Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Tactics of Confusion. (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. John Burns is “Labour” M.P. for Battersea. He is also (vide the “Capital-and-Labour-are-brothers” Press) the “Statesman of Labour.” As “Statesman of Labour” he draws a salary of £5 per week. The amount is made up by contributions from “Friends of Labour.” For this purpose “ Friends of Labour ” are those who subscribe to the wages fund of the “Statesman of Labour.”

One such “friend” is Sir C. M. Palmer, M.P., a shipping and mining magnate. This gentleman also doubtless holds that Capital and Labour are brothers. As representing capital, he sends a contribution (probably handsome) to his Brother Burns, representing “Labour.”

Brother Burns is very pleased. He sends, per his wages fund secretary, best wishes for the success of Brother Palmer’s candidature at Jarrow. Also best thanks for the contribution. Especially the latter.

But at Jarrow Brother Pete Curran, “labour candidate,” is opposing Brother Palmer, “capitalist candidate.” And Brother Palmer is using Brother Burns’ best wishes against Brother Pete. Whereat Pete waxes exceeding wrath (which is silly) and, through his secretary, demands explanations (which are obvious).

Brother Burns’ letter is an exhibition of statesmanship. Brother Pete has not subscribed to the wages fund of the “Labour Statesman ;” Brother Palmer has. Only dogs bite the hand that feeds them, and Brother Burns is not a dog.

Moreover, Brother Pete is identified with that knot of recalcitrant “labour men”—M.P’s. actual or embryonic—who a short time back made nasty remarks about, and refused to bend the knee to, the “Statesman of Labour.” Brother Burns gets even by opposing Pete’s progress toward Parliamentary position. Aeerrima Proximorum odia !

The matter has since been carried a step further, and stands somewhat after this wise :

  1. The “labour men” give it as their opinion that the “Labour Statesman” is much more concerned with the interests of the “Statesman of Labour” than the interests of Labour.
  2. The “Labour Statesman” retorts that the “labour men” have sold themselves, or are anxious to sell themselves, for 200 dirty pieces of gold.
  3. The “labour” men reply that the “Labour Statesman” has nothing to sell, having long since sold all he had—or words to that effect.
  4. The “Labour Statesman” gets even by supporting the “labour exploiter” in opposition to the “labour candidate,” whereupon
  5. The “labour members” elect the “Labour Statesman” to the position of chairman of the “labour group ” in the House of Commons, what time the Secretary of the “labour candidate" pathetically appeals for someone to unravel the tangled skein.
It is very nice and pretty, so helpful; such a delightful comedy in five acts. And the working-class must be very proud of their champions, and very appreciative of their champions’ labours.

But, levity apart, is it not time the working-class called upon these self-styled labour leaders, these vain-glorious mouthers of paltry platitude and empty phrases, these glib-tongued political tricksters who are more concerned with their personal standing than with the vindication of the rights of those they are alleged to represent; is it not time the workers called upon these men to “cease their damnable faces” and quit the positions they cannot fill, making way for those who, knowing the workers’ condition and the reasons for it, are prepared to work with a single mind for the realisation of those changes which will ensure the application of the only remedy for working-class ills ; men who are prepared to fight all the forces that capitalism and landlordism can array against them until the victory is won that will enable the workers to enjoy the full results of their labour and usher in that co-operative commonwealth toward which the Socialist Party, the world over, is pressing?

Surely it is time! Surely the workers will refuse to be fooled much longer by men win even when they are not ignorant of the real causes underlying working-class poverty and unhappiness, are prepared to fritter away their opportunities, are prepared to play into the hands of the enemy, are prepared to betray the cause they claim to represent, to effect their own aggrandisement or enrichment—squabbling and bickering over the partition of the spoil like hungry dogs at a bone.

Surely the workers will soon demand, and see that they get, real representation by men who are prepared to take the line imperatively demanded by a clear understanding of the issue the line of irreconcilable opposition. all the time to every person or party occupying other than the Socialist position.

Capitalism is the enemy. Who supports capitalism is the enemy. Who supports the hirelings of capitalism is the enemy. Burns is clearly supporting the capitalist-class. The Labour Representation Committee men in the House of Commons, together with the other “labour” M.P’s., support Burns by electing him to the chairmanship of their group. These are the enemies of Labour.

The Social-Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party support capitalist candidates. They ally themselves with and make arrangements with capitalist parties. They seek to win votes by tricking the workers. They call their candidates “labour candidates” because they fear that by preaching the Socialism they privately profess they will not poll such a large vote. By supporting capitalist candidate they support working-class enemies. By obscuring the Socialism they know to be the only remedy for working-class evils they confuse the issues and perpetuate working-class ignorance These, therefore, are also the enemies of Labour.

That is the position, and presently the worker will understand. When they do they will win to their freedom. Perhaps the time is not yet—but that is not the fault of The Socialist Party of Greet Britain. From all parties we stand out—a finger-post pointing forever to the road alone which the workers must travel if they would achieve their emancipation. And at the end of the road is—Socialism!
A.J.M. Gray

[Since the foregoing was written, the Secretary of the Battersea Liberal and Radical Association has explained that his appeal to Sir C. Palmer was made on behalf of the Registration Fund of that body, not for the John Burns Wages Fund, and that Burns was in no way responsible for it. He adds that in acknowledging the donation he, “as a matter of courtesy wished him (Sir C. Palmer) every success.”

The precise value of this explanation is no easily estimated. The money was not for Burns Wages Fund, but only to make a wages fun" necessary by securing the election of Burns The wish for the success of Sir C. Palmer was only expressed as a matter of courtesy, not, presumably, with the idea of assisting to realise this wish. Burns had no knowledge of the matter and will therefore, perhaps, repudiate the action — if he objects to it. The “labour” candidate for Jarrow may now be mollified. Certainly Sir. C. Palmer will not be unduly depressed.]

The Political Organisation of the Working Class. (1905)

Editorial from the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Parliament has reassembled. The forces of Toryism and Liberalism have mustered at Westminster. The old farce is carried merrily on. But in this reassembling how are the wiseacres of the Press falsified! Have they not told us that dissolution was imminent—that probably the Tories, suffering from senility and torn by inward dissension, would not dare to come forward again with a programme for another session. And the Tory government comes forward gaily—as a Liberal government would do in its place—determined to hold on to office as long as it can.

The Tory programme, too, seems cleverly arranged for the double purpose of dishing the Liberals and of catching votes. How else is it possible to account for the expressed intention to pass measures for the appointment of authorities to deal with the unemployed, for amending and extending the "Workmen's Compensation Acts, for the establishing of a ministry of commerce and industry, for the notification of industrial accidents?

“Ah ! but it depends on what these measures will mean in practice,” we hear an indignant Liberal muttering. That is, of course, very true and we Socialists know full well that the Tory government is not likely to take much trouble in the direction of adequately redressing the grievances of the workers. But neither are the Liberals. And the Liberals know, when they prate about “giving redress to the conditions prevailing among the working classes” (they mean the working-class), about free breakfast tables, about taxation of land values, about old age pensions, and a thousand and one other things, that they have no intention of passing measures for the benefit of the working-class. "Dealing with the unemployed” means something very different when used by Tory, Liberal, and Socialist, and so with other reforms.

What we have to recognise is that no matter what professions they may make, the Liberals and Tories in the House of Commons represent, in the first place, the interests of property. So long as they can maintain the rights of private property, and the privileges and vested interests which have twined themselves round private property, they are content.

But in conserving the rights of private property they occasionally find the vested interests of one section of property-holders conflict with those of another section. When the machine industry was in its infancy the conflict between the machine or factory-owner and the land-owner— the commercial and the landed interest— crystallised itself into two great political parties, the Whig and the Tory. And so to-day we find that the divisions in political life are but the reflex of property relations and the conflict, of interests between property-owners. Again, whenever the development of industry, the opening up of new countries to commerce, the abolition or adoption of prohibitive tariffs, or the introduction of a fresh motive-power in production brings about changes in the world of commerce and thence creates new industrial interests, we find new lines of demarcation among the political factions. A Tory government which would impose an additional duty of 2/- on every barrel of beer would convert every brewer to Liberalism. A Liberal government which refused to renew the Agricultural dole would force large numbers of the “landed gentry” into the Tory camp.

But why should we labour this point? Every section of the community except the working-class has known and admitted it any time this last fifty years. And the worker must one day wake to it and to the fact that as each other section of the community looks after its own sectional interest he, too, must look after his class interest and achieve his class emancipation.

Why cannot the worker learn this lesson? Every day some action of the political factions cries it out to him. Every time the public Press—as much the slave of privilege and vested interest as the political faction—takes up some question of interest to the worker it is for objects other than his benefit. Questions of unemployment and distress afford good copy when Parliament is not sitting and are entirely neglected when parliamentary reports are forthcoming.

The worker has then to learn that the Liberal and the Tory are alike indifferent to his welfare. That however much they may coquet with him at election times when his vote is useful, they will do nothing which endangers the property rights of their class. That though they may resent the tyrannical actions of a Penrhyn, it is but because such actions endanger their existence as a class when the workers recognise that they are all potential Penrhyns.

When the worker has learnt his lesson; when he knows he must rely upon himself and upon his fellows what is he to do ? How is he to apply his knowledge to matters of everyday importance to him? It is evidently futile for him to assert his independence of the other political factions if he is independently to strive for measures which those factions advocate. It is also useless for him to organise himself into a party which is unable to agree upon a working programme and a common line of action.

To us as Socialists it is clear that, the Liberals and the Tories having been thrown over as parties, the principles for which they work must also be thrown over, and that, therefore, anyone holding the opinions either of Liberalism or of Toryism must be left outside the workers’ party. The party of the workers has interests which have no common bond with Liberalism or Toryism, and the party of the workers must, therefore, steer clear of anything which is in any way allied with these parties.

The political party of the workers must be the reflex of the economic interests of the workers who are the propertyless class, in the same way as the other parties reflect the economic interests of the propertied class. We are then driven to the necessity of searching for the economic interest of the worker. And this we find in the principle that the working-class having created all the wealth of society are the rightful owners of that wealth. Every man should receive the product of his own labour, but as in modern society it is impossible to determine the portion which any individual adds to the value of the articles he helps to create, we must be content to let all those who labour remain joint owners of the aggregate product.

This, however, is not what obtains in modern society where the reverse is the case. In modern society to-day the non-producers of wealth are the joint owners of the aggregate amount of wealth produced. In this fact we have surely the true differentiation of the party of the workers from the party of the property-owners. And the first object of the political party of the workers, therefore, should be the securing for workers as a class the fruits of their own labour.

If they can only secure this they will have no need to worry about limiting the hours of work, securing a legal law of minimum, or returning to the status quo ante Taff Vale. These trifling matters will soon adjust themselves when the workers take as their own the product of their own labour. And resulting from this would come the necessity of the present property-owners, unable longer to live on the fruits of other men’s labour, working so as to secure their own livelihood.

This means the establishment of a system of society in which the livelihood of the people is duly considered as one of the primal ends of the society’s existence, and that as each member of the society obtains a livelihood, so each such member must do bis share in its necessary work.

When this is secured it will follow that the usefulness of every article produced will be considered before it is made, and that all work done for the manufacture and exchange of useless or inferior articles will be eliminated. This will permit of a thorough organisation of industry, all forms of useless labour being dispensed with and everyone sharing in the performance of the resulting necessary work.

Such a system of society would allow the development of everyone’s individuality which is to-day too often crushed out in mine, factory, or workshop, and would mean freedom, comfort, and happiness, each in their fullest measure, to the mass of mankind.

Such a social regime would be a Socialist society—the Socialist Republic—and the party which must achieve it is the working-class, politically organised as a Socialist party, the nucleus of which is to be found in The Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Trade Disputes in 1904. (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Board of Trade reports that in 1904 there were 334 disputes, affecting 83,922 workers. The aggregate duration in working days was 1,416,265. Wages were the cause of 66 per cent. of the disputes, affecting 55,955 people (67 per cent. of the total involved). Refusal to work with non-unionists and other questions of principle accounted for 15 disputes. It is alleged that 58 disputes, affecting 15,338 work-people, ended in their favour, 161 (affecting 21,332 persons) in favour of the employers, while 105 cases (affecting 16,229 workers) were compromised. Taking the percentages based on the number of workpeople directly affected, the balance of success appears to have been with the employers.

Most of the disputes were settled by direct negotiation between the parties concerned or their representatives. Of the 334 disputes recorded, 214, affecting 57,043 workpeople, were thus settled. In 56 disputes, affecting 6,803 workpeople, the employers succeeded in replacing the workers, and in 26 disputes work was resumed by the workpeople without negotiations. The number of disputes settled by conciliation and arbitration was 23, in which 5,902 workpeople were involved.

Letter: Municipalism. (1905)

Letter to the Editors from the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Editors of the Socialist Standard.

May I be permitted, in reference to the query of “Ignoramus” in your last issue, to offer the following remarks on this subject.

When we consider the large number of examples of what the man in the street terms “Municipal Socialism,” it is well that we should explain our position on the subject and thus prevent further confusion—at least, amongst our readers. The action of municipalities in undertaking certain industries is not so much from a desire on their part to benefit the workers in those industries as it is from a wish to obtain cheaper or better services than would be supplied by the ordinary capitalist. It is only when things reach a point where the middle-class in a locality think they are not having their requirements met in a sufficiently economical manner that we hear the cry for municipalism— miscalled municipal-Socialism.

As a rule the result is that these municipal enterprises are—from a capitalist point of view—fairly successful. The L.C.C. tramcars, the Nottingham municipal enterprises, and others— too numerous to specify—have made large profits which have been used in relief of the rates, This is a direct gain to the middle-class ratepayers. Take another side of the question. Take the municipal electric lighting or gas supply. In a town containing a large number of large shops and factories a large quantity of gas or electric light is consumed. It can readily be seen that, in such a case, a small reduction in price per unit or thousand feet will make quite a difference to the quarterly bill of a large consumer, whereas to the worker, who has at most but a few jets or lamps, the difference is so trifling as to be hardly appreciable. Municipalism even if undertaken with the intention to benefit the worker could do but little. Its sphere is so limited and the local bodies are always under the control of the central governing authority which strictly limits its operations. Municipalism can only be tolerated by Socialists when viewed as examples of collective ownership. It is one of the technical means which class-conscious workers can, when in control use in a limited manner to benefit themselves. While there are profits workers are being robbed of the results of their labour. This operates just the same whether caused by individual or collective capitalists. The operation of trusts on the one hand and municipalism on the other will cause all industries to become monopolies. The monopolies will, in their turn, be nationalised when it is to the interests of the capitalist-class to protect themselves from the encroachments of the financial magnates. Thus so-called State Socialism will be brought into being. A superb State and Municipal organised robbery of the workers. It is our duty to teach the workers what production for profit and class ownership really mean—to point out the Social Revolution that is necessary and that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is the working-class party of that Revolution.

An Appeal From Russia. (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

In accordance with the invitation of the International Socialist Bureau we publish the following correspondence. Any moneys received in response thereto will be at once forwarded to the Bureau. Remittances should be sent to C. Lehane, General Secretary, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, 107, Charlotte St., London. W. 

#    #    #    #

International Socialist Bureau,
Maison du Peuple, Brussels. 

Dear Citizen,

We have just received a letter from Citizen Roubanovitch, and we hasten to transmit to you the enclosed copy.

We place ourselves entirely at your disposal for the distribution of the sums collected.

We would ask you to bring the matter under the notice of the Socialist press of your country in which subscription lists have not yet been opened, in order that they may be enabled to answer the appeal of our Russian comrades fighting for the common cause of the International proletariat.
Fraternal greetings,
(signed) Cam. Huysmans,
To the Secretary,
The Socialist Party of Great Britain.

#    #    #    #

50, rue Lhomond,
Paris (5). 

Dear Comrades,

Subscriptions are being collected in all countries by the Socialist press on behalf of the Russian Socialists to aid the revolutionary movement or render assistance to the strikers and their families.

I have just been notified by the Central Committee of the Russian Revolutionary Socialist Party, of which I am the delegate to the International Socialist Bureau, that at the present time funds are very urgently required.

I therefore ask you to kindly take the initiative in appealing to the various Socialist Parties and newspapers, requesting them to remit the amounts collected to the International Socialist Bureau, which will distribute the funds between the Russian and Polish Parties in accordance with an arrangement which can easily be come to by the common consent of the Russian and Polish delegates.
Very fraternally yours,
E. Roubanovitch.

"Yours in the Cause . . . " (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party of Great Britain,
Peckham Branch,
Feb. 14, 1905.

To the Editorial Committee,
The Socialist Standard.

Dear Comrades,

My comrades in Peckham request me to convey to you their warm appreciation and approval of the general tone and get-up of the Socialist Standard, and trust that the same may continue.

Yours in the Cause,
Walter Wren,

Answers To Correspondents. (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

E. J. B. A. (Fulham). - Kindly note that articles intended for publication should be written on only one side of the paper.

W. W. (Pembroke Dock). - Thanks for the good wishes.

F. C. H. (Rochester). - The final paragraph in the Declaration of Principles of The Socialist Party of Great Britain proceeds from the position laid down in the previous paragraphs. To explain the final clause in the Declaration would involve going over the ground already covered in the first seven articles thereof. If you will carefully study the document in its entirety you will find your difficulties vanish. If not, we will try and make any point clear. But study the Declaration.

J. G. (Oxford). - Thanks. Any information you may require will be gladly supplied.

The Power To Generalise. (1905)

From the March 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

When one realises the tremendous waste of force that results from inability or neglect to survey the social problem from a detached point of view, the importance of urging the necessity for the development of the power to generalise becomes apparent. On every hand we see reformers directing their efforts toward the remedy, or what they conceive to be the remedy, for the particular evil that appeals to them, and yet failing to recognise that these evils are but the outcome of a common cause for the reason that they have never, so to say, been able to get outside their subject and regard it from the broad point of view that is absolutely essential to its proper understanding, and that would enable them to see its connection with, and dependency upon, the basic fact underlying all the evils of the modern form of society, including the pet evils of our particular reformer: the fact of the private ownership of the means of life.

It is easily understood why the intellectual vision of the worker should be limited, when the detailed condition of his labour is realised. The subdivision of labour has been carried to such an extent that the outlook of the worker is largely limited to his own particular branch of industry; but such an individual must climb out of his rut and view the situation generally to understand the position. He must leave his position as a cog in a wheel of a complicated machine, and seek to get over the machine itself and see it running to be able to understand the part he plays there, far less to fully comprehend the total economy of the machine.

When a man views a picture he steps back until he can see the whole picture at once, thus getting a general view. He can then understand the true relation of the parts, the bearing one part has to another part and to the whole, which would be impossible without taking such a general view. If he were to look never so closely at first one part and then another over the whole picture, he would have a very confused idea of the subject of the picture, and would be unable to appreciate the details. The same thing applies to the social problem. If that man were to view the social problem part by part over the whole area he would have as confused a conception of the problem as the art critic would have of that picture. When he draws back and views the whole question he understands the importance, the relation, and the value of the details, but such an understanding is impossible until he has taken such general view. And it seems that it is this inability to generalise that makes the lopsided, ill-balanced cranks, whose inconsistent actions so tend to discredit the movement and play into the hands of the enemies of Socialism.

It is only by taking up this detached point of view that we can get a general view of modern society and its twentieth century poverty problem, for it has become a truism that the onlooker sees more of the game than the player. The deep and wide division between the classes will be more obvious, and the gross injustice of modern society will force itself upon the observer. To realise one class, consisting of millions of men, women, and children existing now whose sole function seems to be to work, while the result of all their labour is poverty and misery and want ; while the other class live an idle life of luxury and pleasure. When the poverty of the wealth- producer and the wealth of the non-producer are seen together the extraordinary contradiction of capitalism will he recognised.

The fads of the social reformers will then appear in a new light. The temperance problem, the housing problem, the unemployed problem, and the hundred and one problems that arise from the fundamental economic problem will appear as parts of the whole; and their connection with, their dependence on, and their relation to the whole social problem will make plain to the investigator the futility of an attack on any of these special problems. We know that such efforts can come to nothing, simply because of the neglect to comprehend the whole problem, the connection and interconnection of the parts, and, more important still, the common parent of all the evils that the one-sided reformers seek to remedy. Until they realise that the whole of the evils that modern society suffers under are traceable, ultimately, to the basic factor, the economic conditions of society, they will continue to waste their time and energy through an incomplete comprehension of the whole social problem, which can only be obtained by making good use of the Power to Generalise.
Dick Kent

Co-Partnership Again. (1912)

From the August 1912 issue of the Socialist Standard

The fraudulent nature of the co-partnership scheme has often been exposed by the Socialist Party. They have shown, both in their organ and on their platform, how it has for its object the greater efficiency of the worker, resulting in an increase of profits on the one hand, and more unemployment on the other. The truth of this statement has once again been demonstrated by an article which appeared in the “Daily Chronicle” of 9.5.12. The writer commences thus:
  “Co-partnership will unlock the doom of our doubting castle. And the troubles which the world of labour has experienced, especially during recent times, have had an enormous influence in bringing people to a belief in this policy. Under industrial conditions as they exist at present, competition has assumed much of the destructive and wasteful element of war; the dangers of disagreement and disputes tend to become ever greater."
It is, then, the Labour trouble, attended by the “destructive and wasteful element,” and the danger of future disagreement becoming greater, that is forcing people to a belief in Co-partnership. Who is meant by the word “people” we are not told; but that the writer is referring to the capitalist class there is no doubt, as they are the only people interested in preventing waste and destruction. These things have no dread far the workers. The destruction of property is welcomed by them as a means of supplying a demand for more labourers.

That it is the capitalist class who have cause to be interested in Co-partnership is shown by the following remarks:—
  “When Labour problems are discussed in the House of Commons, that policy is advocated from both sides as the most effective remedy for introducing into our industrial system the desired element of peace, greater efficiency, and justice all round?"
We see now what this scheme is expected to

(1) The desired element of peace.

That peace is desired by the master class goes without saving. As Marx and Engels pointed out in the Communist Manifesto in 1848:—
 “The Socialistic (!) bourgeoisie want all the advantagea of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily arising therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, aBd thereby march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.”
Those words are as true to-day as when they were written.

(2) Greater efficiency.

As we have previously stated, this is the main reason for the capitalists supporting the scheme. More efficient workers require lees time to perform a given task, with the result that the wage bill is reduced. Which in turn means more profit for the employer and more unemployment for the workers.

(3) Justice all round.

The desired element of peace and greater efficiency—what could be more just, from the employers’ point of view? In fact, it rivals the murder of workers (by bullets or by bricking them up in a burning mine) for its justice all round. But enough of a word reeking with such hypocrisy. We will allow the writer to distinguish his pet scheme from the inferior brand of profit-sharing.
  “It will be well at the outset to distinguish clearly between mere profit-sharing and Co-partnership. The former, of course, is one element of the latter, but it lacks the second and chief feature, which is capital-owning. These two factors combined naturally make a much stronger and more effective policy. Profit-sharing alone—the paying of a bonus half-yearly or yearly—has been found in many cases not to achieve the desired ends— for there are more than one. It generally means a spurt in work when the bonus is nearly due, but seldom general and sustained efficiency ; it is sometimes used as a cover for lower wages; the workers remain servants without a voice in the affairs of the business for the prosperity of which they are largely responsible; there is no sharing of losses, should such accrue, save to the extent of a fall in wages or loss of employment. 
  “Under a real and effective scheme of Co-partnership— profit-sharing and capital-owning —however, all the desired conditions are present. The worker gains a double interest in the success of the business. He receives a share of the profits, which he invests in the concern, and a return on that investment. As the losses, too, must be carried by the share capital, he has an additional incentive to effort. His point of view is changed and enlarged by having a voice in the management of the works. That has, it should be pointed out, a most excellent educative effect on the workers.”
Profit-sharing alone does not achieve the desired ends. It generally means a spurt in work when the bonus is nearly due, but seldom general and sustained efficiency. In other words the employer is advised that Co-partnership is the most effective means of inducing men to work as hard aa they possibly can from the first of January to the thirty-first of December.

We see also that profit sharing is used as a cover for lower wages. If that is the case, Co-partnership will be used for such a purpose, or we have the alternative that the workers will wait in vain for their share out. Yet in spite of this they are persuaded that under a scheme of this character it is to their interest to work hard.

We are next told how the employee’s interest will be looked after.
  “Then again a necessary feature is the formation of a committee for the employees, to look after their interest, a body which also provides machinery for the settlement of disputes at their beginning, and not when they have assumed large and dangerous proportions.”
In what way will the committee benefit the workers? The men who constitute the committee, being employees, will be just as much under the domination of the masters as any other workers. If they refused to act as the employer desired unemployment would be their reward.

The settlement of disputes by means of the committee would, no doubt, suit the capitalists. Strikes are not always convenient. They also tend to demonstrate to the worker the antagonism of interests between the buyer and seller of labour-power; between slave and slave-owner.

Now, in order that there should be no misunderstanding we are acquainted with the fallowing facts:
  “Sir George [Livesey], when chairman of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, the most striking example of this kind of partnership, stated that the £427,000 paid in 18 years in the form of profit to the employees did not mean a single penny reduction to the shareholders, because the workers had earned it by better and more economical working.”
What an admission! Not a single penny reduction to tbe shareholders. But might we be so impertinent as to ask what they gained as a result of the better and more economical working? And was the money the men received used as a cover for lower wages ?

The contention that this scheme is a fraud is again supported by the following:—
  “The scheme, too, has been adopted with great success by many of the largest limited liability companies in the country, and this list is continually being added to.”
Success and more profit are to the capitalist synonymous terms, when referring to his business. Co-partnership has proved a great success by being an effective means of further speeding up the workers, and at the same time lessening the chance of their retaliating with a strike.

The sooner the workers realise that the capitalist class, by owning the means of wealth production, are enabled to live upon the wealth they steal from the workers, the sooner they will know that all this talk of the employer helping the employee to become a part owner of things is just sheer, unblushing hypocrisy.
E. Lake

The Problem of High Prices. (1912)

From the August 1912 issue of the Socialist Standard

The present is a period of high prices. Workers and merchants alike are grumbling and wondering at this troublesome phenomenon. The workers are in a state of half-conscious rebellion; strikes are frequent; attempts are made to bring wages up to the standard of the new prices of commodities. Merchants are receiving stereotyped letters all telling a like story: “Owing to the high cost of raw materials and fuel, and the increase of wages and salaries, the National Insurance Act, etc., etc., we are reluctantly compelled to raise our prices ten per cent."

Though a wholesale or retail merchant is well aware of the difficulty of getting enhanced prices, yet they jump to the conclusion that the manufacturer is raising prices simply because of his wicked individual craving to do so, in order to meet new expenses, etc. This we know to be absurd ; but what of capitalist combines? what of associations and selling agreements betwixt rings of ambitious exploiters ? Have these associations the power to do what economists say a number of competitors are powerless to do ? Are the admitted effects of supply and demand upon prices cancelled when capitalists form combines and “artificially" attempt to raise prices?

A trust may raise prices so extravagantly that another article is substituted. For instance, in normal times there can be no fancy price for coal: oil and electricity are ever feared by our coal barons.

Mr. Chiozza Money thinks that an important cause of present high prices is the increasing scarcity of tin, copper, and other metals. But even if a metal such as tin is scarce; even if it is scarce and a monopoly, there are obvious limits to prices—even to prices based upon a monopolist’s desires. If tin were to reach a much higher price it is probable that it would be rendered obsolete for domestic and other uses by aluminium ware, for the exploiters of a new article are ever on the watch ready to seize a new market.

But it is probable that laws operating under a regime of competition are cancelled under monopoly. If a coterie of capitalists can control the output in any trade, it would seem as if, within certain limits, they can raise prices. Now especially, when “trade is good," can prices be easily raised in well-organised trades; arrangements to raise prices have even been successful over periods of very slack trade. To the writer’s knowledge, amongst other things, wire fencing and cast iron holloware, articles subject to open competition and which anyone could manufacture, nave been price-maintained for years by a compact between capitalists which covered the whole trade. Better known instances are oil, screws, wallpaper, cotton thread, linoleum, tobacco, etc. The predominance of proprietary articles, price maintenance schemes, capitalist pools, and other such factors, are causing people to ask the question whether the influence on prices of supply and demand is not being modified by that “capitalist will’’ which economists once thought had so little influence. This issue is then raised : That if the profits in any trade rise above the average profit in all trades, then new capital is attracted to the super-profitable trade. Competition thus becomes more keen and profits tend down again to the normal. Is it not possible, however, for a newcomer in a trade that is protected by arranged prices, to be met with overtures and blandishments if he joins in the price scheme, and threatened with “price cutting" if he remains obdurate? Such a line of action would certainly not be novel.

The laws operating under competition are likely to be altered under monopoly, and even if the desires of capitalists have not unfettered scope, yet by plotting and using discretion it would seem as if they can obtain good financial results by arrangements amongst themselves, and can influence prices to a greater extent than was thought possible by economists.

Karl Marx and capitalist economists agreed in seeing a connection between cheap gold and high prices. Mr. McCulloch said: “It has been contended, by Mr. Locke and others, that the value of the precious metals is imaginary, or that it depends on the consent of the nations who have adopted them, to serve as a circulating medium. . . . Gold is not more valuable than iron, or lead, or tin, because of its greater brilliancy, durability, or ductility ; but simply because an infinitely greater outlay of capital and labour is required to produce a given quantity of gold than is required to produce the same quantity of either of these metals. ... It is sufficiently well known that those who employ their capitals in the working of gold or silver mines do not, upon the average, obtain any greater returns than those who are engaged in raising of coals or the manufacture of bricks. The production of the precious metals is not subjected to any species of monopoly or restraint. All individuals at their pleasure may employ capital in the extraction of bullion from the mines; and there is no conceivable limit to the extent to which its supply may be increased." To all this (save the babble of “capital and labour ") a Socialist can subscribe.

Marx, in his monograph on “Wage Labour and Capital," says: “ In the sixteenth century the gold and silver in circulation in Europe was augmented in consequence of the discovery of America. The value of gold and silver fell, therefore, in proportion to other commodities. The labourers received for their labour the same amount of silver coin as before. The money price of their labour remained the same, and yet their wages had fallen, for in exchange for the same sum of silver they obtained a smaller quantity of other commodities.”

According to “Whitaker's Almanack" the production of gold for the whole world since 1901 has taken the following course: In 1901 £54,000,000; in 1904, £69,000,000; in 1907, £85,000,000; in 1910, £95,000,000. And with the increasing quantities there have been discovered improved methods of treating the ore which lower the cost of production and renders the gold cheaper.

The two factors dealt with—cheaper gold and capitalist co-operation —would appear to account for the upward tendency of prices. Anyone hoping to benefit the workers by an attack on these two things is a reformer. They are effects of the capitalist system and only the destruction of capitalism will check such anti-social growths. There are the trade unions, struggling despairingly to keep wages on the track of advancing prices; there are currency cranks with financial fads for social salvation. Well, the progress of the Socialist movement may seem slow to those in the thick of the fight, but our progress is lightning-like compared with the injuries inflicted upon capitalism by such puny fighters. The effects of capitalism upon prices, the commodity quality of price will only cease when capitalism bites the dust.
John A. Dawson.

Anarchism Redivivus. (1912)

From the August 1912 issue of the Socialist Standard

A couple of years ago it seemed that the question of industrial as against political action by the working class had been settled. The Industrialists then were for the most part convinced that, however useful and necessary economic action may be in the struggle for an existence against the downward tendency of conditions following upon the development of capitalist exploitation, it was practically useless on the positive side of the working-class movement— the effort toward the establishment of Socialism.

For this purpose the capture of the social, through the political, machinery was an essential of success, and could, moreover, only be achieved along the conscious, distinct lines of the prosecution of the class struggle. Hence the necessity for the Socialist Party and its clear-cut policy of Socialist propaganda for political purposes.

Now we find a wave of "direct action"—a retrogressive revival of obsolete Anarchist doctrine—taking place, and we have to fight again the question: Is the working-class movement toward Socialism to be industrial or political ?

That question is complicated by the objective of the newest phase (Syndicalism) being fundamentally different from the objective of the Socialist, and even from the objective of the old industrial unionist. While the two latter were united as to the ownership and control of the means of living being in the hands of the whole of the workers, the Syndicalists aim at the machinery of each industry being owned and controlled by the workers of that industry. This is not Socialism, but social insanity. The very confusion that existed and exists among the "craft" unions and formed the basis of the complaints of the "industrial" unionists, is by this means to be extended from their action as trade unions to their activities as organisers of industry. The difficulties along that line, however, are their own, and may be left for their treatment: our complaint as Socialists against both sections is their non-political method.

Society has evolved beyond the stage where the conquering war-chief of an alien tribe imposed his autocratic rule over a vanquished people: beyond the stage where the chieftainship became hereditary and the control of the community devolved into the possession of his family: beyond, too, the stage where the owners of the soil were the only members of the community who counted, and the non-possessors were socially voiceless and powerless. We have reached the stage where the society is nominally democratic; where the individual—who can afford £10 a year for rent—is an active member of the social whole, to be consulted on social questions. That the ignorance of the workers allows the power of capital, the influence of economic forces, to render that nominal democracy a farce can be granted as common ground, but the fact remains that the vote has grown to be the recognised medium through which the democracy expresses its opinion— when it happens to have one—on the course of social development. It is within the power of a Socialist working class to register, through the vote, its disagreement with capitalism and the capitalist system of society : within its power to register its belief in the superiority of a Socialist system, and through this means, of using social forces on behalf of the movement clearly indicated by the trend of economic development, and opposed only to the extent of the power of the ruling class. The power of the ruling class to day is in the main that lent it by the votes of the workers who, in their class unconsciousness, vote on one or other of the pretexts skilfully put before them by the politicians of the masters.

The pressure of ever-worsening economic conditions has resulted in a restlessness among the workers, who, in their blind groping after improvement, strike through their trade organisations. The result is disastrous. Nobly as they may struggle, meritorious as their aim may be, it is doomed to end in the maintenance of the conditions whose development had led to the restlessness and the strike. The hands of the clock may have been put back, but the wheels of capitalism grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small. The recurrence of such troubles as are agitating the labour world to-day is as certain as any other effect in a long chain of causation.

The futility of the strike is manifest since it does not and cannot alter the fundamental relationship between employer and employed. That relationship is socially confirmed and sanctioned by the community through the vote, and in the event of an industrialist general strike trying to take and hold the means of production, the retention by the master class of the political power, with its concomitant control of the legal and coercive forces of society, would only lead to an upheaval significantly described by our American cousins as a "blood bath."

The political party standing for Socialism and Socialism alone is already in existence ; the economic organisation is not yet born. It may be that the framework of existing organisations will be clothed anew with the spread of Socialist ideas among their ranks ; certain it is that the economic organisation, if separate, must work in complete unison with the political party, since their membership must necessarily consist, in the main, of the same individuals, and their objective be identical.

To argue that because we are sold and belied by the alleged representatives of Labour in Parliament at present, Socialist representation is impossible, is to talk nonsense. To be afraid of the corruption that has grown up with the political chicanery in the past, is to play into the hands of the masters. They would wish for nothing better than to be left in the quiet possession of the strings controlling society, while the workers run their heads against the bayonets they hold—or have held by others—to receive them.

There is yet a long row to hoe before the successful revolution comes, and it is up to the Socialist Party to see that the necessity for political action is clearly put forward, and that in the chaos and turmoil of industrial conflict the essentials are not forgotten. The workers' representatives' temptations will then be very real and it is conceivable that for a time even our men might be bought to prostitute their charge ; but given the social consciousness of the rank and file and the maintenance of Party discipline, the enemy would soon discover that our representatives had no power to sell anything, and the principle will be safe. Then at last we shall see Socialist representatives acting and speaking on behalf of the Socialists they represent, carrying the war into the enemy's country, and meeting their sophistries with the stern realities of working-class existence.

That any essential improvement will accrue within the capitalist system it is impossible to imagine, but the way will be prepared for the final overthrow of capitalism and the inauguration of the Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth.
Dick Kent