Friday, August 19, 2022

The Economic Foundations of Ill-Health (1944)

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Much emphasis has been laid of late years, particularly since the war, on the importance of health education. It is a tragic fact that under the present system it takes a war to reveal the condition of the nation’s health. The Boer War revealed the harm done to the manhood of England by their employment as young children in the factories and mines. Those surviving, whilst fit enough to be alive, were not, curiously enough, sufficiently fit to die for their country. The last great war revealed a high percentage of C3s. Robert Sinclair, in “Metropolitan Man,” states (page 28) : “The position has not substantially changed since the closing year of the war, when the Ministry of National Service compiled a health census of the 2,500,000 young men who then attained their eighteenth birthday. Of this fine flower of the English race, two specimens in every three were unfit.”

Complacency during this war has not been so much disturbed by the prospective fighting men as by the condition of their children. Evacuation of the town populations to the country brought to light some startling facts. Dr. Kenneth Mellanby, quoted in Our Towns (page 5), suggests that 50 per cent. of the evacuated children were verminous. Their hostesses were horrified by their condition, but had they become aware of the state of the “homes” from which many had come, their horror would have been better founded.

The New Survey of London Life and Labour,” quoted in “Our Towns” (page 40), states : “It is the exception rather than rule to have water ready at hand in unlimited quantities. In half the houses investigated water has to be fetched from outside the tenement, often from a tap on the landing, sometimes from across a yard, at others up or down three flights of stairs; nor is the place for emptying dirty water always where the tap is—it may be yet further away.”

Public health workers, such as health visitors, midwives, school nurses, are expected to be the educators of the working class living in the conditions mentioned above. Under the more passable conditions of some of the working class their advice is welcomed and followed; to those dulled by years of the most brutalising poverty, it fails to register. To the more intelligent among the poorest, however, nothing could be more exasperating. Under hopeless conditions, health talks serve to deepen frustration.

The writer recently attended a lecture on Parentcraft. As he stated his case, the lecturer cited a family of his acquaintance as an example of what parentcraft can do. They appeared to be in the direst poverty, but due to the untiring efforts of the mother, the children had survived. The writer made a reference to “Birth, Poverty and Wealth,” by R. Titmuss, a work showing how descent in the social scale, and the type of work performed by the father, condemned the children to a greater expectation of disease and early death than those of the highest professional groups, and was the greatest factor in the health of the family. The lecturer stated that, whilst he appreciated the effects, he felt that much could be done to ameliorate them by knowledge of parentcraft. What empty hopes! Reminiscent of the boy who, by holding his hand over the hole in the dyke, hoped to stem the flood. Thus do reformers waste their time and energies in trying to alleviate the direct effects of capitalism, instead of striving to abolish the cause.

Health education comprises also a knowledge of food facts. In December, 1937, the Ministry of Health and the British Medical Association worked out budgets in which the amount necessary for food lay between 5s. and 6s. a week per head at the then prevailing prices. Aleck Bourne, commenting on it in “The Health of the Future” (page 81), says : “It may be true that if such a sum were spent by a housewife with a sound practical knowledge of the vitamin and mineral content of the food exposed for sale, she might be able to feed her family without physiologial privation. But this would still not be possible, even though she could buy the food, unless she had been taught how to prepare and cook it, both to preserve the living elements and also to make it palatable and attractive.”

Let us try to imagine the mother of a large family, living, if very fortunate, in a council house; if less fortunate, in a tenement, or even in one room or less, in the worst part of an industrial town. Her vitality is diminished by repeated births and the unending struggles to wash, cook, clean and care for her little ones in surroundings not conducive to the continuance of such activities. Yes, it is very hard to imagine her sitting down and planning the day’s menus in a balanced manner; much easier to imagine her buying fish and chips, bread, marg. and jam, and washing down the mixture with over-sweetened tea as a stimulant. Under such conditions, knowledge, if imparted, could scarcely be made of use. A telling incident is recorded in “Our Towns,” showing how bad housing induces bad eating: “The motives of conduct of poverty are sometimes very far to seek for the well-to-do. An old woman who was bringing up a 10 year old grandson used, when short of money, to give him 2d. to buy two cubes of a proprietary extract. Asked why she did not buy herrings instead, she replied, ‘You see, we’ve only got one room, and the smell of fish frying turns me stomach; and it brings out the mice, and I’m afraid of mice'” (page 41).

Many of these incidents must have occurred within the experience of the average worker, but for a last damning example we will turn to America, that land of the free, and further to South Carolina, that erstwhile home of slavery, where negroes now live under conditions never equalled in the heyday of the “Southern Gentlemen.”

Look,” an American magazine, in its June 1942 issue, published an article entitled “Parenthood U.S.A., The Story of South Carolina.” It deals with the appalling conditions in Berkeley and Lee counties, which are mainly populated with negroes. “Tucked away in the hot amiable heart of South Carolina are the counties called Berkeley and Lee. Here in two areas, each of 1,200 parched square miles, rural, agricultural, economically impotent, 70 per cent. Negro, exists a public health programme with teeth in it, obstetrical care, infant care and baby spacing are its three main functions. Nowhere in the U.S.A. was there a greater need for such a programme. In 1936, 360 South Carolina mothers died in childbirth; 5,600 infants died in their first year, a higher proportion than in any other state. In 1939, when South Carolina made baby-spacing one of its official public health services, Berkeley County instantly began functioning as an experimental centre. … If the programme works in these impoverished regions, it will work anywhere.”

Graphic descriptions follow. The main diseases rampant include V.D., malaria, rickets, pellegra. Malnutrition is common enough to be almost the rule. The article states in uncompromising terms, “Low incomes mean high infant death rates.” What, then, is the solution to the problem in South Carolina ? The obvious one of raising incomes, or of abolishing the wages system and providing plenty for all? No! what is called baby spacing is alleged to be the panacea for all ills.

Whatever so-called success attends this health drive, it can only constitute a palliative. The malaria may be treated by free quinine, but in such a district, with sanitation almost nil, re-infection will quickly occur. The treatment of syphilis is lengthy, and much of the damage done is irradicable. And the deficiency diseases, what of them ? With smaller families, the wage, such as it is, is divided among fewer mouths. But as the chief occupation is tenant farming in a dry, crop-poor land, reward for hard work is meagre. Many receive what we should term public assistance, and this, we know, maintains life, but not necessarily health. An excellent example this of capitalist reforms; surface scratching, leaving the hard core, the root cause untouched. After all the teaching of parentcraft, birth control and what you will, Berkeley and Lee will remain to their unfortunate inhabitants 2,400 parched square miles where they are compelled to sell their labour power at a bare existence price, or seek some other place. But wherever they go, they will be, whilst working, exploited; if idle, forming part of the industrial reserve army, and, finally, join the scrap heap.

When the worst anomalies are removed, others more subtle become apparent. An excellent exposition of the effects of poverty on the mentality of the school child is given in a work entitled, “A Pen’orth of Chips” by C. S. Regal. This school teacher, working in the Royal Borough of Kensington, found children living in over-crowded surroundings, getting little sleep, and that disturbed, having the well-known diet of bread and marg., getting little fresh air, with a greater preponderance of dullness than those living in less poverty-stricken districts. Dullness is a physical condition that may be inherited, but it may also be acquired. The difference in the stature of the elementary schoolboy and the public schoolboy is well known, but is the difference in the mental stature and its cause so readily appreciated?

It will take more than parentcraft, baby spacing, school meals, etc., to remove the effects of poverty in a world of plenty; it will take a complete change in the social system to bring about production solely for people’s needs, and not in order to make a profit such as obtains to-day. Poverty for the many is inherent in the capitalist system, and we must work for Socialism in order to remove it. By Socialism we do not mean public utility corporations, State control and National Health services, which pass for it with some of our less well informed fellow-workers. By Socialism we mean a system in which all who are able participate in production, and everyone receives what he needs. Only under Socialism can the heart-breaking effects of poverty be removed and all have an opportunity of living the good life as well as enjoying good health.
W. P.

Will there be a third World-War? (1944)

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

War, said Clausewitz, is a continuation of politics by other means. “Without armed forces it will not be possible to have a foreign policy at all,” said Lord Cranbourne, Dominions Secretary and Leader of the House of Lords, speaking to that august body, the Manchester Conservative Association (Daily Express, April 18th, 1944). It would be labouring the point to show the similarity of ideas expressed here. It is, however, a vindication of the Socialist contention that so long as capitalism remains in existence, war or the threat of war must likewise remain to torture our minds and bodies. The above quotation is a frank recognition by one of the leading spokesmen of the capitalist class of the essentially warlike nature of their system of exploitation and profit-making. As if to reassure us of this, Lord Cranbourne went on to say, “I put it forward as a main principle of the Conservative policy, that we must regard expenditure on armaments as the most essential item of national expenditure.” What price “Atlantic Charters,” “brotherly co-operation of nations,” and other vaporous nonsense with which numerous reformers of capitalism would have us believe that war, or at any rate world war, can be avoided!

Lord Cranbourne, moreover, is not the only spokesman of our rulers who realises the necessity of the mailed fist to the modern capitalist state in the light of potential conflicts and the satisfaction of its world market requirements. Mr. Robert Boothby, M.P., writing on the Empire (Evening Standard, April 18th, 1944), says, in a rather anxious manner, “Admittedly we have survived two tremendous tests. But it would be unwise to count upon equal good fortune a third time. If we are to hold our own and talk on equal terms with the other great world federations, we must pursue a definite foreign policy in common and enter into more precise commitments in the field of defence than we have ever done in the past.” Mr. Boothby, a thorough realist, goes on to make a statement that Socialists have persistently stressed for many years past. “The collapse of the League of Nations taught us that paper constitutions are no substitute for the realities of power. It is a lesson we shall forget at our peril.” If it is really that Mr. Boothby wants us to learn the lessons of history, we would ask the following pertinent question. What solution can capitalism provide against the recurrence of a third world war, which is likely to be even more destructive and catastrophic than the present one? The Socialist answer is that there is none. As if in echo to this we quote again. This time from Mr. R. Tees (Cons.) : “I do not believe that this is going to be a war to end wars. Looking round, I think that we are entering on a turbulent period, in which dynamic forces will be everywhere at work.” (Daily Express, July 28th, 1943).

On the other side of the Atlantic, too, there are ominous rumblings, which foreshadow anything but peace—even capitalist “peace.” The Daily Express American correspondent reports a “post-war preparedness programme—which will obviously include compulsory military training for all” (April 26, 1944). He goes on to say : “Projects under discussion also include permanent Government work for scientists to develop new secret weapons, continued war production in miniature so that factories can be quickly converted back to turning out war material, and Government retention of many war plants.”

In view of this, we can readily understand Lieut.-General Patton’s (Blood and Guts!) reassuring a ten year old Texan volunteering as an army mascot : “You can be sure there will be more wars, and I feel convinced, being a boy from Texas, you will give a good account of yourself.” (Daily Express, July 28th, 1943.)

Enough has been said to show that those who are aware of the real forces at work in the modern capitalist world hold out little hope for a future in which war will not rear its ugly and vicious head. To the Socialist this is nothing new. It is because he understands the nature of capitalism and its inevitable development that he refuses to be lulled by all sorts of hole-in-the-corner reformers who pander to ignorance by claiming to have solutions for problems which are incapable of solution within the framework of capitalism. The reader may ask now, Is war inevitable under capitalism, and what solution has the Socialist to offer ?

The answer to these two questions lies in the understanding of the nature of the modern capitalist world. The main outstanding feature of capitalist society—i.e., the present-day world—is the capitalist ownership of the means of production. By this we mean that relatively all the powers of production in existence to-day are owned and controlled by a small minority, known as the capitalist class, leaving the vast mass of the population without any means of obtaining a livelihood than by working for one, or for a group of these capitalists. “You have my very life if you have the means whereby I live,” are the words Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Shylock, and this is true—nay, even truer—than it was then. The workers, with the help of their master’s machinery, raw materials, etc., produce vast quantities of goods which the owner or owners endeavour to sell at a profit on the home and world markets. That is, at such times when they are not engaged in armed conflict with other groups of capitalists !

The most important point to remember about this process of exploitation is that the workers only receive back a relatively small portion of this produce in the form of wages, such an amount as will suffice to keep them in “working efficiency.” Consequently, they are never able to buy back all that they produce, and no matter how much the capitalist may spend in the way of luxurious living, there is always a large surplus left over. This results, as we know only too well, from bitter experience, in slumps, crises and mass unemployment. But it also leads the capitalist to search for new markets or to extend the existing ones. It is here, however, that he meets his colleagues from other parts of the capitalist world, who are engaged in precisely the same hunt. Hence ensues power politics, back-scene diplomatic intrigue, secret trade agreements, quarrels over territory and spheres of influence, and other nauseating features of world capitalist politics and diplomacy. This, we should like to stress, is not due to some inherent predatory instincts to which capitalists and their henchmen are particularly susceptible, but is the logical result of their pursuit of profit.

The cause, then, is clear. Not human nature, nor individuals aspiring to power, nor lack of “brotherly co-operation among nations,” but the profit-making system, the capitalist order of society. The remedy follows logically. Deprive the capitalists of their ownership of the means of wealth production, and make these the common property of all the people—in short, end capitalism and inaugurate Socialism. Profits, spheres of influence, trade routes, and armed might will then no longer interest anybody because they simply won’t exist or be able to exist. This is because in Socialist society things will be produced solely for use, and the sole motivation of production and distribution will be to minister to the general welfare and happiness of mankind. Instead of war, we shall have peace, real peace, not the periodical armistices which capitalism holds out for us. Instead of adulteration and distortion, perfection and beauty to the utmost limits of the capacity of society to provide them. Finally, but certainly not least, instead of exploitation and poverty, we shall bequeath to ourselves freedom and abundance. This transformation, however, can only be achieved when the majority of those persons most likely to benefit by the change—i.e., the working class—have reached an understanding of the cause of their miseries. Armed with this knowledge, they will organise with determination and enthusiasm On the political field for the sole purpose of getting to power for Socialism.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain stands for this mighty revolution, the only political organisation in this country, without exception, to do so. We therefore appeal to all workers to interest themselves in our great work, and when they are satisfied that our position is clear and unambiguous, and founded upon a correct and true interpretation of the facts of the modern world, to join with us in the furtherance and growth of the Socialist movement both here and abroad. Socialism is the only practical alternative to poverty, war, and all its kindred evils. The time is now most opportune for Socialist propaganda and activity. Only by following this course of action may we hope to abolish the poverty of the workers and the possibility of yet another future calamitous holocaust.
Max Judd

The Trade Union Movement must face the issue (1944)

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Recent legislation sponsored by the Minister of Labour —who, incidentally, remains General Secretary of the numerically powerful Transport and General Workers’ Union—has caused much fluttering in the Trade Union dovecotes.

As it can safely be assumed that most readers are, as members of the working class, members of their appropriate trade union, with more than a casual interest in the day to day problems which affect the propertyless class, forced to sell its labour power for wages to the capitalist class, we need not concern ourselves with the details of the legislation at this stage.

As Socialists, however, we give thought to the effects that will be forthcoming in the future. One sure indication is that the split between the industrial and political wings of the so-called “Labour movement” becomes wider with the passage of time. There is a definite struggle within the Trade Union movement for control of the movement. Until quite recent years most Trade Union officials were elderly men who did not assume office until they were well advanced in years. Their days of tackling a proposition in a speedy and energetic manner had passed before assuming office. In most cases they had reached a period of elderly complacency and sought to tackle problems with the minimum of effort or hard work. The psychological result is, of course, that these elderly officials become—consciously or sub-consciously—bureaucrats, who dampen the ardour of active members of less mature years, possessing energy, enthusiasm and a desire to tackle the job. A considerable number of these elderly Trade Union officials also have a profitable sideline. In addition to the salaries and emoluments they receive from their respective Trade Unions, they also draw an additional £600 as members of the House of Commons. Many of them have been placed on pensions by their Trade Unions—having reached the age of 65 years—but still continue to sit in the House of Commons until death intervenes. Little more than a sheep-like obedience to the Party Whips can be expected from these ageing Isaiahs.

Whilst there will be little opposition to the newly introduced legislation from the rank and file of the two big General Unions, whose docility to and support of its officials at all times and in all matters has for long past been painfully apparent, the rank and file of the craft Unions are not being so docile. Despite the exhortations of the Arthur Homers and Jack Tanners, the rank and file of the South Wales Miners’ Federation and the Amalgamated Engineering Union have already expressed in no uncertain terms their opposition to the new legislation. The rank and file of other Unions—despite official support for Bevin’s ordinances—are no less opposed.

This is by no means the first of a series of legislative acts that will reduce the Trade Union movement, even as a field for collective bargaining within capitalist society, to a state bordering on impotency.

Any airy platitudes to the effect that the Trades Union movement will be a midwife in attendance at the birth of Socialism will be sheer wind chewing and humbug, unless the Trades Union movement can direct its own destiny in the first place.

All Socialists who are members of their Trade Union work within the structure of their Union to make their fellow-workers understand and appreciate the position of the only Socialist party—the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

With this understanding clearly fixed in the minds of the majority of Trade Unionists, their Unions will become live, fearless and potent bodies in the class struggle, and will play their part in the birth of a new society in which the means of wealth production and distribution will be commonly owned and democratically administered in the interests of the community as a whole. Socialism is the only hope of the working class, of which the Trade Unionist is a part.
Lewis Lee

The Enemies in our Midst (1944)

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Or “Mind You Don’t Break the Milk Bottle.”

“Defeat the enemies in our midst,” said the official notice; and this correspondent, hurrying past, thought, “Ah! Yes! the Quislings.” But, no! closer inspection of the illustration showed, not Oswald Mosley or “Trotskyites,” but the common bed bug. Other pictures indicate crevices where bed bugs breed, while the caption reads “Don’t keep it dark: Report the presence of bugs to the Town Hall.”

Thus the Ministry of Information, on behalf of the Health Ministry. The housewife is urged to fight the bed bug with plenty of soap (strictly rationed) and water, which other advertisements tell her not to use. We wonder if there is one reader of the Standard who does not know a street of stinking slums where little short of total demolition will get rid of the bugs. Workers who are employed in local borough council offices know quite well that their elimination from terraced houses, not to speak of tenement dwellings, is a sheer impossibility. What regularly happens is that they are chased from one end of the street to the other, house by house. Bugs, like other vermin, are a direct result of overcrowding, and were unknown to the savage—they are one of the “benefit ” of capitalist civilisation, and scientists specialising in them know that they are completely superfluous, if the conditions producing them could be removed.

Pathetically enough, the very people who can least afford it—poverty-stricken (therefore overcrowded) workers—have to fork out hard-earned, ill-spared shillings for bottles of “Pine Fluid,” insect powders, etc., to keep them within reasonable limits.

Posters appear outside the “oilshop” on the same day as the heat wave—”Insect Killer,” 1s. a bottle. One slight advantage of the air raid shelter is that it allows the harrassed slum dweller to clear out during the night—but eventually our old friend the enemy, humming his theme song (“I don’t want to live without you, baby”) turns up once more, as witness the elaborate insecticide precautions regularly carried out every morning in every tube station and large shelter.

These precautions, like reforms of the capitalist system, do not remove the evil, because they do not remove overcrowding—they mitigate it.

We know, of course, of those stupid wiseacres who hold that certain people are born inherently verminous. “Put them in a palace and they’d still have bugs,” they say. Let scientists, like Hans Zinnsner, in his “Rats, Lice and History,” point out, for example, that—
“Soldiers in the trenches on this front were as universally lousy as soldiers have always been” (p. 299).
Therefore showing that everybody who went into the Army in 1914 was constitutionally lousy—we suppose !—according to some stupid critics. Now we are told that in this war troops have been issued with shirts impregnated with a new chemical, and lice are unknown. Lice, like bugs, come with clothes; they breed, according to epidemicologists like Zinnsner, in the loose fibres of undergarments, not in the human body itself.

Now the bugs are actually “helping Hitler” they say. So are the rats—”Don’t let them” eat your food; they are doing Hitler’s work for him,” says another poster of the Minister of Information,. Another says that “Accidents are helping Hitler,” “Bad Motor Driving Helps the Enemy.” Still another says “Absenteeism helps Hitler,” showing a row of workers at machines with one place empty; in the corner is a poor devil lying injured in the road, having been knocked off his bike—this, it appears, is unimportant; essential is that the idle machine helps Hitler.

Finally, the Ministry of Information has some special advice about broken glass : —
“WHAT DO I DO . . . ?
I keep a special watch on the road outside my house.
If I see any broken glass there I sweep it up and put it in the dustbin.
I put out milk bottles in a safe, steady position where they will not easily be knocked over.
I tell my children that they must never break glass in the streets—and I tell them why.
Issued by the Ministry of Information.
Space presented to the Nation by the Brewers’ Society“—(Sunday Dispatch, April 21, 1944.)
The bewildered housewife, rushing round distractedly from the food queue to the scrubbing bucket, protecting the food from the rats, the bed from the bugs, and slipping outside (in her spare time) to sweep up the broken glass AND put it in the dustbin (if any), must sometimes wonder why they don’t do something to get a few bugs, rats, bad drivers, and milk bottle breakers on HER side as well as Hitler’s. Of course, it may well be that they have. The present writer can testify from personal experience that there used to be plenty of bed bugs in Berlin. In fact, the largest collection he has ever seen was in a common bawdy —(ahem ! sorry)—boarding-house in that once fair city. He only realised that the curtains were not brown when parts of them moved. But, then, perhaps Hitler has organised and disciplined them since then, and sent them against England. People like George Orwell (“Down and Out in Paris and London”) have described how fat and numerous they are in the slums of Paris; maybe they are divided there, for and against Vichy, with a “Resistance Movement” (underground).

The largest individual specimens in the world were in the Hotel Lux in Moscow, which used to be the dwelling quarters of the permanent officials of the Communist International; perhaps Stalin has had most of these “confess” and liquidated them.

It seems to us, if there aren’t any in Berlin, that it might be a good idea, instead of telling housewives in London to destroy the bugs, to ask them to collect them up with the broken glass, and then the Air Force could drop them on the Germans instead of bombs. It would be much better, because given conditions of working class poverty, the bugs would breed, whereas bombs go off and are finished.

Perhaps the numbers of the circulars got mixed up, and they really meant “Collect Bed Bugs” and “Destroy Broken Glass.”

It would be something like Silone’s story of dropping the Pope’s holy lice on the poor peasants in “Fontamara.”

Speaking as Socialists, we have a strong suspicion that there are bugs in poorer working-class quarters in Germany, and everywhere else. Although whether Doctor Goebbels is telling the Germans that “The Bed Bugs are Helping Churchill,” we can’t say.

The more we think about it, the more deeply are we convinced how much bed bugs are like capitalists. Like the capitalists, bugs are quite impartial. London, Paris, New York, Berlin—it’s all the same to them. Like capitalists, they like their hosts to be fat and well, with plenty of rich warm blood. In fact, we have it on the authority of the N.A.P.P.K.I. (National Amalgamated Association ol Peripatetic and Pediculous Parasites and Kindred Insects—nothing to do with jumping parasites, like the common flea) that they are unanimously in favour of the Beveridge Report and full employment—”Jobs, Homes and Security,” in fact—just like Sir Samuel Courtauld and my Lords Nuffield and Mcgowan. Like capitalists, they’ll do anything to improve the conditions of the workers (their food supply), except get off their backs. When the workers get wise to the uselessness of insect powder parties, like the Labour Parties, which chase the bugs from one room to another, they will grasp the machine which will destroy the vermin-trap, “workers’ houses” system, the Socialist Party, and build anew on the clean healthy foundations of Socialism.

Russia's Capitalist Progress (1944)

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
From the Manchester Guardian's City Column. 
Soviet Lottery Loan.
An interesting glimpse of war finance methods in Soviet Russia has been given in a written reply by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Soviet Government issued this spring its third great war loan amounting to 24,000,000,000 roubles, and when the subscription lists closed on May 12 the loan was oversubscribed. The life of the loan is twenty years, and it has been issued in two series. One series, bearing annual interest, has been distributed amongst the workers’ guilds, co-operatives, and collective farmers. The other series is a lottery loan which was offered to the general public, it has a variety of money prizes for which drawings will take place twice a year for twenty years. The total amount of the prize money is calculated to average 4 per cent. per annum on the loan. Both interest and prizes will be exempted from State and local taxes.

We get far too little reliable news of financial methods in the Soviet Union. When times are more suitable, factual information would meet with keen interest here. Meanwhile one has to bear in mind that the Soviet Union uses a portion of the capitalist mechanics, including profit and loss accounts, banking, and investment, although these institutions have an inferior place in the economic system. It is nevertheless remarkable that Moscow should pay war savers 4 per cent. free of tax on a twenty years’ loan, while the British Government pays 3 per cent. less tax on somewhat longer Savings Bonds, 1960-70.
(Manchester Guardian, June 24, 1944.)

By The Way: Medals for Russia’s Mothers. (1944)

The By The Way Column from the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

Medals for Russia’s Mothers.
“A new institution is the ‘Medal for Motherhood’ 1st and 2nd degree, for women who have reached six and five children respectively.
“After that, the ambitious mother—if she manages to produce nine children—receives the ‘Order of Glorious Motherhood’ 1st degree.
“When the tenth child reaches the age of one year, she receives the ‘Hon. title of Mother Heroine’ and a letter from the Supreme Council.”—(Moscow correspondent of Daily Mirror, July 13, 1944.)

But What About the £5,000 a Year.

From a speech by Mr. Herbert Morrison in London on May 22, 1944 (Daily Telegraph, May 23) : —
“I well remember his (the Prime Minister’s) interview with me one Sunday morning at the Admiralty. He asked me to become Minister of Supply. He said : ‘I don’t offer you cheerfulness, I don’t offer you good fortune, I don’t offer you quick successes. I offer you nothing but tears and blood and sweat and toil.”

The Labour Party Summed Up.

From a criticism of the Labour Party’s Report on “Full Employment and Financial Policy” : —
“. . . the Party, as always, is obsessed by institutions and their powers, and ignores their policies. It affects to believe that changing the brass plate at the entrance will alter the way in which an institution acts. Thus, in the present report, there is a great deal about the exercise of control by the State over the Bank of England and the joint stock banks, but hardly a word about the different way in which they are expected to behave.” Economist, May 20, 1944.)
This is what we have been saying for forty years about the reformists, who believe that if you give a capitalist institution a different name and put it under State control, all will be well.

Free Travel—for The Workers.

On July 6th the London Daily Express carried the story of D. Henry Shepherd. “D. Henry Shepherd has a nerve, they cried; he travelled about on forged London Transport passes—and then wrote complaining bitterly about the service.”

This man Shepherd, Detective Alder said at the Old Bailey, had an obsession about railways. He thought they ought to be nationalised, so that people could travel to and from their work for nothing. Fares, he thought, were an imposition.

Being a talented commercial artist, Shepherd made his own passes and tickets. The Prison Doctor at Brixton confessed himself mystified, unable to account for Shepherd’s actions. Shepherd sounds very much to us like one of those numerous workers who have been tempted to move out of the slums of London to the suburbs, only to find fares an intolerable burden.

Poor Henry ! If only he had known one-hundredth part about the wages system as he did about poster design. Then he would have known that free passes on the railways, like other “free gifts” for the workers, do not solve their poverty problem.

As is quite well known, Henry Kaiser, the Pacific Coast shipbuilding contractor, has transported the entire New York elevated line across the Continent for use by all Kaiser employees FREE.

Mr. Kaiser’s workers do not feel themselves any less exploited. They merely get to work a little quicker. For that matter, men and women in the Services get all sorts of FREE issues, uniforms, cigarettes, passes, etc., but when claims were made for raising Service pay, the Government published a White Paper enumerating all the free services and issues and added them up to prove the Service personnel received more, on an average, than most workers. All these “free” gifts are merely deductions from wages.

Curiously enough, over fifty years ago Mr. H. M. Hyndman, founder of the Social Democratic Federation, delivered a series of lectures preparatory to founding the S.D.F., concluding with six “Immediate Demands,” one of which was “Free Travel for all Workers,” as a stepping-stone (!) to Socialism.

The Socialist Party could have saved Henry Shepherd his fifteen months in jail.

The Fine Work THEY Have Done !

Lord Royden, the chairman of the L.M.S. Railway, doesn’t need to forge tickets, of course. He has recently made a journey by special train to inspect the stations and staffs between Leeds and London.

Officials travelled with him.

Lord Royden said last night : “I made the tour to congratulate the people on the line on the fine work they have done in the past weeks.” (Daily Express, July 6, 1944.)

This is the first tour the Chairman of the L.M.S. Board has made since the war. The “fine work” has gone on for four years without his absence being noticed.

Like most directors, Lord Royden’s function consists in saying “Thank you very much” periodically.

” Export or Bust.”

“We must, in fact, export or burst,” said Mr. Clark Henderson, the Conservative member for Leeds N.E., in the House on July 14, 1944.

There’s not very much new in that. The Tory Reform Committee have placed it in the forefront of their proposals. The Government are mainly concerned with it in their paper on Employment after the War. And Adolph Hitler said it many years ago—”Germany must expand or explode.” American capitalists are saying it—and the Russians preparing to do it. The world market is shrinking relatively to the masses of goods being thrown on to it, and at the same time as the governments of the world seek still more exports. The only solution to this sort of situation is Socialism, which abolishes capitalism, trade and exports. There is one temporary expedient for dealing with it—a new war, which, like its predecessor, is almost bound lo develop into a world war.

The Girl Who Came Back !

Under this heading, a London evening paper (Evening Standard, July 11, 1944) reports the case of Paulette Geburre, a French girl who volunteered for work at Le Bon Sauveur Hospital in Caen during the fighting there.

“The casualties came in like a stream,” she said. “Most of them were Germans, although there were some British parachutists. We worked day and night, sometimes forty-eight hours at a time, with air raids and shelling in the middle of operations.” Such cases—and there are many—are full of deep significance. Why did Paulette volunteer to help the wounded ? Not for money! That was impossible in Caen. Not for nationalistic reasons. With other French medical personnel, in keeping with the traditions of the profession, she helped all, British and German alike.

We have heard of cases of air raid wardens who vowed that “if only they could get their hands on a German airman” they would knock him for six. And yet, when a German plane has crashed in flames about them, they have got badly burned rescuing the screaming German.

That invading troops regularly give ill-spared rations to starving civilians and captured prisoners is well known. Socialists think that all these people are obeying one of the most fundamental human instincts. Man is a social animal, and the urge to protect and preserve the race operates in individuals after all the hate and atrocity propaganda has been poured out.

When it is also considered that most soldiers, airmen, wardens, etc., to-day are workers, we have still one further reason to explain why human solidarity frequently triumphs over political propaganda—even on the battlefield.