Monday, May 10, 2021

Stormont follies (1971)

From the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

The political death of Chichester-Clark, descendant of the infamous feudal gangster Sir Arthur Chichester (not, according to some historians the greatest scoundrel in his family tree) came suddenly. His political demise came in the fashion of his similarly useless kinsman, now Lord O’Neill of the Maine.

Both men were politically assassinated by their “brothers” of the Orange Order and the permanently governing Unionist Party.

O’Neill’s undignified exit was prefaced by a series of disorders, and public-utility explosions that enabled enemies within his own party to stampede his erstwhile “friends” in the Cabinet on the “Law and Order” issue.

The police and other government agencies "knew for certain” that the explosions were the work of the IRA but after O’Neill had gone a conscious-stricken Protestant fanatic leaked information to an Opposition MP that revealed the gelignite gang to be none other than the supporters of the Unionist “Law and Order” brigade. It is worthy of note that when one of this gang was brought to Court and convicted, his sworn statement implicated some of the “respectable” people who, again following events that shook even this trouble-armoured area, helped to rout Chichester-Clark on the self-same “Law and Order” stampede.

Chichester-Clark could not be missed. He was an utterly useless, colourless individual who had displayed sense only in being born of forbears whose cruelty and greed preserved him from the rigours of having to make a living. His final panic-stricken act was typical of the man; he scurried off to Maudling in London for more ink for his rubber-stamp parliament. His request was refused and even his friends could not bear the indignity.

With old Chichester back on the lands of our fathers his few “friends” and many enemies met in secret conclave and decided that differences could be buried with principles.

A former Minister of the O’Neill government, Harry West, who became a Unionist “hard-liner” and a bitter opponent of the government after O’Neill sacked him for being financially involved in land transactions inconsistent with his role as a Minister, became a “soft-liner” overnight. He had been invited by the new Prime Minister to take a place in the New Cabinet (or, as some might call it, Westminster’s Old Cupboard!) despite the fact that the British Home Secretary had made it clear to the new boys that they would simply carry out the same policy instructions he had foisted on the outgoing Cabinet. The plums of office similarly induced another “hard-liner”, “Mr. Burns”, into a more pliable condition and a position in the government.

The new Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, is regarded as a Wonder Boy in some local circles. The fiction arises from his sojourn in the Commerce Ministry of the O’Neill government where he is alleged to have performed remarkable deeds in attracting foreign capitalists to Northern Ireland to set up business and create employment. An excellent personal publicist, he publicised the capitalist and his fifty-jobs, attracted by the promise of cheap labour, cheap government factories, tax and rate concessions and massive capital grants, but the outgoing capitalist and the one hundred redundancies was inside stuff.

Faulkner was at the helm when his Ministry pumped nearly ten million pounds into the Cyril Lord Carpet empire. Lord went burst and was forced to go to live in a luxury villa in the Bahamas. He was at the helm also when a couple of wide-boys from London pumped hundreds of thousands of “government” lolly into their pockets in the infamous Zenozip affair. This was the one occasion when some of the crooks got caught and landed in prison, an MP resigned, and hundreds of workers went back to the dole. Then there was Dr. McDonald and his BSR factory playing financial ping-pong with Faulkner and his opposite number in Eire and again catching Faulkner with his purse strings open.

What a skipper! But he is no worse than his crew, “Hard-liners” gone conveniently soft and once nauseating “moderates” like Robin Bailie gone “hard” — why the new Cabinet even includes a failed Labour politician, David Bleakley, a Bible-thumping apologist for the worst excesses of capitalism in Northern Ireland, including the Special Powers Act, who, twice rejected at the ballot box, comes in by appointment as Minister of Community Relations!

Will Faulkner and his unholy crew succeed where O’Neill and Chichester-Clark failed in bringing back the previously-enjoyed condition of uneasy peace which prevailed in Northern Ireland in the pre-O’Neill era? To guess at the answer to that question — and it is very much a matter of guessing! — we must take a brief look at Unionism in the past and examine some of the events which brought about its present predicament.

The Unionist Party has maintained the governmental stewardship of capitalism for 45 years by promoting bigotry and hatred between Protestant and Catholic members of the working class.

For reasons often outlined in the Socialist Standard, capitalism in Ulster at the turn of the century, threatened by the probable actions of a government representing southern capitalism and the possible loss of direct access to the British market, used the Unionist Party and took the advice of the British politician Lord Randolph Churchill to “play the Orange Card” by “respectabilising” the Orange Order and promoting the most blatant religious bigotry.

Protestant workers were not the beneficiaries of a vociferous anti-Catholic government. On the contrary, the Unionist Government and the Orange politicians fought elections on anti-Popery. The Protestant workers were, by and large, as downtrodden as their Catholic brethren but if they made jobs or homes an issue at elections the Unionist politicians construed it as treason. Only “The Border” and the maintenance of a “Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people” was acceptable as a legitimate bone of electoral contention.

By the mid-sixties, however, the needs of Ulster capitalism had changed and the issues which separated it from its Southern Irish counterpart had considerably diminished.

It became politically and economically expedient for the Unionist Party to soft pedal on some of the issues that previously pre-occupied it and even to eject some of the more fundamental bigotries that had brought it to power and maintained it there.

The Unionists of the “New” Ulster showed as much contempt for the working class, and particularly the Protestant workers, as their predecessors had shown — and particularly for the Catholic workers.

No attempt was made to bring the battalions of the Protestant workers into line with new governmental thinking. Such an attempt, of necessity, would have required the Unionist leadership to have had the courage to repudiate the bigotry and hatred on which they had built their “principles” and politicians, and especially Unionist politicians, are not made that way!

Simultaneous with the so-called “liberalising” of the Unionist Government — and, indeed, in no small way because of it — the forces of opposition to Unionism (which were largely Catholic) began to organise and campaign for civil rights. In our view most of these “rights” were not worth demanding — as the continued exasperation of the minority, now that they have received them, demonstrates — but as Unionism yielded before the pressure of Westminster and the pressure of the streets so the Protestant workers, conditioned by traditional Unionism and the Orange Order to the belief that “Yielding to Papists” was a betrayal, began to turn upon the Unionist government.

The new Faulkner government is now engaged in a political tight rope exercise. On the one hand they cannot retreat on the so-called reform programme; on the other hand they hope by administrative wangling of these “reforms” — especially those dealing with internal security — and the inclusion of some Orange bully boys in the Cabinet to placate the recalcitrant Protestants who retain the hard, bitter poison of traditional Unionism.

At the moment of writing they have had some success. The purblind stupidity of some Republican elements and the fact that the infamous Royal Ulster Constabulary’s political CID are the guiding intelligence behind the British Army in Northern Ireland has meant that well-armed military thugs are almost continually involved in violent oppression, searches and ceaseless provocation of the Catholic working people in the slum areas of Belfast. Inevitably there has been reaction and, tragically, these Catholic workers are being pushed in the direction of the various militant Republican movements.

But Paisley, Craig, Boal, Smith and the other plain exponents of “Kick the Pope” Unionism are not impressed by the Government’s anti-Catholic posturings and their support among the Protestant workers is widespread.

They have brought down two Prime Ministers and already Paisley has let it be known that he loves Faulkner even less than he loved Chichester-Clark!

We must acknowledge that Faulkner and his government have been set a heavy task and are beset by enemies on all sides. Where the Catholics don’t despise him they detest him and, among thousands of working class Protestants, if he is not distrusted he is held in contempt.

And we can not wish him luck for he is chief among those Unionists who have championed the division and vicious exploitation of the working class in Northern Ireland.
Richard Montague

The origins of socialist theory (1971)

Book Review from the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Origins of Socialism, by G. Lichtheim. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. £2.50. A Short History of Socialism, by G. Lichtheim. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. £1.50 (paperback).

Socialist theory has customarily been said to derive from French political thought, English economic science and German philosophy. As Marx was the first to bring these three trends together Socialist theory is sometimes called Marxism. Lichtheim follows this tradition and sees Socialism as one reaction to the coming of industrial capitalism, as a theory which accepted industrialisation but not private enterprise and the profit motive.

French utopian Socialism introduced the idea that society should be organised on a more rational basis to take account of industrialisation. Its most prominent representatives were the followers of Saint Simon and Fourier. The former were responsible for such phrases as “the exploitation of man by man", “the administration of things’’ and, in France, “socialism”. They, and the Fourierists, were pioneers of what is now called women’s liberation and Fourier was among the first to argue that the distinction between town and country could disappear and that work could be made pleasant.

The French Revolution also produced another political trend, the revolutionary communists, who declared that the bourgeoisie had to be overthrown in the same way as the aristocracy had been: by violent insurrection and a temporary emergency dictatorship. Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto of 1848 for the German section of this trend, the Communist League. But by 1865, says Lichtheim, Marx had outgrown this “communist" phase and come to be the theorist of “democratic socialism” relying on the development of the working class movement rather than on conspiratorial insurrections for the establishment of Socialism.

In 1848, Lichtheim points out, Marx who had not yet worked out the distinction between labour and labour-power was still really a “Ricardian socialist”. David Ricardo, one of the leading English economic thinkers of his day (he died in 1823), was by no means a Socialist but he had said that labour was the source of value. Some of his followers who were also committed to Robert Owen’s Utopian Socialism gave this labour theory of value an anti-capitalist and pro-worker content and can be said to have done some of the preliminary work which Marx was to develop in Capital.

Marx was brought up and educated in what is now Germany and at university, like many others, became immersed in German philosophy and particularly that of Hegel. His critical study of Hegel and his followers led him to develop the materialist conception of history as an alternative historical theory.

Lichtheim’s books, especially the Origins, cover this ground very well, though it is odd to read of people such as the Fabians in Britain and the Stalinists in Russia as “socialists” when they stood rather for state capitalism. But when it comes to discussing Socialism as a system of society Lichtheim’s means more or less what we do.

In the concluding chapter of his Short History he defines Socialism as a democratic classless society based on common (as opposed to State) ownership in which “the wage relation has been abolished” and “all citizens have an equal claim upon the provision of goods and services” and "welfare services would be equally available to all at zero prices”:
  Anything that falls short of abolishing the wage relation has no claim to be described as socialism, though it may be a station on the way thereto.
The last part betrays Lichtheim’s basically gradualist approach to the establishment of Socialism. Indeed he suggests that Socialism is not an immediate prospect and probably will not be until the world is fully industrialised. Obviously we do not agree with this assessment but at least we can recognise that Lichtheim is on the same wavelength as us.

Both books are worth study as much for their discussion of the problems of Socialist and Marxist theory as for their account of its origins and history.
Adam Buick

Conference Discusses Reforms (1971)

Party News from the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

The 67th Annual Conference was held in London over Easter. Among the items discussed was the Party’s attitude to reforms. Comrade D’Arcy (Camden) said that all reforms had to be paid for out of profits. Those who argued that the workers should struggle for reforms as well as for higher wages implied that what the workers had failed to get through the front door (wage bargaining on the industrial front) they could get through the back door (reforms on the political front). But capitalists did not bring in reforms under political pressure from the working class; they introduced them only when the reforms the workers wanted coincided with capitalist interests. In other cases, they stated that the economic situation did not allow them to introduce the reform and were able to persuade workers to accept this since the workers were themselves capitalist-minded.

Comrade Zucconi (Lewisham) stated that the mark of a genuine Socialist movement was that it did not advocate reforms. The Labour Party and the ILP had at one time professed Socialism as an aim, but were swamped by non-socialists because they concentrated on advocating reforms. There was a real difference between the struggle for reforms and the struggle for higher wages. The wages struggle, as Marx had pointed out, was one the workers had to take part in if they were ever to be fit to conduct the political struggle for Socialism. It was an industrial, not a political, struggle. Reformist action, on the other hand, was necessarily political and involved trying to gain political power in order to introduce reforms. As such it conflicted with the struggle to win political power for Socialism.

Comrade Hardy (Camden) said the Party had never been opposed to reforms as such; we were neither for nor against them. Measures which reduced the workers cost of living, as most reforms aimed to do, did not benefit the working class because their effect was to reduce wages, as Engels had pointed out when he described them as “so-called social reforms”. Such measures also tended to divide the working class, as happened over Rent Control when politicians were able to exploit the feelings of jealousy against controlled tenants amongst workers in uncontrolled houses.

Comrade Steele (Birmingham) said that the Party’s view was not that a Socialist party should not say it supported reforms, but that it should not seek support on the basis of reforms. The German Social Democratic Party had Socialism as an aim, but it went reformist because it admitted reformists to membership rather than because it supported reforms. The traditional industrial/political distinction was breaking down with the emergence of new kinds of working class pressure groups like tenants’ associations and with trade union actions more and more harming other sections of the working class. An increase in the rent was just as much a cut in living standards as a wage cut, and it was inconsistent to say that the only kind of non-socialist working class action Socialists should support was wage-bargaining. In any event, the most we can now do about reforms is to analyse them and show what their overall effect, favourable or unfavourable, might be on the working class.

Comrade Rab (Fraternal Delegate from the World Socialist Party of the United States) said that with the growing role of the State in the economy the unions had increasingly to negotiate with the State. But such negotiations over industrial matters were political only in form; in essence they were still part of the class struggle.

The Conference carried Resolutions re-affirming previous policy statements on reforms (that the Socialist Party of Great Britain does not advocate reforms, but is not opposed to reforms as such and supports the industrial struggle).

Corrections (1971)

From the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our attention has been drawn to a passage in the editorial "What Causes War" which appeared in the January 1971 Socialist Standard. This passage read:
  The ruling classes of every country and their governments are themselves the people who make peace, human dignity, real democracy, and real socialism and so on, impossible.
This might be taken to mean that the ruling class and their governments are the only obstacle to Socialism.

Although the editorial was dealing mainly with the stated attitudes of governments, it should have also made it clear that Socialism will be established when the majority of the world working class understood and desire it. What delays Socialism at present is not the existence of ruling classes in themselves but a lack of political consciousness on the part of the working class which allows ruling classes to exist and make war.

We apologise for the confusion.

The Class Struggle
The third paragraph of the article “False Friends and Industrial Relations” in last months Socialist Standard could be misunderstood to mean that the struggle between the working class and capitalist class is essentially the same as haggling between buyers and sellers of any commodity. In fact it is much more than this, it is a class struggle over the ownership and control of the means of production.
Editorial Committee.

The same old story (1971)

From the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard
Baltic shipyard workers, who have been demanding more money, were told by Poland’s new leadership that wages cannot be put up because economic plans it inherited provided no funds for this purpose. (Morning Star, 29 January).

John Davies tells all (1971)

From the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

In February we noted that Enoch Powell’s views on the cause of inflation came very near to the Marxian analysis. We can now record that another leading Tory may have been studying Marx — John Davies, the former employers’ leader turned lame-duck politician who is now the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

During the Budget Debate on 31 March Davies emphasised that capitalism runs on profits and, quite in the Marxian tradition, explained the current crisis by the rate of profit falling below the rate of interest. He even very nearly spoke of “surplus value”.
  Industry does not expand and invest without the prospect of profit. I have no sense of apology whatever for maintaining that the pursuit of profit is the primary stimulus of industry and the absence of an expectation of it is the primary cause of stagnation and decline.
After attacking Harold Wilson for not being sufficiently profit-minded, he went on:
  Traditionally it is the added value related to profit that constitutes the seed corn of industrial prosperity. The generation of added value within the concern is the very basis upon which its continuing expansion and development depend. Recent years have seen an unparalleled squeeze upon this added value and thereby upon the very resources upon which industry primarily depends to build its future. The trend in the proportion of company profits to total domestic incomes tells its own tale. The proportion was 15.6 in 1964 and was in successive years thereafter 15.1 per cent, 13.4 per cent, 13.5 per cent, 12.6 per cent, and 11.6 per cent last year.
Davies elaborated this point after an interruption:
  I return to the question of the inadequacy of profits which has characterised the pattern of the last few years. The absolute level of gross trading profits shorn of stock appreciation within this self-same period shows that there was a virtual immobility in the money figures whilst money values were depreciating by about a quarter. Still more significant are the rates of return on capital employed. The Monopolies Commission makes estimates of such rates of return related to the value of assets at estimated replacement values. Those estimates show a deterioration from the 1964 level to today and competent opinion assesses the rate of return now at much nearer to 9 per cent than to 10 per cent — that is, a rate of return which by no means is equivalent to the rate at which funds can be borrowed for investment at present. This squeeze on profit, coinciding with the dangerous rate of cost inflation that we have experienced over the last 18 months, lies at the very root of industry’s disinclination to expand . . . (Hansard, 31 March, Coll 1549-50).
Whether the Tory government’s measures to restore “business confidence” (that is, the confidence of businessmen that they will make enough profit if they expand production again) will work remains to be seen.

Socialists to stand in London Borough Elections (1971)

Party News from the May 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard

Haringey Branch is putting up four candidates in these elections to be held on Thursday, May 13:
Enfield Council (Palmers Green ward): H. Hamme, D. Porter.
Haringey Council (Turnpike ward): A. Buick, J. Carter.
The names of our candidates are now virtually insignificant since what matters is our Socialist programme and our description "the Socialist Party of Great Britain" will appear on the ballot paper.

If you wish to help in any way (distributing leaflets, selling the Socialist Standard, contributing to the costs) please contact the Election Agent: A. Buick, 13 Milton Avenue. London N6 5QF. Tel: 387 7631 X 32 (Office hours).

Sting in the Tail: Good Ideas Department (1989)

The Sting in the Tail column from the May 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

Good Ideas Department

A Canadian scientist Martin Satin has come up with a good idea. . . to make bread without wheat. He has found that a viscous substance which can replace wheat gluten can be made merely by boiling cassava, or flour from sorgham or maize, in water.

But why do we need this good idea? We are continually being told of the plight of the Canadian and USA wheat producers. They from time to time are paid NOT to produce wheat. Their governments face the awful problem of paying millions of dollars a year just to store the surplus wheat.

We don’t imagine Mr. Satin, a UN food technician, is going to be too popular with the Canadian capitalist class because according to The Observer, 19 February:
  Now officials are to give demonstrations In countries such as Sudan, Nigeria and Cuba to persuade bakers to give up wheat.
Socialists want a new society where everything is produced solely for human needs. A society where we don't store food while people starve. Now isn't that a better Idea, Mr. Satin?

Liquid Assets

Another example of capitalism's "ethics'' has been uncovered by some environmentalists who by happy chance found "confidential" papers which detail the cynicism of Britain's water authorities as they prepare for the lucrative privatisation of the water industry.

An article in The Guardian 8 February 89 dealing with these papers reveals the dismay of the authorities at the refusal of the European Commission to lower its drinking water standards and the attempts being made, with government help, to persuade the Commission to compromise.

The authorities are apparently:
. . . determined to overturn public concern about pollution standards In order to keep to the £7 billion sell-off’s tight timetable.
The article seems shocked that:
  . . . Top directors of water authorities appear to be more interested In the financial and political implications of flotation than the need to conform with European pollution standards.
Tut, tut. Imagine business men putting profit before safety. Whatever next will they ask us to believe In?

The Cowardly Lion

"Labour Chickens Out"  . . .  this was the front page headline in the Govan victory issue of the Scots Independent, the journal which supports the Scottish National Party. The story dealt with the Labour Party's sudden change of mind about elevating another Scottish Labour MP to the peerage in case they lost the ensuing by-election as well.

Doubtless these nationalists are right about Labour's lack of courage but who are they to talk?

Every year the Socialist Party In Scotland challenges the SNP to debate in public the issue of Nationalism versus Socialism. Invitations sent to their head office, local branches, councillors and MPs have either been ignored or turned down.

Maybe the animal which symbolises the Labourites is the chicken but which one most closely sums up the SNP - the Cowardly Lion?

Talking Dirty

"Profit Doesn't Have to be a Dirty Word" claimed the headline above a half-page advert in The Guardian (4th. March). The ad. informed us that £1,000 invested in Britain's first "ethical" unit trust had been turned into £2,714 in Just 57 months and "without hurting anyone".

What the "ethical" bit means is that investors' money doesn’t get invested in oppressive regimes like South Africa, the arms trade, animal experiments, etc., but only in ". . . companies with healthy track records in labour relations, pollution control and environmental protection". Oh well, that's all right then, isn't it?

But is it? There's still the little matter of how £1,000 became £2,714. Was it because these companies didn't pollute the environment or had good labour relations? Of course not, it was because their workers created wealth greater than their wages and salaries. They produced a surplus, part of which belonged to the unit trust and that's where the extra £1,714 came from.

Conscience-stricken Investors may think this legal robbery is "ethical" but to socialists profit IS a dirty word.

The Patriot Game

A recent decision to retain the Gurkhas should surprise no one. If we look back to The Observer of 12 February we can find the answer.
 Recruiting Gurkhas means an extra cost in travel permits for visits to their families in Nepal, who often survive on remitted wages. But the MPs found that the men still proved exceptional value in cash terms because of their much lower pay.
Cheaper cannon fodder! The old definition of a patriot is still true. One who wants YOU to die for HIS country!

A Suitable Case For Treatment

In Peter Thornton's book Decade of Decline — Civil Liberties in the Thatcher Years, he deals with an MI5 agent Cathy Massiter who was so upset at surveillance of NCLL, TUs and CND that she appeared on TV to express her concern.
Before resigning from the service Massiter had complained to senior civil servants that she considered the surveillance to be in breach of internal guidelines. She was told to see a psychiatrist.
And to think that the British Government complains about dissidents in the USSR being forced into psychiatric clinics,

About ourselves (1989)

From the May 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

What is the Socialist Party?
An independent political party which stands opposed to all others in this country, including the Labour and Communist parties. Our only links are with similar socialist parties in some other parts of the world.

What is your aim?
The replacement of the existing capitalist system of society by a new and different system we call socialism.

What is capitalism?
A system based on the ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth (land, industry, railways, offices and the like) by a section only of society who thus form a privileged class. The others, who in return for a wage or salary produce wealth for sale with a view to profit, make up the producing or working class. In Britain less than five per cent of the population belong to the owning or capitalist class. Most people — those who work in offices as well as those who work in the factories — are in the working class.

What is socialism?
A democratic world community without frontiers based on the ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth by society as a whole. Socialism will abolish classes and free all humanity from exploitation and oppression. The basis of socialism is this ownership of all the means of production by the whole community; control over their use will rest in the hands of the community through democratic institutions. Wealth will be produced not for sale or profit, but solely to satisfy human needs. This means the end of buying and selling and all the other financial and commercial institutions like money, prices, wages and banks. People will co-operate to produce an abundance of wealth from which they can take freely according to their needs.

Will everything belong to the State?
No. The State does not represent the whole community; it serves the interests only of those who own the means of production. State ownership or nationalisation is one of the ways in which this class controls industry. When the State takes over industries (like the railways and coalmines in Britain) it does so in their interests. State ownership leaves unchanged the class basis of society, the profit motive and the wages system, all of which socialism will abolish. Nationalisation is just State capitalism.

What system exists in Russia?
Russian society is part of world capitalist society. It shows all the essential features of capitalism: a class who control the means of production through their control of political power: another class forced to work for wages: production of goods for sale with a view to profit and the accumulation of capital out of profits. The same goes for countries like China, Cuba and Yugoslavia. They like Russia have State capitalism.

Do you want something like the kibbutzim in Israel?
Socialism can only be a world community without frontiers. It cannot be established in one country let alone on one farm. The kibbutzim do show that human beings can live without money and can work without wages, but their small scale means that what they can offer is very restricted so that young people are tending to leave them. In practice they have paved the way for the development of capitalism in Israel and some have themselves become capitalist institutions employing outside wage labour and producing for the market with a view to profit.

How do you advocate socialism should be established?
By the class of wage and salary earners, once a majority of them want and understand socialism, taking democratic political action to change the basis of society from the class to the common ownership of the means of production and distribution.

Why must there be a majority in favour of the change to socialism before it can be made?
Socialism, by its nature as a system involving voluntary co-operation, could only be kept going by those who really wanted it and knew what it involved. Any attempt to establish socialism without a majority first being in favour is bound to fail.

Do you repudiate undemocratic minority action to achieve socialism?
Most definitely. No leaders, however sincere or able, can lead a non-socialist working class to socialism. Leaders who take power while a majority do not understand socialism have no choice but to develop and administer capitalism, as has been shown in Russia and by the various labour governments in Britain. When a majority do want and understand socialism they have no need of leaders, but only to organise themselves democratically.

Why do you advocate political action to achieve socialism?
It is their control of the machinery of government that now allows the capitalist class to protect their privileged position as the owners of the means of production. In Britain it is parliament that makes the laws granting them property rights and it is the police and the Courts, and if need be the army, that enforce these laws. The socialist majority must win political power in order to remove the protection the government machine now gives to class ownership and to carry through the establishment of the common ownership of the means of production.

How do you advocate the socialist majority should win political power?
By using their votes to elect socialist delegates to Parliament and the local councils. A socialist victory in a democratically-run election would demonstrate to all that a majority were in favour of the change to socialism.

Why are you opposed to all other political parties?
All of them accept the capitalist system and believe that current social problems can be solved within its framework.

Why do you think that reforms of the capitalist system are not the solution?
These problems are caused by the class ownership of the means of production which all reforms leave unchanged. The policy of trying to deal with social problems one by one by reforms of capitalism is futile, as this is to deal with effects and not the cause. We call this policy "reformism" and are opposed to it.

But surely you are not against all reforms?
We are not opposed to reforms which may bring temporary relief to some workers, but we do not regard it as the task of a socialist party to propose reforms of capitalism. Were we to do this we could easily soon become just another reformist party. To avoid this danger we advocate socialism only.

Why have all the other parties failed?
Basically because capitalism cannot be reformed so as to work in the interests of the class of wage and salary earners. It is a class system that can only work for those who own the means of production. Any party, be it Labour or Conservative, which takes power under capitalism is forced to run that system in the only way it can be and so is inevitably brought into conflict with the mass of people who work for a wage or salary. This has been proved time and again.

So it is not because the politicians are not determined enough or are incompetent or dishonest that they fail?
No. No matter how determined or able or sincere the members of a government may be they still could not make capitalism work for the good of all. The politicians fail because they have to accept the class system which causes the problems they are always promising to solve.

If you agree with these views or have any questions, please write to us or come along to one of our meetings

Economic policy: nothing new (1989)

From the May 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

Like other post-war Labour and Tory Prime Ministers Mrs. Thatcher is conscious of the long decline of British capitalism as a manufacturing power and anxious to reverse it. The extent of the decline is shown by the place of British exports of manufactured goods in the world total. In 1883 Britain's share was 37 per cent. By 1938 it was down to 21 per cent. Apart from a brief recovery to 29 per cent in 1948 when Japan and Germany were out of the market. it has gone on falling. In 1984 it was 8 per cent and Britain is now, on balance, an importer of manufactures.

While the 1987 Tory Election Manifesto told of "our manufacturers . . . traveling the globe with a new confidence" it would appear that Thatcher has no real hope of a recovery of manufacturing industry, and relies instead on the expanding so-called service sector (tourism banking, finance insurance and technical know-how) which, the Manifesto said, "generates a vast surplus of foreign earnings".

Denationalisation Measures
The same 1987 Manifesto made much of the governments efforts to attack monopolies and encourage competition.

On competition, the argument is that it increases efficiency, reduces cost and prices and thereby enables British industry to capture a larger share of world trade at the expense of other countries. It is the reverse of one of Keynes' arguments. Keynes held that competition for foreign markets was one of the main economic causes of war and advocated that government expenditure be increased so as to (as he believed) expand total demand in the home market and therefore make it unnecessary for British manufacturers to seek markets abroad. In fact, of course, increasing or decreasing government expenditure makes no difference to total demand in a country.

The traditional Tory policy for dealing with private monopolies was to nationalise them in the interest of the rest of the capitalist class. Engels in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific shared the view that governments would be forced to adopt that policy. It was a Tory government in 1884 which passed the Act giving them power to take over the railways, intending to use it as a threat to deter the companies from exploiting their transport monopoly. Among later nationalisations supported by Tory governments were the telegraphs, the telephones cross-channel cables the BBC London Passenger Transport Board, Central Electricity Board and British Overseas Airways Corporation. And as late as 1943 Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had supported nationalisation all his political life, spoke in favour of extending it, saying in a broadcast:
  There is a broadening field for State ownership and enterprise especially in relation to monopoly. (Times, 6 April 1943.)
In the first post-war Tory government, elected in 1951, policy began to change. It declared a halt to further nationalisation, denationalised steel, and greatly strengthened the law to deal with monopolies, in this following the example of American governments since'the beginning of the century.

One of the factors leading to denationalisation by the Thatcher government has been the losses that have been incurred since 1945. While some have made profits most have made losses, and the overall loss has been enormous. D.R. Myddleton, Professor of Finance and Accounting, estimated in 1976 that the total loss on the nationalised industries as a whole since 1945, had been £25,000 million (Financial Times, 19 February 1975). And Professor Walter Eltis, covering the years 1961 to 1977, had this to say:
  The financial surpluses of the public corporations have at no point been sufficient to cover the interest costs on their accumulating debt in addition to wages and salaries (Lloyds Bank Review, January 1979.)
The losses have continued since 1977.

Continuing inflation
By the mid-seventies fast rising unemployment convinced the Labour government that the Keynesian belief that increased government expenditure increases employment is a fallacy. Prime Minister Callaghan said at the 1976 Labour Party Conference at Blackpool:
  We used to think you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that this option no longer exists (Daily Mail, 29 September 1976.)
At the same time the Tories under Thatcher were likewise rejecting the Keynesian “full employment" doctrine and adopting “monetarism". The present line-up is that the anti-Thatcher Tories, including the Heath faction, have remained Keynesian, as have the Liberals and SDP. and the Labour Party has gone back to Keynes.

Like the Labour Government 1974-79. the Thatcher government has already more than doubled the price level during its ten years in office. Governments in the nineteenth century and many economists (including Marx) knew quite well that the relevant factor in price stability is the amount of money (notes and coin) in circulation. If issued in excess of what is needed to carry out economic transactions then prices go up. If reduced below this level, as in 1920-25, prices go down. If kept in balance, as under the Gold Standard, prices are stabilised. Since 1938 the amount issued has been continually in excess and the present total is more than 30 times what it was in 1938.

When, in 1978, Labour Prime Minister Callaghan said that “the government was not going to print the money to finance inflation", and in 1979 Thatcher said "we will not print money", it may have seemed that they were both endorsing nineteenth century currency theory and practice. It was not so. When they talk of "money supply" they do not mean notes and coin but, predominantly, bank deposits. The government's advisers and most modern economists deny that the amount of notes and coin in circulation governs the price level, and the Bank of England in 1978 and 1979 (and in all the years since then) never ceased printing more notes and putting them into circulation.

Why the Labour and Tory governments have chosen to go in for half a century of inflation does not permit of a simple answer. There are three possibilities. The first is that they have done it out of pure ignorance. An example is the fatuous statement by Professor Milton Friedman to Thatcher that Karl Marx was a monetarist like Thatcher and himself.

The second is that the Treasury quietly points out to each Chancellor that continuous inflation has the great merit that it reduces the real cost of the interest payments on the national debt which have to be met out of the Budget.

The third is the one to which Keynes drew attention. Inflation is good for borrowers because, while interest rates rise when there is inflation, they rise less than the rise of prices. The biggest borrowers are the business community and farmers, both of whom have a lot of political pull and could influence government policy in favour of inflation.

Mid-Victorian values
The Thatcher government takes pride in the success it claims to have had in promoting home-ownership, proft-sharing and the "spirit of enterprise" which makes capitalists and workers willing to stand on their own feet instead of relying on state protection and assistance. What they don't admit is that this is as old as capitalism.

Better-paid workers, partly from choice and partly because rented accommodation was not available, have always aimed at owning their own houses. The first of the early type of building societies was set up in Birmingham in 1775 and there was something of a boom in Yorkshire in the early nineteenth century. In 1890 there were 2,800 such societies. The first reported profit-sharing scheme was in 1829. Their record is one of increase in every boom and decline in every depression.

In 1831 the Society for Diffusion of Useful Knowledge published a piece of pure Thatcherite doctrine in a booklet on the results of machinery entitled The Working Man’s Companion: An Address to the Working Men of the United Kingdom. It advised the workers not to join a union or resist machinery but to prepare in advance to meet possible unemployment. Work hard, keep away from the ale-house and the gin shop and gambling and save part of your wages. When he loses his job the worker then "strikes into some new line of labour, or he resolves to see what his capital and labour together will do as a workman on his own account”:
When there is a glut of labour, go at once out of the market: become yourselves capitalists.
Thatcher may well have imbibed her philosophy from that mid-Victorian bestseller, Samuel Smiles. Among his popular works were Thrift, Workers Earnings, Strikes and Savings, and Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct. This last-named sold a quarter of a million copies.

Ups and downs of production
Governments like to be able to show that while they have been in power production has increased at record rates. The 1987 Tory Election Programme had this: “Britain today is in the seventh year of steady economic growth". It sounds impressive until it is remembered that in the first two years of Tory government production fell sharply. At January 1989 the total increase of industrial production since 1979 was less than the increase that took place in the previous ten years 1969-1979. When the next depression comes along it will fall again.

Thatcher however is confident that this time the boom really is here to stay. She has spelled out all the things required to guarantee no more depressions: Free trade, no inflation, low taxation and less government expenditure, weak trade unions and low wages, competitive industry, little nationalisation and of course a Tory government.

Early in the 1870s these guarantees were there. Free trade: highly competitive British industry; no inflation; low taxation (Income tax was 1¼ per cent against the present 25 per cent): government expenditure was only about 8 per cent of National Income against the present 40 per cent: real wages were far below present levels: the unions were small and weak and trade union law more restrictive: not much nationalisation and last but not least, a Tory Prime Minister, Disraeli.

So what happened in 1875? Here is the answer from a government publication, Industrial Relations Handbook, (the 1957 edition published by a Tory Minister of Labour) "A period of trade depression followed the year 1875 and lasted for almost twenty years".
Edgar Hardcastle

Order on the terraces (1989)

From the May 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

It may seem amazing that a government that speaks so much of freedom as the present Thatcher administration does should in practice be so authoritarian and restrictive. Amazing that is to anyone not acquainted with traditional government doublespeak. The 1987 Conservative Party General Election Manifesto declared that the election mattered more for our freedom than “any election since the Second World War".

Most people would like to have more freedom whether it be money in our pockets or just fewer signs around saying "keep off the grass", and of course, this is where the politicians' rhetoric comes in. But on a practical level keeping the wage slaves in line when there is so much to complain about requires control and discipline. As a result a vast state machine has developed with the aim of maintaining "law and order" and ensuring social stability. The armed forces, police. Special Branch. MI5 and others exist to back up the legal system which protects property from 'anti-social' behaviour such as theft or criminal damage.

The ID Card Scheme
Sometimes though threats to order and stability arise which cannot be readily dealt with and require special attention. The present Government has decided that football is currently in need of some of this attention — hence the ID Card Scheme. The Football Spectators Bill, if unamended, proposes that entrance to all Football League matches and Cup matches will be restricted to holders of identity cards. The ID cards will carry a photograph and the name of the team supported by the holder and they will only be able to be obtained in person with proof of identity. Any holder of a card who is convicted of a "football related offence" will immediately have the card withdrawn for a period of two to five years. The supervisory body for the scheme, the Football Membership Authority. will also have the power to impose a ban on membership even if no football related offence has been committed.

The ID card scheme is therefore designed to keep known “troublemakers" away from matches, hopefully leading to a massive drop in violence. However, it ignores a number of important things. Foremost among these is the fact that most of the violence does not occur in the grounds anyway — it takes place outside the grounds and in the town and city centres. Rigid segregation of fans and the use of closed-circuit television has reduced violence in the grounds to low levels while organised gangs of young thugs battle it out outside. As an increasing number of hooligans don't even bother entering the grounds in any case there is absolutely no way that the proposed Membership Scheme could do what the government wants it to do — stamp out football related violence.

What is more, banning fans from grounds has not stopped them from traveling to matches in the past. The present writer has been witness to a number of instances where away supporters have been banned from a ground but have been admitted in large numbers on the advice of the police for fear of the trouble they may cause outside if they are not let in. Who is to say that those who have their membership cards taken off them will not continue to travel to matches to provoke trouble?

Daft Reform
Indeed, it is likely that the ID card scheme may end up causing more trouble than it prevents. At the moment it has been estimated that it takes three seconds for a paying supporter to pass through the turnstile. However, when the ID card scheme is introduced it is likely that the checking of the card will mean that it will take eight seconds to pass through the turnstile. If a thousand people pass through it will take them five thousand seconds longer than at present — in other words nearly one and a half hours (When Saturday Comes, No. 23)! If this is not likely to lead to crushes and crowd violence it is difficult to imagine what will. Indeed, this difficulty was partially noted in the Minister of Sport's Working Party's Report on Football — Membership Schemes, where although it was argued that photographs on the ID cards were essential, "there would be unacceptable delays if turnstile operators were asked to check photographs as well''

The Football Spectators Bill is arguably the daftest reform to be proposed by any of the Thatcher governments, and there have been many contenders for that particular title. It is so ill thought-out that it has been opposed by clubs, supporters and police alike. Outside of the Cabinet and the dewy-eyed Tory backbenchers eager for promotion at the word of Mrs T.. it has been almost universally condemned.

The reason for this condemnation has ranged from the restrictions that fans feel are being placed on them, the unworkability of the scheme which has concerned the police and the financial aspect which has worried the clubs. It will not only be costly to instal computers and the electronic card readers but as the entire scheme is likely to prevent casual supporters from attending matches it will adversely affect attendances. This will in turn affect income, and the majority of clubs who already run at a financial loss may have their very existence called into question. On a commercial level individual football clubs don't so much compete amongst themselves but compete as a whole against other sports and entertainments which have in recent years become increasingly popular at football’s expense. Discouragement of the casual supporter is the last thing that the football clubs want.

The Other Hooligans
A large part of the problem is that the government sees hooliganism that has attached itself to football as a mere aberration within society as a whole, and therefore as something which can be reformed out of existence. However, in the extremely unlikely event that the ID card scheme eradicated football violence hooliganism would only move more noticeably than it already has done to other sports such as cricket and rugby league. For although football matches provide a particular outlet for hooligan behaviour, they are not the cause of it. Capitalist society both breeds violence and sanctions its use. "Legitimate" violence such as the Falklands War or the police beating people up during the Miners' Strike is seen as entirely necessary and acceptable whereas soccer violence is something totally different which cannot be tolerated. It even used to be argued that a reintroduction of National Service would provide discipline for the hooligans and channel their aggression. The absurdity of this was shown during the 1988 European Championships in West Germany when a large proportion of the English fans arrested were in fact members of the armed forces stationed there.

Hooliganism is a product of a society which values aggression, competition and violence above peace and co-operation. It is only when this aggression gets out of hand and threatens stability that it becomes a real concern. What better example is there of the sort of ruthless competition extolled by Thatcher and Colin Moynihan. the Minister for Sport, than the frightening activities of the football mobs vying for the position of "top dogs” every Saturday?

The ID card scheme is as pathetic as it is hypocritical. The Government is not interested in the freedom of working class people and is prepared to restrict the limited freedoms and liberties that we have in a sad attempt to solve a problem which the system that it upholds so clearly threw up in the first place.

Perhaps in the light of increasing drunkenness and late-night violence we can expect the self-proclaimed lovers of freedom in Westminster to issue us with ID cards to enter pubs in future (complete of course with a photograph and the name of your local). The queues to get past the electronic card reader on New Year's Eve don't bear thinking about.
Dave Perrin

Fake Labour Government. The puppet show. (1924)

From the April 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The workers, the producers of wealth, are poor because they are robbed; they are robbed because they may not use the machinery of wealth production except on terms dictated by the owners, the propertied class. The remedy for working class poverty and other social ills is the transfer of ownership of these means of production from the Capital Class to society. That, in a few words, is the case for Socialism.

The work of rebuilding society on this new basis cannot be started until power is in the hands of a Socialist working class, and that cannot be until many millions have been convinced of the need for change and are broadly agreed on the way to set to work to bring it about.

It is just here that the Socialist meets with an objection which is in appearance reasonable enough. Many who would accept the foregoing remarks can go with us no further.

Is it not better, they say, in view of the certainty that Socialism cannot be introduced at once, to devote much, if not all, our energy to making the best of Capitalism, and getting “something now”? By “something now” they mean higher wages, increased State protection against destitution through illness or unemployment, and other like proposals. It may then come as a surprise to them that we also believe in getting something now. We differ in that we are not willing to subordinate Socialist propaganda to the demand for reforms of Capitalism, and in that we strongly hold that the best way to get these things is by the revolutionary activity of an organisation of revolutionaries. In other words, the quickest and easiest method of getting reforms from the ruling class is to let them see that it will endanger their position to refuse.

While we recognise that Socialism is the only permanent solution, we are not among those who consider that the Capitalists are simply unable to afford better conditions for the workers. A comparison between the total income from property, and the petty cost of doles and relief, shows the falsity of that somewhat common notion. On the one hand the workers would, if they ceased to struggle, soon find that there is still room for a worsening of their conditions, and on the other hand were they free from the mental blindness which prevents them from striking a blow when and where it would be most damaging, they might, even within Capitalism, raise their standard of living and diminish their insecurity. Unfortunately they do not yet see the brutal facts of the class struggle, and too often allow themselves to be paralysed in action by their belief in the supposed community of interest between them and their exploiters, by their response to every deceitful appeal in the name of patriotism, and by their lack of confidence in their own powers and intelligence. They will put up a straight fight against their employers, but they have not yet seen through the more subtle hostility of the newspapers, the politicians, and all the other defenders of the employing class who pose as neutrals because it makes their influence more deadly. The employers and their hired defenders know well enough that your gain is often their loss, and they therefore have good reason to persuade you not to seize the opportunities that offer of raising your wages or reducing your hours. But many who talk about the beauties of an “advanced programme of social reforms” seem not to have realised that if such things are to be of any worth to you necessitate at first the dipping into the profits of the other class. Various well-meaning persons may preach arbitration and conciliation, but you know well enough that sweet words do not, as a rule, charm employers into giving higher wages. They will not give up any part of what they hold except under pressure one kind of pressure is fear; the fear that refusal to spend part of their on reforms will encourage revolutionary agitation for the seizure of the whole. There is supposed to be another way of getting “something now.” It is to assist into office a non-revolutionary party like the Labour Party.

It is pleaded at the moment on that Party’s behalf that it is “in office but not in power,” and that its weaknesses arise from that one fact due to causes beyond its control. Within limits this is true, but why in such circumstances was office accepted? It can hardly be questioned that an official opposition, 192 strong, bent on hampering the Government could have influenced legislation not less than when actually in office. In fact, however, the Labour Party was not free to choose. It dared not refuse office; it dare not while in office attack the roots of Capitalist privilege, and had it continued in opposition to Baldwin’s Government it would not have dared to obstruct as a means of compelling the granting of concessions. The reasons for its impotence in each of these situations are the same. Its programme and policy, its supporters, the basis of its organisation, and the ground upon which it chose to fight elections all combined to commit it to the administering of Capitalism as distinct from treating the present opportunity merely as a prelude to the fight for Socialism.

From the circumstance that the bulk of the members of the Labour Party do not accept Socialism as a present political issue, but at best only as a hope for the future, it would be plainly suicidal for them to talk of throwing down a challenge to the Capitalist Class. The only alternative is to do as the Labour Party are trying to do. They are trying to run the Capitalist system better than the older parties have done. 

We can we can readily concede that as administrators the Labour men will prove themselves no less intelligent and capable than their predecessors, and probably more receptive of new ideas and methods than the men who made and mismanaged the war.

But the essence of our opposition to this policy is that except in quite minor respects there is only one way of administering Capitalism—the Capitalist way. Ultimately it is the economic organisation of society which dictates the broad lines of policy and breaks those who ignore them. The problems which present themselves for settlement, such as war, unemployment, poverty, arise from the very nature of the present social system. They may be dealt with in more than one way, but they cannot be treated in a manner satisfactory to the workers without first destroying Capitalism.

Support of the unemployed at comparatively trifling cost is, from the Capitalist viewpoint, a solution of the unemployment problem. Their problem is to avoid the risk of riot and revolt and their policy succeeds. War is but an extension of ordinary commercial competition, and poverty is both the effect and the necessary condition of capitalist wealth and monopoly.

Even where a Labour Government is able to introduce certain alleviations, these must be paid for in the sacrifice of political independence. The removal of the “Gap” is the price of consent to plans of the Conservative majority for the Navy and Air Forces. To argue that these objectionable measures would have been carried through by the last or any other Capitalist Government misses the point of our criticism. Capitalism produces certain evils. These evils, have, by their persistence, discredited three Governments since 1918. A Labour Government which seeks to carry on is certain not to be able to remove the evils, and under the added embarrassment of having roused high hopes, will be discredited, too, and the unhappy sequel will be that those who openly defend the present system will with some show of reason instance the failure of the Labour Party as proof that there is no solution, and many of the Labour men will drift or be forced into offering the same defence themselves.

It is to the general situation and not to the weakness or cowardice of individuals that we must look for an explanation of the actions of the Labour Government, many of which have already given obvious displeasure to their more advanced supporters.

Their term began with a strike of locomotive men, who, despite their solidarity, were compelled to accept wage reductions. So far from intervening to obtain “something now” for the strikers, Mr. MacDonald appointed as Colonial Secretary Mr. J. H. Thomas, who quite openly condemned them and hoped and intrigued for their defeat.

The miners, too, are putting forward a demand that their wages be raised to the 1914 standard, but the Editor of the Labour Magazine (January, 1924), an official Labour Party organ, can offer them no better assistance than an appeal in the following terms:—”We are sure that the miners will not embarrass the first Labour Government by pressing untimely demands . . .”

It would appear at least reasonable for the miners to receive slightly more than a starvation wage before the non-producers who own the mines should be allowed to draw their millions of pounds of profits. Even if the Labour Party, like MacDonald, are definitely committed to retaining the profit-making system, it cannot be doubted that they would, if they conveniently could, raise the miners wages; but because they are “administering capitalism” such a demand is of necessity an “untimely” one. What the miners get, even if it be given legislative endorsement, will be the result of their own organisation and action.

When the Dockers came out on strike for increases which were generally admitted even by some of the Dock employers to be long overdue, the Government had mails unloaded by Naval ratings and had made all preparations for unloading foodstuffs, etc., had the strike continued. This does not necessarily imply on their part a positive wish to break the strike. What it does mean is that this is one of the duties inevitably forced upon those, whatever their beliefs, who would undertake to administer Capitalism.

The strike had to be ended or countered. If the Labour Government had refused to act it would have forfeited the right to govern. Through Mr. Shaw, therefore, pressure was brought to bear on the Dockers’ representatives to accept certain terms which were actually slightly worse than those finally granted by the employers.
 “It was stated yesterday that the settlement terms follow the ‘private suggestion’ made by the Minister of Labour last week, with the exception that July instead of June was first proposed for the operation of the second shilling increase.” (Daily News, 22 February, 1924.)
As for the nature of the “private suggestion” referred to, the Worker (March 1st) quotes as follows from Mr. Bevin’s speech to the delegates:—
  “The Government is responsible for the moving of the mails. They have refrained from using soldiers, naval ratings, blacklegs or force of any kind. But they are being driven up against it, and soon will have to take the choice of exercising their powers or going out of office. That was the choice, and there is no need to beat about the bush. We discussed the position with the Government . . . I want you to see the influence on our judgment in the course of the developments that have gone on.”
With regard to the unemployed, Mr. MacDonald, in his opening speech on policy in the House of Commons, made it quite plain that he is not going to assist them at the expense of the propertied class.
   “We are not going to diminish industrial capital in order to provide relief.” (Daily Herald, 13 February.). This was received with “renewed cheers.” 
That attitude is explained by an interview MacDonald gave to an unemployed deputation in Edinburgh, at which he is reported as saying,
  “The possibility of financial panic was also a factor to be taken into account . . . For the immediate future good administration was requisite to win the confidence of the financial groups and ensure stability.” (Worker, 9 February.)
It is evident that to gain and keep the “confidence of the financial groups” rules out all measures aimed at depriving the Capitalist Class of any part of what they hold, except on terms pleasing to them.

Dr. Salter, in the New Leader, lays down a general principle on the wage question:
  “It is quite certain that under present world circumstances and in view of the competition in outside markets, no new and higher rates of wages in any industry or in any locality should be imposed by law without careful preliminary expert investigation.” (7 March, 1924.)
It would doubtless be “untimely” and “embarrassing” to suggest careful enquiry into the need for supporting an idle class of property owners out of the product of industry.

But the question of armaments has shown up in its most glaring aspect the weakness of the Labour Government, its complete dependence on those who pull the strings, and the truth of the Socialist contention that those who accept office on such terms can be no more than caretakers of the Capitalist system. In the first place it was no accident that anti-working class imperialists like Lord Chelmsford and Brigadier-General Thompson should have gone to the Admiralty and the Air Ministry respectively. Labour members may be allowed to prattle about the Sermon on the Mount, provided they keep the fighting forces up to the level require by the international situation. Thus we have Mr. “Pacifist” Ammon at the Admiralty announcing the intention of laying down five new cruisers and two destroyers, and MacDonald actually defending it as a means of providing employment. Of the whole batch of Labour men only one, the Rev. H. Dunnico, voted against the Government; 161 voted with them, and the rest abstained. Some of the latter will perhaps follow Dunnico on the next occasion. The internal anarchy of the I.L.P. is well illustrated by their inability to control the M.Ps. A message of congratulation to Dunnico was passed unanimously by the 55 delegates attending the half-yearly conference of the Northern Counties Divisional Council of the I.L.P. It conveyed to him “Heartiest congratulations on being the only M.P. who stood loyally to the principles which our party hold.”—(Daily News, February 27th). It was left to Liberals like Kenworthy to protest.

The Government which will not “diminish industrial capital in order to provide relief” for the unemployed has also agreed to “a big scheme of Air Defence,” involving an additional expenditure of £2,500,000 for 1924-25, and with the promise that “the total of air Estimates may be expected to rise for some years.”—(Lord Thompson, Daily Herald, March 8th.)

The Herald uses the word “Defence” on its front page, yet in its editorial of the same day it endorses MacDonald’s view, supported by numerous “experts”, that no aircraft building can really provide any security whatever against hostile raids.

Much has been made by Labour Party apologists (e.g., New Leader, March 14th) of the fact that the gross expenditure on the three services is less than last year, but as Lansbury points out, this is merely due to the changing technique of warfare:
  “It is said we are to spend less on armaments as a whole; it is true, because the more deadly weapons, such as bombs, gas, aeroplanes and submarines, are cheaper and yet more deadly than the obsolete Dreadnoughts and other costly weapons.” (Daily Herald, 15 March.)
Lansbury’s further reply to those who pretend to see something different in the Labour Party’s attitude to armaments is equally forcible.
  “But far more important is it to realise that exactly the same kind of speeches as are being made to-day from the Government benches in defence of armaments, were made during the years 1906-14 by Sir E. Grey, Lord Haldane, Mr. Winston Churchill, and Mr. Lloyd George.” (Ibid.)
The belief, which is now the bedrock of the Labour Party’s policy, that peace can be ensured by preparing for war, is not new, and it has not exactly been confirmed by history.

The truth is that competition in disposing of the surplus products of each Capitalist country in the world’s markets, and rivalry in the struggle for possession of raw materials and trade routes, lead inevitably to war. The Labour Government are now busy considering schemes for reducing the cost of production in the Empire’s staple export industries. In a capitalist world that means more embittered competition, and a consequently increased probability of early war with those who feel themselves being throttled in the commercial struggle. Those who have taken on the administration of Capitalism must also face the responsibility of preparing for the conflicts that are the product of Capitalism.

The true cause of modern wars was bluntly exposed by a French General, Marshal Lyauty, speaking at a Banquet of the National Congress of Councillors of Foreign Trade at Marseilles in October, 1922.—(Star, October 31st, 1922.)
   “French soldiers are fighting in Morocco to acquire territory in which rise rivers capable of supplying power for electrification schemes which will prove of great advantage to French trade. When we have acquired the last zone of cultivatable territory, when we have nothing but mountains in front of us, we shall stop.
  “Our object is commercial and economic. The military expedition in Morocco is a means, not an end. Our object is the extension of foreign trade.”
Without foreign markets capitalist industry in Great Britain perishes. Without protection by dominant armaments those markets are prizes to be had for the asking. Those Labour men who believe that they can promote capitalist trade without needing to arm in order to hold what they gain, are living in a fool’s paradise. They have to build cruisers and bombing planes to overawe and if need be to shatter the forces and cities of whatever States come into conflict with Great Britain.

We Socialists see that wars are unavoidable if the interests of the Capitalist Class are to be protected, but we are not concerned in protecting them. We recognise that under Capitalism the workers have nothing to lose in war except their lives and nothing to gain, and so we urge them not to support Capitalist wars or the preparation for them.

Our aim as Socialists is the destruction of the Capitalist system of society, and we are therefore unalterably hostile to all political parties which seek to gain control of Parliament for any other purpose than the establishment of Socialism. The Labour Party is such a party; it has gone into office in the custody of the Liberal Party; its so-called Socialists are puppets dancing on the strings of the industrial and financial capitalists behind the scenes; its Pacifists are merely decoys who will allay suspicion while the militarists prepare for war; its wild men are a convenient buffer to receive the blows of the workers so soon as they tire of waiting for something to be done to relieve their misery. As has been well said, the Labour Party has taken over a bankrupt concern; not, however, to wind it up, but to carry it on. As well as the troubles of previous administrations, the present Cabinet is threatened with a promising crop of revolts. The men of peace grown suddenly stiff-necked and highhanded in office will surely come into early conflict with those of their late “comrades” who were too honest to desire or too insignificant to be offered posts in the Government. The genuine disapproval of the former and the ill-concealed venom of some of the others are likely to make for turbulence rather than tranquillity. So that even if our first Labour Government is only a Puppet Show, it should merit the distinction conceded by one observer, of being the best show in London.
Edgar Hardcastle