A Look Round
On January 1st all orthodox persons are supposed to make resolutions—which they devote the remaining days of the year to breaking. Reformers of all shades are amongst the orthodox, regarding the members of the S.P.G.B. as unorthodox, “visionary,” “outside the political pale,” etc. I would suggest that these folk take a resolution to ignore the things that do not matter, and to devote their energies to the only thing that does, viz., the class ownership of the means of wealth production, and the consequent enslavement and poverty of the wealth producers,
If the reformers could show any effective “reforms” as the result of their efforts ; if they could prove that any “reforms” they may have been instrumental in securing have made any real difference to the condition of the working class, one would be inclined to bear with them, but when there is abundant testimony to the failure of their efforts, to the waste of all the money they have spent, the time and energy they have devoted to the particular phases of the social problem which find favour in their eyes, one gets a little impatient. However, I will be calm and will only bid them take to heart the truth, as expounded in the following paragraph, extracted from the columns of that, most respectable organ, The Times, of Christmas Day, in its comments upon the reports by medical inspectors of the Local Government Boards.
“The stories told, it says, are monotonous, and, in most instances, the particulars are disgusting. . . Houses unfit for human habitation, rooms destitute of light and ventilation, overcrowding in rural cottages, contaminated water supplies, accumulations of every description of filth and refuse, a total absence of drainage, a reign of unbelievable dirt in milk-shops and slaughter-houses, and an inadequate supervision by officials who are frequently incompetent; such, in a general way, is the picture that is commonly presented.”
Reading an article from the pen of Mr. E. Belfort Bax in Wilshire’s Magazine, written from the National Liberal Club, England, a correspondent in America asks how the S.D.F. can square its assertion that the Liberal Party must be smashed with the fact that it allows its prominent members to belong to Liberal Clubs. We know it is usual to ask riddles at the festive season, but, owing to the ravages of the prevailing epidemic, we regret we are not up to finding the solution.
According to the Reader, one of the most prized possessions of Lord Tweedmouth is a half-crown. It is set in a frame, and underneath are the words, “Honestly earned.” We congratulate his Lordship upon being so candid as to admit that out of his large income he has only “honestly earned” one solitary half-crown in his life, and that was by accident.
Mr. Ben Cooper (Liberal) and Mr. Harry Quelch (S.D.F., and supporter of Liberal candidates) will represent the London Trades Council at the Labour Party Conference at Belfast this month.
Mr. Bell, M.P., addressing a meeting of the Derby Trades Council recently, said that he certainly had said “For God’s sake let us keep politics out of our unions,” and he was still of the same opinion. Later he declared that they had had more advantages for Labour during the past year from the Liberals than they had ever had or were likely to have from any Conservative government. His position was and always had been one of strict neutrality, but he invited them to give the Liberal Government credit.
If Mr. Bell believes in keeping politics out of the unions, why does he so continuously use union meetings to boom the Liberals and—Richard Bell, M.P. ?
In these days when wealthy and titled personages are entering the “Labour” movement, and, because of their wealth and their titles, being pushed to the front by the middle-class dominators of that movement; when “Labou ” “copy” is “good copy” in capitalist journals and magazines, the working class will need all their wits to prevent side-tracking. There is something to ponder over in the words put into the mouth of an Anarchist plotter in a story in the December Harper’s.
“Don’t you know yet that an idle and selfish class loves to see mischief being made, even if it is made at its own expense ? Its own life being all a matter of vestment and gesture, it is unable to realise the power and danger of real ache and of words that have no sham meaning. It is all fun and sentiment. It is sufficient, for instance, to point out the attitude of the old French aristocracy towards the philosophers whose words were preparing the Great Revolution. Even in England, where you have some common sense, a demagogue has only to shout loud enough and long enough to find some backing in the very class he is shouting at. You too like to see mischief being made. The demagogue gets the amateurs of emotion with him. Amateurism in this, that and the other thing is a delightfully easy way of killing time, and of feeding one’s own vanity—the silly vanity of being abreast with the ideas of the day after tomorrow. Just as good and otherwise harmless people will join you in ecstacies over your collection of old china, without having the slightest notion in what its marvellousness really consists.”
With the advent of these “aristocratic” and “millionaire” Socialists in increasing numbers, more strenuous efforts are made by their “fellow conspirators” to make Socialism appeal ever so respectable. “Hide the Red Flag” says one section; “Don’t hold meetings on Sundays,” says another; “Deny the Class War,” and so on. And here is Gaylord Wilshire, one of America’s “millionaire Socialists,” repeating the old twaddle that “The phrase ‘capital versus labour’ continually gives rise to the popular misconception that labour is against capital, or rather that the Socialist is against capital. Not at all. The Socialist is against the private ownership of capital, but certainly not against capital itself.”
The Socialist who understands the position is out for the abolition of capital. This was dealt with in our issues of April and August last.
“There are many Socialists who assert that ‘the armed nation,’ so called, should supplant the standing armies of capitalism, but the experience of Switzerland doesn’t bear out the theory. A recent meeting of Socialists in the Canton of Zurich was held to protest against the employment of troops in suppressing strikes. They claimed that in no country in Europe, Russia not excepted, were troops so constantly used to put down strikes and suppress picketing, and stated that ‘military outrages against peaceful strikers are becoming matters of daily occurrence.’ Switzerland’s military establishment is based on the ‘armed nation’ principle.” Wilshire’s Magazine.
In the Report of Mr. D. Cummings and his Executive of the Boiler Makers’ Union, on the failure of the Clyde Strike, and the defeat of the men, occur these words : “On account of our railway shares not being saleable without great loss, and the difficulty of disposing of the Preference shares of Armstrong, Whitworth, und Co., we were momentarily in financial difficulty, but our bankers advanced us temporarily a large sum of money at the current interest, and were prepared to advance us still more had the strike gone on.”
The capitalist Press are continually booming the “thrift” of the working class, as evidenced by their savings in trade unions, friendly societies, building societies and the like. But in a time of need, such as the strike under review, these savings are useless unless “at call.” As they are invariably invested in capitalist enterprises they are, not available when needed, except under the disadvantageous circumstances referred to in the Report. A combination of financiers could at any time, paralyze the trade unions, by dealing with their investments on the Stock Exchange in such a manner as to render them useless.
The capitalist cat has at least the proverbial number of lives, and is not going to be killed by a little Trade Dispute Act, despite the junketing of S.D.F., I.L.P., and Liberal-Labour men, who forgot their differences and ate, drank, and were merry together at the Shackleton Banquet last month.