Sunday, December 9, 2018

Party News (1960)

Party News from the December 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard

Wembley Branch has continued with its series of very interesting historical lectures, given by members of the Branch. These talks have stimulated good discussion and have been advertised in the local press. Current details are given elsewhere in this issue. Canvassing of the Socialist Standard is a regular feature of the Branch activity and some very worthwhile results have been obtained. At present, the order stands at 18 dozen copies per month, and it is hoped to expand sales gradually in the future.

The efforts of the Branch press correspondent have met with some gratifying success. The local paper has published write-ups of our meetings and lectures and, just recently, featured in full a letter on the question of rents and housing. The comrades were very encouraged to see this, particularly as the Editor took the trouble to inform his readers, in a footnote, that we were not connected with the Labour Party.

On December 17th, Branch comrades are running a Social at Ealing Park Tavern. South Ealing Road, W.5. Tickets are available from the Branch Secretary at 3s. 6d. each and the usual arrangements are in hand, including a band, and free refreshments. We look forward to a very happy get-together.

British Columbia
Last month under the title, “News from Canada,” we stated that the application of the Victoria Branch of the Socialist Party of Canada for an open-air speaking spot in a park has been refused. It appears that the local council have evidently relented, for we now learn that the Branch is holding outdoor meetings in Beacon Hill Park.

We have received some cuttings from Victoria local papers, with pictures of our comrades in action, and a statement that 200 attended their first meeting--including active hecklers.

One local paper had this to say
The inauguration of Victoria city’s own Hyde Park proved itself a great success Sunday afternoon. A very respectable crowd in both size, interest and behaviour braved rain, mud and buzzing model planes to listen to the ideas of the Socialist Party of Canada, the thoughts of a philosopher’s philosopher, and an appeal to give more blood.
These meetings should give a well deserved fillip to the efforts of our energetic comrades in Victoria.

Our comrades in Coventry aie organising a Group. Will members and sympathisers in the area contact P. Boylan at 71, Ford Street. Coventry. Already the nucleus of members has accomplished a lot, and with the added enthusiasm from other comrades, it will be possible to pave the way to the formation of the “Coventry Branch.”

The “Standard”
How do you obtain your copy of the Socialist Standard? At a meeting, a newsagent, a Branch? From a friend, street seller or casual acquaintance? No matter which, there is only one way to be certain of regularly receiving your copy each month—and that is by subscribing. For 7s. 6d. a year the Socialist Standard will be posted direct to you at the beginning of each month. Complete the form on page 191 and be certain of receiving the Socialist Standard throughout 1961.

The newly formed Swansea Branch have held a public meeting in the Central Library; we will report on it next month.
Phyllis Howard

Off The Air (1960)

From the December 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard

From The Guardian (20/10/60)

Sir,—The juxtaposition of “The American Election on Television” and the letter on the BBC and the Third Channel in Saturday’s "Guardian” brings to light something of importance to all who value freedom of speech.

Whereas the dissent of bodies like the Socialist Labor Party is able to find expression through the medium of American television, no such opportunity is provided by our “national institution” the BBC. Fifty-six years after our foundation, we of the Socialist Party of Great Britain have yet to be offered any time on the air.

Curiously enough, only when visiting the United States as fraternal delegates to tho World Socialist Party have any of our members had the opportunity of presenting our case to the viewing public.
Your etc..
Edmund S. Grant.

50 Years Ago: The Anti-War Campaign (1960)

The 50 Years Ago column from the December 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard

In our report of the International Congress at Copenhagen we referred briefly to the absurd proposals to organise the workers of the world to ensure "universal disarmament and the prevention of warfare.’’

#    #    #    #

The main demands in the resolution which the German Social-Democratic Party forced upon the Congress were, compulsory arbitration upon international disputes, and Parliamentary action for disarmament and the prevention of wars.

#    #    #    #

The master class, being but a tenth of the population, can only keep possession of the means of production by their control (through the political machinery) of the armed forces. While the master class have that control it is hopeless for the workers to attempt to seize capitalist property. It is sheer madness, therefore, to expect that the capitalist class would, because the workers demand it, either abolish the armed forces or hand their control over to the working class. That would be to abolish themselves as a ruling class. Further, the interests of the capitalists of one country clash with those of the capitalists of other lands, especially in the matter of obtaining markets, and so long as capitalism lasts there will be this clash of interests, necessitating ever-increasing armaments and the inevitable appeal to arms. It is then absurd to waste time and energy in an endeavour to convince the capitalists that wars are superfluous and a curse under capitalism.

Let the workers learn their position in society and unite to obtain control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces. Such action will make it possible for them to take possession of the means of production and use them for the benefit of all. In that way alone will they be able to usher in a system of society wherein universal unity of interests will abolish all war, be it between classes or nations.
(Socialist Standard, December, 1910.)

Kennedy to Run U.S. Capitalism (1960)

Editorial from the December 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Kennedy’s victory at the American polls came as the culmination of years of patient ambition and at the end of a campaign of open cynicism, such as we have come expect from capitalist political parties.

When he started his attempt to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Kennedy had several question marks against him. The principal of these was whether he could unite the trade unions, the industrial cities and the backward Southerners into supporting him. We now know how skilfully he did this, by the careful choice of his Vice-Presidential candidate and by the promises and opinions which he uttered. Such was the success of these tactics that, long before election day, many on-the-spot correspondents were prophesying that Kennedy’s campaign would be irresistible.

Mr. Nixon showed a similar determination to win the presidency. Here is a man with an established reputation for single-minded ambition which has led him into some unsavoury actions. Many people will remember Mr. Nixon introducing his pet dog into a television programme in which he was offering evidence of his integrity as a servant of the American public.

Mr. Kennedy based some of his case upon an appeal to the patriotism of American workers, alleging that United States’ influence abroad has steeply declined during the Eisenhower presidency. Nixon’s reply—similarly an appeal to patriotism—was that it was insulting even to suggest that U.S.A. is a second-rate power.

This, then, was an election campaign of by no means an unusual kind, in which members of the working class were asked to vote on issues of personality, nationalism and capitalist power politics, none of which has the slightest effects upon their basic interest. Nevertheless, the American voters became absorbed in the contest and grew excited when it became obvious that there was to be a tight finish.

Mr. Kennedy has been compared to the late Franklin Roosevelt, who so dominated American politics during the thirties. One of the fallacies left over from the Roosevelt era is that Roosevelt came to power because the Americans supported his New Deal policies as a way of ending the Great Depression. In fact, these policies were not discussed during the 1932 election—the Democratic Convention of that year had produced a platform which promised fewer government agencies, reductions in government spending and a balanced Budget. After Roosevelt’s victory, the New Deal policies were worked out and within a year many new government agencies had been created, government expenditure had increased and the Budget was unbalanced. We may rely on it that, if the interests of American capitalism demand it, Mr. Kennedy’s election platform will be ignored in the same way as that of his famous predecessor.

It seems that Mr. Kennedy both lost and won votes because he is a Roman Catholic. Apparently, many American voters are under the impression that a Catholic president would allow his religion to sway his decisions. It is a ludicrous idea that American capitalism, with its tremendous mineral and industrial resources and its universal military influence, would allow its policy to be dictated from the Vatican. Mr. Kennedy made it quite clear that, if he were elected, he would do his best to administer American capitalism solely in its own interests. In that, he is no different from the rulers of the other capitalist nations. None of them seeks power to promote abstract principles or religions. All of them want power to organise a country for the benefit of its owning class.

It is depressing that American workers should be impressed by—indeed be part of—slick, high pressure salesmanship and cynical drives for power. For after the shouting and the ballyhoo have died, capitalism, in America and the rest of the world, remains unscathed. This social system produces the horrors of war, poverty, insecurity and racial hatred. The Democrats and Republicans, like the other capitalist parties, can offer no end to these. Only the establishment of Socialism can give us a world of peace and plenty. And for that we do not need stage-managed ballyhoo. We need knowledge and the social responsibility that goes with it.

A Goal for the Future (1962)

From the December 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

The reserves had just won their first home match of the season by four goals to one. Discussing the merits of the game, the spectators gradually drifted from the stands and terraces towards the gates. In the roadway outside the ground small knots of men conversed animatedly, moving aside only to avoid the cars wending their way gingerly between them. In the reflected glare of the half-dimmed floodlights a crowd of men and a few women stood expectantly around the office doors of the club, their faces displaying anxiety reminiscent in a very mild way of the poignant pictures of those who wait at the pit head after a mine disaster.

It had been announced by loud speaker during the interval that the first team, playing away that evening against the erstwhile leaders of the First Division, were losing 2—0 at half-time. This was East London’s least fashionable football team, “a rummage sale bargain outfit,” but, nevertheless, recent proud entrants into the Senior division after fifty years or more of wooden spooning in the lower divisions.

The full-time score would shortly be known and the fans were reluctant to depart, hoping against hope to hear that their heroes had at least forced a draw. The look of mingled concern and hope on their faces was almost pathetic and demonstrated a touching loyalty to the club which most of them had probably supported for many years.

Interest in sport, like that in hobbies and study, is not, in itself, an unhealthy thing. Man does not live by bread alone and it is understandable that, after a week of monotonous toil, many a worker finds refreshment and stimulation at the weekly football match, where he can give vent to his feelings and for a short time release himself from the inhibitions and frustrations of workaday life. Healthier still would be the active participation of all people, young and old, in some form of recreative sport which, no doubt, would result in producing a human race less subject to the physical and mental infirmities so rife today. But that happy state of affairs is reserved for the time when the present money-making system, in which playing fields and other sports facilities give way to the demands of more profitable undertakings, will be replaced by a sane system of society in which workers will not toil to the point of exhaustion and will have the energy to enjoy the ample leisure time that such a system would ensure.

Today most of us enjoy sport only as a spectacle and as a means of entertainment. Capitalism, always ready to oblige where profit may be made, has commercialised many forms of sport and hundreds of thousands of people now pay to be delighted and excited by the performance of highly skilled and well trained professional sportsmen, particularly in boxing, tennis, cricket and football, both Association and Rugby. Association football, formerly the preserve of public school and university men, has in the twentieth century been taken to the hearts of the working class. Professionalism has grown rapidly. In the early years of the century footballers’ pay was comparatively poor, but some workers were able to augment their incomes from their regular jobs by playing for the local club at weekends. Many a famous player has begun his career while working in some Scottish or South Wales mine or Lancashire mill.

Today full-time professionalism is the rule and despite the fall in gates at football matches during the past few years professional footballers, by resolute trade union action, have succeeded in obtaining much better rates of pay and conditions. In addition the star system has emerged by which outstanding players who attract large gates are able, by taking advantage of the competition between clubs for their services, to command much higher wages than average while club managers acquire ulcers and disburse tens of thousands of pounds in striving to capture them for their clubs. Naturally, it is the richest clubs which can pay most money, so that the tendency is for the stars to gravitate towards them. Football club profit depend upon large gates, so—woe to the manager whose team fails to draw in the paying spectators. His days are numbered.

Football pools are another example of profit-making applied to sport. Weekly, the proceeds of millions of small stakes are distributed among a lucky few, after the pools promoters have taken their slice. Every Saturday evening during the season millions of workers, with fingers crossed and bated breath, scan the football results in the classified editions, hoping that, at long last, the winning line has turned up to lift them out of the “affluence” of the working class into the real ease and independence of the capitalist class.

The knowledge of sports lore exhibited by some fans is nothing short of amazing. To listen to a discussion by such people can be very enlightening. Workers, whose memories are notoriously short about politicians’ electoral promises, are found to be highly efficient in remembering the results of matches (the names of goal-scorers thrown in for good value) and the names of winners of horse-races that took place in the far distant past. To understand and explain the complicated rules of various games seems child’s play to people who, we are told, will never be logical enough to grasp the principles of Socialism. The way many a worker effortlessly overcomes the intricacies of the back pages of the 12 o'clock editions reminds one of the graceful ease of a Grand National winner taking a hurdle and disproves any contention that working class brains are inferior. And as for loyalty and enthusiasm—well, one has only to witness an argument, between two opposing fans to see that these qualities are not lacking.

There is nothing to deplore in the interest that workers show in sport or in any other pleasant or useful leisure occupation. However, we cannot help thinking, when we observe the crowds of workers at football matches and other sports events, that if only a fraction of the thought and energy, loyalty and enthusiasm which are devoted to sport interests were diverted to the study and propagation of Socialist principles and ideas and the building up of a strong Socialist movement, how much nearer would be brought the day when the world would be freed from the evils of capitalism.

In a moneyless Socialist world in which the means of production and distribution would be owned by all in common, each would contribute to the work of Society according to ability and receive according to need. Profit-making and buying and selling would have been ended and hence money would be unnecessary. Commercialism, therefore, would cease to exist in sport just as it would disappear in every other sphere of social life. In the same way as the means of life would be produced only for use and would be free to all, so would sports be indulged in only for the fun of the game and facilities to take part in them would be available in abundance to everybody.

No longer would there be the need for extra monetary inducement to win games, nor the buying and selling of footballers like bullocks at a cattle market. Freed from their price-tags the better players would be valued for what they really are, not supermen, but skilful players very dependent for their success on the competence of their team mates. In a world of human co-operation and harmony the only competition would be in such activities as sport and the most highly-prized reward for the prowess of the player would be the applause and admiration of his fellowmen. How different from the petty viciousness of the commercial competition which pervades most of social life in the present profit-making system with its industrial strife, class and racial hatreds and destructive wars!

Fellow football fans:
Socialism is a goal worth working for!
  “So now to the task of ending Capitalism.
UP, UP, UP -to World Socialism." 
(With apologies to the writer of Leyton Orient’s programme notes.)

The Passing Show: Ambition (1962)

The Passing Show Column from the December 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

The headmaster of a boys’ secondary school in Wimbledon published an article recently in The Director, sayings that young people in Britain are not ambitious. He said that he had gone through the forms filled in by pupils who were going to be interviewed by a youth employment officer. As answers to the question, “What do you want to be?” the headmaster would have liked to see boys putting down ’’Prime Minister, admiral, field marshal, explorer, ambassador". Instead, they put down “clerk, manual worker, draughtsman, hairdresser.”

One can imagine what a youth employment officer, with his usual supply of dull jobs as factory-hands or shop-assistants, would say to any secondary modern schoolboy who came to him demanding a job as Prime Minister or admiral. But the question goes deeper than that. The boys were not putting down the jobs they would theoretically have liked doing; they were putting down the jobs which they knew perfectly well they would have to spend the rest of their lives doing. They were showing, in fact, a better grasp of realities than the headmaster. And if the headmaster wants his pupils to spend their lives doing rewarding, satisfying work, then he will have to reconsider his support of the capitalist system.

White collar
The cherished old belief that there is something diHerent about white-collar workers, something which marks them out as being separate and distinct from manual workers, is dying, but only slowly. It is still possible to hear the opinion that office-workers or salaried employees have nothing to do with the class struggle. And yet the development of capitalism is making this belief more and more obsolete, In various parts of the world recently there have been strikes of doctors, teachers, civil servants and otter white-collar workers. Now, in Italy, even magistrates, are going on strike. The Times (6/11/62) said:
  Italian magistrates have decided to go on strike for three days later this month. They are protesting against what they feel to be a decline in their status, due to rapid changes in Italian society and the reluctance of the Government to do anything about it. The strike is due to start on November 28th, and if carried out it will be unprecedented in Italian judicial history. Their descent from the bench into the social fray brings the magistrates into line with other professions—they are salaried civil servants here. . . . They are now following the path set by doctors, teachers, senior civil servants, and court officials among others, all of whom in the past few months have been protesting for much the same reasons.
In fact there is no section of the working class which is outside the class struggle, and which will not defend its interests by various class-sections such as strikes when the need arises.

The recommendation of the United Nations General Assembly that its member states should break off diplomatic relations with South Africa, and apply economic sanctions against her, plus a request to the Security Council to consider “if necessary” the expulsion of South Africa, is very revealing. If this expulsion is carried out, it will be the first ever of a member of the United Nations. Yet many of the member states are extremely antagonistic to each other— Russia and America are only the most obvious examples. Why, then, has the proposal of expulsion been made only about South Africa?

For a very simple reason. The members of the United Nations are either full-blown capitalist countries, like Britain, America, Russia, and so on, or are straining every nerve to set up a complete capitalist economy, like many of the ex-colonial states. There is only one exception to this rule: in South Africa, for various reasons, the class in power is not the capitalist class but the landowning class. And despite the hatred that the various capitalist countries and blocs feel for each other, they are prepared to gang up with each other in order to attack a country where the capitalist class has not yet been able to seize political power.

Not sure what to buy for Christmas presents? Can’t think of anything really exciting? You should get one of the Christmas catalogues issued by Harrod’s. You’ll find plenty of suggestions there.

You could, for example, solve your Christmas present problem with a jade goddess table lamp—“with shade”—for 963 guineas.

Or you could get a diamond ring, for £3,750.

Or, better still, a “four-seater Skyhawk aircraft with range of 550 miles.” That will set you back £6,348.

You could consider any of these if you are a member of the class that these suggestions are aimed at—the capitalist class. Yet even if you are a member of the working class the catalogue is not without significance.

It is always interesting to see what the capitalist class is doing with the money it makes out of the labour of the rest of us.
Alwyn Edgar