Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bolshevism (1968)

Book Review from the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

A History of Bolshevism by Arthur Rosenberg (Anchor Books. 14s.)

This book, first translated into English in 1934, has now been republished. When we reviewed the German edition the Socialist Standard (January 1934) [we] said that it was “a striking confirmation of the stand taken by the Socialist Party of Great Britain on the Russian upheaval and the historic role of the Bolsheviks". Rosenberg, who was till 1927 a leading member of the German Communist Party, concludes, we said, that the Bolsheviks were “the executors of the testament of Peter the Great. To them has fallen the historic task of solving the backwardness of Russia. They are accomplishing this through the institution and development of State capitalism".

The book is a must for all who wish to understand the nature of the Russian revolution.

Marxism versus Maoism (1968)

Book Review from the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

Beliefs in Society: The Problems of Ideology by Nigel Harris (Watts, 15s.)

Once you've ploughed through the first three, analytical chapters, written in the almost incomprehensible language that is associated more with New Left Review than International Socialism (which Harris edits), this is a very good book.

Harris starts his analysis front the materialist conception of history (“which identifies social classes as the product of a competitive struggle for scarce resources and a social division of labour: the most important beliefs within society are seen as related to this basic struggle, and thus to class"). Ideologies, or systems of beliefs, “relate to the arena o! social conflict, to the purposes of groups competing for scarce resources". They don’t come from nowhere and to no purpose. As examples, Harris takes British Conservatism. Russian Marxism-Leninism (so-called), and Asian, mainly Chinese, nationalism.

He shows how Marxism, originally a theory of the self-activity of the working class in the industrialized parts of the world, became “the conservative ideology of a new class society, a body of formalized doctrine designed to justify the existing nature of society and to leave complete freedom of action to its leaders". The only criticism we would have of this chapter is that Harris plays down the difference between Marx’s views of the self-emancipation of the working class and Lenin’s advocacy of a vanguard party as a necessity even in advanced capitalist states. Indeed Harris almost denies that this was a central part of Lenin’s political theory. But if it wasn’t, why did the Third International lay it down as an organizational must for all its affiliates? Despite Harris’ protests, Lenin did pave the way for Stalin.

Harris re-iterates that for Marx Socialism was not "a tactic for forced economic development under State control” but a society in which the working class will have achieved its freedom:
  Now Marxists identified the industrial proletariat as the sole agency for achieving socialism (and therefore, socialism was only an appropriate aim in developed countries where the proletariat was a majority), not just because it was poor, but because of its role within the economy, because it sustained and developed the industrial economy by its own efforts, because it was concentrated and organised in the major cultural centres, because it learned discipline and the advantages of interdependence, because by its experience it had the ability to run the economy.
Thus to be used by people, such as the Chinese Communists, working in predominantly peasant countries, with no working class to speak of, Marx’s views would have to be revised. Inevitably, in a retrograde manner. In China the result was a theory, disguised in Marxist terms, very similar to the pre-Marxist Narodnik (or Populist) revolutionaries in Russia against whom Plekhanov, Martov and Lenin had argued.
  What would this “regression" entail? A belief that the intelligentsia plus peasants could produce a revolution: that revolution could create socialism; that ‘nationalism’ completely encompassed socialism, that the ‘people’ encompassed the proletariat, and that the local national struggle was the key to the progress of mankind; that the country concerned could industrialise without undergoing capitalism; that socialism was a peasant way of life rather than an emancipated developed society.
Li Ta-chao (see review of Meisner’s book in May Socialist Standard) began this revision and Mao finished it. It is interesting to note that for Maoists Marx’s “workers of the world, unite" has become “oppressed peoples of the world, unite!"
   Mao has revised Marxism to such a degree that it cannot really be considered to be merely a local “application”: the essence has disappeared. What constitutes revolution is not the most advanced urban masses securing their own emancipation by their own efforts, but guerrilla warfare by the least advanced rural groups, operating outside the ordinary social structure over many years, in order to seize power and begin industrialisation. A would-be ruling élite, dispossessed and alienated from the status quo. within a decaying agrarian social structure, fits naturally into Maoism, although even more naturally into Castroism which was not part of Marxism-Leninism in its revolutionary phase in Cuba. Activism and populism provide the dominant themes.
“Guerrilla warfare", Harris points out. “takes us straight back to Narodnik thought, to the revolutionary minority seizing power in the name of the people—despite the people—to the traditional coup d'état rather than social revolution”.

This is exactly the analysis we in the Socialist Party have made, but we are more consistent. Such guerrillas are enemies of the international working class, to be denounced as such. Harris (though not in this book) gives them, e.g. the so-called National Liberation Front in Vietnam, “unconditional" support. Why? He’ll have to do better than say Marx supported some nationalist movements in the 19th century, for the simple reason that the 20th century is not the 19th century.
Adam Buick

William Hill discovers a social evil (1963)

From the March 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

The ever swelling ranks of society’s reformers have acquired a new “recruit.” Guess who? None other than Mr. William Hill of bookmaking fame. Speaking a little while ago in Birmingham, he complained:
  I was one of those who was all for legalization (of betting shops) . . .  on moral grounds I think it had to happen. Many of you here tonight think that shops are a great success, but I fear that they may eventually become a social evil.
  The existence of betting shops has actually extended betting, with the result that we now have some newspapers warning us that the shops represent a grave danger of a general trade recession.
  Surely it is the duty of the Government to protect the community, for, as I see it, the continued growth of shops can only lead to an increase in betting.
It seems strange that one of Britain’s leading bookmakers should complain about an increase in betting; which really means more business for the layers. When the Wm. Hill organisation insert their large advertisements in the Sporting Press—“Cash or Credit, Hill’s prices lead," and so on—surely they are angling for just this?

In order to understand this speech of Mr. Hill's, let us take a glance at the returns for the year of Holders Investment Trust, which owns the Wm. Hill bookmaking business. According to the Manchester Evening Chronicle of 16th November the profits of this concern fell by over a million pounds in the year to July 31st. Now that’s enough to make any tycoon tear his hair. Nobody need be surprised that if competition from the small fry betting shops has had a hand in this Capitalistic tragedy, then they become a “ social evil ” in the eyes of the big bookmakers.

However, quite without regard to Mr. Hill’s appeal to the Government and his description of “the many gangsters and thugs now holding bookmaker's permits’—the inexorable laws of competition will eventually have their effect, in the usual anarchic way. There will be those who will survive in the betting business and those who “ go to the wall.”

Despite Mr. Hill’s alarm at the number of betting shops sprouting up all over the country and the “cool million” loss in his company—this is the Capitalistic way of life that he and his fellow Capitalists seek to perpetuate. It is front Capitalism itself that the majority of mankind are suffering.
G. R. Russell

This Business of Gambling (1968)

From the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

In a corner of a busy Manchester belling office sat a frail, elderly woman concentrating all her menial energy on the day's horse racing. She was about 70, with wispy grey hair and a face lined by a life time of wage slavery. Every week she goes to this same office, to play up her meagre pension in a ceaseless struggle to rise above the Plimsoll Line existence laid down by government statisticians. 

After a life on the wages treadmill, she is now trying to get some easy money from this betting business which everyone seems to be having a go at. Adjusting her rolled gold framed spectacles, which have a habit of falling askew through worn hinges, she grimly studied all the facts and figures of form, ignoring the hubbub around her, and floor strewn with losing betting tickets, sporting pages of the various dailies cast away in disgust by those who had lost, and the steady drone of the race commentator as he went through race after race ritual . . .  “They’re going down” . . .  They’re at the post" . . . “They’re under orders”. . .  "They're Off" and the result on which they all hung, especially if there were a photo finish with its added agony of waiting. But she was used to it all now.

Scribbling down her final selections, she handed in the vital stake money, received her ticket and returned to her corner to await the outcome. Her hands trembled slightly as she snapped shut her handbag containing only one more ten shilling note. But she tossed her head defiantly at the thought of yet another week of penury if she failed to find a winner in the next race. She was no coward — and look at those Chinese waiters from the restaurant downstairs, how brave they were — always laughing, even when they lost, and those Negroes from Moss Side—fearless gamblers all. Besides, she felt some fellowship for all these people, who, like herself, were trying desperately to alleviate their poverty.

Long before she started coming into this betting office, she had been tired of ekeing out on her pension. But. still, this so called easy money was proving very hard to get. Especially as her bank was so weak she soon got broke and a gambler without a stake is as helpless as a bricklayer without a trowel. Still, it gave her some interest, and mental activity even at her age and was preferably to spending long hours in her drab back street bed sitter. That really was a vegetable like existence. As she ruminated on. the race was off and the result was a 9 to 2 winner which somewhat eased her grim countenance: she had a whole five shillings on the nose (to win). She was improving at the game. Or was she? From past experiences she well knew there may be some losers lurking round the corner tomorrow . . . ?

The above vignette of real life, culled from our “affluent" society of the Sixties, (what the Manchester Evening News is so fond of headlining as . . . "Booming. Bustling. Manchester”) . . .  provides an ironic answer to those who claim that this is the best of all possible worlds. In fact, many workers show what they think of this world by dashing in and out of the nearest betting shop at every available opportunity for a few shillings worth of each way escapism from the dull monotony of their wage and salary slavery. Indeed, recently, a top bookie, William Hill complained about . . . "The loss in man hours to industry through time spent in bet shops". But as we pointed out in the Socialist Standard in March 1963, Hill is himself a staunch supporter of capitalism, betting shops and all. Gambling is a built in component of capitalism and the hold up last winter in racing in Britain through foot and mouth disease, and the frosty weather, amply demonstrated this when thousands of betting shop personnel were laid off as the betting business slowed down and adjusted itself to dog track trade only. No doubt this millionaire bookie, who complained in 1963 about belling shops being what he described as . . .  "a social evil" (but who later paid £850,000 for eighteen of London’s “socially evil” but profitable betting shops) was pleased at the hold up in racing so that the "loss in man hours to industry” will be curtailed?—Or was he?

In the long run, whether the working class gamble or not, their basic position as a subject class will remain unaltered. And even though the grim experience of being dead broke, time and again under a monetary economy, is certainly no joke, the human organism gets used to losing the rent now and again in the valiant and apparently endless attempts to double it.
G. R. Russell

Plaid Cymru is not the answer for Wales (1968)

From the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

If the results of July’s by-election in Caerphilly and the one last year in the Rhondda are anything to go by, nearly four out of every ten workers in the mining valleys now support Plaid Cymru, which wants a separate state in Wales. Since at the last general election Labour held most of these seats with majorities of up to and over 20.000 this represents a dramatic change of political opinion.

Plaid Cymru fought this election at Caerphilly (where in 1923 stood the first Communist Party candidate) more on Labour’s failure and their own reform programme than on their ultimate aim of a separate slate. With unemployment in Caerphilly at 8 per cent, which on a national scale would mean two million on the dole, they had plenty of discontent to work on. They argue that it is “London government" that causes our problems. The solution, apparently, is Cardiff government. This is nonsense. Our problems are not caused by London government but, as elsewhere, by the class monopoly of the means of production, in short, by capitalism. Their solution lies not in nationalism, which is a delusion and a snare, but in world Socialism.

Sometimes, Plaid members claim their party is the vehicle for “socialism in Wales". This too is absurd as it is not possible to set up Socialism in one country alone.

Labour’s reaction to this challenge was revealing. They stopped at nothing in their campaign against the "separatists" They dishonestly suggested that Plaid Cymru encouraged bomb outrages and wanted to reserve the best jobs (a matter dear to the heart of every Labour councillor) for those who spoke Welsh. They spoke of “incipient fascism". They claimed to be against nationalism as it put up barriers between people. One local official said he had nothing against workers in England, Scotland or Ireland (he did not mention anywhere else) and wanted a “socialist Britain.” Fred Evans, the candidate, too wanted, or so he said, "socialist, not separatist, solutions". The main case against a separate state of some of the Welsh Labour MP's who spoke was obviously a concern lest their careers in London come to an abrupt end. Michael Foot, who sits for Ebbw Vale, was afraid that a separate Wales and a separate Scotland would leave England with a built-in Tory majority, that is. would leave the Labour politicians in permanent opposition. Yet apparently the Tories have their uses. One Labour leaflet headed “Nationalism Doesn’t Pay” was partly a reprint of an anti-separatist item from the Daily Telegraph.

The Labour Party’s attitude here is just hypocrisy. They are not against violence, but have always supported wars and armed forces. If any party deserves the “fascist" tag surely it is Labour who have done so much to lay the foundations for a corporate state in Britain. Nor are they against nationalism: they are British nationalists. As for putting up barriers, was it not Labour who greatly strengthened the immigration colour bar? A “socialist Britain" is no less ridiculous than a “socialist Wales" and for the same reason.

Since a separate state is in fact no solution to our problems Labour was on stronger ground in dismissing this as irrelevant and in pointing to Eire where, despite an independent government in Dublin, there are the same problems as here such as high unemployment and emigration.

Although it is heartening to see a revival of political activity and argument in the valleys after years of Labour one-party rule, it is a pity that this is taking the form of rejecting one futile party for another, even if it is breaking away from the Tory-Labour Tweedledum-Tweedledee farce.

Background to Apartheid (1968)

From the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

The system of Apartheid thought out and applied by the National Party regime in South Africa is a consciously racist one. There is a long history of repressive and discriminatory legislation aimed against the ‘‘non-white’’, and in particular the African population. The National Party under its leaders Hertzog, Malan, Strijdom and Verwoerd reduced the limited representation of the none-white population until today it is non-existent.

In an effort to stem the rising nationalist fervour among Africans and prevent the consolidation of opposition forces, as represented by the African and Indian National Congresses, and elements of the "Communist" and Liberal Parties, the government has extended the normal ruling class policy of divide and rule to include actual geographical separation. There have thus been created so-called “Bantustans” which, as a scheme on paper, has been so often used by the hypocritical supporters of Apartheid as a conscience absolver. In fact the “Bantustans” or “Black Homelands” amount to nothing more than a large number of scattered reserves covering about one seventh of South Africa’s territory, much of it of the poorest quality. Claims by the National Party as to the self-governing nature of the reserves are quite false.

The self-set task of the government has been not so much the preservation of the traditional African tribal system as its re-creation. Much of the tribal system was destroyed long ago by military defeat in a series of wars waged against conquest, as well as by the widespread adoption of Christianity. If the government had directed all the resources of the state into a genuine attempt to build up the remnants of the tribal society, it may have halted the clock for a while, but it could not have turned it back. As it was they were unwilling to lose the economic advantage of African farm and factory workers, not to mention personal lackeys. The result has only been to continue and sharpen the internal strife, with the government becoming more desperate and openly repressive in their attempts to safeguard the dominance of the Afrikaner farmer class.

Inevitably the already restricted freedom of speech and press has been removed in an effort to bolster the apartheid regime. Both the African and Indian National Congress that had been so successful in breaking down political apathy among farmers and workers are now banned. One of the most far reaching attacks on democracy made by the government has been the Suppression of Communism Act. The wide definition given to ‘communism’ and the absolute authority given to the Minister has meant its use against any and all opponents of the regime. Govan Mbeki, the author of The Peasants Revolt was detained in solitary confinement for two months under this law before being acquitted of the charge against him. He was only one of many African political organisers to be subjected to this same sort of treatment. Radio and the press are also subject to censorship and the introduction of television is actively resisted by the S. African state.

In the field of education the non-white population is at a serious disadvantage both through the type and amount available, though education for white workers is warped in many spheres, in particular that of race. A large number of distortions appear in the history textbooks provided for both white and non-white pupils. Two myths in particular are widely believed, namely that the Dutch landed in an empty territory, and that clashes with African tribes were always violent, with massacres of innocent unsuspecting whites by the Africans. This is in complete contradiction to the accounts of many early travellers. The addition of “race studies” to many school curricula has been fraught with danger from the very beginning, though perhaps more for what it left out, than for what it included. There is for instance a high percentage of space devoted to “Bantu tribal life in the reserves” but very little to “Bantu in Urban Areas” which has resulted in the whole picture becoming distorted, and most white children left utterly ignorant of the industrial shanties and slums, and the general frustrations suffered by non-white workers.

The policy of Apartheid has been, and continues to be, a definite hindrance to industrial expansion in South Africa. While it has provided a vast supply of cheap unskilled labour, it has ignored the pressures of world competition toward the need for increased technical skill and specialisation. The National Bureau for Educational and Social Research reported in 1962 a shortage of 12 per cent among junior scientists, and 10 per cent among professional engineers without taking account of posts filled by inadequately trained labour. In its annual Economic Review the South African Reserve Bank drew attention to “an insufficient supply of certain classes of skilled manpower. Such shortages were evident, for example, in the building, iron and steel, general engineering and motor industries”. The Minister of Education, forecast a shortage of 1,500 doctors in 1965, and this in a field which has been more open to Africans than other professions. Capitalist groans at this state of affairs have been echoed by the National Developments Foundation of South Africa, as the following speech by Dr. F. Meyer, its President demonstrates:
  Why cannot we increase productivity and bring down the cost of living? Why cannot we modernise our factories? Why cannot we improve or expand our marketing and selling? and hundreds of similar questions you may ask. The answers arc all the same, namely: because we do not have the trained managerial executive and technical manpower to plan, organize and administer these things. The opportunities are there. We can get the money, the materials and the equipment, but we cannot lay our hands on the trained manpower to turn ideas into action.
It may fairly be said that the capitalist class in South Africa are for the most part opposed to the strict apartheid measures that have been applied, even though their representation on the political field, through first the Unionist and later the United Party, has been one of compromise with the numerically predominant Afrikaner Nationalists currently entrenched in the seat of power The more radical Progressive Party and the now dissolved Liberal party forthrightly called for a multi-racial South Africa taking an attitude very similar to that put forward by W. H. Hutt in his The Economics of the Colour Bar published in 1964 — “When we buy a product in the free market we do not ask about the sex, race, nationality or political opinions of the producer. All we are interested in is whether it is good value for money”. 

In spite of the ideology of Apartheid and its associated practices, the complete separation of people into tribal and ethnic groupings has proved impossible. With such a closely integrated economic structure, and with all the important harbour facilities, the best arable land, and mineral wealth owned by “white" people, it could not have been otherwise. Hampered as they arc industrialisation and urbanisation continue. in many cases with restrictive employment laws being openly breached. Between 1962 and 1964 the African population of Johannesburg increased from 609,100 to 706,389. Increasing numbers are being recruited through the labour bureaux in the Transkei. The figures are endless, all of them testify to the impossibility of complete separation. They reveal the policy of apartheid as a scheme for the subjection of non-white farmers and workers in the interests of Afrikaner farmers.

That the capitalist class will gain political as well as economic control of South Africa is inevitable. The question remains—when and how. Should the National Party remain in power, unwilling to make any sort of compromise then violence will be the only alternative—a bloody revolt will commence, the result of stifled opinion and pent-up frustrations of years of racism.
Michael Bradley

The Socialist Party and War (1968)

From the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

Socialists are not pacifists. Yet ever since the Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed in 1904 it has opposed all wars. Our members have suffered imprisonment and persecution rather than fight—and the members of our companion socialist parties have done the same in other parts of the world.

Why is this? It is because we recognise that under capitalism wars arise when rival powers fall out over the control of markets and supplies of raw materials, or over the domination of trade routes and spheres of influence. It is this struggle between rival capitalist states which compels countries like Britain and America to maintain armed forces wherever they have interests. And the same pressures act on the state capitalist powers such as Russia and China.

But in these struggles the working class have no interests at stake. Workers are people who, because they own no factories or other means of producing wealth, are forced to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary. Working men and women throughout the world have a common interest in getting rid of the capitalist system which gives rise to wars and many of the other problems which confront us. By a united effort we could replace capitalism by a new way of organising the world. We call this Socialism or Communism (not to be confused with Labour-administered capitalism in Britain or the brutal state-capitalist dictatorships in Russia and elsewhere). Socialism will be a world community completely without frontiers and based on common ownership and democratic control of all the means of producing wealth. In a socialist world production would be solely for use and enjoyment—not for profit.

When the first world war broke out the vast majority of those who called themselves socialists were soon swept away by patriotic hysteria. In Britain the Socialist Party was alone in explaining the internationalist position which socialists must adopt under conditions of peace or war. We issued a manifesto which ended with the following statement:
   “Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our good win and Socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of Capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.”
Over fifty years later we still adhere to this position. In fact, our comrades in the World Socialist Party of the United States recently reprinted the extract above in their paper, the “Western Socialist”, to explain their attitude towards the war in Vietnam.

We do not appeal to you merely as people who think that war is senseless and want to see an end to it. We appeal to you as working men and women whose interest lies in establishing a world socialist community. We do not ask for your support, for you to accept us as new leaders; rather we need your comradely help in working to achieve Socialism.

50 Years Ago: Morals and Socialism (1968)

The 50 Years Ago column from the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist’s opposition to the bourgeoisie and the capitalistic system for which they stand by no means springs simply from a recognition of the misery, slavery and degradation which capitalism entails, though being human and not mere automata of logic, Socialists are naturally strongly influenced by such facts. They know, however, that capitalism has been a necessary and useful stage in the evolution of human society. It is because the system is neither of these today, because it can be shown that the functioning of wealth as capital is now a hindrance to economic and therefore to social and intellectual progress, that the Socialist regards capitalism as an obsolete and evil institution.

If the Socialist holds exploitation and class oppression to be morally wrong, it is because, for the first time in history since the formation of class divisions away in the remote past, the material means are now available wherewith these, together with all their consequences, may be eliminated from human institutions. It is because this latest existing phase of class society, capitalism, is the great obstacle, holding mankind back, so to speak, on the very threshold of a new and splendid era manifesting untold developments in the material, social and mental triumphs of the race, that the Socialist holds this system and all the agencies which uphold or tend to perpetuate it, in hatred and abomination.

From an article by R. W. Houseley, Socialist Standard, October 1918).

The Review Column: Czechoslovakia (1968)

The Review column from the October 1968 issue of the Socialist Standard


What did the Russians crush in Czechoslovakia? The British press by a large majority, decided that the tanks and soldiers were in Prague because Dubcek had introduced democracy and, since the Russian government is a dictatorship, this could not be allowed to continue.

Thus the Russo/Czech dispute was reduced, as are so many similar clashes, to a question of ideology. Thus the newspapers ignored, as they so often do, the essential facts of the situation.

First, Czechoslovakia was not a democracy. Recently the workers there had won a measure of freedom but even so they were still a long way from the limited rights of workers in, say, Britain. Certainly, a Socialist party could not have existed freely and openly in Dubcek’s Czechoslovakia.

Second, the invasion was not a case of one country imposing an ideology upon another. Czechoslovakia’s importance to the Russian bloc is mainly strategic—as it was to Nazi Germany in 1938.

Dubcek’s policies were threatening to take his country out of Moscow’s sphere of influence. The Russians, as devoted to the “domino” theory as are the Americans over Vietnam, feared that if Czechoslovakia went so might Rumania, Jugoslavia—and who knows what might then happen to the Russian empire?

The invasion, then, was no more than a normal reaction by one capitalist power against another when it sees its interests in jeopardy.

Normal, also, was the hypocrisy on both sides. Those who wept crocodile tears over great big Russia attacking little Czechoslovakia were dry-eyed when Britain went into Suez. The Russians, on the other hand, were practising the same sort of imperialism as they denounce in Vietnam.

Finally, and most important, both Russians and Czechs claimed to represent the interests of Socialism when what they were really engaged in was just another sordid and ruthless dispute of capitalism.

Nixon or Humphrey?

The Republican and Democratic Parties have now decided that next month the American working class can choose between capitalism under Richard Nixon and capitalism under Hubert Humphrey.

Even as capitalist politics go, this is not an exciting choice but there is no encouragement to believe that the voters in America will not go to the polls with as great an impression of destiny as ever.

They will be sure that they are making an important choice between two different courses. As the election campaign develops, what will be called the issues will be stimulated and publicised, with the object of increasing the sense of importance.

Whoever wins will do so to a great surge of optimism; his supporters will greet his victory as the opening of a new era of sanity, or safety, or perhaps high adventure and achievement.

Then what will follow? In 1964 President Johnson won the election with an unprecedented majority. Everywhere he went, the crowds in their thousands adored him. The Republicans were shattered; Goldwater’s defeat had reopened their wounds, so that Theodore White wrote of them, in The Making of the President 1964, that they had chopped themselves in two and that no one could tell whether they would recover.

White, like many other observers, was forgetting—or perhaps he simply did not know—what capitalism can do to a politician’s reputation. He assumed that Johnson and his party would continue in the same tumultuous bliss of their victory.

Now the problems and the disputes of the system Johnson has tried to run have finished him and it is the Democrats, as they showed so clearly at Chicago, who are almost literally warring.

In four years’ time we shall be reviewing the failures of the man the Americans elect as President this November. In four years the American workers will have yet another chance to reflect upon the futility of choosing between one type of capitalism and another.

TUC 1968

The Trades Union Congress, because of its close connections with the Labour Party, is composed largely of men and women who reject the case for Socialism.

They are people who, rather than work for a basically new social system, prefer to reform the present one, to support capitalist political parties, to involve themselves in all sort of political manoeuvres and compromises.

This, they say, is preferable to working by principles. It is called Getting Something Now.

Well this is the TUC’s centenary year and it might be expected that the delegates at Blackpool asked themselves what, after one hundred years, they had got.

During that century the problems of capitalism have not diminished. The majority of people are still subject to the degrading and impoverished life of a worker; they live in inferior homes, they eat inferior food, they have access to inferior schools, medical treatment and so on.

There are still upheavals like Vietnam and Nigeria in which a capitalist dispute brings untold suffering to millions. The world is indeed a desperately unsafe place, hovering as it does perpetually on the brink of nuclear devastation.

The practical results of the achievement of many a trade unionist's highest ambition — the election of a Labour government—could be seen at the TUC —in the many critical speeches, in the rejection of the incomes policy.

Nineteen sixty eight is not a happy centenary year for the TUC. At a time when they should be able to look back on their achievements, all they have to remember is a century of confusion and frustration.

They themselves must take the blame for this. They, after all, are the people who reject the idea that the unions' job of protecting their members’ interests cannot be reconciled with compromising with, and supporting, the political parties of capitalism.