Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The freedom of the shops (1974)

From the September 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard
The following letter was sent to the Hampstead and Highgate Express, London, commenting on a statement by the Tory MP for Hampstead — where the Socialist Party is contesting the next General Election.
Dear Sir,

Despite Mr. Finsberg’s statement that only a Conservative government could guarantee the “freedom to shop at the shop of our choice, and not at second-rate co-operatives”, it is only too apparent that after 70 years of Labour, Liberal and Conservative governments the “shop of our choice” is the one that suits our wage-packet.

Why is it that many old people in Hampstead go to buy small quantities of perishable foods from a stall in Haverstock Hill? (H & H p. 6). Is this their freedom of choice or is it perhaps that they cannot afford to buy their necessaries in larger quantities?

No doubt many of the people in Mr. Finsberg’s constituency would dearly love to be able to shop at Harrods or Fortnum & Mason’s or at the better class of shop in Hampstead, but find that like other workers they must cut the corners and shop at “second-rate Co-operatives” to make ends meet.

Working-class people have always had to endure shoddy or second-class goods and this will always be the case as long as capitalism lasts. Mr. Finsberg’s words are belied by the facts.

In a Socialist society there would be no second rate goods — only the best would be produced and this would be for human need, not profit. Goods would be freely available in much the same way as the atmosphere is today.

Letters: Insularly aloof? (1974)

Letters to the Editors from the September 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

Insularly aloof?

It appears that in this society you are either meek and humble, or aggressive. There is no other, no middle road under capitalism, in the world at large.

Which of the above categories do socialists come? What do socialists do outside the political arena? Do they stand insularly aloof within?

Socialists oppose the capitalist system uncompromisingly. Many have undergone hardships through doing so, particularly in wartime but also through adherence to their convictions at any time. We leave to our correspondent to decide whether that makes us “meek and humble” or “aggressive”.

We oppose reformist and direct-action activities which mean the banging of heads against brick walls. Addicts of those policies have accused us of “standing aloof”: we say anyone can get a sore head.

“Outside the political arena” Socialists go to work, are trade-unionists, read, watch tv, and do other common-place things.

Lenin and lies

We have had enquiries about the source from which an article in February Socialist Standard stated that Lenin advocated “lies, trickery and deceit” as methods for Communists to use in the trade unions.

The version of Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism published by the American Communists (“Workers’ Party of America”) in the early nineteen-twenties with the title Should Communists Participate in Reactionary Trade Unions? contains the following passage:
Communist must be tactful 
There is no doubt but that the opportunist leaders of the unions will resort to all the dirty tricks of bourgeois diplomacy, invoking the help of the capitalist governments, priests, police, judges, etc., in order to prevent the Communists from penetrating into the trade unions, to force them out of the unions, to make their work within the unions as dangerous as possible, aiding the police to persecute and run them down. But we must be able to withstand all that, to be ready for any and every sacrifice, and even if necessary, to practice trickery, to employ cunning, and to resort to illegal methods, to sometimes even overlook or conceal the truth—all for the sake of penetrating into the trade unions, to stay there and by every and all means carry on the work of Communism.
This publication led to strong condemnation of Communists in America, and they found it difficult to defend these intentions laid down for them by Lenin. Consequently the Communist Party of Great Britain’s edition of Left-Wing Communism had a watered-down version of the passage, as follows:
It is necessary to be able to withstand all this, to go the whole length of any sacrifice, if need be, to resort to strategy and adroitness, illegal proceedings, reticence and subterfuge, to anything in order to penetrate into the trade unions, remain in them, and carry on Communist work inside them, at any cost.
Editorial Committee

"Isolated itself from the real world"

Once again the Socialist Standard has aligned itself with the most reactionary elements in society. The article “Fascism, Violence and the Left” in the July edition was not only factually incorrect but also dangerously wrong in its analysis.

Firstly, the various left-wing groups involved in the Red Lion Square demonstration were not attacking the National Front. The left-wing groups were marching to a meeting to protest against the neo-Nazi N.F.’s march. You ignore the fact that the police only took action against the left wing demonstration. This ignoral of the police’s tacit support for the right wing and repression of the left is sadly not an isolated incident but in complete accordance with the S.P.G.B.’s record of no comment on the increasing state repression of socialists and trade unionists.

Secondly, the article gives the impression that the death of Kevin Gately was the result of the “violence of the Left”. In fact it was the police attack on the march which caused Kevin’s death. .This attack began before the N.F. had entered the square, the police were not protecting the N.F. against left-wing violence but engaging in a senseless action that even the liberal capitalist papers such as the Guardian were forced by the facts to admit was unnecessary.

The unwillingness of the S.P.G.B. to face the reality of the state’s repressive role is not an isolated phenomenon. Rather than become involved in class struggle the S.P.G.B. has remained on the outside producing a series of dogmatic dismissals of partial economic struggles, women’s lib, gay lib, fights against racism and fascism, student politics, etc.

In its rejection of any partial demand the S.P.G.B. has isolated itself from the real world and developed an internal conservative inertia. It has failed to answer the question of what should revolutionaries do in a non-revolutionary period by completely failing to intervene in such a way as to develop revolutionary consciousness and to strengthen the organisation and self-confidence of the working class. As such the S.P.G.B. has not developed in the last seventy years, degenerating into a group of philosophical utopian socialists incapable of bringing their ideas into relevance to non-socialists, only by achieving this by relating the struggle for socialism to the day to day struggles of the working class can socialist conscious develop.
G. Wright,

Thank you for so ably confirming everything in our article “Fascism, Violence and the Left”.

Your rebuttal of allegedly “factually incorrect” statements consists of not facts but inferences — “tacit support”, “gives the impression”, and that we "ignore” this and that version. As a fact, we did not attribute Gately’s death to anyone. The article said: “and a young student was killed”.

It is strange you should say the SPGB does not “face the reality of the state’s repressive role” and, earlier, “increasing state repression” of socialists (so-called) and trade unionists. These events took place under a Labour government for whose return the left-wing groups in the demonstration had all worked at the last election. Who does not face reality?

The same can be said of your reiteration that through not supporting “partial economic struggle” and reformist movements the SPGB “has not developed in the last seventy years”. If — as you say — the working class now lacks revolutionary consciousness, organization and self-confidence, and — as you say — reformists and trade unionists are being repressed under the Labour government they elected, that is the outcome of seventy years of the struggles and activities you nevertheless still advocate. If it were not pernicious it would be laughable.

Other letters and replies held over to next month through pressure on space.

Correction (1974)

From the September 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are grateful to a correspondent for pointing out the following corrections to an article in the June Socialist Standard.

On page 98 we stated that when the SPGB was formed in 1904 it had to contend with, among others “. . . the Democratic Labour League (William Morris and Belford Bax) . . .” This should have been the Socialist League and Bax’s first name was Belfort. Further Morris had died in 1896 and the Socialist League had for some years ceased to be the organisation he and Bax had championed.

The Inevitability of Socialism. (1905)

From the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

We are told by the poet that:—
”Two principles in human nature reign,
Self love to urge and reason to restrain.”
Another principle which manifests itself as an essential feature of our common human nature is sentiment or altruism.

Now if we take these three principles and apply them to our everyday lives do we find anything in them which would lead us to hope for greater progress towards Socialism in the future than in the past? It is natural that man should strive to secure the good things of life—as he understands them—for himself. It is a platitude that the human heart is buoyed up with selfishness. Everywhere we are told that man is ready to secure his own advantage at the expense of his fellow.


is that he naturally envies his fellow who is more richly endowed with the good things of this life. When therefore we have a class who are living in a condition of inferiority to another class we must expect that sooner or later the former will seek for as good conditions as the latter. The working-class in every capitalist country finds itself situated in such a condition of inferiority. Whether it is the means for satisfying the physical, intellectual or emotional side of his nature, the worker is faced with the fact that he receives not the best but the worst which his time and country produces.

It is true that the rich are not altogether free from the evil results of their own advantages. A condition of their class privilege is the exploitation, or robbery, of the worker. When the worker has by his labour turned the raw material into manufactured product the employer takes the whole of the finished article as his own. Out of its value he offers—if he sees the possibility of personal gain—a small fraction to the worker to continue the work of producing.


is cheap clothing, cheap food, insanitary housing, all of them conditions making for the germination of disease. But alas ! it is impossible for the capitalist to give the worker a complete monopoly of disease. The air, impregnated with its germs, is carried by all the winds of Heaven even into the palatial residences of the rich. Here it meets with women and children possessing a hot-house culture, and the results are that the capitalist conscience is for a brief moment awakened. Soon, however, the heart of our modern Pharaoh is hardened, and the conscience is again lulled to sleep. With the worker, however, the trouble is everlasting. Disease is always with him and he tends to become angry with conditions which mean the loss of some loved one through the ravages of a remediable disease.

The spirit of altruism—the desire for the welfare of his fellows is a characteristic of the modern man. We all know how quickly he responds to the telling of the story of some good deed, how he sympathises with the pathos, aye, and with the bathos of many a life history. His heart thrills when he hears of brave men risking their lives for the lives of their fellows, his most popular literature is that wherein


Vicious and cruel actions raise a storm of indignation within him.

True, all these emotions are futile to prevent him from wrong doing, from, under the influence of competitive conditions, harming as much as possible those with whom he competes. But it shows that man once rid of his sordid capitalist environment would rise to a higher level both of self-esteem and of altruism than is possible in a society based upon the individual ownership of property.

When self-love and altruism combine in the mind of the worker to force him to seek a betterment of the economic conditions of his class he can by the exercise of his reasoning faculties acquire a knowledge of the means whereby such betterment is to be secured. He looks around him and sees the actual conditions of existence—the worker poor, the non-worker rich—and he is constrained to ask why those who do the work of the community are deprived of the fullest measure of enjoyment from the fruits of that work.

This question can only be answered by an investigation into


of wealth production. This study is two-fold, historical and economical. From historical research the student learns that present day methods of production are of no great antiquity. It is by no means permanent in its nature. He analyses the processes which have led from the old local handicrafts system with its mysteries and jealousy between rival towns to the worldwide capitalist production which now prevails. He sees that in the evolution which led to this result a revolution in industrial processes has occurred, and that the relations of those engaged in industrial operations have also been revolutionised.

Under the handicraft system the worker was the owner of his tool, and of the product of his labour; to-day the worker has ceased to own his tools. The machine has become the most important factor in production, and this is owned by a class who do not take any part in the production. As a result of this


from his means of production, and of his possessing nothing but his power of working, a condition has arisen whereby he can be forced to sell himself in order to maintain his life.

Examining the actual methods of this capitalist system our student finds that so long as the system of capitalist production with its individual ownership of the means of wealth production prevails, so long must the worker sell his activity—become a slave—and so long must the corollaries of this slavery, disease, misery, want, poverty, and degradation continue.

The worker bringing his reason to bear upon the facts acquired by a historical and economic examination of wealth production will be forced to the conclusion that the element which is the cause of all the trouble is the fact that wealth is individually owned, and individually controlled. As a result of this control the owners of wealth are enabled to monopolise all the benefits accruing from science and invention—while the worker is given


based upon the knowledge of two centuries ago.

When he realises this he will conclude that it is only by removing this refractory element from our modes of wealth production, and taking social possession of what has become a social service, that is to say of the community taking complete ownership and control of the whole of the material conditions of life that a remedy can be obtained from the evils which beset us.

That this time is coming rapidly nearer is every day more apparent. A society based upon the communal ownership of wealth is coming every day more and more near. This society of the future will be based upon a condition which will prevent


between man and man. Competition for profit will have vanished. The antagonism of classes will have disappeared, and it will be possible for man to really harmonise his self-interest with the interest of his fellows in a society which satisfies his reason.

Life in such a society where man dominates machinery and wins more and more power over nature, wresting from her her innermost secrets not for the benefit of a few but for the good of all, will be pleasant and men will pass from the cradle to the grave free from any of the carking cares of capitalism. Such a life is possible only when Socialism is achieved, and it is the duty of every man to hasten the day which shall give humanity so great in need of joy.
Robert Elrick

“Electionitis.” (1905)

From the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

November is the month of fogs and fireworks. Why fogs and fireworks should keep such close company it is beyond me to discover, but without doubt there is some underlying and elusive link between the two, not only in the physical world, but in the mental world also. About the time of the November elections the fires of “revolutionary Socialism” are kindled in all directions, and there is a great show of smoke and yellow flame, and sometimes even a spark of red. Gorgeous wheels of fire revolve on the “revolutionary” flagstaff, and the workers, who are told, “this is revolution,” regard them with awe; noisy Jack-in-the-boxes spit out spiteful things about the Mayor’s blue nose and the Deputy-Mayor’s whiskers, and call it “class-war” ; a rocket swishes skywards with a fiery train like nothing so much as the tail of the Great Comet, and having soared gracefully up somewhere near the moon—the far-off moon that Socialists are reputed to be always crying for—hangs a moment and bursts in the face of that splendid jewel, and Oh! outshines it, obscures it with a profusion of richer gems. There is “Day Nurseries for Children,” pale and blue and tender as the turquoise ; there is “Free Meals for School Children,” bright and burning as a woman’s tears, and just about as efficient in improving the condition of the workers ; there are “Work for the Workless,” “Farm Colonies,” “Municipal Milk Depots,” and a galaxy of other glittering gems which bejewel the sky—for a moment. And few of those eyes upturned to watch the baubles fade mark the poor little spark of red that hurtles down with the falling stick—while as for the moon, why, that is as far off as ever.

It is the prevailing fashion among those who treat the workers to this confusing and befogging spectacle, to point the finger of scorn at the members of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, what time they pipe, “What are you doing for Socialism?” And as there is some misconception concerning our attitude toward this mysterious form of “Socialist” activity which those who so fondly embrace it speak of as “political action,” it might be not altogether inopportune to review the situation at this juncture.

The answer we give to those of our critics who approach us with the question “do you believe in political action ?” is, emphatically, yes. And anticipating from experience the complementary query, “then why don’t you bring your actions into line with your belief?” we proceed to show that our present line of activity is in strict accordance with our pledge to work for the capture of the political machinery. It is too often forgotten that, since the science of politics is the science of government, all propaganda directed toward the enlightenment of the people in those causes which doom them to be governed, and in the only means by which the yoke of government can be thrown off (political means), is political action, and political action of the most essential character. We maintain that there can be no political success for the workers save it be built up on a knowledge of the futility of any measures short of the Social Revolution : anything else is mere electioneering success. There is no more common fallacy than to suppose that the man who is elected to place is the power of which the ruling-class are afraid or by which the workers can wrest anything from the oppressors. The true power lies in the quality of the vote which placed him in the position he fills.

It is the undoubted tendency where men fall under the influence of any particular school, whether in art, politics, philosophy or other sphere of intellectual activity, for them to become mere pedantic partisans ; let us, therefore, in order to guard against this tendency, consider the position calmly and dispassionately, as befits men with the judicial mind.

I claim it as a fundamental truth, that the objective of every Socialist, as a Socialist, is the realisation of Socialism alone. As a husband, as a father, as a human animal, he has many other interests (I had almost written duties) but in his Socialist capacity none. As a man he may favour palliatives, the feeding and clothing and comforting of the destitute and suffering, but as a Socialist such matters are of interest only so far as they affect the attainment of his objective. That it is impossible to effect any other than an abstract separation between the man and the Socialist I do not deny, but it is necessary to make the distinction, to reduce ourselves to pure, abstract, Socialist atoms, blind to all suffering, dead to all emotion, as absolutely heartless as capital itself, in order that, we may pursue our discussion without passion, and from the Socialist standpoint. To the scientist there is no such thing as expediency.

From the Socialist point of view the ultimate object of electoral action is the wresting of the executive and administrative power from the ruling-class, in the interest of the working-class, and the ultimate object is the immediate object also. As contributory to this object there are the matters of propaganda and testing the strength of the Socialist party.

With regard to the ultimate object—the seizure of the machinery of government in order that it may be used for the purpose of overthrowing the present system of society and setting up a Socialist system in its place, I take it that we are all agreed upon the necessity of this, since this machinery is the means by which each system of exploitation is enabled to outlive its period of social expediency, to indulge its tendency to resist the evolutionary processes and to stem economic progress until only revolution can remove the obstruction. As Socialists we can desire the capture of the political machinery for one purpose only—the revolutionary purpose of achieving Socialism. I submit then, that as Socialists we must insist that every step taken towards assailing the stronghold of the capitalist-class must be taken upon tested and sure Socialist ground.

Let us suppose a typical election campaign—there has been none other that I am aware of in this country up to date. A candidate is put up by a reputed Socialist body, and immediately there is a feverish desire to “get our man in” : what can equal an election—as a sporting event ? Literature is poured out, promising a whole host of palliatives and reforms, and the enthusiasts work like Trojans from door to door, urging people to vote for that which they know nothing about. With such a splendid array of palliatives they tickle widely divergent palates, even if they have not the skill to offer something to everybody. But the question that concerns us as Socialists is, does a man elected by such means stand upon safe ground as a Socialist ?

It is clear that a vote given for a palliative is not a Socialist vote, nor is a vote given to Socialism by one who does not know the object of Socialism. And it seems reasonable to suspect the safety of the position of any elected candidate standing for Socialism, who, without non-Socialist votes would have fallen. The representative who cannot stand on his Socialist vote alone, whatever his position may be as the champion of reform, certainly is not the representative of Socialism, as will be discovered directly he takes Socialist action.

Into the power of such representatives to obtain palliatives, or into the efficiency of palliatives when they are obtained, we are not at the moment enquiring. We are dealing with this question as Socialists, chemically pure, if I may be forgiven, and as such we are concerned, not with amelioration, but with revolution, therefore, not with the obtaining, or the efficacy, of reforms, but with the effect of their advocacy and realisation in speeding or retarding our ideal.

The scientific Socialist realises that the return to labour, that is the total wage, is not arbitrarily determined, but must be subject to some general law. This law is admitted to be the law of supply and demand. Therefore any palliative which has the effect of increasing the supply of labour-power (we presume other things remain constant) must necessarily result in a fall in wages ; and anything decreasing the supply of labour-power must have the contrary effect of raising wages. To deny this is to deny that the law which decides that the return to labour shall bear relation to the cost of subsistence is the law of supply and demand.

According to this law it would seem that all those reforms which aim at improving the material conditions of the workers must be rendered inoperative by their very own effect—other things remaining the same, of course—upon the competitive labour market.

Putting aside for the moment the question of how far other things would remain the same, we will consider which of the palliatives would have the immediate effect of improving the material condition of the workers.

All those measures which make for the better health of the people must, other things remaining unaltered, eventually result in the increase of the commodity labour-power in the labour market, there to struggle for recognition as a use-value, as all excess commodities have to struggle, and so doing compete wages down till the fall balances the advantage conferred by the palliative. The excess labour-power, in spite of every human effort that leaves the competitive labour market untrammelled, and suffers the law of supply and demand to ordain that the return to labour shall bear a certain relation to the cost of the production of the labour-power, must meet the fate of all other commodities that are in excess of the effective demand—must lose its use-value, and with it its exchange-value. Having no exchange-value and being a “perishable” commodity—it must perish.

No Socialist can blind himself to the fact that men, women, and little children of the working-class are dying in masses, employed and unemployed alike, not only from lack of food, but from want of pure air also, and of clean streets, parental ignorance, and many other causes, but primarily and fundamentally because capital can never recognise them as human beings, but only as present or future receptacles of the commodity, labour-power, which, being in excess of the demand, it refuses to support. Neither can Socialists, who, in the face of this, must recognise that the human intellect is strong only to destroy the capitalist system, and not to circumvent the laws upon which it rests, logically urge that the palliatives which would have a first tendency towards amelioration, can have any other fate than to be defeated and rendered inoperative by their very own effects.

All this, of course, is conditional. We have presumed for the sake of clearness that other things remain as before, but before we can finally decide whether the “palliatives” will palliate, and therefore what effect their advocacy and attainment will have upon the realisation of the Socialist ideal—the only respect in which they interest us in our Socialist capacity—we must enquire how far other things may alter or be altered, and how any possible change may affect our argument. This might be fittingly done in the next issue.
A. E. Jacomb

Correspondence. (1905)

Letter to the Editors from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard
Correspondents MUST be brief.
Communications must be authenticated by name and address of writer and written on one side of the paper only.
The writers ONLY are responsible for the views expressed.

Larkfield, Chilbolton, 



I am obliged by your reply to my “useful letter.” As the combined intellectual product of a whole editorial committee it is, to say the least, extremely disappointing. Confusion, as you remark, unfortunately does exist. On page 6 you say that “Whether the Social Commonwealth will arise depends upon whether sufficient of the working-class have been made Socialists and have been class-consciously organised.” On page 3, however, we are told that “Socialism is the goal of the conscious and unconscious efforts of humanity.” Your remark that I evidently imagine “that Socialism will come upon the workers unawares ‘like a thief in the night.'” should be addressed to some of your own members ! Socialist organisations are part of the social evolution. Not so the S.P.G.B ! It has no part nor lot in the affairs of contemporary society. It is a party of evolutionists standing outside the evolutionary movement. Your public representatives—charitably assuming that you ever get any—will “fight for working-class interests” by holding aloof from the administration; your guardians of the poor for instance would not trouble to secure, say, the maximum amount of out-relief for the aged poor, but will allow anti-working-class interests full freedom. Reforms will then be given to the workers for being so good as to elect such non-interfering representatives.

I appear to have aroused old associations with those familiar Lunatic Asylum Sanity Tests; “strangely muddled” as I am said to be, I cannot understand, however, how manipulating the tap can be shown to affect the root cause “of the stream flowing through the pipe.” Free Maintenance would screw that tap down pretty hard, but the S.P.G.B. whilst utterly impotent to deal with the source, obstructs and abuses those screwing down the tap !

The S.P.G.B. attacks Free Maintenance because it would provide the capitalist with more efficient wage-slaves ! I say, therefore, that the S.P.G.B. must logically oppose every social re-arrangement or invention that will benefit capitalists in any degree, If such re-arrangement, &c , could be shewn to make the worker more efficient ! We need go no further than the same month’s issue of your journal for proof. On page 3 one of your teachers tells us that “pure food would even do the worker harm by making him more efficient, &c. !”

The strait jacket in which S.P.G.B.-ism immures its adherents should be fairly obvious from this.

A party that tells the worker that pure food will do him harm, and also advises him to oppose any means for getting the best possible terms in life for his children in the meantime is not I venture to assert likely to gain the support of people whose experience of life does not include Lunatic Asylum Tests for Sanity. Whether you have “nailed a common misapprehension of your position” upon that post or not, you have certainly drawn a pretty picture of social evolution and socialist thought and activity as understood by the S.P.G.B.. 
Yours, &c.,
G. Foster

It was, perhaps, unavoidable that the editorial note to our correspondent’s previous letter should be “extremely disappointing” to him. It is significant, also, that he has failed to meet the main arguments in that note. We shall, however, spend a few moments putting Mr. Foster right on several points raised in the above letter.

On page 3 “Economicus” urged his readers to “join the S.P.G.B. and work uncompromisingly towards the goal of the conscious and unconscious efforts of humanity.” Now friend Foster actually takes this sentence to mean that Socialism will come without the conscious efforts of the working-class ! Our correspondent is apparently unaware that the organisation of capitalists into Trusts, &c., albeit not consciously directed towards Socialism, has, nevertheless, the effect of opening the eyes of the toilers, and making an increasing number class-conscious workers for Socialism.

After saying that Socialist organisations are part of social evolution, and immediately contradicting himself, our critic adds that S.P.G.B. representatives “will fight for working-class interests by holding aloof from administration,” presumably ignorant of the fact that the Socialists Party exists for the purpose of organising the workers for the control of administration. “Your guardians of the poor,” continues Mr. Foster, “would not trouble to secure the maximum of out-relief for the aged poor.” This is absolutely false, for, since the powers of local bodies are limited by Parliament, pending the capture of Parliamentary power, a genuine Socialist majority on such local bodies would secure, not only to the aged poor but to all workers, the utmost benefits that it were in the power of the local administration to confer. Whilst, until the Socialists have the majority, they must continue the fight for the control of administration, fighting for and taking all along the line (always however, as uncompromising Socialists) such palliative measures as the majority may give.

The sore point with our friend appears to be that we would not accept office under a capitalist majority, that we will not support capitalism or capitalist candidates; in short that we will not barter our Socialism for some hopeless promise of reform. It is indeed a curious idea that genuine working-class representatives can at the same time be the paid servants of a capitalist majority ! And presumably our correspondent thinks the capitalist class will give the workers, if not Socialism, at least some wonderful palliative as a reward for their faithful support of capitalist candidates, parties and interests !

Mr. Foster falls foul of, and, as he says, fails to understand, our illustration of the futility of bailing out effects whilst the cause remains unchecked. Our illustration forcibly put the fact (which our correspondent makes no attempt to disprove) that the cause of working-class misery is capitalist exploitation, and we showed that our critic “would have us withdraw our energies from the abolition of the cause of degeneration in order to make futile attempts to bail out effects whilst the tap of capitalist exploitation is still flooding us.” Yet Mr. Foster says, “that Free Maintenance would screw that tap down pretty hard.”

Whatever its worshippers have claimed for Free Maintenance, it has remained for Mr. Foster to make the absurd claim that it would stop capitalist exploitation.

But what would Free Maintenance do for the workers? It would, it is true, if obtained, enable healthier and more children to grow into adolescence, but its good effects would counteracted whilst capitalism endured, because it would increase the already oversupply of labourers, and by making each labourer more efficient would enable the masters to employ fewer men; so intensifying the misery of the adult workers by increasing the unemployed and decreasing wages. We therefore point out to the worker that the increase of efficiency cannot lighten the load of working class misery, because, under capitalism, every virtue of the worker is turned as a weapon of offence against him. Neither in promoting nor still less in discouraging efficiency lies the workers salvation, the abolition of capitalism is the workers' only hope.

We do not, then, oppose Free Maintenance, but we show that it would, not materially improve the workers’ lot; whilst, if the energy required to obtain an adequate system of Free Maintenance were directed at the root of the evil, such measures would be rendered unnecessary. Mr. Foster’s premise that we oppose Free Maintenance and greater efficiency, being false, his conclusions consequently fall to the ground.

Mr. Foster places in quotation marks, and attributes to “Economicus” the sentence “Pure food would even do the worker harm.” “Economicus” did not say this, he pointed out that municipalization while perhaps ensuring purer food substance to the worker, would not enhance his power of purchasing those substances, and would even do him harm, inasmuch as it made him a more efficient worker, and enabled fewer of him to turn out the same quantity of commodities, thus accentuating the unemployed evil.” Which, of course, is perfectly true. Such dubious conduct on the part of Mr, Foster we can only attribute to the fact, evident from his many references to the matter, that he writes obsessed by visions of strait-jackets.

It is further absurdly untrue that this party “advises the worker to oppose any means for getting the best terms in life for his children.” Our mission is precisely to show the worker the best means for getting the best in life for himself and his children.

The S.P.G.B. working at the organisation and education of the workers for the removal of the cause of the growing misery, is abused by those who, in practice, consider tinkering with effects more important than the removal of the cause.
Editorial Committee.

From Our Branches. (1905)

Party News from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard


A slight increase of membership, fair sale of manifestoes, and an increase in sales of Socialist Standards are the chief items to report for the month. A Bye-Election is taking place for Sand’s End Ward. The “Labour” Party are running a candidate (I.L.P., Ethicist, well-in-with-Progressives, etc.) Unless his opinions have considerably changed since the local L.R.C. was formed he doesn’t believe in the Second Clause of the Declaration of Principles upon which he is supposed to run.

“Shall refreshments be sold in Fulham Parks on Sundays?” is the burning question, one of very great importance to the workers. The members of my own Union, for example, work such long hours, and the working-class in general, for whose recreation Public Parks are supposed to exist, work so hard that on Sundays they want a nap in the afternoon to recuperate, and if they come out in the evening they can get refreshments elsewhere. Needless to say we shall utilise the occasion to point out the uselessness of such candidates to our class, the contradictions and confusions arising therefrom, and to emphasise the only basis upon which a sound working-class party can be built.
E. J. B. Allen


No great things to report from this district owing to the tremendous amount of confusion that exists, and the limited number of propaganda meetings held. (Only one a week Comrade Lecture Secretary.) And yet with all we are building up a good branch, our membership is steadily increasing, our literature sales are good, thanks to the straight talk we get at our Sunday evening meetings from the speakers who never leave any doubt in the minds of the audience as to the position we occupy in the field of politics, always keeping the line of demarcation broad and clear. We are thus able to prove to the workers that their only hope lies in the application of the principles of the S.P.G.B.

The “alleged” Socialists have been trying to discredit us by telling the workers at one time that there is no difference between them and us, and at another, calling us an organisation of half a dozen discontents who want to have all their own way—Anarchists under another name. In answer we ask the people to read the Socialist Standard and our Manifesto, which they do with such good effect that “The Welcome Hall” no longer holds out a welcome to our traducers, it having been concluded apparently that they no longer deserve the confidence of the working-class.

Unless another Countess or some other novelty comes to their aid their life will probably not be of much longer duration. In any case our success is assured.
A. Barker

Editorial: The Parliament of Labour. (1905)

Editorial from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Trade Union Congress—the “Parliament of Labour”—has met, passed resolutions, and also passed into the limbo of forgotten things for another twelve months. We presume this annual gathering of junketing labour “Leaders” has been named the “Parliament of Labour,” because the delegates, or such of them as make a point of being present during the sittings, indulge in a “tumult of words,” and listen “listlessly” to the pro and con arguments used ?

457 delegates, representing 1,561,800 workpeople, assembled in Congress and submitted to the clap-trap of the Mayor of Hanley, who, in his address of welcome, declared that “there would be a danger if labour was at the top, but the intelligence represented would guide them how far to go and where to stop.” That no delegate emphasised the first point, that “there would be a danger” (to the capitalist class and its parasites) “if labour was at the top” was, we suppose, due to the aforementioned functionary’s allusion to the “intelligence” represented.

The president’s address was a disappointment even to those professing Socialists who claim to have discovered “How to put New Life into Trade Unionism.” It left the real issue severely alone, as might be expected of one who regards working-class politics as “shop,” and was mainly notable for its unqualified eulogy of the leadership of the Labour Party (whoever they may be) in the House of Commons by John Burns, that traitor to the working-class, that “official Liberal in all but name,” who recently expressed, in a manner more forcible than polite, his opinion of Sexton & Co. as those “who had sold themselves, or were anxious to sell themselves, for 200 dirty pieces of gold” and the sellers and would-be sellers promptly elected their denouncer as their leader, and Sexton carried the whipped-dog attitude a step further.

In one respect, at least, the “Parliament of Labour” is like unto the Parliament of Capital—it likes the junketings and the jollifications.

At the moment when the misguided Liverpool dockers were going back to work upon the employers’ terms, after a strike of eleven weeks duration, their official and “leader,” Sexton, was proposing a vote of thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland (who took good care to be absent) for the kind consideration which they had shown by allowing the delegates to inspect Trentham Hall, and by the hospitality provided. Would, we ask, a class-conscious working-class accept favours from its plunderers and their parasites. To answer in the only truthful manner is to admit that the workers are as yet class-unconscious, and that their “leaders” are equally so—or humbugs.

The resolutions passed by the Congress consisted in the main of the usual appeals to the capitalists to make a few concessions to their ever humble and obedient servants, the “orgauised” workers of the Kingdom, and their petitioners will ever pray. Of course they will, just as the petitioned will refuse to answer the prayer until they have become convinced that their class interests demand that such concessions, for what little they are worth, shall be, and can safely be, made.

There was the resolution concerning fiscal policy, in which it was declared that “any departure from the principles of Free Trade would be detrimental to the interests of the working-classes …. and injurious to the prosperity of the nation as a whole.” This was ultimately carried by 1,253,000 votes to 26,000, and alleged Socialists, prominent members of organisations claiming to be Socialist, spoke and voted for it, despite manifestoes issued by their organisations in which it has been rightly pointed out that under capitalism the working-class must be plundered by either the Free Trade Crows or Protectionist Kites. For those claiming intimate and first hand acquaintanceship with the condition of the people to talk of the “prosperity of the people” is bad enough, but what can be thought of those claiming to be out for independent and anti-capitalist political action deliberately playing into the hands of the Liberals as they did. If the maintenance of Free Trade is of such vital importance to the working-class, then it is of vital importance that those who are in favour of altering our Fiscal System should be kept out of the House of Commons, and that those who are against “any departure from the principles of Free Trade” should be put in. The Trade Unionists are therefore bound, in honour, to support Free Traders, i.e.,—the Liberals—as against the Tariff Reformers—the Conservatives. No wonder the Liberal press was so jubilant at the voting.

The result of the election for Secretary to the Parliamentary Committee would cause one to laugh heartily—if it were not so sad.

The work of the Committee is to carry out the resolutions of the Congress, which, by the way, it has never done. More particularly its function is to push forward those reforms which Congress thinks can be secured by political action. Congress has already decided that that political action shall be distinct from the capitalist sections, although it has failed to take the necessary steps to secure this. It gave birth to the Labour Representation Committee, whose candidates are pledged “to abstain strictly from identifying themselves with, or promoting the interests of, any section of the Liberal or Conservative Parties.” And having done this, it elects as its Parliamentary Secretary, W. C. Steadman, who has always identified himself with the Liberals, who has even refused to sign the L.R.C. declaration, and is, therefore, not an official L.R.C. candidate, although he is the London Trades Council candidate for Finsbury, which body is affiliated to the L.R.C. Steadman is a Liberal, and makes no pretence of being anything else. As the Daily Chronicle once remarked “he is a simple, honest, working man.” He is, and is, therefore, exceedingly useful to the Liberals, who, and again no wonder, are so jubilant that their decoy-duck has been selected for this position. The loud cheers from the Congress when Steadman, in returning thanks, pointed out that, as an ex-Member of Parliament, he had not only the entry to the inner lobby, but also the right to interview even Cabinet Ministers on behalf of the Congress, conclusively proved that these people have no conception of the real issue, or, if they have that they are deliberately confusing it, and the London Trades Council, through its “Socialist” chairman, who, before he occupied so important a position in the Trade Union Movement declared that the non-Socialist Trade Unionist “is the type of labour representative of whom we had better have none at all,” that they are “flunkeys and sycophants, who ape the airs of their masters, while they contemn and misrepresent the class in whose name they claim to speak,” now voices the appreciation of the London Trades Council that their Treasurer, their Liberal-Labour Candidate, has been honoured by being selected for this “plum” job of the labour movement, and declares in the current issue of A Monthly Socialist Review, that Steadinan, who, throughout the whole of his political career has sided with and supported and acted the decoy-duck and the jackal for the capitalist-class, “has never turned his back upon his class !”

The real fact is, of course, that the “organised” working-class are just as devoid of a real conception of their class interests as are the unorganised. They have not yet grasped the fact that all the working-class are at war with the international capitalist-class, and must line up in battle array to prepare for the final struggle. Leaders of sectional interests such as find expression in Trade Unionism, Unemployed Agitations, Free Labourism, and the like, are all misleaders of the working-class. The organisation of the working-class, to be an effective weapon with which to break down the power of the capitalist-class, must be, industrially and politically, not in sections, but as a class, whether the working-class are skilled or unskilled, permanent or casual labourers, employed or unemployed, their interests all over the world are identical. It does not serve the purpose of their various “leaders” that this should be recognised by the working-class. When this is understood, when the underlying causes of the change of front on the part of certain one time Socialists are made plain, sound Socialists will not only not be discouraged, but all the more determined to carry on the fight. Much spade work has yet to be done, but when once the working-class recognise that their only hope lies in their industrial and political organisation on the basis of the class-war, it will go hard with some of the job hunters, the lick-spittles, and the decoy-ducks.

The resolutions passed at the Trade Union Congress, even if embodied in Acts of Parliament through the good offices of Steadman, grovelling in the inner lobby before a capitalist Cabinet Minister, would in no way alter the relative positions of capital and labour. So long as the capitalist system obtains the workers will be deprived of the results of their labour, and will be poor. Nothing but the ownership by the people of the means of producing and distributing wealth will solve the social problem, and this must be brought about by the workers themselves, organised on the lines laid down by The Socialist Party of Great Britain.

A Look Round. (1905)

From the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Registration Courts are being held, and many citizens of this “free” country are striving to secure or to retain that very questionable advantage, under present conditions, the vote !

* * *

The Liberals tell us they are in favour of the franchise. They claim to have been foremost in extending it and to desire to still further extend it. The depth of their sincerity may be gauged by the fact that their paid agents are striving at the present moment to keep men off the Register !

* * *

I have frequently commented upon the flabby-ness of the speeches and election literature of some candidates claiming to be Socialists. Even the Labour Leader is now compelled to protest. It says ”The contrast between the substance of the teaching at the innumerable propaganda meetings of the I.L.P., where the power of the movement is created, and the substance of the addresses by some of our candidates claiming to be Socialist and Trade Unionists, is as between an honest dinner and a dish of skilly. Constant complaints reach us on this matter. So cautious to timidity, so practical to the utter iteration of commonplace vestry politics, have the deliverances of many of our candidates become, that quite frequently the speeches of their capitalist opponents are the more inspiring of the two.”

* * *

As most of these “Socialist” candidates have their eyes longingly fixed upon the loaves and fishes of the L.R.C., they are more concerned about becoming M.P.’s than creating a class-conscious Socialist army. Let it be clearly understood that none of them is a member of the S.P.G.B.

* * *

The Trade Union Congress led one of the capitalist sheets to discourse upon the number of “Labour” journals in existence, specially mentioning The Labour Record and Review, edited by F. W. Pethick Lawrence. A few days after Mr. Lawrence was announced to speak at Holmwood, under the auspices of the Home Counties Liberal Association. Is his “Labour” paper edited in the interests of Liberalism or of Labour?

* * *

“What is wrong?” The discussion upon this will doubtless continue until Parliament re-assembles or the space is required for other gas. One of the participants writes, “When we practise true Christian Socialism—’What I have I give unto thee’—all that is now wrong will become right.”

* * *

So that the social problem is to be solved by everybody who has anything giving it to somebody else, then the givers will have nothing and the given-to something which they can give back to those who have nothing, and so on to the end of the chapter. This may be Christian but it isn’t Socialism.

* * *

I am reminded of a lecture upon “Christian Socialism” once delivered by the Rev. Stewart Headlam for the Fabian Society, in which he quoted the saying of Christ “Sell all thou hast and give to the poor” as a proof that Jesus was a Socialist ! All that was wanted was the universal adoption of this teaching real Christianity—and Socialism would be here. When asked who would buy, supposing all became “real” Christians and proceeded to sell all that they had in order to give to the poor, he gave it up.

* * *

Socialism is an economic transformation, desired by those who wish to remove all hindrances to human development. It is concerned with the material things of life because “the basal factor determining the constitution of society is its material and economic condition.” It is neither “Christian” nor “Atheist.”

* * *

Messrs. Rowntree, of York, are “considerate” employers. They run what the Clarion terms a “cocoa oasis in the desert,” and, be it noted, advertise in the Clarion. The firm admit that their considerateness “pays,” and I presume their advertising also does. Most of the employees, they state, are on piece work, and if one is found not to be earning a reasonable minimum, special investigation is made into his case, and a remedy discovered. There are many employees working upon piece who, for want of arrangement, or help, or stimulation of some kind, would go on year after year, earning a comparatively low wage, although they are perfectly capable of earning a higher wage if the necessary help be given by the employer, and this without any alteration in the piece rate.

* * *

In the dining rooms cheap meals are provided, and large numbers use them. The firm lose by this considerably, but they say. “Some material return for this expenditure is no doubt obtained, inasmuch as employees who have had a nutritious dinner in a comfortable and well ventilated room are more vigorous and fit for their work than they otherwise would be. The advantage which the firm derives from this circumstance must be considerable.”

* * *

Messrs, Rowntree, Cadbury, Lever and Co. are farsighted capitalists who see that it is an economic advantage to them to palliate the evils of the capitalist system. But their workers are still slaves, can still be dismissed and turned out to starve at the will of their masters. And owing to the better conditions under which they work they are enabled to do better work and hand over more surplus value to their employers, thus intensifying the problem of unemployment.

* * *

Sir John Gorst is also another farsighted member of the capitalist class. He advocates the provision of free meals to some starving children because “England and Germany have a friendly rivalry in trade and manufactures, and how can we expect to carry on that rivalry with success unless very speedily such a social reform is carried out in this country as would put us on something like a footing with Germany ?”

* * *

There are none so blind as those who cannot see, except those who will not.

* * *

In spite of all the efforts and self-sacrifice on the part of many men and women during the past 150 years, the position of trade unions to-day is by no means an enviable one. They are constantly being called upon to maintain conditions of labour which our forefathers obtained, and the fight grows more difficult every year.—Charity Organisation Review.

* * *

The terrific slaughter wrought in every country by consumption is— at least in the main—the inevitable result of the exploitation of helpless human lives for money profit, the inevitable result of over-work, lack of nutrition, and over-crowding. Talk of “alcoholism.” The drinking bar is largely the refuge from the depressing, debasing surroundings of the so-called home.—Daily News Paris Correspondent.

* * *

Official figures show that 877,057 persons were employed in the mines of the United Kingdom last year, and that 698,967 of this total worked underground. Out of 9,544 children under fourteen years of age employed 6,818 worked underground. The fatal accidents numbered 1,158, involving a loss of 1,202 lives. Compared with the previous year this was an increase of 7 in fatal accidents, and of 10 in the number of lives lost.

* * *

Extracts from a series of articles from the pen of Mr. Collis Lovely on the subject of prison made American shoes, are published in American Shoemaking. Mr. Lovely’s remarks are said to be based on personal observation made in different American prisons, while acting as special agent to investigate the operation of penal institutions under the Department of Labour of the State of Missouri. The investigations were made following his appointment, on March 2nd, 1905.

* * *

Mr. Lovely found 4,258 convicts were employed in shoemaking, at an average wage of 48 cents a day, turning out approximately 8,000,000 pairs of shoes annually, or probably about one-thirtieth of the entire annual production of the factory-made shoes of the United States. Of course, the prison output is disguised, the goods going upon the market as regular lines.

* * *

Kentucky branch penitentiary, at Eddville, supplies the Kentucky Shoe Manufacturing Co. with 175 men at 45 cents per day, and the Frankfort Shoe Co. with 400 men at 50 cents a day, in addition to shop room, water, and light, free of charge. In connection with the Maryland penitentiary, Baltimore, the state supplies the Baltimore Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co. with 225 men at 45 cents a day, with free shop room, light, water, and power. One of the most impressive examples of the extent that prison labour may be employed by a single firm in the manufacture of boots is, says Mr. Lovely, that of the Davis Boot and Shoe Co., Boston, who make their shoes under a prison contract with the Virginia penitentiary at Richmond, Va. The company employs 901 male convicts at 42 cents per day, and 56 female convicts at 30 cents a day, or a total of 1,017 persons, of which 16 are employed in making shoe boxes. The company’s average output is said to be 5,000 pairs per day, or an average of five pairs per day, per person. Mr. Lovely adds, “I know of no firm employing free labour and making this grade of shoe, whose output exceeds five per day per person employed, and surely none who get their labour at 42 cents a day. This firm uses no machinery in the lasting department, and the task ranges from 36, 42, and 48 pairs per day, or an average of 42 pairs per day, lasted by hand. The task for McKay sewers is 480 pairs per day, edge trimmers 480 pairs per day, and so on all along the line. The above figures will reveal the fact that the total labour cost, exclusive of foremen, to the Davis Shoe Co., is 8 cents and a fraction per pair.”

* * *

The Giesecke Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Co., of Jefferson City, made a contract in December, 1898, with the Missouri State penitentiary, at Jefferson City, for the convicts of that institution to be employed in the manufacture of footgear. This contract put thousands of dollars in the coffers of the company. The State, now, however, exacts 150 instead of 50 cents per day. Not only has this firm been furnished with shoe machine operators for 50 cents a day, but it has had free water, has paid absolutely nothing for rent, has been furnished with power from a 145-horse power engine, which would cost a manufacturer outside of a prison at least 500 dollars a month on payment to the State of only 100 dollars a month. In Missouri the task of a convict is based upon and usually equal to what a free labourer can perform. The penalty for a convict who fails to perform the task set for him is the whippingpost. From ten to thirty-nine lashes are usually given, and the strap used is made of heavy harness leather, 2m. wide and 18in. long, fastened to a wooden handle 12in. long. The strap will bring out the blood with every blow if the warder so desires.

* * *

There is no doubt that America is the “land of the free,” and if such atrocities were perpetrated on the Congo or on the Rand, wouldn’t the Nonconformist conscience shriek ?
J. Kay

Doubts and Difficulties: Tyranny under Socialism. (1905)

The Doubts and Difficulties column from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

I am certain, Comrade Editor, that “Cussedness” reigns universal in the human heart. No sooner have I got rid of one difficulty than I stand confronted with another. I answer a question in a manner at once brief, complete, and lucid and lo ! a fresh questioner comes smilingly forward with “Yes, that is all right but arising from that answer how?” Yea, verily, the answering the doubts and difficulties of men is indeed a veritable labour of sisyphus !

o o o

The aforegoing remarks are torn from my agonised soul by the following letter which I have just now received—Dear Econonicus, in your monthly grunt against things that are I see that you write against authority as exercised by experts. Apart from the fact that our ultimate appeal must ever be to the expert, and that the worker displays as much class bias as does the capitalist, is it not the case that any Socialist society must be more strongly under the control of authority—whether of the demagogue or of the pedagogue—that the rights of the minority will be denied them, and that, in a word, Socialism will be a gigantic slavery,

o o o

My correspondent in a short space covers a very wide field. The principles of scientific evidence; the psychology of class bias; the rights of the minority ; and the organisation existing within a Socialist community: these are the matters that engage his attention.

o o o

My correspondent who, by-the-bye, signs himself “Anti-Rant,” must bear with me if I dwell but lightly upon the three foremost of those topics in order that I may examine into the validity of his last statement. Last month I stated my opinion that the authority of the expert was a fallible one and that our ultimate appeal must be to the collective experience of mankind, whether this experience is found in written records, in personal experience, or in those ideas—commonly termed innate—which are the transmitted experience of his progenitors. From this opinion I can see no present reason to depart.

o o o

We shall endeavour with the courtesy of the Editor to deal with the question of class-bias on a future occasion and the question of the rights of minorities is bound up in no small degree with the subject of tyranny.

o o o

This charge of tyranny has often been levelled against the Socialist. Germinating in the mind of some worthy member of The Liberty and Property Defence League it has found an echo in the arguments of those always ready to give utterance to such cries. When we say that property is in its very essence a means of oppression, that it can only continue to exist in its present capitalistic form by virtue of its power of forcing men to work through the hunger of themselves, their wives, and their children, we meet with the retort that under Socialism tyranny will be yet more rampant and that man will then have every detail of his life arranged for him by the State.

o o o

To us this appears as a complete misunderstanding of the most rudimentary principles of Socialism. It is based upon the idea that the transformation of Society from Capitalism to Socialism is to be cataclysmic, instantaneous, and complete. On the contrary we Socialists contend that Socialism must pass through various phases before it reaches the final stage idealised by the Socialist. No matter how sudden may be the downfall of capitalism it will take some little time for Society to be new-builded with beautiful homes and beautiful lives for all mankind.

o o o

Another misconception is the idea that Society under Socialism is to be governed by a bureaucratic State. This idea while quite unwarranted is in some measure justified by the attempts of the Fabian Society, the I.L.P., and other kindred bodies to foist upon the people of these islands a local bureaucratic collectivism.

o o o

The main fact to be remembered in this connection is that society under Socialism is the entire community, and that while it is true that the community as a whole will not come and see that you have your house built in the orthodox way, yet the community as a whole will be the ultimate arbiter in all things relating to the welfare of its members.

o o o

In a society based upon common ownership and control of the means requisite for producing and distributing the things necessary for human consumption, and where all things being thus held in common there are no distinctions of social position, it would be expected of everyone capable of working that he should take his fair share in the work of producing the common wealth. Should any refuse to perform this necessary work the community would have its own method—probably of denying them the right to consume the wealth produced by others—of bringing such recalcitrant persons to book,

o o o

Outside this requirement by the community that no person should be allowed to idly enjoy the fruits of the labours of others it is unlikely that there would be any interference with the lives of men. The self-regarding actions of men would be greatly extended by minimising the amount of work necessary for the securing a subsistence.

o o o

John Stuart Mill said “The principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection : that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others.”

o o o

Under Socialism this principle will be properly observed, whereas to-day mankind is divided into two classes, one of which rules the other—the smaller capitalist class which monopolises all the advantages of our civilisation, constitutes Society, the State. By its owning the country it is enabled to enslave the other class the working class—and to tyrannise over them. Tyranny is the necessary outcome of unequal possessions and can cease only on the cessation of privately owned wealth.

o o o

Socially owned wealth means a society of equals, of men possessing equal rights. Under such a society there will be no place for tyranny. As to-day social organisation will be the reflection of industrial organisation and the industrial organisation based upon equal wealth will be reflected by the organisation of society based upon equal social power. Under such a system of Society—
“Tyrants will flee
Like a dream’s wild imagery,”
and tyranny, after tarrying throughout the centuries of privately owned property will vanish from the world of the future before the incoming Socialism as rapidly as difficulties are removed by the flowing pen of—

Party Notices. (1905)

Party News from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Members and others are requested to address all communications to The Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1a, Caledonian Road, King's Cross, London. N.

The open-air lecture list is suspended. Meetings will be held by the branches at the usual places when weather permits. Indoor lectures will be delivered every Sunday evening at Sydney Hall, York Road, Battersea, and at Dovecote Hall, Wood Green.

Back numbers of the Socialist Standard can be had through any Branch Secretary.

SPGB North London District Council. (1905)

Party News from the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Sting in the Tail: The Ancient Bill (1989)

The Sting in the Tail column from the September 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Ancient Bill

In a recent Parliamentary debate Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary, revealed that only three out of ten crimes reported in London are likely to be followed up by the police.

This gave Roy Hattersley, Labour's home affairs spokesman an opportunity to berate the present "crime screening" system, whereby priority is given to those crimes most likely to be solved.

Nothing special about this you may think, It is the old parliamentary game of the opposition criticising the government and pretending they could do a better job. But Hattersley went further than this. He was concerned that this would lead to "a decline in trust between public and police."

This view is based on the fallacy that in the past the public had trust in the police. Those workers who took part In the miners' strike would doubtless have something to say to Mr. Hattersley about that!

But distrust in the police force is no modern phenomenon. The first police force in Ancient Athens had to deal with the same problem:
But this gendarmie consisted of SLAVES. The free Athenian considered police duty so degrading that he would rather be arrested by an armed slave than himself have any hand in such despicable work.
Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Frederick Engels.

Left-Right Farce

Are you easily confused ? Do you find politics a bit of a mystery ?

If so then don't worry because you're not alone. Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission and obviously a mighty thinker, doesn't know if he is "on the extreme right of the Left or the extreme left of the Right" (The Guardian 16 June).

And according to the media the left wing Labour Party has a right wing (Hattersley, Gould, etc.) while the right wing Tories have a left wing (Heath, Gllmour, etc.).

What all this shows is that different labels cannot hide the basic sameness of outlook of both the "Left" and the "Right".

Source of Value

The price of gold In 1980 reached 850 dollars an ounce but is now around 370 dollars.

Reasons for this collapse include investors' money being lured away from gold by the strong dollar, high interest rates and the recovery of stock markets.

Of course these factors could change tomorrow and gold's price would rise again but there are more fundamental reasons for its decline.

One is the worldwide discovery of new goldfields which have sharply increased its supply. Another is that gold is simply not so valuable nowadays because the amount of labour necessary to produce it has been cut by more efficient mining methods, and labour is what gives every commodity, including gold, its value.

Inflation and Enoch Powell

The government spokesmen are at It again. They are running around the country talking about "inflationary wage demands". The recent increase of 8.8 per cent awarded to rail workers has been greeted with cries of "inflationary wages".

This is of course nonsense. It is not trade union action that causes inflation of the currency. It is governments that cause inflation.

One of the few politicians who recognise this and is not afraid to state it is, surprisingly, Enoch Powell. In the magazine Intercity of July/August he puts the position clearly:
The guilt is not with the public who persist In spending a depreciating currency. The guilt is not — even the suggestion has an old-fashioned sound nowadays — with the trade unions and the workers who obtain "inflationary'’ wage rises or with the employers who pay them.

Guilt there has to be, however, as guilt there will always be when money Is debauched: and the guilt, as usual, Is political, the guilt of politicians who use the power to manipulate the money in pursuit of objectives which, if they were candidly avowed and debated, would be publicly rejected.

Short Memories

Some people have short memories. During a debate in Parliament on the NUR's industrial action, Norman Fowler, the Employment Secretary, told Labour MPs:
The fact is that, however damaging or irresponsible any Industrial action is, you will always support it.
The Guardian 19 July
If Fowler had been dealing with Labour's attitude to strikes when in opposition then his outburst could be excused, but he must know Labour's record when in government.

For example, did Labour governments support strikes by the Dockers in 1949 and 1950, the Seamen in 1966, the Firemen in 1977 or public service employees during the Winter of Discontent ?

These and many other strikes were condemned and the strikers vilified, and this probably explains why no Labour MP told pipsqueak Fowler that no matter the issues in any strike, his party will always support the employers.

In view of these anti-trade union actions by both Labour and the Tories isn't it crazy that the vast majority of trade unionists will vote for them at the next election ? Some people certainly have short memories.

Money Makers

Victor Keegan usually writes clearly about economics in The Guardian so it was disappointing to read his piece of 17 July on the attempted takeover of BAT Industries by James Goldsmith and his cronies.

Keegan writes that the £3.7 billion which the bid added to BAT shares in just three hours ". . . must surely be the fastest bit of wealth creation ever recorded".

A slip of the pen? Not a bit of it, because he goes on - "The Increase in wealth is real in that if the bid succeeds then the shareholders in BAT will be that much richer . . .".

So they will, but the buyers of the shares will be that much poorer so what has that to do with wealth creation?

For Victor Keegan's information, the financial activities of Goldsmith and his ilk merely MAKE MONEY and they are perfectly happy to leave wealth creation - the production of the goods and services society needs - to the useful majority.

A Brave New World

All of us from time to time have tried to envisage what the future will be like.

However it is doubtful if in our worst nightmares we could have envisaged a future such as planned by the Adam Smith Institute. This bunch of hard right Tory headbangers have been turning their collective genius to the problems of crime.

In a report in The Independent dealing with a book "Streets Ahead” published by the Adam Smith Institute we learn:
The quality of city life would be improved by residents "privatising" their streets, mounting security patrols and putting gates at the end of the roads to keep out traffic, according to the Adam Smith Institute.
The only advantage that we can see in the scheme is that we would be able to repel, at our own privatised Checkpoint Charlie, such socially undesirable types as rent collectors, bailiffs and Tory Party canvassers!