Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Obituary: Ernest Jesper (1967)

Obituary from the July 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

We regret to announce the death of Ernest Jesper of the Birmingham Branch. He died at his home on Friday 5th May 1967 at the age of 84 years.

Our comrade was a founder member of the Birmingham Branch having joined the Party on 26th May 1909. During the years between the wars he became a mainstay of the Birmingham Branch and was Secretary when the Branch was forced to discontinue its activities at the outbreak of World War II. Ernest Jesper had furthered the knowledge of the members by the many talks he gave on developments of History, a subject in which he specialised. Unfortunately advancing years had curtailed his activities, but his enthusiasm remained unchanged. Sympathy is extended to his family.
L. Y.

Obituary: Our Comrade Bowie (1967)

Obituary from the July 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are sorry to learn that another old member of the Party passed away on 24th February. Our comrade Bowie was a member of the Southend Branch. He joined the Party in 1928, was active up till his death, and was a delegate for his branch to Conferences and Delegate meetings for many years. He was also their very efficient Treasurer.

Soon after the last war, Southend Branch considered putting forward a candidate for the General Election and he was their prospective candidate. Although they ran an active campaign and Bowie did a considerable amount of speaking, lack of funds prevented them from finally nominating him.

At one time a summer school was held at his home in East Wakering at which members and visitors were encouraged to take part in discussions about Socialism. He was keen on canvassing, always carried Party literature about with him and put the case for Socialism to everyone with whom he came into contact.

A curious expression of his intensive interest in the propagation of Socialism is the fact that he named his bungalow “Mareng" as abbreviation of Marx and Engels.

The passing away of old members like him leaves a gap and are a sad loss to the Party. We extend to his relatives our sincere sympathy and we very much regret the loss of such a stalwart supporter of the Party.

Don't say you weren't warned (1966)

From the July 1966 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many who voted the Labour Government into power in 1964 and with a much increased majority earlier this year are wondering if they did the right thing. They knew what they wanted: steady or lower prices; higher wages, shorter hours and longer holidays; more houses, lower rents and mortgage charges; bigger pensions and sick benefits, and, of course, no unemployment. Obviously not extravagant demands because all the leaders, Labour, Tory and Liberal, promised much the same things. How could the voters lose, whichever way they voted? But in the event the majority decided that Wilson was the man to do it.

Now the voters are not so sure. They read the Labour Party election manifesto promising a 25 per cent rise in living standards in the next five years and many of them (including, of course, the seamen) cannot understand why the glowing promise turns into a Government refusal to concede more pay and shorter hours in the merchant ships and the threatened use of Emergency Powers against the strikers. They also see that most of the other promises have gone into oblivion. Almost the only favourable sign is that unemployment has so far continued at a low level.

But perhaps the present troubled state of affairs is just a passing phase and before the end of the year all will be well? ,

There are indeed signs of change before the year is out, but according to a report in the Observer on June 5 it is likely to be a freeze on prices and wages.

In the previous week a story was leaked to the Press (put out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer according to one view, though it is denied) that if the seamen’s strike continued the Government intended to take drastic action in the form of a “freeze”.

The leading article in the Observer added its own interpretation of Government tactics.
  The Government seems almost deliberately to be encouraging the Machiavellian explanation of its attitude to the seamen’s strike: that it half-welcomed this dispute as a pretext for tough and unpleasant economic measures which the Labour Party would otherwise find difficult to swallow. Already private hints are being dropped—accompanied by public denials—that as a result of the strike, and particularly if it ends in a messy compromise, the Government may have to introduce a wage freeze.
That fact is that the Government’s “incomes policy by persuasion” is in ruins. The increase of production in the still-born National Plan has not taken place, exports and imports have not adjusted themselves and foreigners holding pounds sterling are as jumpy as ever about the prospects of devaluation. So what will the Government do? Impose a freeze? Or let things take their course and rely on a few hundred thousand unemployed to help to keep wages down?

We can be quite sure of one thing. The Labour Government which took office to “put things right” will blame the workers for the failure. The magician who can’t produce the rabbits out of the hat will lay the blame on the audience!

It is an old story, repeated in every Labour Government here and elsewhere. It was told first when the Labour Government came into office in 1929. One Minister, J. H. Thomas, addressing the National Union of Railwaymen, of which he had been General Secretary, told them: “We ask you not to expect too much, nor attempt to force from us, because we are a Labour Government, what you would not force from a capitalist government.”

By “Capitalist government” Thomas meant Liberal or Tory, but from the working class point of view it is a distinction without a difference. We live under capitalism whether administered by Tory, Liberal or Labour, and capitalism operates through profit. It is therefore the function of all governments to enable profit to be made. With enough unemployment to put a brake on wages the government need take no special steps, but when unemployment is too low attention turns to an “incomes policy” to do the trick.

Has something gone wrong that the workers should be faced with this dilemma? Would another government be any better?

Nothing has gone wrong. This is capitalism running true to form. This is the way capitalism works.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, at and between every general election, points to the way out by replacing capitalism with Socialism. All those who chose capitalism by voting Labour, Tory, Liberal (or Communist) have only themselves to thank. They have got what they voted for.
Edgar Hardcastle

Abertillery (1965)

From the July 1965 issue of the Socialist Standard

Abertillery is said to be the constituency with the largest percentage of Socialist voters in the country. If only it were! Certainly the Labour Party has dominated the area for over 30 years but that’s a different matter altogether.

Labourism came to the mining valleys of Wales, in one of which is Abertillery, through the activities of the Independent Labour Party before the first world war. In South Wales, with over one hundred branches, the ILP was the leading light of the popular Social Reform movement which arose from the miseries and indignities the miners had to suffer. After a period of pre-war “Lib-Labism” all the mining constituencies fell to the Labour Party, which by 1922 had become the largest party in Wales.

The local councils too came under Labour control in this period. The Labour and ILP pioneers were at least sincere —although confused—men and women. Some had a very adequate knowledge of capitalist society and were well-versed in the theories of Marx. Today’s Labour people are of a different calibre.

For over thirty years the Labour Party has controlled the local councils of the area; only in the last ten years have they been opposed at election time. Many Labour candidates are still returned unopposed. The fact that the South Wales coalfield is a one-party area has had its inevitable effects on the Labour Party. Today in this area it has ceased to be even a sincere, if confused, popular movement for Social Reform and has become an organization for running the local government machine—right from the selection of councillors to administering the Water Boards.

The old pioneers with their idealism have disappeared and a new generation has taken over. The new men—the councillors, the county councillors, the aldermen, the JP’s—who include the Labour MP, Alderman Clifford Williams JP, still speak the language of the pioneers. In the past by-election they have freely talked of Socialism and said they were Socialists. They have described their party as that of the people against the property-owners. They have declared that the forces of wealth are trying to smash the Labour Movement (if that’s not pure rhetoric what is?). Financiers have been called mad dogs. It’s the sort of language that would make the slick efficiency boys who are remodelling the Labour Party’s image throw up their hands in despair. But they needn’t worry; it goes down well. It’s doubtful if these people really know what the words they uttered originally meant. In any case it is an open question who are more despicable: the arrogant councillors mouthing the phrases of the Labour pioneers or those who don’t attempt to disguise the fact that they have capitulated to capitalism completely.

It is often said that the working class have a short memory. Certainly there are many grounds for such a conclusion but the working class of the mining valleys of Wales remember alright. They remember what the Labour candidate described as “the dark, desperate years” of 1920-1939 which were years of “misery, want and privation During this period the mining communities did suffer—from the attacks on their living standards by the coal-owners and from the unemployment and destitution of the years of the great depression.

At one end of the valley, where the Abertillery constituency is, lies the mining village of Nantyglo which in English means “coal valley”; today there are some eight pits in the constituency. Indeed Abertillery may well be the constituency with the highest percentage of miners on the register in South Wales, perhaps even higher than in the more famous Rhondda valley further west. The proportion is not what it used to be and an increasing number of workers are employed in nearby steelworks and factories. Nevertheless the mining tradition is dominant.

Unfortunately, Abertillery’s remembering of the past has taken the form of an unshakeable faith that the Labour Party is their Party and has their interests at heart. Nothing the Labour Party has done, or is doing, seems to shake this faith. Questioned over Vietnam, Alderman Williams said that as the Labour Party was “dedicated to peace” it must be right in what ever it was doing over the matter — and the audience cheered! On another occasion he declared that the Labour government had reduced the arms bill by £50m—and nobody questioned him.

The Conservative Party in an area such as this is in a hopeless position. The few thousand professional and tradespeople who make up its support are not organised to present a challenge to the Labour Party save at national elections—and then their election machine is manned mainly by outsiders. In between such elections the Conservative Party ceases to exist, though in recent years those who vote Conservative have been organising themselves into so-called “Independents' Associations” to contest local elections.

Nowadays the real political opposition to the Labour Party locally comes from Plaid Cymru, the nationalist party. Surprisingly, Plaid Cymru has been making headway in the mining valleys of Wales—they have councillors in Merthyr (which was Keir Hardie’s seat) and in the Rhondda, once the home of Noah Abblett and the syndicalists who wrote The Miners’ Next Step. This may be a sign that a political change is coming to these valleys after decades of one-party Labour domination.

The fourth political party operating in the area, the Communist Party, did not contest the by-election. The South Wales coalfield is one of the few areas where the so-called Communist Party has acquired a few seats on the local councils. However most of their councillors have been elected by Labour voters for multi-member wards. In the by-election campaign, an attempt was made to smear the Labour candidate by claiming that he was a Communist Party member or supporter in the 1930’s.

Whoever started this rumour was obviously unaware of political conditions in the mining valleys of South Wales; even if it had been true it would have helped rather than hindered the Labour candidate. For the Communist Party, by being militant trade unionists in the NUM, have earned the respect of many miners—the nickname “commo” has exactly the opposite connotation to the American one “commie". What support the Communist party has won has not been so much on its "principles" as on its trade unionism. Thus it is more a trade union pressure group than a gang of Russian nationalists like the CP in the industrial towns.
Adam Buick

Flights of Fancy (1964)

Book Review from the July 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

To The Keepers of the Slaughterhouse, by Walter Gore. Mitre Press, 14s.

This book consists of two short stories—“Novellas” the publisher calls them —which are “. . . addressed to all those who think that fundamental problems may be settled, once and for all, by the application of violence.” The theme of the first story is not new. The world has become divided into two massive armed camps, each under the domination of a military clique although ostensibly governed democratically. Eventually they go to war and the result is the obliteration of the human race by nuclear weapons. Not quite, though, because somehow about six dozen people manage to survive on one or two islands miles from anywhere, and start the painful job of reconstructing their lives and the rebuilding of humanity.

Well, it is a distinct possibility. The destructive power of nuclear bombs is massive, but in putting the proposition, the author has ignored some rather important facts. First of all, the military do not exist as a separate entity, answerable to no one but themselves. The capitalist class of this and other major powers have long ago brought the armed forces firmly under governmental control. Even the popular General Macarthur found this when he urged the use of atomic warfare against China during the Korean War and was promptly recalled by President Truman.

Then again, never has the fate of the world depended on the maniacal whims of a single man (Field Marshal Van. Rogen, Chief of Staff of one of the armed camps in the story), and there is no evidence to suggest that it ever will be, never mind the contrary propaganda with which we have been assailed from time to time when it suited our masters. Admittedly a short story cannot cover every point, but Mr. Gore has left far too many gaps in his narrative for us to take it all that seriously. The prospect of any war, big or little, nuclear or conventional, is a horrifying one, but when we have said this we have not said anything very original. Modern war is capitalist society in conflict, not just a few high-ranking, trigger-happy brasshats in the Pentagon or Kremlin. If the author could even have hinted at that, his book would have been of more value.

His second story is a bit more off the ground than the first. A sort of modern Noah’s Ark tale. A space expedition reaches a far distant planet and finds a form of conscious plant life. That is to say, the beings have similar shaped bodies and move around just like humans, but are constructed of plant matter, not animal protein. It is an entirely non violent society yet it plans to destroy the human race, which is regarded as a threat to its existence. So the space travellers hurry back to earth to warn us of the approaching disaster.

Quite honestly, we find it hard to take any part in this one seriously, despite vaguely expressed ideas earlier on about “international cooperation’’ and “world government." The write-up on the dust cover assures us of the author’s ' . . . numbing bitterness against the social forces around him, awakening to the discovery that if man is to cope with those forces he must first carefully study their nature." Fine. But what is their nature? Socialists have grasped the answer to that one. and we gladly offer Mr. Gore the benefit of what knowledge we have, for we realise the vital urgency of the task before us. First of all, however, let us keep our mental rockets firmly in orbit, and not lose control of them in far off flights of fancy.
Eddie Critchfield

Letter From Jamaica (1963)

From the July 1963 issue of the Socialist Standard

One year after the achievement of Independence, it is worthwhile spending a few moments looking at the situation in Jamaica and Trinidad. Local politicians have been telling us for many years that the Colonial riders were the stumbling block on the road to progress. Now, a year after this stumbling block has been removed, how much nearer are we to the Promised Land?

In Jamaica it is certainly still far beyond the horizon. The army of 80,000 unemployed is larger than in the days of colonial rule and is increasing day by day. Instead of creating new jobs, several firms have closed down. During the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, a march was organised by the unemployed demanding food and jobs—stressing that “charity begins at home.” At the last moment the march was banned by the Government and, when it took place in spite of the ban, was followed by armed police patrols—demonstrating that, whether Colonial or Independent, Governments represent the interests of the capitalist class and will ruthlessly use their power to suppress any working-class protest

Very slowly, and too late, workers are beginning to realise that Independence; for them, has brought about no change for the better, but rather the reverse. They have learnt that their rulers—like those in all other countries which fought for and won their independence—tell them that, now that their country “belongs to them,” they must work harder, produce more, refrain from going on strike, etc. It could, of course, be added that although the workers must work harder and be satisfied with less, this does not seem to apply to our political leaders who do little to justify their place in society but get themselves photographed at as many cocktail parties as possible (for a politician to be photographed constantly with a glass in his hand, is no disadvantage here!)

Jamaica is now going through the same phase as other newly independent nations, who never anticipated the consequences of their independence. One would think that the position is clear enough for the workers to see. There is no future worth having for mankind under Capitalism. It cannot be reformed, it cannot be toned down or made to work in the interests of the working class. The only cure for Capitalism is its abolition. Socialism is the only logical next phase in human society; and by Socialism we do not mean the systems masquerading under that title in Cuba, Russia and elsewhere, but the joining of hands of all the workers of the world in co-operation, to produce and partake of the wealth of the world.

The farce of Independence is becoming clear to more and more workers in Jamaica. However, when the next election comes, will they realise the root cause of their troubles? I doubt it. However, we few Socialists in Jamaica hope to be strong enough in numbers by then to put before the working class of Jamaica the only road for them, and the workers of the rest of the world, to follow.
Yours for Socialism,
George Dolphy.

The Ghost Walks Again (1962)

Editorial from the July 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our capitalists have seen a ghost, a ghost they had thought banished for ever, the ghost of 1929. It showed itself only for a moment, just long enough to revive terrible memories and turn optimism and complacency into fear and uncertainty.

The Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, with true British stolidity, denied that there was anything like panic. But the Americans have not been nearly so reticent and are quite ready to admit that at one stage on that horrible Monday only a hairsbreadth separated them from panic. Not for years were there such scenes on Wall Street, the ticker tape falling behind by 34 minutes at one point with prices dropping catastrophically. Although according to a correspondent of the Economist there was a wider price swing in 1955 when President Eisenhower had his heart attack, never since 1933 had so many small investors tried to get out of the market all at once.

The economic experts, so-called, have naturally been hard at work telling us all about it. The hacks were in right away discounting fears that it might be another 1929 and doing their best to keep up flagging spirits. Some of them were even describing the next day’s partial recovery as a boom. More sober assessments were being made by the end of the week, though they did not add much more to our knowledge than the wilder fancies earlier. Some blamed the crash on the small investor, others on President Kennedy’s recent harsh line with the U.S. steel companies, others comforted themselves with the thought that it had given a much needed shake-out to the market and that things would be healthier for it. But, even more than usual, none of them seemed willing or anxious to commit reputations to anything more than vague speculation.

It is, of course, the easiest thing in the world to read too much into stock market fluctuations. A fall in share prices, even a violent one, is in itself no indicator of a slump. The 1929 depression is superficially remembered by the Wall Street crash, but it was not caused by this. The crash was only the dramatic culmination of complicated economic forces that had been working themselves out for some time before. Thus the recent events on the world’s stock exchanges do not add up to a slump nor do they indicate necessarily that one is on the way. They are essentially the reflection of the present economic state of world Capitalism, in particular of American Capitalism.

After seventeen years of comparative prosperity, brought about largely by the need to make good the destruction of war and by the huge expenditure on preparations for another, the momentum is now slowing down. Goods are getting harder to sell, profit margins are having to be cut, and many industries are working well below capacity. The confident assumption that things were automatically going to get better was in fact already being questioned before the recent big break. It should not be forgotten that there had been a similar severe fall on Wall Street only a few weeks before and that the share price index had been dropping steadily for some months before then. It is against this background that we must look for the significance of the crash

Although basically reflecting the economic forces of Capitalism, the stock exchanges can, of course, react upon those forces in turn. It is almost certain, for example, that the recent shock has put paid to the belief of the Capitalists that prosperity was going to go on and on. On the other hand, it could just as easily convince them that things are actually going to get worse and thus help tilt the downward trend into a real slump.

The really interesting thing is to see the reactions of the Capitalist class and their advisers to the crash. In spite of all the talk about how Capitalism can be controlled, about how much has been learned about its workings since 1929, about Keynesian planning and the rest of it, they have been really shocked and frightened. They have seen a ghost they thought they had theorised into disappearing.

And they are not at all sure that their theories will be enough to prevent it coming back again.

Election Manifesto (1961)

From the July 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard
Extract from the Election Address of the World Socialist Party of Ireland, Duncairn Ward, Belfast.
There have been innumerable Acts of Parliament aimed at ending the workers' housing problems; the Unionists have tried their way and we have the record of Labour parties in Britain and other countries. Yet homelessness and slum-dwelling have become an accepted thing in our society. House building, like every other productive activity under capitalism. is pursued for the purpose of profit-making, human needs are as nothing beside the great god profit. No party will solve the problem of bad and insufficient homes while profit remains the accepted system of social organisation. Only in Socialism, where production of all things, including homes, is solely for the satisfaction of people's needs, is a solution to be found.

Why are the unemployment figures getting greater every day? Certainly not because everyone has a sufficiency of the things workers produce, or can produce. Unemployment is just another permanent feature of a buying-and-selling capitalist society. As we have demonstrated, the capitalists employ the workers solely for the purpose of profit-making; if there is no markets wherein the things that the workers produce can be sold and profit realised, then workers are laid off. In Socialism, where human needs will be the only factor governing production, when a point is reached at which a sufficiency of all things has been produced. it will simply mean more leisure time for the producers without the attendant hardships of today.

This is a question that the politicians use in all elections to good purpose. The World Socialist Party maintains that the so-called Border is yet another expression of our present society, and we as members of the working class neither gain nor lose by its removal or retention. The problems of the workers North and South of the border are similar and are not caused by the geographical Border, but by a division much more evil in its effects—the class border between us of the working class, who produce everything and own nothing, and the capitalists, who produce nothing and own everything. This is the “Border” Socialists wish to abolish.

The Belfast Campaign (1961)

Party News from the July 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

With the object of creating opportunities for propaganda activities, bringing the name and object of the Party into prominence and demonstrating that they were not just another “left ” group, the Belfast Branch of the W.S.P. of Ireland decided to contest a ward in the Belfast Municipal Election. The deposit for nomination of candidate was £25. Though the Branch realised that they would lose their deposit, they considered the resulting propaganda would justify the expenditure.

They contested Duncairn Ward, as it was only in this ward that they had enough members to sign the nomination paper. It is a very thickly populated ward but not particularly suited to their purpose.

Voting locally is restricted to the occupier of a house and wife. Families living in dwellings that are sub-let, and adults other than the occupier and wife, are denied the right to vote. On the other hand a “property” vote enables businessmen and company directors, with branches or diverse business interests, to vote as many as eight times.

There is no free election postage in Ireland. Consequently the small group of Belfast comrades had to name and address the ten thousand Election Statements, and deliver them to houses over an area of 16 to 18 square miles. This was a colossal task, which took well into each morning, after holding meetings in the area during the evening and night. Their opponents contented themselves with touring the constituency with music, processions led by bunting-bedecked lorries, and loud-speaker exhortations telling people how to vote.

Every night, in spite of bad weather, a number of meetings were held. The first meetings were accompanied by three car-loads of police, motor cycle police, and several police on foot. Eventually it was reduced to a single motor cycle policeman. Places were visited where opposition was usually violent, but only once was a voice raised in anger against us.

When polling day arrived our comrades were astonished to find that the W.S.P. candidate had polled 824 votes — 11.4 per cent of the total votes cast. They also saved their deposit.

At the conclusion of the poll the W.S.P. candidate made the following statement:
   "The Unionist and Labour Parties represent capitalism and the continued exploitation of the working class . . . this is an historic occasion; for the first time capitalism in both disguises has been challenged . . .  we are at the bottom of the hill, you are at the top, but we are ascending, you are retreating down the other side."
The fact that there were 824 votes (the bulk of whom may not yet be socialists), in one ward in such a conservative area as Belfast, is a harbinger of the progress of enlightenment. In their literature and from the platform, the Belfast members urged voters only to vote for Socialism if they understood it and wanted it, as outlined in the Election Address.

We congratulate our Irish comrades on the tremendous and self-sacrificing effort they put in with such good results, (t augurs well for the progress of the socialist movement in Ireland, and is heartening to their comrades in other lands.

News From The Belfast Front (1961)

Party News from the July 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

The following item appeared in the Belfast Telegraph for the 8th May:
Future Bright for Socialist movement
   “For the first time in Ireland, the Socialist movement has now reached the stage where it is capable of offering a Socialist alternative at the polls, said Mr. William Skelton, chairman of the Belfast branch of the World Socialist Party, at a May Day meeting in Blitz Square, High Street.
   “It was a modest beginning, but the future was bright for the cause.
  “Mr. Calvert Moore, World Socialist Party candidate for Duncairn Ward in the forthcoming municipal elections, said it was sad to think that under the aegis of the Labour and Communist parties, the revolutionary ardour of the workers had been canalised into the safe stream of reformist politics. The only way to end the economic anarchy that was capitalism was to institute a Socialist society."

From the Branches (1960)

Party News from the July 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard

Three London members left for Nottingham during Whit week-end to assist the propaganda efforts of this go-ahead provincial branch.

Most of the local population were out of town for the beginning of the holiday— obviously not anticipating the efforts of Party members—which depleted the audiences at the meetings held on the Saturday and Sunday. The Monday evening meeting well rewarded our speakers, and with an attentive and interested audience listening to the Socialist case and asking questions, our members could well have continued indefinitely. As it was, they delayed their return to London until Tuesday morning. In all, 24s. of literature was sold. On the Sunday evening the Comrades had a very interesting discussion in a member’s home. All concerned are looking forward to a "repeat performance” in the not too far distant future.

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It is some little while since any account of Branch activities has appeared in this column, but this does not mean that the members have been inactive. Far from it. Over the past few months, Ealing Branch has been extremely busy. Members have given consistent support to the writers’ class which was run during the winter at Hammersmith, and the worthwhile results of their efforts have appeared in the Socialist Standard. It is hoped to continue this class shortly on a monthly basis, to enable branch writers to develop their style and exchange ideas. Throughout this period also a very fine series of fortnightly lectures on economics by Comrade Hardy. Members were well pleased and appreciated this golden opportunity to brush up their knowledge (and plug some of the gaps as well).

So far this year, three films have been shown at Ealing. On January 29th there was “Shadow of Hiroshima.” followed by “Man one Family” (February I9th), and "African Conflict” (April 29th). In each case, the usual Socialist comments on the film were given by one of the Party members and much useful discussion ensued. A number of interested non-members have attended these events which we took care to advertise in the local press. Our success here has been due in no small measure to the excellent co-operation and help received from the H/O films committee.

One of the contacts made at the film shows turned out to be a member of the “Socialist Labour League” who gladly accepted our invitation to a further discussion. This took place on May 13th in a crowded branch room. The event was conducted in a very orderly manner and branch members acquitted themselves well in a discussion in which no holds were barred. A return visit from this opponent is anticipated. Branch canvassing has been revived, and good sales have been made in Greenford and Harrow. It is hoped to build up substantial regular subscribers’ lists in these areas, in addition to other permanent contacts elsewhere which have been made by literally years of hard work. Meetings at Gloucester Road were opened by the branch at the beginning of June, and we are hoping for a season as successful as last year’s. This station has certainly been “tamed” since the old days and generally, a far better hearing is given now than in the past. The Branch welcomes support from any comrade who can come along on Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Phyllis Howard

50 Years Ago: Lloyd George's Budget (1959)

The 50 Years Ago column from the July 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

Judging by the noise made about the land-tax clauses in the Finance Bill, one might think that something vital were at stake, yet it is all nothing more than a squabble between sections of the capitalist class as to what share each shall bear of the cost of their class government. It has long been the policy of one section in these semi-comic scuffles, to squeal “Revolution!", “Socialism!", “Confiscation!”, when called upon to pay its share by the majority for the time being; but only the ignorant are duped by it. We are also becoming accustomed to finding the Labour Party, the tail of the Liberal cur, out-doing the regular representatives of the Masters in spreading confusion among the workers. And now because there is a pretence of taxing unearned increment on land values for the support of capitalism, these “Labour” members hail it as Socialistic. They ignore the fact that all taxation imposed by capitalists on themselves is a taxation of unearned increment. The Masters have already squeezed the workers dry in the factory, so to pay for their new Dreadnoughts the propertied class have, perforce, to tax themselves. That, indeed, is all the budget amounts to; and in what, pray, is it Socialistic? . . .

Yet Mr. Victor Grayson said (according to the Daily Telegraph of June 23rd) that the Finance Bill contains “a good chunk” of his personal principles. Mr J. Ramsay MacDonald stated that if need be he would go into the lobby to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And Mr. Keir Hardie, consistent with his denial of the class struggle, said, “Labour men and Socialists would be cowards if they did not tell Mr. Lloyd George that they stood solidly behind him"
From the Socialist Standard, July 1909.

A Voice From The Past (1958)

From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard
  "Our intentions are to assist, as far as our abilities are competent, the cause which has been so well begun, and which must finally prevail if its advocates persevere with fortitude and consistency. One principle, in particular, we should wish to inculcate, which is, that the people have nothing to expect from any exertions but their own. The choice of liberty or slavery rests with them, and on their virtue and perseverance depend the probability of their triumph.”—(The Gorgon, No. 1, May 23rd, 1818.)

Party News Briefs (1957)

Party News from the July 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

London Propaganda. A series of indoor meetings are being arranged to be held in many parts of London it is to be hoped in Ealing. East Ham North. Lambeth, etc., in addition to the meetings held in June at Denison House. More details will appear in the next issue of the Standard. The Propaganda Committee is planning these meetings on an extensive scale, and the areas affected will be well supported by the local branches. The last of the series will be at the time of the Autumn Delegate Meeting.

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Ealing Branch has taken over responsibility for the outdoor station at Gloucester Road (8 p.m. on Wednesdays). First experiences have been very encouraging, and meetings have been well attended, with good literature sales. Members are asked to support the branch in this venture, which promises well.

Sunday, 16th June, was a very pleasant and successful occasion for the Branch. A visit was made to the Wallace Collection in the afternoon, followed by a social in the evening at a member’s house.

The first propaganda trip this year to Southsea will be taking place in July, and there will probably be a second visit in September.

Will all members note that as many members will be away on holiday during August, it has been decided to close down the branch for three weeks; i.e., 16th, 23rd and 30th August.

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Swansea. During the Whitsun week-end a London member visited our Comrades in Swansea, the idea being to hold some outdoor propaganda meetings. Unfortunately the weather decided not to co-operate, but despite a cold, windy evening on Saturday and rain on Sunday, two fairly successful open-air meetings were held. Sixteen current Socialist Standards were sold and a number of back issues and leaflets, Introducing the Party, were given away. An indoor address was planned for friends and sympathisers, but due to the bad weather only members turned up, and they held a useful discussion on Parliamentary activity.

The week-end, however, was pleasurable and worthwhile. It is hoped to arrange a full week's propaganda before the end of the summer.

The members of Swansea Group are keen and hardworking, and are planning a canvassing drive for the Socialist Standard in the near future.

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Wood Green and Hornsey Branch challenged Lyn Mostyn (Labour) and Lady Gammans (Conservative candidates—in the Hornsey by-election—to appear on Socialist Party’s platform at Rokesley School, Hornsey, to state their views in opposition to the S.P.G.B.

Mr. Mostyn replied that owing to pressure of by-election work he was busy and could not attend. No reply was received from Lady Gammans.

Neither Mr. Mostyn nor Lady Gammans appeared, although the challenge was published in the Hornsey Journal, and our challenge letter had indicated that their representatives would be welcome instead if they were busy.

However the meeting was held by us and was well attended.

Indoor and outdoor (Muswell Hill Broadway) meetings will be held during the summer.

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News From Glasgow (City and Kelvingrove Branches).— “We don’t deal in emotion and sentimentality; we adopt a scientific attitude,” quoted the Glasgow Herald. The speaker was Comrade Shaw, addressing an interested audience in Queen’s Park Recreation Grounds on May Day. While Comrade Shaw was presenting the revolutionary proposition, Mr. Frank Cousins, the official May Day demonstration speaker, was dishing out the sentimentality in the Bandstand in Queen’s Park. Our audience, however, showed their appreciation of the scientific attitude by donating £2 for the purpose of carrying on the good work. It was a grand start to a promising May Day. The Glasgow membership were more active than in recent years, and about 16 members scurried busily about Queen’s Park selling literature to the tune of 11 dozen Socialist Standards. The evening meeting was held in St. Andrew’s Hall, in opposition to the Communist Party and a Skiffle Group competition. A lively audience of 70 heard Comrades Richmond and Higgins expounding “ The Socialist Way Out.” Several nights before the meeting the centre of the city was “decorated” with whitewash advertising our activities, but the Fates and the rain were against us.

A fortnight later, at Rothesay. Comrade Richmond, on behalf of the Party, addressed a Week-end School of the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers. His subject was “Modern Trends in Marxism.” The school consisted of about 40 trade union branch delegates, and provided Comrade Richmond with an alert and interested audience. Socialist literature was sold at the meeting, and the venture seems to have been very successful. This is the first time a Trade Union School has requested a speaker from us, but judging by the amount of interest Comrade Richmond’s incisive lectures aroused, it does not seem like the last.

All during May the Socialist Platform has been erected in West Regent Street, where large and interested audiences have gathered to hear the antidote to Capitalist Propaganda. Literature sales and propaganda collections have been encouraging, and there is a possibility of some more members airing their vocal chords there during the rest of the summer.
Phyllis Howard

Party News Briefs (1956)

Party News from the July 1956 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Socialist Standard” Sales. Much has been said over the years regarding increasing the Standard sales, a certain means of putting over the case for Socialism. Ten thousand copies per month has been a target to aim for. but so far, a target not achieved. However, a special effort was made this May and 6,500 copies were ordered from the printer, and it is gratifying, particularly to the members who worked so hard, to know that they were all sold. Perhaps our target of 10,000 copies per month is not too ambitious, and if the result of the May sales drive is anything to go by bodes well. Comrades will be stimulated to add to this success by increasing the sales in the future.

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Ealing Branch. The Branch’s special May Sales Drive was extremely successful. Over One Thousand Socialist Standards (1,006 to be exact) were sold during the month, and 13 canvasses were held in all. New areas such as Northolt Park. Stonebridge Park, and St. Margaret’s, Twickenham, were canvassed, as well as parts of other areas already known to members. The Branch undertook to take and pay for sixty dozen Standards, i.e., there was to be no question of reclaiming from Head Office for unsold copies, but at the same time the Branch Literature Committee set itself the further and higher target of 1,000 copies. In spite of the strain which showed itself towards the end of the campaign, the excellent results thus far obtained encouraged members to carry on and reach the target. Such campaigns can obviously be made only on special occasions, but they do show what can be done when a real effort is made, and the scope that lies in canvassing for increasing the sales of the Standard.

The Branch’s summer outing this year to Littlehampton took place on 10th June, and as usual proved very enjoyable, though a heavy shower of rain immediately after arrival, seemed to bode ill for the rest of the day. Fortunately, it was the only shower, and the weather afterwards. though not conducive to sunbathing, certainly acted as a stimulant to members’ latent cricketing abilities.

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Members may be interested to learn that Comrade Evans of the W.S.P. is visiting London on July 25th for a stay. Comrade Evans is an energetic and active member in Los Angeles.

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Rugby. Encouraging news is to hand from Comrade Walsh who reports good literature sales. Members have attended public meetings in Coventry and Rugby and have sold a considerable number of May Standards—several of these were sold at a meeting addressed by Father Huddleston, who bought a copy for himself.

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Swansea. During the past twelve months, members of the branch have had 27 letters published in the “Swansea Voice,’’ a local weekly paper. Numerous letters have also been published in other local newspapers, namely The South Wales Evening Post, Western Mail and Llanelly Star all stating the Party’s attitude to questions of the day and topical events. The branch has received invaluable publicity as a result of these activities, and the Party’s name is becoming well-known in the area. It is suggested that other branches, particularly those with restricted propaganda activities due to small membership, should take advantage of this useful means of publicising the Party.

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Southend Branch has been well maintained, meetings commencing promptly with good attendances. Some new faces have done much to inspire the regular members and regular Sunday meetings have been successfully held over recent months. Canvassing for the Standard has been undertaken with success. The Branch looks forward to expanding activities in general and in addition carrying out a programme of outdoor meetings on the Sea Front. Members from other areas have in the past rendered assistance at these meetings at week-ends. Offers of assistance in advance would be most welcome. Write or telephone H. G. Cottis, 109 Kingswood Chase, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Tel. Leigh-on-Sea 75404.

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Bloomsbury Branch. Meetings will be held during July, but as usual will be discontinued during August as Conway Hall closes during that month. Branch members look forward to welcoming sympathisers and other members to the first meeting in September (Thursday 6th).
Phyllis Howard

Modern Times (1955)

From the July 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Rev. Frederick Thompson, chaplain of Lewes Prison, is reported as saying: “It is extraordinary the number of prisoners who do not want to go out again because they have not a happy home to go to.” (Daily Express, 25/3/55). One is reminded of a scene from the film “Modern Times.” Chaplin, because of his part in stopping a jail break, has been given preferential treatment. The prison is visited by a sanctimonious parson and his wife, after the parson and the governor have discussed Charlie’s record. The Governor informs Charlie that he is now a free man, but Chaplin pleads to be allowed to stay a bit longer, preferring his life in prison to the dubious joys of his new-found freedom. However, he has to be free, whether he likes it or not, and apparently the same can be said of many of the prisoners from Lewes Prison. What an indictment on present day society, this so-called civilisation gets more like the madhouse every day.
Phil Mellor

Cry Over Spilt Milk (1954)

From the July 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard
   “Villagers blinked in surprise when a 3.000-gallon milk tanker drew up at their disused coal mine. They wondered why. But they were not left wondering long—for the milk was poured to the bottom of the pit.”
   “The tanker came again and again and the people of Tunley. near Bath, found that their pit had been turned into a 60,000-gallon ‘milk bottle' ”—Daily Herald, (2.6.54.)
The milk was skimmed and had been left over from butter-making. “Transport and other difficulties” allegedly prevented the farmers having it for animal fattening, yet the tankers could make 20-mile trips just to dump it. The Milk Marketing Board offered the explanation that when sold at 3½d. or 4d. a pint was hardly economical. Milk, of course, is today produced to sell, and if it can’t be sold then the cows are just wasting their time.

Ironically enough, on the same day the Manchester Guardian carried a report that a record number of one million cows were artificially inseminated in the year ended last March. These dumb animals had better realise that, along with their human counterparts, they are in grave danger of working themselves out of a job. Not only that—their work seems to have been deprived of pleasure, too.

Party News Briefs (1953)

Party News from the July 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mitcham Discussion Group held its first meeting when Comrade Turner opened a discussion on Socialism. Considerable interest was taken by the audience of twenty people and the discussion continued for some time. It is hoped that a good attendance will be maintained when this group meets again. As a permanent meeting place has not been arranged, will members and sympathisers interested in this group please contact the Propaganda Committee at Head Office.

*     *     *     *

A Party Sympathiser in Dublin who has frequently contributed to the Party Funds has again written us and sent Five Pounds as a donation to help on the work for Socialism. This is greatly appreciated.

*     *     *     *

Donations to Parliamentary Fund. In response to an appeal in the May Socialist Standard the total received to June 16th was £69 14s. We regret that these figures were not available for the June Socialist Standard.

*     *     *     *

Hackney Branch are organising a speakers’ and general knowledge class and discussion group at Bethnal Green Town Hall on alternate Thursdays from July 2nd at 8 p.m. It is hoped to encourage members to take the Party platform and for the class to run outdoor meetings later in the year. Any members and sympathisers who can come along will be very welcome.

*     *     *     *

Hackney Branch’s outing to Brighton on June 7th was fairly successful; being attended by 18 members and two children. A meeting was run on the sea front (Fishmarket) from 3 p.m. till 8.15 p.m. being supported by some 10 members of Brighton branch. It is hoped that a similar outing can be arranged in September.
Phyllis Howard

The Critique of the Gotha Programme (1952)

From the July 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Gotha programme was drawn up to unite the two sections of the German working class movement. One party, the General Association of German Workers, was founded by Lassalle, hence called the Lassalleans—the other party was the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, led by William Liebknecht and Bebel, and was known as the Eisenachers. They combined to form the Socialist Workers* Party of Germany at the Gotha Congress in 1875.

The “Critique of the Gotha Programme” consisted of marginal, comments made by Marx on the draft of this party programme.

To-day the “Critique” is popular among Communist Party sympathisers because in certain passages Marx has referred to a transitional period between Capitalism and Communism during which there will be an exchange economy. Of course, the Communists claim that Russia at present is passing through this transitional period.

Undue importance is placed on these passages. As Marx has pointed out in the above mentioned work just after dealing with the transitional period:—
  "I have dealt more at length with the 'undiminished proceeds of labour' on the one hand, and 'equal right' and ‘fair distribution' on the other in order to show what a crime it is to attempt. . . . to force on our Party again, as dogmas, ideas which in a certain period had some meaning but now have become obsolete verbal rubbish." (Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx Engels' Selected Works, p. 23., published Lawrence and Wishart.) 
And in the next paragraph he wrote that—
  "It was in general a mistake to make a fuss about so-called distribution and put the principal stress on it.
   "Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production themselves. The latter distribution, however, is a feature of the mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of non-workers in the form of property in capital and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal conditions of production, of labour power. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. If the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of, the means of consumption different from the present one." (P. 23.)
In Russia, we have millionaires (see “Soviet Millionaires,” by Reg Bishop published for Russia Today Society in 1943) drawing interest on State Loans—“property in capital" while the masses are only owners . . .  of labour power.”

The view that there would be a transitional period between'Capitalism and Communism or Socialism (they are realty interchangeable terms) as envisaged by Marx was understandable 75 years ago, when the machinery of production had not attained the tremendous productive capacity it has to-day and it wasn’t realised that it was absolutely necessary that the majority of the working class must understand what Socialism means. With the present knowledge of the pre-requisites for the establishment of a Socialist society, the “transitional period ” has become “ obsolete verbal rubbish.”

The real value of the “Critique of the Gotha Programme ” lies in the attack Marx makes on the vague loose phraseology of a political party programme seeking to attract a working class ignorant of its real interests.

Communist Party sympathisers should read the “Critique” and ask themselves what Marx would have had to say about a party which talks about “people’s states,” “people’s democracies,” “people’s governments,” and whose aim, to quote from a Communist Party document, is as follows:—
   "To achieve a Socialist Britain in which the social ownership of the means of production and exchange shall replace the existing capitalist system and the exploitation of man by man. By transforming man and creating abundance. Socialism creates the conditions for the ultimate goal of Communism, based on the principle: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
   "Only a Socialist Britain co-operating with all other peoples of the world in close, friendly, free and equal association, will be able so to plan the use of all Britain’s material, productive and scientific resources, that every citizen will be guaranteed security, the right to work and leisure, a steadily rising standard of living, liberty and equal opportunity to enjoy a full and happy life”— (Draft Rules of the Party, 22nd National Congress, issued by .Communist Party.)
They might then agree that Engels' words to Bebel when writing about the Gotha Programme would be most apt. He wrote, “Almost every word in this programme . . .  could be criticised. It is such a character that if adopted Marx and I can never give adherence to the new party established on this basis.” (Engels to Bebel, March 18-28, 1875, Marx Engels' Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 39.)

Read the “Critique” for yourself and see. It is published by Lawrence and Wishart and can be bought for half-a-crown or you can buy Marx and Engels' Selected Works. It is included in volume two. The two volumes are priced at six shillings and sixpence each.
Jim Thorburn

"Aesop Up To Date" (1951)

A Short Story from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many, many years ago. in a large field, there lived two flocks of sheep. These two flocks were separated by a ditch that ran the length of the field. In manners, customs and appearance the sheep of both these flocks were alike, but they had been separated by the ditch for so long that they each spoke a different language. When the sheep on one side of the ditch said “Bah," the sheep on the other side said, "Baw.“

With the passing of years a mild enmity had grown up amongst these sheep. Each flock was certain that its portion of the field was better than the other flock’s part and that its language was more melodious, in fact, that any one of its members was worth a number of the others. Even so, it occasionally happened that a few young rams would leap across the ditch to nibble at the grass that looked so luscious and green on the other side, for distance always lends enchantment to the view, but no particular harm was done by these brief invasions and the young rams were usually butted back to their own territory.

One evil day there came into the meadow of the Bah sheep a big black shaggy wolf with tong white fangs and a red tongue who told the Bah sheep not to be afraid as he was come to protect them from those rascally Baw sheep and the nasty grey wolf who was urging their rivals to attack them. The Bah sheep hired the black wolf to protect them, whilst the Baw sheep, having been told the same tale by the grey wolf, did likewise and hired him.

Time marched on and into the field on the Bah sheep came a sleek and elegant wolf with a well oiled tongue that moved smoothly on its hinges. He soon disposed of Black Wolf and addressed the Bah sheep as follows:
  "I am Golden Wolf. I will now be your protector against those Baw sheep. They am a backward race and must be prevented from invading your side of the field. Your meadow is much finer than theirs, your language is much smoother, your lambs are more frisky, your rams are bolder and your ewes more beautiful Yon most defend your heritage."
This, of course, was arrant nonsense for there was very little difference between the meadows or the sheep of either flock. But the sheep had thick rolls of wool over their eyes that it was easy to pull down. So Golden Wolf continued:
   “Any one of you Bah sheep could lick ten of those Baw sheep and, with me to lead and protect you, you need have no fear of the Silver Wolf that is now in command over the Baw sheep. All I need in payment is the right to eat every fourth lamb born into your flock."
In the field of the Baw sheep a snarling, ferocious Silver Wolf had displaced the old grey one and had worked the same confidence trick and was receiving the same pay from those sheep.

From that day, the two wolves, when not eating the lambs of their own flock, started making raids across the ditch and littering the field with dead and dying sheep. Although they sometimes inflicted a few wounds on one another, the wolves always arranged that they should come home alive, for, if one had been killed, even the silly sheep might have realised that it is foolish to pay for protection when there is no enemy attack to fear.

After a time the wolves found it easier to teach all the sheep to do the fighting. They would line them in battle array and urge them on against one another with snarls and barks till the pastures ran red with blood and the stench of the corpses rose high. The wolves had the time of their lives. They stayed far behind the fighting line where it was comparatively safe and gave vent to a loud barking which could hardly be heard up at the front. They also gorged themselves freely on the tenderest lambs of their own flocks, for in the excitement of the battle the sheep neither knew nor cared what the wolves were doing at the rear.

At present there is only a little fighting in the sheep meadows. The survivors of the last great battle are still weary and emaciated. The only activity to be noticed is the groups of lambs, many with a letter "Z" on their backs, being ordered about in preparation for the next Great War of the Sheep.
W. Waters

Morrison's Ten New Points For Socialists (1950)

From the July 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

In a lengthy article in the News Chronicle on June 9th last, Morrison’s ten new points for Socialists were enumerated. The point system for rationing has nearly been abolished, but now Socialism is going on the points, special points of the Morrison variety, the first ten of which have already been issued.

As most readers of this journal will be interested in Socialism, they will doubtless want to know if they can learn anything about it from Morrison.

The article above referred to starts with a definition, which is as well, especially when discussing Socialism. Morrison defines Socialism as “The assertion of social responsibility for matters which are properly of social concern.” This elastic definition permits Tories, Liberals, Labourites, and even Communist Party supporters, to be socialists. In fact everybody in the country could endorse it. The only snag is “what is properly of social concern?” Morrison of course makes no effort to tell us. Perhaps this is one of the things for which he is paid £10,000 a year to know and understand. He was careful enough to inform us that he has coined this definition of socialism “in the light of experience in Labour Government since 1945, and in relation to the facts of mid-twentieth-century life and economic experience” So Morrison might have quite another definition for Socialism five years hence, especially if he is interested in “social responsibility for matters of social concern

Speaking on Socialism to-day at Perth, the Lord President (to give Erb Morrison his “socialist title ”), said that “Socialist principles must be adapted to changes in conditions, facts and experience, if they were to survive and prosper” This looks as if Socialism is one thing at one time, and another thing at another time, and that anything was or is capable of becoming socialism! It is all things to all men, and not part of the time, but all of the time. Dialectics isn’t in it, it is diabolical.

So much for the definition, which we agree is very important, especially when dealing with one who makes his own definitions, with or without the endorsement of his party. Now let us come to his ten points, here they are. .
1. Public ownership in suitable form.
2. Town and country planning.
3. Municipal housing for rental, aided by the Government—“essentially socialistic” (Morrison’s words).
4. Social services including social insurance and health services.
5. Economic planning and the wise exercise of economic controls for social ends and full employment.
6. Assisting and stimulating private enterprise to be enterprising and expansive.
7. Development councils for appropriate industries in research, expansion, progress and enterprise.
8. The assertion and provision for ventilation of consumers’ rights and the protection of their interests whether as against public or private industry.
9. Co-operation between farmers, farm workers, and the community for healthy and vigorous development of agriculture production with fairness to all.
10. The U.K. playing its full part in economic political and social co-operation between the nations for the purpose of evolving a peaceful and happy world.
The first five points are too well known to merit discussion here, and they have long been the backbone of Labour Party programmes.

Point 6 is a little strange, and should please those who are alarmed that socialism means the end of private enterprise. We suggest that it is given to soften some of their antagonism.

Point 7 is a hang over from Mosley’s “Commodity Boards” in the good old days of the New Party, which incidentally was good enough for Cabinet Minister Strachey.

Mosley got it from Mussolini, and it is the dream of all democratic capitalist organisers to bring workers and management together (with no class struggle and strike nonsense).

Point 8 was also capitalised by Mosley. Who are these consumers anyway? Presumably anybody who consumes anything. In this case everybody is a consumer. Capitalist, worker or unemployed are going to be given an opportunity to ventilate their rights.

Point 9 means the end of the class struggle between farmer and farm worker, and perhaps less dung heaps, or scented ones for all.

Point 10 is probably added to make double figures, or because of a cherished belief which Morrison has for decimalisation. There is still another suggestion, and that is that the opposition might claim that Labour has no foreign policy. However, nobody could object to peace (except those who make profits from war). The one thing which we have noticed in this respect, is that whenever the Labour Party has had to face some international affair, it acts as the Tories and Liberals did previously.

We in the Socialist Party do not have such a loose definition of Socialism, and 10 points which include everything and everybody and mean nothing to anybody. We laid down our definition and principles, based on our understanding of capitalism, which is fundamentally the same to-day as it was in 1904. We don’t want new definitions which will please all comers and principles which won’t offend those who believe in expanding private enterprise. Our case against Morrison is that he does not understand Socialism, or he deliberately falsifies it. Socialism is to him the above ten points, at least that is to-day, for to-morrow he may want to formulate another ten points.
Horace Jarvis

The Founding of The Socialist Party of Ireland (1949)

From the July 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

The most noisy, most applauded or most spectacular events in history are not necessarily the most important. Many organisations that have left a deep imprint on the path of social development have had extremely modest beginnings. That is particularly true of working class organisations. The shallowness of working class pockets prevents any sort of elaborate display when a few workers come together to lay the foundations of an organisation which will be the instrument for achieving their aims. Socialist parties are far from being an exception.

On May 28th and 29th of this year, in a room of the home of a Belfast socialist, a group of workers from Dublin and Belfast met and decided to form “The Socialist Party of Ireland.” Their object is identical with the object of the S.P.G.B. and they have adopted the S.P.G.B. declaration of principles. That constitutes them a companion Socialist party with those that already exist in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and in Great Britain.

There was no show, no fuss. Just a group of workers knowing what they wanted and getting together to argue out the details. Once they had decided to form the new party they got straight down to business and went out on to the street with their platform to issue their first challenge to Irish capitalism. There is nothing sensational about the proceedings and our Irish comrades will certainly not hit the headlines in the newspapers of Eire and Northern Ireland.

The position of the Socialist Party of Ireland looks peculiar to us viewed from this side of the Irish Channel. One part of the country is governed from Dublin whilst the other remains under British Government. The attitude of our Irish comrades to this “double-state” set-up is clearly stated in a leaflet issued by them on the occasion of the formation of their party.
  “This question has proved a fatal stumbling block to all the reformist parties. The capitalists (British and native) have found it convenient for the purpose of distracting the attentions of the worker from an ever more evil border—the class barrier between those ‘who own but do not produce' and those 'who produce but do not own.’ While the Southern capitalist—for the benefit of the Nationalist worker—hurls invective and abuse at 'British Imperialism’ he is not immune to an investment in the sweated labour of suffering natives in the British South African Gold Mines, or any other 'good' investment, British or otherwise. Nor is the ‘Ulster’ capitalist any more 'patriotic'; a dividend of 15 per cent. in Eire is preferable to one of 12 per cent. in ‘ Ulster.’
   "Nor is this the only thing they have in common: they (both Eire rancher and ‘Ulster' linen-lord) have a common interest in concealing from the workers the 'great money trick,’ and they would readily unite in face of a threat from Socialism. In a word, apart from any ostensible quarrel, they are class-brothers with a common interest: THE EXPLOITATION AND SUBJECTION OF THE WORKING CLASS, EVERYWHERE.
   "To talk of uniting on 'political questions' with any section of this exploiting class is, therefore, sheer nonsense. Why should we, for example, at the cost of alienating one section of our own class, make common front with reactionary Nationalist elements, the native petty-bourgeoisie, the landed gentry, the ex-imperialists and Fascists who’d prefer a dog, of any nationality, to an Irish Socialist? Why help to change a flag and leave the old enemy, capitalism, with its poverty and exploitation and its CLASS BORDER? Why should Socialists assist a clique that even now are eager to speculate with the blood of Irish workers in the markets of international catastrophe?
  ‘‘There is only one way to remove Borders— borders of class, race, or ideology—and that is through the medium of Socialism. The excuse of Irish Labour leaders—who are not of course opposed to class society —that they must 'clean up the national question’ before they attune the minds of the people to social (?) questions is so much political eyewash. No matter what means they employ, other than Socialism, they CANNOT solve 'the Irish question.’ Certainly they might banish the Customs huts and oust Stormont but the Border in the last resort is one of ideologies.
   "The 'national' State is an anachronism that will have no place in a Socialist world and we hold that the Irish workers' struggle should be in conjunction with the struggle of the workers internationally, against the international border of class and privilege, AGAINST CAPITALISM—FOR SOCIALISM.”
As must every genuine Socialist party, the S.P. of I. stands in opposition to all other political parties, whether they be Labour parties, Communist parties or the avowedly pro-capitalist type. We cannot do better than quote again from the aforementioned leaflet:
   “Recently in N. Ireland we have witnessed the shifting of Nationalist Labour support from the N.I. Labour Party to the Irish Labour Party, and the decision of the former body to accept the constitutional status quo. While the wranglings of these reformist parties are of little interest to Socialists and make not the slightest contribution on the part of either body to the cause of Socialism, they have served as a practical pointer to the CONSPICUOUS ABSENCE OF A GENUINE SOCIALIST PARTY IN THIS COUNTRY.”
*   *   *   *
   “The reformist Labour parties fail miserably because of their basically unsound economic premise. Applying themselves to the treatment of EFFECTS, they leave untouched the CAUSE of poverty, insecurity and war: CAPITALISM.
   Capitalism has developed the economic resources of the world to that extent where Socialism, from the economic standpoint, is a practical possibility NOW. The only barrier is the lack of a Socialist majority, organised for the conquest of political power and the establishment of the Socialist system of society. Consequently we consider that the task of Socialists, and the Socialist Party, is to use all means at their disposal for the making of Socialists. We contend that it is impossible to change society through the medium of reforms, and that the change to Socialism must be effected at the base of society, which is the ownership of the means of production (at present in the hands of the capitalist class). To convert these means of living into the common property of society and to create a classless and wageless society where 'each will give according to his ability and take according to his needs ’ is the only true perspective of Socialists.”
We are pleased and encouraged to welcome the Socialist Party of Ireland to the group of internationalist parties that are striving for the establishment of Socialism. We urge all Irish workers who are interested, to contact the new party either at its Dublin or its Belfast address. These addresses will be found on the back page of this issue of the Socialist Standard. Workers who agree with the object and declaration of principles, also on the back page of this paper, whether they reside in Eire or Northern Ireland, should apply for membership to the nearest branch. Any such worker who lives at a distance from one of the established branches will be enrolled in what is termed "Central branch” which caters specially for those circumstances.
W. Waters

Civilization? (1972)

Book Review from the February 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard

Civilization. A Personal View, by Kenneth Clark. BBC and John Murray. £2.25 (paperback).

Discussing man's transition from dependence on nature to dominion over it, Marx, more than a century ago, gave us a description of civilisation which could have been written yesterday. “Work no longer seems to be included in the production process as man rather stands apart from the production process as its regulator and guardian . . .  In this transformation it is less the immediate labour performed by man himself, or the time that he works, than the appropriation of his general productivity, his comprehension of nature and dominion over it through his existence as a social body . . . that appears as the supporting pillar of production and wealth.” It must be a great pity that Kenneth Clark was not familiar with this passage, as it could easily have set his personal view of civilisation in a more purposeful mould than the philosopher-seeking-after-truth image, which we have here.

Millions of people will recall with pleasure, and no doubt considerable enlightenment, the television epic (a composition in a lofty narrative style) from the script of which this book is compiled. While the author stays in his own field, art, there is no doubt that he knows what he is talking about. When he discourses on the exquisite delights of Michelangelo’s statue of a young man he called "David’’ then, certainly, those who may have cultivated a taste for this sort of thing, will think him well worth listening to; but when he ventures into the realm of political economy, the mask of the truth-seeking philosopher is liable to slip and reveal a sometimes appallingly ignorant prejudice.

Obviously this is most clearly seen when we get to the Industrial Revolution and matters with which we are all. perforce, familiar. It is easy to seize on incorrect details, particularly in one’s own pet subject, and use them to berate an opponent, but it does not need a very profound knowledge of what went on in England in the first half of the 19th century to expose this author’s treatment of the period.
Surely every schoolboy knows today, thanks however indirectly to Marx and Engels, that the sanctimonious Wilberforce got the money to campaign against chattel slavery by sending equally helpless wage slaves, aged about ten, down the mine to get a gutfull of coal dust. Kenneth Clark may like to give us the impression that he has read Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 but he shows little evidence of having absorbed any of its lessons in economics; if he had he might have got the title of the book right: among knowledgeable people there is a difference between ‘working class’ and ‘working classes’. Furthermore somebody could have corrected the index error, which has been allowed to persist from the earlier, more expensive, edition. Surely after reading this book nobody could be quite so pathetically eulogistic about the “humane reformers” of the period, nor could he possibly have the breathtaking effrontery to describe the penetrating observation, painstaking research and devastating comment of Engels’ book as “the passionate cry of a young social worker”.

In the story of this period we are also treated to a brief, incredibly brief, reference to Marx. There is no direct comment on his work nor even the suggestion of an argument, but he is there alright, wedged between some more “humane” stuff about Lord Shaftesbury and a few lines of poetry by Wordsworth, who, we are told solemnly, knew all about the workers before Marx even heard of them. Here again it seems unfortunate that Kenneth Clark should suppose that his readers are not familiar with the doings of Lord Shaftesbury. Marx, when dealing with this man, didn’t treat us like a lot of simpletons who can be told any old rubbish, so why should Kenneth Clark? He only had to take a few lines after the Ten Hours Bill, and all that stuff, to tell us that this “great humanitarian” was also a grasping landowner, who helped to provoke the Swing riots by, among other oppressions, taking from the miserable wages of his labourers, exorbitant rents for the hovels they lived in.

Kenneth Clark, almost with the very last sentence of the thousands of words comprising this work, aims an utterly mindless aside at Marx asserting his “moral and intellectual failure”. Perhaps he should read over his own comments on the first half of the 19th century and think again about that one.
F. T. G.