Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Marx (2012)

Book Review from the July 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Karl Marx. By Paul Thomas, Reaktion Books, 2012

This is a concise, though not always easy to read, exploration of Marx’s life and writing. It can be usefully compared and contrasted with Francis Wheen’s best-seller Karl Marx (1999), which is more accessible but less reliable. Biographies of Marx these days have to declare where they stand on Marx’s alleged illegitimate son. The sole source for this allegation is a typewritten letter supposedly written by the estranged wife of Karl Kautsky. It is claimed that it was written in 1898 but was only made public, in mysterious circumstances, in 1962. Wheen is in no doubt that the allegation is true because, he says, the circumstantial evidence supports it. Thomas on the other hand, after weighing up the evidence, concludes that the allegation sits somewhere between ‘strains credibility’ and ‘stinks to high heaven’.

In Thomas’s book there is picture of the philosopher Hegel, whom Marx, the accompanying caption claims, ‘stood on his head’. Marx actually claimed that he found Hegel’s philosophy to be already standing on its head and that he stood him ‘right side up’. In Hegel’s philosophy the real world results from the unfolding of ideas, whereas for Marx ideas arise from and interact within a specific material context. There is no discussion of Marx’s dialectic in the book, from which we must assume it is of no importance. Wheen, by contrast, repeats the common misconception that Marx’s dialectic is a form of logical syllogism: thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But this is precisely the kind of idealism which Marx had rejected after he had stood the Hegelian philosophy of his youth ‘right side up’. It is the understanding of material circumstances, particularly the economics of capitalism, which provides the ‘guiding thread’ for comprehending the world around us.

Both Thomas and Wheen argue that Marx’s legacy is still relevant today. It can also be argued that Marx’s ideas have never been put into practice, and an example of this is suggested by Thomas’s book. At the end of the Franco-Prussian War, in 1871, the Paris Commune was formed. The Commune was an improvised organisation of Parisian workers set up to run and defend Paris. The French army brutally suppressed the Commune and slaughtered at least 20,000 of the Communards. Marx had no input into the creation or running of the Commune and the Commune took nothing from Marx. Afterwards he did write The Civil War in France in defence of the Commune, and from this the press claimed (mistakenly) that Marx was the mastermind or strategist behind the Commune, conferring on him the title ‘red terror Doctor’. Marx for the first time became notorious – but for an event which owed absolutely nothing to him. So apart from the evidence of his own writings, there are historical grounds for arguing that Marx’s legacy has been misunderstood and unrealised.
Lew Higgins

Obituary: Stan Parker (2012)

Obituary from the July 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Stan Parker, of North London branch, died at the beginning of June at the age of 84. In 2008 he wrote his own obituary which we publish below.

In it he refers to “writing a few books, mainly on work and leisure”. He was in fact a pioneer in the field of leisure studies not just in Britain but across the English-speaking world, respected by his peers who in 1997 made him the first honorary member of the Leisure Studies Association. After his retirement from the social survey division of the Census Office, he taught at the University of the Third Age in Britain and Australia. He also represented the Party in local elections and the 2009 European election.

Here is the obituary he wrote.

“Stan Parker, who first joined the Party in 1950, has made up his time sheet. Orthodox, conformist, non-controversial, unimaginative are not among the best descriptions of Stan’s life and work. He drafted this obituary himself, offered it to the editors, and agreed to some minor changes they imposed.

Stan met the Party in the politically exciting WW2 end year 1945, at the Hyde Park platform, notably that of Tony Turner. Stan found the Party’s Object clear, concise and inspirational. But he took 5 years to get his head sufficiently round the archaically-worded D of P to apply for membership. He soon became a regular writer for the Socialist Standard and in 1952 was appointed one of the editors of Forum, the newly launched internal Party journal.

Although the early 1950s saw a big growth in Party membership and activities, it was also a time of what one member called ‘introversy’. In 1955 Stan, Tony and a few other ‘dissidents’ were obliged to resign or face a charge. For the next 37 years Stan wandered in the socialist wilderness, pursuing academic and civil service careers and writing a few books, mainly on work and leisure.

By 1992 he had lost most of the arrogance of youth and the Party, having expelled two undemocratic branches, had become more tolerant. So he rejoined and again became active, even being elected to a few Executive Committees. Stan never thought that opposition to capitalism would be enough to abolish it. He constantly stressed the need to start building the new socialist world society now. His books, Stop Supporting Capitalism, Start Supporting Socialism (2002, reviewed Socialist Standard, March 2003) and Towards 2100: From Capitalism to Socialism (2004) are available at or from Head Office, free of charge.”

A Load of Crystal Balls (2012)

The Proper Gander column from the July 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Psychic Today (Sky 886, Freeview 32) must be on to something with its Tarot card readings and crystal energies. There has to be some kind of supernatural force which bewitches the viewer into watching such a brain-atrophyingly inane show.

A shiny presenter and her psychic sidekick sit in their flimsy, tacky studio waiting for your questions about your life. Callers to the show receive a ‘reading’ via the programme’s medium, and also the medium of premium-rate phone lines. Just send a text or leave a voicemail message, and one of a team of psychics will use cards, pendulums or ‘working with energies’ to interpret your situation or see what your future will bring.

Here are some chunks plucked out from their verbal vomit. Asked about a relationship between an Aries and a Cancer, one psychic ‘explains’ that “it’s fire and water, isn’t it? And sometimes fire can put the water out”. Another one ‘informs’ us that “the psychic ability is very much I feel surrounded within the body of the sixth sense”. Supposed psychic powers aren’t discussed in any more detail than that, forbidden by the set of guidelines the psychics must follow. This is presumably so they don’t risk dabbling with forces beyond their control, such as trading standards legislation. These rules also prevent the psychics making lawsuit-attracting readings about health, pregnancy, money and legal matters. So, most of the readings relate to the callers’ careers and relationships and are usually, as you’d expect, vague enough to apply to anyone.

These psychics aren’t as clear as a crystal ball. Despite their fuzziness, specific details about someone’s life can apparently sometimes be gleaned from only a date of birth, star sign, or – amazingly – even just a name. Tellingly, you never get to hear the punters say what they thought of their readings. Perhaps any criticism of their accuracy is avoided by the programme’s policy of only giving reassuring or empowering readings, such as “if the energies are right, he’ll come back. But remember you’ve done nothing wrong, and you’re the better person”. So, at least the show offers some kind of service to the lonely or confused, at a price. Sadly, the message: ‘Hopeful Piscean wants to know if there’ll be a revolution in his life’ was left unanswered by the psychics.
Mike Foster

50 Years Ago: Wall Street slump (2012)

The 50 Years Ago column from the July 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Wall Street got the twitch last month and so did London and the Bourses on the Continent. The newspapers rushed out pictures of the panic in 1929 and then had to set their City Editors to work to explain why 1929 cannot after all happen again.

Everybody seemed to have forgotten that just before 1929 the financial experts were assuring us that the crash which was in fact just around the corner could never happen anyway. If this does not make the experts of 1929 look very impressive in retrospect, it must also teach us that the forecasts of all capitalism’s economic experts are not worth very much.

Nowadays the experts are fond of pointing out the precautions which (they are confident) would prevent a runaway boom like the one which preceded the 1929 crash and therefore (they reason) would also prevent the crash itself.

This ignores the fact that slumps are not the result of an attack of jitters on the Stock Exchange; rather is it the other way round. Nineteen-twenty-nine was one of capitalism’s classic crises and no amount of stock juggling could have averted it.

Nor should we assume that hotheaded speculation is dead. The Observer correspondent in New York reported that the "intellectuals” of Wall Street thought that: "By the end of last year the market had reached heights that brokers now, without blushing, describe as insane.” and quoted one New York broker: “The way some of (the big brokers) have been pushing over-priced stocks at naive investors is nothing short of criminal.”

Perhaps a repeat of 1929 is not so impossible after all. For some of the experts were mystified by Wall Street’s 1962 twitch. The Guardian said: “The continuing retreat is puzzling commentators in that there seems to be no apparent reason for it. Mr. Walter Heller, President Kennedy’s economic adviser, said there were no economic grounds for the condition of the market.” Does this fill us with confidence that capitalism’s economists could not be taken unawares by a repeat of 1929? It does not.

Capitalism could have something up its sleeve, just as it had thirty-three years ago, to surprise the experts and impoverish the rest of us.
(From “The News in Review”, Socialist Standard, July 1962)

Action Replay: Visiting Time (2012)

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
The Action Replay column from the July 2012 issue of the Socialist Standard

Tourism is big business in many countries, and sports tourism is a sizeable part of it, as witness the profits made by airlines, hotels and restaurants during major sporting events. The country with the biggest reliance on sport to boost its tourism and international reputation, however, must be the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which means mainly Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

This is partly a matter of providing sporting facilities for visitors (another tourist-oriented strategy there is the provision of museums and art galleries). There are a number of first-class golf courses, built and maintained at great expense in such an arid area. Or you can indulge in boating, water-skiing, even rock climbing and ice-skating. Cricket and rugby are popular among expat communities. And Manchester City brought the Premier League trophy to Abu Dhabi recently, so it could go on display for two days in the club shop (The club’s super-rich owner is half-brother to the UAE President).

But primarily the local elite are keen to attract top-class athletes and stage international competitions, thus enticing tourists and TV coverage. For instance, there have been top tennis tournaments, such as the Dubai Duty-Free Championships (prize this year of over $400,000 to the singles winners). There are also top golf tournaments and horse racing fixtures, including the $1m Dubai Gold Cup. Pakistan played England at cricket there earlier this year, and may play Australia in August/September.

And as we said, the tourism industry does very well out of all this. The 2013 Matchplay Championship Golf final will be hosted by the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai: it’s a hotel, and will be the world’s tallest when it opens later this year with its sixteen hundred rooms. On 2003 figures, one-fifth of the UAE population live below the poverty line.
Paul Bennett

Socialism and the General Election. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

Fellow Workers.—

The Capitalist class who, through their nominees, rule this country to-day, decreed that a General Election shall take place, and you are now called upon to cast your votes.

Many candidates are put forward, each claiming to serve the interests of the bulk of the population. The history of the last hundred years or so has been in the main the record of alternative Liberal and Tory Government, and the result to your class has been a gradual worsening of conditions. Unemployment has grown steadily until it has now reached a permanent level well over a million. In every election both Liberals and Tories have brought forward proposals alleged to be “certain cures” for the evil, but time has always shown the inadequacy of their remedies.

In the present election the past will be repeated and again you will have the “certain” remedy put forward.

These remedies are put forward to catch your vote, because you are the majority of the nation and can put in or put out whom you wish. Beware, therefore, of golden promises, and do not too readily accept assertions as evidence, nor be bewildered into agreement by the figure juggling of artful politicians.

Your position is simple, and your attitude is clear if you will but give a little time and thought to certain basic truths. Briefly your position to-day is as follows :—
  1. You are poor to-day .and haunted with the dread of unemployment because you do not own the means for producing wealth. In consequence you depend for your living upon the wishes and the whims of employers.
  2. The employers take no active part in the work of production, yet its fruits are reaped by them.
  3. The employers pile up great riches for themselves by paying you less as wages and salaries than the value of what you make by your work. This must be true, otherwise they could not enjoy the good things of life without working whilst you are hard put to it to live at all though spending your lives in toil. .
  4. There is no natural or supernatural law that gives to any one the power to take land or the things on the land from his fellows. Social laws are made by man, and in civilized society by the rulers, and these rulers have been and are the owners of property, the employers. The laws they have made have spread a mantle of rightness over their exploitation of the worker. To use the labour of another in order to achieve riches for oneself is to exploit that other, and the employers, or capitalists, live by the exploitation of the workers.
  5. The Capitalist are one class, owning the means of production, and having them set in motion only when profit is expected either immediately or at a later date. The workers are another class, owning in the main nothing but their power to work, and compelled to sell this working power to the Capitalist in order to live. These two classes make up the vast bulk of the population.
  6. The interests of these two classes are opposite interests. The Capitalist aims at securing as much production as possible with the least employment of labour—that is with the smallest expenditure of wages. The interest of the worker, on the contrary, is to obtain as much work as possible and as high wages as he can. The ultimate interest of the Capitalist is the obtaining of secure and peaceful control of the whole of Society by a small group living in magnificent style and employing the minimum amount of workers. What then is to become of the rest of the population is the problem that has so far eluded the politicians. The ultimate interest of the workers is to remove from their backs the useless drones they have fed for so long. In other words, to obtain control of the means of production they operate, and, along with that, the control of all social machinery.
  7. Between Capitalist and worker, therefore, there is not and cannot be an identity of interests. One is an exploited, the other an exploiting class. The remedy for the social troubles that no soft words can hide does not lie in the direction of a harmony of interests. The interests conflict at the base and, consciously or not, there is in society a struggle between the two main groups of the population which, in a minor way, breaks out in the form of strikes, that are met by ruthless repression. Neither by holiness nor by hellishness is there a way out, leaving untouched the fundamental cleavage into classes based upon the private ownership of the main resources of wealth production.
  8. The way out then lies in one direction only, the revolutionizing of society; the overturning of its base; the converting of the means of production into the common property of society, commonly owned and democratically controlled by and in the interests of the whole people. The emancipation of the wage slaves from their age-long thralldom.

This is where the Socialist Party stands. We do not advocate reform, we advocate revolution. Reforms in the main are an effort to hide and not to get rid of evils. At the best they have only a temporary effect, and the more determined the workers show themselves in the movement to take from the Capitalists their power, that is to say, the more dangerous to the Capitalist regime the workers become the more ready will the Capitalist be to put forward reforms in the effort to stem the revolutionary flood.

The control of society resides in Parliament, the centre of State power to-day. To get this power the workers must send delegates to Parliament in sufficient numbers to obtain their majority. The Capitalists know this, and use their utmost resources to ensure that their nominees shall be returned. Where they fail they buy over the workers' representatives by promises and praise.

The success of the Capitalist efforts to buy over the workers' nominees depends upon the attitude of the workers. Where the worker votes for a man and not for principles then the buying of the man is the buying of the followers. Herein lies the danger and the curse of leadership. Where, however, the workers vote for principles only, then the buying of delegates ultimately becomes a problem beyond even the vast wealth of the Capitalists.

We therefore urge the workers to obtain a firm grasp of the simple facts of their slave position and the way out. To send delegates to Parliament to carry out their instructions and under their control.

In the present election the Socialist Party are putting forward candidates whose object is to work for the ushering in of Socialism as speedily as possible; to remove the Capitalists from power, not to compromise with them.

Remember no Heaven-sent Saviour is coming to lead you out of your difficulties. The problem is yours, and you must solve it for yourselves.
“The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself."
We are a group of working men and women. We publish a monthly paper, the “Socialist Standard," in which the position of the Party is set forth month by month with views and criticisms on various matters that arise. We invite you to read it carefully and question our speakers so that you may thoroughly understand what we are and where we are making for. We know that once you understand us you will be with us and help in the work of establishing Socialism.

The Parties and the Election. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Party of "Deeds"—The Conservatives.
The Conservatives are fighting the election on their past record. They survey the existing condition of this country and ask you, the electors, to agree that it is good. In the words used by Mr. Baldwin in his speech at Drury Lane Theatre on April 18th—
  You may judge us by what we have done.
(Reported in “Daily Telegraph,” 19 April, 1929.)
It has been agreed by the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Labour Party that the main question on which the election is to be fought is unemployment and the possibility of finding a cure for it. Mr. Baldwin in a speech at Bristol on April 25th (See “Times" Report, 26th April) was content to point out that even if some 10 per cent. of the workers are unemployed there is great comfort to be derived from the knowledge that the other 90 per cent, are working and “are enjoying a higher standard of life than has ever been enjoyed before." He also expressed a modest hope that given freedom from social “hurricanes and cataclysms" unemployment will be “reduced to normal by a natural process in three or four years."

This kind of pledge is as safe as any of the ambiguities produced by Old Moore. What, to begin with, is normal? When an unemployed army of about 1¼  millions exists over a period of some eight years or more it is “normal." And what is to prevent the Conservative Government, whenever it may wish to do so, from producing the requisite “social hurricanes," as in 1926, by engineering large industrial disputes? And even without that rather drastic method, they can fall back on the simple device of “abolishing unemployment" by disentitling claimants for unemployment pay and passing them on to the Poor Law, or giving the older workers a meagre pension to secure their withdrawal from the labour market.

The Labour Party and the Liberals—The Parties of "Promises."
The Liberals, knowing full well that they are not in the least likely to receive a majority of seats in the new House of Commons, the fighting on Mr. Lloyd George’s schemes for providing work for the unemployed. Whereas Mr. Baldwin believes that “by a natural process" the volume of unemployment will be reduced to normal in three or four years, Mr. Lloyd George promises to secure the same result in a year.

The Labour Party have pointed out that, neither in principle nor in details, is there anything new in Mr. Lloyd George's schemes. The Labour Party, with a much better prospect of securing a majority than the Liberals, are equally confident that their development schemes, coupled with Nationalisation of various industries and transport services, will secure even more than a mere reduction to normal. They will not be content with anything far short of total abolition.

What is the “ Natural Process”?
What all three Parties and their advisers on economic questions persistently ignore is that the “natural process" referred to by Mr. Baldwin operates not in the direction of removing unemployment, but in the reverse direction. The “natural process" of capitalism is in the direction of greater and greater productivity; more wealth produced by fewer workers; machines replacing men. This is the natural process everywhere at work, and constantly aggravating the problem. Given capitalism, that is the private ownership of the means for producing and distributing wealth, and the continued tendency for that ownership to be concentrated more and more in the hands of the wealthy few, unemployment is not to be solved by any of the familiar devices of increased production, greater efficiency, more exports, or the purchase of home produced goods. The position in the coal mines of this country illustrates the factors at work in every land and throughout industry. Between March, 1928, and March, 1929, coal exports increased, and coal production increased by nearly 500,000 tons a week (nearly 10 per cent.), but the number of miners employed decreased by 20,000 (2 per cent.) (See Board of Trade Journal 28th March).

The wealth of the capitalist world is in the hands of a few. They own the factories, and they alone decide whether and when those factories shall be used for the production of goods. The luxurious living and sheer waste of the capitalists and their Governments are far outstripped by the ever-growing powers of production. Whatever name Liberals or the Labour Party may give to their schemes, they can only keep off the labour market the ever-growing army of men thrown out of employment through rationalisation, new machinery, etc., by various forms of wasteful expenditure, private and State charity, whether these take the form of relief works, a huge standing Army and Navy, expenditure on wars and battleships, hordes of officials, or unnecessary domestic servants. That is not a solution of the unemployment problem. Unemployment can be removed only by the abolition of capitalism.

Unemployment not the cause of poverty.
There is, however, a more important question. These Parties are all content to fight the election on the issue of unemployment. The Socialist Party alone is not. Poverty is not caused merely by unemployment. The working class in general are poor, in work or out, and in every part of the world where capitalism prevails. When Mr. Baldwin says that the workers enjoy "a higher standard of life than has ever been enjoyed before,” he blandly ignores the fact that the workers' standard of life is far below the ordinary standard of the privileged class of non-producers—the capitalist class. They own and control the land, the railways, the factories, mines, ships, and other means of producing and distributing wealth. Out of the whole vast wealth of this country it is estimated by Professor Henry Clay (Liberal) that "it is probably safe to say that over two-thirds of the National capital is held by less than 2 per cent. of the people.” (“Times," 24th March, 1925).

The working class are the majority of the population. They produce the wealth and organise industry from top to bottom. They provide the sinews, the muscles and the brains of industry.

The capitalists are the small minority, but they own and control industry. Of the goods produced each year by the working class, Professor Clay states that 94.5 per cent, of the population have only 56 per cent. of the whole annual income. That is to say that nearly half the National income is enjoyed by 5.5 per cent of the population. (See "Times,’’ March 24th, 1925.)

That is why the workers are poor.

What is Socialism?
We stand for Socialism, which means the transfer of the means of production from the hands of the few to society as a whole, involving the ending of the whole system based on a class of owners who enjoy but do not produce, and a class of producers who do not own. 

The method of doing this is for the working class majority to understand Socialism, organise in the Socialist Party and vote their delegates into control of the House of Commons. Nothing short of Socialism will abolish working class poverty and unemployment. But Socialism will at the same time solve all the economic problems which are the subject matter of the long and intricate programmes about which these three big parties are disputing.

They fight this and every election on plans to remedy some of the effects of capitalism. The Socialist Party fights for the abolition of capitalism.

Answer To Correspondent. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

What is wealth?
High Wycombe, Bucks.,

To the Editor of The Socialist Standard.

Dear Comrade,—

It is stated in the Party’s Manifesto “That wealth is natural material, converted by labour power to man’s use.” Am I right in assuming that unworked coal mines, undelved copper mines, undug gold mines, the uncaught fish in the sea, corn or cattle that grow wild, or the air we breathe, because they have no labour spent upon them, cannot be termed wealth? On the other hand coal, copper or gold which has been brought to the earth’s surface by human hands are wealth; similarly fish that have been netted from rivers or sea, cattle that have been reared, or corn grown by man. Even air, when used for industrial purposes, such as compressed air when used for automatic brakes, lifts, bellows, etc. I should esteem it a personal favour if you would let me know whether these remarks are correct in the columns of your next issue.
Yours truly,
J. E. Roe.

Our Reply.
Our correspondent is quite accurate in his statement of the nature of economic wealth and the manner of its production. Everyday experience (as instanced by the illustration our correspondent gives of compressed air) bears out the correctness of the Marxian view of this question.
Editorial Committee

The Death of Comrade Jack Fitzgerald (1929)

Jack Fitzgerald (c. 1873-1929)
Obituary from the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

We regret to announce the sad news that Comrade J. Fitzgerald passed away, following a serious operation, in St. Peter’s Hospital, Covent Garden, on Tuesday, April 16th, at seven o’clock in the morning.

Comrade Fitzgerald was a part of the Socialist movement, and his death is like the tearing away of a limb. He died at the comparatively early age of 57, and from his youth to his dying day he took his place in the front rank of the fighters for Socialism.

To those who have only known him in his later years a little of his early history may be interesting.

A bricklayer by trade, he took an active part in the Operative Bricklayers’ Union, was at one time on their Executive Committee, and on at least two occasions acted as one of their delegates to the Trades Union Congress.

He joined the Social Democratic Federation (afterwards the Social Democratic Party) in the ‘nineties, and attended some of the classes run by Edward Aveling, the son-in-law of Karl Marx. Along with a few others he fought against the Reformist tendencies inside the S.D.F., and sought to convert that body into a fitting instrument for the inauguration of Socialism. He urged the formation of economics and other classes to further the education of the workers, but was jeered at by the official group, who tried to silence him by the charge of “impossibilism.” He, and the group that was with him, were confronted by a solid wall of opposition, which was the more difficult to get over because the officials held the strings, and meetings were closed to the unauthorised. The S.D.F. was committed to a policy of compromise and also to reformist activity through the association of its prominent members with reactionary trades unionism and with the Twentieth Century Press, many of whose shareholders were outside the ranks of the working and out of sympathy with the Socialist movement.

Matters came to a head at the Burnley Conference of the S.D.F. in 1904, when Fitzgerald and another member were expelled, by means of a trick, on general charges that were shown to exist only in the imagination of prominent members of the S.D.F. of the time.

The general dissatisfaction with the reactionary policy of the Social Democratic Federation led to the secession of a number of its members, who, together with some others, formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain on the 12th June, 1904. Fitzgerald took a leading part with these in hammering out the policy of the Party, a policy that has withstood the fierce assaults of all opposition for twenty-five years.

He was a member of the first Executive Committee of the Party, and since that day, with short lapses, of late on account of illness, he has always figured on that body. He was a first-class speaker, writer and debater, as the columns of the “Standard” through the years bear eloquent testimony. Two of his debates with Liberal and Tory have appeared in pamphlet form, and are as fresh to-day in principle and policy as if they had only occurred yesterday.  In the view of those who were present the finest debate was many years ago with Lawler Wilson, the best debater the Anti-Socialist Union ever had.  The calibre of his opponent made such an impression on Lawler Wilson that, subsequently, in a book entitled “The Menace of Socialism,” and published in 1909, he wrote of the Party :—
  The Socialist Party of Great Britain, a young organisation and an offshoot from the Social Democratic Party, is spreading about London and challenging the older organisations in such districts as Battersea and Tottenham. The members are Marxians and Revolutionaries, preaching the Class War. The catechumens of the party are put through a rigid course of training in the principles of their creed, which they must be prepared to defend at the risk of their liberty. What is most remarkable and disquieting about this dangerous organisation is the fact that the members are unquestionably higher-grade working-men of great intelligence, respectability and energy. They are, as a whole, the best-informed Socialists in the country, and would make incomparable soldiers, or desperate barricadists. As revolutionaries, they deserve no mercy: as men they command respect.
It is difficult for those who have not come into close touch with all phases of the internal work of the Party to realise the tremendous industry of Fitzgerald, his accuracy and comprehensiveness, and the energy and thoroughness with which he tackled every job that came his way, and no “donkey work” was shirked by him. Whether it was folding “Standards” in days gone by, selling them, preparing for street corner meetings, or helping a fellow worker to unravel the intricacies of some form of knowledge, it was always the same ; he was ready, willing and anxious to give a hand.

On the Editorial Committee he toiled for years, giving the best that was in him, and often only finishing preparing matter for the printer long after the midnight hour had struck.

All his life he has worked hard to spread among his fellow workers a knowledge of the principles formulated by Karl Marx, and which are the foundations of the scientific Socialist Movement. It is, therefore, fitting that his last published writing was a Review in the March “S.S.” of a new translation of Marx’s great work, “Capital.” To do this review Fitzgerald read through again, and compared carefully the older and the new translations, and he did this while sinking under the effects of his illness. He received the book about the end of November, and was operated on twice before he finished the review.

If anyone desires to gauge Fitzgerald’s consistency let them glance at the first page of the first number of the “Socialist Standard” for September, 1904, and the advertisement of the Economics Class, and then, in the next number the article on taxation. Then let them turn to his last few articles and the Review in the March number. There is a quarter of a century of ceaseless activity between the two periods, but the position outlined is the same. That was Fitzgerald : fearless, sturdy, consistent and solid as a rock, a fitting instrument to be used by the workers in the struggle for emancipation.

We are not hero-worshippers, and we are keenly conscious of human frailty. Fulsome flattery and empty phrases are not our way, but we know how to estimate the worth of a man. No man worked harder than Fitzgerald to dispel the illusions of the “Great Man” theory and to impress upon his fellows that they must depend on themselves and acquire the necessary knowledge if they would free themselves from bondage; that, in the words of Marx, “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.”

Fitzgerald was by nature a teacher in the best sense of the word, an imparter of knowledge. In an educational direction, quite outside the Party, he inspired respect for his work. For the past sixteen years he was on the teaching staff of the London County Council School of Building in Brixton. When they heard of his death they sent the following resolution to one of his friends :—
  "We, the members of the full-time staff of the School of Building, learn with deep regret of the death of our colleague and friend, Mr. J. Fitzgerald.
“We desire to place on record our appreciation of his able, conscientious and untiring services to this school during a period of over 16 years. We feel that his loss to the school is a heavy one, but we are glad to record that his work has resulted in substantial progress and paved the way for further developments in Building Education.
“We further desire to convey our sincere sympathy to his relatives and close friends.”‘
The future will show the fruit of the work of Fitzgerald and others like him, and when posterity comes to reckon its debt to the forerunners who worked so hard for Socialism we can rest assured that Fitzgerald will not be forgotten. His comrades, who have fought beside him, and drawn wisdom and aid from him, will carry his memory with them always.

The best tribute we can pay to him is to emulate his unfailing energy, industry and enthusiasm, and profit by the spade work of him and his fellows to give greater impetus to the movement towards the final extinction of wage slavery.

Those who have worked with him for years know his value, and the keenness, penetration, and power of the brain that is gone.

The working class movement is poorer today by the loss of one of its worthiest champions.

#    #    #    #

Comrade Mrs. Gostick wishes to thank all those who so kindly assisted at our late Comrade Fitzgerald's funeral, and also the Camberwell and Clerkenwell branches for their wreaths.

Our First Prospective Candidate For Parliament. (1929)

Party News from the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

At a meeting of the Battersea Branch, Comrade Barker, of the Tooting Branch, was adopted as prospective candidate of the Socialist Party of Great Britain for Battersea.

It now remains for those who desire to see our candidate go to the polls to give practical effect to their wishes by swelling the Parliamentary Fund to the required dimensions.

As we pointed out originally, our candidates will go to the polls if we are provided with sufficient funds to carry the business through.

Some Questions On Our Policy. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

An Answer to a Correspondent.

A correspondent, A. J. Cave (Hornsey Rise), asks three questions :—

Question I.—In the event of your Party obtaining a majority on any Municipal Council what is your policy?
Answer.—As our candidates run only on a Socialist programme, not a programme of reforms, their election would pre-suppose the existence of an electorate, the majority of whom were Socialists fully aware of the limited uses of local Councils while the central machinery of Government remains in the hands of the Capitalist class. They would use that limited power on behalf of the workers as occasion permitted, and would naturally take advantage of their position for propaganda purposes, pointing - out, as always, the need for control of the political machinery, National and local. It may also be pointed out that the election of a Socialist majority in one area would obviously also pre-suppose the close approach to a majority generally in areas with a majority of working class voters.

Question II.—Do you run candidates for propaganda purposes only?
Answer.—If our correspondent will refer to our Declaration of Principles (in this and every number of the S.S.) he will see that our object in running candidates at elections (Parliament and local Councils) is to achieve “the conquest of the powers of Government, National and local,” in order that the machinery of Government, "including the armed forces,” may be used for the purpose of establishing Socialism.

Question III.—Can a Christian be a Socialist or a Socialist be a Christian? (I claim to be a free non-orthodox Christian).
Answer.—Unless our correspondent is using the term “Christian" in other than the accepted sense, the answer to both questions is No!

We cannot do better than refer him to our pamphlet, "Socialism and Religion,” which deals exhaustively with the whole question.
Ed. Comm.

New Premises. (1929)

Party News from the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

It has now been arranged that we shall enter our new premises about the middle of May — 42, Great Dover Street, S.E.1., close to Borough (Underground) Station.

Socialist Brevities. (1929)

From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Gate to More.
You all know, of course, that Unemployment can be both nice and nasty—the degrees of niceness and nastiness depending entirely upon the quality of wisdom displayed in choosing one’s parents. Locker- Lampson, Fat-fee Smith, Lloyd George, etc., etc., suffer their pangs amidst the lush verdure of the Riviera, but we workers prefer to cultivate our faculties of observation by meandering around looking for the display of that soul-stirring caption — "Hands wanted”! (Of course, if you are a baker, you may be expected to use your feet!)

However, let us look at unemployment as known to, and regarded as a normal risk by, the workers. Labour "leaders,” "economists,” and "captains of industry,” have constantly asserted that the cure for this disease is "More production,” "Rationalisation ” or "Nationalisation” —all fancied names for the increased exploitation of the workers. "Look at America!” they say. But let us look at England first. Lord Ebbisham, the President of the Federation of British Industries, in an article in the "Morning Post” (14/1/29), surveying British industrial conditions during 1928, makes the following statement:—
   Lastly, the reliability of unemployment returns as an index to industrial activity has been affected by the economy of effort and labour, which is one of the outstanding features of post-war industrial reorganisation. There is little doubt that post-war methods of manufacture aim at increasing output while actually decreasing the number of men engaged in production. That most of the workers so displaced will find employment in new industries does not minimise the significance of the possibility that, if the present tendency continues manufacturing, as opposed to marketing, finance, and other commercial activities, will in the future make progressively decreasing demands on the population, and in that sense will play a smaller part as a contributor to the general prosperity. (Our Italics.)
More production, more—unemployment! 

Observe that manufacturing (i.e., wealth production) will continue to make lesser and lesser "demand on the population.” A very generous interpretation of the 1921 Census returns gives us 7,615,198 workers engaged in productive occupations out of a population of about 45,000,000 (see pamphlet "Socialism,” pages 9 and 10), so the workers should feel quite complacent as to their prospects of increased leisure in the future.

But apparently, marketing, finance, etc., will make more and more “demands on the population.” Perhaps. Let us see. The “Morning Post” (1/1/29) provides us with a nice little tit-bit:—
  Will there be fewer openings for junior clerks in our large banks, owing to the ever-increasing efficiency of the ledger-posting, exchange-reckoning automatic devices being introduced? One of the latest of these devices is an American ledger-posting machine which writes out customers' bank balances in their pass-books and posts the amount of credit and debit.
  Under the new system a girl can do the work of two or three men. One of the largest London Banks is doing all its complicated exchange conversions by machine, and all foreign currencies can be turned into pounds sterling by turning a handle. A British machine for ledger-posting is being used at Lloyds’ head office, and nearly all bank branches are saving hours every week by up-to-date machines.
One need not be a prophet to see what this state of affairs might lead to in the future. I will hazard a guess, anyhow! 

Scene : A big Stores in 19—?

Salesman (to customer): “Bank clerks, Sir? Yessir! Fine line in to-day, sir. Six for sixpence each, sir. Or thirteen for a shilling if you are not superstitious, sir. Four gross, sir? Thank you, sir. They will be delivered to-morrow, sir, 12.30 p.m., in one of our plain vans, together with our free insurance policy. Good*day, sir.”

Ah! But engineering will always be safe for the workers. Munitions, ships and things. Do not, therefore, let the following paragraph, culled from the “Manchester Guardian” (14/1/29) disquiet you unduly: 
  Mr. James Rowan, general secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, in his monthly report to the members, writes that the most remarkable feature of the past year has been the heavy production on the one hand in most of the staple industries, and on the other the large percentage of unemployment in the same industries. Shipbuilding in 1928 produced a tonnage in excess of all previous years, except 1922, yet so great has been the progress of labour-saving devices that the percentage of unemployed in shipbuilding districts never seems to have gone below 10 per cent., and in many cases had reached 20 per cent., and even 25 per cent.
   In the engineering section much the same state of things has prevailed. The motor section had a great year, and certainly there was a boom in electrical engineering.
   Noting this, and while again noting there has been a record output both in volume and value, the percentage of engineers unemployed has been remarkably high. In all the productive sections of industry the same remarks apply. To think that at the end of a year of such enhanced production it should leave us with about two millions of the workable population redundant, is something that casts a very grave reflection on the powers that be. If this is the result of rationalisation, so far as it has gone, then it seems rationalisation has gone mad.

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Happy Erin.
Now how can poverty be cured before the cause is discovered? There are too many of us, that’s the true cause. Not enough jobs to go round, obviously. At least, that is what the Labour “leaders,” “economists ” and “statesmen” tell us—and they ought to know! The population of Ireland has been declining for centuries, so we will doubtless find here a happy, prosperous and healthy people. Especially now they have “Home Rule.” You will see this is so by the paragraph below, taken from an article on “Progress under Home Rule” by the “Morning Post” special correspondent (31/12/28).
  I do not suppose anybody will contradict my statement that the Government till is empty, or that the farmers are in a deplorable state. Mr. Cassidy, Labour Member for Donegal, made this remarkable statement in the “Dail” some weeks ago: “Unemployment and destitution prevail, thousands of farmers are in the state of poverty, thousands of fishermen are destitute, and nothing is being done for them. I think it is indeed strange that the Government should have given a thousand pounds to the Royal Zoological Society for the keep of wild animals while at the same time they refuse to keep human beings in the country."
Oh! dash it all. I’ve given the wrong paragraph!

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He Changeth Not.
What we want is “leaders.” Leaders who will lead! Sincere, honest, champions of the worker’s cause. Bromley, Cramp, Smillie, Newbold: all of these used to fill the bill. Even Trotsky is more than doubtful just now! But A. J. Cook is the man. He is the one pearl in the ointment, the true gilt on the cokernut.

’Erb Smith? N.G. Cook? The Miners' Messiah, the workers’ Whatname! Leaders may come, leaders may go; but Cook remains, with a tow-row-row! Cook the—    but what’s this little bit in the “Sunday Worker” for March 10th? Can it be? The great A.J? I’m afraid it can!

In his weekly article in that newspaper, this paragon, so well boosted by the Communists, seems to have followed his late partner, Maxton, and crumpled up entirely under the threat of the Labour mandarins. Here is a piquant extract:—
  A Labour Government would bring new life and hope to the workers, would increase faith in trade unionism, and thus would lead us nearer to Socialism. Therefore I regret the actions of any party or sections that start new unions, or that endanger the return of a Labour Government. This is my view after an active life of many years in the Trade Union and Socialist Movement. No doubt I shall be called reactionary, a compromiser, etc., etc., by the Communists in particular. I want every reader to become an active Trade Unionist, and control his own destiny, believing Socialism is our only hope.
You see, you get nearer Socialism, the only hope, by supporting Capitalism.

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Another Wreck!
In the same issue of the “Sunday Worker" there is another interesting item, which, by the way, may have some bearing on the defection of A. J. Cook :—
  The National Left Wing Committee meeting, held in London last week-end, decided by ten votes to one that the Left Wing Movement as a national organisation should be dissolved. It was emphasised that this decision does not mean the cessation of Local Left Wing activities, which should continue on the basis of local united front committees and workers' electoral committees, their work based on concrete issues before the workers. The decision was made after thorough and frank discussion, in which two points were strongly urged as making continuance of the organisation impossible.
  The first point was that the Birmingham conference political and organisational decisions have made it hopeless to turn the Labour Party into a working-class party. The "loyalty” resolution now makes Left Wing work in the Labour Party impossible.
  The second point emphasised was that the continuation of the National Left Wing movement in its present form involves the danger of a new Party which would be detrimental to the interests of the working class. The resolution adopted advised all Left Wing workers who desire to carry on a fight for Socialism that they can best do so by joining the Communist Party, now fighting alone for full emancipation of the workers.
Have you seen any of these “full emancipation" programmes of the Communist Party? Their slogans, too, are quite good —“God save the People” is the very latest, I believe!