Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Policies and Puppets. (1923)

From the February 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

A change in the personnel of the puppet group that moves in accordance with the string-pulling of the Imperialists who direct Government policy, may provide an excuse to introduce certain modifications in Government policy; modifications that have become necessary owing to new circumstances affecting the invests of this Imperialist section; but as such a change is not due to a fundamental alteration in social conditions, it has no important influence upon the general position of the working class, except in so far as better administration, from a capitalist standpoint, tightens the bonds of wage slavery and thereby worsens the workers’ position.

The recent statements of influential capitalist journals bear out this view in so far as it affects the change in governmental personnel from the Lloyd George group to the Bonar Law group.

The governmental change in itself provided a useful opportunity for shifting the responsibility for working class troubles from the capitalist system on to the latest scapegoat, the Lloyd George Coalition Government. The international exchange difficulties, the Eastern muddles, the reparation squabbles, labour troubles are all supposed to have been accentuated and made difficult of solution by the blundering of the late Government.

The fact that these international squabbles, muddles, and labour troubles “we always have with us,” in spite of numerous changes in Government and governmental policy, is conveniently ignored.

The “Observer,” a Sunday paper representing the big capitalists, trumpets the virtues of Bonar Law and the vices of Lloyd George. Of Bonar Law they write, in their editorial (7/1/23), after laying down certain alleged principles that should guide England and France on the question of German reparations:
  “Mr. Bonar Law has been guided by these principles. He has done well, and won the increased respect of all men at home and abroad by transparent sincerity, good sense, good temper, and the quiet moral grit which has brought this deepening muddle to a plain issue at last. No one could have done more.”
And what of Lloyd George? In the same editorial occurs the following:
  “The Entente was envenomed and almost destroyed by pretences of agreement.  . . . The direct and indirect consequences of the final fiasco of coalition policy in Eastern Europe and Asia Minor changed the whole diplomatic situation from one end of Europe to the other.”
Bonar Law’s policy has brought the “muddle’’ to a “plain issue”; Lloyd George’s policy resulted in a “fiasco.” What was the fundamental difference between the two policies? Lloyd George hung on to France as it suited certain interests to do so. Bonar Law broke with France as it no longer suited these interests to continue the alliance in its old form.

The group behind the English Government, having got all they could get by alliance with France, lately found themselves fettered by such alliance in Eastern matters and in their dealings with Germany.

In the first place, the early settlement of the German indemnity is not a matter that seriously affects the interests of the more important English capitalists. At the moment English trade with Germany is improving and would be adversely influenced by pressing for fulfilment of reparations. The following provides one illustration of this fact:
  “Last year we saw a sensational leap in the figures of our coal exports to Germany, which rose to 8,345,606 tons, being nearly equal to the total export in 1913, which was 8,952,328 tons. The rapid rise in our export of coal to Germany in the last three years will be seen from the following table:— 
1920        1921           1922
13,457 tons 817,877 tons 8,345,606 tons  
“Even last year’s figures are expected to be greatly exceeded in the near future, as Herr Stinnes and other German industrialists are stated to be in negotiation with British firms for the supply of large quantities.” (“Observer,” 14/1/23.)
The step taken by France has called forth certain rather significap^: comments. For example:
   “Our hands will be free with regard to all the peace treaties. We shall no longer be bound by any of them. We shall have to pursue a quite decisive policy of separate settlement, both with Russia and Turkey.” (“Observer,” 7/1/23)
   “We at least have recovered our freedom. We are no longer involved in a policy that has brought Europe to beggary. We can at last address ourselves to the task of re-establishing peace in the world. We have tried to carry out that task with France and have failed. We must look elsewhere, and especially westward for aid in an enterprise that cannot be discontinued if the white civilisation is to have a chance of surviving.” (A. G. G. in “Daily News,” 6/1/23.)
Here we see England’s freedom from the Peace Treaty obligations heralded with something akin to joy. But the Government did not wait for the break with France in order to “look westward,” as instance the negotiations that are going on between this country and America.

The replacement of Lloyd George by Bonar Law was the excuse for Britain’s alteration in policy in this as well as in other directions.

As can be gathered from the statement with reference to coal, quoted above, England is striving to obtain a favoured position with reference to Germany; France is also striving for the same object. Apart from the question of reparations, France bas another motive for invading the Ruhr Valley, as the following quotation points out:
  "The real hope of Paris is that Germany, when fairly laid on the rack, will soon scream for mercy after the first cry of defiance, and that under French supremacy, political and financial, there will be brought about a huge economic combination between France and Germany, but chiefly an alliance of French iron and steel with German coal, coke and shipping.” (“Observer,” 7/1/23.)
One of the lines along which English “freedom” will travel is being indicated by the attempt to come to some sort of alliance with America and freeze out France. America is righteously indignant at France’s action, and America wants to take a larger share in the Eastern negotiations (see the "Manchester Guardian Weekly,” 8/12/22, on the Crane-King Report on Palestine), in which so far she has only had a representative with a watching brief. The following remarks on the Anglo-American negotiations are instructive :
  “There are wider opportunities before the Washington negotiators. The funding of the British debt removes one of the inhibitions on American policy in Europe. Responsibility then rests more heavily on the two creditor countries for intervention of a constructive, even if limited, kind in Europe, where the course of affairs, without their help or influence, threatens their interests more and more gravely. Protest against the state of things which is developing will be useless unless accompanied by proposals for its remedy.”
  “England and the United States have a common interest and now a common occasion for action in this sense. It is hardly possible that the conversation at Washington will not broaden out informally into a full survey of the immediate future in Europe. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer is there. Mr. Harvey, fully informed as to European conditions, and fully alive to the dangers now in plain view, is there. The risk, now immediate in Europe, of a decisive plunge into chaos, supplies such an occasion for a departure in policy such as there has not been since America took up Germany's challenge and entered the war.” ("Observer,” 14/1/23.)
Here we see foreshadowed a temporary bloc with America to skim the cream in European and Eastern negotiations. The two nations together make the most powerful financial and political bloc in existence.

The whole matter at the bottom is nothing more than the manipulations of certain powerful groups of capitalists for control of the sources of raw material (with particular reference to oil) and the arteries of distribution.

The policy of England and America scores with the majority of people on account of its apparent peaceful tendency.

Internally the English Government are in a strong position on the indemnity question. On the surface the French have committed what is virtually an act of war by invading the Ruhr Valley. So the English piously throw up their hands and protest their desire to “keep the peace.” In this they have the support of “labour’s opposition party.” 

The National Joint Council of the Trades Union Congress General Council, the Executive Committee of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary Labour Party has played directly into the Government’s hands by its protest against the French Government’s policy, winding up by demanding that the British Government "shall refrain from all measures of support or co-operation with the French troops in their present action,” etc., etc. (“Observer,” 14/1/23). Was this manifesto inspired? How the Imperialist group must smile! Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Leader of the Parliamentary Labour group, was not behindhand in making a pronouncement on the situation. Speaking at Port Talbot on the 6/1/23, he said :
  “Lastly, in our policy regarding Reparations, we ought not to be ashamed to let the world know quite definitely that we must look after our own national interests, and not sacrifice them merely to keep up the balance of an alliance with France or any other country.” (“Observer,” 7/1/23.)
A very statesmanlike statement, no doubt, but what has it all to do with the working class? Who does "our” and “we,” etc., stand for in the above quotation? Evidently the British Imperialists, as the workers' interests are not national, but international, and at the moment are bound up with such questions as unemployment and labour conditions generally.

The plain and obvious facts of the case can be gleaned from the statements we have already quoted above.

The different nations alter their policies and their spokesmen to suit the interests of the particular capitalist sections that predominate. The section served by imperialist policies predominates at present in all capitalist nations. This section in England replaced Lloyd George by Bonar Law. The position, therefore, from the workers' standpoint, is the same all the world over. That position is that the struggle over trade routes and exploitable territory, with coalitions and breaks among capitalist nations, is a struggle that concerns the capitalists alone. These, struggles will continue to occupy the historical stage until capitalist rule is replaced by Socialist administration. This will come into being when the workers conquer political power and administer the affairs of society in the equal interest of all the members of society.

Is Lack of Wealth the Trouble? (1923)

From the February 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

In this land to-day the vast mass of the population suffer from poverty and the evils that flow from poverty. Overwork, underfeeding, in some cases, endless toil in unhealthy surroundings, in others, the hopeless search for toil. This is the position facing the average worker to-day. Why is the mass of the population doomed to follow this miserable and toilsome path?

Is it because there is a lack of wealth? A few hundred years ago the needs of the population were met by a very primitive method of production. Hand labour with poor tools that could only be operated by one person was the rule. In cottages and villages fabric was spun and woven for clothing; the artisans in small rooms hammered out and shaped the metal for the simple tools, ornaments, and such-like; the cottager tilled his little strip of land to provide food for many; the sailing vessel went on lengthy and perilous voyages to distant lands; the townsman plied his little trade in silks and perfumes from the East. Everything was simple and on a small scale, and yet at that time there wasn’t a landless man in the kingdom. And they didn’t work particularly hard in those days either —over a third of the year was occupied in holidays and feastings.

How different are things to-day! The application to industry of the discoveries of myriads of fertile minds has completely changed the face of affairs. No longer is the hand tool the means of producing wealth; no longer does the sailing vessel lord it over the ocean. If one wishes to see the relics of the older method of wealth production one must visit the museums, where they are kept as objects of curiosity and amusement, and material for the writers, of history. These things have past away, and with them has passed the comparative comfort that existed alongside the spinning' wheel.

The discoveries of new lands and new sea routes; the development of manufacture; the application of steam to industry; the ocean-going liner; and the telegraph—have made possible the prodigious production of wealth as we see around us to-day. How can it be said that there is insufficient wealth when on every side there is evidence of abundance. Machinery has made possible a production of wealth per man many times that which an individual could produce a few hundred years ago. That there is an abundance of wealth can be easily verified. The reports in the papers of the rich man’s feasts; the dinners with choice and rare dishes; the balls attended by people in wonderful and costly dresses; the monkey’s parade at Ascot, and similar places; the stationary and floating palaces; the company reports in the daily papers all bear witness to an abundance of wealth. Whenever companies increase their capitals by fresh issues of shares, these shares are not only fully subscribed in a few days, but they are vastly over-subscribed. There is literally money to burn among a certain section of the community. A glance at the position of the oil companies will show that their expansion has been enormous in the last few years. Their capitals have leaped up from a few thousands to thousands of millions. Standard Oil paid a dividend of over three hundred per cent. recently, in spite of watered capital. The cry of shortage of wealth is obviously nothing more than a figment of the imagination, or a false scent to lead astray the unwary.

How is it that with simple tools and little organisation they could provide for the whole of the population in days gone by, whereas to-day, with complex tools and a mighty organisation, poverty is the lot of the mass of the population?

Investigators, who have lived among savage and barbarian tribes, have stated that starvation was unknown in such little communities, except in the cases of famine or some similar exceptional cause. Yet today, though the shops are overloaded with the things they need and the rich man’s table is groaning under the weight of good things, thousands of men, able and anxious to work, are tramping the streets, starving, in search of the wherewithal to live. Poverty exists to-day in the midst of an abundance unparalled in history. Why?

The food and other necessaries of life, of which we see such a lavish display in the shops, are not there to be distributed to those who require them: They are exhibited for sale to those who can buy them. All goods displayed in the shops to-day are produced for sale in order that profit shall be made, and unless they who need have the wherewithal to buy they may go hungry, though the goods are going rotten for want of a consumer. This is due to the fact that the wealth produced to-day is privately owned.

£1000 Fund (1923)

Party News from the February 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Our hopes . . ." (1923)

From the February 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard
   "Our hopes for the evolution of man, and our most indispensable guide, are bound up with all that we can learn of man's past and all that we can measure of his present."
Havelock EllisThe New Spirit.

Attila (2012)

Attila the Stockbroker
Music Review from the August 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Attila the Stockbroker is currently on tour in Britain, with Rory Ellis.

Rory Ellis is a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Melbourne in the urban folk tradition who sings about street life, referencing the notorious nightclub ‘Bojangles’ and criminal “Chopper” Read. Rory’s ‘Skeleton Hill’ is about the gold field heritage site in Victoria in danger of becoming a quarry. His ‘Waiting for Armaguard’ is a witty and touching song about working-class longing for some material wealth. Rory shows the audience that his fingernails are painted in the black/red/gold colours of the Aboriginal flag.

Attila has said that seeing The Clash at the Rainbow in 1977 politically inspired him. He sings his eulogy for Strummer entitled ‘Commandante Joe’ during the gig. He, like others on the Left and anarchists like Class War have a tendency to personalise the iniquities of capitalism in the person of Mrs Thatcher. His song ‘Maggots 1, Maggie 0’ is a good example of this.

Attila is steeped in labour history, referencing Peterloo, the Chartists, and Tolpuddle.  His song ‘An honour not a stain’ is about transportation to Botany Bay. In 2005 he appeared at the Levellers Day in Burford. He sings ‘The world upside down’ about the Levellers/Diggers of the 1649 English Revolution. A more contemporary song is ‘Looters’ about the financial capitalists of the City.

Attila has expressed his support for the ‘socialist’ government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) who ran Afghanistan with USSR support from 1978-92 and this is recounted in his song ‘Mohammed the Kabul red’. He has no love for New Labour singing “ New Labour, fuck off and die” and has called it a “travesty of a socialist party”. He described the 2003 Iraq War as a “hideous imperialist crusade”. During this tour Attila is writing a column for the Morning Star, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain (former CPGB). The Morning Star describes Attila as “a non-aligned Communist and a good friend of the Morning Star”. He describes himself as a “freelance leftie”, and others have called him “an anti-fascist social surrealist rebel performance poet”.

Attila’s website carries a photograph of himself and his band mates in front of the Karl Marx monument in Karl Marx Stadt in the former DDR. He has written that “it is up to us, the people, to determine the future and to take power away from the bastards who would destroy our hopes, our communities, our world”. It’s a shame he gives his support to reformist policies and state capitalism.
Steve Clayton

Cooking the Books: In or Out, Who Cares? (2012)

The Cooking the Books column from the August 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Because prices are lower – and because there’s no music – many people drink at Wetherspoon pubs. But there is a price to pay: having to put up with the company’s founder and chairman, Tim Martin, trying to force his views down your throat.

He’s a common-or-garden Eurosceptic who’s against the euro and wants to save the pound, a view you don’t have to go to a Wetherspoon pub to hear. Naturally, he’s delighted with the euro’s current difficulties. “The euro project has failed,” he rejoices in the June-July issue of Wetherspoon News, asking, “So, why do its advocates with no nous or economic judgement still wield enormous influence over Britain?”

His answer is that it’s because they (“Howe, Heseltine, Blair, Clarke, Mandelson and so on”) all went to Oxbridge and are “swots who don’t like the idea of the great unwashed having an equal vote”. That’s a silly argument as there are plenty of Oxbridge swots who are against the euro.

Still, why are so many members of the establishment in favour of the EU? It’s a question of the economic interest of the dominant section of the capitalist class in Britain. As the British capitalist economy is heavily dependent on exports, they want tariff-free access to the vast, single European market that has been created and where half of Britain’s exports go.

A single currency is a logical accompaniment of a single market. What the euro amounts to is a decision by the participating states to permanently fix the exchange rate between their currencies and to change the name of their currency to “euro”. This reinforces the level playing field by preventing one state gaining a competitive advantage by making their exports cheaper through a depreciation of their currency.

One reason why those in charge of British capitalism decided to stay out of the euro was to retain this option. But they don’t want the other EU members to have it. Cameron and Osborne may seem hypocrites in not wanting the eurozone to break up but they know that, if it did, the other major EU states would be free to boost their exports by depreciating their currencies.

From their perspective, tub-thumping populists like Tim Martin, UKIP and the Tory eurosceptics are being short-sighted, and even detrimental to the dominant capitalist interest, in wanting the euro to fail and, certainly, in wanting Britain to withdraw from the EU. But then Tim Martin, as a capitalist catering to the home consumer market, is not a member of the dominant section.

They know that, if Britain did withdraw, while it might still have access to the single European market it would only be on the terms that Norway now has of having no say in drawing up its rules and regulations. Better, they reckon, to stay in and use the veto to defend any economic interest considered vital (as all the other big EU members do).

But they’ve got a political problem. They have to balance the general interest of the dominant section of the capitalist class against the popular xenophobia against Europe (just try discussing the issue in any pub). It is because there is a chance that they could lose a straight in-or-out referendum that they are against giving “the great unwashed” this choice, not because they are stuck-up swots from Oxbridge. Any referendum they offer will be on some loaded question designed to elicit a “yes” result.

But who wants a referendum anyway? Not us. British capitalism’s relationship to the capitalist EU is a purely capitalist problem of no concern to workers.

Brief Reports (2012)

The Brief Reports Column from the August 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

After their success at finding the Higgs boson, scientists at CERN are planning to fire politicians at each other in the giant collider to see if any truth falls out. Said one physicist: ‘Politicians observe many of the laws of quantum mechanics, including uncertainty, entanglement and occupying multiple positions simultaneously. Their known properties however explain very little of what goes on in the real world. Up to 96 percent of their physical reality occupies a domain known as ‘Doesn’t Matter’. We think they may be WIMPs. We also hope to investigate whether they have invisible superheavy partners called the Soron, the Warron and the Bilderbergon.’A sigma-5 level discovery is currently considered unlikely, CERN says: ‘Politicians decay very rapidly into other forms, such as chairmen or business consultants, and data is often corrupted. There is a high statistical probability of false positives. Given enough collisions, some of them will tell the truth by accident without even realising it.’


British plant scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have won a $10m Gates Foundation grant to develop GM cereal crops for third world farmers with little access to fertilisers. “We’re delighted to get this grant,”said the head of the research team, “it’s true that the seed crops only cost around half a million to develop, but we need nine and a half million for security to keep the anti-GM protestors out.”


David Cameron has said in a speech on rail investment that he is as committed to the coalition government as he ever was: “This government is not going off the rails. It’s as safe as houses… er, and you can bank on it.”


One in eight soldiers has attacked someone after coming home from a combat deployment, according to an MoD-funded study of 13,000 personnel. ‘This is appalling’, the Defence Secretary said yesterday, ‘no wonder we can’t beat the bloody Afghans. I’m ordering an investigation into why 7 out of 8 of our troops are such Nancies.’


The UK economy should enjoy an “Indian summer” after a poor first half of the year, says a leading forecaster. Speculation continues over the decision to hand over the task of financial projections to the Met Office, where an insider reported that ‘we always get the blame anyway, so it makes sense for those bastards at the Treasury to stab us in the back too.’House prices were washed away in the Midlands last week as the FTSE fell nine inches in a single trading day. A cold front over the Euro is blamed for the worst summer on record.

Greasy Pole: Jeremy Spanks the Baby (2012)

The Greasy Pole column from the August 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every so often the political firmament witnesses the emergence of a Rising Star, suitably welcomed by the party leaders as evidence of their resolve to bring fresh minds with new ideas to their tortured deliberations. For the Rising Star as well, it can be exciting, with hardened journalists pursuing them for their behind-the-doors revelations on the latest Cabinet scandal, the anguish of rivals left beneath them as they ascend the Greasy Pole and, as climax to all this, assumptions about record sales for an audaciously revealing volume of memoirs. And of course there would be the quivering excitement from the terror of television appearances fending off a notoriously ruthless interviewer while defending government policies in some current emergency.

Conservative MP for North Norwich, Chloe Smith, came into the Commons in July 2009 as a Rising Star and, aged 27, the Baby of the House. She took the seat previously held by Labour’s Ian Gibson, who resigned over irregularities exposed in his expense claims. Fresh-faced as a member of the school hockey team, flashing a wide, ready smile, Smith may have been a relief to the Norwich voters after the tawdry scandal of the fiddling by those outworn parliamentary manipulators. She held the seat at the 2010 election and, after a spell as a Conservative whip, was abruptly elevated to Economic Secretary to the Treasury – in fact benefiting from another scandal, that of Tory Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, who had to resign over his relationship to his ‘adviser’ Adam Werrity. Among the resentful mutterings of disappointed rivals (“inexperienced but super loyal” was one grouse) there were suggestions that perhaps Smith’s promotion was intended to pacify women voters after the cuts in Child Benefit rather than through any merits of hers. In fact, at the time the Prime Minister, Cameron, was under the impression that she was a Chartered Accountant – which seemed to be a recommendation to him on the theory that anyone qualified in that way was sure to be able to control and direct capitalism into an ordered, beneficial society – something his government was clearly unable to do. In any case, when Smith owned up to him that she was not an accountant he dismissed this as irrelevant, and with the words, “never mind!” he welcomed her into his Cabinet.

U Turn
Safely on the Front Bench, Smith had a name – the Ice Maiden – which she earned for her coolness under the kind of pressures which ministers are expected to meet pretty well daily. This was pretty seductive stuff and it may have persuaded her to put herself forward for an assignment which many of her colleagues would have gone to some lengths to avoid. This came when the government announced that it would postpone a rise in fuel tax the day after insisting that it would impose it. The move was hailed as yet another policy U-turn, symptoms of a government that was disastrously muddled in its efforts to manage the economy. Smith volunteered to appear on Newsnight in the hope of representing the U-turn as good news for everyone, although she knew this would expose her to being grilled by the merciless Jeremy Paxman, whose victims include the likes of Michael Howard, William Hague and Tony Blair. Smith seemed quite unable to have memorised the kind of transparent evasions which are commonly used by politicians when they are in such straits. Not at all the super-cool informed minister, she fumbled her way through, allowing Paxman to ask at one point: “Is this some sort of joke?” and at another: “You ever think you are incompetent?” Which in one sense helped Smith as it diverted some of the Tories’ anger onto Smith’s boss George Osborne who was taking a relaxed dinner at Number Eleven while she faced Paxman at his most rampant.

Such are the perils of a minister’s job it is often necessary for them to be ‘briefed’ before explaining away some embarrassing facts. A master practitioner of this art was Damian McBride, one of Gordon Brown’s most aggressive spin doctors, who recalls a session to prepare the new Prime Minister by shouting abuse at him in a private room at the Treasury: “Blood on your hands…!”; “You’re a murderer…!”; and, in summary: “Sod off you Scottish git!”. This degrading but typical episode is illustrative only of the brutal cynicism of capitalism and the demands of its politics. In any case, would it have helped Smith if she had been subjected to the same preparation? We might all have our own ideas about the style of the abuse she deserved, except that that would be no less futile than McBride’s sessions with Brown. And then there is the fact that Smith has presented herself as one Baby who could be pretty tough. At university her interests were not politics but “drinking and dancing with the best of them”. She expels any tensions playing badminton, swearing or “turning the air blue” as one opponent put it. She tells us that as a minister “I focus very hard on the job in hand,” which in her case includes child poverty, the size of which is testified by many published facts and figures. The Department for Communities and Local Government recently stated that there are still more than two million children living in what is officially termed as poverty, with a 14% rise to over 50 thousand in households officially accepted as homeless – the highest since 1998. There is no sign that this situation is about to get any less desperate but Smith is not impressed: there is, she says trendily, “no Plan B, certainly not” because “we know Plan A is working.”

Paxman’s job gives him an opportunity at times to rile us with his exposure of the deceptions and diversions of capitalism’s political leaders. Smith’s job is to lie her way through the system’s implacable misery and waste, even if at the cost of her humiliation. Neither of them is interested in a proper response to this – a valid, ready method of so changing society as to leave the politicians and preening media stars to a disreputable past.

Editorial: The Spanish Miners’ Struggle (2012)

Editorial from the August 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

On 11 July several hundred Spanish coalminers, who had walked 284 miles for three weeks from Asturias to Madrid, were joined by 25,000 supporters. Clashes with the riot police took place near the Ministry of Industry. Coalminers carried banners saying “Miner’s Struggle = Worker’s Struggle”. Supporters threw firecrackers, stones, bottles, and cans at the police who were firing rubber bullets. Ten protesters were hit by rubber bullets, several arrests were made and there was a total of 76 injuries.

The working class in Spain is bearing the brunt of the austerity measures there –regulations that make it easier to sack workers, cuts to education and the national healthcare service, and 24 percent unemployment. The coalminers have had cuts in funding to learn new professions. The protests in Madrid happened on the same day that Prime Minister Rajoy announced a €65 billion austerity plan that will further assault the living standards of the working class as the country heads for a double-dip recession.

The main issue for the coalminers is the 63 percent cut in subsidies to coal mining industry that will destroy the industry. Twenty years ago there were 40,000 coalminers in Spain and Asturias was one of the country’s most prosperous regions. Today there are 9,000 coalminers left in the dwindling industry, but a total of 50,000 jobs in the coal mining communities would be affected by the closure of the coal mines.

One coal miner was reported as saying: “This is not the first time miners have fought for all workers”. The coalminers three-week march through the hot, dusty La Mancha region of central Spain elicited much support and solidarity from people who gave them food, water and shelter, the Spanish Red Cross was on hand to attend to any injuries and sore feet, and like athletes on a marathon they had regular food and water stations. This all demonstrated that the working class can work in co-operation in pursuit of a common interest.

Socialists recognise that the strike is a weapon of the working class in their struggle with the capitalist class. Socialists stand with the working class in their necessary battles with capital but it is important to continually point out that the real objective to aim for is the abolition of the wages system; the replacement of capitalism with socialism. The battles of the Asturian coalminers to save their jobs and communities are secondary to the ultimate goal which should be the whole world for all the workers.

Marx wrote that class struggles like that in places like Asturias were like “unavoidable guerrilla fights that incessantly spring up from the never-ceasing encroachments of capital or changes of the market”. Working class struggles with the capitalist class are one fertile ground for the development of socialist consciousness and workers coming together in a Marxist socialist party to take political power. If the working class use elections intelligently they can win power by sheer force of numbers. The main lessons of syndicalism and general strikes such as 1926 in Britain and 1968 in France is their ultimate failure because state power remained with the minority capitalist class.

We urge, as Marx would have, the Asturian coalminers should “inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword ‘Abolicion del sistema de salarios’”

Socialism means Equality (1975)

From the February 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

The idea of equality was once taken for granted in even the most muddled talk about Socialism. Because that was the case, attacks on Socialism — or whatever passed for it — were largely concerned with attacking equalitarianism. Jerome K. Jerome wrote a childish essay envisaging people being stretched or shortened to make them all the same size; and Baden-Powell counselled young men not to be “unsportsmanlike” over “a fellow who has had the luck to have more money than you have”. A 1950 Tory pamphlet called Equal Shares contrasted Labour MPs’ statements on equality with their shareholdings and private wealth.

That these lines of argument are not now heard is not due simply to their crassness. The commonest cry was Jerome’s, that equality would mean uniformity and reduce us all to one dull wretched level, and it has become plain to everyone that capitalism achieves that effect par excellence. But, principally, the Labour and Communist parties have dropped talking about equality as an aim. The word appears occasionally in catchphrases with limited meaning such as “equal opportunity” and “equal sacrifice”; but the idea of general social equality (however confusedly misunderstood) is no longer put forward.

To take this further, in the past the parties which claimed to stand for radical change wanted to be judged by the yardstick of equality. Departures from it were seen as failures or betrayals. Thus, when the members of the first Labour Government in 1923 dressed up and behaved like flunkeys to royalty, and MacDonald’s appetite for kissing upper-class bottoms became obvious, there was widespread talk of their having “sold out”. Does the thought occur to Labour supporters today at the sight of their fat, well-dressed leaders hobnobbing in luxury? Apparently not. Likewise in Russia, in the early days, Lenin publicly regretted finding it necessary to pay high wages to specialists: “to pay unequal salaries is really a step backward; we will not cheat the people by pretending otherwise.” (Address on “Soviets at Work”, 1918.) Sixteen years later Stalin wrote off this view:
  These people evidently think that Socialism calls for equality, for levelling the requirements and the personal lives of the members of society. Needless to say, such an assumption has nothing in common with Marxism, with Leninism.
(Address to 17th Congress of the CPSU, 1934.)
According to Needs
Thus, the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties stand alone in advocating a society of equality; and it is as likely to be disparaged or attacked by a Labourite as anyone else today. What must first be made clear is the meaning of equality. It is not equal incomes, which is as absurd economically as a project for equal sizes would be biologically; or equal “rights”, which means the distribution of permit-packages by the ruling class.

Equality can be founded only at the point from which inequality at present derives: ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth. Capitalism is based on the class ownership of those means, so creating two fundamental relationships — owning and not owning them. This is the inequality which causes all the apparent inequalities. People are rich or poor, inferior or privileged, top- or under dogs because of it and no other reason. Contrary to that social arrangement, if the means of production and distribution are owned in common, all people stand in the same relationship to them — and to one another.

Common ownership, the basis of Socialism, is equality. The condition which will exist under it is the one summarized by Marx: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” That means everything it implies. Every member of society has unrestricted free access to the wealth society produces; his contribution is the one which he or she can make. Nor is this a question of applying a principle. It is what arises from common ownership, just as inequality and restriction arise from class ownership.

Abilities Restricted Today
The usual immediate objection to this used to be that people would not put forth their abilities unless inequality existed, i.e. for special rewards in status and getting more than others. The argument has become a weak one because, manifestly, people do. It can be added, first, that persons with exceptional abilities do not need inducements but simply want to exercise their powers as much as possible; and second, that in the history of man’s efforts to solve practical problems, most of it has been done by people getting on with their work unostentatiously.

Socialists are often supposed to hold the view that differences between people do not exist. We would not wear anything so dotty. On the simple physical level, a tall person and a right-handed one can do what the short and the left-handed cannot; and it is also true that the advantages can be reversed under appropriate circumstances. The healthy person obviously has abilities which are denied to the unhealthy.

But what matter are not the differences, but their implications in a given organization of society. Skin colour is unchangeable. It should not mean anything, but for historical and economic reasons black people are at serious disadvantages in “white” societies. It is quite possible to imagine the situation turned about, with exactly the same consequences. White people in a society traditionally ruled by black ones would no doubt be the objects not only of fear and distaste, but of a pseudoscientific mythology concerning their emotional and intellectual make-up; and might darken their skins and have their hair treated to try to gain social acceptance.

What is certain is that under capitalism all differences are distorted and all abilities subjected by the class division. Rousseau’s “Man is born free but everywhere is in chains” is as untrue in that situation as the American Constitution’s “all men are created equal”. The contention that Socialism would not work because of the expectations of people with particular abilities is derived from looking at a minority under capitalism. The fact is that the great majority would be glad of a chance to develop and use abilities for their own and others’ satisfaction.

Is It Brains ?
There is a present-day form of argument against equality that should be noticed. It asserts not that Socialism could not work but that it could not be established at all because men are unequal: for the majority to understand the Socialist case requires an intellectual standard of which only a minority are capable.

The same might be argued about a large number of everyday functions. Dr. Johnson, Plato and Henry VIII would all have been incapable of driving a motor-car — not simply because of the mechanical requirements, but in comprehension of the fluid relationships between vehicles moving at a mile a minute. The Army recruitment advertisements — “Join the Professionals” — promise young men who may not have done well in intelligence tests that they will learn technical and organizational abilities. Even the adage that “the fool of the family” (a well-to-do one) became a clergyman was not undermined by the fact that he had to study, master rituals, and become some sort of public speaker.

Intelligence is a social concept. Obviously, intelligence tests do measure something; but it is impossible to abstract them from the conditioning and conventions of society. What they measure is related to the requirements of the education system and industrial and commercial efficiency. Dr. Spearman, the father of intelligence testing, wrote:
  Every normal man, woman and child, is a genius at something, as well as an idiot at something. It remains to discover what — at any rate in respect of the genius.
(The Abilities of Man
In short, it is a matter of selection for a society which presumes inequality. Suppose that this had been put the other way round: discovery of the fields in which “clever” people are idiots. What would be made of intelligence then? I.Q. testing is often disparaged through the example of the “dull” boy who later excels. What is much more frequent (because capitalism pushes its “dull” in the waste-bin and tries to hold the lid down) is the opposite example, the “brilliant” person who is thoroughly ignorant and incompetent outside his specialist line. And the comparison must be made between Dr. Spearman’s idea that genius and idiocy are measured by prowess “at something” and the idea, which prevailed before capitalism’s division of labour had taken hold, of a “whole man” who was accomplished at several different things.

If differences in the facility to perceive and relate things exist, they are quite immaterial to understanding the establishment and running of Socialism. The answer to the argument is provided ultimately by Socialists themselves, who come from the common or garden of the working class, participate equally in the varied work of running their organization, and would laugh at the suggestion of superior brains or expertise. The society we work for will be brought about by equals, and the common purpose is
that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.
Robert Barltrop

50 Years Ago: The Inefficiency of Capitalism (1975)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

Is it efficient to have millions of workers seeking employment while the machinery of production is standing idle? Is it efficient to put checks on Nature because she yields too generously of her bounty? And yet this is what happens in the production of rubber, tea, jute etc. Is it efficient to have trawlers dumping cargoes of fish into the sea in order to keep prices up? Is it efficient to fatten and pamper a useless few while half the people are on the verge of starvation? Is it efficient to be doing jobs which are not necessary for the ordering and use of society? Yet nearly the whole of the clerical profession are thus occupied. What need of insurance clerks in a world where risks are borne by society instead of by a special section with a view to making a profit. Solicitors’ clerks, what need of them except to haggle over private property? Abolish money economy, and what a reserve of labour is made available from the ranks of the bank staffs. Whichever way you look at it, this system is rotten, inefficient and destructive of the best potentialities in man. Social progress demands its overthrow, a task which only the working class can perform.

(From an article “Socialism and the So-called ‘Middle Class’ ” by A.L.T., Socialist Standard, February 1925.)

Who is Mao Tse-Tung? (1975)

From the February 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is the purpose of this article to show what Mao really stands for by examining The Thoughts of Chairman Mao (“The Little Red Book”). This Chinese Bible contains extracts from Mao’s voluminous writings. There are quotes from his early works written when as a guerrilla leader, Mao (and his Red Army) were such a thorn in the side of the Chiang-Kai-Shek regime, right through to the 1960’s. Now Mao’s ideas are so influential in China that they actually do serve as the equivalent of religious dogma. Perhaps when Mao does die, he will be made the first communist saint. His position after the cultural revolution was so secure that he was able to bump off his supposed successor Lin Piao (not to mention poor old Confucius). When the veneer of rhetoric is stripped away what has Mao done and said?

The first point to make is that Mao Tse-Tung has led a backward economy along the harsh road of advanced capitalism. He has also led the Chinese development into a military power to be reckoned with. We are not saying that there is not less famine now than before 1949, or that Mao’s regime is more (or less) oppressive than the previous one, or that technical advances have not been made. But at what cost in terms of human suffering. As Marx graphically put in Volume 1 of Capital:
  “Capital is dead labour that vampire-like only lives by sucking living labour and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.” (p.233, Lawrence and Wishart edition.) 
It is not that the Chinese hero necessarily wants to be inhumane, destructive and oppressive to the Chinese people — it is that the development of capitalism inevitably results in poverty, shortages and deprivation for the majority. If Mao pursues the development of capitalism, he must also pursue the miseries inextricably associated with that development.

Mao’s own words show that he is in favour of keeping the Chinese workers in poverty. In 1958 (nine years after the revolution!) he wrote:
  Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China’s 600 million people is that they are “poor and blank”. This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing (p. 36 — our emphasis). 
It must be such a comfort for the poverty-stricken Chinese to know their leader thinks it is good for them to be poor. Mao does not make it clear that he thinks it is good for the leaders to be poor!

So far as one can tell the Little Red Book is compulsory learning in China. Indeed the introduction in the edition still being circulated over here (ironically by the disgraced Lin Piao) makes it clear that the workers should commit the book to memory in order that Mao’s guidance can help them in their daily problems. The book proves beyond doubt our contention that nothing but capitalism is being developed in China:
  The spontaneous forces of capitalism have been steadily growing in the countryside in recent years, with new rich peasants springing up everywhere and many well-to-do middle peasants striving to become rich peasants. On the other hand, many poor peasants are still living in poverty, (p.33—a passage written in 1955)
Mind you, even on basis of trying to develop capitalism, Mao’s book is full of meaningless twaddle. What sort of guidance do you think the production teams on the Chinese factory floor get from the following:
  “Grasp firmly.” That is to say, the Party committee must not merely “grasp”, but must “grasp firmly”, its main task. One can get a grip on something only when it is grasped firmly, without the slightest slackening. Not to grasp firmly is not to grasp at all. Naturally, one cannot get a grip on something with an open hand. When the hand is clenched as if grasping something but is not clenched tightly, there is still no grip . . . It will not do to have no grasp at all, nor will it do if the grasp is not firm, (p.111)
Secondly, Mao has been largely responsible for the giant confidence trick that has been so successfully played on the Chinese workers. By using phrases referring to common ownership, “Marxism”, and that contradiction “Marxism-Leninism”, he has duped large sections of the working class, both in and out of China, into thinking that Socialism is being established there. The merest glance at the Little Red Book will suffice to show how far Mao is from an understanding of either Marx or Socialism.

For example, Mao thinks that capitalism in Russia has been overthrown. He says that in Russia capitalism is a “museum piece”, (p.23) One can only wonder how this “Marxist” reconciles the existence of a wages system in Russia with Marx’s revolutionary call in Wages Price and Profit for the “abolition of the wages system.” He has even got the cheek to repeat that wretched reformist call for women to be paid equal wages to men (see page 197). He implicitly admits that women are not paid the same as men in China (and see also Socialist Standard November 1974). Women’s Lib fans of Mao, please note.

The whole principle of leadership is abhorrent to the Socialist. Socialism cannot be brought about by leaders but only by the democratic conscious actions of the workers themselves. Mao is firmly wedded to the idea of leadership and, one must assume, the benefits that go with it. He has after all been the chief leader since 1949 and the Little Red Book is riddled with statements about the importance of leadership (see for example at p.106 with his talk of “squad leaders”. ) Incidentally the book also points out that in 1958 only 10 million out of a population of 600 million were members of the Chinese Communist Party. Is it that the other 590 million don’t want to join or that they are not allowed to join?

In order to ensure that the workers are kept down. Mao can’t resist urging on them abstinence and sacrifice:
  To make China rich and strong needs several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practise strict economy and combat waste i.e. the policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality, (p.186)
If those words had been spoken by Wilson or Heath in crisis-ridden Britain you would not have been surprised.

The similarity between Mao and other capitalist politicians is so striking as to make one rub one’s eyes in disbelief at the sight of people in the West waving banners with Mao’s picture on them and proudly calling themselves “Maoists”. Mao is just as much an anti-Socialist as his one-time hero Stalin was. They both have in common the fact that they successfully exercised a dictatorship over the proletariat in their own country. When workers throughout the world learn to examine the contents of the packet and refuse just to accept the label, the fraud of Mao Tse-Tung will also be a “Museum piece”.
Ronnie Warrington

So They Say: Corrective Education? (1975)

The So They Say Column from the February 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

Corrective Education?

Among the other learned voices raised against the “lack of discipline” within schools is that of Dr. Rhodes Boyson. He is concerned that children are being exposed to
  cells of neo-Trotskyist, new left teachers who wanted to use schools to destroy our way of life. Unless these destroyers and wreckers were watched, every history lesson became a study of some peasant or racial revolt against real or so-called oppression.
(The Times 31st Dec. 74) 
We have no doubt that Dr. Boyson considers himself satisfactorily qualified to do some of the “watching”, having, as a Conservative MP, a clear idea of the correct “order, belief and structure” that society should take. His concern has a practical application for capitalism of course. He feels that teachers have lost sight of what schools are for:
  the three R’s, passing on our culture, preparation for outside work, and a development of individual talent.
There is nothing so useful to private property ownership than reasonably literate workers steeped in the idea of capitalism, and who are prepared to run it. If a worker has particular talent which may be exploited, so much the better.

Lesson Two

This theme is echoed by Dr. Joyce Morris, a BBC adviser on language usage. She said at a conference on education in the North of England on 2nd January, that “crazy and dangerous ideas” in education techniques have led to an increase in illiteracy, and urged those attending to restore reading “to the central pivot of the curriculum.” The dangers she sees in increasing illiteracy among secondary school pupils are similar to those of Dr. Boyson:
  As technology advances the need for unskilled labour decreases and the illiterate must face the prospect of almost certain unemployment in the not too distant future.
(The Times 3rd Jan. 75) 
Her call has not yet reached the eyes of Lt. Col. Stuart Townsend, headmaster of Prince Charles’s old school, Hall House Junior School. Townsend has his own ideas of education and has recently been explaining his views to the parents of his 500 boys, who pay up to £600 a year in fees:
  Today in London many school children have no manners, are destructive, look dirty, slack and lazy. Some Hill House School boys come to school like this and are a disgrace to the uniform. These boys should be removed.
(News of the World 12th Jan. 75)
The punch-drunk Colonel does not say where they should be removed to, but emphasises that good manners and discipline are of paramount importance, not least among members of his staff.
  There’s a battle going on in education. Someone has to make a stand. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ll win. I just get rid of anyone who doesn’t agree with me.
One thing which does not appear to trouble the Colonel, however, is illiteracy, at least not in his own case. One parent complains:
  He boasted to me that he never answers letters and when I went to meet him I saw a waste paper basket full of unopened letters.
Unread maybe, but surely not unopened? How could the Colonel have extracted all those cheques for £600?

Patent Mistake

A document for patent assigned to the Secretary of State and filed in 1962 has recently been taken off the secret list and is available to anyone visiting the Patent Office. Its title “Improvements in the manufacture of organic phosphorous compounds containing sulphur” reads like an improved formula for manure. It is in fact a detailed document explaining fully the chemical processes employed in the production of VX, one of the deadliest nerve gases ever to be invented.
In liquid form, a pinhead sized drop of VX on the skin is lethal.
(Sunday Times 5th Jan. 75) 
It appears that the patent was taken off the “classified” list by accident, and that the Defence Department is confused as to how this particularly nasty skeleton emerged from the cupboard. A spokesman attempting to defend what will doubtless be considered an error of judgement said:
  Information on how to make an atom bomb is freely available, but people don’t go around doing it.
That not everyone “goes around doing it” is quite true. However we are all aware that too many “people” have already done it, and continue to do so. In regard to VX itself, the production details were passed to the us some years ago “under a long standing agreement on the free exchange of chemical warfare information” with the inevitable result that the US
  eventually manufactured it on a large scale and put it into store.
Having learned who our friends are, MPs have been writing to Mr. Rodgers, Minister of State for Defence, not apparently concerned with the reasons for the production of this deadly gas, but appalled that the details of manufacture are now public knowledge. They will doubtless be happy to learn that Mr. Rodgers ordered a review of de-classification procedures on 6th January.

Black Power

Leaders vary in the degrees of subtlety they employ to maintain their positions of power. President Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is one who believes in taking the gloves off, straight away. On January 7th his constitution was approved by a referendum. Among other things this
  confirmed his dictatorial powers for life by threatening to torture or kill anyone who voted against it, refugees said in Madrid. The President had made sure of the outcome of the referendum by making members of his single National Workers’ Party the sole election judges. The balloting slips were printed beforehand, the vast majority of them with the word Yes. Anyone bold enough to pick up a slip from the ‘No’ pile and put it in his voting envelope, risked reprisal.
(The Times 8th Jan. 75)
Opposition spokesmen have so far failed to comment. Or materialize.

In the Clouds

Mr. Michael Burbidge of the sociological branch of the Department of the Environment said on the 6th January that many Local Authorities would be housing families in “unsuitable high-rise blocks for years to come”. The reason appears to be the same as that for climbing Everest — because they are there. Families thus housed will be those who are already suffering greatly from poor housing conditions. Speaking with reference to particularly unsatisfactory high-rise estates, he said:
  The more choosy tenants will move out and only disadvantaged families with no alternatives will be persuaded to take up the resulting vacancies.
He does not mean “perusaded” of course, but forced. However an angel of wisdom has since appeared on the scene in the shape of Prince Phillip. His rôle as president of the UK Council of European Architectural Heritage Year (i.e. 1975) led him to make some informed comment on the plight of the poorly housed.
  The public should complain if they disliked a building. He wanted people to say ‘Look, we don’t like living 16 furlongs up and the ideas of having more open space at the bottom is totally useless to us.’ 
After such practical advice, we viewed with some suspicion the comments of Lady Dartmouth, chairwoman of the executive committee of the European Heritage Year campaign, who remarked the following day:
  Architects and planners thought the best thing was to raze everything and start again. But now re-cycling was the vogue and the aim of conservation should be to re-cycle buildings.
(The Times 3rd Jan. 75)
A. D'Arcy

Letters: The Nazis and the Vote (1975)

Letters to the Editors from the February 1975 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Nazis and the Vote

I frequently disagree with your views and judgments, but I have always respected your paper for its truthfulness and honesty. I was sorry, therefore, to find a gross distortion of historic fact in the December issue. I am referring to the argument about the rise to power of the German Nazi party.

In your reply to a correspondent (p. 210) you say: “The facts of the Nazis’ rise to power are as follows”; and you then give the results, in votes and percentage figures, of the Reichstag elections held in March 1933, implying that these results accurately reflected political opinion. But Hitler had assumed power five weeks before polling day, and that the elections were shamelessly rigged by the ruling Nazi party.

The true facts are as follows. At the Weimar Republic’s last free elections in November, 1932, the Nazis obtained 33.1 per cent of the total poll, while the two left-wing parties, the Social Democrats and the Communists, received 37.3 per cent between them. On becoming Chancellor on the 30th January 1933 Hitler dissolved the Reichstag; new elections were to be held on 5th March. From the outset the Nazis blatantly abused their position to harass the opposition, and especially the Socialists and Communists, and to hamstring their electoral propaganda: their papers were suspended for one or two weeks, their election meetings broken up, their posters torn off the hoardings etc. Yet in spite of the terror it became plain, towards the end of February, that the Nazi-led Government coalition was most unlikely to get an overall majority in the elections. So the Reichstag building went up in flames on the 27th February. The Government immediately banned the entire press and all electoral publications of the two “Marxist” parties, prohibited all their meetings, and ordered the arrest of all Communist candidates The constitutional freedoms were suspended, and postal and telephone censorship was imposed throughout Germany. This was clearly meant to give voters the feeling that it would be pointless, and indeed dangerous, to cast an anti-Government vote.

But the Nazis still did not feel sure of their majority, and therefore resorted to massive electoral frauds; one of the results was that in some polling districts the official figure of votes cast exceeded the total number of voters on the electoral register—but there was no one to call the Nazis to account. Also, within a few weeks of polling day the Nazis kicked their conservative allies out of the Government and proclaimed the one-party state.

In the circumstances it is preposterous to assert, as you do. that the Nazis were elected by “the majority of the German people”. They achieved power by a combination of trickery, terror and coup d’état.
S. F. Kissin 

One reason why the Socialist Standard ascertains facts as fully as possible is that we have to deal with muddled, self-contradictory arguments such as this. You say in effect that the Nazis did as they liked without needing majority support because they needed majority support to do as they liked.

You deny that the 51.9 per cent of votes cast for the Nazis and their supporters in 1933 “accurately reflected political opinion”, and explain that the Nazis’ tactics “were clearly meant” to give workers the feeling that to vote otherwise was pointless. That is a political opinion, isn’t it? You offer as “true fact” that the Nazis obtained 33.1 per cent in November 1932. How does that rate as an “accurate reflection of political opinion”; and what is this phrase supposed to mean? No doubt the other votes would have differed if the Social Democrats and Communists had not “clearly meant” to persuade the voters of something false. This line of argument leads nowhere.

But who is distorting historic fact and disregarding truthfulness and honesty? A few lines after challenging us in these terms you attempt a sleight-of-hand by moving quickly from “Hitler had assumed power” to “the ruling Nazi party”; and progress to references to “the Nazi-led Government coalition” and identification of the Nazis with “the Government”. As we said in the reply you criticize, the facts are as follows.

In July 1932 the Nazis won 37.4 per cent of the votes, but the Reichstag was at once dissolved by the chancellor, Papen, and new elections called for 6th November. In these, the Nazi vote fell to 33.1 per cent, and a coalition was proposed. Hitler secured the chancellorship for himself (“assumed power”) but the Nazi Party was obliged to accept considerably less than had been demanded in June. In the coalition cabinet they had only 3 out of 11 seats (Hitler, Frick and Goring). Your representation that they were the Government is not “historic fact”.

Hitler persuaded the cabinet to have new elections immediately. However, you leave out from your account of the hounding and harassment of the other parties one key fact. Goring, as Prussian minister for the interior, was in control of the Prussian police. They were placed under Nazi control, heavily reinforced by Nazi men, and forbidden to interfere with acts of intimidation by the SA (who had been banned not many months before). You say “the Nazis blatantly abused their position”. What they were doing, for good or ill, was wielding the partial political power the 1932 “free elections” gave them—for the purpose of gaining the full political power they needed.

The effectiveness of these tactics is a matter of opinion. If they were reinforced by “massive electoral frauds” then the Nazis’ real gain was only small; as we pointed out, they received 43.9 per cent and were still dependent for their majority on the Nationalists’ support. We are astonished that you appear to dismiss any other factor in the voting. In January 1933 there were 6,000,000 registered unemployed in Germany. The Nazis had an extensive reform programme including the provision of jobs and security, higher prices for farm products to help the peasants, and legislation to help the small business man squeezed by She big concerns and banks. We think you are “preposterous” in treating these matters as having no bearing. Incidentally, the New Statesman on 11th March 1933 added something else: it attributed the Nazis’ victory to giving the electorate banners, uniforms and parades, and said the Social Democrats should have done the same.

The case stated in our December issue was that any group seeking power requires the support of the majority. Your letter supplies only further demonstration of that fact, even where you finally assert that the! Nazis made it by “trickery, terror and coup d’état” Trickery is the sine qua non of capitalist politics; but the terror and so-called coups required the acquisition of political power first. Indeed, you protest far too much. If these devices are all that is needed, why were the Nazis so anxious to get the majority of which— as you say—they “did not feel sure”?

Joseph nearly met Bretheren
I notice that one correspondent says that the interest of the paper has been enhanced by the upsurge in correspondence, and as I flatter myself that it was a letter of mine that assisted in that process, perhaps I might be allowed a semi-amusing comment in connection with your admirable article on Joseph. It refers to the fact that Sir Sheath (as Private Eye calls him) is vice-chairman of the family firm of Bovis. What it does not mention is that the firm ran into dead trouble and was only just saved by a take-over (at a bargain price) by the giant P & O shipping group. At the shareholders’ meeting of the latter needed to approve the deal, there was a vociferous opposition and the proposal was carried by a whisker. Had it been defeated, the shares of Bovis would not have been worth the paper they were written on and Sir Keith would have been class 5 at a stroke! It is worth noting that under capitalism, even capitalists cannot be always secure and prosperous.
S. Gamzu, 
London N.W.11.

Socialists go to other meetings in order to put the Party’s case. Being a Socialist for forty-five years, I have experience of reformist organizations such as Women’s Liberation Movement.

When I look back throughout my political life after the first world war, many of the reformist organizations of those times are no longer in existence e.g. British Socialist Party, and Herald League. For instance the Independent Labour Party at one time had two hundred Members of Parliament, but today they are hardly known.

In recent years CND which had thousands of supporters at the start now hardly exists.

About three years ago I decided to go to a Women’s Liberation Movement meeting which I saw advertized. Socialists of all people do like to listen to other meetings. The meeting was well attended, and approximately eighty per cent. of the audience were women. The chairman was a woman and there were five women on the platform. The meeting, which consisted of reading manuscripts went on for one and half hours, when two women in the front asked the chairman if questions were allowed. I also asked but was interrupted and shouted down by so-called communists, IS, IMG and others. I eventually decided to leave, as they obviously realized any questions I might ask would be regarding Socialism.

So, Jeanne Conn at least you had your letter published. Could I or any other member of the SPGB get a letter published in any of these reformist journals?
S. Highams, 
London N.l.

Chinese History
In reply to Paul Bennett, Chinese “history” is being continually rewritten to accommodate the current ideological fashion. Comrade Bennett may well be right in thinking that the official date for the transition to “socialism” is now 1949.

As the Chinese language is almost devoid of grammar, it is well-nigh impossible to render a literal translation either way between Chinese and a Western language. The point is that from its inception in 1921, and for at least the next ten years, the Chinese Communist Party was under the direct supervision of the Comintern in Moscow. It was the Russians who named it the Chinese Communist Party, rather than the Communist Party of China, thus implying a subordinate rôle for it unique among all the other national parties affiliated to the Comintern. For all practical purposes, the CCP was only a junior branch of the CPSU. It was left to the Chinese to translate the name which the Russians gave them into their own language.

Comrade Bennett is correct to point out that provincial officials in Imperial China were thin on the ground, and it was quite impossible for public works to be managed centrally. However, some were: for instance, the 1,500 mile long Grand Canal and the Great Wall were both maintained and constantly renovated by the central government. In the provinces, a system of indirect pressure and influence prevailed. The aim of the central government was to extract as much revenue as possible; it was usually wise enough to see that a prosperous rural community would produce the greatest revenue.

Although all officials were subject to periodic government inspection, and sometimes to investigation by the independent Board of Censors, their reports are generally unreliable and often give statistics which are obviously copied from previous submissions. To raise the allotted taxation, the government official had to rely upon the co-operation of the local gentry, and it is quite right that most of the local public works were implemented by local planning and local labour. This indirect approach went right through stage by stage from governor to village headman. But the initiative to promote public works might come either from local pressure or pressure from higher up. What the government wanted was revenue, and this was centrally planned; the actual raising of this revenue was left to a variety of interests to work out under the influence of Confucian harmony.

Of course there were a great many small market towns serving groups of villages in the countryside. Here the peasant came to exchange, usually by barter, his produce for the tools and utensils made in the town by the small family hand-craft workshop. There were also armies of pedlars selling small stuffs from the towns in the villages. Also in the small towns were the pawnshops, where the peasant mortgaged his land to the usurer landowner, to pay his taxes whenever the harvest failed. It was in the small market towns that the vast bulk of internal exchange took place right up to the revolution. City life, affecting less than ten per cent of the population was quite different, and was approaching very unevenly from city to city, something akin to the West. But from very early times, large-scale industry always was a state monopoly until the arrival of the Western capitalist. Salt manufacture, an essential nutrient for a basically vegetarian population, was a state monopoly from before Han times, and iron manufacture was brought under state control during the Han dynasty; many of the silk weaving factories, porcelain kilns and paper works were brought under state supervision. The state did not operate these works directly; the usual practice was to rent them out to a merchant agency for a period of years. All these large-scale industries were concentrated in very well defined localities.
J. Petter

Letters from A. Cox, F. Ansell, D. Brooks, C. Joyce, A. Labeck, B. Mestel, E. Morley and R. Ramshaw held over through lack of space.