Correspondents MUST be brief.
Communications must be authenticated by name and address of writer and written on one side of the paper only.
The writers ONLY are responsible for the views expressed.


Larkfield, Chilbolton, Stockbridge,
I am obliged by your reply to my “useful letter.” As the combined intellectual product of a whole editorial committee it is, to say the least, extremely disappointing. Confusion, as you remark, unfortunately does exist. On page 6 you say that “Whether the Social Commonwealth will arise depends upon whether sufficient of the working-class have been made Socialists and have been class-conscioussly organised.” On page 3, however, we are told that “Socialism is the goal of the conscious and unconscious efforts of humanity.” Your remark that I evidently imagine “that Socialism will come upon the workers unawares ‘like a thief in the night.'” should be addressed to some of your own members ! Socialist organisations are part of the social evolution. Not so the S.P.G.B ! It has no part nor lot in the affairs of contemporary society. It is a party of evolutionists standing outside the evolutionary movement. Your public representatives—charitably assuming that you ever get any—will “fight for working-class interests” by holding aloof from the administration; your guardians of the poor for instance would not trouble to secure, say, the maximum amount of out-relief for the aged poor, but will allow anti-working-class interests full freedom. Reforms will then be given to the workers for being so good as to elect such non-interfering representatives.

I appear to have aroused old associations with those familiar Lunatic Asylum Sanity Tests; “strangely muddled” as I am said to be, I cannot understand, however, how manipulating the tap can be shown to affect the root cause “of the stream flowing through the pipe.” Free Maintenance would screw that tap down pretty hard, but the S.P.G.B. whilst utterly impotent to deal with the source, obstructs and abuses those screwing down the tap !

The S.P.G.B. attacks Free Maintenance because it would provide the capitalist with more efficient wage-slaves ! I say, therefore, that the S.P.G.B. must logically oppose every social re-arrangement or invention that will benefit capitalists in any degree, If such re-arrangement, &c , could be shewn to make the worker more efficient ! We need go no further than the same month’s issue of your journal for proof. On page 3 one of your teachers tells us that “pure food would even do the worker harm by making him more efficient, &c. !”

The strait jacket in which S.P.G.B.-ism immures its adherents should be fairly obvious from this.

A party that tells the worker that pure food will do him harm, and also advises him to oppose any means for getting the best possible terms in life for his children in the meantime is not I venture to assert likely to gain the support of people whose experience of life does not include Lunatic Asylum Tests for Sanity. Whether you have “nailed a common misapprehension of your position” upon that post or not, you have certainly drawn a pretty picture of social evolution and socialist thought and activity as understood by the S.P.G.B.. Yours, &c.,



It was, perhaps, unavoidable that the editorial note to our correspondent’s previous letter should be “extremely disappointing” to him. It is significant, also, that he has failed to meet the main arguments in that note. We shall, however, spend a few moments putting Mr. Foster right on several points raised in the above letter.

On page 3 “Economicus” urged his readers to “join the S.P.G.B. and work uncompromisingly towards the goal of the conscious and unconscious efforts of humanity.” Now friend Foster actually takes this sentence to mean that Socialism will come without the conscious efforts of the working-class ! Our correspondent is apparently unaware that the organisation of capitalists into Trusts, &c., albeit not consciously directed towards Socialism, has, nevertheless, the effect of opening the eyes of the toilers, and making an increasing number class-conscious workers for Socialism.

After saying that Socialist organisations are part of social evolution, and immediately contradicting himself, our critic adds that S.P.G.B. representatives “will fight for working-class interests by holding aloof from administration,” presumably ignorant of the fact that the Socialists Party exists for the purpose of organising the workers for the control of administration. “Your guardians of the poor,” continues Mr. Foster, “would not trouble to secure the maximum of out-relief for the aged poor.” This is absolutely false, for, since the powers of local bodies are limited by Parliament, pending the capture of Parliamentary power, a genuine Socalist majority on such local bodies would secure, not only to the aged poor but to all workers, the utmost benefits that it were in the power of the local administration to confer. Whilst, until the Socialists have the majority, they must continue the fight for the control of administration, fighting for and taking all along the line (always however, as uncompromising Socialists) such palliative measures as the majority may give.

The sore point with our friend appears to be that we would not accept office under a capitalist majority, that we will not support capitalism or capitalist candidates; in short that we will not barter our Socialism for some hopeless promise of reform. It is indeed a curious idea that genuine working-class representatives can at the same time be the paid servants of a capitalist majority ! And presumably our correspondent thinks the capitalist class will give the workers, if not Socialism, at least some wonderful palliative as a reward for their faithful support of capitalist candidates, parties and interests !

Mr. Foster falls foul of, and, as he says, fails to understand, our illustration of the futility of bailing out effects whilst the cause remains unchecked. Our illustration forcibly put the fact (which our correspondent makes no attempt to disprove) that the cause of working-class misery is capitalist exploitation, and we showed that our critic “would have us withdraw our energies from the abolition of the cause of degeneration in order to make futile attempts to bail out effects whilst the tap of capitalist exploitation is still flooding us.” Yet Mr. Foster says, “that Free Maintenance would screw that tap down pretty hard.”

Whatever its worshippers have claimed for Free Maintenance, it has remained for Mr. Foster to make the absurd claim that it would stop capitalist exploitation.

But what would Free Maintenance do for the workers? It would, it is true, if obtained, enable healthier and more children to grow into adolescence, but its good effects would counteracted whilst capitalism endured, because it would increase the already oversupply of labourers, and by making each labourer more efficient would enable the masters to employ fewer men; so intensifying the misery of the adult workers by increasing the unemployed and decreasing wages. We therefore point out to the worker that the increase of efficiency cannot lighten the load of working class misery, because, under capitalism, every virtue of the worker is turned as a weapon of offence against him. Neither in promoting nor still less in discouraging efficiency lies the workers salvation, the abolition of capitalism is the workers’ only hope.

We do not, then, oppose Free Maintenance, but we show that it would, not materially improve the workers’ lot; whilst, if the energy required to obtain an adequate system of Free Maintenance were directed at the root of the evil, such measures would be rendered unnecessary. Mr. Foster’s premise that we oppose Free Maintenance and greater efficiency, being false, his conclusions consequently fall to the ground.

Mr. Foster places in quotation marks, and attributes to “Ecouomicus” the sentence “Pure food would even do the worker harm.” “Economicus” did not say this, he pointed out that municipalization while perhaps ensuring purer food substance to the worker, would not enhance his power of purchasing those substances, and would even do him harm, inasmuch as it made him a more efficient worker, and enabled fewer of him to turn out the same quantity of commodities, thus accentuating the unemployed evil.” Which, of course, is perfectly true. Such dubious conduct on the part of Mr, Foster we can only attribute to the fact, evident from hia many references to the matter, that he writes obsessed by visions of strait-jackets.

It is further absurdly untrue that this party “advises the worker to oppose any means for getting the best terms in life for his children.” Our mission is precisely to show the worker the best means for getting the best in life for himself and his children.

The S.P.G.B. working at the organisation and education of the workers for the removal of the cause of the growing misery, is abused by those who, in practice, consider tinkering with effects more important than the removal of the cause.


Leave a Reply