Monday, June 22, 2020

A Matter of Definition. A Capitalist Apologist Tackled. (1919)

From the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Clever Dodgers.

Some capitalist writers, in their philosophical peregrinations around and about such questions as "Democracy," "Revolution," etc., display an amazing ability at handling abstract principles, connected therewith, true in themselves, and utterly opposed to the fundamental principles of capitalism, not only without revealing their antagonism to the system, but, until their premises are closely examined, actually to support the capitalist State.

Thus A. M. Drysdale in a series of articles in the "Daily Chronicle" tries to prove that revolution, instead of being a socially organic necessity at certain intervals in human history, is always a reactionary movement of minorities. His reflections, in themselves rather more interesting than the usual capitalist drivel on such subjects, are, however, based upon a total misconception of the thing he makes the centre of his discourse, i.e., revolution. In this respect it is rather unfortunate for him that he insists on the vital importance of definition and classification, because he makes a complete hash of the only definition he attempts—the definition of revolution.

A Revolution Defined.

A revolution is anything accomplished, or possible of accomplishment. Attempts do not count. In mechanics a complete turn of a wheel along a plane bringing it to rest at a fresh spot is a revolution. A revolution in industry is not accomplished until the chief means and methods of production have been changed in form and character, as from handicraft to machine production, while a social revolution has not been effected until the class that is dominant has been supplanted by the class beneath it in the social scale.

The Capitalists' Victory.

Such a revolution was achieved by the capitalist class when they finally overturned the rule of the feudal lords and monarchy, and made the Commons supreme. In that revolution feudalism was subverted and the manufacturing and merchant class became the rulers of society. From that time onward there were but two classes in society : the victorious capitalist class and the working class. The latter being an enslaved class, must seek its emancipation from the dominance of capitalism through revolution, which can only mean the conscious application by the working class of principles that will change the basis of society from class ownership in the means of life to common ownership with democratic control.

Anything less than this is not revolution, and only those who make this their object can be correctly termed revolutionaries.

To Mr. Drysdale, however, everything that is "unconstitutional or anti-Parl amentary" is revolutionary. He says—
"The essence of the British Constitution is the unanimous acceptance of the majority opinion of the time, after, by all the processes of debate and discussion—public meetings, leading articles, elections, first readings, second readings, committee stages, third readings, royal assents—such opinion has been given the definite form we call Act of Parliament. Conduct (not criticism or agitation) opposed to that presentation of the national will is revolutionary."
Some Curious Samples.

These processes, necessary for the manufacture of opinion among the workers that coincide with capitalist interests, are universally admired by the capitalist class, and, of course, by Mr. Drysdale, for that reason. Their fraudulent pretension to be democratic has been exposed before ; we leave them to examine some concrete examples of revolution according to Mr. Drysdale.
"The Ulster Unionists, The Conscientious Objectors"—-(this latter is, of course, a glaring inconsistency, seeing that Parliament made provision for them in the Act)—"The gentlemen who refused the use of the Albert Hall for a labour demonstration, together with the electricians who retorted with the threat to cut off the light. The Firemen's and Seamen's Union when they refused to carry pacifists to Stockholm."
These are Mr. Drysdale's examples of revolution, and they lead him to the final remark—which takes away the chief factor in a revolution—"but it is a truism of revolution, especially in Great Britain, that its characteristic mark is minority."

Mr. Drysdale objects to these revolutionaries of his imagination because they neglect the constitutional weapon and employ, or threaten to employ, force. But although the employment of force may be necessary to effect a revolution, something else is equally necessary. In the first place, the force at the disposal of his fancied revolutionaries is altogether inadequate to effect their objects if the capitalist State is opposed to them. Secondly, the objects themselves are not revolutionary, consequently the actions, conduct, or threats are not, therefore, revolutionary either.

Having given instances in the present, Mr. Drysdale appeals to history to support his definition. He says:
 "Majorities always use the high road; the short cut, with its risks of damage by trespass, is, as the Irish say, the contraption of the minority impatient. Both the British revolutions in the Stuart period, the great French revolution, the Russian revolution, were all minority short cuts, and whatever their net ultimate gain may be they were, and have been, attended by penalties which the majority way would have escaped."
If the Bolshevik movement is meant by Mr. Drysdale, he is mistaken in calling it a revolution, because up to the present no evidence is forthcoming to prove either that a revolution has been accomplished, or that the workers of Russia have a revolutionary object. All the evidence so far goes to prove the contrary.

With regard to the English revolution of the Stuart period, the evidence is complete and convincing to those who read history. The forerunners of the modern capitalist class took no short cuts. Their fight against feudalism and monarchy extended over several centuries, and was only victorious when they made themselves masters of the political machine, and consequently the paymasters and directors of the Parliamentary forces.

The French revolution is, if possible, an even better example of the stupendous forces that have to be developed before a social revolution is accomplished. In his "History of the French Revolution" H. Morse Stephens shows that for nearly a century the bourgeoisie of France were planting the seeds, educating and organising for the day when they should, through the "States General," gain their victory over monarchy and feudalism.

Changes of dynasty, monarchs, or even the abolition of monarchies and the establishment of republics merely amount to changes of rulers. Only such great social changes as from feudalism to capitalism can be correctly termed revolutions. Transformations that affect society from top to bottom, that, in short, change the fundamental principles that form the basis of society. Such changes as these cannot be effected by short cuts or coups ; they rely for their success upon the conscious action of an entire class. A long process of evolution in the means of production causes incongruities in the apportionment of burdens or in the distribution of wealth. The class that suffers can only find relief by intelligent and conscious action, directed toward the establishment of relations in harmony with the changed means and methods of production.

The working class to-day suffer poverty in the midst of plenty because the means of life are owned by a class in society, production being based on the commodity character of human labour-power. The working class can only reap the advantage of the new methods of production when they establish a system where the means of life are owned in common and the commodity character of labour-power is abolished.

Mr. Drysdale falls into a fresh error when he imagines that the opposing interests of the two classes in society can be reconciled, and such a revolution rendered unnecessary. In a future article his suggestions will be examined.
F. Foan.

Link to Part 2

By The Way. (1919)

The By The Way column from the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is just possible that, by the time this issue of our journal is ready for sale, the opposing sections of the capitalist class who, for close on five years, have been urging their dupes to slaughter, will have temporarily patched up THEIR quarrel.

The fact that there are, as Mr. Bonar Law has told us, twenty-three minor wars on hand, does not matter to those who are making the world safe for democracy. At long last the cry ''Give peace in our time, O Lord," has been heard, and "our greatest enemy" is crushed. We are now bidden to hang out our flags and rejoice. For what should we rejoice? Is it the knowledge that millions of the world's working class have been done to death and thousands upon thousands more rendered mental and physical wrecks, not forgetting the widows and orphans, in order to satiate capitalist greed, that we are now exhorted to rejoice and be glad ?

How mechanical it all is ! In the beginning the capitalist class inform us, the working class, through their Press, that we have an enemy "over there." We are told to hate him; tall stories are written in order to infuriate us and work us up into a warlike attitude ; and when our liberty-loving masters cry "halt!" we obey. And last of all they arrange peace concert parties for us. How stupid ! Think it over, fellow wage slaves.

--0--

In perusing some of the peace prattle I came across the following morsel which beautifully illustrates our masters' way of doing things, and proves incidentally beyond all disputation, that the noble ideal which has actuated the Allies from the very beginning down to the present time, namely, the crushing, root and branch, of militarism, has been worthily maintained. Here it is :
The German plenipotentiaries will arrive through the park, and military honours will not be accorded them on their entry, but they will leave at the same time as the Allied plenipotentiaries, and, being no longer enemy delegates, will receive military honours.
—Reuter Special.
Blimey ! I can almost imagine Lloyd George and Wilson leading the singing at some peace concert. Such songs as "For Old Times' Sake" and "We'll All Go the Same Way Home" would be most appropriate.

--0--

Just recently the big-wigs of the Empire's capital—the representatives of the holy trinity of Rent, Interest, and Profit—assembled for the purpose of bestowing the freedom of the City of London on "those two heroes of the war," Admiral Beatty and Field Marshal Haig.

Arising out of this little jollification there are just two points to which I desire to draw attention. First, it does seem somewhat incongruous that the claims of the men who have been fighting for the Allied section of the capitalist class should require to be incessantly placed before whose whose interests they; have been so well serving. Why is it that our capitalist masters so soon forget their faithful warriors when the last shot has been fired ? In the din of battle "we are one" ; there is the "new spirit of comradeship" which was generated in the trenches or on the man-of-war ; but with the cessation of hostilities the curtain is rung down on all the flowery talk, and once again the players return to the old game of scrambling for jobs—that phenomenon peculiar to capitalist society.

Here we see the antagonism of interests between the working and the employing classes. We may have been "over there," facing the "enemy," but coming back to the ordinary work-a-day world we suffer no delusion. Even the agents of capitalism are themselves occasionally forced to step in and, as it were, "pour oil on troubled waters," or remind the employing class that they have certain "obligations" to the men who have kept the flag flying, which should be honoured. This brings me to the burden of Admiral Beatty's speech, from which I quote the following :
  "I should like to express here the hope that in the revival of commerce, employers will consider the claim of ex-naval officers. Their inevitable lack of experience is, I understand, proving an obstacle to their finding employment. They have, however, invaluable qualities of resource, loyalty, discipline, and experience in handling men, which make them peculiarly fitted for many of the positions that have to be filled." —"Daily News," June 13th, 1919.
In the event of the Admiral's hope not coming to maturity, well, of course, the men can form part of the new "voluntary" armed force. The posters recently exhibited state : "If you are out of work call at the recruiting office." An empty stomach is a good recruiting sergeant.

--0--

The second point arises from the contribution of Sir Douglas Haig. Notwithstanding the innumerable occasions on which we have been told that this war was to end war, and that we were fighting militarism, we have this warrior bold asserting at the very time "we" are insisting that the Germans must limit their military forces to 100,000 men, that what we want is more militarism. According to a report of his speech I find he delivered himself as followeth:
  "My message to you, and through you to the Empire, is to urge you, now that the war has given you at once the reason and the opportunity to do so, to set up forthwith the organisation of a strong citizen army on Territorial lines—an organisation which shall ensure that every able-bodied citizen shall come forward when the next crisis comes, not as a willing, patriotic, but militarily ignorant volunteer, but as a trained man."
Yea, verily, I ask what it shall profit you if, having dethroned militarism in Germany it is enthroned in England ? Thousands of men have laid down their lives believing that in doing so they were helping to eradicate the evil of militarism. Surely they have died in vain if ear is given to these people of whom Sir Douglas Haig is the chief mouthpiece.

Our speaker revels in his subject. To make sure that none shall slip through the meshes he says later on—
 "There must, in addition, be our highly trained professional army to maintain the standard of our  military knowledge, and meet the daily needs of a police force for our vast Empire, and there must be proper and sufficient training schools and staff colleges that the higher arts of war may be kept abreast of the times. Above all, however, to ensure that the military strength of our race may be readily realisable to meet whatever danger may threaten us we need to organise at once our democratic citizen army."
This is what capitalism holds in store for the workers who blindly support this hellish system. Arise, then; remove the blinkers from your eyes, and help to fight for
THE WORLD FOR THE WORKERS.

--0--

Though we were told that the Germans initiated the war in the air, and it was a violation of international law, the Allies seem quite content to extend its usage. For colossal hypocrisy the Allies take some beating. Now for a quotation on a recent air excursion—
BOMBS ON AMIR'S PALACE. 
A telegram received from Simla reporting the air attacks on Jalalabad, according to a Reuter message, says that these bombing raids have been highly successful. In a night raid Captain Carbery dropped four small bombs on the Amir's Palace. In a day raid four bombs were dropped amongst 2,000 infantry on parade, inflicting about 50 casualties. The infantry scattered into the barracks, which were bombed in the next raid. Six direct hits were obtained, and all the bombs were dropped in the town, which was much damaged. Fifteen machines took part in the raid and nearly two tons of bombs were dropped.—"Daily News," 28.5.1919.

--0--

We live in a strange world. The Government's appeal for money by the 4 per cent. Funding Loan and the 4 per cent. Victory Bonds does not in any way excite us. But we have some difficulty in understanding why the "Daily Herald" accepts these advertisements and prints them in its columns—whether paid or not does not matter—rails continuously at the Government, and claims to be voicing the views of the revolutionary working class. Is this the class-conscious action that paper frequently speaks of day by day ? Surely by issuing such an appeal our contemporary is assisting the master class to carry on, to further entrench themselves, to keep their hold upon the workers, and above all, assisting in spreading confusion amongst the workers by such anti working-class action ?

--0--

Though we frequently hear the Psalm-singing fraternity giving lip to the hymn "We are not divided, all one body we," the truth of their contention is gravely open to doubt, as witness the following :
The Church of England is so divided that many excellent churchmen have turned away in despair from any further effort to recover external unity.—Bishop of Hereford at Westminster.
The Scout

The Art of Getting On. (1919)

From the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

There are two comments on the present economic system, by H. de Vere Stacpoole in his book "The Children of the Sea" which deserve consideration and criticism from a Socialist's point of view. Let us see what he says.

On page 106 we read that he "has noticed that the men who get on in life are not the men who work, but the men who make others work for them."

Exactly ! Under the present system of production—which is simply production for profit —the one idea of the profit-mongers is to amass wealth by using the workers as their wealth producers, at the same time abstaining from labour themselves. The lot of the workers is to toil for the class that own the essential means of life. The working class, being landless and propertyless, are dispossessed of the basic means of wealth production, therefore they are completely at the mercy of the master class, and are compelled to accept the conditions imposed on them by their exploiters.

All the wealth in the world has been, and is, made by the workers, and all the marvellous wealth-producing machinery also. Yet the capitalist class appropriate all that is produced by their wage slaves, paying them back in wages only sufficient in the long run to maintain themselves and their families as efficient wealth-producers, and to reproduce their own class as potential wage slaves for the future benefit of the capitalist class.

This fact is abundantly proved by the fact that the workers as a class live and die in poverty.

"The men who work," as a general rule, do not "get on in life." They are so occupied with their enforced task of getting on with the work that produces their masters' profits that they do not live, in the real sense, at all: they only exist as profit-making machines. They sell their labour-power, their very vitality, daily; men and women and children, under the present system, have to sell themselves as commodities in the labour market in the same way as other commodities, like matches or margarine, are sold in the commercial market.

And the capitalists live only by their robbery of the working class. Vampire-like, they are sustained only by sapping the energy and life of their wage slaves.

In consequence dire misfortune is the toilers' lot, e.g., unemployment, care and anxiety, want, overwork, disease, and premature death—all arising from the wages system.

The functions of the master class—"the men who get on in life"—are to rob the workers of the greater part of the wealth alone produced by the latter, to devise all kinds of cunning schemes to increase the exploitation of the workers, and at the same time to delude them as to their real interests, and make them docile, contented, and industrious.

The political machine being completely controlled by the capitalist class, all legislation is, naturally, for their interests alone, and directed toward their continued dominance. As a class they thus get stronger and stronger, possessing the twin powers of political supremacy and the fundamental means of life.

The rich thus grow richer and the poor ever poorer in relation.

Yes, the art of "getting on" is that of making others work for one, and to use wealth for the purpose of further robbing the only class producing it: the working class.

Now for a consideration of Mr. Stacpoole's other comment. On page 198 we read—
  "In this little, tiny industry you might have observed the fact, ignored by trade unions and labour leaders the world over, that success in business is not born of men, but of a man, that the outcome of the fight between business and business, like the fight between battleship and battleship, rests on the tactics developed by a single mind."
What is success in business but a victory in "the fight between business and business"—the driving of competitors from the market; buying labour-power as cheaply as possible with the one idea of extracting from its activities as much surplus-value, or profit, as one can ?

"Success in business" is often the result of utter unscrupulousness, cunning, and astute "twisting." Fraud, misrepresentation, and the quintessence of greed and exploitation are frequently the allies of "sound business methods." Underselling, "rigging" the markets, raising false mercantile reports, and "cornering"— these are some of the "tactics developed by a single mind" as phrased by Mr. Stacpoole.

But surely he does not consider that the successful business man is so perfectly self-sufficing and "brainy" that he is independent of the contributory help of others ?

Let us deal with actuality. As a class the capitalists do nothing at all toward actual production. The great capitalists generally employ men to be organisers and overseers, exploiting their initiativs, push, directive ability, and hustle in order to obtain the utmost amount of productivity from the labour-power embodied in the bodies and minds of the exploited wage slaves.

The capitalist and "big business man" is not the great god Mr. Stacpoole supposes him to be. If predatory instincts and a fully-developed avaricious and scheming nature are prime virtues, then the capitalists, as a class, are the embodiment of sterling worth.

The truth is that no man stands alone ; no man is absolutely independent of society, or not indebted to the accumulated advantages and knowledge long since derived— the result of the historical development of society. Heredity and environment, experience and the utilisation of ideas and suggestions from all kinds of sources, all these things go to secure a superior position in the fight for business supremacy. The gifts and their development are the outcome of social environment.

The invention of a labour-saving device often results in the actual inventor having to sell his invention because he cannot afford to patent it. Or it may be infringed upon, or perhaps his idea may be brazenly stolen. The workers (usually considered by their exploiters as mere mechanical "hands"), being practical men, do the inventing, and generally speaking, the capitalist class reap the fruits of the former's creative ability and industry.

Instances innumerable can be cited to prove the parasitic and thievish nature of our exploiters. These "merchant princes," these 'captains of industry," of what social use are they ? What is their function but to exploit ? Generally they have not brains enough to do that efficiently, but depend on their hirelings to superintend and organise, while they themselves are immune from the necessity of working even for a single day's bread. Their thieves' opulence enables them to waste untold wealth, in every way.

Shameless vampires ! they have yet the effrontery to claim that "success in business" is the outcome of their own "directive ability."

If Mr. Stacpoole harbours any hazy economic opinions and pro-capitalist ideas, let him rid himself of them by studying the facts of capitalist production and its results, and understanding the fundamental truths of Marxian economics. Part truth and part falsity, like oil and water, will not mix. When half-truths go the truth arrives.

In conclusion, let me ask Mr. Stacpoole one question. He is a successful author. Let him think deeply. Does he understand the debt he owes to the writers of the past and present, and what he owes to favourable circumstances that have made him what he is, and also the advantages that are his through his position in contemporary society ?

Let Mr. Stacpoole think over this, and he will begin to understand that, in a very real sense, the term "a self-made man" is a misnomer. As regards Commerce and Industry, he will also understand that, under a ruthless, sordid system like the present, one man's gain is often achieved at the price of many men's loss ! and that the "tactics developed by a single mind" are often sought, bought, and paid for by the very worst enemies of society as we know it to day—the unscrupulous, plundering capitalist class—who do not hesitate to plunge the world into a colossal war when their interests demand it.

To them, in "peace" or in war, no sacrifice (of the workers' lives) is too great when capitalist interests are at stake.
Graham May

Bobby bribed. (1919)

From the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

Bobby Bluebottle, then, is to receive £3 10s. a week and upwards, with other advantages. The news comes as a bit of a surprise. It shows that the master class got a nasty jolt when they found their bull-dogs organising with the other workers. Therefore, having tried bullying with indifferent result, they now resort to bribery.

It says a great deal for the work our bosses expect to call upon the police perform, that they should offer them such money. Taking this in conjunction with their recent attempt to find out how far the soldiers were prepared to deal [with] strikers, it gives warning we will do well to heed.

Be prepared.
J.

Blogger's Note:

See also
May 1919: May-Day Talk. 
June 1919: Bobby's Discretion 
August 1919: The Police v. The Police 

Peace — And Again War. (1919)

Editorial from the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

As we always said they would, our masters, who gave us war in 1914 without in any way consulting the wishes of the people, have given us "peace" in their own good time in an equally nonchalant manner. They have made no pretence of consulting the workers, though that, of course, need not prevent them claiming that they have done so. But one thing needs to have special attention drawn to it.

Already our insolent and arrogant masters have booked up our lives for a fresh war. In 1914 they told us that the country was bound by no pledge, which proved to be a damned lie, but, in the triumph of their militarism, they make no bones about the business this time. They resort to no subterfug : the workers, drunk with their masters' victory, are not of sufficient importance to be deceived in the matter. All that they have to do is to jubilate over the fact that the signing of the Peace Treaty sets their masters free to proceed with their exploitation on lines dictated by the condition of things

But there it is. If the reports of the capitalist Press prove correct, our democratic bosses have made the engagement, over and above the heads of the people, and when the time comes will call upon them to honour the pact, in the making of which they have not been consulted, and have taken no part, and to which they can therefore owe no allegiance.

But there is another aspect of the case. What becomes of the "League of Nations"? Is this pact an admission that the "League" is a mere phantasm, a spineless, parchment entity which can have no power or influence in the real world —the world of strife for economic interests ? Is it a recognition that when the next great struggle for commercial supremacy takes place the "League of Nations" will "bust up" into two opposing sections, according to those economic interests, and is it, therefore, indicative of the future stand of France, Greater Britain, and America against the world, and hence an attempt to secure commercial supremacy for these ?

Correspondence: Do Working-Class Conditions Tend To Grow Worse? (1919)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

To The Editor.

Dear Sir,—The readers of your paper frequently let upon the statement that the "condition of the working class tends to grow worse," but one looks in vain for verification of the statement.

Do better houses and rapid transit not brighten and better the lot of those sections of the working class who take advantage of them, say, by residing in the outlying districts of the larger cities, where modern houses and domestic conveniences are so much more congenial than in the slums of the city proper? Do not all the efforts made by local and national authorities to effect improvements in health, houses, travel, industrial relationships, unemployed donations, for the working class count for nothing? Have the housing conditions of the whole working class of England improved none since the commencement of the industrial era, even in the present century? I declare they have. There may be very bad spots upon which you could possibly lay your finger, but is it a reasonable claim to make now-a-days that conditions are worse than they were twenty years ago.

It does not refute my point to say that it but amounts to gilded chains, or that it makes more efficient slaves, which answer seems to me but admissions that the conditions under which the working class live and labour are better to-day than formerly. Yet we repeatedly read in the "S.S." that the conditions of the working class tend to grow worse, also that we as a working class are worse off. We are not, and I speak as one of the workers.

Is it not also a fact the natural concomitant of economic progress is to make more efficient the workers which compel improvements in their conditions of life? Is not that a bettering of conditions rather than its reverse ? And it is not always that these reforms are effected by agitation. Were the unemployment donations wrung from the capitalist class? I think they were not. Is the new Ministry of Health wrung from them ? Rather is it a concession made by the capitalist class to effect a more virile and healthy race of workers—perhaps advantageous to the former in the end; still, the advantage gained by the workers disproves the repeated statement in the "S.S." that the conditions of the working class tend to grow worse.
—Yours, etc., A. Webster.


Reply:
Our correspondent in the last part of his letter shows the absurdity of his statements in the first part. We will, however, proceed in the usual manner, taking his points one by one before dealing with his general statement as to the conditions of the whole working class.

His most preposterous claim is ''improvement in Industrial Relationships." The growing antagonism and the increasing bitterness between masters and workers in every occupation and industry, because it is universal and affects the bulk of the workers, gives the lie to it. But apart from that fact there has been an accumulating mass of evidence, coming from the capitalist side, that exploitation becomes more thorough and business-like, leaving no room for sentiment. The brutal relationship between employers and workers has for several years been a constant theme with every capitalist rag from the "Times" to "John Bull," to the tune of "never again" ; and the outcome has been "Whitley Councils "and "Welfare Committees" that have aroused the suspicion of the workers, and are in bad odour with them everywhere.

The nature of modern industry makes unemployed donations a necessity to the exploiting class. In the first place capitalist production requires an army of unemployed to keep down wages, and that unemployed army must be maintained. In the second place trade is subject to fluctuations in volume, and the workers must be available when it is necessary to increase production. The problem for the exploiting class is, therefore, to maintain the unemployed at a standard that will not seriously impair their efficiency, while, at the same time, it places them under the necessity of seeking work. This is effected by the present system of granting donations for a limited number of weeks in each year. The donation not being sufficient in itself to satisfy the barest requirements, and being immediately stopped if the recipient refuses work, it is easily seen that the whole scheme is a cheap method of maintaining the unemployed army for the contingencies of trade and as a weapon to keep down wages.

In his remarks on housing our correspondent is most unfortunate. Overcrowding is worse now than it has been throughout all the twenty years he mentions. So much is this admitted that the subject takes first place among all the scandals on everybody's tongue to-day.

Addressing a conference at Nottingham on the 16th June, Dr. Addison, President of the Local Government Board, said: "In vast numbers of our industrial centres people were now being compelled, through shortage of houses, to herd together in a manner it was disgusting to think of."

One of the most significant facts in connection with the proposals to build more houses for the workers is the recognition by the Government that wages are so low that it will be impossible to charge what is called an economic rent—surely in itself a powerful commentary on working-class conditions generally.

With reference to "travel," it is perfectly true that several millions of workers during the last five years have had exceptional opportunities of seeing the world, while endeavouring to annex more of it for their masters. But the majority are glad to be back in the slums and factories, with the slender facilities they had previously, paying sixpence a week toward the annual beanfeast, or denying themselves many comforts in order to spend an uncomfortable week or so at the nearest overcrowded seaside resort.

The "rapid transit for those living in outlying districts" is also more or less of a fraud while those depending upon it have to wait their turn in long lines, watching the vehicles come and go. Even when there are no breakdowns the time taken up in waiting and travelling is considerable, and must be regarded as an addition to the working day and consequently shortening the time for rest and recreation. Hence it is an extremely doubtful "advantage" to live in the slums on the outskirts of large industrial towns.

There is only one other point: "the new Ministry of Health," but this, like all the others, has been replied to in the general sense by Mr. Webster himself. Economic progress, he says demands higher efficiency, which is impossible without improved conditions. He argues; that the growing efficiency of the workers is evidence of their improved conditions of life, in spite of the fact that higher efficiency is everywhere insisted upon, at the present moment, as a preliminary to improved conditions. The truth is, of course, that the workers are driven through increasing unemployment and competition, to submit to a more intensive exploitation.

But even if we admit that the unprovements he mentions have materialised, he still is against the fact that they are introduced by the exploiting class in order to extract more surplus valae from the workers—and surplus value representing more wealth than the workers consume through their improvements. While the workers submit to this process their exploitation intensifies, their slavery becomes more degrading, and their dependence on the exploiting class is increased. Exploitation is the cause of poverty and the extent of exploitation is the measure of poverty.

Fed on potatoes, the life object of the workers is to produce wealth for the master class ; fed on bully beef and custard all their energies are confiscated for the same purpose. If the quality or quantity of food the worker obtains determines the amount of surplus value, its provision can safely be left to the capitalists; there is no necessity to "wring", concessions of such a character from them. The advantage to themselves is clear. It is a parallel case with the fertilizing of land to produce a better crop.

While the workers submit to exploitation they are subject to numerous experiments carried out over their heads The continual changes in the means and methods of production call for modification in the structure of society. Confronted with new problems at each economic turn new institutions must be devised to preserve the equilibrium of capitalist society. Our correspondent says it does not refute his points to say that "it makes them more efficient slaves." Yet all the points raised by him are effectively replied to in that sentence. He admits as much when he says that the object of the capitalist class is "to effect a more virile and healthy race of workers," i.e., wage slaves. And
 their real purpose he admits when he says—"perhaps advantageous to the capitalists in the end." If the object of such "concessions" is more complete and extensive exploitation, their true nature is at once revealed as a campaign against the workers, increasing their poverty, insecurity, and wretchedness.
F. Foan

Correspondence: The "Bolshies" Again (1919)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

To The Editors. 

"Sirs,—the writers of your paper are certainly entertaining in their aptness for attempting to discount any display of working-class solidarity or effort to overthrow the capitalist system. With a zest that is hardly excelled by the hireling journalists of the kept Press they wantonly attack . ." [There is a lot of this sort of thing which, since it neither hurts us nor helps our correspondent, is mere space-wasting tripe. Mr. Ward may find it acceptable to a Northern contemporary, but we have something better to fill our columns with,—Eds. "Socialist Standard"] "Your leader on Russia offers a case in point, or perhaps I should write your leader on the S.L.P.

"We are asked 'On what do the Bolshevist leaders depend for their strength ? Certainly not on a class-conscious working class. To talk about the millions of Socialist books and pamphlets being printed in Russia is beside the question, since 70 per cent, of the people will need to be taught to read them. The peasantry—the backbone of the country, on whom the movement must ultimately rest—cannot understand Socialism, for in the first place they are generally illiterate and cannot have read Socialist literature ; in the second place they are so isolated and have been so under official guardianship, that it is altogether unlikely that Socialist propaganda has been carried on among them. How is it possible that they can see sound reasoning in the proposal that they shall grow the food for the whole people and receive in return such few products of the factories as they have need of ? '

"This statement needs analysis. Granted that capitalism was comparatively weak in Russia, it is nevertheless perfectly obvious that class-conscious workers, albeit a minority, were responsible for the overthrow of the Bourgeois. These workers have undoubtedly taken full advantage of their unique position, and are able to record practically a complete cessation of capitalist propaganda. In the towns and to a great extent in the provinces the newspapers, theatres, and all educational facilities have been utilised for the purpose of propagating Socialist views. Imagine, if your jaundiced vision permits, the result of a complete change of front in all our propagandist agencies in this country through Socialist seizure of the Press. We are reminded that a great percentage of the Russian people cannot read. Surely lack of ability to read does not necessarily imply lack of sufficient intelligence to grasp the simple principles of Socialism.

"Instructed orally, there is no earthly reason why the simple peasant should not realise the necessity for the obliteration of exploitation. . . . So far as the Bolshevists are concerned we may safely assume that they have conducted wide-spread oral campaigns without the organised obstruction we meet with in this country.

"Regarding the land question, it would be folly to imagine that revolutionaries of the quality of our Russian comrades have not produced a workable scheme of co-operative farming as a transitional measure.

"The wise-acres of your party inform us that the peasants' wants end with their few simple tools and their boots. Ye gods ! a peasant clad in boots but minus the proverbial fig leaf enters into our dreams for ever.

"The statement that no evidence exists as to an attempt to establish Socialism in Russia is probably intended to be taken as S.P. humour. . . If owing to the supineness and cowardice of workers in Western Europe the international capitalists ultimately smash the Socialist Republic of Russia we may be sure that wholesale massacres of revolutionary workers will follow.
"Yours, 
Harold Ward.


Reply:
When our correspondent wrote that our statement needed analysing we expected him to proceed with the analysis. Instead of which he simply denies a few asseverations, makes a few assumptions, and treats us to a number of assertions, without troubling to provide reasons, justification, or evidence to support his remarks. We stated that the Bolshevik leaders do not depend for their strength upon a revolutionary working CLASS ; our critic declares that class-conscious workers were responsible for the overthrow of the Bourgeois—quite a different thing. Without ascribing to the statement we may pass on, for it is quite immaterial whether a minority of class-conscious workers were responsible for the overthrow of the Bourgeoisie or not. The point is, on what do they depend for their strength ? Our statement on that point is what our critic should have "analysed"—he leaves it severely alone.

Mr. Ward states that the Bolsheviks have utilised all educational facilities for the purpose of propagating Socialist views. But we have never denied that. Nevertheless we ask our critic for his evidence. There are plenty of people in this country propagating views which they fondly imagine are Socialist views, but which are in reality anti-Socialist. We challenge Mr. Ward to prove his statement.

As our correspondent says, lack of ability to read does not necessarily imply lack of sufficient intelligence to grasp the simple principles of Socialism. Who said it did ? And if the illiterate were stone deaf also, the same remark would apply, but it is hard to imagine how the simple principles of Socialism could be communicated to such people.

''Instructed orally," we are next told, "there is no earthly reason why the simple peasant should not realise the necessity for the obliteration of exploitation." What a wonderful fellow is Mr. Ward for stating truths (perhaps) which get us no further. Abolition of exploitation and Socialism are not exactly synonymous. The peasant would probably conceive exploitation to be abolished under a system which secured him enough land to obtain his living upon, so that he had no need to work for a master, and an incidence of taxation such as he considered fair. This, however, is a very different thing from realising the necessity for establishing Socialism.

If Mr. Ward's statement that there is no earthly reason why the peasant should not realise the necessity for the abolition of exploitation is true (and he would be on safer ground in telling us that he knows of no reason rather than affirming non-existence dogmatically) we can, at all events, give him ample and cogent reasons why the peasant of Russia is not likely prove an easy convert to Socialism.

Speaking generally, he has had land enough to enable him produce part of his living, but so little as to compel him to work for wages also. The ruling powers have put upon his shoulders enormous taxation, amounting in some cases to 90 per cent. of the produce of his land. To pay these taxes he has been compelled to mortgage his future labour upon terms of almost incredible brutality. So sooner or later the peasant's awful slavery has culminated in the loss of all he possessed, and commonly with him making the acquaintance of the tax-gatherer's knout.

What is likely to happen when the Socialist missionary begins to expound the "simple principles of Socialism" to these men ? The sources of all their troubles, as far as they can see, have been the tax collector and the usurer. They know that, given an economic holding, that is, enough land to provide for their needs, and relieved of the incubus of the taxes, and set free from the grasp of the usurer, whose toils they are already in, they have no difficulty in gaining their livelihood. The exploitation of the factories they could hardly understand, and could hardly be expected to be deeply interested in if they did. To talk to them of the socialisation of the means of production would be like talking astronomy to a monkey. Their own solution to their own troubles stands too near, is too clear, simple, and sure, for them to be able to see beyond it. All they want is possession of the land and freedom from crushing taxes, and so plainly would this present itself as the cure for their troubles that the Socialist propagandist would have a almost hopeless task to convert them to his views.

What could you offer the Russian peasant in the name of Socialism that he would appreciate? Education for himself?—He would not consider it worth the trouble; for his children?—He would think them better at work than wasting their time over that for which they have no use. Art?—it would be an unknown language to him. Leisure?—Ah! he could understand that, but who could convince him that by making his land the property of the community and forcing him to surrender to the community the products of his toil, he was going to get more leisure ?

It is not the man who produces everything for himself that you can convince of the need for Socialism (for in fact it is not necessary to him) but the man who produces nothing for himself —which is what we meant when we said that only those to whom the world is necessary can be ripe for Socialism.

This brings us to our correspondent's attempt to get a cheap sneer out of our statement that the Russian peasant's wants end with his few simple tools and his boots. But in the original text that statement followed immediately upon the reference to the products of the factories quoted by Mr. Ward, while the words which immediately follow were : "All else, practically, they produce for themselves." This context leaves no doubt as to our meaning, and shows our critic's quotation to be utterly dishonest. There is, of course, the alternative that he is a fool, but it would be uncomplimentary to assume that.

If Mr. Ward thinks that the Bolsheviks have been able, in the short time at their disposal, to find and train the scores of thousands of speakers who would be necessary to reach this vast mass of semi-barbarian humanity, scattered in tiny villages through immense distances, with bad means of transit in the summer and no chance to speak in the winter, then, frankly, we do not. And if they had found them we are sure, judging from our own experience of the enormous labour of converting to Socialist assent much more suitable material, that they would need many years of toil even to break down fierce and general opposition. The more clearly they made the peasants understand that they proposed to make their land communal property, the more furiously would their resentment burn.

Like most of our critics upon this matter, Mr. Ward safely assumes this and supposes that. He tells us that "it would be folly not to imagine that revolutionaries of the quality of our Russian comrades have not produced a workable scheme of co-operative farming as a transitional measure." Some people, of course, think it folly not to imagine anything that will help their argument or cover their lack of it.

Lastly, "the supineness and cowardice of the workers of Western Europe," or, to put it more correctly, their political ignorance, is just one of those important factors which must enter into 
the calculations of level-headed revolutionaries of Russia and this country alike. The recent
 elections, both in this country and in Germany, shows the depth of this political ignorance, and
a great responsibility rests upon those who would lead the Bolsheviks to rely upon assistance that they cannot receive, and a spirit of revolt in other countries which does not exist.
Editorial Committee.