Thursday, June 18, 2020

By The Way. (1918)

The By The Way column from the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

An interesting item of news recently appeared in the Press of this country. Under the heading, "On Ticket-of-Leave: Bolshevist System for the Bourgeoisie," I read that, according to a telegram from Petrograd, new passports for the bourgeoisie have been introduced by decree in the form of testimonial books. It continues—
  "Everybody who makes use of the work of others is to be provided with these—namely, directors of enterprises, members of administrative councils, merchants, brokers, ex-officers and lawyers. Only annotations of these books, saying that the requested work has been accomplished, will entitle the bearers to travel about Russia."—"Evening Standard," Oct. 24th, 1918.
Assuming the report to be true, I think we are entitled to rejoice and be exceeding glad that these blessings of civilization—work and registration cards and similar documents—have been conferred on those who in the past have been graciously pleased to bestow them on members of the international working class. It is the touch ironic.


We have read so many times of late that the Bolsheviks were in the pay of the Germans that it is with difficulty we approach the following—
  "The Matin publishes a telegram from Zurich, according to which the German Press is said to be displaying uneasiness with regard to the activities of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. M. Joffre, it is stated, is suspected of assisting in the importation into Germany of bombs and grenades, which are supposed to have been subsequently hidden in different parts of Berlin."— "National News," Nov. 3rd, 1918.
Therefore, you can pay your money and take your choice. On further reflection it would appear to be so much camouflage in order to obscure the position of affairs in Russia. One thing we know is that the Bolshevik revolution has sustained for twelve months the attacks from within and without.


Another Russian tit-bit also found a place in the newspapers here, doubtless because a "Bolshy" was having a tilt at Kaiser Bill (late of Prussia). According to a telegram the Commissary, M. Zinovieff, in a speech to the Soviet in Moscow, said :—
   "The German Consul has requested me to reply by letter whether it is true that I called the Emperor a brigand, as the German papers say.
Amidst general laughter, M. Zinovieff asked, Is it possible to suspect a Bolshevik of expressing himself disrespectfully regarding a monarch who is God's anointed, marked with God's finger, like William? I do not think I deserve this suspicion."—"Daily Chronicle" Oct. 25th, 1918.

One of the results of the revolution in Germany has been the liberating of Karl Liebknecht, among others, from prison. We read that
  "Liebknecht arrived at Berlin railway station yesterday afternoon, and was received in a triumphant manner by thousands of Berlin workmen and women, who crowded the station and surrounding streets. Liebknecht looked sick and exhausted, and his face told of hard suffering during his two years' imprisonment."—"Daily Chronicle," Oct. 25th, 1918.
In an explanatory note this journal of Liberalism goes on to inform its readers of the fearless and consistent attitude adopted by Liebknecht during the war. It says —
  "Karl Liebknecht is the arch-enemy at home of Prussian militarism. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1912 for Potsdam, the Kaiser's own borough. From the beginning he has opposed the war, and in appeals from prison to the workers he has proclaimed war on the German Government and the Junkers."
Now this is not the first occasion on which the English capitalist Press has given laudatory puffs to opponents of the German ruling class. Strikes on the part of the German workers have been eulogised here, whilst similar occurrences on the part of English workmen have been sufficient to call forth denunciation by that self-same Press and demands made for the immediate despatch to the front line trenches of such traitors to the country. If by a geographical accident Liebknecht had been born in England and had been the "arch-enemy" of militarism, I wonder whether he would have received the same attention in the capitalist Press, and further, would the treatment meted out to him have been any different from that which obtained under the regime of the Kaiser ? From the evidences on every hand I think not.


On this subject, referred to above, an illuminating comment was made in another journal, which is worthy of repetition here. Let me quote :—
  "One of the most interesting and satisfactory incidents of the change in Germany has been the amnesty to political prisoners, including Karl Liebknecht. It is an instance in which there seems to be room for acting upon the old injunction that it is right to learn even from the enemy. We can scarcely, while preaching liberal principles to Germany, refuse to practise them ourselves. Some of the imprisoned "conscientious objectors" are really very little more than political prisoners. If it be argued that the conscientious objectors' crime is not political, the position of the Government becomes even more difficult. For if these men are not imprisoned for political reasons, it is difficult to see why, except on moral or religious grounds, they are imprisoned at all, and the Government have themselves expressly denied their own competence to punish men for their religious opinions."—"Daily News," Oct. 28th, 1918.
This is somewhat severe on the people who are making the world "safe for democracy." Our rulers can undoubtedly "learn even from the enemy" if they desire to do so. We have only to call to mind the Irishmen and women who have been thrown into prison, and without trial, too; the large number of C.O.'s, many of whom are undergoing the second and third sentence; and John Maclean, of Glasgow, to realise how far we are behind the people who yesterday our masters termed the enemy.


Now the Election is upon us and we are hearing so much about the virtues of the Coalition candidates, "our gallant heroes" and their wives would do well to remember the generous treatment which they have received at the hands of the Coalition Governments during the war period. After long and strenuous pressure, and with an election looming in the distance, our legislators suddenly saw the justice of the demand for increased separation allowances, etc., and made some advance, with a further promise of looking into the matter. Compare this generosity with the following: —
  "In the matter of a visit of twelve gentlemen to Dublin, when £31 of public money was spent in two days in drinks and £5 in cigars, the Ministry now state that the officer responsible was reprimanded, and he subsequently resigned." — "Daily News," Nov. 18th, 1918.
This case was reported in the papers some time ago, but I quote what might be termed the inquest story, because it confirms the allegations then made. The quotation above is taken from a memorandum replying to the criticism of the Select Committee on National Expenditure as to the transactions of the Ministry of Information. Truly the devil is good to his own.


We have been obliged to smile at the pantomime performances of Havelock Wilson of late. What with arrogating to himself the right to determine whether or no certain people should be conveyed to the Continent to attend conferences, and then at last having to climb down from this exalted position, it is surely a case of the mighty having fallen. Doubtless this last achievement was facilitated by the fact that "at a special session of the Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party held in Dublin it was decided, at the outset of the proceedings, to exclude the delegates of the Seamen's and Firemen's Union as a protest against the members of that Union refusing to facilitate Mr. Henderson, Mr. Huysman, and other trade unionists in attending the International Labour Congresses" ("Reynolds's," Nov. 3rd, 1918). This is most assuredly an object lesson of the biter being bit.


Future historians will be able to place on record the wonderful methods adopted by a parsimonious, cheese-paring ruling class to make more tolerable the condition of its fighters and their dependents. Flag days have become part of our lives, and cadging appeals for this fund and that are of almost daily occurrence, all of which are to provide something that should have been assured by the State to the "men who have saved the Empire" (capital E, please). Ye valiant warriors, note these words—
"In response to the appeal for money to supply soldiers children with boots, "The National News" has received £931 17s. This has enabled us to relieve a thousand of the most necessitous cases in all parts of the country, and we feel that we have shown the way in which the needs of the men's dependents should now be supplied by an official organisation. . . . We must take this opportunity of thanking our readers whose generosity has enabled us to do so much for the bootless "kiddies" of our fighting men."—"National News," Nov. 3rd, 1918.
Capitalist politicians and apologists give utterance to fine words when speaking of the self-sacrifice of the armed forces, but they have as yet failed to translate into deeds their recognition of the hardships endured by the soldiers and sailors and their dependents in making the world safe for their capitalist masters.


How well the Labour fakirs carry out the desires and devices of their capitalist paymasters has been abundantly evidenced in recent times by the "plums" of office which have been bestowed upon them. Therefore, I conclude, it was acting on the principle of one good turn deserves another that friend Clynes has made arrangements for the production of potato flour on an extensive scale to be manipulated by the capitalist for the capitalist in the interest of the capitalist. But let me quote—
  "Mr. Clynes desires to entrust this business to private enterprise rather than to undertake what promises to be a continuing industry with the official staff of the Ministry of Food, and has been authorised by the Treasury to afford generous facilities to persons who have suitable buildings for housing the plant, and the necessary enterprise for starting the factories. The Ministry of Food will supply the potatoes required, and will purchase the whole of the resulting flake on terms which will leave a reasonable margin of profit to the manufacturer, and also enable him to acquire the plant." —"Daily News," Oct. 21st, 1918.
Here we see the gentleman who desires to be returned to the next Parliament to assist in the 
great kidding campaign of "reconstruction," helping to make the world safe for democracy—
pardon, I mean for the capitalist. Though the heavens fall, we must preserve the right of "a 
reasonable margin of profit" to the employing class.
The Scout.

A Joker's Conception of Socialism. (1918)

From the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Winston Churchill, in a speech delivered at Dundee, on May 4th, 1918, stated that—
  "Translated into concrete terms, Socialistic "society" is a set of disagreeable individuals who obtained a majority for their caucus at some recent election, and whose officials in consequence would look on humanity through innumerable grills and pigeon-holes and across innumerable counters, and say to them, "Tickets, please." Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke."
Even in pre-war days the above read suspiciously like a faithful description of capitalism. Wages could never be regarded by the worker as anything but certificates or counters entitling him to the bare necessaries of life, after toiling all the week, under the watchful eye of exacting and disagreeable overseers. He was asked for his "books" before he commenced work, designated a "hand," given a number and clocked on and off at meals, with an occasional visit from the timekeeper in between to make assurance doubly sure and see that the worker—who has sold his energy—parts with it according to the terms, and plays no tricks. Surely they were the days of ''tickets, please," of "grills," and "countless disagreeable officials."

But how much more so in the days when capitalism—carried on the tidal wave of "overproduction" to the brink of a universal crisis— staked everything on the conflict of armed forces.

The applicant for the right to be exploited had, perforce, to submit himself to suspicious, supercilious and disagreeable officials at the "Labour Exchanges," who demanded "Tickets" without the "please" ; registration cards, insurance cards, and military papers. Forms had to be filled up and numerous questions answered, and in the factory numbering and checking as usual. Then came rationing with coupons and more disagreeable officials installed in offices as "food controllers" to badger and intimidate the unoffending but necessary worker. "Truly this grey old world has never seen so grim a joke," and the joker has truly earned the "cap and bells."
F. Foan.

Right Again. (1918)

From the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

A little while since President Wilson, in this the mouth-piece of the Allies, was screaming for the German people to arise and overthrow their rulers. There would be no negotiation with the Hohenzollerns, he declared ; the Kaiser and his gang would have to go. Every available means was exploited in order to induce the working class of Germany to solve the difficulties of the Allies by plunging into revolution.

We said, however, at the time, that should the workers of the Central Empires take their cue from Mr. Wilson and attempt to take into their own hands control of public affairs, the armies of the Allies would be used to crush down the rising and restore security to capitalist interests.

What has happened ? After the signing of the Armistice a wave of revolution appeared to threaten 
the existence of German capitalism. Immediately the American President announced that no food
 would be sent to Germany unless the people were quiet. So we were not far out, nor did we have to 
wait long for events to prove the correctness of our statement. If the Allied Armies are not called on
to restore capitalist domination in Germany it will only be because the capitalists of the world have
found sufficient the more cunning scheme of starving into submission the revolutionaries who have served their purpose.

Woman and her work. (1918)

From the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

A writer in "Reynolds' Newspaper," Oct. 13th, 1918, bewails the fact that woman's wages should be lower than man's. She complains that
  "Woman has been treated as a sort of lay figure for students of economics. Her value to the employer as a profit-maker, to the community as a potential mother, to the politician as a dispenser of votes, has had the fullest consideration. But who has claimed the right of woman to that payment for her labour which will allow of a full and independent life?"
The writer evidently forgets that in the past the capitalist has only employed women in preference to men because they were cheaper, and if we except those special occupations where women—because of lightness of touch, etc.—excel, men would still be employed in preference to women if wages were the same for both sexes. A woman who does equal work with a man must obviously require and obtain the same amount of the necessaries of life. It does not follow, however, that the employer must pay her a wage that will provide it. Girls living with their parents for instance, look upon the factory as a makeshift to obtain a living until they get married. The capitalists know this, and the girls seldom organise to try and force them to pay for their labour-power at its cost of production, hence the parents have to make up the difference. The employment of large numbers of women sets free men who, competing with their fellow-workers, provide employers with the power to reduce men's wages; and married women, unable to live on their husband's wages, take their place beside the younger women in the factory, and the capitalist gets the husband and wife for wages that would not sustain them if they lived separately. But although the capitalist knows that the girls he employs are being partially kept by their parents, he pays no higher wages to the girl who is unfortunate enough to be without parents ; on the contrary, he leaves her to face the horrors of slow starvation or prostitution, quite as a matter of course : there is no room for sentiment or philanthropy in business.

"Should wages be based upon the cost of living, or upon the value of labour to the employer ?" is a question asked by the writer ; and after telling us that "It is one of the greatest fallacies that wages are at present based on the value of labour to the employer," she goes on to argue for a "minimum rate of pay for all workers," which "shall allow for not a bare subsistence only, but a decent standard of comfort which shall include joy and beauty in the life of the worker."

Unlike many writers on economic subjects Elinor Dale realises the fact that labour-power is a commodity. She speaks first of wages, and then of the "price and value of labour," thus recognising that the terms wages and price of labour-power are synonymous. What she does not do, however, is to show how the owners of this particular commodity, within a system based on the production and exchange of commodities, can be given preferential treatment without deranging the whole capitalist system. For if the ruling class guarantee such a standard of living to all workers, they at once surrender their power to coerce them by hunger, which the pitiless commodity character of labour-power gives them.

The development of industry tends to establish a minimum, reducing the price of highly skilled labour-power by the simple process of eliminating the skill. Machinery, new methods and standardization does this, and while reducing the number of skilled workers required increases the number of competitors. The drudgery of factory and mill becoming ever more degrading and distasteful, induces ever-increasing numbers to avail themselves of the growing facilities for acquiring technical knowledge, with the result that every occupation and profession is overcrowded, has its army of unemployed, dragging down wages and salaries.

Equal opportunities for women to win the plums of the capitalist system will not solve the problem of woman's subjection. The working-class includes both sexes, equally subjected and exploited by the capitalist class. The great bulk of the workers must take the first job that offers, though it affords no more than a bare subsistence ; it is no consolation to these if they have equal opportunities, so-called, because under the system the vast majority must be condemned to incessant toil and poverty. 

Women have an equal opportunity with men to work for Socialism. It is their duty to their class so to work, and through their class to their sex, because it is only by Socialism the workers can guarantee themselves a "full and independent life." Most reforms have been tried in one capitalist country or another, and have failed to retard the increasing poverty of the workers. Higher education, an open door from the board schools to the university, was going to increase our efficiency, increase the production of wealth, cheapen commodities, and make it easier to live. Instead, it has meant only a levelling down of labour-power, and the standard of living of the workers has steadily fallen while they have produced more wealth per head. 

It is true that men increase their efforts and struggle ever more furiously to win the best jobs ; it is true that women have entered the race and proved capable in many spheres. But after all, they only serve sections of the ruling class in the sordid game of realising profits ; throwing the whole world into worse degrees of anarchy, and breeding—as the capitalist system must always breed—new disputes between national groups of capitalists, for whom a plethora of wealth must always mean squabbles and bloodshed over markets.

Socialism must be established by the workers before they can enjoy the fruits of their labour. The madness of excessive competition built up on the commodity character of labour-power and production for profit, can only cease when production is carried on for use. Capitalist anarchy grows with the growth of Capitalism. The system fails utterly to give a full life to the class that produces all wealth. Capitalism is over-ripe. Men and women are needed to awaken the workers to a realisation of their slavery, to expose confusionists, and impart a knowledge of Socialism to those who suffer under the system, that they may organise and work for their emancipation.
F. Foan

Thee Little Tambourine. (1918)

Party News from the December 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

It will be a matter of great regret to all who desire Socialism that our efforts to raise a fund which would enable us to strike a direct blow at the present Election has failed. However, we can do something. Meanwhile the need for finance is as great as ever. How about a Xmas Box!

So They Say: Worker Priorities (1977)

The So They Say Column from the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

Worker Priorities

One of the difficulties faced by those who believe that capitalism can be adapted to operate in the interest of workers is that they find themselves voicing the same views as those who actually reap the benefits, the owners of capital.
  Unless we start to achieve proper production levels, we are contributing to the downfall of our industry. (Joe Gormley, NUM leader. Daily Telegraph, 5th May ’77)
He does not mean “our industry”, however. Miners do not own the mines. The Daily Telegraph described his view as “down-to-earth common sense!” Elsewhere in the same newspaper, Terry Beckett, chairman and managing director of Ford’s, was expressing his views as an owner.
  British productivity was substantially worse in many operations compared with Germany . . . We therefore need a positive trade union attitude to management's initiatives on improved productivity . . . there is no doubt that our companies and our workforce have to be efficient and effective.
He is looking over his shoulder for trade-unionists to fight this battle for him. But before Gormley, or any other of his ilk, encourages his members to believe that they have mutual interests with the owners in running capitalism, it should first be made clear that workers as a whole have an overriding interest of their own. Not to support the private property system every time it creaks, but to dismantle the entire thing and establish a world of common ownership.

Capitalist Priorities

The main thrust of Beckett’s remarks was directed against “the motor industry’s bad strike record”, and the blame for this could be laid at the door of “technology”:
A handful of men could stop a whole line and bring 10,000 to a halt.
The “technology” he says is to blame—the machine line—is one of capitalism’s “effective and efficient” advances, in fact beloved by Ford’s. It is designed and introduced to intensify production. What he is really blaming is the “handful of men” who can leave such an expensive capital investment lying idle. Ford’s are then unable to reap surplus-value from the other 10,000. However, according to Beckett, there is a straightforward solution to any and every problem which workers experience. He advocates the mind-over-matter theory: whatever else, stay at the machine. Problems? Forget them:
  There was an obsessive concern with wages, prices, unemployment, living standards and funding the social services in Britain. People were hopelessly confused on what could be done to improve the position. Only good rewarding work [on a machine line?] could bring good rewarding pay. Britain had pussy footed around the issue of profits for years. The whole country needed to accept the necessity of profit with enthusiasm.
(Daily Telegraph, 5th May ’77)

More equal than others ?

We note that Mr. George Costakis must be an extremely hard-working man. The Russian Embassy in London informed the Socialist Standard last year that “material wealth is distributed in the socialist [Russian] society according to the principle of, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his work.” Mr. Costakis, 64, worked for many years “as an administrative officer in charge of Russian employees at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow” (Daily Telegraph). He has recently been given permission by the Russian Minister of Culture to take 80 of his 300 paintings out of the country.
 The Costakis collection has been conservatively estimated to be worth £2m on the western market . . . Contrary to Western belief, private collections are perfectly legal in Russia, and the late Ilya Ehrenburg, the Soviet propagandist, had a valuable collection of Picassos.
(Daily Telegraph, 11th May 77)

True to form

Those who suggest that nationalization has something to do with Socialism will note that the Post Office (“our” Post Office) has made an “excess profit” of £100m. on the telecommunications side. The proposed £7 rebate to each subscriber does not appear to be a very generous “dividend”, however, according to the Post Office chairman Sir William Ryland.
  But what is distributed now as a rebate will have to be recovered sooner or later from the customer or the taxpayer to help fund our large programme.
(Daily Telegraph, 5th May 77)
But was the £100m. profit a fantastic accident in the first place? Sir William Ryland does not think so:
  I make no apology for the success of the telecommunication services in moving from large losses to a healthy profitability . . . It is a fine achievement of immense proportions, something of which we should all be proud . . . Profit must be the heartbeat of the economy.

Safe Bombs

The science editor of The Times, Pearce Wright, had an interesting piece on 2nd May. The title above his column read: keeping nuclear bombs out of the wrong hands.

And what then, are the right hands? Perhaps the scientist knows something we do not. We had understood that nuclear bombs were designed to kill people.

Central Paradox

India currently has a record stockpile of 18 million tonnes of food—mostly wheat and rice—and is experiencing difficulties in storing it satisfactorily The expense of creating indoor space has meant that approximately one-third of the stockpile is lying under tarpaulins in the open air. In turn this can lead to deterioration of the grain by humidity and rain, and also by infestations particularly of rats. Within the next two months, officials reckon that the stockpiles will exceed 20m tonnes.
  But while farmers are pressing the new Janata (people’s) Government for higher intervention prices — which are set by the Government when it buys for storage — there remains the central paradox of overproduction in India: stockpiles exist side by side with more than 600 million people, two fifths of whom are too poor to buy sufficient food. Whether the stockpile is too much is uncertain. A senior official of the Food Corporation once actually proposed huge wheat exports.
Madness? Just another glimpse of capitalism’s “unacceptable face”.

Smooth Talker

Elsewhere the president of the European Commission, Roy Jenkins, eloquently expressed his side of the European “problem”:
  The basic problem here of course is that as long as you have a structural surplus of milk products generally and butter in particular, you have got an almost insoluble problem. You have got to try to get rid of it [butterJ somehow, and yet selling it at very low prices, which are the only prices at which you can get rid of it, to other countries, particularly if attention is concentrated on one country, arouses a considerable political storm.
The Times (Europa report), 5th April 77
If there is something to be got “rid of’ here, surely it must be the social system which creates the “central paradox” and along with it, its oily apologists.


The Labour Party’s home policy committee clearly feel that variety is the spice of life and are preparing a sort of variety-act, apparently because there’s nothing better for them to do.
  Labour’s policymakers decided last night to wage war on private landlords and agreed at the same time to start work on producing a ‘mid-term manifesto’ that will not meet with the approval of Mr. Callaghan.
The Times, 10th May 77
We suppose they imagine this a useful exercise. If they seriously wish to project something that Callaghan will disapprove—they could suggest Socialism. Regrettably though, the Labour policyfakers themselves are scared stiff of the idea.

Taking it easy

Daily Telegraph writers and ignoramuses in general are not backward in coming forward particularly when there is a suggestion that the workers are all sloping-off, or leaning on the proverbial shovel. Get your backs into it, seems to be their motto. One of them, Howard Hicks, wrote a piece in the 5th May issue “on the evils of falling productivity”.

His advice came as no surprise—“Wake up, workers of Britain!” We could increase productivity enormously. he assures us, “without dying of fatigue,” which is of some comfort; but he gets oven funnier:
 I do not believe that a country which has been breeding people with stamina, courage, determination and native genius for a thousand years, can continue to go dormantly downhill after about 20 years of apathy and soft living on borrowed money, and lack of dynamic out-spoken leadership.
How Hicks is talking about workers: what is the “soft living” he means? Two or, if you are really soft, three weeks a year on the infamous Costo Mucho beaches wedged in among the other fish-and-chip eating softies muttering, “This must be paradise”? After two or three weeks of that, no wonder that the blighters won’t work. But there is another side of it which appears to have escaped Hick’s attention. There are those among us, so the Telegraph's shipping correspondent would have us believe, who take things to extremes. Work harder? this lot don't work at all!
  The Cunarder Queen Elizabeth 2 is to make a 96-day Pacific cruise next year with the highest fare costing £88,550 for the best accommodation Mr. Victor Matthews, chairman of Cunard. said: Our two penthouse suites are the first to go. We have no trouble selling them and there are many people who want to spend this amount of money . , . People taking the penthouse in the past have entertained at a very high level— as much as £1000 a day.
Daily Telegraph, 15th April ’77
For the information of cheapskates, the lowest fare available is £5,350, but the report does not make it clear whether bread and water is thrown in for this amount. Howard Hicks, in his search for “dynamic and out-spoken leadership”, should move quickly. There’s a fair chance that a number of our leaders will be at sea next year.
Alan D'Arcy

The Imperial Communist Party of Spain (1977)

From the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

After forty years the Spanish dictatorship, dominated by bankers, landed aristocracy, mine-owners and wine-growers, has had to give way to its industrial capitalist section in its struggle to emerge as a competitor in the European and other markets by legalising trade unions and political parties. Restrictions imposed by the Franco regime — the police state, rigid censorship, and the political influence of the armed forces and the church, have produced a top-heavy bureaucracy and increased the expenses of government, whereas capitalism requires cheaper government. Surplus-value extracted from the working class, which is taken by the state in taxation, reduces the appropriation in private hands. The greater the overheads of the capitalist the less his competitiveness. In addition membership of the Common Market, which Spain seeks, entails the free movement of capital and labour, free competition, and free property lobbies in the shape of political representation.

According to the Daily Telegraph (28th April 1977) 130 parties are now legally recognized. Many of these are small fragments and sects from the main parties of Fascists, Communists, reformers, Syndicalists, Republicans. There is no Socialist party at the moment. Public assembly is strictly controlled by the police, the press is still censored, and strikes are still illegal. The Republican Convention (a Spanish anti-Fascist group) claims that 150 million work hours were lost in 1976 involving 5 million workers (May 1st circular, 1977). So much for the Fascist government’s attempt to suspend the class struggle.

It is this factor as much as any other which has pushed the ossified ruling class against its will into the 20th century of labour relations. There is still a long way to go before the corrupt Syndicatos (state- controlled trade unions of employers and workers) are swept aside, and a free and independent trade- union movement allowed to develop. The Workers’ Commissions (trade unions) are dominated by the Communist Party who are exploiting them for political ends which in the long run can only be detrimental to the independence of the re-born movement. A glaring example of this was seen during the recent TU May Day demonstrations organized by the Communist Party which were forbidden by the police, and ended in a series of riots. Marcelino Camacho, head of the Workers’ Commissions, openly admitted that the object of the TU demonstrations was to help the Communists in their forthcoming June elections (Daily Telegraph, 3rd May 1977).

Communist Hypocrisy
In denouncing police brutality he also stated: “Our main enemy is not the Suarez government but the threat posed by the Francoists and neo-Francoists forces to a true return to democracy”. So the Communist Party are not opposed to the Suarez government, and are prepared to support moves to a more democratic regime using the trade unions as pawns in order to achieve their political ambitions. At the Communists’ first legal meeting since the Civil War, held at Valaldolid with 10,000 present, the flag of the Spanish monarchy was displayed on the platform. Replying to protests from party militants, Santiago Carrillo the Party secretary explained: “To consolidate democracy it was necessary to be intelligent politically as well as brave . . . To win over new followers and neutralise enemies we have taken a step that many people do not understand”. (The Times, 28th April 1977.) We agree with Senor Carrillo; many people will not understand why the Communist Party support King Juan Carlos, hand-picked by Franco as the figurehead of the Spanish ruling class. Some Communists at least had sufficient principles to object to this shameful alliance.

The British, French and Italian Communist parties have all betrayed workers in the same way. During the last war, the British party dropped its opposition to British capitalism, and were calling for the prosecution of strikers and urging workers to fight for British capitalism on the Second Front. They too draped the Union Jack on their platform, and carried it in their processions. They also supported Winston Churchill and Tory parliamentary candidates. The Italian Party is sitting down together with the Christian Democrats, whilst the French Party is patriotic and supports French capitalism. Carrillo told a provincial committee that the Party “would support the monarchy without abandoning its Marxist principles”. (The Times, 25th April.) This is a contradiction, because they cannot stand for the abolition of capitalism and its retention at the same time; nor can all the warped and twisted reasoning of the Communist Party change Marxism into support for capitalism. The fact is that the Communist Party has no Marxist principles and could therefore scarcely abandon them.

Reform or Revolution?
Political democracy is the cry of a capitalist reform movement which no genuine Socialist would take part in. All the left-wing parties, including the United Socialist Party, Republicans, Communists and Syndicalists, want democracy in order to push their reform programmes. These range from agrarian reform to self-determination for oppressed minorities, and the release of political prisoners. Other reforms which are proposed include the right to strike and better working conditions for wage workers. These, however, can be achieved by the action of the workers themselves on the industrial field using the strike weapon. Workers can strike without the right to strike, they can achieve higher wages and better working conditions whether it is legally recognized or not. Workers have no rights before capital other than those they obtain and keep through their own action in the class struggle. If the workers using the strike weapon in a properly organized way are unable to wrest from their capitalist employers higher wages and better working conditions, then they are unable to obtain these by means of reformist political action. Reforms will always be enacted when the political parties representing the various sectional interests have made out their case, and the capitalist is convinced that his interests, whether long-term or short-term, will be served. By legalizing trade unions the government will be able to monitor their activities and to obtain their co-operation.

On the industrial field the working class can force the capitalist employer against his will to disgorge a larger share of the wealth extracted from the worker than he would otherwise part with. Therein lies the antagonism of interests which manifests itself as a class struggle between possessors and producers. Higher standards of living and better working conditions must be sought on the industrial field, and not through reformist political action.

However, this economic antagonism of interests, which expresses itself in the class struggle, can only be ended by political action for the establishment of Socialism. This is the real issue which must confront the workers of Spain, not the futile and useless policies of hordes of reformers bent on keeping capitalism going. Propaganda for Socialism does not require permission from the ruling class. Neither does it need any assistance from reformist democrats. The reformer and the so-called progressive elements in Spain have not only separated democracy from the class struggle, they have changed it into an administrative reform measure for the running of capitalism. They want the democracy of the commodity where equal value exchanges for equal value — the equality of property before the law.

Socialism and Democracy
Socialism and democracy are inseparable. Socialists in Spain must campaign for both at the same time. The left in Spain claim that their activities, which are non-Socialist, express the level of political thinking. At the moment this is unfortunately true because a genuine Socialist party has yet to emerge. However, to claim, as do the Communists (Sunday Times Supplement, 26th March 1972) that the workers are not in a position to win power therefore they must make a pact with the bourgeoisie to get the key of the door to get their freedom, is defeatist nonsense.

The Spanish working class is capable of Socialism, and they must stand together with the worldwide Socialist movement in working for its establishment. British workers have made the repeated mistake of making a pact with the bourgeoisie in the shape of the Labour government, and look where it has got them.

Appeal For Funds (1977)

Party News from the June 1977 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the beginning of this year we made an appeal for money. The response to it was very generous, but we now have to appeal again. We hardly need to tell readers how quickly money is consumed in a period of rising prices. The Socialist Standard runs at a loss which has increased sharply because of higher printing costs in the last three years. In April and May we conducted highly active campaigns in the Greater London Council elections, which put the Socialist Party’s name before large numbers of people who had not heard it before. We never stop work for Socialism — and it all costs money.

Our outstanding need at present is for funds for the General Election which will almost certainly take place soon. Readers of the Socialist Standard and people who have attended our meetings often write in to say how impressed they are: why do we not put up lots of candidates? The answer is that we do everything we can from limited resources. We aim to have candidates in London in the General Election. The deposit and the election literature by themselves are big expenses. We must not miss any opportunity of presenting the Socialist case because we cannot afford it.

We ask all of you to give as much as you can — for Socialism. The address is A. Waite (Treasurer), SPGB, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN; mark the envelope “Parliamentary Fund”.