Friday, December 21, 2018

The Policy of the I.L.P. (1923)

From the December 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

The New Leader, October 5th, published a statement outlining the policy of a “Socialist Government” on the question of unemployment. This statement was drawn up by the National Council of the Independent Labour Party, and is the first of a series on “outstanding political questions of the day,” to be issued weekly.

The introductory paragraph by the New Leader says ‘‘the I.L.P. is the militant socialist wing of the Labour Party.” In bold type is printed the headlines :
 "How to deal with unemployment. What a Socialist Government would do. ”
There is no mistaking this definite claim by the I.L.P., not only to the title of Socialist but also to this particular policy as being Socialistic

The statement opens with an absurd contradiction :—
   “Before the war even in time of trade prosperity, there were always at last 200,000 persons out of regular employment.  “The primary cause of unemployment is the capitalist system of society. The operations of capitalism result in (a) violent productive fluctuations ; (h) violent financial fluctuations; (c) constant international disturbances. These in turn create unemployment."
How these create unemployment when it already exists in /the most prosperous times, i.e., when the fluctuations and disturbances are absent, is for the council to explain.

The point to be noted, however, is not so much the contradiction as the pretended analysis contained in the paragraph quoted; (a), (b), and (c) are reputed to be the three causes of unemployment, and the statement of the National Council is divided into three sections as follows: “(a) methods of preventing violent productive fluctuations; (b) methods of preventing violent financial fluctuations, and (c) methods of preventing international disturbances.” It is quite unnecessary to go further than this supposed analysis, together with the methods denoted in the sub-headings to show conclusively that the statement is not drawn up from the working-class standpoint, nor does it explain unemployment in the light of socialist knowledge. Fluctuations in production when they occur are the result of fluctuations in demand, and are the bugbear of capitalist politicians, economists and captains of industry. The boom in trade catches them unprepared, and the slump finds them with unsaleable goods on their hands. It is their concern to find the mean level and abolish fluctuations. But the finding of such a mean level does not alter the amount of unemployment; all that it does is to diminish the numbers during the slump and increase the numbers during the boom. The result is best seen by taking a production chart over a number of years,' and cutting off the peaks to fill in the depressions ; when it will be seen that a straight line will result somewhere between the highest and lowest points.

It would be a mistake, however, to imagine that this line bore any definite relation to the amount of unemployment, or even to the quantity of wealth produced. For while the amount of production might show an enormous rise over a period of, say ten years, the number of workers employed in its production might have decreased considerably in consequence of new machinery, new methods, and. speeding-up generally.

It matters but little to the workers whether the growth of unemployment proceeds spasmodically through fluctuations or whether it proceeds evenly without them. The fact for them to notice is that unemployment does increase with capitalist development, and that the National Council produce no evidence, nor show any reasoning to prove that the elimination of crises, industrial or financial, would benefit the workers. On the other hand it is almost safe to assume that such elimination would in reality diminish the number of workers required to produce a given quantity or wealth. Chaos and uncertainty invariably cause wastefulness in the expenditure of labour power.

During the 19th century, when crises occurred periodically, Capital was often expended in anticipation of booms that never matured, and mistaken ventures by capitalists frequently resulted in gluts that compensated the workers to some extent by falling prices.

If the capitalists knew always the extent of the market, production would be arranged to that level. Mass production would be introduced more extensively. Competition would be eliminated by the closed formation of rings and combines, and the workers, as a result of these very reforms, advocated by the National Council, would be in a worse plight than now.

Nor must it be forgotten that without help from the I.L.P. capitalism is already developing rapidly along these lines. Prices, over extensive markets, are fixed, and maintained by agreements between the capitalists concerned. In many cases the demand is known, and shared, by arrangement between the associated concerns.

For the workers to organise politically with the object of smoothing away difficulties in the path of the class that exploits them is folly. Such action could only follow from lack of knowledge of their actual relationship towards the master class. Given the facts of Socialism, every worker of ordinary intelligence can reason for himself how he stands in relation to every question that engages public attention.

The paramount fact of every worker’s existence is his poverty and insecurity, and those who trade on his poverty or play on his fears without helping him to understand the antagonism of interests between the working-class and the master-class, together with the reasons for that antagonism, are guilty of trickery and fraud.

On this question of unemployment the National Council have utterly failed to explain either the cause or tbe cure. Their contribution to the general discussion might have been published in any capitalist newspaper without fear of enlightening a single worker to the fact of his slavery. It barely scratches the surface. It analyses the subject from a purely capitalist viewpoint, and proposes reforms to patch up the existing system, with no proof that such reforms would benefit the working-class in any way whatever. It claims to stand for the workers yet fails to lay down the working-class position on the most prominent question of the day. It calls on the workers to consolidate for the achievement of capitalist ideals; a system of exploitation without trade upheavals or international conflicts; a system where dividends would be assured; where the percentage of unemployed would always be sufficient for capitalist needs, but never so high that it threatened the system.
F. Foan

The Class War . . . And The Facts Behind it. (1924)

From the December 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. J. H. Thomas recently said that the “talk about a class war left him cold.” In a leading article, 14/11/24, the “New Leader,” while agreeing with him in “denouncing class hatred,” says :—
  But we think it almost the gravest mistake which a Labour Party could make to ignore the fact that a process which is usually called the Class struggle is the most vital fact of our lives.
According to the “Daily Chronicle,” 15/11/24, Mr. C. G. Ammon “remarked that they all agreed that, so far as possible, they were not desirous of carrying on a class war. . . . They must admit that the class war was with us.”

From the same source we get the following : “Dr. Salter, M.P., also declared that class war was a fact. It was a struggle between the people who were exploited and those who exploited them, and there was no possible method of reconciling the interests of the two.”

One it leaves cold. To another it is the most vital fact of our lives. Another admits its existence, but would not prosecute it; while the fourth declares it a fact with no possible method of reconciliation. Surely it is time that the Labour Party seriously considered whether they do or do not believe in the existence of the class war.

But neither the declarations of these gentlemen nor the flaring headline of a Sunday picture paper "No more class war” proves or disproves the existence of that struggle. The class struggle and its growing intensity is the one outstanding feature of modern times. The pathetic denials of capitalist agents like Mr. Lovat Fraser deceive no one, except those who want to be deceived. The facts are patent to anyone capable of observation and thought. Millions of workers organised on the industrial field to defend themselves against the constant efforts of still more strongly organised employers to reduce their standard of living and bind them more completely to the wheels of industry.

Modern society is split clean across by the antagonism between those who produce wealth but do not own it, and those who own wealth though never assisting in its production. Disputes follow one another in rapid succession over the whole field of industry between the class that owns and controls the means of wealth-production and those who own nothing but their energy.

It is in this last elementary fact that the germ of the class struggle lies. Unable to obtain access to the means of life, the propertyless human being is compelled to sell his energy to those who own. He becomes a wage-slave and must bargain with the capitalist for a wage that will satisfy his wants. As the number of workers seeking to sell their energy is nearly always in excess of the demand, bargaining power is on the side of the buyers, or masters. It is a simple business axiom that when a commodity is plentiful it is generally cheap. But cheap labour-power means a low standard of living, and the owner of labour-power being human and more or less intelligent resents being thrust ever more deeply into poverty; while at the same time those who cut down his rations make huge additions to their bank balances and finding that markets have somehow become glutted, stop production for a time and turn their workers on the streets. Slow starvation on the dole for a time and then, back in the factory to repeat the process with, possibly, a lower wage and managers and overseers hustling and driving with feverish haste that they may be first with their goods on the awakening market.

On the one hand a super-abundance of wealth. On the other poverty to the verge of desperation. Whether they do little or nothing, those who own the means of life increase their wealth daily beyond their power to spend it. The propertyless wage-slaves are driven by the fear of the sack, and the more they yield the poorer they become.

The capitalist increases his wealth by machinery and methods that enables one worker to do the work of many and then reduces that worker’s wages. He does nothing to assist production, but his overseers—themselves urged on by fear of the sack—in his interest, are constantly sacking and speeding up and reducing wages. This is the class war, waged from the employers’ side and accompanied by an avalanche of propaganda that attempts to reconcile these conflicting interests.

But the antagonism cannot be hidden. It cannot be smoothed away by patriotic blather or glib phrases about the indivisible interests of employer and employed. Whether they want to "carry on a class war” or not the workers are compelled to fight back. Whether they understand how to carry the fight to a successful issue or not millions all over the world realise that it is necessary to organise against the capitalist class.

The knowledge that should go with that realisation awaits them in Socialism. Let them acquire it and, instead of being always the victims of capitalist aggression they will fight back on an equal footing. There is a class war; consciously fought on one side, it is true. Talk of it may leave Mr. Thomas cold, and Mr. Ammon may not be desirous of carrying it on, but the “New Leader” is right for once when it says that it is the most vital fact of our lives; however much they may qualify it next time the Labour Party takes office.
F. Foan


The Industrial Revolution (1925)

From the December 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

By the Industrial Revolution is meant that rapid and complete change in the methods of production and distribution, which, becoming increasingly evident during the first three-quarters and very marked during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, has continued without intermission to the present day. It involved the breaking up of the old forms of the organisation of production and their replacement by others; the superseding of the skill of the craftsman by machinery; the widespread application of mechanical power to manufacture, and later to transport both on land and sea. It was the cause of the rise of new social classes, and new social relationships with their own peculiar problems requiring to be solved.

An enormous increase of population was made possible, concentrated in fresh areas, and industrial towns arose which in turn led to important developments in sanitary science and alterations in local government. With this progress new ideas were spread abroad which were in keeping with the changed conditions.

In the middle of the eighteenth century this country was still largely agricultural. The bulk of the population (at that time about six millions) was engaged in agriculture, and even as late as 1773 corn was regularly exported. Many even of those workers who worked at other occupations also relied partly on their small plots of land. The country was, on the whole, prosperous, its population and its trade were increasing steadily, and it stood in importance second only to France. By far the largest industry was the wool and cloth manufacture, which was regarded by the Government as of great national importance. The cotton industry was small but increasing, and there was already a distinct tendency for both to concentrate in Lancashire and Yorkshire, with a consequent decline of the Eastern counties.

Owing to the scarcity of wood for charcoal making, the iron industry, never very large, was scattered and more or less stagnant. Coal had not yet come into general use for household purposes and means had not been found then of using it successfully for iron smelting. The amount raised each year was only 4½ million tons. The roads were so bad as to be often impassable after wet weather, and these being the only means of internal transport except where there happened to be navigable rivers, the amount of traffic was exceedingly small. Coal, for instance, was brought to London by sea from Newcastle.

As with goods so with people, for there was usually little need for people to travel or change their place of living.

The spinning and weaving of wool and cotton were carried on in the main in the homes of the workers, who were not, as now, brought together in the employer’s factory.

The development of machinery to replace hand labour began in the textile trades. With an increasing foreign and colonial demand for cotton goods it was found that spinning by hand could no longer suffice. Workers were also semi-independent and in a position therefore to demand high wages. As a consequence great efforts were made to invent machinery to supplant hand labour, and in 1761 Hargreaves was successful with his spinning jenny. This was supplemented by Arkwright’s water frame four years later, and in 1775 Crompton’s mule further extended the sphere of the machine.

Evidence of the revolution in the cotton industry is that the import of cotton wool rose from 11 million lbs. in 1780 to 56 million lbs. in 1800.

Similar progress was made later in the woollen industry.

When the use of coal became more general great difficulty was experienced in keeping the mines from flooding, because as the shafts went deeper hand pumps became useless. About 1700 Savery and Newcomen invented steam pumps, and Newcomen’s engine partly solved the problem for a while. In 1782 Watt so far improved on the old pattern of engine as to reduce the consumption of coal by three-quarters and his engine soon superseded Newcomen’s. The amount of coal raised had increased by 1816 to 15 million tons, the demand coming now chiefly from the iron industry. As has been said, this industry had been languishing for lack of fuel. A series of inventions, particularly those of the Darbys, made it possible to use coal instead of charcoal. Henry Cort and others found a method of purifying the iron and the development then was extraordinarily rapid. The production of pig iron, which in 1783 was only 90,000 tons, had risen hy 1820 to 400,000 tons and by 1860 to 4 million tons.

During the early years of the nineteenth century steam power was being applied to the textiles and other industries, and each of these developments in iron, coal, etc., had its reflex in a corresponding stimulus to other industries.

The last half of the eighteenth century also saw great activity in improving communications. The great turnpike roads made wheeled traffic possible, and the building of canals, which by the end of that century had become almost a mania, gave the first real solution of the problem of transporting bulky goods.

Then Stevenson built his steam locomotive, which completed the solution as regards internal communication. Railways turned this country into one big market of which no considerable area was any longer inaccessible. Steamships were built, and with the opening up of America, Russia, and later Africa, India and Asia, by means of railways the stage was reached in which the enormous powers of machine production could be adequately used in supplying the manufacturing needs of a world market, from which in turn our food and raw materials were drawn.

Another great forward leap was made when machines were produced capable of reproducing in unlimited quantities the parts of machines themselves, thus laying the foundation of the modern engineering industry.

Accompanying the process outlined above came the growth of the factory system with the massing of hundreds and thousands of workers under one roof, and the concentration of a huge industrial population in a few coal areas in South Wales, the Midlands and the North.

This led directly to struggles by the workers to organise themselves and the growth of the labour movement, with bitter conflicts between employers and workers, and the spread of new ideas of class interest and Socialism unknown to eighteenth-century England.

The nineteenth century also witnessed the political struggle for the extension of the Franchise, changing the. whole basis of government.

The State has developed wholly new functions. The growth of industrial towns and the rise of the factory system have led respectively to the systematic study of sanitation and public health, and the building up of a code of protective legislation for the workers necessitated by excessive exploitation in the factories and mines; first, for children and women, and, latterly, for men as well. The new methods have again produced the need for a wholesale raising of the level of education and the present State activity in this direction, in order to cope with the technical development of industry.

The Industrial Revolution is the general description given to the complicated movement outlined above.

To understand why the Industrial Revolution came in England it will be useful to make a brief comparison with the other nations of Europe. The only nations at that time of any serious industrial and commercial importance were France, England and Holland. Spanish sea power had been shattered in the sixteenth century and she was no longer a serious rival; Russia had but recently entered on a course of industry and commerce, and Germany was still suffering politically and economically from the exhaustion following the thirty years’ war, 1618-1648.

The population of England and Scotland was about 9 millions in 1780, that of France 20 millions and that of Holland only 3 or 4 millions. The Dutch had lost their seafaring advantages and were already declining in importance. They had in any event always specialised in financial and commercial rather than industrial undertakings, and at that time the internal condition of Holland was disturbed. The choice, therefore, lay between England and France. Why, in view of France’s larger trade and greater industrial activity did the industrial Revolution occur in England and not in France?

France had a population nearly three times as great; her foreign trade in 1780 amounted to £40 million as against £22 million for England. Domestic industry in France was developing rapidly with the removal of legal hindrances in 1762, and French peasants were in comparison with those of most other European countries fairly prosperous. French foreign trade was extending, and with America, for instance, was larger than ours. The rate of increase between 1715 and 1787 was also greater. Paris had a larger population than London, and not only in Europe, but in the West Indies, Canada and India, France had a decided advantage.

In spite, however, of whatever initial advantages France may have possessed, her position became hopeless with the disastrous internal struggle of the Revolution and the external wars which followed. It is true the outbreak of war in 1793 immediately lost us our trade with Holland and France, but already English foreign trade had doubled between 1782 and 1792, and France, on the other hand, was at once cut off from her own colonies and lost her important American trade. The internal state of chaos, while contending classes fought for mastery, meant the complete cessation of the industrial development which had begun, and, in fact, normal commercial activities became almost impossible.
Even prior to the Revolution, however, the conditions existed whieh gave the victory to the English capitalists.
While it is true that the French peasants were prosperous, their main desire was always to own land, and their savings became absorbed in this rather than in industrial investment. In England the Bank of England had been formed in 1694, and since then there had been considerable accumulation of capital, which, by the legal prohibition of Joint Stock trading, had been turned to industrial undertakings. In France, again, through a deplorable financial policy, the State was well-nigh bankrupt, currency was bad, and, owing to the failure of big financial schemes in the early part of the century, people had no faith in investments. When it is remembered how expensive were the experiments which led to mechanical inventions, how costly were the new machines, and how large were the new undertakings in comparison with the old, the importance of big and easily accessible capitals is obvious.

England’s second advantage appeared at first to he a misfortune. France had no lack of workers, but throughout the 18th century continual complaint was made in England that the shortage of labour and the consequent high wages made competition with the French well-nigh impossible. Many workers had small holdings and were to a large extent independent of the manufacturers who employed them. A scarcity of labour, however, always encourages the installation of labour-saving machinery. The shortage creates the demand, and this is invariably satisfied by inventions when it arises. It is instructive to note that it was in the spinning industry that machinery first became important, because weavers had long been handicapped by the insufficient supply of yarns. When machinery had solved that problem, inventions to remedy the consequent shortage of weavers were at once in demand, and before long the demand was satisfied.

Again, England enjoyed large and expanding markets, without which naturally these developments would not have occurred. Had there not been a constant and ever-growing demand for cotton goods, it would have been worth no one’s while to invest money in the large-scale production of cotton. Holland, owing to the competition of England, France and Germany, and her loss of her semi-monopoly of the world’s shipping, had a declining trade, and it was not to the interest of individual producers to commit themselves to the expense of enlarging their production.

In this country, too, the population was free from the restrictions of movement which were still the rule in France and Holland at that date. Peasants in France were tied to their birthplaces by their ownership of land and by the dues they had to render to their feudal lords. How, in such circumstances, could there have been such migrations and concentrations of population as took place in England? Without such massing in the coal areas there could have been no developments of production such as did take place with the introduction of mechanical power.

The Guilds in France and Holland were still largely in control, and were able successfully to oppose factory production. In England they had by this time long decayed. In England, too, there was a degree of security unknown in any other European country, and, of equal importance, this country (except Ireland) was economically one market. It was not split into tariff divisions, of which France had three, Holland seven, and Germany 300. While the financial institutions were by no means so delicate and complex as to-day. one has but to observe the effect of the actual, or imagined, political insecurity of the present i Russian Government to realise how incompatible are flourishing trade and a lack of political confidence.

Further, in England, coal and iron are found conveniently near each other. In the days before the building of railways even a distance of ten or twenty miles was sufficient to prohibit transport cheap enough for iron making. This need not have proved fatal to France, as wooden machines and water power were the first stage of development, but by that time French industry was already half in ruins.

Lastly, English merchants had had long experience of large-scale production and export in the wool trade, and the experience so gained was available for the many directions in which it was now needed.

The combination of these advantages gave England the certain lead over most countries, and France, the one serious rival, was—owing to the Revolution—out of the running for forty years.
Edgar Hardcastle

Should We Join The Labour Party? (1926)

From the December 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our Position Vindicated. 
We have always maintained that the only place for Socialists is inside a Socialist organisation, completely independent 'of all other political parties. This, we say, is the only way of carrying on Socialist propaganda free from compromise and from distracting side issues. Those who differed from us on this point have urged that it was worth while to make a sacrifice of some amount' of independence in order to keep inside the Labour Party and carry on progaganda there. But what has been the result of their policy? Never have events shown so plainly as now, how unsound that policy and how poor its fruits.

As a political machine the Labour Party is a success, but its successes are not for Socialism. It has just won some 200 seats in the local council elections, but as is pointed out by a correspondent in the New Leader (November 12th), the Labour programme in Cardiff contained "little that could not be supported by any well-meaning Tory. . . . Only one candidate mentioned Socialism in his election address.” And as he rightly adds, "these shortcomings are by no means peculiar to Cardiff.” The winning of elections on non-Socialist programmes may give power for certain things to those who come into control of the political machinery, but it will give no power for the furtherance of Socialism. So also the enrollment of non-Socialist members will make the Labour Party larger, but it will not make it more favourable to Socialism. One of the recent notable recruits—Commander Kenworthy— has confessed (Daily Herald, November 15th) that just before his decision to leave the Liberals he was invited to join and receive the support of the Conservative Party. A man who was in the Liberal Party and is considered fit to receive Conservative support is not a Socialist, whatever he may be. The ex-Liberals who flock in with Kenworthy are no more Socialist than he.

John Beckett, of the I.L.P., a Labour M.P., laments that those who control the Labour Party are rapidly turning the "Labour movement . . . into a carefully controlled pawn in the political game.” (New Leader, November 12th.) He wants the I.L.P. to carry on the fight against reaction in the Labour Party, but is then compelled to admit that, "The Left must fight in the I.L.P. almost as hard as in the wider movement.”

The present situation, then, is this. The I.L.P. tries to permeate the Labour Party, but in the process has itself reached such a state that the permeators must "fight in the I.L.P. almost as hard” as in the Labour Party. The Labour Party wins elections on non-Socialist programmes, and the permeators are compelled to assist at these elections and suppress their own opinions for the sake of their loyalty.

George Lansbury makes a humiliating confession of his own position inside the Labour Party in explaining why he recalled a promise to support the candidature of Dr. Dunstan in West Birmingham. Dr. Dunstan was a Labour candidate and a Communist, and was replaced by an "official” Labour man in accordance with the Labour Party decision to refuse to endorse or accept to membership all members of the Communist Party. Lansbury writes to Dr. Dunstan (Lansbury’s Labour Weekly, November 13th): "I still think your position in West Birmingham entitled you to the support of every working-class elector . . . and I am only sorry that circumstances connected with my membership of the Labour Party and the loyalty which such membership involves prevents me carrying out my promise.”

Dr. Dunstan is in Lansbury’s view "entitled to the support of every working-class elector,” but is not going to receive Lansbury’s support because of the latter’s loyalty to the Labour Party, and while Labour Party discipline prevents the permeators from propagating Socialism, the Labour Party goes on absorbing Liberals at a rate which makes it possible for its leaders to continue to change its programme in an anti-Socialist direction, and make it a "pawn in the political game.” All the time the permeators find that their efforts to keep their own organisation straight are hampered by association with non-Socialists. How can a Socialist hope to convince electors that they should support non-Socialist labour men and programmes, if at the same time he is trying to preach Socialism? One or the other must suffer. In fact the Labour Party grows in size with the help of the I.L.P., but both the Labour Party and its would-be permeators become too much bound up with seeking for votes to have time for Socialist propaganda.

There is, of course, another group believing in permeation—the Communist Party. Their present undignified position is a further justification for our attitude. The Labour Party, not unnaturally, only wants assistance from those who will help it to get into power. It does not want to be hindered by affiliated bodies which propagate policies which have no electoral value, and since the mass of electors are not Socialist, Socialism is thus ruled out. Thus it accepts the I.L.P., which, as Mr. Beckett says, differs little from itself. But if the I.L.P. tried to justify its argument by concentrating on Socialist propaganda, it would be summarily ejected. The Communists have so far not been accommodating enough, and therefore are refused admission.

To preach Socialism inside the Labour Party just as much as to preach it outside means condemning its programme and its methods. If, therefore, the Socialist Party desired entry into the Labour Party, it must consent to give up its work for Socialism and devote at least part of its energies to promoting non-Socialist candidatures which it honestly knows are of no value to the working class. We cannot accept such conditions.

We are Socialists because we believe literally that Socialism is the sole hope of the working class. We are independent because that is the only safeguard against confusion and compromise and the growth of non-Socialist tendencies in our own ranks.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Class Struggle in Soviet Russia (1927)

From the December 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

Owing to the deplorable suppression of opinion and rigid censorship of news in Russia it is well nigh as difficult now to obtain reliable information as it was 10 years ago when the censorship was that erected by the Allied Governments. The policy of suppression is always deplorable and usually utterly useless for the end it has in view. Where there is smoke there is fire. Where there are the economic conditions for class conflict there will inevitably arise the discontent of the ruled class with the ruling class and its agents, followed by spontaneous attempts to organise for the removal of the cause of the discontent. It is impossible in the long run to prevent the individual members of a class with a grievance drawing the same general conclusions from the same set of facts. It is possible to delay the spread of ideas from one to another, but not to prohibit it for all time. In the last resort, if class demands are ignored or suppressed, there will inevitably arise organised movements to enforce them, peaceably if possible, but violently if need be. Suppression cannot prevent discontent, it can only direct it into secret and more destructive channels.

These elementary lessons of political history were forgotten in the turmoil following the Bolshevik seizure of power. Suppression of the voting rights, newspapers, and political organisations of the landowners and capitalists, led naturally to the similar treatment of every opponent and critic not only of the acts, but also of the persons of the governing party. The culminating point is the exclusion and threatened criminal prosecution of Trotsky and other once honoured revolutionaries. (One of the charges against Trotsky is the fatuous one of “insolence.”) This degradation into the methods of royalty, with their major crime of “lèse majestĂ©,” is the normal course of all such suppression.

We are then compelled to seek for information about events in Russia, either in the columns of the official Communist Press (where it is naturally coloured in favour of the official point of view as against the critics), or else piece together the fragmentary reports smuggled out of Russia and reprinted (usually with exaggerations) in the opposition journals abroad or the capitalist newspapers.

For two years or more Trotsky has been the figurehead round whom various opposition groups have centred inside the Russian Communist Party. His main criticism appears to be based on his view of an old subject of controversy, that is whether it is possible to build up Socialism in Russia alone. Trotsky, like ourselves, says no. Russia, in his opinion, must aim at rapid industrialisation (with the aid of foreign capital but prohibiting, as far as possible, any foreign control), thus building up a numerous working class in Russia. At present the Russian workers represent at most 15 per cent. of the population, being hopelessly outnumbered by peasants, the great majority of whom are quite naturally more interested in maintaining and extending their private ownership of land than in Socialism. The development of Russian industry will, Trotsky argues, enable the Russian workers to withstand the reactionary pressure of the peasants until such time as the world working class come to their aid.

At present, so the opposition maintain, the trend of Government policy in Russia is steadily in favour of the peasants as against the workers. If this is so, then sooner or later working class discontent will manifest itself in organisation and attempted resistance, at least to the extent that the Russian workers understand their class position and have not been deceived by propaganda aimed at obscuring the fundamental conflict of interests between the workers, on the one side, and the peasants and capitalist traders and concessionaires, on the other. In justification of his view Trotsky maintains that the Russian workers and their trade unions are rapidly developing an attitude of hostility towards the Russian State, the relations with which being more and more clearly recognised as the normal capitalist relations between employers and employed.

The Manchester Guardian (November 15th) summarises a German translation of Trotsky’s programme which has been published in Hamburg. The following passages are taken from it and may help readers to understand the meaning of the present conflict. It is, of course, to be understood that this reproduction of Trotsky’s views is not an indication that we can guarantee the accuracy of his estimates of conditions, nor that we share all his views on policy :—
   “A new bourgeoisie of bureaucrats and of private traders is emerging in the towns and of kulaks (wealthier peasants) in the country, while industrial labour is losing its share in the management both of the Communist party and of the workshops and factories. Since October, 1925, the upward movement of real wages has ceased, although the output per man has risen by no less than 15 per cent. At the same time the rights and privileges of the managements and of the administration have grown.
 
   The increase in employment stopped this year, and there has been a big and rapid increase in unemployment. For two years the prices of industrial products have been nominally stable, but in reality they are rising, for the quality of the goods (especially manufactured goods) has conspicuously deteriorated. Wholesale prices have risen steadily since July, 1925, while the quality of wholesale articles has likewise deteriorated. Retail prices sank in 1924 and 1925, but rose again in 1926, and are now (if the inferior quality is considered) roughly as they were in 1923.
   
   The increased output of Russian industry has been accompanied by a deterioration of plant and machinery, and a steady increase in the number of accidents in the factories has resulted. 
   Although wages are not rising, the so-called intensification of labour is being steadily forced by the authorities. The maximum output of the most efficient workman is being made the standard for all. The sifting out and rejection of the more inefficient men is going on with ever-growing rigour, while the wages for piece work are not rising, and in some cases are sinking. Wages are at best no higher than they were before the war. Industry is worse equipped now than it was then, but the output per man is considerably greater. 
   Thus the wear and tear on the health and constitution of the individual workman is very great. Low wages do not allow workmen to enjoy tolerable housing. The amount of room space, allowed to each family is steadily diminishing. The reintroduction of 40 per cent. vodka has injured the health of the working classes, especially of the younger generation, and has increased the number of accidents. State revenues from the sale of alcohol are being won at heavy cost in human misery. 
   Economy in the factories is being enforced with growing severity. A system of penalties has been introduced under which a workman is dismissed if he arrives a minute late. Men who report sick are now assigned to so-called light labour and health insurance benefit is refused on the slightest pretext. Overtime is increasing in spite of the vast unemployment. Special labour is growing more frequent. Regular workers who cannot legally be dismissed without a fortnight’s notice are got rid of by being dismissed and then being re-engaged as casual workers after which they can be dismissed at one, two, or three day’s notice. 
  The power of the management is steadily growing. It has the exclusive right of dismissal for default or misdemeanours, and no appeal is possible. Men are also engaged by the management, the function of the factory Soviets being limited to mere registration. The workmen no longer share in the control and management of these factories. Their opinion and criticism are disregarded more and more. Conditions in the factories are again approaching what they were in Tsarist times. 
   The workmen are becoming indifferent or even hostile to the trade unions. Meetings are poorly attended, embryonic illegal unions have come into existence when illegal strike committees are formed (that is to say, when there is a strike, the men having lost confidence in the official! Communist trade union organisations, form a secret strike committee of their own). The struggle of Russian labour for better conditions is being conducted either in disregard of the trade unions and of the Communist party, or sometimes even against them. The election of trade union officials has become a mere formality; workmen join these unions because they cannot obtain employment without a membership card. 
   The Soviet State and system is undemocratic. Members of the Government and of the administration are not elected but selected. The electorate is denied the right to recall its delegate whilst the Communist bureaucracy has the right to get rid of any delegate whom it does not like without regard for the opinion of those who voted for him, nor are the delegates themselves in the least responsible to the electorate. For the working-class balloting has become an empty formality and an irksome obligation. 
   The prestige of the Soviet has sunk so low in the eyes of Russian Labour, that the authorities sometimes use compulsion so as to make the workmen vote at all.
 The “Proletariat Opposition” within the party is being expelled. In the factory “cells” only favoured persons receive promotion, and those in disfavour are degraded or even dismissed. There is a growing army of Oppositional unemployed. Dissatisfaction is being suppressed and hushed up, and there has been an epidemic of suicides.
  The broad Communist masses are excluded from some of the most vital discussions of the party leaders. The Communist bureaucracy exercises an uncontrolled and irresponsible domination. 
  Relations between the workmen and the management are becoming more and more what they were before the revolution.”
The Manchester Guardian’s correspondent states that the memorandum goes on to give a similar analysis of conditions in the rural areas, where the poorer peasants and the agricultural labourers are exploited by the wealthier peasants, whose power is increasing.

Among the points in Trotsky’s programme, the most important is the restoration of democracy within the Communist Party, which would, among other things, make impossible the suppression of such a document as the one quoted above.
Edgar Hardcastle