Saturday, May 15, 2021

Europe's new rear gunner (1995)

From the May 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard

For years Turkish politicians and the capitalist elite they curry favour with have dreamed of entry into Europe and of the new markets that this would open up to them. Two obstacles had always stood in their way—the opposition of Greece, stemming from Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and. arguably less importantly, Turkey's abysmal human rights record.

In early March of this year Greece finally abandoned its opposition to Turkish entry into Europe, in return for a guarantee that the EU would initiate membership negotiations with Cyprus within six months of the 1996 Conference to review the Maastricht treaty.

The customs union Turkey would from now on enjoy would “benefit everyone" reported the Economist:
  "The EU would get improved, tariff-free access to a market of 60 million, with which in 1993 it enjoyed a $6 bn trade surplus. Turkey would get access to 36 7 million customers . . . Turkey would get access to 1 billion ecus ($1.2 bn) in aid blocked by Greece's veto . . . [and] ... the European Union's eastern flank would be guarded by a prospering Turkey, a NATO ally" (11-17 February, 1995).
The deal couldn't have come at a better time for a country facing economic ruin. Prices have risen by 150 percent in Turkey in the past 12 months while wages have only increased by 30 percent. Unemployment is soaring and the trade unions claim 500.000 have lost their jobs in the past year. Furthermore. Tansu Ciller's government, with the help of an IMF loan is struggling to reduce a huge national deficit in the wake of years of overspending and economic mismanagement.

Within a week, the ink on the customs union agreement hardly dry, Turkey sent 35,000 troops across its border with Iraq in pursuit of the separatist rebels of the PKK and into the Kurdish “safe haven" set up by the allies after the Gulf War.

It was a move that immediately brought international condemnation from European governments, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and from the International Committee of the Red Cross. While international law was cited as having been breached, the Turkish government argued the invasion complied with international law because it was intended "to exterminate a threat to the lives and security of Turkish citizens" (Independent, 23 March).

Operation steel
Operation Steel, involving troops, tanks and war planes can, however, be seen in a different light. For one thing. Turkey's war against the 10,000 members of the PKK accounts for 25 percent of the national budget annually—some 315,000 troops are stationed in southern Turkey. With the country experiencing severe recession, and with the prospect of an economic boom on the horizon, the decision to invade the Kurdish safe haven can be seen as a last ditch attempt to rid Turkey once and for all of a major obstacle to recovery.

Again. Turkish intellectuals are pointing to what cognisant British workers have come to regard as the "Falklands Factor", seeing the invasion as an attempt to bolster national pride and to deflect attention from domestic ills. Indeed, the Independent (29 March) recently reported that "the sense of national pride is higher than at any time since the invasion of Cyprus in 1974".

Ciller’s attempt to crush resistance in northern Iraq can also be interpreted as a consequence of her desire to stabilise relations with Saddam. UN sanctions on Iraq have severely interfered with the flow of crude oil into Turkey, costing Turkey over $20 billion since 1991. The unsanctioned oil reaching Turkey nowadays ($800 millions-worth last year) does so by lorry via the Kurdish-controlled safe haven, from which a sizeable levy is extracted by the controlling KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party).

While the European Parliament frowned upon the invasion, threatening to block the EU customs union between Ankara and Europe if there were resultant human rights abuses, and while Germany's Chancellor Kohl was freezing a $107 million military aid package in protest, support was to be found in the good old US of A.

For the US, the Kurds, and for that matter the Turks, are but pawns in the international game of political chess (see Socialist Standard, November 1994). The Kurds have lost their interest and more importantly their strategic value to the West. For Adrian Hamilton, writing in the Observer "the reality is that the west is looking to a well armed Turkey . . . to contain both Iraq and Iran" (26 March). Ferhat Azizi was to say as much a few days later, believing that "the Americans . . . are still haunted by the 1979 Iranian revolution and are unwilling to upset an ally they see as a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism" (New Statesman and Society, 31 March).

Strategic value
Evidence now suggests that Iraq is rearming and that Iran is once again flexing its muscles, massing forces on its Gulf coast. In recent weeks newspapers have run scores of headlines regarding Iran's war readiness, with alarm bells ringing all that more poignantly in the light of rumours concerning its nuclear capacity. From the West’s point of view, the Gulf states are armed to the teeth and trigger happy. Ironically it was the West that armed them when the Gulf War ended, providing $55 billions-worth of military hardware. Turkey, therefore, is ideally situated from a strategic point of view. Not solely because of its close proximity to unpredictable Middle East regimes. but increasingly lately because it also straddles the Balkans and the Caucasus—further potential flashpoints of Islamic fervour.

Neither can Britain claim to have merely a passing interest in Turkey's affairs. It is now no secret that the RAF has provided Turkish military chiefs with aerial photographs of the Kurdish safe haven taken by allied warplanes. Nor that allied warplanes based in Turkey suspended their policing of the safe haven while Turkish bombers took off from the same bases to bomb PKK positions twenty-five miles south of the Turkish border.

Britain and the US know only too well the debt Turkey, a NATO ally, will owe the West should Turkey become a full European member. In the meantime they make their hackneyed token protests while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, while Turkey allows itself to become a bastion against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, guarding capitalist Europe's eastern flank like a rear gunner with a full swing on the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Gulf region where "ignorant armies clash by night". None of which surprises the socialist, all too aware of the hidden agendas, the corruption and barrel-scraping stunts capitalism must continue to pull in its endless pursuit of profit.
John Bissett

Full Employment (1945)

From the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

Full Employment is one of the loudest catch cries being dimmed in oar ears, at the moment.

Another magic charm phrase of the day is “Planning." It occupies a considerable place in the Labour Party's stock of “ sloganberry'' jam for the Election.

In the sham fight between Tory and Labour about how to CONTROL Capitalism—which becomes meaningless everyday ; Labour Leaders will flog this decrepit old Soviet nag "Planning" to exhaustion.

Both sides are at pains to show that they stand for mixed State and private enterprise. Mr. Morrison’s speeches now deal mainly with this—pointing out that all sorts and degrees of State control will have to be applied to varying undertakings. In fact, reference to the‘Labour Party's “Socialism and Peace," as well as its war time statements on policy, shows that they have always held this view.

On the most generous estimate—all the lengthy rigmarole of re-planning. Industry, Transport and Trade, with the separate detailed “plans ” for the Coal Industry, the Banks, Electricity, Building, etc., etc. with their “Boards of Experts," “State Commissions for this Industry," and that, “with participation of the workers in the industry," etc. realty amounts to; is what we've got, now—only perhaps a little more so.

State Control exists everywhere—theoretically—in modern Capitalism—what is here at issue is how FAR and how MUCH—merely a difference in degree, not in kind, in quantity NOT quality.

On his side of the street Mr. Churchill has made it perfectly clear that Conservatives are only too well aware of the main tendency of modern capitalism to centralise in State hands. Whether Tory, Labour or any other (poor “Liberals"!) politicians like it or not, makes not the slightest difference. What both Tory and Labour spokesmen do, therefore, is to stalk up to Niagara, strike an attitude, and shout “ Fall"!

They then present an astonished electorate with “Plans," “Statements of Party policy," “Resolutions," etc., show how they are re-planning Society, which, in reality, is all the time re-planning them.

The present “controversies" naturally express the situation created by the War. It is the time, in modern society, where entire capitalist classes fight for their independent political (National State) existence.

For this reason, direct immediate control and supervision by the Capitalist State is inevitable in war time. The subsidiary interest of separate groups of capitalists have to go by the board. The representatives of the Class of capitalists are in exclusive charge. The separate groups—because Capitalism is a contradictory system—have to submit to the suppression of their immediate group interests to those of the class, as a whole.

These groups, through their spokesmen, naturally hanker after the “good old days " before the war-time control. Such a one is Sir John Wardlaw Milne, who has incurred the wrath of the Editor of the “Daily Herald" by demanding the "speedy removal of controls.”

In an editorial “Take your Choice," March 13th, 1945, the Editor of the “Herald" declares that:—
  “Without planning there can be no Full Employment and no High Wages. To pretend that the nation can have one without the other is madness. Full Employment has been secured during the war period for the first time since 1918. One of the results has been an increase in wages.

  “Why were we able to achieve in war what had never been obtainable in the days when private profit ruled as the arbiter in our society. The answer is that in war the community, working on a plan, was able to create a constant and increasing demand for all the goods which the nations labour and material resources were capable of producing.

  “This experience has confirmed the doctrine which Socialism has always preached.
  “A central plan for ensuring maximum production and the wisest use of the nation's most precious asset—its labour power—has achieved results which make the proudest boasts of private capitalism look puny."
If it were really true, as Mr. Michael Foot claims, that “the community, in war, working on a plan" creates “increasing demand," leading to full employment and higher wages then, logically, the “Daily Herald" and the Labour Party should desire to prolong this war as long as possible, and be in favour of war in general.

In point of fact, the community does not “create" demand—it's always there, insatiable. Socialism has never at any time, preached the doctrine that war time planning of production creates the community's demand. Mr. Foot's “Socialism" is actually good old (British) Militarism.

The Editor of the “Herald" cleverly mixes two entirely different things to confuse his working class readers. One thing is the demand of the community, which is limited merely by the current powers of production; the other is what economists call “effective demand," under capitalism, otherwise known as “purchasing power." This is what the worker can buy back from the owner of the means of production with his money-wages. It must always be a small proportion of what he produces, and tends, with evolution of the composition of capital, to get less.

Taking his cue from the “Herald," Mr. Attlee informed his audience at Nottingham, on March 24th, that:—
   “creation of the artificial harbours in Normandy was an example of how a number of men, working not for profit, but for the community can show unexampled enterprise, boldness and creativeness. I do not believe it is impossible in peace to bring to the service of the community the same qualities."—(“Daily Sketch", March 20th, 1945).
We are going to get a lot of this. Briefly the idea is “We did it in war time—we can do it in peace "—if only we slash into it in the spirit of the battlefields." Exactly as in 1918, in fact.

Then the “Daily Mirror" quotes the New York newspaper, “P.M." as saying:—
  “We in America observe the plans of the British business imperialists to secure domination of smaller countries for the purpose of exploitation, and it shocks our moral sense. But what of ourselves? We observe the plans of American business men to seize British trade and reduce British working men to penury."
The "Mirror" December 28th, continues:—
   "This comment makes it clear that a responsible American journal anticipates a trade war to take the place of the other war when "peace" is declared. . . .

  “If would be interesting to know on what facts "P.M." bases its opinions. If there is truth in what the newspaper says, someone in Great Britain must know about it, and that someone ought to be the President of the Board of Trade. Presumably the Government has an economic policy, and now is the time to declare it. The nation has performed a great industrial feat during the war. State Control blended with Private Enterprise has ' delivered the goods.' Are, then, all the proved advantages of that great dual effort to be thrown away simply because a handful of powerful individualists in each country want to go on with the old game with its wild alternation of boom and slump?"
The City Editor of the ‘‘News Chronicle “ states that:
  "Some of my friends who have a knowledge of conditions both here and in the United States assert roundly that to no more small extent American's advantage in P.M.H. (Production per Man Hour) is due, not to better mechanisation, but to the fact that the American worker does a much better days work than the British."
‘‘News Chronicle,” February 2nd, 1945. 
First, Mr. Attlee: everything that is produced under capitalism, including the amazing and wonderful artificial harbour (Mulberry), is produced for profit—State ownership or control of. productive apparatus does NOT mean that they work for the community.

The wartime Government production is financed by State Bonds and War Loans, which pay Interest taken from Profit. Neither, despite Mr. Foot, does the fact that the State PLANS war production make it Socialist. The reason the Government PLANS war production is because it is WAR production. It is a simple incontrovertible economic fact— that you cannot superimpose or transplant the economic conditions of WAR to peacetime production, as suggested by the “New Leader” for houses, “The Forward," and a host of others. In WARtime there is insatiable military demands, war weapons are consumed in inconceivable quantities, so long as the enemy is unbeaten. In peacetime— the main consumer is the wage-working class—its effective demand limited by its meagre wages. In wartime, the main consumer is the capitalist class—of war weapons. Although each individual capitalist with armaments investments draws his dividends; he, in common with his fellow capitalists, pays in taxes. The war is paid for by, and a dead loss to the capitalists—NOT the workers.. THAT is the reason they are so anxious for the workers to work hard after the war, to make up the deficit

The ‘‘Daily Herald" and Labour Party publications are full of references these days to the failure of “private ownership "; of production for “private profit" of the failure of private enterprise. They talk largely of “public" control leading to “public” ownership.

They jabber about the pre-1939 system, “When no incentive existed in society apart from that of the PRIVATE owner to make a profit" and publish cartoons showing the failure of “private" Capitalism.

All that they actually mean is STATE profit (Bonds) STATE production. Government ownership or control; and STATE enterprise. Socialism is NOT the “public" ownership of productive forces but the COMMON ownership—by the community as a whole. When the whole community own the means of production, the State disappears—is superannuated.

By “public" ownership. Labour leaders mean public Corporations or Boards, in which people with money, invest. Socialism abolishes money, because it abolishes Exchange-Values.

The Labour Party, and all its satellites from Commonwealth to Trotskyites, without exception; stand FOR Public Capitalism in preference to Private Capitalism.

Socialists stand for a change in quality; NOT quantity. Neither Old nor New Capitalism—but Socialism.

Finally, if all the State Control which the Labour Party wants were imposed tomorrow—the question of the Editor of the "Mirror," with reference to international economic policy demands its answer. The consolidation of the State in control of national economies is—willingly or otherwise—preparation for the challenge of competing States, and the terms "boom " and “slump" become synonyms for “war" and “peace."

They'd like us all to be social ostriches (1945)

From the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

Nuttall's Standard Dictionary gives this as its chief definition of the word Democracy: “Government by all classes for the benefit of all classes." This sounds like a condensed blueprint for a Fascist Utopia: it is in any case an invaluable contribution to the grand art of teaching people how not to learn (about realities, anyway). It has long been recognised by the master class that one of the best ways of keeping their masterhood secure is to induce all other people to believe in “class co-operation." That is, co-operation by all the legion of underdogs to keep the top-dogs on top. Government by robbers and robbed for “the benefit of both" . . . . Only Walt Disney could do justice to such a subject! Suave gents in polished Fleet Street offices like us to think of "class" as meaning nothing more serious than whether we aspirate our H's and make sucking noises when we drink. Inequality is “natural"; you must have masters “to lead." As a matter of fact, the anxiety of the master class to have us believe that there ain’t no such animal as the opposition of class interests, is a direct admission that they know there is all right, and they fear the day when enough of us will recognise the fact so clearly, in all its naked hideousness, that we'll use the power that is ours to put an end to the division of society into two classes.

TWO classes: Let us emphasise the number. They like us to think of society being split up into a large number of sections, each determined, not by the way we get our living, but by such qualities as ability, intelligence, assiduity, etc.: Every soldier with a field marshal's baton in his knapsack, every office boy with a managing director’s fountain pen sprouting in his waistcoat pocket. The way up is hard, but everyone has the chance; go to it, my boy, go to it!

Church, cinema, press, all preach the doctrine that the way to Paradise is open to all. It is our own fault if we sin and botch it. And so kind is our social system, that for those who fall by the wayside, there is always charity and reform. . . . No, we've even gone one better than that: instead of charity, which stinks a bit, we're going to have Beveridge, or some other brand of “social insurance," so we won't go getting dangerous ideas about the social system being fundamentally at fault and Socialism being the only solution.

But we are so perverse that we persist in thinking for ourselves, despite the contemporary machinery for the mass-production of ready-made ideas that surrounds us from the cradle up. We persist in discovering that there are only two classes—the owners and the workers, and all other sections of society, such as the “middle class," have but a tenuous, perilous hold on independent existence: just one serious slump-crisis of the system which makes (and is made by) the two-class division, and your “middle class” manager, secretary, technician, etc., soon discovers that he is in the working class.

Similarly, if a member of the working class, by unusual good fortune, becomes possessed of the means for what used (in less polite and more realistic days) to be called an independent existence, he automatically climbs out of the working class, into the master class, and it is as much in his interest as it is against that of the working class to seek to preserve the capitalist system.
John Jennings

The Passing of a Capitalist "Great Man" (1945)

Editorial from the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

For about 15 years, including the period of the first World War, Lloyd George served the purposes of the capitalist class in various ministerial offices. Then, his hold over the electorate diminished and his usefulness as a Cabinet Minister exhausted, he spent nearly a quarter of a century outside the charmed circle, making ceaseless, but ineffectual attempts to demonstrate that he was still indispensable

But when he died, on March 26th, his erstwhile opponents, who had many of them denounced him in times gone by, united in the discovery of his greatness. Here are some of the verdicts pronounced in the House of Commons on March 29th :—.
“The greatest Welshman .... since the days of the Tudors,” “He was the champion of the weak and poor,” . those who came after would find pillars of his life's toil upstanding, massive and indestructible.”—(Mr. Winston Churchill).
Mr. Arthur Greenwood, speaking for the Labour Party, endorsed everything that Mr. Churchill said : “We mourn the passing of a great Parliamentarian and I am certain my Right Hon. Friend has expressed, irrespective of party, the views held by the House about the great Mr. Lloyd George. ... He was the friend of the oppressed.” Mr. Aneurin Bevan, concurred—“We have lost our most distinguished member, and Wales her greatest son.” . . . He was first and last a democrat.”

Then Mr. Gallacher, the Communist M.P. had his say about this astute defender of the capitalist system. He quoted Lenin as having said that Lloyd George “was the greatest political leader this country had known ” and confessed that Lenin advised him to study Lloyd George. (This may explain many things about Mr. Gallacher). Like the other speakers, Gallacher found that Lloyd George was a friend of the “common people.” “. . . . he played many parts, great parts, always with the fervour and intensity of a son of the people, for it was the common people that bore him. It was the suffering of the common people that called him forth to battle against poverty and neglect.”

The Press followed the same line. To the “Daily Herald” (March 27th), Lloyd George in the first World War was a giant, the nation is eternally in his debt and his qualities “at his finest were the great qualities of our Democracy : he was fearless, he was tireless, he was ablaze with the spirit of liberty, equality and fraternity.”

Mr. R. Page Arnot in the Daily Worker (March 27th), gave a less unbalanced, but still lopsided account of Lloyd George’s career. He accepts the popular view of Lloyd George in pre-1914 days as waging war on the capitalist class. (“The City and the propertied classes were cast into frenzy”), yet a moment’s thought would recall that Lloyd George was-Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Liberal Capitalist Government, backed by his Liberal colleagues and by the majority of the party, a party which whole-heartedly represented the interests of the manufacturing section of the propertied class: It was merely the quarrel of that section against landed and financial interests. Page Arnot, like Gallacher, quotes Lenin on Lloyd George, but more to the point:—“a first class bourgeois business man and master of political cunning, a popular orator, able to make any kind of speech, even r-r-revolutionary speeches before Labour audiences.”

The fact that a man is dead does not sanctify him, and what we said of him living we continue to say after his death; but now let us recall what others were saying of Lloyd George when he was in active politics. In 1922 the leader of the Labour Party, the late J. R. MacDonald, far from finding Lloyd George a “giant ’’ in the war accurately summed him up as follows:—“His great contribution to the war was an unequalled genius for placing false and flashy issues with much fervour before the country.” (“Labour Magazine,” November, 1922). His “greatness” in MacDonald’s eyes was that his four years as Prime Minister in the Coalition Government, 1918-1922 were a “great failure.” MacDonald went on to describe him as a rhetorical demagogue, and an adept at “nimble-witted trickery.” This, of course, was the way all the Labour Party and Trade Union spokesmen were describing him after the last war. Have the workers forgotten his dragooning of the trade unions during and after the war, his trickery of the miners over the Sankey Report on Nationalisation of the Mines, which led Mr. Hartshorn, Miners Leader, to declare, “We have been deceived, betrayed, duped.”—(Labour Party Speaker’s Handbook, 1922. P.48). Was Lloyd George “first and last a democrat”? What of his part in the trickery which foisted conscription and defence of the realm acts on the workers in the last War, and the way he intrigued Asquith out of the Premiership and himself in? In the House on March 28th, 1945, Mr. Churchill described it as “Presently Lloyd George seized the main power in the State and the headship of the Government”; and he reiterated the word “seized” when interrupted. In 1922, the Communist Party were denouncing Lloyd George as the friend of Italian Fascism, preparing to instal Fascism here. The break up of the Coalition Government in 1922 was, according to the “Communist” (November 4th, 1922), a “swindle to demoralise the workers ” and leave them "defenceless before the oncoming of the Iron Heel of the new plutocratic Dictatorship.” Lloyd George, they said, was “a party to the conspiracy.” The Communists too used to be fond of recalling that Lloyd George “was responsible for the black and tan regime in Ireland.” (“Class against Class,” C.P.G.B., 1921), p. 8.)

Lloyd George was throughout his life an upholder of the capitalist system. His niggling reforms were designed to help British capitalism meet its overseas trade rivals and to allay some working class discontent which had reached a bitterness that might be dangerous to capitalism. Even in that field he was largely a borrower from others (“Lloyd George, on going to the Treasury, found an Old Age Pensions Bill already drafted by his predecessor, and after he had carried this through he turned his thought towards schemes of national insurance against sickness and unemployment, and visited Germany in the autumn of 1908 to study the German insurance system”—Times, March 27th, 1945.)

As for being a friend of the oppressed, his life work was devoted to preventing capitalism from being overthrown. Here we have some of his own admissions. On January 21st, 1922, he was pleading for continued Liberal-Tory unity. "What is there to quarrel about? Private enterprise, the resistance to the revolutionary policy to overthrow the individual enterprise that has made this country—what is the difference between Liberals and Conservatives? They are both supporting the same cause .... We are fighting to defend the same fortress. Let’s combine forces.” (Labour Speakers Handbook, 1929. P.141).

On October 25th, 1924, in a speech at Cardiff he was again telling the Tories that if they destroyed the Liberal Party they ran the risk of aiding Socialism. “Are you going to destroy a party which does not agree with you . . .  but which is just as firmly rooted as you in the existing order”? (“Daily News, October 26th, 1924).

In the “Socialist Standard,” (December, 1918), we said this of Lloyd George.
  “Behind this mountebank marionette stands the Imperialist section of the capitalist class, composed of both Liberals and Tories, who are striving to extend their dominion and power of robbing the working class, over larger areas of the globe. It was to protect their interests that this country entered into the War. When two years ago the military situation looked serious for the Allies this section looked for a more pliant tool to take charge of the Government. One was at hand possessing a glib tongue. always ready with large and extravagant promises quite unscrupulous, and able to sway crowds with his clap-trap. A dirty political shuffle took place and Lloyd George became Prime Minister.”
There is no reason to modify that statement.

Our Annual Conference (1945)

Party News the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

On Good Friday, Saturday and Sunday, delegates from the various branches of our Party sat in Conference at Conway Hall, discussing plans for a future that never before looked so bright, in spite of the devastating effects of over five years of modern warfare. Economic and political circumstances are forcing the workers, at an increasing rate, to give more consideration and a more sympathetic hearing to our message. It was a realization of this that heightened the enthusiasm of delegates and visitors to the Conference.

Plans were discussed for increasing the number of party propagandists, including speakers and writers; for spreading our influence wider by means of paid London and Provincial Organisers and propagandists; for organising study groups over the country; for contesting local and parliamentary elections and in many other ways spurring the movement for Socialism forward. The immediate future will see the fruits of this work.

On Saturday evening at the Annual Reunion the Hall was literally crowded with members and sympathisers who spent a very friendly and enjoyable evening.

On Sunday evening there was a meeting addressed by four speakers. The hall was full and the audience exhibited an enthusiasm and optimism that was a fitting climax to a very successful conference.

One striking feature of the conference, the Reunion and the meeting was the number of women present, and particularly young women. They participated in the Conference and spoke with knowledge, clearness and confidence.

Another striking fact was the large attendance during such difficult times, with the menace of the rocket and the flying bomb as a repellent threat to keep them out of London. That so many workers should have been willing to spend three days of the best holidays in the year cooped up in a hall in a City, is of itself an instance of their enthusiasm for the cause for which they are working.

And so the Party commences a new year with the prospect that the ideas we are propagating will have more influence on the future of the world than will the ending of the biggest, the most devastating, the most brutal and the most insane war the world has ever known. But in spite of all its abhorrent ugliness, capitalism holds within it the embryo of a new society which, when the restraining bonds are sundered, will burst forth and, like a jewel, reflect many dazzling facets to the light. By the time we hold our next Conference we should be measurably nearer our goal and those who sympathise with our ideas but have not yet joined us can help the movement on by taking an active part in a struggle that is well worth while. May we be able to welcome many of them as delegates or members next year.

Vegetarianism, Capitalism and Socialism (1945)

From the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

Vegetarians may rightly claim that Diet is an important factor in maintaining a healthy organism, but— many other factors, such as Air, Clothing, Housing, Rest, Mental Serenity, etc., all play their part as contributary factors in causing Health or Disease.

Health, therefore (even as a relative term), does not merely depend upon the question as to whether one derives sustenance from the Vegetable or Animal Kingdoms, but also upon many other complex conditions.

Even were Diet the determining factor in Social Health (and we do not belittle the part it plays) and an Agricultural policy was universally adopted, would the vegetarian products of such a policy be available to All? Would workers and their families receive an adequate supply of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts according to their needs? Or would they merely receive the quantity which the cash equivalent of their “Butcher's Meat" would buy? From the viewpoint of the working class there would still remain the problem of “making ends meet.” whether on a vegetarian or flesh diet.

The November issue of the "Vegetarian Messenger” (official organ of the Vegetarian Society), publishes an article relative to war time food production, showing the economic advantages of an agricultural policy, and the Ministry of Agriculture's statistics are quoted. Chief among these is the figure for total increase in arable land over 1939 figures, which is given as 63.3 per cent. It has taken a war to prove the economic Advantages of Vegetarianism ! Further on in the same article we read that . . . “These large decreases in livestock indicate that the exigencies of war do not permit of the extravagant policy of rearing large numbers of animals for food consumption.” (our italics). Exactly! The cost of production is ever the determining factor as to what will be produced in Capitalistic Society and what is food, but fuel used in the production of that other commodity, Labour-Power? So that, in weighing up the advantages that may accrue from an agricultural policy, we are of the opinion that the scales would turn in favour of those who BUY Labour Power, not those who SELL it and a cheaper worker would be doubly welcome if also a healthier one!

Whilst we may agree that a balanced diet which contains all the natural vital elements and vitamins is preferable to the “fleshpots,” we realise that until such a diet is available to the majority of mankind according to their needs and not according to their income as at present, small benefit can accrue for those who “live to work.”

Another factor to be taken into consideration relative to a flesh diet is the danger of contamination by foot and mouth disease. During a debate in the House of Commons on the subject, Mr. Turton (M.P. for Thirsk and Malton), stated there has been 126 reported outbreaks of this disease during the first ten months of 1944. (Hansard, November 17th, 1944). (our italics). Comparing above figures with those for the last war. Major York (member for Ripon), gave the number of outbreaks for the years 1916/1920 as 170. He went on to say . . . ,"There must have been nearly that number during the present year. That comparison alone, shows that there is a very serious situation.” Unlike Mr. Snadden (The Hon. member for West Perth, whose statement that “Foot and Mouth disease is a dagger pointing at the heart of our post war agricultural policy.” Hansard, November 17th, 1944, we are not concerned in alleviating the problems of our master's system, but are very much concerned in putting an end to the system which produces such problems.. Foot and Mouth disease is aggravated by war, which is inherent in the capitalist regime. The health of the working class, who hold no share in livestock or any other industry, will in the long run, depend upon their conscious knowledge of their slave position in society and their attainment of Socialism. Until then, their health will remain as it is, in jeopardy, despite any meagre benefits as a resultant of dietetic reform, restricted as it is by income.

What most Vegetarians fail to realise is that diet and health are determined by the Method whereby ALL wealth is produced.

At present we live in an era of private ownership of the means of life. Goods are produced for sale and only with a view to profit. Those who produce everything, own nothing (comparatively), and those who own everything, produce nothing. The worker sells his physical and mental energies and receives in return sufficient to allow hint to replenish his lost energy and reproduce his kind. This process goes on, “from the Cradle to the Grave," there is no escape. Neither by adopting a vegetarian diet, nor by concerning ourselves in the administration of their master’s system, will the workers emancipate themselves from ill health, poverty, war and unemployment. There is a far bigger problem than diet to solve, that is, the struggle for Social ownership of the wealth that is socially produced. So we see that the road to health is also the road to Socialism.

Workers! Get busy, start filing your chains by joining the Socialist Movement.
G. R. Russell

The I.L.P.—A Study in Political Futility (1945)

From the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Independent Labour Party decided 12½ years ago, to leave the Labour Party. They were never happy about it and have discussed at various times the question of rejoining; Mr. F. Brockway has stated that probably the I.L.P. would have re-affiliated before, had it not been for the War. (“Forward" November 28th, 1942). Now the movement for rejoining is again in full swing and at the I.L.P. Conference at Easter, 1945, it was decided to seek affiliation provided that the I.L.P. is allowed the same kind of independent identity that they used to have as an affiliated body.

We may well ask the I.L.P. these questions: “Is it the record of the Labour Party during the last 12 years that encourages you to consider re-affiliation ?" and "Are you confident of the fitness of the Labour Party to take Socialist action in the future?" To both these questions a socialist would reply—No. The I.L.P., whatever may be their answers, are taking definite steps to rejoin. A glance at some of the arguments used in favour of re-affiliation reveals the fact, that although they have examined the Labour Party's record and are critical of it, they are willing to take advantage of the possible growing working class support for the Labour Party when the war ends. They have discovered that the "Labour Party was the accepted medium of expression of the people." It has popular support and so the I.L.P. in search of "numerical membership" is attempting to find a way back.

Mr. J. McGovern. M.P. (Shettleston). addressed the I.L.P. summer school, and in the course of his lecture said that the "intelligent thing for the Party is, upon the the breaking of the political truce, to return to the Labour Party, and with the ability and integrity of our present party membership, attempt to take effective leadership." ("New Leader" August 19th. 1944). Following some discussion he went on to show that: "At the end of the war many of the leaders of the Labour Party will be discredited," while the I.L.P.'s "prestige had grown considerably." There it is. The purpose is "effective leadership" after the record of the Labour Party has discredited it's leaders. When dealing with the I.L.P.'s past record he was equally frank. He said that one mistake was the association with the Communists. "especially at a time when there was tremendous antagonism in this country against the Communist Party." He made no attempt to analyse past political action or to advise on future political action on the basis of Socialist principle. Not—"was this policy in line with working-class interest?” but, "was this policy popular?" is the question that he asks about their past policy. He explains away the plight and confusion that the workers are in to-day by dragging in the stale and rather shoddy gag about "the failure of Parliamentarianism." His own Parliamentary activities are seemingly above criticism, including the way he gets in. We cannot forget that he never offends Catholics. Catholics have votes and Shettleston has Catholics.

Mr. F. Brockway has doubts of the Labour Party but hopes that they will "rise to the opportunity’’ and decide on a "real fight." He says that there is a view that a decision has been reached in the Labour Party, "to fight on a full Socialist programme." The irony of the situation is too subtle and deep for Brockway. Imagine a Socialist Party having to come to a decision to fight on a Socialist programme! What is the purpose of organising into n Socialist party but to struggle for Socialism? Although Brockway calls upon the Labour Party to decide on a real fight for Socialism, the I.L.P. has itself never fought a Parliamentary election on that basis. At the Bilston by election in September 1944 they had an opportunity. What did they do with it? Fought on the same paltry little reformist policy that is so familiar. A ten-point programme was issued that included the complete abolition of poverty together with 30s. per week for old age pensioners and maintenance grants for school children. The last three points talked of establishing a "Socialist order" where industry will "be run by councils representative of all grades of workers." (New Leader, September 16, 1941.)

This is the party about which, five years ago, Mr. F. A. Ridley stated, "The I.L.P. has to day a unique opportunity to place itself at the head of the growing revolutionary forces in the country.’’ In this article he also wrote, "The S.P.G.B. has been completely taken in by the fraud of parliamentarianism.” Of course we had not been taken in by anything; certainly we did not imagine that the glib and wordy phrases of the I.L.P. indicated any fundamental change in that Party. We have simply recognised that Parliament is a weapon that can be used by a politically intelligent working class for the purpose of establishing Socialism. We have never attempted to gain easy support by criticising Labour Leaders and Parliament, from workers who are merely discontented. The I.L.P. have indulged in that but have never attempted to build their party on a revolutionary basis. Mr Ridley also stated, "Under such circumstances. Labour and reformism will disappear with incredible rapidity." (New Leader, March 14th, 1940.)

Ridley is one of those appointed to interview the representatives of the Labour Party on the matter of re-affiliation. Perhaps he wants to see the rapid "disappearance" of the I.L.P. into the "rapidly disappearing" Labour Party.

This maze of confused talk and action arises from the fact that the membership has no understanding of Socialism. A party cannot have revolutionary content without excluding non-Socialists, and the I.L.P. has never done that. At its inaugural meeting it was said that "It would be a pity if they narrowed the party in the slightest degree by making it appear that they admitted only bona-fide Socialists." (Jubilee Souvenir, page 28.)

To-day they can consider re-joining the Labour Party because their membership is non-Socialist; because their policy is to an overwhelming extent similar to that of the Labour Party. The policy of Socialists and the policy of the reformist Labour Party are opposed. We will finish on a biblical note. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the Wilderness and, although glad to be free of the Egyptians, sometimes longed for the “fleshpots of Egypt.” They did, however, reach their objective. After 12 years in the political wilderness, the I.L.P. are turning to the Party they so roundly condemned in 1932. They are wandering, simply longing to return to the "fleshpots,” having achieved nothing and arrived nowhere.
Lew Jones

Letter: The S.P.G.B. and leaders (1945)

Letter to the Editors from the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

A correspondent, Mr. J. Crow, Sunderland, asks, "Why doesn’t the S.P.GB. give more prominence to the names of its leaders?"

The short answer is that the Socialist Movement, unlike other movements, has no leaders. If we may be permitted to state the obvious a leader is one who leads. Those who do not know where they are or where they are going need leaders. Socialists, who do know where they are going and by what means Socialism will be achieved, do not need leaders. The S.P.G.B. has an elected Executive Committee and various officials to do work for the Party as well as speakers appointed to expound its case. All of them are bound by the Declaration of Principles which is the Party’s basis. The members know and accept that Declaration and they co-operate in furthering the Party’s object. For what purpose then could the S.P.G.B. need leaders?

A leader exists and is necessary in non socialist organisations, the members of which do not accept, understand and agree upon a defined object and policy. He is publicised and glorified and wields power over the organisation,. The members put their faith in his supposedly superior wisdom, often with results which prove disastrous—then they acclaim a new leader. Sometimes, as in the popular "labour" organisations the leader falls for the flattery or more substantial inducements offered by the ruling class and betrays his members. Being a leader, with the capacity to sway and direct his uncritical trusty followers he has something to sell to the other side.

As socialist understanding grows, leaders and leadership fadeaway.
Editorial Committee.

By The Way: “Purer" Socialists (? !) (1945)

The By The Way Column from the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard

“Purer" Socialists (? !)
  “The system of state capitalist economy now being practised in Russia with (according to my view) its almost indecent emphasis upon personal profit as a stimulus to social and economic activity, is in many respects much closer to British 19th century economic-doctrines than are the economic conditions in Britain to-day. In certain details such as the Russian provision that peasants may sell their surplus in the free market at free prices it is the English farmer in 1945 who is the purer Socialist. There will be no difficulty in Russians and British understanding each other on the basis of the profit motive!

  A second imaginary obstacle is the belief by some people in Britain that the Russian Government is Communist in the sense that it is working for world revolution. This in the Russia of 1945 is a most shocking suggestion, for you are telling the Russians that they are Trotskyites! This is worse than to tell (say) an ardent young Tory that he is a reactionary.”
Commander King-Hall, M.P. (Parliamentary delegation to Russia.. “Observer,” March 18th, 1945).)

The First 2,000,000
  “Russia tried to buy 2,000,000 artificial legs on the American market last week.

   The small U.S. factories, already far behind on domestic orders, could not help out—none of them produces more than 5,000 artificial limbs a year. The Soviets, who must step up their own small output, are already studying American methods.

  For 2,000,000 false legs was only a starting estimate; after three and a half years of continuous fighting, the number of war cripples in Russia is unknown.”
(“Time,” U.S.A., October 9th, 1944.)


"Lend to the End," etc.
  “Mink coats, which would cost up to £10,000 in the shops, are being sold secretly for £1,000 to £2,000 paid in cash to dodge purchase tax restrictions.

  Evidence was given to me yesterday that there are “queues” of ready-money buyers willing to purchase luxury furs—with no bill or receipt changing hands.

  The coats are being sold as “second-hand” but they are really coats almost completely renovated with pre-war skins kept in storage.

  Prices of mink coats are four times as much as they were before the war. Five hundred pounds was a reasonable price in 1938, while a hop-price coat cost as much as £2,500.

  Under second-hand guise, the ready cash minks—usually bought as an investment—are not liable to purchase tax, but they are still covered by a Price Control regulation.” 
(“Daily Mail,” March 20th.)


Secrets of Scotland Yard! Black Market in Curates Next
  “The Bishop of Chelmsford has issued a warning of the possibility of a “black market” in curates.

  This might happen, he says, unless there is an alteration in the present system of stipends, which allows parishes able to afford the best clergy to get them at the expense of the smaller parishes that need them most.”
(“Daily Herald,” March 5th, 1945).


For That "Portal” House
  “The copy of Charles Lamb's Essays, issued in 1823, which he inscribed and presented to his friend Robert Southey, the poet, was bought at Hodgson's yesterday by Mr. Wade for £340. It belonged to the Earl of Gosford, and had been bound in a scrap of an old cotton dress by Southey’s daughter Kate.

   A woman sent a defective copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays, 1623. Mr. Ernest Maggs paid £1,800 for it. The late Lord Rosebery's perfect copy brought as much as £14,500 in 1933.”
(“Daily Telegraph,” February 24th, 1945).

V.C. Son of Italian sets a Poser
  “Son of an Italian ice-cream vendor, 19 year-old Dennis Donnini has set the Court authorities a poser by winning the V.C.

  For Domini's father has never been naturalised, and that raises a problem for Court officials that has never arisen since the V.C. was initiated in 1856.

  The King cannot receive an enemy subject for the duration. How Domini stands legally as a subject of a co-belligerent country is a point they must decide.”
(“Daily Herald,” March 21st.)
Young Domini died in winning the V.C. He was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The press reports the “magnificent courage” of this son of an Italian emigrant.


Why I wed a Yank
   “A pretty 23-years-old British girl landed at La Guardia airport to-day and explained why it is that British girls marry American soldiers.

  She said British girls prefer American Service men.—
1. Because they’re more gay and carefree than “serious and steady” Britons.
2. They wear “snappier” uniforms.
3. They have more money.
Six other British war-brides who travelled with her nodded in agreement.”
(“Daily Mail,” March 20th.)
The “three" reasons look very much like one to us. (More money).

Perhaps these girls will be somewhat perplexed, at first, to find that under capitalism, the land of the greatest wealth is also a country of great poverty.

The Useless Capitalist. The Effects of Economic Evolution. (1924)

From the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Although it is a century and a half since the commencement of the most rapid expansion of the productive forces in the history of human society, institutions and ideas still prevail which were adapted only to the conditions preceding that expansion. In an age when the Capitalist has nothing to do but draw dividends, we are still told by people who profess to know, that we cannot do without him. Let us examine this assertion.

It is, of course, obviously true that so long as Capitalists own the means of wealth production, non-Capitalists must depend upon them for permission to exist. To the worker who thinks, however, it is equally obvious that what he cannot do without is the property, not the property-owner. Without access to the soil for raw materials, and machines for dealing therewith, human beings cannot satisfy their most elementary requirements ; but where is the necessity for the ownership of the land, factories, etc., by a special class of privileged individuals who derive a work-free existence because of their ownership?

How did the Capitalist class come into being? What necessity brought them on to the stage of social life? History furnishes us with an answer. It shows that less than five hundred years ago in this country production was carried on by the worker and his family independently. The peasant in the country cultivated his plot of land, mainly for his own use, selling only his surplus produce. In the towns the craftsman and his apprentices (limited in number by rule of the guild) worked in his own shop with his own tools. His goods, of course, were mainly for sale, at first in order to meet a local demand. In the course of time, however, as trade developed between different localities, the national and even international, markets developed also. Obviously, the workers could not travel far and wide with their goods. Consequently, they came to depend upon a special class of traders. The isolation of the producers placed them at the mercy of the middleman.

From this middleman trader has developed by stages the Capitalist of to-day. For a time his activities were mainly confined to buying and selling, but with further increase in trade and in the productive powers of the workers, he began to hunger for the surplus to be obtained by having his own workshop and employees. The conditions were favourable. The break up of feudalism and the enclosure of large estates set free by degrees a landless, masterless class of men and women from whose ranks could be drawn as much labour-power as was required.

The merchants commenced to set up small factories in competition with the workshops of the craftsmen. In these factories the work was split up into its various detail processes, each worker being confined to one process. Greater speed and a greater output were thus obtained at the sacrifice of the worker’s general skill and interest in his work. At this stage the Capitalist was not merely the owner of the factory. He took part in the direction of the workers and in the supervision of the whole process of production. Nevertheless, he was from the first an exploiter. The wealth produced belonged not to the whole body of workers but to him. Private ownership of socially produced wealth was thus established.

At this point commenced the sharp antagonism, which is the principal feature of modern life, between Capitalist and worker. Capital, ever restless, seeking to grow at the expense of the worker’s energy, chafed at the limitations of that energy. The division of labour above described was developed to the highest pitch, its possibilities were exhausted and still capital longed for fresh worlds to conquer.

At this time new countries were being discovered, explored and opened up for trade, and a rapidly developing world market seemed to offer a limitless demand. How to satisfy it? That was the problem.

Although much reduced in circumstances a certain number of handicraftsmen still lingered on trying to compete with the slaves in the factories, but their extinction was at hand. In the textile industries at first invention after invention replaced detail labourers by machines, and steam-power provided the means of driving them. The handicraftsmen were finally ruined and the conditions of the wage-slaves in the factories became more and more degraded by this new onslaught of capital. The reader can refer to H. de B. Gibbins’Industrial History” for an account of the horrors which followed. The increase in the power of producing wealth proved to be a weapon in the hands of the exploiting class to reduce to grinding poverty and degradation the great bulk of the population.

In order to ensure its own survival the exploiting class has had to moderate the reckless indulgence of its greed by legal restrictions. Its essential character is in no way altered, however, while its one-time function as director of industry has, passed into the hands of a special section of the working class. Managers, superintendents, foremen, etc., have long ago relieved the Capitalist of any direct personal concern with the supervision of the process of production and distribution. The wealth produced is so great that he can riot in luxury thousands of miles from the scene of his slaves’ labour. Originally an agent of economic progress the Capitalist has been rendered superfluous by that progress. Henceforth he is simply a parasite on the social body, preventing the workers from enjoying he fruits of their increasingly productive labour.

It is an oft-repeated assertion that society has always been divided into rich and poor and always will be. People who make this assertion show, by so doing, that they have entirely left out of account the continual expansion in power to produce wealth, which has taken place since prehistoric times. A moment’s reflection will convince any thinking person that in the remote past it was a sheer impossibility for society to be so divided, since the productive power of labour was so small as to be sufficient only for the needs of the labourers themselves. A rich class freed from toil cannot exist unless the labourers produce a surplus over and above their own wants. Such a class, therefore, did not, in fact, arise, until the tools of production and the possibility of organising the producers had made some considerable advance above the level of the savage and the barbarian.

The enjoyment of leisure and comfort, however, was necessarily limited to a small class so long as the productive forces were yet too limited to provide leisure and comfort for all. Under such circumstances wealth inevitably became the object of a struggle within society itself. It could be obtained only by those whose position enabled them to exploit the producers.

To-day, however, we are faced with a situation entirely different. There is no question about the possibility of producing sufficient wealth to provide comfort and leisure for all. The industrial revolution has swept aside all the old limitations of production. The “problem” to-day is one of distribution. So long as the Capitalist class is allowed to hold the means of labour as a source of profit that problem will remain unsolved. The failure of the master class to solve it is demonstrated by periodical industrial, commercial and financial crises; by gluts, bad trade, wars and the growing menace of the unemployed.

It is upon the workers that the task of finding the solution falls, since until the solution is found they must endure increasing suffering. The Socialist Party points to the solution. The means of life, operated as they are by the workers collectively must be controlled collectively; they must be made the common possession of society. Wealth must be produced for social use and not for private profit. The industrial revolution has made the social revolution possible, nay, inevitable.
Eric Boden