Thursday, July 6, 2023

Editorial: What the Labour Government has Done. (1930)

Editorial from the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

A word to those who voted Labour.

It is now a year since the Labour Party took governmental office. They came in to solve unemployment. They have failed, and have proved by their failure the emptiness of their professions. The unemployed problem is still growing greater. The peaceful professions of Labour leaders are offset by the bombings of Indian peoples, and increased attention given to preparedness for aerial warfare.

As far as can be seen, the principal achievement of the Labour Government is the provision of fat jobs for some of its supporters.

Many workers gave support to the Labour Party on the ground that it was doing “something now”! which would bring us nearer to the realisation of our aims and hopes. In fact, however, the Labour Government has shown itself as the legitimate heir to the place and policy of the dying Liberal Party. It was never Socialist, though some of its leading members toyed with the name.

There were some who hailed the triumph of Labour as the beginning of the end of Capitalism. They have suffered a delusion, and unfortunately, in many instances, with the awakening, has come a feeling of despondency and disgust with everything ; an attitude of mind that is summed up in the bitter remark, “What is the good of anything?”

The position is somewhat similar to the feeling aroused after the Russian Bolshevik movement changed its direction and commenced to build State capitalism in Russia, first reached Europe, there were many who saw in it the commencement of the imminent social revolution, shook hands with each other and joyfully hailed the dawn of the new era. But it was a false dawn, and as the darkness again gathered, their joy gave place to despair, and, in some cases, to a cynical attempt to make profit out of the situation that developed.

Among the supporters of the Labour Party are numbers of working men and women who have given all they had in energy and money to an honest and wholehearted support of that party. Misled by emotional appeals, and failing to grasp the fundamental facts of the workers’ position, they expected from the Labour Party what it could not accomplish—and what many of its leaders knew it could not accomplish. For twelve months they have been hoping against hope that something really important would be done to grapple with their oppressive conditions, but all they have been met with are photographs of Labour leaders in court dress smirking at them from the daily papers.

We ask these disillusioned supporters of the Labour Party not to give way to despair, and not to meet our attempts at explaining Socialism with hostility based on the false idea that our principles are like those of the Labour Party. We ask them instead to refrain from judgment until they have read our literature. When they have done so, they will find that we have been pointing out to the workers what to expect from Labour leaders for the last twenty-five years. And the result has proved the truth of our contentions. They will also learn why it is that we have opposed the Labour Party and, if they are prepared to give our case a little careful thought, its fundamental soundness will be borne in upon them.

Here is the basis of the case in a few words :

The worker sells to the capitalist his labour-power for a weekly or daily wage. After a few hours’ work the worker has reproduced the value of his day’s wages. But the capitalist has paid him for a day’s work, or a week’s work, as the case may be, and consequently the worker continues working until he completes the period. The value he produces during the further hours of work is “surplus value,” which does not cost the capitalist anything, yet goes into his pocket. It is this fact that splits society into two opposing” classes—a small number of wealthy on the one hand, owning the means of production; and the vast majority of society on the other hand, owning only their power to work. Until this class organisation of society is changed by a fundamental revolution abolishing the private ownership of the means of production, there cannot be a permanent improvement in the condition of the working-class. Attempts at amelioration by fiddling with secondary matters are like trying to abolish a tempest by pouring a few barrels of oil on the sea.

Notes. (1930)

From the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

Wealth !

“How much shall we and our guests spend on the wonderful social programme which began in May, and will continue till September?”

“It can hardly be less than £50,000,000; it may be far more.”

. . . . . . .

“Wealthy Americans, accompanied by wives and children, spend £10 to £30 a day at London’s luxury hotels. Rents up to £200 a week are paid for the more elaborate furnished West End houses at the height of the season.”
(“Daily News,” 13/6/’30.)

* * *

Churchill discovers overproduction.

In his Romanes Lecture delivered at Oxford on Thursday, June 19th, Mr. Winston Churchill made some interesting admissions about the inadequacy of the capitalist system, and about the inability of the economists to understand capitalism. The “Daily Telegraph” (20th June) reports him as follows : —
“Mr. Churchill examined the classical doctrines of economics, with their insistence on private enterprise, individual effort, and non-interference by the State, and said that we could clearly see they did not correspond to what was going on now.

If, he proceeded, the doctrines of the old economists no longer serve for the purposes of our society, they must be replaced by a new body of doctrine equally well-related in itself, and equally well-fitting into a general theme.

The root problem of modern world economics was the strange discordance between the consuming and producing power. We were faced with the Curse of Plenty.”

* * *

Birth Control & Unemployment.

The Birth Control Movement have issued a leaflet explaining that France cured unemployment there by means of Birth Control.

Fewer babies— fewer out of work — prosperity — and plenty to eat at Nature’s table.

It’s very simple. Whilst curing unemployment, somehow they left most of the French workers in poverty.

Why are the numbers of out-of-works fewer in France ?

The explanation must be sought in the economic position of the French population, as well as in the post-war reparation work in France, as well as her military situation. An article on this matter will appear shortly.

Answers to Correspondents: Is Christianity “fizzing out”? (1930)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received from a reader the letter which is printed below :—
Clapton, E.5. 31/5/30.

To the Editor.

Dear Sir,

I am a regular reader of the Standard, and admire the good sense in most of the articles, but I should like to know if the writer of the article on religion in the April issue includes the Christian religion ; if he did, I should think he requires a dose of logic. If the circulation of a party’s organ is any criterion to go by, there is no evidence at present of a “fizzing out” of the Christian religion. Last year’s world sale of the Bible was 42,000,000. Compare this with 30 years ago and you will find a good increase. I am sure he must be at sea a little.

All modern movements for the uplifting of the worker received their impulse from the religion of Christ, and probably the writer of “fizzing out” would not have the ability to write if it was not for our religion.

In conclusion, I should advise you to improve your articles on religion if you wish to maintain your good reputation.
God Bless You.
Yours very sincerely,
H. F. Roberts.

P.S.—I should be glad if you would let me know if the religion of Jesus helped Amy Johnson.

Our Reply.
It is good to hear that Mr. Roberts is a regular reader of our paper. Long may he remain so. We are always glad to hear from our readers, either in criticism or in approval. Anything is better than a devastating silence. It is heartening to feel that the thoughts one hatches and commits to paper, find a response somewhere; that someone is moved to throwing either bouquets or bricks. The article to which Mr. Roberts takes exception was largely composed of the thoughts of others. First, an extract from the “Daily News” described the “unholy scramble for jobs” amongst the professional Christians. Then an extract from Robert Graves’Good-bye to All That,” in which he stated that under the test of war, the professional Christian was often a contemptible creature. Finally, there was a series of extracts from Haldane’sPossible Worlds,” confirming Graves’ observations, and adding that the modern clergy are recruited from the dregs of the universities and that their income is diminishing and not likely to increase. Our restrained comment was, “Knowledge and correct action will kill capitalism ; religion will flicker out.”

Mr. Roberts disagrees. He thinks we require a “dose of logic” ; that we are at sea a little. As for logic—well, what are we to gather from the mention of 42,000,000 Bibles? Does Mr, Roberts believe there will be 42,000,000 more Christians than before? And will they differ materially from the Christians we meet every day? And will they behave any differently in the next war from that described by Graves and Haldane? 42,000,000 Bibles in one year is certainly a staggering figure, but what is quite as staggering is the futility of it all. What becomes of them? Where do they go? Crossword puzzlers must account for quite a lot, and in the tropics white ants must make a difference. The armies that have sprung up consequent upon the Christian treaties following the war would also affect the Bible market. You don’t see the connection?

Then you must have another quotation, this time from Brigadier-General Crozier’sA Brass Hat in No Man’s Land.” He describes the use which the military authorities made of the Chaplains and their religious ceremonies and beliefs, in the following pointed phrase :—”The Christian Churches are the finest blood-lust creators which we have, and of them we made free use.”

However, we need not labour the point. The final enquiry of Mr. Roberts as to whether the religion of Jesus helped Amy Johnson, is one upon which, up to the time of writing, we have no exact knowledge. Our only source of information, the daily newspaper, has only mentioned petrol so far, and this appears to have been sufficient. We have never heard of the religion of Jesus being used in the way suggested, or undoubtedly Major Segrave would have availed himself of it in his similar desperate enterprise.
W. T. Hopley

* * *

There is rather an amusing commentary on the wide circulation of Bibles in that very religious country—the U.S.A.

The Gideon Bible Society—sometimes called the Giddy ones—collect funds from the rich to supply a Bible free to every room in every hotel, so that commercial travellers may have some spiritual consolation for lack of orders. It has often been noted that whilst articles of any value whatever are constantly stolen—the Bible is always left behind. And the only evidence of its nice, clean pages being disturbed, is the rude remarks scribbled in the margins.
Editorial Committee.

What Rationalisation Means to the Workers. (1930)

From the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Times” for May 12th and the six following days published a series of articles on “Rationalisation.” The reason put forward for the articles was the failure of English industries to adapt themselves to post-war conditions by increased combination, cutting out the middleman and adopting massed production.

For ten years industries in this country have been faced with a depression that threatens to become permanent. The writers of “The Times” articles have no remedy to offer apart from capturing a larger share in the world market by becoming more efficient than foreign competitors. They instance Germany and America in particular, as countries that have forged ahead of England through adopting rationalisation The four to six million unemployed in America and the growing tide of unemployment in Germany is an immediate reply to them, and also a prophecy of what the future promises to the English worker.

The Times” editorial defines rationalisation as follows :—
“Brought down to its simplest terms, Rationalisation is nothing more or less than the technique of reducing costs. The first stage of this process consists in the elimination of unnecessary and wasteful competition by the formation of cartels to regulate production and to equate supply with demand, and the combination of producing units in “horizontal” amalgamations. Once this has been successfully accomplished, the way is open for a very large number of economies. Among the more obvious of these sources of saving are the suppression of redundant staffs and middlemen, through centralised buying and selling, the reduction of unnecessary specifications through more adequate standardisation, the closing down of obsolete plant, and the concentration of production on the best-equipped units, which can be kept working continuously on a single type of product, thus avoiding a great deal of wasteful duplication. In the sphere of labour costs tho economies made possible by amalgamation are in some respects even more important. The credit resources of big combines render possible large and frequent renewals of fixed capital and consequently enable the most modern labour-saving devices to be adopted on a scale which is impracticable for smaller units.”
A careful examination of the above quotation will make the fact evident that the essence of rationalisation is the production and distribution of a given quantity of goods by the employment of less labour than is required at present. A proof of this is given in the fourth article, where the writers point out that in the United States, by mass production, the output per man employed is much higher than in this country.

The claim made on behalf of rationalisation is that it will bring back “prosperity” to this country. The hollowness of the claim is exposed by the following quotation, taken from the first article :—
“Taking the world in general, the increase in productive capacity of the basic industries since 1913 has been far greater than growth in the volume of international trade. The various nations of Europe and Asia, to say nothing of the United States, have striven hard to attain a far greater degree of economic self-sufficiency. India, China, and Japan, for instance, have vastly increased their production of cotton goods; Germany has gone far towards replacing the plant which she lost owing to the transfer of Alsace and Lorraine to France; Spain and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe; Brazil and Argentina, not to mention India and Australia, have all been building up manufacturing industries of their own behind tariff barriers. The competition in the export of manufactured goods has consequently grown keener.”
The irony of the situation is that the real cause of the depression, which is now international and promises to be permanent, is the fact that international production has far outgrown the world’s demands. The growth of rationalisation tends to make matters worse. The obvious trend of industrial affairs to-day is towards international combinations and the splitting up of the world’s markets among a few immense combines, which would restrict and accelerate production to meet the demands of the market. This will bring in its train a huge body of permanently unemployed that will become more and more menacing to each capitalist nation, and it will tax the ingenuity of future statesmen pretty heavily to find means to keep this huge body quiet and amused.

That any one nation can secure a large part of the international market for any appreciable length of time against competing nations is now practically impossible. The vast strides made in the rapid gathering and diffusion of technical knowledge puts the leading nations on a level basis and prevents one nation from forging ahead of another. In the earlier days of modern industry, England, for various reasons, obtained a flying start and was for a while the manufacturing nation of the world. But the time has passed by when any nation could emulate England. In the heyday of England’s commercial prosperity, British manufacturers supplied foreign countries with the plant, machinery and technical education which are now being used by them to meet their own productive demands and secure a share of other markets.

The present trouble in India, which the Labour Government are handling in true accord with “the imperishable ideals of British statesmanship,” has its root in the fact that Indian industrialists have become conscious of the commercial importance of their steel, cotton and other industries and want a place in the sun-—or, in other words, a fair share of the plums !

At bottom, then, rationalisation is a move to bring the control of industry internationally into the hands of fewer and fewer people and thereby to tighten the bonds of slavery more closely upon the world’s workers. While on the one hand it aims at easing the present anarchy in production by adjusting supply to effective demand, and also tends to make production more efficient by technical and organisational improvement; on the other hand, it aims at making the worker produce more wealth for less wages and increasing the already huge unemployed army. The chasm between the working class and the capitalist class grows ever greater and greater, and can only be bridged by the abolition of the capitalist order of society—as Karl Marx so clearly pointed out many years ago.

There is an illuminating side to the wholesale movement for rationalisation. For decades the standing reproach flung at the Socialist was the charge that he proposed to abolish the small capitalist—that mythical being who is supposed to have raised himself from the ranks by personal effort and was alleged to be a steadily growing: fraction of the community. He has no place, however, in the rationalised scheme of things, he is to be crushed out—the rationalisers make no bones about it ! And he is to be crushed out because he is a hindrance in modern production. Ethical views do not count where economic interests are at stake. It remains now for the working class to point out to the capitalists that they also have become a hindrance to production, as they cannot organise their system to provide adequately for all members of society.

A Look Round. (1930)

From the April 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

Red” Leader turns Green! Another “Communist Hope” gone.

Under the heading of “Larkin not a Communist,” the Communist Daily Worker, March 12th, reports a meeting addressed on March 9th in Dublin for the Workers’ Union. Talking of the approach of St. Patrick’s Day, Larkin said, “This nation needs a spiritual uplifting.” He then praised the Government’s famous prison, Mountjoy—as “the best prison in the world.”

Another statement was, “I am not a Communist and I know very little about Capitalism.” Larkin finished by asking the audience to remove their hats and sing the Free State national anthem.

The Daily Worker, with its usual confusion, says : “Larkin’s renegacy removes one of the obstacles to the formation of a real Communist Party in Ireland.”

It is not long since Jim Larkin went to Moscow and was elected to the Executive of the Third International. To give an International flavour to this body the five or six calling themselves the Communist League of Ireland were taken into the Third International, and Larkin, with his notorious nationalism, Catholicism, and Labourism, was at once pushed on the Executive of the “World Communist International.” That alone shows how anti-revolutionary the Third International is, apart from the long string of adventurers who became leaders in its ranks. Willie Gallacher and Larkin were usually in close company and the anti-Socialist ideas of Larkin were well known to the other “Communist” Leaders.

It was common knowledge that Larkin in New York was busy supporting the formation of a Labour Party there, and talked of the great work of the British Labour Party, keeping silent on how the Labour Party here had betrayed the transport workers in 1913, when appealed to by Larkin himself for assistance in the struggle.

Larkin is a member of the Catholic Church and always pointed out that he was “a good member of mother church.”

That did not stop his enlistment into the Bolshevik International, but now, when his church is busy denouncing Bolshevism, Larkin falls in to the Pope’s call. Such are the great recruits to the Communist Party. It is not surprising, therefore, to hear from such a Catholic stronghold as the Free State that Bob Stewart, the Communist official in Dublin, recently spoke there, and said that Russia was fighting the Greek Orthodox Church only, and not the Holy Catholic Religion. How similar are Jesuits and “Communists” in their handling” of truth, with their doctrine,” “the end justifies the means.”

* * *

Capitalist can't give details—But they ask us for them.

How often do opponents demand details of life under Socialism? They insist upon blue prints of the future before they will support Socialism, regardless of the fact that those details depend upon the conditions, knowledge, and wishes of the population under Socialism.

The Capitalists, however, ask for support of their policies, but even on trumpery reform measures they decline to prophesy details. Listen to Lord Melchett in his book on “Imperial Economic Unity,” advocating Empire Free Trade and asking for support now :
“If at this stage I am asked whether my policy involves a tax on this or that, I decline to answer, because that is a question which can be answered only after the problem of each commodity has been investigated from every point of view.”
Push that in front of the next anti-Socialist who wants details of an entire social system.

* * *

Who's to have the best poison gas ! 

The Duchess of Hamilton in her article in the Sunday Express (March 2nd) against Vivisection complains bitterly against the War Office under a Labour Government, experimenting by means of poison gas on animals at a Salisbury Plain military experimental camp. Cats, monkeys, goats, horses, etc., are used to test the efficiency of poison gas. The Editorial of the same paper, commenting on the leisured lady’s article, says that “it is no use suggesting that such experiments should not be conducted in this country when they are conducted in other countries. Such a course would merely place this country at a disadvantage.”

Has not Professor Levinstein, of the Chemical Industry, told us that poison gas in war is more humane and kills quicker—possibly more.

What would the noble lady have the Labour Government do ? What is a War Office for ? It is to prepare for War—for markets, territory, etc., wanted by Capitalists.

She doesn’t oppose war, but war on cats, etc. A Labour Government must carry on the research, or how otherwise would they get the best poison gas ready for the next war. These scientific men employed by the Government used 1184 animals for poison gas experiments between November 1st, 1926, and April 20th, 1929.

The Duchess asks that poison gas should be suppressed. She expects war to be carried on more “humanely.” She doesn’t suggest war should be abolished by removing the cause. That would be Utopian. It is quite scientific to agree to preparations for wars as long as you kill in a gentlemanly way, such as sticking a bayonet in another man’s stomach or dropping bombs. The Labour Government must continue poison gas experiments, of course, because every other capitalist government is doing the same ! So the Sunday Express comes to the defence of the Labour Government !

* * *

“The Community Spirit.”

Mr. Ramsay McDonald presided at the Annual Dinner of the London Morayshire Club on March 1st, and among the guests were Lord Inchcape, Lord Furness, Sir Alex­ander Grant, and several other millionaire exploiters and opponents of the working class. So we learn from the Daily Herald (March 2nd).

This is the “United Front” of “Labour” and Capital. No class war spirit there.

* * *

The small shopkeeper finished !
“10,000 shopkeepers mainly trading in the villages and small towns of Britain, have gone bankrupt during the past year.”

“Bankruptcies among small shop­ keepers have increased 50 per cent. since the war,” said the manager of a trade protection agency.”
These two quotations from the Sunday Express (March 2nd), shows how the large stores have benefited by increased travelling facilities which brings the customers into the bigger cities.

The Capitalist Press are compelled to admit that the “small man” has no chance to-day. Only a week before the same paper told us about the rich men who started with nothing. Now they confess that modern competition causes large numbers to finish up “with nothing.”

Answer to Correspondent. (1930)

From the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

A. Mole (Manchester). The statement that “the very development of capitalism makes socialism more inevitable” was not an error. The phrase will be explained in our next issue.

Notice to Correspondents.

All correspondents must enclose their name and address to ensure their letters receiving a reply in this journal. A nom-de-plume may be used for publication and all matter should be written on one side of the paper.

If the anonymous correspondent who has sent some questions on Marx, will send his name and address together with actual references to Marx's Capital, we will then be able to deal with his letter.

Hull Branch. (1930)

Party News from the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

The attention of readers in the Hull district is drawn to the formation of a Branch. All who wish to co-operate in the activities of the new Branch are asked to communicate to the Secretary, Mr. V. Coupland, at 287, Beverley Rd., Hull.

S.P.G.B. Propaganda Meetings. (1930)

Party News from the July 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard