Editorial: The Folly of Fools

In common with most other London and Suburban districts, Poplar has an unemployed problem—somewhat more acute, perhaps, in the neighbourhood of Poplar, but the same problem that afflicts every industrial centre of every capitalist country in the world, and, because capitalism is impossible without this out-of-work army, that will continue to afflict until production is organised for the use of the producer as distinguished from the profit of the non-producer, as at present. But the affairs of Poplar, being in the hands of progressive gentlemen—practically Socialists as we are informed—it follows that, in real or feigned ignorance of the inevitability of unemployment, the public progressive persons of Poplar are making efforts to solve the, under present conditions, insolvable. Their methods as compared with those of other borough councillors are, however, sensational. They want, and in this respect they are just ordinary, Mr. Balfour to call a special Parliamentary session to deal with the question—although what that amiable apostle of culture could do is not clear. Mr. Balfour, apparently, is not inclined to do anything of the sort. Whereupon our Poplar worthies spring into a great notoriety by asking that the King himself shall hear their requisition, the which the “little father,” being a moderately wideawake gentleman, agrees to. The humble and loyal representations are duly made and most graciously received (the little mother smiling sympathetically the while) and—passed back to the amiable Balfour ! Whereat Poplar is delighted, Mr. and Mrs. Crooks are photographed in the act of smiling their pleasure, the Mayor walks on his heels, bearing himself proudly, and the unemployed take in their belts another hole and look hopelessly and shudderingly ahead to the rigors of a winter that threatens to be even longer and more bitter than usual. Well, it is useless to bemoan the abysmal ignorance that will forever follow in the wake of folly. We can only proclaim to those whom our voices will reach and who have ears to hear, that there is no hope for the working-class until they cease appealing and appealing and appealing for what they may take when they will. We can only repeat and repeat and repeat that there is no hope for the working-class until they have understood and have themselves taken over the means by which they may produce the things necessary to their life and happiness. It may seem a cold and comfortless answer to give the appeal of huddled misery crying aloud for “something now.” But it is not. It is a message charged with hope and a great possibility—if only the workers will listen. It is a message that will bring the “something now”—if only the workers will listen. For, as we have so often urged, and as every indication goes to show, “something now” is never conceded except out of the fear of the possessing class. And no greater fear can be bred in their hearts than that of an intelligent working-class after the means of life upon the ownership of which the power of the capitalist depends. At present the workers are asking for crumbs as a charity, and they got the equivalent of nothing. Let them demand the whole loaf as a right and show behind their demand a determination that will not be denied and the “something now” will surely materialize. The message of the S.P.G.B. indicates the only path that can be followed for the attainment of the “something now” or the whole loaf of presently.

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