Monday, June 29, 2020

Ireland — New Central Branch (1986)

Party News from the June 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

The World Socialist Party has now established a Central Branch. Membership is open to socialists living in areas where there is no existing branch of the Party. Members of Central Branch will be kept in touch with Party activity through a Branch Newsletter and encouraged to attend centrally-organised lectures and training courses designed to help them generate socialist activity in their own areas.

The World Socialist Party is anxious to promote the growth of Central Branch, which is seen as the best way of developing socialist organisation throughout the country. A handbook, giving guidance and advice on the most effective means of getting activity going in areas where no formal branch structure exists, is in course of preparation and will be issued, on request, to any member of Central Branch.

The National Executive Committee of the Party has also agreed to provide Central Branch members with special leaflets, where required, specifically designed to meet the needs of a particular area. Should a Central Branch member, or members, wish to organise a public meeting, the N.E.C. will assist with advice, advertising and the provision of speakers.

There are a considerable number of subscribers to the Socialist Standard throughout the country who may be interested in making a positive contribution to socialism. Central Branch provides them with an opportunity to do this. For details, write to:

V. Polland. Secretary, Central Branch. World Socialist Party. 41 Donegall Street, Belfast 1.

Criminal convictions (1986)

From the June 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

Very little mention is made in the recent ample publicity given to rising crime figures, that this is happening when for the last seven years we have had a government committed to "law and order". The Tories, like any other party in power, have no realistic policies for eradicating crime or its causes but are merely intent on dealing with its perpetrators more punitively.

If we are to look for a cause of crime, we first need to ask what crime actually is. In the most stark terms, the word crime simply means an act punishable by law. So how do laws originate? They are Acts of Parliament — rules instituted by the Members of Parliament to facilitate the smooth running of society, ostensibly for the protection of all the nation's citizens. The reality is different.

Most laws relate to the protection of property and wealth. Since the working class possess very little of either, these laws affect them in positive terms only fleetingly — even though they need some form of protection for home and hard-earned cash. Look a little closer at the interminable legislation committed to the Statute Books and it becomes apparent that laws are actually there to protect the interests of governments themselves and of those they represent that is the owners of substantial property and the means of production and distribution. Any effects on the workers are in fact purely coincidental.

Laws can be described more accurately as the rules of capitalism. As we live in a capital accumulating, property owning society, it is essential that there exists a comprehensive framework of protection for the rights to money and possessions. These rules exist primarily to prevent workers from getting their hands on the goods and services they produce, apart from what they are permitted to obtain through the system of rationing known as wages and salaries. This rationing does not apply to the capitalists' access to commodities and services because they have sufficient capital invested and accumulated to fulfil their desires without having to do a stroke of work.

Is it any wonder then that members of the working class, knowing that the fruits of their toil are yielding profits of which they receive none, now and again decide to help themselves to a little extra? After all, there is a myriad of attractive and desirable goods displayed in every High Street, all designed to persuade us to part with our meagre allowance and our attentions are solicited by television and the press in the hope of awakening the idea that we need ever larger quantities of "consumer goods'" to render our oppressed lives marginally more bearable.

The problem is that wages don’t stretch very far and as the law hammers home the doctrine that under no circumstances can goods be claimed without paying for them, many workers feel hard done by when the media displays the wealthy and privileged shamelessly enjoying their affluence. Restraint can easily be weakened by the influence of temptation.

The media love to chew on the real meaty bone of violent crime in preference to the tit-bits of petty larceny and trespass. "Mindless violence isn't confined to soccer matches" declared one local rag gravely. There is indeed an abundance of mindless violence outside football grounds, much of it executed quite legally and acceptably by the police and armed forces; it wasn’t so long ago that a deal of mindless violence broke out in the Falkland Islands. But far from condemning it our rulers positively encouraged it.

What emerges from this is the paradox of a society that condones the mindlessness of war and yet throws its arms up in horror when workers commit acts of violence independently and without the prior consent of their rulers. These workers may be unemployed, or working six days a week to live in conditions of abject poverty, overcrowding and deprivation. We are expected to accept such conditions as inevitable; though it may seem slightly unfair that we have virtually nothing in this world of plenty, we are taught from the blooming of memory to keep our noses clean and to the grindstone, to take our exploitation and domination lying down. If we're good boys and girls we won't be thrown in gaol and may even get to go to heaven.

No account is taken of the possibility that the present economic system breeds dissatisfaction. envy, contempt, unrest and aggression. And it isn't merely coincidence that those on the lowest incomes and from the most deprived communities are most likely to be convicted of crime. In America a labourer is fourteen times more likely to go to prison than a "professional" and a black male is twenty-eight times more likely to be gaoled than a white female (What Is To Be Done About Law And Order?, Lea & Young. 1984)

As aggression and violence are inherent in the competitive, ruthless, uncaring capitalist system and romanticised on television and at the cinema, it is hardly surprising that violence will also manifest itself in the form of crime. But people don't suddenly become home-made Rambos over night. We learn to be violent; right from childhood, as well as being fed a staple diet of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and war stories, we're taught to be competitive, to stick up for ourselves. along with patriotism and the justification of war. Violence is in fact just another aspect of everyday capitalist life; it's ingrained into us and can't be removed and replaced at society's convenience.

In a socialist society, money and private property would no longer exist and all the means of production and distribution would be democratically controlled by the entire community in the interests of need instead of profit. There would be no such crimes as theft or trespass because everything would belong to everyone. There would be nothing to gain by "stealing", from someone else because all needs would be provided for without consideration of cost, value or ability to pay. So it follows that if there was no such thing as theft, there could be no violent theft; if there was no such thing as trespass, there could be no forced entry or aggravated burglary; and as for assault, it follows that if there was no property, no competition, no oppression, exploitation or deprivation but instead freedom for all to pursue peaceful, uncorrupted and useful existences, then there would be no violence.

As it is. while condemning violence on the part of the criminal, capitalist society virtually ignores the sometimes more subtle violence of poverty and oppression which plagues this mindless system. In the words of the playwright George Farquhar: "Tis still my maxim that there is no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty".
Nick Brunskill

Working weak or pleasure? (1986)

From the June 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

If I wanted to write a book that was longer and less interesting than a practitioners' text on Property Law. it would be a directory of all the most boring, unfulfilling and depressing jobs that people have to do today. Whether you work underground as a train ticket inspector or in a high-rise office block as a clerk, you only have to look around to see the "enthusiasm" that abounds on the faces of others. Think of how you feel when your alarm clock blasts you out of bed in the morning, regardless of whether you want to get up or not, that Monday morning feeling or the constant longing for the weekend. How much of our time is spent doing things that we really want to do? The drudgery of employment is made worse by its monotony, five to six days a week. 48 weeks a year, year after year. Yet those in work are described as the lucky ones.

With the rapid development of technology over the last century which has led to such advancements as the micro-computer and modern electronics, how much can we say the average person's lifestyle has changed, considering the full potential for change? Our lives are still dominated by the need for employment to pay the bills, buy housing and food and bring up children. "They live to toil so that we may toil to live" (William Morris). Most of our time is concerned with economic worries either at home or work. So, why does work nowadays take the form that it does?

In today's society, production is geared not for human need but for profit. Every thing that is produced can only be obtained if you can pay for it. Society, the world over, is split into two classes: those who own the means of living (the land, factories, mines, transport, offices) and those who do not own anything but their ability to work — the great majority of people. It is this social system that dictates the way we work. Employment takes the form of workers selling their mental and physical energies for a wage or a salary to an employer. In this transaction, the buyer (employer) has complete control over the direction the work takes. People are forced to work through economic necessity; the less money you have, the less access you have to what you need.

Because the employers own all the tools and instruments of production they have the power to dictate the quality of work, how fast it is to be done and. when it becomes no longer profitable to continue production, to make workers redundant. So workers have no control over their work. When new technology arises, as at Wapping, workers have no power to control its consequences. Thousands are cast into unemployment and for those who are kept on there is dull conformity and the constant threat of insecurity. People are slaves to the commercial interests of a small minority who, because they own everything, are legally entitled to the profits of the work done in their premises using their equipment.

The present conditions cannot be removed until the present social system is abolished. Socialism means a society without the employer-employee relationship — no job centres or cringing job interviews, no wages and no wasted people. A society of free access to wealth. Work will be voluntary, given according to ability and its main aim will be to satisfy human need, giving satisfaction in accomplishing this task.

Why would people work if they were not paid?

Firstly because the conditions of work will greatly change. People will enjoy full control over the work they do — a vital precondition of people enjoying their work. Secondly, people will be brought up to have complete freedom of experience and to choose a particular type, or types, of work they wish to do (one of the reasons work is so tedious today is the economic necessity of continuously staying in the same job, or line of work, while having next to no control over how it is done — conditions which usually lead to mental stagnation). No one will any longer have to do a job they do not like and we will not be restricted in working in a particular area or part of the world.

The only criteria for dictating what work we do will be what is socially useful and what gives pleasure. Many of the mass produced, characterless commodities of today will disappear. Only the best of whatever is possible will be produced and not, as now, a range of qualities based on what you can afford which William Morris described as the "harmful luxuries of the rich or disgraceful makeshifts of the poor".

There will be many more people to do the useful work as all workers of the present social system who are engaged in socially redundant or anti social tasks — the armed forces, police. lawyers, accountants, bankers. bookies, insurance workers; and all the victims of it — the starving, the unemployed, the war casualties and suicides, will be able to contribute usefully to society. All the people who are today employed in drudgery in factories, mines and offices will be freed from such enslavement. Technology could easily facilitate many of the most irksome aspects of necessary work and eliminate some of them altogether. General attitudes to work will change when there is a common understanding that all contributions to society will be for the benefit of all members of society. That benefit will be the reward of labour unlike today, when the normal day for many is either: work, pub, sleep or work, television, sleep.

Finally, working conditions will no longer be governed by profitability. In a society based on human need the workplaces will not need to resemble the factories, offices, hospitals and so forth of today where a minimum of safety, comfort and artistic creativity exist. With the restrictions of profitability removed, people will be able, where they work and where they live, to create the best possible environments to complement and inspire those who live and work there. The dark, gloomy factories and the high-rise and terraced slums will give way to civilised surroundings. The possibilities will be limitless. Let William Morris conclude:
  If pleasure in labour be generally possible, what a strange folly it must be for men to consent to labour without pleasure, and what a hideous injustice it must be for society to compel men to labour without pleasure.
Nick Davis

Sting in the Tail: Born in the USA (1990)

The Sting in the Tail column from the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Born in the USA

American politicians are fond of boasting that the USA is a classless society. But the truth of the matter is revealed In a Michigan newspaper The Grand Rapids Press (26 April 1990) under the headline "One Child In Five Now Lives In Poverty".

Reporting the National Commission on Children, a group established by Congress and its members appointed by the President and House and Senate leaders, It showed the real position of the working class in the USA.
Malnutrition affects nearly a half-million children, and every night an estimated 100,000 go to sleep homeless —
The poverty rate in 1987, the year the report cited, was 15% for white children but 45% for black children and 39% for Hispanic children.
In the same issue the newspaper reports:
The heirs of Edward Steichen, a pillar of New York's Museum of Modern Art, are battling the museum over an $800,000 painting by Matisse that was bequeathed to the photographer's 6 year old great- grand-daughter.
One kid stands to inherit $800,000 while 20% of US kids suffer official poverty. No class differences In the USA?

Nothing Sacred

The Anglican Church has lost 600,000 members and demolished 289 churches in the last 20 years.

But the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free market 'Think Tank", has come up with a solution. They propose according to The Guardian (16 April 1990) that the clergy be:
. . . paid on a performance basis and regarded as a 10,000 strong sales force established on prime sites throughout Britain.
What the priests would earn would depend on how successfully they could:
. . . go into the highways and byways and compel them (customers) to come in.
In other words, get bums on seats or else. 

Marx and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto that the bourgeoisie had converted, among others, the priests into paid wage-labourers, but even they could hardly have dreamt that one day the priestly wages might be based on piece-work!

Dancing in the Street?

"If Labour Wins" was the title of John Molyneux's article in Socialist Worker for April 17,1990.

He predicts that a Tory defeat at the next general election will see "mass dancing in the streets". So much for the night before but what about the morning after when the new Labour government is faced with "economic crisis"?

Molyneux's prediction is that Labour will "turn on" and "squeeze the working class" because that is "what every Labour government has done when faced with economic crisis" and he provides chapter and verse to prove this.

We can agree with Molyneux's predictions about a future Labour government, but we can do a little predicting of our own: it is that, despite all their denunciations of Labour, Molyneux and the rest of the Socialist Workers Party will be urging workers to put their heads in the noose by voting Labour at the next general election. Any bets?

US Speak

George Orwell in his book, "1984" invented "Newspeak" a language that allowed the ruling elite to describe the Ministry of War as the Ministry of Peace.

According to the report of Time (30 April 1990) Orwell's Newspeak is in full bloom In 1990.
 The Strategic Air Command has decided to change its longtime motto 'Peace Is our Profession", to "War is our Profession - Peace Is our Product".

Boom and Bust

John Ashcroft, ex-chairman of Coloroll, was a stock market darling of the 80's.

And no wonder. Coloroll started the decade as a small wallpaper manufacturer but under Ashcroft's guidance it borrowed heavily to buy companies making glassware, ceramics, textiles, furniture and carpets.

This mad dash for expansion was fine when the economy was booming and interest rates were low, but when they shot skyward then High Street spending plunged and so did Coloroll's profits. Its shares have fallen from a peak of 383p to only 15p.

Now Coloroll's very future is in doubt and Ashcroft joins the long list of financial whlzz-kids who, despite all the evidence, believed that capitalism's booms will last forever.

The Sick Society

The Socialist view that Health, like everything else in a capitalist society, is largely decided by economic factors, has recently been vindicated by the World Health Organisation.
 If current global trends continue, an estimated 200 million persons world-wide could die prematurely from preventable Illnesses in the 1990s, according to a report on the state of world health released yesterday by the World Health Organisation.
"Disease is the most destructive force In the world", Dr. Hiroshi Najakajina, director general of WHO said in a statement . . .
"many of the world's illnesses are preventable or treatable with inexpensive vaccines, anti-blotics or oral rehydration therapy", Nakajina said. "What Is needed Is to mobilise the political will to make this a healthier world."
The Boston Globe (30 April 1990)
Dr. Nakajina's "political will" cannot solve the problem while capitalism, with its production for profit motive, remains. People are dying today simply because they cannot afford to buy the treatments that would cure them.

What could be a more powerful argument for a new society, based on production solely for use, than the next piece of Information in the WHO report?
 . . . more than 8,000 children die every day from diseases that could have been prevented by immunization, and almost 11.000 die daily of dehydration caused by diarrhoea, the report said. Further, an additional 8,000 die every day of pneumonia, WHO said. Much of the suffering can be alleviated, the report said.

Holiday Competition

The news that Thomson and Intasun, the two biggest package holiday operators, have increased their 1990 prices by around 12% and scrapped over a million holidays from their 1990 plans should surprise no one.

For years they have conducted a fierce price-war which was hailed by the free marketeers as a glorious example of the benefits which competition brings to consumers.

True, prices dropped ever lower in real terms until a holiday in Spain could be bought for a ridiculous £29. But this meant that profits in the industry almost vanished. The average profit on a holiday is now around only £1.20 and many operators have gone bust or been swallowed up.

These tiny profits have meant tiny re-investment, and the resulting decline in standards of holiday hotels and apartments has produced massive customer dissatisfaction and fewer bookings.

So besides providing rising prices and less choice for consumers, the package holiday industry has fallen into fewer and fewer hands until Thomson and Intasun have more than 60% of the market between them. Ah, the benefits of cut-throat competition!

Question Time (1990)

From the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard
If politicians know the truth
Why do they tell lies? 
If British Rail belongs to the public
Why do I have to pay my fare? 
If this is my country
Which bit is mine? 
If there are mountains of food
Why do people starve? 
If capitalism works
Why do people put up with it? 
If I am free
Why am I a wage slave? 
If this is democracy
Why can't I have my say ? 
If I am a polar bear
Why am I so cold?
                                                    M. J. Tavener

Letters: Non-manual labour (1990)

Letters to the Editors from the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Non-manual labour

Dear Editors,

I am writing in the hope that you can enlighten me on a point concerning non-manual labour. Unless I have completely misunderstood the dynamics of capitalism, the exploitation of the workers rests on the extraction of surplus value, and the wages system is the mechanism by which this robbery takes place. This is easily observable in, say, mining or steel production. Physical wealth is produced, expropriated and sold. However with unproductive work such as, for example, a typist or a bank clerk, what wealth is being produced? How can someone who is producing no wealth be exploited through the extraction of surplus value? What wealth is being expropriated?

I understand that much non-manual labour is an essential part of production (nursing, planning etc) and that this labour, indirectly, produces wealth. However, doesn't this suggest perhaps the existence of two different types of exploitation? (1) the ‘real’ economy—physical wealth production on which we all depend, and (2) non-manual labour, some of which (like the occupations mentioned above) is essential and some of which (bank clerks, etc) is completely wasted labour. The exploitation of someone in the 'real' economy is easily analysed—the owner's outlay (wages, rent, repairs, etc) can be said to cost x, commodities are sold for y. the difference between x and y being profits.

Can the exploitation of a typist be quantified in this way? A miner pays his own wages, he has produced wealth over and above the value of his wages, does a typist do the same? Who pays for a bank clerk's wages if they don't actually produce any wealth? Is it enough to say that employers are happy to pay unproductive workers because within the context of the money system they do serve a purpose? Are unproductive workers a sort of subsidised workforce, paid for with wealth accumulated through physical wealth production? If so, doesn't that imply a rather more sophisticated understanding of the system amongst employers than blind obedience to the God of profit—if they are prepared to forsake immediate gain by employing workers whom they can’t actually physically exploit for profit, or is it a situation that developed naturally?

Production is the transformation of materials that originally came from nature into something that serves some human purpose. This necessarily involves both physical (manual) and mental (non-manual) work. Mining is not just a question of digging. It also involves surveying, planning how to extract the mineral and how bring it to the surface, and the like. This work is just as necessary to production as the physical side. Originally the same person would have done both but, as the division of labour has grown, the manual and mental aspects have come to be performed by different groups of workers. All of them are equally engaged in productive labour, including, we might add. the typists who type out the plans.

Under capitalism it is not just use-values that are produced but commodities, or items produced for sale. This means that a whole series of other operations become necessary which wouldn't exist if production were carried on simply for use: buying, selling, accounting, banking, insurance. Necessary though these activities are under capitalism, they are not productive as they do not enhance the usefulness of the product. This does not mean that the workers involved in them are not exploited. As Marx explained in Chapter 6 of Volume 2 of Capital on "The Costs of Circulation", such workers, just as much as productive workers, are paid less in terms of labour-time than the time they actually work and so perform unpaid labour for their employer. It is this unpaid labour which transfers a part of the surplus value produced in the productive sector to their employer. So an employer of unproductive labour has not abandoned the pursuit of profit. Quite the contrary.

South Africa

Dear Editor,

P. Lawrence, in his article on South Africa, asserts that “tribal differences also divided the African peoples who in the seventeenth century had migrated south from East Africa (Socialist Standard, April 1990). This claim is also to be found in the more dated official literature such as the South African Department of Information publication Progress through Separate Development (1973) and anyone familiar with Apartheid historiography will readily appreciate its purpose as one of a battery of “myths of origin" that Apartheid ideologists have deployed over the years to legitimate the contemporary distribution of land between "White South Africa" (87 percent) and the "Black Homelands" (13 percent). According to the above publication, "the story of modern South Africa dates back more than 300 years when the forefathers of the various Bantu or black nations of South Africa and the white South African nation, all foreigners to southern Africa, converged in relatively small numbers and from different directions on what was, at the time, a practically empty country except for small roving bands of primitive nomadic Bushmen and Hottentots" (p.12). The present distribution of land between whites and blacks, it is argued, reflects the original pattern of settlement of these two groups and involved "neither colonialism nor conquest".

This bears no relation to the historical reality. For some time now it has been known that the interior of South Africa was populated by iron age Bantu-speaking farmers long before the 17th century (when the Dutch arrived at the Cape) and was continuously occupied since, notwithstanding the Mfecane, or inter-tribal wars in the early 19th century, which supposedly depopulated the interior prior to the Great Trek. According to Shula Marks, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the first wave of Bantu migration arrived south of the Limpopo River “early in the first millenium AD, and not, as had been previously assumed, relatively late in the second" (History Today January 1980). There are, for example, numerous traces of ancient African settlements and mine workings throughout much of so-called White South Africa. Indeed, the archaeological evidence against the thesis of "simultaneous occupation” is now so overwhelming that not even the official propaganda of the South Africa Government bothers any longer to peddle this nonsense (cf. Official Yearbook of South Africa 1983). It is therefore all the more surprising that one should find it being perpetuated in, of all places, the Socialist Standard
Robin Cox, 
Haslemere, Surrey

Although we never expressed the view our correspondent has read into the article (we merely stated that there was a migration of Bantu-speaking tribes, in the 17th century, into what is now South Africa, which is true), we naturally defer to the archeological evidence, not that it has any contemporary political relevance. The fact the Bantu-speakers were there first does not justify the claim that the ruling class in South Africa should be drawn from their ranks any more than the Afrikaner nationalist distortion of history justifies their claim that the ruling class should be white. Socialist are not interested in such arguments. We say there should be no ruling class, no states with their frontiers and nationalist mythologies, and no monopoly ownership of land

The Case for Equality (1990)

From the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

In a socialist society all human beings will be equals. Without equality there could be no society which could accurately call itself socialist. So, the class-divided, extremely hierarchical nations such as Russia and China, which have a class of privileged party bureaucrats ruling over the majority of the population who are wage slaves, are clearly not socialist—they are part of the social inequality which characterises capitalism.

What do we mean by social equality? We mean that we seek to create a condition of social organisation in which no person is entitled to be regarded and rewarded as superior to others and no person is to be condemned to the disadvantaged position of being socially inferior. In a society of equality there will be no socially superior or inferior people.

We are not advocating a social situation in which no person is superior to another person in any respect. In a society of human equality one person might be a better violinist than another. The inferior violinist might be a better poet or bricklayer than the superior violinist. The significant point is that such differences of achievement (which are almost certainly conditioned rather than innate) will not lead to social inequality. In a society of equals the better violinist will have no opportunity to live a more confortable life than the violinist whose music sounds awful. The person who is an expert at cutting up human bodies (a surgeon) will have no greater access to pleasant accommodation or decent cigars than the person who is skilled at fixing motor cars (a mechanic). Society needs surgeons and mechanics, violinists and poets.

Just as a society of equality will include people with different levels of talent and skill in various areas of life and work, so it will be a society of humans who are different from each other. The distinction must be understood between equality and sameness. If the present writer is asked whether he prefers the plays of Chekhov or Pinter he will reply that he enjoys them equally; this does not mean that he regards them as being the same—in fact, the two writers are very different from one another. The two playwrights (in the view of the present writer) are worthy of equal respect. To say that the dedication of a nurse and a firefighter is equal is not to suggest that both types of work are the same. Equality does not imply conformity or uniformity. On the contrary, it implies that our appreciation of our fellow human beings is not governed by a monolithic value structure, but that we have the capacity to respect different abilities without subordinating one to the other. Rather infantile critics of the case for social equality suggest that we are advocating some kind of absolute natural equality. Jerome K. Jerome wrote a rather foolish satire about utopia in which he depicted a society in which everyone had to be the same height and weight. Clearly, social equality will not require the elimination of natural human differences. If one person has natural advantages over another (such as the physical strength of the young over the old and feeble) that will not allow such a person to have social domination over those who are so-called natural inferiors. Natural differences such as gender or skin colour are no basis for social differences; it is only in a society of human inequality that these natural distinctions become parts of a battle for power

The facts of social inequality
Only a fool or a liar would contend that we are now living in a society of human equality. World capitalism has as its first characteristic the unnatural, artificial inequality between class and class. In Britain today the richest 1 per cent of the population own more of the marketable wealth than all of the poorest 80 per cent added together. The richest 10 per cent own between them more than half of all the wealth in Britain. In short, even if the 90 per cent joined together we would still be poorer than the richest 10 per cent. Approximately one in four humans alive today are malnourished because they cannot afford to buy food. In Britain and the USA one in four children live on or below the official poverty line. The most recent World Land Census, carried out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, showed that 2.5 per cent of the people who own land of over 250 acres own between them 75 per cent of all the world's privately owned land.

These are the dry statistics of inequality. The more visible and emotionally comprehensible features of inequality are before us every day. The sight of kids sleeping on the streets on cold nights while estate agents advertise six-bedroom houses for over a million pounds—often as suitable second homes for the useless rich. The queues in the casualty departments of NHS hospitals where the poor must wait for serious injuries to be treated, while round the corner in the private wing there are comfortable lounges for the rich to wait in while they demand the very best in health care, regardless of whether they are ill or not. The mothers who cannot afford to feed their children and keep them warm on £40 a week, while a couple of miles away five-star hotels are serving dinner to parasites at £250 a head. Only the socially blind will deny the existence of social inequality: only the socially brutalised will regard it as a desirable condition of affairs.

Is social equality possible? Some have argued that it is not. and if we are to argue scientifically we must examine and dispose of their claims. We can commence with the most stupid argument against equality; the religious objection. In 1784 George Pitt argued against the doctrine of equality";
  A doctrine, the fallacy of which is proved by the experience of every day. by the concurrence of all history from the earliest times, and above all by the contemplation of all the works of the Creator, the very essence of which appears to be gradation or inequality. (Letter To A Young Nobleman.)
In short, humans are created to be unequal. The Church has pursued this propaganda with vigour: The rich man in his castle, the poor man in his hut. God made them high and lowly . . . Apart from the fact that this nonsense ignores the first 40,000 years of human society (the great majority of our history) in which classes did not exist, its entire reasoning depends upon the completely unproven and utterly unprovable belief that the world was designed by an over-seeing being who decided how it would be organised. The religious defence of inequality is an ideology designed by the defenders of the rich who offer a creationist account of human inequality as a way of keeping the ignorantly—believing inferiors in their place. Lest there be any doubt about this we can turn to the writings of the prominent 18th century Christian and conservative, Edmund Burke, who spelt out the religious purpose in clear terms:
   The great body of people must not find the principle of natural insubordination . . . rooted out of their minds. They must respect that property of which they cannot partake. They must labour to obtain what by labour can be obtained; and when they find, as they commonly do, the success disproportionate to the endeavour, they must be taught to console themselves with the prospect of divine justice.
The claim that inequality was designed by a god requires a belief in an unprovable. immaterial deity, and then a respect for such a supernatural being who designs poverty and social misery for the majority class in society.

Biology not determinant
Different from the religious case against equality—but not all that different—is the biological theory. The infamous Professor Eysenck states that "biology sets an absolute barrier to egalitarianism"; we are all born with unequal capacities to become intelligent; this intellectual inequality is genetically inherited and determines our status in life: "Clearly, the whole course of development of a child's intellectual abilities is largely laid down genetically" (The Inequality of Man).

This biological determinism replaces genes for gods and contends that we are all born to fit into an intellectual hierarchy and must make the best of what our genes allow us to become. Eysenck and others have attempted to link superior genetic abilities with white skin colour. Others, such as Steven Goldberg in The Inevitability of Patriarchy, have tried to make a case for the biological inferiority of women. The case for biological inequality rests upon some very weak reasoning. Firstly, its conception of "intelligence' is a very narrow one, rooted in the limited history of European and American capitalism. If Professor Eysenck was left to survive in an African desert region we wonder how "intelligent" he would be in relation to the people who were brought up in such an area. The best evidence regarding human behaviour points to the fact that humans learn to be what we are: the extent to which we inherit genetically any mental aspects of our being is negligible. Even if there was some truth in the Eysenck theory, there would be no more reason for a society of human equality to discriminate against less intelligent people than it would be to discriminate against those who are physically disabled.

Davis and Moore have constructed a sociological theory which is simply an updated version of last century's Social Darwinist defence of social inequality:
  Social inequality is . . . an unconsciously evolved device by which societies insure that the most important positions are conscientiously filled by the most important persons. (Some Principles of Stratification).
According to this theory, society offers rewards to the people it needs most. Superiority is a reward for usefulness. If you are socially useless you will become inferior. The fittest will survive and thrive. The only problem with this theory—a pretty major problem for a would-be scientific analysis—is that it bears no relationship to the experience of how capitalist society actually does run. We know very well that under capitalism the useless stockbroker is rewarded (by income) much more than the nurse; the parasitical Royals are rewarded with billions of pounds for waving at people, while workers who grow food are often so poor that they cannot afford to eat properly. The belief that life is one great competition in which the capitalists win because they are the most able is a nice idea if you are a millionaire, but a lot of rot if you consider that most millionaires inherit their fortunes, and that these were obtained in the first place by exploiting the labour skills of others.

Free society of equals
It will not take long for the thoughtful reader to detect that all of the arguments against social equality are unhistorical. The god-myth has no basis in material history and entirely ignores the thousands of years during which humans lived in a condition of what social anthropologists call primitive communism. Were these humans (the majority of those who have lived on the planet) built by god with a design fault? The biological theory relies upon unproven notions of inherited intelligence and defines intelligence in an unhistorical manner. The modern Social Darwinists can see no further than the social order of the capitalist jungle.

There is one further argument against social equality which is sometimes put by capitalism's defenders and which does make sense. It is said that equality can only occur by limiting certain liberties which currently exist. This is quite true. The liberty of the least needy to push in front of the most needy in the queue for food, clothing and shelter will be taken away in a socially equal society. The liberty to destroy food and take land out of cultivation in order to keep prices and profits up will no longer exist. The liberty of humans to compel others to work for them (or starve) will be ended. In short, a socialist system of human equality can only occur once the expropriators have been expropriated—once the capitalist class has been dispossessed of its monopoly of the earth's resources. This threat to the capitalists' liberty to own and control the world is seen by them as something to be resisted at all costs—including the reputations and lives of those who dare to advocate social equality. The capitalist minority use every means of propaganda at their command to distort the case for equality, to defame its advocates and to defend their own privilege in the name of popular liberty and democracy.

To the majority of us, who are not capitalists but live by selling our mental and physical energies for wages and salaries, the awful danger of the capitalists losing their liberty to be the top dogs ought not to appear as such an awful threat. On the contrary, the removal of the liberty of the capitalist to be superior is the necessary precondition for the liberty of the wealth producers not to be inferior. The right of the worker not to be a wage slave requires the abolition of the right of anyone to be a capitalist. Freedom and equality have the abolition of class society as their social basis.

The only free society will be one where all human beings, without any distinctions of race or sex or age, have free and equal access to the common wealth of the world. Once goods and services are freely available to all, on the basis of self-defined desires, without the interference of money or markets, humans will be able to say in honesty that we are members of a human family—a family of equals.
Steve Coleman

What's so good about the market? (1990)

From the June 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Everyone seems to be falling in love with the market these days. From all over the political spectrum people are saying that it's the best way of deciding what's produced and how it's distributed. The Communist Party, the Labour Party. Mr Gorbachev. Mrs Thatcher—wherever you look more and more people are saying that the market system is efficient and allows us freedom to decide what to buy, where we live, and where we work. Everyone seems to be a convert to the new religion of competition; even the countries of Eastern Europe are now shifting away from the equally abhorrent state capitalism. Yet the human cost of all this supposed freedom and equality is barely ever mentioned. In reality the "free" market hides the most blatant inequality, oppression and wastefulness behind its mask of equality, freedom and efficiency.

Unequal Shares for All
In theory we all have the freedom to buy a flat in Mayfair or a forest in Scotland—even if we don't speak with a plum in our mouth. But you don't get far without money. And some people tend to have a lot more money than others. For example, it was recently announced on the TV news that the people of Ethiopia stood on the verge of a famine of worse proportions than 1984 when around a million people died. We see pictures of beautiful children dying—robbed of their right to even a life of poverty. Now take the Earl of Cadogan. According to the Sunday Times, he is worth £450 million due to land owned as a result of marriages in the 18th Century. Or what about Alan Sugar? He is judged to have £432 million—rather more than the Korean women and men who produce the computers that bear his company name—Amstrad. What explains the gap between those who struggle and those who become multi-millionaires?

The Great Divide: Class
Class is not about your accent or your school tie: it's about what you own and whether you have to work for your living. Just because Robert Maxwell was once poor, it does not mean that he is somehow still a member of the working class now he may be worth up to £675 million. You needn't be an economist to see that millionaires (and. indeed, billionaires) will have a bit more choice than the poor of Eritrea.

All of this belies the claim that the market is in any way "democratic" and that we have somehow got equal "votes" under it. Some people have many times the influence of others in choosing what they do in the world. How else can we explain the production of luxury yachts alongside the failure of the system to provide adequate food to millions? It doesn't matter how much people are crying out for food and shelter; without purchasing power (money) the needs of the poor will stay unrecognised. Producing food for the penniless will never be a big money earner—it won't sell. And the pressure towards holding wages down to allow firms to be "competitive" will ensure that even many of those in work will be unable to influence significantly what is supplied on the market in order to meet their needs. Some democracy!

As we go to the market place to make money to live, most of us sell only our ability to work by getting a job. Yet others have got a bit more to fall back on. income from their capital. Even if they somehow "deserve" wealth, why should such talented people enjoy continued advantage? If they're so good they could succeed all over again from nothing! And why do some people have millions of pounds? Is it that they are a thousand times better than you or me? Can someone really work a hundred times harder than a nurse or an ambulance driver? Supporters of the market think so. "The market rewards hard work and enterprise," they say. How is this measured? Is a company director s greater wealth worked out with the aid of an "Enterprisometer”? In reality their rewards are legally stolen from the efforts of ordinary women and men. The capitalist's reward— profit—is no more than the unpaid labour of working men and women.

Now, the capitalist press say that everyone is free to set up their own companies and to become capitalists. But we can't all get rich by owning companies—to begin with, who will we all employ (read "exploit") in the companies? And we can't all compete with Murdoch's empire. To become cost-effective in the era of trans-global corporations a company must meet the huge costs of entry which exist in most areas of business. You need the ability to sustain a loss for the initial period—how else could Sky Television have survived?

You also need the power of money to influence customers through marketing and advertising. In Murdoch's case, it has been a bit of a help owning five national papers in Britain to persuade the unconverted to buy satellite TV. In short, you need money (capital) to make money. Despite the Enterprise Culture in Britain, real economic power is not in the hands of a few window cleaners undercutting each other's prices on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme. Record numbers of small firms went bust last year in Britain and it's no surprise when you realise what they're up against.

Wealth, Waste and Want
Yet it's so much more than a question of unequal shares. The whole rationale of production is skewed by profit. People's real needs are not taken directly into account when firms decide what is to be produced. Even if we had a "share-owning democracy", and everyone had an equal stake in society as Mrs Thatcher tells us we've got. even if we divided all the money out with "fair shares for all", the whole system would still be a roller coaster that is not amenable to rational and democratic control. This is because the market system is geared towards production for profit, stimulated by advertising, marketing and credit. The whole aim of the system would still be production for profit and all that this entails—even if there were not the sickening levels of inequality that we now experience; we would still have wasteful hyping of competing products, banking and built-in obsolescence.

The market system has provided the impetus for technological developments but doesn't allow us to take full advantage of them. In a sane society everyone would benefit from advances in technology. Under capitalism research is duplicated and advances in technology are restricted by the patent system. All in the name of the great god—Competition. The market system is characterised by superficial rationality and efficiency within individual firms, but global insanity when all these unco-ordinated and anti-social decisions are added together and seen in the light of the needs of the whole world population. And under this supposedly efficient system there is also the huge waste of unemployment where people living on a pittance are robbed of a chance even of wage slavery. There can be no democracy when decisions about work organisation and how to provide goods and services are made on the basis of profit. Trying to meet the needs of five billion people through the clumsy workings of the market is like performing microsurgery with boxing gloves on.

Working to Stand Still
In a world where buying and selling dominate. there is a complete disregard for the experience of people in the workplace since the whole emphasis is upon what is produced and whether it can be sold. Wages, health and safety and work satisfaction will always come a poor second best to the need to make a profit. Much welcome discussion about "Green" issues and "quality of life" has managed to avoid one of the main limits upon our real quality of life—the lack of control and creativity that most people experience in their work. Environmentalism has been seen to be largely about buying the right sort of consumer goods. Important though this may be, it leaves aside the fact that the whole reason for capitalist production is not production for need, nor for the satisfaction of the people in the workplace, but production to make a profit on the market.

This is at the very centre of capitalism; and the consequence is that decisions about how goods and services are made are still in the hands of the large corporations. The system cannot gear itself to producing fewer useless goods, producing them in a more satisfactory way for the workers, or democratically deciding how to solve a problem globally.

For example, the market will never get round to planning and producing a truly safe and comfortable public transport system. The vested interests of oil and automobile corporations ensure that it is biased towards producing and promoting private cars. As an afterthought we're asked to use lead-free petrol to limit the havoc caused by everyone pursuing their "individuality" as we sit in ever-increasing traffic queues of mass-produced cars. And Cecil Parkinson still sees more roads as the solution!
Under the market, the answer is always "more” rather than a sane alternative. “Make a fast buck" and "Leave the competition standing," we're told. All this obscures the fact that we need more than ever to collectively decide how to deal with the increasingly global problems that we all face. It's no game: life and death decisions are being decided behind our backs by the harsh workings of the market. We have been played a huge confidence trick. Beneath the talk of efficiency and equality the market is out of control. We need to abandon this crazy system which dominates our lives and organise to bring about a wholly new society; on which has never  even been tried—socialism. But that's another story . . .
Ken Aldred

Peace (!) (1919)

Editorial from the August 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

Peace, we are told, has now been made. On 28th June, 1919, the representatives of the Allied powers and Germany signed a “Peace treaty”, officially terminating the “Great War”, which it had claimed would “end all war” and “make the world safe for democracy”.

To achieve the great result millions of the working class lie in war graves, millions are maimed, crippled, or disfigured for life, millions more, with constitutions shattered, are wondering what the future holds for them.

Alongside this enormous waste of human life and limb, the destruction of wealth that has taken place seems trivial. Yet here the quantities are staggering. Numberless houses, factories and works, numerous mines, roads, railways and canals, thousands of ships with their cargoes, millions of tons of munitions, and extensive crops, forests, and the like, have been destroyed in this welter of war. And even now we are not at the end of the waste and destruction, for Mr. Bonar Law, speaking at a “Victory Loan” meeting, stated that there were still 23 other wars in progress.

But the “Great War” has ended. And almost immediately, in every country throughout the capitalist world, strikes and struggles between masters and workers blaze up. In the countries of the conquerors and the conquered alike, in neutral States and border zones, over-riding all the artificial divisions of territory and race, the antagonism between the working class and the master class gains greater prominence, with fiercer fights, than ever before. These fights, necessary for immediate purposes as many of them are, provide no solution for the fundamental problem facing the working class.

To the capitalist class a solution is impossible. They cannot abolish the antagonism except by abolishing themselves.

The “League of Nations”, claimed by its supporters to be the greatest safeguard of future peace that has resulted from the war, is cynically exposed by the military treaties between England, France, and America, to be a combination of the stronger Powers to enforce methods and conditions suitable to their own interests upon the weaker nations.

What other arrangements or undertakings have been made we do not at present know, but the refusal of China, one of the Allies, to sign the “Peace” Treaty is significant. One reason for China’s action that has leaked out is the practical handing over of Chinese territory – the Shantung Peninsular, to Japan. As this action threatens to at least restrain, if not to shut out, American trade in that part of China, because of the important seaports on the Shantung coast, it is raising a pretty quarrel between America and Japan, whose trade rivalry is already intense.

Such portions of the “Peace” Treaty with Germany as have been published further support our case. Large areas are to be taken from Germany and handed over to France, Belgium, Poland, and Denmark. In some cases a plebiscite of the inhabitants of certain areas may be taken later on, but this is entirely within the discretion of the “League”, who may withhold such plebiscite if they wish. It is, of course, quite an accident that so many of these areas contain rich coal and ore deposits. In addition the Allies are to enjoy the “most favoured nation” treatment in commerce, to have unrestricted freedom of transit for their goods, and no Tariff discrimination for five years. While children are starving in Germany over 100,000 milch cows are to be taken by the Allies.

In the Socialist Standard for September 1914, in our Manifesto on the War, we stated:
  “The Capitalists of Europe have quarrelled over the questions of the control of trade routes and the world’s markets, and are endeavouring to exploit the political ignorance and blind passions of the working class of their respective countries in order to induce the said workers to take up arms in what is solely their masters’ quarrel.”
Alone of all parties in this country we took our stand upon the Socialist position. So-called Socialist parties that supported the war then, are now in many cases pretending to be opposed to such wars and are urging the workers to demonstrate and strike against British soldiers being used against Russian workers. Too ignorant or cowardly in those days to stand for the interests of the working class, they now try to achieve a popularity and reputation by urging soldiers to refuse to fire on Russian workers, while they applauded or were silent when the same soldiers were shooting down German, Austrian, or Hungarian soldiers.

Nay, even when these soldiers were used against workers at home–in Dublin, Hull, Tonypandy, and Glasgow–they accepted the right claimed by the capitalists to use such forces for their own interests, without any call for a strike.

In the manifesto mentioned above we said:
  “The machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers. These armed forces, therefore, will only be set in motion to further the interests of the class who control them – the master class.”
As far as Russia is concerned, there are signs that “intervention” is nearing its end – not because of the demonstrations (those called for 21st July were a ghastly failure), but because of a division of interests in the capitalist camp.

While the British and French capitalists who have invested large amounts of capital in developing Russian industry, desire intervention for the purpose of seizing control of the productive forces, either for themselves or in combination with the Russian master class, the other capitalists are quietly but effectively protesting against the scheme. Those who manufacture at home and seek markets abroad, note with anxiety how Japan and America are preparing to take hold of the Russian market. According to some reports, German merchants are already trading in Russia. On the other hand the Bolshevik Government has repeatedly announced its readiness to make “economic” and “industrial” concessions to foreign capitalists in exchange for seeds, machinery, and tools. The acceptance of these “concessions” can have but one result–the running of the main industries of Russia on capitalist lines.

The backward economic conditions of Russia compel the Bolsheviks to make these offers that are in flat contradiction to their theories, and they can no more resist successfully the force of these circumstances than they could avoid signing the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Hence that section of the capitalist class who wish to open trade with Russia favour the withdrawal of Allied support of all kinds from Kotchak and Dennikin, and the making of a commercial agreement with the Bolshevik Government. Their need for haste is increased by the open campaign of jingoism that arose again after the Armistice and which has been epitomised by Sir Douglas Haig when receiving the Freedom of the City of London on the 12th June, 1919. Speaking of his experience of the war he said:
  “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.” (Daily News, 13.6.1919).
Here, even before the “Peace” treaty was signed, was the exposure of the foul lies of the capitalist class that this war was “to end all war”.

While competition between capitalist groups for routes, markets, and control of raw material exists, the cause of war remains. The amalgamation of some of these groups into “leagues” or “associations”, while it may put off the evil day for a while, only makes the struggle the greater when it does arise. But even if the whole of the greater capitalists of the world were to unite for the control of the globe, there would still remain the greatest of all wars to be fought out – the Class War for the freedom of Mankind.

During the “Great War” the capitalist class on both sides broke down many of the old national and racial barriers that still existed between various sections of slaves under their control. Black chattel slaves fought alongside yellow contract workers. Irish Home Rulers stood by jingo Englishmen, French Syndicalists by Japanese Imperialists.

Clearer than ever before stands out the great fact that there is no hope for real peace in the world until these various sections of workers recognise the common fundamental character of their slavery and set to work to remove it, thus ending the enslavement of the human race by the establishment of Socialism.

As in September 1914, so now we say:
“Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our good will and Socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Socialism.”
Executive Committee,
Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Peace—Competition—War. (1919)

From the August 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

On the day the Press was gushing and frothing over the spectacular peace-signing business (30.6.19) the "Daily News" published an editorial on the matter, and also several articles by those they designate "Great Men." The articles in question are best summed up as a conglomeration of contradictory vapourings.

In its editorial the "Daily News" sends up a hymn of thanksgiving that "the world has won its freedom," and then goes on to make the following curious remarks:
  "We are friends to-day with France, and our sincerest prayer is that that friendship will never be broken. . . . . She is again the most formidable figure on the Continent. She, almost alone, stands erect and triumphant over the ruins of Empires.  We rejoice in her miraculous recovery ; but we should be fools to blind ourselves to the implications." (Italics mine.)
These sound pacific words ! What is the nature of the implications to which we must not blind ourselves? Of course the nature is the old capitalist nature. The crushing of Germany has strengthened the commercial power of France—one of the competitors in the rush for the world's markets.

The article goes on further to enlighten us :
  "And is there anyone who looks to Japan and the Far East without large and vague apprehensions ? Or Westward across the Atlantic without wondering what the future has in store there and realising, however dimly, that if the United States is compelled to forsake its historic pacifism for militarism it is sea power which will be its capital concern."
Undoubtedly the above shows that the present peace is to be a lasting one ! The subscribers to this view have evidently studied the relativity of all things, and the meaning they attach to "lasting" is a day or two—or rather its a lasting peace until the next great war !

The idea of setting up America with her gigantic naval programme as a pacifist nation, is truly comical. In the last twenty-five years America has been at war with Spain, the Phillipines, China, and Germany, to say nothing of the murderous slaughter of American working men in the various strikes. At the moment of writing it is announced that America contemplates the construction of two liners larger than anything afloat, and so constructed that they are easily convertible into commerce protectors.

The Peace Treaty receives anything but a glowing reference from the "Daily News." "It does not aim at abolishing militarism ; it aims at abolishing Prussia," is their tribute to the efforts of Lloyd George & Co.

After mourning over the defects of the Peace Treaty the article hails the "League of Nations" as the new deliverer and the promise of a glorious future. It then proceeds to knock the bottom out of the League with the following remarks:
   "There are grave defects in this momentous document. The provision that unanimity is required for action is the most disquieting of these defects."
And we might tack on this the fact that, so far, the League consists mainly of England, France, and America, and excludes the Central Powers; also that the nations composing the League are laying themselves out for more efficient predatory forces than ever, as witness America's mighty warships, Britain's gigantic airships and flying machines, and the recent big armament combine, Explosives, Ltd.

Things certainly look promising !

From the other articles, in the same paper, already alluded to I will extract some of the wisdom of the "Great Men."

  "Now that peace is signed, the first necessity for the British Empire and for the whole world is to get trade going everywhere. . . . Only by a full stream of trade can the flow of food and goods between all peoples wipe out hunger, misery, and unemployment, and possibly anarchy."
Capital lying idle is unfruitful, but capital employed in trade brings in rich returns, hence the anxiety of the profit seekers to get on with the business. That a full stream of trade will will wipe out hunger, etc., is the usual delusive humbug of the employing class. Just prior to the war trade was booming everywhere. Statistics showed relatively higher returns than ever before, and yet the lackeys of the master class (Lloyd George among them) admitted that there was greater poverty and misery existing than any previous records showed. For years the number of inmates in the lunatic asylums, and the number of homeless on the streets of London, had been growing. With the improvement in productive processes and machinery, and the increase in the number of women in industry, brought about by the war, we have far worse times ahead when trade booms again.

Another writer, Dr. Clifford, says:
 "The seed of new wars are sown with a prodigal hand. . . . An economic struggle is to follow the military, and an international trade rivalry is arranged to block the way to international co-operation and reconciliation."
As he correctly states, the seeds of new wars are already sown—the seeds of war exist in the very marrow of capitalism. The economic laws governing capitalism drive different sections into trade conflict, and it becomes a question of the eclipse of a particular section or a trial of arms.

The seeds of new wars are not hard to discover. While England has been deeply involved in war, America has been restoring her shipbuilding industries, which were previously decaying, and now ranges herself against England as a powerful competitor in the shipbuilding and carrying trades.

At the recent coal enquiry competent witnesses expressed the fear that in the future America and France would be serious competitors in the iron and steel trades.

For some years Japan and America have been in a state of doubtful friendship in their competition for the Chinese trade. Latterly China has been developing rapidly, and may soon be able to supply a great part of her own needs, and also compete abroad. We may witness the spectacle of Japan and America at each other's throats over the Chinese market, and either or both at the throat of China to force her to accept their goods.

Japan is becoming yearly a more serious competitor in European markets, and "cheap German muck" may yet give place to "cheap Japanese muck."

In a note relating to a conversation with a "well-known authority in the City," headed "Japan ready to sell," in the "Daily News" (9.7.19.) the following appears :
   "Japan is manufacturing all the fancy goods, the cheap crockery, the toilet and clothes brushes, and the thousand-and-one little knick-knacks that used to come from Germany and Austria. . . . The Japanese are making just those goods which we formerly imported from enemy countries on account of their cheapness."
A writer in the "Penny Magazine" during the last two months also points out that Japan, India, and America are steadily encroaching upon England's cotton trade. Modern inventions have deprived Lancashire of the advantage she formerly possessed in her humid atmosphere. As the other countries possess the raw material (and Lancashire does not) and can produce the necessary atmosphere artificially, Lancashire is going downhill and may be crushed out of the trade eventually.

That "our staunch ally," Japan (who is pinching our trade!) has learnt from the experience of the leading nations, and is developing her industries and piling up her wealth strictly in accordance with capitalist tradition, is borne out by the New York special correspondent of the "Daily News" (16.7.19.) in the following quotation relating to Korea :
"The regular use of torture, the establishment of compulsory prostitution, the promotion of the opium traffic, the suppression of free speech, the repeated flogging of women, the massacre of scores of unarmed people at a time when no disturbance was proceeding, and many other atrocities indicate that Japan should spare no effort to dismiss officials responsible and completely change her attitude towards this problem.
Already Japan is confronted with the Chinese boycott, which tends to substitute American for Japanese trade. Her Korean policy must inevitably determine her position in the Far East, and beyond all question the cruelties practised in Korea have caused indignation here."
If Japan continues to forge ahead it can easily be seen that she may soon become an "enemy country" so far as the other leading capitalist nations are concerned. The recent disclosure by President Wilson of the secret treaty between Japan, Germany, and Russia, if true, shows that Japan is well up to her rivals in the unscrupulous scramble for markets.

In spite of the ringing of the joy bells of peace England is still at war in India and Russia.

India, as well as pinching our trade, is developing in other directions. She is the world's greatest producer of hides, and the only producer of jute, while her export of manganese and tungsten materially affects the manufacture of steel in Europe. Such a prize must be retained at all costs.

A side-light on the intervention of England in Russia is given in by Sir A. Steel-Maitland when addressing business men interested in Russian trade. He said:
"In the next 20 years the part of the world where trade expansion was likely to be quickest was in Central and South-Eastern Russia, and the enormous belt of country east of the Urals. British traders now had a good chance of establishing themselves there." —"Daily News," 12.7.19.
In "The World's Work" during the war Mr. R. C. Martens (of Martens & Co., a large American commercial concern) contributed an article and a series of maps relating to the resources of European and Asiatic Russia. In the course of the article he made the following remarks :
"The war has caused American manufactures to double at least. Most other countries have also expanded their manufacturing capacities with the result that the world's manufacturing capacity is at least three times as great as it was before the war. . . . Will the industrial nations not have to look for markets for their surplus in lands where there is greatest natural wealth ? If so, Russia will assuredly be the greatest commercial field in the world at the end of this war."
And he closes the article with this significant remark:
  "The opportunity is waiting."
No wonder England and the "great democracy of the West" are taking such a fatherly and bloodthirsty interest in Russian affairs.

The "Daily Chronicle" for August 6th adds its quota to the mass of evidence supporting our contention. Under the heading "Tariff War Breaks Out in Europe" our contemporary reports:
  ". . the introduction into Italy of hats, caps, gloves, and umbrellas is wholly forbidden. So, too are threads, textiles, and all semi-manufactured goods, whether in wool, linen, cotton, hemp, or jute.
The same applies to agricultural machinery and to . all parts thereof.  . .
. . Already Bohemia has retaliated on the shutting out of her glass wares by imposing a steep tariff of 300 kronen on Italian wines."
The report then goes on to declare that there is every prospect of Sweden, who had made the promised supply of paper pulp dependent upon the admission into Italy of certain cheap paper goods, retaliating by stopping the paper pulp supply. Truly, we are a happy family in these days of universal peace !

As the military war waned the trade war took its place and rages with greater violence every day. The inevitable result will be another recourse to the battlefield.

So that the last doubt may be dispelled from the minds of readers as to the everlasting nature of the "peace" I will conclude with another quotation from the "Daily News" (12.7.19.)
  "Sir Douglas Haig and Admiral Sir Roger Keyes received the freedom of the city (Aberdeen) to-day, and also honorary degrees of the University. Sir Douglas, in reply, urged that every growing lad should be taught the use of the rifle, so that when the next great trial came, "as one day it surely will," we should be found a nation in arms, ready and prepared to meet it."
As the Socialist Party has all along pointed out. the wars of civilised countries, since the birth of the capitalist system, have been caused through the struggles between sections of the world's capitalist class for the trade routes, raw materials, markets, and the like. As long as there is commodity production, buying and selling, with the consequent competition among buyers and sellers and the enslavement of the producing class, wars are of the very essence of things. Lasting peace can only arrive when the private ownership of the means of living has been abolished and common ownership has emerged from the ruins—in other words, wars and all the other evils that are a consequence of capitalism can only disappear when capitalism gives place to Socialism.

The Making of a Socialist. (1919)

From the August 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

Someone has said that fools learn from experience, and wise men from observation and reflection. If this be correct, it is to be feared that the dictum of Carlyle as to most people on these islands being found in the former category has a good deal of truth in it. Certainly, with regard to political and economic phenomena, the great majority of working-class men and women—even those who have a tendency towards independent thinking—seem to require something obvious and hammer-like to be forced on them in a quite personal way before they are able to visualise and focus the true political and economic situation and their place relative to it.

For instance, the loss of a dearly-loved relation or friend in war will be necessary before they can bring themselves to attempt fathom the cause and object of war; the disaster of unemployment must overtake them before they can understand the part unemployment plays in the present social system ; the continuous scraping to make ends meet must be brought forcibly home to them before they can realise that the amount of the meagre wage they receive is based upon their cost of subsistence; the superciliousness or brutality to them personally by someone "drest in a little brief authority" must touch their self-esteem before the fact of their degradation as members of the "lower" class, as social slaves, can germinate in their brains.

In some way or other their self-interest must suffer before they can realise that politics is anything but a game played by followers of different schools of thought for their own amusment, or that economics is anything but a dry and pedantic subject, fit only for professional pedagogues and a few fanatics.

It is, of course, not surprising that such an attitude of mind shomld predominate. The early training of working-class men and women, both in the school and the home, the noxious doctrines innoculated later on from the pulpit, platform, and Press, all do their part in forming the working class into what the capitalists desire that they should become, that is, in the sphere of politics, adherents to, and supporters of, one or other of the orthodox political parties, and in the sphere of economics, hard-working, docile, and respectable wage slaves.

So complete and successful is the slave-morality engendered by the agents of the capitalists, and accepted without question by most of the contemporary generation of working-class men and women, that the younger and growing generation finds it almost impossible, without some particularly violent reaction, to fight against the stream of capitalist ethics, and become instead opponents of capitalism ; to become, indeed—at least in theory—what is, from the capitalist standpoint, immoral, irreligious, and unethical.

Even when this negative attitude of direct and bitter opposition to the capitalist system has been attained, it is practically useless inasfar as it remains purely negative. A consciousness of the further development of society must be born; the knowledge that, following the inevitable downfall of the capitalist system—based as that system is on the production of wealth for profit—must come, in the ordinary course of evolution, a system based on production for use—the system known as Socialism— such knowledge must grow and fructify, otherwise the negative attitude of antagonism to capitalism is injurious to the individual, either soon ending in sterility, or developing into an idée fixe, with the unfortunate results of anarchy and chaos of intellect which such "fixed ideas" usually generate.

There is another fact to be taken into consideration. The mental process by which the opponent of capitalism becomes a Socialist is often retarded by his wanderings after fallacious ideals. He is sometimes caught in the toils of the reformist parties, is mentally fleeced and plundered by one or other of the pseudo-Socialist organisations, and it is only after many false starts and much perturbation and disillusionment that by means of a process of deduction he eventually arrives at what the force of circumstances and the logical sequence of events urge and finally compel him to become, that is, a class-conscious proletarian, with a historical sense of his place in nature and society, and a definite philosophical standpoint from which all phenomena can be judged and commended or condemned as the case may be—in short, a Socialist.

We have now arrived at the point where the Socialist, having evaded, or escaped from, the quicksands of pseudo-Socialism, has clearly realised the fact of his new theory of life, and has began to take his part in the work of propaganda, which is so vital to the early and successful inauguration of the Socialist Commonwealth. There still remains, however, the need for unrelaxing vigilence in all that he thinks, or says, or does. While capitalism lasts the Socialist, who must of necessity live and work under the present system, is obliged, however much it goes against the grain, to accept, for all practical purposes, the morality of a system with which he finds himself totally at variance. Hence the paradox, that the Socialist, even while he is doing his utmost to overthrow a system which he hates, must at the same time act, to a very great extent, at any rate, in accordance with, and adhere to, the conventions of that system.

It will be seen, therefore, that there is always a necessity for alertness, for a steadfastness of purpose, in the cause of Socialism, to militate against any possible undermining of the Socialist's principles. The Socialist, like any other member of the working class, has to live and work under capitalist conditions and has to conform, in the main, to the conventional morality of capitalism. But he must, at the same time, use every effort and take every opportunity to hasten the downfall of what has, in effect, become an obsolete social system, and to help inaugurate the next stage in the development of society.

One of the reasons of defection from the principles of Socialism is to be found in the inability of certain superficial minds to build up, as it were, brick by brick, a philosophical structure, from whose topmost tower every hill and undulation of the workings of modern society can be surveyed. Unless the Socialist possesses a definite and unassailable point of view, it is really a misnomer to speak of him as a Socialist at all. He is simply one of those mental ineffectives who are always to be found attaching themselves to any unpopular cause and who, having no rock-bottomed principles, are easily swayed by any stronger personality with whom they happen to come in contact. If that stronger personality should be a direct or indirect agent of the capitalists, the result, of course, is the deviation from the Socialist cause to any passing craze, such as Woman's Suffrage, or Nationalisation, or something of that description. To such people capitalist environment is too strong to enable the somewhat vague and nebulous ideas they possess relating to Socialism to stand any chance of developing on right lines.

To the Socialist, to the man, that is, who has realised his position in nature and society, and who has built up for himself a philosophy of life in accordance with that realisation, the questions that would have vexed and distracted him in the non-Socialist days have become simplified to an enormous degree. Whether it be in the ordinary routine of every-day affairs, or in the realms of literature, art, or science, his whole activities will be examined in the light of their value to Socialism; the facts appertaining to the present social system will be arraigned and judged at the bar of the Socialist philosophy, and the results used in the most effective way in criticising capitalism and advocating the establishment of the new order of society. 

It is hoped that the foregoing will give some idea as to the making of Socialists, which, of course, is one of the main objects of the Socialist Party. The road to Socialism is a hard road, and perhaps this account of what is largely a personal experience may lend some assistance to those younger future comrades who are now groping more or less blindly toward the beacon—seen only by them at present as a faint and far-off glimmer—of the Socialist Commonwealth.
F. J. Webb