1900s >> 1905 >> no-13-september-1905

Editorial: Labour Triumphant?

Clap your hands for joy, ye people. Make merry in your hearts. For the hour of your deliverance from the insecurity of your position is nigh; the day when the heartbreaking search for work shall cease is at hand; the day when the misery and poverty always attendant upon unemployment shall be no more. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for the Unemployed Bill has passed the faithful Commons, has survived the ordeal of criticism imposed by the loyal Lords, and has found a place in the records of State Statutes.

 

Here is a triumph for Labour! Here a vindication of Parliamentary astuteness on the part of the champions of the workers! Here an example of what a few men may accomplish against overwhelming odds! The principle of the State’s responsibility in the matter of the provision of work for the workless has been established ; the State’s duty to its profit-producers—deprived of the opportunity to produce profit has been recognised; the State’s sympathy with its honest and humble, hungry constituents has been made manifest.

 

A great day for Labour; a great day. And the men of Manchester who demonstrated, the men of Raunds and Leicester who peregrinated, the S.D.F. who agitated and deputated, the I.L.P. who I.L.P’d, not to say the Labour M.P’s who so ardently laboured, may take their meed of gratification from the knowledge that their united efforts have found fruition in an Act that has at last established the, for evermore, inalienable right of the unemployed, so long as they are sober, honest, and industrious. ‘ to—remain unemployed!

 

That is the net result of all the bother as we, without claiming the mantle of prophecy, foretold it would be. How else, indeed, could it have been? What other result was possible? It were easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for capitalist politicians to touch an unemployed problem upon which capitalism itself depends. As well expect the earth to cease its revolutions as that a capitalist legislature should legislate itself out of existence by drying up the source of its power. The S.D.F. leaders knew this well enough. The I.L.P. leaders knew it; the Labour M.P’s. knew it; and yet they persisted in their policy of piteous appeal ; persisted even when they knew the provisions of the Bill, born, as they claim, of their agitation, and knew that it was, on their own admission, absolutely useless; persisted even when those features of it which the eye of faith in the head of ignorance plus the most powerful of microscopes magnified into points of possible utility, had been carefully reduced to nothingness.

 

Was ever such an exhibition of purblind puerility? And we who tell the working-class flatly and plainly that appeals to capitalism to abolish itself are stupid and childish; we who point out that energy consumed in such endeavours is energy wasted that cannot be spared; we who insist that the only effectual thing the workers can do is to get a grip upon the causes of their condition and then organize themselves upon their class basis in the teeth of the inevitable opposition the capitalist-class will offer,— we, forsooth, are the “impossiblists” !

 

Very well, we are the “impossiblists.” If possiblism consists in determination to do the thing that cannot effect the result desired, we are the “impossiblists.” We accept the epithet and all the opprobrium that attaches to it. Workers of Great Britain, we who tell the whole truth are the “impossiblists.” They who squander your energies and divert your purpose and lead you into a ditch are the “possiblists.” Choose ye this day whom ye will have as champions of your interests.