1900s >> 1906 >> no-22-june-1906

Reflections

A letter in Justice from one whose identity is hidden, reads, “I am one of about 12 Socialists who have decided to study Socialism. We all favour the S.D.F. programme and want to start an S.D.F. Branch here.” Twelve “Socialists” who haven’t studied Socialism want to join the S.D.F. When those twelve “Socialists have studied Socialism and have discovered that they are Socialists, they will not want to join the S.D.F. They will want to join a Socialist Party. At present, as they have not studied Socialism, they cannot claim to be Socialists. Nevertheless, they may, without incongruity join the S.D.F., because the S.D.F. isn’t a Socialist organisation.

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In addition to this, “one of twelve,” there appears to be quite a number of other members of the S.D.F. who want to study Socialism. They write asking for economic classes. Evidently they are unaware that conductors of economic classes are far from persona grata with the S.D.F. leaders. At least one conductor has been expelled the organisation for no greater crime.

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Does any one know what has become of the Justice crusade against motor-cars ? There was a time only a few short months ago, when readers of that Journal were urged to walk the roads with loaded pistols in one pocket and bags of calthrops in the other. The calthrops were to spread in the path of the rushing motor. If this did not have the effect of bursting the tyres, the pistol was to be used. If the shot missed the tyre and hit the occupant, so much the better. Since the advent of the red car and her ladyship, however, pistols and calthrops and even tin-tacks are, apparently, taboo ; which may, of course, be only a coincidence, although if political action reflects economic conditions (Socialists who have not studied Socialism may not understand this) there may be something more in it.

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Somebody must have told Justice I was to refer to the foregoing, or it must have been conveyed to Clerkenwell by some telepathic process. Anyhow, it had hardly been written when our contemporary erupted in the same place again. From which it may be inferred that the notorious red motor has followed the “mere drawerful of jewels” to the sale room. If it hasn’t her ladyship must proceed with caution. Otherwise it may occur that she will drive unwittingly into a trap laid by the wily S.D.Fers, out under the inspiration of Mr. Quelch, to treat all motorists in the Swiss fashion (which we understand to be something drastic). Imagine the excitement if, while touring with, say, Bill Thorne, the Countess was to be potted by her own comrades !

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Mention of Bill reminds me that since the day when he achieved fame by making his debut as M.P. at St. Stephens in a very large hat of the uncompromising “Alpine or Trilby” variety, he has dropped almost completely out of sight. This need not necessarily be reckoned against him for unrighteousness. Bill is a big man, and it must have meant a real effort on his part to obscure himself. Moreover, he may have profited by the horrible examples which some of his fellow members of the “Labour” Party in their endeavours to impress their statesmanship upon the House, have succeeded in making of themselves. However that may be, I am sure he has disappointed many of his friends, who expected him to do great things as the only M.P. the S.D.F. can allege connection with. And really the acquisition of a large hat and a readiness to write advertisements for books on the hire purchase system, are not much to show as the result of several months labours.

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This advertisement writing, by the way, does not appear to be regarded favourably by the Leader. The organ of the l.L.P. waxes indignant with those “Labour” members who have lent their photographs and their strong approbation to the firm who are widely advertising the sale of books by easy payments. The Labour Leader does not approve of such action and expresses its disapproval in no mild manner. We fear, however, the Labour Members assailed will not be greatly impressed, seeing that the Labour Leader has itself accepted advertisements from the same firm for the same set of books (as well as from other firms for other commodities), and seeing that its columns have for months contained a puff for a certain musical instrument from Mr. Keir Hardie. The I.L.P. organ should shew cause why the Labour Leader paper may augment its income by advertisements and why the “Labour” leader person may not do the same thing for the same reason. And it must shew wherein a musical instrument puff by Keir Hardie differs from a book puff by Will Thome. If it does not, Mr. Thorne may fairly dismiss its criticism as, to put it, mildly cant.

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This question of how to raise the financial wind seems, on the surface, to strike “Labour” journals and leaders in different ways. I say on the surface because it is fairly clear that at bottom there is no difference at all. Justice for example is quite frankly unconcerned as to the source of its income. “Get it,” it says, “honestly if you can, of course—but get it.” And Justice is far from satisfied with the success of its endeavours up to the present. The .£500 realised by the sale of the Countess’s jewels was very nice and very welcome. But a donation of £1,000 would be better. Justice is sure that the S.D.F. can give better value for the money than any other organisation afloat; which may or may not be true. At any rate, its S.D.F. will have to manage better than they did at Camborne, if they want to inspire persons with thousands of pounds to spare, to donate large sums to its treasury. Large sums are never given without conditions, and when the donor requires those conditions to be kept dark it is unpleasant, to say the least of it, to discover that the recipient of the largess does not possess “political aptitude” sufficient to keep inquisitive noses from scenting the game.

OBSERVER

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