Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Morris & Co (1961)

SPGB pamphlet from 1907.
Exhibition Review from the May 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the Victoria and Albert Museum in April there was to be seen an Exhibition, Morris & Company 1861—1940. On show were specimens of textiles, tapestries, wall papers, etc., produced by the firm of which William Morris was chief partner and designer. These art and craft products are considered to be the most artistic of their period. But such fine work was not for the homes of the great multitude, as Exhibit 61 (an order book) quite clearly showed.

Looking at this exhibition there was nothing to indicate that for the last 13 years of Morris’ life be worked full speed in the Socialist movement of his day as shown in these words in his essay How I became a Socialist (1894). “But the consciousness of revolution stirring amidst our hateful society prevented me, luckier than many others of artistic perceptions, from crystallizing into a mere railer against ‘progress’ on the one hand, and on the other from wasting time and energy in any of the numerous schemes by which the quasi-artistic of the middle classes hope to make art grow when it has no longer any roots, and thus I became a practical Socialist.”

These words from the chief partner and designer of the Morris firm indicate that under capitalism “Art for the People” is just a phrase but that under Socialism where goods will be produced for use and not for profit Art will be a part of daily life and work in such ways as a free people living in a democratically owned and controlled society wish. 

Morris wrote a number of essays and gave lectures on Art and Socialism. Our pamphlet No. 3 Art, Labour & Socialism was a clear statement on the subject and it is possible that before long we may republish it, it having been out of print for many years now.
Ted Kersley

William Morris: Art for Everyone (1961)

A quote from the May 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

Unless something or other is done to give all men some pleasure for the eyes and rest for the mind in the aspect of their own and their neighbours’ houses, until the contrast is less disgraceful between the fields where beasts live and the streets where men live, I suppose the practice of the arts must be mainly kept in the hands of a few highly cultivated men, who can go often to beautiful places, whose education enables them, in the contemplation of the past glories of the world, to shut out from their view the everyday squalors that most men move in. Sirs, I believe that art has such sympathy with cheerful freedom, openheartedness and reality, so much she sickens under selfishness and luxury, that she will not live thus isolated and exclusive. I will go further than this and say that on such terms I do not wish her to live. I protest that it would be a shame to an honest artist to enjoy what he had huddled up to himself of such art, as it would be for a rich man to sit and eat dainty food amongst starving soldiers in a beleagured fort.

I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.

From "The Lesser Arts," first given as a lecture in 1877, and included in "William Morris —Selected Writings.” (Nonesuch Press.)

What next in Algeria? (1961)

Editorial from the June 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Algerian tragedy continues its melancholy course. Rising to high drama at one moment, it topples over into anti-climax and something often close to farce the next.

We are still too near to the event to know the full story of the “four days” last April. In fact, it is likely that we shall never know, so complex are its ramifications, so inextricably is it caught up in a web of intrigue, treachery, and fanaticism, so overlaid with high-sounding idealism and underlaid with the basest self-seeking.

Regardless of speculation de Gaulle proceeds at full speed to implement the plans he has been working towards ever since he came to power in 1958. The Army has played into his hands, its morale and self-confidence shattered, at least for the moment. The way has been left wide open to the objective he has sworn to achieve before he dies—the "decolonisation” (he uses the word as though he was talking of getting rid of a disease) of France. But he will need to move fast.

Wiser to the ways of the world of modern capitalism and more far-seeing than many of the ruling-class he represents, he sees the march of events and where they are leading. He knows that no Power in the modern world can hold on to its possessions according to the old imperialist traditions of the past. In the three years of his administration almost the whole of the former French empire has been granted independence. Of the former important territories of that empire, only Algeria remains. And, says de Gaulle, with that characteristically withering turn of phrase, devoid alike of delusion and sentiment, "l'Algerie de Papa est morte" — "Daddy's Algeria is dead"!

Daddy’s Algeria may well be dead, but nobody knows what the new one will be like. De Gaulle is staking all on an independent Algeria still within the orbit and influence of French capitalism, as he has successfully achieved with the great majority of the other former French territories. What is supremely important now for the French ruling-class is to retain their control over the Saharan oilfields and the vast deposits of natural gas. not to speak of the mineral wealth they also hope to discover in the future.

That is the hope. But there are many perils and possible pitfalls ahead. Nobody can say what the talks at Evian between the French and the F.L.N. will bring. Nobody knows what the European settlers will do, particularly the fanatics among than — there is already evidence that these latter are prepared to go to any lengths to frustrate de Gaulle’s plans. Nor does anybody have any real idea of what is in the minds of the leaders of the F.L.N.. preoccupied for seven years in fighting a bitter war and now faced with sitting round a conference table. There is still a terrible possibility that the next news to come out of Algeria will be of carnage and devastation as to make even the last seven years of its sufferings only a prelude in comparison.

We know that history, by which we mean in this case the inexorable demands of capitalism, will catch up with Algeria, as it will with East Africa. Angola, and South Africa.

But what a terrible price it will have exacted in human suffering by the time it does so.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Britain and the Common Market (1961)

Editorial from the July 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Common Market has become a burning issue for British capitalism. After being convinced for years that it would fail, the Government has now belatedly realised that it may after all be here to stay. But so late have they left it, and so long have they dithered, that if they are to do something about joining they must do it quickly. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to jump on the bandwagon at all.

Hence Mr. Macmillan's somewhat panicky efforts to get matters straight with the Commonwealth and his undignified haste to prepare the ground at home.

For it is clear that the issue of whether Britain should go into the Common Market is causing a lot of heart-searching in many quarters. Not only is the Government worried, but industry, the Commonwealth, the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, even the trade unions. And not only worried, but very much divided. Even allowing for the fact that the Labour Party has long abandoned all pretence of being anything but an appendage of capitalism, it is indeed strange, for example, to see Mr. Michael Foot and Viscount Hinchinbrooke lined up against Britain's entry, at the same time as Mr. Shinwell vies with the Daily Express in concern for the Commonwealth. And on the other side, Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, Rev. Donald Soper, and Lord Home certainly make an odd collection!

As far as industry is concerned, to the giants like l.C.I. the whole question is academic. They are going into the Common Market regardless of what decision the British Government may take. Confident of being able to compete on equal terms with the Europeans, the only thing they are afraid of is being left outside. On the other hand, there are many industries and firms that are very much afraid of meeting European competition and who are consequently violently opposed to going in.

The majority of the agricultural interests share this view, worrying whether their system of protection will disappear once the British market is thrown open to efficient Dutch production and the fast rising food surpluses of France. These anxieties are also shared by Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand whose agricultural outlets in Britain would be seriously threatened and who have nothing to gain and everything to lose in a unit which is largely self-sufficient in foodstuffs save for those of tropical origin.

These are only some of the conflicting economic interests which the Government is being called upon to resolve. Unfortunately for Mr. Macmillan on this occasion, however, the usual policy of British Governments when conflicting interests are at loggerheads to make a show of compromise that is really only a temporary camouflage for the dominant capitalist interest to have its way in the long run is a non-starter since the Common Market is itself in no mood for compromises. To them, it is either in or out. For the British Government, then, the long prevarication will soon have to end—a decision must be made one way or the other.

Strong rumour has it that the decision has already been made and that British capitalism is in. But this may be only part of Mr. Macmillan's softening-up tactics and the opposition may be stronger than he thinks. Whatever the outcome, it will throw interesting light on the political strengths of the various sectional interests in present-day British capitalism.

But much more interesting will it be to watch how the economic forces of capitalism, driving society’s development towards ever larger units, will eventually win the day—whatever the decision.

Ye Daughters of Israel Weep (1961)

From the August 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard
The State of Israel, now thirteen years old, has, by Jewish custom, come of age. It is timely, therefore, to attempt an assessment
(i) The Zionist Movement
The assumption underlying the Zionist movement was that to establish a "national home for the Jewish people” was the only way to end their age-old persecution, especially under the yoke of the Tsars. This closely mirrored the aspirations of other thwarted nationalities such as the Poles, the Czechs, the Finns and the like. There were, of course, workers who were taken up with this cause but very few of them prior to the first world-war. Cramped into a narrow strip of the vast Russian Empire, the Jewish millions lived almost entirely in the towns, where they formed the majority of the population. They were skilled and unskilled workers; some on the land, more in the factories and workshops; they were porters and cart drivers. Only a minority were merchants of any substance, bankers and factory owners. In this background it was the idea of Anarchism and Social-Democracy that gained the greatest acceptance. The Jewish Labour League, the Bund, which was affiliated to the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, had as its purpose Jewish cultural autonomy within a Social-Democratic Russia. They saw that on the principle of divide and rule the Tsars had actually fostered anti-semitism. They were convinced that the Jewish problem was a by-product of the private property system and would end with the end of that system. They did not think in terms of a return, to “the promised land” as a solution to their problems. Neither did the Anarchists.

Emigration to the freer and relatively more prosperous West, the Russian Revolution, and the rise of Nazism, affected Jewish opinion overwhelmingly. In the new conditions Anarchism died a natural death. Faith in a Social-Democratically reformed Capitalism withered in the face of the anti-semitic mass hysteria that was being harnessed to the needs of the German ruling-class. Faith in Bolshevism, on the part of others, was likewise to vanish when the Soviet reality became clear. The end of the second world-war saw Zionism reaping a harvest of disillusionment and despair.

Out of the ruins of war, emerged the Jewish survivors. Despite the brutally callous turning back of their ships by the British Labour Government, many joined with the pioneers to oust the British and set up the Jewish State, under a Labour Government strangely enough. Few who had witnessed the holocaust of the Jews could fail to be moved by the determination of the survivors to have a home of their own, to live in a land where they could walk with heads held high, where they could till the soil and make the desert bloom and little by little heal the wounds of two thousand years. But national ideals and political reality have never been compatible and never can be. True to form, the territorial demands of one set of Nationalists were diametrically opposed to the demands of the other set. The “solution” of the Jewish problem turned out to be its transference from Europe to the Middle-East.

(2) The Arab States
The Arabs, too, had national aspirations that had been thwarted by Turkish domination in the first instance and by an Anglo-French carve-up of the region subsequent to that. The Arabs were divided into several different states each of which was subservient to external forces. They were puppet states, mandates and protectorates. In order to weaken Germany’s ally Turkey, Britain had deliberately cultivated an Arab sense of national identity during the 1914-18 war. Once victory was won, this policy no longer served British Capitalism and it was dropped. Henceforth, playing off one oil producer against another, one tribal dynasty or one community against another, paid better dividends. Once created, however, Arab nationalism filled a need and the Pan-Arab capitalist class to be saw to it that not only did it survive but that it flourished. In Palestine, where a majority of Arabs had lived for centuries, the territorial demands of Jewish and Arab nationalism proved utterly irreconcilable. When the clash came the Zionists, who were then militarily superior to the combined Arab armies, gained a victory sufficient to set up a state, but with less territory than had traditionally been demanded. The price, in human terms, entailed an entire new exodus.” A million Arab refugees subsist to this day on the verge of starvation, caged like animals, within sight of Israel’s borders. They refuse to move. They, too, insist on going home.

The popular insistence on an eventual "ingathering of the exiles” does not, in fact, explain why the Arab governments have left the refugees idly by the frontier, breeding and hating. With the calculating cynicism normal to ruling classes, they are seen as an invaluable political weapon.

Over the past thirteen years the situation within the Arab states surrounding Israel has not remained static. The Zionist claim that hostility towards Israel was fostered by corrupt feudal potentates out of fear that their peoples would demand similar living standards and civil rights obviously has some truth in it. But this is less the case now than hitherto. The United Arab Republic and Iraq have both undergone substantial changes in social organisation. Many of the kings who had been propped up by foreign and feudal interests have been swept away. A rigorous process of national capitalist development is taking place. Today, a key reason for continued hostility to Israel is an external one. In facing the pressures of both western and eastern imperialism, a show of Arab unity is of no mean value in the bargaining chamber of the United Nations. Conflicting as their economic interests are, hostility to Israel presents the one issue on which they can all agree. Had Israel not existed, the Arab states would have had to invent it!

It would be a mistake, however, to forget the real possibility of Israeli expansion which would inevitably be at the expense of the Arab states. If increased to any extent, the pressure on land and resources is bound to become explosive if Russia was to permit the emigration of any number of her two million Jews, for example. Meanwhile, Israel’s governments being subject to the wishes of an increasingly nationalistic electorate, cannot afford to ignore their expansionist demands.

In the sort of way that the Russian Revolution was able to command a great deal of passionate though misplaced devotion, so Israel could never have been established without tragic sacrifices and self-less idealism on the part of many of its people. But as in all cases where it has been argued that the end justified the means, it is the very idealists who are most bitterly disappointed by the outcome. Self-styled Socialists, whose working-class solidarity was suspended “for the duration” in order to slaughter their Arab neighbours, are shocked that what was begun as a tactical measure has become a permanency. Militarism, even trigger-happiness at times, has come to stay. A flag-wagging mentality, convinced that one Israeli is worth any three Arabs, is easier to pound out of the propaganda machine than the former subtle distinctions between reactionary Arab rulers and misguided soldiers who were but pawns in the game. Strikers have learnt that Jewish truncheons wielded by Jewish policemen feel just as unpleasant. They even have a Jewish problem in Israel, what with pietists who deny the authority of a man-made Jewish state which profanes the language of the Bible by every day usage, and the religious discrimination against Indian Jews as regards marriage rights.

(3) Communal Farms
For the Zionist who had ideals, the bitterest pill of all is the changing rôle of the Kibbutz. The pioneers regarded these communal farms, this utopian Socialism of a kind, as the pattern of the future nation. Just as the American “wild- west” was penetrated and peopled in the first instance by dissenting communities of one kind or another; just as they imagined they were building Christianity or Communism all by themselves, so the Kibbutznik has extended and strengthened the national horizon to see, on arrival, the growth of a way of life the very antithesis of all that he stood for. Who but ascetics or visionaries could have built a city at Salt Lake or planted a forest in the Negev? Yet they pave the way for class divided capitalism of one kind or another.

If the heirs to the mighty Russian Revolution were to be forced by the exigencies of their historic and economic situation along paths not of their choosing, how much less realistic were the hopes of those who saw in a “national home" an end to struggle and to strife? Israel’s international position, a tiny state among the giants, illustrates their dilemma. What Jew would have believed thirteen years ago that Israel-made machine guns would be used by the German Army? Did the Zionist, on the morrow of statehood, think it possible that his country’s subsequent dependence upon French aid and arms would make him victim of the same moral degeneration which France itself has suffered under the weight of iniquity in Algeria? Which of their Labourites could have foretold an alliance with the British Tory Government over Suez?

(4) The Eichmann Trial
And now in this year of reckoning, year thirteen, Eichmann, demoniac scourge of the Jews stands, as Torquemada never did, in the dock at Jerusalem before the judges of Israel. Underlying the whole structure of bourgeois law is the maxim that “might is right.” But if we were to accept its claim to dispense a timeless “justice” to all men it would be hard to deny the monumental appropriateness of the exterminator’s trial before his surviving victims. However, we Socialists spread throughout the world as we are, hold that for justice to be done the entire social system would have to stand trial and be found guilty. But what can we say of Capitalist morality which sanctifies the annihilation of Hiroshima or approves the crushing of Budapest but heaps all wrath on the head of one of its creations? Courts of law are not competent to judge the barbarity of our present social system. They are there to condemn those who lose the struggles that go on within it. Then all sense of common guilt, all sense of common responsibility that weighs so heavy on the conscience of man in Capitalist society, can be relievingly focused on some now helpless perversion of a man.

As to the why and wherefore of this latest show-piece of the prevailing quality of moral standards, we strongly suspect an element of political manoeuvre. Ben-Gurion faces other contenders for power as the recent “Lavon Affair’’ showed. With French backing he was able to take up an intransigent attitude towards his enemies. Despite General de Gaulle’s assurances to the contrary at their recent meeting, once France has made peace with Algeria her enthusiasm for Israel is likely to wane. Friendship with an oil producing Arab Algeria will have far greater rewards to offer. With diplomatic relations re-established with Nasser, Israel cannot expect supplies of arms from Britain. Nor does Kennedy have the slightest intention of jeopardising the interests of the class he represents for the sake of Israel, however much it grieves the New York Jewish voters. His aim is to woo the “uncommitted” nations, most of which side with the Arabs.

An increasing fear of military isolation in a situation where Russian training and arms have immensely strengthened the Arab armies has resulted in pressure from some Israeli quarters for some sort of compromise with the Arabs. If Ben-Gurion, by staging a show-trial which by its ghoulish racital of the most hideous details of Nazi crime, can raise a wave of nationalistic frenzy, he will ride it to victory at the polls.

The evidence is with us. Zionism has failed to achieve its objectives. Inevitably so. So long as there are Jewish workers attached in any numbers to the divisive and anti-working-class national idea, so long as their (and our) Arab brothers believe likewise, so long will strife ensue, so long will their respective ruling classes remain in the seat of power. The Jewish problem remains with us. It is an Iaspect of the working-class problem which has no solution outside of world-wide Socialism.
Eddie Grant

Party Pars (1908)

Party News from the September 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every opportunity should be taken to push the sale of the Party Organ, with a view not only to present needs but to enlargement. The paper is worth special attention—see that it gets it.

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Rumours of certain alterations in the police regulations affecting street collections have brought the E.C. into communication with Scotland Yard. Will branches report at once to centre any steps taken by the authorities locally ?

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The Tariff Reformers, debating in haste, are now repenting at leisure. Bat the discouraging experiences of their champions at Battersea and Paddington hardly justify the action of the Watford Tariff Reformers against our propaganda in that town. There our comrades have had to deal with no argument or intelligent questioning but with rowdyism organised to smash meetings in the Market Place. This, however, has only had the effect of rousing local opinion against the tactics of hooliganism, and far larger meetings are being now held than might otherwise have been the case. Watford, with tho assistance of London comrades, have kept their end up well.

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A verbatim report of the debate between Comrade Fitzgerald and Mr. Lawler Wilson, of the Tariff Reform League, which took place some weeks ago at the Battersea Town Hall, will be published in pamphlet form as soon as funds permit. This will be an excellent addition to our propagandist literature. A pamphlet on Religion and Socialism is projected, and only waits upon the production of the harmless, necessary money. The third of the Kautsky pamphlets is nearing completion, and will appear directly it has run its length through these columns.

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The Western Clarion (Vancouver) has reprinted in their entirety the two articles “Past, Present, and Future” and “The Old Age Pension Snare,” by Comrade A. E. Jacomb, which appeared in recent numbers of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD. The Western Clarion is apparently several miles in front of the London Clarion in power of appreciation of a good thing. The Party Organ may fairly claim to be amongst the most quoted journals; notwithstanding this the pries will remain the same.

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Manchester are still making their presence felt, as is shown by the local Press reports, often running to a full column length. We are assured that we may look for another branch in the district shortly. Good! But why don’t these fellows die instead of falsifying the S.D.P. prophecy so?

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At the great August “Labour” demonstration in Burnley, John Tamlyn (who spoke for the Party) after refusing the cool request of Dan Irving, S.D.P., chairman of a Demonstration platform, that the S.P.G.B. stand be shifted, went on to show (says the local Express and Advertiser) how the S.D.P. went in “for the palliation of Capitalism,” and why it was “nothing more than a mere reform organisation.” Good literature sales were effected.

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In the debate at Bury between Comrade Fitzgerald and McDavis (S.L.P.) the latter was compelled to the significant admission that the S.L.P. was a political party out to capture political power, in order to get control of the fighting forces to protect the Industrial Unionists working in mills and factories. If this is the official attitude of the S.LP., a lot of literature has been wasted in explaining that it isn’t.

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Resolutions for the Agenda of the Party meeting upon Municipal Action to be held shortly are due by Sept 28th. Branches please note.

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F. McCarthy, in resigning from the Ardwick S.D.P. and applying for membership of our Manchester Branch writes that lie has come to the conclusion that the reformist attitude of the S.D.P. is absolutely wrong. The last straw in his case was “the treacherous action of Herbert Burrows.”



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holiday Home (1961)

From the September 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

As he trod amongst them with his trolley of coffee, the orderly knew that this was one of their bad days. Sometimes they were cheerful—gratingly, hysterically so. Sometimes apathetic. Today, they were sombre, only wanting lo talk about their afflictions, to tell each other what it was that had laid them paralysed and incapable in the forecourt of the Holiday Home.

"Experiments with atom bombs, messing about with nature," , said Wilkie, ’'That’s what I reckon gave me my stroke.”

"What’s the good of war," gloomed the man alongside, “Cost me my arm and paralysed my thigh. Now I’m just a burden to my family. Might as well be dead."

I should break this up, thought the orderly, this is the worst mood of all. Then Old Harris chimed in, bringing what he always imagined was sunshine and relief into the invalids' depression.

“I’m as helpless as any of you," he said, he eyes gleaming. " But I don’t blame it onto war or bomb tests. Our troubles are sent by the good god, to test us. We must suffer gladly. I may be laid up, with only a small Army pension. but thank God I get by."

"Good god." screamed Ethel from her chair. "If he’s so good, why does he allow all this badness in the world he's supposed to have made, eh? Answer me that:'

The orderly broke in with quick words, clashing the cups as he spoke.

"Now, now," he said, ’’You know you mustn't get so het up. Anyway, you’re all going down to the front for some sunshine and fresh air, That’s what you’re here for, sunshine and fresh air."

That calmed them. In their secret selves, they were appalled at the thought of another parade along the sea front. They fell into silence and suffered themselves to the attention' of the orderlies, who came from inside the Home to wheel them off.

They were a tragic lot. Here was a mail who had lost his limb because of an apparently trivial scratch at work. Here another whose back broke when he fell from a ladder on a high job. And there were the war wounded. These human wrecks were some of the unfortunates who had felt the concentration of capitalism’s bitterest effects.

For although we know that capitalism cannot be blamed for every illness and accident, the fact is that it is responsible for many of them.

Some of the most common, and persistent ailments which people nowadays suffer are traceable to the stress of modern living—to the working, travelling, eating pace which modem industry and its profit incentive sets for us.

High time for accidents is the time when everybody is going to work — they call it the rush hour and it is in the rush that so many accidents happen.

Capitalism’s wars maim hundreds of thousands, and undermine the health of countless others.

But you know all this.

What you may not realise is that, as long as capitalism lasts, there is little chance of society ever really tackling the problem of ill-health and accidents, and of reducing them to the very minimum possible.

We know, for example, that cancer research comes a long way behind arms production in the priorities of modern society. Why is this? Simple answer: arms are more immediately important to the capitalist class than finding a cure for cancer. Arms can be used to defend their commercial interests. Curing cancer would only save a few million lives a year. Who, other than cancer sufferers, would care?

The majority of people get a very measly sort of medical treatment. Who knows — or cares — what future damage is being stored up by the "Get-you-back-to-work palliatives" which the working class are handed by their doctors when they are ill? And who has not noticed that society’s medical resources are concentrated only when a member of the ruling class — someone who can afford the best — requires them?

Yes, capitalism stands in the way of many aspects of human advance. Socialism will set free our scientific ingenuity, so that we can really get down to dealing with medical problems.

We hope the invalids enjoyed their outing. And let us look forward to the day when a crippled world can throw away its crutches.
Dick Jacobs

The Case for Sanity (1961)

Editorial from the October 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

We live in an insane world, one that becomes more and more insane with every day that passes.

To pick up a newspaper is to find a daily catalogue of wars and threats of wars, hatreds and atrocities, murder and violence. Over all lies the shadow of nuclear destruction.

In Berlin, the two big power groups face up to each other like squabbling children, each trying to shout “Yah” louder than its rival, each daring the other to strike the first blow. In the Congo, still rent with violence, that monument of ineptitude, the United Nations, decides to intervene and chooses to do so in a sordid scramble of colonialism mixed with petty economic rivalry, the whole sorry business made worse by the usual intrigues of the big capitalist powers.

Russia, after a short period of quiet, proceeds to explode nuclear devices at a frenzied rate, sending clouds of poison into the atmosphere to threaten the health of all the earth's inhabitants, and of even the unborn. The United States hardly waits to do the same, its rulers weeping crocodile tears the while. Between times they have both been spending astronomical sums in perfecting the ways of delivering their bombs. Huge crowds have been cheering the astronauts of both sides for their heroism, apparently oblivious that behind it all lies the terrible threat that missiles can now be directed with pin-point accuracy to annihilate places thousands of miles away.

There is uneasy peace in Tunisia, but in Algeria the dreadful carnage goes on. Laos has dropped out of the news as quickly as it came into it, but could just as easily erupt again. In South America, Brazil looked as though it might develop into another Cuba, but has not done so, at least for the moment. In East Africa, the Rhodesias, and South Africa, things remain only outwardly quiet. The fact is that we are hardly surprised any more at anything anywhere. Such is the terrible pass to which capitalism has brought humanity.

And yet, against this background of tragedy and folly, which might be expected to reduce us only to abandonment and despair, we record with pride that, far from being discouraged, the Socialist Party has not for many years been so active in its propaganda, nor its members so enthusiastic.

We have just come to the end of an excellent outdoor season, opening up several new areas and developing old ones. Audiences have been good and generally interested and receptive. Literature sales have been high. Even more encouraging are the preparations for the winter season, the indoor programmes of branches being more ambitious than ever as the meetings advertised in this issue will show.

Most encouraging of all in these days of alleged political apathy, when even the big guns of capitalist politics find it hard to hold a good meeting, is the fad that we have run two really successful indoor rallies.

The third of these is being held this month and we are confident that it will prove more successful than those previously, a fitting conclusion to the fine summer season and an auspicious opening to an even finer winter one.

In an insane world, the issue is more than ever—Capitalism or Socialism. Let us hold fast to sanity and demonstrate for Socialism!

Britain on the Brink (1961)

From the November 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

British Capitalism has decided to take its chance with the Common Market. After shivering at the water's edge for a long, long time it has at last ventured as far as the end of the diving-board. It even shows signs this time that it is really going to take the plunge.

At least its political representatives do. Re-inforced by the support of the Brighton Conference, even if it was apparently only given after some heavy gunning from, the platform, the Conservative leadership can contemplate the next step with easier minds.

Their special envoy, Mr. Heath, has lost no time. He has already told the Six how anxious Britain is to join them, how keen she is to abide by their principles, and with what determination she is ready to carry them out. What a come-down and what hypocrisy!

Ever since the Common Market came into existence, and even before that when its predecessors like the Coal and Steel Community were being formed, British Capitalism has held aloof. For what it no doubt considered quite good economic and political reasons it preferred the safe and easy markets of the Commonwealth to taking risks in Europe. Even when it became clear that the Common Market was becoming a strong economic threat, the U.K. still attempted to thwart it by setting up a rival firm (EFTA or the Seven) as a counterweight. They tried all the other well-known Capitalist dodges into the bargain, such as playing off their rivals against each other, in particular by trying to drive a wedge between France and Germany.

When it became clear that EFTA was hardly in the race the Government immediately set to work to condition British Capitalism to the fact that there was no alternative but to jump on the Common Market band-wagon. In the words of the well-known phrase, “ If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.”

Since then, they have calmly proceeded to swallow most of what they had said before (as well as a considerable amount of pride) and now calmly go forward, cap in hand, to try to get in as though this had been their intention right along. As more than one commentator has pointed out, the Government spokesmen at the Conservative Conference shot down all the arguments against joining without mercy—every one of which arguments they themselves had been using only a little before!

All the countries concerned with the Common Market are, of course, manoeuvring for position just like Britain. One of Britain’s problems, for example, has been how to cope with its obligations to the other countries in EFTA. It need not have worried so much. When the time came for them to make application to the Six it was to find that the “neutrals,” Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, had already been negotiating with the Community behind their backs and had in fact succeeded in obtaining some quite useful concessions. So much for the niceties of international agreements under Capitalism.

At the same time, the Six themselves are jockeying for positions of self-advantage. The Netherlands are the most inclined to let Britain join, the French the most opposed. These attitudes have nothing to do with anything other than hard economic and political facts. The Dutch would be very pleased to see a further large market for their agricultural produce come into the Community whilst the French are still almost as suspicious as ever that British Capitalism’s only motive for joining is to get inside and smash it.

These are only a few examples of the conflicts of interest underlying everything connected with the Common Market. Every one of the countries involved has its own economic and political interests to safeguard by almost any method it can. There are few holds barred.

The Conservatives managed to bulldoze through their Conference an overwhelming vote of support for their decision. But a lot is going to depend on how the negotiations go. If they get the Six to look favourably on their difficulties with the Commonwealth they will not have too much to fear. If the Six also prove cooperative over agriculture, they will be even happier. But should the discussions on either of these topics run into trouble, the Conservatives will be in trouble, too. There is a large element within the Party which is very touchy on both aspects and which would break out into full cry again if things went badly in the negotiations.

As for the Labour Party, immersed more than ever in the day to day affairs of Capitalism, they hardly know where they are. Out of office, they can afford to argue amongst themselves without the need to come to a decision one way or the other. But if they had been in power, it is a pretty safe bet that they would now be doing exactly the same thing as the Conservatives are doing, with probably the same misgivings and certainly the same dissensions. It is not, after all, by accident that Tribune and the Daily Express find themselves in one camp with Mr. Shinwell and Lord Hinchinbrook, and people like Mr. Heath and Mr. Woodrow Wyatt together in the other. In such ways do the economic forces of Capitalism speak louder than the pretences of Capitalist political parties.

For the essential thing to remember about all this hoo-ha over the Common Market is the harsh Capitalist reality underlying it. The reason why British Capitalism has at last got to the point of joining the Six is because its economic interests are pressing hard upon it to do so. Just how hard is demonstrated by what it is having to suffer in injured pride and swallowed words. And it is these same forces which helped to bring about the Common Market itself and which will again largely determine the attitude of its members to Britain’s application to join and that of any other interested nation.

Politics also play their part, of course, politics which again have their roots in the harsh economic reality of Capitalism. The Common Market is to some extent the reflection of the realisation by such countries as France, Germany, and Italy, that their days as Big Powers have gone and that it is now the giants, such as Russia and the U.S.A. that dominate the world scene. The European Community seeks to present itself as a force on a par with these—with a population of 160 million and an industrial and agricultural production that can stand comparison with the giants. It is the forces of Capitalism again, at work in the drive towards bigger and bigger units within individual countries, and in the urge towards bigger units like the Common Market on the world scene. The smaller national units of Capitalism see cheaper and more efficient production in a larger international unit.

What is not an issue in the Common Market is the interests of the working-class. True, there, are such things as plans to standardise working conditions within the Community and, in theory at any rate, the aim eventually to allow completely free movement of workers inside it, but essentially the workers’ position will remain unchanged. Instead of working for a purely French or German firm, French and German workers may find themselves belonging to a Common Market one, but such a situation has been developing for years and the Common Market, if it succeeds, will only complete this process.

No, the motive force of the Common Market and the events now associated with it is economic interest—the drive for profit. The task of the working-class, whether Britain joins it or not, will still be to get rid of the system that generates this drive for profit.

And in setting about that task the workers of Britain and of the Common Market do have a common interest.
Stan Hampson

The Passing Show: Ghana Visit (1961)

The Passing Show Column from the December 1961 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ghana Visit
It has finally been decided, after many comings and goings, that the Queen's visit to Ghana is still on. Mr. Duncan Sandys, the British diplomats in Ghana, the Prime Minister himself—-all have been called on to take some part of the responsibility, all have had a hand in the final decision along with the other members of the Cabinet. The only person who doesn't seem to have been consulted is the person whose safety, after all, is at stake—the Queen herself. There could hardly have been a more striking illustration of the position the monarchy now holds as against the ruling class. The Capitalists having taken over the state and the machinery of government, they have either converted the governmental instruments of the old landowner-ruled society to their own uses, or have allowed them to survive merely as powerless ceremonial appendages. Even though at the beginning of the visit it seemed not improbable, after several recent anti-Nkrumah bomb explosions, that there would be some attempt at violence as the Queen and Nkrumah rode together through the towns of Ghana, the Queen had no choice in the matter. The Government, the Capitalists' executive committee, had decided that she was to go. And since the monarch in Capitalist society is no more than a puppet, she was constitutionally bound to “take her minister's advice"—i.e., do as she was told.


Criticism
Recently Nkrumah, as the chosen right hand of the Ghana ruling class, has been revealing more and more clearly what kind of society the Ghana rulers have decided on. It is now an offence punishable with jail to ”defame" the President, which seems in practice to cover any kind of criticism of him. It is not the first time a Capitalist class have decided that a dictatorship suits them best in a given set of circumstances, nor will it be the last.

But what can be said of some of the newspapers, such as the Daily Express. who are now deploring Nkrumah's dictatorial methods? Only a decade ago, when there was just as much of a dictatorship in Ghana as there is now— the only difference being that the dictatorship was then run by the British ruling class instead of the Ghanaian ruling class — the Daily Express had no objection to the dictatorship at all. It seems that it isn’t the dictatorship itself that they object to: only the particular set of people who happen to be running it. The record of the Daily Express on the matter deprives it of the right to criticise. Only those who criticised the British dictatorship of the past can logically now criticise the Nkrumah dictatorship of the present.


Fall Out
A most significant fact of the giant Russian H-bomb which was exploded at the end of October—the one intended to be fifty megatons, which apparently turned out to be even larger—was that Russia exploded it at home in its own territories.  The people who will suffer most from the fall-out from this bomb are the Russian working class. Which is another demonstration that the Russian rulers, for all their pretence that their state Capitalism is a form of “Socialism,” in fact show as much contempt for the interests of their own workers as any Western ruling class could.


Horrible to think
In an article in The Observer (5/11 /6I) on this explosion, Mr. John Strachey, M.P., said :
   It is horrible to think that an appreciable number of human beings will be crippled either mentally or physically over ensuing generations in order that Mr. Krushchev should attempt to terrorise the world in this way. But 1 am afraid this may be part of his calculation.
Mr. Strachey is somewhat illogical. Of course it is horrible to think of the crippled or mentally deficient children who will be born as a result of the bomb's explosion, merely in order that Mr. Krushchev should take another step in his attempt to terrorise his enemies into submission: but how does this differ from the millions of human beings crippled or killed outright by the British ruling class in the last two world wars, undertaken so that the British rulers could impose their will on their then enemies? Do we have to remind Mr. Strachey that at least  in the second of those wars he was a prominent Labour M.P.. supporting the war to the hilt? If it is "horrible" for the Russian ruling class now, why was it right for the British ruling class then? Mr. Strachey is a little too selective with his horror.
Alwyn Edgar

Party Pars (1908)

Party News from the October 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Comrades everywhere should make a special point of sending in to the Editor any paper, cutting or book extract containing facts and figures of value in propaganda. The capitalist system is continually giving itself away; continually giving indications of the growth of that seed of its own destruction which is inherent in it. We can, by the simple expedient of keeping our eyes open, get every month enough dynamite from the enemy’s own magazine to blow him and all his works to the hell out of which they came. This is something that any one can do. Do it!

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Councillor Gorle, S.D.P., has accepted the challenge of the Watford Branch to public discussion. Arrangements are proceeding. Mr. Gorle intervened in the correspondence which the Watford Branch were conducting in the local Press, in reference to the position of the Party and the hooligan tactics of the Tariff Reformers, and promptly found himself in the pillory and very much on the defensive. The pending debate is the result.

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The Islington Branch are holding a ‘‘Grand Social and Dance” on the 3rd inst. (Saturday evening), at 7.30 p.m.. in the Fairfax Hall, Portland Gardens (close to Harringay Park Station). The North London boys (and girls) have a reputation for quality in entertainments of this description, and Islington may be relied upon to keep their end up adequately. Visitors will find, therefore, full value for the sixpence which they must pay to secure admission. Tickets of Branch Secretary or at the doors.

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Through the columns of the Burnley Express a debate between representatives of the Temperance Party and the S.P.G.B. has been conducted upon the question : “Is the position of the Temperance Party economically sound?” This is an effective change from the oral method normally adopted. The representative of the Party had small difficulty in disposing of the Temperance advocate, although the latter may not he disposed to accept that view. However, and here is one of the advantages of this method, the printed word of the debate remains.' We are quite satisfied to take the verdict of the worker who is prepared to weigh both sides of the discussion without prejudice.

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Owing to the great pressure on space, several important articles, besides some of the regular features, have had to be omitted from this issue. There would be little difficulty in doubling the size of the paper if sales warranted the increase. Verb, sap., Q. E. D., etc., etc.

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Scotland Yard have refused to issue to the Paddington Branch the permit supposed to be necessary to enable collections to be made at public meetings, notwithstanding that the Salvation Army seems to possess such authority and make collections without interference. On the other hand, the Islington Branch has been informed that the permit is no longer necessary. On the third hand, as Mr. Dooley would say, a permit has been applied for and obtained by the Earlsfield Branch since the application of Paddington was made. Either, therefore, Scotland Yard are at sixes and sevens, or, which is more probable. persons of local standing are pulling the leg of the police in Paddington, to the detriment of the Paddington Branch. The E.C. are taking action and will report developments.

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The comrades who spent their holidays in propaganda work in Nottingham, report large and interested audiences and good literature sales. The seed has been sown on good ground, and in due season may be relied on to bring forth much fruit. Already several members have been enrolled.

Party Pars (1908)

Party News from the November 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

The four volumes of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD, strongly and neatly bound in one, are now obtainable for 6s 6d., post free. The number available is limited and orders will be executed in the order of their receipt. It is, therefore, necessary to apply early. The volume is unique. It contains more real information upon current working-class questions in their relation to Socialism than any other publication obtainable. To the workers it is of high educational worth. To the propagandist it is invaluable. Therefore stand not on the order of your orders but order.

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The Hyde I.LP. beg to decline to entertain the challenge of the Manchester S.P.G.B. to debate. They do not see what good purpose will be served. They mean they do not see how the I.LP. will benefit. Neither do we. We only think the working-class audience would benefit by having their outlook cleared. But perhaps the Hyde I.L.P. are not concerned with working- class enlightenment.

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A branch is in process of formation in Liverpool. All those who accept the position of the S.P.G.B., but only those, are urgently requested to put themselves in communication with Sam Myers, 53, Mount Vernon Street, Liverpool.

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The British Columbia Trades Unionist in its special Labour Day number reproduces with due acknowledgment, “ Fritz’s ” translation of “World Crises” from our Party Organ, in addition to the Declaration of Principles in its entirety. The latter is cheek by jowl with an article upon the progress of the “Socialist” movement as expressed by the “ Labour” Party in England ! We have done nothing, surely, to deserve this. It is very hard.

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At an open air meeting of the Romford Division Branch Last May, held outside the “Cock” Hotel, Mr. C. W. Peachy, on behalf of the S.L.P., challenged our speaker to debate. The General Secretary of the S.L.P. in Edinburgh was at once notified and requested to say if Mr. Peachy was a duly accredited representative, so that we could proceed to arrange details of the debate with him, Mr. Peachy being, as a matter of courtesy, informed of the stops that were being taken. Up to the present the rest has been silence from both the General Secretary and Mr. Peachy. Why? We pause for a reply.

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During the Winter months many opportunities may be found of pushing the sale of the Party literature at the innumerable indoor meetings which the other political parties are organising in the vain endeavour to stay our progress. The members of this Party are not expected to hibernate.

The "Spectator" On Courage (1908)

From the December 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Spectator has eulogised Burns of Battersea mainly because he has had the real but unusual courage to do those things that a man might not be expected to do from his previous record. Titus Oates and Judas Iscariot were possessed of the same heroic quality. The parallel between Burns and Judas may, indeed, be pursued to greater length. Both sold themselves for a price. That Burns was able to demand a higher fee and get it shows that the market value of Burns was greater than the market value of Judas; that Bums was worth more to his purchasers than Judas to his. But then Judas, as if anticipating that competitors would arise to challenge his claim to the highest niche in the temple of Spectatorial courage, enormously strengthened his position by going out and hanging himself. When Burns has the courage to follow so excellent an example, he may be sure that the verdict of history, as well as of his friends, will be unqualified and enthusiastic approval of the thing above all others that he was not expected to do from his previous record.

50 Years Ago: Socialism or 'Something Now' (1980)

The 50 Years Ago column from the January 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard 

For years we have been told by Labour Party supporters (who had never tried to teach or even to understand socialism) that the working class did not want socialism, they wanted ‘something now’. We return the jibe and ask when the Labour government is going to give it to them. We were told that ‘half a loaf is better than no bread’ and that the way to get socialism is to build it up piecemeal, adding one gain to another until some day we shall wake up and find that capitalism has imperceptibly changed into the cooperative commonwealth.

One ‘half loaf’ has already been delivered to the cotton workers by the Labour government — a 6¼  per cent reduction in pay instead of the 12½ per cent asked for by the employers. May we ask how many such half-loaves will be required to produce socialism?

From an article ‘Labour party’s main plank gone’, Socialist Standard, January 1930.

50 Years Ago: The Cost of Armaments (1980)

The 50 Years Ago column from the February 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the moment of writing the stage is being prepared for the Five Power naval conference, whose object is to solve the problem that could not be solved in the 1927 Geneva conference.

What is the problem? To those who have not given much thought to it, the problem appears to be the question of the peace of the world and this view is supported by the frequent references in newspapers, pamphlets and books to the ‘spirit of peace’, the ‘spirit of humanity’, the ‘spirit of the Kellog Pact’ and various other spineless spirits . . . In fact, the problem is not the peace of the world but an attempt to set a limit to the ruinous expenditure upon armaments.

Where will it all end? The capitalist can see no end but the continued production of ever more terrible means of causing destruction. He is not concerned with the scrapping of implements of war, but only with decreasing their cost.

So, finally, the high ideals of the Naval conference are really £sd and have as much real concern for welfare of humanity as the capitalist has for the real welfare of his wage slaves.

From an article “What is behind the Naval conference?” by G. McClatchie, Socialist Standard February 1930.