Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Socialist Archbishop (1942)

Editorial from the March 1942 issue of the Socialist Standard

When Dr. Temple was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury the Daily Express informed its readers that “Dr. Temple is the first Socialist to become Primate ” (February 23rd, 1942).

Lord Elton, in the Daily Mail of the same date, was not so sure. He would not go beyond a statement that “Temple was said to be a Socialist"; and both agreed in fact that he is “a keen social reformer,” ”has a passion for social reform.”

Lord Elton and the Daily Express do not understand that a social reformer is not a Socialist. True, Dr. Temple has advocated better housing for the workers, regular holidays, and education, and other reforms. “He will hammer away year after year . . . at some public scandal such as road accidents.” He advocates State control of the Bank of England and the joint stock banks. Therefore he is not a Socialist, for whatever success he and others have at reforming the capitalist system he is not in favour of its abolition. He has, in effect, said so.
  There is nothing wrong with profits as such. Producer and trader are entitled to a profit as a means of livelihood which they have earned by service to the community.—“Daily Mail,” February 23rd, 1942.
In the above passage he shows that he is incapable of describing the capitalist system as it really is. That a "producer” should have a livelihood for the service he renders may seem reasonable, but the typical capitalist owner (mostly by inheritance) is not a producer but only an employer of producers. He does not render service but merely permits workers to produce. He lives by owning.

Marx and Engels, in the "Communist Manifesto” (written in 1847) summed up such social reformers under the satirical description, “the Socialistic bourgeois.” What they want is 
  “all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements.”
They desire that 
  ‘‘the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.”
  “To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole and corner reformers of every imaginable kind.”
In short, 
  "a part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.”

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