Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Little Talk About Our Innards. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

How often has it been said, “The Hour brings forth the Man.” This vivid truism, exemplified equally in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the productions of Laurel and Hardy, is again given point by recent world happenings. Out of a maelstrom of chaos, out of the cataclysmic roar of a world falling to ruin comes a firm, strong voice. It is the voice, calm, clear and courageous, of one who peers through the surging mists of doom, and discerns with supernatural clarity—the Way Out. Students of political science will have gathered by now, that all indications point to Mr. George Lansbury. They are quite right. The Hour has produced the Man. How wonderful are the ways of Providence !

A short while ago, we, in our ignorance, informed a long-suffering world that “Capitalism will not Collapse.” We charged a penny for some 16 pages of our reasons. We might have saved our energy. In the columns of the August Bow and Bromley Citizen, Mr. Lansbury says Capitalism is at the end of its tether. Civilisation is dying, he said. The economic plight of Central Europe, the upheaval in Germany, the failure of the Disarmament Conference, the tariff war against the Irish Free State in the cause of what is known as punctilio, and the persecution in India, cause him to despair. He asks us to “couple” with these, unemployment at home, the mean Means Test inflicted by the Tory Government (but, George, you forget to say that it is the same test as that applied by the Labour Government for Poor Law purposes), and the driving down into the pit of destitution of myriads of aged and infirm. And then we come to the prophetic utterance:
“Men and women in every walk of life are asking what can be done. I reply, not in the words of economists or Socialists, but in the words of Him who spoke as never man spoke before :—
‘Let him who is greatest be the least. Seek the Kingdom of God which is within you. Seek not your own, learn of Him that the law of life is service, and that it is not the will of the Father that the least of His little ones should perish.’
And learn, also, that on one occasion when He was angry, He took whips and thrashed the money lords, the usurers, the devourer of widows’ houses, out of the Temple.”
So there you are; everyone now knows what to do. As George so truly says: men and women are asking what can be done.

We of the Socialist Party of Great Britain have answered “capture political power, so that you can own your means of living.” The Labour Party, whose leader is Mr. Lansbury, answered, “the most important thing is to get something now.” After a quarter of a century’s getting something now, Mr. Lansbury now replies with: Seek not your own … “Seek the Kingdom of God, which is within you.”

It is really too brilliant. What balm, after more than two years of Labour Government: “Seek not your own. Seek the Kingdom of God. It’s inside you.” Most of the unemployed would swap it for a steak and kidney pudding, any time.

The bit about the whipping of the usurers and money lords is interesting. Mr. Lansbury has not always been in favour of giving the usurers a walloping. When the usurers who had invested in War Loan engaged in the operation known as Conversion, two months back, Mr. Lansbury gladly lent them a hand. On that occasion the readers of the Bow and Bromley Citizen were spared the tripe and treacle of our Right Hon. friend. On July 14th he was accorded the publicity of the B.B.C., and millions of listeners heard him say:
“I am speaking to you on behalf of my colleagues in the House of Commons and myself. . . . We are glad to be able to give our support to the War Loan Conversion scheme recently launched by the Government.”
Then came the usual bowl of greasy platitudes, followed by George’s inevitable appeal to:
“turn once again to Him who taught as no other man has taught, and start individually and nationally ordering our lives on His appeal, and seek first the Kingdom of God, which He also said is within you.”
George seems somewhat muddled, but doubtless he could explain himself. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and to save a protracted search he indicates its precise position—within you. Then, keeping in mind what Christ thought of usurers on a former occasion, carefully order your usurious investments in War Loan—the price of slaughter—so that you will continue to draw interest, or money for nothing.

Pretty dreadful, isn’t it ! The Listener of July 20th reprinted his wonderful effort, so that posterity may better know the kind of Man whom Fate threw up at this great hour of crisis.
W. T. Hopley

Answers to Correspondents. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

F. R. B.—If you will give your name and address, not necessarily for publication, we will reply to your letter.

* * *

Mr. Arthur Marley.—Letters returned by the Post Office marked “insufficient address.” If you will give your full address we shall be able to reply.

* * *

B. F. (S.W.1).—No articles are published in the Socialist Standard unless they are in harmony with the Party’s position.

* * *

”Prophet Smith.”—See paragraph headed “Capitalism’s Crises.” Does this meet your point?

* * *

J. T. Walton Newbold, ” Bari,” and others.—Letters crowded out of this issue owing to pressure on space.

Editorial Committee.

Letter: Mr. Middleton Murry Protests. (1932)

Letter to the Editors from the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard
The letter below, written by Mr. Middleton Murry, refers to a paragraph in the September Socialist Standard : —
Larling, nr. Norwich,
September 3, 1932.


Your reference to me in the September Socialist Standard is partly false, and partly misleading. I must ask you to publish this note.

I have never had “leanings towards the Communist Party” ; nor have I ever been “a worshipper of Russia.” I have never “quarrelled with the Communists” in the sense your statement bears. I have had no connection of any kind with the C.P.

I joined the I.L.P. in December last. In or about March this year I read a very sensible pamphlet published by the S.P.G.B.: “Why Capitalism will not Collapse.” Until that moment 1 had never even heard of the existence of the S.P.G.B. Since I agreed with its view that the expectation of a melodramatic collapse of Capitalism was mistaken and dangerous, I thought I ought to learn more about the S.P.G.B. In the letter in which I asked for information I used the phrase which you, rather disingenuously, quote : “It seems to me that I ought to join.”

I was surprised to discover that the constitution of the S.P.G.B. forbids its members to be members of the I.L.P. So I went no further into the matter. The restriction seemed to me stupid in itself, and, as my knowledge of the S.P.G.B. grew, indicative of a fundamental limitation in an otherwise valuable organisation. To represent me as having wavered between the C.P., the S.P.G.B., and the I.L.P., is quite false.

For my part I have to apologise to the S.P.G.B. for having implied that it was not a “genuinely Socialist organisation.” I am sorry to say that I had forgotten all about it when I made my remarks about the I.L.P.
I will not take up your space, or my time, in replying to your assertions that I understand nothing about Socialism, because in one passage I say that the essence of it is “economic equality.” “Economic equality” is as much the essence of Socialism as “the common ownership of the means of production.” You cannot get “economic equality” without establishing “the common ownership of the means of production.” Economic equality is the ethical aspect, common ownership of the means of production the economic basis, of a Socialist society.

It is the singular and distressing rigidity of mind revealed in so superficial a criticism that it made it easy for me to forget the claims of the S.P.G.B. to be a genuinely Socialist organisation.
Yours faithfully,
J. Middleton Murry.

Mr. Murry’s letter does not justify his assertion that the references to him were “partly false and partly misleading,” except, perhaps, in respect of his attitude towards the Communist Party. The statement about the Communists to which he takes exception was this :—”He appears at first to have had leanings towards the Communist Party, and is still a worshipper of Russia, being under the impression that Socialism is being built up in that country.”

The writer of the offending paragraph appears to have been wrong in supposing that Mr. Murry’s leanings towards Communist doctrine had ever included a sympathy with the Communist Party in Great Britain. Mr. Murry defines his position in his book, “The Necessity of Communism.” In it he says (p. 15): “Leninism is … valid for Russia, ridiculous in England.”

In the Adelphi (August) he goes further and declares that it should be the function of the I.L.P. to build up
“something analagous to the Communist Party in Russia, the inward nucleus of convinced Socialists "whose creed carries conviction because they live in accordance with it.'”
(Having accepted Mr. Murry’s explanation of his attitude, it is necessary to point out that we certainly do not accept the argument that a whole body of theory for working class action can be valid in one country and ridiculous in another.)

Mr. Murry goes on to say that he has never been “a worshipper of Russia,” but he omits the second part of the passage, which reads, “under the impression that Socialism is being built up in that country.” His half-denial, therefore, leaves his attitude still undefined. The fact is that Mr. Middleton Murry’s party (the I.L.P.) commits itself unreservedly to the delusion that Socialism is being built up in Russia. If Mr. Murry shares his party’s view then he ought to be a “worshipper of Russia.”

The explanation given by Mr. Murry for liking and disliking the S.P.G.B. well illustrates his muddled state of mind. He says that after reading our pamphlet, “Why Capitalism will not Collapse” he wrote to us saying “It seems to me that I ought to join “; but was then surprised to discover that the constitution of the S.P.G.B. forbids its members to belong to the I.L.P. If Mr. Murry had read the pamphlet with ordinary care he would have seen that it states and explains the hostility to the I.L.P. which he did not discover until after he had written to us commending the pamphlet and its attitude.

He calls the S.P.G.B.’s refusal to permit membership of the I.L.P. “stupid in itself . . . and indicative of a fundamental limitation in an otherwise valuable organisation.” Now, at the time Mr. Murry made this discovery, the I.L.P. was in the Labour Party, and membership of the I.L.P., therefore, meant also membership of the Labour Party. So Mr. Murry’s view was that it was “stupid in itself” that a Socialist Party should not allow its members to be in the Labour Party. But since that time, and with Mr. Murry’s wholehearted approval, the I.L.P. itself has left the Labour Party and has imposed precisely the same “stupid restriction.” It now expels any member who belongs to the Labour Party.

Mr. Murry stands by his statement that the essence of Socialism is “economic equality.” The danger of such a phrase is that it is acceptable to people who utterly reject the demand for the common ownership of the means of production. No better example could be found than Mr. Tawney, of whom Mr. Murry wrote that he is a “genuine Socialist.” Mr. Tawney is a believer in “true economic equality,” as defined and explained by him. Yet in his “Acquisitive Society” (p. 99) Mr. Tawney writes : —
“The idea of some socialists that private property in land or capital is necessarily mischievous is a piece of scholastic pedantry as absurd as that of the Conservatives who would invest all property with some kind of mysterious sanctity.”
(Mr. Tawney is here discussing current problems, not the historical evolution of private property.)

Mr. Bernard Shaw is another advocate of “economic equality” who manages at the same time to be an opponent of common ownership, a supporter of capitalist wars, and of State capitalism, and an admirer of Mussolini.

Mr. Murry’s reasons for his disregard of the S.P.G.B. when he wrote of the I.L.P. as the only Socialist organisation in this country are quite unconvincing. First he says that he had forgotten all about the S.P.G.B. when he made his remark about the I.L.P. Then later on he says that it is the rigidity of the S.P.G.B. which “made it easy for me to forget the claims of the S.P.G.B. to be a genuinely Socialist organisation.” If Mr. Murry (who has the Socialist Standard by post each month) forgot the existence of the S.P.G.B. how could he remember its alleged rigidity ? And if he remembered the rigidity how could that make it easy for him to forget its claims that it is genuinely Socialist ? Does Mr. Murry mean that he remembered it, but thought that it claims to be something other than genuinely Socialist ? If not, what does he mean ?

And if Mr. Murry forgot the S.P.G.B., did he also “forget” to reply to a letter sent to him on the same subject on August 4th ? And then “forget” again at the end of the month to refer to the matter in the September issue of Adelphi ?

If Mr. Murry’s memory works like this he should be grateful to us for having used a well-known specific in the shape of a little publicity to jolt it into activity.
Edgar Hardcastle

Confusion in British Columbia. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

Earlier in the year the Socialist Party of Canada was formed, based on our Declaration of Principles, and with headquarters in Winnipeg. Shortly afterwards it was reported in the O.B.U. Bulletin (June 30th, 1932) that the I.L.P. of British Columbia had changed its name to the Socialist Party of Canada. A member of the latter body claimed in the same issue of the O.B.U. Bulletin that for the past two years the I.L.P. in British Columbia had been a strictly Socialist Party, and not open to the criticisms rightly levelled against the I.L.P. elsewhere in Canada. Had this been true the obvious course would have been for the two Socialist Parties of Canada to join forces, but later information has shown that the British Columbia body has changed nothing except its name. What motive the promotors had, except the desire to escape the discredit associated with the name I.L.P. we do not know, but there is no room for doubt about the anti-Socialist character of the organisation. In November, 1931, it ran candidates at a municipal election. The eight points of their programme mainly concerned the details of municipal administration, and contained no reference whatever to Socialism. Municipal control of public utilities was one demand. Another was “efficient organisation of our relief department.” As this headed the list it was presumably regarded as the most important. (See O.B.U. Bulletin, July 21st.)

The Vancouver District Council of the so-called Socialist Party of Canada, on June 16th, passed a resolution laying down policy for the City Council. This also contained no reference to Socialism. One funny passage in it instructs the Party’s representatives to be “non-committal” on the question of legalised sweepstakes O.B.U. Bulletin, July 21st).

This fraudulent “Socialist Party” has published the first issue of a monthly journal, The British Columbia Clarion. It reports a “Conference of Political Labor Parties.” held at Calgary on July 30th, and attended by the Party’s own delegates, as well as by delegates of the I.L.P. in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and of the United Farmers of Canada. The Conference formed a National Labour Party described as “The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (Farmer, Labor, Socialist),” of which the “Socialist Party” will form a part. The Clarion contains many references to Marx, but is quite lacking in a grasp of the Socialist position. The printed Constitution of the party carefully prepared the way for the alliance with the I.L.P. and the farmers’ groups by declaring in Clause (1) that members shall not be allowed to retain membership of another political party, “except under special circumstances, at the discretion of the Provincial Executive.” Another clause allows the Provincial Executive to give “special permission” for members and branches to support or endorse candidates “other than an official nominee of the Party.”

In short, the British Columbia so-called Socialist Party bears every sign that it is being run by typical Labour leaders “on the make,” misusing the name of Socialism to mislead politically inexperienced workers.
Editorial Committee.

Matters Underground. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

Since early this year, a wage cut of 2½ per cent. on all earnings has hung over the heads of the employees of the London Traffic Combine. The need for reducing expenses owing to the crisis, and the falling off of traffic are the reasons given, and a desire to cut the suit to the cloth. In other words the employers are pleading their “poverty.”

It is generally admitted that the Combine is one of the most efficient and prosperous concerns in Britain, but before we condemn the cry of poverty as a fraud, it will do no harm to glance at the results of the past few years. For this purpose we will quote from a pamphlet, “The London Traffic Combine,” issued by the Labour Research Dept., Doughty Street, London, W.C., at the beginning of the year.

Let us take the District Railway first. It does not look too bad: —

                                        1927 1929 1931
Profits in £1,000’s            369   490   458
Dividend %                       4      5             4½

Now for the basis (of control) of the combine —the tubes. Here no competition is to be feared, owing to their enormous cost and the need for Parliamentary powers, hence the dividend hunters and bondholders have swarmed round these like flies. Let us see the dividends paid and net profits of these concerns: —

                                           1927 1929 1931
London Electric               4%     5%   4%
Central London               4%     5%   5%
City & South London       4%     5%   4½%
                                                Net Profit in £1,000’s

                                             1927 1929 1931
London Electric                633   695   636
Central London                210   188   187
City & South London        131   122   126

Also let us see the percentage of “working expenses per tram-mile” to “traffic receipts” : —

Company                                  C.G.L.   L.E.R. District C.L.R.
1926                                             54    60           68            66
1930                                             59     53½    64            62

Such are the “mounting expenses” of the tubes and their poverty.

Now for the ‘buses; much the same story as before:—

                                                                1927 1929 1931
Profit in £1,000’s                                   608   671   740
Dividend, tax free                                     7%    8%    6¾%
Operating cost % of traffic receipts             94   93.3    93.1

In addition, the Combine has controlling interest in Overground, Ltd., and a working agreement with Tilling & British Automobile Traction Co., Ltd., and in the outer area it formed Green Line coaches to drive other operators off the roads.

Now for the trams. These consist of the London United, Metropolitan Electric, the Tramways (M.E.T.) Omnibus Co., and the South Met. Electric Tram and Lighting Co. All except the last have not paid a dividend on the ordinary shares for some time, probably owing to their being used as feeders to the tubes or the traffic being “squeezed” to the ‘buses; but the last-named concern has, since 1924, paid 5 per cent. This, on the face of it, looks bad, but the company controlling the tram undertakings (the London & Suburban Traction Co.) does not seem to he doing too badly; the profits during the last few years mounting steadily:—1927, £24,920;  1929, £60,864, and 1930, £89,640.

So far in our review, the net profits and dividends on ordinary shares have been shown. There are other shares as well, but we will pass them by for this article and have a look at the debenture holders, whose interest must be met before the others receive anything. In 1931, the L.G.O.C. loan capital totalled £5,561,000, and absorbed £276,500 for the year (4s. 3d. per week for every L.G.O.C. worker). But the tube bondholders draw the lion’s share. They carry a loan capital of over £36-millions, and draw an annual charge of £1,720,000 (or £3 6s. per week for every railman employed on the tubes). In addition, various means of speeding up and displacing workers are being resorted to with the view to increased profits : faster and heavier trams and ‘buses, faster and longer trains, with appliances for doing away with gatemen, liftmen, signalmen, ticket examiners, etc., and in view of this it can be safely said that the Combine’s plea of “poverty” is not made out.

Matters came to a head with a demand for wage reductions and further speeding up during September. The men declare that the speeding up is not safe, but the L.G.O.C. refused to withdraw from the position they had taken up. (Daily Herald, August 25th). After some negotiations the men’s delegates finally agreed by 39 votes to 21 to accept revised terms presented by the Company and recommended for acceptance by the Union. Although the demand for reduced wages was withdrawn, the new speed schedules will themselves involve some reduction in earnings. But according to the Labour Correspondent of the News-Chronicle (September 23rd) no one knows exactly what the effect will be. On one route, however, it is claimed that the new schedules will mean a loss of 8s. a week overtime pay. The Company promise to reconsider the matter in nine months’ time, but what exactly this means is not clear. The men fear that the acceleration will be used to reduce the number of ‘buses on the streets, and that the medical boards will get rid of redundant staffs by scrapping the older men.

We ask the workers in this and every other industry to note that such disputes will happen again and again so long as capitalism is allowed to continue. Why not set about ending the system that robs you ? Come to our meetings, hear our case, and question our speakers.

Get hold of our literature and think it over. Then, if you think we come up to what is required, join us. You will be welcomed, and will find plenty to do in the cause of Socialism. That is the only effective reply to the traffic or any other combine.
C. V. R.

Notes by the Way: Maxton and Marx. (1932)

The Notes by the Way Column from the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

Maxton and Marx.

Mr. Maxton’s utterances never show more than a superficial acquaintance with Marx’s writings, just sufficient to impress the average uncritical I.L.P. audience. Nevertheless, he claims on occasion that he is a Marxist, and the I.L.P. as a body is now, according to its General Secretary, on a “definitely Marxist” basis. Mr. Maxton, writing about the late John MacLean (New Leader, September 2nd), says that it was MacLean who gave him his “earliest insight into the work of Marx.” Maxton goes out of his way to praise MacLean for integrity and courage in refusing to “minimise or explain away what he had said,” on the many occasions when his activities landed him in the dock.

This is more than can be said for Maxton in his advocacy of the Marxism which he is supposed to accept. He recently reviewed Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution” in the News-Chronicle (June 27th, 1932). Here was a rare and valuable opportunity for Mr. Maxton to declare himself boldly. But the News-Chronicle is the organ of Nonconformist-radicals, and Non-conformist-radicals have votes, and they strongly dislike Marxism with its materialist philosophy. So the would-be British Lenin carefully balanced himself on the fence, managing at the same time to deliver a nice back-hander in the shape of the common jibe of the capitalist apologist that Marxists are “doctrinaires.” He gave a brief statement of the Marxist case, but prefaced it with the words “the doctrinaire Marxist . . . tends to describe in hard, formal language the economic conditions, and the nature of the class struggle which is in process.” Then, instead of saying “This is the Marxian case. I accept it,” Mr. Maxton would not commit himself to anything more definite than “The Marxist says, and probably says truly, …”

There is a good word for this sort of thing— “mealy-mouthed.”

Mr. Maxton used to be a teacher. We can imagine how he taught. “Now, boys and girls, the doctrinaire mathematicians say that two and two make four. They are probably right. . . .”

The school authorities must have been glad to get rid of him.

* * *

How Dare They!

The Daily Mail is shocked. Some workers in New South Wales have “seriously” asked to be allowed to have some of the comforts of life over and above a bare subsistence. This occurred at the N.S.W. Industrial Commission. The Mail reports as follows : —
“The trade unions . . . admitted that the cost of living had fallen but tried to introduce a higher wage standard, seriously demanding allowances for tobacco, 7 pints of beer weekly, two cinemas weekly, 12 suit pressings yearly, hair shingling and cigarettes for wives. They also claimed that the children of workers should not of necessity have to wear patched trousers. . . .” (Daily Mail, 27th August.)
Who ever heard of such a thing? Not necessary for workers’ children to wear patched clothes ! What would there be to keep their mothers out of mischief in their idle hours ? Off they would go for their weekly allowance of cigarettes and hair-shingling, and heaven knows what else.

This was not far short of treason and the Industrial Commission smartly nipped it in the bud, reducing the basic wage from 82s. 6d. to 70s. for men and from 44s. 6d. to 38s. for women.

* * *

The Leopard Has Not Changed its Spots

Labour Party supporters who believe that the Labour Party has become a different party since it lost Snowden and MacDonald should ask themselves why, at the Twickenham by-election in September, the Daily Herald (September 15th) thought fit to give prominence on its front page to a declaration by the Hon. Treasurer of the Twickenham Liberal Party urging voters to vote for Mr. Holman, the Labour candidate. In the absence of a Liberal candidate this Liberal Party official found the Labour candidate deserving of Liberal support. If the Labour candidate stood for Socialism, as his party pretends, he would have received just as much opposition from the Liberals as from the Tories. Instead of which the Liberal press told their readers to vote Labour.

* * *

It is Just the Same at Home

A special correspondent of the Manchester Guardian has made a tour of inspection of the great industrial works being built in Russia. He is favourably impressed by what has already been achieved in the way of improving the productive capacity of Russian industry and is optimistic regarding future progress. But this is what he has to say about the living conditions of the workers at Magnitogorsk, a new industrial town where an enormous steel plant is under construction : —
“Perhaps the most serious and certainly the most obvious defect at Magnitogorsk is the complete absence of decent housing. The barracks where most of the workers live are over-crowded and sometimes infested with vermin ; the canalisation and water supply are most unsatisfactory. The ungainly brick structure which represents an hotel for engineers was so over-crowded at the time of my visit that people were using the bathrooms as living quarters. The administration of the factory readily admits the unsatisfactory state of the housing, but explains it by the necessity for concentrating all available labour and material on industrial construction. That this explanation is not regarded as altogether satisfactory is evident from a recent tart governmental characterisation of the situation, which begins : ‘The condition of work on the building of the city of Magnitogorsk is in an extremely unsatisfactory state, which threatens to upset the productive activity of the Magnitogorsk works. The plan of housing construction for 1932 has been fulfilled only by 10 per cent.'”
When the correspondent discovered the bad housing and the irregular food supply, etc., alongside marvellously-equipped factories and up-to-date plant and machinery, he must have felt how closely Magnitogorsk resembles any other industrial area in any other capitalist country. But then what is the use of sending correspondents abroad unless they can discover or pretend to discover some new thing ?

* * *

Asquith and the Life of the Worker

What the Manchester Guardian correspondent forgot to say about the life of the workers in England was said by the late Lord Oxford (then Mr. Asquith) in a letter written in the early nineties, and published in The Times (September 14th, 1932): —
“We all think, at least I do, a vast deal too much about ourselves and our own feelings and hopes. When I was at Oldham to-day I was standing at half-past 12 outside Platt’s works. They are the largest machine makers in the world, and employ 10,000 “hands.” The whistle sounded for the dinner hour, and suddenly the great gates were opened and there burst out an ocean of men, in such numbers that for five minutes the streets in both directions were blocked by the moving crowd. I watched them closely as they passed me—a long procession of wan-faced, grimy, tired, silent figures. They get an average of 18s. a week, and work with intervals for meals from 6 to 6. Civilisation and religion have done something for them—given them paved streets, watertight houses, Board schools, chapels, and even (in Oldham) an art gallery. But life in its real sense they have never known, and to their dying day will never know.”
Twenty years afterwards Mr. Asquith did not think that there was anything incongruous or indecent in his asking these same men to sacrifice their lives defending against the Germans the interests of the class Asquith represented, the class responsible for these conditions.

* * *

Capitalism’s Crises

Writing in the New Leader (September 16th), Mr. Maxton ridicules the possibility that capitalism may recover from the depression. Against a recent forecast of trade revival he places a number of statements from capitalist sources and says, “I could go on citing from Tory newspapers evidences in support of my belief that the industrial crisis is deepening.”

Mr. Maxton may be right about the trend of the depression at the moment (but even on that point he can be right only because he was completely wrong a year ago in announcing that the final collapse of capitalism would have occurred before February, 1932), but in general his argument is hopelessly confused and misinformed. He says:—
“Every year since 1921 one or other or several of our leading public men has announced to the world that the depression of trade is over, that the boom is in sight.”
Mr. Maxton is unaware of the fact, but nevertheless, capitalism, both in Great Britain and in the world generally, was going through a period of expansion up to the start of the present: crisis in 1929. In Great Britain the number of unemployed in 1928 and 1929 was nearly a million fewer than in 1921. The volume of production increased between 1921 and 1929 more or less continuously. According to the review of world production (1925-31), just issued by the Economic Section of the League of Nations, the world output of primary products rose 11 per cent., of industrial products possibly 30 per cent., and general trade 20 per cent. (Manchester Guardian, September 16th).

At different times Mr. Maxton has held many beliefs., most of them wrong ones. Workers who swallow his present absurd belief about the impending collapse of capitalism will have cause to regret it just as they had cause to regret swallowing Mr. Maxton’s earlier beliefs—abandoned for the time being—that the workers’ only hope was to vote for the Labour candidates, that they should put their trust in Snowden and MacDonald, that bankers alone, and not the capitalists as a whole, are exploiters, and that capitalist reforms are the way to solve working class problems.

* * *

Socialist Propaganda in Russia

The refusal of the Russian Government to allow Trotsky’s supporters to propagate his views is a reminder of the obstacles Socialist propaganda will have to overcome in that country even when the Russian workers begin to wake up to the fact that Bolshevik-administered capitalism cannot solve their problems. One of Trotsky’s adherents in Moscow writes as follows to the New York Militant (July 30th, 1932): —
“Despite the unremitting organisational raids, the Left Opposition lives. Oppositionist units and groups are disseminated everywhere, and in many places considerable Oppositionist nests are uncovered. There was hardly ever in this world at any time or anywhere such difficulty for a genuine Marxist trend to carry on its work, in the technical sense, as there is for us at present in the Soviet Union. This is one of those vicious jokes of history, on which the most expert dialectician can break his teeth. The more respectable part of the capitulators motivates its capitulation precisely in this manner, ‘it is anyway impossible to carry on illegal activities ; at any rate, it is better to serve as an honest functionary of the workers’ state.’ But it appears that the Oppositionist idea finds its channels. As regards this sphere, I, of course, am compelled to be exceedingly careful. I shall enumerate therefore only such facts as have already received a certain publicity, or to put it more exactly, which have reached the ears of the rulers.”
Imitating their Moscow masters, the British Daily Worker (August 31st) states that it will not insert letters defending Trotsky’s point of view.

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Where the Communists Get Their Money

Money is not so plentiful in the Communist Party as it used to be, but even so the officially-returned expenses of the Communist candidates at the last election totalled over £2,500, not counting their 20 forfeited deposits, which total another £3,000. (See “Election Expenses,” H.M. Stationery Office, 1932. 1s. 3d.)

Of course, anyone who knows the difficulties which face small organisations with a working-class membership knows that the Communist Party, with its daily paper and lavish expenditure on publications, must be subsidised. Officially the Communist Party has never denied this—why should it?—but the ordinary members, for reasons of tactics or because they know no better, frequently maintain the contrary. There is, however, no doubt whatever that money has been and no doubt still is being received from Russia.

In 1919 Zinoviev in his Presidential Report for the Executive Committee of the Communist International dealt with the question of monetary support for parties abroad and said that the
“Russian workers . . . deemed it their proletarian duty to render . . . support to the struggling proletariat of other countries. . . . The Italian Communists, for instance, proudly declared quite openly that some of their party organisations could not have been formed except for the brotherly help of the Communist International. Similar declarations have been made by the Communist workers in other countries.” (“Editions of the Communist International,” printed in Christiana, 1920. Report by Zinoviev, P. 17.)
He said that it had been decided that the Russian Communist Party should “take upon itself the chief burden of expense of the work of the Executive Committee.”

Mr. Walton Newbold admitted, in a letter to Forward (July 10th, 1920) that his expenses when running as a Communist candidate for Parliament “were defrayed in the main from the funds of the Communist International, and originated in Moscow.”

The Communist official organ, Workers’ Life, on May 11th, 1928, issued a “Frank Statement” on “The Communist Party’s Money.” The statement contains the passage: —
“The Communist Party has never sought to disguise the fact that it is a national section of an international party, paying its financial contribution to its international headquarters and receiving assistance in return from time to time for different phases of its national work.”
This “frank” statement is, of course, decidedly the reverse of frank in contriving to disguise the fact that the money received from Russia is far in excess of the contributions to Russia. The Home Office claimed that the British Communist Party spent £27,928 in the year ended April, 1928, of which £10,330 was derived from payments of £5 Bank of England notes made by a bank in Moscow. (See Daily Telegraph, June 27th, 1930.)

There has never been any real reason why any Communists should deny something which everybody knows and to which the only objection is that it ties the Communist Party to the unsound policy of their paymasters.

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The Quality of Communist Party Membership

The Communist Review (August) publishes figures of Communist membership in Great Britain since 1922. The figure given for that year is 5,116 and for January, 1932, 9,000. Comment is made on the unsatisfactory quality of the membership and on the rapidity with which recruits pass in and pass out again. The writer says that some 1,500 of the 2,700 members who joined between November, 1931, and January, 1932, had left the Party within about six months. This would make the present estimated membership about 7,500. When it is remembered how the Communist organisers rope in hundreds of members at a time, this instability is not surprising. During the cotton dispute Mr. Saklatvala was in Lancashire on behalf of the Communist Party. He sent a message from Preston to Communist Headquarters claiming that he had enrolled more than 100 strikers in one day as members of the Party. (See Manchester Guardian, September 9th, 1932.)

The writer in the Communist Review says most of the recruits at the end of 1931 “came from the ranks of the unemployed, signed application forms at mass recruiting meetings in moments of enthusiasm; many of them having no real intention of becoming members.”

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Capitalists and Capitalists

Mr. Bromley, President of the Trades Union Congress, is one of those Labour leaders who encourage the false view that the workers should line up with one section of the capitalist class (the industrialists) against another (the bankers). At the Trades Union Congress on September 5th he developed this line and described the National Government as being controlled by “banking and financial interests.” If we turn to the Labour Party’s analysis of the composition of the House of Commons (see Labour Bulletin, March, 1932) we find how little warrant there is for Mr. Bromley’s assertion. Out of 691 directorships of companies held by Members of Parliament, only 11 are bank directorships, and 53 are described as “finance and land.” Among the non-financial directorships there are 29 brewery, 26 chemical, 30 coal, iron and steel, 40 electric light and power, 36 engineering, 51 insurance, 36 mining, 24 paper, printing, etc., 25 railway, 26 textile and 20 telegraph directorships.

Are we to understand from Mr. Bromley that only the banking and financial M.P.s vote for capitalism and against the workers, and that the remainder have backed the workers against the Government and capitalism ? We have not noticed this, but we do notice that the railway directors are asking for another cut in the pay of the railwaymen, including those who are members of the Union of which Mr. Bromley is General Secretary.

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The Country that is Safe for the Bondholders

The Moscow Daily News, published in English, and distributed by official Russian agencies, gave prominence in a recent issue (August 15th) to some flattering remarks about Russia made by Mr. Corliss Lamont, son of Thomas W. Lamont, of J. P. Morgan & Co., the American financiers. The headline running right across the top of the front page says, “Soviet Bonds Safest says Lamont.”

The sub-headings are “Recommends them to U.S.A. investors. Big Return, Par Redemption, Defaults Unknown.” . Mr. Lamont, in an interview, said : —
“It is true that the Soviet Union offers great opportunities to American business men. … I am even more impressed, however, by the opportunities here for the average American investor. How many people in the United States know that they can invest in the Soviet Government bonds which regularly bring a return of 10 per cent. in good American dollars, and which can be redeemed at par on demand ? Backed up, as they are, by the resources of the whole Soviet Union, it would seem that there are no safer bonds in the world to-day, and few as safe.”
How happy the American investors will be to discover that they can get a safe return of 10 per cent. in good American dollars, and how lucky the Russian workers are to have this opportunity of consoling the bondholders after their recent unfortunate speculations with Mr. Kreuger, and the Insull companies.

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Perhaps the visit of Mr. Lamont to Moscow and the recent suggestions of Russian approaches to New York financiers will explain the sudden cancellation of a Negro film which the Russians had planned. The Crisis (September), a Negro-American monthly, states that 22 young American negroes went to Russia at their own expense, but by invitation, to take part in a Communist propaganda film. Suddenly they were informed, late in August, that the contract was “off.” The Observer (London, September 11th) publishes a report from the Moscow correspondent to the effect that some of the negroes concerned have stated that the film was cancelled because representations were made by “an influential American who is interested in promoting closer relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.” The negroes are annoyed and denounce the Soviet Government for “making a compromise with white American imperialism at the expense of the oppressed negro proletariat.”

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Censorship in Russia and Elsewhere

Dr. Edwyn Bevan writes to the Times (September 3rd) complaining because the Russian authorities held up a book of his dealing with the History of Christianity. It was returned with the note that its entry into Russia is forbidden.

Dr. Bevan is probably not aware that within the past two or three years, and possibly now also, the Socialist Standard, as well as the publications of the Communist Party, are forbidden entry into Australia. Now that we have drawn his attention to it, we wonder if he will write to the Times about it.
Edgar Hardcastle

Correction: “The Truth about the Co-operative Movement.” (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

The writer of the article under the above heading, published in the September issue, asks us to state that an error crept in. It was asserted that each member of the Co-operative Societies spends on an average only £10 a year in the Co-operative stores. This should have been “each member and dependant,” making the expenditure per family about £30 a year. This weakens somewhat the argument which was based on the figures given, but it is still obvious that Co-operators spend a large part of their money elsewhere than at Cooperative stores. Allowance has to be made for the fact that some of the transactions of Co-operative stores are with non-members, which means that the average amount spent at Co-operative stores by the families of Co-operators is not so large as the above figure would indicate.

A correspondent draws attention to the passage, “Co-operation bears no relation to Socialism,” which appeared in the article, and asks if it is correct. It should be obvious that the writer was not referring to co-operation in general but to the Co-operative Movement. It is the latter, not the former, which “bears no relation to Socialism.”
Editorial Committee.

Wages in Germany. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is interesting to know how our fellow workers in other lands are faring. From the Daily Telegraph (9/9/32) we learn that in Germany about 2,500,000 insured persons, or 20 per cent. of the total, earn up to 36s. weekly. About 7,000,000, i.e.. over 60 per cent. of the total, earn 24s. a week or less, and of these, 2,500,000 earn less than 12s. weekly, their wages being less than the unemployment benefit. It is now proposed to reduce even these miserably small wages on condition that the employers increase their staff. How to dispose of the extra commodities thereby produced is not explained. One day it will occur to the workers that they might just as well be distributed to themselves. When they realise this, they will be on the road to Socialism.

Parties of Socialism. (1932)

From the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Workers' Socialist Party (U.S.A.)

Readers in U.S.A. are invited to communicate with the Workers' Socialist Party at 132, East 23rd Street, New York City (Room 7), where the Socialist Standard is obtainable.

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The Socialist Party of Canada

Readers in Canada are invited to communicate with the Socialist Party of Canada at 204, Bannatyne. Avenue, Winnipeg, where the Socialist Standard is obtainable.

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The Socialist Party of New Zealand

Readers in New Zealand are invited to communicate with the Socialist Party of New Zealand at 8, Whitehall Buildings, Upper Queen Street, Auckland, where the Socialist Standard is obtainable.

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The Socialist Party of Australia

Readers in Australia are invited to communicate with the S.P. of Australia at Box, 1440 P.O., Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, where the Socialist Standard is obtainable.

Lectures every Sunday night at 8 p.m. 122 Bourke Street, City. All welcome. Questions and discussions.

SPGB Meetings. (1932)

Party News from the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

Party News. (1932)

Party News from the October 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

New Branch at Birkenhead.

As a result of consistent open-air propaganda in Birkenhead a branch of the Party has been formed.

Sympathisers desiring to join or wishing for further information, are invited to communicate with the Secretary, Edmund Howarth, 60, Park Road South, Birkenhead.

Propaganda meetings are held every Sunday, 8 p.m., at the Main Entrance, Birkenhead Park, where the Socialist Standard and Party pamphlets are on sale.


Members and sympathisers willing to co-operate informing a branch are asked to communicate with the General Secretary, at 42, Great Dover Street, S.E.1.

North West London.

Will members and sympathisers willing to co-operate in the formation of a branch in North West London communicate with Mr. G. Beeson, 56, Barnfield Road, Burnt Oak, Edgware ; Mr. W. Edgley, 41, Brett Road, Stonebridge Park, N.W.10 ; or Mr. H. G. Holt, 36, Rosebank Avenue, Sudbury, Wembley.


Meetings are held on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m., in Victoria Square, at which announcements concerning indoor meetings will be made, Watch for local announcements.

Breaking news – the war in Gaza (2023)

Just posted on the SPGB website, an audio upload of the October 13th SPGB Zoom Meeting, 'Breaking news – the war in Gaza'. (Speaker Paddy Shannon):