1900s >> 1908 >> no-48-august-1908

Marx and Morals

The author of the “Secret of Herbart” has made a notable advance in the direction of a clearer understanding of the real “problems” underlying “Education” since his last work, “The Secret of Herbart,” was published. In his latest essay, “Education and the Heredity Spectre,” he says:—

“No one claims that improved moral instruction will be a panacea for all ills. The time may come when the minds now devoted to the cause of moral instruction may urge the importance of other factors. Or a happier time may come when all factors will have been so adjusted that advocacy of any one of them would be gratuitous. The immediate need is to lay stress on the importance of moral instruction.”

The advance herein indicated consists in the growing consciousness of the fact that his own particular pet palliative may, in the face of other “factors” making for righteousness, prove to be extremely inadequate, if not wholly ”gratuitous”—a loose agglomeration of learnedly ignorant “ideas” and “ideals” presented as a “system,” but lacking in coherence and in healing virtue because not broad-based on the truths of

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, searching the dark places of capitalism with the torch lit by Marx, again urges its claim to be the only agency at work in Britain which is consciously and persistently plying its axe at the root of the social evil which underlies all “problems,” whether “educational” or otherwise.

Dr. Hayward himself well says : “Something little short of infanticide prevails at the moment in those homes where the child is the chief bread-winner.” His prescription for this and other glaring evils is, in brief, “a wholesome, rich, and stimulating mass of story and poem and history”—for the unfortunate victims of a system which must

INEVITABLY BREED INFANTICIDE !

The absurdity of the suggested cure is surpassed only by the tragic waste of intellectual energy and misdirection of benevolent aspiration which is implied in the following unintelligible jargon of idealism : “Man, capable of becoming, as you will, a wild animal or personified reason (!), needs an art which shall build him up in order that he may receive the form that is right” (Herbart).

What kind of “form” is “right” for this same “personified reason” ? A race of Calibans, bred among and gazing upon nothing but a hog-breed, would doubtlessly regard its race as the “right” form of humanity. The more than hideous Caliban, fell Capitalism, necessarily hugs its vile offspring, Wage-slavedom, proclaiming it to be the “form that is right.”

And as to the particular kind of story, poem, and history ? Will the State—expression of the power of the master class to oppress and perpetuate a slave class—permit other than such pabulum as will inculcate the “duty” of thanking God for placing the worker in that station in life from which it is becoming increasingly difficult to rise ? We ask a direct question of Dr. Hayward. How would he, in his capacity of “Inspector,” view the teaching of Shelley’s “Men of England,” or of the “Red Flag,” as part of the “English” syllabus ? Will he tell us, in all seriousness, what diminution of prostitution followed the production of the “Bridge of Sighs,” how much less total exploitation of child and woman labour followed as the result of “The Song of the Shirt” and “The Cry of the Children” ? Any amelioration in the lot of any section of the working class has been dictated by

ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS.

Mr. Geo. Cadbury, astute representative of the master class, recognising the increased possibilities of the clean, better-fed, better-clad human machines as a source at once of more cocoa and more profit, only recently said, “Starvation wages pay neither employed nor employer.

“Moral” instruction by “direct” or “indirect” method ? Yes. By both, especially by the latter ; but inculcated by the hirelings of a master class—wage-slaves themselves, sedulously taught to believe in the sacred “rights” of property—the “morality” filtering down to the “elementary” scholar from Executive Officer to bottom-dog “Assistant” will be

SLAVE MORALITY.

The crowd that will throw up its sweaty nightcaps and cheer itself hoarse to greet a king of knaves on Epsom Downs can hardly be expected to appreciate a “Queen of curds and whey,” be her charms sung ever so sweetly by immortal bard, can it, Doctor? Allopathic doses of the “Recessional” and “Rule Britannia,” or even homoeopathic doses of Seeley’s “Expansion of England ” on Empire Day are of more than doubtful value in curing the evil which the army of social quacks are endeavouring to grapple with.

“WE ARE ALL IS A FOG”

says the worthy Doctor. Too hasty generalisation, based upon an assumption which may be dispelled by a reading of the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, or, assuming this work to be beneath the notice of a “D. Litt., M.A., B. Sc.,” by a perusal of the works of Marx and Engels, who are allowed even by the master class to have been possessed of some small erudition, and one of whom, in issuing an epoch-making work, the crowning triumph of historical research and of the application of the evolutionary theory to sociology—”Das Capital” —omitted to mention the fact that he possessed the highest academic honours a German university could confer. Historical Materialism, whose main proposition is “that in every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organisation necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political, intellectual, and moral history of that epoch,” leaves revolutionary Socialists in no “fog” on matters educational. Capitalist society, nurtured on the life’s blood of the worker, fell Moloch and filthy Satyr, drunk with the blood of children, and leering bestially at the desecration of womanhood, is solely responsible for the infanticide and the prostitute, the crime and the criminal. Real “Moral Instruction” can only consist to-day in stinging the wage-slave into a recognition of his hopeless position while possessed of nothing but his labour-power to sell, and in pointing out the way to that emancipation which must be his work and his alone, by proclaiming the fact that economic freedom involves intellectual and moral advancement.

As what he sees is, so have his thoughts been,
Whether he first sees light
Where the river in gleaming rings
Sluggishly winds through the plain,
Whether in sound of the swallowing sea—
As is the world on the banks,
So is the mind of man.

A. REGINALD

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