Monday, December 16, 2019

The Rich Man's Burden. A Defence of Mammon. (1928)

From the December 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

Papa Smith must feel proud of his daughter! But these Smiths have always been a versatile and talented breed. The Earl of Birkenhead, K.C., P.C., F.C.B.* [*First-class Brains.] (affectionately dubbed Fat Fee Smith), erstwhile Galloper-in-Chief Extraordinary to the Ulster Invincibles, former occupant of the Woolsack, late H.M. Secretary of State for India, now forensic, literary, chemical, diamond and golden-syrup expert (with “glittering prizes” complete), all this and more; nevertheless, he must look to his laurels— he has a daughter! Lady Eleanor beyond doubt has inherited her father's well-known intellectual and amiable qualities. Whether roaming the Continent or over the columns of the Sunday Dispatch without a chain, she is always “all there.” Dad can write what are purported to be histories of past heroes (Charlie Peace, Crippen, etc.), but his daughter writes only of the present great ones. Dad in his time has defended many rich people, but only as individuals; but Lady Eleanor has taken upon herself the gargantuan task of defending the rich as a class—the whole boiling of 'em as it were! But let Lady Eleanor speak for herself.

In the Sunday Dispatch for November 4th, in her customary weekly contribution, “From my window in Vanity Fair,” she throws down the gage of battle on behalf of the very rich. Attend now for the Overture!
   October, if it has achieved nothing else, has at any rate been a red-letter month for the leisured poor.
   I suppose that over this year’s Cesarewitch and Cambridgeshire more money has been won in what the novelists call “Clubland” than at any time in the last 20 years.
  Still, you must not run away with the idea that the proportion of Clubland which makes its living by betting and playing bridge for high stakes is a very considerable unit of the population.
  Five per cent, of “Clubmen” ? Possibly.
  And they are the idle poor, not the idle rich.
  The more I think of that phrase, “the idle rich,” the more I come to realise that the idle are not the rich and the rich are not the idle.
   Only the relatively poor can afford to be idle; wealth carries with it far too many responsibilities.
   Consider the so-called "gilded youth” of England.
   You will find that the “bright young sparks,” the ‘‘gay dogs-about-town,” whatever you like to call them, who lead a strictly butterfly existence, are, almost without exception, penniless and, moreover, always have been—is not a case of cause and effect.
   I could mention to you at least two young Peers with a reputation for idleness who were born heir to the most impoverished titles in the country.
   Well, you would hardly call them the idle rich, would you?
There now! It just shows you how prone we all are to mistake appearances for reality. In future we will know that Bond Street and Regent Street are kept going by the “idle poor.” Those people who chase the sun round the world in sumptuous yachts are not the rich. The people who flock to Cowes, Goodwood, Ascot and Henley are merely the impoverished ones! The swagger golf clubs, the participants in the Quorn and Pytchley Hunts for one-half of the year? pooh! mere Poor Law Institutions! The diners at the Ritz, Cecil or Berkeley?—-they “haven't a bean ! ”

When next you hear that Lord Spondulicks is off to Cannes, Deauville, Egypt, or going big game hunting in Central Africa, you will be able to size him up at once as one of the very poor, almost on the “dole” !

Who are the rich, then? Lady Eleanor can tell you !
  When you come to the really rich young men it is a very different story.
  I take three at random : Mr. Evan Morgan, whose father, Lord Tredegar, owns Newport, and must be one of the richest men in England; Lord Dumfries, son of Lord Bute, who is probably about the richest landowner in the country and owns a greater part of Cardiff Docks; and Sir Michael Duff-Assheton-Smith, who inherited over a million pounds on his 21st birthday the other day, and owns extensive slate quarries in Wales.
Not a bad kick-off, either? One is surprised, though, to find that he did not save this sum out of his school allowance ! (You, reader, if you work hard enough, and “put by" one pound per week, will be possessed of a similar sum round about A.D. 21158 !)

I am sure it would be a wonderful sight to see young Mike blasting his father’s slates (though this would come easier to him if, like the writer, he lived under a leaky roof!). And to think of young Lord Dumfries “humping” 2-cwt. sacks of sugar at his father’s docks—isn’t it too, too terrible?

But Lady Eleanor goes into more intimate and ghastly details of the hardships and toils of the really rich man’s life :—
  No one can say that landed youth shirks its responsibilities.
  Take Lord Feversham.
  Lord Feversham studied farming in South Africa first-hand, before taking over the management of his Yorkshire estates on his majority. On taking charge he promptly reduced the rents on the Duncombe estate by 15 per cent.
(Of course, nasty people, misled by those agitators, might say that old man Feversham must have been a bit of a Shylock, but we should speak well of the dead.)
  You will rarely see Lord Feversham in London; he has far too much work to do in Yorkshire, where, in addition, he is president of the Yorkshire Junior Conservative organisations.
  I should say that Lord Feversham, at the age of 22, was one of the most popular landlords in England.
How he must envy the care-free ploughman tripping lightly about his congenial duties from sunrise to sunset. What would he not give to change places with the miner, recumbent in soft repose (and one foot of cool water), hewing gaily at a more or less responsive coal seam ! Oh, for the daily round and common task of the engine driver or fireman on an express passenger train !

With the approach of the season of goodwill and costivity we should remember these poor rich men toiling solely on our behalf— in Conservative Associations and elsewhere!

But, to continue :—
   A lot of these rich young men are going in for politics.
  Sir Michael Duff-Assheton-Smith, when he is not concerned with his Welsh estate, works all day long in an office where he learns the business of politics under the guidance of Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson.
How does he stand the strain? Two days’ work in one is far too much for. one of such tender years! One would think that learning the arduous details of conducting campaigns of "Clear out the Reds,” or stampeding the electorate with the aid of "Red Letters,” would be a full-time job for anyone, but it seems the rich are real whales for work ! But there are other paragons of industry, it appears :— .
  Mr. Loel Guinness, Mr. Benjamin Guinness’s son, went so far in the direction of hard work that he even spent his honeymoon learning business in Pittsburg.
  Now he is so busy nursing a constituency that he will be unable to visit his mother in her villa in Cannes this winter.
Stern duty first, and love a poor second! But what fearful news for all those ambitious youths who succumb to the allurements of the advertisements which promise them success in business and professional avocations! (You know the sort of thing I mean—"Let me be your father,” "I planned this man’s career! ” "Increase your salary!” etc., etc.) When these young fellows learn that they will have to compete with prodigies of this type—such a Collossus of energy and genius—despair will animate their bosoms and thoughts of destruction enter their hearts. But, then, ’twas ever thus! The battle is to the strong, the race to the swift.

Now for the penultimate spasm :—
  Then Mr. Evan Morgan.
  Mr. Morgan contrives to fit into his life more strenuous and varied work than any young man I know.
  He is in charge of Lord Tredegar’s Limehouse estate, and has done an amazing amount of good in the district, where he is standing as Conservative candidate.   Mr. Morgan is only one of a group of young men of the so-called “leisured classes” who work like slaves in the East End in the cause not only of Conservatism but of improvement in social conditions generally.
  Mr. William Teeling, in Silvertown, is another. Colonel John Dodge, in Mile End, a third.
It is hoped that the ungrateful wretches who have so much done for them by such hardworking kindly people with no thought of reward for themselves will see the error of their ways and will respond to their importunities to put them into Parliament, where they will be able to do even more "not only in the cause of Conservatism, but of improvement in social conditions generally.” Truly they love the workers! Even that low fellow, Karl Marx, admits that when he says "The bourgeois is a bourgeois for the benefit of the working- class !"

And now for the Grand Finale :—
  So much for the leisured classes.
  I can assure you that more work is done for nothing by the "leisured classes” of England than the average person would consent to do for a salary of several thousands a year.
  It seems to me that there are very few people born with silver spoons in their mouths who do not apply them to the feeding of others besides themselves.
  I am thinking also of those women, of some of whom you see photographs here, who devote their lives unremittingly to the organisation of various forms of entertainment in aid of charity.
  Where our charities would be were it not for the “idle rich” I scarcely like to contemplate.
And the greatest of these is charity! One would expect that their unremitting labours in the cause of charity would exact from their benevolent constitutions a heavy toll, but, wonderful to relate, they appear to look quite well on it. (Lady Balchett is without a wrinkle at 74 !)

Of course, that wretched Tolstoy has said, “the rich will do anything for the poor, except get off their backs,” but he was only an old cynic, who should have been ashamed to assail the motives of those who strive so disinterestedly to keep the poor content with their lot. If it were not for the charitable rich with their coal and blankets and soup kitchens, the poor might no longer support these benevolent ones in their devoted efforts to maintain the present glorious system of society, and might even put those horrid Socialists into power to deprive the rich of their hard-gotten wealth. And how thankful these rich people would feel if this were done ! For if we had Socialism, these poor, toiling, rich wretches would have some surcease from their labours, and would be required to do merely the same amount of work as anybody else. Up to date, however, there has been no great rush on their part to join the Socialist Party, which is a matter for surprise, is it not?

On the back of the working class (1928)

From the December 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

Click to enlarge.

Parliamentary Fund. (1928)

Party News from the December 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

Molten Steel (1964)

Editorial from the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

Over the past few years, the steel industry has become a sort of political shuttlecock, bouncing back and forth between nationalisation and de-nationalisation. The last Labour government took it under State control and later on their Tory successors sold most of it back to private investors. Now, with the arrival of Wilson’s government, it looks as if steel may well be buffeted about the Commons again, and once more find itself a state industry.

Nationalisation of any industry is not something which is done in the interests of the working class, and is not therefore worthy of their support. The capitalist class may squabble among themselves about whether a particular industry is in need of state control, but these arguments revolve around investment, competitiveness, profitability, etc., things which are dear to any capitalist’s heart, but of no concern to workers. In the light of this, it is interesting to read the press reports of Parliament’s first debate on steel this session. There were fierce words and a government majority of seven, but pro-nationalisation sentiment was by no means confined to the Labour benches.

The burden of the government’s case was that steel had become a dangerous monopoly, keeping prices up and “holding the nation to ransom". Their answer is to create a state monopoly in place of the private one and so make sure that the capitalist class as a whole shall have direct control over it. From the capitalist point of view there is an argument for state control, at least of the main sections of the industry. The phenomenal growth of the motor car industry, for example, has highlighted the importance of steel in a highly competitive world. And if, as Mr. Lee claims, private investors are simply unable to find the huge sums for new plant and modernisation, then the state will have to step in and do it instead. An assured supply of cheap steel is vital to modern capitalist economy. Steel has, in fact, become a “basic industry”.

What of the attitude of the other parties in the Commons on this issue? In the debate of November 9th, the Tories said they were uncompromisingly opposed to the government’s proposals, but even their fiery spokesman Iain Macleod had to admit that whoever had won the election, there would have had to be “careful and detailed talks” with the steel bosses—in other words more state direction and control. Successive Conservative governments have never been slow to order the steel firms about anyway. It was at their insistence that the unprofitable Ravenscraig strip mill was foisted on Colvilles. The Liberal Party wants a truce in the fight, but is certainly not opposed to nationalisation in principle. That much was clear from Mr. Hooson’s speech. More competition is their cry, and a mixture of state and private enterprise, one battling against the other for sales.

There was a time when nationalisation was advocated by the Labour Party with a heavy accent on the benefits which they claimed would accrue to the workers. This was the case in the coal mines, for example; state control was supposed to be the only answer to the miners’ problems. In the case of steel this argument was barely whispered. Nobody bothered to use “workers” interests' even as a propaganda gimmick, and the arguments from all parts were almost entirely about the ability of British steel to maintain itself against foreign competition. Yet despite this, and the bitter disillusionment of other nationalised industries—particularly under Labour government—Mr. Lee was still able to claim the support of the unions in the steel industry for his government’s proposals.

The experience of nationalised industries should have shown the futility of supporting these measures. In the industries which have been taken over, workers are still in the same basic position as before. They still have to work for wages and their efforts to improve their pay and conditions are resisted just as stoutly by the government boards as by the old boards of directors. Capitalism continues unmolested and Socialism, in which all the means of production and distribution will be owned by society, is no nearer than before.

News in Review: Youth (1964)

The News in Review column from the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard



The latest news is it's with it to be young!

You can be a Mod or a Rocker and make a nuisance of yourself at the seaside in the summer. Or you can be a Beatles fan and make a nuisance of yourself, off and on, at London Airport all the year round.

You can twiddle your transistor and you can wear the latest snazzy clothes.

You can be a young criminal; about half of all indictable crimes are committed by people under twenty-one. Or you can be one of the rising number of cases of veneral disease; Dr. Leslie Weatherhead recently told the Public Morality Council (wow!) in London that he thought your sexual behaviour was “verging on a national disaster.”

Yes, you’re with it. Nobody’s ever been like you before and nobody’s ever going to be brilliant enough to be like you in the future.

But what else did that old square Weatherhead say about you ?
  I am sure that if there was another war they would give their lives for their country just as readily as my own generation has done.
And do you know he’s probably right, except that you haven’t got a country to give your life for.

Let’s have a look at you, youngster. There are plenty of mealy-mouthed sociologists, religicos, politicians, newspapermen, who try to kid us that you’re socially significant. They make long, dull speeches and they write long, dull articles trying to prove that you are in revolt.

They say that you break and enter because you’re dissatisfied with society. You catch a dose because you are bewildered by the pace, the pressures and the priorities of modern capitalism.

Well you’re not the first person to get het up about such things. Your mum and dad were het up, just after the last war. They thought everything would be alright if they voted Labour. Your grandparents were het up after 1918. They went on hunger marches, maybe they even signed the Peace Pledge. They thought they were going places, while the squares of those days held their hands up in horror.

But when the crunch came they were no better than the rest. In capitalism’s hour of need they were not found wanting. They joined up and gave their young, frustrated, bewildered lives—or helped to kill equally confused and hapless people on the other side.

And while this was going on the people who are really het up—the people who have understood the problems of society and have thought their way to an answer —were quietly and steadfastly making their stand.

They have seen many het ups like you come and go, these people, and they arc not impressed by them; they know that they all end up the same way. They even regard some of the het ups—again like you—as one of the problems to get het up about.

Think about that, the next time you go on a rave. It’s with it to be young but if you don’t do something soon none of us may be with anything any more.

The exiles' return

It is difficult to decide how best to describe it.

Expediency? Resilience? Forgetfulness, perhaps? Whatever it is, no politician who aspires to the heights should be without it. .

We all remember the late Aneurin Bevan, who spent a lot of time upsetting his colleagues on the Labour Front Bench but who could always reconcile himself to eventually uniting with those same colleagues. Before he died, Bevan had managed to forget that Hugh Gaitskell was a “desiccated calculating machine” and was Gaitskell’s most loyal and useful deputy.

Consider now the cases of Mr. Ian Macleod and Mr. Enoch Powell. Both of these men have recently returned to the Conservative Front Bench, and both have an interesting history.

Mr. Macleod once seemed to be Macmillan’s favourite son; it was even whispered that he was sure to take over the Tory Party when Supermac finally gave up. But Macleod got the hot seat of Colonial Affairs, which cost him a lot of favour among the Settler lobby (Lord Salisbury called him “too clever by half"). So it came about that when Macmillian resigned, although Macleod fancied his chances, he was never really in the running for the leadership.

Macleod showed his pique—or whatever it was—by refusing to serve under Douglas-Home and by taking himself off to the editorship of The Spectator, from which vantage point he bombarded his party with a sensational article which attacked the “magic circle" who selected Sir Alec as Prime Minister.

Now for Mr. Powell. He is one of the knobbliest of politicians, one who must be getting to know the way back from the self-imposed wilderness. He resigned from the Conservative government at the same time as Thorneycroft threw in the Chancellorship (Mr. Macmillan’s “little local difficulty”), came back at the Ministry of Health in the big reshuffle in July 1962 (although the policies he had resigned over were still operative) and finally refused to continue in the government when Douglas-Home became Premier. For this last refusal, characteristically, Mr. Powell gave no reason.

Since then, Powell has got into the headlines with some dourly reactionary speeches which have been too much even for Mr. Quintin Hogg, who called him “a sort of Mao Tse-tung of Toryism.” (Soon after that Mr. Powell likened Harold Wilson to Louis XIV, which proved that beneath that grim exterior there lurks something like a sense of humour.)

It is evident that both Macleod and Powell have been able to forget, or suppress, or what you will, the memory of those days they spent on the outside looking in. They could not bring themselves to work under Sir Alec when he was Prime Minister but it is apparently a different matter now that he is only Leader of the Opposition.

But there has been no political change to justify this reversal. So what else could have changed? Could it be the men themselves? Or could it be that the Conservative defeat has thrown the leadership struggle wide open once more?

Both Macleod and Powell have posed as men of inflexible principle. We are accustomed now to high flown speeches and dramatic political gestures. Underneath them, a politician is a politician for all that.


Kruschchev goes

What with the fall of Mr. Kruschchev, and the return of President Johnson to the White House, the last few weeks have been a busy time for the political seers.

These gentlemen have all been hard at work, speculating on what the Brezhnev/Kosygin dictatorship will mean for the future of the Soviet Union. They have all been analysing the portents for the United States, now that the votes there have so decisively confirmed the Democratic Party—or at any rate that part of it which sticks to the Johnson line—in power.

This all makes interesting reading on a winter Sunday afternoon but apart from that is worth very little. Government policies, in all countries, are largely mapped out for them by the conditions of capitalism at large. Sometimes these conditions force a new government to go directly against their election programmes, as they forced the Roosevelt administration in 1932. The New Deal, far from being a policy which the American electorate enthusiastically voted for in advance, was hammered out after the election—the Roosevelt platform had been one of balancing the Budget as opposed to the deficit financing which his administration eventually imposed.

But whichever party comes to power runs capitalism in roughly the same way. This is not to say that different governments do not bring any changes at all; only that whatever changes they may bring are quite insignificant. A Goldwater administration would probably have cut back the Democratic plans for limited spending on what are called social services. The new Russian government may launch a cautious peace offensive against China.

None of these changes affects the basis of society, and it is this basis which lays down the policies of governments. Johnson will have to live with, and may find his plans upset by, the international disputes of capitalism. Over these disputes hangs the massive threat of a nuclear clash. Brezhnev and Kosygin have the same problems, and they approach them in the same way as the American ruling class; one of their early appearances was at the parade in the Red Square, taking the salute as the tanks and the missiles and other horror machines trundled past.

What are the limited significances of the new governments? Johnson will probably run the affairs of American capitalism in a strictly down-to-earth manner. No risky adventures for him, no posturing on the Brink, no pandering to outraged patriotic neuroses. But if ever the situation demands that the Button be pushed, Johnson's finger will not falter.

The manner of Mr. Kruschchev's going indicates that something has happened in the Soviet Union over the past twelve years. In Stalin’s time, nobody was eased out of power on the excuse that they were ill; to lose favour was to face the execution squad. The fact that the big influence in Russia now seems to be shared by two men may mean that the present is a short interregnum from which another, undisputed dictator may emerge, much as Kruschchev himself did.

But none of these speculations, or changes, are worth bothering about. Whatever the political complexion of a government, and whatever promises it may have had to make to get power, it is largely helpless when gripped by the events of capitalism. The lives of the working class—the ordinary people—in Russia and the United States will be essentially unaffected by changes at the top.

Which means that the skilfully organised vote in the Kremlin, and all those hands which Johnson shook, did not mean a thing.


Committee of 100

Stand by for another amazing performance by those ever-ready masters of double-think, double-speak, double-act—the Committee of 100.

For those of you who have just come in, the Committee of 100 were, not so long ago, the reckless dare-devils whose tactics of direct action were going to force the government to renounce nuclear weapons. They packed Trafalgar Square. They sat down in Whitehall. They were arrested by the score, the aged Earl Russell among them.

They had all manner of offshoots, like the Spies for Peace, who thought that they were helping to get rid of the Bomb by revealing the whereabouts of the emergency government centres.

They got up to all sorts of gimmicks, like planting Trees of Peace inside the wire of the bomber bases and holding an auction outside to sell off the aircraft.

They were a lively bunch.

But while this was going on the British government were turning out their Bomb and so were the Americans and the Russians and the French and the Chinese and goodness knows who else.

Then a funny thing happened. Or rather, several funny things.

First of all the Committee of 100 started to organise a lot of demonstrations about things which have nothing to do with the Bomb. Things like housing. Like industrial relations. The Greek government. (Some of them were framed by Detective Sergeant Challenor.) Racial disputes.

Then Earl Russell made it quite clear that the days of his demanding total, unilateral renunciation of the Bomb were over. He was, he said, now prepared to welcome “partial measures . . . as, for example, the lessening of military budgets . . .”

Did this cause second thoughts in the Committee? At any rate, some of its prominent members decided that its activities were becoming too remote from its original object, and they threatened to resign unless the Committee got back to the simpler proposition of Ban the Bomb.

But the Committee of 100 are still at it. Their latest idea, according to The Guardian, of 29th October, is a “ . . . series of study groups in an attempt to bring together Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Arabs and Israelis and to discover the facts behind the tensions in South Africa.”

The only sensible reaction to this is to wonder what sort of a dreamworld the Committee of 100 are living in.

Greeks and Turks are not lighting each other in Cyprus because nobody has thought of running a study group to bring them together. The same is true of the Arabs and Israelis. And, after the millions of words which have been written on the racial problem in South Africa, it is amazing that the Committee should think that their puny study group can add anything of any value.

These problems, just like the others which the Committee of 100 dabbled in in the past, are bound up with the tensions and disputes of property society. The Bomb itself springs from those very disputes. There is only one way to abolish them, altogether and at once.

That is to end capitalism and replace it with Socialism.

And what does the Committee of 100 do towards that? Exactly nothing. In fact, with their contradictory propaganda and their inconsistent activities they only add their weight to the many other organisations which confuse the working class. In that is their indictment.

The Committee of 100 obstruct society’s progress towards the world of freedom and brotherhood. When they finally go out of their confused and hapless existence there should be not a glimmer of regret.


Fifteen per cent

Ask the Man In The Street to tell you how the price of a commodity is fixed and he will probably reply that the manufacturer finds out its cost of production, adds on a bit for his profit and that’s that.

There is no need to be an economics don to suspect that there is something wrong with that theory. What fixes the cost of production itself? Are there no limits to the amount added on for profit? What happens to the price if another manufacturer undercuts ?

These questions were all given an airing when the government imposed the fifteen per cent import levy. The popular notion is that an increase in duty inevitably means an increase in price—and, presumably, that a decrease in duty means a decrease in price.

Even before the latest surcharge, there was abundant evidence to refute that notion. For example, some years ago certain types of steel were allowed into this country duty free, because there was a severe shortage of the stuff. But as the British steel industry's productive capacity caught up with its orders the government came under pressure to abolish the duty concession.

This they eventually did. Now what happened to the price of imported steel? Such was the competition between the steel companies that the Dutch state steel works at Ijmuiden actually reduced their price to take account of the duty, so that British car makers could continue to buy Dutch steel at the same price as from the Steel Company of Wales.

This does not always happen. If their market allows them to, some manufacturers may pass on an increase in duty or tax. Others may actually be able to put up their prices by more than the extra duty. Others may have to absorb the extra, wholly or partly, themselves.

Here are a few of the different reactions to the new fifteen per cent surcharge.

Harvey’s put their port and sherry up by 6d. a bottle. Canon (Geneva) absorbed the entire surcharge on their best-selling Canonet camera. In motor cars, the reactions were various: Saab (Sweden) raised their prices by anything up to £66. Renault (France) put up their prices, but on average over all their models by only 1.55 per cent, much less than the extra duty. Mercedes (Germany) increased the prices of all their models except their smaller 220, which is unchanged. Volvo (Sweden) bore most of the levy themselves, raising their prices by less than one third of the fifteen per cent.

We do not have to look far for the reason for these varied reactions. Renault’s increases were about the same as those recently imposed by the British car makers. Mercedes held the price of the 220 because it is a comparatively new model, in a range which they do not want to price themselves out of.

In other words, the foreign car firms considered the surcharge with both eyes on their competitive prospects in the British market. The board rooms of Ford and B.M.C. must be under no delusion that they can now luxuriate behind a comfortable tariff wall. They know they have to take account of the market forces of capitalism at large and its pressures on the fluctuations in prices.

100 days that will not shake the world (1964)

From the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

The dear old ladies of Cheltenham can come out from hiding in the cupboard and the grizzle-headed sons of toil can stop throwing their cloth caps into the air. There will be no revolution, as of yet.

The Labour Government, now about six weeks old, won the Election on a programme called The New Britain. Somewhere buried in the pages of that manifesto the word Socialist makes just two hasty, shamefaced appearances. Nowhere was the programme indiscreet enough to attempt a definition of Socialism. But in Cheltenham and Bermondsey this is a mere detail; the very mention of the word is enough to frighten some, and to enrapture others, in reality, nobody had any reason for getting excited about the new government, and Mr. Wilson's men soon got down to the job of convincing them of this.

During the Election, the Labour leader asked that his administration be granted a First Hundred Days, as new American governments are, to settle into the saddle and take up the reins of government. This idea caught on. The Guardian, which lately has leaned over backwards not to be beastly to the Labour Party, is co-operating by publishing a little diary of the period, recording events like: “To meet expected £800 million deficit Government announced 15 per cent levy on all imports except. . . . and “Letter to Prime Minister from Institution of Professional Civil Servants complaining. . . .” This was a rather cosy idea but perhaps Mr. Wilson had little time for such indulgences. He was busy.

The new Prime Minister immediately showed that he meant business. On his first Sunday in office he went along to Ten Downing Street dressed in a nondescript sports jacket and baggy trousers. The press loved this but the tailoring world took a rather different point of view. They were obviously afraid that the Wilson look might catch on, leaving a lot of suavely fashioned jackets and elegantly tapered trousers on their hands. Yet Wilson's rumpled appearance that Sunday was probably due to anything but absent mindedness. He has always promoted the image of himself as the ex-grammar schoolboy—the placid, earnest middle-class fellow made good. Just the chap, in fact, who always wears comfortable sports clothes on a Sunday. That jacket and those trousers were politically comfortable. The new Premier was dressed as carefully as if he had been turned out in Saville Row.

From the energetic man in Number Ten came the lists of Labour's Ministers. Mr. Frank Cousins could forget about the days of strife when he went on Aldermaston marches and swung his union's massive vote in favour of the Labour Party going unilateralist. His new job gave him responsibility for this country's military nuclear research. There was a Minister of Defence, Mr. Healey, to work hard to make weapons and a Minister of Disarmament, Mr. Alun Gwynne-Jones, who is supposed to get rid of them. There were all the usual appointments of men to look after the economic, commercial and financial affairs of British capitalism. The list got longer and longer—far more than Sir Alec had had—which showed that Mr. Wilson meant to play his part in producing more, even if it was only jobs for politicians.

Yet there were still doubts and fears. The Wilson Government was said, by people who pretend to understand such terms, to be too “left wing.'' There was the Prime Minister himself. There was Frank Cousins. Dick Crossman. Barbara Castle. All of them dangerous revolutionaries. Perhaps there were capitalists who were thinking it would not be long now before they returned after a hard day on the grouse moors to find that their servants had taken over the stately homes. The New Britain had promised that the Labour Government". . . will frame the broad strategy for increasing investment . . ." but what capitalist was going to want to invest when he might any day come home to find the under gardener with his feet up on the library table just finishing on the best brandy? Clearly, something had to be done to reassure them.

It was Mr. Ray Gunter, Minister of Labour, who spoke first. His subject was the dockers, and he was not diverted from saying his piece by the fact that he could easily be mistaken for a dockworker himself. Mr. Gunter is one of Labour's tough guys and likes to think himself as a blunt speaker. There was, of course, no need for him to be blunt about the dockers taking anything over; nothing was further from their intentions. They were only after another twenty-five shillings in their weekly pay packets, and some of them were sufficiently-keen on this to think the negotiators on both sides might be persuaded to hurry things along a bit if they (the dockers) went on unofficial strike.

Now to Mr. Gunter, on what he called the bed of nails at the Ministry of Labour, there is nothing worse that an unofficial strike. Such a strike might even upset the trade of British capitalism, or indirectly cut the profits of some exporting capitalists. So he spoke out. The dockers' threatened walk-out, he said, could ". . . only lead to anarchy, I strongly condemn such action.''

This was heartening stuff to the employers, who in their sillier moments might have imagined that a Labour Government stood for improved wages. The National Association of British Manufacturers promptly sent Mr. Gunter a telegram which “warmly welcomed” his intervention and offered him “any assistance'' they could give.

Mr. Douglas Jay was another member of the new government who seemed rather nervous about the effect of Labour's undeserved reputation for revolutionary hellfire. Mr. Jay is now President of the Board of Trade and he is obviously anxious to do all he can to maintain the economic interests of Britain's ruling class so that they still have some Trade for him to be President of the Board of. It did not take him long to arrange a visit to his counterparts in Red China, in the hope of drumming up some export orders. But before he went Mr. Jay made it quite clear, in case anyone should get the wrong idea while he was away, that the British capitalist class has absolutely nothing to fear from a Labour Government:
  The new Government (he said) starts with no prejudice or bias whatever against private business and industry. . . . Profits, provided they are earned by efficiency and technical progress, and not by restrictive practices or abuse of monopoly, are the sign of a healthy economy.
The response to this was immediate: “Mr. Jay cheers the stock markets” (The Guardian); “Jay's Assurances Help Equity Shares" (Daily Telegraph); “There was hardly anything Mr. Jay said . . . to which an enlightened industrialist or merchant banker would have hesitated to put his name.” (Samuel Brittan, then Economic Editor of The Observer).

Directly after this Mr. Wilson reappeared on television to tell us some more about his government's plans to boost the trade of British capitalism. Mr. Wilson was grave and purposeful, and had clearly been having some attention from the make-up men. He attacked wildcat strikes and restrictive practices. His government had that very day announced the fifteen per cent surcharge on imports, but that was a restrictive practice which escaped Mr. Wilson’s condemnation.

The effect of this surcharge is to alter the Customs regulations so that, for example, “wood sawn lengthwise, sliced or peeled . . . of a thickness exceeding five millimetres" is allowed into the country at the old rate of duty, while ". . . wood planed, tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, centre V-jointed, beaded, centre beaded . . ." must bear the new levy. In the same way, “Clothing, clothing accessories . . . showing signs of appreciable wear. . . ." escape the surcharge, while clothing which does not show signs of “ appreciable wear ” cost its importers another fifteen per cent duty.

It was apparently part of Labour's contribution to productivity to set a vast array of customs officers, shipping clerks and the like to work calculating and paying this extra duty. Perhaps somebody was grateful for this; at the same time as they imposed the new levy, the government gave a hand-out in the shape of a tax rebate to firms which are in the export trade. This rebate, also, will take a lot of working out, checking and cross-checking — work which will add precisely nothing to production. But the emergency measures were welcomed in the places where they know a bull market when they see one. Applauded The Guardian: “The response in financial markets to the Government's first economic measures was uniformly favourable." And Lord Inchcape, leading a delegation of Middle East exporters to the Board of Trade, was moved to say, “We welcome the Government’s proposed tax rebate scheme."

It was thus obvious that the Labour Government were doing all in their power to reassure the British ruling class that their interests were as secure as ever. And the ruling class showed their appreciation for this considerate attitude in the usual way. The Stock Exchange, where all men are far more equal than the others outside, and which is a sensitive (some say over-sensitive) barometer of its members’ prospects, responded. No shareholders sold out and fled to South America. No directors committed suicide. They just went on doing business in the normal manner:
October 19th.  
Gunter’s attack on the dockers. 
Stock Exchange "nervous . . . prices tumbling in most sections ” (The Guardian) Steels and insurances fell sharply. Financial Times Index (FTI) 9.5 points down at 350. 
October 20th. 
Mr. Jay’s statement on private industry and profits. 
Recovery in gilts, steels firm. FTI 1.7 points up to 351.7. 
October 21st. 
Further advance in gilts. Equities ". . . staging a strong rally ’’ (Daily Telegraph). FTI 6.6 points up to 357.8. 
October 22nd. 
Dockers decide on official strike for December 1st. 
October 26th. 
Emergency measures announced.
New account on Stock Exchange opened confidently.
Gilts, electrical and engineering shares up. FTI rose 3 points to 359.6 
October 27th. 
Gilts up again. Engineering and motor shares up. Allied Ironfounders—one of the companies which have donated to Conservative Party funds—gained 1 /10½d. on the day FTI climbed to 362.8—a rise of 3.2 points. 
October 28th. 
Recovery on Stock Exchange halted, as speculators sold to realise their profits. Good day for gilts. Bovis (with Sir Keith Joseph back on the board) gained l/6d. on the day. FTI dropped 3.5 points to 359.3  
October 29th. 
Business slacker. Channel Tunnel shares one of the few to rise. FTI fell 2.8 points to 356.5
The Stock Exchange will continue to fluctuate, under various influences, throughout the life of the Labour Government. One thing it will not do is to go out of existence. It is an important part of capitalism’s financial mechanism and the Labour Party has no intention of abolishing capitalism. Fundamental social change is not to be the ally, nor even the nodding acquaintance, of the Wilson Ministry. They have no mandate for such change and indeed have never asked for one. To have campaigned on a programme of social revolution would have been to administer the Kiss of Death to themselves, and Mr. Wilson is a man who fights hard to stay politically alive. So he stood, in the Words of The New Britain, to " .. . make government itself more efficient. . . . rekindle an authentic patriotic faith . . . " This vague nonsense won many more votes than Socialism, which after all is only a clearly defined solution to the hardships and contradictions of the modern world.

By their records shall we know them. The first Labour Government was famous for the personal vanity of its Ministers, for its reliance upon Liberal support and for its bungling of a prosecution. The second went down in history as the government which presided over the doubling of the unemployed, which split over the proposal to cut the dole and which finally, in part, sold out to the Tories.

The third lasted longer. They will forever be connected with the austerity of post-war England, with the wage-freeze, devaluation and the dollar gap. And they will be remembered as the government which eventually disintegrated, personally and politically, as so many of its members were killed or incapacitated by the strains of trying to control the waywardness of British capitalism.

What shall we remember the Wilson Government for? Will it, also, be swept from power by an economic tornado? Will it have to fight the unions, to impose a programme of rigid austerity? Such is the unpredictable anarchy of capitalism that the government, for all its erudite advisers, cannot know the answers to these questions.

Mr. Wilson is said to want to be remembered as the head of one of the great reforming Ministries of British history. We have been warned. There will be a spate of Bills dealing with all manner of minor anomalies. Sometimes they will be measures designed to undo the work of previous reforms. Some of them may be a little useful to working class. Most of them will be the usual shifts and compromises, the weary rearrangements of the pressures of poverty exploitation and the degrading of human beings. And when Mr. Wilson has finished capitalism will still be there, waiting for the next lot of manipulators to arrive.

There will be no revolution, as of yet. But how long the “of yet" lasts depends on the knowledge and the wishes of the people who send the manipulators back to Westminster. And that, Mr. and Mrs. Average Voter—in Cheltenham, in Bloomsbury—means you.

Our Bromley Candidate's Message (1964)

Party News from the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard
  The Bromley "Advertiser” invited our candidate, E. Grant, in the Parliamentary Election to state his position. We print below his statement which appeared in the issue of October 8th.
“My message in unorthodox. I am not a leader. I make no promises. I do not ask for your vote. Our election statement does not feature my photograph, neither does it say what a wonderful fellow I am.

The membership of the Socialist Party of Great Britain decided that, in line with our democratic approach to politics and desire to disseminate the Socialist idea, we would use our limited funds to make a token stand in two constituencies. Bromley and Glasgow Woodside.

Here the real alternatives are made clear: either the continuance of capitalism, with all the miseries and indignities that flow from it, or the establishment of of world-wide social equality based upon the common ownership of the means of living. We seek a mandate for Socialism. Nothing less will do.

Faced with a world in which two-thirds of mankind is starving, a class-divided world wracked with war and haunted by insecurity, the Socialist is one who realises that to solve such problems our capitalist way of life which gives rise to them must be replaced by a new social structure. It is both necessary and practical for the working nine-tenths of humanity to organise, consciously and democratically, to dispossess the owning one-tenth, and to place in the hands of the community the means of providing comfort and plenty for all.

Socialism involves far more even than the provision of abundance, of which we would take freely according to our needs. When work ceases to be employment, it will not remain the meaningless drudgery it is when we are forced to do it for a wage or salary. When the world’s resources are held in common and things are made not for profit but solely for use, work will take on a meaning it cannot have today.

Craftsmanship will flourish and the gap between the creative artist and the automata of the offices and the workshops seeking escape into mass-produced leisure pursuits and hooliganism will be closed. We ourselves shall decide where we work, how long, and at what tempo.

Technology, now so largely devoted to developing means of destruction, will be diverted towards eliminating undesirable toil. All races will live together in harmony. We shall become integrated, creative human beings.

It is a mistake to believe that the Labour Party, with its petty national mentality and its list of palliatives, contributes towards Socialism. Like the Conservatives and Liberals, they aspire to administer capitalism and, in power, do all the terrible things this task involves. The “socialism” of the Labour Party, like that of the Communists, is a myth.

A word about I.N.D.E.C. They protest against one of the greatest dangers we face and imagine it possible to isolate the nuclear problem from all the others and solve it within the capitalist framework. The truth is that war itself dictates the weapons, and capitalism is war-prone. The urgent task before us, therefore, is its abolition.

I urge the electors to consider this revolutionary proposition, and to act upon it.”
Eddie Grant

The Passing Show: Merry Christmas You Suckers (1964)

The Passing Show Column from the December 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

Merry Christmas You Suckers

— “A merry Christmas you suckers . . .” (Paddy Roberts).

This is the month when everyone is caught in a deluge of hypocrisy. It is the time of the year when the consumer goods market is stuffed with a horrifying mass of gadgets and gifts of all kinds, when traders are anxiously stocking their shelves in the hope of a sales recovery after the autumn slack, and when workers are getting their Christmas lists ready for the annual "exchange" of presents.

We mentioned hypocrisy. The G.P.O. takes on extra staff to cope with the mountain of mail which will appear in the fortnight or so before the 25th—a large portion of it greetings cards. Many of these cards will be sent to people whom, if you are honest with yourselves, you care little or nothing about; but such is the pressure of Yuletide tradition, that you convince yourselves to the contrary and then forget all about it for another twelve months.

Whatever one may feel about the religious origin of Christmas—and it’s worth hardly a shrug of the shoulders—we should perhaps examine the “peace and goodwill” message and ask ourselves whether it measures up to the world we know. First of all, is there peace in the world ? Maybe the various politicians would call it that, just because at this moment there is no major conflict going on. It could more truthfully be described as an uneasy lull while each side builds ever more terrible weapons, waiting for the day when they will be used. The conflicts leading to war are as strong as ever, and while they exist peace can never be a reality.

Then again, is there really goodwill to all men? Smethwick is a timely reminder of the conditions which make an empty mockery of the very sentiment. For the prejudices of Smethwick on October 15th are basically those of every non-Socialist the world over, on every day of the year. Prejudice between people takes many forms, racialism being only one of them, and will be with us in one shape or another as long as capitalism lasts. This is the system which throws us against each other in competition and provides the breeding ground for the petty snobberies, undignified squabbles, the race to keep up with the Joneses, the bitterness and often the outbreaks of naked violence.

No doubt many of you this season will eat and drink a bit too much, and tell your workmates what great guys they are. You will buy drinks all round on December 24th, and spew half of it up on the way home. You will listen to the maudlin platitudes of the Queen's speech the next afternoon, and tell yourselves it's not such a bad world after all. But in the bleary aftermath, the ugly truth will still be there. It will still be a capitalist world. You will still be members of the working class and the problems of twelve months ago will still face you in all their urgency.

The same old story

The past year or two have seen a lot of talk about a national wages policy. All the main political parties had this in their recent election programmes, suitably hedged round with meaningless adjectives such as “just,” “realistic,” “planned” etc . . . . But stripped of the verbiage, what does it mean in practice? Simply that workers’ demands for higher wages will be resisted, as always. True, the politicians will talk about “national interest” and the need to make ‘‘our” goods more competitive on the world market, and “sharing the burden more fairly.” They will try to convince us that increased production and static wage rates will mean a higher standard of living for all.

Do they themselves really believe what they are so persistent in telling us? If they do, you'd think they would be the first to cut their own incomes to the bone, but a glance at the salaries of some of the new Labour government ministers will quickly give the lie to this. And the rank-and-file M.P.s will probably be quick to vote themselves a rise of several hundred pounds a year if the opportunity presents itself.

But if you think that this is a peculiarity of English politics, you'd better take a good look elsewhere. All over the capitalist world, pressure for wage increases meets with the same bitter opposition as here. Some really hefty strikes have been fought out in such countries as Germany, France and U.S.A. over the past few years, to the usual claptrap talked by those in power. New Zealand, that example of state-subsidised paradise so beloved of the left, has certainly not gone unscathed in the field of labour disputes, and currently is suffering an economic crisis similar to Britain's. Prime Minister Holyoake has called for ‘‘common sense, restraint, and adjustment” (Guardian Oct. 24th) to meet the situation, although only a few days previously, M.P.s had awarded themselves a 39 per cent salary increase.

Over the water in Australia too. Parliamentarians have been setting a grand example in abstemious living. Says The Guardian of Oct. 29th :
  The salaries of Members in both Houses are increased from £A2,750 to £A3,500, plus an additional £A250 on their constituency allowances which may vary between £A800 and £A1,050 a year. . . . All Ministers, Parliamentary officers, and Leaders of Opposition in both Houses receive higher salaries and allowances. The Prime Minister . . .  receives additional salary and allowances bringing them to a total of £A17,100.
Labour opposition leader Calwell supported the increases. He did not think it could be said “that members had been avaricious or greedy.” Of course not. They have just forgotten the dire warnings which they themselves have uttered about the disastrous consequences of higher wages. But then, they don’t believe what we’re told, and neither should we.

A touch of Smethwick

Despite the politicians' protests, the racial issue poked its ugly nose into the recent election campaign and two Labour candidates were toppled by it — Fenner Brockway at Slough and Patrick Gordon-Walker at Smethwick. Even by the accepted standards of capitalist politics, the new Tory M.P. for Smethwick, Alderman Griffiths, was said to have fought a dirty campaign; he accepted the help of avowedly fascist workers like Mrs. Crow, and lost no opportunity of appealing to working class ignorance and prejudice along racialist and nationalist lines. His meetings were noted for the deliberate way in which he played upon the baser emotions and feelings of his audiences. In this way it was fatally easy for Gordon-Walker, whose popularity anyway had been falling in the area with each election, to be out manoeuvred and lose the fight. His party now supports immigration control, but apparently he was unable to square this with his opponent's taunt that Labour voted against it when Gaitskell was their leader.

To all accounts, Gordon-Walker fought a “gentlemanly” campaign, but what about his own feelings on the racial question? During the election he hotly denied that his daughter was marrying a “black” or that he owned a house in Smethwick and let it out to coloured people. Perhaps at the back of it all he is not so full of brotherly love for those of darker skins as many people may have thought. Nor should we forget the record of the Labour Party when last in power.

Then, Gordon-Walker was their Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. In 1950, he had no hesitation in exiling the Bamangwato Tribe’s elected leader Seretse Khama, from Bechuanaland, when he had the temerity to marry a white woman, Ruth Williams. There was strong suspicion that he had been influenced by the South African government’s hysterical opposition to mixed marriages: nevertheless, he maintained a gentlemanly but stubborn refusal to publish the report of the official enquiry into the affair.

However, times change somewhat, and with the emergence of more African independent states, the astute capitalist politician realises that overt racialism can be a very hot potato indeed. Even Alderman Griffiths has toned down his remarks since the election, as was obvious from his maiden speech, which played down the issue. Anyway, there will be an increasing “coloured” vote in Britain over the next few years, and Griffiths will probably not be the only one trying to forget the things he said in 1964.

Allowing for all this, however, colour prejudice is likely to be with us for some time to come. Why do we say this? Because in their ignorance of the real cause of their problems, workers will always seek a scapegoat. No legal enactment can deal with that. At the turn of the century it was the Jews of London’s East End who were blamed for overcrowding and squalor, among other things. Then it was the turn of the Irish. As these minorities have become assimilated, antagonism towards them has lessened, although by no means disappeared. With the Negro or Indian worker it is a different story. Their dark skin will pick them out in a crowd and provide a ready focus for the outbreaks of frustration and violence which are so much a feature of private property society.

Yes, workers everywhere have a lot to learn. They have yet to grasp the idea that what really matters is their class status, not the colour of their skins. It is a depressing picture —but not a hopeless one.
Eddie Critchfield

Stalin at the Gates of India (1939)

From the December 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

The British Empire is in the throes of a metamorphosis, and what is emerging we cannot even dimly discern, our masters are in the same fix as ourselves, the forces of capitalism are far stronger than their puny minds; the British Commonwealth of Nations may shortly assume a form not altogether to the liking of those who live by exploitation, though it may be more in accord with the aspirations of those who at present carry the ball and chain of wage slavery.

The Dominions are now a power in the Imperial sphere: the mother country no longer dictates; she tries to keep harmony in the family, but the rapid growth of her numerous offspring, together with the fetters which capitalism places on production, results in developments which are not perhaps strictly to her liking but which she must accept.

No sooner was war declared than the cry of "Dominion status” was raised in India: the rising capitalist class of India saw their opportunity and seized it. Great Britain finds herself on the horns of a dilemma; to refuse the demands of the dusky inhabitants of this portion of the Imperial domain would be to alienate the sympathy of millions at a time when it is necessary for all to pull together; to grant them would foster the ambitions of those who want India to break away; the Hindoos may get their demands acceded to, with a string attached to them.

Economic evolution in Asia has been rapidly unsettling the social order surviving from unnumbered years. The consequences of the fundamental changes that are now proceeding are looked upon by the Conservative element as the work of the passionate agitator, who gives voice to the discomfort of the masses ruthlessly shifted from their accustomed environment.

The dissolution of the self-contained village communities brought about by the stealthy penetration of exchange economy is bringing results similar to those capitalist development brought in Europe.

Mass production has invaded Asia and set millions of peasants on the move; they are trying to get rich and losing their land; as they come tumbling into wage-slavery and inquire as to the why and wherefore the spies of Stalin orient them to the mecca of Moscow, which becomes more and more their inspiration and their hope.

Moscow has for many years had amongst its many inhabitants those told off to educate the visitors from the Orient; it is interesting to observe in the one-time throne room of the czars how patiently the delegates listen to the remarks of a Hindoo, Malay or Chinaman, and how the Mahommedan visitor is carefully piloted along the path that leads him into the labyrinth of Soviet diplomacy.

Elphinstone wrote in 1819: “If we can manage our native army and keep out the Russians, I see nothing to threaten the safety of our Empire—until the natives become enlightened under our tuition, and a separation becomes desirable to both parties."

In 1824 another Indian official wrote to the same effect: "We should look upon India, not as a temporary possession, but as one that is to be maintained permanently until the natives shall, in some future age, have abandoned most of their superstitions and prejudices and become sufficiently enlightened to frame a regular government for themselves and to conduct and preserve it. Whenever such a time shall arrive it will probably be best for both countries that the British control over India should gradually be withdrawn. That the desirable change may, in some future age, be effected in India there is no cause to despair. Such a change was at one time in Britain at least as hopeless as it is here. We shall in time so far improve the character of our Indian subjects as to enable them to govern and protect themselves.”

The air of detached superiority pervading such statements enables one to understand why a sensitive people refused to co-operate with those so anxious about their "improvement.”

The intentions of well-meaning men are often fruitless when formulated with an air of condescension; the exploitation of India was undertaken, not for the good of the inhabitants of the country, but in order to benefit the ruling class of Imperial Britain; in spite of this, however, it must be admitted that, of all the conquerors of India, Britain has consciously or unconsciously proved the best from the standpoint of India’s future; the culture upon which British rule has been based and the novelties adopted in the enforcement of the law have put India into the way of ruling itself. Britain has shepherded India into the orbit of modern nations; capitalist development let loose an economic force, the social institutions now being created are to some extent shaped from the ideas generated by British influence.

The reader may form the opinion that the apparently hide-bound caste system would retard or prevent altogether those changes necessary to enable India’s proletariat to get in step with their Western brethren, but this is not altogether as formidable an obstacle as is generally supposed. The caste system does not operate entirely as the Western observer might expect; in some ways it is curiously democratic. Each caste is internally a self-governing and self-ordering community, rather like a guild in mediaeval Europe. It imposes on itself, without the assistance or intervention of the State, its own laws through its own committees and councils, on which each member has a vote. The caste is, moreover, a kind of brotherhood, often stretching over wide areas, within which all caste-fellows are equal, regardless of wealth or position in life. The caste also performs charitable functions, and is bound together by common reverence for the caste deity. And, curiously enough, the whole system, despite its antiquity, is remarkably flexible and adjustable to new conditions. Some castes were originally purely occupational, such as goldsmiths, grain merchants and (lower in the scale) weavers. Still other occupations, such as leather working, are considered degrading; and those who practise them are outside the caste system altogether. The economic factor can be seen working changes in the caste system similar to that which may have taken place in the trade unions; for instance, in some parts of India chauffeurs and electricians are now forming something like a caste, and, true to the old principle of specialisation, are relegating certain duties, regarded as menial, to other incipient but inferior castes. Also, if a caste abandons an occupation which carries some social stigma and adopts another, it tends to rise in popular estimation. An increase in the wealth of a particular caste, due to some change in economic conditions, may also raise its prestige, and it then tends to adopt the social practices of higher castes. Enough has been said to indicate it will not take capitalism long to cause the Hindoos to adapt their caste system to the exigencies of modern wage slavery with its snobbery, etc.—they haven’t even as much to learn, as many people would have us believe, to make them good commodity producers—caste consciousness may be a long way from class consciousness, but the remorseless march of the machine will eventually cause the one to evolve into the other. Before 1918 no trade unions as such existed in India, to-day there are probably a million members of organised trade unions in the country. In the present scramble Indian labour will make its presence felt and in the days to come its voice will be decisive. The revolutionists of India in exile came into contact with the Socialists of other countries and the movement has been enriched by the literature which these Reds have from time to time contributed; students and travellers have also played their part; the one-time Dominion Secretary of the Socialist Party of Canada, a Hindoo named Rahim, proved himself an able and faithful comrade during a trying period; Socialism is at work in India, and although at present confined to a few, conditions are becoming favourable for its growth.

India’s workers have not been allowed to emigrate and settle in the Dominions on the same terms as their white brothers, and this has been one of the causes of friction between the wage slaves of India and the other countries of the Empire. Stalin and Co. have not been slow to take advantage of the situation; the Labour movement of India, as a consequence, is not controlled from London so much as from Moscow; ignorance of this fact by the workers themselves does not detract from its truth.

Many motives induced the demand for a White Australia, but, unquestionably, in addition to racial prejudice there operated most powerfully the economic motive. At the Imperial Conference of 1911 Lord Crewe denounced the attempt of New Zealand to exclude the employment of Indians on any vessels trading to the ports of that Dominion. "There is nothing morally wrong,” he argued, “in a man being a vegetarian and a teetotaller, and his wife and family also, and being able to live very much more cheaply than people who adopt the European standard of comfort. . . . If a man is content to live on rice and water, and does not require pork, beef and rum, he naturally is able to support his family on a very much lower scale.” He wanted cheap labour for his class. The belief that Asiatic workers in general either force out the white workers or compel the latter to adopt the Indian scale is widespread, and in large measure it is justified.

How fervently the belief in the policy of a White Australia is held is proved conclusively by the fact that any hint of the mere possibility of opening up the Northern Territory to Asiatic immigration is deeply resented and the deliberate policy of the Commonwealth is to postpone exploitation and development indefinitely rather than in the slightest relax the strictness of the exclusion principle.

In New Zealand the movement against Asiatic immigration, directed against Chinese and Japanese, and only in a minor degree Indians, was contemporaneous with that in the Australian Commonwealth. Public opinion is unanimous in opposition to Indian immigration. No country has been so anxious to build high standards for their workers as New Zealand, and it is thought that the pressure of competition from Indians would tend to minimise progress in this direction.

Canada has had an unfortunate record in her dealings with the problems. Freda M. Houlston and B. P. L. Bede, in their book, “India Analysed,” point out that it was Chinese and Japanese penetration into British Columbia which aroused the keen anxiety of the people on the Pacific coast. The motive again was predominantly economic. In the lines of occupation taken up by them the white population of the province soon found itself unable to compete, and, great as was the economic advantage to the country as a whole of these busy and effective workers, it has long waged war with the end of extinguishing the competition they create. As against the Chinese, though the trouble is not over, the province has in the main been victorious, for China has no treaty with Canada to impose restrictions on Canadian federal or provincial action. As regards the Japanese, the matter is different, for Canadian need for trade outlets has rendered it necessary to secure Japanese goodwill, and the stationing of a Canadian Minister at Tokyo and the reception of an envoy from Japan at Ottawa are significant proofs of the deep concern of Canada with maintenance of friendly relations. Japan, for her part, has acquiesced in the decision of Canada that immigration on any large scale is banned. A limited number of Japanese can enter the Dominion each year, the whole matter being regulated by the grant of Japanese passports duly visaed by the Canadian representative at Tokyo.

Hindoos in Canada have fared worse than Japanese, although the former are British subjects. It was in part the recognition that the immigration regulations under the Act of 1910 were more unfavourable to British Indians than to Japanese that prompted the effort to coerce Canada into admitting the shipload of would-be immigrants in the “Komagata Maru” about 1914. The result was not wholly favourable to the position of Indians in the Dominions, nor, of course, did it in the least effect the purpose of compelling the Dominion to facilitate entrance. At the Imperial Conferences the attitude of Canada has been at once courteous and conciliatory in tone, but in action it has been adamant against concession of the right of immigration, save in the case of wives and children of de facto monogamous marriages of Indians themselves lawfully resident in the Dominion. Nor has the Federal Government succeeded in persuading the legislature of British Columbia to abandon the needless exclusion of Indians from the right to acquire the franchise. The retention of this attitude cannot be regarded as compatible with the good feeling requisite between parts of the Empire.

While the small number of Hindoos in Canada render the issue one of academic rather than of practical importance, the issue in South Africa involves large numbers of people whose original home was India and deeply affects inter-imperial relations. In Natal the Indian population was deliberately introduced to build up the prosperity of the country by the use of indentured labour at a time when no other form of labour was available, and that by now the Indians of Natal are largely descendants of those who stayed on with the permission of the Natal Government after the expiration of their indentured service. In the Transvaal the problem assumed another form, which space forbids me to elucidate. Certain concessions were made as regards the proposed setting aside of areas for Indians and a promise made to consider on equitable grounds any cases where hardship would be caused by enforcing the clauses of the Gold Law prohibiting the presence of Asiatics in certain areas.

The right of Indians is denied unless they determine to reach Western standards of living. Competition by Indians with lower standards of living has proved the difficulty for certain classes of Europeans to make a living, and it is hoped to eliminate this pressure by the removal of those Indians whose competition would be formidable.

I have dealt with this phase of the subject at length: the sellers of labour-power compete with one another: the cheapest commands the sale: the discrimination against the Hindoo worker by his white brother has not prevented the development of capitalism or retarded the downward trend: race antagonism has undoubtedly interfered with the movement for class unity, but both brands of labour- power are being forced by bitter experience to recognise that the exploiter can only be successfully opposed when fought from the basis of the class struggle.

The robotisation of Russia has enabled that country to move rapidly along capitalist lines, but the bureaucracy finds itself unable to compete successfully with its opponents of the Western world. It is all very well for its devotees to talk about one-sixth of the earth’s surface being under a Socialist government, these understand neither geography nor Socialism. Most of the Russian rivers run the wrong way; her natural resources, although vast, are not conveniently placed. The rulers of Russia know what they are up against if their dupes do not. It is to be noticed that those industries that enable armaments to be produced have been those that have been principally fostered and developed. From the very first, expansion has been aimed at, the object being to plunder under the banner of Communism those countries to which they could gain access. The tools of the Russian Czar, Stalin, and his Grand Duke commissars have been used to organise groups in all countries that could be penetrated; bodies that would implicitly obey the instructions of the Moscow Mogul. India has been the object of Russia’s ambitions for more than a century, and Stalin is making a bid to carry out the aspirations of his predecessors.

Capitalist Britain is the enemy of Russia. Stalin’s group have for years been busily at work undermining the power of their foe. In the great diplomatic game of the past few years, Stalin and Co. fell victims to the illusion that they had fooled the British ruling class as to their intentions.

Britain was apparently blind to what Russia was doing in Singkiang or even in Canada and every part of the Empire; Communists were apparently allowed every opportunity to get their work in. They did not realise they were being headed off—not until it was too late. Russia strove desperately to get Britain involved in Spain; if only the Western countries were tied up Russia could have a free hand in Asia. Britain did not bite. The Front Populaire failed to function at the critical moment. The French Government was wise, too. Austria and Czechoslovakia were allowed to pass under Hitler’s control, but suddenly, when Poland was invaded, Germany’s bluff was called, and so also was the bluff of Russia. There was hurrying to and fro, consultations, threats and moves in the Baltic. Britain and France countered with the treaty with Turkey. Russia is now desperately striving to obtain defensive and offensive positions in the Baltic, and her dupes in the Far East are commanded to compel Chiang-Kai-Shek to use all his forces immediately against the Japanese, otherwise he will be deposed by Moscow.

Singapore is completed. Britain, Holland and France stand ready. The bear will, for a while, ride rough-shod over certain parts of Eastern Europe. He may even retake Bessarabia, but he will find himself in a jackpot when the revolution in Germany, now within measurable distance, isolates him. Need is compelling Russia to show her hand, to disclose to the observing proletariat of the Western world what she really is. In the Near East and across Asia, through Iran, Irak and in Afghanistan, her spies and agents are actively at work teaching “Communism”; in reality building up an Imperial Russian organisation against Imperial Britain.

Russia is compelled to act now she perceives her enemy has anticipated every move she made, and she fears, unless she strikes now, it may be too late.

The discussion going on re Indian status is apparently outside what I have dealt with above, but it is vitally connected with it. Stalin and his group plan to place themselves at the head of 1,000 million Asiatics and make a bid for control of Asia and the world. In spite of the courage and tenacity of his Chinese Communists, China is still China, and refuses to be Stalinised, and if Russia eventually marches to the gates of India it may be that Britain, by giving the hope of Dominion status and the vision of independence to India has caused Stalin to be opposed, not alone by the armies of Imperial, Britain, but by those whom he was planning to bring under the hammer and sickle.

How fascinating it is to watch the loom of time turning out history! It is good to be alive and to know and feel the full meaning of what is unfolding.

Capitalism is approaching its death agony: the proletariat of the world are gathering around its death-bed.
Charles Lestor

Notes by the Way: An Imaginary Incident After the War (1939)

The Notes by the Way column from the December 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard

An Imaginary Incident After the War

Mr. Burgin is the Minister of Supply. Speaking at a luncheon given by the Institution of Production Engineers on November 17th (The Times, November 18th), he told an admiring audience of the vast sums of money being spent on the war; how “in the 75th day of the war £160 millions had been expended by his Department alone. In the week ended November 7th the amount in sterling of new orders was over £20 millions.”

So pleasing was this news that one of Beaverbrook’s papers hailed Mr. Burgin as one of the real discoveries of the war. Sir John Simon says that the war is already costing the Government over £6 millions a day.

On Friday, November 10th, the Director-General of Munitions Production in Mr. Burgin’s Ministry of Supply, Vice-Admiral Sir Harold Brown, spoke enthusiastically about the way the workers are working: —
  We are all grateful for the way in which employers and labour have joined in. I do not recall a single case as regards labour where the men have not given of their utmost.
  The behaviour of the men in the shops and the way they have worked has been simply splendid. They have not only given of their utmost, but in a most astonishing way they have tackled jobs they had never done before.
 lt is amazing to see how those who may have £3,000 or £4,000 worth of work under their responsibility at a lathe, but who are not paid large amounts, accept responsibility quite cheerfully and successfully. —Daily Telegraph November 11th.
Now imagine the following scene in Parliament after the war: —

Mr. Burgin, on behalf of the Government, proposes that, as the workers are “not paid large amounts” and are doing work of great responsibility in an admirable way, there shall be an immediate all-round increase of wages, of a handsome amount. Mr. Burgin then quotes Sir Harold as witness, and is followed by one speaker after another generously paying tribute to these splendid fellows, the workers. Then—after Mr. Burgin and Sir John Simon have explained that money is no object and, anyway, the propertied class are only too willing to make sacrifices—Parliament agrees unanimously.

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Professor Haldane on Democracy

Writing in the Daily Worker (November 16th), Professor Haldane discusses ancient and modern conceptions of democracy and puts in a plea for careful definition of terms. Yet he falls into curious mental blindness when discussing the Russian dictatorship (which he calls a democracy). This is what he says: —
  It is often stated that the Soviet Union is not a democracy in the British sense because very few elections to the Supreme Soviet are contested, so the electors have no-choice between candidates.
His answer to this is to recall that centuries ago contested elections were rare under the English parliamentary system, and it was only with the struggle between capitalists and landlords that party contests became the rule. Then he adds: —
  “But with the end of the class struggle it is natural that electoral contests should also become unusual."
All of which is ingenious, or muddled, because Professor Haldane is knocking down an Aunt Sally put up by himself. Nobody states that the Soviet Union is not a democracy in the British sense merely “because very few elections . . . are contested," but for the reason that the contesting of elections by any political party except the Communist Party is rigidly forbidden! A very different thing.

Professor Haldiane should continue his examination of Bolshevik totalitarianism.

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The Stalin-Hitler Pact Reaches Spain and Portugal

The following is from The Times (November 17th, 1939):—
  German agents in Portugal have been instructed to say that Nazism is only another name for a better form of Marxism; both meet in the triumphant cause of anti-capitalism. The aim here is to disrupt the Republic and to confuse popular opinion.
  From Spain comes evidence (confirmed from German sources) that the Germans have established contact with the anti-Francoists and Communists still in Spain, and are actually supporting them financially.
  They want to put pressure on General Franco, and they hope that by creating anxieties within Spain they will at any rate prevent Spanish exports from being sent to Great Britain and to France.
  This is cynical, but no more so than the German dispatch of arms secretly to the Spanish Republicans over a year ago . . .
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German Convicts more Humane than Nazis
An interesting comment on Nazi concentration camps appeared in a letter from a German refugee, published by the Manchester Guardian (November 9th, 1939). Below is an extract from his letter: —
 "My experience as a prisoner in one of the concentration camps agrees with the White Paper; but I feel obliged to raise my voice in favour of a category of camp prisoners repeatedly mentioned in the reports. These are the so-called “professional .criminals." Maybe they were employed as “overseers" by the camp commander and were intended to act as tools of cruelty and for the disparagement of the non-Aryan prisoners. But in my personal experiences they did not behave like that.
  They did not try “to curry favour with the S.S. by maltreating us” (page 35-6), but they declared themselves from the first day not to be our superiors but our comrades. They had to fulfil the commands given by their superiors, the brutal and cruel S.S. men, but when they could avoid it and be helpful to us they did.
 If ever I had a prejudice against the sentenced criminal I lost it in the camp. Most of the “professional criminals” were never inclined to the sadistic brutality of the S.S. I dare to say that without the buffer formed by our criminals life in the camp would have been far worse than it was.”
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The Communist International Forgets Fascism

Poor Mr. Harry Pollitt stumbles from one blunder to another. In a meeting he addressed at Glasgow (reported in Forward, November 11th), he pointed out that the Allied governments do not wish to offend Italy, so they do not proclaim “Fascism” as the enemy, only “Hitlerism"—“Not one member of the British Government has yet said that we are fighting against Fascism." He cannot have digested his Daily Worker of November 7th, in which the Communist International issued a lengthy "Call against War.” Hitherto the Communist International has always denounced Fascism and demanded action against the Fascists. This time—since the pact with Hitler —their manifesto nowhere mentions Fascism except to deny the British and French claim that the war is “for the salvation of democracy from Fascism.” Instead of “Fascism” the Communist International now finds (as it used to, back in the early ’nineteen-twenties) that the enemy is “Reaction.” So under cover of a hardly noticeable substitution of words the Communists make way for a return to their old policy of denouncing “reaction,” i.e., the French and British ruling class (who were, until two months ago, "democracies” when Russia wanted their aid), and simultaneously denouncing the Labour parties as the friends of reaction.

The next act in the farcical tragedy was the abject apology published by Mr. Pollitt and Mr. J. R. Campbell in the Daily Worker (November 23rd). Mr. Campbell says: “I narrowed the perspective in such a way as to concentrate oh German Fascism as the main enemy of the British working class. .  . .”

Mr. Pollitt likewise: “My hatred of Fascism had developed by five years' intensive anti-Fascist propaganda, which led to a position where I did not see in time the true role of British imperialism, and saw only German Fascism as the main enemy of the British working-class movement.”

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Labour Party Peace Aims

At the Caxton Hall on November 8th, 1939, Mr. Attlee made a speech setting forth the War and Peace Aims of the Labour Party. The speech was reproduced at length in the Daily Herald (November 9th). In all ways the statement was typical of the Labour Party belief, that the world can be put right if only the democrats stand firmly by a policy of “Justice for all.” Standing firm means at present waging war, and justice after the war is to mean the following six principles: —
  1. Restitution to victims of aggression, but no revenge; peace by agreement of all nations, not by dictation of a few.
  2. Recognition of the right of all nations to live and to develop their own civilisation.
  3. Complete abandonment of aggression; outlawry of war; and acceptance of the rule of law.
  4. Protection of minority rights by international authority.
  5. Europe must federate or perish.
  6. No imperialism; equal access for all nations to markets and raw materials.
The Times, from whose columns the above summary of the principles is taken, speaks very favourably of Mr. Attlee's statement. In its leader (November 9th) The Times says: —
  Mr. Attlee’s pronouncement yesterday on Labour’s peace aims was clear and decided. It matches well, though it was the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, with the declaration of the Foreign Secretary the day before. In no essential particular is there any divergence of opinion, and once again it is proclaimed to all the world that this country is of one mind and purpose in choosing the terrible resort to war rather than submit to the repetition of faith-breaking aggression which makes life intolerable for nations of free and civilised instincts.
Supporters of the Labour Party must think it odd that the organ of Toryism should find itself seeing so nearly eye to eye with Mr. Attlee, for has not the Labour Party often declared—though without real understanding—that war in the modern world is a product of capitalism? Has not the Labour Party also declared—again without understanding—that its aim is to abolish capitalism ?

The explanation of this ability to agree on war and peace aims can be found in the statement itself, for it nowhere mentions Socialism !

Mr. Attlee and the Daily Herald would reply, no doubt, that when he asks for “social justice within states" Socialism is what he means. But though he may make that defence in good faith what he envisages as Socialism is only the old capitalism with its worst evils seemingly pruned away by means of reform legislation. That this is so can be seen by the Daily Herald's belief that the Forestry Commission is “Socialist enterprise” (Daily Herald, November 20th) and by Mr. Attlee's description of the functions of a more powerful International Labour Office after the war: —
 It should be given the task of preparing international minimum standards of wages, hours and industrial conditions, in order that by increased production, by a more just distribution and by the wealth released from expenditure upon arms, the standard of living of the workers shall everywhere be raised. 
Surely the Tory Times can be benevolent about these aims—so could Hitler. But even if such developments were seriously attempted—and capitalism will always provide ample excuses in the shape of crises and “paying for the war” and “recapturing foreign markets” why the attempt should be postponed indefinitely—it will still be capitalism, not Socialism.

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Communist versus Communist: The Argument Continues

Below are some further extracts from Communist Party declarations about the war : —

FromWhy This War?” (Mr. Palme Dutt—published by the Communist Party in November, 1939): —
  We are told that this is a war in defence of peace against aggression and that therefore all defenders of peace and collective security should support it. There never was a bigger lie.—P. 8.
  This war is a fight between imperialist powers over profits, colonies, and world domination.—P. 4.
  This war is not a war for democracy against Fascism. It is not a war for the liberties of small nations.—P.. 4.
FromHow to Win the War” (Harry Pollitt— published by the Communist Party in September, 1939. Now withdrawn from circulation): —
  The Communist Party supports the war, believing it to be a just war which should be supported by the whole working-class and all friends of democracy in Britain.—P. 3.
  These fundamental principles of liberty, peace, and Socialism now at stake have determined the decision of the Communist Party. To stand aside from this conflict, to contribute only revolutionary- sounding phrases while the Fascist beasts ride roughshod over Europe, would be a betrayal of everything our forbears have fought to achieve in the course of long years of struggle against capitalism.—P. 4. 
From Daily Worker, September 19th (after the collapse of Poland)
  Not only is every European people viewing the fate of the Polish people with sympathy. It is also viewing it with apprehension. Where will the next blow fall? Who will be the next victim?
  That is why it is impossible for the British and French people to even contemplate a surrender to Nazi aggression. The war to halt Fascist aggression must go on with redoubled energy, and the British people will insist on a people’s Government capable of prosecuting that war.
From a Manifesto issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Daily Worker, August 4th, 1939—a month before war broke out) : — 
  It would be wrong to see the situation to-day, therefore, as a mere repetition of 1914-1918. In the last war, two alliances of great Powers, equally anxious to seize each other’s territory, equally aggressive, confronted each other.
  To-day there is only one alliance of aggressors— Germany, Italy, and Japan—which is, however, being tolerated and encouraged by the pro-Fascist big business elements in other countries.
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Correction: "The Strange Case of Professor Mamlock”

In the November The Socialist Standard a statement was quoted from the Daily Herald to the effect that the Russian authorities withdrew their anti-Nazi film, ‘‘Professor Mamlock,” after the pact of friendship with Hitler was signed.

Mr. Ivor Montagu, in a letter to the New Statesman (November 18th), says that the film “is not now banned and has not at any time been banned in the Soviet Union.”
Edgar Hardcastle