Sunday, September 6, 2020

Stone walls and iron bars (1970)

From the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

Prison. The very word is like a knell, with its own tawdry glamour of secrets dark and impenetrable as the jungle and hopes as bleak as the moors. Who now, after all those plays and stories of warders and bloodhounds hunting escaped convicts through the fog, can think of Dartmoor as a sunny place? Who can think of Wormwood Scrubs as being set down anywhere other than in a wilderness? (As in a sense it is.) And now Parkhurst, with its top security wing holding the Krays and Richardsons and Train Robbers, and with an Assize judge asking for an investigation of its punishment block, has its place in prison history .

Parkhurst is one of the Category “A” prisons, which means that it is designed to hold men who are liable, and have the resources, to escape. Prisons are classified by the degree of escape risk, down the alphabet until at D, we reach the men who can be sent to an “open” prison with a reasonable certainty that they will not try to escape. Most people probably think that to send a man to an open prison is something of a compliment ; in fact in many cases the opposite is true because it often implies that he is unable to escape. This might be because he is an alcoholic, too damaged to think far enough to walk out of the prison. Or a personality so inadequate that he cannot plan even the simplest enterprise. Or homeless, so broken that life in prison is actually preferable to the discomforts and insecurities which await him outside. The result of this is that an open prison, far from being the relaxed, permissive place of popular imagination, may be run on very punitive lines, with the prison officers expressing their contempt for the wretched inmates by a harsh application of the rules.

Parkhurst is very different; it is in the top league of the prisons. Its placing on the Isle of Wight makes it suitable to hold not only Category “A” men but also some of the hardest, most determined criminals. These men, as one prison officer put it, can be “very angry”:
  He’s been locked up in his cell, see, all night for about ten hours, sometimes twelve. You open his door and he’s standing there with a pisspot in his hand and it’s brimful to the top and he’s looking at you like he could kill you and he says “Out of my way, you bastard or you’ll get this lot in your face.”
Prisons are like that — emotional places. They seethe with anger, they tremble with fear, they are dark with conflict. There is currently a great deal of talk about reforming them (apart, that is, from those punishment cells at Parkhurst) but all schemes of reform are met with, and founder upon, certain basic facts. We can select here a few of these facts; there are many, many more.

The avowed object of prisons, like most other institutions of confinement, is to change personalities. In other words a man is sent to prison, mostly after breaking the property laws and rights of capitalism, not only to restrain him but also in the hope that the experience will persuade him not to do whatever he did again. Courts often work to a kind of tariff on this; the man may get five years this time but by god if five don’t change him then next time we’ll see what ten will do. Then fifteen, then . . . Eventually, it is hoped, he will be shoved back into the outside world convinced that the best way of life is that of a conforming, docile worker for a capitalist employer.

In truth, only a very few prisons make any more than the most perfunctory attempt at achieving even those aims. But that is a side issue; the point here is that there is a basic conflict between removing a person from an environment and the object of making him fit for that environment. The life of a man in prison has important differences from the life of a man outside; imagine being removed from the rush and push and scramble of the workaday world for several years, then suddenly pushed back into it, to find a job, somewhere to live, to fill up all the necessary forms, go to the right offices, speak to the right people, act like a “free” worker and not like a prisoner any more.

While the man is inside, the people who are supposed to be administering all that healthful philosophy of employees’ docility are the prison staff. They are the men who lock him up at night and let him out in the morning, who see that he is fed and goes where he is supposed to go. They are also the people who punish him. During his confinement, the officers are assumed to get to know their man — as indeed in many cases they do, if sometimes in their own interpretation of knowledge.

The anomaly arises from the dual function of the prison officer, from the fact that at the same time as he is assumed to be establishing a relationship of change with the man he is also working against change by restraining him — by locking him up. Change must bring conflict; the prison officer's function is to suppress conflict, the prison's primary role is not to free but to confine and discipline.

This restraining role throws up another conflict, which may seem too obvious to warrant a mention but which in practice seems to escape many prison officers. The fact that a prison forcibly restrains must enforce a clash between the prison and its inmates. Change a prison how the Home Office will, in the end it remains: the prisoners are on one side, the prison on another.

It is not surprising if, from behind their side of the barricade, the prisoners develop their own rules, customs, morals; what has been called an inmate culture. In some respects this is a matter of tangibles; because of the shortage of tobacco in prison, a prisoner soon learns to roll his cigarettes as thin as a matchstick and beautiful jobs some of them make of their roll-ups. It is also a matter of intangibles, of a wordless, even silent, resistance to the prison and an endless effort to embarrass, outmanoeuvre and con the screws. Many prisoners have firm, if rough-hewn, ideas on the larger issues of the world (depressingly often of the most reactionary kind) and they bear all the signs of men who have had plenty of time to talk about their ideas, in the mindless, empty routine of prison days. These ideas are neither subtle nor intricate; prisoners have had to learn to live in the jungle and they are hardened by their obsession with survival.

Prison officers arc also confined and they, too, do mindless, boring jobs like locking and unlocking doors, or watching the prisoners do endlessly simple, repetitive jobs, or walking the inmates from one place to another. They also have developed a culture which, although they are supposed to be on the other side to the prisoners, is very similar to the latters’. Their attitudes on the larger issues like capital punishment, race, property society, are very close to that of the men under their control. They too are taught to be servile (many of them are ex-servicemen, their talk liberally sprinkled with “sirs”. How, one wonders, do they address their wives?) And the officers are also afraid—not just in the physical sense, of an attack by the prisoners as at Parkhurst, but also of being conned or humiliated or despised by the men they want to think of as so far inferior to them.

It is this fear which can cause a prison officer to be brutal or repressive or antagonistic towards the prisoners, and which also makes his job of handling them much more difficult. This leads us to the final anomaly of the prison — that the place could not run without the consent and co-operation of the very people who are confined by it. This fact, which haunts the prison staff, is central to the existence and organisation of a prison.

Any observer of the prison scene — the locking and unlocking, the multitude of rules, the pointless work, the checks and double checks, the atmosphere of repression — must wonder how it comes about, how men can divide themselves and do such things to each other. British prisons were originally places where deportees were temporarily held before being shipped to the colonies; from that they developed, almost without thought or design, and on assumptions which are now being challenged.

These challenges are sometimes on humane grounds, on what it does to a man to keep him within walls for years on end. They are also on grounds of economy. Capitalism always wants value for its money and it is finally getting known that it costs far more to keep someone in prison than to let him stay in the outside world. Of course the drive for reform has gathered momentum from the fact that the prisons are stubbornly filling up faster than the most extravagant forecasts, and faster than the reforms aimed at emptying them can be passed.

Yet however the prisons may be changed, and however the laws may vary the criteria for sending a man inside, the fundamentals will remain. Capitalism is a system of property rights and privileges, with laws and disciplines which are designed to protect the superior standing of the master class. Prisons, as places of confinement, punishment and occasionally treatment are part of the system of discipline and if they were abolished tomorrow it would only be to replace them with something else. They are only one of the countless atrocities committed in the process of man, acting as capitalism requires, dehumanising man.

Food Production (1970)

From the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

“If all we know about food production could be applied next year, food supplies could be doubled and malnutrition largely swept away” (Prof. A. N. Duckham and G. B. Masefield, “The Food Problem: Remedies to Sweep away Malnutrition", The Times, 6 August 1970).

Letters: Apartheid (1970)

Letters to the Editors from the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard


In denouncing South African apartheid in "Socialism or Anti-Apartheid" (June Socialist Standard) as "essentially a pre-capitalist form of oppression", you apparently neglect the Marxist view of the historical process as expounded in the Communist Manifesto, in which you "support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things". Any form of revolution in the Republic of South Africa, whether resulting in a bourgeois or proletarian dictatorship. would represent a stronger class consciousness than in the present repressive totalitarian regime.

A strong proletarian class consciousness in which the workers can achieve emancipation, with or without a vanguard party, can never be obtained while one race is institutionally repressed by another. The treatment of Anti-Apartheid can of course never be separated from the issues of Socialism, but support for anti-apartheid can be justified by any revolutionary socialist who cares about the quality of life within an institutionalised repressive society.

Under bourgeois democracy the exploited worker can choose his own jailor, but under apartheid the key has been thrown away. In deciding that all forms of capitalism (including apartheid) are equally repulsive you are in danger of completely alienating yourselves from the people you claim to care about.
David Melvin, 
Huddersfield. Yorks.

It is quite true that the Communist Manifesto does say "the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things”. This was an expression of the 1848 policy of the Communist League, for whom the manifesto was written. But, as Marx and Engels pointed out in their preface to the 1872 German edition, the practical application of the Manifesto's general principles depends "everywhere and at all times on the historical conditions for the time being existing.” This is the Marxist view.

In the middle of the 19th century when there was a very real danger that emerging democracy in the capitalist parts of Europe might be overrun by reactionary feudal powers like Russia, Austria and Prussia a case for Socialists helping capitalism to establish itself could be made out. Marx and Engels and the Communist League, therefore, supported bourgeois-democratic revolutions against feudalism while always bringing, as the Manifesto also says, "the property question" to the fore.

By the end of the 19th century, however, the reactionary powers were no longer a threat to capitalism and all three of them were broken up after the first world war. In these new historical conditions a different application of socialist principles was called for: a struggle everywhere, even in those places where pre-capitalist forms of oppression had yet to be overthrown, for the immediate establishment of world Socialism. In the context of South Africa this means that the struggle against apartheid should not be separated from the struggle for Socialism. We urge workers there to struggle for Socialism, not mere anti-apartheid which would leave capitalism intact.

The June Socialist Standard did point out that "the Socialist Party of Great Britain is opposed to apartheid” and that "racist policies will be undermined to the extent that socialist ideas spread". This last point should be obvious. To the extent that socialist ideas do spread anti-racist sentiment is strengthened. It is not as if concentrating on socialist propaganda alone and refusing to join with non-socialist antiapartheid movements hinders the ending of apartheid even under capitalism. It may even help it — but we do not accept David Melvin’s view that socialist ideas cannot spread now under apartheid in South Africa.

Finally, we always wonder whether those who talk of "proletarian dictatorship" and "vanguard party" and “bourgeois democracy" really do share our (and Marx’s) conception of Socialism in the first place.
Editorial Committee

After the fine article on South African capitalism in the May Socialist Standard, I was somewhat shocked at the view expressed in the article "Socialism or Anti-Apartheid” in the June issue:
  “. . . the overthrow of the National Party government in South Africa and the end of its apartheid policy . . .” “. . . under the United Party or Progressive Party government. The biggest part of the South African working class would be freed from oppression on grounds of colour . . .”
I have quoted out of context, but the impression I get from this complete paragraph is the inference highlighted in my quotes, that such a change of government could/would lead to the end of apartheid. Correct me if I’m wrong, please.

The United Party does not stand for "non-racial capitalism", but for “enlightened white leadership" or "humanised" apartheid! That’s why. ostensibly, the Progressive Party formed with the slogan "Merit not Colour", a nice vague banner which can be elaborated and "diluted” as/when (or if) the Progressives became more popular.

The U.P. laid the basis for Nationalist government apartheid legislation which is basically a more rigid and logical extension of U.P. between-wars legislation.

The white working class has no qualms about this here — they generally oppose the idea of socio-economic integration of all "races” and they wield the bulk of the votes.

In any ease, the promises, half-promises and hints of out-of-power capitalist parties must always be taken with a ton of salt! What they say they’d do, what they’d like to do and what they can and will do are three (or four!) often different things.

The Progressive Party is well sketched in the May Socialist Standard as representing the hopes of certain capitalist interests outside South Africa.
Names and address supplied.
South Africa.

We are sorry our correspondent got the wrong impression from this passage in the June Socialist Standard:
  The unpleasant fact is that the overthrow of the National Party government in South Africa and the end of its apartheid policy would mean that political power would pass into hands more friendly to capitalist magnates like Oppenheimer. This would be so under an African nationalist government (as it is in Zambia or Ghana, for instance) as much as under a United Party or Progressive Party government. The biggest part of the South African working class would be freed from oppression on grounds of colour, but they would still be propertyless and still have to work for wages on the farms, down the mines and in the factories.
The passage he quotes, on his own admission out of context, should be read "This (i.e. the passing of political power into hands more friendly to capitalist magnates) would be so under an African nationalist government . . . as much as under a United Party or Progressive Party government”. The word this does not, or was not meant to, refer to the end of apartheid or colour discrimination. We know full well that the “non-white" people of South Africa would continue to be oppressed on grounds of colour under a United Party government and that even Oppenheimer’s Progressive Party is opposed to universal suffrage.

We still say that the replacement of apartheid by "non-racial capitalism" rather than by Socialism would be in the interests of South African big business and its overseas allies. Workers in South Africa, whatever their colour, should like workers everywhere be struggling for the immediate establishment of Socialism.
Editorial Committee

The Tories and rising prices (1970)

From the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Conservatives successfully exploited the unpopularity of rising prices to win the election. They put up big posters showing how the purchasing power of the pound had fallen from 20s in October 1964 when Labour first came to power to 15/7d today. They raised the prospect of a “ten bob pound” in a few years time if Labour were re-elected. They recalled the empty promises of Wilson and his Ministers about rising prices. “The continual rise in the cost of living”, said George Brown in September 1964 in another of his foolish statements, “can, must and will be halted”.

This was all a clever trick. The Tories do not want to stop prices rising; they only wanted people to think they did. Their manifesto only commits them to “steadier prices”. Which means that they will merely try to slow down, not halt, inflation. And they want to slow down inflation not to protect the living standards of wage and salary earners but to keep export prices down. Before seeing why let us first look a little closer at money and prices.

An article’s price is the expression of its value in terms of money. Money developed out of barter as one article came to be exchangeable with all others. This article, generally a precious metal, become money and prices were expressed for instance in weights of gold. Then came coins as governments stamped the money-metal and guaranteed its weight. But some were tempted in order to raise money to put less metal into the coins than their face value. This was called debasing the currency and its effect was to raise prices generally because a coin was now, in reality as opposed to its face value, worth less and so more of them were needed to exchange for or buy an article previously of equal value. That article’s monetary expression, or price, thus rose and so did those of all other articles.

Many centuries later paper money developed out of the receipts goldsmiths used to issue to those who had deposited gold with them for safe-keeping. These pieces of paper were, as the saying goes, as good as gold — but only as long as there were not more of them circulating than the amount of gold that would need to circulate in their absence. Once again paper money tempted governments as an easy way of raising money but, as with debased coins, the effect was to raise prices.

In England up until the first world war a certain amount of restraint was imposed on the government by the fact that Bank of England notes were by law convertible into a fixed and unchanging weight of gold and beyond a small amount all notes had to be covered by gold in the Bank’s vaults. In 1914 this convertibility was suspended and apart for a few years after 1925 has never been restored. The economic link between gold and its paper token was broken and became political in the sense that the maintenance of a proper proportion came to depend on the government. The era of monetary policy had arrived. Between the wars a man called Keynes (later lauded as the saviour of capitalism, but now largely discredited) proclaimed that as long as the government controlled savings and investment they need not worry about the amount of money in circulation. He proposed a policy of gradual inflation, or slowly rising prices, on the grounds that this would encourage investment for profit. He also remarked that it was easier to reduce wages by allowing prices to rise than by cutting money-wages. When the war broke out the government soon adopted Keynes’ policies. They caused inflation by issuing more and more paper money over the amount of gold that would be needed in its place. The resulting inevitable depreciation of the currency has been the main, but not the only, cause of the general trend of rising prices in Britain since 1940. It has been encouraged and endorsed by all governments since, Tory as well as Labour.

One of the undesirable side effects, from a capitalist point of view, of a policy of currency depreciation or inflation is that the prices of goods produced for export also rise and exporting capitalists find their prices “uncompetitive” in overseas markets; balance of payments problems develop as gold and foreign currency reserves are used to cover the trade gap. An attempted solution to this capitalist problem is devaluation, or a reduction in the amount of the currency exchanged for a given amount of other currencies and gold. Exports thus cost less to overseas buyers but imports brought from abroad cost more. Devaluation is a formal recognition of the fact that, due to inflationary policies at home, the value of a currency has depreciated compared with those of other currencies.

Any government in Britain, whichever party is in office, is faced with two main tasks: to ensure that wage and salary workers do not increase their share of the wealth they produce at the expense of profits and to ensure that goods produced in Britain sell profitably on the world market. The method chosen to deal with the first (inflation) has to a certain extent conflicted with the second aim. For governments, Tory and Labour, have taken Keynes’ advice; they have tried to hold wages and salaries in check by allowing prices to rise. Enough workers in Britain are organised in trade unions to prevent direct attacks on their wages or long-term wage freezes, as the recent Labour and previous Tory governments have found. From time to time politicians have threatened — as the Tories are again threatening to do — and tried to “stand up to the unions” but, faced with the prospect of having to adopt police-state methods or of provoking widespread strikes, they have always backed down. Politically, then, a direct confrontation with wage and salary earners is not on — though of course some future government might feel strong enough to try this. This leaves only a policy of inflation as the means of preserving the share of profit in the wealth the workers produce.

But inflation, as we saw, creates difficulties for export industries. This is the British capitalists’ dilemma: in order to keep real wages in check they must pursue a policy of inflation, but inflation tends to price their exports out of overseas markets leading to balance of payments crises. This is their problem. How to deal with it is. unfortunately, still the central issue in British politics. We say unfortunately because it means that the great majority of wage and salary earners in Britain are still concerned with the capitalists’ problems and are voting on capitalist issues for capitalist parties, whether Labour or Tory.

Those who voted Tory in the belief that they will keep prices down will be as disappointed as those who previously voted Labour. They have yet to understand that governments are not concerned with the interests of wage and salary earners; they are there to protect the interests of the employers and the privileged few who own Britain. A policy of inflation is the only practical way British governments can keep wages in check and the Tories will be forced to maintain it.
Adam Buick

Socialism: What it means (1970)

From the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

Without a doubt the most misused word in politics today is the word Socialism. To some it means Harold Wilson and his gang; to others it means state-capitalist Russia . . . or China . . . or Cuba . . . or, the current local ‘hit’ ‘the workers’ republic’.

Various political movements pay lip-service to Socialism. In the past the British Labour Party used it to describe their fraudulent schemes of nationalisation— just as now they use it to cover their plans for making British capitalism more competitive. When it suits them, the “Communists”, too, use the term: once (1923) to describe what they then termed ‘the highest form of social organisation Man can achieve’ and now as a definition of an illusionary condition which they claim exists between capitalism and Communism. Nearer home is the latest movement prostituting the word Socialism — the Peoples’ Democracy.

All these movements have one thing in common: they will speak of Socialism. ask your support on the basis of their adherence to ‘socialist principles' but they never attempt to define what they mean by ‘Socialism’!

Socialism will be a wageless, classless, moneyless society wherein production and distribution of wealth will be carried out for the sole purpose of satisfying people’s needs. Socialism will be an international system, of necessity knowing no national frontiers. In Socialism all mankind will have free and equal access to the fruits of social production upon the principle of: from each in accordance with his mental or physical abilities; to each in accordance with his needs.

This is what Socialism means. It has nothing to do with dictatorships, nationalisation, “workers’ republics” or schemes for reforming this or that feature of capitalism. Socialism will be brought about only by the democratic action of a majority of Socialists — members of the working class who have learned that the problems that confront them in our present society arise inevitably out of the nature of capitalism and that Socialism is the only alternative to capitalism.

The task of the Socialist movement, then, is not to parade, prattle and protest against this or that evil of capitalism — evils we know to be an inevitable consequence of our present system — but to propagate Socialism — not just the word, but the meaning.

(Reprinted from the W.S.P. Bulletin, journal of the World Socialist Party of Ireland. Belfast Branch)

More on free transport (1970)

From the September 1970 issue of the Socialist Standard

Free public Transport in London (see May Socialist Standard) is still under serious public discussion. It is finding supporters in some strange places.

The April issue of Commerce International, the journal of the London Chamber of Commerce, asked various people to comment on the suggestion that “London Transport without fares would b# more efficient”.

Some, like Sir Desmond Plummer Tory leader of the GLC, were against this on the grounds that it would encourage “financial irresponsibility”. By which we assume him to mean that the capitalist maxim of “no profit, no production” would not be applied so directly. Others, including the chairman of the Chamber of Commerces own Transport Committee, were in favour. Some of the figures given reveal the waste of capitalism. According to Tory Islington councillor John Szemerey “at present some two fifths of London Transport’s annual working expenditure is spent on collecting the money to pay for the service”.

The British architects’ association commented with remarkable insight in the May issue of their RIBA Journal:
  To abolish fares on all city public transport would make economic sense, social sense, and moral sense. And it would be practical and more efficient. It is a common sense reform which would immediately make life better for a lot of people; and in present conditions in London, it would be perhaps the simplest and most effective way of making the city a bit more tolerable for its inhabitants. You don’t even have to be a liberal, let alone a radical, to agree with this. But it isn't going to happen, of course, because it’s still too far fetched to make political sense. Moral: when people are told that something is 'utopian', it usually means that some other people don't want them to do it. (our emphasis).
Their views were commended by Labour councillor Sir Norman Prichard in a GLC debate on 12 May. He also pointed out that the Woolwich ferry across the Thames was an existing example of free transport paid out of the rates.

Although of course in a socialist society all transport would be free, to implement free public transport in London on its own would merely be another reform of capitalism which would at best only palliate the problem of traffic congestion. What interests us as socialists is that a proposal to abolish prices is getting such serious discussion. We want to extend this discussion and to hear the arguments of those who advocate free transport against our proposal that everything should be produced free for people to use and that all prices should be abolished, on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production.

To those who have their doubts as to whether this is practical we can only repeat: when people are told that something is ‘utopian’, it usually means that some other people don’t want them to do it.

The Inhumanity of War (1959)

Editorial from the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
All modern wars are the outcome of economic clashes within Capitalism. As this month is the twentieth anniversary of the outbreak of the last world war, the effects of which are still with us, most of the articles in this issue of the SOCIALIST STANDARD concern the Socialist attitude to war.

War can solve no working class problem. It cuts across the fundamental identity of interest of the workers of the world, setting sections of this class at enmity with each other in the interests of sections of the capitalist class.

War elevates force into the position of arbiter in place of the common human desire for mutual peace and happiness. Its effect is wholly evil. It depraves all the participants by forcing them to concentrate upon the best methods of producing misery and of annihilating each other.

War elevates lying, cheating, disabling and murdering opponents into virtues, confers distinctions upon those who practise these means most successfully.

Young men and women, in their most impressionable years, have the vile methods of warfare impressed upon them so thoroughly that they lose a balanced outlook on life and are impregnated with the idea that force, with all its baseness, and not reason is the final solution in all problems.

Socialism is completely opposed to war and to what war represents. At the same time it is the only solution to the conditions that breed war. It is a new form of society in which the people of the world will work harmoniously together for their mutual benefit, for there will be neither privilege nor property to cause enmity.

No coercion will be needed in Socialism because each will gain from co-operating harmoniously with his fellows. But it is a new social system that demands understanding of its implications from those who seek to establish it.

With the establishment of Socialism war will disappear and humanity will have taken the first step out of the jungle.

Classic Reprint: The Socialist Party and the War (1959)

From the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

Statement issued by the SPGB in September, 1939

In this, our first issue of the Socialist Standard since the declaration of war, we have the opportunity of reaffirming the Socialist attitude that we have consistently maintained since the formation of the party, including the war of 1914-18. With the increasing international tension of recent years we have again and again pressed home the undeniable truth that as long as the world is organized on a capitalist economic basis the never-ceasing rivalries will continue to produce conflicts ranging from mere diplomatic crises to gigantic armed struggles spreading over the oceans and continents of the world. The Socialist Party of Great Britain re-affirms that the interest of the world working class – on whom the untold misery and suffering of war inevitably falls – lies in abolishing the capitalist economic system.

The present conflict is represented in certain quarters as one between ‘freedom’ and ‘tyranny’ and for the rights of small nations.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is fully aware of the sufferings of German workers under Nazi rule, and wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression, but the history of the past decades shows the futility of war as a means of safeguarding democracy. After the last Great War – described as the war to end war, and as a war to make the world safe for democracy – the retention of capitalism resulted in the building up of new tyrannies and terrorisms through the inability of the capitalist states to solve the problems created by the system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution and the competitive scramble for raw materials, markets and control of trade routes. So little did the last war achieve its alleged purpose that the man who was prominently associated with the Allied victory and the claim that that war would be the last – Mr. Lloyd George – now has to confess that even this war may not be the last war. Writing in the Sunday Express, (September 10th), Mr. Lloyd George says:
  It is only just over 20 years ago that France and Britain signed the armistice with Germany which brought to an end the bloodiest war in history. They are now fighting essentially the same struggle again.
  Germany is again the aggressor. Once more it is a fight for international right – the recognition of the equal right of nations, weak as well as strong, to lead their own independent lives so long as they do not interfere with the rights of their neighbours.
  This conflict has gone on periodically since the dawn of history. It will go on for many centuries to come unless and until mankind accepts that principle as one of the irrefragable commandments of humanity.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain calls on the workers of the world to refuse to accept this prospect, and calls upon them to recognise that only Socialism will end war.

Among those who support the present war is the British Labour Party, who long ago declared that the peace treaties of the last war contained the germs of a future war. At one time the Labour party, in its ‘Labour Speakers’ Handbook’ 1922 declared that the “unjust territorial arrangements” of the Peace Treaties must be rectified, including the return of Danzig and other Polish territory to Germany and the return of other Polish territory to Russia in accordance with the principle of “self-determination”.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that neither the doctrine of “self-determination”, which the Labour Party then claimed had been violated by the Peace Treaties, nor the German claim for a new carving-up of Europe, nor any other policy for settling minority problems and international rivalries within the framework of capitalism, is capable of bringing peace and democracy to the peoples of the world. Another war would be followed by new treaties forced on the vanquished by the victors, and by preparations for further wars, new dictatorships and terrorism.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain therefore pledges itself to continue its work for Socialism, and reiterates the call it issued on the outbreak of war in 1914:
 Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.
The Executive Committee, S.P.G.B.
September 24th, 1939

In Flanders Field (1959)

Book Review from the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Great Man" myths have a habit, disturbing for the staid in mind, of toppling to the ground. Generals, politicians and other famous public figures are found, usually some time after their period of usefulness is over, to have feet of clay. The more incisive historical enquiries uncover lies, intrigue and treachery: and the myths collapse, though usually too late to have any practical effect. It is, however, never too late to learn; and perhaps the unmasking of the Great Men of yesterday might make us a little suspicious of to-day's Pillars of the Establishment. The latest victims of the fashionable literary pastime of debunking are the generals and politicians of 1917, and particularly Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.

In Flanders Fields, by Leon Wolff, Longmans, 25s. is a very fine conscientious piece of muck-raking. It is not a book about war generally, it is a detailed, well-documented account of the prominent men and important events of 1917. The main theme of the book is the policy of “attrition" and its consequences for the soldiers taking part.. The great exponent of this policy of wearing down the enemy by repeated offensives was Haig, and its principal opponent Lloyd George (at that time Prime Minister). There is a larger theme, usually implied but occasionally explicit as in the quotation from Carlyle at the end of the book; that wars are fought in the interests of ruling groups, and that the majority, of the participants are but pawns in a very dirty game.

The end of 1916 found the armies in France and Belgium more firmly dug-in than ever. A system of trenches, dug-outs, pill-boxes and barbed-wire stretched for hundreds of miles, and many miles deep. In spite of the horrible battles of 1915 and 1916 the Allied Generals were as determined as ever to break the German lines. The French started their offensive first; and as at the Somme, the result was ghastly failure. There were more serious consequences for the French Government than defeat in battle, for the French soldiers decided that they had had enough. They mutinied in tens of thousands, and the ringleaders were shot in hundreds. One group, numbering 750, were sent to a quiet part of the front line and there massacred by their own artillery. These incidents were to provide Haig with some good excuses later. He was to need them; particularly perhaps to quiet his own conscience.

The main British effort was directed at breaking the German line in Flanders and capturing the Channel ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge. Haig hoped that after the initial break-through squadrons of cavalry would be able to chase the Germans and turn retreat into rout, thereby breaking the stale-mate that had existed on the Western front since December, 1914. The offensive started on July 31st, and continued for fifteen weeks. The ground, in peace-time carefully drained by an extensive system of ditches and canals, quickly returned to marshland under the heavy bombardment. At the end of one of the bitterest battles ever waged an enormous number of soldiers were placed in a salient, only a few miles deep, more dangerous than the Ypres salient from which they started. Passchendaele, a heap of rubble, about five miles from the starting line, was captured after ninety-eight days. The offensive resulted, according to one official estimate, in 448,000 casualties on the British side; the author estimates that the small French forces under Haig’s command lost 50,000, and the Germans 250,000. It was usual that about a third of the casualties were killed or died of wounds, so that for a piece of muddy ground 250,000 men were killed, and a further 500,000 wounded or captured. It is fair to point out that other estimates, more favourable to Haig (showing more dead Germans, and less British) have been made by other historians; after reading this book it is difficult to place any reliance on them. Many of the wounded (no one knows how many) were drowned in the shell-holes, unable to drag themselves to safety. They died slow, miserable deaths, making feeble efforts to resist the clinging, sticky mud.

The author thinks that the war was being fought for objects that were “demonstrably trivial” a view that is based on a mistaken conception of how and why Capitalism goes to war. Where there are avowed “war aims” they may be only a cloak for objects which are not openly stated because it would be more difficult to get people to fight for them. There were important issues at stake; Europe had not been torn apart because of an assassination: and there were more important reasons for Britain's entry into the war than the preservation of Belgian neutrality.

Several questions are raised by the book, and if not answered in full at least plenty of material is provided to help supply the answers. Why did the British Government allow Haig to continue his hopeless offensive? Why could not Lloyd George remove Haig from his post? And what was the attitude of the Welsh Wizard towards the war?

Lloyd George, the War-Monger
On one thing Haig and Lloyd George were in full agreement—they were both determined to smash Germany. Lloyd George's weepings over the fallen can be treated sceptically; if more concrete results could have been obtained he would no doubt have been quite prepared to send more millions to their deaths. He had already rejected peace negotiations with Germany, and indeed was placed in power because he was in favour of vigorous prosecution of the war. Characteristically, he would no doubt have made his (written) reservations about such a victory that would conveniently have found a place later in his memoirs. Though Lloyd George had once acquired a reputation as a “peace lover” by opposing the war against the Boer republic in South Africa he was quite prepared, along with the rest of his party, to forget about tolerance and humanity for the duration.

Haig, Blood-Merchant
And what of Haig, the man who gave the orders in June, 1917 that led to the deaths of 250,000 men? He deserves a mention, for he was in his day a Great Man, a leading actor in the sordid tragedy of 1914-18; unfortunately a tragedy that is no mere stage-piece. Capitalism lives by savage rules, and millions died so that Britain and France could dominate Europe. Haig did not take a personally tragic part in the events of 1917, being merely relegated after the war to an Earldom, inaction and (by ruling-class warrior standards) an early death: He never occupied any official post after 1920, but in his heyday he was the darling of the ruling-class How Lord Northcliffe’s papers fawned on Haig in 1917! How The Times (and the Top People) loved him! For a few months during that autumn The Times acclaimed a tremendous victory for every move Haig's armies made, every pile of rubble captured, every few yards of mud gained.

Haig was a cavalry officer, and this explains much about his mentality and methods. He had joined a fashionable regiment, married a Queen’s lady-in-waiting, and was the favourite of Kings—and of Kitchener. He owed his position more to influence than military ability. He grew up in the secure world of late-Victorian England, where military exploits were romantic adventures undertaken in far-off countries against enormous hordes of ill-trained, ill-armed tribesmen. (The hordes would be lucky if they possessed the fire-power of one machine-gun.) A very special kind of military tradition was built up in England; the Army was a shell fired by the navy! Secure in their sea communications, small forces would be sent all over the world; and from this grew Britain’s tremendous superiority in overseas bases. What was an advantage in Empire-building became however a positive disadvantage when engaging in a war with another great industrial power.

Haig was a part of this tradition, ideas were modified slowly (from the Boer war the generals gained an exaggerated respect for massed cavalry) new technical innovations were almost beneath the dignity of high-ranking generals. India, South Africa, Omdurman provided a very poor apprenticeship for Ypres and the Somme. Haig with his rigid, Army-trained mind, was incapable of appreciating that cavalry were useless against machine-guns, earthworks and barbed-wire. He held to the end his faith in his horsemen, not seeing that war was changing, that machines were playing an increasingly important part. It is probable that in his 400 tanks Haig held a master-card that could have beaten the Germans, but he never played this card until his Armies had become bogged down in the mud. Where the tanks were given a chance to show what they could do, there were no reserves left to follow up the initial success gained. From reading his private papers it is obvious that he had no very clear idea of the conditions under which men fought. He was a sincere man, religiously convinced that he could win the war. He placed enormous faith in his staff, believing their phony reports of the victories gained. Along with his Staff, he lived in a narrow optimistic world, almost closed to common-sense or mercy.

In the second (concluding) article, the influence of the generals and the policy of attrition will be considered.
F. R. Ivimey

Two Quotes (1959)

From the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
A Labour politician on recruiting
"Unemployment has helped recruiting, particularly in some areas. I do not know whether hon. Members representing constituencies in Ulster have noticed the figures, but the largest number of recruits has come from around Belfast where the unemployment figure is about 9 per cent., or something of that kind. That figure is not at all irrelevant. We want the recruits, and whether we get them as a result of unemployment or by the provision of high pensions, matters not. We have to build up our conventional forces as best we can.” Mr. E. Shinwell (2nd Day of the Defence Debate in the House of Commons— 26th February, 1959).
An Archbishop on war  
“The use of force of the sword by the State was the ministry of God for the protection of the people. If that were true of the State in its domestic relations it was equally true of the State in its international relations. It all depended upon the motive or intention with which it was used.
  “If the force of an army were used for national aggression or self-assertion, it was wrong. If it were used for the defence of the people, it was right."
Dr. Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury (News Chronicle, October 13th, 1936).

The Failure of UNO (1959)

From the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is a feeling in writing about the United Nations Organisation that one is digging up the dead and almost forgotten past. It might well be asked in 1959, why it is that UNO does not just pack up and go home? The farce is known for what it is and the legend has long since worn too thin to hang together in any presentable form.

Having served throughout its existence as a sounding-board for the international rivalries of the various capitalist participants and facilitated the mutual mud-slinging contests of the self-styled peace lovers East and West, it is now taken no account of when the major capitalist powers decide to take action in line with their mutually antagonistic interests. There are however a number of valid reasons why as Socialists we are still concerned to write about UNO.

To look back at the origin of UNO and to take stock of its record can be very instructive to all those well-meaning people who still persist in trying to get rid of war while leaving intact the conditions out of which it arises.

UNO began as an alleged means of securing a lasting peace. The 14 nations which came together and made the Declaration of St. James's Palace in June 1941, went on record as seeking to “look beyond military victory to the postwar future.” They wondered “would we win only to live in dread of yet another war? . . . Is it not possible to shape a better life for all countries and peoples and cut the causes of war at their roots?”

Atlantic Charter
These high and noble sounding sentiments were followed in August of the same year by another series of empty phrases, known as the Atlantic Charter. This charter was the joint brain-child of Messrs. Churchill and Roosevelt. Clause 6 of the aims of the charter, reads as follows:
  After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny [they] hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
How far removed this is from the normal insecurity which is the lot of the world working-class! The utter failure of post-war Capitalism to realise the ambition contained in this clause, can be seen by the terrible fear which has hung over the heads of all men in all lands since the war ended.

Clause 8 of the Atlantic Charter, which was upheld and subscribed to in the United Nations declaration reads as follows:
  They believe that all the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained, if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential.
A moment's consideration will show what an empty collection of words this is. The nations which since the war have been involved in most “aggression outside their frontiers,” are the big powers, Britain, America, France and Russia, who were the chief supporters of the Atlantic Charter and later of UNO. Exactly who is going to undertake the disarming of these powers is, conveniently, not mentioned.

To suggest to the national ruling classes of the world that they must abandon “the use of force” when their commercial interests are at stake, is asking them to stand aside while their rivals take the lot. Nothing could be more foreign to the nature of capitalism than this.

Dumbarton Oaks
The next step leading to the formation of UNO was the meeting at Dumbarton Oaks. This meeting declared that putting armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council was “a notable improvement” on the League of Nations which had no forces at its disposal. It also entrusted the Security Council to be “responsible for preventing future war.”

This was all during the war, a period of promises and pep-talks. “War to end war” “Make the world safe for democracy” etc. With such words as these ringing in their ears, many millions of workers died.

When the war ended capitalism continued. The same conditions which had already produced two world wars, continued.

How precarious was the whole idea of launching UNO as an instrument of peace can be seen by the statement calling for the San Francisco Conference —"only those State* which had by March 1945 declared war on Germany and Japan were invited to take part." So the proof of being fit to work for peace, lies in having gone to war!

San Francisco Conference
The San Francisco Conference itself was a very turbulent affair. In fact the Opera House in which it was held had never heard so many discordant voices. Every part of the United Nations Charter needed a two-thirds majority and it is recorded that the crises and clashes were such that some "feared the Conference might adjourn without an agreement."

Those sincere but misguided people who waste their time and energy in peace demonstrations or anti-H-bomb campaigns would do well to note that the San Francisco Conference was the largest international gathering ever to take place. It had the official backing of 50 governments and represented 80 per cent, of the world population. They declared to be "All determined to set up an organisation which would preserve peace and help build a better world." There were 850 delegates, counting their staff 3,500, and a further 2,500 observers from the press, radio, news-reels, etc.

Why has it all failed? Why have all the hopes come to naught? Simply because it was founded on a false basis. The supposition of being able to retain capitalism (the cause) and avoid war (the effect).

The United Nations Organisation, after the stormy meetings in San Francisco and the voting of the Charter on 25th June 1945, was born on the 24th October 1945. Its fine phrases and high-sounding aims were rivalled only by its ineffectiveness. Its complete inability to lift a finger without the permission of those capitalist powers whose pet it was.

In June 1950 the United Nations itself went to war in Korea. The vote was seven to one in the Security Council. Now we are informed, The Observer (19-4-59), under the heading "Riddle of the Universe." “A 21-nation United Nations General Assembly Committee has voted to delay for three years an attempt to define aggression."

So the farce goes on and Korea is only the largest of many small wars since the last big one. Could the need for workers to consider the case for Socialism be any plainer?
Harry Baldwin

1914—An Historic Document (1959)

From the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

. . . on Socialism (1959)

From the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
"During the four years of the imperialist slaughter of peoples streams and rivers of blood have flown. Now we must cherish every drop of this precious juice as in a crystal glass. The most sweeping revolutionary action and the most profound humanity—that is the true spirit of socialism. A whole world is to be changed. But every tear that is shed, when it could have been staunched, accuses us."
Rosa Luxemburg, 1918

50 Years Ago: Socialism and Reforms (1959)

The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard

The S.P.G.B. fully believes that the whole is greater than the part, wastes no time advocating this or that reform, but spend their energies in educating the workers in the fact that in Socialism alone lies their emancipation.

One reason our membership does not increase as rapidly as that of some other parties is that we dangle no "Red Herrings" before the workers. The lot of those whom a political or economic "Red Herring" can allure is one to be pitied and abolished and not one to make political capital out of.

From the Socialist Standard, September 1909.

Clynes in the ring. He defends sweating. (1919)

From the December 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the October number of the "S.S." appeared an article which contained the following :

What We Said.
  "Prices are high, they tell you, because there is a real shortage of wealth—of the necessaries of life. If this is true why are there unemployed ? Because your masters are not concerned with increasing the total quantity of wealth ; their desire is for more surplus value, i.e., the difference between the wealth you produce and the wages you receive. All the wealth you produce belongs to your masters. Your wages are paid out of that wealth, and are determined by what it costs you to live. What they ask from you is more work from the individual worker, in order that the total wages bill can be reduced, the very conditions that have always made for increased unemployment. All the lying agents of the master class are denying this truth day after day, hoping, by constant repetition, to make you believe what they have not yet advanced a scrap of evidence to support, or a single reason on which to base their denial."
In a subsequent article mention was made of the eagerness with which labour leaders had rushed to the assistance of the master class in their efforts to intensify exploitation. Now we find one of these labour leaders so zealous in the defence of capitalist interests, so eager to persuade the workers to give more energy for less wages, that he reveals himself as an opponent of Socialism by openly attacking the Socialist truths quoted above, but, like all the other agents, without a scrap of evidence, reason, or argument to support his case.

That Awkward Question.
Mr. J. R, Clynes heads his article ("Reynolds's Newspaper," Nov. 30) : "Who Would Gain Most From Increased Output?" At the foot of our article which he attempts to criticise appears the following :
"The productiveness of labour has increased a thousandfold in the last 500 years, yet those who labour are in constant penury and want. Why is it?"
When Mr. Clynes can answer that question he will have answered his own.

The Real Point.
His attempts to show that the workers need more boots, clothing, houses, etc., and they will get them by increasing output, were all beside the point. The questions that concern the worker are, how much wages ? how many hours of labour ? how fast or how heavy is the labour ? Meeting the capitalist on the labour market, the worker endeavours to sell his only commodity, labour-power, to the best advantage. The shortage of houses, boots or clothing has nothing to do with the bargain each side is driving. If it had, then the capitalists in times of "over-production" should have preached the opposite doctrine—but did they ? Let Mr. Clynes ask the building trades workers how they fared during the seven years before the war, when there were thousands of empty houses and small demand for their labour-power. Or let him ask the boot and shoe operatives who were kept on in the factories while their unemployed comrades tramped to London to demand work, if these unemployed were not used as a lever to extract more surplus value from those at work.

"He Knows About it All"
It is needless to cite further examples. Mr. Clynes knows quite well that capitalists demand—and obtain—the maximum quantity of energy for the lowest wage they can get the workers to accept, and that they do this whether there is a shortage or a glut. In the latter case they are more easily successful, that is the only difference.

But even when there is scarcity the capitalists do not suffer from it. "Their exceptional purchasing power comes to the rescue." Mr. Clynes says so. It is only the workers who suffer, and, what is more, their suffering is greater when there is plenty than when there is scarcity.

In his attempt to answer his own question, who would benefit most by increased output, Mr. Cilynes says "greater production can be brought about without any benefit to the master class." He does not say how; nor does he attempt to show that statisticians like Sir Leo Chiozza Money are wrong when they assert that two-thirds of the wealth produced is taken by the employing class. The power of the capitalist class is due to their possession of the means of wealth production and control of the political machine. Their ever-increasing share of the wealth produced is due to the development of the means and methods of production and the greater efficiency of the workers. Mr. Clynes' assertion that greater production can be brought about without any benefit to the master class is, therefore, an empty assertion. Production does not go on at all unless the employing class can see markets for the commodities. Mr. Clynes might do worse than search for a cause of the housing shortage along these lines. If wages are too low to allow of the payment of an economic rent, capitalists—in spite of the ''human nature" and "real regrets" with which he credits them—will certainly refuse to risk their capital.

Greater production without benefit to the capitalists can only be attained when there are no capitalists, and when production is carried on for use instead of for profits. This solution, however, is ruled out by Mr Clynes, who says that "all Socialists should have the sense to agree that pending the Socialist State we must make the most of what we have got." What have we got ? Poverty, toil that grows more strenuous daily, and long periods of unemployment while factories and stores are packed with goods we cannot use because they belong to our masters. Apart from these the Socialists have got the knowledge that poverty is due to the capitalist system and will end with its abolition and the establishment of Socialism. Mr. Clynes objects to this knowledge becoming the common possession of the workers. Why ? Because his particular job, making excuses for the failure of capitalism, will be ended.

Like all the labour leaders who have thought it worth while to publish their antagonism to Socialism, Mr. Clynes only raises issues that are irrelevant or not essential, or dodges the real issues at stake with sentimental clap-trap. Not once does he attempt to answer the main question in the article he pretends to criticise. If there is a real shortage of necessaries and the capitalists want an increase in the total wealth, why are there unemployed ? But this is not the only point on which he is silent. He uses four quotations from the article in question without acknowledging their source. Bearing in mind his silence on the previous question, one can only conclude that he feared some of his readers might read the article for themselves.

But all the advocates of increased production are up against the question of increasing unemployment. They have to explain away an accumulating mass of evidence proving that many thousands of workers have been unemployed for months. The official statement is "over 400,00 men and women on the unemployment list." Meanwhile the "Daily News," Dec. 2nd, reported that "at a meeting of ex-service men at Shepherd's Bush yesterday Mr. G. Banks said there were in that district over 14,000 unemployed ex-service men," and in another column of the same issue, that 
"The National Union of Dock Workers in Liverpool now requires every new member to pay an entrance fee of £5.
"It is stated that the supply of labour at the docks considerably exceeds the demand, and this fee has been made in order to check the influx. The dockers have decided not to work with non-unionists."
Mr, Clynes dodges the bugbear of unemployment in the following manner :
"Nor is there any sense in failing to distinguish between the functions of a State and the position and duties of individual employers of labour. It is true that the State since the end of the war has dismissed many workpeople, and has failed in its duty in not preparing to turn these workers from war pursuits to creative and useful services in some sphere of peacetime production."
Having been a member of a capitalist government Mr. Clynes should know its functions and its relations with the "individual employers of labour." As an executive of the employing class the governments' chief function is to facilitate and regulate the exploitation of the working class. The Government makes provision for the safeguarding of the capitalist State against enemies internal and external. It provides for the education of the workers according to capitalist requirements It collects taxes from the capitalists for these and other purposes, all directed to the same object—the maintenance of the conditions that permit exploitation of the workers. Anything that hinders the process of exploitation is bad for the capitalist and becomes the subject of State interference. Hence the unemployed dole to civilians was stopped to force them into more strenuous competition on the labour market, and to economise in the interest of the taxpayer, or capitalist. At present the capitalist State is largely concerned with legislation and measures for preventing the workers from striking, at the only time when a strike is effective—when it jeopardises markets and thus hurts the capitalist.

No capitalist government has ever considered it one of its duties to find work for the unemployed and it is only when the number of the unemployed becomes a danger that anything is done for them. An unemployed army is necessary to the capitalists in order to keep down wages and be available in times of brisk trade. If the State absorbs these unemployed in the ordinary channels of production they interfere with the opportunities of the capitalist. If the Government takes over mines, railways, and economises in the working, that again means increased unemployment. Expenditure on roads, bridges, and public buildings comes out of taxes paid by the capitalists, hence their opposition to all forms of extravagance. These facts explain the failure of the Government to set the unemployed to work, and show the futility of all the appeals and demands of the labour leaders, either for nationalisation, the right to work, or the continuation of the unemployment dole.

Bat Mr. Clynes says that "the failure of the State to do this work is not explained by alleging that masters are not concerned with increasing the total quantity of wealth." This sentence, torn from its context, becomes intelligible when read in the full paragraph as quoted at the head of this article : but standing alone, it is beyond Mr. Clynes' power to refute it. Only profits will draw capital, yet capital is so abundant that new concerns, or extensions of old ones have had their shares taken up as soon as advertised, in many cases applications for shares being double the amount offered. Rings of capitalists are buying up cotton mills and other concerns at prices regarded as far above their actual value, while Government flotations have become unpopular because of the ever-increasing opportunities for profitable investment elsewhere. But these are not all the facts which go to prove that capitalists are concerned only with profits, and not at all with increasing the total quantity of wealth. Perhaps Mr. Clynes can find excuses for the capitalists who waste thousands of gallons of milk daily" ("Daily News" 4.19.1919) or for those other capitalists who neglect to put their capital into housing schemes when there are thousands of building workers unemployed and a real shortage of jerry built houses. On this point I may quote the "Daily Chronicle," Nov. 26 :
  "At a meeting of the Property Owners' Protection Association at Winchester House yesterday Mr. A. G. Sheering dealing with the enormous cost of repairs, said the builders' merchants seemed determined to do what they liked.
They had formed a schedule of prices, binding themselves under a penalty of £1,000 to charge these prices. Everything seemed pointing to success when the manufacturers stepped in and said, "Where do we come in ? Unless you admit us to this ring you will get no materials."
The result was that the builders' merchants combined with the manufacturers to introduce a price list—(a voice: "It is a cod piracy'!)—which meant 800 to 1,200 per cent. over pre-war prices. Owners and builders were held up by this ring."
Or, as one who was lately a government official, perhaps he will attempt to explain away the Government Committee's Report on Trusts, where it is shown that in certain industries controlled by rings or trusts, employers are fined £1 for every ton they produce above the allotted quantity, and receive a "dole" of 10s. for each ton that their output falls below the allotted amount. There are firms in these combines that have not produced a single ton since the ring was formed, and yet draw 10s. per ton on the quantity originally allotted to them from the pool.

These are the real controllers of "output,'' and if the whole working class were starving these capitalists would be quite prepared to restrict the food supply still further if they saw a chance to increase their profits by such action. During the war, when food was short and every ton of shipping was urgently needed to bring necessaries here, a wealthy capitalist—Solly Joel—could take a whole ship from this important work to bring home his race-horses from South Africa. During the same period fish was being sent to dust destructors to prevent the increased supply from bringing down prices. The fishermen had increased "output," but neither they nor the other workers gained the least benefit thereby.

Mr. Clynes quotes as follows from our article: 
"With modern machinery and methods every nation can produce more wealth than it can dispose, of within its own boundaries, and it must find markets for the surplus elsewhere." 
On this he comments :
  "Now I do not claim to know what every other nation can do, but I do know that even with modern machinery it is impossible for this nation to produce for itself the quantity of cotton, iron-ore, timber, rubber, wool, and many other articles which we require for manufacturing purposes." 
What Mr. Clynes does know is what everybody has known for ages: we do not produce these things, and many others besides, but we produce their equivalents in other forms of wealth. What he does not claim to know Sir Auckland Geddes does know, and his statement, reported in the "Daily Chronicle," 19.10.19, confirms ours. He says:
  "To-day we are employing in industry some 300,000 more men and women than we were employing in trade before the war ; but, so far as he could judge, it would be necessary for us to employ 1,000,000 persons more in industry than we did before the war.
In order to increase production it was necessary to look for new markets in the future to absorb the produce of more people in industry.
The area for new markets was not to be found in Europe. In other parts of the world the picture was different. There the markets were hungering for goods and were able to pay for them."
"Our social system is a bad one," says Mr. Clynes. That is what we say, and point out exactly why it is bad, and how to establish a sane system of society. We denounce labour leaders because they advocate reforms to prolong the system, and because, like Mr. Clynes, they tell the workers to "make the most of what they have got," and that "we ought not to make the system worse by aggravating the evils which are incidental to it"—an impossibility, because the workers, while capitalism lasts, have not the power either to aggravate or allay those evils, which grow worse with the growth of the system. Above all we oppose these "leaders" because they urge the workers to place political power in the hands of the masters.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, alone in this country adopts the correct attitude in this respect. We expose the evils and point the only way to remove them.
F. Foan

David Lloyd-George (1919)

From the December 1919 issue of the Socialist Standard
"Those who believe that the present system of society is essentially an evil, who condemn private enterprise root and branch, their business is to join those who are seeking to destroy it."—Lloyd George at Manchester, 6.12.19.
Well, we have told you often enough what your duty is—will you believe us now ?