Wednesday, June 8, 2022

" . . . live like Lords." (1957)

From the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “I am told that if I get a rise the goods I make will not sell, because Germany will make them more cheaply, and I shall be worse off.

   So if I want to keep my standards of living up, I have got to keep it down. If I work for less than my German counterpart, I shall be better off. Then he will want to work for even less, so that he can be better off than I am. Finally, we shall all work for nothing and live like Lords.” 
This letter from a reader was published in the Daily Mirror some three years ago.

Woe to the Vanquished! (1957)

From the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the early years of the Bolshevik régime Lenin and his associates constantly referred to the Commune of Paris of 1871. They eulogised the defeated Communards and pilloried the murderous victors as examples of Capitalist ferocity that will never be forgotten.

Recent events in Budapest bring the Paris Commune to mind again on account of the similariities between the two tragedies.

In September, 1870, after the defeat of the French armies and the capture of Napoleon, Paris was invested by the Germans and a four months siege commenced. In Paris a Republic was proclaimed and the National Assembly, headed by Thiers, appointed themselves as the Provisional Government and declared their intention of defending Paris to the end. Instead of doing so, however, they were privately parleying with the German Government, arranging for peace terms, including occupation of Paris by the Germans. 

As a new elected Government gave no practical sign of their claim to defend Paris the Parisians became restive and eventually an angry mob invaded the Town Hall, frightening the Government with their conflicting demands; some wanted a Committee of Public Safety, others a Revolutionary Commune similar to the Commune of 1793 in the first Revolution.

Eventually the Government left Paris and took up their residence at Versailles under the protection of the German Army. In Paris delegates were elected by universal suffrage and a Commune was formed in March, 1871, for the purpose of defending the city and bringing about a number of reforms in the administration of affairs.

The newly appointed Government at Versailles then arranged with the German Government for the release of a portion of the French Army to be used for the capitulation of Paris. The German Government was a willing party to the proposal of Versailles because, under the peace terms, Germany was to get a huge war indemnity and the rich provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Without the capitulation of Paris the peace terms could not be implemented. So the German Army were cynical onlookers, and held the side-lines, whilst the French Army, smouldering from recent defeats, was let loose upon its fellow countrymen.

The Communards, or as many called themselves, the Communalists, were a mixture of many outlooks; from simple nationalism to anarchism and the supporters of the International Working Men’s Association. The defence was badly organised, many mistakes were made, but the self sacrificing and heroic resistance of the people of Paris was almost unbelievable. When the ramparts were overwhelmed they fought from street to street in despairing heroism, sacrificing their lives for their beliefs.

When it was all over the Versailles Government entered upon an orgy of slaughter that had rarely been witnessed before. We will quote a description from a writer who was not favourably disposed to risings like the Commune, Godfrey Elton. This is what he writes in his book The Revolutionary Idea in France 1789-1871 (Edward Arnold and Co., 1923).
 “By the 28th [May] all was over: guns, cartridge boxes and uniforms littered the gutters of the poorer quarters, while in the doorways sad, stony-eyed women waited chin on hand for the men who would not come back: and elsewhere more elegant Parisiennes could be seen trilling with excited laughter as they raised the covering with the tips of their parasols and peered at the faces of the dead. The vengeance of the Party of Order was comprehensive and very dreadful, more dreadful than the vengeance of the Revolution had ever been, even in 1793; the shooting of men, women and children in hundreds and without trial was a massacre, not an execution, and not a few of the victims were buried before they were dead.

“All over Paris huge piles of corpses encumbered the streets and poisoned the air. The cemeteries of Paris could not receive a tithe of the butchered. Enormous ditches at Père Lachaise, Montmartre and Mont-Pamasse and the trenches of the first siege at Charonne and elsewhere absorbed the unhonoured corpses, while women, widows and mothers, peered hopelessly among them for the dead that had been theirs. When the task of burial became too onerous they were burnt in the open air. It seems probable that 20,000 were killed during the few weeks immediately following the victory. The figure is unparalleled; in modern European history almost unimaginable. And the martyrdom of the prisoners was more dreadful than that of the executed; there was probably between 40,000 and 50,000 of them; and among them more than a thousand women and seventy children under fourteen ; and the barbarity of their treatment can only be matched in the East; one must look to the Black Hole of Calcutta or to some of the Armenian massacres for an approach to the brutal savagery of the conquerers ” (pages 171-172).
There is much more, but we have quoted enough to give a picture of what happened during and after the Paris rising. Many of the Parisians made their escape, some to England.

Now let us come up to date, to what happened in Budapest. Here again the mass of the people rose in revolt against their Government and the presence of foreign troops—the Russians. Here also a people of mixed outlooks were united in demanding the overthrow of the existing Government. The Government called in the aid of the Russians but there was a difference this time owing to changed circumstances. Whereas the Germans in 1871 were content to hold the ring, for the time being at least, the Russians came in with massed tanks and engaged in an orgy of slaughter, instructed by the Government that had claimed unswerving sympathy for the Communards of old. At the time of writing the fighting appears to be almost over but the pursuit and hanging of the vanquished continues with unabated brutality, and the refugees are giving their pitiful stories to the world. How deeply the Hungarians felt is shown by their attitude “Victory or death, bloody struggle or extinction.”

In Karl Marx's book on the Commune, The Civil War in France, he concludes with these words:
 “Workingmen’s Paris, with its commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators, history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priests will not avail to redeem them."
The early Bolsheviks glorified the Commune but the wheel has turned full circle and the glorifiers are now the damned, painted with the same red brush as the exterminators of the Commune. We can also say of them that history has nailed them to an eternal pillory from which all their apologists will not avail to redeem them.

Working men and women who have mistakenly given their support to these false Communist Parties should take thought of this historical parallel and shake themselves free from their clay-footed idols. Stalin is dead but the brutal fake Communism continues.

Classic Reprint: Can the workers understand Socialism? (1957)

A Classic Reprint from the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

Is the working class a wash-out?—that is the question. A correspondent, in a very interesting letter, has put it this way. Socialism is a highly intellectual conception, and its acceptance involves a critical examination of the whole of one’s ideas and beliefs. Now most people we meet are not highly intelligent, not critical, not very imaginative, and not even interested. Their conception of a better world is limited to the possibility of another pound a week in the present one. Sport and the daily newspaper give them all the romance they want. And yet, says the questioner, it is just these average, humdrum' people who must be convinced that Socialism is both practicable and necessary. That is the poser.

If a recent lecturer on psychology is to be believed, the case is even worse. He said that just as physical growth slackens down at about the age of puberty, and shortly after ceases altogether, so does the intelligence slacken down and cease to develop at about the same age. After that, a person can acquire knowledge, but no more intelligence. It may be worth quoting his exact words:
 “But with the average child, tests of innate intelligence show little appreciable improvement after the age of fourteen.

 “During the war, tests of intelligence were applied to nearly 2,000,000 recruits for the American Army; it was then discovered that the average mental age of adults in the United States was barely fourteen. (Dr. Cyril Burt.)
This is rather staggering. Are you and I no more intelligent than our boys just leaving school? Are our apprentices, messengers and office boys to put us to shame and confusion by claiming intellectual equality? The eminent professor comes to our rescue, for he says:—
“The paradox, however, may be easily explained away. The puzzle arises from confusing inborn or natural ability with acquired knowledge and attainments. The former ceases to improve; the latter may continue improving to the end of our days."
We breathe again. We shall not be a mockery for schoolboys. But if the professor is right, there seems to emerge a very important truth. If the intelligence does not grow after the age of 14, just as the body ceases a year or so later, surely we are all on an average level again. We are all mentally 14, mathematicians and knife-grinders, university lecturers and booking-clerks. The great difference lies in “acquired knowledge and attainments.” So that the argument that Socialism is a system of thought that is only comprehensible by the highly intelligent, followed by the statement that the working-class is not more than five per cent. intelligent, is not in accord with facts.

It is not a lack of intelligence that is the stumbling block, it is something else. Consider these facts. This journal you are now perusing has a fairly steady circulation. Its very steadiness argues that the same people read it pretty regularly year after year. We can agree that the contents and character of this journal are such as to appeal to none but intelligent people. And yet the membership of the party is only about a tenth of the circulation. Surely intelligent people should take intelligent action, and if; as our questioner insisted, intelligence is to be the touchstone, the outlook is indeed gloomy. Fortunately, there appears to us to be other avenues of hope. First, there is die information given by Dr. Burt, quoted above: “acquired knowledge . . . may continue improving to the end of our days.” It should be the function of a Socialist movement to see that the working class acquires a knowledge of its position in society, its evolution, its problems and its destiny. This knowledge can only be propagated by the spoken or written word, possibly supplemented by the cinematograph. 

The case for Socialism can be put, and has been put, in language easily comprehensible by a normal boy of 14. It is possibly more easily apprehended then, for use and wont have not dulled the mind into the ruts of habit. According to the professor, he is as intelligent then as he will ever be. It is in acquired knowledge that he will progress if at all. It should be the peculiar task of our movement to provide that knowledge, not in the form of a small journal appearing at intervals of a calendar month, but in every form the genius of man can devise. Capitalists who sell wares have discovered that man is a lazy animal, who moves when prodded often enough, who is most responsive to massed attack, and when subjected to a continuous reiteration of the same story. They have found that the mere appearance of one word, like “Bovril,” on every railway station, every hoarding, and in every important periodical in the country, has a powerful psychological effect It becomes by sheer familiarity and persistence, part of the “acquired knowledge” encountered by the questing human mind. When we see every railway station in the country, every hoarding in the towns, every vehicle that carries advertisements, plastered with the word “Socialism"; when every bookstall and every bookshop is sprinkled with Socialist books and pamphlets; when Socialism is mentioned by every newspaper (even in detestation, as we should expect) every day, every week, every month, when the average man has Socialism thrust upon him, rammed at him, rained on him, insistently and persistently, in season and out of season, things will begin to move.

His intelligence may have ceased to grow at 14, but it will be sufficient We must take care of his acquired knowledge. He will be helped—if it is suitably drummed into him—by the obvious increasing bankruptcy of Capitalism, and the incessant attacks on the workers' standard of living. To take the course suggested lays a heavy burden upon the pioneers of a movement such as ours. That is the essential problem of the immediate present. How can the handful of enthusiasts who initiate the movement, get together sufficient funds to drench the working-class with its literature, to make its presence not only felt, but inescapable, to so familiarise them with its propaganda that misrepresentation becomes ludicrous? How can they, out of their poverty, engender this avalanche of publicity that is to overcome the workers' normal and natural inertia, and get them definitely on the move? Let every intelligent man, who has added to his stock of acquired knowledge by reading this article, answer for himself. Every reader a member, and every member a party worker, that is our object. We shall move in proportion to our effort.
W. T. Hopley

(Reproduced from “Socialist Standard," November, 1930.)

50 Years Ago: Happy New Year? (1957)

The 50 Years Ago column from the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

Happy New Year?

Another year with all its possibilities—gone.

Another year with all its possibilities—opening upon. us. And—“a Happy New Year” comes lightly from the tongue in conventional salutation: “A Happy New Year and doubtless behind the greeting there is still some measure of real concern for the materialisation of the wish in the person addressed “A Happy New Year”.—Why not? Why should not happiness be in the constant experience of all? Why should not happiness be the normal condition of everybody? Why should it not be as natural for everybody to exult in the joys of living as it is for them to breathe—why is it not?

Because—happiness is conditioned by the available supply of the necessities of life. Deny these to a man and he cannot be happy. And the barest of these necessities are unobtainable (upon Capitalist authority—unobtainable) by at least a third of the people of this, the most prosperous of nations, while the rest of its working population—the population that builds up the “national” prosperity—only just manage, with infinite labour and anxiety, to maintain themselves in a condition of working efficiency.

That is the reason why happiness is not the normal condition of the working population. That is why they have not been happy in the dead year. That is why they cannot be happy in the year just commenced. To wish them “A Happy New Year” which we know they will not get is therefore rather dreary humour and about as useful as wishing the moon were green cheese.

(From the January 1907 issue of the Socialist Standard.)

Notes by the Way: Fallen Idol Department (1957)

The Notes by the Way Column from the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard 

Fallen Idol Department

Every crisis stimulates a brisk trade in fallen idols and models of new supermen. The cynical commentators, shedding a few crocodile tears as they hurry away the clay feet and big heads to the junk yard or the House of Lords, get on with the fascinating task of telling the public who will clean up the mess and lead them on and on and up and up to new crises. It is only a short while since the Tories were congratulating themselves on having got rid of the old war-horse, Churchill, and replacing him with the glamorous, virile, vote winning Eden. Now, if the Press reports are to be believed, they only don’t get rid of Eden because they can’t find anyone who even looks a likely candidate for supermanship. One commentator, Mr. Alistair Forbes, of the Sunday Dispatch (who was early in the demand to shelve Churchill and put in Eden) now does not know which way to turn. In his Column on December 9, he says that Eden only remains leader because, though considered “the worst Prime Minister we could now have”—except Gaitskell—the Tories can’t find a successor.
 “Sir Anthony no doubt hopes that the usual Tory difficulties about finding someone who can be all things to all Tories, if not all men, will keep him in office. Certainly many Tories must feel that if only Mr. Jo Grimond was a Conservative and not a Liberal, their troubles would be over.”
And before Labourites break out into derisive laughter about these troubles of the Tories they might recall that it is only a few years ago that many of them were wishing Eden would join the Labour Party.

Is it Inflation?

The answer, according to the “experts,” is yes, or no, or maybe. The Daily Telegraph had an editorial with the title “ Not Inflation.” (8/12/56).

Next day the City Editor of the Sunday Dispatch, writing under the heading, “Inflation Prospect Brings in Buyers,” explained why Stock Exchange prices had risen smartly:—
  "No doubt it was the realisation that we are at the beginning of another period of inflation which persuaded some of the big institutional buyers to come into the market” 
On the same day (December 9), another City Editor (Empire News) plumped for inflation, but the City Editor of the Sunday Times was cautiously non-committal. Under the heading "Inflation or Deflation” he posed the question “Are we in for a period of renewed inflation or deflation?” He quoted the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that “inflation was still the greatest danger,” but asked “ Is he right?”

His one really definite commitment was that the recent rumours of a further devaluation of the pound were "nonsense.” We shall see; remembering that while no Government absolutely has to devalue its currency—it is merely a choice of methods for dealing with a problem —the temptation to do so may prove irresistible as it did for the Labour Government in 1949. Faced with trade union pressure for higher wages on the one side and increased foreign trade competition on the other, the present Government, like Attlee’s in 1949, may decide for devaluation. It would solve nothing permanently, but it would give a fillip to exports and at the same time cause the cost of living to rise gradually and let wages rise with it.

In the meantime the Government goes on increasing the currency with another £50 million issue early in December. The Financial Times (7/12/56) expected that a further £50 million would be authorised before Xmas, which would constitute a highest ever, at £2,000 million, some four times the pre-war level.

Nehru’s Cyprus and Hungary

Nehru won’t discuss independence with the Naga tribesmen of Assam for the same reason that the British Government won’t discuss with Makarios the independence of Cyprus—they are two areas of great strategic importance and in both areas the resistance has proved more obstinate than was expected. From Delhi the Times reports:—
 "Mr. B. N. Datar, of the Home Ministry, replying to questions in Parliament, claimed that the movement for full independence in the Naga Hills district was 'fizzing out,' but he said that road convoys and outposts were still being sniped at, patrols ambushed, headmen and other loyal villagers kidnapped, and food and money extorted.. . . Some 686 malcontents had been killed since the beginning of operations and a further 146 were presumed killed.”—(Times, December 8, 1956.)
Nehru’s admirers have been embarrassed by his reluctance to condemn the Russian invasion of Hungary and his refusal to support a United Nation’s proposal for internationally supervised elections in that country. He has good reason for this attitude since the Russian excuse that they were asked to intervene by the Hungarian puppet government, is identical with the way Indian troops occupied large areas of Kashmir as a preliminary to the declaration that Kashmir is now part of India. As the Economist reports "to agitate in favour of Pakistan is to be guilty of sedition. A number of the leaders' of the opposition Plebiscite Front are under arrest. Above all, Sheikh Abdulla himself remains! in jail, where he has been for three years without trial.” (Economist, November 24,1956).

Now the Pakistani Foreign Minister accuses Nehru of wanting "to establish a brown imperialism.” (Daily Telegraph, December 8, 1956). Of course Pakistan wants Kashmir itself and thinks a Plebiscite would lead to that result. Nehru, having pledged himself to a Plebiscite, now repudiates it

Nehru has denied the charge that his preaching of principles that he won’t practice can be described as a “Holier than Thou ” attitude. One wonders why.

And what about Tito?

Some of the muddle-heads who, tired of Stalin worship, transferred their affections to that “good Democrat and Socialist Tito.” Now a Belgrade lawyer has been sentenced to three years’ hard labour “on a charge of spreading hostile propaganda by criticising the Yugoslav regime. The prosecutor in the district court . . . said that Djordjevic had declared, while in a barber’s shop in February, 1955, that there was no freedom in Yugoslavia now, but there had been before the war.” (Manchester Guardian, December 8, 1956).

That’ll teach him that there is freedom under Tito! 

The Black Inquisition and the Red

Cardinal Mindszenfy, Catholic Cardinal in Hungary, who was kept in jail for seven years, described to the Daily Mail (December 8) how he was tortured to make him confess to his "Communist” jailers. .
"For 29 full days it lasted—29 days and nights without sleep. The naked bulb in his cell was kept burning. When he collapsed from exhaustion he was promptly revived so that he would be deprived of even the rest of lost consciousness.”
A few days earlier two Americans, who had been in Spain checking up on the brutality of the Government of that Catholic gentleman Franco, reported in the People (2/12/56)), about a worker they called Eugenio.
“When he was taken to the Direccion General de Seguridad—Spain’s equivalent to Gestapo H.Q.—no specific charge was laid against him. Eugenio described this underground hell. Many of the cells measure only three feet by three feet. It is impossible to lie down. Eugenio spent weeks in one of them curled up like a dog.”

Are you Hungarian and under 18 ?

Last August when the Hungarian Government was making its first experiments with letting M.P.’s voice public criticisms of the way things were run, a woman deputy drew attention to the practice in textile factories of making young people under 18 work at night. The responsible Minister did not deny the charge that the law was being broken but said that workers under 18 could only be gradually exempted from night work. He made the point that a number of workers, including expectant mothers, had already been exempted and it would appear that he was defending the employment of some young workers at night on the ground of the difficulty of replacing them if the law were enforced fully and at once.

If there happen to be any Hungarian refugees under age 18 who find employment on British railways they may find that in one respect things are just the same as at home.

The following is from the Manchester Guardian (December 8, 1956):
“The British Transport Commission was fined a total of £92 on 23 summonses, and ordered to pay 10 guineas costs at Bristol yesterday for employing fifteen junior railway firemen, aged under 18, on night work. It was convicted of five similar offences in March, when it was fined £10.

“Mr. P. C. Wreay, prosecuting, said that the evidence showed “a deliberate and continuous flouting” of the law. It was admitted that there were considerable staffing difficulties.

“Mr. M. Corkery, for the Commission, said that it was deeply concerned about the matter. .In spite of difficulties, it was doing everything possible to avoid using young men on night work.”
Edgar Hardcastle

Letter: Is there State Capitalism in Russia? (1957)

Letter to the Editors from the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received the following letter from a reader who thinks we have erred in describing Russia and China as State Capitalist. Our reply follows.
Greenford, Mddx.,

Dear Friend,

In the December issue of the Socialist Standard you class the system in Russia and China as State-Capitalism. Now if Capitalism is an exploiting system under which the workers produce profits for the owners of the means of production while they themselves merely get a subsistence allowance, what happens under State-Capitalism? When did Bulganin or Chou-En-Lie last declare a dividend to their fellow shareholders? And if they do not declare dividends, what are their motives? What is it that drives them along? And why do the Capitalists hate them so much—while they have nothing against the Capitalists of—say Germany—who went all out in the last war to pinch their markets and colonies from them?
Tom Forde.

Our correspondent’s first point is that if there is State Capitalism it must show itself in the form of “a dividend . . . to shareholders.” This is his first misconception. The British Post Office, the Coal Board, British Transport, and the other nationalised industries are State Capitalism and they never declare a dividend to share-holders. The essence of State Capitalism is that the payment of dividends to shareholders is replaced by the payment of interest to bondholders, who, unlike shareholders, are divorced from the control of the undertaking. The former shareholders in the railways, etc., and the investors who hold the government securities that make up the national debt receive the interest on their bonds from the Government, or under Government guarantee. And this is the arrangement that exists in Russia and China. Every State concern in Russia is legally under obligation to make a profit and to pay to the State interest on capital advanced by the Government or the State banks. The Government in turn pays interest to the bondholders or (as is now the dominant arrangement) pays out the equivalent of the interest in the form of lottery prizes—the system just borrowed from Russia by the British Government in their Premium Bonds. The Russian national debt held by the Russian bondholders totals something over £9,000 million. It is frequently added to by the raising of new loans.

Quite apart from this, the individual political leaders, industrial managers, popular writers and dramatists and other favoured groups, are able to receive large incomes in salaries, fees, and royalties, which enable them to live on a standard far beyond the condition of the mass of workers and accumulate property—incidentally in cynical disregard of Lenin’s dictum that Russia would be run on the lines that all functionaries were to receive wages on the level of the ordinary workers.

Our correspondent’s last point is really fantastic. He asks us to accept the view that because the Western Capitalists hate the Russian rulers this proves that Russia is not State Capitalist and is, presumably. Socialism. Yet our correspondent himself shows the absurdity of his own reasoning by his reference to Germany. In 1914-18 and again in 1939-45 the British and German Capitalists were at war and violently “hated” each other. Are we then to deduce from this that the British Capitalists hated the Germans because Germany was Socialist? (Incidentally the British and Russian rulers were on the same side and were declaring their mutual love in the common struggle against the Axis Powers). Capitalist groups come into conflict over markets, trade routes and strategic points and this applies as between the Western Powers and Russia as between all Powers. And has our correspondent forgotten the Pact of Friendship between Russia and Hitlerite Germany? And did he notice that on the Suez issue Russia and America joined together on United Nations to oppose Britain and France. There is no impossibility about a line-up between Russia and any other Capitalist Power in the jungle war of world Capitalism. And what is said above about Russia applies also to China.

Our correspondent is referred to our pamphlet Russia Since 1917 for further explanation of the State Capitalist nature of Russia.
Editorial Committee.

Party News Briefs (1957)

Party News from the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Socialist Standard” Subscription. Readers are reminded that a subscription form is included in this issue. To ensure that the Standard is delivered regularly, why not send a subscription for 1957?

Lewisham Branch is holding an extensive propaganda drive during January when a by-election is taking place in Lewisham. An indoor meeting is being held on Thursday, January 10th, at Davenport Co-op Hall, Davenport Road, Rushey Green, Catford  Comrades Bryan and Wilmott are the speakers. The meeting starts at 7.30 p.m. —all are
 welcome. There will be time for questions and discussion.

Lunch Hour Meetings are again being held in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on Tuesdays and Fridays and at Finsbury Pavement on Tuesdays. The meetings at Tower Hill on Thursdays are continuing most successfully. At each meeting place the meetings commence at 1 p.m. If members will, whenever possible, support these meetings, there is every chance that we will re-establish these previously very successful propaganda stations.

Film Lectures at Head Office. These Sunday evening meetings have got off to a very good start—details of the January films are given in this issue. An interesting evening is ensured and there is always time after the lecture for a get together and a cup of tea.

Study Classes are commencing again at Head Office on Sunday afternoon, January 6th, at 3.30 p.m. An excellent syllabus has been prepared and the Classes Organiser is anxious that as many Comrades attend as possible. In the past the classes have proved of great benefit to speakers, writers and members generally, particularly young Comrades.

Head Office Social. A “free and easy” social has been arranged for Saturday, 5th January at 7.30 p.m. at Head Office.
Phyllis Howard

Blogger's Note:
There is a strong indication that the Lewisham meeting at Davenport Co-op Hall was canceled.

Day-to-Day Runners of Capitalism - Part 2 (1957)

From the January 1957 issue of the Socialist Standard

The complete lack of grasp of the general political situation from a Socialist point of view, screams from every line of Driberg’s reports. Kruschev, having taken the Labour Party to task for being “reformist” and failing to educate the masses in the “revolutionary spirit,” Driberg enters the defence by saying “though Britain had certainly not been transformed into a Socialist State, the Labour Government had taken substantial steps towards Socialism—taking basic industries into public ownership, introducing comprehensive social security measures, and so on.”

The only “revolutionary spirit" in which workers need educating will come from a knowledge of their class position under the wages system and a realisation on their part of the need to use that knowledge to vote for the abolition of this system. Far from drawing attention to the real nature of Capitalism, at every election the so-called Communist Party uses exactly the same stunts as the rest of them, promising houses, jobs and peace, etc.

As we stated earlier, to the Labour Party nationalisation means Socialism, but perhaps workers are beginning to see that the so-called “public ownership” is two steps forward, three steps back and does not mean that they OWN any more of the means of living than they ever have.

The term “social security” has a nice sound but only INSECURE people need it. No reform can give workers security because their insecurity does not arise from lack of reforms but is basic to their wage slave position under Capitalism.

Krushchev's idea is clearly that of an ignorant mass of people having their interests looked after and their problems solved for them by the right kind of Government. If workers had understood Socialism in 1945 they would not have voted for the Labour Party yet Kruschev assumes the existence of an electorate which wanted Socialism and because the Labour Government did not bring it about, thought they would try the Tories. His actual words were “Yet the Labour Government lost the next elections. Why? Because they did not use their power in the interests of the working-class, and the working-class therefore became indifferent to the Labour Party. The workers' conditions in those nationalised industries you speak of didn't change greatly. Therefore the workers saw no difference between the Labour and Tory parties.” He then added “the Labour Government did not change the State institutions set up by previous Governments, or create conditions in which the social structure could be changed. Therefore, the working-class was not interested.”

It would be interesting to hear from Mr. Kruschev, in what respect “the State institutions" of Russia differ from those which typify Capitalism everywhere. Except for the fact that there is only one Party which exercises dictatorial control, the nature of the institutions, i.e., private property, inheritance, law making and enforcing bodies such as law courts, prisons, police and judges, also a monetary system, army, navy, and air force, etc., remain the same.

The Labour Government did not take office to change the State institutions of Capitalism, but simply to use these institutions to run Capitalism and to make what adjustments they found necessary to run it more efficiently. The one remaining necessary condition for changing “the social structure” is an understanding of why this change is necessary on the part of the majority of the working-class. Living under Capitalism and coming into contact with Socialists' ideas will bring this condition about, but no Government can “create” it.

After the erection and demolition of a few more Aunt Sallies in connection with the Labour Party, Kruschev switched to the so-called Communist Party, saying “the Communist Party is not a mass Party in Britain at present because of certain historical conditions. But times are changing: a revolutionary situation will arise; and the Communist Party will use this situation to educate the mass of the workers and lead them to the victory of Socialism.” Far from their being able to educate anyone the British Communist Party would not know a “revolutionary situation" if they saw one. 

This next quotation from Mr. Krushchev will sicken any worker who seriously reflects on it. “Being revolutionaries and Communists, we are interested in the international solidarity of the workers; but we DO NO MORE than GIVE GOOD ADVICE to parties that need it. Every country has its own way. We stick to the principle of strict NON-INTERVENTION. Our work is based on the slogan of PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP. There are various ways of transition. Let us be patient.” (Our emphasis).

The rulers of Soviet Capitalism stand condemned out of their own mouths. The bloody butchery of workers in Hungary since Kruschev made this statement, and on a smaller scale in East Berlin before it, demonstrates how utterly meaningless words are to these henchmen of Capitalism.

Contrasts in Capitalism
The remainder of the interview was largely devoted to comparing methods of running this system. The advantages of two parties as opposed to one, crime and punishment, propaganda technique, and so on. Kruschev had explained that Russia is composed of a number of “ sovereign republics ” and when Driberg asked “could there be capital punishment for murder in one republic, and not in another?” Kruschev replied “it is quite possible. Every national republic has its own criminal code. Even now, there are some differences, but there is some co-ordination.” This to Socialists is a very telling statement, for Socialism and national republics are contradictory terms. Socialism cannot exist in one country only, because it involves a WORLD class-struggle, and a world solution to problems arising from this world system. Socialism is the direct opposite of everything national. Krushchev’s reply poses a contradiction within a contradiction—Socialism in one country itself divided into separate national bodies, each with “criminal” codes and legislature of its own.

Another degree in which British Capitalism varies from Russian is that in the House of Commons there is time for questions and in the supreme Soviet there is not. Russian workers, we are told, can ask questions at Party and trade union meetings. For an exploited class to be allowed to ask questions indeed sounds a good thing but in neither country do workers have any real redress within Capitalism because the problems are such that they cannot be solved little by little. In fact although a lot of questions have been asked, the problems housing, jobs, security, and peace, etc., will last as long as the system which generates them.

One question Mr. Kruschev was called on to answer came from an old woman who lived on a collective farm and had lost a plot of land because her sons who had worked on the farm had gone to work in a factory. This is a private property question and clearly has nothing to do with land being held in common. The woman had asked other officials and after looking into it Kruschev decided “she’d been given the correct answer first time.” Another example was that of a mining engineer sent to jail for three years “for negligent supervision” after “ a worker in a pit that he was in charge of had fallen and died.” Mr. Kruschev asked the “ higher judicial authorities to investigate it.”

We are assured at the end that the Press in Russia can now criticise top Party Leaders and the crimes of the Stalin era have been “put right again by the twentieth Congress.” Said Kruschev “our aim is to prevent any repetition of the cult of the individual and to return to the Leninist position and methods.” Any change that has taken place in Russia since Stalin is more apparent than real, still the H-bomb race goes on, still the struggle for world trade and, like all ruling classes, the Russian State Capitalists show no mercy to weaker powers that oppose them. The horror witnessed in Hungary gives the workers there little cause to rejoice at whatever “cult” persists in Russia, individual or otherwise.

While most workers all over the world have no understanding of Socialism they will tragically toy with alternative parties to run Capitalism and suffer the INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES.
Harry Baldwin