Friday, May 14, 2021

Policy and Tactics of Socialism. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Suggested Lessons for Study Classes in Socialism


The Basis of Socialist Policy—The Class Struggle.

Relations between Capitalists and Wage Workers defined.

1. The population to-day is made up of all kinds of people, showing much variation in their persons and habits. They differ in size and age, health and mind, dress and looks, and in every family circle we see wide differences in form, mind and conduct. With all this variation, there is a broad line of distinction, which divides the members of modern society into classes.

2. What is a class? Is it a group of people possessing some taste, habit, or ability, in common? No. A class in society is a body of people distinguished by their economic position. What divides one part of the population from the other, and separates them into classes, is the possession or non-possession of wealth and the necessity or otherwise of having to work for employers. There have been classes ever since private property existed; but the classes we are concerned with are those existing in the present social system. Class lines may not be as absolute and sharp as a mathematical figure, but the above property distinctions generally mark off one class from another.

3. There are two classes to-day. One, the working class, who do not possess property, and are therefore compelled to sell their mental and physical ability, that is, their working power, to owners of wealth in order to live. Whether they are employed in an office or a mine; whether they are paid wages or salaries, as long as they are driven through lack of property to seek a master, they are members of the working class.

The other class in modern society is the Capitalist or Master class. They own the means and instruments required for producing wealth, but take no part in production themselves. They buy the workers’ mental and physical energy which is used to produce the wealth. The Capitalists pay the workers in the form of wages, just enough to live upon whilst working, and they retain the surplus themselves.

One class owns the means of production and the products, but does not produce. The other class produces, but does not own the wealth.

The working class possess only their labour-power—their energy. Like bread, coal, etc., it is an article of merchandise— a commodity. They must sell this to Capitalists in order to get the food, clothing and shelter they need.

4. The buyers of all kinds of commodities have an interest in buying as cheaply as possible. The seller’s interest is to sell as highly as possible. Obviously, therefore, the interests of buyers and sellers are opposite and conflict with each other.

The workers’ commodity, labour-power, is distinguished, however, from all other commodities by the fact that the buyers of that commodity are all of one class and the sellers all belong to another class. The masters are always buyers of labour, and the workers always sellers.

These relations of employers and employed, masters and servants, are due to the divisions of property in society. Out of the material conditions of production and distribution arises the separation of the population into two distinct groups: property owners and wage workers. The ownership of the means of production by the Capitalists and the resulting enslavement of the working class is the basis of the class struggle.

The Hostility Between The Classes.

5. The welfare of each class depends upon its position in society. In other words, the position occupied by the classes gives them distinct interests, according to their place in the social system.

The Capitalist class, being a property-owning class, have a direct interest in protecting their present property and seeking to increase it. Their interest is to pay as little in wages and keep as much in profits as possible.

The working class is a class that lives by working for the owners of capital and their immediate interest is to get as much as possible in the form of wages for the fewest. hours. Moreover, they are the only class which produces the wealth and consequents their interests are to obtain the product of their industry.

6. The interests of the working class and the Capitalist class are different. Not only different, but opposite. The Capitalists’ interest is to maintain the slavery of the workers, and retain as much as possible of the fruits of the workers’ industry. The workers’ interest is to end their slavery and to abolish the profits of the Capitalists by enjoying all the wealth themselves.

7. Conflicting interests cause these classes to take actions in defence of their interests, and those actions constitute an unceasing struggle—the class struggle. This struggle arises from the existence of classes and will continue until the class distinctions are abolished and consequently the classes with them.

A Capitalist may be a genial, so-called kind hearted man with good intentions, but as a property owner and employer of labour, he is compelled to take a position and engage in actions hostile to the workers.

The class struggle is a fact. The Capitalists know it and pursue their policy accordingly, so that they may be victors. Most of the workers do not realise that the class struggle exists. Their day-to-day actions as wage slaves, however, in bargaining about terms with employers, and the disputes arising out of it, demonstrate that, whether the workers are conscious of their interests or not, the class struggle goes on.

Battle Ground of the Conflict.

8. The class struggle originates out of economic conditions. It manifests itself on the industrial field in the never ceasing conflict about the every-day conditions of employment, and on the political field it shows itself as a struggle by Capitalists to retain their ruling power against any attempts to unseat them.

The actions taken by the employers to obtain wage-workers, the methods used to exploit them, and the policy pursued in strikes and lock-outs to defeat them, are part of the class struggle. The workers’ resistance to the actions of the employers and their efforts to get the best possible price and terms for their labour-power through strikes, etc., are incidents in the same class struggle.

9. The foremost battlefield of the class struggle, however, is the political field. On that plane the masters obtain their ruling power and there they concentrate to wield power over the working class. Every class in history which has risen to supremacy has had to obtain control of the political power. Through that political control the masters are able to use the armed forces and the legal machinery against the workers in the class struggle. With their political power the masters are able to defeat strikers, to starve workers, to keep unemployed workers from getting food, to make war and drive the workers to fight for them. As the political machine is the lever whereby classes dominate, the highest expression of the class struggle is on the political field.

10. The master class carry on the struggle against the workers by enacting and administering laws, by controlling the press, the church and the school, and using them to try to prevent the workers taking steps to wrest political control from the Capitalists.

Consciousness of the Struggle Essential to Victory.

11. The workers are in the class struggle, but are not conscious of their interests. Hence they fight, blindly and vainly to improve their condition. Inside the unions, in political parties and in their every-day actions they do things which work to the Capitalists’ advantage. They continue to act on lines which perpetuate the system that enslaves them, and support men, measures and parties that work against the workers’ interests.

The workers must recognise that the class struggle exists. They must become aware of their slave position, and the way out, if they are to prosecute the struggle to a victorious conclusion for themselves. If the working class become conscious of their class interests and welfare, they will refuse to take actions which injure them. The guiding policy for class-conscious workers must be: Will a contemplated action assist the workers to triumph in the class struggle ?

No Compromise.

12. Any action taken by the workers against their own interests assists the Capitalists to retain power. Those who advise the workers to support the Capitalists, or their policies and ideas, are helping to strengthen the position of the Capitalist class.

The interests of the Capitalists being opposed to the workers upon every point of social life and conduct, the action of the workers must be ever hostile to that of the Capitalists. In their fight to retain control, the masters are ruthless, brutal, and know no mercy; and the workers must expect no help from them, but wage the struggle intelligently and unceasingly against them.

Every political party expresses the interests of one class or other, and the party expressing working class interests must, therefore, be opposed to all other parties.

Results of the Struggle.

13. The object of the conscious struggle by the workers must be to raise themselves to the position of ruling class.

The class struggles throughout history, of chattel slave holder and chattel slave, feudal lord and merchant, etc., have been forces in the progress of society. The struggle between the wage working and Capitalist class is also a force making for social development, and the victory of the working class will mean the end of class rule. The working class is the last subject class to be emancipated, and their supremacy will result in the abolition of class distinctions through the common ownership of the means of life.

The interests of the workers are identical in spite of the apparent hostility between individual workers in their struggle for jobs. They are all victims of Capitalist domination and dependent upon the employing class for permission to live. “Solidarity” must be the motto of the working class, as an injury to one is an injury to all. 
Adolph Kohn

Socialism and Birth Control. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
   “The New Generation League (formerly Malthusian League) aims at eliminating poverty, unemployment, and other social evils, as well as war, by the simple method of reducing over-population, by enabling married couples to restrict their families to those children for whom they can properly care, and give a reasonable chance for a happy and useful existence.”—(New Generation, June.)
As Socialists, we are not opposed to the teaching of sexual physiology, but welcome any knowledge based upon the facts of life conducive to health or comfort. Our opposition is to the claim that even a general application of such teachings (the use of contraceptive methods of birth control), can remove deep-rooted social evils such as is claimed in the quotation given above.

Working class poverty prevails throughout the Capitalist world irrespective of fiscal systems, forms of government, rising or falling birth rates, etc. It exists because the abundance of wealth produced by the workers is in the hands of the non-producers, the Capitalists, who own the means and results of production. The workers’ share of that wealth is wages, a fraction of the total values they produce. Wealth is produced to-day for markets, which relatively shrink as world competition grows more intense. Labour saving devices increase the number of unemployed, as they reduce the number required for a given amount of production. Wars are fought either to extend or retain markets for the disposal of wealth primarily produced for sale. The propertyless condition of the workers compels them to enter the Labour market in order to meet the owners of their means of living—the buyers of their Labour power—and the effective sale of that labour power is expressed in its price or wage.

As far as the adult male worker is concerned, that wage is based upon the cost of maintaining a family. Those without families gain a small advantage while that difference is maintained.
  “The Neo-Malthusian contention, however, lays chief stress not upon the gain to the individual family from a reduction of its size below its normal, but upon the gain to the labouring classes in general by following a policy which by restricting the supply of labour raises its market price.” (Report of the Commission on The Falling Birth Rate (Chapman & Hall), Page 28, 1916.)
This might be true if other things remained equal, but they never do. The war reduced the working class in numbers, but did its conclusion bring improvement in their conditions? Even the steady reduction of the working population, carried out by whatever means, could never keep pace with the number displaced by the introduction of labour saving devices.

Any tendency for “costs” to increase is a direct incentive for installing wages-saving methods and a shortage of labour would hasten their adoption. To reduce the size of the average family is no remedy, as under the competitive conditions of to-day a general lowering in the cost of living brought about by smaller families would mean lowered wages :—
  “The value of labour power resolves itself into the value of a definite quantity of the means of subsistence. therefore varies with the value of these means, or with the quantity of labour required for their production.” (Capital, Page 151.)
A number of statistics and facts from Henry George (Progress and Poverty) right up to the Commission report on the birth rate mentioned above, bear evidence that high and low fertility are closely related to poverty and comfort respectively. In plant and animal life we observe similar tendencies as a result of the struggle for the food supply. The wealthy are not so because they restrict their families. Their lowered fertility results from their luxurious and comfortable lives.
  “Darwin noted that 19 per cent. of the nobility were sterile.” (“Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics,” Page 383.)
The workers, as a class, are not poor because of their larger families. Wealth has increased much faster than population. The workers are born poor, remain poor, single or married, employed or unemployed, abstainers or moppers, with small families or large, and their larger families result from their keen struggle for existence.
   “In fact, not only the number of births and deaths, but the absolute size of the families stand in inverse proportion to the height of wages, and therefore to the amount of means of subsistence of which the different categories of labourers dispose. This law of Capitalist society would sound absurd to savages or even civilised colonists. It calls to. mind the boundless reproduction of animals individually weak and constantly hunted down.” (Capital, Page 658.)
The workers are poor today in the midst of what is termed over-production. Unlike the reformers (birth controllers included) we do, not approach the question of social evils with the assumption that Capitalism is inevitable and eternal. To us those evils have a definite cause, to be sought for in their social epoch. We cannot expect to understand modern war or unemployment by studying ancient society, hence the present population question is essentially a Capitalist one. Its solution is the removal of the system that gives rise to it and other social evils, and the establishment of Socialist society in which the conflicting elements of to-day will cease to exist. While production is limited to the needs of our masters’ markets, while the workers must limit their consumption of wealth to the meagre purchasing power of their wages, while every labour-saving method is, in the control of the Capitalist class, a means to a greater output with a relatively fewer number of workers, while, in short, the present system remains, conditioned as it is by the monopoly of the means of life by the Master class, an ever-increasing number of the workers must go to swell the surplus population of Capitalism—the “over population” of the Birth Controllers. To talk of the lack of means of subsistence to-day is childish; apart from the fact that the workers sustain the wealthy “unemployed” in riotous luxury, those surplus to the production of wealth under the present social system, become such long, long before our powers to produce are utilised to their capacity.
W. E. MacHaffie

More joy for miners. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Daily News “Trade Survey” is a column always worth reading. Take that of June 6, for instance. You will there discover that our coal export trade is, in a manner of speaking, going rapidly to pot. According to the returns, our coal exports for April were 24 per cent. less than last year’s monthly average and the worst for two years. What has happened? This :— 
  "Since the collapse of passive resistance in the Ruhr, France, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg have been obtaining from Germany a large amount of the coal supplies they were previously compelled to obtain from Great Britain. Last year France and Luxembourg were able to extract from German sources only 420,000 tons a month on an average. In April of the present year the amount received was more than 1,300,000 tons.
  Continental countries outside Germany are winning coal from their own territories on an increasing scale. The mines of Northern France are back again practically to the pre-war rate of production ; Holland and Belgium are producing at more than the pre-war rate.”
This is good news indeed for the miner. Those who formed part of the late Miners’ Battalion will feel especially ecstatic. Those who are satisfied with Capitalism are about to experience another example of its manifold benefits to the working class in general and the miners in particular. We may as well complete the quotation :—
   “Those who take a pessimistic view point out that more distant markets, such as South Africa, India, and the Far East are drawing less on British and more on their native sources of supply; that the navies of the world were in pre-war times coal-driven, and are now oil-driven, while oil bunkers are becoming steadily more popular in the mercantile marine.”
Of course there is a moral. In fact, two. Perhaps you would like to hear the Daily News man’s first:—
  “The moral is that, as British coal has much less of a monopoly in various markets of the world than in pre-war days, every effort should be made to sell at a competitive price which, in turn, involves the adoption of the most efficient and economical means of production at home in, and the consent of the workers, if need be, to possible sacrifices as regards wages and hours of labour.“
“If need be?” “Need” will “be” all right, one may depend. You may or may not like that moral. This is the other : As the coal mines are owned by a small and useless group of people who only allow them to be used when a profit to themselves is assured, and who, further, take advantage of our propertyless condition to hire us for the price of subsistence; and as, further, the whole of industry is run upon the same basis, we will join with our fellow slaves in all occupations, and seizing the mines, the railways, the land and the factories, will become our own masters and abolish the rule of the few.

We hope you like the second moral better.
W. T. Hopley

A Look Round. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Glories of the Empire.
  “I can see nothing but progress in the British Empire and nothing but progress in the British race.” (Lord Leverhulme, Daily Sketch, May 3rd, 1924.)
Our noble Lord, including his “directive ability,” has returned from a world tour; in the meantime the production of soap and margarine had proceeded undisturbed. One lesson the workers have yet to learn is that had Leverhulme taken the whole of the Capitalist class with him the production and distribution of wealth would have been unhindered as far as their absence is concerned.

The results of his observations appear to be as mythical as his directive ability, or perhaps he has peculiar notions of progress. According to that organ of Empire (Observer, May 4, 1924) the number of persons in Great Britain in receipt of poor law relief for the year ending 1923, had reached a proportion higher than at any period since 1879. One town within the “Empire,” namely Glasgow, sheltered within its police cells, not as prisoners, but as “destitute persons,” 51,598 people within that same year (Parl. Debates, February 19, 1924). Pages could be filled with similar items of starvation, disease and despair, touching every phase of working-class life. Space only permits of one further item, illustrative, in an indirect manner, of the sanctity of family life (Capitalist variety) on which we are for ever told the greatness of our Empire was built :—
  “Before the Royal Commission upon Venereal Disease, a witness estimated that in the British Isles there are about 850,000 fresh cases of venereal disease every year.” (Pamphlet issued by the National Council for Combating Venereal Disease.)

The Meaning of the Housing Bill.
“The Wheatley method of presentation of the Housing Bill has not conduced to its ready acceptance, except by those who hate Capitalism in whatever shape or manner it may be presented.” (Democrat, July 11, 1924).
Even were the above statement true it could still be shown that the Labour Party’s Housing scheme is not only a necessary Capitalist reform, but that it will confer a much greater benefit upon that class than upon the workers. Every reform, whether it has been the franchise, the factory Acts, or old age pensions (all reforms equally essential to advancing Capitalism) has met with sectional opposition from the master class, an opposition always more or less fraudulent, and calculated to convey the impression that the opponents’ only thoughts are for their wage slaves. A peep behind the Capitalist scenes reveals the truth of the above and shows the lying nature of the statement that the Labour Party are Socialists. Introducing the Housing Bill Mr. Wheatley said :—
   “I notice that the right Honourable member for Twickenham in criticising my proposals the other day, said : ‘This is real Socialism.’ . . . I am going to remind them as the representatives in this house of the great industrialists of the country. . . for the sake of their pockets, to recognise that it is impossible to produce in the housing conditions of to-day workers who can successfully compete in the world’s markets of to-morrow. The proposals which I am submitting are real Capitalism—an attempt to patch up in the interests of humanity, a capitalist ordered society.” (‘”Parliamentary Debates,” Vol. 174, June 3rd, 1924.)
Fellow workers, you voted for Capitalism either avowed or masquerading as “Labour.” Now, in order that you may be made more efficient workers to compete for your masters’ markets, they will “patch you up,” giving you “real Capitalism” for “the sake of their pockets.”

The Labour Party's "Socialism."
  “Many years of study had overwhelmingly convinced him that in the gradual application of Socialist Principles lay the future hope of the world. . . . The police force, Courts of Justice, the army and navy, and our civil administration were Socialist and collective institutions”(Oswald Mosley, Manchester Guardian, May 6th, 1924).
Some hope ! No wonder Ramsay MacDonald welcomed this recruit to “Socialism,” whose years of study convinced him that Socialism would be a sort of international police force. Definitions, as such, can have little bearing on Socialism as a science, but even a shilling Capitalist dictionary gets nearer than our “overwhelmed” student. Cassell’s pocket edition says :—
  “Socialism is the theory that the materials from which labour produces wealth should be the property of the community.”
And providing the “community” be the whole people we agree. To-day we live in Capitalist society, in which those materials are the property of Capitalists, including, of course, the form into which the workers’ industry has changed such materials, i.e., railways, machinery, warehouses, etc. Such wealth is called Capital, and is used to exploit the workers for profit. An analysis of the above mentioned institutions will show their primary purpose to be the continuance of that exploitation, and whether it takes the collective form of the trust, the combine, or nationalisation as in the Post Office, Capitalism it remains, and it is indeed in such forms that we see the present system in its highest form of Capitalist ownership. There is no gradual transition to Socialism within the present system. We claim that all the industrial forms of to-day are ripe for social change BUT for the understanding of a majority of the workers. Only social revolution can bring that change and as the Labour Party stand as “a bulwark against revolution” (L.P. Manifesto. Oct. 24, 1922, General Election), they are anti- Socialists.

Advertising God.
  “The suggestion that advertising should be applied to popularise religion was discussed by Father Knox, who preached at Westminster Cathedral yesterday, his subject being, “Truth in Advertising,” the slogan of the Advertising Convention” (Morning Post, July 14th, 1924.)
The subordination of art, literature, drama, etc., to the mercenary requirements of capitalism has long been a recognised fact. The artist must embody his art in the poster of the adulterated provisions purveyor, the journalist must meet the mentality of a war-mad world, or the ethics and ideas of our masters’ so-called peace, the cinema star must in devious ways serve up the carefully prepared and censored material that portrays working-class poverty as incidental and romantic. The scientist, the priest, all must, if they would bid for Capitalist patronage, bring their services to the buyers. Small wonder that the awakening of the workers alarms the religionists, and suggests to them the methods of the soap boiler, or the medicinal quack. The ever increasing number of workers who despise the promise of a heavenly reward in a world in which they provide material comfort for an idle few, drives religion to the last ditch. It is as Marx says, “The opium of the people.” Socialism is its antidote.
W. E. MacHaffie

The condition of the working class. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Can it be Improved under Capitalism.

According to the Tories, Liberals and Communists, the Labour Government have failed to show any initiative or ability in dealing with unemployment. The Labour Party pleads for time. Although it may be true that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” it is scarcely necessary for those who can use their brains to wait for the experiments of a Labour Government before passing judgment on them.

It is easy to take their reforms one by one and, examining them in the light of reason, see for ourselves exactly how much they are worth. It is doubtful whether all their supposed remedies can ever stop the increase of unemployment. They are more likely to achieve the reverse.

Such palliatives as afforestation, nationalisation and more economical use of coal, together with others that make for greater efficiency, while they may increase employment in their initial stages, will obviously become responsible for more unemployment as they become effective.

Palliatives like the Capital Levy—if they do what the Labour leaders surreptitiously tell the workers they will : take from the rich and give to the poor—will be resisted by the Capitalists to the last. The advocates of the Capital Levy, Labour and Liberal, however, have yet to prove that it would benefit the workers. Their next job is to convert the employing class.

For many years Labour leaders have urged the necessity of higher wages both from the employers’ and the workers’ view-points. Mr. J. A. Hobson, in the New Leader, June 20, declares that the remedy for unemployment is along this line. “All wealth not required as new capital, if spent, would give full employment. The workers must have wages sufficiently high to buy up the goods they produce when fully employed.”

Most workers would willingly agree ; but, unfortunately, Mr. Hobson does not tell us how to obtain such wages. There is not the ghost of a suggestion throughout the article whether the workers should strike for them, or whether the employers should freely give, after recognising the probability of big returns. He simply ignores these questions and merely tells us that if everybody had enough money to buy all they wanted after working, unemployment would vanish. He says, for instance :—
  “It is not true, as is sometimes urged, that there does not exist at any time enough purchasing power to buy and consume everything that is, or can be produced. For everything produced belongs to somebody, that is to say, somebody has the right to take and consume it, or its equivalent in other sorts of wealth. If everybody went on using all the income he received in purchasing consumable goods and services, as fast as possible, there would be no unemployment. But there would also be no provision for industrial enlargement to meet the rising demands of an increasing population.”
Now, the workers spend practically all their income on necessaries. The Capitalists, in their various concerns, set on one side the sums necessary for replacement and enlargement before declaring dividends, or calling for new capital. If they live up to their incomes, or invest a portion as new capital, matters but little, it is spent anyway; and spent “as fast as possible” and capital is always forthcoming for any concerns that promise dividends.

In spite of all this spending, wealth that cannot be used as capital increases in quantity in the hands of the employing class.

Mr. Hobson knows this quite well, for he says :—
  “A great deal of wealth cannot get produced because, if it were produced, it could not get consumed. Why? Because there is not enough purchasing power in the possession of those who would desire to consume these goods.”
A relatively small section of the working-class with modern methods and machinery, working at full pressure, can choke the world’s markets in a very short time. Who is to buy the goods? If the Capitalists buy them in order to keep the workers employed their action would be no more stupid than paying extra wages that their workers might buy them. From their point of view it would be more sensible to increase the dole.

If Mr. Hobson wishes to deal with unemployment, he must take things as he finds them. There is no escaping the fact that the employers, as a class, are solely concerned with preserving their present domination over the workers for the purpose of continuing their exploitation. Higher wages would undoubtedly temporarily improve conditions for the workers, but how are they to get them? Capitalists are too careful to allow Mr. Hobson to persuade them that the payment of higher wages would bring them more business. They are clever enough to stop production, or ease up, at the first signs of congestion. But they have not yet arrived at a stage where they can eliminate all competition and fix prices and wages at a level which would guarantee to them a definite proportion of the wealth produced. If they ever arrive at such a stage it is obvious that high or low wages will mean nothing to the workers because prices could be adjusted to any level in accordance with the old standard of living.

There is no form of industrial organisation that could raise wages to the level Mr. Hobson’s ideas would require. The employing class will only raise wages under pressure or necessity : pressure from the workers—where they have the power—or the indisputable necessity of raising the standard of living to produce greater efficiency. For these reasons Mr. Hobson’s remedy is impossible of application and, therefore, scarcely worthy of discussion in other respects. With every reform, brought to their notice by politicians of every school, the worker should always ask himself the question : will it work?
F. Foan

Common Nonsense about Socialism. (1924)

Book Review from the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Common Sense of Socialism,” Alban Gordon. Labour Publishing Co. 120 pages. 1/-.

This book is written for the purpose of winning the support of the “Middle and well-to-do classes” for the programme of the Labour Party. The author explains that his party “stands for Socialism” . . . but not now! They “totally deny its practicability either now or for generations to come” (94), but if the vulgar mob will be patient they may see Capitalism at an end possibly a century or more ahead” (65). For the present Mr. Gordon has some suggestions to make for the better running of the Capitalist system and, incidentally, for the improvement of the sad lot of the Capitalist class. There may even be some, crumbs for the workers if they are humble, and will duly observe the gulf between them and the “intellectuals” who are going to “control” at suitably attractive salaries.

Mr. Gordon is one of those “Socialists” whose fear of the workers is much greater than their hatred of Capitalism, and his anxiety not to offend members of the exploiting class leads him into some curious assertions. Communism he loathes because of its advocacy of violence, and Pacifism, the refusal to advocate violence, he also loathes, but does not say why.

In re-stating the simple economic case against Capitalism he is good. He describes clearly, though without originality, the poverty and wretchedness the system provides for the great majority. He shows its chaotic inefficiency as a wealth-producing, as distinct from a profit-producing system, and illustrates the parasitic nature of the propertied class.

He quotes a useful exposure of the odious intensified slavery which Ford disguises as philanthropy :—
  “Men called ‘advisers’ visit the men’s homes and question them as to how they spend their wages. Ford has fixed the amount out of their wages that he thinks they should spend and save. He provides them with what his experts tell him is the most hygienic food for them to eat; and the best clothes for them to wear. . . . There is no more romance or real independence in the lives of the 55,000 men employed in the factories than in that of a thorough-bred Jersey cow.” (83).
But when he leaves the description of facts and attempts to supply remedies and state principles he is merely muddled.

He is emphatic that “Socialism is NOT the ‘have nots’ versus the ‘haves,’” and that it “does not propose to confiscate private property” (14), yet he recognises that “private ownership makes the rich richer and the poor poorer,” that “poverty is the direct logical outcome of Capitalism” (24) and that “two-thirds of the annual income …. goes to the small class of the rich” (22). He will not face the fact that the workers cannot obtain the whole of the annual income without depriving the idle class of the share they now receive, and that unless they do they will continue to be exploited. It is plain that the “haves” will resist and the “have-nots” will have to compel.

He repudiates Marx and the idea of a class war (pp.89 and 59) and is evidently quite unaware that the conflict which arises from the private ownership of the means of production is the class war. For on page 29 he writes :—
  “Such disputes (strikes) are an inherent feature of the capitalist system in which ‘capital’ and ‘labour’ are enemies instead of allies. So long as we permit the private ownership of capital by the few, so long will antagonism and private warfare as to the terms on which its owners will permit its use be the rule rather than the exception.”
His chief remedy is Nationalisation, and like most of his fellow advocates, he fails to point to any single advantage nationalisation has to offer the working class. Railway nationalisation will, it is true, permit of greater economy and efficiency ; but he omits to remind his readers of the 50,000. railwaymen dismissed between 1921 amd 1923 owing to working economies, in spite of an increase in the volume of traffic. (J. H. Thomas, Daily Chronicle, November 17, 1923.) Men are still being dismissed and more will follow if and when unified State Ownership is introduced. Nationalisation of the mines and electrification schemes will save 55 million tons of coal per annum, but nothing is said as to the fate of thousands of miners who will lose their chance of employment. It is interesting to notice that men are still being discharged from Woolwich Arsenal, a State concern.

His solution for unemployment is an intensive campaign for the sale of British goods in the Colonies or foreign countries (62) quite oblivious of the fact that it was precisely in order to extend foreign trade that the last war was fought. The problem was not solved either for victors or vanquished, and while Gordon babbles of capturing markets by the peaceful penetration of commercial travellers, his “anti-violence” party in office are busy strengthening the Navy and expanding the Air Force for the anticipated conflict with some other market snatchers.

He himself unconsciously damns the case for Nationalisation when he joyfully records that the Sankey Report urging Nationalisation of the Mines was the work of a body which
  “Included besides a well-known Judge, a steel manufacturer, Mr. (now Sir Arthur) Balfour, an engineer, Sir A. Duckham, and a shipowner, Sir Thomas Roydon, Brt.” (96).
He adds that it “was urged upon the Coal Commission of 1919 by the colliery owners as well as the miners’ representatives.”

Does anyone suppose that those members and representatives of the employing class want nationalisation because it will benefit the workers? They want it because it will benefit themselves, just as before the war the oil magnates of Germany were financing a Social Democratic agitation for the nationalising of the oil refining and distributing industry. Only last month a firm of Stockbrokers, Messrs. Arthur Wheeler & Co., of Leicester, were urging upon their clients the desirability of mine nationalisation from their point of view as shareholders. Their words are instructive :—
   “A short time ago, in conversation, a number of influential colliery proprietors brought up this question. . . . They were agreed that supposing it became practically possible, it would be the best thing possible for themselves. They actually looked forward to its realisation.

  Again and again past experience proves that when a Government department enters into a business agreement with private traders, the latter invariably get the best of the bargain. We, therefore, can assume the same would result if and when the Government took over the control of our mining industry.

  Colliery shareholders would receive from the purchaser (i.e., the State) new stock in place of their original holdings. The industry, would be guaranteed by the whole taxable capacity of the nation. Hence the new stock would be of the same nature as all gilt-edged stocks, with both capital and interest a Government obligation. The risks of labour troubles and foreign competition would be taken from the present shareholders and placed on the broad back of the State. This, in the main, is the reason why colliery proprietors do not fear nationalisation.”
Mr. Alban Gordon and the Labour Party wish to earn the confidence of the shareholding class, but that they can do only by sacrificing the interests of the workers.

Another joy they have in store for the property owner is the abolition of rates by the extension of municipal trade (116).

The book is a quite readable and interesting account of the Labour Party’s plans for salvaging Capitalism, but in spite of its title it has nothing to offer the seeker after Socialist knowledge. The author has the usual superiority of the “intellectual” offering to teach the “lower orders,” and his indifference to principles and his preference for everyday superficialities, are well illustrated by his note on Marx’s “Capital” that it is “The classic which everyone quotes but no-one reads.” Had he read this and other serious works by scientific thinkers he might have realised that what he seems to dismiss as the “earlier statements of Socialism” are in fact indispensable to the student. He would at least have avoided being 20 years out in his statement of the date of “Capital.”
Edgar Hardcastle

Capitalist education. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

As the employer is only interested in the worker as a factor in production, as an economic category he is indifferent to all else about the worker save his cheapness, efficiency and docility. Anything that tends to weaken or decrease these qualities naturally meets with the determined opposition of the Capitalist class, while all that makes the worker cheaper, more productive and more contented with his lot as a wage-slave is eagerly welcomed and actively supported.

Consider, in the light of these facts, the compulsory “education” to which all workers are subjected. It is a vital necessity of modern production and arises from two essential needs of the system : on the one hand the urgent call for a productive class able to read, write and calculate and with a general understanding of mechanical causation; on the other hand the necessity of this working class being trained in the ethics, economies and other ideas of the Capitalist.

A circular on education was recently drawn upm by that stronghold of English Capitalism—The Federation of British Industries—which holds in its company the wealthiest and most powerful of the bourgeoisie of the country.

Referring to this circular Mr. J. L. Paton, High Master of the Manchester Grammar School, said in his address on education to Manchester business men :—
  “The Federation had suggested that all that was needed was a system of selection by which some children would go to industry and some would be "creamed off." The Federation further said that to give further education, even part time, after the age of fourteen was a waste of money, and it strongly advised that in selecting children for higher education care should be taken (as in India) that higher education should not raise a large class of people whose education was unsuitable for the work they would eventually do.

  They were, Mr. Paton commented, to be educated, in fact, as instruments of production ; the potter for his pots, the spinner for his cotton. The workman was a tool who happened to be animated” (Manchester Guardian, June 24th, 1924).
Mr. Paton went on to criticise the views of the F.B.I. and from the Capitalist point of view his remarks were quite to the point. Such a narrowly industrial view of the correct education for wage-workers is obsolete and even dangerous. It only takes into account the economic factors of cheapness and efficiency. But the other vital factor—the docility of the slave class—is of at least equal importance at all times and, in a period of rapid social change and turmoil, is perhaps even more valuable. Hence Mr. Paton—with, of course, much humanitarian garnish—says :—
  “The Federation of British Industries had made up their minds, and they had made them up wrong. Here was a working man, unskilled perhaps; it was not necessary to be very well educated to do unskilled work. But he was a husband, and that was a skilled job, a father, a citizen, an Englishman, and a child of God.” (Ibid).
The worker then is to be given lessons in physiology to enable him to produce a strong, healthy progeny of slaves, Capitalist economics and sociology to make of him a contented “citizen” and upholder of the existing order, patriotic dope and distorted “history” to make him ready and willing to go to the bloody battlefield on behalf of the Capitalist State and last and in these days least, barbaric myths from the Ancient Hebrew to cloud his mind and turn his thoughts towards the imaginary world to come and away from the pressing ever present evils and problems here at hand and all around him.
R.W. Housley

Debates and the I.L.P. (1924)

Party News from the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have recently been asked why we do not arrange a debate with the I.L.P., as branches of that organisation have both issued challenges and accepted them. As, however, it appeared that the I.L.P. headquarters were unwilling to endorse these challenges we approached them directly. Below is the reply of Mr. Fenner Brockway :—
1st July, 1924.

Dear Sir,

We have your letter and do not think that any useful purpose can be served by a debate which you suggest, and accordingly regret that we cannot accept your proposal.

Sincerely yours,
A. Fenner Brockway.
He does not explain why no useful purpose would be served, but it is not difficult to suggest an explanation. I.L.P. Head Office is no doubt occupied with other matters. On the one hand the staff have just put in an impudent claim for trade union rates of pay, and on the other Mr. Brockway must be fully engaged defending and explaining away to the rank and file the actions of I.L.P. M.P.’s in the Government and in the House. There are limits to everything, even possibly to the gullibility of the members of the I.L.P. and the adaptability of the non-conformist conscience.

With his subtlety taxed to the utmost trying to reconcile Pacificism with more cruisers, the enlarged Air Force, bombs in Irak, and shooting strikers in India, Mr. Brockway naturally has no time for Socialism ; not even to oppose it in debate.

£1000 Fund. (1924)

Party News from the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The industrial crisis and its cause. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “It is considered likely that unemployment will become a menace again next winter, as it was in the winter of 1921, unless industry brisks up meanwhile. As a matter of fact, grave doubts are being expressed as to whether periods of acute unemployment may not in future be as much a part of the economic system of the United States as they are in other industrial countries. It is pointed out that the increase in producing equipment has almost reached the point, where it is a hindrance rather than a help to an even flow of prosperity. The steel plants of the country and the shoe industries can produce twice as much output as the country can consume.

 “Similarly, textile mills, automobile factories, and various other branches of industry, have an output capacity far beyond the country’s powers of consumption. To keep these various industries going at maximum rates it is realised that considerable export outlets, which are at present not in evidence, would be necessary, and as the progress of manufacturing develops in other countries less industrialised than the United States is at present it is likely that there will be still less demand for the surplus products of American factories. This can only result eventually in a considerable lowering of the American standard of living, now reputed to be the highest in the world.”
The American Correspondent of The Manchester Guardian. (July 10, 1924.)

Marx on Free Trade. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

(Continued from June “S.S.”)

In 1829 there were, in Manchester, 1088 cotton spinners employed in 36 factories. In 1841 there were but 448, and they tended 53,353 more spindles than the 1088 spinners did in 1829. If manual labour had increased in the same proportion as productive force, the number of spinners ought to have risen to 1848; improved machinery had, therefore, deprived 1100 workers of employment.

We know beforehand the reply of the economists—the people thus thrown out of work will find other kinds of employment. Dr. Bowring did not fail to reproduce this argument at the Congress of Economists. But neither did he fail to contradict himself. In 1833, Dr. Bowring made a speech in the House of Commons upon the 50,000 hand-loom weavers of London who had been starving without being able to find that new kind of employment which the free traders hold out to them in the distance. Let us hear the most striking portion of this speech of Mr. Bowring :—
  “The misery of the hand-loom weavers,” he says, “is the inevitable fate of all kinds of labour which are easily acquired, and which may, at any moment, be replaced by less costly means. As in these cases competition amongst the work-people is very great, the slightest falling-off in demand brings on a crisis. The hand-loom weavers are, in a certain sense, placed on the borders of human existence. One step further, and that existence becomes impossible. The slightest shock is sufficient to throw them on to the road to ruin. By more and more superseding manual labour, the progress of mechanical science must bring on, during the period of transition, a deal of temporary suffering. National well-being cannot be bought except at the price of some individual evils. The advance of industry is achieved at the expense of those who lag behind, and of all discoveries that of the power-loom weighs most heavily upon the hand-loom weavers. In a great many articles formerly made by hand, the weaver has been placed hors de combat; and he is sure to be beaten in a good many more fabrics that are now made by hand.”
Further on he says:—
  “I hold in my hand a correspondence of the Governor-General with the East India Company. This correspondence is concerning the weavers of the Dacca district. The governor says in his letter: ‘A few years ago the East India Company received from six to eight million pieces of calico woven upon the looms of the country. The demand fell off gradually and was reduced to about a million pieces. At this moment it has almost entirely ceased. Moreover, in 1800, North America received from India nearly 800,000 pieces of cotton goods. In 1830 it did not take even 4000. Finally, in 1800 a million of pieces were shipped for Portugal; in 1830 Portugal did not receive above 20,000.’

  “The reports on the distress of the Indian weavers are terrible. And what is the origin of that distress? The presence on the market of English manufactures, the production of the same article by means of the power-loom. A great number of the weavers died of starvation; the remainder have gone over to other employment, and chiefly to field labour. Not to be able to change employment amounted to a sentence of death. And at this moment the Dacca district is crammed with English yarns and calicoes. The Dacca muslin, renowned all over the world for its beauty and firm texture, has also been eclipsed by the competition of English machinery. In the whole history of commerce, it would, perhaps, be difficult to find suffering equal to what these whole classes in India had to submit to.”

Labour in the United States. (1924)

From the July 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Army of the Workless.
Glowing stories are current here of the prosperity in America. Work and high wages for all is the tale told by fly-by-night travellers. The facts, however, are quite different. The “boom” which began in 1923 is over, and many leading industries are working on “short” time and with reduced labour. The organ of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (“The Advance,” June 6, 1924) reports from the great centre of the clothing trade—Chicago—that for every 100 jobs available for the week ending April 5th, 1924, the numbers of workers registered at the Chicago Employment Exchange was 1,587, an increase of 200 over the last week in March.

The huge commercial concern in industrial America, The Stone and Webster Company, writing on conditions in the textile centre of Lawrence, Massachusetts states, in their official “Stone and Webster Journal” for April, that :—
  “the textile industry is in such a state that thousands of people who depend upon that industry for a livelihood are now out of employment. Many families and persons are now in dire want and the outlook is not encouraging.”
They warn the textile workers that they must take lower wages because people have “stopped buying as much in the way of clothes as formerly. Consequently a great unemployment problem was raised at Lawrence.” This is in an industry where about the lowest wages are paid in America, and these starvation rates have been obtained after the most bitter and bloody suppression of millworkers’ strikes in America’s history. Machinery, girl labour and the brutality of the employers have told their tale in Lawrence and the Fall River “she” towns. Starvation wages for a while and long periods of “no wages” makes the life of the worker.

The Present Depression.
America is no exception to the “laws” of capitalist production. The organ of finance, “The Wall Street Journal,” for April, analyses the situation thus :—
  “The fact is that for several years we have been going along smoothly filling out the post-war demand for sundries such as new housing, railroad equipment, automobiles and many other essentials and non-essentials. That demand has to an appreciable extent been satisfied.

  The first point to consider is our manufacturing equipment. On this score there can be no question that in many lines we have too much capacity of production for the demand at hand. Ever since the war it has been a great problem to keep our plants fully and profitably occupied.”
It goes on to state that, without a large foreign market, the highly productive industrial resources become an incubus. The article shows that in all the basic industries demand has greatly declined and will decline further. Production has decreased considerably.

In the “Golden West” the same “slump” has taken place. The Bay Counties (San Francisco, etc.) District Council of Carpenters issues a bulletin for May, which states :—
  “Our unemployment situation, which was large enough throughout the winter, is growing steadily worse. Building operations are being curtailed or postponed, mechanics are being laid off, and are walking the streets with their ranks steadily increasing by the influx of men from other localities looking for work.”
This is in the largest shipping and financial centre of California. The same conditions exist in other centres. The motor-car industry centred in Detroit (a city of over a million people) has piled up production so rapidly since the factories re-opened in 1922 that large vacant plots had to be used to store the cars. Rapid production with a non-expanding market has resulted in a large and growing number of men being thrown out of work, with others on short time. Wall Street capital organised in the “General Motors Combine” and Ford’s practically control the trade, and when they reduce output there is no chance for work elsewhere.

“The Land of Opportunity.”
“Every man has a chance” is a common joke in the U.S.A. The workers’ chance may be gathered from the Report of the Industrial Relations Commission of 1916 which stated that 2 per cent. of the people owned 60 per cent. of the wealth. The control of wealth by the few was made plainer still by this Commission appointed by the Government. Their report states:—
  “With few exceptions each of the basic industries is dominated by a single large corporation, and where this is not true, the control of the industry through stock ownership in supposedly independent corporations and through credit, is almost, if not quite, as potent.

  In such corporations, in spite of the large number of stockholders, the control through actual stock ownership rests with a very small number of persons. For example, in the United States Steel Corporation, which had in 1911 approximately 100,000 stockholders, 1.5 per cent. of the stockholders held 57 per cent. of the stock, while the final control rested with a single private banking house. Similarly in the American Tobacco Company, before the dissolution, 10 stockholders held 60 per cent. of the stock.”
Since 1916, Henry H. Klein, Deputy Commissioner of Accounts of New York City, has written his volume of statistics, called “Dynastic America and Those Who Own It.” In this he shows how the industries of the country are owned and controlled by very few. He names 14 families whose wealth is estimated at 100 millions each, and points out in detail how the financial magnates own a controlling share of the stock of the concerns of the country. The same kind of concentration takes place in agriculture. Senator Brookhart stated in the Senate that 400,000 lost their farms in 1923.

The Economic Trend.
The result of advancing capitalism in America has been the replacement of competition by monopoly. The great capitals invested have enabled the capitalists to build huge plants with the latest machinery and under the most scientific running of industry. There is no chance for the worker starting for himself in industry. The so-called high wages in America, often quoted here, are in reality “high” only in money terms. Their purchasing power is only sufficient to cover the cost of living in a country where rent takes a large part of the wage. The necessities of life are also proportionately “high.” These “high” wages are little when compared to the ever-increasing output of labour, and the high degree of exploitation accounts for the fabulous riches of the employing class. Work there is intensive, and under the Taylor system of shop management, the speed is always increasing. Young men are chiefly recruited, for the older men are “worked out” very soon. Piecework, with its exhausting effects, is widespread, and as soon as output increases, rates per piece are reduced. The speed of modern production is so great that in a short time the market is glutted with goods. In 1921 there were over 6 millions out of work. In the short period since work started again, modern highly-developed methods have once more overstocked the market, and thus the spectre of unemplovment becomes a grim reality. Even when trade is brisk only a fraction of the working class is required in production, and the others are driven to all kinds of commercial pursuits. In this department, too, the Trusts by their close ownership and control, save wages by reducing the number of men required. “Crime” becomes a resort of large numbers who are pushed out of industry, and crimes against private property have become so numerous that they cease to be fully reported. The labour of women, especially married women, is largely used because of its cheapness, and the use of child labour is another powerful force against the worker. “Prosperity” spells little but hard work for our class in the U.S.A. as elsewhere.

The Workers’ “Share.”
The story that most workers own their own houses and their own motor cars is another study in satire. The terrible overcrowding of trams and trains during rush hours is an answer to the motor-car nonsense, and the fact that most workers live in hired rooms answers the “house-owner’s” joke. Even when they do “own” houses they are bought on instalments, and the owner soon seizes his property when “depression” stops the workers’ wages. Most workers’ houses, too, are wooden shacks of a primitive variety. Considering, too, that the secondhand and even new cars the workers buy on instalments are not much higher in price than bicycles here, it does not mean much to be a car “owner.” The expensive limousines and high-priced cars used by the parasites there make the workers’ cars look like tin cans. Life in the U.S.A. shows that, wherever capitalism develops further, it makes a greater contrast in the position of the worker and the capitalist.

When an industrial crisis takes place, as in 1921, the secondhand car dealers are flooded with cars which the “lucky” workers have to sell. The charity societies are packed with applicants clamouring for bread, and outside bakers’ shops long lines form to get a crust. The ranks of prostitution are swelled, and the great numbers involved in the crisis prevent personal borrowing. As soon as the factories re-open the capitalist cuts wages, knowing the large army of workless waiting for jobs. War is declared on unions and strikes are doomed.

“The Socialist Party of America.”
The trade unions in the U.S.A. are largely composed of loyal followers of the Republican and Democratic Capitalist Parties. Sheep-like they blindly elect the nominees of the financial interests, and they support the most servile agents of capitalism as their union leaders. The powerful and widely-read capitalist press carefully moulds the workers’ minds, and the result is that educational work in the trade unions is carried on under difficulties. Little of this Socialist work is now being attempted, however.

“The Socialist Party of America,” formed 24 years ago, has rapidly declined in numbers. Boasting over 100,000 members in 1916, it has to-day not more than 20,000. More than two-thirds of their members were expelled in 1919, and since that date the “Socialist Party” has become so opportunist and reformist that they promoted a Labour Party and joined in conferences of the Committee for Progressive Political Action, whose object is to decide which capitalist politician is most suitable to vote for. Even with all their vote-catching and time-serving methods, their numbers have disappointed them so sadly that quite a number have joined more popular bodies where jobs and notoriety are quicker.

The Socialist Labour Party.
The oldest party in U.S.A. claiming to be Socialist is the Socialist Labour Party. Once very active and advancing, it rapidly declined when it promoted Industrial Unionism. The I.W.W. was formed by S.L.P. efforts on the theory that only economic unity can make political unity. The economic organisation, however, caused immediate conflict in the political party. The theory that only an economic body can “take and hold” the means of production which the S.L.P. laid down, resulted in the I.W.W. being anti-political. Wm. Haywood and a majority of the I.W.W. soon repudiated all ideas of political unity, and the S.L.P. minority formed a new I.W.W. which later changed its name to the Workers’ International Industrial Union. This body still insisted that economic action alone could make the workers victorious. The result was that the. S.L.P. dwindled, until to-day it is a shadow of its former self. The W.I.I.U. refused continually to endorse the political party (the S.L.P.).

The economic organisation of men of all parties and all ideas instead of making for political unity with the S.L.P. caused the S.L.P. members in the union to fraternise with political opponents such as the S. P. of A. The S.L.P. was soon, therefore, driven to expel many of their oldest members, such as Herman Richter, Rudolph Katz, etc. The disbanding of the W.I.I.U., reported elsewhere in this issue, admits all that our party has said in criticism of the S.L.P. But the confusing ideas about the relative value of political and industrial action still exists in the minds of the S.L.P. members, and therefore a correct understanding of the class struggle is still lacking.

The Industrial Workers of the World.
The I.W.W. to-day is but a fraction compared to the 100,000 they once claimed. Although supposed to be revolutionary, it has been compelled to enrol any worker, irrespective of his views. Functioning to-day as a trade union, it is organised for the every-day struggle about wages and hours. Their chief cry is organisation. “Organise on the job” they say, for better conditions. Their war-cry of the General Strike has long been absent from their literature and their official organ, “The Industrial Worker” (September 29, 1919) published the following farewell to their General Strike battle-cry :—
  “It must be apparent to anyone who has given any thought to the matter that a social general strike as the culminating point in the revolution will fail if it ever happens. . . The workers must organise, not so much for a strike, as for carrying on production and distribution, after capitalism has been overthrown. The trouble perhaps with those who formulated the general strike theory, is that they could not free themselves from the dogma that capitalism was to be overthrown by establishing a tremendous picket line around the industries. They rejected craft unionism but couldn’t lose its methods.”
This was written after large numbers of Haywood’s pamphlet on the “General Strike” had been circulated by the I.W.W. This pamphlet has been withdrawn now that they have given up the General Strike idea. Sabotage, which they formerly advocated (see Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’sSabotage”), they have now publicly repudiated. Their papers and lectures largely consist of appeals for help in defence funds which have become almost an industry in America. Their past reputation for “Smashing the ballot box with an axe” and their spasmodic strikes have resulted in many prosecutions for “Criminal Syndicalism.” The attacks upon the trade union activity of the I.W.W. simply shows the brutality and power of the ruling class in America. The bloody attacks upon American Federation of Labour strikers in West Virginia coalfields and in the steel areas shows that even “respectable” unions are crushed in blood once they resist the employers’ attacks on wages. The I.W.W. to-day is confined to limited areas where the American Federation of Labour is weak. The attacks upon them from the outside and the deliberate Communist effort to break it from within have left the organisation but a few thousand members. Nearly all the prominent men from W. Haywood to G. Hardy have gone into politics and secured jobs from the Communists. The Moscow International once declared its admiration and support of the I.W.W., but later decided that “One Big Unions” are to be opposed and workers should go back to the ordinary labour unions. Hence the disruptive tactics of the Communists in the I.W.W.

The Communist Party of America.
This party was formed by foreign language federations who were expelled from the Socialist Party of America. Largely of Russian and allied nationality, they soon showed their 100 per cent. Bolshevism by issuing a programme similar to that the Bolsheviks issued under completely different conditions. In a country where the outlook of the workers is conservative and where the elementary work of preaching Socialism remains to be done, the International Secretary of the Communists, Louis Fraina, explained the Communist idea thus :
  “The Revolution is an act of a minority at first; of the most class conscious section of the industrial proletariat which in a test of electoral strength, would be a minority, but which being a solid, industrially indispensable class, can disperse and defeat all the classes through the annihilation of the fraudulent democracy of the Parliamentary system implied in the dictatorship of the proletariat, imposed upon society by means of revolutionary mass action.” (Revolutionary Socialism).
The Communist Party refused to take any part in the first elections after they were formed, regarding them as a delusion. Their manifesto advocating armed force and minority action resulted in suppression by the Government. Through adopting such a programme they drove themselves underground into a secret society in which police spies played an active part. The Communists thought the revolution was just around the corner, and they foolishly announced (The Communist, No. 16) : “The day of theorising on the necessity of the revolution is past,” and they went on to preach the rule of the few in the organ of the United Communist Party thus :
  “Furthermore, it is impossible to reach and convert the great mass of the workers. Their minds are controlled by the corrupt capitalist press ; their education takes place primarily in capitalist institutions; the capitalist State has the power to close the doors of any proletarian school. This precludes the possibility of reaching and turning to Communism the mass of the workers. (Communist No. 16.)
“The Workers’ Party of America.”
When Moscow decided for legal parties, the Communists emerged into daylight and rapidly changed from a party advocating a “revolutionary upsurge” to the most reformist and opportunist party ever calling itself Communist. They decided soon to disband the Communist Party and form themselves into a vote-catching body called The Workers’ Party. The decisions of the Third International for a “United Front” of all parties and a reform programme resulted in the “minority mass-actionists” putting up candidates like Rose Pastor Stokes with demands like these:
  1. Emergency legislation to combat and stop the reduction of wages.
  2. Emergency legislation for the relief and amelioration of the condition of the unemployed.
Under instructions from Moscow International their members went into the unions to oust the old leaders. In this work they bargained for positions and supported reactionaries in return for support of their candidatures in the union. The Daily Worker (April 12th, 1924), their official paper, contains some revelations of their class struggle activities on the side of the capitalists. In Michigan their members are prominent in the American Federation of Labour, and have been active in support of Republican and Democratic politicians. This has gone so far that, when told by the Executive of the Workers’ Party to start a Farmer-Labour Party, their members and District Executive, anxious to “keep in” with their fellow office-holders in the A.F. of L., answered they could not fight the candidature of Baker, Republican Candidate for Governor, whom they had previously supported :
  “A decision to fight his candidacy would involve us in a fight with the trade union leaders. But regardless of our possible decision to make this candidacy an issue later on, it is the opinion of the minority that nothing should be done now to provoke a fight.” (Daily Worker, April 12th, 1924).
The party still continues its downward course. They entered the Farmer-Labour Conference at St. Paul (June 17th, 1924), where it was expected that Senator La Follette, Republican, would be nominated for the Presidency of U.S.A.

The Workers’ Party Executive defend their action in the Daily Worker (April 12th, 1924), where the spokesman for the majority of the E.C. produced this reactionary statement: “This step of supporting the candidates of a petty bourgeois liberal Third Party, under the conditions laid down in the thesis of the Central Committee, is a correct one.”

This party of political gymnasts, it is only necessary to add, is affiliated to the Third International !

The Proletarian Party.
Elements of the Socialist Party which differed with the reform and opportunism of the Socialist Party of America formed the Proletarian Party, after the Russian Federations rejected their programme for the Communist Party at the inaugural conference.

The Proletarian Party accepts the Statutes and Thesis of the Third International, and “unreservedly endorses” the twenty-one points of admission. They claim to be Marxians, and conduct many study classes in economics, but their attempt to be Bolsheviks of the Third International and Marxians at the same time involves them in a good deal of confusion. The “united front” policy led them to send delegates to the Farmer-Labour Conference at Chicago, and the Theses of the Moscow International on reforms or immediate demands makes them hesitant about adopting a revolutionary attitude. Their delegate to the Third Congress at Moscow was expelled recently from the Proletarian Party for supporting capitalist candidates, but only after this had been going on for years and had been brought to a head by protests of new members.

The Socialist Educational Societies.
Amidst this confusion and ignorance under the iron heel in America there are signs of promise in the growing study of Marx’s writings. Workers in the U.S.A., as a result of study of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, have seen the necessity of carrying on systematic Socialist education. In New York City and in Detroit there are bodies of students of Marx who, by conducting open-air meetings, study classes, and the spreading of sound literature, have earned themselves a wide reputation in the U.S.A., to say nothing of undying hatred by those who thrive upon the ignorance of the workers. The work of propaganda in America is hard. The abysmal ignorance of labour, the power of wealth, the poison of the Press, and the rise of mob law fostered by such millionaire-ruled bodies like the Ku-Klux-Klan, are some of the forces against us. And with the increasing number of so-called labour bodies like the Farmer-Labour Party and the Workers’ Party, our work is doubly hard.
Adolph Kohn

The strike on the Underground. (1924)

Editorial from the July 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
Representations had been made by the shopmen to the N.U.R. over a period of two years for action to be taken on their behalf.
The Strike Committee Statement,
Daily Herald, June 9th.
The strike of 7,000 men on the Underground Railways was “unofficial.” And the reason is given in the above quotation. Reduction of wages since the war caused the men to strike against the London Traffic Trust. The Press, the employers, and the National Union of Railwaymen united in denunciation of the men. Mr. Cramp, the Secretary of the N.U.R., says it was “mob law,” and advised the railway owners not to negotiate with the strikers. The union leaders were paraded by the Press as safe and sane, and commended for their strong stand. Continual orders were issued by the N.U.R., telling the men to return to work at once. Without strike pay, and with the employers, the Labour Government, and the Union arrayed against them, the men returned to work.

The Labour Government played its usual part of promising protection to those at work during the strike and to maintain the services if the strike spread. Here is the pledge given by the Labour Minister (Mr. Tom Shaw) in the House of Commons :
  “My answer is, ‘Yes, undoubtedly the fullest protection will be given to the men who work.’ The noble lord further wanted to know whether in the event of the dispute spreading and certain public utilities being threatened, the Government will maintain these public utilities. Again I answer quite as frankly that the Government will do all it possibly can to maintain the public utilities. When I say that I am speaking of food, lighting, water and power, the Government will do all it possibly can and will take every step possible to maintain all these essential services. There will be no question about the fullest possible authority being given to every department of Government to take the steps that I have said the Government are prepared to take, and I hope that the noble lord will admit that my answer has been as frank as he desired it to be.”—Official Parliamentary Debates, June 6th, page 1695.
Thus the strikers were awed into submission. The Secretary of the Strike Committee stated in the Daily Herald (June 9th) that he had received information that naval ratings would probably be introduced in the power stations. The capitalist Daily Mail also stated that, had the strike spread and the tube stations been forced to close, naval ratings would be used.

The electricians in some of the stations struck with the consent of their union, and the last night of the strike they had arranged to meet to consider withdrawing all men from the power stations. Instead of striking, they decided to remain at work. The reason given by the Secretary of the Electricians’ Union in the Daily Herald (June 13th) was that misapprehension existed in the public mind that the Craft Unions’ dispute was connected with the unofficial strike of the members of the N.U.R.

This is a very unconvincing reason, and after the Daily Herald’s announcement of the certainty of the power house stoppage it caused a good deal of surprise. But the Evening Standard (June 13th) representative has the following comment:
  “What influenced the Electrical Trades Union meeting as much as anything, I understand, was the hint which some of their leaders had received that the Government might take very firm measures, even to the length of using, naval ratings in the power houses. No actual decision to take this course had been made by the committee of Ministers, but there can be little doubt that it was expected last night by those present at the conference should the sub-station men be withdrawn.”
The companies issued a forty-eight hour ultimatum to the men to return to work or face dismissal, and threatened them with legal proceedings for breach of contract. The men returned to work within the time given.

The Strike Secretary stated after the strike :
  “Our masters have changed. We have been beaten not so much by the companies as by the National Union of Railwaymen.” Daily Herald, June 13th.
The length to which the Railway Union officials went in order to defeat the men is stated by one of the striking N.U.R. men :
  “The Central Strike Committee had their headquarters at the Labour College, Penywern Road. After being in there for some time, without trying to hide the fact, a letter was sent to the Governors of the College, from Unity House, asking them to throw the Strike Committee out, or else H.O. would withhold the Students’ fee, and the usual grant to the College.”Workers’ Weekly, June 20th.
He states that the Labour College gave them a month’s notice. This throws a lurid light on the strike-smashing efforts of modern Labour leaders, and it also shows how much the vaunted independence of the labour colleges is worth.

The fact that the strike was largely unofficial has been used to excuse the Labour Government’s promise to protect those at work during the strike. This is sheer hypocrisy. During the recent official bus and tram strike the Labour Government prepared to use the Emergency Powers Act (see MacDonald’s statement, Parliamentary Debates, March 26th). They then had the Proclamation of a State of Emergency signed ready for publication.

The fact that during that strike they were prepared to carry on emergency services was admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Philip Snowden, who wrote :
  “Industrial troubles are causing the Labour Government a good deal of embarrassment. The strike of the London ’bus and tramway men threatened to develop into a stoppage of all the services on which the vast population of London have to depend for transport. Faced by such a possibility, as this the Government had no option but to take immediate steps either to bring the strike to an end, if that were possible, or to organise some kind of emergency service. It was a disagreeable situation for a Labour Government, but one which had to be faced. The Government had to avoid even the appearance of strike-breaking, but they had an obligation to maintain essential services on which the livelihood of the community depends.—Quoted in Parliamentary Debates, June 6th, 1924, page 1679.
This statement of Snowden’s was used by Conservatives in the House of Commons as a basis upon which action should be taken during the Underground strike.

The action of the union leaders should be a lesson for the men. But mere attacks on union leaders count for little. The rank and file have supported these leaders continually because they do not understand the class struggle in which they are engaged. “Loyalty to the leaders” has been a favourite rallying-cry of these highly paid officials, when loyalty to the interests of the working class should be the men’s watchword. No real advance will come in union activity until the workers know enough about their real interests and no longer, therefore, need to be led, until they insist on their officials carrying out their instructions. How futile it is merely to change leaders, is shown by the Communist who laments in the Workers’ Weekly (June 20th, 1924) that some years ago a minority agreed to work for Mr. Cramp to get him into the position of Industrial Secretary in order that the power and influence of Mr. J. H. Thomas “could be smashed.” As if the power of Thomas could be broken by electing a different official to act with Thomas ! The power of these leaders can only be broken when the rank and file themselves know enough to expose and oppose their betrayers. They thought Cramp was a revolutionary because he said, “I do not believe Parliament can do anything for the workers” (quoted same paper).

The limitation of strike action to win lasting advances is shown by all these recent strikes. The supremacy of the employing class, their financial strength, and the slender means of the workers all contribute to the defeat of the worker. The use of political machinery against them should show how necessary is its control, by a revolutionary working class. The support given by the railwaymen to the same Labour Party which works against them during strikes is another example of their lack of class-consciousness. And the bitter denunciation of the Labour Government and Labour leaders by the Communist Party during strikes is a ludicrous “joke,” Considering that the Communist Party tells the workers to vote this Government and these Labour leaders into power.

The fact that the workers have continually to struggle for the most miserable advances in wages, and even then seldom obtain them, should be a lesson to the workers not to establish a Labour Government carrying on Capitalism, but to abolish Capitalism and the wages system it involves.