Thursday, May 14, 2020

Rear View: No slaves! No gods! No masters! (2020)

The Rear View Column from the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

No slaves! No gods! No masters!

Anti-Slavery International, an organisation founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce in 1839, state on their website ‘Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to harm people in every country in the world’. Indeed. But this organisation’s understanding of slavery is very different to ours, as a recent interview reveals. At one point Jakub Sobik, an ASI member, says: ‘Here in the UK, there are estimates of as many as 138,000 people who are trapped in modern slavery’ (, 25 March). History provides an explanation. Tory MP William Wilberforce was a member of the owning class opposed to chattel slavery as it was considered an outmoded and inefficient method of labour exploitation. He, like ASI, did not oppose wage slavery. He also supported child labour and had small children in his employ, opposed Trade Unionism, and was co-founder of The Society for the Suppression of Vice and Encouragement of Religion. He preached to the poor that: ‘their more lowly path has been allotted to them by the hand of God; that it is their part faithfully to discharge its duties and contentedly to bear its inconveniences; that the present state of things is very short; that the objects, about which worldly men conflict so eagerly, are not worth the contest’ (A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians). Information concerning their founder on is scant and misleading, e.g. ‘William Wilberforce, in his day, achieved much and was widely praised’. Quelle surprise.

World without wages

Selma James who founded the Wages for Housework campaign in 1972, is similarly blinkered, alas. Before pursuing this single-issue reform, Selma James had identified herself as a Trotskyist (the young vanguardist joined the Johnson–Forest Tendency at the age of 15), a black nationalist and supporter of Fidel Castro. She was involved with the short-lived but successful from a reformist perspective Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. Some four years after it was founded, the Race Relations Act of 1968 was passed. Ironically, the racist Commonwealth Immigrants Act came into force, under a Labour Government, that very year – such is the topsy-turvey world of reformist politics. Neither her pamphlet Marx and Feminism, based on a talk she gave in 1983, nor a recent interview (the, 8 March) support her contention that Marx has been useful to the near 50-year-old campaign. Marx called for the abolition of the wages system, not its extension! ‘Wages for Housework’s first campaign was to keep family allowance (as child benefit was called) in women’s hands..’. She also states: ‘The climate emergency clarifies much. The Green New Deal for Europe, of which we are part, proposes a care income for all who do caring work for people and planet – a welcome update on wages for housework.’ And as likely as Wilberforce’s early version of pie in the sky when you die!

‘Apartheid is against the interests of the South African capitalist class.’ (Socialist Standard, April 1969)

The Anti-Apartheid Movement, founded in 1959, continued to operate until 1994 when South Africa held elections, generally seen as ‘free and fair’ and in which all ‘races’ could vote for the first time. Mission accomplished? Hardly, alas. We read today ‘Just 3,500 people – 0.01% of the adult population – own 15% of total wealth in South Africa, according to a new study. And, there has been no decrease in wealth inequality in the 26 years since democracy’ (, 10 March). The first three Presidents there supported the dictator Mugabe. Mbeki is responsible for the premature deaths of up to 365,000 AIDS victims. King Zuma has his palace and shares responsibility for the Marikana massacre with Ramaphosa. Anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of the ANC: ‘They stopped the gravy train just long enough to get on themselves.’ He went on to describe the Zuma administration as ‘worse than the apartheid government’ and that he would ‘pray for the downfall of the ANC.’ Racism remains rife in South Africa, the most unequal society in the world – economic apartheid persists for millions. Yet it would be churlish to deny the AAM played a part in bringing about a more inclusive democracy. However, before then, the apartheid system – like chattel slavery – had become a fetter on capitalism’s development.

Revolution not reform

Imagine the real change we could bring about if the energies of those chasing reforms were instead directed to establishing a post-capitalist socialist world.

100 Years Ago: What We Said Then (2020)

From the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

In 1920 a Coalition government was in office under Lloyd George between the Tories and the Liberals who supported ‘Liar George’ and the ‘Welsh wizard’ as even the Socialist Standard called him. Labour was the official opposition. Their leader was a now obscure Scottish trade unionist, William Adamson, who was described as ‘the Leader of the Lib-Labs in his comic-opera role as leader of the Opposition’ (March). Also in opposition were those Liberals who remained loyal to Asquith, the pre-war Liberal Prime Minister.

The Labour Party had reorganised itself in 1918 as a conventional political party which individuals could join. Many former Liberals were beginning to take up the offer. A review in June of a book on nationalisation quoted its author as saying that the Liberal Party was breaking up and that Liberals of the ‘strongly individualist type will go over to the Tories, the rest will form the right-wing of the Labour Party’. A columnist the previous month had already asked: ‘Why this sudden conversion to the ranks of Labour? Why this new-found interest on the part of Sir Leo [Money], Lord Haldane, and others of their kind in the ability of Labour to govern?’, answering ‘Methinks the wind has shifted slightly and sails are being trimmed accordingly.’ This was a shrewd observation. It was also a shrewd move on the part of the former Liberals, as Labour did come to replace the Liberal Party as Tweedledee to the Tories’ Tweedledum and provide better career opportunities for career politicians.

On nationalisation itself, the review wrote that ‘nationalised industries competing with each other on a world market and paying interest to a class of idlers is merely a modified form of capitalism,’ concluding ‘the absurdity of working-class action for Nationalisation is apparent … the supreme objection remains: the wages system is to be retained’.

The Communist Party had not yet been formed, but there were groups and individuals who supported the Bolsheviks. Some of them denounced the Labour Party in the same sort of terms as the Socialist Standard did, as ‘labour fakirs’, ‘misleaders’ and ‘capitalist agents’. They were in for a shock. At the 2nd Congress of the Communist International in Moscow in July, the Bolshevik leaders, realising that the anticipated revolution in Western European was not going to come to their aid, changed tack and called for their followers to form a ‘united front’ with parties like Labour. An article in August, headed ‘The Super-Opportunists’, analysed:
  ‘Now that it is plain that the workers do not understand Socialism and fight for it, Lenin is pandering to the ignorance of the world’s workers. In defence he says that by supporting the pro-capitalist Labour Party and helping to establish a Labour Party government, the workers will learn the uselessness of Labour parties’.
The author commented that ‘if that policy is to be adopted, then it is necessary for the workers to follow every false road … Such nonsense as supporting parties and Governments to gain power to learn their misdeeds is not the way to socialism.’ Such nonsense, however, persisted for the next hundred years and is still heard today.

Earlier that year, a speech that Lenin had made in 1918 had been translated into English as a pamphlet. In it, Lenin had declared that ‘reality says that State capitalism would be a step forward for us; if we were able to bring about State capitalism in a short time it would be a victory for us’. The July issue commented: ‘That Socialism can only be reached through State capitalism is not true’ and that it was only being adopted in Russia ‘because the Bolshevik government find their theories of doing without capitalist development unworkable – hence they are forced to retreat along the capitalist road’.

There were clashes in the letters column with defenders of the Bolsheviks over whether or not Marx had said that the state could not be taken over but had to be smashed, or held that a socialist revolution could not happen in an economically backward country, or whether he stood for democracy or dictatorship in the literal sense – arguments that have gone on ever since, but which were set out for the first time in this period.

The Socialist Standard was more opposed to the Bolsheviks’ supporters in Britain, with their demands to set up ‘soviets’ and their claim that socialism was being established in Russia, than to the Bolsheviks themselves. The Bolsheviks were of course denounced for ignoring Marx’s views and for being a minority dictatorship, but their working class and even socialist credentials were not challenged. Another article in the same issue said that ‘in the special conditions and chaos caused by the war’, a ‘resolute minority’ was able to seize power in Russia despite a majority of workers there not understanding or wanting socialism. They could not establish socialism, but:
  ‘The new ruling minority promised peace and – to their highest credit – established it’. Despite ‘the appalling chaos in which they found Russia, they have … done wonders in the way of reconstruction and reorganisation.’
Reading between the lines, Socialist Party members of the time expected the Bolshevik regime to be overthrown. The concluding paragraph of the article certainly reads like the sort of obituary Marx had written after the suppression of the Paris Commune in 1871 – only fifty years previously. When the real socialist movement takes off, it said, ‘the rule of the Russian Bolsheviks will be a splendid lesson, not on the value of “Soviet” or “Dictatorship,” but on the ability of the working class to manage its own affairs’.

We wouldn’t say this today (and didn’t by 1929), partly because we wouldn’t need to, but in 1920 there had never been a government made up of workers let alone of people who claimed to be socialists. There had not yet been a Labour government in Britain. Governments everywhere were managed by capitalists or by politicians who looked, dressed and spoke like them. So, the point needed to be made that workers were capable of running society. Not that the aim was to establish a working class government. An article in February on ‘Government by Labour’ distinguished between ‘administration’ and ‘government’: ‘the first serves the people and the other represses them.’ The article concluded that, once the workers had made the means of production the common property of the whole of society, they would ‘proceed to administer them for the common welfare of all’. ‘Then’, it added, ‘the need for the State, for government – ‘Labour’ or otherwise – and the “keeping in due subjection” will vanish, and mankind will at last be free’.

The main problem facing workers at the time was growing unemployment, which was attributed to overproduction (and, sometimes, to underconsumption). Labour and trade union leaders were bitterly denounced for telling the workers to work harder and produce more and for going along with the capitalist argument that waste should be eliminated (if the capitalist class wasted some of its surplus value that wasn’t bad, it was argued, as this meant work for workers). But the real bitterness was reserved for the capitalist class who were denounced as arrogant, callous and useless parasites living off the backs of the workers and causing them to suffer. It wasn’t just class antagonism that was expressed but class hatred.
Adam Buick

All the articles from the Socialist Standard for the year 1920 are now online at the following link

Society: Abstraction or Reality (2020)

From the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

Such a thing as society?

Margaret Thatcher once famously said that there is no such thing as society, just individuals and families. It sounds like obvious nonsense, but she claimed that this remark was usually quoted out of context:
  ‘My meaning, clear at the time but subsequently distorted beyond recognition, was that society was not an abstraction, separate from the men and women who composed it, but a living structure of individuals, families, neighbours and voluntary associations.’
This in effect negates her original statement, and she still seemed to forget the existence of companies, armed forces, the police and so on (though maybe she regarded those as ‘voluntary associations’). And Boris Johnson, while self-isolating in Downing Street, recently accepted that the contributions of NHS and other workers meant that the coronavirus crisis had shown ‘there really is such a thing as society’.

However, there are reasons for questioning the existence of society, not in general but specifically under capitalism. The historian Thomas Carlyle, for instance, wrote in 1843:
  ‘We call it a Society … Our life is not a mutual helpfulness: but rather, cloaked under due laws-of-war, named ‘fair competition’ and so forth, it is a mutual hostility’ (Quoted in E.P.Thompson: William Morris).
William Morris was himself influenced by Carlyle, and more than once he returned to this idea that there was no such thing as society. In ‘True and False Society’ (from 1886) he set out three criteria for a ‘successful society’: that work be arranged so that each capable person should do a fair share of it and no more; that everyone who did a fair share of work should enjoy a due share of wealth; and that waste of labour should be avoided. None of those, he argued, could be satisfied by capitalism, ‘our present so called society’. Socialism, instead, would be  ‘that true society which means well-being and well-doing for one and all.’

He made a similar point in the Statement of Principles of the Hammersmith Socialist Society, written in 1890 after he and others had left the Socialist League. For workers, capitalism, ‘has ceased to be a society, and has become a tyranny’. In its place, ‘it is not the dissolution of society for which we strive, but its reintegration’ and ‘it is a true society which we desire’.

If, as dictionaries generally do, we define society as a group of people living together, then, vague though this is, capitalist society certainly exists. Yet Carlyle and Morris definitely had a point, that a society based on division into classes and antagonism of interests between them is not a true community, where people work together for the common good. In connection with our aim, a system of society based on common ownership, our pamphlet Socialist Principles Explained states: ‘A system of society alludes to the sum total of human relationships and is meant to distinguish us from those who seek to organise cooperative colonies, islands within a sea of capitalism.’

So yes, there is such a thing as society, but capitalism is not a genuine community or, in Morris’s words, a true society, where people co-operate for the good of all.
Paul Bennett

Marx’s world view (2020)

Book Review from the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Promethean Vision: The Formation of Karl Marx’s Worldview. By Eric Rahim, Praxis Press, 2020.

In Greek mythology Prometheus defied the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity, as a symbol of civilisation. Zeus then punished him by having him tied to a rock with an eagle eating his liver. In the forward to his doctoral dissertation Marx quotes from Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound where Prometheus tells Hermes, the servant of the gods:
Be sure of this, I would not change my state
Of evil fortune for your servitude.
Better to be the servant of this rock
Than to be faithful boy to Father Zeus.
In this short book Eric Rahim wonders if the 23-year-old Marx was beginning to think of himself as a latter-day Prometheus. At this stage Marx was not yet a communist. Rahim argues that Marx’s communist worldview ‘was fully formulated before he was 30 years old’, and the focus of this study is on the development of his thought up to that point with his writing of the Communist Manifesto in 1848. This is a bold claim. In his defence Rahim cites the economist Joseph Schumpeter who said that, at the age of 29, Marx ‘was in possession of all the essentials’ that make up Marxism.

Rahim is not the first writer to present Marx’s philosophy of history independently of his theory of value, but this creates problems for his conception of Marx’s worldview. For instance, in the Communist Manifesto Marx tells us that the ‘average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage’ required ‘to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer’. This is known as the Wage-Fund theory, according to which there is only a fixed pot of capital to pay out as wages, and so wages cannot rise above that amount. Marx only began to develop his own theory of value in the 1850s. In 1865 he gave a talk (published after his death as a pamphlet called Value, Price and Profit) which emphatically rejected the Wage-Fund theory and argued for a class struggle theory of value, according to which wage levels are determined by ‘the respective powers of the combatants’. This is no minor alteration of Marx’s worldview and it makes Rahim’s focus in this book look arbitrary.

Still, this could have joined the long list of ‘What Marx Really Meant’ books if it were not for a section near the end entitled ‘After the Revolution’. At this point Rahim substitutes Lenin for Marx without admitting it or possibly without being aware of it. Rahim asserts that, after the revolution, there is a long transitional phase of communism in which the state is the dictatorship of the proletariat. For Rahim it follows from this that distribution will be governed by ‘the same principles that govern income distribution under capitalism… During this phase we will still have wage labour’. Rahim refers to this as ‘to each according to his work’. His use of quotation marks here suggests that he is quoting Marx.

What Marx really said is that when the working class ‘win the battle of democracy’ (the dictatorship of the proletariat) they will use this political power to establish communism. In the early phase of communism there will be restrictions due to the conditions of the time (1875 when Marx wrote this). With progress these restrictions will fall away in the later phase of communism. It is important to note however that in both phases of communism there is no state, money economy or wages system. ‘To each according to his work’ is a later Leninist fabrication, although Lenin himself, in State and Revolution (1917), used the Biblical injunction: ‘He who does not work shall not eat’.

This point should be seen in conjunction with Lenin’s insistence on the leading role of the vanguard party. This is important because whenever and wherever the Leninist model has been followed it has always ended in a state capitalist dictatorship over the proletariat, and Marx’s worldview gets dragged through the mud.
Lew Higgins

Sting in the Tail: Pious words, harsh reality (1996)

The Sting in the Tail column from the May 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Pious words, harsh reality

The National Poverty Hearing, organised by the ecumenical Church Action On Poverty, was attended by MP’s, business representatives, charities, voluntary organisations and church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster.

They all agreed that "something must be done”. Of course, nothing will be done by such pious gatherings. The words of the Archbishop of Canterbury amply illustrates this:
  “I believe in the enterprise society and wealth creation. Without wealth creation you cannot create jobs and if you haven 't got jobs you've got poverty. I believe in a stakeholder society. We must all participate in it" (Herald, 20 March).
The “enterprise” and “stakeholder” society are just weasel words for the capitalist system of society. A system that condemns millions to live in poverty while the Archbishop lives in a palace and is driven to and from such gatherings in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce.

Is it any wonder that he “believes” in this system?

That American Dream fades

Pat Buchanan, defeated far-right runner in the race to be Republican candidate in the US presidential election, attracted support from angry American workers by attacking “big capitalism”.

He did this by pointing to such business giants as IBM, AT & T, Boeing, etc., who are drastically “downsizing” their workforces while awarding huge sums to executives for ruthlessly wielding the axe.

Of course, the sackings weren’t down to “corporate greed” as Buchanan made out. They are simply part of the cost cutting necessary' to increase profits in order to keep investors happy and finance the re-investment required to meet ever-increasing competition.

Most American workers have been brought up believing that capitalism would provide them with security and steadily rising incomes. Now, ever-growing numbers of them have seen their jobs vanish or their real incomes fall, and even harder times arc predicted.

The conditions for demagogues like Buchanan have never been more promising.

Engels and Gould

It has become popular in academic circles to dismiss the materialist view of history of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. It is refreshing therefore to read Ever Since Darwin by Stephen Jay Gould.

In discussing Engels’s The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man, Gould praises Engels for “his trenchant political analysis of why Western Science was so hung up on the a priori assertion of cerebral primacy.”

Engels showed how the class divisions in society—firstly in Ancient Greece based on slavery and latterly capitalism based on wage slavery—put the primacy of human progress on the idea rather than the action. To the ruling class would go the praise, to the wealth producers the scorn.

Gould, Professor of Geology' and Zoology at Harvard University, concludes his essay with these words:
  "If we took Engels's message to heart and recognised our belief in the inherent superiority of pure research for what it is—namely social prejudice—then we might forge amongst scientists the union between theory and practice that a world teetering dangerously near the brink so desperately needs."

Good news for some

When the headlines proclaim that some company has sacked thousands of workers it appears that the news is received by universal gloom. Leader writers pontificate about “economic disaster”, opposition politicians claim “something must be done” and priests and ministers of all persuasions wring their hands in despair and preach about the “iniquities of an uncaring society”.

The news is not received in some circles in the same gloomy fashion. Some positively beam with pleasure at the prospect of more workers thrown on the scrap heap. For instance in the Business Section of the Observer (17 March) we read:
  "Downsizing has entered the corporate culture as well as the dictionary and a company’s financial virility is now measured by the Stock Market in terms of its most recent redundancy announcement.
    When Lloyd's Bank merged with TSB last October, analysts predicted up to 20,000 job losses. Its shares leapt almost 5 per cent. That reaction is typical. ”

Communist "liberators"

The buzz these days is that British capitalism must take as its model the dynamic, free-market Asian economies such as Hong Kong.

But how does all this dynamism affect the workers there? According to Lee Cheuk-yan, head of the colony’s Confederation of Trade Unionists:
"Hong Kong has become a prosperous country, but the benefits are not yet being shared with ordinary workers ” (Guardian, 8 March).
Workers have little or no protection against employers who can veto any government proposals which they think would lessen their stranglehold on the labour market.

Surely all this will change when “communist” China takes over in 1997? Lee Cheuk-yan’s view on this is very forthright:
   "Things will be much worse then. The Chinese Communist Party can't wait to get into bed with the big capitalists. "

The Scargill Labour Party (1996)

From the May 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
  Socialists have a certain amount of respect for Arthur Scargill's decision to leave the Labour Party because of its now openly and avowedly capitalist aims, but we can only wonder why he has started a new party, the aims of which amount to nothing more than futile attempts to reform capitalism into a system supposedly organised in the interests of the working class — particularly as Scargill himself is on record admitting that this can't be done.
This month sees the launch of a new political party, the Socialist Labour Party, the first leftwing breakaway from Labour at national level since the old ILP disaffiliated itself in 1932. Behind it is Arthur Scargill, President of the rump NUM and possibly the best known trade union leader in Britain today.

What finally led him to tear up his Labour Party membership card and launch a new party was Labour’s decision last year to amend its constitution by replacing Clause 4 with a new aim which committed it to support “the enterprise of the market”, “the rigour of competition” and “a thriving private sector”. We can well understand his repugnance at having to walk around with a card in his pocket with such views printed on it.

Although in a later statement of his reasons for quitting labour Scargill appeared to go further and accept the view put forward by people like ourselves that Labour never was socialist, it is clear that he thinks that Clause 4 did commit labour to socialism at least on paper.

Clause 4, however, was never a definition of socialism. What it was - and was meant to be by the labour leaders of the time who drew it up — was a commitment to nationalisation, or state capitalism, to be achieved “for the workers” by the actions of the Parliamentary labour Party. It was a rejection not of capitalism as such, but only of one institutional form of capitalism (private enterprise) in favour of another (state enterprise). Production was to continue to be for the market and workers were to continue to work for wages, only this was to take place under the direction of the state.

Common ownership is indeed the key defining feature of socialism but common ownership by all the people under their democratic control, with production not for the market but directly to satisfy people’s needs. State ownership is something quite different. The state does not represent the people. As an instrument of political control standing above the rest of society it represents the ruling class. Under capitalism it is “a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeois class” (Marx), “the ideal collective capitalist” (Engels).

When the state takes over an industry it does so, not on behalf of the people, but on behalf of the capitalist class as a class and runs it for their collective benefit. The whole history of the nationalised industries in Britain is confirmation of this (as Scargill should know from his experience of the former Coal Board). Nationalisation is neither socialism nor a step towards it. It is state capitalism.

Scargill and the SLP have not learned this lesson, but in readopting Clause 4 repeat the mistake of confusing state capitalism with socialism. In fact, the revised version which has been incorporated into the SLP’s constitution is more explicitly state-capitalist than the original version. That the wages system, which is the basis of capitalism, is not to be abolished is specifically spelt out this time, with references to “employment” and “employees”. Specifically spelt out too is the fact that financial institutions such as pension funds will continue to exist, so making it clear that a money economy and the market arc to continue too.

Chasing the impossible
The SLP is also committed to the discredited view which Labour once held that the effects of capitalism can be overcome by state intervention if sufficiently resolute and far-reaching. Hence Scargill’s claim that a “British government” could abolish unemployment “even within a capitalist society”. This is a fantastic statement from someone who has on occasions given evidence of some knowledge of Marxian economics (after all, it was Marx who showed how an “industrial reserve army of labour” made up of fluctuating numbers of unemployed workers was necessary, and so inevitable, under capitalism). It is, however, an accurate statement of what all those who campaign for “the right to work”, “full employment”, “a 4- day working week with no loss of pay” and the like implicitly believe, even if in the case of the SWP and other trotskyists they are not so honest as Scargill as to say so openly.

It’s all wishful thinking. Let’s suppose for a moment that a “British government” decreed a 4-day working week without loss of pay; in other words, that employers should pay people who now work five (or even six) days a week the same as for working four.

This would represent a massive increase in their labour costs. The money to pay for this would have to come out of their profits. No doubt some firms would be able to do this on a short-term basis, but many would not and would have to declare themselves bankrupt, so increasing the number of unemployed again. And in the longer term the massively reduced profits of those firms that did survive the immediate impact would undermine their competitiveness and so their survival too.

With the rate of profit so low capitalists wouldn’t invest in them. Nor would enough profits be made to invest in up-to-date machinery and productive methods, so that British-made goods would lose out both on export markets and in the home market. The result would sooner or later be—sooner rather than later, in fact—a massive economic slump. Scargill's recipe for reducing unemployment would have failed and have led to the opposite: a massive increase in unemployment.

Unemployment is not the only problem that Scargill and the SLP believe can be solved “even within a capitalist society”. Although the SLP was not officially launched till this month it put up a candidate in the by-election in February in the South Yorkshire constituency of Hemsworth. In getting 5.4 percent of the vote, saving its deposit and finishing ahead of the Green Party they didn’t do too badly for a new party. However, the programme on which they contested the election was pathetic, consisting of a list of attractive but quite unrealistic demands to be implemented under capitalism.

Higher pensions, a free health service, a massive house-building programme, more spending on education and social services, these would be very costly. Although unlike a 4-day week without loss of pay this burden would not fall so obviously and so directly on profits, it would do so indirectly via taxes. To pay for them Scargill's “British government” would have to raise taxes, which would ultimately fall on property and profits. So the result would be the same as with his recipe for abolishing unemployment: a fall in profits retained by businesses resulting in bankruptcies for some and a wounding loss of competitiveness for others—and ending in a slump.

The fact is that you can’t buck the capitalist system. If you choose to work within it—as the Labour Party has always done and as Scargill has the honesty to say his new SLP will be doing—then you have to accept that profits have to be made and that profit-making has to be given priority over meeting people’s needs. Unemployment, poverty in old age, bad housing, inadequate health care, etc, etc, etc cannot be solved within the capitalist system, not even by the most ruthless of left wing governments. Only the establishment of a socialist society of common ownership and democratic control with production solely for use can provide the framework for solving these problems.

No alternative under capitalism
At the moment capitalism cannot even sustain the reforms it was able to afford at an earlier period. Since the postwar boom came to and end in the first half of the 1970s, there have been no beneficial reforms—no improvements in housing, pensions, health care, social services or state benefits. Quite the reverse. Pre-existing reforms have been whittled away and firings have got worse in all these fields. Nor is there any prospect of them getting any better; all the signs are that they will continue to get worse.

The reason for this is the world economic crisis that capitalism entered into after the long post-war boom came to an end and which it has still not escaped from. This has meant increased competition on world markets, which has forced all governments whatever their political complexion—the Labour governments in Australia and New Zealand were just as “Thatcherite” as the mad woman herself in Britain—to give priority to trying to ensure the competitiveness of businesses operating from within their frontiers. To do this they have had to reduce the amount of money they tax away from profits to finance their spending including on reforms.

When Thatcher kept shouting “TINA”—’There Is No Alternative”—to cutting back on spending on reforms, she was right (though to be accurate she should have said “TINAUC”—’There Is No Alternative Under Capitalism”). There was, and there still is, no alternative to doing this within the present context of capitalism.

The Labour Party, under Blair and Smith before him, now' fully accepts this and has reshaped its policies accordingly. Leftwing labourites refuse to face this reality but still imagine that capitalism today can offer social reforms. The only difference between them and Scargill is that they believe in staying in the Labour Party as an irrelevant minority while he believes in setting up a new party to campaign for the sort of reforms the Labour Party used to specialise in.

We in the Socialist Party draw a different conclusion. The fact that capitalism at the present time is unable to offer any reforms, and is unlikely to be able to in the foreseeable future, reinforces our view that what Socialists should be campaigning for is socialism and nothing but. Quite apart from the fact that support gained on the basis of proposing reforms to capitalism is not a solid basis on which to build up a socialist party, what’s the point of campaigning for reforms if there’s no chance of getting them?

The widespread rejection of the Labour Party by radically-minded people docs provide the basis for the growth of a genuine socialist party on sound principles, but Scargill’s SLP does not fill the bill. It has nothing to offer except the failed old policy of state intervention and state control to try to make things better for people. Despite the repeated demonstrations this century that this reformist policy does not work, the new SLP wants to have another go, flying in the face of the inescapable conclusion that capitalism just cannot be made to work in the interests of the majority.

Certainly, the SLP says it wants to replace capitalism with a socialist society but this turns out to be, not real socialism, but the state capitalism that nationalisation represents. This is the past. We’ve seen it and it doesn’t work.
Adam Buick

“New Labour's constitution has not only abandoned socialism but embraced capitalism and the free market. In other words, Labour ceased any pretence of being a socialist party.

Many on the left argue that it was never socialist, that it was at best social-democratic and that people like me were deluding ourselves in thinking we could campaign for socialism effectively within it. I now accept that argument and believe that New Labour can no longer be a ‘home’ to socialists. The changes go beyond the constitution. On all fundamental issues that affect our lives and our society, New Labour has adopted policies that cannot be supported by those who call themselves socialists” (Guardian, 15 January).

Unemployment can
 be abolished within
 capitalism, claims 
“On unemployment, New Labour has abandoned a commitment to full employment, with its leader saying yesterday that he could not guarantee that New Labour could eradicate unemployment.
“In reality, a British government could do exactly that, even within a capitalist society—by introducing a four-day working week with no loss of pay, banning all non-essential overtime and introducing voluntary retirement on full pay at the age of 55” (Guardian, 15 January).

What shall we do to save capitalism? (1921)

From the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Great Statistician.

The "Labour Leader" of June 26th contains an article by Sir Leo Chiozza Money entitled: "The National Industrial Crisis. How should Labour Face It?" Those who realise the seriousness of working-class conditions at the present moment will see the importance of the question contained in this title. As a statistician Sir Leo is unequalled in this country. On more than one occasion his figures, compiled from official documents, have been used by Socialists with telling effect against capitalism. From the arrangement of his figures in tables that enables one to see at a glance how wealth is divided, or draw comparisons on the fluctuations in trade, etc., it is evident that he understands the significance of his figures so far as they show the failure of the capitalist system to give the bulk of the population a decent standard of living. But neither he nor the other writers of the "Labour Leader" have ever expressed in clear terms the absolute necessity for the workers to abolish the system and establish Socialism as the only remedy for this failure.

Where He Fails.

In the article referred to Sir Leo shows the enormous fall in the export trade of this country since March of the present year, and insists on the necessity of co-operation between capitalists and workers to recover it. He refers to the sufferings of the workers, but he fails to point out to them that there is always a measure of unemployment, and that, in or out of work, they live in poverty all their lives. Further, he does not tell the workers that the only means which can assure success to the capitalists of this country as against their foreign competitors, are in the long run bound to increase unemployment and poverty, and that the only escape for the workers from these twin evils is not by increased or more efficient production, but by the establishment of a system where all the means of wealth production will be owned in common, controlled democratically, and consequently only used to satisfy the requirements of the people according to their own arranged plans. We shall see by an examination of his article that Sir Leo's answer to the question "How should Labour face it" entirely ignores the Socialist attitude, and consists in the main of the very methods that spell increased unemployment, assists the capitalists of this country in their competition against foreign capitalists, and increases the extent of capitalist exploitation of the workers generally.

No Taste in Nothing.

At the very outset Money gives us the key to all his subsequent errors. He says: "We have 47 millions of people and not enough work to feed a fourth of them." It must be obvious to anyone that people are not fed with work, how ever much the workers may be "fed up" with it.

Sir Leo takes for granted the capitalist assumption that people can only be fed, clothed, and housed on the capitalist basis of production, i.e., ownership by the capitalist class of the means of wealth production and all non-owners unable to obtain the necessaries of life unless they can sell their energy, in one form or an other, to the possessing class. Now this assumes the chief point at issue between the capitalist and the Socialist, and Sir Leo's arguments are henceforth built up on the assumption that human wants can only be satisfied by the wages or capitalist system.

No Matter for Surprise.

At first sight it seems strange that a journal which is the organ of a party calling itself Socialist, the I.L.P., should accept articles for publication so obviously anti-Socialist. When we come to read the columns of the "Labour Leader," however, we find a general agreement with Sir Leo's attitude. Here and there, it is true, a writer declares that only Socialism can remove unemployment and poverty. But such writers are always careful to point out that Socialism as they understand it is State ownership with no modification of the wages system, as in the postal service.

A Logical Sequence.

From the acceptance of the capitalist method of production as the only possible method, to its active support is quite a logical step, and Sir Leo is justified in taking it. Having assumed that trade feeds the workers, it necessarily follows that the workers should interest themselves in. the extension of trade. Sir Leo declares, therefore, that—
  "If anyone says 'what do I care for overseas trade or what you call national trade ?' let him be reminded that it is his business to care. We are all responsible beings, and the lives and happiness of 47 millions of people is no light matter. They form a closely woven working community, and there is no possibility of suddenly emigrating them. Here in this year of grace, it is theirs to work or be idle, to be happy or to suffer. We needs must care about the oversea trade by virtue of which alone can they get food for their bodies and material for their factories, workshops, and houses."
This writer in a so-called Socialist journal can only see for the workers the choice between starvation and prosecuting capitalist trade as though their lives depended upon it and they were directly interested in it. Because there is no possibility of suddenly emigrating them. Why the "suddenly"? Eight lines further down he says: "We have to recover trade in time of general and world-wide bad trade." There can be no question of emigration as a solution, therefore, at any time, either suddenly or as a gradual process.

Labour Leaders Disprove Sir Leo.

We can pass over the suggestion that the difference between happiness and suffering is the difference between being idle and working for a capitalist. The latter is not rendered unhappy by his idleness. The impossibility of happiness for those compelled to work for capitalists is sufficiently evidenced by Labour leaders themselves, who will stoop to almost any treachery if they can only escape from such an existence.

Sir Leo's statement that "only by virtue of the overseas trade can they get food for their bodies," and so on, is a definite and direct renunciation of Socialism on his part. It is only the capitalist who gets anything out of trade. Trade is the capitalist method of robbing those who produce the world's wealth. Socialism is the logical method of production by which those who produce the world's wealth would use and enjoy it. It is therefore the business of a Socialist organisation to explain and teach Socialism as the only alternative to capitalism. Until the workers understand Socialism they cannot take the shortest step towards its establishment.

It is only fair to say that Sir Leo does not side altogether with the capitalists in their wholesale reduction of wages. He thinks that "the wage earner has the right to ask that profits and salaries shall also make sacrifice." Of course, wage-earners, and even salary-earners, can ask the profit-takers, or capitalists, for all sorts of things, and "capital" will certainly concede them the right to ask—that costs nothing.

Wasted Breath.

The same applies to Sir Leo's most important suggestion as to how Labour should face the crisis, i.e., "And Labour has the right to demand industrial efficiency. Too many of our industrial plants are out of date and wasteful. Productivity depends increasingly upon scientific methods."

But the workers have no need to demand this. Competition compels the capitalist to adopt the cheapest methods of production. If he fails to do so, well, that's his funeral. For the workers to demand it is to demand what must inevitably result in more unemployment and lower wages. This is a most foolhardy manner in which to face the crisis, seeing that, in Sir Leo's own words, "We have 47 millions of people and not enough work to feed a fourth of them."

Such advice is sufficiently harmful, but the greatest harm is done by arousing in the workers that competitive spirit and hatred against their fellow wage-slaves abroad. A Socialist organisation should endeavour to show that the real antagonism in modern society is between the working class and the capitalist class, and that the workers must come together in an international organisation to overthrow capitalism and establish Socialism.

A Pertinent Question,

How is it possible to convince the workers of this while at the same time urging them to fight each other by competitive methods that can only have the effect of worsening conditions for themselves all round ? Either the workers of all lands must join hands for the establishment of Socialism, or they must submit to the competitive madness advocated by Sir Leo. There is no middle course.

The Socialist does not offer advice or assistance to the capitalist class. They rule in their own interest; if difficulties arise for them it is for them to surmount them—in doing so they strengthen their hold over the workers. If the capitalists cannot surmount the difficulties and obstacles that confront them, they are all the weaker to resist the attacks of the Socialists. In either case they run the show and are responsible, consequently the workers must sit in judgment on them. When they do they must reach the following verdict:
"Production for profit fails to satisfy the needs of the working class, who produce all wealth. The class that live by profits stop production when buyers are scarce and drive the workers out on to the streets to starve. With increasing facilities for producing wealth the working class become poorer as time goes on, while the capitalist class become ever more wealthy. The workers suffer most when wealth in all forms is most plentiful. They can only live by selling their labour power, their energy —becoming slaves—to the class that own the means of life." 
When the Workers Understand.

When the workers are agreed on that verdict, being in the majority, they will take the shortest cut to power—organise politically for control of the machinery of government. Once having control they will no longer have to ask, without being heard; to demand, only to be contemptuously ignored. The power over nature that has been won by generations of struggle will be used to satisfy the needs of mankind in a direct manner. With no parasitic class to intervene, the workers will use land and machinery by arrangement among themselves, for themselves alone. That is the only way for the workers to face this or any industrial crisis. Those who tell them differently are playing the capitalist game, spreading confusion and breeding hatred and division in the ranks of the workers.
F. Foan

Gilded Capitalism. (1921)

Book Review from the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Guild Socialism Re-Stated."by G. D. H. Cole. 6s. Nett.

Among those whose wont it is "to meddle and muddle and fuddle" in vain efforts to "evolve" wage-slavery into something more palatable to the working class, Mr. Cole is indeed the king. After colossal endeavours to construct a scheme in which society would "afford the greatest possible opportunity for individual and collective self-expression for all its members," our author produces, complete with all its trappings of class division and contradictions, its hideous countenance of war which is hell and "peace" which is worse— capitalism.

Somehow or other our author noticed the "aspirations" of the workers. These "aspirations" he and his select circle of guildsmen have discussed until there is placed before us the plan whereby the social organism, impelled by the logic of his arguments, will flow into the mould that Mr. Cole has been able to "devise and create."

The latter objects to the class character of capitalism. He eliminates it. This or that economic prop offends his eye. Out it comes. It is painted—and replaced. The result is— Guild Socialism.

Without any consideration whatever of productive forces, economic structure or development, Mr. Cole calmly constructs his social edifice. This he whittles away until it will fit nicely and squarely on the economic structure of capitalism, in a manner favourable to "small scale producers." Then he impudently takes the existing trade union movement, and alters its shape and policy until it will furnish him with the means of "transition."

The author bases his case on what he himself terms an assumption : that society is to be regarded as a complex of associations held together by the wills of their members, whose well-being is its purpose. Doubtless this assumption gained weight with the author after thoroughly surveying capitalism to-day. For us it is enough to know that society's members are held together and their relations decided by the manner of gaining a livelihood.

On this "assumption" he builds his system. With him there is no question of "Historical foundation, economic structure, Socialist result." Mr. Cole starts from the top. His system when completely established, will be built "on the basis of large scale production and the world market." "Industrial organisation" will "develope the tradition of free communal service," then will come, "from producer and consumer alike, a wide-spread demand for goods of finer quality," which will bring about "a return over a considerable sphere, to small-scale production."

Our M.A. is certainly amusing.

The system of society we live in is a veritable hotch-potch of antagonisms and contradictions. It is class-divided. Those who make life possible exist, half fed, half clothed, half sheltered. The drones live luxuriously, debauched and useless. The poverty of the workers, the wealth of their masters, the class cleavage, the contradictions of capitalism, all have grown with the development of the productive forces. The capitalist class cannot control these forces, which tirelessly strive to break through their capitalist "shell." But working-class agency is needed. Mr. Cole sees the danger.

Back to "small scale production" !

The words "evolutionary" and "revolutionary" we told are capable of bearing a variety of interpretations. Revolution implies force, though not, in our author's opinion, necessarily on a large scale. By "evolutionary" some mean "political," but "there is also a wider sense in which 'evolutionary' tactics can denote a method applicable not merely to politics, but to every sphere of social action, economic and civic as well as political." The policy, then, should be the maximum use of the "evolutionary weapons" plus the minimum of "revolutionary action." The more evolution the less revolution.

Doubtless the reader will be pleased to hear of these new "interpretations." We, however, are quite content with the meanings implied when the words are used in other branches of science. The word evolution expresses the fact that "Nature, and all things in nature" (contrary to old beliefs) change. Evolution does not imply any particular manner or method, of change. What is more, scientists who fully admit the process of change are to this day, in various branches of science, seeking the How and the Why.

Further, evolution does not imply that an organism must necessarily change every moment of its existence. "If there is no perceptible change in environment an organism may remain practically the same for ages" (Dennis Bird). It should also be remembered that it is folly to apply the laws governing evolution in one phase of nature to any and everything.

By revolution is meant a complete change. "The man who says that the secret of progress is 'evolution, not revolution,' may be talking very good social philosophy—I have nothing to do with that—but he is not talking science as he thinks. In every modern geological work you read of periodical 'revolutions' in the story of the earth" (Joseph McCabe). "The records of those old revolutions of the earth's surface are contained in the stones beneath our feet" (Prof. Geikie).

Human society has evolved. Its evolution is distinctly marked by each of those totally different systems that we know as Primitive Communism, Chattel Slavery, Feudalism, and Capitalism.

Each system of society functions from a certain basis—the productive forces at a particular stage of their development. Each system flourishes while there is scope for these forces to evolve. When, however, the productive forces are fettered, the conflict between the classes that are the human expression of economic development, reaches its culminating point. The class next in the order of social evolution overthrows the existing system. The new one is born. But as Boudin (who has been speaking of philosophy and science) says: "There is a continuity of human society itself notwithstanding the changes in the form of its organisation . . just as there is continuity in the economic structure of human society notwithstanding the different 'economies' which were prevalent at different stages of its development."

So to Mr. Cole's twaddle of "evolutionary weapons" plus "revolutionary action," "working-class economic power," "productive control of industry," and so on, we will say that working class activity on the eve of revolution will be determined, as now, by the conditions of capitalism.

The book is all confusion and camouflage. The charms of its author's Utopia inspire contempt. Financial problems, provision of capital, regulation of incomes and prices, coercive functions, railway season ticket holders' associations, telephone users' associations, leaders, discipline, and authority— each and all to satisfy the "aspirations" of the workers !

"Have I not assumed the case against equality of income?" Yes—and yet emphatically no (p. 72). Does Guild Socialism claim to be international ? "It is hard to answer ' yes' or 'no' to that question" (p. 208).

Our author may increase his output; he may persistently continue to white-wash the class war. He may blare "Return to small-scale production," or Primitive Communism, or any other old thing. The workers will organise politically; the workers will abolish capitalism; the productive forces will be unfettered. The private ownership of the means of life, with its corollary, production for profit, will give way to common ownership and production for use.
A. H.

Re 'oof. (1921)

Editorial from the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

On another page we present an acknowledgment list of contributions to our £1,000 Fund. As it is some months since we published our last list it will be seen that the stream, like the Thames, has run pretty low. To some extent this is accounted for by the general depression in working-class circles, and on the other hand we should probably meet with greater success if we resorted more to "boosting."  Well, we may say, without any beating about the bush, that things financial are assuming a sufficiently grave aspect now to make ''boosting" an imperative necessity. Seventeen years of existence, with a constantly expanding volume of work has added so greatly to our needs, in order to enable the work of the Party to be carried out, that our maintenance is a very expensive affair. These expenses are more than likely to be considerably increased almost at once, and this increase, at all events, MUST be met.

We have said nothing about the call for an extension of our propaganda. There is urgent need in this direction also but our poverty is so pronounced at the moment that we cannot find sufficient optimism to encourage us to look for any margin, however generous may be the response to this appeal, for new work in field of propaganda. Nevertheless the need is there and it must not forgotten even for one moment.

To put the thing is a nut-shell, and with candour, the Party has struck a bad patch, and is faced with a serious situation. Many comrades find themselves quite unable to make their accustomed contributions to the funds owing to unemployment. It therefore becomes urgently necessary for those who are not in this unfortunate plight, and to whom Socialism is an aspiration, whether they be comrades of the Party or friends and sypathisers outside, to redouble their efforts for the only thing that matters, to give all that they possibly can to help the only Socialist party in this country to tide over the difficult times which have fallen upon it.

Though we print this note, this warning, in all seriousness, we do so in no mood of pessimism. Our work is going forward and is bearing as encouraging fruit as it has ever done. In the things that are most solidly important—the making of new members, the discovery of new writers, and so on—the Party is flourishing. We are poorer because the working class is poorer. It is harder to get dues ; it is harder to get donations ; it is harder to get good collections ; it is harder to sell the "S.S.": but this is only because so many are out of employment, and not at all because we are losing ground.

This period of difficulty, of course, will pass, but meanwhile it behoves all who possibly can do so to do more than they have been doing, and every one of us to put forth every effort to "keep the red flag flying here."

Fools or Liars? (1921)

From the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

A great London daily comes out with the sensational headlines "New British Navy." "Grand Fleet Obsolete." In a following paragraph it proceeds: 
  ''The Grand Fleet is practically obsolete. There are under construction whole battle fleets of ships incomparably more powerful than anything afloat at the Battle of Jutland. In face of the shattering fire of such ships, all of earlier design are liable to instant destruction. Japan has eight under construction, and is voting four more, and by 1925 America will have 12 of these supreme engines of war."
Such men as Liar George, who urged men to their doom with cry that the war was a war to end war, might be asked by some of their dupes who have survived, if they were liars or fools when they made that statement. 
A. E. Jacomb

"And Found Wanting." (1921)

Book Review from the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

"The Coming Revolution," by Gerald Gould.

For the Socialist this book has little value, if one excludes certain statistics and information given in the appendix, which may be useful for reference, it is a jumble of sentiment and false economic conclusions, a book written to quiet the heated and affrighted imaginations of the "middle class," and to relieve the conscience of its author. He has no realisation of the existence of the class war, although, in his search for moral justification for a revolution, he seems to have seen it "disappearing round a corner "; he lacks comprehension of the materialistic conception of history, and does not hesitate to contradict himself.

Let me go further into details:

Mr. Gould is convinced that there is going to be a working-class revolution. Here he seeks to show:

  1. Why it is inevitable.
  2. Why it is justified.
  3. How it will, or can be, accomplished.
For those who wish to know "it is to be about the simplest and most homely of all subjects— the cost of living," and again, "the cause of any upheaval that happens will be the cost of living."

In view of the fact that prices are now falling the prospects of revolution must be fading slowly and silently away !

But justification of and excuses for the Revolution are our author's chief worry. Writing as he does for timid ''middle-class" sentimentalists he has to show that "Labour's demands and requirements are natural" and "the issue a moral one." This is an untenable position to take up, and, of course, Mr. Gould fails to maintain it. For one thing, the excuse that these demands are natural can cut both ways, as it is as natural for the capitalist to welcome unemployment and pay low wages as it is for the workers to seek to force wages up.

Now with regard to its accomplishing.

Our author thinks it possible that the high cost of living may force the workers into a bloody revolution. In case it does he has found a scapegoat, though why one should be needed, and who will demand excuses from the victorious workers after the Revolution he does not say and I do not know. It may be his friends of "the impoverished middle classes" will want justification for the slaughter of the innocents. Anyway, all demands of that sort have been anticipated and need not disturb the rest of any Direct Actionist, for "if ever a bloody revolution breaks out in this country a large share of the responsibility will have to be borne by Bonar Law and other Tory leaders, who made incendiary speeches on the Ulster Theme."

But Mr. Gould does not think a bloody revolution at all likely, because "nobody is less revolutionary by temperament than the British Working Man," than whom "nobody is saner and kinder." (I think we have all met phrases like these before in such papers as the ''Daily Mail" and the "Daily Express.") And, of course, we always have "the courage and statesmanship of Trade Unionists" which will save the country again if need be as they did at the time of the railway strike of 1919, and the Triple Alliance swindle of the present year. The settlement of the strikes in question would suggest that the statesmanship of Trade Union officials consists of a willingness to be bluffed by Lloyd George and an anxiety not to incur the latter's displeasure by any hesitation in retailing the same bluff to their members.

The anticipated revolution, however, is to be peaceful. It will start with a general strike. Guild Socialists will prepare a new system in "intellectual readiness to take over on the collapse of the old." Private capitalists will buy one another out, and incidentally reduce the National Debt. Nationalisation will be installed and a redistribution of national wealth will take place.

Now, in the first place can a general strike meet with success? Our author admits that, in the event of one taking place, "the poor would be the first to suffer, since, unlike the rich, they would not have reserves of material commodities," but thinks that this could "be averted if no element of violence entered in at any stage of the struggle." Poor, ingenuous Mr. Gould ! Does he really think that the Government would abstain from violence if that alone could save capitalism ?

But probably he does not recognise that the Government is but the tool of the capitalists, for he seems hurt and surprised to realise that "as with the employers so with the Government itself."

Again, he does not show how sitting still with folded arms can provide loaves of bread.

But then, even if a general strike were successful and the workers followed the plans set forth in this book, they would still be wage slaves. Nationalisation is but intensified capitalism and holds out no remedy to the worker. Mr. Gould's method of attaining it is, however, rather amusing. He first makes it clear that you must "not simply expropriate the owners of an industry without compensation." You must make a grant to the shareholders "to prevent actual hardship," else what becomes of the "philoprogenitive vicar in his poverty-stricken country vicarage" if you rob him of his shares in the Great Eastern Railway ? Here you have a frank admission of failure, for even after Nationalisation there will be it seems, "actual hardship" and "poverty-stricken country vicarages." This by the way. The method of obtaining the money for this grant is novel indeed. Assume you nationalise the railways first, and the cost of buying out the shareholders is 500 millions, you make a levy on capital sufficient to yield this amount. By this means the rich railowners provide part of the money necessary for their own expropriation, and as the Government, whilst paying out 500 millions only, receives 500 millions rail stock and 500 millions from the levy, the National Debt is reduced by 500 millions. Repeat this with every industry in turn, and then "Hail the Revolution!" It reminds one of the problem of the two snakes who started eating each other from the tail !

Having seen that wages, at present, are the workers' chief concern, and not wishing that his Utopia should offend by their non-existence, Mr. Gould makes it clear that payment for labour power will not cease. That is what he means when he talks of a redistribution of wealth. Having persuaded the capitalists to buy one another out, the statesmen of the trade unions, under the tutorship of Guild Socialists, would run industry for the nation, "treat the workers like men and brothers," and pay a family, on the basis of present production, about £400 per annum.

The examples Mr. Gould gives to show the increase in production that will result from the kindly treatment of the workers is instructive:

A Mr. S. J. L. Vincent, A.M.I.C.E., borough surveyor at Newbury, builds houses. He guarantees a 48 hour week, and treats his workmen like brothers, so that they, "feeling that they are not working to build up profits but to build houses," respond in the same spirit. Of course, Mr. S. J. L. Vincent, A.M.I.C.E.'s object is to sow the seeds of love among his workmen, and so it must be quite an unforeseen accident that he can build houses at £650 each while contractors, at a period of dearer materials, asked £875. As the cost of bricks, etc., to Mr. Vincent was more than to the contractors, and as his income was probably not much lees, the difference in price must be in his wages expenditure. Yet Mr. Gould quotes this and says to the workers "see what benefits will result from nationalisation, under which you will be treated like brothers." All I can see is increased unemployment, and nowhere in this book are we told, what provision is to be made for those who, owing to increased production, have nothing to do. Also we are not told who is going to condescend to treat their workers like brothers.

Will their exploiters do so then any more than now, or is this an invitation to the ''middle class" to reap the reward of their imagined intellectual superiority on the backs of the workers ?

But our chief quarrel with Mr. Gould is over his citation of Marx as an authority for his conclusions. He does not understand Marxian economics and philosophy, and should confine himself to Sidney Webb and Fabianism. Marxism and Fabianism are quite incompatible, and it is therefore ignorance of one or both which makes him support his tottering ideas with selections from the two of them.

See how he misinterprets Marx. He summarises Marx's description of the transformation from capitalism to Socialism as the taking over by the workers "in one solid lump, of the capital which private capitalism itself has in accordance with the laws of its own development, coagulated into that lump." Marx taught that capital, i.e., wealth used to exploit labour, will cease to exist with the passing of capitalism, since the workers cannot exploit themselves. To talk about "taking over capital," therefore, is nonsense ; anyway, it isn't Marx.

In passing, one should notice the phrase "private capitalism" here. Its insertion shows that when our author speaks of Nationalisation he has State capitalism in mind.

Did he understand the primary theory in Marx, that of value, which states that the value of a commodity is measured by the amount of labour socially necessary for its reproduction, he would not be puzzled by the fact that fertile ground on which little labour is spent produces greater value than less productive ground on which a greater amount of labour is expended. Also he would never be so foolish as to write : "The workers insist on higher wages so that they may cope with the higher prices. The capitalist often has no objection. He simply raises his prices again, so as to get back the extra amount he has to pay in the cost of labour."

The capitalist, like the worker, is bound by the laws of the system and cannot raise prices at will. But then, Mr. Gould does not realise that the system controls man, he thinks man controls the system, and has but to will a new world in order to produce it, ignoring social development.

Yet we can agree with the last sentence in the book, "there is no third way" (i.e., to attain Socialism). There is not even a second. The only way is for the workers to study and understand their position, and the laws governing the society of which they are a part, for then they can and will become possessed of the machinery of government, and under the protecion of the power then at their disposal, work with the economic forces to mould the new classless society, the Socialist Republic.
W. J. R.

In the House of Commons. (1921)

From the August 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard


In addition to the usual charges and countercharges of murder, robbery, and arson, attention has been drawn to the attempted Sinn Fein commercial boycott of Ulster, with particular reference to the advocacy of this blockade by "Freeman's Journal." The Government is considering the advisability of taking action against "Freeman's" on account of this intention to "impede the natural flow of trade." This latter phrase is somewhat amusing when one remembers how this same Government has burned creameries and private business houses, stopped markets and fairs, curtailed railway services, and forbidden the sailing of coast food ships, all with the deliberate purpose of compelling the submission of the Irish by intensifying the existing distress.

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Your Stake in the Empire.

Of the total loan indebtedness of the Government amounting to £7,573,000,000 only £596,000,000, or less than 8 per cent., is held by small investors.

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Small Nations.

The Siberian Republic.
The Government couldn't take notice of the Japanese attack on this republic because it is not in diplomatic relationship with this country. The real reason, the one which always underlies the political sob-stuff served out to the workers when they are wanted to fight, was disclosed later (Hansard, July 6th): ". . as direct British interests in those regions are not great they do not propose to give recognition to the Republic at the present time." Is the price of the renewal of the Anglo Jap treaty the granting of a free hand to the Japs to protect (that is to exploit) Siberia ?

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Viscount Curzon, whose chief title to fame appears to be the frequency with which he gets fined for making himself a danger and a nuisance to pedestrians by road-hogging, asks if something cannot be done to prevent 'bus drivers from inconveniencing their passengers by starting off too soon !

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Corn Production Acts (Repeal) Bill.
This Bill has provided some unusually vivid examples of the bad faith of a capitalist Government, and the unashamed lying and incompetence of its ministers.

The original 1917 Act was to last to 1922, and by the 1920 Agriculture Act the guaranteed prices for the farmers and minimum rates of pay for the labourers were to be continued with four years notice of discontinuance. Six months afterwards the Government suddenly announced its intention of abolishing the latter entirely and of giving the farmers some £19,000,000 for this year's harvest. During that six months the Minister of Agriculture, Sir A. G. Boscawen, who now says that the Agricultural Wages Board is an unmixed evil, fought an election in a rural constituency on the cry that he was the "author of the Agriculture Act which guaranteed a living wage to the Agricultural labourer" !

The Government in 1917 indignantly protested through Mr. Protheroe that the minimum wage was not dependent on the guarantees, but in 1921 abolishes the former because it is inseparable from the latter.

Boscawen objected to the Board because it and the National Union of Agricultural Workers had taken advantage of their legal position to compel defaulting employers to the number of 20,000 to pay up something like £100,000 arrears of wages, and then suggested that the method of conciliation and brotherliness was the better way. One remembers the argument of the early war period about arguing with mad dogs !

The experience of collecting these arrears brought to light a most amazing unanimity of thought and action among these farmers. Almost without exception they never knew there was a Wages Board (until it was about to be abolished); they had always paid more than the specified rate ; and lastly, if they had paid less then they had only employed their workers (who were all, it seems, physical and mental degenerates) out of charity.

This Minister of Agriculture also showed by his answers to questions that he didn't even understand the construction and functions of this very Wages Board, the abolition of which had become so urgent.

The Labour Party adopted a whining attitude as usual: (Mr. Wignal) "We as a Labour Party gave loyal support to the Government," and now see how we are treated! The most apt description was Mr. Spencer's "This Bill gives £19,000,000 to the farmer and goodwill to the labourers." Mr. Pretyman gave an instructive opinion on election addresses, their purpose and reliability. In answer to the interjection "What about your letter to your constituents? That admits the case he replied "I have nothing to do with any right hon. gentleman's letters to his constituents. They prove nothing."

At the moment of writing it seems probable that as the result of a very effective publicity campaign in the rural constituencies, conducted by the Agricultural Workers' Union, and the consequent fear on the part of sitting members that their seats may not be safe at the next election, the Government may grant a concession in the form of power to make legally binding on the industry agreements arrived at between workers' and employers' representatives on Conciliation Boards.

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Sir James Campbell for four and a half years' service as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Lord Chancellor receives a pension of £3,692 6s. 1d.

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Forty-two members of the Irish Police Force have been convicted of robbery since January, 1919.

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Colonel Wedgwood, member of the Free Trade Labour Party, wants the Government to prevent the Anglo-American Oil Co. (an American concern) from issuing capital in this country.

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How the Labour Party Fights the Government.

W. Graham (Railways Bill, 6th July): "We have been very fair and reasonable with the Government in Committee. We have been very much interested in many parts of the Bill, but we have studiously refrained from moving amendments other than those which appeared to us to be vital. I suggest to the Government that we are entitled to rather better consideration than they have shown . . ."

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How the Labour Party Fights Itself.

(War Pensions Bill, July 8.)
Mr. Lawson (Labour Party): "The Right. Hon. Gentleman has quoted the Labour Party's memorandum.    . . .   I have not seen that memorandum ; I do not hold with it.    .    ."

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Earl Winterton, greatly upset over the alleged ill-treatment of foreigners by native Egyptians in recent disturbances arising out of the Government's suppression of nationalist demonstrations, asked what steps would be taken to deal with these "crimes," these "fanatical anti-Christian, anti-European outbreaks." Is it really a matter for amazement that Egyptians should be prejudiced against Christians who were primarily advanced commercial agents and Empire builders, and Christians only incidentally ; against foreigners who came to liberate and enlighten, and who, despite a wearisome repetition of promises to depart, have remained to annexe ; who have given the Egyptian peasant in return for security and independence the illusory advantage of engineering marvels from which again incidentally the benefactors reap handsome profit ? Moreover, may these "backward" nations not ask that idle ornaments of the superior white races should before waxing indignant, see that their own houses are in order ? Were the loot-inspired anti-German riots of the war years on such a high moral plane that the Earl can afford to invite comparison, and did he raise his voice in. protest then ?

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How to Wangle Balance Sheets.

The Prudential Assurance Co., out of a total of £520,000 paid as dividends, puts down £120,000 income tax payments for its shareholders as "management expenses."
Edgar Hardcastle