Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Letter: Housing in Russia and "Socialism in one country" (1958)

Letter to the Editors from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

A reader (Mr. R. L. Rhodes, Trowbridge) writes as follows:—

Dear Comrade,
In “Notes By The Way” (Socialist Standard, December, 1957) you comment on bad housing in the Soviet Union. Surely after having about 25 million people made homeless after the last war had ended and added to other problems of reconstruction, only a person who could perform miracles could have solved the problem over night. The SP.G.B. claims the Soviet Union to be a capitalist state, and that Socialism cannot be brought about in any country unless the whole world turns to Socialism. This theory in my opinion is wrong, as for instance say, Britain’s working class were prepared to elect a Socialist government and in the United States they still elected a capitalist government. What would be the attitude of the S.G.P.B.?
Yours fraternally
R. L. Rhodes.


Housing in Russia
Our correspondent thinks it quite reasonable in view of wartime destruction, that the Russian government has not bear able to “solve the problem overnight” This is of course precisely the excuse given by the British and other governments. It is a characteristic piece of capitalist double-talk. With the resources available in Russia, Britain, America and elsewhere it would have been technically quite practicable to have the population decently housed but for the fact that in each country priority is given to other things, notably the fantastic expenditure on armaments, including the American, British and Russian A bombs and H bombs. Since each government places “guns before butter,” and before working class housing, they can all plead that the residue of materials and labour is not sufficient for decent workers’ houses. And of course the inability to build houses only applies to working class houses, not to the abundant, luxurious accommodation made available for the rich and the leading politicians in all countries.

We would also draw our correspondent’s attention again to the statement about Russian housing in our December issue. How does his plea that houses were destroyed in vast numbers in the war that ended over 12 years ago justify the present building (for the workers only) of new houses that are “one storey buildings very little larger than a one-car garage?" And of course the masses of slums and near-slums were there in Russia before the war broke out. They are not the product of the war.

"Socialism in One Country”
There are two quite distinct notions about the possibility of getting Socialism in one country alone.

One is held by people who think that Socialism can be imposed on the people by the government and that all you need therefore is for the government to be taken over by a group who want Socialism. The point about this theory is, of course, that it assumes that you can get Socialism without having to wait for the workers to become Socialists. If this theory had been sound our correspondent would not have written to us asking a question but would have written giving us the answer. He would have been able to tell us that in 1918 the Russian Communist Party seized power and then, in accordance with the theory of Socialism in one country, had triumphantly introduced Socialism in Russia without having to wait for the workers in Russia to become Socialist or for the workers out of Russia to become Socialist. Our correspondent does not tell us this because it is not true. After 40 years of power, what they have produced is State capitalism, and we readily agree that you can have State capitalism in one country.

The other theory about Socialism in one country is the one our correspondent asks us to consider, the notion of the workers becoming Socialist in one part of the capitalist world but not in other parts, this theory has been put to us ever since the S.P.G.B. was formed but it has undergone repeated changes—the country in which this is supposed to happen is never the same. At one time, it was Germany where the workers were supposed, to be on the verge of Socialism; then the purblind I.L.P. told us that it was Australia (they even had it happening in one state alone in Australia, in Queensland). Then Mexico and France, Austria, Russia, Sweden, New Zealand and numerous other countries, each had their turn—not forgetting Britain where Socialism was about to dawn with the Labour Government of 1924. All of these examples were based on the supposition, now put in the letter above, that the majority in one country become Socialists while those elsewhere do not. Which brings us from fanciful assumptions back to reality. Our correspondent gives us no reason whatever for supposing that something will happen which is contrary to all experience. The overwhelming majority of workers in Britain, Russia, U.S.A. and everywhere else have not yet abandoned their belief in capitalism. Those who have become Socialists are everywhere a small minority, and everywhere at present the Socialist idea spreads only slowly. Experience everywhere supports the view that the progress of the Socialist movement will be much the same everywhere because broadly the workers’ experience of capitalism is everywhere similar. Also the movement in one country influences growth in other countries. The tempo will at some stage increase but again there is no evidence of any kind to suggest that it will quicken in Britain and hang back in U.S.A. and Russia or vice versa. On the contrary the only expectation is that the growth of the Socialist movement everywhere will be accompanied by increasingly effective common international action by the Socialist movement. The international Socialist movement will be strong everywhere before the possibility of Socialism arises, and if the election at which Socialists take governmental control out of the hands of the capitalists in one country slightly precedes the elections at which the workers elsewhere do the same, the situation will present no problem of any moment The capitalists everywhere will be at the end of their rule, and will know that they are at the end of their rule, in face of the worlds’ Socialists acting as one united movement
Editorial Committee

Party News Briefs (1958)

Party News from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Glasgow Branches (City and Kelvingrove) are holding regular Sunday evening propaganda meetings and full details are given in the local press. These meetings are being well attended and the Branch members are anxious to see that interesting subjects are dealt with and also to maintain the already good start made for 1958. Please make a note—full details of meetings in your local paper.

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Wales. The Party’s name is frequently in the news and the Western Mail (calling itself the National Daily of Wales) publishes letters from our Swansea Comrades in its “Letters to the Editor” column. The Swansea Group members, being few in number, not living very close to one another, rely on correspondence as their main source of propaganda. In the issue of the Western Mail dated December 4th a feature article quotes “The Western Mail seems to me to have been quite generous to political minorities. I noticed for example at least one letter from the Swansea Secretary of the Select Party of Good Boys, as I call the Socialist Party of Great Britain which still claims to be the only true Socialist Party in these isles.”

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"Socialist Standard.” Another reminder that a subscription form is in this issue, and although the Standard is now 6d. a month, 7s. 6d. will secure the Socialist Standard for a whole year, posted to any address in Britain.

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Camberwell Branch has not been mentioned in News Briefs for sometime now. This is not due to lack of activity; on the contrary, the Branch has been very busy. Two outdoor meeting stations have been maintained— East Street and Rushcroft Road—and although during the winter, months, these meetings are not so well attended as in the Spring and Summer, literature sales have been well maintained. The Branch Members regularly canvas the Socialist Standard and in the November “drive” nearly 20 dozen copies were sold.

One member who was very active in the Branch has moved out of London and the Branch has lost contact with him. The member is Comrade Goodman and the Branch would be very pleased to hear from him again.

Currently, the branch is arranging film-shows and lectures and mock debates at the branch room. Details of these activities will be given shortly. As in other branches of the Party, non-members are always welcome at branch meetings and lectures.

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Activity in Morecambe. Comrade Shaw of Morecambe sends us from time to time cuttings from local newspapers containing many letters of his putting the party case in answer to articles and letters from other readers. Recently he has had letters in the Barrow News, the Lancaster Guardian, Morecambe Times and Morecambe Visitor. In this way Comrade Shaw is able to put over the Socialist case on matters of current interest and it is an example other members could usefully copy.

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Our Advertising. In response to a recent advertisement we received the following letter:
“your strikingly-worded advertisement in the News Chronicle causes me to write for the free specimen copy offered.
I am still looking for a Socialist journal free from the omniscience of Tooley Street and the greasiness of Uriah Heep.
Is such to be found in Clapham High Street?”
It is pleasing to receive this tribute to our advertising. We only hope that the literature which has been sent to this enquirer will stimulate his interest sufficiently to induce him to make a fuller study of the Socialist case.

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New Journal published by our Irish Comrades. We welcome as an addition to Socialist literature the Socialist, published by the Socialist Party of Ireland. It is a brightly written and informative 8-page duplicated journal, issued monthly at 3d. Those who wish to get copies are invited to apply to the S.P.I., 29, Lincoln Avenue, Belfast, or to P. Boylan, 115, Walkinstown Drive, Walkinstown, Dublin, or to our head office. We wish our Irish Comrades success in their venture and urge readers of the Socialist Standard to give them support.

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Speakers’ Class. The Propaganda Committee is arranging a Speakers class to be held February—April. The last class was very successful as members know and the Propaganda Committee will be pleased to hear from Comrades who intend to join. Details are being sent to Branch Secretaries.

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Passing of an early member. We have received from Leonard F. Bailey a letter about the death of his father, B. S. Bailey on 17th December, at the age of 78. He writes:—
  “I understood he was a founder member of the Party in 1904, and was for many years an active member of Wood Green Branch, and mentioned to me amongst other comrades, the names of Anderson and Fitzgerald, which would take us back to the first world war of 1914.
    I know he had the party movement deeply at heart and should like, if I may, to send the Party a small donation each year to commemorate his memory on December 17th.
   His sons are scattered, one at Helpringham, Lines., another at Ringstead, Northants, and myself at Ilford, but I can safely say we have all father’s ideals at heart.”
Phyllis Howard

Golden Fleece (1958)

From the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Out-of-Town readers and others will be interested in an item which appeared not long ago in Life Magazine. “Doyle Goldy, a sheep rancher, of Palisades, Wash., was fed up with wrestling with his sheep. Every time he tried to shear them they wriggled and kicked so much that they wore him out, especially the rams. Then Goldy heard about tranquilizers and their effect on people. He asked a doctor whether a tranquilizer would work on a ram. Probably so, answered the doctor, and he doubted that it would have any long-term effect. Goldy gave one of his rambunctious rams a specially prepared injection of it and a wonderfully tranquil expression spread over the animal’s face. Then as Goldy applied the shears and his son David watched, the ram submitted without a wriggle.”

This is a wholly new venture with sheep, of course, but its use has been well known in the human world for a hundred and fifty years. The large-scale shearing movement which began in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century necessitated new techniques generally; to-day the variety of tranquilizers is so considerable that the fleece merchants are spoiled for choice (that’s putting it mildly);

The first great name in tranquilizers is Wesley. Before his time the fleece merchants had to contend with wriggling and kicking wholesale. Most of the herds were newly driven in from the countryside and did not take kindly to their new environments; some, indeed, kicked and broke the machines used for shearing them, and there were occasional signs of whole herds refusing to be shorn at all. Near Manchester in 1819 several head were openly butchered as an example to the others, in spite of protests from humane societies.

Wesley’s prescription was an adaptation of several old formulae. The chief ingredients were Sky Pie and Humble Pie, laced with Mumbo. The tranquilizing effect was remarkable for its time: a full injection of Wesleyism produced pleasant dreams of pasture and cud and made the subject at once quiescent and willing to be sheered. A revolution in herdsmanship had taken place. Some old-fashioned fleece merchants ignored the new methods, preferring the heavy hand and the big stick (there was, in fact, a proprietary brand of big stick now known as Calvin’s); nevertheless, tranquilizers were in.

Their use spread rapidly in the nineteenth century, but Wesley’s formula found no rival (though many imitations, such as Booth’s Salve, tried to take the market by advertising). After a time, however, an interesting scientific fact showed itself. In modern times, certain insecticides have apparently lost their power because slight mutations have taken precedence and produced new bug generations which are non-susceptible to those bug powders. The same thing happened in the shearing world; before the nineteenth century ended it was apparent that the herds were no longer being tranquilized by the Sky-Pie formula.

The fleece merchants' backroom experts produced several interesting experiments while they searched fresh avenues for a new tranquilizer. In the face of one outbreak of kicking, their episcopal and mayoral section made effective use of a sedative called Charity; its chief ingredient was a minute quantity of the base metal Handout. It was commonly believed that an overdose of this would be dangerous (to somebody or other); the discovery that it was not so paved the way for one of the great tranquilizers of modern times.

Testing doses of the new mixture (ninepence and fourpence) were given in the early nineteen-hundreds, and it was brought to full strength after the second world war. The basic formula of Thin Soup and Crumbs remains; only specifics for various purposes have been added. Injection with the mixture produces an expression of heavenly bliss while the shearing is going on and even, it is thought, inability to feel the shears; one large group known as the Labour herd seems acquiescent to almost anything with this tranquilizer (though its old rams are suspected of being self-immunized).

Different localities have different tranquilizers, of course. In some parts of the world the Soup-and-Crumbs concoction has not caught on and they have the Yewtoo drug. This induces a trance in which the subject, while actually being sheared, sees himself doing the shearing in a Cadillac. Another local preparation is Krushchov Salts (formerly known as Stalinoids), which gives an illusion of boundless freedom at the same moment as a copper’s club descends; where the injection does not take place, the subject is removed to a cold climate for further treatment

With the pace of shearing being continually stepped up, new tranquilizers are on the way all the time. It has been discovered, for example, that the ownership of any small piece of imitation fleece is itself a tranquilizer, since it gives an impression of having somehow shared in the shearing. Another handy phenomenon is the occasional emergence in a herd of a young female with over-developed hindquarters and thorax; watching her, they can be sheared twice over.

Summing up, what has changed is the tranquilizers' basic ingredient The old one, Pie in the Sky, has given way to Pie on Earth—the Papal dose to be taken timidly. Even Wesley’s and similar brands have had to fight competition by going over largely to this formula, while Graham’s Hotgosp (a new and much inferior product) consists almost entirely of it. The contemporary “tranquilizer dream” does not hallucine the subject with his nightgowned, harp-pinging self on a cloud. Its vision is of a super-gadget home for him, with super-chassis creatures in the garage and the kitchen. There is hardly a difference, except that the shears snicker a good deal faster nowadays.

Watch out for mutations, however. About fifty-three years ago a new variety appeared which had developed sensitivity to shearing to such an extent as to be immune to tranquilizers. The tendency of this group is to pass on its acquired consciousness, so that the logical outcome of its growth would be a complete rejection of shearing altogether. Since it’s a damnfool business anyway, that would be a fine thing for everybody. As mutations survive or not according to their suitability to the environment, this obviously is the one with the future. Watch out!
Robert Barltrop

Is the Vatican freedom’s only foe? (1958)

Book Review from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are aware that when we state our case against religion we come up against deeply rooted prejudice. Of course religious people do not like to think of themselves as being prejudiced but, as wrong as they may think us to be, they must fairly examine our position if they are to have anything other than emotional convictions about their own ideas.

It is fundamental to the Socialist case that belief in gods and their powers over human affairs is one of the things that stands in the way of the workers' understanding and ending their subject and exploited condition. It is with religion as the prop to the present system of property rights and privileges—as sanctifier of capitalist laws, wars and institutions, as an agent of the capitalist class in keeping its wage-slaves docile—that as Socialists we are concerned with exposing and opposing it

If the workers of the world are to take the stage and proclaim the world to be theirs, if they are to realise the powers lying dormant in their own heads and hands, they must cast off the fog of religion together with the other fallacies maintaining this system. We claim that there are no “divine” solutions to housing, poverty, hunger, war and insecurity. Faith and prayers can only delay the day when discontentment with these things organises to abolish the system that brings them.

A small book has been written by one Adrian Pigott, which plays its role in the farce of Catholic versus Protestant, entitled Freedom's Foe—The Vatican, from the Wickliffe Press. The way Adrian Pigott sees it, the world would be a wonderful place but for the sinister intrigues and the domineering and dictatorial nature of the Roman Catholic Church. The H-Bomb in the hands of a Protestant Eisenhower is a gift from heaven, but would be a threatening menace if controlled by a McCarthy Catholic. Taking the sincerity of the author for granted, we feel a little guilty at having to shatter such unworldly innocence, but it is nevertheless necessary.

Although Materialism recognises that men make history (that is to say it is the activities of men in relation to the environment which changes the face of the earth) it is nevertheless true that men are thrown up by the times they live in and conditioned by the social and economic forces around them. Blissfully unaware of this, our author is a “great-man” fan.

Two lists are produced in the first chapter which are supposed to show “that nearly all the human benefactors are non-Romanists—and that the ‘Black Sheep' generally are Romanists." Before we cast the light of our class scrutiny on some of the major anti-working class defenders of Capitalism it is curious to note in passing how Lord Baden Powell, who saved the British Army training time with the Boy Scout idea, is listed as a benefactor, while Hitler, who did the same for the German Army with Hitler Youth, is on the black list. How a religious reformer like General Booth,, who founded the now multi-millionaire Salvation Army qualifies as a “Sociologist" is rather mystifying. The Gin Houses of East End London were ready material for anyone looking for “sinners." That the underlying cause of poverty and degradation is rooted in the system where a relatively few own, and the many are wage slaves whose lives are conditioned by the state of the labour market upon which they have to find hirers, of course completely escaped Booth and his successor, whose only answer is to bend the knee and pray.


Amongst the statesmen listed as “human benefactors" are Attlee, Churchill, Eden, Lenin, Lloyd George, Nehru, F. D. Roosevelt and Truman. If the virtue of these men lies in their not being Catholics, it is nothing to boast about. Lenin did more than any man with the possible exception of Stalin to distort Marxism and pass Russian State Capitalism off as Socialism; perhaps the greatest single piece of mischief ever to bring confusion to the world's workers as to what Socialism is and where their interests lie. The rest of them have all broken strikes and supported wars and deceived the workers (including Adrian Pigott) as to the issues involved in wars. Let us stress here again it is not that they are Protestants or Hindu’s that they behave as they do, not because they are “bad men" and that “good" men in the same circumstances would have been different. It is the word “circumstances” which needs studying. The circumstances are those produced by a system of production for sale and profit and competition for markets and materials. The folly of accepting the responsibility of trying to make Capitalism work in peace and harmony lies as much on the heads of working class millions as it does on the “statesmen" they vote for. Adrian Pigott has seen fit to include Henry Ford, Rockefeller and Lord Nuffield as non-Catholic “philanthropists." These men like the rest of the class to which they belong have amassed vast wealth out of the unpaid labour of the working class. We can only describe the attitude of those who accept the world of rich and poor and go looking for the rich to be “philanthropists" as a grovelling one.

There is also a list of warriors. Now a warrior is one skilled in the “art” of mass butchery known as making war. It is strange, to say the least, that a writer who condemns the violence and blood-letting of the Roman Catholic Church, should look upon Eisenhower, Montgomery and Tito, etc., as “human benefactors.” While it is true, as the author points out, that Senator McCarthy was a Catholic the whole of the vileness for which he was responsible was carried out under President Eisenhower. There are several worthwhile chapters on the distant and recent past of the Roman Catholic Church, which well illustrate its brutality, but in drawing attention to the harmful effects of ignorance fostered by the Romanists, the author all the time writes as a patriot and a Protestant and adopts a “holier than thou” attitude which blinds him to the equally harmful nature of Capitalism generally, and all its religious sponsors. When Adrian Pigott talks of “Freedom” he means the conditions obtaining in the non-Catholic countries and speaks in equally glowing terms about Britain, America and Russia. For the friction which exists between them he blames the “Vatican Schemers.” What really sets the major (and minor) powers at one another’s throats is, of course, their rivalry for markets, resources and trade routes which are the foundation of their profits. To whatever extent the Catholic Church is concerned in the commerce of Capitalism it is no worse than the rest of them. As for freedom, the wage slaves the world over are “free” to work for wages or starve if they refuse. Factory fodder in boom time, cannon fodder in war time, they are free to rot on the labour market when no employer finds it profitable to exploit them.

Yes, the Vatican is freedom's foe, but not its only one. The lack of understanding of their position in Capitalist society on the part of the world's workers, makes the continuation of all the barriers to their freedom. The word “freedom” is indeed a high sounding one, ' but while the productive majority have to hire themselves out of their weekly keep to a non-productive minority, it can have only a very limited significance. Only when the means of living belong in common to everyone will freedom from want, wars and insecurity begin to have meaning. We in the companion Parties for Socialism need your help urgently to bring that condition about.
Harry Baldwin

Note on inspiring conference in U.S.A. (1958)

Party News from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

I learn that some American readers are disturbed by the fact that, in the write-up of my trip to America in the November Socialist Standard, I did not mention the festering slums, the dingy tenements, the innumerable houses like large dog kennels only more dilapidated, the turmoil inside the factories, and the other social sores. To the people for whom I was writing it is common knowledge that every modern city in the world has its large cesspools of misery—American cities no less than others. Likewise that the insides of factories are places where tortured humanity toils and sweats for the class that owns.

The paragraph that led to a misconception is preceded by the sentence: “I would add a few words on my impressions—necessarily scanty." I then mentioned a few things that I thought would interest members and sympathisers here—among them a reference to wood-built houses to indicate that they could be as pleasant and comfortable as those built of brick. I did not think it necessary to add that there were thousands of them that were practically uninhabitable. In another column of this paper there are references to the appalling state of housing in the United States.

Perhaps I should add that I was only making a comparison of a few externals to indicate how factories and streets could be laid out in the future. I did not need to go inside the offices and factories; I knew what they were like before I set out on the visit, and so did those for whom I was writing. Of course there is rush and tear inside, but I was interested in some differences outside, compared with here. Naturally my references only concerned the particular places I visited, which are mentioned in the write-up.

Need I also add that I did not go to America to study conditions and report on them—that would have taken months. I simply went out to meet, and become closer acquainted with, the members and sympathisers connected with our companion parties over there. When ' I came back I wanted members and sympathisers here to know how warmly I was received, and those in America to know how much I appreciated the reception they gave me.

50 Years Ago: Lancashire Textiles and Chinese Competition (1958)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Lancashire Textiles and Chinese Competition, 1908

“Mr. Theodore C. Taylor, M.P., recently visited Japan and China, and, as a result of his investigations, he urges that if we (i.e., British capitalists) are to retain our hold upon the world’s markets, our aim must be better work and more work in the time, to correspond with the shorter hours we now work. As yet, he says, it is mainly in coarse counts that China and Japan compete with Lancashire, but he sees nothing to prevent their spinning finer counts as well.”
(From the Socialist Standard, Feb., 1908).

Lancashire Textiles and Chinese Competition, 1958

For the first time for 200 years Britain is buying more cotton textiles from foreign lands than Lancashire is exporting for sale overseas. So says Roger Malcolm Lee, chief of the mighty Lancashire Cotton Corporation, who tells shareholders that imports are now exceeding exports because of cheap cloth coming in from India, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and China.

“Latterly,” he says, “imports from China have attained alarming proportions.”

Sales of Chinese cloth are made at prices “unrelated to actual costs of production.” They are obviously made “at political prices” he says.
(From the Daily Express, 31 December, 1957.)

Sound Currency or No Currency (1958)

From the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The above title might read a bit “haywire” to the stockbrokers of Throgmorton or Wall Streets, but if such is the case, this is merely because their vision is limited to that of a buying and selling, production for profit system of society. A world of banks and bombs, courts and prisons, parsons and prostitutes, “Official Receivers' and un-official “receivers,” Merchant-Brokers and broke “merchants”; flood-lit palaces and gas-lit bad alleys, nuclear “progress” on one hand and National Assistance Boards on the other, plus all the rest of the paraphernalia of this “sorry scheme of things.” 

Anything outside this crazy world of Capitalism is —to the upholders of that social system—a “flight of fancy.”

A recent account by Tom Stacey (Daily Express) describes a fund formed in America, with donations of the “Almighty Dollar” already flowing in, to complete a sum to present to—Guess Who ?—“Our first visitor from outside space.” This is a classical example of bourgeois mentality. For them it is a foregone conclusion that “filthy lucre" could not fail to be held in esteem by any possible inhabitants of the whole vast Cosmos!

Such reasoning is of course fallacious. Social systems change in relation to changes in the mode of production and distribution. There can be no eternal Capitalism any more than there could have been an eternal Feudalism. The “Embryo” of Socialism has long existed within the aging Capitalism in the form of social production and distribution by the working class in the complicated arrangements required by world markets. It needs but the "midwife" of Socialist knowledge on the part of the working class to complete the “delivery" of the new society. A society wherein the beloved “currency” of the stockbrokers and their ilk will find its historic place as an exhibit in the museums.

This is an historic possibility overlooked by such writers as Frederick Ellis, Daily Express financial columnist, who, having his own ideas on what is “good for us all ” offers the following advice in his contribution towards the (doubtful) benefit of suffering humanity:—
   “A strong £ is essential to the welfare of the nation—as, a whole. Monkey about with the £ and you monkey about with Britain’s living standards. The bold and politically courageous moves of the Government, unpopular as they may be, are essential for a sound currency, and a sound currency is good for us all."—(Sunday Express, 3/10/57.)
This statement is typical of the general “run" of these writers who speak for King Capital. In their view, society is made up of nations within whose boundaries exists a total population with identical interests— “happy family” wherein strikes official or unofficial are “bad for us all”; for ever and anon, more work and higher production are “good for us all” with the “Almighty Dollar" as an eternal basis for their financial juggling.

In the first place we take it for granted that Mr. Ellis includes the working class when he talks about the “nation as a whole.” After all where would the “Nation” be without them ! As regards ”monkeying about with the £ and Britain’s living standards”—this advice is rather belated in view of the fact that various Governments since the turn of the Century have been performing tricks in this field, otherwise how explain the vast reduction in volume of commodities bought by the 1957 £ as against its 1900 counterpart? Then again what is Mr. Ellis' basis for a “living standard”? Is it the “Plimsol line” of the old age pensioners “ standard” or perhaps the “standard" of the habitues of the Dorchester. We have to quote these two extremes because Mr. Ellis is himself continually concerned about what is “good for us all.”

The standard of living of the working class in Britain as elsewhere, is determined by the fact that they are a wage-slave class, dependent on the sale of their bodily energy (labour-power), which precludes their participation in the luxury standard of their masters— the Capitalist ruling class. So long as the working class support politically this state of affairs, their living standard will remain what it is today—A MEAN AND SHODDY EXISTENCE IN RELATION TO THE WEALTH THEY SOCIALLY PRODUCE BUT DO NOT OWN.

To sum up—in a class-divided society like Capitalism, wherein the Capitalist owning class buy the labour-power of the working class at its market value, whether they pay for it with a “strong” £ or a “weak one” (to use their own lingo) makes no difference to the working class.

Furthermore, the Capitalist Class buy this labour power of the working class, not from any benevolent motives, but because of its potentiality for producing a value over and above its cost in wages, i.e., for profit The relationship therefore in this transaction is that of exploiter and exploited; rather an unsound basis, to say file least for Mr. Ellis' “sound currency” social theories.

Fortunately we are not depending on the confused theories "of financial “experts” to get us out of the social morass of Capitalism. As Socialists we stand for the abolition of the wages system with its “currency madhouse” or “Sound Pounds,” “Almighty Dollars," State Roubles, Widows' Mites and Pensioners Pittances.
To replace it—something that will be good for us all—Socialism
G. R. Russell.

“How to save millions of lives” (1958)

From the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The following quick guide to Nuclear War is based on material supplied in a ninepenny booklet issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, and is given free by the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

To Save Millions of Lives you must first start a war which would make Genghis Khan's activities look like the Boy Scout Movement.

Using 10,000,000 ton bombs, which are 500 times bigger than the Nagasaki Horror (which we were told, and some were stupid enough to believe, brought peace in 1945) you would drop them on the most densely populated areas, such as cities. The expense would not be great, for one of the above can make a hole (?) one mile wide and 200 feet deep. Again looking on the bright side, this would be a quick war, with good prospects for jerry-builders and black marketeers to put civilisation back on its feet when peace came.

The three dangers in this sort of war are Heat, Blast and Radio-Activity. Any others would be very secondly.

Heat. A very good way of saving some of the lives is to see people are not within four miles of any individual bomb. If possible, too, see people are not within sixteen miles, for they might get so burnt they would wish they were underneath file bomb. A good tip in connection with burns is to urge folks to wear hats and gloves (you know, like Ascot). These garments are a great help against a 10,000,000-ton explosion!

As this is only a brief resume on Saving Lives, we must pass on to the next point, blast

Here we are on rather more shaky ground, as we understand “irreparable” damage is done up to five miles in all directions. So we are not clear where the people would be who were going to be Saved. We hold out no hope for retired couples who have bought bungalows in the country, in which to pass the quiet even-tide of their lives. For we know stairs are an excellent way of Saving Lives, just as they were in the Last Lot. Better to dig slit-trenches and learn to live in those.

And now we pass on to Ratio-Activity. Its discoverers, Marie and Pierre Curie, saw it as a great boon. They hated war. But when it came, in 1917, M. Curie used her brain-child to mend the lumps of quivering flesh which once had been man.

Radio-activity, we would say, right at the start is tricky, because many of the Saved Lives might have to stay in a well-protected windowless room of their house for days until the R.-A. had lost its lethal content This room would have to be the bathroom-cum-toilet For there could be no discreet “Back in a minute” nonsense. Also food and water would have to be stored, plus tins of milk for the baby. We have no information about anti-suffocation measures to be taken while all these good folk are in their little Black ’Oles of Calcultta. The unlucky ones outside would vomit, develop fever, a ghastly thirst, bleed inside, lose hair outside, and not feel particularly hungry. But at least "they would feel little pain.” The French have a proverb—“ He who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches.”

Particular attention should be paid to hair and nails; they should be washed with soap and water. This would be most convenient as the victim would be in the bathroom anyway.

Finally, do remember to tell people who are anxious to be among the Saved (your contributor is not—the shrinking coward) that “The best defence against chaos and confusion would be a resolute spirit of self-reliance, based not on groundless optimism, but on knowledge of the facts.”
M. Brown