Thursday, April 6, 2023

Nothing objectionable ! (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

The “Morand-Morrison” divorce case should give pause to more than one critic of Socialism. In this case a man and woman were, on the authority of Mr. Justice Deane, perfectly happily married. Along comes a rich man—a millionaire—with, of course, a rich man’s appreciation of that sanctity of the home and the marriage tie which Socialists (we are told) are bent upon destroying. He takes a fancy to the woman, having worn the novelty off his own wife, and being a very rich man, used to having his own way in everything, he soon removed all obstacles from his path.

Now the husband brings a case in court, not, of course, as a part of any pre-arranged scheme to provide Captain Morrison with a “free” woman.

What we desire to put on record, however, is the remarkable utterance of the judge in hia direction to the jury, as indicating the position of the law when dealing with the buying and selling of women by rich men.

According to the “Daily Chronicle,” of March. 14, Mr. Priestley, K.C., “for the wife, in answer to Mr. Justice Deane, said it was a question of damages only, and the sum of £5,500 had been agreed upon subject to the approval of his lordship and the jury.”

“Mr. Justice Deane” the “Chronicle” continues, “said there might be cases in which, when the parties lived a cat and dog life, it would be rather a blessing than otherwise that the parties should part. But there was nothing of that sort in this case. Petitioner and his wife were perfectly happy till this trouble began with Captain Morrison giving presents to the lady.”

Having thus established the “glad, beautful, and pure” English home in accordance with the accepted canons of orthodoxy, the judge proceeded to show how obliging and helpful the law is in matters of prostitution and the “White Slave” business when money elevates them from crime to virtue.

“The parties themselves had agreed to the sum of £5,500, and they knew the facts better than anyone else. . ‘As far as they could see, there was nothing of an objectionable character behind petitioner and the other parties. Captain Morrison was a rich man, and he had practically bought this woman for £5,500.”

On the judge’s direction the jury found for the petitioner.

It is a great pity that this will not serve as a peg for the Suffragettes to hang their tale upon. It is a great pity that the power of wealth, which shows its ugly head so obtrusively, cannot be obscured, and that all too visible class line rubbed out. They might then be able to show that this is another instance of the line of cleavage between the sexes, and to prove therefrom that the extension of the franchise to propertied women would be the salvation of society. Alas ! however, the facts of this case, at all events, are too glaring to be obliterated by their specific “dark brown fluid,” or to be obscured by the “Votes for Women” label. It needs no discerning eye to observe that not only a woman, but a man also, has in this case been bought to serve the purpose of the idle rich. So it is as clear as claret that the buying and selling of women does not indicate a sex inequality, calling for the Suffragette, but a class dominance, calling for the Socialist.

Jottings. (1913)

The Jottings Column from the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

What an ungrateful world this is ! Bearing in mind the fact that it is the workers who provide the capitalists with the wealth they batten upon, one would almost suppose that the capitalists would, in a measure, be grateful for the service rendered to them, if only to the extent of giving them a decent wage in return. And so they would, no doubt, did they not know that the workers as a class are not yet wise to the game. As it is, knowing that they hold full possession of the power (again provided by the workers) whereby they can keep the workers in subjection, they are prepared to exercise it to any extent in order to maintain it. Not only do they grind their victims down to the uttermost limit of degradation, but they seek to make it appear that they are doing them (the workers) a service in allowing them to live at all !

We, as wealth producers, are expected to be grateful to them for the privilege of producing wealth, in order to hand it over to them !

And how particular they are, too ! They will insist on having the best even in buying labour power. They are connoisseurs, too, in the art of picking and choosing. Whenever a job is to be given, members of our class are paraded and eyed up and down, just for all the world like a lot of prize cattle. Those of us who are lucky (!) enough to have a job lose our personality (if we ever had any) immediately we get it, and respond to a number or a section the same as convicts.

* * *

One of the latest devices for improving this system has just come to light. It is used for particularising applicants for employment at the Board of Trade Labour Exchanges and is in connection with the working of Part 2 of the Insurance Act. This, by the way, is only one feature of the Insurance Act.

When a man presents himself to sign the unemployed register, it is said a clerk surveys him up and down and jots down by the side of his name a capital letter in accordance with a code they possess, the key to which is herewith furnished.
B.—Slightly deaf.
C.—Very deaf.
D.—Tidily dressed.
E.—Untidily dressed.
F.—Down at heel.
G.—Generally unfit.
H.—Fringe at bottom of trousers.
I.—Insolent bearing.
J.—Slouchy gait.
K.—Over garrulous.
L.—Seedy appearance.
M.—Unkempt appearance.
N.—Smart appearance.
O.—Intelligent face.
No sign of gratitude here to the wealth producers—rather one of shameless cunning and insult. No sign here of the repeated promise of the Liberal tricksters to end the misery of unemployment. No ! When it comes to the process of still further weeding out the poor devils who have once before been weeded out, it is an indication that the struggle between the producers and the non producers is reaching its most acute stage. Factors such as these sound an ominous note. There are rumblings in the air. A little longer and then—Mr. Capitalist, look out !

* * *

Another “self-made” man has gone over. According to the effulgences which have lately appeared in the Press, Sir William Arrol “was essentially a self made man, owing nothing to patronage, and conquered by his own sheer indomitable will, which raised him from the humblest ranks to the most exalted position in the profession of engineering.”

Dear, dear ! Just mark what this most wonderful man accomplished. “The chief triumphs of Sir Wm. Arrol’s genius were the construction of the second Tay Bridge, the Forth Bridge, the Tower Bridge, and the Nile bridges near Cairo.”

As he “owed nothing to patronage” we must assume that he did it all himself—for sport. There is no mention made of anyone giving him a lift with the job, except in the case of the Forth Bridge, when King Edward drove home the last of 6 million rivets.

Perhaps he was a magician !

* * *

In these days of capitalist sorcery one has to be prepared for anything. If someone comes along with an invention that will do away with the necessity for eating it will not be in the least surprising. As it is we are getting on that way now. If report speaks truly it will shortly be possible for the worker to remain at his task for an indefinite period. A Doctor Morton, of the State Psychopathic Hospital, Mass., has invented a substitute for sleep which permits the brain to work 24 hours a day !

The invention consists of a scientifically constructed chair in which one can rest while following his occupation (if a seated one), and in which all mental and bodily vigour is maintained. A professor who has experimented on it over a number of years has never found it necessary to close his eyes !

Phew ! Once get this going and the jig’s up ! However, it’s an ill wind that blows good to nobody. Apply the invention to our industrial system and the eight hours question is solved right away. There won’t be any !

* * *

Following upon the agitation some time ago for better conditions in the Postal Service, a Committee of Enquiry was appointed to enquire into and report upon the existing conditions of the various services in connection with the Post Office. Prominent among those who gave evidence was Sir Alexander King, the Secretary to the Post Office and Head of the Department. Obviously his purpose was to gloss over the bad conditions, and also to rebut any evidence that might damage the Department.

Now, mark ! Quite recently the Postmen’s Federation held a social at Beckenham at which their Parliamentary Secretary and Labour candidate, Mr. G. H. Stuart, presided. The honoured guest of the evening, who was received with loud applause, was—Sir Alexander King !

* * *

In connection with the recent bye-election at Houghton, the Liberal Press a few days prior thereto pointed out the farcical position of a Liberal and a Labour candidate fighting in the same contest when both stood for the same thing. It certainly is very funny, though not surprising.

The Labour candidate (Ald. House) says : “The Labour Party agrees with every item in the programme of the Liberal Party.”

The “Manchester Guardian” (12.3.13) says : “Mr. House is taking his stand at this election on the same ground as the Liberal candidate,” and goes on to complain that the Labour candidate is altering his political dress more and more to match the Liberal pattern !

Of course it must be aggravating when a chap comes along and queers the pitch. After all, though, haven’t the Liberals the best of the game ? Have they not two representatives to the Tories’ one ?

* * *

The “Labour Leader” is now mildly protesting against the too frequent appearance of Labour M.P.s on Liberal platforms. It has been quite the fashion, lately. “Everybody’s doing it.” It’s all right once in a way, but don’t over do it, you know ! Gives the game away.

Mr. W. Johnson has been unusually busy. He supported the Liberals at Coventry on the occasion of a demonstration on January 24 and on March 1 he opened a Liberal club. On March 6 he attended the annual dinner of the Bolton Liberal Club, where he informed his pals that he had given the Government his loyal support. “I am not going to be dictated to as to where I shall go,” he said, “and I would not refrain from being amongst you to-night.” There is nothing like candour !

Both Mr. Crooks and Mr. Bowerman supported the “Progressive” candidates in various wards last month, despite the fact that candidates were running under the auspices of the B.S.P., and who had, in Bow and Bromley, the support of the Gasworkers’ Union. Thus we find them in opposition to their own kind !

I don’t know that Mr. Crooks is to be blamed altogether, for he has always displayed a cringing servility toward his “betters.” Politically he is blind. As a platform orator he has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth every time he opens it, as, for instance, when he was seeing Mr. J. Ramsay McDonald off to India he admitted that “sometimes in looking up to heaven we stumble over the log that is at our feet and come a cropper because we don’t see where we are going !”
Tom Sala

Answers to Correspondents. (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

C. W. Holt (Nottingham).—We agree with Marx’s “Discourse on Free Trade.” Free Trade in England helped make it the “workshop of the world.” But what it did for capitalists here Protection did for those abroad. Your statement that Free Trade “widens the breach between Capital and Labour ” is false. It is not fiscal systems that cause the “breach,” but the development of the productive forces, as Marx shows in “Capital.”

Editorial: David Lloyd George and “dastardly” conduct. (1913)

Editorial from the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every age has its representative types, and the type of our time is that sinister figure in politics known as the Right Hon. David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He perfectly reflects the cant and hypocrisy of the psalm singing sweaters who own and control the means of life in this auspicious and happy era.

He comes into the glare of present publicity by his dealings in “Marconis.” Part of the story has been told before the capitalist committee now sitting, but a short survey of the affair will be useful.

Sir Rufus Daniel Isaacs, K.C., the Attorney-General, has a brother, Godfrey Isaacs, who is Managing Director of the Marconi Company. Having made himself responsible for selling 100,000 shares in the company, Godfrey offered Rufus 10,000 shares at £2 each, which the latter bought. Thereby Godfrey Isaacs netted about £9,000 profit, but as Rufus had plenty of money he did not mind this.

Sir Rufus then approached Mr. David Lloyd George, telling him it was “a very good investment,” and that “these shares would undoubtedly rise in value.” The “poor but honest” Chancellor, of course, could not resist the bait of “ninepence for fourpence”—not the mythical ninepence he promised working men under the Insurance Act, but a real, live “ninepence.”

On April 17th, therefore, Mr. Lloyd George “bought” 1,000 shares at £2 each from Sir Rufus, although the issue of these shares was not authorised by the company until the 18th (Attorney General’s evidence, March 25th, 1913). He did not pay for the shares, but within two days he sold 357 of them, and by the third day 500 more, Therefore he sold all but 143 of them and in three days netted a profit of £743 !

Unearned increment ! How the words used to trip from the lips of the “Welsh tribune” at Limehouse and elsewhere in his campaigns up and down the country ! Listen to his denunciation of the wicked, idle landlord : —
“He doesn’t even take the trouble to receive his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks to receive it for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to spend it for him. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function is stately consumption of wealth produced by others.” (Limehouse, 30.7.09.)
What difference is there between the idler drawing a rent-roll from land he doesn’t make or till land Lloyd George ? The latter buys through a broker or a friend shares in a concern 3,000 miles away. He doesn’t operate the plant, in fact he hasn’t seen it. His chief point is that the company is in far-away America. “He is not concerned with the work or how it is done”—or paid for. His chief concern was expressed by him in his evidence before the Marconi Committee in the statement: “I wanted to know whether it was likely to turn out an investment that would give a fair dividend” (31.3.13). And again on March 23rd of the current year, when he confessed that “I thought it would be a thoroughly good investment.”

Men from East to West, from San Francisco to St. Louis, will toil, building stations, operating instruments, sending messages ; men will be sweated and risk their lives as operators in ocean liners, and all the time David Lloyd George will wait at Downing Street to see the “divi” come rolling in. He can’t always wait for “divi,” and so he gambles on “Change”—but please don’t call it gambling : it is simply investment !

On both grounds he is condemned as a canting hypocrite. He spends his time denouncing unearned increment when it takes the form of the plunder collared by the absentee landlord, but never a word against the swag filched by the absentee shareholder. While he is rousing the workers against the parasite landlord, the equally parasitic industrial capitalist is left in peace to continue his sweating system.

Lloyd George has, indeed, done good work—for the factory owners.

When he sat in “opposition” he bitterly denounced monopoly. The American ones came in for his special condemnation. Yet the wily Welshman readily invests his money in one of the latest American monopolist concerns, and one that has already started fighting its competitors in the courts and buying out the most dangerous, just as Pierpont Morgan fought Carnegie in the Steel Trust.

Lloyd George lives in a nice house in Downing Street, full of the comforts associated with a capitalist Minister’s lot. He has another house at Criccieth in Wales, and, still not satisfied, he looks around for further quarters, and negotiates for yet another house, at Walton Heath, in Surrey, where golf links and other luxuries of an expensive kind can be revelled in. But with tears in his voice he pleads before the Committee, “Cannot a man fifty years of age have one house to call his own ?”

A man of fifty ! Pity the working man who reaches that age ! What bitter disappointment awaits the toiler who looks forward to having a house to call his own worth £2,000 (like Lloyd George’s) when he reaches fifty !

What does Lloyd George care about the aged worker ? Should a toiler be so unfortunate as to reach fifty, then, under David’s Insurance swindle, he suffers to the extent of 3s. each week for his misfortune in living so long !

A little insight into George’s past will show how callous he is to the lot of the workers in the December of their days.

During the life of the last Tory Government a Commission was appointed to investigate the cost of Old Age Pensions. Lloyd George was chosen from the “Opposition” to sit upon it. What did he say ? Listen to his confession made at Newcastle, April 14th, 1903, and quoted in his own book, “Better Times” (p. 6).
“I sat as a member of an old age pensions Committee—appointed by a Unionist Government. … In the evidence we heard we found a greater difficulty than giving old age pensions. We found amongst the workmen, especially in the unskilled trades, that men rarely even approached the confines of old age. They are exhausted by the way, still in the prime of life. When we came to fix our pensions at sixty-five we found that large masses of the workmen would, never live to benefit by it.”
Seven years after that startling confession Lloyd George became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he brought in an Old Age Pensions Bill. No longer on the Opposition side, but occupying now a seat in the Government, he was faced with his own statement that it was no good giving pensions to men at sixty-five because most men are crushed out whilst still in the prime of life. So this oily-tongued time-server brought in a Bill fixing the age for pensions, not at sixty-five—that was too high—but at seventy, as there would be more dead by that time, and less money to pay out !

In spite of this fine example of the mean and contemptible actions of this lawyer advance agent of his party, workingmen still follow at his call.

The man who, at the desire of the exploiters, framed an Insurance Bill which, in his own words, “is framed in a way to completely protect them” (the employers); the man who, in in the interest of the wealthy ship-owners, raised the load-line for cargo and thereby sends seamen to their death ; the man who, for his actions during the “All Grades” railwaymen’s dispute earned the praise of the employers—this man is he who complains of “dastardly” conduct against him ! Who has really been guilty of “dastardly” conduct ? With the hollow and mocking results of nearly seven years power before them it should be no difficult task, in spite of Lloyd George’s oily tongue and Stock Exchange cunning, for the smitten and spat-upon working class to decide. Will they ? We shall see.

Party Notes. (1913)

Party News from the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Ninth Annual Conference of the Party was held at the Fairfax Halls, Harringay, London, N. on Friday and Saturday, the 21st and 22nd March. A good muster of delegates and a large attendance of Party members took great interest in the proceedings. The report of the Executive Committee on the work of the previous year was unanimously adopted. This report dealt with the increasing activities of the Party, and showed the necessity for more propagandists to cope with the ever-growing demand for our gospel.

Our official organ, the Socialist Standard, was shown to have weathered the storm, to have attained a steady circulation, and to have been put at last on the satisfactory basis of “paying its way.” Thus persistent effort in this important direction has been rewarded with complete victory.

The Party was shown to be both numerically and financially stronger than ever in its history, while it goes without saying that the propaganda of the year has been carried on in the same uncompromising spirit as heretofore.

We go on refreshed, and with renewed enthusiasm, after a most successful Conference, determined that at our next we shall have even greater progress to report and greater successes to congratulate ourselves upon.

* * *

In connection with the Conference, and in accordance with our usual custom, a reunion of Members and Friends was held on Good Friday evening. A most enjoyable time for all concerned resulted in the securing of some £10 to assist in the good work.

* * *

With the advent of spring and, let us hope, better weather, propaganda meetings must be organised everywhere and all the time. The Lecture List (back page) must be extended all along the line. Our missionaries must be sent into the Provinces far and near to carry our message to the unenlightened of our class, and every member of our Party must be got to realise that SOCIALISM MEANS WORK FOR ALL.

* * *

Socialists in the Tower Hamlets Division desirous of becoming members of the S.P.G.B. should communicate with A. Jacobs, 78, Eric Street, Mile End, E., with a view to organising a branch in the district.

High Wycombe (Bucks). Propaganda meetings will be resumed here at the Fountain on April 12th and 13th, and will be continued every alternate week-end during the summer. Local Socialists willing to assist should communicate with R. W. Gardner, 23, Abercrombie Avenue, High Wycombe, who is arranging the formation of a branch.

* * *

Party members, and particularly propagandists, who expect to have any holidays during the year, should not fail to communicate with our Organiser at the Head Office before deciding where to spend them. He is the chap who finds work for idle hands to do.

Sugar-coated. (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is “A Magazine for the Home” called “The Helpful Friend.” The local Baptist bible-banger or one of his emissaries comes “like a thief in the night” and thrusts a copy, month by month, in my letter-box. I do not know whether he regards this as inserting “the thin end of the wedge,” or as “doing good by stealth,” though I look to settle this point, among others, when I catch him at it.

But if “The Helpful Friend” is not a friend, it is sometimes helpful, for even the cat would laugh if it was given to reading its pages.

In the current issue the Rev. F. B. Meyer, keeper of the “Nonconformist Conscience” and the man who stopped the prize fight, writing under the title “Everyday Miracles,” says : “To turn water into wine is to ennoble what is common and ordinary.”

Now this is very frank. The Church, as a rule, is rather loth to publicly recognise the locus standi of “booze,” whatever opinion it may hold in private. But the truth is out at last, and we know that water is common, ordinary, and plebian (like the present scribe), while wine is noble and aristocratic (like you, fair reader).

Omar Khayyam and the parson reconciled at last !

* * *

This leads us to the thought that we live in a wonderfully democratic age. Only a few days ago King George V. of glorious memory (when he’s dead, of course) whose blood is the bluest of the blue (though I hope it will never make itself obtrusively manifest in the Royal countenance) went all the way to Chingford to open a “common and ordinary” reservoir.

If one might think the Royal thoughts they were probably “how fine it would be if Jesus were here now, so that once again it might happen that (as the Rev. F. B. Meyer puts it) ‘The modest water saw her God and blushed.'” After all, it is one of the saddest reflections to think that so much water remained “common and ordinary” for want of a presence next higher in rank than His Majesty, and no doubt the King, who is not altogether the backbone of the temperance movement, would see it in this light.

But what I intended to remark was, if the King would take so much trouble over “common, ordinary” water, to what lengths of condescension, self-sacrifice, and democracy would he go for that nobler liquid whose modesty is so intense as not only to cause her to blush, but to cause her king to blush also !

* * *

But the Rev. F. B. M. explains the ancient miracle in a way that looks to me suspiciously like robbing his Saviour, and if it wasn’t for my rooted objection to advertising a person who would do such a thing I would charge him with it—I would, really. I have always been taught that Jesus turned the water into wine, and now this clerical ragamuffin comes along and says he didn’t : the water blushed ! For shame ! For the proverb sayeth: “All is not wine that blushes.”

* * *

In the same article the reverend gent remarks with evident feeling: “How many innocent” (that means cheap) “joys there are in ail lives, however sad and dark !” (That means out of work.) “The morning flush,” (that’s washing the streets down in the night) “the evening glow,” (the night shift in the foundry know what this means) “the tender green”
(That’s the tender that takes ashore
The emigrant’s mother he’ll see no more.)
“and laughing flowers of spring,” (I don’t believe they do it,) “the many sounds of nature from the roll of the breaker” (that, evidently, is the machine that breaks up the roads and saves the man with the pickaxe the trouble—a very innocent joy, that,) “and hum of insect life” (kill that fl—); “the unexpected gleams of sunshine” (that’s when the office windows are cleaned) “which now from this side and now from that” (Its a very dodgy sort of sun, you know, that performs this “everyday miracle.”) “send a thrill through the heart” (That’s shock !) “and a light over the countenance.” (That’s what causes it: its so rare and unexpected.)

Now it will be noticed that the parson’s share of the above is divine truth (suitably hidden, of course, as divine truth always is, from the gaze of the vulgar), while my share is revelation. The two together are division of labour, and as such they are economically sound. (I had it in mind to say that they are sound in another way, mine being sound and the Holy Joe’s noise, but let that pass.) Beyond this I have only to say that they are a jolly cheap lot (in which respect they may be likened unto water), and that if the worker can only be brought to realise that (as the Rev. F. B. M. puts it) “he takes them all straight from the hand of Christ,” then the conclusion of the Rev. gent, that “it is this fact which turns the water into wine,” will be established on impregnable rock, and another “everyday miracle” will be achieved.

Which, of course, is why our dear brother in God wrote his message, and why the inspired word was put into my letter-box, and why I have donned the mantle of the prophet and revealed divine truth, which else had lain hidden like the germ in the german sausage.

* * *

The Reverend author rounds off with the assurance that ” He keeps the best till last,” and closes with those lines of Browning’s :—
“Grow old along with Me,
The Best is yet to be; the Last
For which the First was made.”
I confess that I was divided within myself as to whether this was a covert allusion to the workhouse or a prophetic forecast of the Old Age Pensions. But in what strange places do we find the truth revealed ! I discovered the solution among the advertisements on the cover of “The Helpful Friend,” where the portrait of a staid and elderly gentleman with a long white beard like a tombstone upside down, and a mouth like a fold in the “Financial Times,” and looking a “helpful friend,” every inch, first caught my eye, and afterwards this legend underneath : “We supply the Cheapest Funerals in the District.”

Which, I am afraid, sums up from the working-class point of view, the whole matter of those “innocent joys” aforementioned, as being taken “direct from the hand of Christ,” and signs the bill “Thank you for Nothing.”

* * *

In another part of “The Helpful Friend” a funny tale is told of two men who had been taking rather too much of a certain noble and blushing liquid “straight from the hand of Christ.” They went to the river, got into their boat and worked hard and long at the oars without making any progress, simply because they had forgotten to unmoor the boat.

We are told that the moral is that we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven because we are tied to the world, and we are exhorted to “cut the cord, cut the cord ! Set yourselves free from the clogging weight of earthly things, and you will soon voyage heavenward.”

Who is going to contest the truth of that ? Not I, for one. It is getting very near to the materialist conception to assert that it is only worldly things that keep us here. Who is not aware of it ? Personally, I feel that my load of the “clogging weight of earthly things” is so infinitesimal that, but for being an abnormally wicked wretch, strongly under the influence of “the other place,” it would be insufficient to keep me here, and I should, willy-nilly (overwhelmingly nilly, I can assure you), soar heavenward with the rope in my hands, and my dot of “the clogging weight of earthly things” swinging, oh, so lightly ! on the end.

Which, of course, wouldn’t be much good to the gentleman with the tombstone whiskers.

But drawing my deduction from what I have already said, it seems pretty plain why the Rev. Meyers and Campbells are so heavily burdened with “the clogging weight of earthly things.” Their pure and holy souls fret so in their carnal prisons that anything less than about £2,000 a year could not hold them down, hence, for the sake of their flocks, they have this great burden laid upon them, and they strain hard at the oars that should waft them to heaven, without (to the everlasting regret of the helpful friend with the tombstone whiskers) making any more progress than is quite inevitable in the course of nature. But they take darned good care that nobody cuts their cord.

* * *

On the occasion of the historic visit of the King to Chingford to secure the water supply of the teeming millions of HIS people; he passed through West Ham, which is particularly and peculiarly a district of those “glad, beautiful, and pure” (I am quoting the Rev. F. B. Meyer again) “English homes,” which are “under God the secret of our national greatness.” For the most “glad, beautiful, and pure” portion of this salubrious oasis (the portion commonly known as dockland) that stern old revolutionary warrior, Mr. William Thorne, happens by the Grace of God and the blindness of the people, to be the “sitting Member.” Hence Mr. William Thorne was, I understand, presented to His Majesty, when the following chin-wag didn’t take place :

HIGH PERSONAGE (with a bow and a scrape): This, Maj’sty, is Mr. Willyum Thorne, M.P. for the Southern portion of the borough. Mr. Thorne is called Bill by his friends, but desires to support the dignity of the borough under the name of Willyum.

MAJESTY : ‘Do, Mr. Thorne ?

THORNE: How does your Majesty find yourself and how’s your mother and the missus and all the youngsters ?

MAJESTY: So-so, considering how hard they work. (Prolonged pause.) Say, Thorne, I was thinking.

THORNE : G’on, no larks.

MAJESTY : Honour bright, I was thinking that your friends call you Bill.

THORNE: I can’t get ’em to realise who I am, but perhaps after this (sentence finished in eloquent silence.)

MAJESTY : Well, we are not exactly enemies, are we ?

THORNE : Far from it, or I shouldn’t be here.

MAJESTY : Well, I was thinking of a compromise.

THORNE (with quickening interest) : Ah ! I do, very often.

MAJESTY (extending his hand): Then let it be Billiam.

THORNE (dissembling, but nevertheless visibly chapfallen): Honoured, I’m sure, and (a glance at a corner establishment near the Town Hall, where a white swan was undergoing agonies of loyal fervour and manifesting the same through a roaring trade at the bar) if it wasn’t for the Free Churches, which means votes, riper acquaintance might lead to something better.

MAJESTY (following Thorne’s eye and, after a furtive glance at his gracious lady, whereupon he sighed sadly and subsided into a slough of despond): To tell the truth, Billiam, I was thinking of something better—a knighthood or something of that. We’ve brought the sword along.

THORNE : I once came near being made a J.P., but some of me boys said they weren’t going to pay me to send ’em to prison. My word, they didn’t half ruck ! Some of ’em jib at this (indicating his aldermanic rotundity). They say it represents the Free Churches and others better than it represents labour. They forget its labour for me to carry it about. So before I commit myself I should like to know whether there is any chink attached.

MAJESTY : I don’t think there can be, or the sword wouldn’t have been used so much by one or two I could mention.

THORNE (drawing himself proudly to his full height): la that case I’ll die what I’ve lived—honest Will Thorne.

MAJESTY : Good, you’ll be very useful as that, no doubt, so we’ll leave it at Billiam.

Hurrah for the revolution ! shouted Bill under his breath as the King drove away.

Economics in brief. (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

The science which, treats of the production and distribution of wealth is termed political economy, and has been described as the “dismal science”—which name the contradictions and confusion of the orthodox economists render not inapplicable. To study these economists is like studying astronomy without a knowledge of gravity. But just as astronomy was brought out of chaos by that discovery which enabled us to understand the movements of the heavenly bodies, so about fifty years ago political economy was placed on a firm foundation by Karl Marx, the founder of scientific Socialism.

In his work “Capital” Marx brought to light certain facts which the orthodox economists could not accept without admitting truths which quite upset their teachings. And the dissemination by the university professors of the Marxian teaching that the capitalists live upon the exploitation of the workers would surely have resulted in their removal from their posts, just as Prof. Thorold Rogers was deprived of an office “for tracing certain social mischiefs to their origin.”

Many of the older economists made no fundamental distinction between modern production and that of former epochs. But to Marx the production of wealth under capitalist society differs from all previous production in that the wealth under former systems was produced primarily or solely for use, while under modern conditions it is produced for the purpose of exchange. But this is not all, for no one to-day enters into the production of commodities, as goods created for exchange are termed, simply for the purpose of exchanging them for other commodities. And to understand the motive for which industry is carried on we must for a moment glance at the modern manufacturer and see why he is a manufacturer.

He starts out with a certain sum of money with which he purchases his plant, raw material, and other things essential to his particular line of business, and the finished commodities are exchanged for money. But if the object aimed at is achieved, then not only the original sum of money is returned, but an excess also. It matters not what class of goods is produced, how many or what quality, unless this surplus appears at the close of the cycle, the manufacturer is said to have failed.

The question then arises, how does this excess of wealth come about ? It is obvious that it does not arise in the process of exchange, for what one capitalist would gain another would lose. We must therefore look elsewhere for this source of profit.

The wealth used in modern society for the purpose of obtaining profit we call capital, and its owners capitalists. When the commodities of the industrial capitalist are produced they are placed upon the market for exchange, and the amount of other commodities he will receive for them does not depend upon his “will,” but upon conditions beyond his control. Once on the market his goods come face to face with other commodities of similar nature, and if our capitalist asks for his articles more than the average usually given, he will not sell them. Therefore he has to accept the average that society will give. Should, however, the market become overstocked, as it does periodically owing to the anarchical nature of present-day production, then each capitalist, in order to dispose of his particular commodity, will accept less than usual, while if, on the other hand, there is a greater demand for those articles they will ask and obtain more than the average.

Now these fluctuations take place round a certain point, but if a modification in the process of production takes place, then that point shifts. For instance, according to Babbage (“Economy of Manufacture”) the price of a sheet of plate glass 50″ x 30″ was in 1771 £24 2s. 4d., and in 1832 £6 12s. 10d., while small sheets (for a reason to be explained later) rose in price. The fall in price was due to the adoption of improved methods in producing largesheets, which reduced the time necessary to accomplish the operation.

We see, then, that the reduction in the time necessary for the production of a commodity results in a fall in its value, therefore what determines the value of a commodity is the time needed to produce it–not the time taken by the individual, but the average time taken to produce that particular line of commodities.

Commodities taking on the average the same time to produce will be equal in exchange, e.g., if A takes on the average 10 hours to produce and B also takes 10 hours, then they will both possess the same exchange value—one will exchange for the other. But if the time necessary for the production of B falls to 5 hours, then A will exchange for 2 Bs.

The direct exchange of one commodity for another without the intervention of any intermediary is a very primitive form of exchange and is known as barter. In primitive communities, where exchange takes place on a very small scale, where articles are produced primarily for use, and only the surplus is exchanged, barter is the common practice, but later an intermediary comes between the goods exchanged. This we term the medium of exchange, and many things have been used at different times for this purpose, such as salt, cattle, shells, copper, silver and gold. But this medium is not a thing outside the world of commodities. It is in itself a commodity whose value is known to society, and which will be accepted by all those desiring an exchange.

In modern society gold is used as the medium of exchange, having been selected as being convenient, portable, fairly constant in value, and as containing great value in small bulk.

When we say that a certain commodity is worth £1 we do but express the fact that the same quantity of human labour measured by time has been expended on the average in the production of each, and we say that the £1 is the price of this commodity.

But let us look a little farther. We will say that a gun is equal in value to £1, that is to say they each represent the same amount of human labour time. If the time necessary for the production of the gun falls by half, it is obvious that on our theory it will be worth only 10s. But now let us assume that no alteration takes place in the value of the gun, while the time necessary to produce the £1 falls by half, £2 would now be required to equal the value of the gun. Although no alteration has taken place in the value of the gun, its price has risen through a fall in the value of gold.

A fall in prices is generally looked for on the introduction of quicker methods of producing a commodity, but our second case seems to be in comprehensible to most people, and all sorts of theories are put forward to explain a general rise in prices.

It was the fall in the value of the medium of exchange that explains the increased price of the small sheets of glass referred to above, and the fact that the price of the larger sheets fell informs us that the fall in their value was greater than the fall in the value of the coin.

So far we have presumed that the owner of the commodities was their producer. Such an assumption might have sufficed in the handicraft system, where the producer owned the tools he used and the goods he produced. But under capitalist production the basis of our analysis is incomplete. We must therefore follow our capitalist into business again.

We said he starts out with a certain sum of money which we call his capital, with which he purchases his plant and raw material. This is termed constant capital, because its value does not alter during the process of production. It is true the plant deteriorates in value, as does also the quantity of the raw material, as production proceeds, but its value is not lost, but transferred to the finished commodities.

Obviously the constant capital cannot create even the smallest amount of value, for no matter how long it was left it would remain inoperative, and there would be no increase in value until another factor was introduced.

The manufacturer, therefore, has to have more capital with which to obtain this other factor in order to set this machinery in operation, and as the modern methods of production are far too vast for the owner to operate them by himself, even if he desired to do so, he has to seek the aid of others.

The capitalist purchases, not the worker, but his energies, his power to labour, and what the worker receives in return for this labour power we call wages.

Now there is a constant struggle going on amongst the workers for the jobs, which prevents wages rising, on the average, above a certain point. The large army of unemployed, the necessary adjunct of capitalist society, in their eagerness to obtain work, are prepared to accept a wage just sufficient to cover their cost of subsistence. The result is that those who are in employment have to accept the same or give way to those who will. Thus competition keepa wages, on the average, at the subsistence level. In other words, wages are governed by the cost of living.

The capitalist, then, has to purchase the requisite labour-power to operate his tools of production. And when this labour-power is expended in the production of useful articles a further value is created.

Now the value the workers create does not depend upon the wages they receive, which, we have seen, is determined by the cost of living. Hence it does not matter how much value they create, their wages remain the same. And it is obvious that if they do not create a value at least equal to that they receive in wages the manufacturer’s capital would soon become exhausted. But if this was all that could be obtained there would be no inducement for the capitalist to enter into business at all. The workers must, therefore, produce a value greater than their wages in order to ensure their continued employment.

This “surplus value,” as the excess of value over and above their wages created by the workers is called, increases with the increase in the productivity of labour. The more the workers produce the more goes into the pocket of the capitalist. And as the wages of the former are determined before ever they commence work, they will be unaffected by any alteration in the amount of value they create.

The appropriation of the surplus value by the capitalist is his sole motive for entering into production. But he is not able to retain the whole of this surplus value for himself : he has to make certain payments in the form of rent and interest.

We have said that the values of commodities are determined by the average amount of human labour time necessary to produce them. Equal quantities of labour time will, on the average, produce equal values. We have said further that the constant portion of capital does not create value, and therefore does not create surplus value.

Now the production of some commodities necessitates the use of a larger proportion of constant capital in proportion to the amount of labour employed. If all commodities were sold at their value it would mean that those capitals containing a larger percentage of constant capital would obtain less surplus value than those containing a smaller percentage.

For example, a certain capital, say £1,500, is composed of constant capital £1,000 and variable capital (that portion used for the payment of wages) £500, and the labour employed creates a value of £1,000. The total value of the product will be composed of constant capital £1,000 plus £1,000 created by the workers, making a total value of £2,000. The cost in money to the capitalist of producing the commodities will have been £1,500, leaving a surplus value of £500, or, roughly, 33 per cent. on the outlay.

Now we will take another illustration. Another capitalist also commences business with £1,500 of which he spends only £500 in constant capital and £1,000 in the purchase of labour power. Equal quantities of labour power produce equal values, hence the value of the product will be composed of £500 constant capital plus £2,000 created by the workers, making a total value of £2,500. The cost price to the capitalist will have been the same as in the previous illustration, viz., £1,500. The surplus in this instance will be at the rate of just over 66 per cent. on the outlay.

Now when analysing the capitalist mode of production we have always to remember that it presupposes competition in all its ramifications. And if all commodities were sold at their value capital would be withdrawn from those spheres of production which necessitated a large percentage of constant capital and invested in those which needed a smaller percentage. The withdrawal of capital and the consequent reduction in the competition in one sphere would allow of an increase in the prices of the commodities while in that sphere in which the influx of capital took place the increased competition would force down prices, thus causing an increase of profit in one sphere and a decrease in the other.

This competition is continually going on between the different capitals seeking investment, reducing the price of commodities in some spheres of production below their value and in other spheres raising the price above their value, at the same time and through this process bringing about an average rate of profit through out society.

The fact that there is a tendency to the formation of an average rate of profit in society resulting in commodities being sold at prices varying from their value does not in the least alter the Marxian theory of value as explained in the first volume of “Capital.” And although there is a deviation of price from the value of individual commodities, yet the total value of the commodities of society will equal the sum of their prices.

The point in political economy that is of paramount importance to the working class is the fact that they are robbed of the wealth they create over and above the cost of their subsistence. This robbery takes place because a certain class of people are allowed to own all the means for producing and distributing wealth—the land, mines, railways, factories, machinery, etc.

We of the Socialist Party, recognising this, are organising to wrest the means of life from the hands of these people and make them common property. When this is accomplished, then for the first time since the dawn of chattel slavery the exploitation of human labour-power will cease. Each member of the community capable of assisting in the production and distribution of wealth will be expected to perform his share of the necessary labour, and the wealth that is created will be the common property of the whole people.

The system of society based upon such a property condition we call Socialism.
H. A. Young

The “Bootless” boom. (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Those who wish to understand the phenomenon of working-class discontent should give their attention to the table of food prices just furnished by the Board of Trade. It covers the exact period of the present Government’s official life, and is therefore a dramatic comment on the theory that the secret of Cheap Food lies in the maintenance of Free Trade. There is scarcely an article of diet in which these seven years have not recorded rising prices. Bread is higher by only 4 per cent. in the ordinary retail trade ; but, as contract supplies show an increase of 9 per cent., and flour is up 13 per cent., it is impossible not to suspect that the figure is steadied by a reduction of quality. Beef has risen by 14 per cent.—counterbalanced, if one likes to think so, by a cheapening of ‘second quality’ and ‘inferior’ mutton. Sugar is slightly above the level of seven years ago, despite the reduction of the duty, and the great tendency of the markets is shown by an advance of 19 per cent. on potatoes, 16 per cent. on eggs, 14 per cent. on butter, 17 per cent. on milk, 21 per cent. on oatmeal, 22 per cent. on bacon, and 25 per cent. on cheese.”

“The wholesale value of certain imported foodstuffs shows a still more startling discrepancy, the rise in tea being 21 per cent., rice 32 per cent., coffee 46 per cent., and tapioca 89 per cent. Taking the facts as a whole, they mean that the cost of living has exceeded any gain that the working classes have secured in the means of facing it. All that has been effected in the way of raising wages, whether by trade unions or by other methods, has been nullified by the trend of prices, and at the end of seven years marked by strenuous agitation and political effort the wage-earner finds himself worse off than before. The causes of this tragic conclusion may be complex, but one fact is plain—that the parties which have dominated legislation for these seven years as the self-appointed champions of the working man are completely off the track. Whatever nominal concessions they may have gained for him are fruitless, because they have persisted in ignoring the essentials of their position. Free Trade can neither check the clearness of living nor advance the remuneration of labour. In good times it only allows the worker to make ends meet, and in bad times it throws him on to the brink, or into the gulf, of destitution. While the wealth of the country is increasing and Mr. Burns talks of “striding the world like a Colossus,”the producers of wealth only see that life is made harder for them than ever. Under the operation, of Cobdenism the rich are growing richer and the poor poorer, and under these conditions we have no title to be surprised if a spirit of social revolution should exhibit itself in extending areas and with ever-increasing menace.”
Italics ours.
The above has not been written for the Socialist Standard, but is culled from the columns of the Pall Mail Gazette (14.2.13). In it we are not only reminded of the paradox (if such it can be called under the operation of the anar­chical system of production for profit instead of for use) that “booming trade” and “wealth striding the world like a Colossus” do not necessarily mean “boots for all,” but, what is more, our ever-challenged contention of the worsening trend of working-class conditions under capitalism is once again substantiated and admitted by capitalist authority. It will be remembered that only a little over a year ago that other worthy agent of slave-holders, Mr. Lloyd George, reminded a more or less interested world that “to-day you have greater poverty in the land and a more severe economic bondage than you ever had before.”

Although the scribe of the “Pall Mall Ga­zette” criticises the “self-appointed champions of the working class” for “ignoring the essentials of the workers’ position,” and fails himself to state these essentials, yet anyone who knows for what section of the master class Mr. Garvin and his co-workers on the “Pall Mall Gazette” have to write, and what interests they have to serve, will be familiar with what constitutes for the said organ “essentials,” and the alternative policy to “arrest” the worsening tendency. And even “Labour leaders”—who are too blinded by their own selfish interests to perceive the utter futility of (and, in fact, mostly support) the petty quack measures advocated in the daily Press, which are merely destined to enable the present system of exploitation to continue working smoothly, in other words to consolidate the system—I say even those who thus use the ignorance of the workers for their own aggrandisement, will not fear, in the case of the “P.M.G,” any essential deviation from its old policy or suspect it of adopting the revolutionary attitude.

The daily Press will still admit that the appalling poverty and misery are confined to the ranks of the working class, but they are far from disappointing our influential “leaders of Labour” by speaking of such things as antagonisms of interests existing between capitalists and wage workers. One might as well expect the Keir Hardies aud Blatchfords themselves to insist on the necessity of understanding that the problem of poverty is essentially one of class, and can only be met by the organisation of the workers on the cardinal principle of the irreconcilable and uncompromising class war.

Thus, although the writer left the reader to draw his own conclusion, the “P.M.G.” has long made it sufficiently clear that its only alternative to the ravages of Cobdenism is—Tariff Reform ! Presumably the poor scribe thought it desirable, for the holy sake of “expediency” (or for his own sake) to refrain, at this juncture, from mentioning the sacred battle-cry.

The essentials of the working-class position, indeed ! Could it be expected that Mr. Garvin’s paymasters would allow a statement of the real essentials ? or the publication of the result of a scientific investigation ? No. The nature of the essentials of the working-class position is such as to make their propounding utterly incompatible with the respectability of the “P.M.G.” Their nostrums do not only not disturb the peace of the slaveholders, but actually lead a section of them to a better exploitation of, and a tighter grip over, their unfortunate victims. And Tariff Reform, the nostrum of the aforementioned organ, would, of course, not make an exception in this.

We need only look to the Tariff-enjoying countries both on the Continent and in America, to get the lie direct to the rhetorical assurances of those capitalist hacks who claim that tariff walls are a safeguard for the prosperity of the workers. From time to time hostile clamours are heard going up in those countries against the dearness, and the still further rising of the prices, of the necessaries of life, which unmistakably show that there is equally an inadequacy on the part of the workers of those lands “in their means of facing it.”

Such outcries often reach these shores and find prominence in the Press. Who does not remember the reports of the recent upheavals in France and Belgium, the revolt of the housewives in the market places, the chronic protests and popular demonstrations demanding the abolition of import duties on food-stuffs in Austria, Germany, Spain, etc., in the States as well as in South America ?

The following, which appeared in the “Daily News and Leader” for Feb. 28, is typical of these constantly recurring news items :—

“Rio De Janeiro, Feb. 26.”
“The Government has decided to proceed with the revision and reduction of protectionist duties, and has authorised the Minister of Finance to reduce or, if need be, to abolish import duties on necessaries of life. This step has been resolved upon by the Council of Ministers as the result of the popular outcries against the dearness of food.—REUTER.”
In it not also significant that the reduction of import duties formed one of the issues at the last Presidential election in the United States?

For all those workers who still are under the illusion that different fiscal systems can have any influence whatever on the economic position of the working class the present writer has a wish that their “walks of life” might lead them amongst the working population of foreign industrial centres, say, for instance, in Austria. He feels convinced that it would be an eye-opener to them, and that they would speedily find out that what the Welsh Apostle of Free Trade said a little while ago of Britain, namely, that “that condition of things was foreign to the barbarities even of the darker ages,” is perfectly true of Protectionist countries. Unemployment is just as acute. A Budapest daily, the “Neues Pester Journal,” for February 11th which came into the hands of the present writer, dealt editorially with the problem of unemployment in that city. Here is word for word what it said:—
“To day there are in our capital more than 30,000 unemployed, who, with their families, are faced with the most pressing destitution, and are unable to find work. Thereby it must be taken into consideration that these workers, in consequence of the misery in which they find themselves, are willing to take on any work and are only too pleased to earn 60 or 80 heller (6d. or 8d.) for ten and twelve hours labour. During the last few weeks the large timber merchants have had hundreds of applications from unemployed offering their services for 20 heller (2d.) a day.”
If we bear in mind that the total number of workers in Budapest is approximately 100,000, it will be clear what an appalling amount of human misery there must exist in this Protection enjoying country.

Instances showing the terrible plight of the workers all over the world, side by side with ever-improving means of wealth production and greater command over natural resources, could be multiplied, but space does not permit.

The truth is that the class interest of the owners of those means of wealth production stand in the way of their manipulation for the common benefit. It is the historic mission of the working class to organise in order to break down the barrier, but so long as they superstitiously believe in the “sacred rights of property” inculcated by their masters, so long will they continue to be the unconscious dupes of the political bunglers.

Blogger's Note:
Early Socialist Standard writers had a habit of signing off their articles with only their initials or, in this case, a single letter. 'K' was Adolph Kohn,  'W' was F. C. Watts, 'A' was Alex Anderson and, of course, Edgar Hardcastle wrote for the Socialist Standard for many decades under the pen-name of 'H'. 

A hundred plus years later that obviously sometimes makes it difficult to identify lesser used initials in the pages of the Socialist Standard but sometimes the articles they pen reveal wee clues. My guess is that 'F.' was Rudolf Frank. 'F'. mentions in this article the condition of the working class in Austria, and also quotes from a paper published in Budapest. Frank would have been travelling in these countries at this time and would have had access to this information.

Short and not so sweet. (1913)

From the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

If it is going to be a long task overthrowing the present social system and instituting the Socialist Commonwealth, that is entirely due to the apathy and ignorance of the workers.

#    #    #    #

All people must range themselves on one side or the other — for or against the Revolution — for or against the working class. Which side are YOU on?

Party News and Notices. (1913)

Party News from the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

S.P.G.B. Lecture List For April. (1913)

Party News from the April 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard