Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The American Civil War (1959)

From the January 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Conflict Defined
The American Civil War was a savage affair. It lasted for four years and it caused the deaths of 600,000 of the young men of America. It wrote such names as Gettysburg, Bull Run and Shiloh into the history of human conflict.

It was a war, we were told, over slavery. If you were humane, liberal and democratic you fought for the North, against slavery. If you were brutal, despotic and contemptuously aristocratic you fought for the South, for slavery. If there are any legends of history which for their own sakes are worth preserving, this is not one of them.

In truth, the Northern States had little use for slavery. Their agriculture produced anything from lumber to livestock, for which they needed workers who were knowledgeable, adaptable and freely moving. Such workers were also needed by the modern industry, which was developing in the North. In contrast, the South, with its warmer climate, raised settled crops like indigo, sugar, tobacco—and cotton. It was profitable to work these crops by ignorant slaves, under a few overseers. This difference in economic needs was at the root of the clash over slavery.

The first negro slaves came to America at the beginning of the 17th century. Before this, workers were employed under indentures—and they moved on to settle new lands when their term expired. This was not a convenient system for the Southern planters, who needed a settled labour force. Even so, they did not immediately use the Negroes as slaves; at first they were treated as indentured servants (although they had no indentures) and when their term ran out they often themselves bought another Negro. (It is interesting that the recognition of this right was the first legal sanction of slavery in America). When the planters realised that the Negroes had no legal rights they dropped the indenture formalities and openly bought and worked them as slaves. This was the stimulus to the West Indian slave mart, with its history of cold-blooded cruelly.

Slavery takes root
When slavery was not economical the white colonists tried to abolish it, but were often prevented by the English slave-running interests. Any anti-slavery movement based on moral grounds, without good commercial reasons, was doomed, as in the State of Georgia, which banned slavery when it was founded only to see the law ignored and evaded. The reason was that the Southern economy was being boosted by the demand from Europe for fresh foods and new materials; cotton was of increasing importance and the planters would not allow it to be disturbed. The invention in 1793 of the Whitney Cotton Gin (which automatically combed and separated the cotton), stimulated production and increased the demand for slaves. The cotton plantations spread from the Old South (Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky) into the Deep South (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi), whose red clay was ideal for this crop. The Old South traded slaves into the new plantations—in 1836 Virginia alone sent 40,000. The Negroes did not like their new conditions—the song Carry Me Back to Old Virginia is the lament of the slave who had been moved from the comparatively genteel Old South to the harshness of the Deep South. This area became heavily dependent on its cotton, and its pro-slavery sentiment became that much more fanatical and its planters that much more brutal. This attitude, although outdated, lingers on in the Southern States. It causes the riots in places like Clinton and Little Rock.

As we can see from a few dry figures, the 17th and 18th centuries saw a remarkable growth in the American Negro slave population. Over the 20 years up to 1671 the white population of Georgia increased from 15,000 to 40,000 and its Negros from 300 to 2,000. In 1760 the North American population was about 1½ million, 300,000 of them slaves; at this time the average slave holding in Virginia was 10 (largest 250). When the war started in 1861 there were about four million slaves in the Confederacy and some 230,000 free Negroes.

It was during the first half of the 19th century that the Southerners’ aristocratic pretensions became so objectionable, with the notion that they represented the gracious, hospitable elements of American society, whilst the Northerners stood for all that was brash and cheap. The uniformity of productive (that is, agricultural) , methods and organisation of property ownership tended to unite the South politically and gave it an important—possibly over-important—influence in American politics. On the other hand the North was comparatively disunited, with many economic factions each having its own functional and property rights. In the 1850’s the Capitalists of the North were stricken by a financial crisis and this, with the usual depression of the workers’ conditions and the greed of the industrialists, strengthened the Southerner’s conviction in his superiority. (The romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott went down well with this conviction!) Inevitably, the white men in the South looked on the Negro as a docile, dim-witted, sub-human; even the poor whites tried to get on the band wagon. Although they lived in appalling poverty on their tiny plots, trying to compete with the big plantations, they had their pride. Their skin—when they washed it—was white; so they could join the pro-slavery chorus.

Slave Empire
If the poor whites had little reason to get on their high horse, the wealthy Southern planters could offer strong justification for their attitude. They had invested good money in their Negroes, which they would lose if the slaves were freed. They wanted to expand the slave-lands into a great empire to take in the new lands in the West, Cuba, Central America and even Brazil. This empire, they thought, would supply the food and raw materials which the developing industries of Europe needed. But the Northern industries also had designs on the West and it was here that the conflict was defined. To win their point, the South rigged their elections, sending numbers of representatives to Congress based on population returns which included slaves who were not allowed to vote. They became more and more aggressive and impatient of the interference from the government. As the quarrel grew fiercer, one compromise after another was tried, but all failed. The Southern States wanted the right to run their affairs as they liked. And they were getting ready to fight for it. 
Jack Law

(To be continued.)

The American Civil War — II (1959)

From the February 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

No Compromise
Neither side rushed blindly into the American Civil War. North and South made many efforts to compromise on their disputes, but each settlement only flung up more problems, making the war seem more certain.

Louisiana Purchase
In 1803 it was proposed that the Louisiana lands, recently purchased from France, should be recognised as a State of the Union. This proposal roused the jealousy of the New Englanders, not because Louisiana was a slave State but because they feared the addition of a Southern State on the other side of the political balance. This dispute promoted the agreement that free and slave States should be admitted to the Union alternately. This compromise worked well until 1820, when Missouri, a slave State, applied to join the Union. (Indiana. Illinois, and Maine had joined as free States and Mississippi and Alabama as slave States.) Although it meant breaking their agreement, the North bitterly opposed the entry of Missouri, for they were coming to the opinion that no more slave States should be admitted to the Union. This dispute was shelved by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which recognised Missouri as a slave State, but ruled that no slave State should exist north of a parallel 36' 30' N., and that any State south of this line should be allowed to decide its own status.

The Missouri Compromise was broken by the refusal to extend the line across the Continent when California joined the Union, and further trouble developed over the admission of Kansas and Nebraska. These two States were brought into the Union to carry the railways which were pushing into the West. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise both should have been free States, but in the event only Nebraska was recognised as such. Kansas, whose wild and lawless settlers were violently pro-slavery, was allowed to choose its own status and the whole procedure was legalised by the Kansas/Nebraska Bill of 1854, which finally wiped out the Missouri Compromise.

The first elections in Kansas were chaotic. First, heavily armed Border ruffians from Missouri came into the State and drowned the election in illegal votes. When the pro-slavery candidate was declared elected, John Brown led a counter invasion of Abolitionists. Civil war broke out between the two sides, with each setting up its own government and holding its own elections. In the end, the slavers won, and they passed the most stringent measures to protect their system. Another compromise had failed. 

The Republican Party
Tempers on both sides were now rising fast, aggravated by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This Act allowed Marshalls from the Southern States to arrest runaway slaves, who had previously been granted refuge in the North, and return them to their masters. The dispute over this Act was highlighted by the case of Dred Scott, a runaway slave, who legally contested his return. His case dragged on for years, until in 1857 the Supreme Court ruled that he was a piece of property without the right to sue in Federal Courts and that anyway he had lost his case in the Missouri courts, which had sole authority to deal with it. This decision stung opinion in the North, and the extreme anti-slavery attitude of the Abolitionists became more acceptable. In Boston, Lloyd Garrison had earned from the State of Georgia a $5,000 price on his head for publishing the Abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. Respectable Northerners, after the Dred Scott case, looked upon Garrison’s paper with a less hostile eye.

Still, the Abolitionists could not win a Presidential election; in 1856 John C. Fremont lost to the Democrat, Buchanan. In truth, the Abolitionists could never fulfil the needs of the North’s rising capitalists. As the railways grew out and the link-up of the Middle West destroyed local prejudices, as the struggle between industry and the Southern landowners became more acute, so opinion in the North became more solid. In 1856 the Republican Party was formed and the Northern capitalists had a political organisation strong enough to counter the aristocratic planters. The Republicans did not at first intend to abolish slavery, or to sharpen the conflict with the South. They wanted to expand American industry, develop the West and control the country’s political affairs. But each successive dispute, and the planters’ notion of their inborn superiority, made civil war seem unavoidable.

Abraham Lincoln
The Bourbon planters were blind to the fact that the South was falling behind economically. Two-thirds of the country’s banking and financial investments were in the North, with Massachusetts alone said to hold more money in her banks than the whole of the Confederacy in 1861. Other estimates put the North's manufactures as worth nearly ten times all the crops of the South, and reckoned the Northern hay crop more valuable than all the Southern cotton, tobacco and sugar. (The planters over-estimated the importance of the world’s demand for cotton right through the war, many Southerners expected Lancashire opinion to force England to declare war on the North). They were convinced of their strength, and America slithered towards civil war, with the feeble President, Buchanan, incapable of doing anything about it.

In 1860 another Presidential election fell due, with Abraham Lincoln representing the Republican Party. There were only 30,000 slave-owning families in the South, with about 10,000 of them large owners. But these were the influences in Southern public opinion and, although Lincoln was plainly moderate in his opinion on the slavery dispute, they had no desire to put political power into his hands. He did not receive one vote south of Virginia (where he polled 2,000). In the border State of Missouri he got just 17,000. In 1856 the cotton States had plainly said that, if the Abolitionist Fremont were elected, they would leave the Union. (There had been several such threats during the past 60 years’ political struggles, not all of them from the South.) The planters recognised that Lincoln’s victory broke their last link with the Union, which they regarded as a collection of sovereign States which they could leave at will. They would suffer no coercion from a central government.

In December, 1860, South Carolina led the way out of the Union, and by February of the following year Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas had joined her in a Confederacy formed at Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis was the President and Alexander Stephens the Vice-President. Civil War seemed a hardening certainty.
              Jack Law

(To be continued.)

The American Civil War — III (1959)

From the March 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

Preparation and Prospects
As the year 1861 opened the future opponents of the American Civil War stood glowering at each other.

The war was only a few months away, but it was still difficult to descry any clear-cut differences between North and South. The Confederacy’s President—Jefferson Davis—had been strongly Unionist, until he saw control of the Union slipping from the South’s hands. His Vice-President —Alexander Stephens—had opposed secession right until the moment when his own State of Georgia contracted out. There was also confusion on the issue of slavery, many prominent Southerners opposing it, whilst the Lincoln Government had often slated that it had no intention of abolishing it. Perhaps the most famous Southerner to oppose slavery was General Robert E. Lee—the North actually invited him at the start of the war to take command of its forces., but he refused. Especially confused was the Northern State of Maryland, where there was much sympathy for the Confederates. Plenty of Americans thought that the seceded States had taken a perfectly legal and constitutional action and that, whatever military precautions the two sides may take, the quarrel would blow over.

Fort Sumpter Falls
The first important dispute after secession came as each side began to draw up its strength, and was about the possession of military forts and recruitment of manpower. First, the Union Government ordered all the border States to place their troops under Washington’s control. Promptly, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina joined the rebels, as a protest against this attempt at federal coercion. More ominous were the rumblings around the army forts in the Southland.

The Confederates argued that, although the forts were occupied by United States troops, the land on which they stood had only been leased to the Government. Now that the Southern States had left the Union, their occupation by Federal forces was illegal and intolerable. Interest became centred on Fort Sumpter at Charleston, which the Governor of South Carolina had been planning to take over since December, I860. Southern Congressmen warned Lincoln that any attempt to relieve Sumpter would lead to war and sure enough on January 9th, 1861, the steamer, Star of the West, sent to the fort, was fired on and forced to withdraw. An uneasy peace brooded over Fort Sumpter until April, when Confederate General Beauregard, learning of a Union convoy on the way to raise the siege, bombarded it into surrender. Although many other forts had been taken in the South, Sumpter had become an important symbol, and its fall touched off a unifying passion in the Union. It may also be said to have marked the start of the war.

Since February, the South had been seriously preparing its war effort. After Sumpter, Lincoln replied by calling for 75,000 militia, to serve for three months (later altered to three years) and announcing a blockade of every Southern port from South Carolina to Texas. On May 6th the Confederate Congress passed an Act which recognised the existence of a state of war with the Union and shots were exchanged in Virginia and at Camp Jackson, St. Louis. There had been almost a year of increasing tension and bitterness. That was at an end. Hope was finished, too. The world’s first modern war had started, with its savagery and terror.

What were the strength, the weaknesses and prospects of either side ? The Northern population was about 22 million; the Southern between 5 and 6 million, plus about 4 million negroes. In 1860 the United States Army had numbered about 16,000; of these, the Southern States had the nucleus of an army in the forces controlled by each State. About 3 million men served in the war in the Union forces, 2 million of them 23 years old or younger—an ideal age for soldiers. On the other hand, the Confederates' smaller population forced them to conscript all men between 17 and 55. When the war opened the volunteers on both sides were numerous, but as the thing dragged on the spirit declined. In the South, poor dirt farmers joined open combat with Confederate patrols and draft officials, whilst in the North, Chicago suffered anti-conscription riots.

The South was full of hope. Although the Act of Secession had cut them off from the new lands in the West, they thought that their raw materials could be traded for manufactures from the growing capitalist powers of Europe. These manufactures, ran the optimistic argument, would compensate for the rebels’ lack of industrial power. Here lay the South’s weakness, for as the agricultural area of the United States, they had left manufacturing to the North. They had next to no factories and what they had were mainly worked by Northerners, who returned to their home States when the war started: this was disastrous to the railway repair shops. The rebels had only one works—at Tredegar, in Richmond—where they could cast a gun or make a marine engine: the States Armouries were deficient, and at the start of the war there were no powder mills. There was hardly any iron and unseasoned wood had to be used in shipbuilding. All of this meant that, among other things, the rebels would not be able to break the blockade which the Union Navy kept on its ports. It also meant that recognition of the Confederacy by the European Powers was a wild dream. But the South was blind to all this; their population may have been only a quarter that of the North, but they had plenty of men who got their living planting and hunting, who were used to horseback and hardened to a spartan outdoor life They could handle guns and, apart from a dislike of organised discipline, were ideal material for soldiers. When the time came, they were to fight hard and tenaciously. The aristocratic pretensions of the South had bred a group of accustomed leaders: men like Lee and Johnston, Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart, all brilliant commanders. Yes, the South was full of hope: one rebel, they said, was worth any ten Yankees.

The Yankees
And the North? Industrially, they had it all. But they needed a machine—the sort to which the 20th century has become accustomed—to change their population of factory and merchanting workers into soldiers. It took them a few years; but in the end they did it, reaching their peak of organisation when Sherman’s troopers blasted their way across the heart of the Confederacy, like any crack Commando brigade. “The Yankees dare not fight,” said many a cocky Southerner at the war’s beginning. The next few years showed that the Yankees could not only fight—they could also march and plunder, and hound an entire army to destruction.
Jack Law.

(To be concluded.)

The American Civil War — IV (1959)

From the April 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

Victory and what it was worth
Ask that approachable fellow, the man-in-the-street, to name a battle of the American Civil War and he will almost certainly mention Gettysburg; if history was one of his subjects at school he may remember Antretam and Manassas. These battles were all fought in the east, where the more glamorous—if that is the proper word—campaign of the war took place. If the western theatre was less famous, its effect was of greater consequence.

The Campaigns
In the north and the east, around the Potomac river, in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, the two armies grappled for each other's capital city. Washington and Richmond spent an unquiet war in consequence, always afraid of attack and pillage. The early Unionist tactics in this area were notable for their lack of aggressiveness, which allowed Lee and Jackson to gain some spectacular victories. Fortunately for the Union, these victories were rarely pressed home, because of the Confederates’ heavy losses and their shortage of ammunition; they paid dearly for their industrial shortcomings. Lincoln fumed and fretted at his generals and changed them many times, until Grant’s appointment as commander brought a new conception to Northern tactics. Grant kept a constant pressure on his opponents, chasing them and forcing them to battle until in the end he destroyed them.

In the south and the west the vital part of the war was forged and fought. The Union armies moved down the Mississippi river from Missouri, whilst their navy landed troops at the river’s mouth to capture New Orleans. Vicksburg--an important junction of railway and river—was taken after a siege and the Union armies then moved cast through the mountain gaps into Georgia. They captured Atlanta and swept on to Savannah on the Atlantic coast, plundering as they went, and cut the Confederacy in two. Although this campaign earned Grant the leadership of the Union forces, it is General Sherman's name which is always linked with the march through Georgia. His men were a harum-scarum lot. who cared little for the niceties of military dress and discipline. But they could march and fight and destroy, and this they did, through 200 miles of enemy territory. “Sherman's dashing Yankee boys," the song called them, and that was what they were. More than any other their ruthless campaign won the war for the Union. 

Peace and Problems
On April 9th, 1865. General Robert E. Lee, commander of the starving and ragged Confederate army, dressed himself in his best uniform and went out to surrender. Ulysees S. Grant cut a poor figure beside the resplendent Southerner, but there was no hint of spite in the surrender terms which he offered. Washington’s policy was to draw the Southland back into the Union and to rebuild it on a sound economic basis. On April 26th Johnston—in the West—gave up and through May and June the surrenders dribbled on. Jefferson Davis was himself captured at Irwinsvillc. Georgia, on May 10th. From May 22nd to 25th the Northern victory was celebrated in Washington with a mass review of the armies of Grant and Sherman. Abraham Lincoln was not there to take the salute; a month before he had been shot to death in Ford's theatre by the actor John Wilkes Booth, a vain and passionate man, and a fanatical rebel.

Now that the war had been won, what was to happen about slavery? Northern policy had not been consistent. Back in November, 1861, General Fremont had proclaimed his intention of confiscating the property of rebels and setting their slaves free. Lincoln’s government had been elected for its Unionist policy and was uncommitted to abolition of slavery: it found Fremont’s declaration embarrassing and removed him from his command. Two things changed the government’s mind. The early successes of the Confederates strengthened abolitionist sentiment in the North. And it became necessary to draw up a co-ordinated policy on emancipated slaves, for each Union commander was dealing with them in his own way. Amid the chaotic conditions then existing in Washington, Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Emancipation. When the North won, this declaration gave the American Negro the hope of a life free from chattel slavery.

The emancipation measures broke down the plantation system and many Negroes took advantage of this and went to the Northern cities to look for work. The cities were partly unwilling and, anyway, unable to accept these immigrants, and thousands of them died of hunger and cold. Eventually, New York and Chicago eased the problem with their “black reconstruction” schemes. When power was handed back to the Southern States the whites soon look control again and the right of Negroes to vote vanished beneath a blanket of trickery. Prohibitive poll taxes, tests which could prove the most learned Negro to be illiterate and open violence were often used to prevent the black man from voting. We have all heard of the Ku-Klux-Klan, who are said to put three questions to their applicants for membership: “Do you hate Niggers? Do you hate Jews? Have you got three dollars? ” These were —and are—typical of the Southland, still largely carrying on its old agricultural economy with the Negroes and the poor whites barely scratching a living from the earth. The bloodshed and the tearfulness of the civil war was over, but the loud-voiced, colourful, racial-phobia politicians still lorded it over the land of the magnolia.

But the American Civil War did not leave things all unchanged, for it was the first modern war the world has seen and it introduced several things which we have since become familiar with. Grant's strategy of incessant pressure on his enemy was a tactic repeated in World War 1, in the slaughter at Passchendaele and Verdun and at Stalingrad in 1943. There was an official policy of conscription to counteract the large scale desertions from both sides, and an intensive propaganda campaign to sweeten the battering which the civilian population took through the Union blockade, the burning of Atlanta, the looting of the Shenandoah valley, and so on. London and Coventry and other English cities got similar treatment in the last war. And there was the lesson that a modern war is a social tragedy, not to be won by brilliant generals alone. The best commanders fought for the South, but the North had the industrial power and developed the necessary social organisation.

What of the present, and the future? American industry is expanding into Dixieland and needs the Negro to work in the factories alongside white people. It also requires that Negroes school themselves in the technicalities of modern industry. This expansion of productive and social knowledge is the force—more powerful than any war—which will, to use an overworked word, integrate the black and white American. Knowledge will destroy the Crufts of the human race and their theories of inborn superiority. Society's needs and progress will win. They always have.
Jack Law


The Economics of Health (1959)

From the February 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

1. A Survey of the Problem

It has long been known that economic factors have an immense amount to do with health, although opinions vary on "why" and "how" health is so influenced. Frederick Engels, in his Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 wrote: "Society in England daily and hourly commits social murder; it has placed the workers under conditions in which they neither retain health nor live long; it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to their grave before their time.” If conditions in this country have changed somewhat since 1844, in many parts of the world these things still apply. It has been stated by Lord Boyd Orr that two-thirds of the world’s population are still living below the standards of normal nutrition—in other words, they are suffering from malnutrition, and are destined to die of malnutrition if they don’t first succumb from some other condition.

In 1938 Dr. Scott Williamson and Dr. Innes Pearce, of the Peckham Health Centre, examined 1,530 men, women and children, and in only 9 per cent. did they find nothing wrong. Eight per cent. were diseased and were under treatment. Eighty-three per cent. had something wrong and were doing nothing about it—and this was only twenty years ago and in a large town where every help should be obtainable. It constitutes a great indictment that something appalling is wrong, and whatever it be that is wrong, it has a causative factor behind it.

In a Board of Education Survey (1927) of an unselected group of 1,638 London Elementary School children aged 5 (i.e., at the age when they first come under the eye of the School Medical Officer) 83 per cent. showed one or more signs of bony rickets; 66 per cent. showed two or more signs of bony rickets; 83 per cent. showed some abnormality of nose and throat; 67 per cent. had some degree of adenoids; 94 per cent. had decayed teeth ; 88 per cent. had a certain degree of bad development of the teeth. A great proportion of such defects are attributable to inadequate food.

This report did not suggest in what way the food was inadequate, for it might well have been inadequate in quality, i.e., deficient in nutritional value, or insufficient in quantity, or both.

It can be observed quite easily that there is a considerable difference in the distribution of illnesses between the rich and the poor. Dr. Spence (Medical Officer of Health for Newcastle-on-Tyne), in his annual Report for 1933, declared, “Since the high incidence of apparent malnutrition is not found in the children of the better class families, it is due to preventable causes. Ill-health, therefore, is not only very widespread, it is unevenly distributed, the poor being much more prone to illness than the rich.” The late Dr. Drysdale, Physician to the Metropolitan Free Hospital, London, many years ago said that, “while 8 per cent. of the infants of the rich died, the death rate among the very poor was often 40 per cent.” According to this, full health is an idle dream so long as poverty persists. Quotations of this kind are unfortunately conspicuously lacking as the authorities have the knack of recording very few of them, and don’t seem to encourage research along these lines. They have the idea (or seem to) that it is not too healthy (politically) to paint the picture too black against their own administration. Yet, Sir George Newman more than once declared, “Health is a purchasable commodity.”

When Sir George Newman was Chief Medical Officer to the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education, he stated in 1920 that not less than a million children of school age were so physically or mentally retarded, defective or diseased as to be unable to derive benefit from the State Education provided.

Public Opinion in Preventative Medicine
An article appeared in the Lancet (organ of the British Medical Profession), for 5th December, 1942, and in commenting on the Beveridge Report—the forerunner of the National Health Service—declared : “The greatest single cause of ill-health and sub-optimal health, mental and physical, is not a virus or a bacterium, but poverty. So it is the doctor’s duty to fight poverty with even greater vigour than He fights the diphtheria bacillus.”

If we look at the maternal mortality figures for different districts of London we notice that the maternal mortality for Bermondsey and Paddington (industrial districts), is four times as high as Westminster, and six times as high as Kensington, and twice as high as the average for Greater London. Letchworth, a relatively prosperous garden city with 10,000 insured workers in 1938 out of a total of 17,000. had no maternal deaths in the five years prior to that date. 

Another very striking quotation: “During the period 1935 to 1937 more than 10,000 expectant mothers in the poorer districts of South Wales were given special food supplements during pregnancy. As a result the death rate in this group was only about a quarter as great as that in 18,000 who received no food supplements.” There are a host of similar figures to prove this.

An interesting experiment has been tried which shows beyond any shadow of doubt the tremendous influence of economic factors on health. In the Papworth Village Settlement for sufferers from tuberculosis, the children living with their tuberculous parents do not develop the disease in spite of this close contact. Sir Pendril Varries Jones, the founder of the Settlement, gives the following reasons for this immunity, reasons which are, in themselves, a striking comment on our society; 1. Adequate food supply. 2. Adequate and prolonged parental income. 3. Freedom from anxiety. 4. No risk of unemployment after breakdown. 5. Proper housing. 6. Public opinion which makes it possible to observe the necessary hygienic conditions without being laughed at. He sums up with the remark, “Economic conditions determine the spread or otherwise of the disease.”
Horace Jarvis

" . . . the common desire for a scapegoat." (1959)

Quote from the April 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
   “It is sometimes thought that dislike of one human type for another is inevitable. This is certainly untrue, since children of different types brought up together show no special antagonisms. There is no doubt that race hatred exists only where it has been taught. The ease with which it can be taught is perhaps one of the most remarkable things about it . . . one important factor is the common desire for a scapegoat. If all types of workers combined in trade unions . . . the inferior position of the non-Europeans would no doubt rapidly improve, to the disadvantage of their employers. Thus in South Africa as in many other countries it is to the advantage of the ruling and employing group to maintain “racial” divisions, and to support them with lies about human biology.” 
From Anthony Bannett’s (member of W.H.O.). The Human Species.

The General Election (1959)

From the April 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

From a window in Stockwell, and doubtless many other places, can be seen two huge propaganda posters. One is from the Labour Party, the other from the Conservatives, side by side. With the election fever hotting up, old lies and newer lies (but mostly the same old lies) are poured out frantically in the quest for working-class votes. The one really major issue in the election, whenever it comes, will be, whether in the light of all their past experiences, workers will still be kidded into voting for the continuation of Capitalism.

For although this system robs the workers of the fruits of their labour, condemns many of them to live in barracks or slums, periodically murders millions of them in wars, while in peace time they live in fear of dole queues and the problems of hire-purchase and overtime, the ruling-class politicians know that if this system is to stay, workers must vote for it.

Counting 1945, there have been four General Elections since the war. At each one of these the excuses have been varied, but the problems have been the same.

If the Labour Government from 1945-51 had solved anything for the working-class they might still be in power. Instead, having accepted responsibility for running Capitalism, although they said in 1945 they were the high-wage party, they froze wages and broke strikes. They also launched the present arms build up and prepared the Atom-bomb. They stood for Nationalisation, but now that this policy of State Capitalism has disillusioned many workers and is no longer a vote-catcher they are having second thoughts. The Socialist Party of Great Britain have always pointed out that Nationalisation would change nothing for the workers but would guarantee an unearned income to bond-holders. Labourites are, however, gluttons for punishment and still think that Capitalism can be made to work in the interest of those it exploits.

So, with a black and inglorious past, their present poster reads: "Safeguard the Future with Labour.” Since the future envisaged by the Labour Party means that the present system will remain, the best safeguard for the working-class would be to understand their real position and bring about Socialism.

The seven years which have passed since the Conservatives took power have been the same as any other period under Capitalism. In 1951 they had a huge poster saying: "It’s Time for a Change at Westminster.” so the workers changed the office boys, but nothing else changed. Still war preparations (in the name of peace, of course) still attacks on wages, still strikes, and slums, pensions, prices and fear of dole-queues. Now they have a poster urging us—"Forward in Freedom with the Conservatives.” That word "Freedom” has a highly emotional ring about it and it might be appropriate to add that the workers will be making their usual mistake if they expect it from the Conservatives.

Freedom, whilst a privileged few own the means of living and the majority must hire themselves on the Labour market for wages in order to live, is a hollow mockery. Whilst the profit motive dominates every social relationship, and access to the things of life is determined by money and not by need, freedom will remain in its infancy. It is alright to say, as people so often do. that we are “more free here than they are in Russia,” etc., but the fact that our fellow workers in Russia have not yet obtained the very limited elbow-room workers have here only indicates that Capitalism is older and more experienced here than in Russia. It is no excuse for workers here to accept their shabby lot simply because elsewhere it may be worse.

So far as this election is concerned none of the reformist Parties—Labour. Conservative, or so-called Communist — has anything to offer worth a single working- class vote.

None of them challenge the existence of Capitalism. They all ask for voles on programmes based on continued Capitalism. Therefore since all the problems facing workers arise from Capitalism none of them has any answer. The S.P.G.B. alone challenges the present system. Our one object and sole programme is its removal and replacement by a Socialist system.

That we are not very strong in numbers is the fault of workers who, despite repeated disappointments, continue supporting Capitalist Parties. We are, however, contesting the election in the Bethnal Green constituency. We wish very much that more workers were Socialists so that we could contest more seats.

Meanwhile to make the best of present circumstances we must have funds. We get no large donations from trade unions or big business, but we are confident that as workers begin to realize the need for a real change our funds will grow in proportion to the growth of Socialist understanding.

Both the Labour and Conservative posters have pictures of children to underline the emotional level of their appeals. No understanding is necessary; just vote and they will do the rest. By coincidence, the two propaganda posters appear on the same display site as a notice of a "Clean Air Exhibition” but, unfortunately, the political smog put out by the two major Capitalist parties is not on the list for dispersal.

As the election draws near the promises will roll out faster and faster. As in the past, each Party will be trying to apply a thicker layer of sugar-coating than the other. The sad aftermath of every election is that workers find their diet of promises not very fattening.

It must be seriously understood also that Capitalism is international, so Capitalist parties which cannot solve so-called national problems internally, certainly have no solution for world problems brought about by the system they uphold.

All parties of Capitalism accept the national set-up, and when elected, form governments for the purpose of maintaining the interests of their national propertied class. It is this which bring the various nations into diplomatic and military conflict. When one ruling class feels that its possessions, such as markets, oil resources, trade routes or vested interests is threatened by some rival group, they call upon the propertyless workers to fight and die for them.

Capitalism sets workers at one another's throats both nationally and internationally. Only the S.P.G.B. and its companion Parties appeal to workers as a world-wide class with common interest. The common interest of all workers is to end Capitalism with its poverty, insecurity, war, crime, and exploitation. The world can be run on a basis of commonly-owned means of production without wages or profits. The workers can run the world as they do now, only they do it for the few who own. To run it for the benefit of everyone means that they must first understand Socialism. The promotion of this understanding is the only worthwhile issue of the coming election.
Harry Baldwin