Sunday, March 7, 2021
“Thy Kingdom Stands, nor Falls for ever.”—(Well-known hymn.)
Thirty-five years ago, when the S.P.G.B. was founded, religion was an issue in debate. To-day the churches are trying to recapture their failing interest, and preserve what is left. A year or two ago the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others, loudly announced a Recall to Religion. The promoters of a united faith have been busy. At the world conference on “Faith and Order,” in August, 1937, the Scottish Roman Catholic Archbishops departed from a long-established practice, and sent observers with a watching brief. On the one hand, growing scientific knowledge has lowered the Church’s stock. The pundits thought they could find refuge in the writings of the oracles of modern physics. But they found none among recent discoveries in other fields, and especially in psychology. These latter were much more intelligible to most people, equally exciting, and widely read. On the other hand, week-end amusement, ready to hand in the shape of cheap transport, radio and cinema, has eclipsed the churches in their appeal. Even the cheap-jackery of advertisement fails to fill many a parson’s empty pews. God is on diminishing returns.
Consider the nature and grounds of Christian doctrine with a view to demonstrating the extent of existing agreement within the Church of England, and with a view to investigating how far it is possible to remove or diminish existing differences.” —(Page 55, Manchester Guardian Weekly, January 21st, 1937.)
The memorial deals with the changes in the social aspects of country districts. Fewer sons of the wealthier classes are being ordained, it is stated; fewer ordinands have any private means. Filling country livings becomes increasingly difficult.The remedy at present sought is the amalgamation of benefices, very unpopular in the parishes. This, says the memorial, is surely wrong. The remedy is for the priest to live not in the big glebe house but in a cottage, like his humble parishioners.”—(Daily Telegraph, December 13th. 1937.)
As matters stand with us in England, I am fully persuaded that strikes and lock-outs are not only widely calamitous to those directly concerned, but unfair to the nation as a whole, and, in the true sense of the word, immoral. It has been my experience to live through two great strikes in this Diocese, and I am unable to see that any other result came from them than suffering, economic confusion, and lamentable social embittermentTherefore, in the interest of the whole community, and therein specially of the miners, the clergy cannot, in my judgment, rightly or wisely associate themselves with movements which contemplate, and logically result in, open conflict.
There is a party who think to overthrow the current theology by disputation and ridicule. They fail to see that the theology they detest is so closely entwined with the current mode of production that the two must stand or fall together . . .
“Labour is intensified. The work day is lengthened or shortened, according to the situation of the market. And, depending on the requirements of the market, labour is either employed or thrown back into the street. In other words, use is made of all the methods that enable an enterprise to stand up against its competitors in the market. The workers forming a co-operative in the field of production . . . are obliged to take toward themselves the role of the capitalist entrepreneur—a contradiction that accounts for the usual failure of production co-operatives, which either become pure capitalist enterprises or, if the workers’ interests continue to predominate, end by dissolving”.
“That is why people who pronounce themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not really choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new society they take a stand for surface modifications of the old society” (p; 43).
“The present State is, first of all, an organisation of the ruling class. It assumes functions favouring social development specifically because, and in the measure that, these interests and social development coincide, in a general fashion, with the interests of the dominant class. Labour legislation is enacted as much in the immediate interest of the capitalist class as in the interest of society in general.”
“Since the social reforms can only offer an empty promise, the logical consequence of such a programme must necessarily be disillusionment” (p. 26).
“From the first appearance of class societies . . . the conquest of political power has been the aim of all rising classes” (p. 42).
“Democracy does not acquire greater chances of life in the measure that the working-class renounces the struggle for its emancipation, but, on the contrary, democracy acquires greater chances of survival as the Socialist movement becomes sufficiently strong to struggle against the reactionary consequences of world politics, and the bourgeois desertion of democracy. He who would strengthen democracy should want to strengthen and not weaken the Socialist movement. He who renounces the struggle for Socialism renounces both the Labour movement and democracy” (p. 41).