A Look Round
The Street Betting Act was a great victory for Reform, according to the Daily News, which suppresses starting prices but not Stock Exchange quotations.
The first result has been to intensify the unemployed problem. Men who had been living by “making a book,” acting as touts, etc., have taken to legitimate business, and workmen have been discharged to make room for them. Reynold’s Newspaper says that prominent police officials openly express the opinion that rigid administration of the Act will have a distinct tendency to increase breaches of the law in other directions as an enormous number of persons have been suddenly compelled to find some new means of livelihood.
What are they going to do ? The Daily News knows that it is impossible for every one to get permanent employment to-day, that a large section of the community must prey upon the others. And if by Acts of Parliament or acts of God certain of them are suddenly deprived of their usual means of livelihood, they must seek a living elsewhere.
Perhaps the Daily News will permit “L.G.C.M.” to explain how these bookmakers, touts, runners, watchers, and all others connected with street betting can get an honest living in view of the indisputable fact that so many already find it impossible to do so.
If all drunkards became teetotallers, all pickpockets and burglars reformed, all corner-boys turned over a new leaf, all tramps became enthusiastic for “honest” toil, what a happy land England would be ! Would it, my Christian friends ? Think what it would mean if all these folk entered the labour market and competed for “honest work,” a labour market already so overstocked that many of the largest and strongest Trade Unions find their resources taxed to the uttermost, owing to the heavy and increasing demands upon their Unemployment Funds.
The Rev. C. F. Aked, who has been “called” from the Pembroke Baptist Chapel, Liverpool, to J. D. Rockefeller’s Fifth Avenue Church, New York, says that he has received hundreds of begging letters and wonders whether people take him for a fool. If it be true that he is giving up £l,500 for £5,000 a year, his wonderment seems somewhat unnecessary.
Rockefeller did not take him for a fool, but for a tool. The Trust Magnates can foresee the approaching struggle between the “have-nots” and the millionaire holders of aggregated capital. They will endeavour to delay it by every possible means. In this they will be assisted by “advanced” clergymen, who will accept, the slaveholders’ dollars to preach patience and peace to the wage slaves.
The first number of the Voice of Labour says that “the Labour movement, organised, federated, largely international, holds in its hands, even more than it deems, the forces that, shall fashion the future . . . That is why the politician, Socialist, Labour, and Liberal, promises so much to gain its votes.” This is on page 1. On page 7 it says “When the people find that, the Socialists and Anarchists are not what the Press depicts ” &c.
We note that “the Editor is not necessarily in agreement with, nor does he hold himself responsible for, signed articles,” and the article on page 7 is signed. According to it the Socialists are not what the Press (i.e, the Voice of Labour) depicts.
We freely admit that there are some calling themselves Socialists who have promised and do promise all sorts of impossible “reforms” to gain working-class votes. We have charged them with misleading the working class and adding to working-class confusion, and we have given evidence in proof of our charges. But we claim that these people have no right to call themselves Socialists, and we have always held that the workers will not be emancipated until they emancipate themselves. Surely our friends of the Voice of Labour know whether they are Socialists or Anarchists ?
The Conservative Press are doing their utmost to convey the impression that Progressivism and Socialism are one. They are as wide asunder as the Poles. But there is certainly some justification for this in view of the municipal this and municipal that which members of the Labour Party, S.D.F., I.L.P., and Fabian Society devote their time to advocating. And now, according to Justice, we have Councillor J. Jones (S.D.F.), opposing Mr. B. Sansome in a debate on “That the Progressive and Socialist Policy on Municipal affairs is harmful to the Community and especially to the Working Class.”
Councillor John Jones opposes the proposition that the Progressive Municipal Policy is harmful to the working class. Why then, does the S.D.F. declare itself in opposition to Progressives, and appeal for funds to enable it to put forward candidates when its candidatures may result in Progressive seats going to the Municipal Reformers and an alternative policy to that of the Progressives and Socialists being pursued ?
Mr. Will Thome, M.P., has been interviewed for the Trades and Labour Magazine. “I cannot tell you,” he says, “when I became a Socialist.” Neither can we. “In trade unionism I am known as a Socialist “; he adds, “my municipal work has been done with Socialist ideals before me ; and when I entered the House of Commons it was as a Labour man and a Socialist.” (note which is first). “My constituents sent me there as such. My fellow members know me as a Socialist, at least I think they do. In a short time I hope so to manage things that there will be no douht about it.” !
And so, although he became attached to the S.D.F. in 1884, and is still a member, he has a doubt whether his fellow M.P.’s know him as a Socialist ! But it will, he hopes, be all right in a short time, when he manages things differently.
Mr. Winston Churchill has written, “My dear Bell,” meaning Richard of that ilk, Labour Leader and Liberal M.P. for Derby, defending the action of the Liberal Government in prohibiting the Servants of the Central South African Railways from taking an active part in political agitation. He thinks it right that “prominent political activities should be denied to them, so long as they continue, as Government Servants, to draw Government pay,” and approves of the circular issued by Lord Elgin. The Daily Chronicle considers that Lord Elgin “has acted very properly.”
What a howl of execration went up from Liberals when it was suggested that certain Tory employers here had endeavoured to deny “prominent political rights” to their employees. But now that the Liberals are in office their dictum is that government employment must carry with it political disabilities. And Mr. Bell, as a good Liberal, will continue to support his Party, even tho’ they prove their readiness, when opportunity offers, to do that which the ordinary capitalist does not attempt to do, viz., control their wage slaves out of working hours.
In the Journeymen Bakers’ Magazine appears a portrait and interview with Mr. Alexander Wilkie, M.P., General Secretary, Associated Shipwrights’ Society. Asked what books had exercised the greatest influence on his life, he replied, “the Bible and the poetry of Robert Burns.” “When all is said and done” he added, “I fall back upon the Bible and Burns, and I am of opinion that a man cannot build his life upon a more stable foundation.”
At the December meeting of the London Trades Council a resolution was moved protesting against the sentence passed upon Stoker Moody, and Mr. Quelch moved to add the words “and demands the abolition of courts-martial in times of peace.” He did this, he said, with a view to civilising the Services and breaking the rule of caste. From which it would appear that he believes in courts-martial but only in times of capitalist war, not when the capitalist class are pleased to be at peace with each other and are not ordering the working class to risk their lives in the interests of their masters. And does Mr. Quelch really think that the capitalists will abolish courts-martial because he may persuade the L.T.C. to pass a resolution “demanding” it ?
Later, Mr. Quelch moved : “That this Council condemns the encouragement of ‘jingoism’ given by the surreptitious introduction of rifle practice into our elementary schools as part of the ordinary curriculum, and calls for the abolition of the standing army as being dangerous, unnecessary, and unconstitutional; this Council being further of opinion that all the military requirements of the nation would be met by the adequate training of all citizens in early manhood to the use of arms, thus constituting the whole manhood of the nation a citizen force for the national defence, and free from the burden and charges of the present military organisation.”
The italics are ours. What is the nation, and what is national defence ? The nation to-day is the propertied class, in whose interests wars are carried on. Preparing for the national defence means preparing to defend the property and interests of the propertied class of Great Britain against the interests of the propertied class of another country. Should Socialists encourage the working class to believe that they have national interests that must be defended ?
Mr. Quelch claimed that he was the first to use the phrase in this country the “armed nation.” He said that Mr. Haldane hoped to get his “armed nation” on the voluntary system. But the voluntary system had broken down. He was opposed to teaching children the use of firearms, in the way in which it was being introduced, because he believed it was intended to encourage a love of militarism and to bolster up the voluntary system. What they wanted was universal training—every man drilled and armed as a soldier, but remaining a citizen, as in Switzerland. . . . This was not conscription … it was the antidote to conscription, to militarism, and to jingoism, and so on.
From which a very clear idea of Mr. Quelch’s position can be obtained. He would civilise the Services, i.e., offer greater inducements to the working class to become “food for powder” in the interests of the capitalist class and their property ; he objects to the surreptitious introduction of rifle practice into elementary schools—he would do it openly and above board, then it would not encourage jingoism ; he is opposed to voluntary effort, and would make it compulsory for every citizen to be drilled and trained in the use of arms ; this compulsion is not conscription, certainly not, “only ignorant or untruthful persons so describe it” ; he would foster the idea of nationalism, and would have the working class compelled, by their masters, to make adequate preparation to defend the national (capitalists’) interests against those of some other national capitalists.
I could understand Mr. Quelch advocating that as a workman becomes class-conscious he should take steps to prepare for the defence of the international working class against the international capitalist class, that he should not pin his faith to one method of attacking and ultimately vanquishing his exploiters, but it is beyond my comprehension how a professing Socialist can advocate a narrow and working-class dividing nationalism. In opposition to his attitude we say : “Workers of all countries unite ; you have nothing to lose but your chains—you have the the world to gain.”