Monday, August 28, 2023

Obituary: Ennis “Cheerio” Clarke (1971)

Obituary from issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist

Ennis “Cheerio” Clarke was bom in Walmsley, England, about 1895. His parents moved the family to the Boston. Massachusetts, area sometime prior to the World War I period where Ennis remained until the late Thirties when he settled in the town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He made his living for many years as a professional photographer and, in a small way, as a dealer in philatelic stamps.

“Cheerio.” as he was known to just about all who knew him to any extent, met members of the World Socialist Party during his Boston days and found our political philosophy conformed with his own. He remained a member of the WSP and a convinced socialist until his death on Nov. 9, 1970. at the Veterans Home in Bristol. Rhode Island. As a draftee in World War I, where he was stationed for the duration in a training camp in So. Carolina, “Cheerio” was entitled to Veteran benefits. He was in and out of the V.A. Hospital in Providence, R. I. for a number of years before his death, the victim of cancer. He had never married.

“Cheerio” was also an accomplished amateur musician and performed creditably on the banjo, guitar and mandolin. He was well-known and liked in E. Greenwich as the following excerpt from a letter to this writer from one of his close friends, Don Rice, will attest. Our correspondent, who now lives in Ohio and edits a Quarterly “Journal of American Opinion” — SCHISM — writes:
“Trips back east won't seem the same now, without being able to stop by his studio-apartment for a visit More than any other person, he was responsible for opening my eyes to the possibilities of alternatives. There were many in East Greenwich who were influenced by his youthful readiness to challenge old fogies one-fourth his age. He went on the wagon once for years; we kids got him drinking beer again, going out to bars or just sitting up in his studio playing guitar and singing. It never seemed odd to us at nineteen and twenty and twenty-one to have as a member of our crowd a man in his sixties. Though “Cheerio” didn't neglect those his own age. It was always great fun to sit on the courthouse wall listening to him argue with two of his regular cronies; a part-time policeman and a Jehovah's Witness. He was considered a harmless crank by many in town, but those of us who knew him well, knew that he was a good man deeply concerned with correcting social injustice and the inequities of modem life."
Which we, his comrades, would only amend by pointing out that “Cheerio’' went beyond a desire to correct “social injustice,” something that most people would profess to favor provided it could be done within the framework of capitalist society. “Cheerio” was a revolutionist in the most meaningful sense of the term, even organizing propaganda trips to E. Greenwich by his Boston comrades in order that those in E. Greenwich who cared to listen could hear and debate the case for a brand new way of life with others than himself. There were, over the years, a few such trips when at least two carloads of WSPers made the 65-mile trip from Boston.

In his final days, “Cheerio” was able to have visits from a number of his comrades, including Gilbert McClatchle of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who was in our area last September. He was also enabled to see consummated his wish that his possessions should go to the World Socialist Party. Several of us made the trip to E. Greenwich where we removed many items, including a valuable stamp collection and a number of musical instruments, all of which are adding much-needed funds to aid socialist work.

Those of us who knew him, including this writer who visited him on a number of occasions over the last few years, will miss him. I can attest, as one who has examined much of the voluminous correspondence accumulated by Comrade Clarke — in the capacity of a sort of literary executor — that he has done his part in spreading the case for socialism. He has made his mark in the World Socialist Movement.
Harry Morrison

Obituary: Comrade Sid Earp (1971)

Obituary from issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist

It is with regret that we announce the passing of Comrade Sid Earp of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, on November 23, 1970. He was taken ill in his hotel room and was dead on arrival at the hospital.

This writer can recall the time — I think it was in 1915 — that Sid joined the old, and at that time robust and vital, Vancouver Local No. 1, S.P.C. He soon made his presence felt in many ways. At the Saturday evening socials of the Local his mellow and well-placed baritone often regaled us with “Brown October Ale” and other popular vocal favorites. This earned for him the name of “The All-Red Baritone.”

In his later years, as many may recall, he traveled much, visiting comrades in England, Scotland, Ireland. New Zealand. Australia, as well as those in the United States and Canada. I remember well his filling me in with his glowing impressions of these visits and am grateful therefor.

Though not one of great means (he was a waterfront worker and received a pension on retirement — he was an expert on supervising the loading of cargo on merchant ships) he was generous to the socialist movement on many occasions. When on a visit to Boston* many years ago, he donated $1000 to the WSP.

As time goes on, we witness one more old stalwart passing. This should spur the rest who remain to greater efforts to obtain knowledge able recruits so that the shoes of those passing away should not remain unfilled.
“Bill” Pritchard.

* We in Boston have fond memories of Sid Earp.

The Joy of Capitalist "Peace" (1971)

From issue number 1 (1971) of The Western Socialist

A recent report on health and safety conditions facing workers in the U.S.A., published by a group of Black militant unionists who call themselves the League of Revolutionary Black Workers revealed the following shocking facts. The U. S. Labor Department has estimated that 75% of all workers suffer disabling injuries on the job sometime before retirement. Each year 15.000 workers lose their lives in industrial accidents. 1,700,000 workers suffer impaired or lost hearing due to excess noise levels in plants. More coal miners have accidentally died in the last 60 years than all the casualties in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In automobile stamping plants around Detroit an estimated 25% of the workers have lost fingers, arms, or other limbs due to accidents. In 1966 there were 13.2 disabling injuries per 1 million man-hours worked, 27,000 injuries daily, 6000 of these disabling, 250 permanently disabling and 55 deaths each day.

With 260 deaths attributed to civil disorders since 1965 the ruling class screams for law and order. With 225 deaths every week from industrial accidents the ruling class is strangely silent. With 24 million man-hours lost due to strikes in 1966 the capitalists screamed for anti-strike legislation. In the same year 255 million man-hours were lost due to accidents, but the capitalists lost their voices in the call for better industrial safety legislation.

For every worker who dies of industrial accident, it is estimated that 50 die from heart attacks on the job. Industrial diseases take a tremendous toll among workers. Black lung disease, silocosis, pneumonsoniosis, all 20-year lung aliments, have killed millions in the mines and foundries of America. In Pennsylvania alone 2000 workers die each year of black lung. Most workers in Detroit auto foundries have silocosis after 5 years exposure to the dust-ridden foundry air. Metal miners contract bladder cancer from long exposure to radioactive dust. Many workers are subjected to intense toxic fumes from chemicals used in metal plating and processing; sulphuric acid, nitric acid, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, dyes and chemicals causing bladder cancer, ozone from heat welding, dirt and oil in the air are all entering and destroying the bodies and internal organs of healthy workers.

Those workers who miraculously escape physical damage suffer nervous tensions, mental illness up to psychosis, extreme fatigue from speedup, anxiety over job security. The character of factory work, its strenuous nature, the unending repetition, the immense boredom, the noise, the nagging foreman, all lead to total alienation of the worker from his or her environment. Alcoholism and drug addiction often are the escape routes used to flee the living hell of industrial production.

In response to these conditions. all-Black unions such as DRUM (Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement), ELRUM (Eldon Avenue Assembly Plant), FRUM (Ford), and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers have been organized to combat white racism in the trade and industrial unions and to get safety and health legislation for the protection of workers. But these “revolutionary" unions are bound to fall because they are organized on a minority racial instead of a majority class basis. To create healthful, safe and exploitationless working conditions workers of every color must unite politically in an independent, working class socialist party (World Socialist Party), capture the governmental powers now in the hands of the capitalist ruling class, and thereby transform the means of wealth production and distribution into the common property of society with democratic control of the industries by the workers themselves.
Carl M. Vrooman

Quote . . . Unquote (1972)

From issue number 2 (1972) of The Western Socialist

We couldn't have said it better 
"Look at it this way. America is run largely by and for about 5.000 people who are actively supported by 50,000 beavers eager to take their places. I arrive at the round figure this way: maybe 2.500 megacorporation executives, 500 politicians, lobbyists and Congressional committee chairmen. 500 investment bankers, 500 commercial bankers, 500 partners in major accounting firms, 500 labor brokers. If you don't like my figures, make up your own. We won’t be far apart in the context of a country with 210-million people. The 5.000 appoint their own successors, are responsible to nobody. They treat this nation as an exclusive whorehouse especially designed for their comfort and kicks. The President of these United States, in their private view, is head towel boy. They prefer clever flunkies who. like most of the present White House gang, are so slippery they can enter a telephone booth and leave by the side door.

For most of us, the 210-million, the result is a tearing frustration. Frustration with unemployment, inequity, taxes and prices, to be sure, but under it all a rage at the giant, impregnable, impenetrable, anonymous, unaccountable. irresponsible,  immoveable bastions of power. And now, through the Naderites, through the blizzard of shredded documents at I.T.T., we get our noses rubbed in the whole sick operation of decadent power blocks.

The time has come to have dreams, hopes as tangible as an A.P. dateline and not far off." 
Robert Townsend in New York Times Book Review Section, April 30. 1972

From the WSPUS Radio Series: Alienated Men (1972)

From issue number 2 (1972) of The Western Socialist

Have you happened to have heard the term alienation? It Is being kicked around a bit these days, especially by psychologists and philosophers. They tell us that modern man suffers from alienation — a feeling of not belonging, that one is a lost soul who is going through the motions of living with little, if any, consciousness. And among the theories on the cause of alienation we are told that the automated and computerized society of our times is responsible.

Well, no doubt there is some truth to this but the philosophers and behavior analysts of our times seem to be largely unaware of the fact that more than a century ago Karl Marx made use of the word and, in fact, explained it in terms that make it much easier to understand. Marx saw society as divided basically into two economic classes—owners, or capitalists, and workers. Now those who owned the factories, mines and workshops, the land and all that is in and on it, were not lost souls in the sense in which we speak in those times any more than they are today. It was the working class that was alienated — alienated, as Marx explained, from the product of their toil. The workers in those times, as today, were completely divorced from ownership and a consequent feeling of interest in the commodities which they were producing. They sold their mental and physical energies to those who owned the means and instruments of production and distribution and once the agreement was made those energies and the product of their toll was owned — as today — by those who bought the labor power — the capitalist class. In fact, Marx remarked that the workers had become mere appendages of the machines and if he could see the extent to which this machine-appendage relationship has grown in the plants of our times he would roll over in his grave.

For the feeling of alienation on the part of those who produce but do not own can only have been magnified in direct proportion to the intensification of industry in the last century and, particularly, in the period since World War II. True, there are a multitude of small businesses of all sorts in America today. Including small farms. But the mainstream of production is carried on in gigantic mechanized farms and in factories such as are found in auto, steel, copper, rubber, petroleum, and chemical industries — plants that herd thousands of workers under one roof to operate the machinery from production line to office. Can there be any feeling other than alienation among those who do the work in conditions such as these?

As a specific example that has hit the front pages of the newspapers and the TV documentaries, look at the case of General Motors vs. the United Auto Workers Union in the affair of the new Vega plant In Lordstown. Ohio. G.M. estimates that it has lost the production of some $45-million worth of Vega automobiles and Chevrolet trucks because of what it calls sabotage on the part of the workers. The workers contend that they can no longer keep up with the belt. They attribute the increasing number of faulty cars and trucks to the mad greed of the Company to speed-up the process and cut down on the costs of labor.

To whatever extent both sides are right in this argument there should be no argument that the workers understand more than sub-consciously that they are mere appendages of the machinery, completely divorced from any reason for interest in the finished product. And if anybody wishes to research the advantages of a job on an assembly line — at whatever wage — let him try picking up and putting down an ash tray, for example, for eight hours! Then imagine the guy or gal on the line doing one precision task at the same time trying to keep up with a steadily moving belt.

The way to eliminate alienation is to abolish commodity production. In a system of world socialism, where the earth and all that is in and on it belong to all mankind, alienation becomes involvement.