Monday, October 2, 2023

William Morris - socialist, artist, poet (1990)

The Front Page quote from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard
"Well, I say all this is war, and the result of war, the war this time, not of competing nations, but of competing firms or capitalist units: and it is this war of the firms which hinders the peace between nations which you surely have agreed with me in thinking is so necessary; for you must know that war is the very breath of the nostrils of these fighting firms, and they have now, in our times, got into their hands nearly all the political power, and they band together in each country in order to make their respective governments fulfil just two functions: the first is at home to act as a strong police force, to keep the ring in which the strong are beating down the weak; the second is to act as a piratical body-guard abroad, a petard to explode the doors which lead to the markets of the world."

- From How We Live and How We Might Live by William Morris

Sting in the Tail: A Sordid Tale (1990)

The Sting in the Tail column from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Sordid Tale

The history of British Labour governments is littered with sordid episodes. One of these was told on ITV's "A Marriage of Inconvenience" on 15 August.

In 1949 Ruth Williams, a white Briton, married Seretse Khama, a tribal chief In the British "Protectorate" of Bechuanaland. The neighbouring South African government, which had just imposed Apartheid, was outraged and demanded that the Labour government refuse to recognise Khama as legitimate chief.

Attlee, the Labour Prime Minister, was determined that Britain must have its own atom bomb but the American government wouldn't provide the necessary know-how.

But America was short of uranium which South Africa had in plenty, so the Labour government made a deal with South Africa to betray Khama in return for uranium which it would then swop for American atom secrets.

Khama was summoned to London to be subjected to threats, attempted bribery and finally banishment from Bechuanaland.

So the government that claimed to oppose Apartheid actually assisted it, while the cynicism and treachery they displayed would have shamed the hardest-hearted Tory.

The re-telling of this episode is a reminder that Labour governments will stop at nothing in their efforts on behalf of British capitalism.

Trotsky's "Marxism"

The 50th anniversary of Trotsky’s murder had his followers lavishing the usual praise on their hero.

In a letter to The Guardian (23 August), David Widgery of the Socialist Workers Party claimed, among other things, that Trotsky had applied Marxist analysis to 20th century events.

We deny this: What Trotsky applied was the bombastic crystal-gazing which had him writing in 1935, for example, that ". . . England is heading for a revolutionary explosion" only months before the Tories won their biggest ever majority.

According to Trotsky the sit-down strikes by French workers in 1936 "revealed the wholehearted readiness of the proletariat to overthrow the capitalist system", that capitalism in 1938 was in its "death agony", etc., etc.

History has proved Trotsky's analyses to be nonsense and his legacy to the working class has been to confuse thousands of them down the years.

Ryzhkov's "Marxism"

In the struggle for power inside the Communist Party of the USSR there appears to be a conflict between those who would immediately go over to a Western-style market economy and those who would have that change enacted more gradually.

Amongst the gradualists is the present Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov. But to illustrate the hypocrisy and deceit of the ruling élite  in the USSR his more gradual approach does not apply to his own personal ownership.

In the youth daily Komsomolskaya Pravada, it has been reported that Ryzhkov has bought his state dacha with one-and-a-half hectares of forest for the ludicrous sum of 47,000 roubles (officially £47,000 but in reality about one tenth that amount judging by the foreign tourist rate.)

With the thought of yet another coal strike in the offing perhaps Mr. Ryzhkov plans to have a good supply of firewood on hand this winter. Another example of "socialist" planning?

Off the Rails

During the enquiry into the Clapham rail disaster, which led to 35 deaths, the Westminster coroner Paul Knapman made a telling point about the cause of the disaster, when questioning the technician who carried out the faulty signalling work.
During questioning of Mr. Hemingway, Mr. Knapman said that he believed that there were four "core reasons" for the disaster — a lack of instruction; a lack of supervision; a lack of testing along the guidelines set out in circular SL-53; and "the general reckless haste, pressure, pressure, pressure" of the re-signalling work
The Independent 11 September
That the pressure was indeed intense is backed up by the information that Hemingway had had only one day off in 13 weeks, that he had no formal training and that the acting testing officer who had to check Hemingway's work had no formal training either.

The "core reason" for the Clapham disaster is of course capitalism. In a sane society based on production for use there would be no need to scrimp on safety measures.

Reformist "Progress"

The Gulf crisis has meant a big set-back for environmentalists in the USA.

Until now their pressure (aided by the low cost of imported oil) has enabled them to block further oil exploration, notably in Alaska and off the Californian coast.

Now the strategists who consider the long-term interests of US capitalism insist that America has become too dependent on imported oil and that more domestic oil production is in "the national interest".

The oil companies are using this situation to turn the tables on their enemy. One of their chief spokesmen stated:
The national security aspects in oil have been completely subordinated in recent years to the environmental concerns. Now the emphasis is coming back to the national security aspect. If there is a conflict between the two, it may no longer be resolved in favour of the environmentalists.
The Guardian 25 August
And the environmentalists' other bogey, the nuclear industry, has seized the opportunity to strenghten its case by pointing out that nuclear plants greatly reduce US dependence on oil imports.

On top of this come allegations that environmentalists are a threat to national security! Congressman Dannemeyer of California says:
The environmentalists party . . . is a greater security threat than Saddam Hussein could ever be.
Now that the "communist" menace has gone, maybe the environmentalists will be the next victims to be labelled "un-American". Stranger things have happened.

Down on the Farm

Riot police lobbing tear gas grenades at angry crowds — lorries hi-jacked — roads blocked by burning debris — a scene from Lebanon, South Africa or Palestine?

No. This is rural France as farmers protest at the import of meat and lamb.

Many of them face ruin as the price of lamb has fallen by 17 per cent, calves by 10 per cent and cows by 7 per cent.

Some "experts" blame the French government for cutting subsidies, some the import of cheap produce from Britain, others blame cheap imports from Eastern Europe. None of them apparently blame the real cause — capitalism with its production for profit. 

The spectacle of children starving — while farmers riot about the ruin that faces them as the meat mountain grows — is just another example of how essential it is that we scrap the out-dated system of society that produces everything for sale despite the desperate needs of the world's hungry.

Workers leave the running of society in the hands of "experts" at their peril.

Editorial: Why we need socialism (1990)

Editorial from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

The case for socialism — a society of common ownership, democratic control, production for use and distribution according to need — rests on the fact that capitalism does not work, and cannot be made to work, in the interests of the majority in society who have to go out to work for a wage or salary.

Capitalism is a class-divided society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by a minority of extremely rich individuals. Goods and services, useful things, are produced not with the intention of satisfying our needs, but with the intention of making a profit for this minority. Production is subject to the profit motive. The economic law of "no profit, no production" rules.

Basically, capitalism can only work as a profit-making system in the interests of those who live off profits. It is because priority must be given to making profits that the needs of the wage and salary working majority are neglected. Profits come first. People's needs come second.

This is why the majority face problems even when it comes to meeting our basic needs. This is why there are problems over the quality of the food we eat. Why there are millions of people living in substandard housing, and why some are completely homeless. Why the health service is run on the cheap. Why there are problems over schools, transport, the environment — in fact why there are all the problems which the politicians promise to solve but never do.

Capitalism is not just a national phenomenon. It exists in all countries including, obviously now, in Russia. It is in fact a world system, and the problems of world poverty, ignorance and disease are to be laid at its door too. The productive forces exist to provide every man, woman and child on this planet with adequate food, clothing and shelter. Yet millions die each year of starvation or starvation-related diseases, while farmers in Europe and North America are paid not to grow food. These people die because they have no money and so don't constitute a market. Which means they don't count for the operation of the capitalist system.

Because capitalism involves a built-in competitive struggle for profits there is also a struggle that from time to time breaks out into actual warfare for sources of raw materials, for markets, for investment outlets and for strategic points and routes to protect these. To be prepared for this, and as a "deterrent" to other states to keep their distance, all of the states into which the world is divided have to maintain the most destructive weapons of war they can afford. So the world spends more on armaments than on dealing with problems like starvation and disease. So, also, the major powers have stockpiled enough nuclear weapons to destroy humanity many times over.

As if the threat of nuclear annihilation was not enough, there is also the threat of ecological disaster — either from global warming or from the hole in the ozone layer, take your pick — caused by industrial processes firms are forced to adopt to remain competitive and stay in the race for profits. So this is capitalism. And this is why we must get rid of it.

We must replace capitalism with socialism. A complete change in the basis of society, from class ownership and production for profit to common ownership and production just for use, must be brought about by conscious democratic political action before anything lasting or constructive can be done to solve existing problems. With common ownership and democratic control we will be freed from the tyranny of the economic laws of capitalism which restrict and distort what is produced to what is profitable. The barrier to us using the means of production to meet our needs will have gone.

Letters: Democratic rights (1990)

Letters to the Editors from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Democratic rights

Dear Editors.

In the Socialist Standard (September 1989) you wrote that the Socialist Party of Great Britain “wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression”.

I fail to see how democratic rights can be achieved within the framework of world capitalism. The capitalist system, state or private, East or West, is not democratic. It is a form of class dictatorship, with a minority capitalist class in power and control over the exploitable working class majority.

The capitalist class cannot be in the business of handing out democratic rights and risk losing control, but they do when necessary and under pressure make concessions and legislate reforms. Governments which are the executive committees of the capitalist class call these overtures and reforms "democratic rights". Which is a lie, because they are civil rights dressed up to make capitalism look better and they can easily be rescinded.

Socialists should not ignore civil rights. Some can be appreciated and be useful and all are part of social understanding. They do not however lead to democratic rights. Only a socialist society can produce democratic rights.

A sane system of society or real democracy. real communism or real socialism, all have the same meaning and intent which could materialise about the same time.

The only democratic right achievable under capitalism could take place when the working class through a workable majority captures the political apparatus of the capitalist class to gain political control, so that the working class is able to replace capitalism with socialism.

From this premise a democratic right can only be established by a majority, in the interests of a majority.
John F. Ahrens 
Vancouver, Canada

Our correspondent is confusing political democracy and a democratic society.

Capitalism is not and can never be a democratic society because, as he says, it is based on class power and privilege, social inequality, and exploitation. A real democracy, where everybody would have an equal say in decision-making about all aspects of social life, including and in fact particularly the production and distribution of wealth, is only possible in a classless society of common ownership.

Capitalism can, however, accommodate a limited degree of political democracy in the sense of allowing every adult equal voting rights to decide who shall occupy various political posts at national and local level. Political democracy is by definition confined to a very limited sphere of decision-making and even here can never be complete as it is distorted by the social inequality that is at the basis of capitalism: those with money can and do pay to get more publicity for their views and views that favour them. As in Animal Farm, under capitalist political democracy "all are equal but some are more equal than others".

Despite these limitations and distortions the existence of political democracy under capitalism—and the various “democratic rights” that accompany it such as freedom of speech, publication, organisation, and assembly—is an advantage for the working class as it provides the best framework under capitalism for the socialist movement to organise and grow. This is why the Socialist Party supports the struggles of workers living under political dictatorships to obtain "democratic rights" as before the war in fascist countries and recently in East Europe.

The Pope and King Billy


The article The Lies That Kill' (Socialist Standard, July 1990) on the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in Northern Ireland was topical. However, it did the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain no good to rehash historical error, even if it is convenient.

The comment on the third paragraph on the second page of the article which refers to the Treaty (or league) powers, of which the Pope was the head, that armed, provisioned and financed King Billy when he landed in Ireland has no historical fact. Even the way the historical myth is written is out of the normal context. It is normally associated with the landing in England in 1688 when the Pope Innocent XI was on the Papal Throne but this is erroneous too (see page 202, New Cambridge Modern History, Vol VI).

While it is a popular tale to abuse the Orange conception of the Battle of the Boyne the Pope did not have a Te Deum sung in St Peter's to mark William's victory. Indeed Pope Alexander was disturbed at the report that a Te Deum was sung in Austria where the Hapsburgs ruled—one of William's allies on the continent.
David Boyce 
Hamilton, Scotland.

If the purpose of David Boyce's remonstrance is historical accuracy, then is argument is worthy of examination. If it is intended to refute the contention in the article that the fictions, lies and historical rubbish that the opposing sides in Northern Ireland use to deceive the working class, then it is less worthy.

It is less worthy because, however valid the two points he makes may be, they represent a small part of our indictment of the viciously anti-working class and anti-democratic Orange Order. This organisation has consistently promoted the lie that Unionism and Orangeism represent a shield for workers who are protestants. It has. by its fascist-like posturings and its triumphalism, promoted hatred and division within the working class. It was founded on the lie of class collaboration and its contemporary existence epitomises the hypocrisy and distortion that forms one side of the substance of the lies that in Northern Ireland today bring death and destruction.

Mr Boyce raises two objections to the article: (1) That there is no basis in fact for the contention that King Billy was armed, provisioned and financed by the Treaty or League powers: (2) That the story of a Te Deum being sung in Rome in celebration of William's victory is a popular myth.

For his second contention he offers no evidence beyond his personal claim. Even so, it can be accepted that definitive evidence is impossible to find. James Connolly made the claim in Labour. Nationality and Religion and The Reconquest of Ireland and cited as one of his authorities the protestant historian, the Reverend Robert Murray's Revolutionary Ireland and Its Settlement. Among other historians who have backed Connolly are Beresford Ellis in History of the Irish Working Class and Klopp in The Fall of the House of Stuart. The latter cites Avaux and Macpherson as his authorities for reporting that the Catholic Austrian Court had ordered public prayers for the success of King Billy's expedition in Ireland.

Mr Boyce supports his first contention by a reference to Volume VI of the New Cambridge Modern History. The substance of the particular article is the English Revolution in which there is a footnote quoting a Von Pastor:
It has been said that Innocent XI supported or had some knowledge of the expedition. but the documents generally adduced for this are forgeries. It was impossible for Innocent to associate himself in any way with a Protestant against a Catholic prince.
None of the more prominent Irish and Anglo-Irish historians, past and present, support Von Pastor's contention that it was impossible for a Pope to support “a Protestant against a Catholic prince". Most of these writers make generous use of continental European historians and some of the latter say that Innocent XI was referred to as "the Protestant Pope” because of his close identification with William of Orange. Murray quoted Koch and Schoell's Histoire abrégé des traités de paix as follows:
The Pope supported the Imperial Alliance, for he aimed at the humiliation of France and he cared little whether this was brought about by Roman Catholic or Protestant means. Instead of a religious crusade headed by the Pope and the Emperor, Louis is met with the Grand Alliance, signed at Vienna, between William as Stadholder of Holland and Leopold, on 12th May 1689 against the policy of France. William bound himself to secure Germany against future aggression by Louis and Leopold undertook to support William from attack in Holland. England and Spain were also to join this League.
Mr Boyce must accept the factual evidence for the Grand Alliance, whose existence effectively refutes Von Pastor's version of events.

Caught In The Act: Oil and carrots (1990)

The Caught In The Act Column from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Oil and carrots
Some time ago Ken Livingstone said that anyone who enjoyed being in Parliament was in need of psychiatric care. But he was in a minority; almost every other MP is convinced that parliament is an essential contributor to our safety and welfare and that without its debates the nation would be like a ship without a rudder. So it was that as the crisis in the Gulf developed there were many people who thought that in so grave a situation nothing less would do than the immediate recall of parliament.

The government agreed (Margaret Thatcher takes only brief holidays in any case, and then grudgingly) and the Members selflessly left the grouse moors and the sun-soaked beaches to hurry to London. After a couple of days of well-publicised talking they resumed their holidays, leaving us with the question what was it all about? Was it worth it?

At the end of the debate the Commons voted, more or less, in favour of Britain going to war with Iraq — to go to war, in other words, over a border dispute between two other states — something which, when it suits them, government will decline to do. Of course tho Members were excited by the sudden discovery that Saddam is a brutal tyrant, after all those years when he had been our friend for whom we could overlook one or two minor aberrations such as his ordering the use of chemical weapons to slaughter thousands of helpless Kurdish villagers.

In fact so dose a friend was Saddam that his tyranny was sustained by armaments sold to him by Western powers (in the debate Denis Healey referred to "stuffing arms down tho throats" of powers like Iraq, although he was a member of a government which did not demur at doing just that) Any British, American or French soldiers who have to do the fighting will not be consoled by the fact that their governments supplied many of the weapons being used against them. Margaret Thatcher, who is contemptuous of history, summed up the debate when she told the house that "History has many examples of perfidy and deceit" — an unconscious warning that the Honourable Members were providing another example.

But parliament is nothing if not adaptable about these things How else could it have coped in the past with the changes in its assessment of Stalin, Ceausescu, the unity of Germany, the resurrection of Japanese power?

In tune with the times Thatcher was belligerent, Kinnock statesmanlike, Ashdown cautious in tho soldierly way befitting someone trained to kill with their bare hands. Except for a handful of MPs who put their confidence in the shaky delusions of the United Nations the House was united — Tory, Labour, SLD, SDP all jostled into tho lobby to vote for a war in which they have every reason to believe they would not be killed nor even fight.

At times the perfidy and deceit in the Commons became so intense that reality was lost sight of. Thatcher spoke as if Britain was a major factor in the crisis. She harped on the ‘legality’ of the action against Iraq as if the British and American ruling classes (or any other, for that matter) only indulge in "legal" military enterprises which meant that she had forgotten what had happened in Grenada and Panama and what the Israeli forces have been up to recently. She warned that the Iraqi take-over of Kuwait affected " . . . world security, world oil supplies and world stability" — which is either untrue or extravagant with the truth.

War fever
The real purpose of the debate, the reason which brought those MPs back from their holidays, was to gird up tho British workers for war. We have been subjected to a stream of vicious propaganda about Saddam, who is the latest bogeyman after the likes of Hitler, Nasser and Gadaffi, to provide lurid headlines in the gutter press. All these leaders, we are told, were mad along with their other personality problems — which ignores the fact that someone like Saddam needs a kind of sanity to survive in the volatile politics of Iraq

One Tory MP blustered that he wanted Saddam "politically humiliated and militarily castrated" which hints kinkily that Westminster has its personality problems as well. Once more the world is divided into goodies and baddies. Foreign Office Minister William Waldegrave drooled that "Democracies are slow to anger, but once angered they will go right to the end of the road". Again there is a general unity among tho capitalist parties that "our" interests demand that "we" go to war to remove some evil force from the world so that we can live in peace, at least until the next war

What cements that unity is the interests which are actually at stake in the Gulf. These do not include tho welfare of the people in Kuwait or Britain who, as members of the working class, are readily expendable and so not fit subjects for emergency debates in parliament. A former American Assistant Defence Secretary pointed out, as the crisis began, that if Kuwait grew carrots nobody — by which he meant no member of the ruling class — would give a damn if the place was invaded.

The crisis revolves around the fact that Kuwait is oil-rich and that Iraqi ambitions threatened to upset tho pricing structure of the world oil industry The former Labour Cabinet Minister was not talking about the world supply of carrots when he said ". . . it is a world necessity that we have access . . . at a reasonable price".

In these kinds of situation — like Suez in 1956 — there is very little scope for capitalist powers to take other than a short term view. In 1956 a long-term assessment saw how wasteful and unproductive for the capitalist class was the assault on Egypt by the French and British forces The same view now sees that, again from the standpoint of the capitalists, there is an enormous amount to lose by going to war with Iraq, among it lasting damage to the oilfields and the replacement of Saddam by a government more hostile to Western interests. That is the logic of the situation; but even by its own standards capitalism does not always work logically

So what the emergency debate demonstrated was that at present parliament does not operate to deal with the interests of the majority who elect it. Its role is to pass the laws which are needed to ensure the most effective exploitation of the working class and the most powerful defence of the profits of the exploiting class. Occasional showpiece debates encourage us to believe that parliament is concerned for our welfare and this perfidy and deceit is called democracy

A saner way of running human affairs would not be profit-motivated and productive of social schisms. It would have neither wars nor smug politicians to urge us to die in them. It may even, if it made sense from the point of view of human welfare, shut down the oilfields in the Middle East and grow carrots there instead — which would be a neat and conclusive way of proclaiming that somebody at least gives a damn.

Capitalism pollutes the planet (1990)

From the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is generally accepted that a greenhouse effect has been and is being created and that the ozone layer above the Earth is being dangerous depleted, both representing enormous potential disasters looming up for the not-so-future generations. Socialists argue that the fault lies with the capitalist system and its blinkered, all-consuming quest for the maximisation of profit from its industrial and commercial output.

The threat of global warming is the result of perhaps a century of the pouring of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by capitalist industry while the ozone situation is attributable to the massive use of CFCs since the 1950s as a cheap and easy-to-produce chemical serving many industrial and domestic purposes.

We do not ask you to take the Socialist's word for it that it is capitalism's motivation with profit and therefore with cost that is the fundamental cause of present environmental problems. W. Fay, administrator of the influential US industrial lobby grouping, says “congressional environmental bills must pass the affordability test’’ (Time, 16 April). In plain language this means if it costs a lot, pare it down, compromise, cut corners, think about it again, fight a rearguard action, anything in fact except putting human concern first. For in capitalism the bottom-line of profit is the all-important factor. If you have any doubts on this turn to the financial pages of the “quality’’ press and just glance at the long list of companies all parading the latest gains and losses in their stocks. Then turn to the accompanying pages and peruse the analysts' comments and considerations of the various companies to invest in. These will have nothing whatsoever to do with the usefulness of the products being produced or even whether these are vital to human life. Profit and profit alone is the god, and this hysteria pervades the whole of the global financial world and is now a 24- hour frenetic international affair.

Business as usual
President Bush heads the biggest capitalist state in the world and in his election campaign liked to term himself the “environmental president". Once in office he has found governing more difficult. Now he is pursuing “a balance" between sharply competing interests on environmental issues. Urged on by John Sununu, White House Chief of Staff, and Richard Darman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, “who have viewed environmental protection with scepticism if it impugned on economic growth", Bush told an international conference in Washington on global warming "that more study was needed to help resolve ‘uncertainties’ about the effect of global warming and the costs of pollution control" (International Herald-Tribune, 21 March). Translated, this means ‘take it easy, not too fast, don’t lets go round spending a lot of money’.

The same paper had earlier reported (6 March) that each year US manufacturers belch thousands of tons of ozone-depleting chemicals into the stratosphere. Until last year IBM's circuit-board plant, one of the largest users of these chemicals in the US. released more than two million pounds annually. Even though these emissions have been reduced as a result of regulations:
According to the National Resources Defense Council two chemicals that are as yet unregulated—methyl chloroform and tetrochloride—together account for 33 percent of man-made ozone-destroying chlorine in the stratosphere . . . As long as these are used the ozone will be unable to recover even if CFCs are phased out entirely', said a spokeswoman for the group and she continued that although 200 companies reported less methyl chloroform emissions in 1988 almost as many others increased emissions’.
Methyl chloroform, the report went on, is still used by IBM because no substitute has yet been found. Just imagine finding out you were being fed on a slow poison but then being told this would have to continue till a substitute was found!

D. A. Hayes, an organiser of Earth Day that took place on 25 April, spoke of the last ten years as “a decade of greed, sleaze and mendacity". Yes, indeed they were, but you would need to be motivated by unbounded optimism to think that the problems of the environment can be terminated whilst leaving the capitalist profit motive firmly in place:
Although environmental issues are now firmly on the political agenda in many countries action to clean up the earth is rare . . . because it is costly. A pledge by the seven wealthiest industrial nations last summer to undertake concerted and determined action to help the environment has so far achieved nothing. This week the EPA released figures indicating that US plants spewed 4.57 billion pounds of poisonous chemicals into the air, land and water in 1988. (International Herald-Tribune, 21 March).
This is not the complete picture because the Environmental Protection Agency requires reports only from industries discharging more than 50,000 pounds of the chemicals that are considered most harmful to humans or the environment. Los Angeles, for example, is being overwhelmed by foul air, trash, and water shortages. The EPA has also reported 112 million people—nearly half the US population-living in areas still exceeding the smog standards (Time, 16 April).

Same the whole world over
The problem of “balancing”, as Bush called weighting up cost versus environment, affects the whole world, in Australia only one of Sydney's 35 beaches is free of pollution. Many of the others, including Bondi and Manly, are frequently fouled by household sewage and industrial waste. The sewage contains significant amounts of toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury and lead but "the government authorities in Sydney have been reluctant to risk unpopularity by putting up taxes and being tough on industrial waste discharges" (International Herald-Tribune, 1 April). This is pretty much the tale round the globe.

There is an obverse side: 'where there's muck there's brass'. Capital will seek investment high or low and recruit every laudable human sentiment to justify its activity. That's why we re all green now:
Spinning gold from garbage is the alchemy of the 1990s. That's the message to entice investors into targeting environment-control companies. Cleaning up our polluted planet will be the growth industry of the 90s says D. McKercher of the Oppenheimer Global Environment Fund. Government spending on environmental programs could soar providing a bonanza for well-positioned companies. (International Herald-Tribune, 9 April).
It is just as though the capitalist monster had spawned a parasite to feed on its maggoty and putrefying flesh.

So one suggestion we could put to capitalist investors is to split their money between the polluting industries and the cleaning-up ones. That way would provide a never-ending round-about of profit-taking. Facetious? Perhaps, but that's certainly the face that capitalism presents. Socialists have a much more logical suggestion. Why not dispose of the society which is self-evidently responsible for the appalling pollution of the world environment? Stop the terrible mess being made in the first place and then there'll be no clearing up to do. That saves resources twice over.

To the millions expressing their support for Earth Days and joining in parades, planting trees, recycling waste, and taking part in nature walks and demonstrations. we say consider whether a profit motivation of production can be reconciled with a clean planet. Taking the evidence put forward in this article as being just a tiny corner of the general picture of the rapacity of the capitalist system, ask yourself whether the answer can truly be an affirmative one.
Max Judd

50 Years Ago: What They Say About 
Socialism (1990)

The 50 Years Ago column from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

It might have been expected that the war would have helped to disabuse peoples minds of some of the grossest forms of ignorance concerning the nature of Socialism and its utter incompatibility with forms of dictatorship-capitalism such as those in Germany and Italy. Yet we still see writers who claim to be well-informed perpetrating the old falsehoods.

Miss Margaret Cole, writing in the Tribune (August 30th. 1940), about the modernising of Turkey under the late Kemal Ataturk. credits him with seeing the need "to establish the amount of totalitarianism" or "Socialism"—call it what you will—which is imperative to the twentieth century.

"This necessity," she says, "has been demonstrated in Italy, Germany and Russia; under stress of war it is being demonstrated in this country and in France . . ."

Miss Cole claims to be a Socialist and the Tribune claims to be a Socialist Journal, yet they can tell their readers that “totalitarianism" and "Socialism" are much alike, merely a matter of names!

Then in the Sunday Express (August 18th, 1940), an article on the Nazi Leader. Dr. Ley, says that if Germany won the war "Ley would go down in history as the greatest Socialist of the new and greater Germany."

But let us say once more that Socialism does not mean that wages are paid by the State instead of by the employer. It means a system of society in which there is no wages system at all.

It is people like the Labour Party who have fostered these erroneous notions of Socialism. What they really mean is "State Capitalism”.

(From the Socialist Standard, October 1940.)

Does religion matter? (1990)

From the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Saturday morning. The English Summer manifests itself one day of the year. Today is the day. Location: an inner city Victorian church. Style: Gothic ugly. Opposite the soot engrained building is a shopping complex. God versus Mammon. Mammon is winning hands down. Inside the church is a pervasive stygian atmosphere despite the soaring seventies outside. Everyone talks in whispers. There is a preponderance of dark wood, which only adds to the sombre mood. The back of the pew directly in front of me has several initials carved into it. One set of initials is the same as mine. My mind wanders in lazy thoughts of the penknife owner. At last! Thank god. at least its not Mendelssohn's Wedding March or Bach's Toccata and Fugue. As the organ plays Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, the bride walks down the aisle.

Surely I’m not going to castigate and harangue these people for taking part in a harmless, traditional ritual? After all, don't most people only go to church three times in their life? Christenings, weddings and funerals? Of course, when filling in official forms that request their religion they'll generally put C of E. But it's only to save the bother of being different. It's not worth arguing about is it?

Capitalist society
We live in a capitalist society where most wealth is owned by a minority. This has the legal ownership of the factories, the land, the shops, the offices, the banks, transport facilities; in other words the means of production and distribution. You and I belong to the propertyless majority. Not having sufficient money in the bank to live off the interest: not owning sufficient stocks and shares to live off the dividends; not owning sufficient houses to live off the rent; not being able to exploit sufficient numbers of the working class to live off the wealth they create, we are forced to sell our labour power — our physical and mental ability to work — to the minority property owning class, who in return pay us a wage or salary.

Capitalism prides itself on the choice which it says free market competition offers to the consumer. Actually the choice for most of us as to where we live, what we eat, what we wear, what car we drive is restricted by the amount of money we have. Our means of living are dependent upon being able to sell our labour power to the capitalist class. The wage or salary we get in return is only sufficient for us to maintain ourselves in a condition to be able to fulfil capitalism's demands for wealth creating workers. But capitalism gives us the choice of whether we, the majority, want to continue to support a system of society that benefits the few whose concern is with production for profit, not need. However, capitalism is not about to hand over the economic and political power which its ruling class enjoys until a majority of the working class understand and want the only alternative to capitalism — socialism. Obviously, the political consciousness of the majority is insufficiently developed at the present time, and they do not comprehend the differences that living in a socialist society would make to their lives. Marx wrote that the prevailing ideas in society are those of the ruling class. Capitalism is prepared to use any method it can to persuade workers that under capitalism all things are for the best in the best possible world.

Inventing God
Voltaire wrote,"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”. Religion existed before capitalism became the dominant world-wide system it is today, thus saving capitalism the trouble of having to invent yet another means of confusing and controlling the propertyless class. Believing as most do, that capitalism is now, always was and always will be, most have no difficulty in swallowing the lie that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven.

The compulsory religious "education” that children are subjected to as soon as they enter infants school has them singing hymns in morning assembly. One of the most popular hymns for infants is All things bright and beautiful. The lyrics of this piece of propaganda would have them believe that, all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the lord god made them all. This nonsense is followed by a verse designed to make them aware of their subservient class position. The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made them high or lowly and ordered their estate. No doubt in Israel, or Iran, or India, or Tibet, children are being brainwashed with a similar message.

The religion forced upon workers is to a large extent dictated by the part of the world in which they are born. But, it has to be said, capitalism offers a wide choice of omnipotent deities, gods, goddesses, devils, angels, archangels, cherubs, seraphs, nymphs, dryads, hamadryads, naiads, oreads, sylphs and gurus. For the emotionally disturbed, those seeking an emotional crutch, the inadequate, and those unable to cope with the harsh economic realities of capitalism,the opiate of the people runs the gamut from A to Z, from adventists to zen buddhism.

In Anti-Duhring Engels wrote:
All religion is nothing but the fantastic reflection in men's minds of those external forces which control their daily life, a reflection in which the terrestrial forces assume the form of supernatural forces. In the beginnings of history it was the forces of nature which were so reflected, and which in the course of further evolution underwent the most manifold and varied personifications among the various people.
Humans themselves, within their own ‘thinking processes, have been the creators and inventors of their own gods, and ascribed to them supernatural endowments and capabilities, which have included the creation of the earth, human kind, and the all-encompassing universe itself. The genesis of god and religion was not supernatural.

The differences between socialism and religion go deeper than saying that there are a hundred different religions, none of which a socialist believes in. Irrespective of race, sex or position in society, the path to socialism requires knowledge and understanding of how capitalism operates as a world-wide social system. Under capitalism society is divided into two classes: the propertyless working class, and the minority ruling class who legally own the means of production and distribution. Commodities are produced by the working class, who are paid less than the values they produce, and when the commodities are exchanged in the commercial market, the capitalist appropriates the surplus value produced by the workers. Capitalism, like religion, not only makes men and women servile, it has the supreme art of teaching them to love their chains.

Mrs Thatcher, a doughty class warrior for capitalism, well understands the important part that religion plays in diverting the working class away from any thoughts of a wageless, moneyless, stateless, classless. leaderless society. In a speech in Edinburgh on 21 May 1988, quoting the bible, she said:
We are told we must work and use our talents to create wealth. If a man will not work he shall not eat', wrote St. Paul to the Thessalonians. How could we respond to the many calls for help or invest for the future unless we had first worked hard and used our talents to create the necessary wealth? But intervention by the state must never become so great that it effectively removes personal responsibility. The same applies to taxation. for while you and I would work extremely hard whatever the circumstances, there are undoubtedly some who would not unless the incentive was there. The Christian religion is a fundamental part of our national heritage. For centuries it has been our very lifeblood.
Her argument is, of course, not a new one. God and right have been used as justification for massacre, murder and oppression throughout history. However, careful analysis of holy wars and crusades generally reveal economic reasons as their raison d’etre rather than spiritual indignation. In the 1960s Bob Dylan wrote a song called With God on Our Side which mocked the historical claim of imperialism to have a supernatural force legitimising its actions.

In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Marx wrote:
The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. It is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of a natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic—in short, ideological—forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.
If, with the transition from an insane society, capitalism, to a sane one. socialism, some people still wish to maintain a belief in fairies at the bottom of the garden, then they will be free to do so. But religion will no longer exist as a tool with which capitalism brainwashes, and frightens, those who it exploits.
Dave Coggan

Between the Lines: Land of Dopes and Tories (1990)

The Between the Lines column from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Land of Dopes and Tories

Three cheers for Mark Elder, the conductor who refused to include Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory in The Last Night of the Proms (shown on BBC1 and BBC2 on 15 September) Elder was of the view that:
"the words of those songs come from an age that was able and happy to celebrate Britain's irresistible march across the world. Now if we are actually engaged in combat I would not be happy to proceed. It would seem callous in the extreme. "
The Guardian 8 September
The BBC's response to Elder's sensitivity was in the best tradition of imperial callousness. They sacked him.

Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory, the words of which express English imperial arrogance in all of its declining folly, was first promoted by the British ruling class as workers were being slaughtered during tho First World War. At the time Elgar had issued a Manifesto of National Service which called for an:
"organised effort to carry on the war. Every fit man must be made available . . . for the fighting line or . . . for National Service at home."
Elgar himself spent tho war living in his mansion in Hampstoad, while at the same time German and Austrian musicians were being persecuted by the British state.

The Last Night at the Proms is a ridiculous, anachronistic celebration of a Great Britain, which was a land of no hope and little glory for the vast majority in its finest hour, and is now an appendage of American imperial foreign policy.

'The horror . . . the horror.'
Speaking of Dopes . . .

What is the most popular TV programme in Britain today? The twice daily Neighbours (BBC1. 1.35 pm and 5.35pm) which is brought to us by one Reg Watson, the man who 'created' Crossroads. It is staggeringly bad: awful acting, incredible plots, cliched scripts, a disgusting view of what human beings are all about. Millions of workers love to watch it. The BBC celebrated its one thousandth episode last month (BBC1 13 September).

It has been argued that Neighbours represents a poor man's wish for what it would be like to live in a real community, rather than the alienated heaps in which most of us find ourselves; a sort of late capitalist News From Nowhere. Others argue that the programme's success is the fresh good looks of its actors. Or maybe its success is thanks to its popularity with the under-twelves who regard it as truly great drama. Who knows?

But has anyone thought that a period of cultural history which will be remembered for the acting of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan is not one in which songs celebrating hope and glory are appropriate?

Speaking of Tories . . . 

By far the funniest TV moment of the last month was watching Enoch Powell (Talking to Myself, BBC2, 10.20pm. 7.9.90). This new series allows famous people to both ask and answer the questions in a ten-minute interview. Powell sounded like a dishwasher on the blink having a pompous talk with an air-raid siren Of course, he is not to be blamed for his strangely whining voice, even if it is hideously full of affectations.

One Powell is a slightly barmy fanatic in the cause of capitalism. Two Powells are totally round the bend. Powell told Powell that the greatest moment in his life had been when he had been asked to join the British army and give unqualified and unquestioning loyalty to the British Empire. We know what Powell will have been doing on The Last Night of the Proms — singing Rule Britannia! as a duet.

Speaking of Dopey Tories . . .

There are times when video machines come in very handy. A politician says something and you can't quite believe that anyone can be that stupid. And then you play it back and the wonder of technology allows you to see that you were wrong to doubt.

Such a moment came in The Walden Interview (ITV. 1pm. 9 September) when Walden asked William Waldergrave. the British Foreign Office Minister, when the government would consider that Iraq had been defeated.

The first requirement, said Waldergrave. is that "liberty must be restored in Kuwait". It was the "restored" that led my finger to the play-back button. Since when has there been "liberty" in Kuwait?

It is a country ruled by unelected, semi-feudal dictators, put in power by the British. It is a country where only 60,000 people out of a population of 2 million have the vote. It is a country where women have no political rights, including voting. Is that the "liberty" which Waldergrave seeks to restore? Is that why British and American workers in uniform will die? Land of hope and glory? Hang your heads in shame, those who have been foolish enough to fall for the absurdities of nationalism.
Steve Coleman

SPGB Meetings (1990)

Party News from the October 1990 issue of the Socialist Standard

Capitalist Progress Leaves the Worker behind (1944)

From the October 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

When capitalism broke the chains with which feudalism bound it, a society whose stability depended on its power to resist change was overcome. The bourgeoisie, an oppressed class under feudalism, broke down by revolutionary methods the caste system where to be born a serf meant to die a serf.

New markets to sell goods were the incentive for intensively exploring the world. This brought about the change from handicraft to manufacture, and finally to large scale manufacture—i.e., production has been increasingly socialised, until to-day few can claim that any commodity is purely their work.

With the rising importance of these markets, knowledge, formerly the perquisite of the Catholic Church, had to be secularised. It was necessary for others besides the church to know about navigation and astronomy, so as to sail the seven seas. And this knowledge had to be based on material fact, which often conflicted with the “truth” of the Roman Church. This, although secondary to the economic dominance of the church, based on feudalism, sharpened the struggle of the bourgeoise against it.

All dominant nations try by all means in their power to exclude the rest of the world from sharing that which has made it powerful, and to use it to continue its domination. Many examples are known, but the forces capitalism sets free control the capitalist class, and not vice versa. During the war against Napoleon I., England blockaded France and cut off her sugar. This did not result in a quick peace, but in the commencement of the sugar-beet industry. The result was that the British interests in cane sugar suffered through her own blockade.

The production of nitrates from the air did not result from the plea by eminent scientists (due at the time to under-estimations of resources) that without a new source of fertilisers other than Chile saltpetre, mankind would at a close approaching period starve. It needed the prospects of a war (1914-1918), in which Germany had of necessity to try and overthrow Britain’s dominance on the world market, in order to find a place in the sun for her own capitalist class, to make this possible. Again the operating factor was fear of blockade. This alone, of course, did not make the process possible, but capital, and therefore effort was thrown into the task to speed the process. Now, instead of cries about lack of fertilisers, industry is worried by the excess that could be produced after this war in that partiular field.

Again, artificial rubber needed in war (cutting off natural rubber and its powerful interests) in which the initial experimental techniques could be transferred to large scale production. During the initial period of heavy capital outlay the artificial rubber industry could not normally have produced commodities capable of competing in the open market with natural rubber. The war, by cutting off the natural source, gave the artificial source the necessary impetus. It is now reported that the artificial source will be able to compete easily in the open market with the natural source, more especially as the latter is likely to be despoiled during the course of the present war. We will thus have at the end of the war two conflicting sources each capable of supplying the world, with its inevitable results.

The British Empire had for many years desired to become industrialised, but the English capitalist class did not desire that their empire, the only certain market for their manufactured products, should supply itself with these goods. So when representatives of the Dominions arrived iu England—e.g., Nash from New Zealand—loans were not forthcoming. Came a war, cutting off these Dominions and forcing them to industrialise themselves. Of course, after the war this means greater competition. The spectacle arises, as recently, when a jute manufacturer operating in England and India closed his English factory because the other source was more profitable.

Admiral Gould, “Brains Trust” visitor, chose as one of the three greatest services to humanity the production of a cheap synthetic nourishing food. Cheap here, of course, means for the working class. Well, we are now well on the way. As reported in the “Chemical Trade Journal and Chemical Engineer” June 4, 1943, a lunch was recently held at Lausanne. The meal consisted of hors d’oeuvres made of chemically treated cellulose, flavoured with coal-tar derivatives. After this came “meat” made of treated wood pulp and synthetic gravy. The sweet was flavoured by artificial vanilla, and the cream came from the same cellulose as was present in the hors d’oeuvres. The only natural products present were vegetables. It was stated to be cheaper than the equivalent nutritional value in natural products. Again self-sufficiency in case of war was its attraction. Of course, for the working class it has obvious possibilities. The recent publicising of grass-eaters in the daily press points in the same direction. If only the capitalist class could put us out to graze on common land during meal-times! How much they would save !

All these great advances seem to have depended to a great extent on a blockade, real or threatened, for their full development. The lack of material thus artificially produced has, as seen, resulted not in, as intended, a deadly threat to those lacking the necessary material, but often ultimately in a deadly threat to the mode of production of that article, often leading to its replacement by a new process or source for that self-same article.

Under capitalism goods are produced for sale, and must therefore compete with the equivalent material on the market. Future possibilities, however bright, must be sacrificed to the market value of the article. The only mode of advancement is to erect a wall around this commodity and nurture it by subsidies from the State or from big combines. Often it is only by the catacylsms capitalism so surely, produces which enable them to gain their feet. Only under Socialism, where there will be no conflicting economic interests, will these substances be able to develop freely without fear of competition by the prevalent materials. There will the final arbitration depend only on its use-value.

It is well known how many inventors die in poverty. and how many fortunes are made by people exploiting these inventions. Edison and Backeland were fortunate in that they had the capital to exploit their own ideas.

The first to register a patent owns it. Others working in the same direction, and having additional valuable information, withhold it until the patent expires. Thus is lost the full fruit of these men’s endeavours. Since these patents give as little information as they can, other firms wishing to engage in the same field, after expiration of the patent, must again cover much available but secret knowledge—a waste of time due to capitalism. Often, too, owing to a previous patent, an invention must utilise an inferior mechanism, as witness the steam engine, where the fly-wheel could not be utilised.

The 1907 Patents and Designs Act provided that a certain difficulty, in direct connection with the piston, troubling the master-class, should be overcome. It definitely allowed a patent to be granted jointly to the inventor and to another person—e.g., a capitalist or capitalist concern—to enable the latter to share the benefits derived. The law thus placed “old man capitalism” very firmly on the back of the inventor. This Act also attempted to rectify an abuse. A firm having profitable patents, which would be adversely affected by a new one, could buy the new one under licence and not use it. No new machinery would be necessary, and since there was no production by the new method, no royalties, due to the inventor, need be paid. In Monk’s “Inventions. Patents and Designs” it is stated significantly that the Act has been altered to protect the interest of the inventor.

Nowadays, in the same way as production has been made social, so has research. No longer can one man very effectively invent a whole process. Co-operation is here, too, becoming more and more necessary, due mainly to increasing specialisation. Hence the increasing tendency for research to come more and more under the aegis of large firms or the State. The inventor becomes definitely a worker, swelling the proletariat.

In the hey-day of capitalism, when markets were large enough to take all that was produced, capitalism continuously revolutionised its means of production and increased man’s power over nature, thus solving a necessity that only capitalism can solve, the problem of production of plenty for the future Socialist society. Competition demanded it by forcing the lowering of the cost of production. But now the increasing monopoly character of capitalism shows itself by the cutting out of competition. Cartels divide the world into regions of influence for its component companies. This is possible only because the cartel adherents can produce many times the world’s needs. Research, while still bent on reducing the cost of production, is increasingly being utilised to enable surplus capital to be profitably utilised in new industries. It is interesting, in this light, to notice that the papers are talking of special investment schemes of an international character, to utilise at a smaller rate ot profit what would otherwise be uninvested capital.

In spite of the restrictions of capitalism, great advances have been made, and when the capitalist class points to these as a justification for their further existences they believe they have a case. But the long-bow won the battle of Crecy, and the phalanx was of great use to Alexander, but the modern general does not accept their past success as a reason for using them to-day against tanks. Compared with feudalism, capitalism represents progress, but only compared with feudalism. Their exalted idea of private enterprise means the enforced lack of enterprise on the part of the working class.

And in any case, in whose advantage has this been? The lot of the working class has not appreciably improved. The advantages and the wealth accrued have gone into the pocket of the ruling class. All this, the work of the only useful class in society, has resulted in a further widening of the gulf between rich and poor. Once again we have the cycle—born a worker means dying a worker.

Holland and Denmark, producers of dairy produce for the world, consumes enormous quantities of margarine. Who eats this margarine ? Workers !

Modern production has caused great increases in mental and nervous disorders and industrial diseases. The village idiot disappears, and the proletarian victim of capitalism takes his place. Hence the increasing study of these disorders and the “kind” donations by our masters, who cannot bear that such sources of riches for them should prove useless. They look for cures, turning their eyes, however, away from the cause, the increasing strain on the worker of his condition of wage-slavery, so aptly caricatured by Charles Chaplin in “Modern Times.”

The working class produces all wealth. Because there is too much food, therefore the worker must starve; because there are too many of the good things in life, therefore the worker may not enjoy one of them—even leisure means unemployment to him. That is the logic of capitalist anarchy. Lord Rutherford hoped that atomic energy would not be harnessed until the ethics and morals of the race were improved. This can only be when there are no more barriers of economic self-interest dividing people, but in their stead a common interest. This is only possible under Socialism. Only Socialism can effectively harness this progress for man’s benefit, not for his destruction.

Within our reach lies a world of peace and plenty. In Socialism we can unfetter progress that it may be used for the advancement of the welfare of mankind. Act then, members of the working class, for once in your own interest!
Samuel Leight

On a holiday (1944)

From the October 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

A visit to a Holiday at Home entertainment in the local park provides the Socialist with much food for thought. Can it be possible that the rather amateurish playing and singing, the rides on the two long-suffering donkeys, and the many swindles to aid one or more parts of the armed forces are compensating the workers for their fifty weeks of long, arduous toil ?

They certainly, at first glance, seem happy enough, and yet the careful observer could fancy that under this assumed mask of gaiety there was still the realisation that even this poor, short interlude would soon be over, and they would be back again busily amassing wealth for the capitalist class. They are, for the most part, unconscious of this tragic clown’s mask, but these stirrings in the workers’ mind provide material for the propaganda of the Socialist, and small is the step from the subconscious stirrings to the realisation of the idea.

Truly the worker is a source of wonder in that he continues to accept gratefully anything and everything that the capitalist condescends to give him—even in his entertainment.

Does the worker ever think, while partaking of these miserable few hours of enjoyment, either in the local park or at some more distant point (if he has enough energy left for enjoyment after standing for hours in a packed, stifling train) of the members of the master-class having their holidays at some “select” seaside resort, or shooting and fishing on some fellow-capitalist’s estate?

When the workers, on their return to their toil, instead of inevitably grumbling and leaving things at that, begin to ask themselves, and their workmates, why . . why . . .WHY? then things will start moving; then the Socialist will come into his own, and it will be up to him to provide the answer—namely, that this system of exploitation continues only because the majority of society (i.e., the workers) are not fully conscious of the fact that they are exploited by a minority (the capitalist class). When this class-consciousness has been achieved, and the ” Why ?” of the workers has been replaced by “What next?” then the task of the Socialist will have really begun. Whoever understands the set-up of the capitalist system cannot fail to agree with the object and principles of the S.P.G.B.
Len Young

Editorial: Armies of Liberation (1944)

Editorial from the October 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Our men marched singing with a smiling light in their eyes. They had done their job. They thought it was the war to end war. They had won, they thought, the greatest victory in the world.” (Sir Philip Gibbs on the Armistice, 1918. Evening Standard, September 6, 1944.)

“It is against Hitlerism we fight. And we have no quarrel save with those who would help to perpetuate its tyranny in Europe. Because this is the issue, it transcends national frontiers. It transcends nationality itself. . . . Thus the freedom-loving German Socialists make common cause with the British Trades Union Congress, whose president said yesterday that ‘We stand four-square until we have smashed Hitlerism forever and created a world of true brotherhood among the worker'” (Daily Herald Editorial, September 5, 1939.)
If the course of war is rarely predictable, the same is true about war’s aftermath. There are people who, forgetting what happened after 1918, went into the war in 1939 with a simple faith that the military defeat of Nazi Germany would solve all problems and liberate humanity from a prison of oppression into a world of universal peace, and harmony; they must already be wondering. The departure of the German armies from the occupied countries opens up a situation quite unlike the visions of the Daily Herald five years ago. The war, said the Herald, was not to be one for possessions but for spiritual values in keeping with true internationalism. Yet the coming end of hostilities in Europe finds most of the Powers staking out their claims for territories. Russia wants a large slice of Poland and offers in return that Poland shall have a large slice of Germany. This is 1918 again, but on a larger scale, for the Labour Party 25 years ago vigorously condemned the Treaty which gave Poland comparatively small areas in which the population was German or Russian. Russia, according to Negley Farson (who defends the claim), wants to keep the former Baltic Republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, though he makes no pretence that the population’s views will be considered : —
“In 1940, under strictly Soviet commissar-conducted plebiscites, Stalin made the people of all three little countries declare themselves members of constituent republics of the U.S.S.R. Not even the Russians will try to pretend there was any such thing as a choice or freedom about it.” Daily Mail, July 26, 1944.)
American spokesmen are busy laying claims to strategically situated territories in the West Indies and the Pacific. China is demanding territories all round the Pacific, hitherto conquered and held by Japan and the Western Powers. French political parties are contemplating an extension of France to the Rhine and beyond, and most of the smaller Powers that were early on the winning side are hoping to get something in the carve-up.

The Daily Express, in its editorial on September 18th, 1944, candidly admits and encourages the Imperialist aims of U.S. A. and Britain.
“Here is a section of American opinion arguing in favour of United States Imperialism after this war. And here in this country concern and apprehension are sometimes expressed in high places on that account. Such fears are quite out of place. If British Imperialism is good for the British, then American Imperialism is good for the Americans. . . . The American Imperialists want a foothold in Dakar, and in the East and the Far East. They seek control of those islands in the Pacific which have been a source of menace and misery to them when held by the Japanese. Is that a good policy for the Americans ? Of course, it is. … Is it good for Britain too? Of course.”
It will be noticed that the Express here writes as if the world is going to be divided between American and British Imperialisms, saying nothing about the fact that other Powers (among them Russia) will also want a say.

It will be argued that these claims are justified on the ground that the Allied Powers will need to hold territories to bar any further attempt by German capitalism to gain military and economic control of Europe—but is this what the Daily Herald and its supporters envisaged by their talk in 1939 of “a world of true brotherhood among the workers?” Obviously the post-war world is going to be a world of capitalist competition, as it was before. Sir Stafford Cripps is so apprehensive about this that he warns us : “A return to open competition between the nations will inevitably lead to another and even more disastrous war” (Daily Express, September 18, 1944).

What of the promised re-establishment of democratic methods ? In some of the defeated countries this is likely, though experience after the last war shows that such re-establishment is no guarantee of permanence in a world of capitalist poverty and crisis. Moreover, one-party dictatorship is still the rule in Russia, and, according to the News-Chronicle correspondent recently in China, the present trend is towards totalitarianism in that country. He writes : —
“Already in China there is no freedom of the Press or of speech or assembly—no right to express any opinion that does not conform with the Government’s political line.” (News-Chronicle, May 2, 1944).
He pointed out that the Kuomintang Government (which he referred to as “Kuomintang Fascists”) has half a million of its best troops engaged, not in fighting the Japanese armies, but in blockading the Chinese Communist forces. He ended his article with the ominous words, “A Fascist China might in time be as dangerous as an Imperial Japan.”

Coming back to Europe and the populations liberated from Nazi occupation, no one need doubt the enthusiasm with which liberation has in the main been received, even though this is by no means universal. A correspondent with the advancing Allied armies in France records that in Alsace and Lorraine (territories annexed by Germany in 1871 and “liberated” in the first world war) the reception of the Allies was distinctly cold :—
“As you near Germany and touch the fringe of Alsace-Lorraine, you can sense the change in the attitude of a people that has lived so near to Germany as to be almost German in outlook and in blood. No longer, as we enter a village, do we get the vociferous welcome that cheered our progress to Paris. . . . The villagers look on you sourly; they are less ready to be helpful. Cases of sabotage which we never had in Normandy or on the way to Paris are now being reported.” (News-Chronicle, September 7, 1944.)
What sort of world is it into which the populations are liberated? Are they to open one prison door only to find they are faced with others? Since the world is still to be a world of capitalism, that is what is bound to happen. What is going to be the outcome when workers find that liberation and the end of the war merely means a return to the old chaotic conditions of pre-war capitalism, aggravated for at least some time by the problems of the switch-over to peace? Some will turn to Socialism, others will fall for new nostrums or return to old ones.

Mr. Alan Moorehead, writing on his impressions of France and Belgium, says that from the standpoint of living conditions, life under German overlordship was not as bad as had been reported—”if you were willing to obey the Germans and keep out of their way, then you did not have a bad life—certainly a more comfortable one than in war-time England (Daily Express, September 10, 1944), The reason why the Germans were “hated passionately and viciously” was “because they took away the one thing the people finally cared about, their liberty.” When the Germans went, the population regained their right to take part in political activities, but as the war in Europe ends they will also suffer in the changeover which will affect workers in all countries, the change from capitalism working at full pressure for war and providing full employment to capitalism resuming its normal peace-time condition with unemployment again mounting in volume. This has already occurred in Italy. The Manchester Guardian writes : —
“The economic situation is admittedly disastrous, and it is claimed, it is to be hoped wrongly, that the Germans allowed the people more food than the Allies…. It is extremely short-sighted to allow the Italian people to fall into a mood of such misery and despair that they will blame us for their misfortunes, rather than the Fascist Government which led them to disaster. (Manchester Guardian, August 15, 1944.)
A Times correspondent in Rome writes in a similar strain : —
“The Allies cannot afford to have the population of a capital city on their lines of communication reduced to desperation. A hungry and idle people becomes an easy prey to any extremist political agitation which promises it a quick way out of its troubles.” (September 8, 1944.)
Part of the present difficulty in Italy may be due to military demands on transport, but even when these have ceased and everything is normal again, Italian workers, like other workers, are going to have to face the usual evil results of capitalism. The war has not removed these evils; they are as insoluble as they were before 1939 or before 1914, though this was not at all foreseen by leaders of the Labour Party when they went into the war. They did not envisage the war ending with a return to the conditions of 1939 but vainly imagined that capitalism would be on its last legs and Socialism almost here—just as they had in the world war of 1914-1918. Here is an extract from a speech by a Labour Party spokesman, Mr. Arthur Greenwood, M.P., at his Party’s Conference at Bournemouth in May, 1940. It makes curious reading now : —
“Because we have the courage of our convictions as a movement now, we shall have greater power when it is over than we have to-day. We shall have a trembling capitalist system which can never recover again. We shall have broken the back of the vested interests, and we can build a Socialist commonwealth which will be a powerful factor in the world.” (Daily Herald, May 14, 1940.)
It would be an insult to Mr. Greenwood’s intelligence to ask if he thinks that his prophecy has been fulfilled. Instead, we would like to ask whether he would risk prophesying what the state of Europe and the world, seething with nationalistic hatreds and torn by the rival claims of capitalist groups, will be like at the end of the next four years. Will it be Socialism triumphant, democracy safe, and “true brotherhood among the workers,” or will it be the same old capitalism? Austrian workers who declared (Manchester Guardian, July 33, 1944) “that they do not intend to work for Anglo-American capitalists but desire to collaborate with progressive elements in the Allied countries,” have the right view of the situation, but, contrary to Mr. Greenwood’s anticipation of a trembling and broken capitalist class, that class is in power and the world is still their world.

Not mere release from foreign rule or home-bred dictatorship, but only Socialism will ultimately unite the world’s workers and achieve their emancipation. The workers’ army of liberation is the international army of class-conscious, politically organised Socialists, bent on achieving the conquest of political power for the purpose of ending capitalism and inaugurating world-wide Socialist society.