Sunday, October 16, 2022

Editorial: The Post Office Workers and the Trade Disputes Act (1943)

Editorial from the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

By the time these words are in print the question of the affiliation of the Post Office Workers’ Union to the Trades Union Congress will probably have been settled temporarily—by being shelved; but the consequences of the campaign will not end there. The Post Office workers have done good work by bringing the issue to the fore, and have made it certain that the whole question of the 1927 Trade Disputes Act will be a live issue after the war, even if, in the meantime, the Government makes or promises to make some concession over the single issue of the affiliation of lower grade Civil Service unions to the T.U.C.

The 1927 Act was ostensibly introduced because in 1920 some millions of workers came out on strike to help the miners. Actually its causes went much further back than that. The employing class were badly frightened by what happened in 1926, but some at least of them realised that that spontaneous demonstration was a symptom of a slow change that was taking place in the outlook of the workers. The workers were gradually becoming more conscious of the fact that as a class, irrespective of occupation, they have a common interest, to be expressed politically as well as industrially, against the employing class. Mr. Churchill, at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, put it as follows :
“The development of trade unionism, particularly in the present century and particularly in the last decade, has produced a very great change in the situation. We have seen the trade unions become great political factors, actively engaged in party politics, in endeavouring to secure the return to Parliament or to office of one particular set of politicians, and to oppose the interests of the others.” (Quoted in Parliamentary Report May 30, 1927, col. 55.)
The 1927 Act sought to hinder or undo this development by making any strike (or lock-out) illegal “if it has any object other than or in addition to the furtherance of a trade dispute within the trade or industry in which the strikers are engaged, and is a strike designed or calculated to coerce the Government either directly or by inflicting hardship upon the community.”

The Act curtailed the legal right of picketing, made it necessary for trade unionists to give individual consent, in writing, before contributions to the political fund could be collected from them, forbad Local Authorities to make compulsory Union membership a condition of employment, and forbad Civil Service Unions to have outside trade union or political affiliations or to have political objects.

While the employing class and their instrument, the Tory Party, may be induced to make some concession to Civil Service Unions, they will do so with understandable reluctance. They know quite well that to concede something now on one clause of the Act will only be followed by demands for concessions on other clauses, and if they have to give way on the whole Act, that will be a definite set-back for them. Actually Civil Service unions in this country are more restricted than in the U.S.A. or the British Dominions. Generally speaking, the unions there can and do affiliate with outside trade unions, support political parties and affiliate with the International Postal Workers’ trade union movement, so that the Tories cannot argue that concession to the Civil Service unions is impracticable in itself.

The Sanctity of the Law
The campaign has had its interesting features. For 16 years the Civil Service Unions and the T.U.C. have protested against the 1927 Act, but nobody took any notice. All they got from the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain early in the war was a sort of promise that if they behaved themselves the matter might be considered after victory. Then the Post Office workers decided to carry on in defiance of the law. With startling suddenness the Press and the politicians woke up and broke into an almost unanimous chorus of protest. “Perhaps there is a case for changing the law,” they said— though they had usually been silent about it hitherto—”but no Government can ignore, or act under, a threat of law-breaking. This is Fascism, not democracy.”

(It may be remarked here that the Post Office workers did not take the only possible line. They could have tried quietly encroaching on the Act on the assumption that the Government, being fully occupied with the war, might ignore it.)

The Government, which includes three Labour Members, Messrs. Bevin, Attlee and Morrison, then issued a pompous warning to Post Office workers that if they persisted they would cease to be eligible for employment as established (i.e., permanent and pensionable) Civil Servants.

This talk about democracy and law-breaking sounds rather unconvincing in the light of certain facts. First, it is worth remembering that it was in 1927, when the Act was passed, that Mr. Churchill was praising Italian Fascism, and leading Fascist newspapers were returning the compliment by claiming that the Act was on Fascist lines. It should also be recalled that some of the leading members of the 1927 Tory Government had themselves in the past been active preachers and organisers of defiance against the Government. Lord Birkenhead and Sir William Joynson-Hicks were among those responsible for the 1927 Act, who had distinguished themselves by backing the Ulster preparations for rebellion (with German arms) against the Liberal Government of 1912-14 on the issue of Irish Home Rule. It was Lord Birkenhead who had said (January 22, 1912, at Liverpool) : “There is no length to which Ulster will not be entitled to go—however desperate or unconstitutional—in carrying the quarrel,” and again (at Ballyclare on September 20, 1913), “we shall stand side by side with you, refusing to recognise any law, and prepared with you to risk the collapse of the whole body politic to prevent this monstrous crime.”

The above quotations are taken from a leaflet issued by the Labour Party and T.U.C. in 1927. At that time Mr. Ernest Bevin was even talking of defying the law himself. In a speech at a Trade Union Conference called to oppose the 1927 Bill he touched on the possibility of members of his Union being ordered by the Courts to work with blacklegs, and said, “I am afraid that all the illegality and all the decisions would not influence us very much.”

Just as the poachers of 1912 turned into gamekeepers in 1927, so it seems that Messrs. Bevin, Attlee and Morrison have had their heads turned in 1943. The curious feature about this is that Mr. Attlee long ago knew and wrote about what happens in such a situation as the present one. His present plea is that he and the other Labour members are in the Government to fight foreign Fascism and must stand by the Government and see the law is enforced. In 1937, in “The Labour Party in Perspective,” he discussed what the Labour Party ought to do about coalitions to fight Fascism, and strongly urged that the Labour Party ought not to support Capitalist Governments. This is what he wrote :
“There are those who, realising the danger of menace of the Fascist Powers, tend to take up an attitude of supporting a Capitalist Government at home as the least of two evils. They tend to under-estimate the reality of the struggle between Capitalism and Socialism, and to magnify the differences between democratic Capitalist States and Fascist States. The danger of this attitude is that in fighting foreign Fascism they may encourage the subtle introduction of Fascism at home. (Labour Party in Perspective, p. 220.)
When the Labour members entered the Government in 1940, Mr. Attlee gave as one of the reasons, “To maintain the unity of the nation.” It should by now be apparent to Mr. Attlee that by taking on joint responsibility with Tories and Liberals for running Capitalism at war he has put himself in the position of directly opposing a. demand made by the Trade Unions and hitherto supported by himself. In other words, he is dividing himself from the trade union movement in the name of “national unity.” Thus does the reality of the class struggle break through. All of which points unmistakeably to the acute struggles which will up on the home front after the war ends, when the capitalist politicians—now stridently calling for liberty in foreign parts—will return to the old job of keeping the workers in subjection at home. Even members of the Labour Party who favoured the entry of their leaders into the National Government in 1940 may wonder why they did not have the foresight to insist beforehand on explicit concessions from the Tories, including legislation to amend the 1927 Act.

One lesson the incident drives home once more is the certainty that those who control the political machinery, the Government, can withstand and suppress efforts by trade unions or others to force their hand. The road to emancipation for the workers lies through gaining control of the political machinery.

The Origin and Growth of Nazism pt.2 (1943)

From the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

In January, 1919, the first elections under the new Weimer constitution were held. German Social Democracy polled more than 11½  million votes. Eighteen months later these votes dropped to less than half. As the new republic was synonymous with the German Labour Party – indeed it was there own handiwork – this meant only one thing: sooner or later the democratic republic of Germany would fall and bury the founders beneath the its ruins. The question was: Which political force would achieve the assassination  of German democracy?

The enemies of the republic were numerous. There were the avowed capitalist parties, representing the German industrialists and big business. These parties called themselves “Nationalist.” They feared the working class backing the Social Democrats; above all, they were afraid that the more extreme section of the workers, organised in the “Spartakus” group (later the Communist Party of Germany) and in the “U.S.D.P” (Independent Socialists), would gain the upper hand over the moderates. There were the numberless right-wing splinter organisations which only a system of proportional representation could call into a precarious existence. The real threat, however, came from the army, or more properly speaking, its “illegal shadow”, the “Free Corps.”

However, all of them lacked the one essential which in the last analysis can alone carry a political party to victory – they lacked mass-support. Political murders, putsches and intrigue were the order of the day in Germany in the early post-war years. Governments came and went at yearly intervals or even less. The inflation in 1922-1923 sent the mark into the pit of depreciation – so bottomless that even the best mathematical minds could not peer into it without toppling. Nevertheless,  the ramshackle structure of the newly-born republic held, because none of its enemies had succeeded as yet in building a mass-party. The mass-parties at that time were still on the side of the republic. Apart from the Social Democrats, who believed in the republic to the very last (and, let it be stated, kept a solid core of support among the industrial working class numbering about six million), three main parties, all of them openly capitalist, proclaimed their support for the Weimer constitution and participated in the coalitions which governed Germany for ten years until 1930. There were the Democratic Party (Liberals, never strong, soon to disappear), the Catholic Centre Party (party of the agrarian Catholic South), and the German Peoples’ Party (Conservative, leader Gustav Streseman). The last two parties ratted on the Republic at the critical moment.

During the first two years of its existence, the Nazi movement had to content itself with the province of Bavaria as its main sphere of influence. In this locality it quickly gained a notoriety quite out of proportion to its numbers. Bavarians are by temperament the least stolid and by political standards the most backward of the “German” people. The showy effects and fury of language and methods used by Hitler and his colleagues drew their attention even if it did not at first gain their support. It is by no means paradoxical that Bavaria, the first stronghold of the Nazis, had also been the first and only German province to proclaim itself a “Soviet Republic” – as short-lived as its first President, Kurt Eisner, who was assassinated shortly after assuming office. Conditions and people alike provided fertile ground for an “extremism” that was utterly irrational as it was based merely on violent discontent without an inkling as to the real cause of the post-war distress. And the foundations of centuries had been swept away: the Bavarian Monarchy, the semi-feudal hierarchy – in short, dependence on the older order was no longer available and the population as a whole was not ready as yet to work along the lines of the new, democratic constitution which demanded at least a modicum of political self-reliance. Into this political vacuum the Nazis poured their crude mixture of “radical” and patriotic propaganda. Their theme song was simple and catching: “The people of Germany were suffering for their defeat of 1918. But this defeat was not achieved honestly on the field of battle! No, the German army was not beaten by its foes abroad; it was stabbed in the back by the enemies of the people in Germany itself, the ‘Marxists’.” (All supporters of the Weimar constitution were dubbed “Marxists.”)

Granted the premise, the rest was not difficult to swallow. And no political party in Germany denied it. Only a Socialist movement  could explain that victory and defeat do not materially affect the economic position of the workers, but a socialist movement did not exist in Germany. The Communist Party, forced through its dependence on Moscow to sacrifice working class interests to the varying needs of Russian foreign policy, bewildered and disgusted by their political somersaults the more militant workers who were looking for an alternative to Social democracy. Able and tested men such as Paul Levi and Daumig left the Communist Party rather than serve as stooges to the Comintern.

The lessons of the Russian and Italian dictatorships were not lost on Hitler and his associates. The method of intimidating opponents by physical violence suited the social riff-raff of military adventurers and professional thugs that constituted the active core of the early Nazi party. Already, in 1920, Hitler had been sentenced to a month’s imprisonment for breaking up an opponent’s meeting. During these early years the Nazis were only one of many small nationalist and anti-semitic organisations. Three factors, however, soon gained it more prominence than any of its rivals. (1) Its useful connections with groups in the army; (2) The oratorical powers of Adolf Hitler; (3) That it made serious attempts to influence the workers, shopkeepers, professional men, etc., by means of a theoretical platform containing all the “radical” ingredients that look so attractive to the strugglers for existence. The Nazi party, like its bitter opponents in later years, the Communists, was never thought of as “Reformist,” although its economic programme simply stunk of the old hash served up by every reformist party throughout the capitalist world. “Provision for the aged,” “Protection for the small trader,” “Education for the talented children of the poor,” and so on, ad nauseum.

Its “revolutionary” content was signified by its title, “National Socialism.” State capitalism, misnamed “State Socialism,” had been a feature of German capitalism since Bismarck. Long before that, Marx had dealt contemptuously with the trickery of certain capitalist elements to palm off their cry for help from the State as “Socialism” (see Communist Manifesto, 1848, chapter on “True” or “German” Socialism). The defeat of 1918 had weakened the German capitalist class considerably and many of them were looking to State control as a solution. The Nazis were thus bidding for capitalist support whilst at the same time deluding the workers who had been taught to regard Nationalisation as “Socialism.”

Further, the Nazis posed as “Unconstitutionalists.” In 1923 they were in fact determined to overthrow the existing government of Bavaria in a coup d’├ętat. With the dismal rout of the Nazi street-fighters on November 9, 1923, the Nazis abandoned the idea of a coup and set themselves the task of winning the masses. Hitler, who together with the late General Ludendorff had led the “insurrection,” received a sentence of nine months’ imprisonment. Altogether Hitler had cut a sorry figure during this affair. He – the man who claims to have won an Iron Cross, first class , during the last war – fled at the sound of the first shot. After his release from prison, Hitler reconstituted the party into a legal, parliamentary organisation. Nevertheless, the opposition to “the system” (as the Nazis cleverly called the Weimer republic) plus their vicious abuse of the opponents, as well as their incessant baiting of Jews, maintained for them a reputation of being “revolutionaries.” And let there be no misunderstanding: they were “revolutionaries” in the sense that they aimed at a political revolution: the elimination of the democratic constitution which permitted minorities, including the Nazis, to exist. And the army of thugs, the “S.A” and “S.S.” (“stormtroops”), ostensibly maintained to keep “order” at Nazi meetings, provided the sinister substance to Hitler’s demagogic threat: “When our Party comes to power, heads will roll.”

But in those days few took the Nazis seriously. The stabilisation of the German currency and the world-wide economic recovery after the post-war slump, kept the party small. In the elections of May, 1928, they polled 800,000 votes. Comparing the figure with the vote given to the Social Democrats (9 million) who could have foreseen that in less than five years the Nazis would be the political masters of Germany?
Sid Rubin

(Final part published next month, October 1943)

A Bishop on Birth Control (1943)

From the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Bishop of St. Albans asked the Government in the House of Lords yesterday to take drastic steps to end what he described as ‘a scandal.’
“At a time when every man and woman was needed for vital work for winning the war, he said, thousands were employed in the manufacture and distribution of contraceptives, with the consequent use of raw materials, especially rubber.

“I understand that this work in this particular firm is said to be a sideline. Even so, apart from the mail-order department, the number of these articles is simply amazing. Seventy-five gross or more a day of boxes each containing twelve of these articles at five days a week means an output of over 35,500,000 a year.”—Manchester Guardian, 8/4/43.
The Bishop of St. Albans is most perturbed. It appears that fifty years hence there will only be twenty-six million people in the British Isles, because the birth rate is falling so rapidly. Apparently, despite the paramount importance of the war, much greater damage is being done by “French” letters than German bombs. It is not the savagery of the Nazis or the bestiality of the Fascists—but the “refusal to face responsibility and self-sacrifice in having children” that is causing the trouble.

It is really a nuisance, after all the speeches and plans —and the promise of family allowances after the war—to find millions of workers, like Lenin’s peasants in 1917 (who voted against the war “with their feet”) “voting” against capitalism with contraceptives.

Recently the Bishop returned to the charge : —
“The Bishop of St. Albans, Dr. Michael Furse, declared yesterday that the Church must “face boldly” the decline in the birthrate, which he described as “appalling.”

The Church, said the Bishop, who was speaking at St. Albans Diocesan Conference, should bring pressure on Parliament to ban the sale of contraceptives to any but married people.

Then they should be sold only on production of a doctor’s certificate as in the case of dangerous drugs. 
Refusal to face responsibility and self-sacrifice in having children, he added, was “not only unpatriotic but against the law of God.”—(Daily Mail, May 21.)
Naturally, it is the duty of Bishops, tending their “flocks” of sheep, to breed them, as required. We emphasise, “as required,” because one other infamous priest, a certain Dr. Malthus, in his day, when the sheep were a bit too prolific, thought just the opposite to Dr. Furse, and told the capitalists to stop ’em breeding too much. He, if he could, would have dished out “those articles” like the present Government has issued gas-masks.

Karl Marx, on page 676 of Vol. 1 of “Capital,” enjoys himself considerably at the expense of the Protestant Parsons by showing that they have always “monopolised the delicate question … of the economic fall of man.” “They generally contribute to the increase of population to a really unbecoming extent, whilst they preach at the same time to the labourers the ‘principle of population.'”

In fact, we might reasonably claim that Malthus’ suggestion, Limitation of Population, is being practically applied in this country to-day—without result, so far as a solution of social problems is concerned.

In Germany, and the democratic Bishop is most concerned about winning the war, Dr. Furse’s proposal has been operated for years.

Douglas Reed in his book, “Insanity Fair,” relates an amusing incident of a desperate little chemist who deposited his entire stock of the banned articles outside the British Embassy.

Doubtless, Dr. Furse would have dealt summarily with this scoundrel. The idea seems to be that we abolish “those articles” here, to help us beat Germany, that is—imitate Germany slavishly—so that we can restore their right to contraceptives; then perhaps they’ll help us to restore ours later. Actually, whatever people do makes little difference. One of Marx’s greatest services was to show how capitalism compensates labour shortage by machinery.
“The labouring population therefore produces, along with the accumulation of capital produced by it, the means by which itself is made relatively superfluous, is turned into a relative surplus population; and it does this to an always increasing extent. This is a law of population peculiar to the capitalist mode of production; and in fact every special historic mode of production has its own special laws of population, historically valid within its limits alone. An abstract law of population exists for plants and animals only, and only in so far as man has not interfered with them.”—(Capital, Kerr Edition, Vol. 1, p. 692.)
The Bishop is quite right—it is appalling. Appalling, that millions of intelligent young working men and women, faced with the prospect of the hopeless struggle to raise children in the conditions of the war-torn, unemployed world of to-day—are compelled to stifle the strongest natural instincts and voluntarily starve themselves of the great prerogative of parenthood. Only Socialism, where the material bases of existence are free to all, will allow men and women to enjoy the happiness of producing children whose lives will be even more universal than their own.

Review—”Our Towns—A Close-up” (1943)

Book Review from the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Within two weeks of the evacuation scheme being put into operation at the beginning of the war, the habits and general behaviour of the evacuees had been reported in both national and local press and had been discussed in Parliament. Charges were made against the evacuees that many were irresponsible, dirty and generally slovenly in their habits; that they “over-indulged in alcohol,” smoked too much, and spent their money “wrongly” in many other ways. One of the results of the publicity was an investigation by the Hygiene Committee of the Women’s Group on Public Welfare into these charges, and an examination by them of the conditions of life of thousands of town dwellers. They published their findings in a study, Our Towns—A Close-up (Oxford University Press, 5s.), and in the introductory comment : “This book is a thinly disguised report” ; exactly, a report of bitter poverty,

To obtain a knowledge of the social conditions prevailing prior to the war, they studied reports of local authorities, works by Titmuss, Sir John Boyd-Orr and others, and also interviewed witnesses such as Health Visitors, Teachers, and Local Government Servants. The information presented here in a most compact and useful form gives a deplorable picture of the conditions then prevalent. The authors made an examination of the complaints against the background of poverty and bad living conditions that many evacuees endured. They also submit recommendations as measures likely to help in the solution of the problems.

We shall not spend much time dealing with the charge of “wrong spending” on drink, tobacco and different forms of money clubs. Should the workers spend nothing on these things they would still be poor; in fact, the expression “wrong spending” applied to the workers comes within the category of a bad joke. It is shown that in 1937, “one-third of her (Britain’s) families had breadwinners earning less than £2 10s. a week” (page 111).

One of the main charges was that of bad feeding habits and a failure to choose the most nutritious foods. Here the authors give sufficient evidence to show the close connection between malnutrition, illness and poverty. An extract from the Report of the Medical Officer, City of Birmingham, 1938, is given. He stated that:

“During the year 1938, 43,507 children were examined at routine inspections at the schools and their nutritional state was classified as follows :
A (excellent nutrition)……………..   2.3%
B (normal nutrition)………………   86.9%
C (slightly sub-normal nutrition)….    9.4%
D (bad nutrition)……………………..1.4%
—(Page 117).”
While poverty is regarded as the major cause of bad nutrition, it is later suggested in this Report that there are other factors equally important underlying malnutrition as a whole. The facts from the Annual Report, 1933, of Dr. Spence, Medical Officer for Newcastle-on-Tyne, indicate however that the basis of malnutrition and illness is poverty. The facts require no emphasis—they appear on page 35 : —
“In a comparison between a group of children from one to five years of age from the city’s poorest streets and a group of similar age from families of the professional class:
124 children of the professional class had had : Pneumonia 2; Pleurisy 1; Chronic and recurrent cough 2; Measles 6.
125 children from the pooreset streets had had : Pneumouia 17 ; Chronic or recurrent bronchitis 32 ; Measles 46 ; Recurrent Diarrhoea 0; Abscesses, septic skin infectious frequent.”
That poverty is the basis of these evils is also clearly indicated in the following statement : —
“The importance of poverty as a root cause is illustrated by a striking table in which Titmuss (‘Poverty and Population,’ pages 304/5) shows that Durham and Northumberland have as compared with all other regions of England, a very low income level, particularly in Durham, where it appears to be the lowest of any county. The highest overcrowding rate. The highest death rate and infantile mortality rate. The highest death rate for children up to 4 years of age, with a heavy excess of death from respiratory diseases.” (Page 103.)
The charges relating to skin diseases and prevalence of lice were also investigated. It is shown that in ten of the large towns 40 per cent. of the poorer child population were infested with head lice. Although the authors are highly critical of many families, even suggesting that it is a matter of indifference to some, they do show that skin diseases and the presence of vermin are “fostered by overcrowding,” and that thousands of working-class families are free from it, “but in the conditions of poverty this is achieved at the cost of unremitting vigilance and toil.”

There is ample evidence to show the insanitary conditions under which people lived, and how these conditions affect the habits of those who have to endure them indefinitely. Extracts are given from an enquiry, “Growing Up in Shoreditch,” published by the Shoreditch Housing Association in 1938. This enquiry into the home circumstances of some 400 Shoreditch L.C.C. schoolchildren showed : “that in 381 cases only the 93 who lived in flats and 11 others had an indoor closet, and in 206 cases out of 390 the closet was shared by a number of families ranging from two to seven. In 22 per cent. of cases the closet was shared by three or more households, and in 5 per cent. by four or more.” (Page 88.) Also facts are given on the bad water supply and poor heating arrangements in many homes. Only 56 per cent. of 365 cases investigated had a private water supply. In 57 cases the supply was shared by three families or more.

These are only a few examples of the environment and conditions of life of thousands of working class families. Many more are given in this work. We have no space to examine in detail the recommendations; they are confined to reforms within capitalism. Margaret Bondfield, in her preface, suggests that there is a need for “a co-ordinated structure of services which leaves no gap,” and states that a weakness of reformist efforts is that: “it is patchwork reform, and so often the pieces do not fit.” We will add—reform is patchwork and can be nothing more. The need for to-day is not a multiplicity of reforms but a social revolution from Capitalism to Socialism. That alone will guarantee ending the horror portrayed in this book.

The work has the merit of giving in a condensed form information that generally speaking is hidden away in local authorities’ reports. Definitely a useful weapon for the Socialist propagandist
Lew Jones

Poverty (1943)

From the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

To those of us interested in social progress, the greatest of evils that has confronted and still confronts humanity, is Poverty. Poverty is a cancerous growth that has shattered the lives of workers. Housed in poisonous slums, an exhibition of ugliness and dirt, who can but wonder that workers have their senses dulled, and their creative aspirations crushed out of them. Debased through overwork and periodic unemployment, living in conditions of squalor-breeding disease, and having little time to review the world around them, it is understandable why the working class have not yet found a solution to their poverty.

And what of the respectable poverty of those workers who dwell in sweet suburbia? Those workers who surreptitiously scrimp and save in order to keep up appearances in a life which offers them a monotonous round of “pictures”—Saturday, “Local” or Church on Sunday, and of being “something in the city” during the rest of the week. A demoralising existence, but one of Respectability which must be maintained at all cost, even if it means apeing in manners, speech and dress the parasitic ruling class. Behind this grinning mask of false jovialness is the growing fear of insecurity. Capitalism is casting a dark shadow of doubt in the minds of workers wherever they live.

And you, the workers in khaki, scattered over the face of the globe on your mission of death and destruction—possibly the only time you travel abroad—you will find a colossal contrast between the wealth of the rich and the poverty of the workers, no matter in which country you find yourselves.

Poverty and riches are relative. In China and India the teeming millions of toilers literally have a hand to mouth existence, while the industrialists, mandarins and princes live in luxury, comfort and ease. In the highly developed Capitalist countries, because of the development of machinery and speed of production, the workers produce far more wealth than the Indian peasants and workers, but receive only sufficient on an average to maintain them in efficient working condition. In contrast to this, the capitalists have, in abundance, those things that are denied to the workers. Yet the working class produce everything that is placed on the world market.

Workers, it is no use relying on the capitalist class to solve your problems. If they could abolish poverty, they would lose their privileged position, power and prestige. The Beveridge Plan, the Atlantic Charter, Churchill’s Four-Year Plan, and any other nostrum can all be thrown on the scrap heap. They do not delve into the roots. It is the Socialist, and only the Socialist who has the solution, and it is the working class who have the power to build a world in which life can be a beautiful adventure. A world where slums, starvation, dole—in a word, POVERTY, no longer exists.

How can this social evil which hangs like a spectre over the working class be eradicated ? It is necessary to repeat a truism that few people now deny, but many unfortunately forget. THERE ARE TWO CLASSES IN SOCIETY. The capitalist class who constitute the minority in society,own the factories, mines, workshops, slums, ships, railways, airways, and all the machinery for producing wealth, but who are parasitic because they do not take part in its production. . . . The working class who are forced to sell their energies to the private property owners, because they, the workers, do not own the means and instruments of wealth production, and are propertyless. The working class constitute the vast majority.

THERE IS A CLASH OF INTERESTS within capitalism. On the one hand workers organise on the industrial field in Trade Unions to struggle for better working conditions, and higher wages : while capitalists struggle to force wages down. Conditions are favourable for workers in their struggle when there is little unemployment, as at the present time when conscripts have replaced the queues of job-hunters outside the Labour Exchanges, and unfavourable when there is widespread unemployment.

There is no way out for workers within the framework of capitalism. Struggle as they may to improve their lot, and they do sometimes get a few crumbs, THERE ARE TWO CLASSES IN PRESENT-DAY SOCIETY. Here lies the root of the trouble. When the majority of workers become class-conscious nothing will prevent them from overthrowing and replacing Capitalism by the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments of wealth production, which presupposes a moneyless, classless society, in which people will have free access to all the good things that society can produce. This is SOCIALISM.

Is this too much to ask of those who produce but do not possess? Only you can judge. Would that we could circulate our literature over a wider field. Would that our pens could in a few words crystallise to each one of you weary slaves, the message of Socialism. WORKERS AWAKE FROM YOUR SLUMBERS—YOU HAVE A WORLD TO GAIN.
S. W. C.

Duff and David (1943)

Book Review from the September 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

“The Christian Ethic” is the slogan now blared from ugly little godboxes to venerable fanes of this Precious Island; hot gospellers join hands with Soviet-loving Deans; ecclesiastics clinging tenaciously to a Good Job in inverse ratio to their hold on the “tenets” of their faith join lustily in the racket; the Church dubbed by their fellow Christians as the “Scarlet Woman” pitches the loud speaker to its own peculiar note, assured that it alone is sole arbiter of what constitutes “Christian Ethic.” This by way of introduction to Duff Cooper’s book, “David,” which is just, a clumsy revelation of the mentality of Duff Cooper and his set.

Look up this rather mythical biblical character’s record; it is no better, and not much worse, than Carlyle’s favourite “heroes,” or of the “heroes” of our own time. There will yet be a haloed Stalin in the Christian Calendar. Holy Writ roundly declares David to have been a “man after God’s own heart”; he was accorded the privilege of ancestoring the Messiah himself. Duff Cooper is hard put to it to justify the ways of God to Man through his enthusiastic write-up of a lecherous, treacherous guerilla chief; he even has to blacken the character of Uriah, with no warrant whatever from the Book of Kings, to make some excuse for the dirtiest action of his hero. David, while “on the run,” had the chance to slay his enemy Saul while asleep. Duff Cooper’s treatment of this episode is revealing.
“His statesmanship told him that that was not the way to win a throne. . . . David, believing himself to be the anointed of the Lord, would not raise his hand against the only other man who had been so anointed. … It was a great act of statesmanship, and a great act of faith.”
Our author gapes in wonder and admiration at David’s exhibition of “patience and prudence”; a genuine Blood-Tears-and-Sweater of the olden time.

“The future could not have been darker for David, yet even so, he was prepared to leave it to the Lord in whom he trusted.” In the name of Faith, St. Augustine, substantially the codifier of “Christian Ethic,” sanctified brutal Intolerance, quoting Christ for his authority; in the name of Faith Christians tortured and burned each other; in the name of Faith chattel slavery was strenuously defended, elementary rights to women denied. None of the horrors resulting from Capitalism in its worst Moloch period but found its apologists among bishops and hired Christian “economists.”

It seems incredible that anyone can be found to throw away half-a-guinea on this outrageous castration of vigorous Authorised Version English, eked out with fluffy “corroborative detail” in the familiar B.B.C. juvenile religious broadcasts, and comments in the flabby style and unctuous spirit so mercilessly flayed by the unfortunately little known The Four Gospels of Tolstoy.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is fairly and squarely opposed to “Religion,” whatever guise it may assume. It respects the sincere Christian reformer, but deplores his fundamental errors based on superstition. It is under no delusion that a Secularist political regime would ensure Socialism. Germany, and more especially Russia, are sufficient warning that skilful training with emotional appeal on non-religious lines can produce a youth fanatically attached to the equivalent of “Altar and Throne.” But the Secularists of Britain seem hardly alive to the serious recrudescence of the worst sides of Spiritism, the subtle danger of “agreed syllabuses,” and the rest of the present religious racket.
Augustus Snellgrove