Monday, May 16, 2022

Notes by the Way: The Italian Fascists and Their Former Apologists. (1941)

The Notes by the Way Column from the May 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Italian Fascists and Their Former Apologists.

Before the war our newspapers and public men told us remarkably little about the real nature of the Fascist racket led by Mussolini, they were chiefly interested in telling us that it couldn’t be so bad because under Fascism the hotels were improved and the trains were running to time and Mussolini had preserved ancient monuments and built splendid motor roads—a typical tourist view of things. They forgot that 40 million Italians don’t spend their day visiting the sights and living in expensive hotels or touring about on motor roads. Mr. Bernard Shaw shows the same kind of mental blindness when he gives as a reason why Rome should not be bombed, our common interest in that city’s ancient glories. “In Rome,” he writes, “no one is a stranger and a foreigner; we all feel when we first go there that we are revisiting the scene of a former existence.” (Times, April 28th, 1941.) Mr. Shaw forgets that 40 million British workers, under this beneficent capitalist system, never had the time or money to go to see their ancient heritage.

Amongst the steadfast admirers of Mussolini was the late Lord Rothermere, who wrote in the Daily Mail (July 10th, 1933) dismissing the brutalities of Italian Fascism as mere “incidental extravagances” and glorifying the Fascist and Nazi regimes.
“Now that Italy has been for ten years not only peaceful and progressive, but, by comparison with other lands, even prosperous, the incidental extravagances of the early days of Fascism are forgotten. In the same way the minor misdeeds of individual Nazis will be submerged by the immense benefits that the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany.”
It was only after the war broke out that the Daily Mail and some other newspapers could discover the brutalities of both regimes. Similarly with regard to the qualities of their leaders. In the article quoted above, Lord Rothermere was full of praise for the virile youthful Mussolini. It was only in 1940 (Daily Mail, May 9th) that the Daily Mail could relate that Mussolini’s more middle-aged virility took the form that when he addressed a meeting of Italian industrialists about the British blockade, “he leant over the table and literally foamed at the mouth.” Hitler’s hysterical outbursts are by now well-known, but Lord Rothermere was able only eight years ago to describe him as a man who “will stand out in history” as one of the three “founders of a new Germany,” “The world’s greatest need to-day,” said Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail, July 10th, 1933), “is realism. Hitler is a realist.” (Lord Rothermere’s two other youthful heroes were the senile Hindenburg and the German Crown Prince.) If the world needed Hitler the world has certainly got him, in full measure, and it is worth bearing always in mind how large a part in getting the world to accept Hitler was played by men and newspapers like Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail.

Another aspect of the Fascist racket, which answers Lord Rothermere’s argument that Fascism and Nazism rooted out corruption, is given by the Evening Standard (April 22nd, 1941). It discloses that Count Ciano, the husband of Mussolini’s daughter, Edda, “prevailed on the Banco di Santo Spirito, of Rome, to sell him building sites between the Lower Aventine and Ostia, port of Rome, at half a farthing a square yard. He resold the land to the Committee for the ‘Rome Exhibition of 1942,’ at 12s. 6d. a square yard.”

Rome may be, as Bernard Shaw says, the heritage of the whole world, but it looks as if the more immediate landlord gets the biggest rake-off. Note by the way the name of the bank which put the deal in Ciano’s way.

Incidentally, there has been much complaint in the Press recently about land speculators in this country.

Another interesting story about the supporters of Fascism appeared in the diary of the late William Dodd, who was American Ambassador in Germany. The following extract was reproduced in the Sunday Dispatch (March 9th, 1941): —
“In 1924 Hearst, who had been violently opposed to the Mussolini dictatorship, sent a man to Rome to negotiate a deal with Mussolini by which he would be paid a dollar a word for anything he would dictate for the Hearst Press.

It was widely known that Gianini, president of the Bank of America in California and an ardent Mussolini supporter, had loaned Hearst some millions of dollars.

Thereafter, Hearst’s newspapers praised the Italian dictatorship and Mussolini received large sums of money.

From 1924 until now Hearst has supported the dictatorship in Italy.”

* * * *

The Sunday Opening of Theatres

The Sabbatarians’ itch to interfere with other people’s lives always finds support among the Clergy and others whose living is bound up with the churches from the purely business point of view. For them the Sunday cinemas, theatres and public-houses are rival commercial establishments and curbing them is legitimate business practice. One novelty about the recent campaign which stopped the opening of theatres on Sundays was that the brewers were siding with the parsons, for them it is better that workers should not have opened up an additional Sunday entertainment which might affect the takings of the public houses as well as the revenue of the churches. Now, however, emboldened by their success, it looks as if the Sabbatarians are going to have a shot at closing the public houses as well, for the duration of the war. Thus ends another short-lived eternal pact of non-aggression.

One pained complaint comes from Mr. R. Wilson Black, President of the Baptist Union, this time directed against the Radio. “The Radio was made by many an excuse for remaining at home, where they could listen to just as much or as little of the broadcast service as they chose.” —(The Times, April 29th.)

It looks as if Mr. Black’s problem will only be solved by a law making it compulsory for everyone to attend Church services and to listen in silence to the whole of the sermon whether they like it or not.

The Manchester Guardian (April 24th, 1941) tells an entertaining story from U.S.A. The State of Delaware has on its Statute Book a law passed in 1740 prohibiting all “worldly” activities on Sunday. The Delaware Senate recently passed an amendment to permit each community to decide for itself the extent of Sabbath observance, but the House of Representatives refused to agree to the amendment. At this point the Attorney General comes on the scene. He thinks the 1740 law is all nonsense and he decided that the best way to prove it to its defenders was to enforce it to the full, and he did !
“So the police went out and arrested bus-drivers, tram-drivers, taxi-drivers, newsboys, restaurant-owners, milkmen, drug-store clerks, sweet-shop proprietors, garage hands, and even a strike picket and a man shovelling snow from the pavement. The manager of a radio station was taken up, and a Sabbatarian parson whose sermon had been broadcast was warned that he had become an accomplice in law-breaking. The next morning hundreds of people appeared in the courts. The House of Representatives became alarmed and protested but declared that it would not be coerced into repeal. The Attorney-General replied that “each Sunday will grow worse until the laws are amended.” Within four days the law was repealed.”

* * * *

Stalin Meets Matsuoka

We have had Hitler sending birthday greetings to Stalin, Stalin being photographed in a friendly party with Ribbentrop, Molotov all smiles with General Goering, now comes Stalin and Matsuoka, the Japanese Foreign Minister, who was in Moscow late in April. Here is the story from the Evening Standard of what is reported to have occurred when Stalin saw Matsuoka off on the train : —
“According to Mr. Hasegawa, the two statesmen were then apparently overcome with emotion and embraced one another to the amazement of the foreign diplomatic representatives present. —(Evening Standard, April 28th, 1941.)
It sounds too touching to be true, but, no doubt “dialectically considered,” as the Communists would say, it is a further piece of Socialist propaganda designed to clarify the ideas of the world’s workers and show them which of the representatives of capitalism are their true friends.

Those who still imagine that the Russian Government’s foreign policy is governed by internationalism should note the following, reproduced from the Bolshevik journal Pravda:—
“The foreign policy of the U.S.S.R. is guided exclusively by the interests of the U.S.S.R., exclusively by the interests of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. This policy dictates to the U.S.S.R. the desire to develop as widely as possible trade and economic relations with those of its neighbours who correctly appraise the importance of these connections with the U.S.S.R. for their own interests. The Soviet-German Treaty and Agreements of 1941 confirm with perfect clarity the absolute truth of this proposition—(Reproduced in the Anglo-Russia News Bulletin, January: 18th, 1941.)
Edgar Hardcastle

Press Cuttings (1941)

From the May 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Men We Want More Than Millionaires
“Skilled engineers to-day are far more valuable to the country than the millionaires,” said Mr. G. Tomlinson, M.P., of the Ministry of Labour, to-day. —(Evening News, April 24th, 1941.)

* * * *

The High Cost of Killing.

It cost about 75 cents to kill a man in Caesar’s time. The price rose to about 3,000 dollars per man during the Napoleonic wars, to about 5,000 dollars in the American Civil War and then to 21,000 dollars per man in the World War. Estimates for the present war indicate that it may cost the warring countries not less than 50,000 dollars for each man killed.—Senator Homer T. Bone (Readers’ Digest, October, 1940).

Can there be Freedom of the Press? (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The suppression of the Daily Worker by the Home Secretary has led to lively arguments about the whole question of the freedom of the Press, freedom of meetings and freedom of discussion, and it is something on which the S.P.G.B. has a unique contribution to make. The attitude taken up by the various persons concerned can be briefly summarised as follows. The Home Secretary, Mr. Herbert Morrison, says that while he wishes to interfere as little as possible with the freedom of the Press, a line has to be drawn when there is “systematic publication of matter calculated to foment opposition to the prosecution of the war to a successful issue.” The Liberal Manchester Guardian, while recalling John Stuart Mill’s famous defence of freedom of the Press, nevertheless finds itself in agreement with the suppression. To the extent that there is criticism of the Home Secretary it has, in the main, turned only on the method, not the suppression itself. These critics would have preferred that the Daily Worker, instead of being suppressed by order of the Home Secretary, should have been charged with some specific offence and brought before the Courts, where it could have defended itself. The News Chronicle went so far as to say that “if it had been any other paper …. suppression without proceedings would have raised a storm of protest” (News Chronicle, January 29th, 1941). The Daily Worker itself, through its editor, Mr. W. Rust, retorted that though quite prepared to face a Court of Law, “for our part we object to the assassination of liberty whatever the method employed” (News Chronicle, January 28th, 1941).

Since there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the Home Secretary, the Manchester Guardian and the News Chronicle, when they say that they have not wanted a policy of suppression but have been led by circumstances to support it in a particular case, it is at once apparent that they find it in practice impossible to apply their professed principle of freedom. Is it the principle that is wrong or must the circumstances be changed? In other words, is the S.P.G.B. right in its claim that there is not and never can be unfettered freedom of expression until Socialism has been established?

John Stuart Mill on Liberty
John Stuart Mill, in his essay “On Liberty,” written in 1849, stated the classic case for freedom of discussion, etc. He considered all the arguments for and against suppression and firmly declared his conclusion that “There ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.” (See Everyman edition—”Utilitarianism, Liberty and Representative Government.” Page 78.)

“We can never be sure,” he wrote, “that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still” (p. 79).

His argument was not concerned primarily with the right of the individual, but with the loss to society, for, he said, it is in the interest of mankind that every view should be freely stated and every criticism of accepted opinions heard and considered. Only by such a clash of views can the truth be established. Among many interesting points in his essay is his demonstration of the falsity of the sentimental opinion that “truth always triumphs over persecution” (p. 89). With many examples, he shows that history “teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed for ever, it may be thrown back for centuries.”

He did not forget to stress the obligation of minorities to state their unpopular views temperately and with restraint if they wish them to make their way against prejudice and inertia.

Communists always against Freedom of Speech
When the editor of the Daily Worker stated that the Communists’ “object to the assassination of liberty, whatever the method employed,” he must have been counting on the ignorance of those who read his statement. It is utterly untrue. From first to last, and in every place where they have had the opportunity, the Communists have sought to prevent their opponents, of whatever kind, from expressing their views. In the early days Lenin was frankly contemptuous of the facilities that exist under capitalist democracy for workers’ organisations to exist and to express their views. In a document presented to the First Congress of the Communist International at Moscow, March 6th, 1919, Lenin describes “freedom of meeting” as “an empty phrase,” “Liberty of the Press” as “a delusion,” and roundly declared that “even in the most democratic republics there reigns in practice the terrorism and dictatorship ol the bourgeoisie.” (“The Bolshevik Theory,” Postgate, 1920, pages 205-207). He was able to reach these conclusions by taking the handicaps that actually do exist for workers’ organisations under capitalist democracy and exaggerating and distorting them to the degree necessary to fit his description. It all helped to justify his and Trotsky’s defence of terrorism and dictatorship in Russia. It was only in later years that the Communists in Great Britain quietly shelved their talk of dictatorship, civil war, etc., and posed as defenders of the workers’ “democratic rights.” In 1920, however, when the Communist, Mr. R. Palme Dutt, wrote his “The Two Internationals,” he had no hesitation in saying that the Communist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat meant the exclusion of any conceptions of ‘liberty’ which militate against it and therefore capitalist interests.”

He went on to say: —
“Against the “ideologies” of “liberty,” “democracy,” individual rights,” etc., which have always formed the historical cover of capitalist activity . . . must be set the concrete principle of the proletarian state . . .” (Page 32.)
The Communists nowadays talk a different language and do not openly avow their preference for dictatorship and suppression and contempt for democratic methods and tolerance. Posing as democrats and as representatives of working-class interests, they put forward a more cautiously phrased policy. To start with, they are in favour of suppressing Fascist papers and organisations on the ground that the Fascists are “enemies of the people”; but, as Mr. Frank Owen records, when Mr. Rust, editor of the Daily Worker was asked to be more explicit about this, he replied “that he regarded all capitalist newspapers as enemies of the people, too ” (Evening Standard, January 28th, 1941). So, it appears, as Mr. Frank Owen puts it, “my colleagues and I are due for a short, sharp ride if ever Comrade Rust comes to sit in Home Secretary Morrison’s seat.”

Then Mr. Harry Pollitt has on occasion amplified the scope of “enemies of the people.” In his election address, when he stood as Parliamentary candidate at Whitechapel a few years ago, he lumped the Labour Party along with Liberals, Tories and Fascists. His cry was: “Away with these enemies of the workers !”

And in the Daily Worker of January 29th, 1930, Mr. Pollitt issued a stirring call to action He urged the workers to smash up meetings of the Labour Party.
“. . . The mere passing uf resolutions is not enough. There should not be a Labour meeting held anywhere but what the revolutionary workers in that district attend such meetings and fight against the speakers whoever they are, so-called “left,”‘ “right,” or “centre.”

They should never be allowed to address the workers. This will bring us into conflict with the authorities, but this must be done. The fight can no longer be conducted in a passive manner.”
Needless to say, Communists have often told us that if they got power the Socialist Standard would naturally be “dealt with.”

In short, the Communist idea of freedom of the Press is the suppression of every journal except those approved by themselves, all on the model of the Soviet dictatorship.

The Socialist Point of View
While accepting broadly the arguments of John Stuart Mill, Socialists point out how impossible it is to expect his case to be accepted under capitalism. The S.P.G.B. has always taken its stand on the method of argument and persuasion to gain acceptance of the Socialist case. Knowing that there can be no Socialism except through the use of democratic methods, we need to win over the majority to our side. The Socialist case is true and can be shown to be true. It is in line with the discernible facts of the modern world, and what has convinced us will in due time convince the majority of the workers. It is for this reason that the S.P.G.B. allows and invites opposition and discussion on our platform and at our meetings. We do not believe, as do the Communists, that Socialism can be attained by a minority who do understand Socialism acting as guides and leaders to a majority who do not understand. We reject as dangerous and impracticable the Communist policy enunciated in 1920 by Mr. Palme Dutt: —
“The workers as a whole rebel against a regime of which they feel the pricks, without any pre-conceived doctrinaire theory. It is the business of the communist to guide their movement into its realisation in the dictatorship of the proletariat.”—(“Two Internationals,” page 32.)
For the Communist, the idea of suppression and controlling the ideas of the workers fits in naturally with the idea of the “intelligent minority” who lead the non-Socialist masses. Rejecting the latter policy, the Socialist likewise rejects the doctrine of suppression and control of ideas.

But what chance have Mill’s principles of being applied under capitalism ? Obviously no Government at war (and no Government which holds Communist views of political struggle being of the nature of “heavy civil war”) will ever consent to completely unfettered freedom of the Press in wartime. To do so would be to risk endangering war effort. Even in peace-time it is unthinkable that all the various restrictions on publication and utterance in the shape of laws against libel, blasphemy, publication of official secrets, etc., could be removed ; if only for the reason that the libel laws are based on property rights, and capitalism is a system in which property rights are of supreme importance. Moreover, no amendment of laws directly affecting the Press can serve to redress the inequality that must exist between the propertied class, who can go to any expenditure to finance the publication of journals representing their interests and point of view, and the propertyless working-class, who must make do with publishing organs of opinion within the limit of their meagre resources.

Socialism alone will bring about conditions in which all will enjoy the rights and obligations of free utterance and discussion, and the human race will gain to the full the benefits of such freedom.
Edgar Hardcastle

Plekhanov’s “Anarchism and Socialism”: A Correction (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The review of this book in the March Socialist Standard conveyed the impression that the publishers are the “Socialist Bookshop.” They ask us to make it clear that they are not the publishers and only handled the book as retailers in the ordinary way. Neither the Book Shop nor the I.L.P. are in any way responsible for the book, or for the Publisher’s Preface on which our reviewer commented. The publishers are Messrs. “Lawrence and Wishart.” We regret the unfortunate error.
Editorial Committee.

Blogger's Note:
A bit confusing. I got the impression that it was Plekhanov’s “Materialist Conception of History” that was reviewed in the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard.

12 Page “Socialist Standard” (1941)

Party News from the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

We regret that owing to various difficulties we are compelled this month to reduce the size of the Socialist Standard to 12 pages. We hope to revert to 16 pages next month, but with the probability that the price will be raised to 3d.
Editorial Committee.

Did Hitler say that ? (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

In a recent speech Hitler was reported to have said: “Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same” (News Chronicle, February 25th, 1941). At first we thought it was just one more example of that limitless disregard for the truth and that contempt for the intelligence of his German listeners for which Hitler is renowned, and that like other poses he has adopted from time to time, it foreshadowed a new twist to his tortuous policy. We learn, however, from the New Statesman (March 1st, 1941) that Hitler was misreported, and that what he actually said was: “Nazism and Fascism are fundamentally the same,” meaning the German and the Italian brands of thuggery.
P. S.

Members who have Changed their Address (1941)

Party News from the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Will all members who have changed their address please inform their Branch Secretary of their present address.

Readers are reminded that our Sixpenny Stunt is still in operation. Send the address of a potential sympathiser and a sixpenny postal order to the Publicity Committee, and we will send the Socialist Standard for three successive months. Subsequently a letter will be sent inviting the recipient to become a subscriber and to purchase some of our pamphlets. 

Today and Tomorrow (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is interesting to note the economic changes that are transpiring in capitalist society and to speculate upon the results. Unemployment was considered a permanent feature of the profit system, but the experiments of Russia, Germany and Italy, together with the war, have for a time enabled our masters to put us all to work. The methods adopted by the dictators have been copied by the rulers of the Democracies. When the industry of a country is brought under a central authority everybody capable of working can be employed at some task or another; the rulers receive jointly the products of labour and use their control of finance and industry to enable them, to some extent, to regulate prices. Internal competition being done away with, together with the gold standard, the more wealth there is produced the better; the rulers can exploit after they have pooled their interests more advantageously than before : the almost complete elimination of unemployment by introducing State capitalism under war conditions does not eliminate exploitation but intensifies it. The problem is not solved. The lot of the wage slave is not improved relatively, but he obtains his heart’s desire—work. Work is the ruling passion of the wage slave, who is blind to the facts of his class position.

The question arises in regard to the effect these recent economic changes will have upon the rivalries existing amongst the group of exploiters : will they be able to pool their interests internationally ?

This would appear to be impossible. Conflicts are bound to occur over raw materials because of the necessity for each country to go outside its own area to obtain what is essential to modern production in this connection. The new developments will not eliminate war, but cause more nations to be involved: the present struggle is likely to extend to every country in the world ; there is no basis to establish permanent peace. It is essential that the working-class should understand that there can be no foundation for harmony amongst the peoples until Socialism is established.

Social evolution is, nevertheless, moving in the right direction, inasmuch as it is accelerating the development of capitalism: it is now bringing the system to a head. It has been said that once it comes to a head it topples over, but it is never likely to reach that stage. Human society is an organisation and, like every other organism, it struggles for existence; capitalism now threatens to destroy it : human society is compelled, when threatened with extinction, to attempt to save itself: it can only do so by abolishing the profit system.

The spectacular events now taking place in many countries, including this country, are due to the changes in the economic roots of the social organism. The war affects, directly or indirectly, every human being on the planet. This is because the development of social production has linked together all the peoples of the earth : for weal or woe, the human family is united; the emancipation of the individual can only be achieved as a result of the emancipation of mankind. The horrors of war are now bearing heavily upon the working-class, and some are showing signs of the strain their weary burden is inflicting on them. Rations are cut very fine, real wages have fallen, and the end is nowhere in sight. In some countries starvation exists and shows every sign of spreading; famine and fever follow in the wake of armies.

It is interesting to observe amid all this that the mind of the wage slave is not fully occupied with the reports of air battles or the feats of the Army and Navy. He devotes a certain portion of his time to trying to discover what is going to become of him after the war is over. There is steadily growing in him a determination not to go back to the bread lines of the Labour Exchange; he is desirous of preventing this, and discusses with his fellows how to do so.

The ground is being ploughed ready for the seed of Socialism. Let those whose hands are scored with toil go forth boldly and scatter the seed. Amid scenes of chaos and disaster let us keep alight the torch handed to us by the comrades who in the past nobly played their part.

We have now our opportunity. Let us make the most of it. It is not anti-social for the working-class to aspire to bring about the common ownership of the means of life. It is right. The movement to which we have the honour to belong is approaching a stage in which incessant political activity will be the order of the day.

Much will be expected from the exponents of the cause. They will, however, be encouraged and stimulated by the response they receive.

Conditions existing in the capitalist world leave no option to the working-class : they are called upon by history to emancipate mankind or perish. Whether the time be long or short before a conscious democratic effort is made to transform the system by those to whom the change means so much, it must eventually come.

In times like the present, men’s minds ripen quickly; reality provides an unanswerable argument. “The capitalist class are their own grave diggers” : they are compelled to set in motion those forces that bring about their elimination as a class: they are compelled by the laws inherent in their own system to place in the hands of the proletariat the means of freeing him and all society from economic bondage.
Charles Lestor

The Roots of Capitalism (1941)

From the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Though Capitalism may change its form and give rise to social structures which differ in many respects, yet at rock bottom it remains the same. Its pillars are wage-labour and capital: these are the constants of Capitalism, which is based upon the exploitation of wage-labour.

With the establishment of Socialism this exploitation will cease. Man is to-day exploited by man, because the means of wealth production are owned by and operated for the profit of a relatively small section of the world’s population. The masses, without any ownership in the means of production, are obliged, in order to get a living, to work in factories, in mines, on railways, etc., so that the owners thereof can reap profits.

The Socialist knows that the ills from which the workers suffer, degrading poverty and the multitude of other evils that accompany it, are due to the present system of society, the roots of which are wage-labour and capital.

Cut Away the Roots
The Socialist, therefore, wishing to put an end to these evils, logically urges upon the workers the need to abolish Capitalism, roots and all, and replace it by a new social system, the basis of which is the common ownership of the means of life by all society.

It will be seen at once that in Socialist society man could not exploit man, because no single person or group of persons would own the instruments for wealth production. The ownership of all these things would be vested in all society.

Of course, with the abolition of private property, capital and wage-labour will disappear. Production will proceed, not to satisfy the profit-making lust of capital, but to satisfy the wants of man.

With Socialism, man will enter upon a new life. No longer exploited by his fellow, no longer grubbing to make ends meet, he will be free. As never before, he will harness nature to satisfy man’s wants. Thanks to the high stage of efficiency industrial technique has now reached, plenty will be assured to all.

When Socialists advocate the abolition of private property, capital and wage-labour, up goes the cry: “Would you deprive of ownership those people who have laboured so hard to build up their businesses?”

This is Capitalism
The question itself is an anachronism today. In the early days of Capitalism, when the Capitalists, the “captains of industry,” worked side by side with the men they employed, there might have been some truth in the statement that owners of industry worked hard to build up their businesses. But that was long ago.

Capitalism to-day is not the Capitalism of the small trader. Present-day Capitalism is large-scale industry, growing ever larger. In growing it becomes more and more impersonal: the worker-owner of yore is replaced by the absentee shareholder and by the bureaucracy of the State.

The first point, then, that the Socialist makes in answer to the above question is that it ignores present-day realities.

Secondly, not Socialism but Capitalism is the great expropriator. Capital has already deprived of ownership the vast majority of the population. Even in his day, in 1848, Marx was able to answer this self-same question by showing that for the masses private property had been destroyed. Since Marx’s day, the tendency has continued; capital becomes concentrated into fewer hands. Periodically we are able to see this closely: when small businessmen are driven out of business by big trusts. How many small capitalists have such firms as Woolworth’s reduced to the ranks of the working-class ?

Referring back to the question, it is worth while thinking for a moment how businesses are built up. Certainly big businesses are not usually built up by the labours of the capitalists. To put but one point of view, one worked out by Josiah Wedgwood in “The Economics of Inheritance,” the capitalist class of to-day inherits a very large portion of its wealth. Wedgwood writes: “The relative proportions of the total property in 1912 acquired by ‘saving’ and inheritance are 34 per cent. and 66 per cent. respectively, or, in round figures, one-third and two-thirds” (p. 138, Pelican Edition).

Big businesses are, of course, built up by the exploitation of workers. Proofs of this can be seen all around us. Who would say, for example, that the shareholders (the owners) of the railways have built them up and make them work ? Long ago, Engels pointed out that the capitalist class has ceased to contribute by its labour to production. Frequently the capitalist never visits the works in which his capital is invested. No longer does the capitalist even figure as a supervisor—his place has been taken by “well-paid” managers—members of the working-class. The role the capitalist plays today is of a parasitical character. He appropriates the profits produced by the exploitation of wage-labour.

Whilst on this point, it is worth while referring to an article which appeared in the Sunday Dispatch (December 22nd, 1940), entitled “400 Scots run Giant Ranch and They’ve Never Seen It.”

The article gave a picure of capitalism true in many respects. It dealt with the origin and growth of the great Matador Ranch in Texas.

It is worthy of note how the Matador company started. To quote from the Sunday Dispatch : —
“Matador started simply; there were big profits in the ranch business, and the five Scots entered the market as a gamble. . . . .The five had one thing in common. They had never seen a ranch, wouldn’t have recognised a steer if they saw one, and knew precisely nothing about cattle. They did not even go over to see their piece of prairie.”
It is obvious from the above that the five capitalists mentioned above could not supervise the ranch, nor did they build up the business by their labours—the prairie was too far off and they knew nothing about ranching.

This example is typical of present-day capitalism. Fortunes come to the capitalists, not because they are intelligent or hardworking, but simply because they own, and because masses of people, without any means of life, are driven to work to provide profits for the owners.

To return to the Matador Ranch, it is interesting to see what the Sunday Dispatch journalist tells us of the people who actually do the work and make the concern go—the cowboys. Says the writer: “They are not a bit like Cecil B. De Mille paints them.” We can believe that; they have hard work to do, and, in return, receive “30s. a week and keep.”

The objection to the Socialist demand for the abolition of private property, wage-labour and capital is not, therefore, a serious one. As we have seen, the question reveals a point of view typical of capitalist society in the days of small-scale industry. As with the passing of time, small-scale industry counts less and less, the struggle becomes one between a capitalist-class who do nothing towards production, and a working-class who do all the work and run industry from top to bottom.
Clifford Allen

More About the People’s Convention (1941)

From the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Political organisation in this country takes many forms. There are organisations which exist solely in order to gain one reform. When it has been gained their purpose has gone. This was true of the women’s suffrage organisations. There are the Tory and Liberal parties, agreed on the retention of capitalism but divided over such questions as free-trade and tariffs, and the amount of taxation to be laid on the backs of different sections of the propertied class. Until capitalism is ended such parties can go on existing, there are always new problems arising for them to deal with, always new opportunities of fighting for their respective sectional interests, and always the need to obtain working-class support for capitalism by the offer of reforms to alleviate the most distressing hardships. Then there are the Labour Party and Co-operative Party, which came into existence primarily to defend the interests of the trade unions and co-operative societies respectively. They have attained stability by taking over much of the former support given to the Liberal Party by workers desiring reforms of one kind or another. Then there is the S.P.G.B., which exists solely for the achievement of one purpose, though a fundamental one, the establishment of Socialism in place of capitalism.

Another category of political parties is what may be called the parasite parties. They live by exploiting the disgruntled supporters of the bigger parties. Among these have been the Communist Party, and all the brood of organisations hatched out by the Communist Party. Every crisis that happens at home or internationally produces its groups of persons dissatisfied on personal or other grounds with the policy adopted by the majority in the bigger parties. Always there are a certain number of workers who vaguely see that there is something wrong with asking for moderate reforms and think the remedy is to ask for bigger reforms—so if the Labour Party asked for a 5s. increase of old-age pensions they would easily fall for propaganda which tells them it is more “revolutionary” to ask for 7s. 6d. As the Labour Party by tradition is nowadays the normal gathering ground for discontented workers it follows that the parasite parties have their most favourable opportunity whenever it happens that the Labour Party is otherwise engaged; for example, when the Labour Party is in office wrestling with problems of the administration of capitalism, or when it is part of a Government carrying on war. While this situation lasts everything plays-into the hands of those adepts at political scheming and wire-pulling, the Communist Party. Their latest venture is the so-called People’s Convention, which met on January 12th, 1941, at the Royal Hotel and Holborn Hall, London. A pamphlet, The People Speak,” has been published by the National Committee (price 3d.), described somewhat erroneously as “The Official Report.” It does not contain a full report of the proceedings. Out of 62 pages, 34 are given up to the speeches of three of the leading lights—Mr. Harry Adams, Mr. Pritt, K.C., and Mr. W. J. R. Squance. Then follow 15 pages consisting of “points from speeches” of 26 delegates, prominent among them being leading Communists. The remainder of the pamphlet is taken up with messages sent to the Convention, resolutions passed, and particulars of delegates, etc. The claim is made that there were present 2,234 delegates “directly representing 1,200,000.” Since the Convention took place several organisations have repudiated the representative capacity of the delegate who claimed to represent them; nevertheless, it may well be true that the Convention had something like the support it claims; there are, unfortunately, very large numbers of muddle-headed people capable of supporting the hotch-potch programme of the Convention.

The People Speak—Under Direction
The claim is made early in the pamphlet that the Convention was for democracy. “Here, indeed, were the People. Here, indeed, was democracy in action.” It is a little odd, therefore, to find no sign that the “people,” i.e., the delegates, had any hand in selecting the star speakers or in deciding that what purports to be an official report should contain very little of what the rest of the delegates had to say. Equally odd is the way in which “the people” selected their National Committee. On page 61 we are told that the Standing Orders Committee (who elected them, by the way; and how?) “recommends that 26 be elected by this Convention to the National Committee.” And on page 62 we are told that the Standing Orders Committee itself also presented to the delegates a list of 26 persons whom it recommended to be the elect! “Here, indeed, was democracy in action” !

What was Said and left Unsaid
On every page of the report are the unmistakable signs of the nature of the Convention and of the handiwork of the wire-pullers behind the scenes, carefully leaving the well-meaning muddlers to have their say “from their hearts.”

The first point to notice is that among the prominent figures are men who claim that Socialism is their aim and who have (elsewhere) been heard to admit that Socialism is the only hope of the workers. On this occasion there was, it seems, a curious reluctance or forgetfulness to say anything about Socialism. The resolutions contain no reference to it. Nor do the speeches, although here and there were appeals to Socialists to support the campaign. About the nearest approach was that of Mr. Palme Dutt, Communist Party, who (page 37) mentions Socialism and suggests that “a People’s Government” is “the first step forward.”

This coyness about mentioning Socialism prompts the question whether “the People” had spoken prior to the Convention urging all and sundry not to raise such a disturbing question. Or perhaps the idea of soft pedalling came from some other quarter.

The Chairman, Mr. Harry Adams, was frank and enlightening about the origin of the Convention. On page 9 he is reported as saying : —
“The mighty movement of popular anger surged forward last year after exposure of ruling class incompetence and bankruptcy as shown in Norway and at Dunkirk in the corruption of war profiteering and the neglect of the needs of the people. This was the starting point of the People’s Convention Movement.”
What happens to a Party which owes its birth to a mood of pessimism about the war when the tide turns? “Born after Dunkirk, died after Benghazi,” may well be its epitaph.

The Programme adopted by the Convention contains about a couple of dozen demands, ranging from “adequate A.R.P. bomb-proof shelters” to increased wages, soldiers’ pay, pensions, compensation, insurance and unemployment allowances. Also, of course, a “People’s Government,” and a “People’s peace.” Some delegates added a few things of their own. The Chairman favours nationalisation of the mines (page 12). Mr. Pritt calls the League of Nations “an admitted swindle” (page 21) but did not say a word about the Russian Government and the British Communist Party who tried for several years to foist that swindle on the workers. He demanded that the banks “must serve the whole people.” It would be entertaining to have that scintillating legal mind explaining just how a bank can serve the whole people. He also wants men to be “free to speak or write, not merely without losing their liberty, but without losing their jobs” (page 24), but gave no reason why that very desirable end is good for this country but not for workers in Russia. Mr. Pritt was scathing about the charge that the Convention is “against the Labour Party” (page 25). But surely, Mr. Pritt, either the Labour Party is in favour of the Convention Programme, in which case there is no need for the Convention, or the Labour Party is against the Programme, in which case Mr. Pritt, on his own showing, should be against the Labour Party?

Mr. Pritt does indeed answer this question. The only way in which the Convention Programme cuts across Labour policy and principles, he says, “is the linking up of its leaders with their class enemies” (page 25). This means, of course, the present Government. But who are the present Government? A large number of them are the leaders of the Labour Party, and the Prime Minister is Mr. Churchill. “Ah,” Mr. Pritt would say, “they ought not to be in the Government with Mr. Churchill.” Elsewhere in the pamphlet (page 48) Mr. Pollitt of the Communist Party made this quite plain. He spoke of the real enemies of the workers being “in the Churchill Government,” and wants the Churchill Government to be removed to make way for the People’s Government.

But has Mr. Pritt really forgotten that it was Mr. Pollitt and the Communist Party who were bellowing in March, 1939, for Mr. Churchill, Sir A. Sinclair and Mr. Attlee to get together and form a Government? What about it, Mr. Pritt?

All the delegates and speakers appear to have had not a particle of doubt that a “People’s Government” (whatever that is, nobody troubled to explain) would solve all things. In particular they saw in a “People’s Government” the Open Sesame to Peace. Perhaps they have all forgotten that this is not the first occasion a lot of them have wanted a “People’s Government.” As recently as September 19th, 1939 (when the Communist Party was still all in favour of the war) the Daily Worker was demanding “a People’s Government capable of prosecuting that war.”

“The war to halt Fascist aggression,” shouted the Daily Worker, “must go on with redoubled energy, and the British people will insist on a People’s Government capable of prosecuting that war.”

On the subject of war it is also worth while to recall that, although the Communist Party denounces the present Government and the Chamberlain Government for not building adequate deep bombproof shelters to protect civilian population fully against air-raids, the non-existence of such shelters did not deter the Communist Party from calling for the war before it came and demanding its energetic prosecution after it had begun, knowing full well what the consequences would be for the civilian population.

Among other objects of the Convention are the strengthening of the Co-operative movement, but simultaneously “we will work to safeguard the interests of the small shopkeeper, small farmer and consumer” (page 57). Mr. Squance, in his speech introducing this, went a bit further and claimed that the Convention also represents the interests of “small business men” (page 32). One delegate, who claimed to speak for landworkers, does not seem to have thought such a lot of helping small farmers, for she spoke up for “collectivisation” (page 44).

Altogether as much nonsense was talked as it was possible to crowd into a one-day Conference. The cost to the National Committee was £2,200, a lot of steam was let off, and a good time was had by all.
Edgar Hardcastle

No Socialism After the War. Reassuring America. (1941)

Editorial from the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Those who are in control of United States foreign policy, and who are deciding whether and to what extent munitions of war should be advanced to aid the British forces against the Germans, are naturally interested in the question what social changes are likely to occur in Great Britain after the war. They are behaving in just the same way as did the British propertied class during the Spanish civil war. It was all very well for the Duchess of Atholl and the Labour leaders to tell them that a Franco victory achieved by German and Italian arms would endanger British imperial interests, they still wanted to be assured that the Republican Government was not controlled by groups hostile to capitalism. They had and have their own very definite ideas about the greater and the lesser evil and it is only very naive Labourites and Communists who imagine that the way to secure support from the propertied class is to proclaim encroachments on propertied interests as a war aim. 

It is, therefore, not surprising that American politicians have been asking questions and have been given comforting—and as it happens, quite truthful—answers.

When Mr. Joseph Kennedy, former United States Ambassador in London, went back to U.S.A. he was questioned by a committee of Congress in connection with Roosevelt’s “Lease or Lend” Bill to aid Great Britain, and one of the questions put to him was, “Is England rapidly going Socialist?” Mr. Kennedy does not think it is. He said, however : —
“If you mean is the Labour Party becoming more effective in Government, that is so”.—(Daily Herald, January 22nd, 1941.)
Then there is the well-known American writer, Mr. Mark Sullivan, who is much disturbed by reports of the coming of Socialism to Great Britain. The Manchester Guardian (February 19th, 1941) reports him as follows : —
“Since our Congress is, in effect, about to underwrite British victory, it is reasonable our Congress should know any commitments that may have been made by responsible persons in Britain, to take effect in the event of victory; whether there are war aims which include Socialism for Britain.”
The Manchester Guardian, commenting on this, professes not to know the answer—”we are afraid that not even a Senate Committee will be able to help him. Indeed, we shall have to admit him to the secret that we are just as much in the dark about what Britain (and the United States) will be like after the war as he is himself.”

It is very modest on the part of the Guardian to disclaim knowledge, but not convincing. The Guardian knows as well as anybody that Mr. Churchill and the Tory Party have not entered into a secret pact with Mr. Bevin and Mr. Attlee to dispossess the capitalist class on the day the war ends. The confusion only arises because the Guardian, like other newspapers, has the habit of talking of Socialism when it means something else. This is clearly brought out in the words that come after those quoted above: “But we might guess . . . that both countries will have gone a good deal further on the New Deal road.” It appears that Mr. Mark Sullivan does not like Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programme of reforms of capitalism, and because he is himself ignorant or because he writes down to the ignorance of his readers he chooses to call this “Socialism.” The Manchester Guardian is certainly correct in its guess that the post-war difficulties will bring a new crop of social reforms; but that is not Socialism.

Sir Walter Citrine has been lecturing in U.S.A. and, according to the Daily Telegraph, he has been answering similar questions. Not being a man given to vagueness and hot air he has been able to reply in similar vein : —
“The tour (of Sir Walter Citrine) has been a great success and has proved very popular with American Federation leaders. In particular, it has had a reassuring effect on those who feared Britain was turning, or would turn, into a Socialistic State, which would prove as difficult for a democratic country like the United States to get on with after the war as Russia or Germany.”—(Daily Telegraph, January 29th, 1941.)
If it is true that Britain and America will not go over to Socialism at the end of the war, what will happen and what can Socialists usefully do? Is there indeed any point in carrying on with Socialist propaganda ?

What Will Happen After the War?
When it comes down to questions of detail Socialists are no better able than the Manchester Guardian to guess what particular forms the post-war aches and pains will take and what remedies will be prescribed by the rival political medicine men. Certain conditions can, however, be discerned fairly clearly. When peace comes there will at once be acute political controversy about the abolition of war-time restrictions and controls and State regulation of industry. Those industrial, commercial and financial concerns with sufficient resources to weather industrial depression will want a free hand to get back to the normal business of profit-making. They will make the most of a widespread popular reaction against restrictions and will exploit to the full any instances of civil service “red-tape” and inefficiency. The weaker firms and industries will, no doubt, look to Government subsidies to save them from bankruptcy at the hands of their bigger competitors, and will be prepared to support a continuance of Government control as the price that has to be paid. They will find themselves campaigning alongside the Labour Party, which will try to use increased State control as a means of extracting social reforms and of stabilising the position of the trade unions. The compromises resulting from this struggle will certainly contain legislation on such matters as pensions, workmen’s compensation, hours of work, health and unemployment insurance, school-leaving age, the trade unions, etc.; no Government will dare to face the workers entirely empty-handed.

An interesting forecast of the post-war world as it will affect one industry, cotton, has been sketched out by Mr. Raymond Streat, Chairman of the Cotton Board. The following summary from the News Chronicle is worth pondering over: —
“Mr. Streat starts from the assumption that the Lancashire cotton industry must export or die. Without a sufficient export trade added to the home trade the industry cannot retain the volume and variety of production necessary for efficiency and thus ultimately for survival. But can this sufficient volume of export trade be established in the face of foreign competition, which must be expected after the war to be even more formidable than before? Mr. Streat thinks it can be—within a period of five years, if the Cotton Board’s policy is adopted. This policy is a campaign on six fronts, or, as I would rather call it, a Britannia’s trident with six prong’s.

The first prong is Government assistance in the form of international trade agreements (“with a front seat for cotton goods every time”), export credits, etc. The second and sharpest is price control within the industry. “Managed prices,” says Mr. Streat, “confer enormous benefits on the producers,” but in return for these benefits they must sacrifice part of their former liberty : they must agree to tackle their own redundancy problems and must co-operate with labour and in technical advancement, “not defensively for the sake of their individual balance-sheets, but aggressively for the good of the industry.”

The third prong is commercial policy—a reform of Lancashire’s merchanting organisation and a selling price policy based on the principle of “what the traffic will bear.” The fourth prong is technical progress, the fifth a rational wages system—higher wage rates, but a sweeping away of obsolete operational practices and agreements—and the sixth is propaganda, sales promotion and market research.”— (News-Chronicle, February 3rd, 1941.)
Here is a programme on which the employers, the trade unions and the Labour Party will certainly be able to come together, but notice one very important feature to which the City Editor of the News Chronicle draws attention: —
“Such, very briefly, is Mr. Streat’s programme. Underlying it is his conviction that post-war international commercial relations will be based on the same nationalistic, protectionist principles as obtained before the war. International trade will be a matter of hard bargaining between Governments on import quotas : exchange control will persist as a permanent phenomenon, and with it barter and bilateralism. So the cotton trade must discipline, itself and arm itself with every offensive weapon known to modern trade warfare. Mr. Streat does not use quite this language, but this is really what it amounts to.”
So it is not going to be a very nice new world after all: and this is where Socialist propaganda comes in. Mr. Streat’s kind of programme means ; the danger of new and bigger wars if it is allowed to remain the basis of the social system for another 10 or 20 years after this war is ended. It is for Socialists to determine that that shall not happen. It is our task to explain to the workers why a seemingly “safe and sane” policy of seeking reforms and wage regulation is a policy surrounded by the same risks as existed before 1914 and before 1939. Probably people with Mr. Streat’s ideas will have their way, but the only safeguard for the future will be a large and growing number of workers who can get below the surface and see what are the limitations and dangers of such ideas.

Above all, Socialists alone can do the invaluable work of persuading the workers to give up their weakness for meaningless abstractions. They befog the clarity of thought without which there can be no correct action. Beware of vague appeals and promises about “justice,” “fair play for everybody,” “economic democracy,” etc. Insist always on explicit and concrete statements from the parties and politicians who promise to re-shape the world. Make sure that you understand precisely which way emancipation lies. If you are still convinced that capitalism can be made to work if only there are sufficient laws restricting the freedom of action of the capitalist, then be honest with yourself and declare that you are for capitalism and against Socialism. At the same time remember that it is your own responsibility to understand what Socialism is before you reject it; no leader can take that responsibility off your shoulders without the penalty of your neglect some day falling on you.

Notes by the Way: The Little Corporal: Then and Now (1941)

The Notes by the Way Column from the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Little Corporal: Then and Now

One of the curious by-products of the rise of Hitler has been the revision of formerly accepted views of his predecessor, Napoleon. Typical of this swing-over are the following: —

On August 12th, 1940, the Daily Telegraph published an article by Mr. E. C. Bentley entitled “Hitler’s Mirror can reflect no Napoleon”; with the sub-heading “The Corsican, for instance, was a gifted and constructive despot: To his vassal states he brought order, not a gang wielding whips of persecution.”

Then on December 15th, 1940, 100 years after the ceremonial burial of Napoleon’s ashes brought home from St. Helena, The Times wrote similarly, saying: ”English historians have assessed scarcely less highly than French the value of Napoleon’s contribution to the structure of European civilisation.” The Times finds the following distinction between Buonaparte and Hitler: —
“The difference is that, whereas the opinions that Napoleon’s arms carried across the Continent were in their origin noble, and only became debased by the manner of their propagation ; we fight to-day against opinions that are evil in their very conception.”
If this is true it prompts the two-fold reflection that the British ruling class contemporary with the French Revolution and Napoleon held very different views, and that quite a number of their successors who witnessed the progress of Nazi brutality in our time were convinced that there was a lot of merit in Nazism.

On February 13th, 1941, the Manchester Guardian also explained that “in a great many cases his [Napoleon’s] own ideas were, of course, more enlightened and more just than the arrangements in force in old Europe.”

Now contrast these views with the abuse heaped on “Boney” by all and sundry when he was rampaging across Europe and Russia and threatening invasion of England. Not much then about his “enlightened” views.

Mr. Seymour Cocks, M.P., speaking in the House of Commons on December 19th, 1940, recalled the words applied to Napoleon by the Allied Powers which defeated the French armies over 100 years ago—”having broken every pledge and treaty, had placed himself outside the bounds of civil and social relations and, as the general enemy and disturber of the peace of the world, was abandoned to public justice.” Mr. Cocks wants the British and Allied Governments now to issue a similar declaration about Hitler.

William Cobbett, in his letter written in 1803 urging the Government to issue an appeal to the British public to resist Napoleon’s invasion, used words curiously like those now applied to the Nazis : 
“Now, like gaunt and hungry wolves, they are looking towards the rich pastures of Britain; already we hear their threatening howl, and if, like sheep, we stand bleating for mercy, neither our innocence nor our timidity will save us from being torn to pieces and devoured. The robberies, the barbarities, the brutalities they have committed in other countries, though, at the thought of them the heart sinks, will be mere trifles to what they will commit here … no man, woman, or child would escape violence of some kind or other. . . .”
If the capitalist historians could wash off all those blemishes from Napoleon it looks as if the principal qualification required of them is a capacity to wield a whitewash brush. What will they be doing with Hitler 20 years ahead ?


Merchant of Death

In years past the Communists have been among those who have expressed their horror at the spectacle of munition firms making profit by supplying weapons and materials of war to both sides engaged in a war. Now it seems that circumstances alter cases. The Russian Government is interested in the profits to be made out off international trade, including trade in essential war materials, and when the Russian Government cynically supplies such materials to those whom it denounces as the enemies of the working class and of democracy its apologists can see nothing wrong. A case in point is a letter written to the Manchester Guardian by Mr. Albert Inkpin, Secretary of the Russia To-day Society. Here is what Mr. Inkpin says:—
“Germany is importing oil products, raw materials, and grain from the U.S.S.R. Commenting on the recent new agreement, the official Soviet newspaper, “Izvestia,” states the willingness of the Soviet Union to trade “with other States, both belligerent and non-belligerent,” thus showing its readiness to trade also with Britain.” (Manchester Guardian, January 21st, 1941.)
A somewhat similar line is taken by Mr. Pat Sloan, though he was dealing with the fact that while the Italian Government was destroying Abyssinian troops and civilians by aerial bombardment the Russian Government went on supplying Italy with the necessary oil fuel for their aeroplanes. (It will be recalled that at the time the Communists were very indignant at the suggestion that this was happening.) This is Mr. Sloan’s statement, in a letter to Reynolds News (February 16th, 1941): —
“According to your book review, “Nazi Ways in Russia,” Arthur Koestler has written a novel the U.S.S.R. in which an “Old Revolutionary” goes anti-Soviet because the U.S.S.R. sold oil to Italy during the Abyssinian war and trades with Germany to-day.

As one who was in U.S.S.R. during the Abyssinian war, I may say that the Soviet people were proud that their Government was the first to apply sanctions against Italy, and that it proposed the application of further sanctions. I never met a single individual who advocated unilateral sanctions without the cooperation of the other States.

I may also say that nobody I ever met in the U.S.S.R. objected to trading with Britain so soon as the British Government adopted a reasonable attitude to the U.S.S.R.”
Now it is quite true that the Russian Government offered to support international action to stop oil supplies reaching Italy, but how does the refusal of other states to take action relieve the Russian Government of its responsibility in the matter ? Take the parallel case of the munition firms, they use precisely the same argument and excuse. British and American munition firms have repeatedly excused their action in selling arms (in peace-time) to all and sundry on the ground that if they did not get the trade somebody else would. The one difference between the Russian Government and the munition makers is not in their action but in their professions. The “merchants of death” admitted that they were concerned with trade and profit; the Russian Government affects to be guided by loftier motives.

There was a time when the Communists were demanding a world boycott of the Fascist countries and condemning the international trade union movement for its failure to make such a boycott effective, but we have not heard what reply, if any, the Communists and the Russian Government have given to the appeal made by the Greek trade unions (reported in The Times, November 2nd, 1940) asking workers in Russia and other countries to insist that their governments forbid exports of raw materials to Italy.


A Labour Peer on Profit

Writing to the Picture Post (January 11th, 1941), Lord Strabolgi, a Labour Peer, put in its briefest form the attitude of mind of the Labour Party as a whole on the subject of Capitalism and Socialism. He wrote: —
“I agree with Douglas Jay that monopolies should be broken ; but we are not ripe for the complete abolition of the profit motive.”
It is true enough that the majority of the workers are not yet ripe for Socialism, but whose fault is that ? What has the Labour Party been doing to make them ripe ?


Graziani Flatters Them

When Marshal Graziani, Italian Commander-in-Chief in Libya, retired with his defeated army from a village near Cyrene, he is reported to have told the village priest that the Italian settlers had nothing to fear : —
“The British are gentlemen. . . . They will treat you kindly and leave you to work in peace. . . .” (Daily Herald, February 7th, 1941.)
This was all right but we cannot help feeling that Graziani’s final words betray a slightly wrong idea if they are intended to apply to the British “gentry” as a whole. What he told the priest was: “If you want anything, ask them for it.”

Graziani cannot have seen the stony glare that some of the very best people in this country can put on when their workers ask them for another few bob a week.


“The Niceties of Civilization”

Fears have been expressed that tribesmen in Abyssinia may exact a savage revenge on the Italian settlers in Abyssinia when Italian control of the country breaks down. The tribesmen have bitter memories of the way the Italian invaders, armed with all the latest weapons of the modern arsenal, treated them five years ago. But what exactly did the Daily Mail Services Correspondent have in mind when he wrote (February 5th, 1941) that some of the tribesmen have “little regard for the niceties of civilisation” ? Niceties is hardly the word we would apply to modern war between “civilised” countries.


What is “Economic Democracy”?

The Labour Party has always fought shy of committing itself to any explicit proposal for the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by Socialism. That is why in the last 20 years Labour speakers and writers have made so much use of the term “economic democracy” as a description of their aim. It appeared to say a great deal but was capable of any number of interpretations.

Now comes Mr. J. A. Cecil Wright, M.P., writing to The Times (February 5th, 1941) to say that he, too, is all in favour of it. But before jumping to the conclusion that Mr. Wright is declaring for Socialism read the following: —
“If we are going to retain a capitalist system, and I hope we shall, because with safeguards it is the fullest system of life in an industrialised world (in fact it is economic democracy), then we must see to it that the essential ingredients of capitalism and democracy are there . . . .”
Edgar Hardcastle

“Uproot It !” (1941)

From the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

The more a Socialist considers the present social system, and the facts of working-class existence under capitalism, the more its realities show that the root-cause of the many’ evils of to-day is nothing else but the class-ownership and control of the means of living.

For out of that class-ownership spring the wage-slavery of the overwhelming majority of mankind, their exploitation, misery and poverty, and the innumerable evils that arise from this system of Production for Profit.

For the workers, as a class—the wealth producers—are a dispossessed class; and though our labours of brain and brawn produce the colossal wealth of the world, yet we do not own or control the means and instruments of production, nor yet the products of our toil.

As wage-slaves, in order to live, we can only purchase to the degree represented by the buying-power of our wages or salaries.

Our chief function in life to-day is to work— and that to produce a surplus-value for an idle and parasitic class of exploiters. We work to live; but to most of us it seems as though we live chiefly to work ! Capitalism is a harsh taskmaster: its yoke is heavy.

Our masters, owning the means of living, own and control our lives !

We, as a class, own but one thing—our ability and power to produce wealth by the use of our physical and mental energies. And those we have to sell for wages or salaries. We can do nought else in order to “get a living.” And quite a lot of our class at times are unable to get an opportunity to obtain work—however much we desire it or try to obtain it. For our masters—the exploiting class—will only employ workers when it suits their purpose to do so. And then it is for one purpose—to extract a surplus-value from our efforts on their behalf. We are employed as creators of surplus-value : a value over and above what is given us as wages or salaries.

And that surplus-value created by the working class represents in the aggregate a vast sum annually. For out of it, “Rent,” “Interest” and “Profit” go to the respective recipients. It means that a gigantic system of plunder has been in operation, and robbed the workers, who not only have produced the value represented by their wages, but a huge surplus-value also.

The wages-system is nothing else but an organised system of legalised robbery.

Capitalism might aptly be described as a “buying and selling system.” The production of commodities for sale in the market, in order to realise a profit, goes on and on with an intensive competition between the manufacturers. And the workers’ one commodity—their labour-power—is bought in just the same matter-of-fact way as margarine. They sell their labour-power because they needs must, in order to live. They are “employed” to function as human wealth-producers—as producers of surplus-value.

The parasitic class that lives on our labours look on us as the human source of their wealth. Their machinery and “labour-saving” devices are operated by our class for that purpose. Without our efforts their machinery would not function, the commodities would not be created nor distributed to the markets of the world.

The “wheels of industry” our masters do not set in motion. The workers everywhere perform the work of the world; and the employers and their fellow-parasites reap the benefit resulting from the organised plunder effected by the pernicious wages-system. They reap it on its sale in the markets.

For surplus-value is produced by the workers in the factory and workshop. But it is only realised on the sale of the commodities in the markets themselves. And markets must be found !

The most frantic efforts are made to find or create them.

Ah ! and further : to grab all that they possibly can to augment their plutocratic possessions and power.

We thus see that the ruling class, who, in truth, control our very lives, maintain their privileged position by coercive power whilst engaged all the time in systematic plunder of the working class !

The intense rivalries between the groups of competing states seeking for a market causes much national and international strife among them. They purchase labour-power as cheaply as they can safely do, create a speeding-up of production, employ labour-saving machinery, and eliminate as much waste of time and material as they can: everything is done to enhance their ultimate gain. 

Access to raw materials and sources of wealth are greedily sought after. With envy and avarice they seek to gain and control territories of potential wealth, the trade routes, and the monopoly of markets. This all leads, sooner or later, to a serious conflict of industrial, commercial and financial interests amongst themselves.

Is it any wonder that with such an anarchical and chaotic system as obtains to-day—the production of commodities simply for the private profit of a class—should result not only in a commercial warfare and “crises,” but ultimately in the use of the armed forces in war?

For militarism is but the valet of insatiable and aggressive capitalism.

The armed forces are retained for two main reasons—to keep capitalism’s wage-slaves in order and subjection, and to gain and retain our masters’ stolen wealth and its natural sources.

It must be clearly seen from the foregoing that (1) capitalism has as its roots the Class Ownership and control of the means and instruments of wealth-production and distribution; (2) that through that ownership they control the very lives of the working class; and (3) that through the wages-system our masters exploit and plunder us systematically.

The consequent result is that the exploiting class grow ever richer, relatively, to the wealth-prodmcing workers.

And thus the conflict of interests created between exploiters and exploited results in a class-struggle.

It is obvious that only by the abolition of capitalism, including its very roots, can the workers abolish for ever the evils inseparable from the system itself.

Look at the widespread poverty of our class—in a great degree chronic; the slums with their misery and disease; the social curse of unemployment, and the terrible results of malnutrition, industrial diseases, etc. Consider the colossal waste of human life in capitalism’s frequent wars, with their untold suffering and miseries for the working class. Capitalism, as a social system, creates incalculable waste in many spheres.

Can we content ourselves with the continuance of such a pernicious system, when we:, its wage-slaves, suffer so from its effects ?

Is there any reason why we should tolerate its patching-up by petty reforms when we could, in truth, rid ourselves of the root-cause of its evils? It has blighted the world, and been the cause of infinite death and destruction.

Capitalism is indeed the enemy of the workers. It robs us of freedom, happiness, and life in the fullest sense. Wage-slavery, and the resulting poverty of the workers, must be abolished, and, to achieve these things, capitalism must go !

Our masters, having control of political power, are, through it, able to dominate our very lives. Only by our capture and control of that power can we, as a class, overthrow capitalism and establish Socialism. To do that the majority of the working class must first understand their slave-condition ; must earnestly desire the overthrow of capitalism, and the triumph of the Socialist Commonwealth.

Nothing could withstand the organised might of a working class the majority of whom were fully bent on establishing Socialism !

Full of Socialist knowledge, and intensely conscious of their class-interest and aims, they could and would by their immense unity of purpose capture the key of the position: Political Power.

Thus would they smash the pernicious system that is indeed their enemy, and proceed to usher in the Socialist system of society which will liberate all mankind and bring to every nation Freedom, Happiness and Peace !

Hail the dawn of the Socialist Commonwealth of the World ! !
Graham May

War: Methods of Offence and Defence (continued) (1941)

From the March 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard


(Continued from February issue.) 

An excellent picture of the times is contained in contemporary reports of the siege of Jerusalem in 1099 by eye-witnesses and participants in the event. A number of these reports are contained in the above-mentioned work of Duncalf and Kreg, from which the following extracts are taken.

Firebrands were hurled into the city. They consisted of burning wood and straw.
“The wood was dipped in pitch, wax, and sulphur, then straw and tow were fastened on by an iron band, and when lighted these firebrands were shot from the machines, all bound together by an iron band, I say, so that, wherever they fell the whole mass held together and continued to burn.“ (Raymond of Agiles. Canon of Puy. “History of the Franks who captured Jerusalem”—written about 1112.)
This writer follows on with a description of the incidents after the capture of the town.
“But now that our men had possession of the walls and towers, wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies ; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are ordinarily chanted. What happened there ? If I tell you the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed it was a just and splendid judgment of God, that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, when it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood.”
Another writer states : —
“Neither woman or children were spared;”
and adds:—
“Our squires and poorer footmen discovered a trick of the Saracens, for they learned that they could find byzants [gold coins] in the stomachs and intestines of the dead Saracens, who had swallowed them. Thus, after several days they burned a great heap of dead bodies, that they might more easily get the precious metal from the ashes.” (Fulk of Chartres, “The Deeds of the Franks who attacked Jerusalem.”)
Another contemporary author says : —
“Afterwards, the army scattered throughout the city and took possession of the gold and silver, the horses and mules, and the houses full of loot for all.” (“Deeds of the Franks and Crusaders,” by an anonymous author.)
Curious how little war has changed, in its fundamental aspect, across the ages.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, after the introduction of gunpowder to Europe in 1320, cannon replaced the former feeble siege weapons in the attacks on strongholds. Primitive though they were, they yet hurled missiles heavy enough and forcefully enough to batter breaches in the walls of the most powerful fortifications. From that time dates the decline of the impregnability of the mediaeval castle. The capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 was due to the use of artillery. The Turks changed over to artillery long before Europe. They used arquebuses and field-pieces—the latter joined together by chains to prevent horsemen charging between them.

As the big barons swallowed little ones the internal wars began to come to an end. Military protection being no longer needed by the town and country people, the baron was transformed into a courtier. When gunpowder had revolutionised mediaeval warfare, the power of the baron declined still further. The equipment and maintenance of a company of artillery was so expensive that it became the monopoly of the wealthier princes, and the power of the latter consequently grew as the barons declined.

Gunpowder finally brought back into war the mass of the people as a fighting power when the infantrymen, with gun and cannon, ousted the armoured cavalrymen as the supreme striking force and cut the ground from under the privileged aristocracy of Feudalism.

Thus, gunpowder helped to destroy the mediaeval lord, raise the bourgeoisie (the monied class, as such) and established for a time the power of kings. We have now reached the end of one form of social organisation and the beginning of another— the end of the mediaeval world and the beginning of the modern or capitalist period.

Before continuing the discussion of the development of the implements of war we would like to direct attention to some points that are worth bearing in mind.

Imperialism and the building up of empires commenced with the introduction of slavery as a general feature of communities. All the great antique civilisations were based upon chattel slavery, which freed fighting men for the pursuit of loot—in fact, built up masses of wealth worth looting. In the period of tribal communism, which preceded the introduction of slavery, there were no empires. Even the largest aggregations of settled tribal peoples, such as the confederation of Iroquois tribes occupying what is now the State of New York, exhibited no empire-building traits.

Another interesting fact is that empires grew cut of small city states like Babylon, Athens and Rome, or were established by war chiefs like Mahomet, Genghis Khan and Tamerlaine. In each case, behind the apparently accidental growth of a mushroom empire there was productive development of a high order. This is shown in the invention and workmanship of the offensive and defensive armour. The mail-clad Arabians and the gunpowder-using warriors of Genghis Khan are evidence of this.

When the economic development within a group reached the point of enabling them to produce a supreme weapon or method of warfare it started them on the road to conquest. If other conditions are favourable, such as the position of Rome on crossing trade routes, then the bid for empire is likely to be successful.

Some of the empires of the past were of huge extent, even judging by present-day standards. The Tartar Empire of Genghis Khan, in the 13th century, was one of the largest ever built up, comprising a vast area of Russia, China and Central Asia—half of the known world of the time. After the oft-repeated legends of the barbarous Mongol hordes it is refreshing to read the following recent description of the effect of the Tartar conquest: —
“The blood feuds of the grand princes of ancient Russia—lords of Iwer and Vladimir and Sasdol were buried under a greater calamity. All these figures of an elder world appear to us only as shadows. Empires crumbled under the Mongol avalanche, and monarchs fled to their deaths in wild fear. What would have happened if Genghis Khan had not lived, we do not know.

What did happen was that the Mongol, like the Roman peace, enabled culture to spring up anew. Nations had been shuffled to and fro—or rather the remnants of them—Mohammedan science and skill carried bodily into the Far East, Chinese inventiveness and administrative ability had penetrated into the West. In the devastated gardens of Islam, scholars and architects enjoyed, if not a golden age, a silver age under the Mongol ll-khana; and the thirteenth century was notable in China for its literature, especially plays, and its magnificence—the century of the Yuan”.—(Pages 200 and 207. “Genghis Khan, Emperor of All Men,” by Harold Lamb.)
Apparently neither Chinese nor Mongols knew how to cast cannon, but they were well-acquainted with the detonating effect of gunpowder and used it in fire-projectors to burn or frighten the enemy. 

A Chinese annalist at the Siege of Kaifong, in 1232, records the following: —
“As the Mongols had dug themselves pits under the earth where they were sheltered from missiles, we decided to bind with iron the machines called chin-tien-lei (a kind of fire-projector) and lowered them into the places where the Mongol sappers were ; they exploded and blew into pieces men and shields” (quoted by Lamb, page 224).
Now to get back to the development of gunpowder-using weapons.

We will first examine the evolution of small-arms, leaving until later the evolution of cannon, which were first used in ships.

The principal steps in the development of firearms concerned the method of igniting the charge. The progression was: Primer and match, matchlock, wheel-lock, flint-lock, percussion cap.

Early in the 15th century a hand cannon came into use. It was probably the first form of hand firearms and consisted of a small cannon fixed to a wooden stock, and it was fired by applying a match to some fine powder that had been poured on the touch-hole. These hand-guns required two men to handle, one levelling the gun while the other applied the priming and the match. The loading, levelling and fixing, however, took such a long time that in their early use they rarely fired more than one shot during a battle. In spite of this their effect upon enemy troops was considerable. They were used successfully by the Swiss in 1476 at the battle of Morat, at which were employed 6,000 of these hand-guns or culverins. Their most successful use at the time, however, was by cavalry, to which they were soon adapted. In practice, one group of cavalry fired a volley and then made way for another group to do the same, while they reloaded, thus keeping up a constant fire.

Early in the 16th century the Spaniards invented the arquebus, or match-lock. Its great feature was a lighted match held in a serpentin or hammer in such a position that when the trigger was pulled the serpentin dropped into the flashpan and the match ignited the priming powder. This speeded up the firing.

The match-lock was troublesome in wet weather and when a method of covering the match was devised it was necessary to blow it into flame before firing or it might not ignite the charge.

The next step was the invention of the wheel-lock in Germany in the 16th century. In this a flint was placed in the serpentin, which dropped to the flash pan when the trigger was pulled. The edge of a wheel, rotating at the side of the stocks after the style of a ratchet, came in contact with the flint and produced sparks that ignited the priming.

The wheel-lock was intricate and very expensive to use, consequently it did not come into general use, being employed mainly by the wealthy for sporting purposes.

Early in the 16th century the flint-lock was invented by the Spaniards. This gun was in use for over a century. In it the cover plate of the flashpan was knocked back by a blow from the flint that was screwed into the cock or hammer, and the resulting sparks ignited the priming powder.

In 1807 the Rev. M. Forsythe patented the percussion principle of igniting gunpowder in muskets by means of detonating powder, and percussion caps came into use between 1820 and 1830.

This brief description will give some idea of the steps in the development of small firearms. After their introduction the best workmanship and much ingenuity was employed in producing very fine specimens, both for quality and for ornamentation. Some of the guns were very richly embellished. It was not until the introduction of the rifled barrel that the accuracy of these guns could be depended upon in spite of intricate sighting arrangements.

We will have to leave for the next article a consideration of the effect these different inventions had on the conduct of warfare.
Gilmac.