1900s >> 1906 >> no-25-september-1906

Editorial: Camping Out

It has been popular with a section of the unemployed this summer to try the simple life by camping out on vacant land, and, though the rôle of leaders of fashion goes oddly with the desperate efforts of the unemployed to avoid starvation, who knows but that their action may have some connection with the fact that (according to a contemporary) “Society”—another section of the unemployed—is going into camp next summer, and would this year were not the season so far advanced ? However that may be, it is certain that the unfortunate unemployed have had more serious business in hand, for, in addition to calling public attention to their existence and exciting the sympathy of the charitably disposed, they have been led to believe that it was only necessary to tickle the surface of the land to bring forth abundance. Unfortunately for them, eviction has followed eviction, and the sickly lettuce and despondent cabbage have been left to their fate as camp after camp has “fizzled out.”
It has been said that, although the camps have not been of long duration, nevertheless they have achieved their purpose of calling the attention of the public to the problem which awaits solution. We would point out that whatever truth or worth there may be in this is entirely discounted by the fact that these camps of unemployed call into notice at the same time a manner of dealing with unemployment that is utterly futile and indeed even harmful to the workers themselves. To seize upon land which has been left waste (precisely because it does not under present conditions pay for cultivation) and to endeavour with unskilled labour and without the machinery and stock which are essential to success, to inaugurate a “back to the land” crusade by precept and practice, is surely the height of folly. Even without the interference of the powers that be the camps could not possibly have lived.
It is, perhaps, a pity that the camps were not allowed to die a natural death, so that the “back to the land” pill for the disease of unemployment may have been used by the unemployed on such a scale that even its pseudo-Socialist advocates were forced to recognise that the only remedy for the unemployed evil is the abolition of capitalism.