Some publications

RICHES AND POVERTY, by L. C. Chiozza Money, 5/- nett.

A valuable book. A very valuable book—up to a point. A most effective arrangement of startling figures. An armoury of facts for the propagandist,—facts which the Socialist can use to most excellent purpose. A really splendid compilation of comparative tables so clearly set out that the wayfaring man, though a fool, can see he is being robbed. But the wayfaring man will not see the figures unless they are extracted for him and reproduced in some cheaper publication. The book is too dear.

That is the first criticism we have to offer. Its price puts it out of the range of the possibilities of the purse of that portion of the proletariat who purchase such publications for perusal.

The second criticism is that the book is only valuable up to a point. That point is reached where the tables leave off. After that point the book is still interesting as showing how close a man can sail to the Socialist position without being forced to concede that nothing short of Socialism can suffice to effect that change in the distribution of wealth which Mr. Money desires; as shewing how a man may cut the ground clean from under him and yet proceed apparently indifferent to the fact that he is dancing upon nothing. Mr. Money’s work frequently conveys the same impression. It is as though he sets out with the best of intentions determined that he will not again be baulked in his purpose ; determined to argue his case logically from effect to cause and to put his findings upon record, only to find that a something or somebody lies in wait within that radius which marks the utmost limit of the area over which the capitalist scribe may operate, to prevent his further advance and by the exercise of a power against which he has never apparently prevailed, to turn him back by a painfully circuitous course to the point from which he started. What that something is may be a matter of conjecture—to some. Those unfamiliar with his work might ascribe it to Mr. Money’s lack of knowledge. But we do not share that view. Whatever else it may be it is not ignorance. But it is always successful in its endeavours to head Mr. Money off.

And so it comes about that having compiled valuable data for the Socialist, having given an excellent summary of the national balance sheet and, which is almost equally valuable, shewn how he has arrived at his figures for the different items, having formulated an unanswerable indictment of the present system and made quite clear—by inference—that the system is absolutely rotten at its base and that things as they are can only be materially improved by the destruction of the foundations and the erection of an entirely new social edifice upon a new foundation,—having done this he peters out in a recital of petty-fogging and miserably inadequate proposals, none of which go down to root causes and all of which when realised would, therefore, hardly make any appreciable impression upon the problems they were designed to solve.

The consideration of these proposals occupy one half the book. They are not valuable suggestions. They are not new. They may all be found in the programmes of the many reform organisations whose existence and whose work operate so disastrously to the confusion of the working-class mind. Our concern is for a clear working-class mind. The working class must understand their position and the reasons why that position is so hazardous and unhappy. Because the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class themselves. And if they are inveigled into the belief that Mr. Money’s “remedial” measures matter, they are led into a mental bog from which they must extricate themselves before they can organise their strength for the overthrow of the system which causes their misery. While they are doing that they are wasting time and expending their force uselessly.

Therefore, while gladly admitting the value of Mr. Money’s statistics, we consider the last half of his work highly mischievous. He should issue it in two volumes—the statistical part for sale at a few pence; the other part at a few pounds. We make him a present of the suggestion and hope he will act upon it.


“AN UNAUTHORISED PROGRAMME” and “POVERTY” by R. J. Derfel (Manchester), each 2d.

Two pamphlets designed to shew that Trade Unionists, Co-operators, Labour Representators and Socialists—particularly Socialists—are all more or less right in their conceptions of the causes of poverty and all more or less wrong (generally more) in the methods they adopt to effect a change. Socialism alone, the author holds, will guarantee the poor against the misery of their present condition, but they will never understand that until Socialists organize Labour to do something that will bring some immediate benefit to them (the workers).

It seems there’s far too much talking at present and not enough doing.

This should, says Mr. Derfel, be at once remedied. The first thing is to do—more talking ! We should have a world convention of all “religions and churches, reformers, philanthropists, Socialists and all professions and interests.” This is bound to do good. Thereafter we should form societies to provide coals, clothing, milk, food, houses, and, yes, and funerals—particularly we presume funerals. Under this soup and blanket treatment the workers will awake and abolish the philanthropists, etc., etc., etc., and poverty will be no more. As it is “things are getting worse instead of better. Monopolists are not satisfied with joining house to house, they join town to town and country to country in their eager desire to grab all for themselves. . . The churches with scarcely an exception are on the side of p rivate property and privilege. Government and law supported by all their servants from the bum to the judge and defended by the Police and the Army and Navy, are under the control and at the command of the upper classes. . . Our rulers have always, and still do, make the fullest use of force and compulsion in their own interests and that is why . . the many are so poor and miserable.” Nevertheless “it is not true that the upper classes as a class or that both or either of the political parties as a party are enemies to the workers.”

Which of course is very clear. Quite obviously “the upper classes as a class” when they use force and compulsion in their own interests are not doing it in their own interests at all. Not really. They are not the enemies of the workers who keep the workers poor, but the friends ! It therefore quite plainly follows that “the mission of Socialism must be for all. It must appeal to every class.”

By closely following these lines we shall be able “to abolish poverty without doing an injustice to anyone or leaving a feeling of wrong behind.”

”Clearly,” says our author, “there is need for patience.” There is. We are in need of more of it ourselves.

Certainly we are in danger of losing all we have at present to this pathetic product of Mr. Derfel’s muddled thought. When a man sets out as his practical programme (as distinguished from the impractical programmes of all the other folk) the calling together of representatives of all professions and interests to consider ways and means for the abolition of most of the professions and interests represented; when he talks of the necessity for the Socialists’ appeal being to all, at the same time what he emphasises the fact that the dominant class are using every force at their command to keep the working class in subjection ; when he hopes to abolish poverty without leaving a feeling of wrong behind in face of his argument as to proletarian misery being the outcome of the assertion of what the capitalist class undoubtedly regard as their rights ; and when he argues that a people too desperately poor to obtain even the means of sustenance should be encouraged to buy their own houses, he must not be surprised if the normal person fails to raise enthusiasm for Mr. Derfel’s patent prescription for the prevention of poverty.

Mr. Derfel seems to have a good heart and the best of intentions, but his thought requires ordering and his studies augmenting.


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