Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Boanerges Belligerent. (1908)

Editorials from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Boanerges Belligerent.

In other words, John Burns rampant. In fact, he is overdoing it

His greatness, John Burns himself admits; but it is evident that it was not the “Great Man’’ himself, but the workers who followed him, who were sold to the Liberal Government for lucrative office.

And the capitalist Press is at times cynically frank in discussing the merits of its faithful servants. Thus the Observer, doing the “candid friend,” said (15/3/08)
  Mr. Burns may play a strong role in the national struggle against Socialism, and we like his unstooping courage. But he overdoes the part of Boanerges belligerent. We do not want him to lose his influence over the masses. We want him to retain it; but unless he modifies his later manner his words will carry less weight with the masses than those of any man in England. Once that is seen, his present popularity with plutocrats will fade. These are not pleasant things to say, but they must be said if the President of the Local Government Board is to be prevented from spoiling his career by excess of temperament.
Clearly if John is not careful he will have j nothing left to sell.

Rival Paradises.

General Booth says: “The Socialists want to make the world a paradise without having a paradise people.” Is the General fearful of the competition of a paradise here below with his problematic paradise to come? Or does he expect hell to breed angels ?

The Socialist knows that a paradise people could only be born of paradise conditions; but Christians expect figs to grow on thistles.

And does not this reveal a fundamental cleavage between Socialism and Christianity? The Christian looks on man as the creator of his circumstances; the Socialist looks on man as the product, without, of course, ignoring the reflex action of past environment through the individual.

The environment is almost all powerful, and the secret of the promise of man’s future mastery lies in his growing knowledge of the laws of material development and his consequent greater adaptability to these laws.

To the Christian, evolution is man made ; to the Socialist, evolution has made man.

Well does the General serve his masters by directing the gaze of the poor from material conditions to mansions in the sky; but his chief merit must be, in the eyes of the masters, to have organised the greatest '‘free labour” association in existence.

The Doom of the Small Baker. (1908)

From the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Effect of an Eight Hours Day on Small Masters.
The officials of the Bakers’ Union continue to make pathetic appeals for working-class support for their poor little bantling, the Eight Hours Bill for Bakers, on the grounds that it would, if carried into law, solve the unemployed problem so far as bakers are concerned.

Now as the large number of small bakers still carrying on business in London and the large towns are themselves working much longer and harder than their overwrought employees, and spend their Sabbath, when not in Chapel seeking business, posting up their books and doing other necessary clerical work, and are yet unable to keep in a state of solvency, the forcing up of their wages bill by the enactment of a legal eight hour day, would be, in many instances, the last straw, and their shops would be closed forthwith. Even now the journeymen, after working a “night’’ of eighteen or twenty hours on Friday-Saturday, often cannot get their wages when they finish, but have to call round late on Saturday night, after the barrowman has brought money in from the rounds.

Immediately, therefore, the new conditions began to operate, the factory owner would scoop in the trade of the struggling masters, with the inevitable result that in a very short time the already large army of unemployed bakers would be augmented to an enormous extent.

The baking industry a few months ago was all agog because of the wonderful machinery on view at Islington. Since that time that “labor saver” has been installed in various factories in London and the provinces, and now several balance sheets are going the rounds of the Baking Trade showing the capacity of such machinery in actual every night practice. In one particular factory five hundred sacks of flour are being turned into one hundred thousand loaves by eleven men, and in another four- hundred and eighty to five hundred sacks are done by fifteen men, the extra four men being required in this instance because the bread made is “fancy.” To-day the small master has a difficulty in squeezing thirteen sacks out of each man he employs. Obviously, therefore, it is only a question of time and the small man must finally disappear altogether, even under the present conditions of unlimited hours for a limited wage, and any change whatsoever can only result in speeding the departing guest into the ranks of the proletariat. In the factory bakers are not wanted: any “unskilled” man of average intelligence can do what is required, and for laborers’ wages.

The eight hour day will come, whether it be legalised or not, in fact, it is here in many instances because the capitalist has found that after that period labour is dear at nothing an hour. He can suck all the labour force out of a man in that time, and just as he has no use for superseded machinery made of steel, he has no use for the human machine until it has recuperated. It does not pay him to run expensive machinery with men from whom all the energy has been pumped. He therefore selects a new gang from the large crowd who are always waiting at the gate, in all weathers, night and day. If by any chance he retains a gang for a short period over the normal day, so alive is he to the quality of their labour that he actually pays them at a lower rate for overtime—in some instances as low as 2d. per hour, and even then by a pretty “wangle” is able to comply with the Trade Union clause in bis contracts with Boards of Guardians and other public bodies.

The “big pot” in the trade is in favour of a legal eight hour day, and the reason is not because he is bubbling over with the milk of human kindness and sympathy for the journeymen bakers, but because he has everything to gain from it, and the poor devil who is hanging on by his eyebrows stands to lose what little he has.

What are we to think of those posing as leaders who are holding up such a palpable sham as a remedy for the miseries of the working baker? Happily an ever increasing number are embracing the only remedy,—Socialism.
W. Watts.

Party Notes. (1908)

Party News from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the Clarion of February 7th (Manchester Edition) appeared a Report of the meeting held by the Manchester Central I.L.P. The Report stated that the usual opposition was provided by representatives of the S.P.G.B.

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The Secretary of the Manchester S.P.G.B. wrote the Clarion pointing out that the “usual” opposition was given because the I.L.P. in Manchester (like the Clarion Van in London) does not accept criticism from the S.P.G.B. He held that the time and place to correct misstatements was when and where they were made, and if the I.L.P. wanted unusual opposition all they had to do was to place their platform at the close of the lecture, open to opponents.

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The Clarion said “ Sorry, no room.”

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We think we have heard that before.

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In the same column of answers to correspondents the Clarion said, replying to “The Clarion prides itself on fair play. We want our opponents to let us know their views."

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The Socialist Standard has frequently been complimented on being the best printed and turned-out paper connected with what can be very generally called the Labour movement. There is a new arrival in the shape of the Industrial Unionist, which is probably the worst printed production in the “movement.” In places the errors bristle so thickly as to make the intended meaning difficult to discover.

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The methods of discussion are not the cleanest, for in the first article on the Bankruptcy of Parliamentary Socialism, Labourism and Socialism are used as synonymous terms, and Socialism is made responsible for the political fudge of the Labour Party. This is about as reasonable as blaming Industrial Unionism for the sins of Craft Unionism.

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The S.D.P. in Battersea are evidently not tainted with ” Impossiblism.” On the 11th of March, J. R. McDonald journeyed to Battersea on behalf of the Labour Party. Mr. W. H. Humphreys, S.D.P., “proposed a resolution appreciating the efforts of the Labour Party in the House of Commons, also welcoming the local branch of the Labour Party and wishing it every success."

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An amendment was proposed to the effect that “the meeting fully realised the folly of supporting the political representatives of the capitalist class, Liberal and Tory, and was not content with a mere independent Labour Party, but declared for a pure Socialist Party.”

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The amendment was seconded by D. Carmichael, also of the S.D.P.

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Justice of March 14th contained a report of the Hastings Branch which stated that S.P.G.B’ers had taken part in the bye-election on behalf of the Liberal candidate. This is entirely untrue. Enquires have shown that no member of the S.P.G.B. went to Hastings, and no member of the S.P.G.B. assisted the Liberal candidate.
Dick Kent

Secret Political Funds. (1908)

From the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Twenty Labour members voted in the division on Secret Political Funds; ten for the motion and ten against. Thus was “ Labour’s Unity ” demonstrated.

A Resolution on Unity and the Socialist Answer. (1908)

Party News from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Tooting Branch.

Dear Comrade, 

This branch of the S.D.P. considers that the time is ripe for concerted action on the part of all Socialist bodies in the Borough of Wandsworth in the matter of elections and propaganda. I have therefore been instructed to ask you to send two delegates to a meeting to be held at above address on Monday, Feb. 24th at 8, to consider the advisability of forming a Socialist Council on the lines of Battersea and elsewhere. Hoping you may be able to do this.—Yours fraternally,
J. Butchart.

Tooting Branch S.P.G.B. 

Dear Sir,—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 16th inst. re concerted action on the part of ourselves and other organisations in the district and also asking us to send two delegates to a meeting called to consider the advisability of forming a local Socialist Council.

At the meeting of the Tooting Branch of the S.P.G.B. held on the 19th inst your letter was considered and I was instructed to reply as follows:—
  The Declaration of Principles adopted by the Socialist Party of Great Britain at its formation in 1904 (a copy of which is enclosed) definitely lays it down that we are in hostility to all other political parties, and therefore the Tooting Branch of the S.P.G.B. believing those principles to hold as good to-day as on the first day of their adoption must decline to violate those principles by sending delegates as requested.
  That these principles are amply justified from a Socialist point of view is easily seen without going further afield for evidence than the Borough of Wandsworth. On the 1st November, 1906, there was an election of Borough Councillors for the Tooting Ward. There ran three candidates on a Socialist platform with Socialism as their object and with Socialism as their election programme. There also ran three Labour candidates on whose election programme no word about Socialism appeared, but instead were more than 34 items, the carrying out of the whole of which would have left the workers where they are—in wage slavery. Both the S.D.P. (then S.D.F.) and the I.L.P. publicly supported the "in wage slavery" programme and therefore necessarily opposed the Socialist programme, thereby showing the difference in the object of the parties named and justifying the hostile attitude of the S.P.G.B. towards them. Obviously common ground for election and propaganda purposes does not exist.—Yours sincerely,

Paul Dumenil
Branch Secretary.

Answers To Correspondents. (1908)

From the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

N.B. (Manchester).—Since you hold that "The life and teaching of Christ himself were those of a Socialist," you misunderstand both Socialism and the religion of Christ. The Socialist policy is outlined in our Declaration of Principles, and the contention is that these principles are irreconcilable with the cardinal tenets of Christianity. Can you disprove that ?
J.B. (Hulme).—Thanks. Have made use of material where possible.
J.H.H. (Paris).—Thanks.   Translation held over.