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Dear Editors,

I greatly enjoyed the article on Billy Bragg in the September Socialist Standard. By anyone's standards, Billy is a great songwriter (if not a great singer!), but it is true to say that he has always been much clearer about what he is "against" than what he is "for."

Being of a certain age, I was greatly enamoured of much of the post-punk scene of the early '80s, of which the Gang of Four (also mentioned in the article) were a part. I'm not sure if they quite merit the label "Marxist", though, at least not as we would understand it. Also, although they certainly had their moments, their po-faced brand of "feminism" could be a little tiresome, if not patronising - when the previously all-male band appointed a female bass-player they then announced to the world that they were now "one woman and three token men!"

Socialism & the State

The Socialist propagandist is often confronted with the assertion that the establishment of a system of Socialism would involve the subjection of the individual to a hide-bound State, that would eventually result in the enslavement of the people. The Socialist, on the contrary, asserts that the working class are enslaved to-day, and that only the establishment of Socialism can effect their emancipation.

The individualist attacks Socialism from the standpoint that the proposed change simply means the continuation of the present wage-system of production, in which the whole of the wealth of society shall be owned by a number of persons incorporated into a State or bureaucracy, instead of being, as at present, owned by private individuals. He maintains that the right of the individual is supreme, and condemns any action on the part of a State or collection of individuals, that interferes with his desires.

The Slave’s Awakening

The capitalist class, by means of their control of the publicity organs, are able to focus the attention of the working class on things that are often of little concern or consequence; the wage slave’s mind is on the war; the exploiter devotes his energies more closely at this time to the source of profits; real wages must not be allowed to rise: forced saving by means of rationing must of necessity be ruthlessly imposed upon those who do not pay income tax. The wage-worker listens to his master’s voice and submits to his master’s will. The standard of living of the proletariat falls, and this, together with the harassing black-out, induces many to give expression to the dissatisfaction they feel; they inwardly curse many of those in power or they openly denounce Hitler, but one rarely hears a statement that places the blame where it belongs, on the supporters of the capitalist system.

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