Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Spirited Criticism (1958)

From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Strange Manifeitations in ‘‘Two Worlds
The May 17th issue of Two Worlds, a weekly Spiritualist paper, carries an article headed “Red Flag Makes Him See Red About Spiritualism." Under this bright, economical title "Two Worlds Reporter," makes a vigorous attack on the article "The Sad Religion," in the May Socialist Standard.

It is to be expected that Spiritualists, or any other body of people whose beliefs are criticized, should want to defend them. In fact, it is a pity that “Two Worlds Reporter" has not defended them. Instead, he directs scorn at the writer: "puerile," "babyish," and so on. His readers are given few or false ideas of the subject-matter of the Socialist Standard article, and if there are counter-arguments he never makes them known.

"The Sad Religion” briefly outlined the history, beliefs and practices of Spiritualism. The view it mainly expressed was that Spiritualism rests upon the loneliness and disconsolation of bereaved people, and thus reflects much of the suffering caused by Capitalism's wars and poverty. "Two Worlds Reporter” says not a word of any of this, and thereby misleads his readers as to the nature of the article he criticizes.

The article contains the following sentence: "Why, one wonders, are they not all prosecuted and locked up under the Witchcraft Act? " Leaping forward, “Two Worlds Reporter" trumpets eagerly: "If he (the writer) had done only elementary research, he would have known that the Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951." "Two Worlds Reporter" should be more cautious. To say without qualification that an Act has been repealed is to convey that what it stood for has been wiped off the books. The fact is that the Witchcraft Act was brought up to date in 1951. The old Act of 1735—"so far as still in force "—was replaced by one called the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

In any case, however, by quoting one sentence in isolation "Two Worlds Reporter" again gives his readers a false impression—i.e., that “The Sad Religion" was saying mediums ought to be "locked up under the Witchcraft Act." That is not so. The sentence was simply a reference to a fairly common reaction to Spiritualism, as anyone may see from a reading of the passage in which it occurs.

Most of "Two Worlds Reporter's" comments are no replies at all. The writer, “ has his own version of history," he says, and his account is " divorced from the facts"; but he makes no attempt to show wherein that "version” is wrong and what the "facts" are. His remarks about extra-sensory perception are beside the point:—
"Even scientifically conducted experiments in extra-sensory perception are ruled out. According to Coster they just did not happen.”
This is misrepresentation, of course; but, more important, it evades the real question. Have the experiments established extra-sensory perception as a fact, verifiable and predictable in the same way as light or sound waves? Of course they haven’t—as "Two Worlds Reporter" knows.

The same applies to the "fact that Sir William (Crookes) had himself photographed with the materialised Katie King." This "fact” was not even acceptable to other Spiritualists in its day, which was eighty-four years ago. The Rev. C. Maurice Davies, a member of the British National Association of Spiritualists, described the stagecraft of Katie's appearances in his book Mystic London, and added that the behaviour of Sir William gave "the final death blow to my belief that there might be something in the manifestations."

Two Worlds Reporter" takes up the reference to Robert Blatchford as a "sad, aged figure," and says, jeeringly: “ If, however, Blatchford had continued to be a materialist, then, of course, his age would have made no difference." Curiously enough, Blatchford first began calling himself "a convinced materialist" when he wrote More Things in Heaven and Earth, after he had become a Spiritualist. In his God and My Neighbour, an attack on the Churches published in 1904, the term " materialist" is never used. Blatchford calls himself there a Humanist, a Rationalist and an Agnostic: he also says, "I am rather a religious man." His Merrie England, first published in 1894, has heavy religious overtones: "God's creatures," etc.

The other main theme of "The Sad Religion,” the social rôle of Spiritualism, is summed up by "Two Worlds Reporter,” thus:—
"He is a very class-conscious writer, who believes that Spiritualism is part of a capitalist plot to serve the interests of the 'ruling classes ’ and to make the working class submissive! . . . This, of course, may be the doctrine according to Karl Marx. but to attempt to apply it to Spiritualism makes it seem more like the doctrine of the Marx Brothers.” 
Where “Two Worlds Reporter” thinks he read about this plot, it is difficult to say. The Socialist criticism of all religious forms, including Spiritualism, is part of the case against Capitalism, in which there is no supposition of conspiracy. Indeed, if capitalists could plot this, presumably they would be able also to plot better things—including how to avoid commercial crises and the destruction of their property in war.

What Socialists argue is that supernatural beliefs, by their promise of a better world beyond the grave, make for acceptance of this world as it is. Because of that, they have always played a large part in maintaining the status quo (if “Two Worlds Reporter” does not believe it he had better look in the history books); and because of that, they serve the interests—consciously or otherwise—of those who have a stake in maintaining the status quo, the ruling class.

Finally, “Two Worlds Reporter” complains of the drawing which accompanied “The Sad Religion.” He says it isn't funny. One has to admit that it does not compare for sheer uproarious fun with the illustration to “Two Worlds Reporter's” piece. This is a portrait of Mr. Hannen Swaffer who, the writing says, “ makes nonsense of critic's charges” by his contention that “Spiritualism and Socialism are two halves of one whole.”

Mr. Swaffer is, of course, a supporter of the Labour Party, which has been making nonsense of the word “Socialism” for fifty-odd years. In that light, his contention is probably true.
Robert Baltrop

The Sad Religion (1958)

From the May 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Talking of the great religions that enslave men’s thoughts, Spiritualism rarely comes to mind. Nevertheless, it has more devotees than any minority; and, if you reckon all the half-convinced and the non-practitioners, probably as many as most branches of orthodox Christianity.

Nobody knows even approximately the number who believe in spirits. There is no demarcation between Spiritualism and the ordinary religious beliefs: most Spiritualists are simply Christians with special interest in the after-life. Virtually every town or suburb of any size has a Spiritualist Church, but there is also a good deal of séance-holding in front rooms, as well as occasional mass demonstrations of clairvoyance in the larger cities. There are two Spiritualist journals, and the older-established of these, Psychic News (Two Worlds is the other one), claims a circulation of 25,000.

In the last few years popular interest in Spiritualism has grown considerably. The reason hardly needs pointing out. It was, in fact, the 1914-18 war that set the Spiritualist movement on its feet; J. Arthur Hill’s Spiritualism, published in 1913, testifies that numbers then were "not very great.” For the truth is that Spiritualism is a sad religion which has sprung from the disconsolation and loneliness of the bereaved; its sustainers have been not Lodge, Crookes, Wallace and the rest, but the dead of two wars and their widows.

Leaving aside the anthropological aspects (though the medium's ancestry goes back to Plato and his kinship to the ju-ju man), the modern Spiritualist movement can be said to have begun in America in the eighteen-forties. A Methodist household astonished New York State with rapped-out messages from the dead; and, though the daughters later confessed to cracking their toe-joints, table-rapping spread like wildfire through the eastern states. A few years later the first “spirit medium,” D. D. Home, left America to tour half the world.

And again, it is not difficult to see that the background to this was the tremendous growth of industrialism and all its consequences, in which the depression of 1837 had left its mark. Jack London was to find “the congested labour centres of the eastern states, where men were small potatoes and hunted the job for all they were worth . . . I saw the workers in the shambles at the bottom of the Social Pit.” There is hardly a difference between Spiritualism in its origins and the hopeful, near-hysterical revival movements which fed upon the degradation of the nineteenth-century working class.

Several of the early Spiritualist leaders were clergymen: the Reverend Moses, for example, who had a large part in founding various Spiritualist bodies. It is not surprising, when one thinks of the miracles and apparitions to which orthodox Christianity commits them. Indeed, spirits are part of almost every religion in the world. Even the Catholic Church, which condemns Spiritualism, does so only on the ground that the Spiritualists’ spirits come from the Devil; within Catholicism there is belief in visions, miracles, poltergeists and every kind of long-leggity beasty.

The Society for Physical Research was founded in 1882. Some of the early Spiritualists left or would have nothing to do with it, disapproving of any proposal to investigate their claims. The only real question for the Society, however, was the degree of supernatural activity, and by 1913 it was made up of people who shared beliefs in telepathy and, in the words of Hill’s book, “the existence and agency of disembodied minds.” The voluminous Proceedings of the S.P.R. read, as Fitzgerald remarked in the Socialist Standard in the nineteen-twenties, “ like the minutes of a gathering of intoxicated persons,” and to think of them as scientific enquiries is ludicrous: D. H. Rawcliffe, in The Psychology of the Occult, comments scathingly on the Society’s methods of investigation.

The history of Spiritualism is, in fact, a pitiful chronicle of frauds and gullibility (at the time of writing, a Sunday paper is featuring yet another medium’s “revelations”). The biographer of Houdini, the great illusionist, relates how he was continually sought after by Spiritualists and embittered by the attempt to trick him cheaply at a séance arranged by Conan Doyle. It is easy to discredit Spiritualism and easier still to make fun of it; really, it is not funny at all. For every fraud, charlatan or ectoplasm-pedlar there has to be a lonely, unhappy or even deranged person. The once-eminent scientist who thought he walked arm-in-arm with a spirit named Katie, and the aged Blatchford listening to his dead wife, are sad figures.

Most Spiritualist meetings are not hauntings, however. They consist usually of hymns and an address, followed by “ clairvoyance ” by a medium who professes to see and pass the messages from dead people. "I am talking to airman who was killed in the war; is there anybody here? There is. He says his name is—is it John? James? His name is James, he says. He has a message for his sister. A lady, at any rate. He says he saw you not long before he died in a place where there were some trees. Do you understand that? You do. He wants to tell you everything will be  alright . . . " and so on. It is often done with considerable skill in observation and deduction, and it is not surprising that some people are strongly impressed.

The more spectacular spirit manifestations are brought forth at séances: ectoplasm, rappings, trumpet-blowing, levitation and apparitions. Not uncommonly, too, Spiritualists have individual encounters with the spirits. If it all sounds ridiculous, it is not much more so than some of the Catholic visions and the Anglican taboos; and the high-water mark for Methodists and many hot-gospel addicts is the religious “experience" — a blinding flash of revelation which takes all kinds of forms.

Why, one wonders, are they not all prosecuted and locked up under the Witchcraft Act? That has occasionally happened to over-ambitious mediums (more often, however, they have been brought to court for bilking wealthy clients at the spirits' instigation). For one thing, as has  been said, the Spiritualist cult does not hold anything which is foreign to Christian beliefs. Its basis is a simple belief in God, and it holds a strong line of respectable Christian morality.

Indeed, Spiritualism always holds an element of hopefulness for the Christian churches, if it were true, if the spirit-world could be incontrovertibly proved, the effect would be a field-day for Christianity generally. Thus, though some churchmen (Dean Inge was one) pooh-pooh Spiritualism, more keep “an open mind"— i.e., hope for something useful to come out of it. Dr. Winnington Ingram, the late Bishop of London, believed that people would be “exactly the same five minutes after death as five minutes before" and would “still take great interest in the world we have left" (Sermon at St. Lawrence. Jewry, quoted in Hill's Spiritualism),

If is worth mentioning, in this connection, that the “extra-sensory perception” experiments of recent years are only new attempts to prove the unprovable basic fallacy of Spiritualism: that the mind is a thing in itself. The Churches have watched just as hopefully, for the same reasons. It is a curious proof, in fact, of the materialist case—that mind and consciousness are effects of material causes—which the bishops hope somehow to see disproved by the roll of a dice.

It is often argued that if Spiritualism provides comfort and solace to people who might not otherwise find them, there can be not much harm and possibly a lot of good in it Rawcliffe, who attacks every form of spirit belief in The Psychology of the Occult, says this. “Religious spiritualism, for many, transforms the facts of death and suffering into something which does not hurt quite so much. It often helps the individual to adjust himself to the problems of life, compensates for frustrations, and provides a seemingly logical justification to existence.”

Put like that, the social rôle of Spiritualism sounds unobjectionable and even praiseworthy; but, of course, it isn't that at all. The same might be said of the great religious movements of the last century, from Wesley’s onwards. Stimulating hope in the after-life, they provided a shield against existence for millions to whom existence was hell—and thereby made them submissive and unquestioning to the miseries they should have fought. The real question is not how to make up for suffering and frustration, but whether most of the suffering need exist at all.

The coercion of Spiritualism is as great as that of any other religious form: the conception of a “great cloud of witnesses” watching the believer is, as Hill (himself a member of the S.P.R.) puts it, “a moral lever of immense power.” Though there is no laid-down body of doctrine and instruction as to personal and social conduct, the implications are clear enough. The effect, after all, is the important thing. People with their eyes fixed upon the next world are not likely to concern themselves too much about this one.

All the world's religions serve the interests of their respective ruling classes—the cult of spirits in Japan as well as Christianity in the western world. In its smaller way. Spiritualism contributes to the same end: the making of a submissive working class. Perhaps more than any other, however, its existence and nature point to the need not to accept, but to end as speedily as possible the conditions from which unhappiness and suffering grow. Only a sad, sad world could produce such a sad religion.
Robert Barltrop

Editorial: The Bus Strike (1958)

Editorial from the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

It may seem that a strike lasting nearly seven weeks was a high price for the busmen to pay for the relatively small gains they made in the shape of some increase of pay for the men outside central London who at the start were excluded entirely from the offer of 8s. 6d. increase: though even this was noteworthy in face of the adamant attitude of the London Transport Executive. But the heartening demonstration of working class solidarity by the central London men will have achieved much more. The employers and the government were looking at the busmen’s struggle as a test case for the wage claims in other, larger, industries. Having seen the hundred per cent, solid strike, they will take note that there is a degree of determination behind the claims that they did not expect

The T.U.C. comes out of it badly. Having given verbal encouragement to the busmen’s claim they were too timid to face the prospect of extending the strike and limited their help to an appeal for financial assistance.

The Government cleverly applied their old class principle, "divide and rule,” by detaching the railwaymen from possible involvement in the dispute, with a 3 per cent. wage increase, to be paid for through redundancies and economies. (Readers should turn to another column to see what this journal was saying about Railway Nationalisation 50 years ago.)

Sir John Elliot, chairman of London Transport, showed that a nationalised industry behaves just like employers generally. He was, as he said, being tough, and was apparently prepared to see the buses off the streets till Christmas in order to win. Simultaneously, he announced further contraction of bus services, because they don’t pay their way.

Taken all in all the bus strike was a complete demonstration in tangible, painful form, for everyone to see, that under its thin disguise of “Welfare,” capitalism has not changed from what it always was, a hard, ruthless social system in which the workers are expected to take what capitalism offers and be beaten down if they try to get more.

50 Years Ago: The Uselessness of Railway Nationalisation (1958)

The 50 Years Ago column from the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Given nationalisation there follows the concentration of traffic, the closing of offices and redundant stations, the abolition of the canvassing and clearing house departments, and, to a large extent, the abolition of the advertisement department, the reduction of trains, etc., etc. In short, the elimination of “waste.”

Now the working class under capitalism is not concerned with the elimination of waste . . . The working class must live. To live it must sell its labour-power. Does “waste” increase the demand for labour-power? If so, it is a good thing for the immediate purpose of the working class.

If any section of the workers is persuaded that in some such reform movement as the nationalisation of the railways there is salvation, it will come to itself in the final reckoning, sick and sorry, with apathy bred of disappointment and despair born of withered hopes. It will be more difficult material for the Socialist leaven to work upon. It will retard the advance of the workers towards the Cooperative Commonwealth that lies at the end of our journeying. It will, until the effect of its painful experience and knowledge of the wasted energies have grown small, be a stumbling block and a rock of offence in our path.

(From the article on “ Railway Nationalisation,” in the Socialist Standard, July 1908.)

Party News Briefs (1958)

Party News from the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Summer Provincial Propaganda. It is pleasing to note that extensive arrangements have been made by the Propaganda Committee, Central Organiser and the Provincial Branches and Groups for speakers from London to visit the Provinces this Summer. Comrade James went to Nottingham in June for two weeks and held eight meetings each week in Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester and Bradford. From July 14th to 19th, Comrade Baldwin is going to Swansea to hold meetings there and in Newport. Comrade Harris of Newport will be available to help and throughout the Summer he will be helping the Comrades who are visiting the area for week-end meetings. Comrades D'Arcy, Grant and May will be doing these meetings, including visits to Bristol, where Comrade Flowers and the Group there are having good meetings on Durdham Downs. The period they hope to cover is from June 8th to July 13th. During August Comrade Young is touring in his vintage caravan and visiting Nottingham, Birmingham. Edinburgh and Dundee, to name some of the towns in his itinerary. An ambitious programme, all round, and no doubt it will prove as successful as the earlier Provincial tours.

* * *

Bloomsbury Branch will hold discussions on the first Thursday in each month, commencing September 4th. when Comrade Hardy opens the series with a discussion on Crises. Fuller details will be given in the August Standard. As in the past, no Branch meetings will be held during August by Bloomsbury Branch as Conway Hall closes for that month.

* * *

Outdoor Propaganda in London. A list of outdoor meetings is given on another page of this issue and Comrades are urged to note the time and places of meetings and give their support wherever possible.

* * *

Comrade Friend of Winnipeg is returning home after a holiday in Britain, and a Social evening was arranged for Comrades to meet him once again at Head Office on Friday, June 13th. Members at home wish him a good journey back to Winnipeg and express their pleasure that he was able to have such a holiday and to re-new contact with Party members in Britain.
Phyllis Howard

What is wrong with arbitration? (1958)

From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Politicians and newspaper writers who say that they believe in the principle of the right to strike, but who always condemn workers in this country who come out on strike, are fond of saying that strikes aren’t necessary any longer because wage claims can go to arbitration; where, so they say, the claim will receive impartial treatment. As these opponents of strikes are not at all impartial themselves their enthusiasm for arbitration is suspect to start with. But among the workers, too, especially when a strike puts them to great inconvenience, there is a widespread belief that somehow the arbitration courts are, or ought to be, a substitute for coming out on strike.

The idea is that if you have the right sort of men on the arbitration bodies, and supply them with the right sort of supporting evidence, they will argue it out and reach a " just ” solution. But who are the right sort of men and what is a “just” solution? The Tribunals usually consist of a President (with or without two other “ independent ” members), assisted by a member drawn from an employers' panel and a member drawn from a workers' panel.

The employers' and workers' members, and the independent members, no doubt, argue from their respective standpoints about the issues presented, and the award or refusal of an award is in the last resort determined by the independent members Tribunals or the President. While it is assumed that the Tribunals work on such conceptions as a "fair" wage and "what the industry can bear," these are meaningless or vague, and individuals can have their own interpretations. The Tribunals are not (though many people think they are) under specific obligation to try constantly to push wages up, or even necessarily to keep' them in line with the cost of living. Their essential purpose is to secure the settlement of disputes between employers and workers, with particular regard to the fact that if such disputes are not settled, production may be halted through strikes or lock-outs. Where it is a question of workers claiming higher wages one of the things the Tribunal is in effect considering is what price the employers will have to pay to avoid having their business (and their profits) brought to a standstill by a strike. The determination and intensity of feeling of the workers is therefore a factor in the issue.

From the organised workers' standpoint if arbitration bodies are of any use it is due to the fact that behind the workers’ claims is the readiness to strike.

In recent years most wage settlements have been made without arbitration or strikes (though often with the threat of strikes in the background), but these settlements were largely a recognition by the employers of the fact that with rising prices and little unemployment they had to pay more or lose workers to competitors.

Those who oppose all strikes deny that the strike is a necessary weapon for the workers. A case in point was the provincial busmen’s strike in July, 1957. The Unions representing the busmen (those employed by the bus companies outside London) demanded an increase of 20s. to bring them more into line with busmen's pay in London. Having been offered only 3s. they determined to strike. The Minister of Labour then referred the dispute to arbitration and the Industrial Disputes Tribunal awarded 11s. The Daily Telegraph (July 26th, 1957), which had condemned the strike, maintained that the award proved that the busmen would have got 11s. anyway, and that therefore, "the six-day strike is, and was from the first, headstrong, malicious and unnecessary." Of course, the events proved nothing of the kind. If merely stating a case were all that was required to get an 11s. increase, why did the employers refuse to offer more than 3s.? and can it be doubted that in its purpose of getting the dispute settled the members of the Tribunal had to take into account the fact that the men were so determined in their claim, that they had decided on their strike before the reference to the Tribunal, and were still engaged in it while the Tribunal considered the case?

The workers’ victory was rather a vindication of the declaration of Mr. Frank Coyle of the Transport Workers’ Union: "I stand by my previous objection to arbitration in any form.” (Daily Herald, July 17th, 1957. Mr. Coyle made this statement on hearing that the Minister had decided to refer the case to the Tribunal.)

The Rôle of the Government
But let us not get this matter out of perspective. Arbitration without the readiness to strike is a broken reed, but there are also narrow enough limits to what strikes can do. Strikes cannot always be successful in the aim of getting a wage increase or fighting off a decrease: so much depends on the state of trade and the amount of unemployment. And behind the employers is always the government, with its steady purpose of keeping capitalism going—which means keeping it on a profit-making basis. Many workers fail to see this and expect the government to remain "neutral." After seven years of Conservative government memories have grown dim about what preceded those seven years, and many workers believe that while the present government one-sidedly opposes the workers and wants to keep wages down, things were different under the Labour Government.

Not Different Under Labour Government
Things were not different under Labour Government. The same causes produced the same effects. The obligation to keep capitalism going led the Labour Government to assert the doctrine of "wage restraint," and the Tories have carried it on. The next Labour Government will do the same.

But for those who have forgotten, it was all set down in the Labour Government’s "Statement on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices" of February, 1948. Re-reading that document alongside recent declarations made by the Tories confirms Mr. MacMillan’s jibe in the House of Commons on May 8th, 1958, that the statements made by the Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the late Sir Stafford Cripps, "were very similar. One might almost think they were written by the same hand."

The 1948 Statement asked individual employers not to pay wages above agreed rates; asserted that there could be no justification for a general increase of wages (or profits and interest) unless accompanied by a substantial increase in production; denied the claim of workers to have higher wages merely to keep relativity with other workers who had had an increase; declared that the Government would observe those principles in its negotiations with its own employees; urged all who were engaged in negotiations, or "decisions which might result in an increase in wages or other personal incomes" (i.e., the Arbitration Tribunals) not to depart from these principles; and stated firmly that if there was any departure, employers and the nationalised industries could not expect to call on the Government to provide the money or make it available through increased prices. (Just like the recent Government attitude to railwaymen and busmen.)

The 1948 White Paper had one clause saying that if at some future date there was a marked rise in the cost of living the level of wages, etc., would need reconsideration.

As the cost of living was rising more or less continuously the need arose soon enough, but not much more than a year later the Labour Government added another turn to the screw by announcing that there was no case for higher wages even if the cost of living did increase. This arose when the Government devalued the pound in 1949, knowing that this would raise the cost of living still further. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the late Sir Stafford Cripps said in the House of Commons (September 27th, 1949):-
“ Especially and specifically there can, in our view, be no justification for any section of the workers, trying to recoup themselves for any rise in the cost of living due to the altered exchange rate.”
All this time, under Labour Government and Tory Government, strikes were continued and will continue.

Those who think that the workers’ struggles over wages would cease if we had a different sort of government are deluding themselves; as also are those who think that strikes are no longer a necessary weapon of defence for the worker.
Edgar Hardcastle

P. B. Shelley (1974)

From the Special 300th issue of The Western Socialist
`'Tis to work and have such pay,  
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,

`'Tis to hunger for such diet

As the rich man in his riot

Casts to the fat dogs that lie

Surfeiting beneath his eye.

`Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number--

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you

Ye are many  they are few.

#    #    #    # 

Hasten on that glorious day

When man on man no more shall prey,

When prophets, priests and kings

Shall be numbered with forgotten things.

 P. B. Shelley

Impeach Capitalism (1974)

From the Special 300th issue of The Western Socialist

All over America and, indeed, throughout much of the world the question is being bruited about: To Impeach or not to Impeach, referring — of course — to President Nixon. If one were to measure importance by the quantity of coverage by the mass media there would be no doubt that the scandals generally listed under the heading Watergate are more important than any other problem existing today. Even, apparently, more of consequence than the Mideast War and certainly far more newsworthy than the Energy Crisis or the worsening economic conditions of those who depend upon wages and salaries for a living. And so, on the one hand, there are the politicians and pundits and leaders of Organized Labor who are mounting a clamor for Congress to impeach and try the President for high crimes and misdemeanors with a view to ousting him (unless he bows to the outcry and resigns), while, on the other, are the loud and sometimes strident voices of Mr. Nixon’s defenders, urging him to hang in there.

The Marxists of the World Socialist Party regard this sound and fury as much ado about nothing, insofar as working class interests are concerned We maintain that the high crimes and misdemeanors that Mr. Nixon might well be guilty of are crimes against his fellow capitalists. Given the premise that the arrangement of dividing society into economic classes is correct and fitting — a premise socialists do not hold — any added unpleasantness suffered by the working class is, generally incidental. Whether Mr. Nixon or any other Individual — regardless of political persuasion — occupies the White House and tends to the affairs of U. S. capitalism is six of one and half a dozen of the other. A glance at current and past history should make it apparent that the problems and miseries of most of us are due to something much more fundamental than any high crimes and misdemeanors of any President or government, present or past.

Even the Republican attempts to wipe out Constitutional freedoms are not that all-important to the working class as an Issue to get excited about The freedoms of the Bill of Rights were not designed to safeguard the rights of the masses of the poor, to begin with. The capitalist class, as a whole, will undoubtedly continue to defend whatever liberties are consistent with and beneficial to their system from the depredations of any section of the population. The task of the socialists is to use such freedoms to the fullest extent possible in order to spread the message of genuine freedom, world socialism. Which is why we insist that the important job ahead is not the impeachment of Nixon but the impeachment and ousting of capitalism.

Now how does one go about working towards such a goal? It should be obvious by now, even though it doesn't seem to be, that the one essential need today is an awareness on the part of millions of working people that production for sale with view to profit is the root cause of problems such as poverty, war, chicanery and all high crimes and misdemeanors by elected officials. The only task that makes sense for socialists is to systematically attempt to raise the level of political understanding of the working class in whatever way and to whatever extent is possible. For, as we insist, there can be no impeachment and ousting of capitalism without millions and millions of working people who understand the basics of and are determined to institute socialism. This is the first and most important task of the socialist movement.

With an increasing political awareness and understanding will come a strong socialist political movement, made up of the overwhelming majority of the population, that will ultimately capture control of all central organs of political power — city, state and national — utilizing the only means possible, the ballot. Only when this has been done will capitalism be impeached and ousted. There are no short cuts to socialism.