Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Mockery of “Freedom”. (1925)

From the March 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

The recent General Election was not entirely devoid of colour. Apart from the favours that varying schools of opinion adopted, there were the miniature cascades of leaflets in blue, yellow, green, orange, and other colours, which descended through our letter-boxes each day. Among them was one of a delightful lemon-yellow, bearing the leaded caption, “The Road to Freedom.” It informed us with Spartan brevity that Great Britain was the freest country in the world. We were spared the encumbrance of definitions or comparisons, but were brought up against realities at once by the poser : “How did we get this freedom? ” Then followed the answer: “We got it almost entirely through the work done by the Liberal Party.”

You recognise the style, of course. Apart from the little word “almost,” there is a refreshing sweep about a statement like that, which convinces everyone—except those who know the facts.

“But the facts are given overleaf!” Are they? Pray let us examine them. The pamphlet says :—
    “Here are the four main stages by which we have obtained political freedom. (1) The Reform Act of 1832—passed by a Liberal Government; (2) The Reform Act of 1867—first introduced by Gladstone, 1866; finally passed 1867, when Disraeli was Prime Minister, and when Conservatives were in office, but passed by the Liberal Members who were still in a majority in the House of Commons. (3) The Reform Act of 1884—passed by a Liberal Government; (4) The Reform Act of 1918—the first steps were taken by Mr. Asquith in 1916, and the Act was passed when Mr. Lloyd George was Prime Minister of a Coalition Government. The Liberal Party also secured secrecy for the act of voting by passing the Ballot Act in 1872.”
Now we will call some more evidence. We shall perhaps appreciate how useful a little word like “almost” can be. In the interests of space we shall have to condense, but the authorities given can be consulted at any public library.

No. 1. The Reform Bill of 1832 left the working class almost entirely out of the franchise; it broke down the monopoly which the aristocratic and landed classes had enjoyed, and admitted the middle class to a share of the law-making. This was all the more exasperating (to the workers) because the excitement and agitation for the Reform Bill were in great measure that of working men.—(Justin McCarthy : Short History of Our Own Times, p. 17.)

No. 2. The Reform Bill of 1867. The £10 Borough Franchise was passed by the Tories in 1867 and was opposed by the Liberals. Gladstone’s solicitude for the working class having the franchise may be gauged by his attitude towards the £6 Franchise proposed in 1866. Writing to Mr. Horsfall, Manchester, on Aug. 8th that year, he said : “I do not agree with the demand either for manhood or household suffrage.”—(Mr. Gladstone: A Study, by L. J. Jennings, p. 245.)

The same work, on p. 22, records Mr. Gladstone as uttering the following :
  “Changes that effect sudden and extensive transfer of power are attended by great temptations to the weakness of human nature; and however high our opinion may be of the labouring classes, or of any other class of the community, I do not believe that it would be right to place such a temptation within the reach of any of them.”
From 1832 to 1867 the Liberals had a majority in most of the nine Parliaments of that period, but although repeatedly pledged to give the workers a share in the franchise they broke their promises time after time. —(History of Our Own Times.)

No. 3. The Reform Act of 1884 did little more than extend the franchise given to householders, etc., in 1867, from the boroughs to the counties.—(Any Encyclopaedia.)

No. 4. The Reform Act of 1918. This is a gem : “The first steps were taken by Mr. Asquith in 1916,” says the pamphlet; about the same time as he was conferring the inestimable “liberty” of conscription upon us, we presume. No details are given, but surely credit should have been claimed for giving the vote to Service men. Much was made of this colossal advance, at the time, but there appears to have been a conspiracy of silence on the point since. The reason may be that, as so few of them could use it then, self-bestowed bouquets were quite safely in order, whereas now it is somewhat dubious as to whether it exists at all.
  “It dates from March of this year, when the Admiralty decided to fall into line with the War Office, and to withdraw from the Navy, as had already been done early in 1922, from the Army, the privileges accorded originally during the 1918 election …. and to revert to the pre-war rule in this respect.”—“Daily News,” 24/10/24.
But as the whole Act was passed by the Coalition Government, the credit must be diluted under the “almost” clause. The remainder of the pamphlet claims credit for the benefits and liberties conferred upon the workers by Education and Industrial Freedom, i.e., freedom of combination. The following facts may be helpful in assessing the value of the Liberal Party’s efforts in those directions.

The anti-combination laws evolved during the 56 years of Whig rule, 1714 to 1770, were consolidated by the Tories in 1799. In 1824 Francis Place and Joseph Hume pushed through an Act permitting combination. In 1825 the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and Lord Eldon, the Lord Chancellor, obtained the repeal of the Act, declaring they were quite unaware such an Act had been passed.—(Footnote, p. 94, Webb’s History of T.U.).

In 1830 the Whigs took the name of Liberals, and Lord Melbourne appointed two Commissioners to enquire into the standing of Trade Unions. These in their report advised such repressive measures that the Government dared not bring them before Parliament. It was the Liberals who prosecuted the Lancashire miners (1832) for threatening to strike; the Southwark Shoemakers (1832) for picketing; the Bermondsey Tanners (1834) for leaving their work unfinished ; who were guilty of the blackest crime on record against Trade Unionism when they sentenced six Dorchester labourers to seven years’ transportation to Tasmania for the appalling offence of forming a Trade Union, the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers.—(Sydney Webb’s History of T.U.)
  “After a good deal of opposition on the part of the Whig Ministry of that day, backed as it was by the major portion of the manufacturing classes, and after much delay, the men were ‘pardoned,’ and ordered to be liberated. But …. the men had been hastened out of the country, and …. literally sold as slaves at £1 per head ; and even when they were pardoned, some of them did not hear of their pardon until years afterwards. . . . ”—(Geo. Howell’s “Conflicts of Capital and Labour.”)
Yes ! The Liberals have ever been great lovers of liberty. The bitterest opponents of the Factory Acts were Liberals. The venomous persecutors of the Chartists were Liberals. The deadliest enemies of combination on the part of the workers were Liberals. When, in 1869, Frederick Harrison drew up a Bill legalising Trade Unions, the Liberal Government opposed it. They passed one themselves in 1871, and shortly afterwards seven women were sent to prison for shouting “Bah” after a blackleg in South Wales, and some London gas-workers were sent to prison for preparing to strike. This under Gladstone.—(History of Trade Unionism.)

The draft of the Ballot Act of 1871 contained a clause authorising payment of election expenses. Rejected by a large Liberal majority.—(History of Our Own Times.)

For several years Mr. Plimsoll had urged the Liberals to pass an Act to prevent the sending of rotten ships to sea for the sake of the insurance, whereby numbers of sailors were deliberately murdered. On one occasion when he pointed out several Liberal shipowners guilty of this practice, he was thrown out of the House of Commons. The first Bill introducing the load line, called the Plimsoll Line, was passed by the Tories in 1875.—(History of Our Own Times.)

When Bradlaugh was returned for Northampton and declined to take the oath in their form, the liberty-loving Liberals refused to let him sit; on one occasion employing ten policemen to throw him out.— Gladstone period, 1884-1886 (History of Our Own Times). It was the Liberal Asquith who had the troops despatched to Featherstone in 1893, resulting in the killing of two innocent people and the maiming of others.

But need we go on? More recent history you already know. D.O.R.A., of blessed memory. National Registration (precursor of Conscription in spite of explicit denials at the time), the brutal suppression of conscience and opinion during the war; these, and more, were the work of the Liberals.

Freedom ! Liberty ! ! Read their record. The only liberty they have known is the liberty to exploit labour. Have we omitted anything from their rotten record? We have—piles of evidence. We have even omitted to mention they were a capitalist party. Is it necessary to add this now? Why, in their earlier days they were capitalism, as distinct from the Tory landed interest. The plague spots of Sheffield, Ancoats, Lanark, Cradley ; the industrial wens of the Black Country, the Potteries, the chemical districts, the mining areas; these are the heritage of the Liberal Party. A generation or so ago they re-christened Liberty. They called it by a French name—laissez faire—let alone. That was their idea of liberty, “Let us alone.” The slogan of the Manchester school : Starve, sweat, bludgeon, oppress and exploit, but let us alone. Men were stunted, crippled and crushed; women brutalised in mines and factories; children taken from workhouses and “apprenticed” to industrial exploiters; but—laissez faire; let us alone.

Fortunately, there are other conceptions of Liberty; other conceptions of Freedom. For us they are not mere mellifluous phrases to which are offered high-sounding apostrophies at election times. To us they are not thin abstractions floating gossamer-like over a sea of blatherspite. We visualise real freedom as belonging to a time when the whole people have free access to Mother Earth; when the whole people are free from the incubus of a parasitic class ; when the whole people socially own their means of living; when development shall be free from the shackle of selling, and production free from the necessity of profit. Freedom will then lose its capital letter. It would be the normal, not the sum of a few piffling, fraudulent reforms.

It remains but to remind you : “who would be free, himself must strike the blow.” Put not your trust in people of any party who are going to get freedom for you. Join with us in the Socialist Party and get it for yourselves.
W. T. Hopley

A Look Around. (1925)

From the March 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard 

Increased Production—of Profits.
   “The big facts to concentrate on are two. First, the great majority of Englishmen are much poorer than they ought to be. Secondly, the problem of how to make them richer can only be solved through a great increase in their productivity. It never can be solved by tinkering at the distribution of the utterly inadequate wealth, which at present is all that they can produce.”—(“Daily Chronicle,” 7/2/25.)
Both the above “big facts” avoid the main issue. The first is ambiguous, the second is disproved everywhere. The question the workers must ask is, Why are they poor? despite the fact that it is they alone who convert the earth’s materials into a prodigious quantity of wealth. The object of the “Chronicle” writer is to obscure as far as possible the main contradiction within capitalist society, increasing poverty side by side with increasing wealth. If increased production was all that was required to remove poverty, then one and a half million idle workers could help to solve the problem, or the capitalists could refrain from deliberately restricting production in tea, cotton, rubber, wheat, and in practically every large industry. “How can it be done? Upon an adequate scale only in one way—by increasing the output per man of the workers.” (Ibid.) Note well the “per man,” which means an increased output by those AT WORK, or in other words, fewer workers required for an equal or even greater amount of wealth produced. Has increased production brought prosperity to the mill operatives?
  “The power loom abolished the hand weaver—to-day a girl in a Lancashire mill turns out more cloth in a day than a whole village of her ancestors could have done in a week.”—(“System,” August, 1924.)
Yet the operatives live in poverty, and short time working has been the order of the day. Though the “Chronicle” talks of the “utterly inadequate wealth,” observe how adequate it is for those who take no part in its production :—
  “The immense profit of £8,365,168 was earned by the Imperial Tobacco Co. (of Great Britain and Ireland) during the last year. … It is nearly £1,000,000 in excess of the nett income for the previous 12 months. (7/2/25). (“Daily Chronicle,” same date.)

  “Those who invested in March, 1918, in the Rolls Royce Company, Ltd., have had their capital doubled by bonus shares, and have each year received a dividend of eight per cent, on the whole of that capital.”—(“Daily Herald,” 13/1/25.)
Everywhere it is the same, a production of wealth once unthought of and yet—the worker to-day gets on the average just what the chattel and the serf did, their subsistence, except that they get it through the medium of money (wages). While the workers remain sellers of labour power they cannot command more than the price of that sale (wages), therefore in proportion to the ever-increasing amount of wealth they produce their conditions MUST GET WORSE. Heed not the capitalist liars, there is no problem of wealth production to-day, for the industrial revolution solved that problem. The question of poverty can only be solved by the workers themselves through the Social Revolution.

* * *

Elastic Principles. 

The class war does not depend for its existence upon the whims of agitators as our rulers and their supporters pretend to believe. The conflict existing between the two historically developed classes, capitalists and wage workers, is that between buyers and sellers of labour power. Buyers wish to buy cheap, and sellers realise as much as possible on their sale. The human element of necessity on the part of the workers (for labour power quickly deteriorates) makes, the conflict a stern reality. This fact is becoming thrust upon the workers in their struggle to live, with such persistency that even the Labour leaders, once wont to deny the class struggle, find themselves compelled to admit its existence by lip service, even if they outrage its every implication in practice.

The following is a choice example of this fact:—
  “I am not an unrepentant believer in the class struggle. I know of no Socialist Party that preaches the class struggle. There is no word in the Socialist vocabulary of that description.”

  “Mr. R. C. Wallhead said he was not one of those who went about the country proclaiming there was no such thing as the class struggle, because he was not prepared to deny the facts as they were.”
The above are the statements of the same individual, a prominent member of the I. L.P. (Gleanings and Memoranda, July, 1924, and February, 1925, respectively.) Neither are they the mere inconsistency of an individual, for that party, like the Labour Party, has from their inception, through the war, and down to the present time, been a party of confusion and compromise.

With a support comprising every shade of opinion except Socialist, and led by individuals either ignorant or unscrupulous, they merely lend their numbers to the support of every nostrum drawn across the workers’ path. The important fact for the Socialist, however, is the anti-working class nature of the activities of these Labour leaders. They do take part in the class war, whether they deny it or admit it—on the masters’ side.

* * *

Soft Soap.

According to a leading article, “Daily Herald,” 14th Feb., 1925, “The Royal Family appears anxious above all things to avoid change,” “to maintain old pomps and ceremonies,” etc. Not the capitalist class, mark you; and has the “Herald” forgotten the toadying of Labour leaders at Court functions? Mrs. Snowden, that ardent admirer of capitalist institutions, was much perturbed by the remarks of the so-called “wild men” anent the money required for the Prince of Wales’ trip to South Africa and America. Think of it. Gracious !
  “The suggestion that the Royal House does not do any work is just absolute nonsense. I consider they are the hardest worked people in the country.”—(“People,” 15/2/25.)
At what they worked Mrs. Snowden did not say.

Mere physical effort does not constitute work in the economic sense, otherwise burglars, coiners, etc., would be deemed to be engaged in that enervating pastime. The unremitting toil of the workers in mine, factory and chemical hell, such trifles can be dismissed with an insinuating insult—it is the parasites on parasites who are the “hardest worked” people. The “wild men,” too, must justify their position in order to allay the growing suspicion and discontent of their followers who expect somebody to do something for them. They must obtain a little notoriety in some way or other so as to appear to be doing that “something.” But it does not concern the workers whether the wealth of which they have been robbed is spent on rebuilding churches, champagne orgies or Royal Figureheads. When in the House of Commons capitalists like Sir Alfred Mond lie and misrepresent Socialism, or when the Labour Party prepares the armed forces as strike breakers, the extremists or wild men show their capitalist subservience—for they are as tame as white mice.

* * *

Shortage of Hovels.

It would appear from a reading of the capitalist press that slums and rotten houses, or no houses, were innovations in the workers’ drab existence. Even parsons and “ladies” have discovered this phase of social corruption when its gravity threatens the future security of the idlers whose affluence is based upon such misery. Are houses the only things of which you suffer a shortage? Does it not apply equally to millions of the workers regarding food, clothing, and the essentials for a rational existence? Though you can provide these things in abundance, under present-day arrangements they will not be produced unless providing profit and rent for the idlers first. Your masters try to hide the true cause of the present housing conditions by lies about irksome labour restrictions, dearness of materials, etc., but did one ever hear of a shortage of residences for the capitalists, or of buildings in which to carry on their commercial undertakings? The following shows the hypocritical nature of their excuses, for business must come first whatever the wealth producers lack :—
  “The year 1924 has seen a big revival of building in London, much of which, including some great operations in the City, will not be completed until the end of the year. . . . The square mile of the City indeed is undergoing a more vigorous transformation than at any time in the present century.”—(“Manchester Guardian,” 12/2/24.)

  “Commercial rebuilding has nowadays become so insistent that there appears to be hardly a great thoroughfare in London in which there are not evidences of it.”—(“Fortnightly Review,” February.)

* * *

The Alien Myth. 

With an ever-growing army of unemployed and increasing insecurity of life for the workers, old bogeys are dug up to do further service. Commenting on what they call the alien question the “Evening News,” 12th Feb., 1925, says:—
  “How odd it is that Socialists, who pose as the only friends of the British workman, are invariably on the side of the foreigners who wish to come in here and take his job.”
Presumably the wealthy visitors to “our” country are not aliens, as like their thoroughbred (!) British prototype, they are not likely to undertake any jobs.

No matter the land of birth of the workers, as a class it is they who have the monopoly of work, a most desirable arrangement for the capitalist class and one they will be in no hurry to upset. A little reasoning would soon convince the worker that the alien question is merely dust thrown in their eyes to blind them to fundamental causes. Competition for jobs is just as keen, and conditions just as vile, in occupations where the so-called alien hardly enters—docks, railways, agriculture—as it is upon the seas where every nationality sails.

The world over, irrespective of geographical boundaries, poverty is the lot of the Working Class. In peace, as in war, your masters will make to order, as friends or foes, workers of other countries in order to divide you. Study Socialism and you will find a wealth of meaning in the words of Marx and Engels :—Working men of all countries, unite. The Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
W. E. MacHaffie

Letter: Some Communist Questions Answered. (1925)

Letter to the Editors from the March 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

To the Editor, “The Socialist Standard.

Dear Comrade,

For the instruction of some readers, will you kindly deal with the following controversial matter in next issue of “Standard”?—

1.  What is the view-point of the S.P.G.B. re claim of Communist Party to be the only correctly-poised party of the working class?

2.  What is the real aim of the Communist Party in seeking affiliation to that anti-Socialist organisation, the Labour Party?

What is meant in reality by the phrase, “The United Front” as used by the Communist Party?

3. What does the phrase “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” infer?

4.  Are Communists correct in saying that it is insufficient to use the word Revolution without also adding the prefix Violent?

5. What is your opinion of their historical knowledge in claiming that the first known revolution in history was the Capitalist overthrow of Feudalism?

6. That this was a Violent Revolution, so, consequently, the Socialist Revolution must of necessity be violent?

7. That the Communist Party being alone in preaching the slogan Violent Revolution, are the only class-conscious revolutionary working-class organisation?

8. And is there not every possibility of the Communist Party being driven underground, or even out of existence altogether, through their idea of correct tactics?

Even a brief answer to above matter would be welcome.
Yours fraternally,
“Student.”


Answer to "Student."

To answer fully the above questions would mean reprinting numerous articles that have appeared in the previous issues of the “Socialist Standard.” Among these may be mentioned articles in the January, February, March and October, 1923, issues, and in the January and March issues, 1924.

As our correspondent only asks for brief answers, the following may meet the present case. It should be noted, however, that the policy of the Communist Party is not a stable guide or definite pronouncement for their general activities. It changes with the ease and rapidity of a chameleon. Nor does it merely change. The policy of one day will contradict that of another, sometimes with ”violence” to both sense and logic :—

1. The Communist Party are not even incorrectly poised—they are not poised at all. They will follow any will-o’-the-wisp that offers them a chance of a little notoriety, whether it is a “United Front,” a shout about taxation, or an attack upon some misleader of the working class, whom they support at an election.

2. The real aim is to secure the jobs now held by the Thomases, MacDonalds, etc., whom they denounce one day and support the next, and to obtain a position of influence and leadership over the organised workers for the purpose of taking the bigger jobs such position may bring. The “United Front” means that the organised workers are called upon to unite in placing their organisations, their funds, and the full control of all matters, economic and political, in the hands of the leaders of the Communist Party. The reluctance of these workers to commit such an act of suicide for the temporary advantage of a few frauds is, of course, due to these workers being “bourgeois-minded.”

3. The only inference that can be drawn from this phrase as it is used by the Communist Party is that the leaders of that party should be given power to “dictate” to the rest of the community.

4. To establish Socialism a social revolution is necessary. Violence is not only not necessary, but, under favourable conditions, will not occur in such revolution. Even if violence did appear it would be due to the folly of the opponents of Socialism—like capitalists and Communists—and not by the wish of the Socialists.

5. Such “historical” knowledge is beneath contempt, and shows an ignorance even of the “Communist Manifesto” by Marx and Engels.

6. This claim is not merely illogical—it is ridiculous. Because under a certain set of conditions violence was used, this does not give the slightest reason for the claim that under different conditions it is necessary.

7. Merely another sample of the empty bombast of the Communist Party. Moreover, their claim is false, as they are not the only party to preach violence. Groups of anarchists have done so for years—with ghastly failure as a result.

8. The Communist Party apes a secret society now. Their Executive Committee not only meet but act in secret, and members are given orders to take certain actions, even relative to their private affairs, without having any consultation or voice in the matters. Members are expelled without the formulation or hearing of any charges, and often the member knows nothing of the matter till he receives the notification of his expulsion. The members are kept in ignorance of what schemes are being prepared, or what policies are decided upon, until they receive their orders from the head office. The antics of this pantomime secret society merely results in the bewilderment of the membership, while adding to the hilarity of the lookers on. If the Communist Party ever attempted to form a serious secret society their end would be swift and certain.
Editorial Committee

The Class Struggle. Its Economic Origin and Mental Results. (1925)

From the March 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ideas don’t fall down from heaven, but are drawn from material at hand. Consequently the idea of the class-struggle must have been drawn from the struggle itself. In other words, the class struggle must have existed before we could become conscious of it. This is involved in the very expression Class-conscious. A logical conclusion from this is that those who were not conscious of the class struggle must have waged the battle in the first place. If this is so, why cannot class-unconscious (what one questioner calls “non-revolutionary”) workers still take part in the struggle?

Those who contend that the class struggle only exists where there are class-conscious workers, and even then only between the class-conscious and the ruling class, are driven to the absurd position that the class struggle is imposed on society. That instead of ideas being the product of material conditions, material conditions are produced by ideas.

In spite of views to the contrary, however, no individual with a mighty brain came on the scene possessed with the brilliant idea of imposing the class struggle on society and ordered the combatants to line up and go ahead. The combatants were there, the struggle existed, but whereas formerly it was fought blindly, now some of the combatants fight with their eyes open. Marx could only lay bare the modern class struggle by tearing aside the surrounding veil of confusion and illustrating its existence.

The statement that the commodity the worker owns is sold and bought upon the market like any other commodity is quite correct yet it is misleading when put forward without full explanation of the nature of the transaction.

The worker comes upon the market with a commodity to. sell—the only commodity he has for sale—his power to work. The commodity the worker sells, however, differs from all other commodities in certain essentials. In the first place, it is the commodity of a particular class, and is sold to another, entirely different, class. The workers combine among themselves to sell their commodity as high as possible—the masters combine among themselves to buy it as low as possible. This is the industrial aspect of the class struggle.

While there is a similarity between the worker coming on the market to sell his commodity and the capitalist coming on the market to sell his wares, yet there is an essential difference—the difference that breeds the class struggle. There are temporary opposing interests between buyers and sellers of ordinary commodities, but there is a permanent class cleavage between buyers and sellers of labour-power.

The commodity the worker sells produces all value, and the amount of surplus value the buyers of it obtain is determined by the difference between the value of the labour-power and the value that the labour-power can produce.

The value of labour-power is determined by its cost of reproduction, and this largely depends upon the standard of living physical surroundings necessitate and social development have handed down. Around the question of the standard of living a constant struggle goes on—on the capitalist side the attempt to reduce it to the absolute minimum, on the workers’ side the resistance to this attempt. The result of the struggle so far has been a steady lowering in the workers’ standard of comfort. This struggle is peculiar only to the labour-power commodity, and this peculiarity bears fruit in the form of the class struggle.

The workers and masters meet upon the market as equals in the sense that they are both either buyers or sellers of commodities—but here the equality ends. The worker is bound to sell his commodity or starve, and it is this fact that binds the worker to a position of slavery—it is this fact that illustrates the sham nature of the “equality” of buyers and sellers so far as the labour-power commodity is concerned. The main objective of the two classes, so far as buying and selling is concerned, is entirely different. The capitalist buys in order to sell—invests capital; the worker, on the other hand, sells in order to buy—sells his energy in order to obtain the wherewithal to live.

The basis of present society is the ownership of the means of living by one class. This compels the other class that makes up society to. sell its only possession—labour-power—in order to live.

Therefore the sale of labour-power is the sale by a class of its only possession, whilst the buying of labour-power is the purchase by a class of the factor that enables it to live without working. It is in his capacity as a member of the master class, as opposed to the working class, that the capitalist buys labour-power. Consequently, the buying and selling of labour-power is a class question.

It is otherwise with the ordinary commodities which are sold without respect to class distinctions and where buyers and sellers meet as equals unaffected by the class question.

As soon as a child of the working class enters employment it takes a part, however insignificant it may appear, in the class struggle. This struggle, in its early stages, is not a struggle for the overthrow of the system ; nevertheless, it is part of the class struggle—the struggle of a class for existence. Ultimately it develops into the struggle for the overthrow of the class that suppresses. In other words, the industrial struggle, the struggle to resist the encroachments of capital (the early form of the modern class struggle), with growing knowledge of necessity demands the political struggle, the struggle for the overthrow of the ruling class.

Capitalism took its departure from the conditions that severed the bonds binding the worker to the soil and threw him upon the market a free labourer—a seller of one commodity. The subjection of the wage-labourer—the class division—was the basis and starting point of capitalism. Therefore, to place the worker, from the point of view of a commodity seller, on a par with all other sellers of commodities is to discard the scientific examination of society and social development, and signifies the throwing overboard of the life-work of Marx.

The capitalist as a seller of commodities is engaging in an ordinary trading transaction—the worker in selling his commodity is engaging in a struggle for life. The failure to sell for a comparatively short period in his case is likely to result in death by starvation—quite a common occurrence.

The fact that there is a broad class distinction between sections of the population has been recognised by most people for generations, as instance thè general acceptance by the workers of the sobriquet “Working Class,” and their deferential attitude towards their “Betters.” Where they were lacking in knowledge of the real position was shown by the common idea that the way was easy for a worker to get out of his class and into the idle class.

As the class struggle becomes fiercer and the line of class cleavage more apparent, the facts impress themselves more and more clearly upon the minds of the workers—even though the process may appear slow to a superficial observer. Ideas that not very many years ago would have been looked upon as the ideas of dreamers are now generally accepted facts. The question, “Is it necessary that the workers must change their mental attitude towards past and present conditions?” is quite unnecessary, because the fact is that the workers are changing their mental attitude quite apart from their wishes in the matter—although very slowly becoming class-conscious. The knowledge of capitalism and how it affects them is becoming clearer and clearer, and consequently the workers are slowly coming nearer to the view that the overthrow of the system is the only solution to the surrounding evils. Class action on the part of the workers is not necessarily class-conscious action, as witness the Chartist and similar movements on the part of the working class.

The working class is destined to be a revolutionary class, whether the members of that class recognise the fact or not. They are the inheritors of the highest achievements of the past and the harbingers of the era when man’s age-long-developed ingenuity will have the opportunity to give of its finest flower. The experiences of the struggle develops knowledge on this point and breeds sound ideas. This knowledge is not acquired in a day, a month, or a year, but is the result of the accumulated experiences of years of struggle—class struggle.

The matter is summed up, then, as follows :

The labour-power commodity is like all other commodities in that it is bought and sold upon the market, its value determined by the cost of production around which the higgling of the market allows its price to fluctuate.

It is unlike all other commodities in that it is the commodity of a particular slave class sold to a particular dominant class; and further in that the standard of living, an historical element, enters into the question of its cost of production.

It is these two distinctions that make of the matter a class conflict as apart from the ordinary matter of the competitive buying and selling of commodities.

The modern class struggle, therefore, presents two aspects. On the one side the struggle on the part of the workers to sell labour-power under the best conditions—the industrial struggle for wages and hours of labour; on the other side the struggle for the overthrow of the wages system—the political struggle for Socialism. The class-unconscious worker takes part in the former, but only the class-conscious in the latter. The class struggle is, consequently, both industrial and political—the latter is its ultimate, its revolutionary form.
Gilmac.