Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Class Struggle (1950)

From the June 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is likely that more nonsense has been talked and written about the class-struggle than about any other part of the Socialist case. Propagandists of the parties which support the capitalist system always refer to the class-struggle as if it were something which Marx invented and which Socialists are in favour of, just as, for example, the Liberal Party is in favour of Proportional Representation. Tories accuse the Labour Party of fostering antagonism between classes. Is it possible, asks Captain Gammans, Conservative M.P. for Hornsey, for the Labour Party “ to maintain itself solely on a policy of class hatred?” (Everybody's, 25-3-50). The Labour Party indignantly rebuts the charge that it believes in the class-struggle, and claims itself to be a party of the nation as a whole, devoted to furthering the interests of every section of the population. The Liberal and Conservative Parties say that they, too, want harmony among classes. Everybody's (leading article, 11-3-50) thinks that if Britain were “rid of extremists, all classes could work together in tolerance.” One of the most explicit of articles putting this view which have appeared recently is “ How to Lick Class Struggle ’ by W. W. Cenerazzo, in the Reader's Digest for October, 1949. Here is a quotation.
“ I like to call the American system ‘ Co-operative Capitalism.’ To me this means investor, management and labour working together for these objectives: to make the company as prosperous as possible so that the investor can obtain a fair return on his money, management can obtain adequate payment for supplying direction, and labour can obtain a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work with the accompanying job security and pension plan that a prosperous company can guarantee.”
The idea that the Socialists are the originators and sole supporters of the class-struggle is of course entirely wrong. Marx did not invent it; he diagnosed it. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels wrote: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” The various classes in society, they said, have carried on “an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open, fight; a fight that each time ended in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” They did not say that history ought to have been the record of class struggles; they said that it was the record of class struggles. Socialists do not support the class-struggle any more than they support war; but they realise that both are inevitable so long as the economic basis of society remains unchanged.

The present productive system is based upon the exploitation of the people who work by the people who own the land, the factories, the mines, and all the other instruments of production. It is worth reiterating this fact, because it is the reason for the existence of the class struggle. Goods are made by workers, operating machines constructed by workers, in factories built by workers. Other workers—managers and technicians— organise production and plan ahead. If at any time an owner takes part in the process of production (for example, the owner of a factory who manages it himself) he does it as a worker, not as an owner. Owners as such contribute nothing to the processes of production. Why then can they live, if they do not work? They can live, and live well, because they are able to hold the rest of the community to ransom if they do not receive a sufficient amount of rent, interest and profit. If a factory owner is not making enough profit, he closes his factory; and however much the workers want to operate the machines in the factory and produce the goods they need, they cannot force him to open it. In the long run, no goods are made or transported unless someone makes a profit out of it. This is true of every industry, whether the board of directors is appointed privately or by the state. Owners live, then, by exploiting (“robbing” is a more familiar term, and just as accurate) the workers. Only Socialists realise this; the Labour, Liberal, and Conservative parties think that “a fair profit” is justifiable. They remind one of the French lawyer who wanted crime to be reduced, but not abolished entirely. The Stalinists also think that dividends are not fundamentally wrong, provided that they can control the system which produces the dividends, as they do in Soviet Russia.

In this way capitalism divides society into two classes, one of which is made up of workers and the other of exploiters. Each class has its own interests, which are at variance with those of the other. By strikes and by lockouts, by the setting up or overthrow of political superstructures, the struggle among the classes proceeds. While the workers are being exploited, they have to fight against their exploiters as best they can, by forming unions on the industrial front, and by forming parties on the political front. Socialists join the fight on the industrial front, but they realise, and try to get their fellow-workers to realise, that the working-class can only permanently improve its position by the creation of a Socialist society.

Propagandists of the capitalist parties avoid admitting the existence of the class-struggle in one of two ways. Some of them deny that the workers are exploited, and thus argue, like Mr. Cenerazzo, that there is no great division of interest between owners and workers. Mr. T. Wilson, judging from his article in the Manchester Guardian (13-2-50) is one of these. It would be as well, he thinks, “to abandon all talk of 'class war,”’ since large incomes derived from the ownership of property form “too small a part of the total to matter much.” Only 20 per cent. of the owning classes have incomes of more than £2,000 a year, he reports; four-fifths of them have to make do with a gross income of £40 a week or less. He adds vaguely that of these incomes “ part will usually be earned ” without condescending to give facts and figures as to the amount and manner of the “ earning.” One seems to smell directors’ fees. But this evidence of poverty among the class who live on the fruits of other people’s labour, interesting though it is, will not convert Socialists.

Other propagandists ignore entirely the fact that some people live on rent, interest and profit. To quote Everybody's leader-writer again (11/3/50): “Planners may argue and the London School of Economics produce figures to prove topsy-turvydom, but when all is said, the only solution to our problems is hard work. Hard work never killed anyone. . ; . Longer hours and efficiency should have their just reward. Fair shares, when one man works harder than another, is ridiculous." The best comment on this is what Mr. Churchill once said. “Men sometimes stumble on the truth, but most of them get up and hurry away as if nothing had happened." It is not clear whether Mr. Churchill regards himself as one of those who hurried away, or just as one of those who never stumbled; but it is obvious that the leader-writer has here hit upon something which is profoundly true. Fair shares, when one man works harder than another, is certainly ridiculous according to the ideals which capitalist apologists proclaim, the ideals of a “fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work." More ridiculous still is fair shares when one man works hard, and another doesn’t work at all. Most ridiculous of all is the system we have now, when the man who does no work, provided he owns enough property, gets a lot more for it than the man who works hard. But the leader-writer is not concerned with getting shareholders and landlords to take jobs in a factory or in a coalmine; he is merely exhorting those who already work to work harder. In this way he takes sides in the class-struggle without admitting its existence.

To say that classes fight for their own interests is not, however, the same thing as saying that classes always recognise exactly where their own interests lie. At the present time, an atom-war, which would probably destroy civilisation or a large part of it, seems to be approaching. This alone would surely provide sufficient reason for the working class to overthrow the system which makes war inevitable. But when Socialists try to spread Socialist ideas, they are brought up against the fact that the great instruments of mass-propaganda, the press, the cinema, the radio, are controlled by people who have done very well out of this system, and who therefore are favourable to it. Very few workers are yet convinced of the necessity for a radical change in our way of living. The mass of workers still vote for the party which holds out the longest list of promises.

At present, the three big parties each derive their chief support from certain clearly-defined sections. In the elections of 1945 and 1950, the lower-paid sections of the working class generally voted Labour, especially those in the heavy industries such as coal-mining, shipbuilding, iron and steel. The exploiting class, the landlords, shareholders and entrepreneurs, voted Conservative; so did farmers and shopkeepers, part of whose income comes from the exploitation of the workers they employ. The professional and salaried workers observed how poor, ignorant and ill-housed were the lower ranks of the working class, and sought to put a barrier between themselves and the poorer workers, and to emphasise their own superior standard of living, by voting Conservative; in any case, they had benefited from the low price of goods and services under Tory rule between the wars. There were also Conservatives lower down the social scale. Wage-workers who attend to the wants of the wealthy—hotel-workers, for example, in fashionable towns like Leamington Spa, Bath and Bournemouth—often feel that their livings depend on the continued patronage of people who have large incomes to spend and leisure to spend them in. “ In Bournemouth it seems that over 50 per cent. of the voting population work for a weekly wage" (Picture Post, 11/2/50); yet in the last election, both Bournemouth constituencies returned Conservative M.P.s with majorities of some 15,000 votes. It is more difficult to distinguish which groups voted Liberal; but the strength of the party in North Wales and North Scotland, which are roughly also the areas where peasant farmers exist in relatively the strongest numbers, would indicate that they are the staunchest bulwark of Liberalism.

The “white-collar workers’’ who live in the suburbs and work in the offices of the big cities, especially London, ‘broke away from the Conservatives in 1945. Under the influence of the propaganda of the Common Wealth Party and the Gollancz yellow booklets, they voted Labour. The big question of the 1950 election was whether or not Labour could hold this group, since although it might not be in a majority in any one constituency, its vote could determine the allegiance of much of suburbia. In the list of seats that the Labour Party won in 1945, but lost in 1950, the names that stand out are those like Croydon, Romford, Harrow, Hendon, Ilford, Mitcham, Wembley. These results show that the Conservatives were successful this time in securing the support of the white-collar workers.

The Tories now want to win over the upper sections of the manual workmen themselves. Captain Gammans, in the article already quoted, says: “It is from the skilled craftsmen that the Conservative Party may strengthen its ranks if it plays its cards properly." In other words, the big political parties, while in theory denying the existence of the class-struggle, in practice recognise it and make their plans with it in mind.

The Socialist Party believes that the interests of everyone who works, white-collar or no-collar, manual or professional, are directly opposed to the interests of everyone who lives by owning property, and that the workers must combine and put an end to the system which rests upon their exploitation.
Alwyn Edgar

"Utility" Goods (1950)

From the June 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

The 1939-45 Great War and His Majesty’s third Labour Government have made the people of this country “Utility” conscious, but long before 1939 such economists as Bohm Bawerk, Jevons and Marshall were searching in the realm of utility for an answer to the question why a pair of boots exchange for thirty shillings.

The fruit of their efforts is the much-boosted Marginal Theory of Value by which they attempted to explain the value of a commodity—an article produced for sale—as the point at which marginal utility (the utility derived from that unit for which the consumer is just prepared to pay) coincides with the marginal cost of production (the cost to a firm that just pays its way). Thus they claimed their theory of Value takes both demand and supply into account.

Long before Bohm Bawerk and his Utility school of thought, Marx had shown that the value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labour time embodied in its production.

The Marginal school criticised this theory of Value on the grounds that Marx had looked at Value from the point of view of the producers and had therefore chosen “labour time” as the basis of Value. They contended that Value should be looked upon from the point of view of the consumer also and that Utility should form part of the basis of Value.

When Marx stated that the only quality commodities have in common with each other is that they are the “products of labour,” the Utility school pointed out triumphantly that commodities also have this in common—they must be useful. On these grounds they have argued that it is merely arbitrary to say that Labour is the source of Value. Indeed they have gone further and stated that only some useful things are the products of labour but all products of labour, if they are to be commodities, capable of sale and exchange, must be useful. They have pointed gleefully to the solitary traveller in the desert picking up a piece of gold or a diamond. They have argued that surely this piece of gold or diamond must have Value but its Value is certainly not determined by socially necessary labour time.

So frequently have the apologists of Capitalism put forward this view, that it is now accepted by most text-books on economics and is usually advanced by lecturers in Universities and Commercial Colleges as the Theory of Value which has ousted that of Marx.

In practically all books dealing with the classification of the Sciences, Economics is classified as a Social Science. That being so, Economics must be concerned with social relationships—the social relationships dealing with the production and distribution of Wealth at that.

We have therefore to examine the means by which Men produce and distribute the wealth of society in order to find which of these theories correctly reflect the law by which boots exchange for Gold (in the form of pounds, shillings and pence).

In all previous systems of society, production had been for use and only the surplus had appeared in the form of commodities but under our capitalistic system of society, production becomes solely for sale—for the World Market. Capitalism is therefore distinguished by the fact that here wealth takes the form of commodities.

In a commodity producing society extensive division of labour and private property are essential factors. That is to say the aggregate labour force of society consists of the sum total of the labour of all the producers of the different types of commodities who carry on their work independently of each other. When therefore we say that a fur cape is equal in value to a wrist watch we are really equating the labour of the furrier with that of the jeweller. In the early days of Man’s history when any surplus product was being exchanged, the question which confronted the two parties or groups involved in the exchange, say of arrow heads for skins, was this—Would it take us as long (or as much labour time) to produce these skins as it took us to produce the arrow heads? If the answer was in the affirmative then the transaction was completed. In the same manner the value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labour time embodied in its production.

What confuses the critics is that in capitalism value appears to be a quantitative relationship between things. They only see 100 bricks exchanging for two tables and do not see the SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS underlying this quantitative equation.

In modern society, however, exchange does not take place in the form of barter (one article for another article) but Money enters into the field. Articles in the shop window have their price tag—their money form. Price is the monetary expression of Value, that is to say Price means the amount of gold equivalent in Value to the article which is being priced.

It is precisely in this developed form of Value that the law of Value manifests itself as the regulating principle of capitalist production. When the supply of a commodity is greater than the demand the price of the commodity falls and conversely when the demand is greater than the supply the price rises. The Capitalist economists see in this the regulator of the markets— the so-called Law of Supply and Demand.

Here again however, the Labour Theory of Value comes into its own. In our commodity producing society, the labour contained in a commodity has two aspects. It is the private labour of the commodity producer and at the same time part of the collective labour of society. To meet the last condition it must satisfy a definite social want—it must be useful to society. The private commodity producer fails to see his labour in this aspect—the social aspect. He never knows how much of a commodity is coming on to the market and what demand there will be for it. He therefore keeps on churning out his product until the demand for it drops and prices fall. Then he curtails production but he never dreams that the cause of the falling prices could be the fall in value of his product—a fall in value occasioned by the fact that he has expended part of the collective labour of society—his own private labour —USELESSLY. The value of a commodity being determined by the amount of SOCIALLY NECESSARY labour time embodied in its production, he has therefore not added one jot of Value to the commodities he has produced in excess of demand. Thus, does Marx’s Labour Theory of Value take Utility into account.

Speed (1950)

From the June 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

The lorry had nearly completed its skid when it hit the child. Nearly but not quite. The force behind that rapidly decelerating mass was quite sufficient to break the bones of the child.

The driver of the lorry was the first to reach the boy. Two women were next to help and comfort the stricken child. The ambulance arrived in three and a half minutes and the policeman in ten.

Whose fault? The driver? Travelling under the speed limit. Sight good and reflex action good. Lorry construction and brakes in first class condition.

The boy? Looked both ways before crossing to catch the school bus.

Nobody’s fault. Just a plain accident. If the boy had waited two seconds, if the lorry had travelled at 20 instead of 22 m.p.h., if school started two minutes later, or if the witness hadn’t run to catch a bus. the accident might never have happened.

Undue haste was the cause. But haste is an essential of the society in which we live—Capitalism. Capitalism demands efficiency. Efficiency demands speed and speed does kill.

Death on the road is not an incident. It is a regular occurrence. In a world where the things we need could be so easily turned out in an abundance surely there is no need for haste. We can afford to decelerate.

Capitalism—the system of the alarm clock, the time clock, the school bell and the speedometer, is the real killer on the road.

Socialism—even if it offered little else, would give a little leisure and a safer conduct for children.

Socialist Sonnet No. 154: Time to Change (2024)

From the Socialism or Your Money Back blog 


Time to Change

Capitalism was once the young blood,

Overturning thrones, dispossessing lords.

It manufactured this world that accords

With its own ways and means, where common good

Is held to be the untrammelled pursuit

Of private wealth, even if that should be

At the expense of public poverty,

With a reserved freedom to profit and pollute.

But now this history lesson’s been learned,

That which loosed bonds becomes a binding force,

While the class presently bound is now the source

Whereby a new, better way is discerned.

Progress must transcend anachronism,

It is time for change, for socialism.

D. A.

Dad Tells Sonny. The Tale of the Twelve, (1917)

A Short Story from the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard
“An inquisitive child soon demonstrates the shallowness of a parent’s knowledge.”
– Someone or other.
“What, are you reading, Dad?”

“Just a pamphlet some kind-hearted, benevolent soul has left for my enlightenment, my son.”

“And what does the design at the top mean with the two large letters N.S. either side?”

“The lady with the angel’s wings and the tea tray represents Victory, and the two mystic letters represent quite a number of things.”

“Such as—”

“Nettleford’s Screws, Never Sweat, Noodles Swindled — ”

“Yes, but, Dad, be serious. What do they say the letters stand for ?”

“The heading is National Service, my son.”

“And what does that mean ?”

“It means, mon enfant, that in punishing the wicked and unspeakable Hun for the unpardonable crime of getting his wack in first, thousands upon thousands of Englishmen have been battered into pulp. Further thousands are required to undergo the same delicate process, the idea being that in the human pulping competition, we can just about lick the horrid Hun. The residue will be an ‘After the War Problem.’ Now then, these potential thousands of sacrifices are at present shivering, with glassy eyes and clammy hands, in whatever shoes they have managed to get into, hoping against hope that Murder will overlook them. This is where N.S. comes in. N.S. will say to the Man in a Small Way, ‘put up the shutters, you’re unessential.’ The Man in a Small Way will say, ‘but what about my busi­ness ? It’s essential to me, anyhow.’ To which N.S. will answer, ‘No Sauce, and No Shirking. Your business, if there’s any left after the National Sweatshops, Ltd. have done with it, will be an After the War Problem. Then he and his porter, his ox and his ass, his manservant and his maidservant, are pushed into the service of some big fat brother, possibly a competitor ; or into ploughing, aeroplane construction, quarrying, or other similar soft jobs, for which they are as suitable as a pickaxe is for painting landscapes, the result being that more of the country’s youth is made available for gory pulp. See ?”

“Yes, Dad. But surely they don’t put it like that, do they? ”

“Listen ! ‘Twelve good reasons why every able-bodied man should enrol for National Service.’ And then in brackets, ‘Read these reasons carefully and see if you can deny any one of them.’ So you see, my son, they explicitly invite my opinion. They ask me if I can deny any one of them.”

“And can you, Dad ?”

“I can, but I’m not going through the whole dozen for you or anybody else. For one thing life’s too precious, and for another it’s past your bedtime.”

“Oh, come, Dad, don’t be mean. Have a go at some of them at any rate.”

“Well, number one says the war is reaching its climax. Right ! Leave it at that. Number two says victory will mean the preservation of of our homes, our lives, our liberties, and all we hold dear, while defeat means the opposite. Now, son, where is Jones the greengrocer’s son ? ”

“You know he was killed at Festubert, Dad.”

“And did he join the British Army as a free man ?”

“No, Dad ! As a conscript. He loathed the Army.”

“And what has become of his home ?”

“Why, his wife had to sell most of it and go and live with her mother.”

“So that his liberty was the first thing to go, his life next, followed by his home and all he held dear.”

“Yes, Dad. But supposing the Germans had got over here ?”

“Well, son, could much worse have happened to him ? And further, mine infant, do you have to deprive a person of liberty before he will fight for it ? Take an illustration. Do I first have to undress you in order to make you clothe yourself ? Silly, isn’t it ? Now, son, I could say much more to you under the heading of liberty, but one of the present British liberties is that I mustn’t say it. Now for number three. This starts thusly :

“‘Because—having passed laws to compel men of certain ages to fight—it is the bounden duty … of every man to see that the Army and the Navy are provided with every­thing they need to secure Victory.’

“Notice, my little sonlet, there is still some little honour amongst politicians. ‘Having passed laws.’ Not ‘The nation having passed laws,’ or ‘The Forces of Fat having passed laws,’ or you ‘The Government having, etc.” So, for ought that appears to the contrary, we might say, ‘Mrs. Northcliffe having passed laws,’ or ‘The Forces of Fat having passed laws, it is the bounden duty of every man to do as he is told.’ Yours not to reason why ; yours but to do or die. In happier times we might permit ourselves to style this brazen effrontery, or we might give the faculty of wonder an airing by trying to reconcile the bringing of compulsion into a community revelling in liberty. But, my child, liberty is what you will know when you get older as an abstraction ; that is, it has no separate existence. That’s why it’s so popular in England, where the worship of the non-existent is as old as the hills.”

“That is a bit beyond me, Dad, but I suppose it’s all right. Now for the number four, old chap.”

“I told you before I’m not going to waste time on twelve chunks of fatuity when I might be reading Anatole France or sowing parsnip seed.”

“What does Anatole France say, Dad?”

“Oh, lots of things. For instance : ‘Wars are a hereditary evil and a lascivious return to savage life ; they are a criminal puerility.’ ‘Even now the white races communicate with the black and yellow ones only with the intention of subjecting or massacring them.’ ”

“He doesn’t flatter us, Dad, does he ?”

“No, son. This sounds prophetic, doesn’t it ? ‘The peace conference of the Hague, con­vened in the very midst of barbarism, contributed but little towards the maintenance of peace.’ ”

“When was that written ?” 

“I don’t know, but the volume in which I have it is five years old.”

“Hm ! I suppose ‘in the midst of barbarism ‘menus civilisation as we know it.”

“Got it. He says in another place: ‘what we call civilisation is nothing else than the present state of our customs and what we call barbarism is the state of the past.’ ”

“Dad, why are parsons exempted from Army Service ?”

“That’s nothing to do with Anatole France.”

“But doesn’t he say something that fits in anywhere ? ”

(After a search) “Well I’m jiggered ! Listen to this. ‘In telling the nations that one must suffer in this world in order to be happy in the next, religious tradition has obtained from them that pitiful resignation to all oppressions and iniquities.’ ”

“That seems to score a bull’s-eye, Dad.”

“Yes, pitiful resignation seems to fill the bill, exactly. Remember how the people took Conscription. Now the parsons are booming National Servitude.”

“I wonder what Anatole France would say if he had read the ‘Twelve Reasons.’ “

“I don’t know. Possibly, ‘it is his reasonable conversation which mostly frightens us in a madman.’ ”

“Dad, why did you say N.S. stood for Nettlefold’s Screws ?”

“Simply a passing fancy of mine, son. Nettlefold’s Screws are useful little articles and have provided several politicians with enough to keep them out of the Union.”

“What are they used for, Dad ? ”

“Oh, lots of purposes. But one use they have invariably.”

“And that is?”

“Screwing down corpses.”

“Good night, Dad !”

“Good night, son ! ”

Perverted History. The “Socialist” Countess’s Twaddle Exposed. (1917)

From the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Little more than half a century has passed since in Japan the Samurai surrendered their privileges into the hands of the Mikado, and with their sacrifice the new Japan was born…. Suppose that our aristocracy, as a class, were to emulate the Samurai, that they were to place at the disposal of the State the Mother Earth that belongs to the State by right. They might reasonably accept a moderate recompense, something that would provide for them and their children on the scale of modest living that will become the rule when we begin to meet the price of war . . . How far fairer it would be for us to recognise and accept the truth and go as the Moors went from Spain, where they too had become an anachronism, though the beauty that made their sojourn remarkable lingers to this day. If we would make the supreme sacrifice of our traditions we could trust the common sense of our countrymen to see that no plutocrats stepped into the place we had vacated ; we could make our bargain with the State that it should be the supreme landlord spending the rent to make the lovely countryside at least as valuable to national life as the ugly town. We who came into the high places of Europe with the false halo of conquest would retire from them in the real halo of renunciation, and our act of supreme sacrifice would be a better memorial than the best of us could have hoped to gain.”
The above is from an article by the Countess of Warwick which appeared in the “Daily Chronicle” of April 12th, 1917. The article is entitled “We Must Go.” The “We” is the “hereditary landowners,” to whom the appeal is made to hand over their land to the State, in the interests of greater productivity, and in justice to the workers, who have bled for it.

How the latter can benefit in any way from the proposed surrender of lands is made no clearer by the Countess than by any of the Fabian or I.L.P. treatises on the same subject.

State ownership of land, or, indeed, of any of the means of wealth production, solves no problem for the working class. Only common ownership with democratic control can do that. State ownership, that is, collective ownership by the capitalist class, as with the Post Office, for instance, leaves the workers still wage-slaves. The introduction of labour-saving machinery would therefore have the same effect as it has to-day. The countess, like many another reformer, overlooks this fact, though it should be obvious. She says: “The country has great needs, and if it is to remain solvent the united work of one and all following the latest developments with the most complete equipment will be inevitable.”

This policy in the past has resulted in increased unemployment for the working class ; its extension, therefore, can only result in greater poverty, arising from still further increased unemployment. State ownership of the land excludes the working class from the soil, except in the capacity of wage-workers. They are mere subjects of exploitation to those who provide with their capital the “most complete equipment,” and the rent to be paid to the State for the use of the land.

The fallacy of State ownership, however, has been so often exposed in these columns that we can afford to leave it for the present and deal with the other fallacy contained in the first quotation—that a ruling class has ever in the past renounced, or is likely in the future to renounce, its privileges and power unless compelled to do so by superior force. There is no record in history of a ruling class abdicating in favour of a class weaker than itself. Nor is there any record of a ruling class so imbued with a moral sense of justice and consideration for the class it governed, that it would, knowingly and willingly, sacrifice the meanest of its privileges to assist that class to its emancipation. The ruling class in capitalist society is stronger in its determination to maintain its rule and possesses more powerful weapons than any previous class in history. Its barbarity, as every contest with the workers testifies, equals and its hypocrisy exceeds, that of any previous ruling class.

But, the reader will ask, does not the countess give actual examples from history where a dominant class voluntarily abdicated? Both these examples are misrepresentations of the actual facts. Take the case of Japan. In that country the system of society previous to 1868 was similar in its essential features to the Feudal system of European countries. The Samurai were the military class, composed of territorial nobles, called Daimios, and their vassals or retainers. Strictly speaking, however, the term Samurai applied to these latter only. They and their families were kept by the Daimios, or had lands assigned to them for which they drew the rent, as under the Feudal system in Europe. This applied to the Daimios as well, who numbered about 255, and whose incomes varied between 10,000 and 1,027,000 koku of rice per annum.

The revolution that abolished this system was not of the same sanguinary character as the bourgeois revolution in France in 1689, or the English revolution in the time of Charles the First. “The two parties,” says Arthur Diosy, “were too unevenly matched for the struggle to become a severe one.” Therein lies the secret of its relatively peaceful consummation. The Daimios were between the devil and the deep sea ; they submitted to the inevitable—on the best terms they could obtain. They received from the State an annual income equal to one-tenth of their former income, and were relieved of the responsibility of maintaining the Samurai, who were taken over by the Government to form the nucleus of the Army and Navy. Those who held hereditary incomes were given the opportunity to sell their rights to the Government for half cash and half Government bonds.

Unlike the revolution that broke up the Feudal system in Europe, the Japanese revolution was projected, or rather accelerated, from outside the nation. Attempts to establish trading relations by occidental powers, sometimes, as in the American expedition under Commander Perry, involving a display of naval forces, rudely awakened the ruling class from their feudal sleep. The Mikado and his nobles were forced to recognise that they must establish their rule on Western lines, or they would speedily become a vassal State to one or other of the great Powers that, with increasing impatience, knocked at her gates with wares for sale—and with heavy artillery to batter them down if their admittance was long delayed.

In these circumstances the Mikado and his nobles, after consultation, and not without military opposition from some of them, took the only possible course to maintain their independence as a nation. They proceeded to organise the nation on the model of their capitalist neighbours, their first care being to establish a fighting force on land and sea, capable of warning off belligerent intruders and guaranteeing a share in the world’s markets to Japanese capitalists.

This action, taken in defence of their independence and based on a compromise or bargain between the nobles and their legitimate ruler, is what the countess describes as a sacrifice.

So much for the first example quoted by the Socialist (!) countess ; now for the second. The Moors entered Spain in 711 A.D., and in three years had “conquered the whole country, except the almost inaccessible regions of the North-West.” The Spaniards, according to their historians, waged almost uninterrupted warfare against them for nearly eight centuries. They gained the upper hand late in the fifteenth century, and then commenced a long period of religious persecution against the Moors, who were finally all converted to Christianity by burning, torturing and other methods approved by the Inquisition.

But their religious opinions were suspected by the clergy under Phillip III, who ordered their expulsion from Spain. “How far fairer it would be for us to recognise the truth and go as the Moors went from Spain, where they too had become an anachronism” says the countess, as though their going was a voluntary act of abdication.

They went, “about one million of the most industrious inhabitants of Spain,” says Buckle, “were hunted like wild beasts. Many were slain as they approached the coast, others were beaten and plundered, and the majority, in the most wretched plight, sailed for Africa. During the passage, the crew, in many of the ships, rose upon them, butchered the men, ravished the women, and threw the children into the sea. Those who escaped this fate landed on the coast of Barbary, where they were attacked by the Bedouins and many of them put to the sword. Others made their way into the desert, and perished from famine.”

The Moors ruled in Spain with the same arrogance that characterises every ruling class. Their rule became “an anachronism” because their power was broken and for no other reason. What childish nonsense, what a wilful perversion of history, to pretend that theirs was a voluntary act of renunciation. Yet it is on statements such as these that capitalist tools, wearing the Phrygian cap and waving the red flag of Socialism, gravely inform the workers that the shuffling, grabbing and hypocritical capitalist class will lead the working class, step by step, to its emancipation.

As in Japan, so in every European country—feudalism succumbed before the revolutionary power of the capitalist class. The fact that a compromise was afterwards effected, by means of which, feudal traditions and lineage were preserved, made no difference to the ultimate nature of society. Capital alone had voice. Was it not by means of capital that the wealth-producing class was exploited, and the national exchequer provided with the funds that maintained the fighting forces ? Lords and Barons might flaunt their heraldry, but the capitalist built his State on physical force and allotted monarchy and aristocracy their places in the capitalist State. The aristocracy were absorbed ; they became capitalists themselves and henceforth their interests were identical with those who had accomplished a revolution against them. For all practical purposes landowners and industrial capitalists form but one class—there is no serious friction between them. They control the executive power in the full determination—rarely expressed because so well understood—to maintain the existing system of society, and neither the prayers of morbid countesses nor the groans of their millions of starving victims will ever shake their resolve.

Only the organised might of the working class can break the power of capitalism and bring emancipation. If the capitalist class were imbued with the moral and sympathetic qualities they profess, the poverty and the toll of lives under their system, even in peace times, should have been sufficient incentive for them to exercise those qualities. Not so, however. Their efforts were always in the opposite direction—how to intensify exploitation.

Even the tragedy and devastation of their latest crime, with all the added misery it brings in its train for the working class, has never once caused the question to be raised—except by the Socialist—”Is not the system itself wrong ?”

And let the workers make no mistake, though every capitalist nation took sides and fought to the last man, till every vestige of civilisation were destroyed, the ruling class would never raise that question.

That question must be asked and answered by the working class. At present they are exploited, dragooned, bluffed, trained and educated to the status of wage-slavery. Thus with their intelligence warped, though the largest in numbers, they are the weakest. Let them strip themselves of the capitalist shroud which envelops their minds and they will at once become the strongest class in society. The capitalist class will then lose the opportunity, which they have never shown the slightest inclination to embrace, to win a “halo of renunciation” because working-class emancipation will be accomplished by the working class itself.
F. Foan

Editorial: The Russian Situation. (1917)

Editorial from the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

We live in tragic days, but days brim full of interest. During the past month the interest has certainly been most largely supplied by Russia. The spectacle of the whole capitalist world awaiting with tense anxiety the development of events in Russia, is one full of meaning to those who understand something of what is going on behind the curtain with which our masters in their wisdom try to obscure our view. On the one hand the Central Powers see in the Russian tangle great possibilities of advantage, while on the other hand the “Allies” see in the same turmoil all their chances of an effective offensive this Summer and Autumn vanishing into thin air.

The position as we conceive it is as follows. The capitalists of Russia, long squirming under the irksome restrictions placed upon their expansion by the feudal nobles, found in the conditions arising out of the war, a situation full of promise and they proceeded to exploit it. The Russian Army, they calculated, essentially an army in arms under duress, could have no love for the powers that drove them to the shambles, while the people at large, groaning under the misery of the universal chaos, would accept the overthrow of the nobility with acclamation. So far they appear to have calculated correctly. They accomplished their coup d’├ętat.

Having got safely so far, of course, the Russian capitalists were greeted with the applause of their fellow capitalists the world over. Bat, as the history of many revolutions shows, the job is only half complete largely upon a disaffected army and people ― an army and people writhing under the torture of this cruellest of wars, naturally find it no easy matter to keep the war machine a fit and efficient instrument for further prosecuting the war.

The simple Russian soldier, once the hand of the militarist bully relaxed its grip upon his throat, gave expression to his real feelings with regard to the war by fraternising with the “enemy” by battalions, and by deserting in myriads. The simple Russian peasants, to whom “Russian aspirations in the Straits” was a meaningless phrase, and the pan-Slav question empty vapouring ; to whom the enemy was the now deposed authority who had directed usurious taxation against them, holding their ungrown crops in mortgage to force them, broken and destitute, from their lands, offered no force moral or physical, to restrain the “unpatriotic” to the path of duty. Hence we find the Provisional Government engaged in the task of hunting around for some force wherewith to compel obedience to their commands, while the capitalist world looks on, its heart torn with anxious fears, wondering if they will find it

And now be it noted where the Russian master class, so lately revolutionary yet so soon reactionary, but yesterday so imbued with the spirit of sacrifice and freedom and equality, and so lavish of amnesty, yet this morning so hungering and thirsting after a force for coercion, turn first for an instrument to smooth their path and pluck the thorns from their bed of roses.

As in England and France and Germany the capitalist class have turned to the pseudo-Socialist and other labour fakers to aid them to their bloody victory, so in Russia the enemies of the working class find their agents in the ranks of the working-class leaders. Who fitter than a “Socialist” to harangue an undisciplined army? Who fitter than a “rebel” to lure other rebels from their rebellious ways ? Who fitter than a “leader” of “democracy” to represent the shadow of democracy as the substance, and to inflame the “democratic” passions to the defence of liberties which do not exist ? So they made a usurper of the Socialist name Minister for War, and sent him, hot-foot, to do work which no Socialist, in any country, could or would do.

So, having secured this agent to divide the workers, the Russian capitalists feel that they are strong enough for a bolder move, and have announced their intention of establishing a sort of travelling Courts with soldiers to execute their orders, though for the moment fear of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates Committees constrain them to hold their hands. Meanwhile they are straining every nerve to create a force, both of public opinion and military, powerful enough to strike at those who dare to challenge their right to rule, and when they have secured this, then the butchery will commence — the real bloodshed of this revolution start.

In the effort to re-establish tyranny in Russia let it be remembered what part is being played by the pseudo-Socialists and labour fakers of this country. Geographical difficulties and the exigencies of the war prevent Russia’s gallant allies from offering her armed forces to maintain “law and order,” so they are sending men of the Thorne and Sanders type, under the lying pretence that they represent Labour and Socialist opinion in this country. In thus helping to create a situation which a few battalions of Cossacks may bring to consummation, these men amply justify the worst we have said of them, and more also.

The Genesis of the “Great Man”. (1917)

From the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the most commonly held of the many erroneous, and therefore misleading, theories regarding history and the movements of human society is that which frequently goes by the name of the “Great Man Theory.” From its point of view those individuals who achieve prominence in any event or movement are the prime factors and forces behind it, and the real social forces which underlie them are entirely unappreciated. Thus the personality of Napoleon is looked upon as the cause of the wars associated with his name, Wat Tyler is regarded as the author of the Peasants’ Revolt, the evolution theory is thought to be due to the genius of men like Spencer and Darwin, Karl Marx is credited with being the generator of modern Socialism, and to Cecil Rhodes is attributed the Cape to Cairo Railway.

The influence of this theory upon the working class is baneful because under it many are deluded into looking to “leaders” and “intellectuals,” instead of to themselves, for their salvation, while some are led to embrace the vagaries and absurdities of Anarchism. It is quite easy to see that political assasination must appear a really sound and sensible procedure to those who, holding this point of view, wish to abolish social evils. Experience, however, shows that such action rarely, if ever, has the desired effect. And why ? Because the social conditions obtaining at any time are not dependent upon the existence of any individual, however prominent, but are decreed by the material conditions under which men live. So long as these remain unchanged, so long will the resultant social forms remain, and they will not be appreciably affected by the removal of any individual whatever.

To say this is not, of course, to deny the existence of great men, for to do so would be just as foolish as going to the other extreme. Every “great man” is the outcome of two main factors. One is biological and internal. No one will deny that the mental or physical capacity of an Alexander or an Aristotle, a Marx, a Darwin or a Napoleon, is vastly superior to that of the majority of men. The case is one of variations like unto those which occur in all living creatures. But this capacity alone is not sufficient to make a “great man.” Charles Peace would never be included among such, yet his genius was probably as pronounced as that of many who would be so designated.

This brings us to the second factor: the historical and external one. Every person is born into surroundings or environment conditions which have grown out of different preceding conditions, this movement itself being part of a continuous process of change and growth.

We may broadly classify the changing forms of environment into three mutually pervading and interdependent divisions or phases, material, social, and intellectual. That these are interlinked is easily shown when it is remembered that societies are forms of group relationships between material things, e.g., human beings ; that all ideas are based upon the perception of material phenomena and the relations between them, through the medium of the sense organs and the nervous system, themselves material in structure ; that the mind perceives among other things social conditions, and that ideas can aid in bringing about both social changes and fresh material things into existence.

But that the above classification is justifiable and useful enough can be shown by contrasting two different environments in their several phases. In England about the twelfth century the face of the country presented an aspect very different in many respects to its present one. Great belts of virgin forest and open fen remained of the great primaeval wild. There existed nothing of the network of hedges which to-day cuts up the country like a monster chess board. Wild animals were much more varied and plentiful. The towns were small and few and far between. There were no railways, few roads, and few brick buildings.

Social relations were just as different. There were practically no wage-workers. A large serf population existed—men unable to leave the village of their birth ; conditionally holding land and rendering compulsory service to a lord. The prices of merchandise were regulated largely by Guild associations and not by competition as to-day. In the intellectual field the contrast is just as marked. The majority of the population were then unable to read or write. Everyone, aristocrat or peasant, was deeply superstitious, believing in personal gods, devils, saints, and witches. Little or nothing was known of natural laws. There was no geology, no biology, nothing of the modern conception of universal evolution, and no social science. Religion dominated men’s theories, science was embryonic.

Returning now, after this digression, to “great men,” it is evident that everyone’s activities are moulded by the conditions of the age. No one, however clever, can transcend the possibilities of his time. Even the most profound thinkers and men of action must use the material to hand and must build upon the past labours of others. It is this inheritance of the accumulated experience of mankind’s past, in each generation, which makes all cultural and social progress possible. Were it possible for a child of highly civilised parents to develop in isolation amid natural surroundings, it would grow up not only illiterate but almost speechless, and with intelligence woefully stunted from lack of opportunity to develop it.

Real greatness consists of making the most of the material available, in reaching to the very outposts of the possible, in seeing things only just perceptible and hidden from the commonality of men.

The conditions for Darwin’s “Origin of Species” were laid before a line of it was penned. Darwin was obviously dependent upon the developed arts of writing and printing, on tho orderly classification of living things such as had been performed by Linnaeus. In his dedication to the “Voyage of the Beagle” Darwin pays a tribute to Lyell’s “Principles of Geology” as forming an essential preliminary to all his works. The point is clinched when it is remembered how many minds independently approached the theory of natural selection about the same time (see the historical note to the “Origin”), and it is well known how tho eminent naturalist, A. Russel Wallace, came to identical conclusions on his own accord.

The same phenomenon is apparent right through the history of science. Marius, Jansen, and Lippershey simultaneously invented the telescope. Both Adams and Leverrier discovered Neptune. Marx, Engels, and Morgan, by different routes, reached “Historical Materialism.” After decades of failures, Peary, Amundsen, and Scott reached the earth’s poles within a very brief period of each other. The recent development of aviation is equally instructive.

In political or social movements generally, conditions are somewhat different, for the action once taken, it cannot as a rule be repeated, and verification such as that possible in intellectual evolution is here impossible. But a little examination will always reveal the conditions prepared before any movement is realised. Alexander’s empire was made possible by the weakened and disorganised state of the older Greek powers, due to internal corruption and the ravages of the Peloponnesian War, together with the rotten organisation of the Persian empire already revealed by the notorious retreat of “the ten thousand.” The Macedonian spear and the efficient phalanx military formation were the deciding forces and Alexander the pinnacle of a whole system of favourable conditions. In like manner Napoleon as Emperor without the French Revolution as a preparation is quite unthinkable.

In conclusion it may be mentioned that there are always sufficient men of genius to satisfy all requirements. A “great man” never fails to sprout when the environment is favourable. Scores of men with the internal potentialities of greatness must be “wasted” by their labours being suffocated in unfruitful channels. In a sentence, we find that the greatest of men are the creatures and not the creators of their age.

By The Way. (1917)

The By The Way Column from the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

Nearly three years ago now, when the present international slaughter of the world’s workers commenced, we were informed that this was the “war to end war.” From that time onwards many have iterated the same silly phrase. Many have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the capitalist class and gone out of their way to inform the unwary that this war is different in its origin to past wars, that this time it is in order to put down “Prussianism” that they are called upon to give their services and, if necessary, their lives.

Slowly but surely numbers of our class are beginning to open their eyes and to realise that they have been deceived, and in order to facilitate this larger outlook I propose giving one or two quotations which possibly may help them in their search for truth and knowledge.

From a German source, quoted in a paper the proprietor of which is a keen supporter of the Lloyd Georgian (English-Prussian) Government, we read that General von Stein, Minister of War, said:
“I do not entertain the hope that the war will be followed by international peace. So long as the interests of nations conflict there will be wars. The prospects of an eternal peace are not very brilliant just now when two great peoples which hitherto did not think of maintaining large armies are beginning to create them. Consequently after the war it will be our duty to safeguard ourselves and preserve for our descendants what we have fought for.”—”Weekly Dispatch,” May 6th, 1917.
In order to obviate the retort that might be put forward by some, that the previous spokesman was a German, and, therefore, what he says does not count, let me adduce the evidence of an Englishman who is a Liberal M.P., and as such must necessarily be possessed of all the virtues. Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Shareholders in the British Westinghouse Co., Ltd., Mr. J. Annan Bryce said :
“It seems to be assumed by some well-meaning people that when peace is declared there will be an end of economic war also, and they deprecate any measures tending to perpetuate it. It is forgotten that this war is as much a war for commercial and industrials for military domination, and that there were no more enthusiastic advocates of it than the heads of the great German industries and financial establishments. It is forgotten that the military war is only the complement of the economic war which started half a century ago.”
Here we have supporters of the holy trinity of Rent, Interest, and Profit, or in other words, defenders of capitalist society, coolly admitting that this war is the result of an antagonism of capitalist interests.

The only war that will end war is the class war. Join, then, with us and assist in waging war for the abolition of classes and winning “The World for the Workers.”

* * *

An announcement recently appeared in the Press informing the public that “last year the British Board of Films Censors passed for universal exhibition 4,430 subjects and 904 for public exhibition.” It was further stated that among the grounds for the rejection of over 500 films were:
Impersonation of the King.
Irreverent treatment of death.
Nude figures.
Excessively passionate love scenes.
Scenes purporting to illustrate “night life.”
References to controversial or international politics.
Antagonistic relations of capital and labour.
Scenes tending to disparage public characters and to create public alarm.
Vampire women ; the drug habit ; white slave traffic.
Materialisation of the conventional figure of Christ.
Scenes depicting the realistic horrors of warfare.
Incidents calculated to afford information to the enemy.
Incidents having a tendency to disparage our Allies or to disturb friendly relations wkh them.
Scenes holding up the King’s uniform to contempt or ridicule.
Propaganda films of German origin.
—”Daily Chronicle,” April 3rd, 1917.
How carefully the agents of our masters choose what subjects their slaves shall see when they journey to the picture palace. The references to the “antagonistic relations of capital and labour” and the “realistic horrors of war” are distinctly good.

* * *

A study in directive ability ! Engineer for the cows. Mr. J. A. Morris Bew told the Westhampnett Tribunal at Chichester of the case of a farmer who applied to the military authorities for help.

“A man was sent to the farm on Friday night, but he left on Saturday morning.
“He was sent as a cowman, stockman, and milker, and turned out to be an electrical engineer who had never worked on a farm.”—”Star,” April 10th, 1917. Who said Business as usual?

* * *

In aid of soldiers blinded in the war a bazaar was a short time ago held at the Royal Albert Hall. Now functions of this order are not arranged for we wage slaves. No, indeed not ! Were we to absent ourselves from work, even on such an occasion as this when royalty were in attendance, doubtless we should be confronted with a notice informing us that in this time of crisis and national emergency it is highly unpatriotic to leave our masters’ business and that such a serious dereliction of duty was punishable under the D.O.R.A. And so it came to pass on the appointed day that many of the parasites of society did foregather in order to raise the wind for “our heroes blinded in the war” and whom a grateful country will ne’er forget (?) 

Now let me quote :
“Many Royal ladies are to assist in the selling. Princess Victoria has valuable lace and a wonderful fan worth £30 to offer, Princess Louise will sell Peking loot, coloured glass, a Chinese shawl, and an inlaid escritoire, Princess Beatrice presides over children’s garments, while the Princess Royal and her daughter, Princess Maud, will sell lingerie of the most lovely description. The great attraction at the Duchess of Somerset’s stall is potatoes.”
—”Daily Chronicle,” May 7th, 1917.
“Loot,” Ikey, my boy, “Loot” ! Now “loot,” according to the lexicographers is: “booty; plunder ; especially such as is taken in a sacked city.” If the purveyor of this said “loot” had been the Crown Prince, whose thieving activities we have heard so much about of late, one could understand this reference; but one shudders at the mention of Princess Louise.

* * *

The “Daily Chronicle” (8.5.17) had an editorial article on Food Rationing, and towards the close it dealt with the subject of the destruction of the house sparrow, advocated by the Board of Agriculture. By deleting the words “house sparrow” from the sentence and substituting the word “capitalist” we obtain a fine definition of that type of individual. It would then read as follows :
“The capitalist is undoubtedly a pest; he has few virtues ; he is virtually a parasite on man ; like a true parasite, he purloins much and serves us little; and all the characteristics which he has developed in the course of his denaturalised existence—his harsh voice, his quarrelsome manners, his filthy and untidy nest—mark his degeneration from the standards of true social (text wild-bird) life.”
We Socialists claim that the capitalist is unnecessary. To-day we have social production with individual ownership of the means of producing wealth and the product of our toil resulting therefrom. We suggest, therefore, the elimination of this parasite by an intelligent working class understanding its position in society, and working for the complete overthrow of the existing order of things through the conquest of political power, and the conversion of these individually owned means of wealth production into socially owned for the well being of all. Then we can commence the era of peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

* * *

The “glories of war” : Potatoe queues ; sugar queues ; margarine queues. The question of sugar is an interesting theme and affords a good object lesson of the methods of our “Business Government.” From the Northcliffe organ I cull the following :
“In certain shops—”The Evening News” has the name of one where it occurred last night—no sugar fit to eat is sold to any customer who does not buy tea.

A quantity of evil-looking sugar, full of black lumps and not without dirt and straw, is offered to customers who do not want tea.”
—”Evening News,” April 28th, 1917.
One is inclined to ask : Have all the public analysts and local medical officers of health gone to the war? Or is it a case of “one good turn deserves another” ?

* * *

An event of great importance to the workers, recently took place. Bearing in mind the scriptural injunction : “Ye cannot serve both God and Mammon,” I observed that that highly-democratic organ of the international working class, the “Weekly Dispatch” (29.4.17) vouchsafed the information that a little family gathering took place at Windsor. The touching story is thus told:
“Our Labour Ministers have had an opportunity during the week of seeing the King at Windsor Castle en famille, and it is gathered that they were delighted at the air of informality which characterised their reception.”
It is further added that Mr. George Barnes was also in the company of the elect, and “it is to be regretted that Mr. and Mrs. Henderson were unavoidably prevented from accepting his Majesty s invitation.” Strange, is it not, that these gentry who rejoice in the fact that one crowned head (the “Little Father,” better known as Bloody Nick) has received the “order of the boot,” are overjoyed at being the guests of another monarch. “By their fruits ye shall; know them” is the standard for measuring their value to the workers struggling to be free.

The “Dispatch” writer sums up this dust-throwing incident by adding :
“To be quite frank, everyone likes to see the King and Queen moving in an informal circle that includes honest, outspoken John Hodge and straight-­forward, plain-speaking George Barnes.”
* * *

The antics of these labour fakirs are excruciatingly funny. In the case of the engineers’ strike Hodge refers to “the irresponsible people of about 25” who, tiring of the dilatory methods of the accredited representatives of the union and the Ministry of Munitions, take matters into their own hands in order to force the pace, and he deplores their action, while on the other hand I read:
“Typists who earn 20s. a week in Government offices and the National Union of Clerks are grateful to Mr. John Hodge, Labour Minister, for complaining of the low wage.

If all the girls were to decline to work any longer for 20s. a week, said Mr. Hodge at Sheffield, what a powerful lever he would have. It would give him the bludgeon necessary to go to the Treasury.

“I am very glad,” said Mr. Herbert H. Elvin, general secretary of the National Union of Clerks, “that Mr. Hodge, as a Minister, has advocated a general strike on the part of women.”
—”Evening News,” April 28th, 1917.
Here we see John Hodge advocating for the women what he condemns in the case of the men. Will Hodge be proceeded against under some regulation of the Defence of the Realm Act, or is such distinction reserved for “people of about twenty-five,” and whose earnings do not yet suffice to support a triple, hodge-podge chin?

* * *

The Government have to blame themselves entirely for the chaotic conditions which they have brought into being in the engineering trades. With the deliberate suppression of news from the storm centres, the cutting off from communication of one section of men with those in other parts of the country, the one sided and meagre reports such as were allowed to be published, all tended to exasperate those concerned. The Munitions Act (Amendment) Bill still before the House, with its purposely ambiguous wording (a common feature of all Bills), also intensified the trouble that was brewing. So complex and incomprehensible is this Bill that the powers that be went to the length of issuing an explanatory poster to reassure the workers that the Bill was not designed to trespass on their hard-won rights as trade unionists, and so on ad nauseam.

From newspaper reports it first appears that Dr. Addison refused to recognise the Shop Stewards Committee, which obviously understands the local conditions better than the Central Executive, but afterwards changes his mind and agrees to see the Shop Stewards’ Committee if they agree to “act in unison with the trade union Executives.” Later we are informed that the Ministry of Munitions replied to the engineers’ delegates, who were in session at Walworth, that: “We shall be glad, if asked to do so by your Executives, to meet them accompanied by yourselves or by any other body your Executives may desire to bring with them, but we cannot receive you under other circumstances.” Then comes the arrest of certain men on a charge of promoting strikes. Commenting on this the “Daily News“ of Saturday (19.5.1917) says :
“A number of the leaders in the engineers’ strike have been arrested, and one more step has been taken by that action on the perilous path down which the Government are being driven. We have never defended this strike. But no one acquainted at all with the circumstances which have led to this dispute, and the real history of how it has been allowed to grow to its present proportions, can doubt where the real responsibility lies for the gloomy prospect with which the whole nation finds itself to-day confronted.

“In respect of most of the men,” says the “Morning Post,” “they have been irritated and worried by the authorities. The fact is, the Ministry of Munitions have made a sad business of it ; and the sooner the Government recognise the fact the better.”
Evidently “the fact” has been recognised by the Government at last, and a meeting has taken place at which Lld. George attended and at which what appears to be a temporary peace was arranged.

* * *

The Archbishop of Canterbury has authorised special prayers for “God’s blessing on the crops and the fruits of the earth in this time of sowing,” runs an announcement in the Press. Then follows a passage from the prayer telling the All-knowing that we have some Allies and some ships which the Archbishop wants protected. It is to be hoped that the recording angel has duly noted this petition.

* * *

The King has been on tour and at one of the works he visited we are informed in all seriousness that he “clocked on” as if he were an ordinary employee. Doubtless after seeing other people work he “clocked off,” and was duly thankful that his lot had been cast in smoother places.

* * *

“One of the liveliest and noisiest meetings in Glasgow for many years was that held last night when Mr. G. N. Barnes, M.P., Pensions Minister, met with a distinctly hostile reception on the occasion of his addressing his constituents in the Blackfriars Division.” (“Daily News,” 12.4.17.) The storm in the tea-cup was over this gent’s reference to “veritable weeds” in the House on the Pensions problem. He now regretted having used the phrase as it seemed to indicate a lack of sympathy on his part.

Mr. Barnes need not worry his guts into fiddle-strings over this matter. Far from indicating a lack of sympathy on his part, his whole handling of the Pensions problem has shown him to be a very sympathetic man—but his sympathy is reserved, not for disabled soldiers, broken in the war, but for those who pay him for it—the blood-reeking masters.

* * *

The War Office recently announced its intention of opening two new groups for attestation, the age limit being from 41 to 50 years. A kind of Derby Scheme is thus once again in operation, with the promise of an armlet slightly different in design from that issued in the earlier campaign, for those who hurry along and volunteer. According to figures given in the Press there is quite a large amount of recruitable material. This card waits to see how many respond to the call. What a fine opportunity is now presented to those who a short time ago were dying to enlist were they within the age limit. Having urged the younger men to hasten forth to battle for King and Country, it is now up to them to honour the obligation they were prepared to impose upon others.

* * *

“Nine British soldiers are dying every hour.”—Gen. Baden-Powell. But, “There are worse things than bloodshed.”—Windy Churchill.
The Scout.

Watch the antics of the pseudo-Socialists. (1917)

From the June 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard
Watch the antics of the pseudo-Socialists.