The Jottings Column from the June 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Thames Police Court magistrate believes that the unemployment dole is destroying the morals of the working section of the community. In charging a man for being drunk on the dole, he described it as a scandal and an outrage, and was astonished that decent industrial people (there are such, then !) should permit it to go on. "Really, I wonder that anyone works at all." Apart from the silliness of the remark (since someone must work before doles can be paid) he apparently conveniently forgets that there is, at any rate, one section which does not believe in working—never did and never will—the members of which are maintained on the doles (large ones, too!) they succeed in squeezing out of those who do work, and whose right to appropriate and misuse is not questioned outside the Socialist movement. That same class employs magistrates and others to interpret so-called justice in their own interests. They are the real unemployed.
* * *
Mr. Havelock Wilson told a meeting of seamen at Hull the other day that nationalisation was the surest way to slavery. The surest way is to accept without complaint the conditions imposed upon us by another class holding the reins of power and at the same time support the existence of such conditions by voting this class into power, generally with the approval and assistance of "leaders" such as Havelock Wilson.
That condition has long since been reached. We are in the throes of slavery now, not on the way to it, as Mr. Wilson suggests.
"In all big questions it was the duty of the leaders of trade unions to consult the members before taking action. If they did not do so and the workmen submitted to degrading and abominable dictation they deserved to be slaves."
This sounds brave, but coming from Wilson we can estimate its value at once, and that is— nothing. Has not he himself posed as a leader ready to lead the workers anywhere but on the right track? And where is there a greater would-be dictator if anybody took any notice of him? He did not hesitate to support that nationalised institution known as the British Army when it suited his purposes to do so, in spite of the "degrading and abominable dictation" attached to it. All along he has definitely supported the master class, therefore the workers can have no use for him. They can emancipate themselves without the assistance of leaders, and when they have reached a period of full enlightenment due to the spreading of a knowledge of what Socialism is, they will act upon that knowledge and leave the would-be leaders where they belong—in the discard.
* * *
If what Judge Rutherford of New York says comes true, there will apparently soon be no need for Socialism. According to the learned gentleman it seems that in 1925 the world will undergo a complete transformation. No one need die unless he chooses ; there will be no necessity to work, no hunger, no poverty, no unhappiness. Bald men will grow new hair ; toothless gums will be filled with new teeth, and men and women will renew their youth and for ever become beautiful. And all because of a perfect food which will be discovered, and which will nourish and sustain everybody for ever. Altogether it will be a glorious condition of existence due to a process which will be revealed in due course by the Lord—if he does not forget.
* * *
After reading the above it occured to me that an item like this ought to command the attention of those members of the House of Commons such as J. H. Thomas, John Hodge, Henderson and Roberts, who have just attached their names to a memorial, along with about a hundred other anti-Socialists, urging the Minister of Health to publish and distribute leaflets "which would spread information about healthy, nutritious and economical foods" for the working class. No doubt Judge Rutherford, who appears to be in touch with the old gentleman who usually gets the blame for creating this ball of misery and madness, would gladly supply them with details in advance which would help to solve their difficulties.
* * *
Overheard in the workmen's tram the other morning:
Is this a free country ?—Undoubtedly.—Who says so?—Those who own it.—Who is it free to ?—Those who own it.—How about the workers?—Being slaves, they only count as such.—Have they no rights?—None whatever.—Not even the right to work ?—Not even that. —How came one class to have all the rights?—The workers made them a present of them and re-affirm it at every General Election.—Then they are in chains !—Absolutely.—Well, then, haven't I the right to get up and say so ?—You have not.—Not even to speak the truth ?—Not even to speak the truth. A man got fined the other day for getting up in Hyde Park and speaking what he declared was the truth.— Then what can be done—Nothing but keep pegging away at them with Socialist knowledge. It is the only instrument that will knock off the chains and shift the rights from one side to the other.