Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Scraps from the Press (1932)

From the November 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard 

The railway workers are promised a wage cut on the usual fantastic ground that the Companies were not working on a profitable basis. It is, therefore, interesting to read the notice in the Evening News (20th October) which states that owing to heavy over-subscription, the lists for Southern Railway £4,750,000 Debenture Stock issue have been closed. Evidently the capitalists consider the railways a profitable investment, which means that the railway workers are producing plenty of surplus value already. It is also an illustration that there is plenty of money available for investment—perhaps the credit cranks will make a note of it.

* * * *

The News Chronicle for October 3rd records the fact that Mr. Samuel Insull, a former United States electricity magnate, was at one time a director of 85 companies, chairman of 65, and president of 11. One wonders how much time per year (allowing for the periodical cruise, etc.) he was able to devote to each company, and also whether his absence was noticed when he was away. Perhaps if workers ponder a little over cases like this they will realize what little part the capitalists play in the actual running of industry.

The champions of “self-help” and the boosters of the “Great Man” theory appear to be having a thin time of late years. Hatry, Kreuger, Insull, and the rest have given their theories some nasty shocks. It is becoming almost a commonplace to learn, after one of the frequent financial crashes. that the “great man” at the centre was responsible. In fact, however the “great man” is made the scapegoat for their cowardly and fat-headed ideas.

* * * *

The following shows how sectional interests clash over Free Trade in Germany. Herr Krupp, head of Krupp’s works and president of the Federation of German Industries, along with Dr. Luther, president of the Reichsbank, have protested against the carrying out of the quota system by the Von Papen Cabinet. On the other hand, the agricultural interests are becoming alarmed lest the quota system should be suspended. Herr Hugo Stinnes has aligned himself with the agricultural interests in support of the restriction of imports.

The internecine warfare between capitalists over Protection and Free Trade may push into the background the movement of the German Fascists in the near future. And while German and English workers are suffering from the miseries arising out of their bondage to Capitalism, their self-appointed spokesman in the two countries will be shouting themselves hoarse over imports and exports—matters that are of real interest only to the capitalist.

* * * *

The Church struggles hard to keep up with the times—and keep its congregations and its magic. In these days of trials and troubles, with growing unemployment and restive workers, one of the Church’s principal spokesmen, Dr. Barnes, the Bishop of Birmingham, has made a portentous pronouncement. Speaking at Westminster Abbey on the 11th October, he said:
“Again, the social evil which has increased most disastrously in our times is gambling. In Ireland the Roman Church is all powerful and the Dublin hospital sweepstakes flourish.”
Perhaps if the noble Bishop were in the ranks of the unemployed he would hold other views of the nature of the social evil. Anyhow, his working-class parishioners could give him some information on the subject. But the Church has always been a prop of oppression, and its professional advocates can always be depended upon to find any cause but the real cause of the social evils suffered by the majority of the population.

* * * *

As the Armistice will shortly be celebrated, it is fitting to recall to mind “poor little Belgium” and all that was said about her sufferings during the Great War. Workers in England who fought in Belgium in the effort to end all wars may be interested to learn that war in Belgium did not end with the Armistice.
“BRUSSELS, Saturday. 
Troops were to-day sent to the coalfields, where an ugly situation arising out of the strike over wages led to battles with the police, who had been given orders to disperse gatherings.

At Charleroi, early this afternoon, three police and several strikers were injured in a collision. Two of the police were seriously hurt. At Peronnes, near Binche, fifteen strikers were slightly hurt when the police charged a crowd that had refused to disperse. The dispatch of troops followed a meeting between the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Defence. A regiment from the Malines garrison has been sent to Mons, and one from the Arlon garrison to Charleroi.”—Reuter. Observer, July 9th.
Is comment on the above needed ?

* * * *

Under the Washington Treaty the tonnage of warships was restricted, and on this account the Treaty was boomed as a great step forward in disarmament and an indication of the pacific intentions of the participators. Ever since, however, each nation has been endeavouring to produce more effective and murderous implements with a reduced tonnage, and in this, America, the leading advocative of this “pacifism,” has had the most success, as witness their new and efficient battle cruisers.

The Evening News of the 17th July reports a further step forward in America. At the end of the War it was decided that an aeroplane carrier, to be effective, must be of at least 20,000 tons. Under the Washington Treaty, America was only allowed a total tonnage of 135,000 tons for aircraft carriers; in other words, they were allowed about seven of these vessels, the idea presumably being to reduce the number of these ships that might be built. The result, however, has merely been to set American designers the problem of obtaining all the assistance they needed from such ships within the stipulated 135,000 tons. As the Evening News puts it: —
“But America wants plane carriers on the Atlantic as well as the Pacific and also in the Far East, so that her strategy would be badly cramped by the small number of large ships allowed. It is this point, in addition to the financial side, that has American designers on their mettle.”
And the designers have risen to the occasion and produced a ship of 13,800 tons that “will be the last word in construction, carrying no fewer than 75 planes.” Another step towards the peace of the world !

Love and Marriage (1932)

From the November 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

The capitalist press occasionally amuses us by holding up their hands in horror at the possibility of “free love” under Socialism. That love is not absolutely free under capitalism is proved by the following extract from the Croydon Times (10/9/32): —
“Young man, refined, aged 28 years, dark, height 5ft. 9in., considered good looking, would marry lady age up to 40 years, who could place him in a better position. Genuine; small capital. Write in confidence. Photo exchanged.”
The extract shows to what extent ideas of morality can be influenced by economic conditions.

York and Ottawa (1932)

From the November 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is not often that one of the leading lights of science can be quoted as authority for what Socialists have been saying for years, but the speech of the President of the British Association, Sir Alfred Ewing, at their meeting at York, on August 31st, 1932, as reported in the Daily Herald of September 1st, certainly gives some colour to the view and contains food for thought. He says : —
“More and more does mechanical effort take the place of human effort, not only in manufacture, but even in the primitive task of tilling the ground.

Almost automatically the machine delivers a stream of goods in the creation of which the workman has taken little part. . . . He has lost the joy of craftsmanship and in many cases unemployment is thrust upon him more saddening than drudgery.

…. And the world finds itself glutted with competitive commodities produced in a quantity too great to be absorbed.”
This is what we of the Socialist Party have been saying for years. Capitalism has long since provided the means of solving the problems of production, and we can produce more than enough for all. Production is social, but ownership is not social—hence the “problems” that beset our masters and the miseries the workers endure. These will continue until the working class see the necessity of studying Socialism, the only remedy for these tilings, and then organising to obtain it. There is no hope in the present system. Let Sir Alfred Ewing speak again (ibid):
“The cornucopia of the engineer has been shaken all over the earth, scattering everywhere an endowment of previously unimagined and unpossessed powers and capacities, but we are aware that the engineer’s gifts have been, and may be, grievously abused. In some there is tragedy as well as present burden. Man was ethically unprepared for so great a bounty. . . . The command of Nature has been put into his hands before he knows how to command himself.”
Exactly. No doubt a great many workmen know of cases where “the engineer’s gifts” have been “grievously abused” in the interest of profit, and many are fully alive to the “present burden” of unemployment. But the sting is in the tail. “Man is not ready for the command of Nature,” Sir Alfred says. Just so. He has not set about studying his position in order to bring about social ownership. Our friend is in this position himself, for he asks: —

“Where does this tremendous procession tend ?” and “Where shall we look for a remedy?” And he answers: “I don’t know.”

Nor is he alone in this. Several English Cabinet Ministers have recently been across to Ottawa to try and find the same thing, but have returned empty handed. They have been wasting their time trying to find out how policies of reduced purchasing power (wages) can keep up with increased production. And we notice that Mr. J. Bromley (Secretary, Associated Society of Loco Engineers and Firemen) went along to Ottawa with them “in an advisory capacity,” in order to help them to find out how not to do it; and says : —
“He could not help it if they did not follow his advice” (Daily Herald, August 15th, 1932).
We would suggest that this paid official’s talents might be better used in the interests of his members on the railways, who look like having a wage cut, but apparently that is not of sufficient concern to this gentleman so long as he can offer himself “in an advisory capacity” to our masters and get a joy ride. Walter Citrine, of the T.U.C., was also there, helping to achieve the impossible.

Thus is shown the worthlessness of these leaders, and when the workers realise this, and set about organising for Socialism, these gentry will soon disappear—and the workers will find a ready solution to Sir Alfred Ewing’s problems, and their own.
C. V. R.