Saturday, August 11, 2018

Facts for Socialists (1937)

Pamphlet Review from the August 1937 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Fabian Society have just published the 14th edition, revised and enlarged, of "Facts for Socialists" (46 pages, 6d.). It contains the usual valuable collection of figures as to the unequal distribution of incomes and property, together with information about the extent of malnutrition, the volume of pauperism and unemployment, the condition of the depressed areas, overcrowding, industrial accidents, hours of work, strikes, trade union membership, etc. It is marred by the usual Fabian misconceptions about the nature of Socialism, but its facts and figures make it a first-rate aid to propagandists. 
P. S.

"New" Ideas With Whiskers On Them (1938)

From the August 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

During the second week of July the News Chronicle printed an article deploring the miseries suffered by emigrants to Canada and discussing a new scheme that proposed to bring organisation into the matter.

Looking through an old magazine (The Lady's Magazine) for January, 1820, the writer came upon the following: —
   A difficulty has long presented itself, in contemplating the subject of emigration to Canada, and other Colonies, and parts of North America, that while, on the one hand, we are told of the abundance to be found in those countries, and the room which they offer for innumerable emigrants; on the other we find that, of the multitudes who have gone in quest of the promised blessings, a vast proportion have encountered the severest distress.
The writer then goes on to explain a scheme proposed by a Mr. Kendal for assisting emigrants and providing them with information. Institutions for this purpose were to be established in London and in the Colonies.

That is over a hundred years ago and still the same problems arise and with them the same bright ideas for abolishing the problems—problems that defy abolition as long as capitalism, with it's passion for exploiting wage labourers, remains.

National Hatred: A Capitalist Weapon (1939)

From the August 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

From the earliest days of working-class history, racial hatreds and national antagonisms have repeatedly been an obstacle to working-class solidarity and organisation.

Capitalists and their agents know the value of keeping alive these antagonisms. They know quite well that, whilst the workers remain divided racially and nationally, their own privileged position in society will remain secure.

It is largely to divert the attention of the German workers from a critical examination of the true cause of their poverty, from an examination of the capitalist system, that the Nazi set them against the Jews. However, it would be a very serious mistake to think that Hitler has the monopoly of this technique of hindering working-class organisation. On the contrary, it would be difficult to find a capitalist class of any country which has not at some time or other stirred up its workers against those of another nation or race. 

The British capitalist class has done its share of this sort of thing. For example, a few years ago the Press of this country used to regale us week after week with atrocity tales about Russians. This was partly due to the fact that the true significance of the Russian upheaval was not understood by the capitalists. So long as they mistakenly thought that socialism was being established in Russia, they did their best to make the workers of Britain think that Russians were the arch-enemies of civilisation. When it was discovered that Russia was developing along capitalist lines, these stories became less frequent. In recent years, the Japanese, Italians and the Germans have taken the place of the Russians in the British Press. This is because the capitalists of Japan, Italy and Germany threaten the interests of the British capitalists.

We are not suggesting that there is no truth in these atrocity stories; very likely, most of them are true. The point we wish to make is that they would not be given so much publicity unless the British capitalist class wished to rally its workers to the defence of British capitalism against the attacks of likely aggressors.

Little publicity is given to the French method of railway construction in Equatorial Africa. And yet for sheer brutality it is equal to anything perpetrated by the Germans, Japs or Italians. What fine stories the British Press could give us about French Imperialism—and would give us—if British and French imperialist interests were in conflict.

Londres, the French journalist, in his book “The Land of the Black,” describes the construction of railways in the French equatorial colonies as follows: —
   “Here the Negro is used instead of machinery, instead of everything else, in fact. He takes the place of the machine, the motor-lorry, the crane. And were it only possible, he would be used instead of explosives, too !
   "The Negroes died like flies. Of the 8,000 that came to Batignaloes only 5,000 were soon left, and then 4,000, and later 1,700. New recruits had to take their places. . . .
   “We started to hunt the Negroes. Our men caught them as best they could with the help of lassoes, etc. We put 'collars' on them, as they are called here. . . . The death rate increased. . . .  'We must reckon with a loss of six or eight thousand people,' said Governor General Antonette, ‘or give up the railway.' But the number of victims was greater. To-day it already exceeds 17,000, and there is still about 200 miles to go! . . . We are woodcutters in the human forest." (Quoted in George Padmore's "Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers.")
Again we venture to say that if French capitalist schemes of aggression were threatening British capitalist interests to-day, such stories as the above about the French (and many others like them) would be plastered on the front pages of the dailies, with the juiciest of headlines.

Racial hatreds have been of great service to the capitalist classes of America. Both in Latin America (Brazil, Cuba and Colombia) and in the United States, the idea is carefully nurtured among “white" workers that the “black" is his enemy. Here we have the capitalists importing negroes to work in their concerns because they can force them to accept low wages, and then doing all in their power to rouse white against black so as to prevent them from joining forces.

Incidentally, the same thing happened here last century. Irishmen were brought to England to work at cheap rates and then the capitalist played off the Irish and English Workers, one against the other. About this, Marx wrote in 1869: —
   "The English bourgeoisie has not only exploited Irish poverty in order to worsen the condition of the working class in England, by the forced transplantation of poor Irish peasants, but it has, moreover, divided the proletariat into hostile camps. . . . The average English worker hates the Irish as a competitor who lowers his wages and level of living. He feels national and religious antagonism towards him. . . . This antagonism between the proletarians of England is artificially cultivated and maintained by the bourgeoisie. It knows that in this antagonism lies the real secret of maintaining its power" (Italics are Marx's.)
George Padmore, in his "Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers," has much to say about the methods used by the capitalist class of the United States to cause black and white workers to hate each other. He says (p. 62) that “some of the most active agents of the Oppressors are the preachers, who go round the countryside stirring up racial hatred and mob law against the Negroes." He tells, too, how after the lynching of two Negroes, Shipp and Smith, at Marion, Indiana, pictures of their charred bodies were sold in the shops of the city of Terre Haute. "Over 3,256 Negro farmers and workers have met their death at the hands of white lynching mobs between 1885 and 1930" (p. 50).

With regard to Latin America, Padmore has noticed happening there what Marx observed in England. He writes: "The national bourgeoisie and the Yankee imperialists . . . consciously foster the feeling of national chauvinism and race prejudice among the native Negro and white workers against the Negroes from Haiti and Jamaica. Cases are not rare when these foreign black slaves become the victims of most brutal chauvinistic persecution on the part of the native workers themselves, who are made to believe that by doing so they are defending their own economic interests.
   "With respect to wages, both the native and foreign Negroes always receive less wages for the same amount of work as the white workers, while the imported blacks get even less than the native Negroes. Through this method of wage discrimination the imperialists and the native capitalists are able to split up the class interest of the workers into different parts and play one off against the other."
The fact that the agents of capitalism are able to stir up workers of one country against another is proof of the immaturity of the working class. It is a proof that up to now the workers are without a true understanding of their position in capitalist society. They are still ready to consider their own interests identical with those of their master class.
C. A. Allen

How Henry Ford Smashes Trade Unions (1940)

From the August 1940 issue of the Socialist Standard
[The following article, from the “Nation,” New York, May 4th, 1940, throws light on the attitude towards Trade Unions shown by Henry Ford in the U.S.A.] 
The Ford Reich
Labour-union organisations are the worst thing that every struck the earth because they take away a man’s independence.— From “Ford Gives Viewpoint on Labour,” a booklet distributed in Ford plants.
In June, 1937, “Fats” Perry, then a trusted employee of the Ford plant at Dallas, was assigned to special work of a confidential, and strenuous, nature. On the twenty-third he informed his Superiors that two C.I.O. organisers were on their way from Kansas City. A few hours later two representatives of the United Automobile Workers of America arrived in town and went to a drugstore near the plant frequented by Ford workers. Several Ford workers introduced themselves. Three of them were stool pigeons, and one hurried across to the plant to report the presence of the organisers. Another sought out "Fats” Perry. “ I walked over there,” Perry later testified at the Labour Board hearing, “and one of the boys says, ‘There they stand back there ’ . . . . I heard them say something about Kansas City. I walked up and listened a few minutes . . . and I said, 'Who was talking so much about Kansas City? ’ He says, ‘ I was talking to some of my friends.’ I said, 'You are a union organiser, aren’t you? ’ He said, ‘If you call it that.’ He says, ‘ I am trying to line some of the boys up.’ I said, ‘ You line up out of that door before I throw you out.’ ”

One of the organisers, after being knocked down by the 226-pound “Fats” Perry, managed to escape. The other, a small man, was knocked down and carried out to a waiting car.   An unidentified man in a Ford Motor Company official car,” according to the N.L.R.B. trial examiner’s report, "drove up and told the group who had Guempelein (the organiser) to take him down by the schoolhouse and 'beat hell out of him.’ ” They did.

Perry had a squad of beefy fellows, most of whom had been members of the Ford plant’s champion tug-of-war team. They were paid regular wages but assigned special work. They kept their ears open. They “made the rounds of cafes, domino parlours, barber shops, and similar places in the outlying districts of Dallas.” They were equipped with "persuaders”—blackjacks, pistols, whips, lengths of hose. When not in use these “persuaders,” according to the trial examiner, were kept in the desk of the man who was head of the Ford service department in Dallas. The word "service” has interesting connotations in a Ford plant.

On July 3rd, Baron De Louis, the U.A.W.A. organiser from Kansas City who had managed to escape from Perry and his helpers in the encounter of June 23rd, returned to Dallas. Through a friend in Dallas, De Louis arranged an appointment with a Ford employee. The employee at once notified the Ford office of the meeting. Perry’s service squad was on hand and administered another beating. The squad was kept very busy that July. “On one occasion in mid-July,” according to the trial examiner’s findings, “Rutland (general body foreman at the Dallas plant) received word that two of the company employees had made some pro-union remarks while on a fishing trip He arranged to have them kidnapped by the strong-arm squad, taken into the country, questioned, and dealt with by that group.” On another occasion in July several men suspected of union sympathies, were ambushed at the home of a stool pigeon and beaten. On July 10th every member of the “service” squad was given a picture of W. J. Houston, Dallas attorney, who had acted for the U.A.W.A. An organised search for him was begun. He was located in a drugstore, where he was having a cup of coffee with a friend. One member of the group engaged him in conversation while the others assembled at the soda fountain. As Houston started to leave, he was attacked, knocked down, and severely beaten before police arrived. “Fats” Perry testified that Rutland was pleased. ”He [Rutland] said, ‘I heard you picked up Mr. Houston down there.’ I said, ‘Yes, they picked him up and like to beat him to death.’ He said, ‘That is a good job then. Maybe that will learn him to listen.’ ”

The service squad was thorough. On August 2nd an assistant foreman from the Kansas City plant was in Dallas on a vacation trip. He visited the Dallas office. When he came out, he found Perry and his subordinates waiting for him. They took him for a ride. He succeeded in proving that he was a foreman and anti-union. Perry then drove him back to town, ”shook hands . . . and wished him well.” A travelling salesman who had expressed sympathy for the union had a brother, an identical twin. He was beaten so badly on August 4th, 1937, that he never recovered his health. He died of pneumonia a few months later. The squad did not confine its activities to the automobile industry. On August 6th or 7th, according to the findings of the trial examiner, the general body foreman at Dallas called Perry in and told him “he had received a call from the City Hall police station, telling him that there was a union organiser in town who had been giving them trouble. . . .” The organiser was George Baer, an official of the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers. Some of the boys picked Baer up outside a millinery house, knocked him unconscious, took him to the outskirts of town, and beat him up. When Perry arrived, "they greeted Perry with the statement that Baer was . . .  'in pretty bad shape. You better come look at him.' . . . They found Earl Johnson (one of the ”service” men) sitting on Baer on the floor of the car, with one knee in his stomach and the other on his head. Baer’s eye had been knocked out of its socket. Blood covered his face, his nose was smashed, his head was bleeding, and his teeth had been knocked out.” Perry testified, “I said, 'Well, you had better get rid of him. You better put him somewhere.’ And Buster Bevill suggested, ‘Let’s take the son of a bitch down and throw him in the river.' I said, 'No, we couldn’t do that.’ So we drove down the highway a ways and drove up in a field and throwed him out.”

These were some of the methods used by the Ford Motor Company to encourage workers in Dallas to do their bargaining individually. The facts set down here are taken from the record of hearings before the National Labour Relations Board of the Sixteenth Region.