Sunday, October 22, 2023

Tottenham Branch Report. (1905)

Party News from the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

No report of this Branch has as yet appeared in the Socialist Standard, but since the Branch was constituted on 28th December, 1904, a year’s steady and determined propaganda has placed it among the strongest in the Party. During the summer three outdoor meetings were held every week and we even hope to continue the very successful Sunday meetings at “West Green Corner” throughout the winter. At this place where all the- open-air political work of Tottenham is done we are the most firmly established of all the various Parties, and can easily sell more Literature than all others combined.

The large amount of opposition given by representatives of every political faction in the country has greatly assisted us in making the Socialist position clear to the workers, and the sophistries and coniusionist tactics of Liberal and Tory, Free Trader and Protectionist, of I.L.P. and S.D.F.’er, of L.R.C. and N.D.L.’er, the Temperance men and Charity mongers, the Back-to-the-Lands and the Land Nationalizers, have been fully exposed to audiences of 300 to 600.

Our membership has so increased that we have been compelled to secure larger premises for our weekly business meetings, which are now held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. in the hall of the Sunbeam Coffee Tavern.

It is pleasing to be able to record such a gratifying result of our efforts, and our comrades in other parts may take it as an assurance that the workers of Tottenham will not lag behind but are ready and willing to take their place in the fight for, and capture of, The World for the Workers.
Les Boyne

Editorial: Impotence or Impudence? (1905)

Editorial from the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The working-class may well pray to be delivered from their friends, for those “friends” are evidently determined that, so far as it is possible for them to compass it, the working-class shall remain in that condition of mental darkness and confusion to which is traceable their present inertia and indifference to those prime and fundamental causes of proletarian misery upon which we who form The Socialist Party of Great Britain are endeavouring to focus their attention as the indispensable preliminary to that Social Revolution which alone can effect any material and lasting benefit for them. The month of November seems to have been particularly favourable to the production of astounding examples of muddled reasoning on the part of these “friends” who, because the working-class are largely ignorant, have been permitted to foist themselves into the position of leaders. Of themselves these exhibitions of fatuous baffle-headedness or calculated deception and treachery—whichever it is—would only invoke hilarity or contempt, but unfortunately their authors have secured a standing of considerable prominence, so that it becomes necessary for those who know the truth and who are earnestly desirous that the working-class should awaken to an appreciation of their powers and opportunities, to dissociate themselves as forcefully as possible from such utterances and actions, and to expose their impotence and impudence.

Consider the case of the women’s deputation to Balfour, that event which recently attracted so much notice. These unhappy women of the working-class in their “looped and windowed” raggedness are prevailed upon to parade their pathetic poverty, not be it noted in menace, but in order that the pitiable pathos of their position may move the hearts of those who batten upon their misery and whose very existence is dependent upon the continuance of an impoverished proletariat. And these women are inspired to depute a number of their fellows to wait upon a capitalist minister to beg that something he done for them lest they utterly perish. Yet the leaders of this deputation subsequently confess their full knowledge of the futility of such an appeal !

It is true that one at least of them has endeavoured to justify the action on the ground that otherwise the workers would not believe that nothing can he obtained from the capitalist class. But this same leader at the same time admits that he has headed similar deputations for 20 years ! How many more years then will he be content to follow such methods ? Surely he has sense enough to see that the working-class are hardly more alive to the fact he wishes to impress upon them than they ever were. And surely his knowledge is not so limited that he cannot understand that this continued ignorance is to some considerable extent due to the fact that he and his fellow misleaders have omitted to tell the whole truth in the past. Then by what name shall we call him if he is prepared to inflict still further pain and disappointment upon those whose misery is even now greater than they can hear ?

If those who, knowing the truth, have failed to speak it ; if those who should have educated the workers have occupied their time mainly in deluding them, it is small wonder if the ignorance is as great and the working-class conditions as bad as they have ever been. How many more years we ask will these leaders be content to play the game of the fool ? Or is it that they are afraid of the consequences of telling the truth after having told other than the truth for so long ?

It is small wonder, we repeat, that the working-class mind is muddled when we have, to take another horrible example, a member of the highly cultured middle class (as he describes himself) like Mr. Hyndman, who, while urging that Socialists should do all the harm they possibly can to Liberalism, affirms that Socialists are prepared to support Liberals in their efforts to put on the statute books certain reform measures which, in the next breath, Mr. Hyndman himself admits will not affect the working-class in whose interests he claims he is working. If this is an example of Mr. Hyndmau’s high culture, we can do without it, just as we can do without the logic of a Robert Blatchford, who, while rightly condemning the absurdity of the action of the unemployed leaders in arranging deputations which it is foreknown must be fruitless, argues that the thing to do is to ensure the return of a large number of labour members to the House of Commons at the next election. Mr. Blatchford knows quite well that the Labour members already elected to the House of Commons are precisely the persons who are concerned with the arrangement of absurd deputations—men like Mr. W. Crooks, a rump Radical, who holds that because certain monied persons are contributing infinitesimal fractions of the wealth they have robbed the working-class of to relief funds for the unemployed, the rich and the poor are beginning to work hand-in-hand ; or like Mr. Keir Hardie, who, while denying the existence of a class war and preaching, for the mollification of the conscience of non-conformity, and for his own election to political position, the necessity of the gospel of love as the only method by which happiness may be ensured to all, argues in another connection and for another purpose, that the working-class must inspire the capitalist-class with fear, must compel them by sheer terrorism to let go their grip before they can hope to achieve their purpose.

These are some of the men and some of the influences we have to combat in order that the clear issue may be presented to the working-class to which we belong. And whatever epithet of opprobrium these men or others may coin to belittle our efforts and to retard the spread of our views, we shall persist with our propaganda by all the means at our disposal, in the full confidence that ultimately our class must adopt our attitude if they would work out their own emancipation from the thraldom imposed by capitalist and landlord domination.

Editorial: The Right to Work. (1905)

Editorial from the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The very latest is a ”Right to Work Committee” upon which, a number of middle-class persons and some who have discovered that labour “leadering” is more easy and profitable than work have elected themselves. The “right” they clamour for is not for themselves but for others. They “appeal” to the working-class to “demand” from the dominant class more work, when already too much is performed. They would perpetuate the capitalist system by shewing the wealthy shirkers how they may stave off the day of reckoning and save their skins for awhile if they will accept their proposals and make work. For our part we say To Hell with the “Right” to Work; we claim our Right to Live and to live right well. Let us scorn these middle class decoy ducks and organise to bring about the common ownership of the means of life, which alone will enable us to secure the only Right we are concerned about. Then and not till then shall we recognise our obligation to perform our share of the necessary work. In the meantime, our Right to work is the Right of the wealthy idlers to organise our labour as their wage slaves. The “demand” for that Right we will leave to the agents of the capitalists, whether in the guise of middle class sympathisers or well paid labour “leaders.”

The Plaint of the Palliator. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

A resident in Watford has written me calling my attention to an article by Mr. H. W. Lee (whose name was recently brought into some prominence in connection with the Camborne affair), and suggesting that I offer an opinion upon it. He seems to have had some discussion with another local gentleman who thought, in opposition to my correspondent, that the proposals made in the article should be adopted by a Socialist Party, and that the reasons given were satisfactory and convincing. I should have preferred that an abler pen than mine dealt with the matter, but as it is one that strikes me as not over difficult for any professor of Socialism with a moderately efficient knowledge behind the Socialism he professes, to handle, I gladly avail myself of the opportunity of contributing something that may help those who are anxious to occupy a right and logical position to that end.

Mr. Lee’s article is briefly an argument for Socialist concentration upon two palliative (?) proposals which he names. He says, “The question I wish to bring under the notice of English Socialists … is whether the time has not arrived when they should formulate a vigorous demand for some or all of the political measures I have indicated” (he only indicates two, viz., Payment of Members and Election Expenses, and the Second Ballot) “with a view of using them to the advantage of Socialist candidates.” He adds, rather naively, “Twenty years ago that kind of political agitation might have been safely left to the Radicals of that day.” Well, as a Socialist resident in England, I thank Mr. Lee for bringing this question under my notice, but after due deliberation I must regretfully say that I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think much of his proposals. But then my outlook appears to differ from Mr. Lee’s in a very essential particular.

Unlike Mr. Lee, who, it seems, is quite ready, and even anxious, that his candidate should be returned to political office by a class unconscious vote if need be,—to use his own words, “as the lesser of the two evils at the second ballot,”—I am only concerned with success at the poll, for any candidate upon clearly defined lines and by a class-conscious working-class vote. Because I know, and I should be surprised indeed if Mr. Lee did not know also, that no real contribution can be made to the solution of the poverty problem unless the men who have taken possession of the machinery of government have done so in the interests and under the instruction of the working-class intelligently organised upon the basis of their class interests. In other words, the elected person must go to his duties as their delegate, not as their director. The emancipation of the working-class must be the work of the workers themselves, and he who thinks by coercion or cajolery to hustle them along a road down which they cannot see is, if he is honest, voluntarily stretching himself upon a rack that will lacerate him painfully before he is free of it.

Of course the argument is that
enables the occupant to educate the more effectively. But in that case the course to pursue would be to whittle the candidate’s programme down as near as possible to nothingness in order that no question might arise in the minds of the untutored electorate to give them pause in their blind or semi-blind voting. That would surely be the most effectual method of procedure assuming the honesty of the candidate could be relied upon—although Mr. Lee would be hard put to it to create a confidence in the honesty of an elected person who as candidate was guilty of most culpable dishonesty. Mr. Lee, I take it, would not urge such a course, although his suggestion amounts to the same thing. He argues that the political activity of the Socialist Party should be concentrated upon two specified political reforms. Which means that these two are to be brought out in bold relief while all other proposals are to be set well away in the background. For the time being the Socialist is to take his stand on the same ground that any Radical occupies. Any number of Radicals or Liberals (I never did know where the Liberal left off and the Radical began) will agree that Socialism is a good thing, but as practical politicians, seeing that Socialism is without the range of possibility until at least certain political reforms (of the type of Payment of Members, and Second Ballot) have been achieved, they think the best course is to concentrate upon that achievement, which it seems to me, is Mr. Lee’s position, only he will probably protest that his Socialism is not so far in the background as the Radical’s—a difference of small moment, seeing that both Mr. Lee and the Radical are agreed that
anyhow, and that the foreground shall be occupied by one or two or a dozen reforms.

That being so, the question immediately arises as to whether any present need for a Socialist organisation exists at all. if Socialism is not possible unless and until these reforms have been attained, and if to attain them Socialism is to be obscured, as it must be, why waste strength in a separate organisation ? Why not unite in one great and powerful Radical faction, and with the strength that comes of unity, strike the blow that shall shiver the barriers erected by Reaction (with a capital R) between the forces of progress and their political objective. Or something like that. If the immediate necessity for the propagation of the principles of Socialism is conceded for the prosecution of a vigorous agitation on behalf of these reforms, then the necessity for the propagation of the principles of Socialism retreats to a secondary position and the necessity for the present existence of a Socialist party retreats with it.

To me there seems no escape from this conclusion. Mr. Lee will protest that for the Socialist, Socialism does not retreat that it is in the first position all the time. Which is quite true. But then a Socialist would not advocate the concentration that Mr. Lee advocates upon
the realisation of which will not necessarily land us a step nearer Socialism. The point in this connection (and it is a point that Mr. Lee and those who think with him are concerned to labour at other times) is that palliatives are only of utility when they are achieved by a working-class consciously organised as such. How often has Mr. Lee and his friends pressed the objection with unanswerable force that the whole Newcastle programme—which included Payment of Members by the way—can be granted by a capitalist state without endangering itself, and as a matter of fact has been so granted ? Then why this Volte Face ? Is there any special virtue in Payment of Members or Second Ballot’ ?. Under present conditions there is no advantage to the Socialist in the Second Ballot, and Payment of Members cannot be regarded as anything like an unmixed blessing. Certainly neither of them nor both, even from their best aspects, can compare in importance with the propagation of Socialism.

It is fatuous for Mr. Lee to suggest that while Socialists are concentrating upon these two palliatives they are at the same time maintaining Socialism in its pre-eminent position as
You cannot concentrate upon something short of, and not necessarily germain to, your real objective and at the same time concentrate upon that objective itself. Besides, Mr. Lee has himself urged as a strong reason—as a fact it is his strongest reason—for the adoption of his method, that a large number of Radicals and what not, who are opposed to Socialism itself, would support an agitation for the palliatives. They are opposed to Socialism but yet will work for your palliatives—why ? Because, largely, they do not understand Socialism. The Socialist is concerned that they shall understand Socialism. And how shall the Socialist affect his purpose by putting his Socialism behind his back and going down to the position of the anti-Socialist—retreating twenty years in order to take up the agitation that Radicalism of that day dropped ? And this at the same time that Mr. Lee and his friends are pointing to the countries where the proposals it is suggested should be agitated for, have been realised without any effect at all upon working-class conditions and I will assert without perceptible effect upon the local Socialist movement. Mr. Lee must go back if he will, but he will not take one Socialist back with him. The Socialist will stay to show
to prove to the Radical how deplorably unproductive must be any effort not directed toward the attainment of the only thing that matters—Socialism.

I repeat again—it cannot be too often repeated—that there is no point in securing palliative measures apart from the manufacture of Socialist opinion that alone can use them. And this Socialist opinion must be manufactured first. And it will only be manufactured by Socialists who, refusing to go back twenty years or one year to the propagation of reforms, persist in the heavy educational spade work that still requires to be done. For Mr. Lee to suggest as he does, that the time is now ripe for Socialists to secure some reward—meaning office—for the work they have done in the past, is simply to proclaim that they are tired of the work that still remains to be done. There is no reward for the Socialist except the satisfaction that comes of the knowledge that he has faithfully discharged the duty laid upon him and by which alone he justifies his existence. Administrative power will come presently, when an electorate of enlightened producers moulded to class-consciousness by the work of the Socialist educationalists who have emphasised
and insisted upon the re-organisation of industry upon the basis of common ownership in the means of life as the only antidote to the hardship and suffering such economic change involves for the wealth producers—when this class-conscious electorate shall have translated their appreciation of their distinctive class interests into logical political action. The power will come as a result of working-class enlightenment, and. it will be working-class power, therefore, not the power of persons elected upon a class-un-conscious—that is, an ignorant—working-class vote. I hope that is fairly clear. It is working-class power the Socialist wants to increase. And no working-class power is possible outside working-class enlightenment. And the Socialist propagandist is one of the important factors in that effort towards enlightenment—the Socialist propagandist, the propagandist, that is, of revolution, as distinguished from the palliative propagandist, the propagandist of reform. The only justification for the Socialist’s existence therefore is
As to whether better educational work could be done by a person who, having shed the Socialist coat to secure election, or who, having been elected upon some issue other than Socialism, dons his coat again or revives his Socialism after election, is a question that to me can only be answered in the negative. A Socialist can do, as an elected person, exceedingly little. Certainly he can do nothing that will have any material effect upon working-class conditions. His election must have been secured upon this understanding if he is to maintain the following that he has created. That is to say he must have been elected as a Socialist if he wishes to keep the adherents to his views as numerically high as they were at the moment of his election. Because, otherwise he will have been elected by persons who will look to him to realise certain reforms (a possibility only when a majority of Radical representatives favourable to those reforms have been elected—sufficiently large an order to start with) because those reforms are in one way or another to benefit them (the persons electing him). But as I have said, Mr. Lee and his supporters are at times quite ready to deny that reforms can make any appreciable difference to working-class conditions, and are able to point in evidence to concrete cases where, in practice, these reforms have so failed; and as it is mainly upon
that any person is elected, it follows that Mr. Lee’s Socialist Councillor or whatever he may be, will hardly realise his reforms in the first place, and in any event, will be unable to show appreciable effect as a result of those reforms. Wherefore his following will tail off until it is reduced to but little more than the converted nucleus with which he set out, and who would have expected the more or less barren results that the elected person would have to show. This is not hypothetical at all. The record of a thousand cases will bear the conclusion out. The whole history of reform movements can be called up in evidence. The latter end of every reform agitation presents the unhappy spectacle of great bodies of tired, dispirited men and women whose discontent, that once had urged, them so insistently to action, has turned to apathy hi the wreck of their high hopes.

Mr. Lee can not deny this without at the same time undermining the whole ground for the existence of Socialist organisation. And yet he would have us go back to the position of Reformers of 20 years ago and he talks of the advantages of the Second Ballot in which Socialists might stand a chance of election as, to use his own expression, “the lesser of the two evils” !

Which, I mean to say, is,
Does Mr. Lee deny that the working-class have at the present moment sufficient political power to do what they like ? Then why all this blethering for more political power ? The only question which concerns the Socialist is why the working-class should not like Socialism and why they do not return Socialists to power. And the only answer to that of course is, working-class ignorance. Very good. Let Mr. Lee, if he is a Socialist, start in to dispel the ignorance and not waste so much time and energy in pressing for more political power when it is not wanted. The worst of these young men in a hurry is that they will be forever attempting to take short cuts to the Social Revolution against the advice of maturer and more reflective minds. There are no short cuts. There is only a long, straight line. If that’s too monotonous for Mr. Lee to follow he must, until he is tired of it, keep up his pleas and little game of running round in a circle. But he must not expert Socialists to run round after him ; they have more important work to do.
Alec J. M. Gray

Answers to Correspondents. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Catherine Fitzgerald. Letter received as we go to press. We note your protest against the branch reports being used to eulogise individual members of the Party.

I.C.R. (Soham). Will deal with your question in the next issue.

How Long? (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard
How long will the parsons lie.
Who, smiling and smirking, tell
Of a “beautiful land on high”
For the vile who oppress and cry,
“O, Lord ! I believe !”—and yell
To the unbelievers who dwell
In goodness fierce threats of hell ?
How long will the parsons lie ?

How long will the rulers lie.
Who. double-faced, aye delight
To trade on a cheap-drawn sigh
For the poor, but are ever nigh
To work out the rich man’s spite
And crush, with tyrannic might,
All freedom and truth and right ?
How long will the rulers lie ?

How long will the rich men lie.
And claim as their own the land –
The land that the poor live by –
And all things beneath the sky ;
The toil of the worker’s hand,
The lives of the hunger-banned ?
How long shall their false claim stand ?
How long will the rich men lie?

                * * *

How long will the People lie
In abject and crouching woe
At the feet of the men on high,
Who are only men, and can die ?
How long will they vainly cry ?
How long ere their rights they know ?
How long till they sweep the sky
With Freedom’s flag, and defy
The forces of Tyranny ?
How long ere they boldly go
To Slavery’s overthrow ?
How long will the reckoning grow?
How long will the people lie ?


Nemesis ! (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Municipal Elections are doubtless dealt with elsewhere. I am not therefore concerned here with their results generally, but an incident arising out of the Burnley contest merits, I think, a special word.

Burnley is a town where the S.D.F. claims a considerable following. It is regarded somewhat in the light of an S.D.F. stronghold—as S.D.F. strongholds go. And Mr. Daniel Irving is the strong man of this S.D.F. stronghold—as S.D.F. strong men go. He has sat on the Board of Guardians; on the School Board; on the Town Council. He is therefore a prominent citizen and in the past has doubtlessly worked strenuously for working-class interests—according to his lights.

Yet he has failed to retain his seat on the Town Council. In the recent elections he was defeated. The S.D.F. strongman of the S.D.F. stronghold has failed to maintain his position. Mr. Councillor Irving of yesterday is Mr. Ex-Councillor Irving of to-day.

This is remarkable. It seems to require some explanation.

The S.D.F. appear to recognise the importance of the catastrophe. One of their captains has fallen, and he has fallen on a most unlikely field. He has been vanquished in his own ward. In the ward that would know him best.

Why is this ? Is it because the ward knows him best that he has been defeated ? Or what’?

The S.D.F. sees the difficulty and Mr. Hyndman. their leader, writes to the Press to explain.

This is the explanation of Mr. Hyndiuan: Mr. Irving has been defeated by a “dirty dodge” of the Burnley Liberals. The Liberals knew they would be defeated—these loathsome Liberals. And so they entered into a binding compact with the Tories. Together they defeated Irving. And Mr. Hyndman says that the moral is “Let Socialists do Liberals all the harm they possibly can on every occasion.”

Now I do not know how other Socialists regard this explanation, but to me it reads uncommonly like—may I say drivel ? Drivel seems the only word. And Mr. Hyndman ought to know better. Because no one has insisted more often than he that Liberals and Tories are equally the enemies of the Socialist; that they are equally the enemies of the working-class because they both represent capitalist interests. Mr. Irving has said the same thing. Innumerable times. And of course it is true.

That being so, why talk of a “dirty dodge ?” Why is it a dirty dodge ? Why is it a dodge at all ? What is more natural than that representatives of the same interest should work together ?

Besides, Mr. Hyndman says that all Mr. Irving required was a straight fight with the enemy. Well, hasn’t he had a straight fight ? If not why not ? Will Mr. Hyndman please be clear.

Or is the suggestion that, it was not a straight fight because Mr. Irving expected the Tories to support him ? Did he ? if so, what is the matter with Mr. Irving’s Socialism ? Did Mr. Hyndman expect it ? If so, he must be as devoid of political aptitude as he alleged the S.D.F. were. If not, why the wail about “dirty dodges” ?

Mr. Hyndman’s explanation requires explaining. I suggest he can do better than this if he will. He really need not be so thin. He knows something of the local position. He is himself Parliamentary candidate for Burnley and should know. He is a prominent member of the S.D.F. which is another reason, why he should know.

Unless he don’t want to know.

He should know that there are compacts other than those between Liberals and Tories in Burnley. Really dirty compacts. Compacts between Socialists (or men masquerading as such) and Liberals. He should know because he has himself been a party to such a compact !

Has he forgotten the compact entered into with the official Liberal candidate as a result of which his (Hyndman’s) candidature was withdrawn in favour of the Liberal ? Was this a clean compact ?

Again, has Mr. Hyndman never heard of the dissatisfaction (to use a mild word) caused by the Irving tactics in connection with the Burnley School Board elections of a few years ago ? Has he never heard of an arrangement or compact being made with the Progressives (read Liberals) on that occasion ? And has he never heard of the more recent arrangements that found expression in the joint candidature of Irving and a crowd of pseudo-labour men on, a joint programme constructed to meet the requirements of the least progressive (read most re-actionary) of the crowd ?

If he has heard ; if he does not forget I mean to say, his explanation is drivel and I fear somewhat dishonest drivel at that. If he has not heard, or if he does forget he should be less hasty with his explanations and more ready to first of all make sure of his ground.

I put it to Mr. Hyndman that no man can claim to represent working-class interests who coquettes with the representatives (conscious or otherwise) of anti-working-class interests. But. indeed, that is unnecessary because Mr. Hyndman admits it.

I put it to him that only a Socialist can represent working-class interests. If he does not agree, why does he represent himself a Socialist ? And why does he urge Socialist candidatures against what are called Labour-Progressive candidates ? If he does agree he will admit that no tactician or coquette such as Mr. Irving has been can hope to build up a working-class party consciously organised on distinctive class lines.

He will concede that by such methods only confusion can be wrought in working-class minds. And he will agree that a confused working-class mind will translate itself into political action opposed to working-class interests—by the return of Liberals and Tories to political power against the Socialist.

That being so I suggest to Mr. Hyndman that Mr. Irving was defeated because he should never have been elected. That is to say his previous election was secured by votes which were not given by conscious working-class voters—he was not elected as a Socialist but upon some subsidiary issue. Or if he was elected by class-conscious voters he has dissatisfied them—which indeed is not surprising—by his methods since. They have rejected him because his Socialism is not satisfactory.

In the first place it is clear the Socialist position was not adequately defined at the election. Or. which amounts to the same thing, that the subsidiary issue predominated over the Socialist issue. Which means that the educational work which should have preceded the election was not adequately performed. In the second case the occasion is one not for a white-washing but for a condemnation.

I commend the choice to Mr. Hyndman’s consideration. And I think upon reflection he will admit that the whole ground is fairly covered by the one word I have set at the head of this article—Nemesis !
A. James

The Origin of Private Property in Land. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard
"How did possession of land become individ­ualised ? There can be little doubt as to the general nature of the answer. Force in one form or the other is the sole cause adequate to make the members of a society yield up their combined claims to the area they inhabit. Such force may be that of an external aggressor, but in either case it implies militant activity. . . . It seems possible that the primitive ownership of land by the community, which, with the development of coercive institutions lapsed in large measure or wholly into private ownership, will be revived as industrialism further developes. . . . In legal theory landowners are directly or indirectly tenants of the Crown (which in our day is equivalent to the State, or, in other words, the community). The community from time to time resumes possession after making due compensation. Perhaps the right of the community to the land thus tacitly asserted will in time to come be overtly asserted and acted upon, after making full allowance for the accumulated value artificially given".

Landlordism ! (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

A gentleman in New Orleans was agreeably surprised to find a plump turkey served up for dinner one day, and enquired of his negro servant how it was obtained. “Why, sar, ” said Sambo, “dat turkey him roost on our fence tree nights, so dis morning me seize him for de rent ob de fence.”

Fakirs' (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Amongst the first members of the National Liberal Club to subscribe to Reynold’s Sandwichmen’s Fund were Mr. J. F. Green and Mr. E. Belfort Bax.

An Interesting Experience. The S.P.G.B. Brigade. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

I entered the short, dark passage writes “The Inquisitive Visitor” in the “Ilford Guardian”, and after bending slightly to the right it brought me to a door. Giving quite a whisper “rap,” the door was opened immediately, and I faced a well-lighted room and a group of half-a-dozen tell-tale soft “Trilby” hats. The hats were eloquent indications of the thinking material they held, and were worn with a freedom of poise that only belongs to Bohemia, and the atmosphere of this particular Club.

Having so far broken the ice, so to speak, I realised that I was in the company of a jolly lot of boys—to use a free-and-easy phrase that sufficiently illustrates their attitude. The one who was sprawling full length on a table, with his elbows planted down to form a prop for his chin, threw of his soft brown hat as the long thin journalist, with one foot on another table and the other leg curled somewhere round his chair, cried “Chapeau bas !” They doffed their hats, and shook hands; thus, with a friendly instinct which ran as warm as the comfortable atmosphere of the room, I was introduced.

“Welcome to our lecture hall, and let the light of your knowledge grow,” said he of the dark curly hair.

“Riddles worry me,” I said, ”and where is your lecture hall ?”

He slid off the table and quoted Dan Leno, who had a handsome suite of one room, and simply turned round in his kitchen to find himself in his parlour !

Slow they talked and laughed: How they chased the wit from tongue to tongue, and played upon each other’s idiosyncrasies with epigrammatic snaps of fully-licensed good fellowship ! Socialists probably, and no doubt all admirers of G. Bernard Shaw, as well.

In the name of Murger, Marat, and men, who are you ?” I asked.

“We are the S.P. G.B.,” said one, with the twinkling merriment of mystery.

“It sounds very much like the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,” I said, trying to be pleasant.

“So it is—the Gospel of Freedom, the great war of the world ! ”

“Drop the parish pump, please, and don’t think that copybook maxims will save time. What is your Gospel ? ”

“It would weary you to tell. Imagine a pure society in which every man may have his due, and then fix up the general outline of our efforts to secure it,” he replied.

I settled down to enjoy the company of these young fellows, and wondered how long I should have to sustain it before it would bore me. For the nonce it was delightful, bright and gentlemanly, of courtesy mixed with the freedom that generally comes with long acquaintance.

I joined in a hand at whist and all the cards came my way. My partner was a gentleman who has been heard to address a Broadway crowd, and with two games we won the rubber. At another table, two gentlemen were playing chess, one or two others came and looked on, a quiet feeling of good-fellowship reigning.

Then I pursued my inquisitive investigations. The “S.P.G.B.” Club was open to members of The Socialist Party of Great Britain residing in the Romford division as you will have guessed bv now. There are discussion classes on alternate Tuesdays, to which the public are invited, and every Monday there is—an Esperanto class.”

“Willo youo tello meo oughto ofo thiso classo? ” I asked.

The gentleman who conducts it made answer in a tongue which my pencil refused to respond to.

So we sat on and chatted on many subjects—”Ships and shops and sealing wax, and cabbages and Kings,” like the Walrus–until the relentless hands of the clock demanded that a pleasant evening should close with a hearty “Good-night”

I had almost forgotten to say that the Club is situated in York Road, Ilford.

The “Co-operative” Cure. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

As the “pure and simple” unions have had rather a bad time lately, owing to the large number of members seriously depleting their funds through unemployment, certain of their members have considered the unemployed, problem, and found a “cure” for it. It is not “back to the land,” “reafforestation,” nor yet “reclaiming the fore-shores,” but it is the brand new “co-operative cure” à la Crooks. Seeing larger sums that would be jeopardised were they to strike, they have come to the conclusion that if all these sums of the various unions were pooled, they would have sufficient money to start a co-operative concern and employ the unemployed workers, and so solve the unemployed problem. This sounds very well in theory, but its proposers seem to have forgotten that they are living under the capitalist system, and that no matter how they may attempt it, they cannot evade the conditions that control that system. The capitalist method of production demands that a profit must be made out of the product of labour. As the amount of wealth in all capitalist countries is continually growing, it is obvious that there is an increasing sum waiting to find a reproductive outlet, i.e., a constantly growing amount of wealth in the hands of the capitalist-class, available for profitable investment.

With these facts in mind, let us examine the “co-operative cure.”‘ Let us suppose, for example, that the Operative Bricklayers’ Society decide to start a co-operative building concern. In the first place there would have to be a quick return on the money or the unemployed bricklayers would not benefit much. That is to say, they would have to find a piece of land that was situated where there was actually, or soon would be, a demand for housing accommodation. Here in the open market they would be subjected to a severe competition with the speculative builders at once. But supposing them to have secured the land in the face of competition, and to have proceeded with the erection of their houses. Within the London district such firms as Patman and Fotheringlmm, or Lovett, could buy land and erect houses cheaper and quicker than the union could. Their houses would be ready to let sooner, and unless the demand was very large indeed, the union co-operative concern would not stand at all.

The same difficulty would present itself in any other trade along these lines. If the unions had their co-operative concerns running and began to seriously compete with the capitalists, it would only be necessary for the large capitalists to flood the market at cutting rates, and prices would soon be depressed below the level at which the union could work, and the scheme would be killed. The co-operative slate quarries which were started by Lord Penrhyn’s locked-out men have practically reached this point. They may pick up the crumbs of commerce, like the non-trust firms of the United States, but as soon as they get troublesome they have to go.

If the case of the ordinary co-operative society (which is simply a kind of joint-stock company) is taken it will be found that in a large number of cases prices are higher than the usual shop prices. As more and more machinery is introduced, and the army of the unemployed is increased, the wages of those in work fall. The worker has a still smaller purchasing power, and has to buy goods, knowing them to be inferior, because he cannot afford any other, even though the co-op. charges were but a little higher than those of the outside dealer. There has been no great improvement in the workers’ condition through, co-operative concerns in any country where capitalism is well advanced to the trust stage. The only concerns that have paid well are those run on approved capitalist lines,—sweating and violation of the Truck Act included. The workers cannot fight capital with capital, because the larger capital is bound to win, and the workers do not control it. The Socialist Commonwealth is the only cure for the unemploted roblem. Help us then to realise it.
E. J. B. Allen

Class-Consciousness. (1905)

From the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Class-consciousness is a term widely quoted and almost equally widely misunderstood. A thorough knowledge of all that it implies is essential if we want to understand why our Declaration of Principles lays it down that we are absolutely opposed to all other political parties. We are in. opposition because they are not class-conscious. They do not recognise the existence of the class struggle, the social war in which we all, willy-nilly, are engaged. Many of their actions, professedly designed to benefit the working-class, have, as a matter of fact, a directly opposite effect. We have so-called Socialist parties in existence, whose programme no Radical would hesitate to endorse. The palliatives which they put. forward as necessary steps in the evolution of the Socialism that is “coming as a thief in the night,” have in a number of cases, already a place on the statute books of capitalist governments. Where is it found that they have been of appreciable benefit to the working-class ? An instance has yet to be found. And yet these parties continue to chase their immaterial Will-o’-the-Wisps, leaving the question of the emancipation of their class untouched, which, after all, is but natural. They are not class-conscious, and until they are the chances are all in favour of them being on the wrong road rather than the right.

This is seen more clearly when specific instances are taken, instances which afford much food for reflection. If it were not so indicative of pitiable ignorance, what could be more amusing than the exhibition of class-unconsciousness presented by the engineers, when they voted for the political return of their employer whilst they were at the same time engaged in an industrial battle with him. Tired of him as a sergeant, they made him a field-marshal, putting him in charge of the police, the military, and all other clubs that are used to batter in the heads of the recalcitrant workers.

The I.L.P. openly deny the class struggle. Of course, they are willing to modify this view—when they wish for representation at the Amsterdam Congress. But ordinarily they designate the man who preaches the class-war as visionary, firebrand, disrupter, etc. Their conduct is a fairly plain guide as to how far they are class-conscious. In Willesden at the present time they are pointing out the advantages of extended municipal control. Curiously enough the municipal employees do not appear to be enthusiastic over the advantages. They turn out in a miserable drizzle to demonstrate with band and banner for a living wage. The S.D.F. is a body admitting the class-struggle in word but repudiating it in act. How the party with such a record of intrigue and compromise can reconcile their action with the class-war doctrine at first sight appears, incomprehensible. It can only be explained on the ground that they have no clear conception of what the class-struggle is, or that they are prepared to deliberately sell working-class interests.

No class-unconscious party can be representative of the interests of the working-class. The capitalist-class is essentially class-conscious. They recognise that their position as rulers is purely relative to and dependent upon the existence of a class subservient to them. Just so soon as the workers realise that they are the subservient class ; that they are the producers of the sustenance which is greedily grabbed by the parasitical shirkers who rule them: just so soon shall we begin to see things. “The great are great to us because we are on our knees. Let us therefore rise.” We call upon every man who is conscious that the working-class and the capitalist-class have interests mutually antagonistic, to join The Socialist Party of Great Britain, to drop his shackles and stand erect. Mr. Balfour has just shown how to be class-conscious. “We can do nothing for you,” he says, and he is quite right. The only surprising thing about the utterance is that the meaning is so clear. It makes the alternative equally clear. Workers of England, don’t plaintively appeal to the enemy for assistance. Don’t ask them if they would be so good as to stop plundering you for a time. You have their answer: ”we can do nothing for you.” Organise in a class-conscious party, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, and do something for ourselves.
W. T. Hopley

Party Notes. (1905)

Party News from the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is particularly requested that all communications be addressed : “The Socialist Party of Great Britain, 1a, Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, London, N.” See official notice on page 4.

* * *
I find it necessary to repeat the above request, as some Branch officials and other correspondents are still sending communications to other addresses than the Head Office.

* * *
It was stated in these notes in our September issue that Peckham Branch were arranging a debate between Mr. Stephenson, Treasurer of the L.R.C. and a representative of this Party. Apparently the debate, like a well-known smile, “won’t come off,” but thro’ no fault of ours.

* * *
Our Comrade Wren recently explained the matter in the “Dulwich Post,” from which the following is quoted :
“We submitted to Mr. Stephenson, complying with his request for particulars, the following proposal: ‘That he should meet John Kent, of the S.P.G.B., in debate at the Peckham Public Hall on any week-night in September, he (Mr. Stephenson) might choose; the chair to be occupied by Mr. Chas. Hawkins, of the French Polishers’ Union. (Mr. Hawkins is opposed to us, but we could rely on his strict impartiality). That the expense for the hire of the hall should be borne equally by the two parties, or wholly by The Socialist Party.'”
Upon publication of Cde. Wren’s letter, Mr. Stephenson wrote to the “Dulwich Post” a long communication of a red-herring brand, by which, apparently, he declines to meet our speaker because the Peckham Branch “refused to guarantee” that he would have a fair hearing !!!

* * *
Now, so far as we are concerned, all our opponents may rest assured that no efforts on our part will be spared to provide them with a quiet and attentive audience, but as the “first statesman in the land” has remarked, “there is a limit to human endurance.” Is it that Mr. Stephenson fears that his case is so weak, and his method of presenting it would be so bad that the audience would lose their patience with him for wasting their time ?

* * *
In accordance with Rule 6, no member shall be placed on the official lecture list until he has satisfactorily answered a list of questions drawn up by the Executive Committee. A copy of these questions will be forwarded to any member applying for same. Each Branch should make a point of organising classes for their study, so that we may give an even better account of ourselves next season than this.

* * *
Comrades who may be feeling a bit “down” should make an effort to attend the Sunday evening lectures at Dovecote Hall, Wood Green, held under the auspices of the North London District Council. The hall is well lighted and cosily furnished and the local comrades are hearty in their welcome; questions are plentiful and the discussion good. On the 31st of December a Social Evening will be held.

* * *
Members who get possession of reports or other documents issued by Trade Unions, Reform Parties, and the like, are kindly requested to forward them to the Head Office, in order that Powder and Shot may be extracted from them for the use of our speakers and writers.
G. C. H. Carter, Gen. Sec.

SPGB Meetings. (1905)

Party News from the December 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard