Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Capitalism and the Socialist (1943)

From the August 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every day, numbers of workers make their first acquaintance with the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Their response to our case is naturally a varied one. Many, hearing our speakers or reading our literature for the first time, are immediately impressed with the soundness of the views we put forward. Others, on the other hand, particularly those irritated by criticism of long-held beliefs and fondly cherished illusions, react with just as immediate an hostility. Of the remainder, some are apathetic, their interest slight, and their acquaintance with us is as slight as their interest. Others, in widely varying degree, acknowledge the validity of many of our arguments, but disagree with us on some points. Whatever their reactions, however, whether they be friendly or hostile, one feature of our propaganda appears to draw their comment sooner or later. It is our constant reiteration of the fact that the cause of the majority of the evils with which the working-class are to-day so miserably and persistently afflicted is to be found in the Capitalistic nature of modern society.

We make no apology for this “preoccupation" of ours with Capitalism. If it is our position that Capitalism alone is responsible for the problems now confronting the working-class, it is obvious that we must of necessity make frequent, and repeated references, in all our propaganda, to that system and the effects to which it gives rise. The chemist, in his experiments and investigations has constant occasion to refer to the ninety-two elements of which all matter is known to be composed. In similar manner, the Socialist, in his own investigations, must make frequent mention of those elements which go to make up present-day society.

At this point, we must make it absolutely clear that, regardless of our own attitude to it, the Capitalist system is a fact. It is not the creation of an abnormal Socialist imagination, devoid of all basis in reality. It is not a bogey, raised by us to frighten normally contented workers into supporting us in our various activities. Although we are the only party that, stands for the total abolition of Capitalism, we are not the only organisation that makes attacks upon it. All kinds of organisations and all types of individuals are continually making efforts to reform and improve it. Even the Capitalist class itself, through its various organs of propaganda, through its apologists and its "stooges" takes great pains to convince the workers of its merits and the manifold benefits it confers upon them. True they refer more to “private enterprise” and "incentive” and “competition" and “self-interest" than they do to Capitalism, but to politically intelligent workers they are all parts of the same parcel. Political economists of all shades of opinion have argued about it, apologised for it, praised it or attacked it for the last hundred and fifty years or more. Every day, the City and Financial Editors of the daily newspapers comment upon and interpret in their various ways the many fluctuations which disturb its already ruffled surface. Nor are many of their comments distinguished by lack of frankness.

Thus, whatever varying and conflicting opinions they may hold as to the implications of Capitalism for the working class, all are agreed on its reality.

Which brings us to our last point; the implications it has for the Socialist. Briefly they are as follows: —

  • Firstly. It is a class society. One class, the workers, possesses no property, and are consequently compelled to sell their abilities and energies to others in order to live. The other class, the Capitalist class, by virtue of their ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution, i.e., the. laud, the factories, the mines, the railways, etc., can buy the worker’s only commodity, his power to work, and exploit it for their own profit.
  • Secondly. Arising out of this relationship between the possessors and non-possessors of property, there results of necessity a conflict of interest between the two classes. The capitalist class, as a whole, do their utmost to maintain, and, if possible, increase their property, which they can only do at the expense of the working-class. They strive hard to keep the level of wages low and attempt, by all the means, possible to keep a plus sign in front of their annual profit figure. On the other hand, it is obviously in the worker’s interest to keep their wages high and their working hours low. Industrially, this struggle finds organisational expression in Trade Unions and Employer’s Federations; politically, in the attempts of the various parties to obtain Parliamentary power.
  • Thirdly. Out of this class division in society arises also the wages system, whereby, for services rendered to his employer, the worker receives in return an amount of money, which he exchanges for the various commodities needed by him. The amount he receives in wages is seldom more than enough to maintain him in a state of reasonable working efficiency. It also enables him to raise a number of children to continue the good work of making profits for capitalists when he is reaping the reward of his lifetime of labour in the workhouse or on the parish.
  • Fourthly. The goods produced by the workers take the form of commodities, i.e., they are goods produced for sale or exchange. They are not articles produced solely for use, but are made for the prime purpose of reaping a profit. When, as in times of “crisis" or “depression”, markets are restricted and there are few opportunities for profit-making, production is drastically curtailed and millions thrown out of employment, even though large numbers of the earth's inhabitants are in dire need of food, clothing and shelter.

These conditions will exist as long as Capitalism exists. They will only be ended when the working-class, acting in unison and with understanding, take hold of political power, dispossess the Capitalist class of its ownership of the means of life and make them the common property of the whole of society.

The task of the Socialist is to convince his fellow workers of this, their task.
Stan Hampson

Obituaries: G. Nyberg & Jack Butler (1944)

Obituaries from the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Death of Comrade G. Nyberg
It is with deep regret that we learn of the death of Comrade G. Nyberg, of Paddington Branch. He was recently killed by the latest manifestation of scientific research under capitalism, the "flying bomb.” In a large measure the formation of the Edgware Discussion Group was due to his efforts. In the Group he was a capable, active and untiring member in making the Party Case known among the workers in the district. His death comes as a severe blow to the comrades who worked with him in the cause of Socialism, for we can ill-afford to lose members of his calibre. A letter of condolence has been sent by the Executive Committee to Mrs. Nyberg and family.
E. J. Ford

Death of Comrade Butler
We greatly regret to announce that our Treasurer, Comrade J. Butler, was killed by a flying bomb at the end of July. An obituary notice will appear in our next issue.

Obituary: Comrade Jack Butler (1944)

Obituary from the September 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have the sad task of informing comrades and friends that our true and trusty Treasurer, Comrade J. Butler, has been killed by a flying bomb. The tragedy occurred at 7 o'clock in the morning, but he was not dug out of the debris until the evening. When found, there was a pencil behind his ear and a mutilated party account book nearby—so that he was already up and engaged on party work at the time. He certainly died in harness—a harness he gloried in wearing.

Butler was 58 years old, and joined the West Ham Branch of the Party in 1910. He early became active as a speaker, and was on the platform as recently as a fortnight before he died. He also became Literature Secretary for the Branch, and kept the job till the end. About 20 years ago he became Treasurer of the Party, and from that time onwards the Party absorbed all his energies—he had no other interest.

During his long association with the Party, Butler participated in the many long and vital discussions in the course of which the Party hammered out its policy on different problems; he has been a solid supporting pillar, reasonable, sound and universally liked. He was one of those rare people who shirk the limelight, do an enormous amount of work, and make no fuss about it. It was sufficient recompense for him that the work he was doing was for the cause in which he believed and hoped soon to see successful. H will be sorely missed. Absolutely straight, sincere, dependable, and a glutton for work, he was one of those who are not easy to replace.

Perhaps the writer may be permitted a personal note, as an old friend. He first met Butler about 1910 or 1911, when a group of enthusiastic young members, panting for knowledge and struggling to become speakers and writers, used to gather at Head Office. At that time the Party Headquarters consisted of a couple of squalid rooms at the top of some rickety stairs in Sandland Street, Bedford Row—it was wiped out in the Blitz. The Party had very small funds at the time and we used to have “family parties"  folding the “S.S." (it was delivered in sheets at the time), and discussing Socialist principles and all the knotty problems of the day. We also arranged among ourselves to visit various spots to hold impromptu meetings, from which we would disperse to our homes long after midnight. Then the Great War of 1914-18 came. The Party was opposed to it on Socialist grounds, and we were dispersed in different directions. When we resumed after the war, only a few of the group of our generation turned up again, but Butler was one of them, and was soon back at Standard-folding, discussing and routine work again. In his Branch he was also a tower of strength, helpful and informing to now members.

When Butler took over the Treasurership he watched Party finances closely, and always had the trust, goodwill and friendship of the membership. It is pitiful to think that after weathering the storms of the last war and the blitzes of this, now, when appearances suggest that the end is near, he should have been struck down by a fiendish product of the system to the fight against which he gave the best years of his life. The best tribute we can offer to his memory is to carry on as steadfastly as he did [for] the struggle for the triumph of Socialism.

Butler’s wife was seriously injured and his son slightly. We wish them a speedy recovery, and send them our sympathy in the loss they have suffered.

By The Way: Atrocities (1945)

The By The Way Column from the August 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

As atrocities seem to be of great interest, just now, the “Socialist Standard” has pleasure in giving evidence of other atrocities to which the attention of Parliament and the Press might he called, besides the Horror Camp in Germany.

First a report from the Manchester Guardian, of Famine Enquiry Commission headed by Sir John Woodhead, Acting Governor of Bengal, 1934-1939).
   “After considering all the circumstances (it is stated), we cannot avoid the conclusion that it lay in the power of the Government of Bengal by bold, resolute and well-conceived measures at the right time to have largely prevented the tragedy of the famine as it actually took place. The Government of India failed to recognise at a sufficiently early date the need for a system of planned movement of food grains, including rice as well as wheat, from surplus to deficit provinces and states.”—(Manchester Guardian, May 8th, 1945).
The Guardian continues: —
“Enormous Profits”   But the public in Bengal, or at least certain sections of it, are also held to have their share of blame. Reference is made to the “atmosphere of fear and greed which, in the absence of control, was one of the causes of the rapid rise in the price-level,” and the report adds: “Enormous profits were made out of the calamity, and in the circumstances profits for some meant death for others. A large part of the community lived in plenty while others starved., and there was much indifference in the face of suffering. Corruption was widespread throughout the provinces and in many classes of society.”
   “A million and a half of the poor of Bengal fell victims to circumstances for which, they themselves were not responsible. Society, together with its organs, failed to protect its weaker members; indeed, there was a moral and a social breakdown as well as an administrative breakdown.
  “By August, 1943, it was clear that the Provincial Administration in Bengal was failing to control the famine. Deaths and mass migration on a large scale were occurring. In such circumstances the Government of India, whatever the constitutional position, must share with the Provincial Government the responsibility of saving lives.”
Second the following report of the worst air raid of the war on Hamburg on July 23th-26th, when the city “ceased to exist.”
   Twenty thousand Germans died and 60,000 were taken to hospital after one R.A.F. raid on Hamburg on the night of July 25-26, 1943, when the greatest firebomb inferno raged throughout the centre of the dock area. It lay waste the equivalent of three London boroughs.
     Official sources state that German air raid precaution statistics confirm these figures.
   That night fire-bombs set light to the dock warehouses and installations in the dock areas covered by the three suburbs Hammerbrook, St. Georg, and Borgfeldt.
   The heat of the fires, which lasted several days, was so fierce that several fruit trees produced blossom again and the oxygen became so rarifled by the heat that people died from suffocation.
    This was probably the worst air raid of the war. The total of casualties caused by Allied forces in their raids on the port is said to be 250,000, and of these it is estimated that 50,000 were killed. - - (Sunday Despatch, May 13th, 1945).
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The Old, Old Story
Lord Beaverbrook has delivered himself of his awe-inspiring thoughts for the future prosperity of the nation in a speech at Bradford. According to his own paper, the Sunday Express, May 27, it is the “Way to a better Britain.” “Full work and high wages.” "How are we to have full employment”? he asks and answers “by setting a high standard of life for the people.” It’s as simple as that! A little more detail? “By satisfying the demand of the home market the output is built up and as the output is built up the costs of production are reduced. When the costs of production are reduced sufficiently then it is simple and easy to find foreign markets.”

Just like that! “The first export market I wish to seek is the export of an idea—the export of the standard of living to other countries, too.”

Whether this is to include Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, etc., the noble lord did not say. Or even India, where a million died of famine last year.

“The Government should take part in such policy on two principles. The first is that the Governments of the world should meet together.” (Shades of the ill-starred World Economic Conference of 1933). Well, they’ve been doing this for several hundred years, now—they might as well go on, “for the purpose of setting the standards of living high enough and strong enough to provide work for every man.” The second principle should be that when there is a decline in employment, not only in Britain but in every country that is a party to the agreement providing for higher standards of life, that decline should be met by a rising scale of wages. A rising scale of wages will check the evil of Unemployment by providing increased buying power.”—(Sunday Express, May 27).

Which means: Increase output to cheapen cost of production to find foreign markets—BUT the Governments are to agree to increase wages when unemployment spreads throughout the world to “increase buying power.”

Why it will be necessary to find foreign markets with cheaper products his lordship does not say.

If it were possible to enable the workers to buy back even a large part of their produce, why not do it here?

If the policy will work, HOW does Beaverbrook KNOW that there is going to be a “decline in employment” throughout the world?

And do we have to have a decline in employment first so that the Government can “raise wages”?

Actually, Governments can no more “raise” wages, than they could raise the dead.

In a falling market after the war, the Government which tried to raise wages would “fall” quicker than the wages.

The intelligent workers are becoming more tired than ever of the “raise the standard of living” rubbish, started by Lloyd George and the Liberals in 1910, repeated by the Labour Leaders, 1919, and in “Socialism and the Living Wage” of the I.L.P. (1926), and by the Social Credit chumps of 1932.

Apart from the absurdity of proposing to call Conferences of the Governments of the world, immediately after sacrificing thousands to destroy half of them for five years, “cheapening cost of production” to “capture foreign markets” is reduction of Relative Wages—and however many “friendly” conferences are held, leads inevitably to WAR.

Wages are the price of labour-power. Prices fall in a condition of ample supply and falling demand—“when Johnny comes marching home again.”

The echoes of the last shots are still reverberating around the world. Millions are still in the modern mass concentration camp known as the “Forces.” And all this “great brain” of the Tory Party can offer is “the mixture as before”; bidding the exploited worker, like a blue bottle on the window-pane, after having fought his master’s battle—to restart his painful and arduous attempt to crawl into the sunlight—only to crash once again into the abyss of poverty he longs to escape.

Notes by the Way: “You, too, can be a Capitalist" (1946)

The Notes by the Way Column from the August 1946 issue of the Socialist Standard

“You, too, can be a Capitalist"
Under the title “You, too, can be a capitalist for £2,” Mr. Quintin Hogg, M.P. (Daily Mail, 4/12/45), let himself go at the expense of those who are guilty of “spreading the downright falsehood that nearly all property is in the hands of a few rich men.” Mr. Hogg’s years at Eton and Oxford do not appear to have taught him either arithmetic or logic, for his attempted refutation was built up on the assertion that any worker who has about £2 can buy one share in Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., and thus become a "capitalist.” It is true that there are large numbers of workers who have small shareholdings or deposits in the Savings Bank, but this is no answer to the often-demonstrated fact that nearly all property is in the hands of a comparatively few rich men. Daniels and Campion, in their analysis of the ownership of accumulated wealth, showed that over 80% of it is owned by a small group numbering less than 6%. ("The Distribution of National Capital,” 1936.)

Mr. Hogg chose Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., for his example. It happens that the Economist (5/12/1936) analysed the shareholdings of that and nine other large well-known companies. The result was revealing, but it does not help Mr. Hogg. True, I.C.I.’s 43,589,538 ordinary shares are held by 124,690 shareholders, but 80,000 of them had small amounts of less than 200. At the top was a handful of big shareholders (17 to. be exact), who owned over 4,000,000 shares between them, an average of about 250,000 each. At the present price of the shares these 17 own between them over £9 million. If Mr. Hogg wants something to get his teeth into let him try to find among the company’s 100,000 workers how many own 250,000 shares, or even 250.

Another interesting analysis was recently made by the Financial Times (16/2/46) into the Bolsover Colliery Co. The Financial Times was anxious to show that when the Labour Government take over the mines they will be dealing with large numbers of small shareholders; but their inquiry also disclosed that there were 33 shareholders with more than £10,000 each, their aggregate holding being £773,000. The 60 largest shareholders own about £1,000,000 between them.

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No More Rich Men?
The idea has been put around that the war has destroyed the big fortunes of the rich. Many Labourites, Mr. Bevin included, have swallowed this and deceive themselves into the belief that, somehow or other, Labour Government is incompatible with the existence of a wealthy minority. They could learn something by glancing at the wills published in the Times and other newspapers. In a period of two weeks from June 30th to July 15th particulars were published of 26 wills, each of them over £50,000. The total for the 26 was well over £5,000,000; an average of about £200,000 each. Several were over £500,000: - Mr. Douglas Charrington, £608,959 (Times, 2/7/46); Mr. W. M. Fraser, £650,000 (Sunday Express, 30/6/46); and Mr. W. Barnett, £576,383 (Times, 1/7/46).

The lucky heirs, even after payment of death duties, will be quite a long way removed from Mr. Hogg’s "capitalists” at £2 per head.

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Political Parties and Foreign Money
In the House of Commons on June 6th, 1946, the Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Ede, stated that documents captured during the war included a letter written in 1935 by the Italian Ambassador in London, which contained reference to subsidies given by the Italian Government to the British Union of Fascists amounting to £60,000 a year. The Italian ambassador expressed the view to Mussolini that the money was wasted. He called it pouring money down the drain, and claimed that with one-tenth of the amount he could produce a result ten times better.

Sir Oswald Mosley issued a denial, in the terms: — "This statement is categorically denied by those responsible either for the policy or the finances of the British Union,” and he demanded that the Government state how, when and through what accounts the money was paid. (Times, 7/6/46.)

The working class should certainly be interested in the sources from which political propaganda is financed. Figs don’t grow on thistles; big business and capitalist governments do not finance propaganda that is going to help the working class to emancipate themselves from capitalism.

Whether the money comes from abroad is not the only question. From the working-class standpoint Sir Oswald Mosley’s receipt of funds for his New Party (before his Fascist days) from big industrialists was just as damning.

Readers of the Daily Worker (7/6/46) will have noticed that the Communist organ featured the Home Secretary’s statement about Mosley, but said nothing about the charges made against the Communists in the past of having received money from abroad. On two occasions Tory Governments published official reports on Communist money, one, in 1926, "Communist Papers,” and the other in 1928, "Communist Funds.” One statement in the latter was that on July 5th, 1927, and December 21st, 1927, payments from Moscow were made to the Communists totalling £10,330.

Apart from the Official Reports, the late Mr. Walton Newbold, writing in “Forward” (10/7/1926), after he had ceased to be a Communist M.P., admitted that his election expenses "were defrayed in the main from the funds of the Communist International, and originated in Moscow.”

For many years rank and file Communists indignantly denied the charges, until in May, 1928, the Communist Party published what it called “A Frank Statement,” though it wasn’t very frank. It explained that the Communist Party was a national section of an international party, "paying its financial contributions to its international headquarters and receiving assistance in return from time to time for different phases of its national work.” The “Frank Statement” did not include a statement of the relationship between the amounts flowing outwards as contributions and the amount flowing in as assistance, which would no doubt have been much more interesting.

No objection could be taken to a working-class organisation at the outset being helped by workers in another country to get on its feet, but that is a very different proposition from continuing year after year dependent to a considerable extent on subsidies from abroad. A healthy working-class party can depend on the willing work and contributions of workers in the country where it operates and will, of course, have its policy democratically controlled by its own members. The Communist Party of Great Britain was never in that position, its policies, including innumerable sudden somersaults, having been marked by a never-ending subservience to the Foreign policy of the Russian Government.

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Phillipine Independence—American Model
All imperialisms run true to form, though this does not prevent the apologists for each from throwing brickbats at the others. British capitalism gave “independence” to Egypt in 1936, but kept troops there. Russia negotiates a “friendly” agreement with Persia by which Russia gains control of oil wells in the north of the country, but took the precaution of keeping an army of occupation there until the Persian Government had accepted Russian terms. America has just given “independence” to the Phillipines, but one of the terms of the agreement is to be that “more American troops will be kept there than were stationed before the war. Moreover, the naval establishments will include at least one base for a battle fleet, whereas the pre-war American strategic system provided for no battle-fleet base west of Pearl Harbour.” (Economist, 6/7/46.)

The reason is the familiar one of strategic interests. By moving her base right up to the China Seas the United States becomes, as the Economist points out, “a Great Power of East Asia, as otherwise it would not be.” The old base, Pearl Harbour, in the Hawaii group, is several thousand miles nearer to U.S.A.

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Conflict in the German Social Democratic Party
The removal of the Nazi rĂ©gime has brought the suppressed political parties into the open again, but only to uncover the deep dissensions existing within their ranks. Under Russian tutelage, not to say dictation, the Social Democrats have been merged with the Communists in the Russian Zone. In Berlin itself the Social Democratic Party escaped that fate but is now faced with a split. One group, represented by Karl Gerber (who has resigned his office as one of the three joint chairmen), favours modelling the Party on the British Labour Party. They have no use for "old-fashioned” Marxism, and, according to the Manchester Guardian (6/7/46), Gerber holds that much in the Marxist conception of the class struggle is out of date.

Of Gerber’s view all we need say is that events will show that the class struggle is still a reality, and the only old-fashioned thing about the business is the belief held by those like the British Labour Party, that the class struggle can be abolished under capitalism.

The other group is described by the Manchester Guardian as wanting “to maintain an orthodox Marxism,” but the fact is the German Social Democratic Party never was a genuine Socialist Party. Some of its prominent men declared themselves Marxists, but the membership as a whole were not Socialists and had little understanding of Socialist principles. If, now, there is a group that seriously wants to start building up a Socialist party they will have to recognise that they cannot hope at present to be more than a small organisation. If they have retained the old worship of numbers at the expense of Socialist understanding they will go the same way as the old Social Democratic Party.
Edgar Hardcastle

Appeal to Overseas Readers (1946)

Party News from the August 1946 issue of the Socialist Standard

With a view to establishing contacts with Socialist groups and individuals in Continental and other overseas countries who are interested in the S.P.G.B. case, we invite readers of the Socialist Standard abroad (and also readers in this country who are in touch with such groups or individuals) to communicate with the Overseas Secretary, S.P.G.B., Rugby Chambers, 2, Rugby Street, London, W.C.1.

It is proposed to send literature explaining our case and, where possible, to send a Party representative to address groups seeking further information.
Executive Committee

Contradictions of Capitalism (1946)

From the August 1946 issue of the Socialist Standard

Indeed the contradictions of Capitalism are many and sometimes amusing to the Socialist. According to The People (May 26th, 1946), Scotland Yard is detailing specially qualified detectives with “an easy manner, Savile Row clothes, the ‘old school tie' and plenty of money in their pockets,” to destroy a network of fashionable gambling dens in London and the suburbs.

These gambling dens are not for the working class, but for the amusement of the idlers, and bright young things of the master class. Perhaps they are frequented by colliery owners, since, as Captain Peter Thorneycroft, Conservative M.P., said in the debate on the Coal Nationalisation Bill (29/1/46)
   ‘‘The coal owners can now go into honourable retirement. The burden of responsibility is lifted from their shoulders.
    “They can now sit back and draw State income from their inalienable Bonds.”
Perhaps they are sitting back in these gambling dens—thanks to the Labour Party.

And while one section of the capitalist class squanders its wealth, accumulated from the toil of the working class, the capitalist class as a whole maintains as an integral part of the State machine the Police Force, which concerns itself with protecting the capitalist class as a whole and also sections of it from their swindling neighbours.

Indeed, when our masters behave in such a manner one can well understand why the Christian soul-savers preach the Brotherhood of Man and the ten commandments.

This is but a simple example of the contradiction of a system of society whose fundamental contradiction is the ownership, by a small section of the community, of the wealth produced by the co-operative and associated effort of the overwhelming majority in that community.

This fundamental contradiction, source of many secondary ones, will be solved by socialism, which removes the fundamental contradiction by the revolutionary replacement of the present system of society by a new social order, wherein the wealth produced by the freely associated efforts of the whole community is owned by the producers and distributed according to needs of the individual members of the community. In short— Socialism.
D. A. Hawes

Party News Briefs (1947)

Party News from the August 1947 issue of the Socialist Standard

Leyton Branch are concentrating a lot of their work in the parliamentary constituency of Walthamstow E. where a number of their members live. They are holding outdoor meetings there, canvassing the Socialist Standard and visiting their opponents’ meetings. Their branch discussions are going extremely well, one on “Nationalisation,” opened by G. McClatchie recently, was particularly interesting.

The Finance Committee at Head Office ask branches to send in their quarterly reports (Forms “C”) as quickly as possible after the end of the quarter. Standardised branch books, branch circulars and printed branch notepaper are available at Head Office and can be supplied on request being made to the Finance Committee.

Birmingham Branch are having a speaker up from London at least once a month during the summer. They have been holding meetings with their own speakers in the Bull Ring lately and are becoming established there. One of their members spoke at an A.E.U. meeting at the end of June, and other members took part in the discussion. C. Lestor was there for a week-end and, assisted by the local members, held three successful meetings in the Bull Ring.

National Posters giving the party angle on the Government’s “Work or want” posters are now ready. Branches should write in to the Publicity Committee for supplies.

The State of Party Funds was given serious consideration by the Executive Committee during the month. The first step taken was to set up a Party Funds Committee to do whatever is possible to stimulate the flow of money into the party. The position is serious and the Executive Committee are now compelled to scrutinise all proposed expenditures with ever greater care than before. One effect of the shortage of money has been that the Executive Committee have been compelled to delay calling for nominations for the vacant post of Propagandist /Organiser, from which D. Fenwick had to resign for personal reasons. Party activity increases all the time, but we must have funds to back it up.

Bradford Branch are having C. Lestor with them for a month during the summer. They have been holding a number of outdoor meetings on the Bradford Car Park, a station opened up when Lestor was the propagandist/organiser in the area. The local Conservatives, who hold two outdoor meetings a week there, now carefully point out that we are not the people to whom they allude when they talk about “socialists.” It is to be hoped that before long our opponents will learn to call things by their proper names, and stop trying to discredit socialism by giving the Labour party a name which they do not earn by their practice, policy or objectives.

The Communist Council of Holland (Spartacus Group) have now sent a report of the conference held by various groups in Brussels at Whitsun. This is being translated from French, and main points from the report will be sent to branches. From the report it appears that the conference dealt at length with statements received from other organisations but practically ignored the one we sent. The only reference to us is that the letter we sent was noted by the Conference.

A Good Selection of Marxist Classics is on order from Charles H. Kerr & Co. of Chicago, and will be available for sale at Head Office when it arrives. A number of the books have been practically unobtainable in this country since the beginning of the war, and members will have an opportunity of building up their libraries with books which all socialists should have.

Paddington Branch filled Paddington Town Hall for their “Work and Want” meeting on July 3rd. This was particularly encouraging as their principle means of advertising, a loud speaker van, broke down three days before the meeting. Questions and discussion centred largely on the workers' struggles against the employers on the industrial field, probably due to the possibility of a London bus strike starting the next week-end. The speaker emphasised the view that effective strike action depended in a large measure on the extent to which workers understood their identity of interests as against the employers.

Sir Waldron Smithers, M.P., had second thoughts about debating with a party representative for a third time. A week before the debate he had undertaken at Edgware, he sent the Edgware branch a telegram saying that he would not appear. He gave no reasons and sent no apology to the audience of over 100 who attended. Like Beverley Baxter (see July Socialist Standard) he lacks both courage and courtesy. The party representative, C. May, carried on with the meeting on his own, as the local Conservative Association were not prepared to supply a substitute. The audience were sympathetic to the way in which we dealt with the Conservative party from the platform, and donated a collection of £3 15s. 0d. A considerable amount of party literature was sold.

Hackney Branch challenged the Co-operative party to debate, who re-acted favourably at first but subsequently climbed down. As an alternative the Co-operative party suggested that they should send a speaker to Hackney branch, which Hackney accepted provided that the Co-operative party would receive one of our speakers. This was agreed to, and the Co-operative speaker had the doubtful pleasure of meeting about 40 party members and sympathisers who during discussion gave him the socialist attitude to the Co-operative movement. The return date is being awaited, but so far no news has been received from the Co-operative party on this subject. A report of Hackney’s debate with the Revolutionary Communist Party at Bethnal Green Central Library on July 16th will be in next month’s Socialist Standard.

Palmers Green Branch's debate with the Labour Party at Edmonton Town Hall on July 14th was very successful. There was an audience of about 500, a large amount of literature was sold and a collection of £13 6s. 0d. was taken. E. F. Durbin, Labour M.P. for Edmonton, spent most of his time in attacking a special mythical “Marxism” of his own invention and seemed reluctant to defend the Labour Party. Our representative, A. Turner, after disposing of Durbin’s curious views on Marxism, went on to demonstrate the futility of Labourism, giving illustrations from the Labour Party’s record: he then put forward the Socialist alternative.
C. C.. Groves
General Secretary.

Letter: Money Will Go (1948)

Letter to the Editors from the August 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received a letter criticising the article “Money Will Go.” published in our February issue. The letter and reply are printed below.—Ed. Comm. 
To the Editor,

Dear Sir,

I must take strong exception to your argument regards non-payment of services in the armed forces, referred to in the Socialist Standard, issue dated February, 1948.

The indisputable facts are that the soldier was forced to pay direct fares for his recreational journeys (worked on a mileage basis), for his haircuts (3d.), entertainment (according to rank), barrack-room damages, lost articles of kit and clothing and certain medical treatments.

Also you stated that—because the soldier did not pay direct cash for certain services—he did not take advantage of those services. The truth is the very opposite. The authorities were at their wits’ end to stamp out waste and duplication caused by this laxity —pointing out that “if the soldier did have to pay for them in direct cash—he would have a more healthier respect for his kit and clothing.”

I have pointed out that a soldier paid for his haircut. I would also like to point out that if he wanted a decent one it was wise to tip the barber . . . If you wanted your boots repaired nicely—then ‘‘drop” the regimental cobbler . . .  In fact, the distribution of leave, food and duties were all worked on a racketeering basis—as any old soldier will tell you.

The reason for this criticism of your article is (firstly) to get your facts right and the inadvisability of using a half-baked argument and (secondly) to compare your method of reasoning to the troubles that confront us now.

The S.P.G.B. does not factually enjoy the sole rights in relation to its beliefs in a classless, democratic, Socialist society. Nine out of ten Socialists and Communists believe in the same dictum—as the ultimate goal of the peoples of the earth.

Nobody—other than idiots—believes that people accepting (however knowingly) socialist beliefs are turned automatically into little angels.

Even if the S.P.G.B. were returned to power (the wide world over) its theories, on the abolition of money being practiced, would be determined—not by an aim— but by the suitability of the people in honouring and working the theory in question.

And, for the S.P.G.B. to admit that, just how goods, food, houses, travel and aeroplanes, etc., would be distributed—‘‘ we cannot say ” (thus evading the whole point of the article, i.e. a practical alternative to money) is a fine exposure of your self-satisfied, noses in the air attitude to realism, that has rightly earned you the nick-name of—"Armchair Philosophers.”
E. H. Seymour

The article to which our critic objects set out to show that the popular belief in the necessity of a monetary system to secure distribution is unfounded. It pointed out that (even under capitalism) men and women in the Forces ‘‘did not have to put their hands in their pockets and produce money in order to eat, dress and sleep.” It did not go further than that. It pointed out that the army form of distribution is not ‘‘an example of socialism in operation,” and further pointed out that in the army “all things are not freely available.” Our critic, without challenging the main items, now gives us some relatively minor examples of the things that are not freely available and has overlooked the fact that the article itself covered the point.

We would not dispute that under those conditions there was some waste but we question whether it was anything like so widespread as our critic believes when he says that “the authorities were at their wits’ end” about it. We are also quite well aware that there is a considerable number of “rackets” and ‘‘fiddles.” These points, however, do not affect the carefully limited use that was made of the army form of distribution in the article in question.

Our critic then goes on to say that the “S.P.G.B. does not factually enjoy the sole rights in relation to its beliefs in a classless, democratic socialist society. Nine out of ten Socialists and Communists believe in the same dictum—as the ultimate goal of the peoples of the earth.” This assertion is very wide of the mark. What he says of Socialists is true of all of them not merely of nine-tenths. If, however, by ‘‘Socialists” he means “Labourites” it is quite untrue as Labour Party literature and the actions of Labour Governments sufficiently demonstrate. As for the Communists they claim that Russia is already a “Socialist society” and even our critic must be able to see that it is not a democracy but a dictatorship and is not Socialist in the sense used for generations by the pioneers of Socialism.

We do claim that convinced Socialists when Socialism has been achieved will behave like responsible members of society. What the phrase about being ‘‘turned automatically into angels” has to do with it we do not know.

When our critic asserts that under Socialism Socialist ‘‘theories” would be determined by “the suitability of the people in honouring and working the theory in question” he appears to be a victim of the ancient illusion of the Communists that Socialism can be imposed from above on a non-Socialist population. How could Socialists be anything else than ‘‘suitable” to administer society on the Socialist basis of common ownership and democratic control?

Our critic’s final paragraph shows that he has not troubled to read what the article actually said. Having given in broad outline the basis of distribution that necessarily will go with society based on common ownership of the means of production and distribution and having shown that the money system which goes with private ownership would have no place, the article pointed out the truth that should be self-evident, that we are unable to forecast such "details” as whether people will wish to eat in public halls or in private dwellings. Perhaps our critic thinks he can make that forecast; if so it is for him to fill in the details. But if, like us, he cannot do so then, like us, he should see the uselessness of drawing up blue-prints about the details of the future Socialist society.
W. Waters

Propaganda Notes (1949)

Party News from the August 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

When God had divided Night from Day, and Laurel from Hardy, and the rest, and saw it was good, he had another idea. He said, “Let there be Dirt,” and he put some of the cosmic matter in the Wrong Place. And when a rather junior angel asked why do you call it “ dirt,” please God, he said because it is in the wrong place stupid, which was not logic but the right answer.

And if that story is corn, there is another one which you may have read in the newspaper, and which may be as true. It was about some bombed German towns, where the inhabitants shifted so many acres of rubble in so many months by each taking a brick or a stick on his way to work and dropping it in the right place for further sorting and cleaning for rehousing. How about you? Would you take half a brick half a mile if you knew where to put it for someone to sort for someone to trim for someone to build something for you to use? Would you carry a piece of paper to the Branch?

Most comrades have at some time marked passages in papers or periodicals which would make telling propaganda points, and sometimes these have lain around until the points got blunt or the cuttings got lost or became a hopeless jumble. Not always. We know of a member who has an organised collection on Russia, and another who has all the C.P. dope from the beginning, We knew one who wore more cuttings than clothes, and could always fish out the right one at the right time, and Party propagandists commonly have their bits and pieces or more substantial collections. The Party collectively in the course of 45 years must have piled up acres of propaganda rubble, and the members between them must read most of the established periodicals and leave good material unhonoured and unsung. They have got tired or got wise, because there is no Party machinery for using it.

So now a Propaganda Research Committee has been set up to start a scheme for collecting material, editing it, and providing propagandists with a monthly bulletin. The Committee is asking Branches to appoint a member to collect the material you take to the Branch, and send it to Head Office for processing. They cannot give you much guidance on what material is most useful until they see what they get, though propagandists themselves will know what they find useful. Use your common, but don’t forget that an isolated item may meet its relations at H.O. Provided Branches take that one initial step, here is a means for giving propagandists more and better material to speak or write round, by making the researches of each the common property of all. Party members can all do this simple thing, and can learn to become more skilled and more observant in their reading. Our sympathisers cut off from membership, Parties abroad, and comrades in all parts of the world, can do the same, to our mutual benefit.

The committee have a number of ideas—about covering specified journals, building up files on particular subjects, delving into 45 years’ “S.S.” for new “lines” which are often old ones forgotten, and so on. These will remain ideas for a time. Whether they remain ideas for all time is up to you. They will report progress later, and tell you what you have done. If nothing, they will ask the Ed. Comm. to insert under this same heading a blank space. No harm in asking. And if they insist that at least the Declaration of Principles must fill the empty space maybe they are right at that.
Frank Evans

Passing Comments: The City (1950)

The Passing Comments Column from the August 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

The City

The government's efforts are appreciated in some quarters. V. J. Burtt, the City Editor of the Daily Herald, wrote on June 22nd: “Fresh signs of Britain's healthy economic progress are to be seen almost every day. They are scattering the prophets of gloom. On the home front, the strong rise in British government stocks, which made further headway yesterday, reflects confidence in government policy." And two days later the City Editor remarked: “During the past month there has been renewed buying of British government securities by foreigners who believe Britain is making great headway." So shareholders, both British and foreign, are confident that the government will look after them.

Railway Nationalisation

Mr. V. M. Barrington-Ward, C.B.E., is the son of Canon Barrington-Ward, D.D., and the brother of Sir Lancelot Barrington-Ward, K.C.V.O. He was educated at Westminster School and Edinburgh University. He has held posts on the managerial side of the railways since 1919, beginning at the “bottom” (as Assistant Engineer to the Engineer-in-Chief of the Midland Railway) and working his way up; by 1947 he had become Divisional General Manager on the L.N.E.R. With the “revolution” of 1948, when the railways were nationalised, he passed naturally to a comfortable job on the new Railway Executive. So when he gives his views of nationalisation, they should be worth examining; especially when he gives them in the “Trifler” (of June, 1950), a Westminster School magazine which is intended mainly for the consumption of past and present Westminster boys.
  “To my mind, socialisation” [he means nationalisation] “of our railways is a natural event in transport history. The shareholders of the four old Companies have had a blessing in disguise if the true financial position of the Companies after the war is critically examined. It is perfectly true to say that if these Companies had been given back their property after the war (during which time they operated under a Control Agreement) they would have quickly been in financial difficulties, and it needs no words of mine to elaborate what this would have meant. As it is, under the Transport Act of 1947, they have been given a Guaranteed Stock which has, at least, a capital value at a reasonable rate of interest.”
When we recall that during the first year of nationalisation the shareholders received each week more than five hundred thousand pounds interest on their stock, we can agree with Mr. Barrington-Ward that they have had a blessing; though perhaps the disguise he mentions was not very heavy.

The Duke of Windsor

Compton Mackenzie'sWindsor Tapestry” tells the story of the life, reign and abdication of the Duke of Windsor. In it the author complains of the mean spirit shown by Parliament in refusing to give the Duke a pension “in gratitude for a quarter of a century's devoted service to the State.” Further evidence is now available of the poverty to which the Duke was reduced.

The Daily Mirror had an article on the Duke's sartorial habits (9-6-50): “The Duke orders about 12 suits a year, paying roughly £50 for each—which is comparatively little for America. Even with evening dress, he never wears a waistcoat. So this helps keep prices down.”

Luxury Cruise

Here is part of the account of the great African cruise on the Cunard White Star liner Caronia which appeared in the American magazine “Life” (3-4-50). It needs no comment.
  “The Caronia’s 550 American passengers had paid nearly $3 million for basic accommodation on the luxury liner. The cheapest fare for the 80-day trip, half-occupancy of an inside stateroom, was $2,400. The highest was $20,000 for a suite. These prices included food and lodging, but not very much else. To participate in all of the optional shore excursions at the vessel's 28 ports of call in the West Indies, South America, Africa and the Middle East, a passenger would have to fork out an additional $6,646.
  “This probably was no great hardship for the Caronia’s cruisers. The passenger list glittered with names like Urschel and Vanderbilt, and the Reuters news agency estimated the combined wealth of those aboard at ten times the cost of the ship. The Caronia cost $20 million.”

Stalinists Begin Here

It is time we heard something more of Soviet chess. Readers will remember that Suzanne Labin's book “Stalin’s Russia” (reviewed in the Socialist Standard last January) reported the Soviet Public Prosecutor, Krylenko, as saying “We must make an end to neutrality in chess. We must once and for all condemn the formula 'chess for the sake of chess’ just as we have condemned the formula 'art for art’s sake.’ We must organise shock-brigades of chess-players and set ourselves to carry out a 5-year plan for chess immediately.” Surely Harry Pollitt should take the lead in the founding of a true people’s game, with miniature Stakhanovites in place of pawns (which are revealed by their very name as monarcho-fascist dupes, tools of imperio-capitalism), Red Army tanks in place of castles. Heroes of Soviet Motherhood instead of knights, and anti-God commissars in place of bishops. (Sorry—we forgot that Stalin is now the protector of the Russian Church; purge that anti-God commissar and we'll have a Metropolitan Patriarch instead.) Since both the king and queen—viewed from different angles—can lay claim to being the most important piece on the board, obviously a model of our great leader Stalin must be both. This will be a little confusing at first, but fortified with the limitless resources of Leninism-Stalinism, and confident of the eventual inevitable victory of the forces of Peace, War and what have you, we will march on to world-wide democratic success. And anyone who is unable to re-orientate himself to the correct line will do five extra shifts a week in honour of Uncle Joe’s next birthday.
Alwyn Edgar

Why Ban the Atom Bomb? (1951)

From the August 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

In various places in the London streets the inscription “Ban the Atom Bomb” can be seen chalked up on walls and buildings. Seemingly so sensible, a little reflection shows how foolish it really is.

The organisation whose members chalk it up makes no mention of putting a ban on bombing planes not carrying atom bombs but loaded with those terrible block-busters that caused such terrible havoc and destruction in the recent world war. Hundreds of thousands of lives were destroyed by them in big cities of Britain and the Continent of Europe.

No mention of putting a ban on battleships with their terrible 15in. or 16in. shells. They weigh over a ton, and are about ten feet long. They too can cause a large number of casualties. Why not include a ban on submarines, with those terrible torpedoes. Thirty-six years ago through the sinking of the liner “Lusitania” by a German “U-boat,” hundreds of lives were lost, including members of the working class who formed the crew.

Other weapons could be listed which can cause great loss of life, such as destroyers, gas, flame throwers, tanks, machine guns, rifles, etc. No protest is made against the use of those weapons.

Modern wars are not fought over such issues as democracy, or the spread of Communism. Communism does not prevail in any part of the world. It does not prevail in Russia, nor in China, or Korea. Wars are fought over such issues as who shall have control over the oil wells in Persia and the pipe lines running to Haifa.

More bones of contention between the victorious robber powers of the recent war are. Shall Russia have control of the Dardanelles? Shall Britain continue to dominate the Suez Canal? and who shall have the lion’s share of the rubber plantations and tin mines of Malaya? Shall America continue to dominate the Panama Canal and so levy heavy shipping tolls on those companies that are compelled to use it, the alternative for those shipping companies being to make the long journey round Cape Horn.

War can solve no working class problems. The effects of war are wholly evil. Capitalism gives rise to war and Socialism is completely opposed to capitalism and to its wars and what they represent. To get rid of capitalism and to establish Socialism is the task of the working class of the world. They must understand what Socialism is, and organise politically to bring it into existence. No leaders or groups of leaders can do the job for them, but the working class alone. So instead of wasting our time on slogans such as “ Ban the Atom bomb ” we have a slogan instead.

“Don’t die for Capitalism, live and work for Socialism.”
Nat Posner

The Frozen Policies of the Labour and Tory Governments (1952)

Editorial from the August 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is the function of the Opposition to oppose the government and to try to magnify any small differences there may be. But a close examination of the actions of the present government and the Labour Government that it replaced last year will show not how great the differences are but how small.

The Labour Opposition now claims to be shocked at the idea of a policy of “wage restraint" at a time of rising prices. But under the Labour Government prices were rising in February, 1948, when Mr. Attlee and the late Sir Stafford Cripps presented their "wage restraint" policy in the White Paper “Statement on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices." The cost of living index had risen by 6% between June, 1947, and February, 1948, and went on rising up to 1951 when the Labour Government went out of office. The speech the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Butler, made at Exeter on 12 July of this year (Observer, 13/7/52) could have been replaced by reading passages from the 1948 Statement; nobody would have noticed any difference.

On re-armament the Churchill Government is careful to point out that they are only trying to carry out the programme of their predecessors, as also on events in Korea.

On the taxation of profits a curious situation has arisen. In office the Labour Government tried to dissuade workers from making wage demands by pointing to the way in which it was taxing profits heavily and discouraging companies from paying higher dividends. Now that the Tory Government has gone a step further and introduced its Excess Profits Levy as “visible evidence of the Government's intention to prevent excessive profits being made as a result of the re-armament programme" (Mr. Butler, at Exeter), the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gaitskell, has discovered as a reason for objecting to it an argument that might well have been used by the Tories if they were still in Opposition. His argument is that if the Government wants firms to concentrate on selling goods in America it should encourage them to do so by letting them make higher profits:—
  “After all, what we want is to induce firms and businessess to switch over to dollar exports as much as we can. We have to give them incentives to do that. By all means use the controls as much as possible but, as I think we all agree, those controls will be far more effectively used if monetary and incentive considerations are working with them.
  “At this very time, the Government's policy will discourage people from earning extra profits. The Excess Profits Levy will be a spoke in the wheel of that transition which I should have thought that we all thought was necessary." (Hansard, 26/6/52, Col. 2468.)
On nationalisation there has been a curious reversal of attitudes since the Government changed. Towards the end of the Labour Government the demands of some Labour Party groups for more nationalisation as quickly as possible were met with a go-slow movement on the part of the Cabinet, in particular in the delay in carrying through steel nationalisation. Now it is the Tory back-benchers who are pressing for speedy denationalisation of steel and of road transport, and the Tory Cabinet that is trying to delay action. Having introduced its Bill to deal with the denationalisation of road transport, it suddenly announced that it would be deferred till next session.
  "This means that the Bill is unlikely to become law before March and that any sale of the assets of the Road Haulage Executive is not likely to begin until the late summer or early autumn next year.
  "Conservative back-benchers are surprised.” (News Chronicle, 11/7/52.)
It is plain from the comments of the Press that whatever the merits from a capitalist standpoint of more or less nationalisation, the one thing business men as a whole do not desire is an endless process of reversal of policy by succeeding governments.

A World to Win (1986)

Editorial from the Summer 1986 issue of the World Socialist

The world we inhabit is split up into many competing units called nations. The nation is a product of property society; it is an area in which one group of property-owners is dominant and has borders and tariff regulations and armies keep its rivals out. The capitalist class — the small minority of the world’s population who own and control the means of wealth production and distribution — is disunited and in a constant state of fierce competition and potential war as each section of the capitalists seeks to possess what belongs to its national rivals.

The rivalries and wars between capitalist nations have nothing to do with the working class — the majority of us do not possess the means of living, but survive by selling our labour power for a wage or salary. Workers have no country, even though the national capitalists wherever we happen to live will try to indoctrinate us into the belief that their national ambitions will benefit us. When Britain had its Empire the industrial workers in London and Manchester were living in squalid slums: they had no share in the profits plundered by their exploiters. The modern Russian Empire, which commits the criminal fraud of claiming to be socialist, is a nation which has spread its power into Eastern Europe and, more recently, into Afghanistan, but its victories in conquering new parts of the world do not serve to improve the lot of the impoverished lives of the Russian workers who dwell in overcrowded flats and can only gain access to a limited range of food. In the US the capitalists possess great national prestige and the President’s word is seen as a command by many smaller national governments, but that has done nothing to improve the conditions endured by the slum-dwellers of New York or the millions of American children who live beneath the government’s official poverty line. Workers are persuaded to wave flags and salute leaders and hate enemies whom they have never met and kill in wars, all because of the pernicious ideology of nationalism. The conscious worker understands that he or she has no country — that they are not Americans or Russians or Austrians or Australians or English or Irish, but workers who have more in common with other workers across the world than they will ever have with their national rulers.

Capitalist politics is national politics. The world is full of manifestoes proposing to bring prosperity to this or that nation. None of them is worth the paper it is written on, for there can be no solutions to social problems on a national basis. Trade is international, banking and the money market cross the world, war policies involve multi-national gangs of murderers, such as the Warsaw Pact and NATO, communication technology has turned the world into a global village, the entire process of wealth production and distribution depends upon a complicated, worldwide division of labour. Anyone who proposes to examine the problems of society by concentrating upon just one nation is like a Professor of Anatomy whose study of the human body does not extend beyond the little finger on the left hand. That is why all parties except for the Socialist Parties of the world are wasting time in the futile pursuit of policies for national solutions: only the World Socialist Movement has recognised that capitalism is a world system requiring a worldwide solution.

Although the politics of capitalism is stuck in the rut of national fragmentation, many workers in 1986 have a worldwide outlook which far surpasses that of previous generations. Only in recent times have workers started to travel from nation to nation, and as they do it may occur to them that beyond the superficial differences there is a remarkable similarity in the lives of workers wherever you go. Workers across the world increasingly watch the same films, listen to the same records — and now, with easily-made home-videos and audio-cassettes we can communicate with one another without having to travel long distances. As we share experiences we find it easier to identify with those who are supposedly aliens. For all of its limitations, the worldwide consciousness made evident by the Live Aid concert — which was televised across the globe and had as its best-selling theme song a record called We Are The World —was an indication of the pent-up feeling within many people that they are citizens of the world and, left to ourselves, we do have far more in common than drives us apart. Again, whenever international disasters are shown on our television screens the vast majority of workers feel sympathy towards their fellow human beings whose lives have been shattered by earthquakes or floods or violence caused by the system. Socialists seek to cultivate such world-consciousncss, for until workers realise their common position as inhabitants of the planet earth the capitalists will continue to divide and rule.

Socialism is not a policy for running a nation. There has never been, and nor could there ever be, socialism in one country. Socialism has yet to be established, and when workers do decide to bring it about we shall do so as a worldwide transformation of society. For that reason, although the various Socialist Parties operate within different national units, we him are part of one World Socialist Movement, all sharing the same clearly-defined Object, the same Principles and the same democratic political tactics. In short, the struggle for world socialism requires a movement with a worldwide perspective.

In a socialist society all the resources of the earth, including the factories, mines, offices, land and the means of communication and transportation, will belong to everyone, regardless of colour, sex, age, or where one happens to live. All people will have free access to the goods and services which the world is able to produce.

A socialist world will not be one in which there will he no problems left to solve. But, free from the fetters of production for profit, the sole basis of creating goods and services will be the satisfaction of human needs. Without several nations competing to make the same product, without rival research institutes in different nations each trying to make a discovery without others knowing what they know, the world will be able to unite its energies for the first time ever. The waste, duplication and tension of a society cut up into nations will give way to one world, one people and one common aim of mutual survival and comfort.

The abolition of nations will not mean that cultural variety will be destroyed. Indeed, it is nationalism which all to often suppresses minority cultures. In a socialist society the richness of cultural customs will make the world a better place, just as the absence of armies and bombs and passports — all features of a world divided — will make the world secure.

Fellow workers, we have a world to win. Not a new government or higher wages or longer holidays or a new reform to keep us quiet — nothing less than common possession of the world and all that is in it and on it is worthy of our political effort as a class. To that end, we urge you to take your place as class-conscious workers within the World Socialist Movement.

Arms and the Man (1953)

Editorial from the August 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard

War is not funny, but our war-making rulers are sometimes highly diverting when they try to square their practise with their precepts. The first world war provided us with the spectacle of Christian Cabinet Ministers, Judges and Police using Defence Regulations to prevent Christian Pacifists circulating leaflets containing biblical injunctions against killing and in favour of loving your enemies— on the ground that they were calculated to hinder recruitment.

The present era of cold war and crime waves has led to a Gilbertian situation concerning cosh-boys in khaki. The Prevention of Crimes Act, passed earlier this year, makes it an offence to be in possession of an offensive weapon, without lawful reason, in a public place. The Police soon found occasion to bring suspected lawbreakers into court under the new Act and one of the earliest cases was that of a painter charged at Clerkenwell that “without lawful authority or reasonable excuse” he had with him in a public place an offensive weapon—a pocket knife. (Evening Standard 3 July, 1953.) It appeared that he had had a dispute about the change given to him at a mobile canteen but he denied having threatened anyone with the knife (kept by him to clean his paint brushes) and pleaded not guilty to that charge. For damaging a show case he was sent to prison for two months. He was, apparently, allowed to keep his pocket knife but some soldiers at the Central Ammunition Depot near Oswestry were not so lucky, they were ordered to hand in their offensive weapons.

Following stern criticism by Mr. Justice Finnemore at Stafford Assizes on 2nd July, when he sentenced a National Serviceman from the camp for wounding a man with a knuckle-duster, the Police raided the camp.
  "Floorboards were torn up in a search for coshes, sharpened bicycle chains and knuckle-dusters at Nesscliffe Army Camp, Oswestry, Shropshire, yesterday.
  “Four hundred men of the Pioneer Corps, were given till noon yesterday to hand in any illegal weapons, or else— By that time one rusty, blunted piece of bicycle chain was handed in.” (Daily Herald, 4/7/53.)
In the House of Commons on 7th July Mr. Antony Head, Secretary for War, stated that:
   “No offensive weapons had been found in the camp. Apart from the two weapons used in the case referred to . . . two coshes had been found on waste land near the camp in November, but their ownership was unknown.” (Manchester Guardian, 8/7/53.)
Now we need hardly labour the point that surely Mr. Head was telling a downright lie when he said that “no offensive weapons had been found at the camp.” If he has been carrying out his job properly, and spending the fabulous sums voted by Parliament for producing offensive weapons in great number, that camp, like all the other camps, should and must be bristling with offensive weapons of horrific destructive power. But the Police, duly instructed on the terms of the Act, were gifted with selective gullets that enable them to strain at a cosh and swallow a tank. Unlike the people in the story who could look at their naked King and believe that he was fully dressed, the Police could look at an arsenal and report it clean, swept and purified of all offensive weapons.

The Daily Mail (8/7/53) took the matter up in an editorial, voicing the anxiety of parents of “decent lads from law-abiding homes," at the thought that in the National Service camps the latter might have to mix with men with “criminal habits" armed with knuckledusters and the like.

The Mail comes down on the side of the law-abiding man and claims for him “a fair chance to go soldiering in clean company."

It possibly does not occur to the Mail that the men themselves, if offered the choice, might greatly prefer fighting cosh boys with knuckledusters, to fighting with “legal" weapons against “decent lads" from other countries in the wars engendered by the capitalism that the Mail supports.

September Special Number (1954)

Party News from the August 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

We would again remind members and sympathisers that we urgently require donations to cover the extra cost of the September Special Number of the “Socialist Standard." Unless sufficient money comes in quickly we will have to be more modest in our proposals. We urge those who are interested in seeing this Special Number a worthy commemoration of fifty years of our paper to do their best to see that we can accomplish this object. So far the response has not been what it should be and the time is getting short.

Party News Briefs (1954)

Party News from the August 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ealing Branch. The Branch Literature Committee reports that the follow-up during June of the May S.S. drive has been very encouraging. Four areas are now being regularly followed up—Greenford, South Ealing, Cuckoo Estate, and Acton. They hope to open up soon in Hounslow, Southall, Chiswick, and Wembley, but to do this more effectively they would like more members to come forward to do the regular rounds in the established areas.

Activities in August may be curtailed somewhat through holidays, and the Committee appeals to all members to do their utmost to assist during this month.

The Branch Literature Committee has been in existence a year now, and all members are agreed that the experiment of having a group of people instead of one person responsible for literature has been a great success. To do a Branch’s literature work well is really too much of a job for one member, and enthusiasm, activity, and results, are much more easily achieved by a group.

A further special sales drive will be carried out in September in connection with the anniversary issue of the Standard, and all members are asked to help to make the campaign a success. Details will be appearing in next month’s S.S .

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Hackney Branch. Having received a visitor from Ealing who gave the members an outline of their methods and results in canvassing the Socialist Standard from door to door. It was immediately decided to form a team to visit a large new estate in Homerton, with eminently satisfactory results, on the following Sunday morning, three dozen S.S. being sold. The members engaging in the sales drive were so satisfied that they decided to try Friday evenings in addition, and two of them sold 18 copies at their first attempt. As there are many new estates now being completed in this district there seems to be unlimited scope for expanding sales in areas where the Party is little known. Weekly, instead of fortnightly, Branch meetings will be held in future, and members who think they can help with sales, are invited to hear the reports of other members.

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The Literature Canvassing Committee takes this opportunity of reminding all branches and members of a proposed intensive drive of The Socialist Standard during September.

If your branch has not yet commenced canvassing, you are urged to bring the item up at the next business meeting as a matter of urgency. See that a canvassing organiser or committee is appointed to coordinate efforts and get to work without delay. There is no time to lose. Permanent sales of the S.S. must be stepped up and we are presented with a golden chance to do just this with the arrival of our anniversary number.

Many comrades fight shy of canvassing, yet this is really quite regrettable since it is extremely useful activity and there is very little to learn, as most members who try it find out after completion of their first dozen calls or so. What is more, it does result in a regular list of subscribers, given a little time and perseverance.

The Committee will be very pleased to send one of their members to any London branch to give practical assistance and advice. Provincial branches will be contacted by post. Don’t delay! Start today! Enquiries and requests for help should be addressed to:—
The Literature Canvassing Committee,
c/o 48, Balfour Road,
Ealing, London, W.13, 
and will be given prompt attention.

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Swansea Branch continues to make headway even if painfully slow. Membership has increased from six to eight members, contact is maintained with a number of interested sympathisers. From time to time meetings have been held including one debate with the Welsh Nationalist Party.

The Branch has challenged the local Tory prospective candidate to debate, also the Communist Party. The Tories declined the offer whilst the Communists maintained a discreet silence.

The Branch has also corresponded with the W.S.P. of U.S.A.

Use is being made of the local press on every suitable occasion and we have been fortunate in putting the Party’s case before the public frequently.

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Bloomsbury Branch will not be holding meetings during the month of August as the Conway Hall is closed during the month. Meetings will recommence in September and it is hoped that more members will arrange to regularly attend. The Branch room is pleasant, and as the Conway Hall is so well situated for travelling facilities members should find it quite an easy matter to get to the Branch regularly.
Phyllis Howard

Party News Briefs (1955)

Party News from the August 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ealing Branch. After the hectic activity of the May Sales Drive, the branch will pursue a quieter course for the next few months. Canvassing will be confined to supplying the “regulars” and following up the new contacts made in May. Although it seems early days yet, arrangements are already being made for the winter season; film shows, another trip to a museum, and the first series of lectures, are projected for the period up to Christmas.

The second of the branch's special propaganda trips to Southsea is scheduled for the early part of August, and, given reasonable weather, we hope it will be even more successful than the first trip in June.

Will all members please note that there will be no branch meetings on the 19th and 26th August, and 2nd September. The branch will re-assemble on 9th September, and all members are asked to make a special point of attending on that date to hear details of the activities planned for the winter season.

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Fulham and Chelsea Branch report that since the commencement of their outdoor propaganda season 15 meetings have been held at Earls Court and Gloucester Road. Most of these have been good, with audiences of at least 60 and on occasions as many as 200.

Although there has been regular support from members and sympathisers, more members are needed to support the commencement of the meetings—at 8 o'clock and. to sell literature. Weather permitting, these meetings will continue well into the Autumn. Sympathisers and others wishing to contact the branch are asked to write to Jon Keys, 6, Keppel House, Lucan Place. Chelsea, S.W.3.

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“The Western Socialist," published by the World Socialist Party of the United States is available regularly at Head Office, address below. This by-monthly publication contains many interesting articles on American politics, Socialism, and other topical items. The May-June issue contains an open letter to Mr. Stassen, Secretary of “Peace," an article entitled “Will the ‘H ’ bomb be used?", one on economics, and another on the Object and Principles of the Socialist Party.

If you cannot obtain a regular copy at our meetings or from our literature sellers, send a P.O. for 3/9 (six issues post free) or 7/6 (12 issues post free) to the Literature Secretary, S.P.G.B., 52, Clapham High Street, S.W.4.

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Ireland. Although activity in the S.P. of Ireland has not been so brisk, owing to the departure of some members for England, the Comrades are glad to report that new members are taking the places of the “emigrants" and they are looking forward to good results in the near future. Members from Belfast met the Dublin Comrades at Easter and exchanged views and discussed ways and means of extending their propaganda.

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Propaganda in Nottingham. A party speaker visited Nottingham for a week's propaganda in July. It was that first sunny week, so there was no set-back with the weather.

On the first Saturday in the month two London members arrived and with the support of local comrades two thoroughly successful meetings were held over the week-end. Something like five dozen Socialist Standards were sold, not counting back numbers and quite a few pamphlets. One speaker then returned to London.

Throughout the following week two meetings were held every day (with the exception of Monday and Wednesday—Wednesday being the night the local branch meet).

The results and general reception of the Party's position at lunch-time and evening meetings were most encouraging.

Audiences averaged 200 and the total literature sales and collections for the total of 13 meetings was almost £6. The questions and attentiveness of the audiences generally was very good. Despite the fact that the Royal Show took place during the week and numbers of visitors came along to one meeting the local temperament was unperturbed.

Of the local members who supported the meetings one comrade cycled well over 40 miles a day from Burton-on-Trent. and at the age of 68 exhibited remarkable enthusiasm; he was mainly responsible for selling literature and taking collections.

The case for Socialism was put, with the abolition of the wages system, and class-less world, production for use, in our usual uncompromising manner and although a lot remains to be done there was quite a bit of agreement, especially among those who came most often. So, from every point of view for those concerned in spreading Socialist ideas, the first week in July was a most encouraging and worthwhile week.

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Rugby Group Members were very active during the General Election and disposed of six dozen Socialist Standards in addition to a considerable number of the Election Manifesto. They also sent copies of the Manifesto to local newspapers, together with an explanatory letter, but none of the newspapers made comment in their columns. At propaganda meetings at least two members of the audience have promised to attend the meeting of the Group.

Having made the Party’s name known in the locality, the Group members look forward to follow this up with further activity.
Phyllis Howard