Thursday, November 30, 2023

Greasy Pole: Good News For The Tories (2002)

The Greasy Pole column from the November 2002 issue of the Socialist Standard

Here is some good news for the Tories. All is not lost for them. It is true that, as their conference this year abundantly showed, they are at a very low ebb. Nowadays few people take them seriously – and they themselves are having a struggle doing just that. The term shadow ministers is particularly apt for their front bench because in the shadows is where they stay. Their leader, Iain Duncan Smith, shows every sign of growing more desperate by the day; as a climax to their conference he actually made a virtue of being a quiet man – a reputation a politician will usually try hard to avoid. They have rummaged out 25 policies to offer the voters but these are little more than tardy admissions that when they were last in power they were indeed the “nasty party” (as if there are any “nice” ones). An example of a party being nasty was in a letter written in 1996 by Ted Heath’s election agent, which warned him about the benefits we were all enjoying during those years of Tory rule:
“Younger, traditionally Conservative supporters have mostly had a very difficult time over the last 6 or 7 years . . . having had to face, in worse cases, redundancy, negative equity, failing businesses or even bankruptcy.”
A man with much to be quiet about
At this year’s conference we had the nauseating spectacle of David “Two Brains” Willetts, the shadow Work and Pensions Minister, declaring that “. . . the Tory war on lone parents is over”. It would, of course, have been better for those lone parents if he had said this at the time the war was being waged so enthusiastically by his party. One speaker after another rushed to the microphone to confess to past “mistakes” and to promise a brighter, more caring future as if the days had never been, when Tory conferences cheered and stamped their feet at Thatcher defiantly telling them that she -her policies – were “not for turning” and when she insisted, in the face of powerful opposition, that “there is no alternative”.

Then there is the matter of sleaze, which cost the Tories so many votes in 1997 and which they had fervently hoped had died the death. Any ideas they had on that score were brutally suppressed by Edwina Currie spilling the beans about her relationship with John Major. In this scandalous soil were nourished a thousand saloon bar jokes – it was David Mellor all over again but much worse. Smutty humour does not contribute to a political party being taken seriously.

Nineteen Forty Five
It has always been very difficult for the Tories to reconcile themselves to the fact that they are occasionally out of power; they regard such episodes as brief, insane interludes in the natural order of things. There was a time when this was perhaps a more valid attitude because, as in the Thatcher years, they seemed to be there for all time, to be the natural party of power. The difference now is that Labour’s majority has endured, and looks like continuing that way for some time. Voting Conservative is simply not fashionable at present, as if the natural order of things political has undergone a change. It means that Blair’s majority, founded on Labour’s success in making themselves almost indistinguishable from the Tories, must be chipped at because it is unlikely to quickly crumble away.

In some respects there was a parallel to this before 1945. The previous election to that, in November 1935, had produced a House of Commons with 425 Tories and allies against 180 opposition MPs, of which 154 were Labour. Had an election been possible in 1940, the Conservative majority may have been reduced but, on the evidence of past elections, it would have been very unlikely for it to have been overturned for some time. The crucial element in bringing about the change which produced the massive Labour majority in 1945 was, of course, the war. The working class had been promised that if they buckled down to the war effort – worked hard, coped with all the hardship, fear and grief, if they fought and died – they would be rewarded with a better world free of the mistakes of the past. It was seductive stuff, which benefited the Labour Party – and the working class were vulnerable to it, electing the Attlee government by an emphatic margin. Ted Heath, who had to rethink his plans to start a career in politics because of the size of that Labour majority, described the mood in a letter:
“. . . the average man who had been fully employed during the war thought of the unemployment he suffered before the war and decided he would not have the Tories again”.
Even so, for some people the result was a shock. “They have elected a Labour government” wailed a bejewelled woman in an exclusive London club, “ and the people will not stand for it”. The Tory MP Henry Channon – a rich, pampered, useless heir to a fortune who married into the Guinness family thus making himself even richer and enabling him to inherit the safe Tory seat of Southend which had been “represented” by one or other member of the family since 1918 – and which passed on to his son who was equally rich and useless – moaned that he was “. . . too ill and angry to reflect seriously on the disastrous Election results. I am stunned and shocked by the country’s treachery”. Within a fortnight there was some relief for his shock and anger because “the Stock Market has recovered and is actually soaring. Evidently it does not fear the Socialist [sic] Government”. With all this going on it was not entirely surprising that about a month later he came away from a meeting of the 1922 Committee “fearing that the Tory party was definitely dead”.

But that was too pessimistic from the Tory point of view because the party quickly got down to the arduous process of recasting itself in policies and attitudes designed to answer the doubts of Heath’s “average man”. In this they had some political talent to call on – like Heath himself, Enoch Powell, Iain Macleod – whose abilities in the murky world of politics helped them later to become high profile leaders of the party. These people, along with those who had been hardened by their time as ministers in the wartime government, were skilled at touching on the most sensitive nerves of the Attlee government, who were themselves exhausted by the stress of being in that government and then re-building British capitalism after the war. And all that Tory effort bore fruit when, at the next election in 1950, they came within a whisker of success.

In the aftermath of 1945 and later during the late 1960s, the Tories showed great ability in asserting themselves as the supremely natural party of government over British capitalism. So they can take comfort from the memory of that recovery, in the knowledge that although they have been out of power before they have not lost their talent to dupe the working class and can do it again. This opens the all important question of whether it matters. Capitalism is too vast, too powerful, too intrusive, to be affected to any significant degree by which party holds the job of trying to control it. Whoever sits in power over it capitalism continues to impoverish and repress most of its people. There are many symptoms of poverty – none of which ever troubled the likes of Henry Channon. For example the Institute for Public Policy Research recently found that children living in the more deprived neighbourhoods are three times more likely to be knocked down in a road accident than those who live in richer areas. This is not because poorer children don’t understand how to cross the road safely but because they lack access to safe playing areas like good gardens or playgrounds. Their playground is the street, where they socialise without safe adult supervision and sometimes – too often – get knocked down. So poverty – capitalism – is unsafe, it frightens and it injures and it kills. That is what being vulnerable – to use one of the Tories’ favourite buzz words – really means.

Why Socialists Oppose the
 Labour Party (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is, and always has been, opposed to the Labour Party. We are often asked why. People who think that the Labour Party has Socialism as its aim cannot understand how the Socialist Party can be hostile to the Labour Party. And when we explain that the Labour Party’s aim is not at all Socialism as we understand it they are still not satisfied. They say that even if this is true—how can we be opposed to all the praiseworthy and progressive things the Labour Party is trying to do; why don’t we give them a helping hand?

The answer to this question lies in a difference of theory about human society, and in particular about the Capitalist social system in which we live. The Socialist Party holds one theory and the Labour Party holds a quite different one. Is Capitalism a system of society with economic laws that regulate its working and limit the policies and actions of governments—as Socialists hold—or is it a mere chance mixture of “ bad ” and “ good ” institutions that can be improved at will by any government that wants to do so—as the Labour Party believes?

Capitalism is a System
We hold that Capitalism is a system, not a chance collection; that it is based on the class ownership of society’s means of production and distribution, with the working class living by selling its labour-power for wages or salaries and the Capitalist class living by owning, their income being derived from the sale at a profit of the commodities produced by the working class but not owned by them. This is the framework within which governments of Capitalism operate, their concern all the time being with ways and means of keeping Capitalism running as smoothly as maybe so that the making of profit can proceed, for if it fails Capitalism comes to a standstill.

The Labour Party as a whole has always rejected this view. It holds that a Labour Government can do what it likes; that it only has to draw up plans for reforms, get them endorsed by the electorate and then put them into operation. This has all the appeal of a seemingly simple commonsense, practical and direct approach to social problems; more attractive than the Socialist Party’s insistence that a new and better social system can only be built up on a new foundation, that is by replacing the class ownership of Capitalism by common ownership and by replacing the production of commodities for sale at a profit with the production of goods solely for use, without either profit or sale.

The one thing wrong with the Labour Party theory is that it is false. Not that they have not tried to carry out their programmes but each measure introduced has failed to work in the way intended; and the whole lot add up to a superficial tinkering with the system that leaves Capitalism essentially unchanged and unweakened.

Nothing has turned out as the Labour Party expected it would. Hence the disillusionment and apathy rife in that Party’s ranks, the growing despair of the possibility of progress at all and Mr. Attlee admitting a few months ago “We are nowhere near the kind of society we want. We have an infinitely long way to go . . . ''—(Daily Herald, 6/6/55.).

Let us examine the record of the Labour Party. In every field its earlier lofty aims have been whittled away, distorted or forgotten. For decades it claimed to be anti-Liberal and anti-Conservative, anti-war and anti-conscription, but it has supported two world wars as part of a Coalition Government and alongside the Liberals and Tories. It preached disarmament but built the Atom Bomb and supported the H-Bomb, and achieved the sorry distinction of being the first British Government for a 100 years to impose conscription in times of peace.

It said it would support higher wages, but was the inventor in 1947 of the policy of “wage restraint” now carried on by the Tories. It promised confidently to reduce the cost of living, but its years of office saw prices steadily rising, including the deliberate act of raising them through the devaluation of the pound in 1949. It opposed the use of troops in strikes and then used them itself and prosecuted strikers who, in 1950, struck in defiance of an old Act of Parliament.

Of course, to all these charges, Mr. Attlee would reply that he and his colleagues could not help themselves; they did not want to go to war, impose conscription, put up prices and restrain wage increases, but were forced by circumstances beyond their control. It is, indeed, true that a Labour Government that takes on the administration of Capitalism (having no mandate to introduce Socialism) has not much choice about how it does the job. To every well-meaning proposal to do something because it is sensible and in the interest of humanity Capitalism retorts that "the system” will not allow it, as indeed it will not. At the present time world markets are overshadowed by enormous quantities of unsaleable wheat and other food products held in store in the U.S.A., Canada and Australia. Since have the world’s population are undernourished common sense would suggest giving it away or selling it cheaply, but the proposal of the American Government to do this was met with panic protests from Canada and elsewhere; for if the American Government gives the stuff away it will close the market to Canadian and Australian wheat and threaten ruin to farmers in those and other countries.

Because we live under Capitalism the most useful and serviceable thing the American Government could do would be to burn the lot or dump it in the sea and keep agriculture prosperous by encouraging the farmers to grow some more; until that too has to be destroyed.

There used to be a demand in Labour Party circles for “work or full maintenance” for the unemployed, on the face of it a reasonable demand, but one which is now never heard of. It was socially reasonable but capitalistically impractical, for if the unemployed could get as much as those at work Capitalism would break down.

In the matter of profit the wrong theory of the Labour Party misled them in an almost unbelievable way. They thought they could “take the profit out of Capitalism” either by limiting profits and dividends or by nationalisation. Nothing would convince them of the truth that profit is the driving force of Capitalism without which it runs to a stop. The Labour idea was as crudely stupid as to talk of taking the explosive out of dynamite or the alcohol out of whisky. In practice therefore they had to have their nationalised undertakings run on profit making lines, and had to drop the idea of abolishing profit.

At one time, too, they were all in favour of equalitarianism and the abolition of the contrasts of riches and poverty, but Capitalism, while they were in office, taught them the absurdity of supposing that you can run Capitalism on equalitarian lines (The Communists in Russia have kept pace with the British Labour leaders in the flight from equalitarianism and for the same reason).

All along the line it is the same experience. The attractive ideal of the reformer goes through the mill of Capitalist legislation and comes out as an unlovely pillar of the Capitalist system, so that the last state is no better than the one before; the unorganised private charity and workers’ self help schemes of the 19th century have been replaced by the cold blooded, monster known as the National Insurance scheme with its law-enforced contributions, its mocking pretence of adequately meeting needs, its incomprehensible maze of regulations barring claims and its fines and imprisonment for non-compliance. If the reformists are not swept away by the growth of the Socialist movement the next 50 years will be spent on the campaigns of rival parties for pettifogging reforms of that reform.

As was argued by the Socialist Party half a century ago, if the Capitalist class were faced with the growth of a powerful movement for Socialism among the workers they would fall over themselves to offer reforms in an endeavour to stave off the end of their system.

As it is new evils crowd on us faster than the reformists can patch up. The unsolved and much increased problem of the slums and the millions of decaying houses (incidentally partly the result of that other reform, rent control), greets the new demand for reform of the housing subsidy reform; and after generations of trade union struggle for shorter hours and earlier retirement and against piecework, shift-work and night work the Labour Government while in office gave support to the opposite of each of these demands. One reform at present put forward by the Labour Party is the reduction of conscript service from two years to 18 months; while the Communists outbid them by supporting conscription for one year only. It was the Labour Government that made it 18 months in the first place and then increased it to two years; and both the Labour reformists and the Communist reformists in 1939 were against conscription altogether (except, of course, that the Communists never condemned conscription in Russia).

Again we have to point out that Capitalism leaves little choice in the way it has to be administered. It is not the good intentions of the Labour Party supporters that are at fault but their erroneous theory that they can remould Capitalist society to their hearts desire. Capitalism is a system; it can be replaced by another system, Socialism, when the majority want it, but it cannot be worked in a manner foreign to its nature. It is not growing into Socialism nor can it be made to. Those who waste time and energy trying to make it do so stand in the way of the movement for Socialism.
Edgar Hardcastle

Editorial: Mr. Crosland abolishes Capitalism — and Socialism (1955)

Editorial from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Observer newspaper has been running a series of articles on the future of the Labour 'Party, in which various writers have diagnosed that Party’s troubles and offered remedies. Some of the articles have gone beyond the problems of organising and of attracting voters, to deal with wider topics such as the meaning of the Labour Party’s “Socialism” and the requirements of the world today. One of these, “A Time for Hard Thinking” (Observer, 9/10/55), was contributed by Mr. Anthony Crosland, who sat in Parliament as Labour M.P. for five years for the South Gloucestershire constituency, and was defeated in the Test division of Southampton at the general election in May of this year. Mr. Crosland is described as an economist and former university lecturer. He is a member of the executive of the Fabian Society.

Let it be said at once that if Mr. Crosland’s article is not impressive it is certainly staggering. It is staggering that one who has the opportunities possessed by Mr. Crosland of studying the world he lives in should be able to see so little and deceive himself so much.

The core of his argument is that such wonderful progress has been made in this country that the old working class economic problems are with us no more and Socialism should therefore be defined afresh “in terms of a set of social and ethical aspirations.”

Mr. Crosland maintains that "the long-run problems of concern to Socialists are no longer mainly economic.” This is because:—“British Capitalism has been transformed almost out of recognition. ... I, personally, think it rather absurd to go on calling this economy 'Capitalism.’ . . ."

It was right and proper, he says, to be concerned in the past with the economic problems of unemployment, instability, and physical poverty, but not any more.
“But to-day, the economic system has been reformed, and no longer poses these traditional problems. Even with a Conservative Government we shall probably maintain full employment (if not inflation) for as far ahead as we can see, and we now have a rate of economic growth which, although not fast enough to satisfy some austere perfectionists, is certainly fast enough to eliminate poverty and sustain a rapid rise in working-class earnings. Despite the tiresome problem of the foreign balance, our present economy is capable of distributing material benefits on a scale which would have staggered Socialists only a generation ago."
As already mentioned, the really interesting thing about this sketch of a Capitalism reformed out of recognition is that it is false in almost every particular.

It reads like one of the dreams indulged in by the earliest members of the Labour Party about what they thought would take place.

Almost the only factor among these he mentions, that gives seeming support to his case, is the unusually long period of very low unemployment.

Nobody questions that the replacement of the destruction caused by the last war has played a part in this but Mr. Crosland, like many others, thinks that “full employment” can now be maintained by Government policy. As it would take us too far afield to deal here with the economic fallacies inherent in this belief in permanent full-employment it must suffice at present to remind Mr. Crosland that every boom in Capitalism’s history has produced its prophets of no more slumps; not to mention the Labour Government that went into office in 1929 convinced that it could prevent slumps but which was submerged by the most prolonged depression for 50 years.

One of Mr. Crosland’s points is that the old Capitalist “instability” has disappeared. If he means in this country alone (this is not clear) he would be making the elementary error of supposing that British exports could go on booming in face of an outside world in the throes of a crisis; but whether he does mean this or not, there is no evidence anywhere that Capitalism has got rid of instability. Has Mr. Crosland forgotten the sharp recession in U.S.A. in 1954, the quite acute textile slump in Britain and elsewhere in 1952, and the recent announcement in Australia and New Zealand that imports of British cars and other goods, are being cut? And did Mr. Crosland notice the “stable” way the Stock Exchange behaved when President Eisenhower’s illness was reported? A Daily Mail New York representative cabled:
“The biggest stock market break since the great crash of 1929 hit Wall Street to-day—a direct reaction to President Eisenhowers illness. . .

“Many shares dived by $15 The flood of selling orders raised the trading to 7,720,000 shares, the highest in 22 years. Total loss reached nearly £4,000 million.”—(Daily Mail, 27/9/55.)
The Daily Herald of the same date reported “gloom in share markets in this country partly due to the same cause. Alastair Forbes, a regular contributor of the Conservative Sunday Despatch had a pointed comment on this:— ,
". . . What can one say of capitalism as a system when the news that President Eisenhower has had a heart attack causes a panic selling wave on the stock market ? . . . Even the explanation that the selling panic would never have taken place if the intelligent members of the New York Exchange, who are all Jews, had not been away for Yom Kippur, is scarcely enough to rehabilitate the system in the eyes of the watcher through the Iron Curtain.”—(Sunday Dispatch, 2/10/55.)
But the chief interest attaches to Mr. Crosland’s belief that “physical poverty” is no more, and that “material benefits” are distributed now by Capitalism in Britain on a scale that would have staggered Socialists a generation ago. We are compelled to ask where Mr. Crosland, the economist, got this information.

There has, of course been a very great rise in the price of everything including the price the worker gets for the sale of his physical and mental energies, but we cannot suppose Mr. Crosland has not allowed for this. What, then, is there to show for the 30 years since—say 1925?

The figures published by the London and Cambridge Economic Service show a rise of average wage rates between 1925 and 1955 of 163 per cent.; that is to say wage rates now are about 2 2/3 what they were in 1925. The L.C.E.S. also show a rise of 116 per cent. in the cost of living. Coupling these two figures we can say that average wage rates are now 23 per cent, more than they were 30 years ago. Is a small increase of something averaging well under 1 per cent, a year a phenomenon to be staggered by? Is it this that, for Mr. Crosland, has revolutionised society and abolished Capitalism?

Let us remind Mr. Crosland, too, that this very modest rise has not been a “benefit” distributed by Capitalism or by Governments, but something for which the workers have had to struggle through strikes, the number of which is now steadily increasing. This we need hardly say is the old unregenerate Capitalism with its class struggle! It should not be forgotten, too, that the workers had to fight to maintain their wage rates under and against the Labour Government, and for the four years between the starting of the new wage index and cost of living index, in June, 1947, and the end of the Labour Government the workers fought a losing battle, for the cost of living rose by 29 per cent, and wage rates by only 22 per cent.

It is true that workers’ earnings have risen by a larger amount than have wage rates. This is because they are working more overtime, more piece-work and other-systems of pay related to output, more night work and shift work. Are these, too, regarded by Mr. Crosland as evidences of progress away from Capitalism?

He thinks “physical poverty” has .gone. May we ask Mr. Crosland what state of living it is that the unemployed, the sick and the aged enjoy on their small allowances, not to mention the several million men and women whose wage rates are on the £6—£7 level or less. Mr. Crosland is not the only person to cherish silly notions about how the treatment of the above groups has been revolutionised, but when allowance is made for the fact that the cost of living is now only just a little short of 2½ times what it was in 1938 the thing will appear in proper perspective. Just to take one item, the unemployment benefit of a single man was 17/- in 1938, it is now 40/-. Truly a staggering advance except for the fact that the purchasing power of 40/- now is slightly less than that of 17/- in 1938!

And what does Mr. Crosland make of the slum position? He thinks that Capitalism has gone but certainly its slums have not. Mr. F. Collin Brown, chief housing and planning inspector to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, told a conference of Sanitary Inspectors at Scarborough on 13 September last that “he estimated that about one million houses in this country were beyond repair. . . . More than three million houses in Great Britain were over 80 years old, and two million-odd over a century old.”--(Times, 14/9/55.).

Another thing, and this [is] vital to the whole question of Capitalism and Socialism, is not even mentioned by Mr. Crosland, that is, the enduring vast inequality of ownership, the 10 per cent. who own 90 per cent. of the accumulated wealth. This is the basis of Capitalism, the ownership of the means of production and distribution by the propertied class. It has not been abolished, it has not been tackled. Nothing whatever has been done about it, nor could it be, except through the abolition of Capitalism and establishment of Socialism.

Mr. Crosland does not deal with this issue and until he does so he has not even begun to present an argument to support his fantastic proposition about the disappearance of Capitalism. Something he does do makes his case even flimsier. He ascribes to Karl Marx the responsibility for having originally turned attention to the economic problems of Capitalism. This, Mr. Crosland approves of, though now he thinks it has become out-of-date with the passing of Capitalism, but he also holds Marx largely responsible that “Socialism came to be (falsely) defined in terms of nationalisation.”

That Socialism was falsely defined in terms of nationalisation we readily admit but not by Marx; this was the work of the Labour Party.

But above all it is false because it obscures the essential feature of the Marxist case, that Capitalism rests on class ownership.

The early Fabians appreciated this and the importance of dealing with it. The later ones, Mr. Crosland among them, faced with the Labour Party’s 50 years of running way from the problem, can only offer now the bland suggestion that ownership doesn't matter after all and Capitalism has disappeared anyway.

One other thing Mr. Crosland failed to notice in his fascination for his argument for forgetting economic problems. He perceived, logically, that if his premises are correct the “ economists ” can be dispensed with for their job is done; but he did not notice that if Capitalism and its evils have passed away, and full employment is safe with the Conservatives, will workers any longer trouble to vote for the Labour Party or for Mr. Crosland?

Notes by the Way: More Profit-sharing and Why (1955)

The Notes by the Way Column from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

More Profit-sharing and Why

The Conservative Government has given its blessing to profit sharing and we may expect to see more of it. But, surprisingly, one firm that for years has had such a scheme has now announced its termination. This is the Triplex Safety Glass Company. The head of the firm, Sir Graham Cunningham, has told the thousand hourly paid workers that the share in profits now to be paid will be the last, though the salaried staff will continue in the scheme. The reason for the ending of profit-sharing for the others is that the workers have gone on pressing for higher wages and they are now told they can have one or the other but not both.
"Successful Union pressure for higher wages has caused the management to cut out all shares in profits.”—(News Chronicle, 15/10/55.)
Sir Graham Cunningham is quoted as saying:—
“I am a blunt fellow. I told them they cannot have their bun and eat it”
He added, according to the News Chronicle, “that profit sharing could be restored to the men paid by the hour if they accepted a wage cut.”

The Liberal News Chronicle, which supports profit sharing, thinks that Cunningham has been too blunt:— 
“This is not so much being blunt as topsy-turvy. The whole principle of profit sharing is to provide incentive and loyalty, so that management and labour work with and not against each other. It means something extra in the good years, but with a reasonable wage as the background.” 
Another interesting comment on profit-sharing has been made by Mr. J. Spedan Lewis, founder and chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, on the occasion of his retirement. According to the Daily Telegraph (23/9/55), Mr, Lewis
“said last night that some profit-sharing schemes seemed to be in the nature of offering ransom. The people who ran them appeared to be offering to give up part of what they had been keeping for the sake of increasing their chance of retaining the rest.”
The Lewis firm has just had a spot of bother because some of the workers have objected to the firm opening letters to the staff marked "private” or “personal"; but a majority voted down a resolution of protest (Daily Express, 29/55).

The Labour Party and Cyprus

The Tory Government has declared that they do not accept for universal application the principle of “self-determination” and intend to hold on to Cyprus for strategic purposes in spite of the evident wish of the majority of the population to join Greece.

The Labour Party, now in opposition, condemns this and declares its support for “self-determination” in Cyprus.

It was not always so. When the Labour Party were in office and the Tories were in opposition, the Labour Government took up the same attitude as that now taken by the Tories. It was in 1950 that the Labour Government, through a letter to the Archbishop of Cyprus, declared that despite a plebiscite showing the Greek speaking Cypriots in favour of joining Greece
“The British Government regarded the question of Enosis (union with Greece) as closed (The Times, 24/2/50). 

Molotov Confesses

Molotov, Russia’s Foreign Minister since Litvinoff was removed when the Stalin-Hitler Pact of Friendship was being fixed up in 1939, has been made to eat humble pie in a letter published in the Russian journal Kommunist. He had made the statement that in Russia “the foundations of Socialism have already been built.” But this implied that Socialism bad not yet been completely established. He has now had to confess that this was wrong and that this “does not correspond to reality and contradicts the numerous estimates of the result of the construction of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. given in Party documents.” (Manchester Guardian, 10/1 /55.).

Thus the year-long word trickery of the Russian Communist Party goes a stage further. Their official version is that Communism does not exist in Russia but that Socialism has already been achieved. They conveniently forget their earlier publications in which, like Marx, they used the word Socialism and Communism as alternative names for the same thing. Lenin, who at that time was less mealy-mouthed gave the real name that covers the Russia system, State Capitalism.

The Myth of Planning

One of the clever-silly notions of the reformists ever since they started trying to reform Capitalism has been that someone could plan its production and distribution. Sometimes, as at the end of last century, many of the reformists thought that the Capitalists, through trusts and cartels, would do the job. Others have thought that Labour Governments would do it and so did the Labour Governments until they tried. The 1929 Labour Government planned a “boom” and reaped a “bust”; in the years 1945-1951, their annual plans never came out right, as the yearly “Economic Surveys” showed; and the planned production and profit and price reductions of the nationalised industries were farcical. And either the Labour Government planned the big rise of the cost of living that accompanied their administration (with wage rates lagging behind) or else they have to admit that their plan for a steady or falling cost of living was a failure.

The Tories have fared no better. In April the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Treasury, helped by their expert financial and economic advisers, planned the Budget for a year. But by October he had to produce a new Budget. Things had gone so badly adrift from the plan that Mr. Butler could not even wait till next April to have another go.

Our Ancient Scholastic Establishments

According to Dr. Kathleen Ollerenshaw, a co-opted member of the Manchester Education Committee, who has collected information about school buildings from all the chief education officers in England and Wales, about half the children attend schools that were built over half a century ago, before 1903. The number in schools built since 1944 is about 750,000, but another 750,000 are in schools built before the Education Act of 1870. The number in schools built between 1870 and 1903 is about 2,000,000.

The report appeared in “Education,” organ of the Association of Education Committees and the details given above were published in the Manchester Guardian (23/9/55).

The International Wheat Plan

Of recent years the emphasis of the planners has been on international action, often through United Nations and its Agencies.

One of the fields in which there has been long experience is the attempt to regulate the production and sale of wheat in the world. It was the enormous accumulation of unsaleable wheat that was one of 'the outstanding features of the crisis of the nineteen thirties, and Governments and economists have gone in fear of a repetition ever since. The idea of the original planners for an international wheat agreement was to cut out the extremely violent ups and downs of prices and make the movement of prices more even without eliminating them altogether. It was supposed that production would still rise in response to a moderate rise of price and would fall when prices fell. A writer in the Manchester Guardian (23/9/55) in the second of two articles on the international wheat conference and the possibility of a new agreement being reached, points out that in practice this has not happened. He quotes a secretary of the pre-war International Wheat Council, Mr. Andrew Cairns, as follows:—
“An increase in wheat prices generally produces an increase in wheat acreage, but a decrease . . . . generally produces an increase in direct or indirect Government assistance to wheat growers.” 
This is what has been happening since the end of the war and there is no chance whatever of a solution being found except that a series of bad harvests might temporarily relieve the pressure.

The result is that there is again far too much wheat for the markets to absorb.
“In the four main exporting countries—the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia—production remained high and exports fell further; as a result supplies available for export and carry-over on April 1st, 1953, rose sharply by nearly 400 million bushels to a new high record of 2,090 million. A year later the carry-over was higher still at 2,155 million bushels, and it rose again to 2,374 million bushels on August 1st this year, despite poor crops in certain countries last season.”—(Economist, 1st October, 1955.)
And what are the planners supposed to do for those who employ them, the Governments? Plan to grow more wheat and give it away? Or cut the acreage by force, take away farmers' subsidies and lose votes for the Government candidates in rural areas?

Capitalism is not just a system of production but a class system of society. No Capitalist industry is, or can be, interested in feeding hungry mouths unless there are full purses attached thereto. No Government does, or can, think merely in terms of producing what food they need, or of buying it elsewhere where it is being produced. Each Government has to think politically of farmers' votes, and militarily in terms of having food produced at home in case of war. The efforts of the Governments and the wheat growers therefore end up by producing one of Capitalism's characteristic contradictions—too little wheat for the world’s stomach, but too much wheat for the digestion of the Capitalist market.

The Merchants of Death, British aid Russian

Like belligerent stay-at-home politicians and parsons who send others out to be killed, the manufacturers of armaments have always been held in popular disrepute. The Labour Party, I.L.P. and Communists, for years made the “merchants of death" the target for their attacks as part of their muddled propaganda based on the idea that you can prevent war by nationalising the armament trade.

Behind it was the odd notion that while private Capitalists sell armaments, where they can, Governments do not. As recently as 29 July of this year Tribune, the Bevanite journal, had the following under the heading “Plain Stupid":—
“Shells bombard British ships in the Suez Canal. Who fires them? Egyptian destroyers. And who gave Egypt the destroyers? Britain.

"This is one of the brilliant achievements of the Tory Government. As a contribution to reducing tension in the Middle East we are busy selling arms to both sides. Thus Egypt is given the privilege of buying two destroyers from us. And so is Israel.

“Likewise with war planes. Equal numbers are sold to each Arab state and to Israel.

“Here the system of fair shares breaks down. There is only one Israel. There are several Arab states. Thus we tip the balance against a new, progressive nation, in favour of highly aggressive, largely reactionary rulers.

“Does Tribune want more arms for Israel ? Not at all. We are proposing no arms for either side. Simply that Britain should seek to apply the principles stated at Geneva instead of apparently doing her best to make war in the Middle East inevitable.
Since that was written the news that Russia and her satellites are supplying arms to Egypt and other Middle East Governments has knocked sideways Tribune’s belief in the Geneva spirit.

We may also recall that when Mr. Bevan was in the Labour Government in 1950 that Government, too, was selling arms to Egypt and many other countries (including Czechoslovakia, which is now selling arms to Egypt). The 1950 deals were disclosed by Mr. Attlee in the House of Commons on 16 March, 1950, and were justified by him on the ground of “the need for exports," in other words selling instruments of death for profit.

Now we have the Czechoslovak Government putting forward exactly the same kind of justification; it is just “trade.”

The Daily Worker (3/10/55) reports as follows:—
“Referring to the arms deal, Prague Radio said: “The Egyptian Government, in the interests of security and peace in the region, has turned to where deliveries of arms can be obtained on a purely commercial basis, without political or other conditions'.”
This recalls a letter written to the Manchester Guardian, on 21 January, 1941, by the Communist Albert Inkpin, who at that time was secretary of the Russia Today Society. This was before Germany attacked Russia, in the period when the Pact of Friendship between the two Governments was still in being. Germany and Britain had been at war for nearly 18 months and some M.P.s had commented on the supplies of materials useful for war flowing into Germany from Russia. To this Mr. Inkpin replied by assuring the readers of the Manchester Guardian that while Russia was supplying “oil products, raw materials and grain” to Germany, they were quite willing to export them to Britain as well.

It is, of course, good Capitalist principle to sell to both sides in a war, but if the Russian Government had been concerned to stop the war they could have refitted to supply either side.

There are plenty of precedents for this. History recalls the British manufacturers who supplied uniforms to Napoleon's armies.

The Crimean War over again ?

Just over a century ago there was war between England and her Allies, and Russia nominally over the Holy Places in Jerusalem, but actually over the effort of Russia to break into the Mediterranean and British Capitalists desire to stop it

Now we have Russia and Czechoslovakia selling arms in the Middle East, the British Government protesting against this threat to the balance of power, and newspaper editors working up a scare about a new Russian drive to the Mediterranean and Africa—the Crimean war episode again.

Here is the reaction of the Daily Express (19/10/55):-
Cold War Again?
“Three months after the Geneva conference a new diplomatic war is developing, this time in the Middle East. The Russians are going all out to extend their influence there.

“First, there was the Egyptian-Czech arms deal. Now the Russians establish diplomatic relations with the Yemen, a country which lays claim to Britain’s Colony of Aden.

“They are also negotiating a new trade deal with Syria. They are offering Egypt £89,000,000 or more to build a dam on the Nile.

“The Reason Why
“All these moves are aimed at undermining the West’s defence plans in this area. How come the Russians are able to bring them off ?

“It all stems from Britain’s scuttle from Suez. If this country were still securely in the Canal Zone the Russians could never hope to establish themselves in the Middle East.

“But Britain's departure creates vacuum and weakness which Russia is now able to exploit. So the folly of scuttle is exposed. Let Britain resolve that this policy shall never, never be repeated.”
Edgar Hardcastle

Do It Yourself: How to make your own Atomic Bomb (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

To-day almost everyone does it himself. A large trade has grown up in kits of parts which you buy in a carton and stick together. Tables and chairs, of course, wireless and television sets, garages and garden-sheds, clothing and rugs, electric fittings and all-night-burning stoves; we all buy the bits and “do it ourselves." “Save pounds” says the advertisement. Even the Book of Instructions issued by one group in this line is published in separate parts. After studying the section on “Bookbinding" you buy the materials and "bind it yourself."

It is not unusual on Friday evenings to see a "City gent" (i.e. office-worker) staggering to the terminus, bowler hat and umbrella in one hand, so that the other may cope successfully with a bundle of wall paper.

This idea permits of some extension. No firm has yet put out kits of parts to build your own car or even bicycle, though "knock-downs” (cars in bits in boxes) have been exported for years.

It will probably come. So far nobody has issued instructions on how to make an Atomic Bomb which, though of moderate proportions suitable for the "little man" is still quite effective. Yet as our diagram shows the actual construction is fairly simple. The "secret" of the whole business is apparently in the "critical weight" of the two separate pieces of uranium. According to our information about 3lbs. of refined uranium should be sufficient. It should be clearly understood that we are not supplying kits of parts, neither can we give addresses of firms supplying materials. Nor can we accept responsibility for accidents. Our information is culled from "Achievements of Modern Science,” by A. D. Merriman, Gregg Publishing Co., 1949.

We would emphasise that although the atom bomb is the trigger for the modern hydrogen bomb, the latter is quite beyond the capacity of the ordinary home constructor, however enthusiastic.

According to the statement published by Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, and other scientists, while the atom bomb "only" obliterated Hiroshima “no one knows how widely such radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might quite possibly put an end to the human race ” (Evening Standard, July 9, 1955).

Therefore we do not see that any objection can be raised to a small weapon of the type we have mentioned. Those numerous “Pacifists" who are not against wars fought with old-fashioned weapons but only against large atomic missiles; all the supporters of the Russian disarmament schemes which propound the limitation of only those arms in which Russia is deficient; cannot logically object to a small home-constructor's effort, which, compared to the tests now opening craters in the sea-bed, is only kid-stuff.

Neither can we see how people who support “Peacetime" Capitalism with its fantastic road casualties alone, which regularly exceeds one million a year in one country, the U.S.A., can really care whether people make their own bombs or not. These could never compete with the most lethal weapon of modern times, the motor-car in the hands of a harassed and worried driver.

In the first flush of the Socialist Movement the idea of the “Citizens Militia" was popular. It was a hang over from the days of the National Guard in France when workers could buy cannon and maintain them at their own expense. The scheme was that each citizen kept his own weapon in readiness at home. Perhaps the next Labour Government could revert to this; instructing each “Z” class man to report with his birth certificate and home-made atomic bomb all ready, thus making considerable economies in Defence Expenditure. We make no charge for this suggestion. The Labour Party badly needs some.

Finally may we urge those desirous of undertaking private research in nuclear physics in the garden shed (after all, the Curies discovered radium in a derelict shed) to see that their personal papers are in order. Bequests donating money or property to the Socialist Party of Great Britain should be drawn up by a qualified solicitor, who will also supply the necessary Government stamp.

On the other hand, perhaps it might be better to send a smaller donation, and remain alive to advocate Socialism. Work of that sort will eventually produce a Socialist Society where atoms will be controlled by intelligence.

Labour and Tories at home (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

The annual conferences of the two major parties were studies in political contrast. For the Tories it was a splendid spectacle—a jamboree of quietly exulting hearts.

For Labour it was a half-hearted acceptance that “there is something rotten in the state of Denmark," a reluctant realisation that Nationalisation is no well-seasoned Socialist plank but a worm-eaten structure full of bureaucratic dry-rot over which the paint of 80 years' propaganda has worn very thin.

Now a three year policy committee is to be set up to try to substitute new planks for old. There will, of course, be much hammering and sawing by the party chippies and at the end a bag of political sawdust and shavings. 

The Conference chairman, Dr. Edith Summerskill, began the proceedings with a diagnosis of the ills of the body politic. She discovered the Tory Chancellor as the malignant cause. One felt, however, that her forceps were not so anti-septic as they might have been. The Labour Party do not like Mr. Butler, not because of his blue blooded origin, but because of the pink Fabianism he adroitly puts to the Tory cause. Now the Conservative front bench has taken to importing back room boys, Mr. Butler, with their aid, has devised vote-catching policies and captivating slogans. He appears a shrewder and more imaginative politician than his Labour counterpart Mr. Gaitskell, one of Labour's bright boys, who has taken a degree in something.

Dr. Summerskill also lamented the fact that the Labour Party has lost its emotional appeal for youth. She said they now take full employment for granted and even want something more. In short, the Labour Party are unable at present to exploit the fear of mass-unemployment. She added that Labour used to think work was synonymous with happiness. While it may be true to say that to be out of work is to be unhappy it does not necessarily mean the converse is true. Dr. Summerskill, it seems, is mildly astonished to discover that because a youth may earn his own living it does not follow that “ his cup runneth over."

Indeed, the very work which Dr. Summerskill once thought was synonymous with happiness can itself be a source of industrial frustration and as pernicious in its effects in one way as unemployment is in another. One has only to think of the large number of youth working on semi-automatic processes. The routine and drudgery often involved in junior clerkships. The thousands of boys and girls in blind-alley occupations or the soul destroying tasks of many unskilled occupations; or even the gap between what career examinations so often promise and what they actually yield. All of which is perfectly consistent with a system based on costs and profits.

To work is one thing. To earn a living is Capitalism's distorted version of it. “ To work for money,” said Marx, “ is not really to work at all.” It still remains a major indictment of Capitalism that it cannot effectively gear the creative capacities of men to the productive processes. Perhaps because many of the industrial young lack a productive outlet they seem deficient in social outlook, and seek relief from the treadmill of aimless work in the treadmill of aimless leisure.

The Tories claim, however, to attract more to their youth organisation than does the Labour Party. This may merely signify that young suburbia places a greater prestige value on a half-pint drink in the local Conservative Club than in the local boozer or Working Men’s Institute. The Labour' Party is, however, setting up a new youth organisation to compete with the Tories in catching 'em young.

Strangely enough, it was Gaitskell whom his rival Bevan once contemptuously called a dessicated calculating machine, who made the biggest emotional impact on the Labour Conference by himself emotionally announcing that “he was a true Socialist." This public avowal of faith, the first it seems he has made, earned him the biggest ovation of the Conference. It might earn him the party leadership from the discredited Bevan and the ageing Morrison.

And of what did this public avowal of true Socialist faith consist, which wrung the heart of Mr. Gaitskell and the withers of the Conference? It was that vague innocuous tenet that has done service for every political creed—“ Equality of opportunity.” Mr. Gaitskell, however, further qualified it by adding, ‘“reward should go to work and merit and not to wealth and position.” Here was the authentic voice of the Intelligentsia who believe that the division between intellectual and manual labour is an eternal dispensation. Such “equality of opportunity” would exclude any opportunity for equality.

Bevan, as usual, was “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” While the Bevan demands for bigger and better doses of Nationalisation earn support from the constituent Labour Party, it is against the political trends of the time. Moreover, words like Public Ownership, Workers’ Control and even Nationalisation, are becoming political swear words, offensive to the delicate ears of sober Labour leaders and eminently respectable T.U. chiefs.

The last-named regard Bevanism as a disease, whereas it is merely a symptom. No doubt the Labour Party strives to have differences with the Tories but its net effect is to produce differences within itself which militate against it being an effective political whole. Thus the price of some permanent difference with the Tories would be the price of a permanent split; clearly an impossible situation. Yet for the Labour Party to be free of splits would be tantamount to declaring itself politically redundant. That is its perpetual dilemma. Because the Labour Party is part of an established two party system in a monolithic political structure its internal weaknesses are a matter of concern for Labour and Tory alike. The Labour Conference gave no sign that they would be remedied.

Tory Conferences are never complicated by attempts at policy making. Every delegate is deeply aware of his political station in life to which it has pleased the Conservative Central Office to call him. Only the Leader makes policy. To question it would be sacrilege. The Leader in his wisdom does of course delegate power to eminent colleagues and consult High Finance and Big Business.

Following the Churchillian precedent, Mr. Eden was not present at Conference proceedings. On the last day, however, he turned up and made a moving speech. Leaders on such occasions always make moving speeches. The Conference usually opens with a prayer, then the annual platform pep talk from the Conservative Elders, followed by well prepared speeches from the Conservative young and closes with a moist-eyed, deep-throated rendering of “Land of Hope and Glory.”

Nevertheless, the modern Tory Party, unlike their rivals, present a suave facade of party unity. There may be dissensions but they are conducted in well-bred, modulated voices. Deep down there may be fierce jealousies and rivalries but they scarcely ruffle the silken surface. Even when Churchill, old, arrogant and overbearing, became an embarrassment to the Tories there was no strident “Churchill must go” campaign. People who pricked their ears caught faint murmurings but no one heard distinctly, for the Tory door was shut and the windows closed. Just as when Butler, who blotted his copy book at Munich, lost out to Churchill’s white headed boy, Eden, for the premiership, no one yelled—“we wuz robbed.” While the Tories divide they never split.

After the crushing defeat of the Tories in 1945 many said “ they were sunk.” The same view was held in their 1906 debacle. But the Tories have a strong survival instinct. Quietly, efficiently, they salvaged the craft, gave it a coat of new paint and refloated it. Also they were able to cash in on their opponents’ mistakes and the disappointment Labour’s terms of office brought. The tide turned. People, who in 1945, voted against old Toryism began to vote for “New Look” Conservatism. In 1945 the Tories’ greatest liability was their pre-war domestic policy. In 1955 the Labour Party’s greatest liability is their post-war record.

The Tories are supposed to be traditionally stupid, a myth probably self-perpetrated to their own advantage. Actually they are shrewd and flexible politicians. “Dishing the Whigs” is as adroitly practised by them as it was by Disraeli. Because they are the traditional representatives of wealth and property, they regard themselves as the rightful rulers of the realm. The difference between them and the Labour Party is that Labour believes it can govern. The Tories know they can.

As for the Welfare State it is much more Tory “Socialism” than Labour “Socialism”. Long ago Industrial Feudalism was a Tory ideal, where workers would have “rights ” as well as duties. Indeed the New Welfare State is only old Tory reformism writ larger. While it may have features not wholly satisfactory to the Tories it is the current expression of their age-long political paternalism. While circumstances may make them modify it here and there they will keep its main structure unimpaired.

At present they seem to have a decided political edge on their rivals. Only the possibility of a slump, it appears, can boom Labour’s falling stock.
Ted Wilmott

Nationalisation: A Solution for the Disillusioned (1955)

rom the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

The decision of the National Coal Board to close Brynhenllys Colliery has cast a shadow over the mining valleys of South Wales. “Last Friday 193 miners received notice to finish work on August 26th. The previous day the N.C.B. accused men of “indiscipline.” (South Wales Evening Post, 16/8/55).

Many of the people in the mining districts of South Wales supported nationalisation of the mines, believing it would solve their economic troubles. They did not and still do not understand that nationalisation is no different from private ownership insofar as it is still Capitalism. But now many of the miners from the colliery in question have openly stated they preferred the conditions operating under private Capitalism. Here then is a clear and sad picture of the confusion in the minds of workers everywhere on the question of “nationalisation.”

As Marx pointed out in “Value, Price and Profit,” “Capital presupposes wages; and wages presupposes capital; one cannot exist without the other.”

So the existence of the Capitalist system presupposes the wages system; wherever this exists, Capitalism exists. All that happens under nationalisation is that capital, instead of remaining in the control of private individuals, passes under the control of the State; it becomes centralised. But the Capitalists do not lose by this move, rather do they gain; for what greater security can one have than State bonds. All they now have to worry about is the economic stability of British Capitalism as a whole Even if all the collieries closed down, they would draw their interest. In Russia, in China, in America and Great Britain, and in almost every other part of the world. Capitalism operates either as State Capitalism or as private enterprise.

If the workers of the world will only stop and think about these things, instead of allowing themselves to be led up the garden path by leaders of any variety, they will realise the solution lies with themselves, and not in trusting to leaders. They will vote for the abolition of Capitalism and the wages system, and introduce a system of society based on common ownership of the means and methods of production and distribution by and in the interests of the whole community; irrespective of race, sex or colour. Goods will be produced for use and not for sale; there will be no buying, no selling, no trade and no barter; the money system will finish in its entirety. Man will then have proved that he is civilised. There will be no war for there will be nothing to have wars about, since things will be commonly owned. There will be no stealing; for what man will steal from himself. All our ideas of ethics and morality will change; because the laws operating under minority rule are related to property. A man’s wife is his property in law, just as much as his lawn mower. Under Socialism men and women will be equal; the only bonds will be bonds of affection. There will be opportunity for each to follow the occupation of his or her choice. Opponents of Socialism say human nature wont allow it to work; when what they really mean is “ human behaviour.” People will not behave in the crazy way they do today; after all because there is plenty of water in the tap we do not leave it on all night. In the same way when Socialism becomes a fact people will not hoard things up. Why should they? since they can have as much as they want anyway. They will not refuse to work since work will not be as it is today, everything will be done for the benefit of man; conditions of work will be different from now, since there will be no bosses; there being nobody to boss for. In short, a sane people will see the necessity for Socialism and so they will behave in a sensible way. For the first time in history they will be able to control their destiny.
Phil Mellor

"The Welsh Republic" (1955)

Pamphlet Review from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

"The Welsh Republic" (Published by the Welsh Republican Movement, Cardiff)

Some while ago the Socialist Standard printed an article exposing the policy of the Welsh Nationalist Party. Recently there has come to our notice a pamphlet printed by a group known as “The Welsh Republican Movement.” We find, on reading, yet again a somewhat familiar dressing for the same old wound—Capitalism—though dressed in somewhat different phraseology.

The pamphlet begins by criticising the Labour Party (emphasising the prefix ENGLISH Labour Party) and explains that whilst it began its growth on sound Socialist ideals including self-government for Wales, it has dropped its early Republicanism for Monarchy, the symbol of class society. This sounds very nice to the Welshman with a grievance (and who hasn’t?) but is really very naive to those who know something about the Labour Party. The Labour Party never was an ENGLISH party, being composed of representatives of the four nations of the British Isles. Its policy has never been Socialist whatever its ideals may have been.

To say that Wales is governed by “English Concepts” (page 3) asks us to enquire “What are English concepts?” Wales, like Scotland, England and Ireland, is governed by “Capitalist Concepts” which bear equally hard on the workers of these respective countries. Of course, there are spasmodic periods when the workers of one part of Britain are relatively better or worse off than those of another area, due to fluctuations of capital investment. At the moment, S. Wales is in the main “enjoying” a boom period in tinplate.

We are also told that England has imposed its Monarchist tradition on an “innately democratic people” (page 3). The Republicans have obviously written their own history book here. The Wales that was conquered and finally integrated with Monarchist England was herself the Wales of the Princes; indeed, to the patriotic Welshman, the finest chapter in Welsh history was the last great insurrection for independence led by Owain Glyndwr, prince of ancient lineage and doyen of the Welsh of his time.

The structure of Welsh society changed in the same manner and from the same causes as existed everywhere else. To talk about the “old classless society of the Welsh Nation” is utterly wrong. The Welsh Nation began on a class basis as did other nations.

With the revolt of the Roman Magnus Maximus and the disintegration of Roman Britain, leading families took over “trwy ganiatâd y Rhufeinig” (by permission of Rome) as the old historian Carnhuwanawe states in Hanes y Cymru. Maximus represents the figure from which flowed the river of the nobility by whom Wales was ruled until the Conquest. The transition to Feudalism of the English pattern was a relatively simple matter in a land where there had already existed for centuries a class society composed of Kings and Princes (Breninoedd a Tywysogion), lords and gentry (Arglwyddi a boneddwîr” and a slave class (caethion).

Not only are the Republicans wrong in appealing the Welsh as “an innately democratic people.” but they ignore the fact that in modern Wales the Caethion (slave class) is for the first time a Majority Class—as slaves to Capitalism.

What are the positive points in the Republican pamphlet? There aren’t any. There is a 12 point manifesto at the end containing generalities, obviously intended to tickle the patriotic palate, e.g., that the monarch of England shall have no jurisdiction over the Welsh Nation (point 2). The pamphlet contains nothing even mildly anti-Capitalist except for opening with a tirade against the Labour Party and closing with a condemnation of Toryism. This is, of course, merely criticism of the manner in which these parties have conducted the system.

The Welsh industrial worker, like his comrades all over the Capitalist world, has been forced from time to time to rebel against the insufferable conditions imposed by Capitalism. The history of the coalfield provides ample proof of this. It is to such people that we of the Socialist Party speak.

Wales can achieve, along with the workers of all countries, the victory which will end for all time the exploitation of man by man. The history of the future will tell of the final assault and triumph of humanity over slavery and humiliation and the world will be the inheritance of the people as a whole.

The voice of the Socialists in Wales is a small but a constant one. All parties are in opposition to it but it persists. It will continue to expose those who, under the guise of liberators, continue to mislead the working class, included in this category being the Republican Movement.
W. Brain

A quotation (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard
"Two contrary laws seem to be wrestling with each other nowadays: the one, a law of blood and death, ever imagining new means of destruction and forcing nations to be constantly ready for the battlefield; the other a law of peace, work and health, ever evolving new means of delivering man from the scourges which beset him."

"The one seeks violent conquests, the other the relief of humanity. The latter places one human life above any victory ; while the former would sacrifice hundreds and thousands of lives."
Louis Pasteur. In 1888.

Obituary: Charles West (1955)

Obituary from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

With much regret we have learned of the death from heart failure of Comrade C. T. West. He was 58.

He joined the Party in 1924, having been a conscientious objector in the 1914-1918 war, and imprisoned for a while in the Tower of London. At various times he was in the Clerkenwell, East London and Hackney Branches, and often spoke as chairman on the Victoria Park platform in the days when Alfred Jacobs was almost our resident speaker there. On at least one occasion, too, he came in conflict with Party rules.

A quiet, somewhat reticent man, West had considerable knowledge of Socialist theory, and was always ready to discuss Party matters beside his stall in a London market. One of his great wishes—it has been carried out—was to be buried m the Highgate Cemetery: the reason will be readily inferred.

We are sad at his passing, and offer our sympathy to his widow.
Phyllis Howard

Party News Briefs (1955)

Party News from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

Propaganda Meetings. With the advent of the colder weather it is necessary to curtail our outdoor meetings and as an alternative more indoor meetings are being held. In London, at Head Office, every Sunday evening, lectures are given with film illustrations and at 32, Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury Branch is holding regular Sunday evening lectures. These are in addition to the Hackney lecture and Paddington Branch Wednesday evening discussions. Full details of all these meetings are in this issue. Glasgow (City and Kelvingrove Branches) have also arranged Sunday lectures at the Central Halls, Bath Street, Glasgow.

* * *

Debate with the Liberal Party Candidate for Leyton is taking place at Leyton Town Hall on Wednesday, November 16th. Leyton Branch, who are organising this debate, ask that as many members and sympathisers as possible make an effort to attend. Full details are on the front page.

* * *

Lunch Hour Meetings are now held regularly at Lincolns Inn Fields—'Tuesdays and Fridays at 1 p.m. and at Tower Hill on Thursdays at 1 p.m. Party Members and sympathisers will have an interesting lunch hour and at the same time their support at these meetings will be of benefit to the Party and will stimulate the speakers who work well to make these meetings a success.
Phyllis Howard

"Socialist Standard" may cost you more (1955)

From the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

In recent issues we have drawn readers attention to the loss on the Socialist Standard and have asked for assistance in expanding circulation and also for donations.

Unfortunately the response has not been sufficient to enable us to meet the difficulty.

After adding circulation costs to printers’ charges each copy costs more than the 4d. at which it has been priced. And as most copies are sold from Head Office at less than 4d. and a considerable number are given away to public libraries and other journals the loss has become too great to be continued. It is therefore possible that the price may have to be increased in the near future.

SPGB Meetings (1955)

Party News from the November 1955 issue of the Socialist Standard

Voice From The Back: All Things To All Men (2007)

The Voice From The Back Column from the November 2007 issue of the Socialist Standard

All Things To All Men

It is the nature of capitalist politics that you must pander to your audience. Thus in one week the late President Kennedy could declare to a German audience “I am a Berlinner”, to an Irish audience boast of his Irish descent and finish off in the USA extolling his American patriotism. Mitt Romney who is contesting the Republican primaries is using a similar ploy. “Whereas he once took on the powerful gun lobby, he more recently joined the National Rifle Association as a life member. Elected in Massachusetts as a strong supporter of gay rights, he now proclaims himself as a fierce opponent of same sex marriage.” (Times, 20 September) Obviously a man of principles. The main principle being “do anything to get elected”.

A Living Wage?

“The adult rate for the statutory minimum wage will go up from £5.35 to £5.52 and from £4.44 to £4.60 for 18-21-year-olds. The rate for 16 and 17-year-olds will increase from £3.30 to £3.40 an hour. Meanwhile, annual leave entitlement will increase from 20 to 24 days a year for full-time workers and will increase again to 28 days from April 2009. Employment Relations Minister, Pat McFadden, said: “These changes will improve the lives of millions of British workers, giving them more time with their families and ensuring our lowest paid workers continue to be able to earn a living wage.” (Guardian, 1 October) McFaddens “living wage” must seem laughable to politicians and big earners in the City. 17p an hour increase? Let the good times roll!

Now That’s Living

“The bonanza in boardroom pay has become even more spectacular, according to the latest figures from the accountancy firm KPMG. The typical chief executive of a FTSE 100 company has seen their total remuneration rise by 12 per cent in the past year, to reach over £2.6m. That’s four times the rate of increase in average earnings, leaving the business elite on pay over 100 times what most of their employees earn. In the case of those chief executives still in post, their income went up by 16 per cent, accelerating last year’s 9 per cent rise. The chief executive of one of the smaller FTSE 250 companies would expect to see a total package of just over £1m, up from £878,000 in 2006. Britain’s top corporate earner is probably still Bob Diamond of Barclays Capital, who took home £22.9m last year, including a performance-related bonus of £10.4m.” (Independent, 1 October)

We Hope It Is True

It is sad but true that it is almost impossible to lift up a newspaper without being informed about bad news. War, poverty and world hunger – it is the media’s daily ration of social problems. How welcome to read of this ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy press. “Outrage in cyberspace as the US Navy describes the MySpace generation as “alien life forces”. They spend their lives in front of screens meeting foreigners and are therefore less willing to sign up and kill them, a Navy study reports.” (Times, 2 October)

Not So Patriotic

At the Labour and Conservative Party conferences the drum was banged for patriotism. “British jobs for British people”, “this great country of ours”, “our proud British heritage”, and so on ad nauseam. In fact the British capitalists don’t care where they make their profits, if they can exploit workers abroad more profitably then that is what they will do, despite the cant spoken at political conferences. “Unite, the manufacturing trade union, yesterday accused Cadbury Schweppes of behaving like an “asset-stripping private equity firm” following the company’s announcement that it would shed 700 jobs by outsourcing chocolate production to Poland. Cadbury said it planned to shut its factory in Keynsham, near Bristol, by 2010, with the loss of 500 jobs, while 200 further posts would go in Bournville, in the Midlands, at the plant where it has been producing chocolate for almost 130 years. Much of the work done at the Keynsham and Bournville plants will be switched to the Polish company Wedel, which it acquired in 1998, Cadbury said, because labour and manufacturing costs would be much lower”. (Independent, 4 October)

The New Imperialists

It used to be that supporters of Chinese and Russian state capitalism decried the imperialism of the British Empire,. Today though it is a case of the kettle calling the pot black. “Today, emerging-market giants are fighting for oil, gas and metal ore in Africa as energetically as 19th-century European colonialists grabbed land on the continent. Recently, the Chinese have been the most aggressive, with more than 700 companies active in 50 countries, according to Standard Bank of South Africa. China is now Africa’s second largest aid donor and trading partner, behind the United States, with trade up fourfold to $40 billion since 2000. But Russia, the second most active emerging-market power in the area, is gaining. While trade with Africa is only $3 billion a year (up threefold since 2000), Russian companies flush with cash have sunk over $5 billion into buying up African assets since 2000— and that’s not counting $3.5 billion of oil exploration deals that will come online before the end of the decade.” (Newsweek, 15 October)

Editorial: Brown’s No Different (2007)

Editorial from the November 2007 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of Gordon Brown’s first actions as Labour Prime Minister was to appoint as trade minister Digby Jones (former head of the CBI and trade unionists’ bête noir). He followed that up with appointments for Alan Sugar (of TV’s The Apprentice) and private equity chief Damon Buffini – who presumably doesn’t need the cash – to something called a Business Leaders Council.

On policy he has promised a raft of meaningless populist measures, including new powers to stop shops selling alcohol to kids (yeah, that’ll work), and more power to hospital matrons to get wards cleaned. Ten thousand laptops have been promised to help police cut down on increasing paperwork (presumably related to all the shops being prosecuted for selling alcohol to kids).

He also cornered the UKIP/BNP vote, making a speech about creating “British jobs for British workers” (which might explain the Digby Jones appointment ?), and still found time in his busy schedule to spend two hours in Downing Street with a previous resident, one Mrs Thatcher. He has of course been even more charitable to the current Tory leader, David Cameron, recently giving home to most of his policies.

So is there anyone left who really thinks that the Labour Party is different from the Tory Party ?

The Labour Party was not invented by the capitalist class. But it might as well have been. It offered a superficially attractive gentle path to social change, but has in reality acted for 100 years as a sop to the discontent of its core support in the majority (working) class.

When in opposition it used the language of democracy and freedom, fairness and equality. But its actions when in government throughout the 20th century speak far far louder. Anti-war campaigners gave it their support then watched aggrieved as Labour purchased expensive missile systems, or frog-marched millions into countless wars around the globe. Trade unionists financed it, then stood by as Labour introduced or extended anti-trade union legislation.

More recently, Labour hasn’t really needed to say much at all. No grandiose claims as to how they would nationalise the “commanding heights” of the economy or solve the housing crisis. No taxing the rich “until the pips squeak” For the last 25 years it has been considered enough to simply not be Thatcher, Major, Howard, Cameron… They didn’t put it on their manifestos and election posters but the inspiring message to voters has been “Well we might be bad, but the other lot are worse”.

The convenient explanation is to blame it all on “that bloody man” (Tony Blair) for supposedly hijacking the party. The reality however is that the Labour Party, its means and ends, have long since become discredited. Only the rhetoric has changed in the last 20 years. The Labour Party simply never were socialist: the difference now is that they don’t have to pretend.

Blair came to power on the basis of not being a Tory; he was allowed to cling onto power for ten years by a Party desperate for an orderly succession to let the next great hope take charge.

And so we come to Gordon Brown, minister’s son, radical student and Red Clydeside historian. Will he be any different? Of course he won’t. Do you want to bet?