Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Belated Awakening. (1923)

From the August 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

An article in the New Statesman (23/6/23), entitled “The Temper of Germany," written by Robert Dell, is interesting from many points of view.

For years we endeavoured to convince our readers, by facts and logical deductions from facts, that the so-called German Socialist Party was built upon foundations of sand and was socialist in name only.

We were chided for our criticisms and referred to as “Simon Pures." The four million or so membership of the German Social Democratic Party was held up as an illustration of the value of compromise, and a reform rather than a revolutionary programme.

The outbreak of the big European War brought down this German house of cards. The large German party that was supposed to be sweeping rapidly on to victory turned jingo. The lack of socialist knowledge on the part of its membership, and the trickery of its leaders, was shown by the part it took on the side of the German capitalists against the commercial competitors of the latter. Instead of seeing his enemy in the capitalists of all nations the German worker took up the national attitude and abandoned the field of the class struggle. This attitude, of course, was not reserved for the German worker alone. A similar position was taken up by the workers in all the belligerent countries.

The attitude of the German Social Democratic Party is an object lesson to the workers of the futility of large numbers where sound principles are lacking; and the foolishness, from the point of view of the working-class movement, of submerging principles and entering, into compromises with the enemy in order to obtain a large following.

This lesson has not yet been taken to heart, as witness the formation of Communist Parties and the repeated manifestoes and conferences on “The United Front.” 

Robert Dell gave belated support to our years-old attitude towards the German S.D.P. when he wrote the following :—
   “This diagnosis of the temper of the German masses may seem strange in view of the fact that the German Socialist Party has not shown itself conspicuously internationalist. But it has to be remembered that the Socialist Party was the only effective Opposition before the war, and as such attracted to itself large numbers of people who in England would have been Liberals or even Moderate Conservatives. In 1918 the Majority Socialist leaders were not even in favour of a revolution. They accepted it because they were obliged to. Not much more than a fortnight before the revolution took place Scheidemann refused to agree even to the dethronement of William II. in favour of another member of his own family, although Erzberger was among the supporters of the proposal. Scheidemann would not abandon his Kaiser. After the defeat of the Kapp putsch the Socialists could have done anything they liked—they compromised with the defeated reactionaries. No party is more responsible for the present state of Germany than the Majority Socialists, and no individuals have as great a responsibility for it as Noske and Scheidcmann.”
When, in the past, we said as much of the German party as is contained in the above quotation, we were sneered at as visionaries. How the earth do move !

It is rather amusing to read the extract and then reflect on the fact that it appeared in a journal that supports the Labour Party —as the criticism fits the Labour Party so well. The same paper has also, in the main, supported the German Majority Socialists condemned by Dell !
Gilmac.

Notes. (1923)

From the September 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

To appreciate properly the wonderful genius of the Capitalist, it is useful to peruse the pages of the “Directory of Directors.” According to the “Daily News” (8/6/23):
“The book shows that many individuals hold numerous directorial appointments, and probably the most notable of these is the 60 directorships held by Mr. H. S. Berry, while Mr. Edmund Davies appears on the board of 52 companies, and the Viscountess Rhondda on 33 companies."
Imagine the marvellous ability of the man or woman who can do dozens of jobs at the one moment! The capitalists have evidently solved the problem of being in 30 or 40 places at the same time.

Seriously, however, this should convince any worker, who will give the matter a few moments’ thought, of the fact that the capitalists are not necessary to, and take no part in, industry. How can a man do any work of importance when his activities are split up over 40 or 50 concerns, and these concerns of immense size? Their figuring as directors merely consists of possibly attending a board meeting once in a few months for the purpose of hearing a report read of the activities of those who actually do take part in the work of the different concerns.


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The  "spiritualism” of the Church rests upon a very ordinary economic basis, in spite of the desire of “idealists” to raise it above the mundane. For example, the Church finds it cannot flourish without funds, and that to get funds it must adopt the commercial traveller methods of the ordinary business concern.

In order to stir up the getting of funds a book has been issued setting out the line religious collectors should adopt. It is entitled “Efficient Church Finance.” Here are one or two extracts from it:
  “Our ability to read character and our instinct for touching the right spot may enable us to secure unlimited favourable attention at once.”
   “Try to sense his viewpoint; begin talking along lines in which he is quite agreed."
   "Emphasise the more spiritual side of the ‘‘Weekly Freewill Offering". Tell of the Spiritual Uplift.”
That last point is the clincher ! Imagine the “spiritual uplift” attached to your "mouldy coppers” !
Gilmac.

The Freedom of the Press (1923)

Quote from the October 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard
“Journalists are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks. They pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, our lives, are the property of other men."
Jerome K. Jerome.
(The New Witness, 9/2/23.)

Funds. (1923)

Party News from the November 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

The winter is upon us, unemployment is widespread, thousands have the greatest difficulty in keeping the hunger-wolf from the door, owing to the smallness and uncertainty of the wages they obtain.

Under such conditions it must seem curious and even callous to the outsider to ask a worker to spare pence out of his pitiful pittance for Socialist propaganda.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is made up of working men—the poorly paid and the unemployed. We are organised to overthrow the system that breeds overwork, poor pay and unemployment. Organisation needs funds.

Funds are necessary for instance for the following purposes: (1) the upkeep of the central office, in which the business of the organisation can be transacted, educational classes held, and so forth; (2) the printing expenses for the production of circulars, pamphlets, and the monthly journal—the At S.S.” ; (3) the obtaining of platforms and the hiring of halls for public meetings.

The above are some of the most important expenses incurred.

To meet these expenses our members pay what they can, but we are unable to subscribe sufficient ourselves to keep the party solvent. To meet the deficits we have collections at our meetings, and invite subscriptions to our Thousand Pound Fund. Up to the present we have been just able to scrape through, but we are rapidly reaching the point where we will be unable to scrape through. This is largely due to increased costs of printing, office expenses, decreasing collections, owing to the general depression, and the decreasing capacity of our members to subscribe.

The sequel can be easily understood. Unless more funds are forthcoming we will have to curb our activities still further, and possibly suspend publication of our monthly paper, The Socialist Standard.

Those who agree with our propaganda and desire to see the continued publication of The Socialist Standard, and also the printing of further pamphlets, are earnestly invited to do what they can in the way of subscribing to our funds, and extending the circulation of our literature.

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Who were the First Huns? (1923)

From the December 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ask most people, "Who were the first people in the European War to drop bombs on cities and destroy defencelcss women and children? ” and they will reply, “ The Germans.”

We have heard much these many years of the Hunnish raids of the Zepps, and aeroplanes, and the tales have been accompanied by harrowing descriptions of the sufferings of defenceless people.

The following quotation is from “A lantern Lecture, entitled 'War in the Air,’ by C. G. Grey (Editor of the Aeroplane), issued by the National War Saving’s Committee, Salisbury Square, E.C.4 ” :—
   “Slide 32: The Navy’s land machines went over to Belgium, and it is to the credit of the R.N.A.S. that the first hostile missiles which fell on German soil were bombs dropped by the R.N.A.S. at Cologne and Dusseldorf. Slide 34: Unfortunately the German advance in Belgium drove our bases so far back it became impossible to reach German towns with aeroplanes then available. Slide 35: It is interesting to note that these early raids of the R.N.A.S. were the first examples of bomb-dropping attacks in any war; and the pity is that we had not at the beginning of the war enough aeroplanes.”
Another dirty mark on the white banner of ideals!

What The Labour Party Proposes After The War (1943)

Editorial from the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Miss Ellen Wilkinson in a speech at Tooting on October 26, 1942, is reported by the Evening News to have said :—
  You cannot expect to get a planned Socialist State the day after the armistice, tied up with pink ribbon, as a present from Mr. Winston Churchill.—(Evening News, October 27, 1942.)
Miss Wilkinson was stating the obvious, and it is to be doubted whether anyone in her audience needed such assurance; but if Mr. Winston Churchill, the Tory, cannot be expected to make us a present of Socialism, what of Miss Wilkinson and her Labour Party friends? Mr. Herbert Morrison, for example, has recently made two pronouncements on the world after the war. In a speech at Manchester he warned against abandoning war-time organisation and said that if we scrap sensible war-time planning
   We shall be heading for muddle and disaster, and out of that may come anything, including Fascism.— (Manchester Guardian, September 26, 1942.)
In a later speech, at Swindon, on December 20, he sketched what form post-war control of industry might take.
    Social control of production, however, might take many different forms. How much of it we wanted and in what forms could not be settled in terms of any political dogma. The sole test must be whether the public interest was served by such measures in particular cases or not. Some forms of economic activity would, like our postal and telegraphic communications, respond well to ownership and management by a department of State. But the public concern in this form was certainly not a universal panacea. Rather was it likely to be exceptional. What, for instance, should we do with our natural monopolies, industries which could not be carried on properly at all except on a monopoly basis? It might be that instead of leaving them in private hands . . . we should get better national service from them if we turned them into public corporations like the Central Electricity Board, the London Passenger Transport Board, or, in another sphere, the B.B.C.—(Times, December 21, 1942.)
He went on to suggest that other industries which are not natural monopolies though near-monopolies, such as the iron and steel and chemical industries, might be made into public corporations or put under "some form of management under a board of directors with a nationally nominated chairman."

So what sort of choice do Miss Wilkinson's Labour Party friends offer us? If capitalism is uncontrolled we shall have muddle and perhaps Fascism, and as a choice of alternatives we are to have supervised private monopolies or public corporations. Does Mr. Morrison believe that these forms (workable as a phase of capitalism though they may be) will prove satisfactory to the working class? They are forms of private ownership, and subject to all the stresses and strains inseparable from class divided society. Dividends for the investors will be their prime purpose, and they will be subject to the usual industrial conflicts with the workers employed by them. They will leave untouched the problem of converting private ownership into common ownership in the interest of the whole community.

The position is, then, that if Mr. Winston Churchill does not intend to give us Socialism neither does Mr. Morrison, and since there is no sign at present of the workers deciding to achieve Socialism for themselves we shall be left with capitalism even if it be agreed by Miss Wilkinson and others not to call it by that name but to label it "public control," or by some other fancy name.

Who Pays For Wars? (1943)

Editorial from the February 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

Everybody knows that war is destructive, but not everybody has a clear idea who pays for it. War involves the destruction of existing wealth, and still more the concentration of effort on the production of war materials destined only for destruction. Sometimes the victor can make the vanquished pay, but the last war showed how difficult it is to collect the huge bill that arises from a world war.

Who pays for the war? Who bears the financial burden? There are answers in plenty. "We do," say the landlords, who see many of their rents stabilised at pre-war level, while prices rise and expenses mount. ” We do,” say the industrial and commercial shareholders, who see Excess Profits Tax draining away £400 million of their profits, while more hundreds of millions go in Income Tax. “We do,” say the workers, who have been brought within the reach of Income Tax for the first time, and who see all goods they buy dearer in greater or less degree. “ We do,” say the pensioners and investors on fixed incomes, who have the same income as before the war (less after deduction of income tax) while cost of living has risen. Even the soldiers who sacrifice life and limb may add that they also bear a financial burden in loss of earnings.

The Socialist answer to the question, surprising though it is to many workers, is that the financial burden of war, like the financial burden of taxation in peace-time, falls in the long run on the propertied class, not on the working class. Why this is so can be understood only when the working of the capitalist system of society is understood. The foundation of the capitalist system is the ownership by a comparatively small class of people of the land, the buildings on the land, the mines under the land, the factories and their machinery, the railways, road transport vehicles, aeroplanes, ships, hotels, dwelling houses, and so on. These things and the mass of raw materials and finished products in existence at any given moment are the property of the capitalist class, landed, industrial and financial. While the means of production and distribution are owned by the few, they are worked by the many, the working class. It is the labour of the workers applied to the raw material, that produces all the goods and maintains all the services on which the whole of the population depends.

At this point it is sometimes argued that, since the workers produce everything, do they not pay for everything? But the answer is, No. What the workers produce is wholly the property of their employers, and it is the propertied class as a whole that does the paying. The industrial capitalist, having sold the goods produced by the workers, uses the proceeds to pay for the cost of raw materials, for the workers' wages, for repairs and replacements of machinery, for rent, advertising, etc., etc. The industrial capitalist, after paying all his expenses, including his workers' wages, is the owner of the “surplus-value” produced for him by the workers, though he has to surrender part of this surplus value to the landed, financial and commercial capitalist. What the working class receive is the amount paid to them by their employers in the form of wages and salaries. The working class are sellers of the only commodity they possess, their labour-power, and the price at which they sell, though it varies from country to country, and from one class of work to another, is determined by the cost of maintenance of those workers and their dependents. If that cost— the workers' cost of living—rises, then, other things remaining unchanged, the level of wages rises, though more slowly, and if the cost of living falls, wages fall. These adjustments are a resultant of opposing forces, including the workers' resistance through their trade unions.

The Capitalists always, in peace as in war, strive to get as much surplus-value out of the working class as they can, which means as much as the circumstances permit. They take advantage of a fall in prices or a growth of unemployment to depress wages, but when the process is reversed they are normally unable to resist granting wage increases. They cannot, merely by wishing to do so, pass on the burden of taxation to the workers. Taxation is a burden that falls on them, though what each group tries to do is to pass on a larger share of the burden of taxation to their fellow property owners.

The burden of taxation, in peace or war, and in spite of superficial appearances to the contrary, falls in the long run on the propertied class. They can try various devices, such as mass propaganda and taxes on wages, and by permitting a rise in the cost of living, to escape the burden, but always in the last resort the problem is the simple one whether the workers can be forced or persuaded to accept a lower wage (or to work harder or longer for the same wage), or accept a wage increase that is less than the increase of the cost of living. The economic forces of the capitalist system always tend to operate more or less effectively in spite of efforts to dam them up.

The capitalist class may try to ease their burden of taxation by getting more work out of the workers or by forcing a lowering of the workers' standard of living, but even if the workers were willing or compelled, as they sometimes are, this process has its limits because the workers' efficiency suffers if excessive fatigue or under-nourishment are continued too long.

What has happened so far in this war? The cost of living has risen, weekly wage rates for a normal week have risen, and earnings have risen in most cases more than the rise of wage-rates owing to the working of longer hours and to the extended introduction of piece-work systems. At the same time the workers' increased earnings have been reduced by the increased effect of Income Tax, and savings have increased. Now according to the Oxford Institute of Statistics, the net effect of all these changes has been that the workers' earnings have increased by just about as much as the increase in the cost of living and the effect of the income tax. Without crediting such estimates with an undue amount of accuracy, since the subject is a difficult one to reduce to simple terms, sufficient is known of the general movement of wages, prices, etc., to see that the general tendency is unmistakeable. The capitalist class have not in the main been able to pass on to the working class their burden of taxation. What has been achieved at the workers' expense is that, in order to maintain something like a pre-war standard of living (so far as that can be done in face of the complete disappearance of many articles), the workers are working much longer hours and suffering the consequent additional wear and tear on health and vitality.

On the capitalist side war results in some redistribution among themselves. Some gain, others lose, and often it is the large concerns that gain at the expense of the small ones —but this is not peculiarly a feature of war but only a continuation of peace-time trends.

As it is of obvious importance that the workers should he guided, in their notions by an understating of capitalist finance and taxation, we propose to return to this subject and deal with various aspects of the problem in subsequent issues.

"Workers' Revolutionary League" Please Note (1943)

From the March 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The December-January, 1943, member of Solidarity, the organ of the Workers' Revolutionary League, includes the following:—
S.P.G.B. Please Note.
But soldiers have a short way with legal niceties which stand in the way of military advantage. (Evening Citizen, December 28th, 1942.) (W.R.L.'s italics.)
We have duly noted this somewhat cryptic statement from a Glasgow capitalist newspaper, and in the absence of any explanatory comment by Solidarity, can only study the contents of that periodical with a view to shedding some light on it ourselves.

If the statement quoted has any meaning at all, it is that occupying or invading armies ignore the legal “niceties" (or provisions) of the region or territory they are occupying.

How on earth Solidarity or anybody else can dream that this invalidates the case of the S.P.G.B. is beyond us.

When victorious armies (soldiers) "have a short way" with "legal niceties" they are but overthrowing one legal code to institute another. They are imposing the power of a stronger state machine upon a weaker defeated one.

The S.P.G.B. has always contended that the workers, before they can impose their will upon the capitalist class, must get control of the Capitalist State machine by the only means possible, securing a majority of the electorate.

The Workers' Revolutionary League, as evidenced in its quotations from Trotsky's "Defence of Terrorism (Terrorism and Communism)" of 1920 (the arguments in which were so completely disposed of by Karl Kautsky) still deludes itself, in face of the colossal power of modern armies and air forces, with pipe dreams of a minority revolt of the unarmed workers against the armed forces of the Capitalist State.

We are naturally well aware of the fact that they endeavour to justify this, as Trotsky and Lenin did, with a lot of high-flown rubbish about calling on the soldiers to refuse to shoot the workers down.

Soldiers cannot refuse to obey orders, and remain soldiers. Actually, they have no desire to. otherwise they would not be in the army.

“Woe to humanity if we fail to tear the rifle butt from the hands of reaction at the critical hour," says a Workers' Revolutionary League spokesman reported in the same issue of Solidarity.

This mysterious "critical hour" is our old Communist Party pre-war friend "the psychological moment."

On the contrary, the rifle butts are in the hands of the workers now—millions of 'em, and whether Solidarity likes it or not, they, the workers, are "the hands of reaction."

Another contributor to Solidarity, "Icarus" (how well named, his brief flight into the realm of political theory ending just as disastrously), takes an anonymous contributor to a Left journal to task for stating that—
"Fascism is enthusiastically welcomed by a large strata of workers."
"Where? Only our comrade knows," says he.
Let us state categorically, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt owe their positions to the enthusiastic support of large numbers of the workers. They are unthinkable without it, and nobody knows it better than they do.

When, finally, we read that the Workers' Revolutionary League wants to tear the rifle butts, etc., to arrive at the "classless, Stateless Socialist Industrial Commonwealth, Anarchism," we perceive yet another example of a fact expounded by the Socialist Party for years—that confusion on means (violent minority, direct action) usually pre-supposes, and is in fact synonymous with a lack of any clear and definite object.

The object of the Workers' Revolutionary League is “ Socialist Industrial Commonwealth—Anarchism." 

Anarchism has nothing whatever to do with Socialism —is diametrically opposed to it. It represents the hope of certain reformers—Proudhon, Stirner, Bakunin and Kropotkin—to convert the workers into small “independent" capitalists.

So the Workers' Revolutionary League, not knowing what it is aiming at, it is not surprising that it is completely bewildered about how to get there.

The S.P.G.B. repeats that the only way to get Socialism is to make Socialists. The rifle butts are all right—it's the ideas in the heads which have got to be torn out.
Horatio.

Pocket History of the British Working Class (1943)

Book Review from the April 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of the faults of Postgate’s “Pocket History of the British Working Class" (N.C.L.C., 2s.) is that it is far too short to deal with the tremendous amount of material. The effort to compress working class history into 90 pages must result in the omission of much that is important. This, however, is not our only criticism, as while the book serves well as an introduction to the study of the infancy of the movement, the latter part, from the formation of the Labour organisations onwards, contains some inaccuracies.

The difference between the craft guilds of the journeymen and the Trade Unions is shown quite well. And a good outline is given of the efforts of the unions and sympathisers to gain a legal standing for the unions by the repeal of the Combination laws.

The Owenite movement is touched upon, but none of the other Utopians, such as Richard Hall, A. Combe, and John Bray are mentioned. The writings of these men played an important part in the theoretical side of the workers' movement in the early nineteenth century and a knowledge of their ideas is very useful to any student of working-class history.

The Chartist movement is summarised fairly adequately; the course of the movement, the disputes over the questions of violence, moral force and compromise, and the waning of enthusiasm, which eventually led to its break-up, are very well described. The wild statement of Stephens, given on page 30, "limb for limb . . . blood for blood," could have been followed by this statement of Lovett, a striking contrast: “All this hurry and haste, this bluster and menace of armed opposition can only lead to premature outbreaks and to the destruction of Chartism.' (History of British Socialism, Vol. 2, page 43, M. Beer.) One lesson we have learned is that the working class cannot maintain and sustain its movement by using violence against their employers or the State.

With the collapse of the Chartist movement and the rise of the “new model" unions, the workers seek concessions on the industrial field, and we have a short period of stagnation politically. We see large amalgamated unions arise which attempted to work in a spirit of co-operation and conciliation with the employers. Despite their activities, strikes occurred in many industries and widespread discontent existed. The Reform Act of 1867, giving the vote to town workers, and certain other concessions obtained, led the members of these unions to support the Liberals in elections, and some of their leaders went into Parliament as Liberals. In fact, as Postgate says on page 56, “Politically they become indistinguishable from party Liberals."

We now come to what must be considered the less satisfactory part of the book. When reading a work dealing with Socialism and Socialists, a newcomer would at least expect a little enlightenment as to what Socialism means, and an indication of how to establish it. In this work he will look in vain. Postgate classes all Labour organisations, with the exception of the Labour Party at its foundation, as Socialist, but differing in their methods of obtaining it. "Class war, the dialectic, no compromise, no reforms—the revolution or nothing. These were S.D.F. principles." (Page 68.) This is far too sweeping a statement, as the S.D.F. throughout their history were advocates of reforms.

We are. told that the work of Keir Hardie and the I.L.P. was "the making of Socialism a mass movement instead of a clique's doctrine " (page 64). Yet forty-seven years after they were founded, C. A. Smith, their chairman, wrote in the New Leader, March 14th, 1940, when referring - to Socialism: "Clearly it is high time for Socialists to get down to the job-of definition, and make quite clear to themselves what they mean by the term."

Although Postgate refers to the Labour Party as Lib.-Lab„ he infers, generally, that they were Socialist—e.g., page 66: "The propaganda of Socialism had at last reached the masses." This is stated because 29 Labour men had been elected to Parliament. Non-Socialist organisations such as the Fabians, the B.S.P. and the Labour Party are paraded through these pages, but the silence regarding the S.P.G.B. is complete.

Again, when dealing with the first world war, he omits any reference to the consistent Socialist attitude of the S.P.G.B.—an attitude based on understanding—yet he mentions the opposition of the I.L.P.

It is suggested that the two Labour Governments were prevented from passing Socialist measures because of the possible opposition from the Liberals (page 78): “A full Socialist programme was ruled out by the Liberal veto." The truth is that the Labour Party, being a non-Socialist organisation, could do nothing other than administer capitalism, with all its defects.

In general, therefore, this is a useful work so far as the early history of the movement is concerned, but in the latter sections the reader should proceed warily and critically.
Lew Jones

The Devil is Convalescing (1943)

From the May 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

In a speech at Aberdeen University, reported in The People (February 7th, 1943), Sir Stafford Cripps warned his audience that they must not let slip the present opportunity to plan for peace. Soon it will be too late, for ”certain interests are already massing their forces to fight the plans for a better Britain and a better world after the war.” This is not a reference to Hitler, but to "privilege and selfish interests” here in this country. Sir Stafford quoted the old saying, "The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be! The devil is well, the devil a monk is he!” but went on rather inconsistently to dismiss "facile explanations dealing with deceitfulness of politicians or the trickery of the ruling class.” He recalled that in November, 1918, Mr. Lloyd George talked of making Britain "a fit country for heroes to live in,” but already it was too late, "the time had already passed and the new spirit of common sacrifice was already being strangled by the old forces of internal difference which rapidly reared their heads once the danger was past.”

Rather appropriately, in a neighbouring column of The People, is a statement made by Mr. Winston Churchill that "the sun has now begun to shine . . . " Continuing Sir Stafford's reference to the sickness of the devil, it might be suggested that as he basks in the new sunshine the devil is already in the convalescent stage, with a corresponding diminution of the early war-time seal for repentance and reform.

It prompts the question why the Labour Party (and Sir Stafford, who opposes the Labour Party) did not strike while the devil was really sick, by securing explicit pledges from the Government as regards post-war legislation on parts of the Labour Party programme, as a condition of entering the Cabinet.

Sir Stafford offered a second reason why sincere reformers in the past have failed to overcome the opposing forces. It is that they "under-estimate the support they would win from the people. . . . for a bold programme of change.” He did not define in concrete terms what he would regard a "bold programme of change" but we know one—Socialism. Sir Stafford has often in the past affirmed his support for Socialism, but we notice that in May, 1942, when he addressed the Fabian Society and defended the electoral truce and National Government in war-time, he explained why the compromise nature of the Government made it obvious that "no fundamental changes of a revolutionary character could be expected, nor was it desirable that they should be pressed " (Evening Standard, May 30th, 1942.) If the Evening Standard account is correct (it was described as being received from "an old member" of the Fabian Society who was present). Sir Stafford then went on to urge a Continuation of the idea of National Government after the war. He pleaded for "a National Progressive Government," but added that this Government "should not insist on any 'ism."

Not insisting on any "ism" means keeping.the present "ism" (Capitalism) and not attempting to change over to Socialism. This comes oddly from one who has long professed to believe that Socialism is what is required, and who criticise others for not seeking popular support for a bold programme of change.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Happiest Man In The World (1943)

Film Review from the June 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The news cinemas are now showing a 15-minute “short" with the above title, based on a short story by the American prince of short story writers, O. Henry.

The dramatisation of a tiny commonplace incident in the everyday life of capitalist society, acted by two characters only, dwarfs into insignificance all the “colossal,“ "stupendous,' etc., etc., epics of the Hollywood dope works. Briefly, the story consists in the application by a desperately anxious unemployed man from Kansas, to his brother-in-law, the transport manager of an oil company in Texas, for a job. The job is vacant, because it is deadly dangerous; driving a truck-load of nitro-glycerine. "If a wheel hits a rock, there's no truck, no load, no driver any more." The pay is high, six dollars a run. The whole action of the film consists in the dialogue between the two men in the office of Tom, the foreman. Jesse (the unemployed man) begs, pleads and entreats. Tom is adamant. "Think of your wife and kids," says he, "go back home. I'll send you something." "Tom," says Jesse, "I am thinking of 'em. I've been on relief six years. My kids' bones are soft, they've got rickets because they've been fed on relief for six years." "But you won't last a month," rejoins Tom. "Even then," says Jesse, "I'll have made 600 dollars. I can get my wife and kids some clothes and shoes, maybe even some for myself." At last Tom gives in. "All right! report to-night for your first run." Jesse is overjoyed, thanks Tom with tears in his eyes, as he steps out into the sun, and remarks, "I guess I'm the happiest man in the world."

This is the sort of thing that takes places often in capitalist society, especially in the prosperous United States of America.

How farcical the chatter about "freedom from want" in a society based on a tiny minority giving the vast majority "jobs"—which the majority must have or starve. And how trifling the uneasy qualms of humanitarian pacifists about human life—in war time only. Working men are slaughtered every day in peace time for capitalist profits.

This short film, which exposes the misery created by capitalism like a lightning flash in a dark sky, is the prototype of what might be possible when the Socialist Party has sufficient resources to apply modern technical developments, like the cinema, to the task of Socialist propaganda.
Horatio.

Blogger's Note:
Sadly, I couldn't find the short film on YouTube, but I did find the text of the original short story on a Russian website. The bare bones of the story - as described by 'Horatio' in his review - suggests the short story might have been the inspiration for Clouzot's 'The Wages of Fear'.

It turns out that the original story was not by O. Henry but by Albert Maltz, an American Communist writer of that period. The story first appeared in the June 1938 issue of Harper's Magazine. It was an honest mistake by 'Horatio' (Harry Young) because the short story was in fact the recipient of the O. Henry Award for 1938. An award given out annually for outstanding short stories.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Letters: The Slump (1999)

Letters to the Editors from the January 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Slump

Dear Editors,

Concerning "Boom goes bust in Asia" (Socialist Standard, October) Robert Bremner in New Left Review 229 points out how the unwillingness of capitalists to write off earlier investments inhibits the purging of excess capacity and overvalued capital. I too think that a 1929-type slump is required if there is to be a sustained recovery. I detect growing opposition on the Right to rescue packages, but the write-off fear factor works against this.

Re the October editorial, if I did not know you better I would be accusing you of predicting the collapse of capitalism. George Sosos's wrong if he is going that far, although I question whether he is. Unless a 1929 repeat leads to the appropriate reaction from the working class, you can safely bet on the continuation of capitalism. Betting on what happens next in the short term is a totally different matter of course, but while many are seeking shelter, many fund managers and others are still having to make decisions which cannot be any better than actually betting on what happens next.

Ted Edge, 
Lytham St Annes

Reply: 
As you point out, of course we don’t believe that capitalism is going to collapse. As we pointed out in the pamphlet we brought out in the course of the 1930s' slump, Why Capitalism Will Not Collapse, capitalism will stagger on from crisis to crisis until the working class organises consciously and politically to bring it to an end and replace it with socialism.

As to Soros (above), since he always talks about the "collapse" or "disintegration" of "the global capitalist system", he probably has in mind a regression to a collection of "national capitalist systems" behind their own tariff walls and exchange controls—Editors



All together?

Dear Editors,

Having just received, and read, an information pack on the Socialist Party I am still convinced that many members of other parties share your basic aspirations. Obviously there exist differences of opinion and interpretation of Marxist philosophy, but I fail to comprehend why the apparent hostility exists towards what I would describe as other left-oriented movements.

As long as those seeking radical reform of society continue to remain divided (on party lines) there, in my opinion, will be no change in the present order. The capitalist classes are totally unscrupulous as to whom they form bonds to oppress and exploit the working class. Can't we all unite under one banner and, if necessary, seek compromise amongst different factions who basically share one common goal?

Christopher Wilkins, 
Scarborough

Reply: 
We wouldn’t deny that members of many parties, and of none, share the "basic aspiration" of wanting a better world. Where the disagreements begin is over the features of this better world, which we say can only be achieved on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources—our definition of the word socialism.

As you point out, there are others who say that their aim is socialism, or make reference to the works of Marx, but few of them mean by socialism what we (and Marx) do. For them "socialism" means state ownership and control, which in our view amounts only to state capitalism. So why should we—how can we—get together with people who don’t have the same aim as us?

As to the much smaller group of people out there who define socialism in the same way as us, they generally disagree with the way we advocate achieving it, i.e. the democratic political action, via the ballot box, of a majority of conscious socialists. Some of them favour violent insurrection or a general strike or a minority dictatorship as a means to get socialism. Others favour going off into the wilderness and setting up communities or advocate reforms they claim are steps on the way to socialism.

We certainly think that all those who want socialism in the sense of a society based on the common ownership and democratic control of resources should get together in a single organisation that concentrates on advocating socialism and nothing else. Our message to them is stop entertaining illusions about minority action or reforms and join us in creating a bigger socialist party—Editors



Socialist Pioneers

Dear Editors,

I would like to add a few additional comments to Colin Skelly's interesting article, "Pioneers of Socialism" (Socialist Standard, November 1998).

William Morris joined the Democratic Federation, which became the Social Democratic Federation in 1884, [not] in 1883. However, on 27 December 1884 Morris, together with Edward Aveling, Eleanor Marx, E. Belfort Bax and a number of other members of the SDF council, resigned and issued a statement giving their reasons, for "a body independent of the Social Democratic Federation". They said: "We have therefore set on foot an independent organisation, the Socialist League, with no intention of acting in hostility to the Social Democratic Federation, but determined to spread the principles of Socialism."

Unfortunately, as Colin Skelly noted, the Socialist League was taken over by a group of anarchists whose main aim was the destruction of the state rather than the establishment of socialism, which would in fact have resulted in the demise of the state anyway. (For a detailed account of the rise and fall of the Socialist League, mainly from an anarchist viewpoint, see The Slow Burning Fuse by John Quail.)

The main weakness of the Socialist League was that it "had no intention of acting in hostility" to the SDF. And after its demise, a number of its former members returned to the Federation. Even Eleanor Marx held economics classes at 337 Strand, London, the head office of the SDF, during the 1890s. Indeed, it was at the economics classes held by Eleanor Marx, in 1895 and 1896, that Jack Fitzgerald and a number of other members of the SDF learnt their Marxian economics, which ultimately led to their expulsion, or resignation, from that organisation and subsequent founding of the Socialist Party. When the Socialist Party was formed, its members made certain that their Declaration of Principles would include a hostility clause against all other parties (such as the SDF) who advocated "palliatives", not socialism.

Peter E. Newell,
Colchester

Whatever Happened to 'The Viet Cong'? (2017)

From the November 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard
In the 1960s leftwing demonstrators used to chant 'Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh' and 'Victory to the Vietcong'. We look at what sort of society emerged following their victory in 1976.

In 1956, during a brief relaxation of censorship, a Vietnamese literary journal published a story by Tran Duy entitled The Giants. The giants in the story are created by God to help mankind fight the devils, but they end up trampling and killing more people than devils. The allegory was readily deciphered: the giants were the 'communist' party leaders, while the devils were the hated French colonialists, recently defeated at Dien Bien Phu (1954).

The history of the 'communist' movement in Vietnam cannot be summarised in a short article, but the timeline will help the reader place events in context.

Top-down organisation
    
The Vietnamese 'communist' movement emerged from the struggle against French colonial rule as a top-down organisation. The leadership was a self-appointed and self-perpetuating group from the very start. The process of party formation began among Vietnamese emigrés in Canton – the French Sûreté (security police) made it too risky to place the central leadership inside the country. In 1925 Ho Chi Minh, backed by the Comintern, put together a group called the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League, personally recruiting its members and deciding which of them should sit on its Central Committee (CC). In 1930 the League merged with other small groups to form the Indochinese Communist Party, later renamed the Vietnam Workers' Party or Lao Dong.

As with other vanguard parties of the Bolshevik type, the internal functioning of the Vietnamese 'communist' party has always been guided by the principle of 'democratic centralism'. Lower bodies are strictly subordinate to higher ones. Debate is allowed only until a definite policy is adopted, after which all members must support and implement that policy.

In practice, local party branches in Vietnam in the 1930s seem to have had considerable autonomy due to the difficulty of maintaining communication between them and the CC in China. However, once the leadership returned to Vietnam in 1945 control was tightened.

The activity of rank-and-file party members has almost always been confined to tasks assigned from above. On training courses they might be invited to raise objections to the policy of the leaders, but the purpose of this is merely to convince them that the leadership is right. Only during the brief thaws of 1956 and the late 1980s have they had greater freedom to criticize party policy.
At higher levels there has been freer discussion at certain periods, permitting the emergence of conflicting factions. (The most persistent though not the only important factional division has been that between supporters of a pro-China orientation and advocates of closer ties with European 'socialist' countries.) Such periods, however, alternate with others in which a narrow clique imposes rigid control. Thus the 'anti-revisionist' purge of the mid-1960s, in which hundreds of critical party and government officials and military officers were imprisoned without charge, inaugurated the 'rule of the two Le's' – Le Duan (general secretary) and Le Duc Tho (head of the CC's Organisation Department, in control of appointments, and negotiator at the Paris talks). This was just one of recurrent purges that frighten people and inhibit debate.

Relations with other political groups

The 'communist' party was not alone in fighting against French rule. There were also various 'bourgeois' nationalist parties, Trotskyist organisations and religious sects. At times the 'communists' judged it expedient to cooperate with this or that group. At other times they ruthlessly suppressed rivals who did not seem susceptible to their control, even resorting to assassinations and betrayal to the Sûreté (also a source of funds).  

Especially dramatic were relations between Stalinists and Trotskyists. In the early to mid-1930s the 'communists' in Saigon cooperated with local Trotskyists – a practice denounced by the Comintern in 1937 and Ho in 1939. After the Vietminh took power in Hanoi in 1945, Trotskyists were hunted down as 'traitors' and they were almost all killed.
A sole survivor, Ngo Van, escaped just in time to France, where he wrote a valuable memoir (In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary, AK Press, 2010). His political views evolved in exile: he rejected Bolshevism and became a council communist.
The 'communists' again cooperated with other 'patriotic' forces in the fight against the Americans. Most members of the National Liberation Front (NLF) in the South were not 'communists' (the moniker 'Vietcong' – Vietnamese Communists – is misleading). After victory the NLF was suppressed (see: Truong Nhu Tang, A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath, Vintage Books, 1986). NLF veterans remained a disgruntled group in society. Taking advantage of the thaw of 1986, they set up a Club of Former Resistance Fighters, with a journal entitled Spirit of Resistance.    
   
Outer and inner power elites

Within the party we can identify an outer power elite of 150–200 members of the party's Central Committee (CC) and an inner power elite of 15–20 top leaders – members of the Politburo and occupants of important positions in the CC apparatus. The top leaders have chauffeur-driven cars and live in luxurious villas with guards, servants, and personal libraries. Other members of the CC have lesser though still substantial privileges, such as use of a special store in Hanoi stocked with goods not available to ordinary mortals and a spacious apartment (most people live in very crowded conditions).

There is also a graduated system of access to information. Certain periodicals are published specially for the power elite. A digest of the world press has a fairly wide circulation. Some documents like Politburo minutes, however, are restricted to the inner elite.

Ho Chi Minh

A few words on 'Uncle Ho'. He was the creator and symbol of Vietnamese 'communism' but he was not a dictator like Stalin or Mao, nor did he have any pretensions as a theorist. His power declined over time. In her novel The Zenith, Duong Thu Huong portrays the aging Ho as virtually a prisoner of his colleagues. Like Lenin, after death he was embalmed and placed on public display in a mausoleum in defiance of his expressed wishes (he wanted to be cremated, just as Lenin wanted to be buried). His last testament was published but in censored form (thus his call for a moratorium on the land tax was deleted).   

Doi moi

After Le Duan's death in 1986 the Vietnamese leaders embarked on a policy called doi moi, meaning 'renovation'. Initially, like Gorbachev's perestroika, this was envisaged as a process of political as well as economic reform. Later, wishing to avoid the fate of the Soviet elite, they switched to the Chinese strategy of encouraging private enterprise and foreign investment while consolidating the power structure.

As we have seen, the old state-capitalist system had its inequalities. However, the new mixed system of state and private capitalism has generated inequalities that are more extreme and, perhaps above all, more conspicuous. This has given rise to feelings of nostalgia for the old days. In particular, the period of the war against America, for all its hardships and suffering, is recalled as a time of sharing and mutual aid.
I was told of a man who was surprised one day to find on his doorstep someone who had served with him in the same unit. His pleasure turned into shame when his old comrade-in-arms told him that he was destitute and begged him to take him in as a servant. He said that he was not asking for money: he would be satisfied with food to eat and a roof over his head.

The more things change...

The Vietnamese Revolution certainly brought changes in the composition, structure and ideology of the ruling class. But what changes did it bring to working people?

Many changes were more apparent than real. Here are a couple of examples.
One of the main demands raised by 'communists' and others under French rule was abolition of the corvée – a feudal institution that made peasants toil without pay on public works for a certain number of days per year. Under the Vietminh the same practice continued under a new name – citizen labour service.
Again, after 'land reform' (1954–56) peasants no longer had to pay rent to a landlord for the land they tilled. But instead they had to pay a land tax to the state. And the amount of the land tax happened to be about the same as the rent previously paid to the landlord. Later, after the collectivisation of agriculture, the same surplus was extracted by the state from the collective farms.
As the proverb says: 'The more things change, the more they remain the same.'
The French colonialists and their American successors placed little value on the lives of the 'natives'. But the 'communist' leaders too placed little value on the lives of their people. Even if one accepts the dubious propositions that the country had to be reunited and that this could be achieved only by war, the goal could have been reached at a much lower price in blood. For instance, the 'Easter offensive' of 1972, which cost the lives of almost an entire cohort of poorly trained 16-year-old boys, served no rational strategic objective. It was already clear that the US was withdrawing – all that was needed was a little more patience.
Impoverished by decades of war and devastation, Vietnam now lies alongside Bangladesh on the bottom tier of the global economic hierarchy, with wage levels only one half of those now prevailing in China. Chased out at such vast cost, the 'imperialists' are welcomed back to exploit Vietnamese workers and resources as foreign investors.    

Stefan

VIETNAMESE 'COMMUNISM' TIMELINE

1880s French complete conquest of Indochina

1925 Ho Chi Minh sets up Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League (VRYL) in Canton

1930 VRYL merges with other groups to form Indochinese Communist Party (ICP)

1941 Ho creates Vietnam Independence League (Vietminh)

1945 Japan surrenders. Vietminh takes power in Hanoi. Ho proclaims Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). ICP officially disbands

1945–54 Resistance War Against France

1951 ICP reappears as Vietnam Workers' Party (Lao Dong)

1954 Geneva Agreement divides Vietnam into northern zone (DRV) and southern zone (Republic of Vietnam)

1954–56 'Land reform' in DRV

1959 Collectivisation of agriculture begins in DRV

1960 National Liberation Front (Vietcong) established in South

1960–75 Resistance War Against America

1969 Ho dies. Le Duan becomes general secretary of party Central Committee

1976 Country reunified as Socialist Republic of Vietnam

1977 Collectivisation of agriculture begins in South

1978 Vietnam invades Cambodia

1979 Border war with China

1986 Le Duan dies. Start of doi moi (renovation)

1988 De-collectivisation of agriculture legalized

Looking Forward (1943)

From the July 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

What sort of world awaits the working class after the war? Will it be a brand new world free from class privilege and wage-slavery; a world of social equality, security and happiness? The so-called progressives of all political colours have indulged in unlimited crystal-gazing, but no tangible blessings for the workers have emerged out of their Utopian vapourings. Certainly, President Roosevelt has said that he is looking forward to a world freed from want, but he carefully defines it as "economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peace-time life for its inhabitants." (Message to Congress, January 6th, 1941.) So, after all, we are not going to have the common ownership in the means of life, and production for use; merely "economic understanding."

The President also said that he stood for the ending of special privileges for the few, though he did not propose the abolition of rent, interest and profit. It is quite evident that Roosevelt does not consider the exploitation of one class by another as a "special privilege." To him and his supporters the making of profits is a necessary condition for progress and civilisation. In the same message to Congress he also expressed himself in favour of bringing more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance. We can, therefore, expect, as he expects, that in the new world where want is to be abolished, there will also exist large numbers of elderly working-class paupers and jobless dole-drawers.

In another celebrated message, this time to I.L.O., held in. New York in 1941, he observed: "If that world is to be one in which peace is to prevail, there must be a more abundant life for the masses of the people in all countries. There are so many people in this world who have never been adequately fed, clothed and housed. By undertaking to provide a decent standard of living for these millions, the free peoples of the world can furnish employment for every man or woman who seeks a job."

We think the President is mistaken. There are certain facts he has overlooked. Firstly, what the workers receive as wages, high or low, represents only a part of what they have produced. Secondly, assuming a higher standard of living for these inadequately provided millions, the resulting increase in the speed and efficiency of industry would leave the workers in a relatively worse position, and suffering conditions of more acute insecurity. Experience has already proven that an increasing demand for goods will not necessarily prevent increasing unemployment, and the prospects of employment for every man and woman who seeks a job are a remote possibility under capitalism. Employers are only willing 'to give the workers more wages when they can anticipate more profits out of them, and they are not prepared to allow production beyond the point where it ceases to be profitable. Surely, the President must know that in his own country, where wages are the highest in the world, unemployment and starvation were prevalent!

Examining the more concrete pronouncements of American spokesmen, one can see their anxiety to establish post-war conditions wherein their goods will be able to penetrate to every country in the world. For example, Mr. J. G. Winant, speaking at Liverpool University, November 26th, 1941, said: "Divergencies between Great Britain and the United States might easily arise if each country insisted on becoming as self-sufficient as possible in respect of producing goods of outstanding importance in war-time. This policy would necessitate the production at high cost within one country of goods which could be produced at much lower cost in the other country, and this would involve the erection of serious obstacles to trade." In plain words, Mr. Winant demands a free field and no favour, on behalf of American capitalists. On the other hand, British interests, being at a disadvantage with their American rivals, prefer to be reticent on this important subject. No doubt, after the war, they will become very voluble, as their interests may determine.

Another gentleman, Milo Perkins, Executive Director of the U.S. Board of Economic Warfare, in a speech on May 25th, 1942, delivered himself of the following:
   "The greatest untapped markets industrial capitalism has ever known will open up before us. Their development will be the one hope for our profit system. Industrial capitalism cannot survive without those markets. Of Course, it won't be easy. . . . There will be the problem of how to get purchasing power into the hands of potential customers so that they can become real customers. . . ."
He does not say exactly how all this is to be done, but he dwells on the virtues of “faith in the future of our country . . .  a new buoyancy . . .  a sense of adventure."

Mr. Churchill's recent speech gives a good pointer to what the workers may expect when the blood-letting is finished. He said: 
". . . we must beware of attempts to over-persuade or even coerce His Majesty's Government to bind themselves or their unknown successors in conditions which no one can foresee, and which may be years ahead, to impose great new expenditure on the State without any relation to the circumstances which might prevail at that time, and to make them pledge themselves to particular schemes without relation to other extremely important aspects of our post-war needs. . . . Therefore, I tell you round your firesides to-night that I am resolved not to give or to make all kinds of promises and tell all kinds of fairy tales to you who have trusted me and gone with me so far." (Daily Telegraph, March 22nd.)
Thus our masters, through their spokesman, are here saying quite plainly that they don't intend to give the workers anything now, and that they will not bind themselves to any definite promises for the future.

The motto of the Curzon family, "Let Curzon hold what Curzon has," is applicable to the whole of the property owning class, and it must necessarily be so for obvious reasons.

Now contrast Mr. Churchill's cautious utterances with the free and easy attitude of Sir Kingsley Wood on the occasion last year when he asked for another thousand million pounds for war purposes. He told the House that “our" total expenditure during this war has already reached the astronomical figure of £8,600 millions. He added: "This is by far the costliest war in history. But this does not dismay us. There will be no faltering in the financial or any other sphere." (Our italics.)

Let the workers consider for a moment the immense amount of wealth that is being expended for the purposes of destruction, and then let them reflect how easy it would be to organise society on a basis that would give each individual a civilised existence. The vastness of the wealth wasted on war is evidence of the vastness of the world's industrial and mineral resources.

As Mr. John G. Winant said to the miners of Durham on June 6th, 1942: 
"What we want is not complicated. We have enough technical knowledge and organising ability to respond to this awakening of social conscience. We have enough courage. We must put it to use. When war is done, the drive for tanks must become a drive for houses. The drive for food to prevent the enemy from starving us must become a drive for food to satisfy the needs of all people in all countries. . . ."
But we might well ask Mr. Winant a few very pertinent questions. It was just as easy to build houses before the war as it is now to build tanks and battleships. Then why were those houses not built?

Mr. Winant can only reply that there was something fundamentally wrong, but he does not say what it is that is wrong. We can tell him. It is the private ownership in the means of life, and the fact that food and clothing and houses are primarily produced to make profits for the capitalists, and NOT to satisfy human wants. When the fields, the factories, the mines, and all the means of producing and distributing wealth are placed into the hands of society, only then will human wants set the machinery of industry into motion.
Kaye.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Fallacies of Joad (1943)

From the August 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

We Socialists are constantly urging workers not to judge persons or political parties by labels. It is this free acceptance of terms or words used to describe political opinions and policies that is responsible in no small measure for the confusion and misunderstanding which exists in the minds of workers everywhere to-day.

If there is one tag used more often and indiscriminately than any other it is the label of "Socialism,” and it is only by a critical examination of the various nostrums put forward by pseudo-Socialists that the bankruptcy of their claims are revealed.

A case in point is that of Dr. C. E. M. Joad, who has on many occasions stated he is a Socialist. Dr. Joad is a man who receives much favourable publicity from the Press and the B.B.C. and who has come to be regarded with a great deal of respect by large numbers of workers who fall easily under the spell of erudite and fluent speakers. He is a member of the Brains Trust and a man of undoubted ability in certain spheres, but Socialist knowledge is not one of his assets. This is made clear in an article in Reynolds of April 18, in which Dr. Joad gives his reasons for aspiring to enter the post-war Government as a Labour member. He says: -—
   I have spent my life in learning and teaching, and I can see how the educational system of this country plays a greater part than any other single factor in perpetuating the division of our nation into two peoples —the privileged and the unprivileged.—(Reynolds, April 18.)
Dr. Joad then gives his solution as to how this division can be ended. He proposes to abolish the present educational system of, on the one hand, elementary schools for children of the working class, and on the other hand, kindergartens, preparatory schools, public schools and Oxford or Cambridge for children of the wealthy. In its place he wants to substitute a system in which every child is given an equal opportunity of developing his talents as a man and serving the community as a citizen, irrespective of the economic position of his father.” (Reynolds, April 18.)

Now it is true that the education, given out to-day plays a part, among other things, in perpetuating the class division in society. Whether or not it is greater than any other single factor is a point that need not concern us here. The influence of education on the preservation of things as they are is not due, however, to the two different standards of education, as Dr. .load thinks, but to the fact that education is coloured by a capitalistic outlook and inculcates into the mind of the child an unquestioning acceptance of the present order of society. Capitalist education is the antidote to revolutionary ideas.

The important point, however, the crux of the whole matter, is this: that education merely helps to perpetuate the class division—it is not the cause. It follows logically that even if you remove one of the perpetuating factors whilst leaving the basic cause untouched, then the effect of that cause will remain.

If Dr. Joad knew as much about the Socialist case as he would have us believe then he would know that the cause of the class division, not only in this country, to which Joad refers, but throughout the world, is an economic one: class ownership of the means of life. The class that owns and controls the means of wealth production, the land, factories, workshops, machines, etc., is obviously in a privileged position. Because of their ownership of the means of producing the things by which all men live they can deny access to these things by those that own nothing but their labour- power—-by far the largest portion of society. The propertyless class, then, are enabled to live only by the consent, and subject to the conditions of those who own the world’s resources.

The proposals that Dr. .load puts forward do not assail the privileged position of the capitalist class. The continuance of the ownership of the means of living is unchallenged. In fact, this is implicit in Dr. .load’s statement when he talks about every child being given an equal opportunity “ . . . irrespective of the economic position of his father." What does this statement imply if not that economic inequality will still prevail? If there are rich and poor then there are privileged and unprivileged. Riches are synonymous with privilege; poverty with slavery.

Unlike this self-styled ”middle-class intellectual,” we Socialists, members of the ”unprivileged” class, put before our fellow-workers a case that really strikes at the roots of the problem. Our solution is not educational reform, nor any other kind of reform, but abolition of private property—capitalism. When the means of producing wealth are owned in common by the whole of society no class will be able to exploit a subject class. There will be no classes—in other words there will be no privileged and no unprivileged. And as regards education, only then will, there be available to every child the very best that modern science and technology can offer. The whole vast field of man’s knowledge will be open to all the children of society. That is the Socialist case and one that Dr. .load could well learn.
S. Pizer