Monday, July 20, 2020

Disappearing Royalties (1951)

Editorial from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

The case of “The Disappearing Diplomats” brings to the front more of the ugly and curious features of “civilised” life in which modern governments are inextricably involved, whether they call themselves Tory, Labour or Communist. Warfare, and preparations for warfare have, as one of their necessary accompaniments, “spies,” "traitors” and espionage systems. Part of an espionage system consists of getting hold of people in a different country who have “inside” information and persuading or coercing them into selling it. The business is a sordid one and all governments are of necessity engaged in it. The defence of the mealy-mouthed is that the practice is so general that a country which did not follow the practice would be placed at a serious disadvantage. It is curious to notice also, as an example of modern hypocrisy that when the “spy” is on “our” side he is a hero, but when he is on the "enemy’s” side he is a scoundrel.

All through past history, that is the history of civilised society, this kind of thing has been going on; it is inextricably bound up with all systems based upon property ownership. At periods however it flourishes like a plague; such, for example, was the position during the Reformation, the French Revolution and even when the Nazis were on the upsurge. The knitting of the whole world together in modern times, with the corresponding anarchy of production, national rivalries and wholesale imperialism has taken the disease out of its old narrow setting and spread it all over the world. In the last thirty years or so this has been particularly noticeable because many old loyalties have broken down, new loyalties have not solidified, and disappointment, distrust and mutual suspicion is widespread. The disease has become so sweeping in its ramifications that frightened governments are engaging in thorough-going heresy hunts; people look askance at their neighbours and few are sure whom they can trust. Mutual suspicion has even invaded family life and relatives are held as hostages to ensure loyalty. In answer to a question in parliament, Mr. Attlee expressed this prevailing suspicion when he said, referring to vital military information,
  “No one can be absolutely certain at any time that someone may not have information which he may possibly give away. All we can say is that the utmost care is taken with regard to every individual employed.” (Manchester Guardian, 12th June, 1951).
One curious feature of the modern espionage disease is the type of people involved in what may be called the seamier side. At one time the seller of military secrets was the unscrupulous cosmopolitan, the wastrel, those who were regarded as outride the pale of “respectable” society; now-a-days they are the product of select schools and universities—the cultured, the scientists, professors and the like. The “ old school tie” has become badly besmirched in the modern imperialist conflicts.

Looking at this from one angle it is another of the curious features of to-day. Long ago the holding of radical views concerning society was associated with hob-nailed boots, chokers and disgruntled working men belonging to the poorer sections of society. Now-a-days it has become fashionable for the “cultured” products of aristocratic schools to make fleeting excursions into what they call “left” politics and after deriving some notoriety and excitement, fade out. These gilded chameleons make glittering and, to themselves, devastating criticisms of society for the consumption of admiring colleagues, but they have no real roots in the political movement. Mutual admiration groups full of the conviction that the sun shines out of them, they plod their allotted path to ignominy. They condescend to give their assistance to radical movements of one kind or another but when they meet with rough treatment or fail to achieve the prominence which they feel is due to them they turn back in disgust, berate those they formerly called their brothers m the struggle and, in the process, eat the words they formerly blazoned forth to the world as expressions of heartfelt convictions.

Whether the actions of these people have been inspired by sordid motives or genuine, if mistaken, convictions they are self-branded as false guides; in a word, ineffectual, out of touch with the social forces that determine policies. Consequently every now and again one or other of them produces a book of contrition which purports to explain why they have come to the conclusion that their former conduct was all wrong and they have now, like sheep, come back to the fold. To the socialist these professed explanations are simply examples of the general lack of political information of the non-socialist, whether he calls himself cultured or just plain working man.

Beneath all the trickery, duplicity and heartbreaks associated with espionage is the social system from which this sordid disease springs. In this modern age it is the capitalist private property system that throws up this along with the many other respect-destroying complaints; this system sets nation against nation, man against man, children against their parents and twists the finest products of human ingenuity into means to drag humanity through the mire. While it lasts there is no room for the brotherhood of mankind and the basis of mutual trust is frail. High-sounding phrases are only used as screens behind which the false, the mean and the sordid lurks. The abolition of property ownership will bring with it a fresh wind that will sweep out of social relations all the sordidness that clogs humanity’s upward march towards a full, secure and joyful life.

Roads to Ruin (1951)

Book Review from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Roads to Ruin: The Shocking History of Social Progress," by E. S. Turner.  (Published by Michael Joseph, Ltd., 256 pages indexed with 11 illustrations. Price 12s. 6d.)

Nowhere in the book does the author claim to be a Socialist. Written entertainingly, without indignation, but sympathetically for the exploited, he deals with some of the lesser known social legislation which caused much controversy—and is now almost forgotten. Forgotten because we accept and can hardly conceive of modern society without such legislation.

Among others he writes of the Bills for the abolition of spring guns (1825-1827); the struggle to stop the employment of climbing boy chimney sweeps (1780 approx-1875);: the acts to legalise the Saturday half holiday (1825-1911) and the agitation for the Plimsoll Line (1850-1906). These are the chapters that will have most interest for Socialists, although the accounts of other minor political disturbances are not without their value in exposing the depths of hypocrisy, cant, humbug and self interest to which the defenders of the existing social system descended in order to safeguard their position, profits and pleasure.

A justifiable criticism against the work is that it tends to foster the discredited idea that the main participants in these movements were the original innovators of the reform. The fact is that the general rising discontent of the working class against their oppressive conditions, both rural and urban, first posed the question. Only then did certain individuals or groups see the need and voice the demand for the particular reform. A modern parallel could be drawn if one overemphasized the importance of A. P. Herbert and his small group of supporters, who so successfully steered marriage and divorce reforms through the House of Commons in the nineteen-thirties, and underemphasized the hardships that impelled him to do so. Mainly they were the changing relationships between the sexes, consequent upon more and more women becoming wage earners and participating in activities outside the home. Since the Married Women’s Property Bill (1856-1882), described in this book, women have striven for more equal status and more control over their own property and earnings. It was some of these difficulties showing themselves in the marriage relationship that A. P. Herbert tried to resolve with his Bill.

It is not difficult for Socialists to believe that squires and owners of game preserves claimed the right to kill by hidden guns attached to trip wires any poacher of their fattened birds or indeed any unsuspecting stranger accidentally trespassing. Not difficult, that is, after the experience of two world wars which were the defence of private property raised to national level.

An established phenomenon in 1776 and not abolished until 1827 their retention was upheld by some of the most inhumane arguments. On page 17.
  "If the market gardener can use spring guns to protect his cabbages why not squires to protect their game?"
Guns were cheaper than keepers and on page 26 we read that the Duke of Wellington supported this view point. Further on page 29.
  “The object of setting spring guns was not personal injury to anyone but to deter from the commission of theft and that object was as completely attained by hitting an innocent man as a guilty man.”
Throughout the shocking history of the exploitation of children, in mines, factories, mills and workshops, in the early nineteenth century, there also runs the brutal story of the climbing boy chimney sweep. The detailed description of the horrifying experiences of these boys (and not only boys, for the author states on page 51 that the flues of Windsor Castle were at one time swept by two girls) form a chapter which will not be lightly forgotten. The gruesome accounts of tragedies, wherein children died of asphyxiation or brutal treatment from vicious master sweeps, stirred the country from time to time reviving the agitation, which lasted for 100 years, for the abolition of the practice. Death was not the only horror. Quoted on page 38:
  ". . . they suffered from inflamed eyes and throats and all manner of skin irritation, the worst of which took the form of a scrotal infection known as chimney boys cancer. .. . There was no cure but the knife and the less fortunate chimney boy might find himself in his teens, not only a bandy-legged hunch back, but a eunuch."
Self-interest defended this employment and the Church was no better. On page 46:
  “. . . this witness had twice been stuck in chimneys in his youth—once at the Bishop of Lincoln’s and once at Lord Melbourne’s . . .”
The Religious Tract Society published a booklet entitled “The Young Chimney Sweepers" (C.1830) in which the following paragraph is deservedly quoted on page 51.
  "This little book will show you that little boys like you have gone to Sunday School and have learned to read and become good. Mind that you go also. Get yourself well washed on Saturday and mind that you are in time on Sunday morning. Your teachers will be glad to see you with a smiling face.. . . learn your lessons and try to read the blessed Bible and to think about the gracious Saviour of whom it tells you.. . . Thus you will be happy little sweeps and you will learn to praise the gracious God, who can make our situation in life comfortable whatever be the circumstances in which Providence has placed us.”
In these days when the claims are all for a five day week, the arguments for a Saturday half-holiday may seem outmoded but when it is realised that shop assistants worked a fourteen and sometimes a sixteen hour day it is easy to understand the growth of the Early Closing Association formed in 1842. Not wishing to be associated with the radical movements of that day the Association attempted to effect a limitation of hours by voluntary negotiation and met with the failure one would expect. Eventually after a welter of moralizing on both sides the struggle entered the political field and an effective Shops Act reached the Statute Book—but not until 1911.

Early Closing Bills had been rejected as “un-English" and “grandmotherly” and Charles Bradlaugh supported these views in 1888. He further argued that a Bill to reduce hours to twelve on five days and to fourteen on Saturdays was “opening the door to legislation which might be of the most terrible character.” He regarded the Bill as “immoral” because it struck a blow at the self-reliance of the individual. Evidently the advocacy of atheism did not extend to the granting of leisure to workers to further study and propagate its cause.

Finally to the fight to save the lives of seamen sent afloat in “coffin ships” from which unscrupulous owners gained greater financial advantage if the vessel foundered and the insurance company paid without demur, than if the rotten hulk reached port safely. It had been shown (page 179) that “. . . I seaman in 60 met a violent death as against 1 in 315 in the mines.” On page 143 a ship owner, Sir Walter Runciman is quoted when he describes those times as:
  ’’days of aboriginal stupidity and sordid bloodsucking” when ships were . . . “scandalously unseaworthy, rotten, leaky, badly found, badly manned, abominably fed and always overloaded.”
It was against those prevailing conditions that seamen organised themselves. They were aided in no small measure by the vociferous agitation of Samuel Plimsoll and his supporters, for a load line on all seagoing vessels. On Samuel Plimsoll there is quoted (but not supported by the author) on page 144 the following:
  ”. . . But he (Plimsoll) was not a reformer, he was a propagandist and the famous 'Plimsoll Mark' indicating the maximum safe draught of a ship remained a valueless safeguard for no less than sixteen years after he secured it, for the simple reason that the selection of its position on the ships side was left to the ’murderers’ (i.e. the shipowners) themselves.”
As confirmation of this there was one “ whimsical Cardiff captain who inscribed the device on his funnel ” (page 170).

The scandal of coffin ships had exercised the deliberations of a committee of fifteen set up as far back as the eighteen thirties—over thirty years before Plimsoll was elected Liberal member for Derby in 1868. Nevertheless it was not until 1890 that the owners load line gave way to the Government load line, based upon scientific tables issued by Lloyds. Chambers of Commerce, Lloyds, shipowners, miners and engineers’ unions and not least of them, the Seamen’s Unions all played their part in the establishment of this and other regulations for sea-going vessels. The tragedy of it all is shown when we are informed that a thousand years before, Venetian and Sardinian sailors had a load mark, a disk similar to the Plimsoll Line. The Hanseatic League also used a mark, and, a glaring mockery to British sailors, so did the British Navy, based on fighting efficiency.

Who can doubt the accuracy of the Socialist case, with regard to reforms, in view of the length of time and enormous efforts which went into the establishment of even these minor reforms? Stated simply it is that whilst we accept all and every reform, grudgingly granted or strenuously wrenched from the capitalist class we do not advocate organising nor working for them. Our work is to organise for Socialism, knowing that when large numbers of Socialists exist the capitalists will be most lavish in the distribution of reforms in an attempt to retain their privileged position.

We recommend this book for reading by Socialists, and for all social reformers we suggest it as an “awful warning” to them for their future activities.
B.

Passing Comments: General Election (1951)

The Passing Comments Column from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

General Election

A review of “The British General Election of 1950,” by H. G. Nicholas, was published at the beginning of this year by Macmillan and Co. for 21s. Mr. Nicholas calculates that the Socialist Party spent more per vote on the election than did any other; and he also describes some of the propaganda put forward by the Party during the election. “‘One thing we must warn you about,' they told their followers. 'Do not trust in leaders, trust in yourselves alone. Unless you understand the cause and the solution of your miserable condition no leader can help you, no matter how honest and sincere he may be; if you do understand, then you do not require leaders; you will know what you want and how to instruct your delegates to get what you want.'  "


Candidates

Recently this column quoted a survey about the Conservative candidates at the last election made by the magazine “Comment." Now the more authoritative survey of Mr. Nicholas has appeared, covering the candidates of all parties. In the Conservative ranks, as might have been expected, the businessmen had preponderance. Of the 621 candidates, 168 were employers or company directors; 30 were concerned in business finance as stockbrokers or bankers; of those who had private means, 39 had done nothing to justify their inclusion in any other category; and there were 12 farmers and 21 landowners. The total is thus 270. It is tempting to include in this group those 39 candidates for whom a company directorship was a subsidiary occupation, as well as the 16 whose subsidiary occupation was farming; but they might also have been included in some of the other categories already counted within the group. Nevertheless, the real total is somewhere between 270 and 325—the latter figure being over half the total number of candidates. For the rest, the Law accounts for 114, the Services for 62, and there are 30 salaried managers. Other professional and well-to-do people number 137, and four white-collar and seven manual workers bring up the rear.


Socialists?

The Labour Party put forward 617 candidates; and it is worthy of note in a party which claims to be a socialist one that no less than 92 of these candidates were engaged in business or agriculture at the profit-making level, including 40 company directors. There were also 78 engaged in the Law, 8 from the Services and 21 salaried managers. In the other middle-income groups there were 180 candidates; 43 were white-collar workers; 92 were manual workers; and 91 candidates had been manual workers, but had now moved up into the white-collar group (the great majority of these being trade union officials).


Liberals

Of the Liberal Party's 475 candidates, some 143 belonged to the employing profit-making group, including 85 company directors. It is significant that, as Mr. Nicholas puts it, "of persons owning their own small businesses, small retailers, etc. (a category hardly worthy of separate mention amongst Conservatives or Labour), there can be listed 23.” There were also 71 Liberal barristers and solicitors, 39 salaried managers, and 16 from the Services. 188 others were in the middle income groups, and there were 16 white-collar and 13 manual workers.

Apart from the large petty bourgeois representation among the Liberal Party’s candidates, the companies with which the party’s business-men were connected “were in most instances of modest size, what in the U.S.A. would be called 'small business.' Moreover, the emphasis throughout the business group fell on the export, transport or retail trades, often in the form of family concerns or private companies run by their owners."

This analysis of the Liberal candidates would appear to confirm those conclusions as to the class-backing of the party which one would draw from the fact that it receives most support in the small-farmer areas of North Wales and North Scotland.


The Stick and the Carrot

It is a common assumption that the chief domestic issue in this country at the present time is that of Capitalism versus Socialism. But so far from a Socialist government having been in power, Socialism has never even been put before the electorate by any party with the resources to ensure that it would get a fair hearing. To adapt a famous saying, Socialism has not been tried and found wanting; it has never been tried.

The real quarrel is between two schools of thought, both of which accept explicitly or implicitly the foundations of the capitalist system. The first school is represented by those who think, privately or publicly, that a certain amount off unemployment is a good thing because it drives the workers, by fear of the dole, to increase production; that business should be left to the individual owner or joint-stock company; and that expenditure on social services should be restricted. The second school has insisted, ever since the days of Robert Owen and his new-style cotton mills at New Lanark, that the worker would produce more if he were given reasonable security and good conditions; and that laissez-faire was generally to be frowned upon because open competition deprived the worker of security. Since, as Robert Owen found, few individual factory- or mine-owners were willing to accept and put into operation these new theories, those adhering to the second school have called for state-intervention in industry and a measure of state-ownership. But the fundamental problem over which the two schools differ is that of how to get the worker to produce more; is the stick or the carrot more effective?


"Socialists" on Nationalised Boards

But though the Fabian society and the other theorists of the second school made only a few conversions among the upper class, they found allies in the trade unions, which naturally approved of a theory which aimed at giving security and reasonable conditions to the worker. Just as the donkey, if questioned, would doubtless favour the carrot method, so did the workers accept the Fabian nostrums. And as the Labour Party built itself up into one of the largest parties in the country, domestic debate began to centre round the “welfare state” and state-ownership. But the issue of Socialism versus Capitalism was never raised on a national scale; the Labour Party was first called a socialist party by the conservative press, intent on rallying the propertied class round the Conservative Party.

The difference between the Labour Party on the one hand and the Socialist Party on the other has been emphasised once more by Mr. Harold Roberts, President of the National Union of Railwaymen (Carriage and Wagon Grades). He is reported to have said (Sunday Times, 20-5-51) that each nationalised board should have at its head "a Socialist of unquestionable integrity with a deep-rooted conviction of the correctness Socialist policy.” It is symbolic of the widespread misuse of the word “Socialist” that a trade union leader can talk in apparent seriousness of an industry run on wage-labour and profit-making lines having a “ Socialist ” at its head.


Due Reward

Another quotation from the same paper illustrates again the gap between the private- and state-capitalist parties and the Socialist Party. The Rt. Hon. Richard Law, M.P., reviewing a book by Mr. George Goyder which advocates a change in company law “to make management explicitly responsible to the worker, the community and the state, as well as to the shareholder” (whatever that may mean) can go on to say that under such a system “the absent shareholder will get his due reward, but no more.” Those who want state intervention, those who want laissez-faire, all join in agreeing that there is such a thing as a “due reward" for a shareholder, and yet the Labour Party is still regularly called the Socialist Party.


Six of One

Recently there was a military parade in Prague past President Gottwald and Marshal Konev. Reviewing his armed forces, the President said that “the creation of a strong and efficient army and people's militia was in no way contrary to the purposes of peace. He said the stronger Czechoslovakia defence forces became the stronger would be the world peace front.” (News Chronicle, 7-5-51).


And Half-a-dozen of the other

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, in Yorkshire, we find Mr. Strachey saying that “we must push on with our defence programme. He was convinced that every new division of the Army, squadron of the R.A.F. and ship of the Navy which we could make available increased the chance of keeping the peace. And to keep the peace, to prevent a third world war, was the supreme object of all our endeavours.” (Observer, 20-5-51.)


Preserve Them From War

Another adherent of the curious theory that the best way to keep the peace is to produce more weapons of war is President Truman.

The News Chronicle (25-5-51) tells us that "in a memorable message sent to the Capitol, and at a press conference just before the message was read to Congress, the President set forth in simple and moving words a majestic aim that lies behind the policy the U.S. government is pursuing. It is to bring about peaceful conditions in which 'the century in which we live could become the brightest man has yet known on earth.’ ”

How are we going to bring about peaceful conditions? Why, by getting Congress “to vote another £3,000 millions to give free countries throughout most of the world weapons, raw materials, machinery and other aid to preserve them from war and conquest.”


Consoling Ourselves

Continuing the campaign to persuade the public that atom-bombs are not so bad after all, the Times leader-column recalls that a hundred years ago it used the phrase “perhaps the most terrible implement of destruction ever delivered into the human hand,” to describe the latest repeating pistol brought to this country by Samuel Colt. It goes on comfortingly to say that “to-day, surrounded by more formidable weapons, we may perhaps be forgiven for consoling ourselves with the realisation that in other ages, too, men have stood in awe of their own inventions” and remarks that “the man who had visions of blazing his way to glory with a smoking gun in each hand soon found how elusive a stationary target at fifteen paces could be.” (29-5-51)

The implied comparison between the atom-bomb and the Colt revolver, and the hint that the former may fall short of expectations as the latter did, is unworthy of the Times. Exactly how elusive would a modern city be when faced with a raid by a fleet of jet-bombers, or bv guided missiles? How elusive were Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the already out-of-date bombers used in the now old-fashioned year of 1945?

Not very.


Lord High Admiral

Spare a thought for Mr. Bernard Le Strange. Hereditary Lord High Admiral of the Wash. Finding himself in debt, he agreed last May to live on only £10 a week until his debts were paid off; and he moved “to an inexpensive harbour-front hotel” in St. Helier, Jersey. Now his creditors have been paid off, and Mr. Le Strange will doubtless be able to resume a manner of life more fitting to his station. But it is an interesting commentary on Mr. Le Strange's normal standard of life that a year living on the sea-front in Jersey with an income of £10 a week represents the crash which follows a financial crisis.


Drinks on the House

Another figure who claims our sympathy this month is the Lord Mayor of London. The Sunday Express (20-5-51) remarks on his princely hospitality. Apparently he has an allowance of £12,500 a year— £250 a week; but the Express envisages him having to pay an extra £20,000—£400 a week—for the entertaining he is doing during the current year.

Who said the rich had been almost destroyed by the tax-collector?
Alwyn Edgar

A Reader's Criticism Answered (1951)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

Eltham, S.E.9
London.
6/6/1951

Sir,

For some time I have listened to your speakers at Lincoln's Inn Fields and have read your magazine. Although I disagree with your point of view, I have noted that your meetings and your columns give a generous amount of time and space to opponents' criticism. I submit the following letter to the Socialist Standard in the hope that you will accord it a reply.

You state that the solution of war and unemployment is the establishment of Socialism; that a majority of people who understand and desire socialism will send delegates to the various parliaments and thus abolish capitalism. Let us examine these propositions. The capitalist world comprises highly developed industrial countries who control undeveloped lands. The imperialists extract raw materials cheaply from these colonial countries and sell the manufactured commodity on international markets. Now, if you agree that industrialization brings about the following changes— (i) develops the political structure and (ii) awakens the newly formed proletariat to an appreciation of the class struggle, you must agree to the following—that the unindustrialised East (and other underdeveloped places) are not yet in possession of parliamentary institutions comparable to those possessed by countries such as Britain. Are Socialists to wait therefore, until these countries are fully industrialized and thus are in possession of machinery to vote capitalism out of existence? Are we to stoically endure future wars as these former markets contract and eventually disappear? Perhaps however you take the view that it is sufficient for the established industrialized countries to play a leading part in a world Socialist revolution. If so, surely coercion will be required to educate the teeming millions of the East to Socialism? After all, they comprise the majority of the world's population and presumably will continue to provide huge quantities of raw materials for themselves and the remainder of any future socialist society. This latter question must be rather tricky for you, as I understand that any coercive action would negate one of your party's principles which affects Asians and the like as well as other working people—the principle being that people "must understand and desire Socialism." In short, it seems to me that you are taking the highly mechanistic view, that as world capitalism develops unevenly, the workers in those developed sections are obliged to wait for the others to "catch up." This is an undialectical approach and shows the unsocialist attitude of submitting oneself to blind capitalist forces.

The S.P.G.B. interprets history on the basis of historical materialism. In my view you interpret correctly, the struggle of classes since primitive communism. Your speakers observe that all through the ages the exploiters have been forcibly overthrown by the exploited. This development of the class structure is significant in one respect. The hall-mark of change has been force. Tell me please the position in 20th century capitalism? All armed conflicts at the moment—such as Korea, Indo-China, Malaya, etc., are explained by your party as being clashes between dominant Imperialisms—East and West. Am I seriously to understand that for the first time in history, the exploiting class (capitalist) is facing no serious resistance from the exploited masses? That all fighting is a result of the ambitions of rival capitalist camps? If that is so then the future is indeed black for the world's workers. All they have to represent them in the political arenas it would seem, are a few tiny ‘‘Socialist Parties." Parties who blithely believe that the capitalist class is obliged to submit to the verdict of the ballot box. What makes you think that the parliamentary institutions (which were designed in the first place to administer capitalism) are adequate for the Socialist Revolution? No, history has proven that parasitical classes cling viciously to power and if ever they see their position slipping, they shed their veneer of “objective morality" and viciously suppress any popular movement. The S.P.G.B. states that political parties are—broadly speaking—based on class interests, and that the S.P.G.B. is the only party in this country which represents the working class. Logically it follows that all other political parties in this country represent sections of the capitalist class (except the C.P. whom you allege represents the “Russian capitalist class.") Surely then your statement that this is a democratic country falls rather flat. All means of propaganda are capitalist owned. Our democratic state never mentions your numerous debates in its press and never allotted you broadcasting time at the last general election. Perhaps the explanation is that our ruling class is afraid of the S.P.G.B. (who steadfastly fight for the workers' cause) for one of your speakers made this remark the other day—"Ever since the inception of the S.P.G.B. it has been attacked by the capitalist press.” Can you produce evidence—e.g., extracts from cuttings (of which you must be proud) to prove this? I do not think somehow that you will be able to produce this evidence, for it is my considered opinion that the capitalist class does not feel strongly about you—they do not know of your existence. I wonder why you have not gained appreciable strength in your existence of over 40 years? I do not think that numbers are necessarily a criterion of the veracity of a case, but I do suggest that something must be radically incorrect in your attitude. From your platforms you have been insistent that it does not require brains for a worker to become a Socialist. Yet for years you have attracted only minute support from .the British working class. It cannot be that our intelligent proletariat have enjoyed great rewards from powerful British capitalism. They have not. Two holocausts and years of depression and misery! What then, hamstrings you as the years march by? 1 think the main reason is your refusal to emerge from your ivory tower. Your theories are unassailable as a reflection of universal desire but they are divorced from things as they are. Let me illustrate. I have asked your speakers questions as to the class significance of the Korean situation, rearmament and other contemporary events. Your reply has been something like this:—
 
The capitalists are arguing amongst themselves—it is no concern of the workers to interfere in the mechanism of capitalism—a plague on all their houses. It seems that a Socialist must not smear his hands with the capitalist garbage heap. There can be no appreciable reform within capitalism and so for a good many years we must have periodic blood-letting. No support for disarmament proposals as this would compromise you. No, let us subjugate ourselves to the crazy workings of capitalism. The workers must realise that there can be no interference with capitalism from within; the worker must go through successive hells before Socialism is established. What impotence! As a test of your attitude to current events, please answer me this. Obviously you believe in the women's right to vote since that is an aspect of democracy. What support therefore did you give in the Socialist Standard—in past years of course—to the Suffragette movement. I suppose as it was inspired and led by leisured women, you ignored it or condemned it as useless capitalist reformism?

I have never fully understood your attitude in the last war. I agree that basically it was a conflict over the division of surplus value but is it not true that although the terms fascism and democracy were only facades of rival capitalisms they had significance for the workers? Do you not agree that Democracy is a more favourable basis for Socialist propaganda than fascism? Socialists did not fight The obvious conclusion is that you are not prepared to defend a principle which at least maintains your existence. Or are you so sanguine that you can watch the smashing of workers organisations and then snuggle cosily down in your pages of musty Marx? You deny that you are pacifists and assert that your refusal was based on scientific socialist principles—not on a basis of confused idealism. I am rather vague regarding these “scientific” principles. Do I understand that under certain conditions Socialists would participate in organised fighting? If so, tell me when—bearing in mind that the abolition of capitalism will be achieved by the ballot box and not the bullet. If on the other hand, you will not fight under any circumstances then I suggest that for practical purposes, you are in the same boat as the pacifists even though your supporting theories are different.

In conclusion. This letter has been a long one and if the Editor is kind enough to publish it, may 1 say this. The S.P.G.B., in my opinion is idealist and academic but it is refreshing in its approach and must be congratulated on providing food for thought to all thinking people.
K. J. Johnson.

Reply:
By the time the reader has got to this point he will have read our critic's very lengthy letter and will appreciate the difficulty of answering it without taking up a whole issue of this journal. Along with a dozen specific questions he makes other dozens of mostly inaccurate assumptions about the S.P.G.B. case, interwoven with scores of assertions of his own. most of them unsupported by evidence.

We will however do our best to sort out the main points and answer them.

Industrialisation and the growth of the Socialist Movement

He first rehashes a question that has been answered times without number, one that was flung at the S.P.G.B. in its earliest days. It is that some countries are more developed industrially than others.

“Are Socialists to wait therefore, until these countries are fully industrialised and thus are in possession of machinery to vote capitalism out of existence?"

Those who give themselves sleepless nights over this imaginary dilemma do so because they have failed to notice what goes on in the world. Firstly the emergence of backward countries as industrially developed capitalist powers does not depend on their own unaided slow rate of growth, but is speeded up by making use of experience and materials and technique of the more advanced countries. It can be extraordinarily rapid, as witness the emergence of Japan half a century ago, and of India in more recent years (complete with "machinery to vote capitalism out of existence"!) Secondly the Socialist movement does not grow at the same rate as industrialisation, so that the supposed difficulty of large Socialist movements in some countries held back by small Socialist movements in others is a myth. And of course our critic knows this very well, for elsewhere in his letter he refers to the "few tiny Socialist parties'' in the industrially advanced countries. So the true position is not that the "few tiny Socialist parties" in the advanced countries are waiting for the benighted masses in Asia, but that the few Socialists in all countries are patiently working to win over the masses in all countries. What rightly concerns the S.P.G.B. is the political backwardness of the mass of the workers here in industrial Britain.

Thirdly, just as capitalist production methods exercise influence in all countries and enable the backward to advance rapidly, so also the experience already gained by Socialists in the advanced countries enables the Socialists in the developing countries to progress more rapidly than they would if in isolation.

When our critic can show us Socialist movements of great numerical strength in some countries side by side with small movements in others it will be time to consider this purely fanciful objection to the Socialist case.

Capitalism’s War's

Scattered through the letter are various remarks and questions about war. Early in the letter we are asked “Are we to stoically endure future wars as those former markets contract and eventually disappear?"

The Socialist answer is simple and grim but true. Until something is done to abolish capitalism we shall have to endure capitalism's wars, stoically or otherwise. Our critic evidently thinks he knows how to escape this since he criticises us for holding it

But when we seek further enlightenment in our critic's letter we find that what in fact he has to offer to deal with the mountain of capitalism's wars is the mouse of “support for disarmament proposals." And he says, quite wrongly, that the S.P.G.B. won’t support disarmament proposals because we think this would "compromise" us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Socialists are in favour of all the capitalist powers in all the world being completely disarmed immediately, down to the last bayonet. The reason we don’t support other people’s proposals to "disarm" the whole capitalist world is firstly that we know of no such proposal (not to be confused with Russian proposals to deprive America of atom bombs, and American and British proposals to deprive Russia of tanks and submarines, etc), and secondly that the idea of joining with the political parties that stand for the continuance of capitalism and its imperialism and expecting not to have the necessary outcome of capitalism, i.e. war, is self-evidently and completely fatuous.

When we read on we find confusion worse confounded. Our critic sneers at the S.P.G.B. for bolding that a Socialist “must not smear his hands with the capitalist garbage heap,” including the garbage heap of capitalism’s wars. And he agrees that the last war was capitalist in its cause (“basically it was a conflict over the division of surplus value”). But nevertheless (having now forgotten his remark about stoicaliy enduring capitalism’s wars, he thinks we ought to have had a hand in it in order, it seems, to defend democracy against “fascism” because democracy “is a more favourable basis for Socialist propaganda.” From this we may assume that our critic himself did have a hand in that “capitalist garbage heap” May we then ask him a few questions. Having supported some "democratic” countries and the Russian Totalitarianism against the German-Italian-Japanese Totalitarianisms is our critic really satisfied that the destruction of tens of millions of lives realty did produce worthwhile results in the form of creating “a more favourable basis for Socialist propaganda,” and if he is satisfied will he give the evidence on which his satisfaction rests? And in particular will he tell us what he thinks his efforts achieved in the direction of making it possible for Socialist propaganda to be carried on legally inside Russia and the Russian Satellites?

Our own view is that reading “Musty Marx” is a for more fruitful occupation for the world’s workers than slaughtering each other in the capitalist garbage heap but we are willing to hear any other reasons for holding otherwise.

He finally asks us in what way the Socialist attitude to war, i.e. that war does not help on the Socialist movement, differs from that of the Pacifists. In brief it is the same difference as that between Socialists and all reformists including the Pacifists and our critic. We hold that the idea of keeping capitalism but reforming it to prune it of its exploitation and wars is a pathetic and dangerous illusion; and also that until the mass of the working class have been won over to Socialism it is idle futility to speculate as does our critic on ways in which a non-Socialist working class that doesn’t understand or warn Socialism could establish it

Some Other Questions

In conclusion we very briefly answer some other questions. We do not hold as our critic supposes, that "for the first time m history, the exploiting class (capitalist) is facing no serious resistance from the exploited masses.” The class straggle is continuous and cannot be suspended. The working class always react in some degree to the continuous pressure of the exploiters, It follows that we do not hold and never have held that the class struggle is confined to small groups of Socialists.

When our critic jeers at the little opportunity the S.P.G.B. has to make its voice heard in the "democratic" capitalist Press, the Radio, etc., he forgets two of his other contentions. He forgets that he wants us to support capitalism’s wars “for democracy” but now tells us that as for as we are concerned the idea that this is a democratic country “falls rather flat.” He also forgets that it was supposed to he the Socialists in the industrialised countries who were waiting for the others. Perhaps he would like to amend it and say they are waiting for us.

On “Votes for women” the S.P.G.B. held that giving support to propertied women’s campaigns for women’s votes would have added more confusion by giving credence to the suffragettes’ claims that ”women’s” interests cut across class divisions. Before women had votes (and while incidentally large numbers of men still were without votes,) the working class in this country already were in a position if they had wanted to do so to vote capitalist parties out of power.

Our critic links up the policy of reformism with the question of war. He writes, “It seems that a socialist must not smear his hands with the capitalist garbage heap. There can be so appreciable reform within capitalism and so for a good many years we must have periodic blood letting.”

He could hardly have chosen a weaker argument. We have had generations of Tory, Liberal and Labour reforms and after two world wars capitalism (including those countries under Labour reformist governments) is massing arms for a third. If reforms had any bearing on capitalism’s wars, which they haven’t, it would seem that the more reforms you have the more armaments grow and wars extend in magnitude. The truth is that if the working class could have been early dissuaded from pursuing the will of the wisp of reformism the prospect of establishing socialism and ending war would have been immeasurably nearer than it is and incidentally, the capitalists, scared by the growth of the Socialist movement would have thrown out more reforms to try to stop its growth.

Your 'S.S.' will cost you more (1951)

Party News from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have had to increase the price of the Socialist Standard from 3d. to 4d. because of the very large rise in the cost of paper during recent months: Although we have delayed making this alteration that was not because the problem has only just arisen. In recent years the cost of printing the Socialist Standard each month has been considerably more than the income on sales received by the Head Office of the Party. The recent sharp rise in the cost of paper meant an additional deficit of about £20 a month and it was decided that we must ask readers to pay another 1d. a copy in order to keep the monthly loss within the previous limit.

We regret the necessity of raising the price as it has always been the aim of the Party to sell the Socialist Standard at the lowest price possible. We would like to he able to say that the increase is only a temporary one but paper costs are still rising and if the rise continues we may be compelled to consider the problem again in a few months.

Any readers who put their trust in Labour politicians may hope that the Government's new campaign to bring prices down will enable us again to sell the Socialist Standard at 3d. but we think they will be leaning on a weak reed.

Emulating The Ostrich (1951)

From the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

On 20th May the Sunday Pictorial published an article by Douglas Warth regarding a group of people calling themselves the Society of Brothers. Would-be members of this community, which claims to be self-supporting, sell all their personal property and the proceeds of sale go into a common “pool.” They then work on the 545 acre farm at Bromdon in the Shropshire hills and according to Warth "should never have to worry about war or unemployment, loneliness or personal insecurity, world turmoil or money for the rent. As long as Mother Earth can produce crops to feed and clothe them, they may look forward to a simple life and peace of mind." The article states that they are “exchanging the luxuries and amenities of modern civilisation for the simple security which the Society of Brothers have found by stepping back some 1,900 years.” This last would appear, to say the least of it, to be a slight exaggeration. A picture of half-a-dozen of the Brothers complete with superabundant beards confirms that they unanimously eschew the modern idea of using a razor but apart from this they are up to date with tractors, telephone and wireless. The community has its own school and a carpenter’s shop for the making of simple furniture. The women work in a communal laundry and kitchens. In their leisure time they make a study of economics, history and languages. We assume them to be Christians as there are several “servants of the word” whose duties include the celebration of marriages. These marriages are afterwards legalised outside of the community at the registrar’s office. The children go camping in the summer, visit a coal mine or go to see Nature films. There are 300 acres under crops, cattle, sheep, pigs, hens and a 20 acre vegetable garden. Much of the produce feeds the community but what is not needed is marketed and the proceeds go into the common pool for general expenses. They call in help from outside on technical fanning matters. There are 180 members in all and they are pacifists. The idea is not a new one and this community no doubt derives satisfaction from the way of life which they have chosen, but they are burying their heads in the sand if they delude themselves that they have shaken off all worldly cares. As Warth points out their children are liable to conscription. Furthermore in the event of war their crops, etc. would be subject to controls, also the men of military age eligible for call up. Their pacifist convictions might obtain exemption from service but they would be subject to direction. Experience has taught us that in modern warfare, rural districts do not escape destruction from the air. Shortages and difficulties would hit the community such as scarcity of farm implements, parts for tractors and machinery and rationing of fuel. Even in times of so-called peace, farming is a chancy business with its periods of depression, crop failures, and outbreaks of foot and mouth among cattle.

A very large percentage of present day evils can be laid at the door of capitalist society, and these groups of people who endeavour to escape into a world of their own making are tacitly agreeing to a continuance of that system so long as they can go their own way unmolested (they hope).

Since the 1914 War there have been active pacifist movements in all parts of the world, increasing rapidly since 1945, organising petitions and clamouring for peace. Never in all their previous history have these activities been so amply demonstrated to be absolutely futile and impotent as at the present day. With various comparatively small scale wars on their plates the nations in the western bloc appear to be heading for a global conflict which bids fair to dwarf into insignificance previous records of horror and devastation. The efforts of the pacifists are misdirected and quite useless. Their cry of “peace” is as puerile as a man shouting in a desert. The juggernaut of capitalism lumbers on unheeding to the inevitable clashes, pitting worker against worker in ineffectual and ghastly conflict. The pacifist loudly calls attention to the evils .of war (of, which we are already painfully aware) but stops short of unearthing the cause, i.e., capitalist competition between the nations for trade routes, markets and sources of raw materials. The solution follows logically, i.e. a world wide movement by the workers for the establishment of socialist society.

The slow growth of socialist ideas among the workers is in its way a silent tribute to the efficiency of radio and press propaganda and is not due to the workers’ inability to grasp the cause of their slave position in society. Preoccupied with their very real day to day problems the vast majority accept these ready made ideas unquestioningly and uncritically. Those workers who do interest themselves are more often than not side-tracked into political dead-ends.

In his fourth talk on “The New Society” and reported in “The Listener” of 31st May, E. H. Carr says:—“Propaganda is as essential a function of mass democracy as advertising of mass production. The political organiser takes a leaf out of the book of the commercial advertiser and sells the leader or the candidate to the voter by the same methods used to sell patent medicines or refrigerators. The appeal is no longer to the reason of the citizen but to his gullibility.”

Confusion is worst confounded by the Labour Government calling itself “Socialist.” However, in time, worsening conditions and the ever present threat of war together with the efforts of socialists will speed the ultimate awakening of the workers. We are working for the overthrow of capitalist society which has already drawn too large a draft on the bank of time. Wc ask for your understanding, help and co-operation that the necessary knowledge may be spread to the workers and a world wide brotherhood of man be established in our time.
F. M. Robins

Party News Briefs (1951)

Party News from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

Bloomsbury Branch which is meeting on July 13th and 27th (Fridays) is arranging a series of discussions after branch business when the Autumn session commences. These discussions will be held every Thursday at the Branch room (North Room, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square) on and after September 6th. The discussions which will all be opened by Branch members, are dealing with subjects of political and social interest over the last hundred years.

Ealing Branch trip to Southsea on June 3rd was a success both from the social and (more important) propaganda viewpoints. In brilliant sunshine, Comrades Thorburn and Bryan held forth to a large crowd for over two. hours. There were some excellent questions and discussion, and literature sales were most encouraging. What a pity there is no group or branch in this area to carry out regular activity. Two more trips to the same spot are planned for July 15th and August 26th.

Bad weather has hampered the usual outdoor propaganda at Ealing and Richmond. Those meetings which have been held, however, have been generally good, with a marked improvement in the standard of questions and discussions over previous years. Audiences are somewhat smaller but show much greater interest than in the past.

Edgware Branch has changed its Branch meeting place to “The Blue Danube Cafe,” 153, Finchley Road, Hampstead. (Between Swiss Cottage and Finchley Road, Met. Station). The name of the Branch is being altered to “Hampstead” and members and sympathisers are invited to attend the Branch meetings which are held every Thursday evening at 7.30 p.m. Outdoor meetings are held every Sunday morning at 11.30 at Whitestone Pond, Hampstead Heath.

Hackney Branch would like members and sympathisers to note that their branch meeting on July 12th will be held at 8 p.m. at Bethnal Green Library instead of Bethnal Green Town Hall.

High Wycombe Branch report that good meetings are being held at their new station, Frogmore, High Wycombe. Literature is selling well, and the speakers sent by the Propaganda Committee have created lively local interest in the Party’s case.

The Week-End Summer School was held at “Treetops,” Farley Green, Surrey, on Saturday and Sunday, June 9th and 10th. Eighty members and friends and eight children attended and had a very enjoyable time. A lecture on “Production and Overproduction” was given on the Sunday morning and on Sunday afternoon an open discussion on Trade Unions was held. This time the attendance was amply sufficient to cover the cost of the week-end, without calling upon Party Funds. It is hoped that arrangements will be made for another visit to “Treetops” in September.
Phyllis Howard

Letter: We are charged with contradiction (1951)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received the following letter from a critic.
Leicester

Dear Sirs,

Will you please explain the apparent contradiction in May issue Socialist Standard. On page 71 there is a report of the death of Harry Martin in which it is stated “In the early years of the Party he came into conflict with the majority on the question of the attitude to be adopted by a delegate if elected to Parliament. He held the view that such a member should be so unswerving in his hostility that he must vote against every measure, from whatever source, that came before Parliament—except of course the measure to introduce Socialism. He held that whatever the nature of such a measure voting for it or even abstaining from voting would constitute pandering to reformism, thus, according to his view, a Party Delegate would be committed, without examination, to voting against any measures to improve educational facilities, safety facilities in mines and factories, the removal of disabilities on trade unionism and even a proposal, however fatuous it might Be, to abandon the prosecution of a war.” Then on pages 75-76 it says in an article headed Wage Labour and Capital. “No! Socialism does not exist in these countries! But is it being built up there? How can it? Wage-labour and capital form the basis of the system which exists in these countries. It is capitalist. What reform can alter this basic relationship? All the political and economic adjustments that have taken place since Marx’s day, all the points that have, been on the programmes of Labour parties and Communist parties since the foundation of these parties have been realised with the nationalisation of basic industries and the development of the social services, yet the position of the working class remains the same etc.” Seemingly you endorse certain principles in Wage Labour and Capital but condemn Harry Martin for similar expressions.
Yours faithfully.
F. L. Rimington


Reply:
Our critic has discovered a purely imaginary contradiction, He takes first the question whether socialist delegates in Parliament should automatically vote against every measure (except the measure to introduce Socialism). Then he quotes a passage which showed that all the measures to reform capitalism have left the working class in the same subject position as before.

His argument is that those who hold that reforms do not basically alter capitalism should logically oppose in Parliament all measures introduced by non-Socialists because only the measure to introduce socialism can achieve what is aimed at. That was the position held by the late Harry Martin and was his ground for disagreeing with the S.P.G.B.

Harry Martin agreed with the S.P.G.B. that reforms do not basically alter capitalism and agreed with the S.P.G.B. that Socialist delegates must contest elections solely on the programme of abolishing capitalism and establishing Socialism, thereby seeking the votes only of Socialists and not of reformists.

The sole issue was whether Socialist delegates elected on Socialist votes would vote for measures which, whatever their origin and motive, would incidentally be of benefit to the working class and the Socialist movement. Mention was made in the article in question of measures to improve educational facilities, safety facilities in mines and factories, the removal of disabilities on trade unions, etc. Another example is a measure to end conscription. Without supposing for a moment that the ending of conscription means the ending of capitalism (and Harry Martin never charged the S.P.G.B. with that absurdity) the S.P.G.B. takes the line that Socialists outside Parliament would require their delegates in Parliament to vote for such measures on their merits. The vote would be given not in order to meet the views of reformists but under instruction of Socialists.

Harry Martin’s “all or nothing" position while attractive in its simplicity is less logical than he imagined. It would logically lead Socialists to take no action at all except in support of the establishment of Socialism. It would for example require them not to support trade union efforts on the ground that a wage increase or resistance to a wage reduction is not Socialism.

Incidentally Marx, who also held that reforms do not end capitalism, consistently supported legislative measures to restrict the working day.
Editorial Committee

Dope For The Workers (1951)

From the July 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many films, books and newspapers show us the naive indoctrination of the workers by the ruling class of other countries. You will be shown “Big Brother" Stalin beaming benevolently at the German workers. You may read such papers as the Soviet Weekly in which everything done by the state is referred to as “great.” But it is much more difficult for the British worker, having been slowly poisoned by subtle propaganda to see exactly the power and organisation of the “head fixing” industry in his own country.

One important difference between Britain and other countries arises from the fact that capitalism, having been in existence for a few hundred years, has had time to get organised. Propagandists are something like the mythical “vampires;” not only do they suck blood but it is generally supposed that their victims also become vampires. That is what has happened to a large extent in Britain. The workers' minds have been so conditioned that long before the capitalists have thought of a good angle to explain away some criticism, one or two workers have already started to apologise for them. But whereas these secondary “vampires,” the “head fixed” workers are ready with their apologies, quite often they find such apologies out of date and find that their capitalists have taken quite a different angle.

An example of this came after the announcement of the re-call of “Z” reservists. Throughout the country there grew up an organisation of sincere ex-servicemen to resist conscription. But good intentions can be very confused. These ex-servicemen did not object to war, only to the coming war; they did not object to weapons, only to the atomic bomb; they did not object to marching, only to marching alongside the German army. In short, they still believed that the Germans are the scum of the earth. Foolish, out of date people. The very reasons they believed they had for fighting the last war were the reasons they had for avoiding this one. It would be funny if it were not tragic.

Capitalist propaganda often takes place without any conscious effort on the part of the propagator. The child upon its mother's knee does not realise that the language it is being taught is suitably coloured to help the continuation of capitalism. Even the mother, unless she be a socialist, does not realise that she is teaching her children the capitalist attitude to good and bad, the doctrine of God and the Devil.

At the age of five the child is thrust into an organised scheme to enable it to know enough to earn a living but not enough to know anything of great importance. It is taught obedience to authority which results in apathy, patriotism which results in racial prejudice, religion which results in blind acceptance, and the history of “great men” which means meekness before prestige. The child turns to entertainments and it finds children's magazines, a brighter presentation of the same dope. The child goes to the cinema and sees the brave king defending his property against a weak, cringing, brutal coward, the glorious British army sniping the enemy with smiles and a few brief jokes.

Should the child be unfortunate to have to go to Sunday school, here he will be exhorted to leave the few pleasures he has to the wicked rich, to fast and to mumble thanks to some infinite omnipotence up in the clouds. He will be asked to sing aloud, “All things bright and beautiful” midst slums and factory smoke.

Having left school into the hurried and worried life of capitalist efficiency he will fall a victim to tabloid thanking, reducing misfortune and hardship to a few silly platitudes. He will get to know all the capitalist incantations summed up in the philosophy. “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

If among the little knowledge he has gained from the sciences taught at school he has found a method of thinking with any degree of clarity, he finds he must disguise it. His employers will not hire such a man, his trade unions call him names and refuse to listen to him and the women refer to him as a “queer fish”

Sooner or later he finds himself in a world of drug addicts, mental drug addicts. Unless he absorbs regularly what can be read in newspapers he finds little to discuss with his fellow men. He too becomes a drug addict, taking one of the many brands each morning after breakfast and devouring it on his way to work. He can now “argue” with his fellow workers and persuade them that his brand of dope is better than that of his friends.

Eventually he is given a change. He is dressed in a uniform, numbered, given a rifle and told to shoot someone. He does so with all the unconscious hatred he has for the system in which he finds himself. The devil he heard about on his mother’s knee, the brutal cowards he read about in children’s books, the wicked men he saw on the screen; he shoots them all and feels happy, ready to reap the benefits of ridding the world of such people.

He returns home to claim his promised land and finds the same old system, the same old misery. He reads the daily dope once more and finds that all his troubles arise because he wasn’t killing the right people. It was not the Germans but the Russians he should have killed. The hatred boils up again. He tells himself that he will know better next time.

So many people today think that they will know better next time. Unless they are socialists they will not know better. The dope, whether of the church, the press or the schools will claim them.

Yet the strongest instinct in man is the will to survive and to do this he must think. From the moment of his birth man is slowly conditioned for capitalism. He is told he does not suffer from poverty, only from a “lack of the necessary purchasing power.” He is not short of houses to live in, only suffering from “a temporary divergence of labour into other industries.” He is not made to go to war, only to “fight for peace.” Rose coloured spectacles stand in the workers' way in their struggle to survive. When they get rid of them, as they will, they will be ready to see things in perspective. They will be socialists.
P. J. McHale

Justified by Our Enemies. (1909)

Editorial from the July 1909 issue of the Socialist Standard

The German Social Democrats are complaining that Messrs. Snowden, Barnes, MacDonald and other “Labour” members went to Germany and associated at dinners and upon the public platform with notorious enemies of Socialism. Of course, there is nothing new in this. It is merely extending to foreign countries their common practice at home—and there is nothing illogical or inconsistent in that. It is true that it has been the custom of these gentlemen when travelling on the Continent, at all events about the time of the recurrence of the International Socialist (!) Congress, to affirm the class struggle which they deny on this side of the Channel, but we here point out to our German comrades, and incidentally also to those compatriots whose “qualities of heart” so far outweigh their qualities of head as to render them at once the support and prey of these “Labour” cannibals, that the deduction to be drawn from this triennial acknowledgement of the class struggle and the acts complained of is that these so-called Labour leaders are conscious of the existence of the class struggle, and are deliberately fighting on the side of the master class. This is the view we tried in vain to convey to our German comrades when, just after the General Election of 1906, August Bebel wrote to Reynolds' Newspaper a letter congratulating the British electors upon having sent so many Liberals and Labour men to the House of Commons. Now that our British mumpers on the labour movement are taking to transferring their treacherous practices to German soil, the Social Democrats of that country would seem to have discovered that they were gambolling on an inclined plane when they in 1906 congratulated the British electors on sending these very men to Parliament.

A Capitalist Budget. (1909)

Editorial from the July 1909 issue of the Socialist Standard

Judging by the noise made about the land-tax clauses in the Finance Bill, one might think that something vital were at stake, yet it is all nothing more than a squabble between sections of the capitalist class as to what share each shall bear of the cost of their class government. It has long been the policy of one section in these serio-comic scuffles, to squeal “Revolution !” “Socialism !” "Confiscation !” when called upon to pay its share by the majority for the time being; but only the ignorant are duped by it. We are also becoming accustomed to finding the Labour Party, the tail of the Liberal cur, out-doing the regular representatives of the masters in spreading confusion among the workers. And now, because there is a pretence of taxing unearned increment on land values for the support of capitalism, these “Labour members hail it as Socialistic. They ignore the fact that all taxation imposed by capitalists on themselves is a taxation of unearned increment. The masters have already squeezed the workers dry in the factory, so to pay for their new Dreadnoughts the propertied class have, perforce, to tax themselves. That, indeed, is all the budget amounts to; and in what, pray, is it Socialistic?

The Liberals still faintly echo the old conflict between the landed aristocracy and the industrial capitalist, and endeavour to place part of the cost of class rule on the landed interest; and the Labourites, like the Liberals at heart they are. must go wild with delight over it and talk as though it were a taxing of the rich for the benefit of the poor, when it is simply an attempt to lighten the taxes of the industrial capitalist. Moreover, the proceeds are to go, not to the poor, but to the support of capitalist government and to the building of ever more murderous engines of destruction.

Yet Mr. Victor Grayson said (according to the Daily Telegraph of June 23rd) that the Finance Bill contains “a good chunk” of his personal principles. Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald stated that if need be he would go into the lobby to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And Mr. Keir Hardie, consistent with his denial of the class struggle, said, “Labour men and Socialists would be cowards if they did not tell Mr. Lloyd George that they stood solidly behind him.”

These men, it should be remembered, are popularly supposed to be representatives of Labour. They would have the workers ignore the fact that the State of to-day is but the collective will of the exploiters; while they preach the absurdity that a futile tax on land for the benefit of the common expenses of capitalist oppression is an instalment of Socialism! Their disregard of fundamentals, their support, of the Liberals, and their tactics of confusion, all show clearly that they are not Socialists but are Socialism's worst enemies.

Our Fifth Anniversary. (1909)

Editorial from the July 1909 issue of the Socialist Standard

When the Socialist Party of Great Britain was founded in 1904, many were prepared to prophesy our speedy demise, in fact, six months was the time given in which the Party would die and be forgotten. Nevertheless, despite the assistance they have rendered to the consummation of this, their wish, by the application to us of the boycott, of slander, abuse and opposition, we are still alive, and the Twelfth of June last registered the close of our Fifth Year of strenuous and consistent work for Socialism.

Five years is a goodly time in which to put us to the test, to “nip us in the bud,” and we have triumphed — we have grown. Assailed on all sides by the agents of capitalist confusions and the mental dyspeptics of capitalist reforms, our Party has remained loyal to the cause of the working class. Neither the “New Theology” nor the “new economics,” the “General Strike” nor the war scare, have succeeded in side-tracking us, even for a moment, from the task of working-class enlightenment and organisation for the conquest of political power in order to abolish capitalism.

Thus in the political arena our Candidates have fought for Socialism and Socialism alone. The columns of the Socialist Standard have been utilised for nothing else, while in law court and police court, in the Press and on the platform, in debate and in discussion, our comrades have courageously vindicated the revolutionary attitude of the Party. The result—after five years—is that we are very much alive and stronger because of increased numbers and experience. Strong enough to have effectually repelled the reformers who would have strangled us, to have frozen out the would-be-bosses and job-hunters, and to have gained the respect of the enemy who has realised that he cannot use us. We may be a small party but we are a Socialist one, and, the only Socialist party in Great Britain.

Amid the “Babel of tongues” of the profit-mongering-political-and-economie-misleaders of Labour, the Party’s voice has rung out clear, calm and confident, nor has one false note been struck. Events so far have justified its every warning and advice, and while collapsing capitalism is reflected in the hesitating uncertainty and vacillation of so-called Socialist parties, the Socialist Party of Great Britain stands solid and unshakeable.

Entering our sixth year of voluntary effort on behalf of our fellow wage slaves, building up and perfecting the mechanism by which we may emancipate ourselves, we can look back on the past with satisfaction, and. in the light of our Socialist convictions, apply the experience gained to the present, confident that the future is ours.