Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Socialist Sonnet No. 133: Bald Eagle (2024)

From the Socialism or Your Money Back blog

The bald eagle becomes more decrepit,

Talons still brandishing its three arrows,

But the olive branch it long since let go,

All the while losing its grip, bit by bit.

Fanciers misleadingly quibble about

Whether the right wing or the left is best

To keep their bird flying, though, even blessed

With power in both, the body’s giving out.

Meanwhile its emboldened prey no longer

Grudgingly quails, turning a passive back,

Not only resisting, but will attack

Viciously; all the while feeling stronger.

Amidst blood and feathers, look closely, look,

It is not an eagle, but a lame duck.


D. A.

Editorial: The Countess of Warwick and John Burns. (1906)

Editorial from the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

A considerable amount of interest appears to have been aroused by a statement which appeared in a recent number of this journal to the effect that the lady who came down from her exalted position to become a member of the lowly S.D.F. (the Countess of Warwick) sent a telegram to the gentleman who left his lowly position as a member of the S.D.F. to ascend to an exalted sphere (the Right Honourable John Burns) regretting her inability to attend one of his election meetings, and wishing him success. We have received quite a number of communications on the subject, and have been requested to state the grounds upon which the statement was made. Our correspondents appear to be astonished that a member of the S.D.F. should have taken a course so entirely opposed to the attitude of that body, and apparently are unable to understand why, if such a telegram was sent, the organisation has taken no steps to repudiate either the member or the action. So far as we are concerned, however, the only cause for surprise lies in the fact that there is evidently still a number of persons who see in the incident something incongruous—persons who, it would seem, are students of, or at any rate interested in, contemporary English politics. We can only commend to them a perusal of back numbers of the Socialist Standard and the pamphlet called the Manifesto of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, wherein they will find a record of many incidents of a similar character. Not only are members of the S.D.F. continually taking public action opposed to the policy for the time being of that organisation, but the organisation itself is continually taking action in flat contradiction to its professed principles. In the matter of John Burns its attitude to-day is one of virulent denunciation, but to-morrow it would not be a surprising thing if it were the complete opposite. On the contrary, it would be strictly in accordance with precedent. In the past it has roundly trounced the Right Honourable gentleman and a week or two afterwards supported him, although his attitude was unchanged, just as in the past it has been engaged in roundly trouncing the capitalist party Burns is a member of, while its members and branches have been actively engaged in assisting the candidatures of representatives of that party. Sufficient evidence to satisfy the most hard-shelled unbeliever can be found in the file of this paper and the Manifesto mentioned.

Therefore we may say that neither the present action of the Countess nor the lack of action of the S.D.F. is ground for incredulity. Indeed, there is less ground in this instance than in many others of a similar nature, because in the other cases the members concerned were just common or garden persons while the Countess is an exceedingly valuable asset. Her personality and associations secure for the S.D.F. most useful advertisement (much to the very pronounced disgust of the I.L.P., which regards itself as the refuge par excellence for all aristocratic and plutocratic persons with bees in their bonnets or democratic yearnings in their hearts, and is naturally incensed that the S.D.F. should have poached upon its preserves to such good purpose). Besides which has it not been told in Gath that “a mere drawerful of jewels” has been at the S.D.F’s disposal ? Very well then ; why should the S.D.F. take action ? Why should it risk a trump card ?

But if our correspondents want the evidence they may have it. We only hope its publication may serve as a further justification for our opposition to the S.D.F. and similar bodies, and by establishing a fact in proof of the supine, vacillating and confusing attitude of that organisation, help to direct the working-class mind to the consideration of the only principles and the only policy upon which a working-class party capable of effecting those social changes which alone will remove poverty and all its concomitant evils from out of working-class experience, can be built up—the principles and policy of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, as summarised on the front page of this paper.

This is the evidence :—
  1. Several members of this Party were present at the meeting and heard the telegram read (names and addresses can be supplied if desired).
  2. Our Comrade Fitzgerald, speaking at Battersea on the Sunday following, was challenged by Mr. Archer, a prominent supporter of Burns, who, under the impression that Fitzgerald was a member of the S.D.F., demanded to know why he (Fitzgerald) was opposing Burns when the Countess was supporting him according to the telegram he (Archer) heard read at Burns’ meeting.
  3. The written statement of Mr. J. H. Brown, Hon. Sec. of Burns’ Election Committee, who informs us that he received application to reserve seats on the platform of Burns’ meeting for Lady Warwick and friends ; that Lady Warwick was unable to attend and sent a telegram of regret etc.
  4. A written communication from Mr. W. Rines (Mayor of Battersea) whose recollection was that some such telegram was received and read.
  5. The report of the Battersea Borough News, Jan. 12th, 1906, which concludes “Telegrams expressing regret at their inability to attend were received from Lady Warwick and Lady Collins.”
For our purposes statements 1 and 2 (the reports of our own members of public incidents well within the knowledge of the large audiences of both Burns’ and Fitzgerald’s meetings) are good enough. Statements 3, 4 and 5 only confirm and amplify those reports. Our correspondents may consider all of them in conjunction with the fact that another prominent member of the S.D.F. (its treasurer, Mr. J. F. Green) speaking at Hammersmith on April 22, informed his audience that they had only one “working man” in the Cabinet who could not do much by himself, and that what they wanted was to send another six working men to help him from, which we conclude that, according to Mr. Green, the S.D.F. is all wrong, and that there is nothing deplorable about Mr. Burns’ position except that there is not more of him !

Editorial: Why Mr. H. Quelch resigned. (1906)

Editorial from the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

We intended dealing with the matter of the resignation of Mr. H. Quelch from the Chairmanship of the London Trades Council last month, but the April issue of the Trades and Labour Gazette, containing the official report, did not reach us until we were going to press.
“Mr. H. Quelch announced his resignation at the ordinary meeting of the Council, held at the Club Union Hall, on March 8th, after a letter had been read from John Burns, sincerely thanking the Council for its expression of congratulations on his appointment to the Cabinet. He (Mr. Quelch) wished to announce that he did not propose to offer himself for re-election to the chairmanship. In his opinion the chairman ought to be the official mouth-piece and representative of the Council as a whole . . In view of the decision of the last meeting, when the Council repudiated the whole of his cherished convictions and stultified itself by repudiating all the principles which had been supposed to guide it during the whole of the period that he had been associated with it, it was obviously incompatible that he should retain his position. … He did not propose to retire from the Council unless the society whom be represented, the Printers’ Warehousemen—he did not represent the Socialists—declined to elect him.” The italics are ours.
Mr. Quelch, editor of “the Organ of the Social Democracy,” member of the S.D.F. Executive, does not represent the Socialists. In his capacity as a trade union representative he has sunk his Socialist principles and has supported Liberal-Labour candidates, both for Parliament and the L.C.C., whilst in his capacity as Editor of Justice and member of the S.D.F. Executive he has opposed them. Could anything be more absurd and more calculated to confuse the minds of the working class ? And seeing that Burns is no worse than Steadman, whom Mr. Quelch and the S.D.F. have supported, why all this fuss over Burns ? Both are “firmly caught in the nets of the Liberal Party.” They were already caught at the election of 1900, when the S.D.F. supported them, and the position at the last election, when Mr. Quelch denounced Barns but supported Steadman, was unchanged.

We are glad, however, to see that Mr. Quelch is beginning to recognise how “obviously incompatible” is his position. It is charged against us that our persistent criticism of his actions in these columns has in large measure contributed to his awakening. We take the flattering unction to our soul and hope that he will soon see further and decline to sit on a body obeying the behests of a trade union when those behests are in flat contradiction to the Socialist principles and policy that he professes. If we have been the humble means whereby one erring Social Democrat, albeit he a leader, has seen the error of some of his ways, we have not lived in vain, and we will go forward hopefully, confident that others, equally erring, will eventually forsake the broad road that leadeth unto personal power but working-class confusion, and plant their feet firmly on the narrow path that leadeth direct to the triumph of Socialism.

Editorial: The Social Ladder. (1906)

Editorial from the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard 


“Those who were at the top of the social ladder, or half-way up, must help those who were at the bottom. If they did not do so they must expect that some day the ladder would be pulled away.” W. Crooks, 4/5/06.

The first part of the pronouncement is quite up to the Crooks standard, and assumes, like the statement familiar to every school-boy that “every lad can become a Lord Chancellor if he likes,” that there is plenty of room for everybody on top of the social ladder. Which even the school-boy himself, to-day, recognises as the acme of absurdity. The idea of Society being likened to a ladder at all is confusing. It presupposes that the whole of Society is on the ladder, whereas the fact is that the bulk of Society forms the base upon which the ladder rests. Even social ladders must be planted on something. Only infinitesimal fragments of Society occupy the rungs, fragments which grow smaller by degrees and beautifully less the higher they get. Clearly, therefore, the fragments on the ladder could not help any appreciable portion of the bulk below into a more elevated position because to do so would render the base upon which the ladder rests exceedingly unstable and the position of the fragments most unhappily precarious And even if this were not so it would be quite palpably impossible to assist any notable number on to the bottom rungs already overcrowded, without pushing off some of those already on or forcing them higher; and as the economy of ladders precludes the possibility of any overweight at the top, the fragments of Society already there must be unceremoniously cuffed or pushed off by those forced up from below or the whole ladder must lose its balance and come toppling to the ground. Therefore the main concern of those on top, as well as those on the lower rungs, is to prevent the base from shifting.

We do not think Mr. Crooks is so desperately baffle-headed as not to understand that. As a matter of fact he makes it fairly apparent that he does understand in the last part of his remark. If those who are on the ladder do not help those at the bottom they must not be surprised if presently the ladder itself is pulled away.

Precisely. And the exact difference between Mr. Crooks and ourselves is that we are out to pull the ladder away by inciting the working-class at the base to view it as not less than an unmitigated nuisance at the best and as a crushing burden at the worst, a ladder up which they cannot climb anyhow, while Mr. Crooks is out to inspire the working-class at the base with the idea that the ladder is a great institution up which they may climb if they are good and virtuous, what time he points out to those on the ladder that if they are to maintain their position they must fill the working-class base with the idea that they (the ladder persons) are very sympathetic and only anxious to lend a hand to help them (the working class base) up the rungs. In other words Mr. William Crooks, M.P., like his friend, Mr. John Burns, M.P., is playing a double game.

A Look Round. (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dr. Emil Reich has continued his lectures upon Plato. In the course of the one dealing with “The State and Individual Socialism” he said that we had slavery here as much as it existed in the time of the Greeks. The working men were slaves. It was no use to say : “They are not slaves; they have rights”; for the Athenian slaves had certain rights also.

* * *

It is just this bogey of “rights” that leads the members of the working class to consider themselves free. They claim to have the “right” of free speech, the “right” of choosing their employer and their landlord, the “right” of combination; the “right” of recording their vote for one of the master class or for a misleading Labour “Leader” and so on,

* * *

Take the “right” of free speech. Does it exist ? Is it not a fact that if only three persons congregate in a public place they cause an obstruction within the meaning of the Act ? And the many prosecutions and imprisonments which have taken place in connection with this alleged right have conclusively proved that no such right exists.

* * *

Then we are told that a man can work for whom he likes and live where he likes. Leaving out of the question the many who cannot work at all, because nobody can find it profitable to employ them, and who consequently cannot pay the rent, where does the “right” of the employed come in ?

* * *

Does a workman enter a factory, dock or warehouse and say to the employer, “I’m coming here to work, my hours will be from 10 to 5, with 2 off for refection, no work on Saturdays and my wages will be £4 per week ?”

* * *

Of course not. When he presents himself at the factory gate he either sees the familiar notice “no hands wanted” and sorrowfully departs, or he humbly enquires if there is any chance of a job. If he gets the welcome “yes” he is told when he must start and when he must finish and what the pay will be. When his employers consider he shall eat, or, at any rate, cease work with that object in view, a bell is rung to denote the fact, and when he is permitted to return the bell is again rung.

* * *

And as to the ” right” to live where he chooses, this also does not exist. He must of necessity live where and how his economic circumstances determine.

* * *

We are all born into this world without being consulted in the matter. We are supposed to belong to our parents. Before we are six weeks old we must be registered, before we are six months old we must be vaccinated, unless our parents have within four months of our birth obtained an exemption order; when we are five we must go to school, and we must not leave school and go to work until the State says we may. If we cannot find work and therefore cannot pay the rent, the landlord has the right to employ the machinery of the law in ejecting us. We then have the right to become an obstruction or a nuisance ; if we beg, the policeman has the right to run us in, as he also has if we steal or poach, or wander about without any visible means of subsistence, or sleep out of doors, and if, finally, we give it up as a bad job, and seeing that Capitalist Society will not allow us to live decently, we endeavour to put an end to our miserable existence by jumping from “the bridge of sighs,” once again the gentleman in blue has the right to take us into custody and we shall get “time.” Where do our “rights” come in ?

* * *

Either with the object of killing time or of playing the game of bluffing the workers, some Belgravians have formed an Association called the “Freedom of Labour Defence.” At the inaugural meeting Lady Francis Balfour, who a few days afterwards was prominent at the Women’s Suffrage Demonstrations, presided. Lord Wemyss, a life long defender of the liberty of the propertied few to exploit the propertyless many, gave as his ideal: “Work as long as you like, for what wages you like and for anybody you like.” I can see his lordship “a doin’ of it.” This reminds me of the speech of Lord Salisbury, when Viscount Cranborne. He said: “So long as they are not overworked, all the working classes want is plenty of work,” and in order that they may have it, of course, Salisbury, Wemyss & Co. refrain from working themselves. It is the “freedom” of the working class to be exploited that they, the shirkers and exploiters, would defend !

* * *

The formation of the Association is due to the Sweating Exhibition organised by the Daily News, at which a number of ardent one-step-at-a-time revolutionists like Herbert Burrows, Ramsay McDonald, Chiozza Money and others have been lecturing to the sweaters on their moral responsibility in this matter. But appeals to this unknown quantity been have made many times, and sweating continues. The Daily News itself points out that more than half a century ago Charles Kingsley wrote his impeachment of “Cheap Clothes and Nasty.” Seven years before this Mrs. Browning in “The Cry of the Children” and Hood in “The Song of the Shirt” had awakened the public conscience to a menacing danger. Civilization has broadened and deepened. England has become a world-State. Science applied to industry has multiplied by twenty-fold the capacities of production. Yet to-day “The Song of the Shirt,” the “Cheap Clothes and Nasty,” “The Cry of the Children” still remain. Women are still working their lives into the fabric of shirts and Bibles, and children are labouring in home industries “who have never known the sunshine nor the glory that is brighter than the sun.” All the large processes of change, the accumulated wealth of Empire, spoil gotten from all the seven seas, has brought no mitigation and no hope to these unfortunates.

* * *

The Daily News could not have penned a better indictment of Reform had it tried. Revolution, and Revolution alone, will be effective.

* * *

Seventeen syndicates in the French Engineering Trades,—including the Iron and Steel Trades, the machine-making trade in all its varieties, the cycle trade, the hardware trade, and others—have formed themselves into a Confederation in opposition to the Workmen’s Union. They declare that the attitude of the Workmen’s Federation, which is now revolutionary, leaves them no alternative but to found a Confederation of their own.

* * *

Such is inevitable that, as the Class War intensifies, as the final struggle between the master class and the working class approaches, changes must take place in the organisation and methods of both armies. Just in proportion as The Socialist Party impress the working class by their propaganda, so the latter, becoming class conscious, will recognise that the form of Trade Union that has served a purpose in the past, and which is based upon the superstition of the brotherhood of capital and labour, is unsuited to present day conditions.

* * *

It is the function of The Socialist Party to prepare the working class for the Revolution and to build up the necessary organisation. Some of our friends, tired of the vote-catching dodges of alleged ”Socialist” candidates, disheartened at the slow rate of progress, disgusted at the large number of good men gone wrong after being elected to legislative and administrative bodies, declare for an industrial organisation, having for its object the taking and holding of the means of life, without affiliation to any political party. And it is not to be wondered at that some of the more impatient are reviving the Anarchist doctrine of the futility of Parliamentarism and are advocating an economic organisation alone, with its ultimate general strike, or, as it is now being put, the general lock-out of the master class.

* * *

It looks very alluring, but do not let us forget that the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, is an instrument of oppression. Is it wise to leave that instrument in the hands of the capitalist class ? No. The Socialist Union must work in conjunction with The Socialist Party.

* * *

There are others who are of opinion that the new economic organisation should not be called a Socialist Union, as its object being “the taking and holding of the means of wealth production,” it would be sufficiently stamped as a Socialist Union without mention of that word.

* * *

Some of these very folks, however, have denounced those who have pursued a similar policy in electoral contests, and I think justly so. I have before me now the election address of Mr. T. R. Wall, who, although a member of the S.D.F., contested a seat on the Fulham Borough Council as “The Labour Candidate” and whose election address stated the Socialist position whilst carefully refraining from avowing it as such. To oppose men who do this on the political field and assist them to do a similar thing on the industrial field is illogical and confusing.

* * *

Last month John Burns was elected a member of the National Liberal Club. What an affecting sight it must have been when he first encountered those members of the Club who are also members of the S.D.F., viz., H. M. Hyndman, E. Belfort Bax, J. F. Green, A. S. Headingley, etc. Every candidate for the Club, before being elected, must take a pledge that he will support the principles of the Liberal Party.

* * *

In a recent issue of the Socialist Standard we gave details of the compacts entered into between candidates of the Independent Labour Party and the Liberals at the General Election. In the Labour Leader for Sept. 9th, 1904, Mr. J. Keir Hardie wrote “Temporary tactical understandings with, say, the Irish Party, or any other independent section of politicians I can understand, but a working agreement with Liberals or Conservatives would spell ruin.” In view of this utterance it is easy to understand why the recent “working agreements with Liberals” were not mentioned in the Labour Leader.

* * *

“Importation of Chinese Stopped ” was the double column head-line in the Daily News for December 22nd, 1905, above the report of, Sir H. Campbell Bannerman’s speech at the Albert Hall. It was there that he stated the Government’s conclusion to stop forthwith the recruitment and embarkation of Coolies in China for South Africa. At that time there were 47,217 Coolies employed ; At the end of February the number had risen to 49,995, and in the three months the desertions had nearly doubled. Thus have the Liberals carried out the promise “No Slavery under the Liberal Flag.”

* * *

I know that Bannerman said that the importation should be stopped as “far as practicable,” and no doubt some Liberals will argue that this has been done. But it was practicable to stop it in December. The Daily News of May 19th admitted that “of course, the present Ministers might have withdrawn the permits just as they might have ordered the repatriation of the Coolies already there. There was no physical impossibility in either case.” And the Western Morning News pointed out in January that “the Transvaal being a Crown Colony, the Home Government could, if it chose, cancel the Chinese Labour Ordinance, and send every Chinaman back to China.” But, of course, they didn’t, and there are now more Coolies in S. Africa than at any previous time. The lie, however, like other Liberal lies, served its purpose.

* * *

On May 25th a complimentary Banquet was given to Mr. W. M. Thompson, Editor of Reynolds’, at the National Liberal Club. Hobnobbing with the titled participants were Messrs. H. M. Hyndman, E. Belfort Bax, and A. E. Fletcher. The Rt. Hon. John Burns was the principle speaker, and was followed by Mr. H. Hyndman ! Oh, these revolutionary S.D.F’ers !
J. Kay

The Appeal to Dives. (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

To the glory of the Daily News and the increase of its circulation, a “Sweating Exhibition” was opened in the early days of last month, under the distinguished patronage of certain serene or royal highnesses who were graciously pleased to express their heartfelt sympathy with the condition of the victims of the system which their royal highnesses are also pleased to uphold, and of which they are the more or less picturesque figure-heads. We read that when she saw these brave workers Princess Henry was moved several times to say, “Oh, terrible ! terrible ! terrible !” and again “Shocking ! shocking ! shocking !” And these ejaculations seem to have so greatly affected the Daily News gentlemen that they forgot to reject the advertisement which has appeared at intervals in their journal check by jowl with the lavishly worded reports of the proceedings of their Sweating Exhibition—a large displayed advertisement which sets out the advantages of somebody’s suits at 21s.

All through the month of May the exhibition has, with the assistance of a weirdly polyglot committee of high church dignitaries, low church ecclesiastics, broad church clerics, non-conformist church pillars and a host of laymen of every church and no church—a committee ranging from my lord bishop to plain Harry Quelch—kept its doors open. The well-to-do folk in goodly numbers have followed the lead of the royal personages and passed through the tastefully arranged hall and after closely inspecting; the horrors of sweating with all the horrors carefully eliminated, have passed out again having remarked “oh, terrible ! terrible” and also “dreadful! dreadful !” which it seems is the proper thing to say in the circumstances. And the soul of the Daily News has been much gratified thereat; and the sweated workers on exhibition have (vide the Daily News) been equally gratified ; and the columns of the Daily News have been filled with much good “copy;” and a firm has written expressing their great indignation that the boxes used by them should have been discovered in process of manufacture under sweating conditions and has donated a sum to the exhibition ; and the Daily News has secured a wide and valuable advertisement out of the undertaking; and what with one thing and another it has been most excellent good business.

It was a great idea to fix upon the West End for the show. It was done purposely to attract the well-to-do. All that the well-to-do wanted was to have their consciences shaken up a little. Once effect that, and something was bound to happen. It was useless going to a poor neighbourhood as had been proven by the lack of success of the previous exhibition which had been holden in the East End. The conscience of England, rich England, that is not poor England which does not matter, could not be reached from the East End. Certainly much interest was aroused by the East End Exhibition. Representatives of large firms unable to understand how their trade rivals could undersell them, came and were astounded at what they saw. It cleared the air for them and they went away no longer seeing as through a glass darkly. Yet the sweating did not stop. On the contrary, it seemed to increase. Perhaps it was that the City firms, knowing their rivals’ secret, had been forced to adopt their methods. Its a poor Exhibition out of which nobody gets a wrinkle.

Therefore, the Daily News show came to the West End in order to lash the moral consciences of the rich and if a West End conscience expresses itself under the lash in “shockings” and “terribles” the show has done it. The Daily News people at any rate have no doubt about it. Their Exhibition “has rendered a great service to humanity;” it has successfully appealed to the moral conscience of England and has raised such a storm of indignation that, if the land is not filled with fugitive sweaters hastening without the revengeful reach of relentless wrath, it clearly ought to be.

Nevertheless, the truth compels the admission that sweating still continues and must continue so long as the worker is compelled to sell his or her labour-power on the market as a commodity and has no control over the disposal of the wealth which the labour of the worker alone produces. Just because it is inevitable that the exigences of profit manufacture,—the necessary accompaniment of capitalism,—should demand that a large proportion of labour should be redundant on the market; just because, that is, capitalist production would be impossible without an army of unemployed to keep wages down, it is inevitable that the pressure of want should force numbers of these workers to sell their labour-power at starvation prices. Not all the waves of indignation and “moral feeling” that can be conjured out of a community, can affect that result even though the community were ten thousand times more susceptible to “moral” appeals than English people are. Given capitalism, there is no escape from the mind-blunting, heart-racking misery which the annals of toil shew as their dominant and most persistent feature.

Exhibitions such as the Daily News has organised are useless—worse than useless, because the only effect they have or can have is to temporarily stimulate the flow of ludicrously impotent driblets of charity to the end that the evil plight of those unhappy persons whose condition has been brought under notice, may be in some measure palliated, and the time when drastic and adequate action may be taken, delayed. To delay that time may or may not be the deliberate intention of charity dispensers and their following, but it is indisputable that their action contributes to the dissemination of the idea that there exists a “moral conscience” which when occasion demands, can take on tangible soup-and-blanket expression sufficient to satisfy the immediate demands of the acutely impoverished. In other words, the response of the charitable is the excuse for Governmental indifference to the poverty problem, is the force that blunts the agitation of those concerned to press that problem upon a reluctant public attention and, what is of far greater importance from our point of view, helps to obscure that class issue which it is our business as a Socialist Party to keep boldly defined, and so fosters confusion in the minds of the working class. As against the Daily News and its circulation raising sensationalism, we urge that nothing short of the overthrow of capitalism itself and the establishment of Socialism can effect the eradication of poverty and all its attendant horrors. Only when the working class understand that they are poor because they have no control over the machinery of wealth production and, therefore, have no control over the wealth which they alone produce ; only when they have recognised that fact and appreciated the unalterable antagonism existing between themselves and the capitalist class in control of the machinery of wealth production, which that fact necessarily connotes, only then will they understand that by organisation on class lines and by waging unceasing war upon the dominant class until they have achieved complete victory and secured possession of political power and through that the possession also of the means of life can they ensure for themselves freedom from the possibility always present with them to-day, of reduction to the ranks of the sweated and even below. Until then, the fear of abject poverty will haunt them perpetually. Until then, sweating, as even a Daily News writer has been obliged to confess, will continue. The leopard cannot change its spots nor the Ethiopian his skin. An appeal to either to do so would not be more preposterous than the appeal to capitalism to abolish sweating is,

Blogger's Note:
There's an interesting post which gives more background on the “Sweating Exhibition” at the following link.

Do We Move? (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

How it is possible for people to still hold, as so many do, that what is has always been and must be, is very difficult to understand. This difficulty is increased when the rapidity with which change follows change is realised, along with the size and importance of the changes themselves. The vast alterations that have taken place in our social life through the linking of place to place by networks of railways in a manner undreamt of less than two generations ago ; the ease and facility with which one is enabled to travel over great distances of land and sea and the equal ease with which, goods can be carried, have practically resulted in the annihilation of distance as any great barrier between the peoples of the world. So much so, indeed, that the most lengthy journeys that would, but a comparatively short time ago, have been attended with a host of uncertainties and dangers are now undertaken as pleasure trips. The development of the telephonic and telegraphic systems has still further removed the difficulties and disabilities of distance. To-day news reaches us in a few hours that would have necessitated but yesterday a long sea trip lasting perhaps many months. Our postal system and its facilities for communication are essentially of recent date. The days of stage coaches and horse travel are not so far distant as some are prone to imagine.

To mention a few such changes suggests a host of others of a similar nature that will amply illustrate the fact that we are constantly going through a process of development and improvement. Each fresh addition suggests some further one, and like the proverbial snowball, the rapidity of growth increases with the growth itself.

Such developments, as those of transit, etc. which have been instanced, are not without their effect in other directions. Everything that tends in the direction of rendering more accessible a place that previously was inaccessible makes that place more eligible as a market for exporting countries. The spur thus given to competition among capitalists for the new market would hasten economic development and render more efficient the means and methods of producing wealth.

The altering social conditions resulting from any change in economic relations have been too frequently stated to need repetition here. Suffice it to say, that with the growth of the market catered for, grows also the scale on which production is conducted. The larger the business the greater are the economies effected through the medium of the sub-division of labour and the introduction of more and more perfect machinery. Such economic developments result in increasing the co-operative and social nature of production. The way is paved for the trust and the combine, which render still more necessary and easy the collective ownership and control of such industries, in place of the private ownership of such essentially social concerns.

The rapidity of development in the last half century (so insignificant a period in the history of the world and society), and the recognition of the fact that the speed increases rather than decreases, points to yet more startling and far-reaching developments in the future, which, with the conscious co-operation of the working class in the direction dictated by the development itself, will culminate in the readjustment of the Social structure to its altered economic basis, while some people are still mumbling “things are as they were, and will so remain.”
D. K.

Emigration. (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The March issue of the Socialist Standard contained a letter sent to one of our comrades by a friend who had gone to Canada to “escape poverty” in the Land of the West, describing the conditions he found existing there for the working class. These facts, which could have been supplemented by the communications received by others of our members, were timely in face of the long depression that has existed in the trade and commerce of this country for the last five years, and which has led to the booming of the theory of emigration as a cure for the poverty and misery existing here. Railway Companies, Shipping Companies and “Free Labour” providers like Mr. Graeme Hunter, have turned many a penny—if not honest, at least useful—by the rush of the workless, and those afraid of being workless, across the sea. Glowing accounts of the country and its prosperity are widely advertised by these interested persons, and the brilliant prospects for the “industrious” worker are dangled before the eyes of the unwary or unthinking like the bunch of carrots before the donkey. When these efforts are not sufficiently successful, then a prominent “Labour Leader” like Mr. Ben Tillett is engaged to travel this country lecturing upon the glorious conditions for the working-class existing in Australia, and it is the truth that these various agencies reach a much larger number of the people than the occasional accounts of the real situation can, under the circumstances, possibly do.

Still the seed sometimes reaches good ground and in response to an enquiry, a few remarks on the general question of emigration may be useful.

The question may be viewed from three different points. Firstly, that of analogy; secondly, the economic conditions in the countries emigrated to; and, thirdly, the reasons for emigrating.
Under the first heading we may say that if emigration as such were a cure, or even a palliation, to any extent worth considering of the poverty of the working class, then Ireland should be the most prosperous country on the planet. For over fifty years her sons and daughters have streamed across the oceans to the continent of the West or to the land down under the Southern Cross, until to-day the population numbers about four and a half millions, while four millions of people have left her shores in that period. With what result ? The working class of Ireland, particularly the agricultural labourers, are even worse off than the workers here ! With such an example at our very doors, we are asked by the smooth-tongued agents of the ruling class to believe that if some of our fellow-workers cross the ocean all will be well with those remaining !

“But,” it may be objected “those who went away benefited by so doing.” Let us see. The countries usually emigrated to are America, Australia and New Zealand. Although South Africa is sometimes counted, the unsettled conditions still prevailing there—to say nothing of the large number of Chinese—renders it advisable for us to leave this territory out of the present consideration. What are the general conditions prevailing in the countries named ? In essentials, similar to those we have here, that is, capitalism rules there with all its consequences as we know them here. While the standard of living—and wages—are slightly higher in America than here, they are more than counterbalanced by the speeding up and greater driving that exist there and which result in throwing the worker on the scrap heap at an earlier age than occurs here. “Too old at 35” is an intensely real cry in that go-ahead land, and this, coupled with the increasing use of machinery in all industries, thereby dispensing with men or filling their places with women and children, creates an ever increasing army of relatively redundant and, therefore, unemployed workers ; so much so, that America can shew as large a number unemployed, comparatively, as any old country; while the march of Coxey’s Army to Washington will still be fresh in the memories of many here. The emigrant thus finds that he has left one set of capitalist conditions to go into a similar set elsewhere.

Australia, as far as its industrial sections are concerned, which are the only sections the mass of the emigrants can exist in, has for years been troubled with the question of poverty and unemployment. At the very moment Mr. Ben Tillett was endeavouring to persuade the workers to go to Australia, all the large cities and towns there were discussing “what to do with the unemployed,” while the various reports, including both the “Labour” papers and emigrants who have returned, show that the struggle for existence and the prospects thereof, differ in no essential from the same struggle undergone here. “General” Booth’s wily scheme to deport some of our unemployed to the region known as “Piliga Scrub,” where, as was shown at the time, water scarcely exists and the soil is all sand, totally incapable of producing anything to support life, seems to have been dropped for the present, but may well be borne in mind when the firm of Booth and Sons move again in the matter.

Thus, Australia offers no escape from the conditions of poverty and lack of employment that the emigrant thinks to flee from, but simply alters his position geographically while leaving it economically just as it was.

In New Zealand we have a country about twice the area of Great Britain with a population of just under 800,000. Certain reforms clamoured for here by several parties are in existence there, such as State ownership of the land, Labour Colonies, etc. Yet, with all these “advantages,” they are not more successful in dealing with the problem of unemployment and poverty than those in charge of affairs at home. Tom Mann, after spending some time in the colony and travelling in various parts, came to the conclusion that New Zealand was as much in need of Socialism as the Mother Country.

No matter then, in which direction we turn, we find the arguments in favour of emigration fall to the ground when confronted with the facts of the circumstances existing in the countries where the emigrant is urged to go. And this brings us to the third heading—the cause for emigration. The answer of course is poverty or dread of unemployment.

But this is only a surface answer, and in itself asks another question—Why are the workers poor ? The answer to this latter question will contain the solution, of the problem.

It will be admitted, generally, that if a person has a right to stay on any portion of this globe, he has the right to stay in the country where he was born, and before being driven out of that country, it should, at least, be shown that the country is unable to support him—or, rather, allow him to support himself. Can this be shown of England ? Take first the raw material in the shape of land. Is it all occupied, or cultivated, or being worked ? So little so, that millions of acres are uncultivated and large areas are kept for non-productive purposes, such as game preserves, deer parks, etc. The warehouses and stores are filled with machines and tools ready to be used for the conversion of this raw material into articles for man’s use and enjoyment, while large numbers of mechanics are available, nay, anxious to be employed in producing more machines and tools if those existent are not sufficient. Are the means of transport inadequate ? According to the statements of those favouring Railway Nationalisation half the trains run empty now, and while the goods trucks are obsolete and clumsy, they could, even as they are, transport far larger quantities than they do at present.

Many miles of canals have been bought up by the Railway Companies for the purpose of stifling competition and are almost unused, while those still operating are by no means overburdened with traffic. Evidently then, the means of transport, if not ideal, are at least adequate, and here, as with the machines, we have a large supply of workers at hand ready to extend or improve these means of transport should it be decided to act in that direction.

We thus see that there is an abundance of raw material (land), of instruments of production (machines, mills, etc.), of means of transport and of workers to operate all these things, yet we have poverty and misery. Why ? Because all these means of life are owned and controlled by a comparatively small section of Society—the capitalist class.

The workers have no means of living, except by selling their abilities—or power to work, which means themselves—to such members of the ruling class as care to employ them. As the capitalists are only concerned with wringing profits out of the labour of those they employ, which again depends upon their selling the articles produced, it follows that the capitalist will only employ the workers in accordance with the demands of the markets for commodities.

To-day wealth is produced in much larger quantities with relatively fewer workers than at any previous period of the world’s history. Every increase in the speeding up of the workers, every improvement in the present or introduction of new machinery, and every further application of science to industry, results in a still smaller number of workers being required to produce the same, or even a larger, amount of wealth than before. This, of course, applies wherever capitalism exists, and the attempts to escape results by flying to similar conditions in another clime necessarily fail in every case.

The solution of the difficulty stands out clear from the answer given above. As the workers produce all the wealth and are the only useful class in modern Society, they must take the means of life, in all its branches, into their own hands, to be under their own control, for their own benefit. In other words, only by establishing a Socialist Commonwealth can they abolish the poverty, misery and unemployment which the masters’ agents to-day tell them can be avoided by emigration.
Jack Fitzgerald

Land Nationalisation. (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the 25th Annual Meeting of the Land Nationalisation Society held last month, Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P., said he had fought his own election almost entirely on the land question. Mr. Will Crooks also spoke as did Mr. Franklin Thomasson, Mr. A. H. Scott and other Liberal M.P’s.

Wilhelm Liebknecht quote. (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard
"On the ground of the class struggle we are invincible; if we leave it we are lost, because we are no longer Socialists. The strength and power of Socialism rest in the fact that we are leading a class struggle; that the labouring class is exploited and oppressed by the capitalist class, and that within capitalist society effectual reforms, which will put an end to class government and class exploitation, are impossible."

“The Manufacturers’ Association of Great Britain.” (1906)

From the June 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

To carry on the work of organising “The Manufacturers’ Association of Great Britain,” a provisional committee has been formed, and includes such well-known manufacturers as Colonel Sir John E. Bingham, Bart. (Messrs. Walker and Hall), Sir Joseph Lawrence (Linotype and Machinery, Limited), Mr. G. Byng (General Electric Company, Limited), Mr. R. K. Morcom (Messrs. Bellis and Morcom), Mr. Hugo Hirst (Robertson Lamp Company, Limited), Mr. W. C. Mountain (Messrs. Ernest Scott and Mountain), and Mr. H. H. D. Anderson (Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (1900), Ltd.)

A fundamental principle of the association, it is asserted, will be that party politics in every form shall be rigidly excluded. The movement is receiving the support of many of the leading manufacturing firms, and the members already enrolled are said to represent many millions of invested capital.