Sunday, April 11, 2021

The constitution of the future. (1923)

From the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

Among a variety of matters reviewed at the I.L.P. Conference in early April was a resolution which, as reported by the “Daily Herald” (4/4/23), “aimed at the abolition of the Cabinet system, and the substitution of Government by committees with Ministers as chairmen.” An indeterminate discussion took place, ending in the questions being referred to a Committee of the National Administrative Council for consideration. The question was raised at the Conference, of course, because the Labour Party, to which the I.L.P. is affiliated, hopes to become the Government Party within the next few years : and the fact that it was raised throws an interesting light upon what it will do when that time comes.

What is the Cabinet? It is the Committee of Ministers who preside over all the important state departments. How it is chosen? By the Prime Minister, whose selections require only the King’s approval. Who chooses the Premier? The King, usually on the advice of the retiring Prime Minister, and having regard to the predominating party in Parliament. The business of the Cabinet is to regulate foreign and colonial affairs, issue temporary decrees, re-appoint to vacant offices, introduce legislation into Parliament, and so on. Practically the whole initiative of Government is vested here : in fact, with the acquiescence of the majority in Parliament, the Cabinet is the Government.

The Cabinet system in its modern character was developed by the representatives of the merchants, bankers and landowners, after their political victory of 1688. They had robbed the monarchy of much of its power, but by no means wished to abolish it. Its presence at the head of their system sanctified their rule, by reason of the sentimental veneration with which wage-workers, shopkeepers, small manufacturers, etc., regarded, and still regard it. They took care, however, to keep it well in hand. The King no longer acted independently, but either “in Council” (in which case the counter-signature of the Privy Council was necessary), or “in Parliament” (in which case consent of the Commons and Lords was necessary). In practice, of course, sittings of the full Privy Council proved totally impracticable. There was never enough agreement amongst its members upon the policy to be pursued, or the legislation to be framed. Besides, in the matter of shaping bills, no matter what views might carry the day in Council, they were of no effect unless the legislation embodying them recommended itself to Parliament. Therefore, this clumsiness was overcome by that party undertaking the task which for the time being could command a majority in Parliament.

A body would be formed of five, seven, or more members of the Privy Council (nowadays the number has increased to round about twenty), all belonging to one party, to fill the ministerial posts. The holders of all the more important offices in the Government, says the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” are “generally selected as the influential politicians of the party, rather than for special aptitude in the work of the departments.” (Coalitions are rare, and formed for joint action in times of emergency, when opposing parties deem it expedient to sink their differences temporarily, as did the Liberal, Unionist and Labour Parties during the late War). This body, the Cabinet, discharged all the important functions nominally performed by the “King in Council.”

Meanwhile, what powers remained to the Sovereign were taken over by this or that State office, until the monarchy to-day remains nothing but a figure—”the mascot,” as it has been called, of the ruling class.

Now this was a good system for the Capitalist class. It provided, and still provides, the various sections of Capitalist interests with a convenient means of mobilising their votes in Parliament; and they have a check upon what is done “in Council” by the yearly financial votes. (The House of Commons exercised that power as recently as April 11th last by refusing to go into Committee of Supply on the Civil Service Department.) The Cabinet system, and indeed Parliament itself, which is of much earlier growth, are products of times when the State was very little concerned with the organisation of industry; and whenever the requirements of modern Capitalism make it necessary for the State to take control of some branch of industry, it simply becomes the responsibility of one of the ministries, and is developed with the direct assistance and advice of Capitalists, through the committees, commissions, boards, etc., that all converge on the Cabinet. Yes, the Cabinet system serves the Capitalists very well.

But how different will be the requirements of the working-class when it comes to power ! The business of production will then be the supreme concern of the Commonwealth : the co-ordination of the activities of workers in mines, fields and schools, on the roads, on the sea, in the laboratory, studio and theatre—with the purpose of furnishing the healthiest and most joyous life for all. Those who are to enjoy the fruits of labour will also be those who do the work; and from both points of view, public business will be the intimate concern of each one.

It follows that the problems with which it will be called upon to deal will be different also. For example, instead of devising ways to pacify the unemployed, it will have to decide how an over-plentiful supply of labour-power in one branch of production can be used to lighten work in another. Instead of protecting home Capitalists against foreign competition, it will determine, in consultation with workers of other lands, in what part of the world a given kind of goods can be most economically produced. And so on.

It is too early yet to pronounce in detail what form the administration of this business will take. That will be for the victorious workers to decide when the time comes. But its outlines are clear. It will not be, as heretofore, a Government, ordering affairs from the top, with merely the acquiescence of the mass of the people. It must have the character of an Executive, giving effect to the decisions of the workers themselves. Every public office must be elective, responsible, and revocable.

We do not share the fear of Mr. Charles Trevelyan, M.P., who at the I.L.P. Conference took part in the debate referred to. He said :
  “We do not want a pledge-bound or an oath-ridden party. When you comrades join us in the House of Commons, after the General Election, we want vital representatives and not merely delegates—men who are going to think and act for themselves.”
Why, the Socialist organisation of industry implies control by the workers. Anything else would be a bureaucratic State, a travesty of Socialism. We are convinced that when the workers are ready to take possession of the means of life they will be ready to begin to control them democratically. Moreover, a delegate can and should be a vital representative. On some matters it is possible to give detailed instructions, on others, general orders only, the particular execution of them being left to the intelligence of the delegate. But in all matters the will of those whose work he is doing, and not his own, should determine his actions. The contrast between Capitalist and Socialist democracy is sharply indicated—by a paragraph in the Manifesto of the International Working-men’s Association, issued in May, 1871, immediately after the crushing of the Commune of Paris. It refers to the Communards’ design for the new constitution :
  “Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to represent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business. And it is well known that companies, like individuals, in matters of real business generally knows how to put the right man in the right place, and, if for once they make a mistake, to redress it promptly.”
The Cabinet system, therefore, in the Socialist Commonwealth, is as unthinkable as the private ownership of the means of life. If the I.L.P. questions for a moment whether a Labour Government would discard that system, it is because it knows a Labour Government could not and would not inaugurate Socialism, notwithstanding that it has placed it upon its programme. Only a party of revolutionary workers, organised for that purpose, and that alone, is equal to the task.

The pessimists. (1923)

From the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

There are certain people who show that, to some extent, they are acquainted with the Socialist philosophy, and yet will be heard to utter the sentiment that it is useless talking about the principles of Socialism as the workers, from the point of view of intelligence, are hopeless.

This pessimistic view is often stated by many who have done next to nothing in furthering Socialist knowledge, and perhaps, when noticing the lack of knowledge displayed by the average worker in a discussion of a political and economic character, form the above opinion. But, of course, the workers are not hopeless from an intellectual point of view, whatever a superficial view of their mentality may disclose, for it should be obvious that as they are able to assimilate all the ideas connected with the details of the production and distribution of wealth in modern society, so will they in due course assimilate those ideas which will enable them to secure their freedom from capitalist domination.

To accomplish the establishment of a new-form of society by means of a social revolution, which means that there must first take place a revolution in thought, entails more than the work of a moment; it means a considerable amount of toil to those who carry cut the many functions associated with the organisation of the working class. As those who do the work can testify, it means long and laborious work, and those who shrink from the task because it involves “hard labour ” should realise that they are leaving a larger field to the enemies of Socialism.

In the advocacy of revolutionary ideas the revolutionist encounters many prejudices and preconceived notions, and one can hardly fail to notice when in discussion with members of the working class on the subject of Socialism, how the force of tradition affects their mental outlook. This point may be overlooked by many who lament the “slow” progress made by the workers in forming revolutionary conceptions.

“The tradition of all past generations weighs like an alp upon the brain of the living,” says Marx, and those whose interest lies in the retention of the private property institutions use all the means at their disposal to preserve the traditional illusions, such as religion, and the abstract notions of justice, morality, etc.

Ideas drag on long after their falsity has been exposed. The workers, in the main, are not acquainted with the scientific method of analysing and classifying their conceptions. To overlook or underestimate the force of tradition is a sad mistake, and that this mistake is frequently made does, to some extent, explain the psychology of those who express the pessimistic view stated above. They appear to think that all that is needed is for one to postulate a logical proposition and its immediate acceptance is assured, thus disregarding the effect of the multifarious ideas that have been gathered in the past.

Leaving aside the part played by tradition, there are other factors in operation today which act in moulding the worker’s ideas. To take the case of the child as an example. From the moment when it begins to form ideas, it imbibes the superstitions of its parents, and later, when at the elementary school, it receives but the barest of “education,” which consists largely of an instruction in capitalist “virtues,” both religious and secular, from the “love of God” to the “love of country.” It has been said of certain of the Jesuits that they have expressed the opinion that, provided they had control of the child’s education until it reached a certain age, that early training would suffice as am effective check against any antagonistic influences that were encountered later in life. While it is well not to interpret this view too rigidly, nevertheless it is certainly true that the ideas assimilated when young have a considerable influence on the mental make-up of a great number of the workers, and the clergy do not fail to recognise the value of obtaining control of the education of the child. But what applies to the sycophantic priest with his means of saturating the minds of workers with superstition, applies with equal force to those who have control of the secular forms of “education.” While it is true that religion has, to a great extent, lost its hold over the minds of the workers, they have imbibed other notions from their masters equally fatal to their class interest. It does not follow that because the worker does not concern himself with religion, that he necessarily exercises his thoughts in the interest of his class, as may be seen in the fact that many who hold definitely anti-religious views are among the opponents of Socialism. Where the priest cannot secure a hold, those in control of the secular forms of “education” usually succeed. In the schools the children are not taught the main factors in the process of wealth production. In history the teaching mainly consists of the deeds and misdeeds of kings and queens, and the records of those who have displayed so much “gallantry” in making England a “land of hope and glory.” What passes under the name of education is little more than an instruction preparatory to entering the labour power market, where they are forced to sell their energy in order to live. It is small wonder that, when the young workers enter the productive area, they are handicapped against grasping ideas which are contrary to those inculcated into their minds in infancy. The ideas expressed in the workshop are generally of the orthodox form; it is unusual to meet with anybody who has the faintest inkling of the working class position, or has become acquainted with the line of action necessary to the establishment of Socialism, Even with those who are generally proclaimed the “rebels,” the confusion of thought is amazing.

Thus, when we take into consideration both the influence of tradition and the instruction given in childhood, there is little room for wonder that the advocacy of revolutionary ideas does not obtain “quick returns.” There is the further point that while the capitalists have control of the Press they are able to disseminate their views by means of the publication of numerous newspapers, books, magazines, etc., whilst Socialists can only at present publish their views in a journal that reaches but an infinitesimal portion of the working class. In comparing the number of meetings held, we have the same enormous difference, where the capitalists and their agents are able to hire the best and largest halls and hold many meetings, we can hold but few in consequence of our limited financial resources. So the dice are loaded heavily in favour of the capitalists, nearly all the channels of “education” being held by them. But the recognition of this does not make us pessimistic ; on the contrary, it acts as a spur to action. The work of enlightening the workers in the knowledge of their slave position and the way out from their slavery, is essential to the establishment of Socialism. The Socialist way out of capitalism is the only way ; consequently the very necessity of Socialist propaganda, as a prelude to the overthrow of capitalist society, and the establishment of Socialism, is sufficient to guard us against pessimism. But in carrying on the work of Socialist education, one qualification is necessary, and that is, we must be patient. It is recorded by Karl Kautsky that when in conversation with Frederick Engels, the latter said, “We have learned to wait, and you in turn must learn to wait your time.”

But, contrary to the sentiment of the poet, he who only waits does not serve the cause of Socialism, so let all those who can, put their shoulders to the wheel and help to break down those intellectual barriers that stand in our way in the struggle for the abolition of human slavery. Our way out of present misery is not only the correct road to travel, but it is the only road open.
Robert Reynolds

You’d be surprised. (1923)

From the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

Sir Oswald Stoll, writing in the Referee, April 15th, 1923, disputed the definition of value given by Karl Marx in Capital. He says that Adam Smith’s work, “The Wealth of Nations,” although it yields no support to Marx, nevertheless contains the fatal error on which the Socialism of Marx is founded, i.e., that “labour is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities.” Sir Oswald then says:—
  “It requires little wisdom to realise that the labour which is alleged to be the real measure of the exchangeable value of coal, for instance, must include the labour of nature. Human labour cannot begin where nature finishes, because nature never finishes. Nature made the coal by heating and compressing vegetable matter; nature made also the materials used by labour in mining the coal. The term ‘ labour ‘ is therefore too abstract and general for such specific application. Hence labour cannot be ‘the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities’.”
Sir Oswald is described by the Referee as a keen student of economics and socialism. His description of the part played by Nature in the production of wealth was clearly outlined in the early chapters of Capital, where it formed part of the careful analysis of a commodity. On page 10, “Swan and Sonnenschein” edition, Marx says :—
  “The bodies of commodities are combinations of two elements—matter and labour. If we take away, the useful labour expended upon them, a material substratum is always left, which is furnished by nature without the help of man. The latter can work only as nature does, that is, by changing the form of matter. Nay more, in the work of changing the form he is constantly helped by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the only source of material wealth, of use-values produced by labour. As William Petty puts it, labour is its father and the earth its mother.”
The work performed by Nature, however, goes on independent of the form of society under which men live, but Nature is neither capital nor the capitalist class; so the task still lies before Sir Oswald to prove where that class renders any assistance. Till now he has only accounted for the same factors as the Socialist : Man and Nature.

Of course no criticism of Marx would be complete that did not prove, or attempt to prove, a contradiction against him. Most of the critics claim that Marx contradicted himself in the later portion of his works, but Sir Oswald is so keen that he discovers a contradiction that everybody has apparently overlooked in the very first chapter.

He accuses Marx of “converting the abstraction of labour into a material body ; a congelation of labour, and calling it value.” Of course what Marx really did was to show that the labourer worked upon the Nature-given material and changed its form or place. His labour thus became congealed in the finished product, and is the only thing—material or social—possible of measurement for the purposes of exchange. 

Marx analysed the labour contained in commodities and found that it must be looked at from two points of view in order to obtain a clear idea of value. It must be looked at from the concrete side, i.e., as labour of a definite kind that produces a particular article; for example, tailoring that results in the production of a coat—a use-value. It must also be looked at from the abstract side, i.e., as labour in general without regard to the particular way in which it is expended. In viewing labour this way it is necessary to forget that it is employed to produce coats, boots or tables, and simply look at it as the using up of a portion of society’s human energy. It is this general energy, or simple human labour, that is at one time spent in producing coats at another in producing tables, that forms the basis of value. In other words, human energy, at the same time, as concrete labour, produces use-values, and as abstract labour produces values. It is the fact that all articles produced represent proportions of simple human energy that enables them to be exchanged for one another through the medium of money.

Sir Oswald, the amateur economist, like all the professionals that have tried to demolish the Marxian theory of value, is left stuttering when asked to show what else but labour-power can be the real measure of exchange value. His alleged contradiction is that Marx before stating that “a congelation of labour is value,” had already said “that utility is value.” What Marx really says is that use-value is the utility of a thing. He devoted several paragraphs to the task of showing that use-value, or usefulness, cannot possibly be the basis of exchange-value; though he states quite definitely that all commodities must possess use-value, otherwise they are unsaleable.

In his analysis of a commodity Marx discovered it to consist of: a material substratum supplied by Nature, use-value or usefulness and exchange value. In addition it was the product of labour. How is the exchange value of a given commodity measured? Not by its material body, nor yet by its usefulness. Sir Oswald’s contradiction is therefore piffle, and the result of his inability to understand ordinary economic terms.

The gem of Sir Oswald’s economic absurdities is contained in the following :—
  “The theory that human labour is either value or the measure of value was killed in a sentence by the late Archbishop Whately when he reinforced the truism that ‘Pearls are not valuable because men dive for them; men dive for them because they are valuable.'”
Both the parson and the stage manager were answered by Marx before they raised this objection. “Diamonds,” said the latter, “are of rare occurrence on the earth’s surface, and hence their discovery costs, on the average, a great deal of labour-time. … If we could succeed at a small expenditure of labour in converting carbon into diamonds, their value might fall below that of bricks.” Similarly, if real pearls could be made as easily as beads, they could be bought for the same price as beads; but they cannot be so made; much diving has to be done for every one that is placed on the market and much labour of other kinds as well.

Sir Oswald winds up by saying : “It will be well to seek a real definition of value.” Those that seek shall find; let him search with all diligence, and then submit his results to those who do understand Marx.
F. Foan

Hunger! (1923)

From the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Mr. Jones-Brown, the senior partner of Messrs. Miller & Company, I knew myself, for after I wrote ‘The Wake of the Sun,’ it was read by Glass and sold to them for fifty pounds. When this bargain was finally struck, Mr. Jones-Brown said to me : “Now, Mr. H., as the business is all done, would you mind telling me quite frankly to what extent this book of yours is true?” I replied : “It is as true in every detail as it can possibly be.” “Then you mean to say,” he asked, “that you actually did starve as you relate?” I said : “Certainly, I did, and I might have made it a deal blacker if I had chosen.” He fell into a momentary silent reverie, and shaking his head, murmured : “Ah, hunger is a dreadful thing; I once went without dinner myself !”

The “benefits” of nationalisation. (1923)

Editorial from the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

When the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain were arguing their claims before the body known as the Sankey Commission, they put forward a strong plea for the Nationalisation of the Coal Industry. The representatives of the miners stated that such a measure would benefit industry and commerce as a whole, and enable a “fair” wage to be paid to the miners. How these two things were to be achieved was not made clear.

Indeed, a short examination would show that the two things were, in many respects, contradictory. Industry as a whole could only benefit if the price of coal was reduced. From the ordinary Capitalist point of view this can only be done by lowering the cost of production. In general, there are two methods by which such a result could be obtained—one by increased efficiency in the management and methods of production; the other by cutting down the amount paid in wages.

Nationalisation certainly could increase efficiency to a very large degree, by coordinating the business of the various mines, by abolishing competition, and by a better system of distribution whereby customers could be supplied from the nearest pits. Moreover the familiar sight of long trains of empty trucks passing each other on their way across the country to distant collieries, would disappear under any sensible scheme. But how would this affect the workers in both mining and transport ?

The more efficient the methods became, the fewer the number of workers required in the production and transport of each ton of coal. Unless trade and industry increased to such an extent that the larger demand for coal allowed of the re-employment of these redundant workers, the effect of the improved efficiency would be an increase in the number of workers unemployed—hardly a desirable result. Nor is the matter of wages in any better position.

If a margin existed from which better wages could be paid the Capitalists as a whole would object to the Government “pampering idle and lazy workers with extravagant wages.” This stunt is being pushed forward by the capitalist with great vigour at the present moment, and demands would be made upon the Government to bring those wages to what is sweetly termed “an economic level.” The increased number of unemployed would be used to enforce this demand in more ways than one. All this was pointed out at the time of the Sankey Commission in the pages of the Socialist Standard, but just now there is a very striking practical illustration of these truths.

In Belgium, in addition to post office and telephones, the railways are nationalised. The wages paid to the majority of the workers employed in these nationalised industries are so poor that :—
  “During 18 months efforts were made to increase wages by means of deputations to the Ministers of the Departments, but six months ago this method of discussion was summarily ended, and since then the discontent having no constitutional outlet, has steadily grown.”— (“Daily News,” 17/5/1923.)
The discontent has now reached the stage where thousands of these workers decided to strike for the purpose of trying to improve their conditions. Among other pleasures Belgium enjoys conscription. The answer of the Government to the strikers was to call up 6,000 of the army reserve from among these workers and to order them to carry on the work under military orders.

Here is a splendid example of the “benefits” of nationalisation, and of how well off the workers are in such cases. It shows how much more rapidly and effectively “discontent” can be dealt with when the workers take strike action to enforce their demands.

It may be said that as conscription is not in operation here, the Government could not use the same means against any of their employees in case of a dispute. This is a fallacy. The Government could declare the matter one of “National Emergency,” and would call upon soldiers, sailors, etc., to carry on the industry for the time being.

The Belgian State workers have one point in their favour. The holiday season to the Continent is now beginning, and the Capitalists in Belgium, who, apart from their own resorts, take a substantial toll from those travelling through the country to Switzerland, Italy, etc., may consider it more profitable to give way to a small degree rather than run the risk of losing on the stoppage of holiday traffic.

We hope the men will win in their action, but the position they occupy should be a complete lesson to those of the Miners’ Federation and the Labour Party here, who imagine that “Nationalisation” can cure any evil the workers surfer under to-day.

Correspondence: Why political organisation? (1923)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editor,

I have read with interest the questions put forward re Comrade Littler and the answers thereto, that have appeared through the medium of the Standard.

To me those answers require further elucidation, as for instance, your answer to the second question, which states, “The workers’ organisation must be upon the basis of their class.” Do you infer by the above statement that one organisation only is requisite, and it must include a political and economic organisation?

I take it one organisation on the industrial field is “on the basis of its class.”

Again, one reads in answer to the same question, “As we have pointed out on various occasions, economic development has travelled beyond the limits of ‘Industry ‘ in numerous directions, and therefore, the workers’ organisations must cover a wider area than the ‘Industry’ even to keep pace.”

What directions has economic development taken beyond the limits of “Industry,” and what have the workers’ organisation to keep pace with apart from “Industry” ? In answer to the first question we find the following:—

“Conceivably Socialism could be established by the political party alone.” To me, conceivably is a relative concept, and the limit within which a concept is valid varies concomitantly with variations in the phases of social evolution. All Socialists agree that the coming social revolution will do away with the State, and all political institutions, which means all political institutions will lose their political character and become simple administrative institutions for the needs of society.

To bring the above social conditions into existence implies the removal of the existing social conditions which demands the existence of the political structure.

All political parties who are attempting to capture the powers of the State, for the purpose of converting those so-called means of oppression into agents of emancipation, fail to understand that the material conditions are responsible for the existence of all political institutions, and so long as political parties persist in grappling only with the effects of those material conditions, then so long will those effects remain in existence.

As we have social production, i.e., associated labour (under capitalism) that very fact implies organisation right where production takes place, namely, in the workshop, for the specific purpose of taking the economic power out of the hands of the master class and to wield that power for themselves, the working class.

At that very moment the political structure will fall to the ground—the mills, mines, factories, etc., are only waiting seizure at the hands of an organised proletariat.

Do you claim the political power of the capitalist class, or lack of class consciousness of the workers prevents that new social order, namely, Socialism, from making its birth.
Yours for Socialism,
H. Deakin.

We do not pretend to prophesy as to the details of the future working class organisations, but reasoning from past and present experience, it would seem that the greatest efficiency would be attained by forming one organisation for political work and another for economic work. These two organisations would be affiliated under some form, and where necessary would work together, until Socialism was established.

One organisation on the industrial field would not be on the basis of its class, unless the members understood their slave position and were deliberately working for their own emancipation, by organising for control of political power, in addition to being organised on the economic field for immediate purposes.

An “Industry” is that portion of the means of production, devised to produce a particular unit of wealth, or the carrying on of a unit of social service. Thus there is a “Coal Industry,” a “Rubber Industry,” etc., on one side, and a “Railway Industry,” etc., on the other.

Modern capitalist control has spread far beyond these “Industrial” limits in many cases, and huge combines often control numerous “Industries.” Lever Brothers, Burmantofts, and Vickers, Ltd., are notorious examples of this development. A more subtle form of control is that carried through on the financial side. Multi-millionaires often hold controlling blocks of shares in numerous industries, and direct the activities of these industries on a policy determined by their interests as a whole.

To give one illustration. The American Meat Trust not only own ranches and packing factories, but control dairies and farms, producing milk, eggs, cheese, butter, and various provisions. They also own a fleet of ships. In the event of a dispute with their seamen the Meat Trust could smash a strike by the simple expedient of ordering the shopkeepers to refuse to serve the strikers with either meat, bread or other provisions. Against such an attack the Seamen’s Industrial Union would be utterly helpless. Hence, as the capitalist development has extended far beyond the “Industrial” basis, the workers’ organisation must follow suit.

Mr. Deakin’s statement that “All Socialists agree that the coming social revolution will do away with the State and all political institutions” is based upon the anarchist fallacy that the “State and all political institutions” are merely capitalist devices to enslave the workers. As every student of history knows, when a society becomes established, and particularly when it is settled in a particular territory, it is necessary to frame rules for the organisation and management of the general affairs of society. These methods of general management form the political machinery of any society, and however the forms may change, it is obvious that they will be necessary as long as society exists. When the political organisation is furnished with force for the purpose of compelling obedience to the rules of society, it becomes a “State.”

Socialism will be established when a majority of the working class use the franchise to wrest political power out of the hands of the capitalist class for that object. This will leave a minority either neutral or actively opposing the new order. Clearly, for a time at any rate, society will have to be prepared to use force, if necessary, to maintain the new system. As soon as the minority accept the system and work in co-operation with the majority, the need for any special force will have disappeared, and such force would be disbanded. Thus the “State” will “die out,” but political organisation—as shown above—will be necessary and will therefore remain.

Mr. Deakin has failed to grasp the essential fact that the material conditions “responsible for the existence of all political institutions” is the necessity of organisation for a society to exist at all.

Our correspondent is also in error when he defines social production as “associated Labour.” Production can only be termed social when the arrangements of society are formed for the purpose of assisting and carrying to a successful conclusion the interdependent and associated labour of masses of workers. It is interesting to note that while Mr. Deakin denies that the political powers can be used as “agents of emancipation,” he claims that the “economic power” of the masters could be wrested from them and used by the workers. Here he contradicts himself. What he imagines to be the “economic power” is just as much the result of “material conditions” as the political institutions, and if the latter cannot be converted to the workers’ use, neither, obviously, can the former.

But, as pointed out in various numbers of the Socialist Standard, this so-called “economic power” is another anarchist fallacy.

Without the backing of the political power, with its armed forces, the master class are bereft of any “power”—economic or other. To retain possession of the means of life, they are completely dependant upon the control of political power, which is placed in their hands by the working class who are ignorant of their own interests.

No organisation in the workshop can take possession of the means of production while the master class control political power and the armed forces. Any such attempt at control by the workers could be met, and completely crushed, by the machine gun, the explosive shell, and the aerial bomb. The mills, mines, factories, etc., can only be seized after the workers have gained political power with its control of the armed forces. Any other method merely leads the working class to the shambles.

Mr. Deakin’s last question is on the lines of the old arithmetical “puzzle,” i.e., if 3 × 2 equals 6, which is the more necessary, the 3 or the 2, to produce the result of 6 ? The common sense answer, of course, is that both are equally necessary.

And similarly with Mr. Deakin’s question. As the possession of political power by the master class is a result of the lack of class consciousness of the workers, it is clear that only with the growth of class consciousness—knowledge of their class position—will the political power be wrested from the hands of the masters.
Editorial Committee.