical necessity that produces slump and boom.” Here, of course, was Miss Ward's chance to expose the Communist explanation, expressed by her with a brevity and crudity that divest it of intelligible meaning.

Instead she evades the question of cause by asking “But is there any agreed explanation of the rhythmical nature of the trade cycle?” Replying to her own question, she says there is, and many economists agree with her that it is a question of demand. "The demand for capital goods or for further investment.” But surely investment implies the existence of markets, people with money ready to buy commodities. A few pages previously she had written "Undersupply is not the typical predicament of modern industrial society. It is the insufficiency and the irregularity of demand.”

It would appear that here the lady has inadvertently stumbled on one of those "innate contradictions of capitalist society” i.e., the inability of those who produce all wealth to buy back more than the amount represented by wages and salaries. And the determination of investors not to invest capital unless assured of safe and adequate returns.

Miss Ward aims to kill two birds with one shot. To do so with success they must both be in the line of fire. Hence, to discredit Marxism the Russian set-up is treated by her as either Marxist or derived from Marx. And the failure of Marxism, she alleges, is demonstrated by the concentration camps, bogus trials and mass executions. "It was from the so-called scientific and dialectical socialism of Marx that the idea of complete state ownership as a ‘cure-all’ of economic evils was derived.” Here, she is careful not to impute the statement to Marx. By devious twists anything can be derived: even Russian imperialism as Stalin has shown by his tortuous record on national independence; while his substitution of “work” for “needs” in the Marx and Engels slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” is a complete reversal of the original meaning, and by itself stamps Russia as capitalist and labour-power as a commodity.

In her reckless denunciation of Marx she writes: 
  “Marx himself and Lenin after him did not talk about planning at all, and had no concrete suggestions for controlling the trade cycle or stabilizing world trade. They simply said dogmatically that if the state owned everything, these problems would not arise.”
Marx regarded trade as the capitalist mechanism of appropriation, and division among themselves, of the wealth produced by the workers. He anticipated that knowledge, progressing on rationalist lines would enable them to understand the acquisitive nature of trade, and the repressive function oi the state. Consequently they would organise to abolish both, substituting their own system of common ownership of the means of production and distribution, and establishing democracy on a basis of equality.

By attributing to Marx the statement “that if the state owned everything these problems would not arise,” she displays her ignorance of Marxism and the real function of the state. Irrespective of its origin, the statement itself is absurd. Ownership by the state, i.e. nationalization, either wholly, as in Russia, or in part, is everywhere dependent on trade.

Under the heading “Faith for Freedom,” Miss Ward sets out to vanquish Marxism, using ancient civilizations as a sample of what to expect under communism. She says “It is the tragedy of Marxist communism that it restores the old fetters of fatality and tyranny.” She sees the capitalist epoch since the industrial revolution as a “breath taking experiment in freedom. . . .  A release from the shackles of tyrannical governments.” “We know from man’s long history that the Western experiment of freedom and responsibility is a flash in the pan, a spark in the longest night, an experiment bounded in space and time, and preceded by aeons of collective servitude.” While Communism, she says, “ is to step back into an older environment, to regress,” etc., etc.

There are many pages of eulogies of capitalism and prophetic warnings of man’s debasement by communism. She has visions of mankind under Communism reduced to the “mentality of bees and ants,” controlled by their environment and tyrannical governments. “Behind the concept of the withering away of the state lies not only the loss of freedom, but the loss of rationality and humanity itself.”

The totalitarian form of government is the nearest approach to Miss Ward’s vision of communism, but it is still capitalism. The Bolsheviks saw its possibilities as an alternative after their failure to establish Socialism. Italy and Germany followed the same pattern. While Hitler prophesied that “National Socialism” could serve capitalism for a thousand years, Truman said that an ideology cannot be fought by armed force, forgetting that they had put paid to “National Socialism” by that very means; making nonsense of Hitler's boast by further nonsense.

The difference between East and West from the workers' viewpoint, is that in the West they are free to organise industrially or politically for their own purposes as a class, while in the East they are circumscribed by the state ideology which it is a crime to question.

But the quarrel between East and West is not over democracy. Nor is it a struggle for Socialism; but a struggle for supremacy in a capitalist world. And whichever side wins the workers will still be wage- slaves, submitting in apathy to the growth of the servile state pictured by Miss Ward, or by taking up the thread of human progress, and challenging the right of a privileged class to dictate the destiny of mankind, become responsible for the establishment of Socialism.

The task of utilising and extending all the advantages that have been achieved under capitalism can only be accomplished by those who understand its technical and scientific parts, those who have built it up by hand and brain, and are responsible for the working of the system from day to day, the only useful class; the working-class. That class has only to learn that it can produce and distribute for society far better without the incubus of trade, and without the repressive actions of class government, by their own democratic organisation. Without these encumbrances they could soon be free from the present nightmare of poverty and atom bombs.
F. Foan

Mr. Aldred — An Explanation (1952)

From the June 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

In our issue for March we published an article, “Muddled Critic of the S.P.G.B.,” commenting on some remarks about the S.P.G.B. made by Mr. Guy Aldred in his journal “The Word.”

In the April issue of “The Word” Mr. Aldred published our article in full and said that he intends to reply to it in his next issue.

In the meantime, in the April issue, he deals angrily with one passage in our article. Mr. Aldred had earlier written that the attitude of the S.P.G.B. at the 1951 election was “the result of its 1950 experience at the ballot-box.”

To this we replied: —
   "The S.P.G.B. was doing this right from its formation in 1904, which means that it was doing it at the time when Mr. Aldred applied for membership of the S.P.G.B., and in 1928 when he offered to give his support to S.P.G.B. candidates on certain conditions." .
Mr. Aldred says that we have knowingly made false statements, firstly in saying that he applied for membership, and secondly in saying that he did so in 1904. He says he did not apply for membership and that the incident in question did not happen in 1904 but in 1906.

Taking first the question of the year, may we suggest to Mr. Aldred that instead of getting so excited about our alleged mis-statement of the date, he should read again our statement reproduced above. It did not mention the date of the incident. What it aimed to convey was that as the S.P.G.B.’s attitude was the same ever since its formation in 1904, his application, whatever its date, must have been at a time when the S.P.G.B. held that attitude.

Mr. Aldred’s main objection is, however, to the statement that he applied for membership. In referring to this we notice that he does not give his readers his own version of the incident though he refers them to the Socialist Standard of November, 1906, for information contained in letters written by him.

We wrote without looking up the November, 1906 correspondence, and find that in fact Mr. Aldred did not apply for membership at that time. What he did was to write informing us that he was at once resigning from the Social Democratic Federation and wanted a membership form of the S.P.G.B. On the same day he wrote to the S.D.F. a letter spying: “I shall apply to the Socialist Party of Great Britain for membership.”

He followed this up two days later with a letter to the Socialist Standard explaining how, after opposing the ' S.P.G.B. in the past, “ I feel I owe an explanation to your readers for having accepted its principles.”

A fortnight later he wrote again saying that he had decided after all to remain in the S.D.F. “to use the S.D.F. platform for placing before members those revolutionary ideas.”

This last letter also contained the following: — 
  “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."
So Mr. Aldred didn’t apply for membership. He agreed with the S.P.G.B., and intended to apply for membership and wrote for a membership form, and then changed his mind and decided to remain in the S.D.F. putting S.P.G.B. views and risking expulsion. But he didn’t apply for membership because having decided to leave the S.D.F. and apply to join the S.P.G.B. he changed his mind again though he still agreed with the S.P.G.B.

We can only wonder why Mr. Aldred makes so much fuss about it
Editorial Committee

A Visit To Lancashire (1952)

From the July 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Very tired, I strolled out of London Road Station, Manchester. Its tall grim buildings lent small contrast to the litter-ridden streets. It was cold, and grime hung to every wall. Not yet 7 a.m., and already the streets were cluttered with people—or are these workers people? Early bent with age, the sickening look of lifelong servitude clouds their faces; old macs, lifeless trousers, and a quick walk; working automatons, fed and kept to make a profit for their bosses.

At that early hour cars were still asleep and their wealthy owners turned weary heads around soft pillows. Crowded buses filled the roads and as if to pack them tight, bicycles long past their age of safety cut everywhere between them.

Later, as my train pulled out of Victoria Station, I realised how little changed was Manchester. There seemed to be small concern about the slump which was gnawing at its guts: 100,000 on short time, 30,000 dismissed.

My next stop was Rochdale, and here the sight was more depressing. I saw groups of men standing on street corners, hands in pockets, wondering “What next? Perhaps we will soon be hearing the old Tory cry: 'these men are lazy, they do not want to work, unemployment will do them good.' ” A local lavatory attendant a little later expressed this view: “They have had their way long enough, now let the bosses have their turn. Most of them don't want to work, that’s why they were sacked first." I was reminded of what Mr. H. Kershaw, Assistant Secretary of the Weavers' Association, said a fortnight ago at a meeting in Stockport: “We don't want something for nothing, we want the right to work." It is the old story returning, the story of the years between the wars.

I saw an old woman turn down a narrow unwelcoming street carrying a parcel. I looked along the road and about thirty yards to the left I saw three balls hanging on the wall arched against all weathers. The old woman turned in the door. I looked over the curtained window, was not satisfied and walked in. Six tired unhappy females were parting with chattels. On the walls were notices: “No females’ clothes accepted." “Medals not wanted," “Watches not accepted unless in working order." Behind the counter was the “philanthropist," his hard lines betraying all that was worst in capitalism.

I made an excuse and walked out, and nearly pushed some bread and jam into a little girl’s face. “You're enjoying yourself' I said. She ignored me. “Your lunch?" I asked. “Yes." “Why eat it in the street?" “ Dad's eating his and there ain't enough, so Mum sent me and Bill out" She turned and ran away.

I went back into the high street and surveyed the crowds. How many of them remember that just two years ago they were being told that never again would there be unemployment, prosperity was assured for at least another ten years? And now, out of the 18 big mills in Stockport, 11 are closed and the rest are working two or three days a week. In the small town of Heywood, 1266 are unemployed. The News Chronicle editorial (10th May) says (referring to Oldham) that out of 38,000 workers 6,000 are unemployed, thousands more are only partly employed and the fully employed comprise mere hundreds. The Manchester Evening Chronicle (14th May) states that hundreds of thousands of shirts are being unloaded on Lancashire retailers at below cost There have been crowded meetings of workers all over the county, demanding that the Government take action and asserting that they will not allow the industry to return to the state it was in the '30s. In Bolton the average number of operatives stopped during the last eight weeks has been 42 per cent. Mr. E. Mella, president of the Oldham Operative Spinners Association, opening a conference at Blackpool on May Day, said that the two weeks holiday with pay had come at an unfortunate time and the per cent. of total earnings which was granted for holiday money would under present conditions be of no use because many workers have been out of work for several weeks, and even if the agreement gave them 20 per cent they would still have no money. Also at this conference of the United Textile Factory Workers Association the secretary said: “We have not seen the worst of the slump; unless something is done to clear the high-priced goods, our industry is faced with a complete shut down for several weeks in the summer."

My next move was to visit a local furniture saleroom, as I wanted to compare prices with London. I considered that owing to the complicated and unique position that second-hand goods hold, their prices would vary very strongly with the law of supply and demand, having no ordinary cost basis behind them to stop them selling below their cost price—they are therefore much more at the mercy of market conditions than new goods. I was proved correct: goods were being sold for a song, the auctioneer was hard pressed to get 5s. for small lots. The audience gasped at some of the ridiculous prices, but with no money they could not buy.

I made trips to Royton and Oldham, but conditions were much the same, the slump was on everyone's lips.

Now I looked at some of the statements being made by our textile experts and economists. Space unfortunately only permits me to quote a few of their recent utterances.

George Hosty, President of the Federation of Master Cotton Spinners Association (the Chronicle, 10/5/52) thinks reduction in costs is the solution.

Mr. A. Knowles, Secretary of Oldham Operative Spinning Association (Oldham Evening Chronicle, 13/5/52) said: “I am satisfied that textile goods are as cheap as they ever will be. I think it is time the public started to buy.”

Liverpool Daily Post (14/5/52) editorial states that in just over a year the price of wool has been halved and instead of retail demand picking up, the commodity has plunged the textile industry into suffering through lack of orders.

Mr. A. Knowles again (Oldham Evening Chronicle, 13/5/52) says that 25 per cent purchase tax cuts are chicken feed.

Manchester Evening News (13/5/52) says that traders consider Butler’s purchase tax cuts would unsettle the market and start further price landslides. The editorial of the same edition says that any concession, however small, must be welcome.

In the face of these contradictions, it is obvious that these people have no idea what the slump is all about, and it is doubtful if they would be interested anyway. They will try the old cures while the depression grows even if its tentacles strangle the whole of the capitalist world.
S. Roseneil

"Death of a Salesman" (1952)

Film Review from the August 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Death of a Salesman, directed by László Benedek (1951)

This film version of the successful play was recently generally released (though not to the main circuits) and is well worth a visit to one of the few cinemas that will show it. Its theme is somewhat different from the conventional Hollywood dramas and it has a social significance that is all too rare in films. It is the story not merely of Willie Loman, ageing merchandise salesman, but of the whole business of buying and selling in a highly competitive society. Usually, screen characters are shown as wholly “good” or “bad” and undergoing no significant change in outlook as a result of what happens to them. For once we see, in this film, recognition of the fact that men are largely made what they are by the sort of environment in which they have to live.

Willie Loman, superbly played by Frederic March, is portrayed as a failure who refuses to believe that he is not the success that he thinks he should be. At sixty-three, having been “on the road” all his working life, he is worn out, more mentally than physically, through having tried to make himself well known, well liked and remembered by his customers. He makes a fetish of the “power of personality” as a factor in business success. He is, in Hollywood jargon, “all mixed up” and is shown as re-living past episodes and talking in his imagination to people he knows. In one scene he wonders if he has brought up his two sons to believe in the right things, and has an imaginary conversation with his dead, but successful, brother about them. Brother Ben, to show that you must be tough to make your fortune in this world, invites one of the boys to take a punch at him, and after a short struggle the boy is on the ground with a cane pointing in his face. Then come words which should haunt the memories of all who have lauded the merits of the scramble for wealth and power—"Never fight fair with a stranger in the jungle."

The film pulls no punches in depicting the sort of behaviour and situations that result from the condition of cut-throat Capitalism, though unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) it does not refer to the system directly. It has presumably been given an “X” certificate (adults only) because of the suicide, and its failure to disguise the prostitute as the usual “barmaid” or “ hostess.” Other touches of realism are the references to the hand-to-mouth existences of the vast majority of people, even in the “prosperous” cities of America. Faced with the problem of meeting the last payments on his car and refrigerator, Willie remarks, “ It seems they make these things so they’re worn out just when you finish making the payments on them.”

Part of the story deals with the efforts of his two sons to earn their hirings on the basis of their father’s teaching about success, and the importance of being well liked as the royal road to it. One of them has had a number of jobs, most recently working on a farm, and is keen to become an executive with the firm for which he once worked as a shipping-clerk. The fatherly advice includes “Don’t tell him you worked on a farm—say you were in business in the West”— typical of the fantasy and deception that abound in the whole business world.

When, having lost his job, Willie makes it obvious that he intends to commit suicide, his uncle tries to talk him out of it by saying that no one is worth anything dead. But Willie, whose life is insured for 20,000 dollars, knows otherwise. At his graveside his uncle says, “Willie was a salesman and as a salesman he traded in dreams." Yet nobody, no matter how accustomed to the almost ritual happy endings, could really believe that with the death of one salesman had died the evil which was the underlying theme of the film.

The purpose of this review is not to prove that such films as “Death of a Salesman” are a form of propaganda for Socialism. Not for one moment does this particular film hold out the prospect of a world in which the necessity to buy and sell would not exist. But it does, at any rate, constitute a powerful criticism of the capitalist way of life and reinforces the arguments of socialists against prolonging it.