Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Swan song . . . (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Swan song of Jack Jones, a union leader: "Let's all work like beavers!"

As a prominent Tory once said: "You make your leaders and we'll buy 'em."
R. B. Gill

An interesting document (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Swedish correspondent has sent a facsimile of one of the most unknown editions of The Communist Manifesto — the first Swedish one.

This edition is in fact the first translation ever made of The Communist Manifesto. It was published already in 1848 in Stockholm. The first “known” translation, the French one, was not published until 1849.

It looks as if Marx and Engels never knew about this Swedish edition. It is not mentioned in any of their prefaces to the CM. And probably they would have been a bit shocked to see the slogan “Workers in all countries, Unite!” replaced with “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. This was probably to avoid censorship. As a whole this translation is very similar to the original — one paragraph is cut out from the text once and one sentence is reworded.

The origin of the Swedish translation is not known. But it was probably translated by a Swedish tailor, a certain Carl Rudolf Lowstadt, who had been in contact with Albert Anders, an agitator sent to Sweden by the old Communist League.

Ernest Jones (Chartist) (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard
  I think it was Pliny who said if a religion had not existed statesmen ought to have invented one for it was the only thing that kept a people quiet in their misery.
Ernest Jones (Chartist), 1854

Our GLC opponents (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

The fact that all other parties are reformist is fundamental to the case of the SPGB. This means they seek not to abolish capitalism with its class division, wages system, state and frontiers, but to modify it a little this way or that in a futile effort to legislate away its problems and inhuman consequences. It follows that there can be only one party seeking to end capitalism and to establish democratically an entirely different world system, called Socialism. The abolition of the wages system, the end of trade, profits and frontiers follows naturally from the new basis of common ownership of the means of production and distribution. These unique principles of the SPGB can be amply demonstrated by reading the manifestos of all or any of our opponents, and then reading ours. Though our opponents may differ on what they see as most important in the continuing evils of capitalism the common approach of them all is reformist. Doctor the effects — leave the cause alone.

The Labourites

After their abysmal efforts at running capitalism they still have the audacity to present themselves to the workers and seek their votes. They were even brazen enough to charge 20p for their manifesto. This offered the usual reforms aimed at making poverty more tolerable, instead of seeking a mandate to end the system which generates poverty. In their clash with the Tories over “free” bus rides for old people they cynically exploited the poverty of the elderly to gain votes. If workers would only see the contradictory position of the Labour Party they could understand that ministering to poverty pre-supposes its continuation. After fifteen post-war years of Labour government old people still cannot afford bus fares. One of Labour’s own leaflets quotes a Mrs. Kitchener of Leatherhead on concessionary fares: “The passes are rotten value, and people can’t afford them anyway.” Can anyone imagine Wilson, Callaghan, Foot or Castle, or the head of any nationalized industry, spending their last years of life worrying about cheap bus rides in off-peak periods? These people have done quite well out of capitalism. They posed as your champions, to fight for you. Now they are well off and you are still poor and needy!

The same with housing. Where they find workers willing to be photographed smiling outside those little boxes of bricks called working-class “dwellings”, shown in the Labour candidate’s address, is hard to imagine. They called them “decent homes”. The blurb underneath should have read “good enough for workers but not fit for Labour leaders". Labour’s boast on education included:
  “We are now doing much in the education field for the training of young people for industry . . ."
Training workers for wage-slavery. Not a word about closing down teacher-training colleges, slum schools, and crowded class-rooms. No mention of the class-divide in education. The children of the ruling class are not trained “for industry”. The typical Labour leader is educated at Oxford. Lady Falkender, for example, was reported in the Daily Mirror (22nd April 1976 to be choosing Westminster public school for her two sons. The fees were £1,254 per year for a boarder and £789 for a day boy.

The Tories

With seventeen post-war years of Tory government and four years at County Hall and all the horrors of capitalism remaining to testify to their political bankruptcy, the Tories tried to counter Labour reformism. It is easy for them to make capital out of workers’ misery by saying “the GLC is probably the largest slum landlord in the world”. It was no different with them in power. In Lambeth Central the Tory candidate was Roy Hatter; he drew attention to two thousand houses in Lambeth boarded up, and seventeen thousand people on waiting lists. His claim to working-class support rested on having broken the world record by making a political speech that lasted over twenty-nine hours. If only words could build houses! Like most Tories, Mr. Hatter has the habit of calling Labourites “Socialists”. If he does not know the difference his long speech must have been painfully boring. He is himself an employee, a member of the working class, yet he embraces the system of his masters which exploits him as well as the rest of us.

The "Communists''

The election address of the so-called Communist Party followed similar reformist lines to the rest. Full of platitudes, promises and catch-phrases. A typical example was:
  "Pensions. End the scandal of poverty, neglect and deprivation for the elderly. They fought for and built London for us”.
Poverty! Neglect! Deprivation! Yes, under a government they urged workers to vote for. Poverty is produced by capitalism. It is glib and cynical nonsense to promise to end it while retaining the system.

These political commotionists can never resist the chance to pose as patriots. They might do better to ask themselves whether slums and poverty are worth fighting for? If by “us” they mean the working class, London was never built for them but for the capitalist class who own it. Much of London is so old that no elderly worker suffering poverty today had anything to do with its building.

Those former intrepid “revolutionaries” who used to train with broom-sticks for “heavy civil war” have become law-and-order men. They are now demanding that the Metropolitan Police should be under the control of the GLC instead of the Home Secretary. What relevance that has to “Communism” is impossible to conceive. They also demand “More Democracy” — a prime piece of hypocrisy for a Party built on reverence for Russian State-capitalism, the biggest and longest-running police-dictatorship in the world.

With the flag of British capitalism appropriately upside-down, the National Front leaflet, launched a tirade of bunkum about immigration. By “immigrants” they mean black people and ignorantly gloss over the fact that most immigrants are of white skin. Blaming the blacks for everything is a favourite get-out for the simple-minded. They claim that “Inner London is now a multi-racial slum”. Much of London has always been a slum. National Front only recognize slums when they are “multi-racial”. Black people did not create the slums. Many of them live in them, as do many of their “white” fellow-workers. Slums arise because capitalism produces cheap housing for workers. Overwhelmingly, slums are built as slums.

They seek to “immediately repatriate” any immigrant convicted of a crime. What an idiotic idea. Nearly half the black people in Britain were born here. If every country adopted the same policy, then all those Britons who have emigrated would be sent back here if convicted of a crime. As the emigrants outnumber the immigrants, there could well be a higher “criminal” population here at the end of the process! Their attitude betrays complete indifference to the social causes of crime.

They advocate segregated education. Anything that further confuses and divides the working class. As we have seen in dealing with the Labour Party there is already class-segregated education.

The “village pump” narrowness of the National Front is a snare for unthinking workers. Nationalism is an ideological disease. The Labourites, Tories, Liberals and “Communists” all sponsor nationalism. National Front merely carry the nonsense further.

This group makes the fraudulent claim to be Marxist and Socialist. Their manifesto sought only to outbid the others in the number and range of their reform proposals. They openly set out to gain “protest votes” from Labour. The fact that the National Front draws much of its support from disillusioned Labour voters did not seem significant to them. Such voters are politically muddled, and having despaired of the Labour Party are looking elsewhere for easy answers within capitalism. Nothing lasting or worthwhile can be built on such a base.

The IMG wants capitalism without its economic consequences. Their concentration on wages, prices and jobs shows they are void of any ideas beyond the present system of buying and selling and wage- labour. They seek to ‘nationalize all firms creating redundancies”. They have forgotten the redundancies in British Rail, state education, the mines, etc., and have yet to learn that state-capitalism works no differently from private capitalism. Far from being extreme in any way, IMG stand roughly where the Labour Party stood sixty years ago, still demanding a “national minimum wage”.

Their policy of “No platform for National Front” is absurd. False ideas cannot be banished by such methods. IMG linked up with the Communists and various Constituency Labour Parties in a group called alarm (All Lambeth Anti-Racial Movement). With each affiliated party seeking votes at the others’ expense, this can be only a very tenuous alliance. “Alarm” invited our candidate for Lambeth Central to address a meeting in support of their limited objective, jointly with the other candidates, excluding National Front. We circulated an open letter giving our reasons for not joining them to fight the effects of capitalism and arguing the need to end this system. In opposition to the platform our candidate was allowed to state the Party case from the audience. Copies of their invitation and our reply were sent to the South London Press but were not published. The Guardian also failed to publish a similar letter dealing with the rival demonstrations in North London on 30th April despite the publicity they had given the event for two days before.

The SPGB stands alone (in this country) as the one party which rejects the system the others want to reform and retain. Socialism depends upon understanding. Only a conscious majority gaining political power can achieve a world of common ownership where production will be solely for use with free access. Class rule and subjugation will then be replaced by human society.
Harry Baldwin

50 Years Ago: Our Open Platform (1977)

The 50 Years Ago column from the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of our earliest, and one of our wisest decisions of policy, was that wherein we allowed our opponents access to our platform. Having heard our case, and subject only to the common usages and decencies of debate, we offer any opponent the right to oppose us, on our own platform.

★ ★ ★

We have nothing to hide, no secrets to keep, no leaders to apologise for, nothing but straight Socialism to preach. So we have nothing to fear. If anyone thinks we are crying for the moon, or are on a wild-goose chase, he is at liberty to tell us so. If he can prove it, he will save us wasting our precious time, and so do us a service. On the other hand, if we can in turn show that he is harbouring delusions unawares, he should be indebted to us. We have everything to gain by discussion. Can it be said that any of our political opponents are similarly anxious for discussion, or that they are prepared to offer equal facilities? Try them and see.

(From an article “At the Street Comer” by W.T. Hopley in the Socialist Standard, June 1927)

Letters: Parties and Profits (1977)

Letters to the Editors from the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Parties and Profits

I subscribe to the Socialist Standard and, in the main, I find the contents of your articles to be both lucid and irrefragable. However, there are several points which, in my opinion, require elucidation.

Firstly, on more than one occasion, you have asserted that the Labour Party represents one section of the capitalist class whilst the Conservative Party represents another. Please identify these two sections of the capitalist class.

Secondly, in your answer to Robin Cox’s letter in your March 1977 edition you pointed out that although consumer expenditure increased by 80 per cent, between 1970 and 1975, the Index of Production rose by 0.6 in the same period. Could it not be that a part, at least, of the extra consumer expenditure was on imported goods not included in the Index of Production statistics, and that had British goods been competitive, there would have been an increase in the Index of Production?

Thirdly, as you adhere to Marx’s version of the Labour Theory of Value, can you explain how it is that retail organizations make profits if goods are sold at their value? Is it by exploiting their own employees?
P. S. Maloney
London N13

(The first part of this letter was dealt with in last month's Socialist Standard.)

It will be recalled that the original question was whether continued expansion of market demand will guarantee growth in production.

The reply quoted figures for Britain in the period 1970-75 showing that it had no such effect. It is the standard inflationist argument and never works. Capitalism goes through alternate phases of growth of production and stagnation.

It is correct that in the period 1970-75 there was a big increase of imports. They were paid for by loans from abroad. If British goods had been more competitive, imports would have been smaller and exports greater, with a corresponding fall of production in competing countries such as Germany and Japan. But Germany and Japan too were in a depression from 1974 onwards, and the solution for them also, on this reasoning, would have been to be more competitive. Thus overall it would not have prevented British production falling during the depression any more than it prevented production falling in countries where goods were more competitive.

On your last question, Marx distinguished between the “sphere of production” (which includes necessary transportation—Capital Vol. 2, p. 62) and the “sphere of circulation”. Surplus-value, of which profit is a part, is created in production not in circulation. In circulation it is realized, by sale. ‘Circulation, or the exchange of commodities, begets no value.’ (Capital Vol. 1, p. 182.)

Surplus-value is created in production by the unpaid labour of the workers, i.e. the labour in excess of that corresponding to the value of labour-power, wages. In circulation also (wholesaling and retailing) the workers give unpaid labour. (“The unpaid labour of his clerks, while it does not create any surplus-value, 3t least appropriates surplus-value for him, which amounts to the same thing, so far as results on his capital go. This unpaid labour is for him, therefore, a source of profit.”—Capital Vol. 3, p. 346.)

Capitalists in both spheres have the same interest in extending the unpaid labour of their employees. It does not, however, rest on commodities selling at value, which need not be the case. In first explaining the labour theory of value, Marx used examples assuming that commodities always sell at value, but he added that this simplification would be elaborated later. (Vol. 2, pages 244 & 335.)

The elaborated theory showed that in some cases commodities sell above value and in others below value, the price however being determined in accordance with the labour theory of value. (Vol. 3, p. 186). The developed theory Included Marx’s conception of the average rate of profit, i.e. that out of the total social surplus-value, the profit falling to each capitalist, whether in production or circulation, is proportionate (other things being equal) to the size of his capital. (Vol. 3, p. 187.)

All references are to the Kerr edition of Capital.

Could Do Better?

How often one hears members of the SPGB accused of being "cranks” and "pedantic”. Is this perhaps because of their habit of frequenting the Establishment’s Sunday-morning soap-box at Speakers’ Corner? The only true Socialist Party in the Land strives to get its message across to tourists and passers-by . . . while the rest of the population is anaesthetized into yet another week of toil under Caesar whom only the SPGB has consistently attacked for seventy-three years.

If the majority of working people have never heard the socialist case why is the SPGB not doing all it should by, for example, exploiting the media and all the other available channels to put across the true case? I submit that this is one of the Party’s inherent weaknesses and, consequently, its methods of organizing and communication should be immediately re-examined.

The SPGB and its fellow parties must seriously ask themselves whether or not they are in civilization’s race to win through. They have not yet successfully put themselves forward as a viable and sane alternative not because of any misconceived concept but because, in their littleness, we cannot hear them!

The SPGB denounces the Trotskyists and WSL but is it not nevertheless a fact that these doctrinaire lefties hold greater sway because they organize at the level of industry and in other significant sections of society? Here they leave the SPGB behind and though SPGB itself claims consistency over these fashionable malcontents it draws no closer to achieving an influential voice.

Comrades, go out into the world of imperfections so that you may establish the numerical strength you so badly need and which will enable the socialist voice to be heard throughout the land. You should collect large sums of money for your innumerable activities; organize membership drives; charge weekly subscriptions; advertize SP literature and products more effectively as in the North American party magazine; hold international conferences; establish a current programme relevant to our immediate situation; exploit the media. All branches should daily strive to establish links with the working class and recruit from all spheres of society.

It is accepted that technology will create the right conditions for the social transformation. But while "we impose the form of the old on the content of the new the malady lingers on” (McLuhan). So why doesn’t the SPGB use the Open Door programme for example?
Jon Lieberman

Yours is the voice of an armchair philosopher if ever we heard one, asking why we have not provided Socialism yet. Among clauses in our Principles you do not mention are no. 5, which says “this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself” and no. 6, which says "the working class must organize consciously and politically”. Assuming that you are a member of the working class, what are you doing to help get Socialism?

Dividing your letter into two parts, the first lists things which in your opinion we need to do. In several instances we agree. Can you inform us how to achieve them as readily as you suggest? You ask why we do not use the Open Door TV programme. We have been on its waiting list, fobbed off, rebuffed and turned down ever since it began. You say "exploit the media”. We have an active, youthful committee and many individual members who try to get us on radio and TV and in the press continually. The BBC has made clear that it will not have us. How do you suggest we "exploit” them? "Collect large sums of money”—from whom, and by what means (and we do need money, as you say, for our "innumerable activities”)? "Advertize SP literature”—with large sums of money, we could. The attraction of the “Sunday-morning soapbox” at Hyde Park and other places for us is simple; it costs nothing.

The other part of your letter is the reference to membership drives, recruiting etc. A possible inference from this is that we should strive for numbers above all, and so accept members who do not fully understand the Socialist case. It is the argument put forward early in this century by Keir Hardie: that the Social Democratic Federation had made little progress by preaching Socialism, and the need was to recruit trade-unionists—regardless of their attitude to Socialism—and build a strong movement. His policy was given effect. The Labour Party he visualized grew, amassed funds, and became the government; and none of this did anything for Socialism.

We do not know what you mean by saying that the Trotskyists and similar groups "hold greater sway”. At any time such organizations may make greater noise than the SPGB, but their effectiveness is nil—which is why a very large number of them have come and gone during our seventy-three years. Similarly, the technological conditions for establishing Socialism, the capacity for a society of free access, have existed throughout the twentieth century. The task of the Socialist Party is to advocate it, and what governs the strength and variety of our efforts is how many of us there are. You may join without waiting for a membership drive.


I should like to draw your attention to the problem of Socialism in the Third World. If an advanced industrial economy and consequently an industrial working class is essential for Socialism, world Socialism would appear impossible without world industrialization. However, even if this were possible it would cause untold damage to the environment. It would seem logical then for the Third World to avoid the capitalist stage of development and pursue an agrarian form of Socialism.

The problem existed in the 19th century between industrial Western Europe and feudalist Russia where the remnants of primitive communism remained. Alexander Herzen and other Russian populists argued that Russia could only achieve Socialism by using these remnants such as the mir or traditional peasant commune as the basis of social organization. Could this be applied to the peasant societies of the Third World today?
Ian Greenslade 

The idea that every part of the world must still endure the development of capitalism to be ready for Socialism is a mechanistic one which does not correspond to what takes place. When new nations come on the scene they are obliged not to re-enact other nations’ history but to aim at their present stage. The outstanding example in recent years is China, which from being a vast peasant country in 1949 progressed to exploding an atomic bomb in 1964 and has become a major industrial and commercial power.

It is true that at the time of the Communist take-over Mao told the Chinese they had to go through capitalism before “socialism” was attainable. However, the Communists had (and have) no intentions other than capitalist ones. In the preceding twenty years they had built up a large following among the peasants by preaching not socialism but nationalism. If the working class of the “advanced” areas of the world were ready to establish Socialism today, the remainder in relatively undeveloped countries would quickly become conscious of it and be able to go into world-wide common ownership without delay—to their immense benefit, of course.

“Untold damage to the environment” results not from industry as such but from production for profit. Try reading Engels's prescient statements on this in Anti-Duhring (pages 324-5, Lawrence & Wishart edn.). He says: The present poisoning of air, water and land can only be put an end to by the fusion of town and country; and only this fusion will change the situation of the masses now languishing in the towns . . .” And:
  Large-scale industry, which has taught us to convert the movement of molecules, which is more or less universally realisable, into the movement of masses for technical purposes, has thereby to a considerable extent freed production from the restrictions of place . . . It is the capitalist mode of production which concentrates it mainly in the towns and changes factory villages into factory towns.
Engels approved the idea, put forward by Fourier and Owen, of social groups of between 1,600 and 3,000 people—good-sized villages. The closest thing to a town would be four or five of these situated near one another. Every person would work in both agriculture and industry, and young people would be given all-round training so as to incorporate “the greatest possible variety of occupation for each individual”. However, these are precisely the questions—the arrangement of life and labour, and the organization of industry—which a Socialist community would debate and decide for itself.

Educating the Educator

On page 6 of your pamphlet Socialist Principles Explained you state: "The founders owed much to the unsurpassed analysis of capitalism provided by Karl Marx." It should be noted that Marx not only owed a great deal to the Socialists of his day, but to those who departed this earth long before him. For Marx’s works are “saturated” with their influence, and in view of that it would be hardly fair to look upon his contribution to Socialist thought as anything but “contributory ’.

Unfortunately, there are always people who are confused into giving those who have made an art of refashioning or re-modelling old theories the designation of originator. Nowhere in history has there been any man who has, by himself, originated or invented anything of any significance without “borrowing” ideas from other men. In that respect Marx’s analysis of capitalism must be regarded to be the combined effort of many men.

To take any other view is tantamount to saying that the inventor of the wrist watch was also responsible for inventing the wheel, lever, spring, buckly, and even time itself!
J. W. Pitt

Of course Karl Marx learned from others. His writings on economics are full of references to Ricardo, Adam Smith and other investigators And according to his own historical materialist approach, which we accept, people’s ideas are formed by the conditions under which they live, and these conditions include the influence of others.

On the other hand, we doubt your claim that these others, for Marx, included Socialists. Whom did you have in mind? Who, in the 19th century or earlier, advocated a system of society based upon the common ownership of the means for producing and distributing wealth? Who was putting forward the view that only a consciously socialist working class could bring such a society into being? The Utopians drew up blueprints for new organizations of society, but their co-operative settlements were based only upon equal distribution of wealth, not upon common ownership. Others around in the 19th century—e.g. Louis Blanc and Blanqui—some of whom might have been called Socialists, certainly were not so by the second criterion; and, anyway, were more likely to have been influenced by Marx than vice versa.

Hemlock and After
I have just read the Western Socialist entitled “Reflections on Religion". To what extent do you feel that the Socialist Party of Great Britain has played a part in declining interest in the Christian way of life in this country over the past twenty years? I would be grateful for your opinion.
Nicholas Fox

As you will understand from having read the Western Socialist, our opposition to religion is part of the Socialist analysis of the existing order of society. We condemn religious institutions for their rĂ´le in upholding property and exploitation; and we reject religious thought as an obstacle to understanding.

For many years before the last war the SPGB published a pamphlet called Socialism and Religion. It is not produced now because of the “declining interest” you refer to. In general, the decline is due to capitalism itself which in the past saw superstition as an ally but now has to educate people for a complex material world. Numbers of people turn away from religious beliefs which palpably stand against their material well-being—i.e. they do not accept that poverty and meekness are blessed states: and see the number of Roman Catholics who are no longer behind their church’s teachings on birth control and abortion.

Certainly propaganda and argument have played a part, notably in times when to state anti-religious views aroused hostility. However, our position is different from groups like Freethinkers. We attach importance to the rejection of religion—when it is linked with acquiring Socialist consciousness. If it is not. there may be no marked improvement. Religion was the opium of the people, but capitalism offers other narcotics to the unaware.

R. O’Neil (London NW1): Your letter reiterating the same point has new been written many times, the only variation being the signature.

A Letter to Miss Ryoko of Japan (1957)

From the June 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

The News of the World (7.4.57) published a letter from a Miss Ryoko, in which she expressed her dismay and disappointment that the British Government is continuing with its H-Bomb tests, in spite of protests from Japan. Among other things she wrote:
  “So here I am writing with hope—what is the reply of my comrades in United Kingdom on your bomb test against which everyone here claims there is nothing but evil or aggressive intention.”
The following letter was sent by a member of the S.P.G.B. to Miss Ryoko.

Dear Miss Ryoko,
Will praying stop war?
Will wishing stop war?
Will deputations to ministers stop war?
What then will?
Firstly, understanding what its causes are. Society is organised into a buying and selling system. Everything from babies' napkins to hearing aids is made for a profit. To live, most of us must work. We work for employers. They sell the goods to make money. When they cannot sell in one place, they try another. When all of them are doing this; e.g., I.C.I., Dunlop, Mitsubishi, Messerschmitt, American Automobiles, a struggle ensues. When the struggle starts to hurt we call it war.

Briefly stated, trade is war.

You spoke in your letter of Britain’s peaceful use of atomic energy. But even this is for trading and profit-making.

Let me suggest an example of what is meant If some brilliant scientist at Harwell found a way of heating the water supply of nearby villages from atomic waste, which cost nothing, would it be pumped free to the people's houses? You know the answer.

The governments represent the interests of the employers—those who own. Therefore, all governments, in the end, work against the interests of those who are employed—those who own nothing (of importance). This is proved by the very operation which is worrying you—development of nuclear weapons. The people hate and fear it. But the governments and ruling groups in all big countries continue to justify the arms race. When the time comes they will conscript the workers, men and women, to fight for them. But if everybody was determined to end profit-society and run industry for people’s needs, war could not occur.

In the last century Britain expanded her manufacturing enormously. Huge fortunes were made, while the life of working people was cruel, dirty and dangerous, people died at an earlier age—the deaths of babies were hardly commented on. This process involved too, seeking abroad for raw materials, labour and markets. Result, constant small wars to this end, with China, India, Africa, and the dark-skinned people of the world generally.

In this century your country had a similar development. And your living standards appall even the lowest paid workers here.

I mention these things to show that trade is struggle, instead of production being geared for free use over the whole world.

You may feel, on reading as far as this, that the writer is a dreadful pessimist, overstating a case. But surely you, as a Japanese woman, are keenly aware that the revolting destructive force of the atom bomb did not prevent America’s and Britain's governments from using it on helpless and exposed human beings to achieve their ends. Many people here, when they learnt about such bestiality, were shaken, but I doubt if Mr. Truman and Mr. Churchill were.

Pious resolutions achieve nothing. People must learn to act for themselves. Until they do, the horrors your people suffered will continue to haunt us all.

Some of us are ready.

In the meantime we can only attempt to educate our fellow-workers, as we in our turn have had our eyes opened to the nature of society, and what makes it tick (and explode).

This is a painfully short statement. If you are interested to follow up some of the arguments, I should be very happy to write again.
Yours fraternally,
Margot Brown.

“Time is endless." (1957)

From the June 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard
  "It always happens thus: the assimilation of great and new ideas is always a slow and gradual process; there is no haste either here or in any other department of Nature. "Die zeit ist unendlich lang.” * Steadily the forces work, sometimes seeming to accomplish nothing: sometimes even the motion appears retrograde, but in the long run the destined end is reached, and the course, whether of a planet or of men’s thoughts about the universe, is permanently altered."
(Pioneers of Science, Oliver Lodge: Macmillan, 1928).
* “Time is endless."

A Date With The Dead (1957)

From the June 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

Saturday, 29th June, 1957, is a date arranged for yet one more posthumous ceremony to be held in honour of those members of the working class who lost their lives in World War II during the Dunkirk campaign. The Queen Mother, it is expected, will “unveil” a memorial at Dunkirk.

Quite apart from the propaganda value of these ceremonies to those who possess but do not produce, the capitalist class are indeed entitled to pay their “respects" to those members of the working class who sacrificed their very lives in their masters’ interests; the tragedy being that they erroneously identified working class interests with those of the master class. We repeat erroneously, because under this capitalistic system of society, wars arise through the seething rivalries of sections of the international class of capitalists over markets for their commodities, territory containing mineral wealth, oil, etc., and trade routes, of which the Suez Canal is a classical example.

For the working class to engage in a bloody struggle over which capitalist group is to control the largest slice of the social wealth filched from them as the producers via the medium of the wages system, is very much like a man who, being robbed of his wallet in a back alley by two assailants who fall out over the share, of the loot, helps one of them to take the lot! Whereupon he is “rewarded” with a copper coin as a “memorial” to his stupidity.

To revert to Dunkirk—these “unveilings” are performed with all the tricks and trappings of religious mumbo jumbo in order to perpetuate the idea of a supernatural power, an “Almighty God." whose insatiable appetite for human sacrifice in “His” name (not capitalism’s, of course) will never be satisfied whilst there is a religious minded working class, ready to throw their lives away—for “God and country.” Workers whose intellects are dimmed with religious teachings inculcated at an early and impressionable age are more vulnerable to these “theatricals” and more easily duped with cheap metal medals and the like. There is a parallel with the “Bible and Bottle of Whisky" technique which paid such rich dividends in the building of the British Empire!

Whilst this primitive worship of the dead is being enacted for the purpose of stultifying non-Socialist workers’ mentalities, the urgent need for Socialism is pinpointed with news of ever greater lethal missiles, guaranteed to produce results paling into insignificance the sum total of “War Memorial Representation’’ to date!

Truly, “the customs and traditions of the past "do weigh like an alp on the brains of the living." No doubt there will be medals galore on show during this bloodstained ritual at Dunkirk, and whilst there is a lot to be said for having one’s name on a medal in lieu of a war memorial (!), the writer has personal experience of contacts with many an ex-Serviceman who tried to sell him their medals for scrap silver, only to find they were made of base metal, and, to use a popular expression, “not worth a light.’’ This applies to medals issued in relation to World War II. The previous War I medals were at least made of silver, and many an old pensioner, eking out his remaining days on the “Plimsoll Line” of capitalism was glad to “take the cash and let the credit go.” The eagerness they displayed for the "ready” was matched by the chagrin of those who received the base metal “awards.”

Here we see the hollowness and hypocrisy of the state machinery of capitalism, attracting working class youth with glamour and ceremonial in the defence of vested interests—and discarding those who survive at the end of each blood bath with worthless metal discs—"For services rendered,” and in some cases a paltry pension, which may be whittled down each succeeding year of the recipient’s survival until a state of affairs exists, epitomised by one old pensioner, who declaimed, on unsuccessfully looking round his bare room for something or other to sell: "There's now’t left but me, lad.” Is this what they mean, who loudly proclaim: “The Englishman’s home is his castle ”?

In conclusion, we, as Socialists, are concerned with “unveiling”—not the hunk of masonry at Dunkirk, but what lies behind it.
G. R. Russell