Another Rod in Pickle

The Constitutional Association being dead and its “Black Marias” scrapped after a few hours of pitiably inglorious life, the Anti-Socialist Union, with Mr. Claude Lowther as President, bobs up with its little lot. “The standard works of Socialism are being studied, and every candidate (for a speakership in the Union) will be subjected to a viva voce examination of a hundred questions before being regarded as qualified. Pamphlets will be published . . and a circle of anti-Socialist writers, speakers, M.P’s and others will he formed, who will meet once a month and exchange ideas.”

So once more we are in. for a nice hot time—running round to try and find where the anti-Socialist members of the Union are on the stump. The difficulty with the Constitutional Association was that it took the precaution not to announce where its great public demonstrations against Socialism were to be held, and when we did happen to alight upon one, the anti-Socialist speaker took the very necessary step of refusing opposition. As the Daily Express rather naively pointed out, it was dangerous to allow a Socialist on an anti-Socialist platform because the Socialist was in possession of the facts and the “anti” was not, the result being that the Socialist made Socialists while the “anti” made—well, made rather a fool of himself ! What they had to do, then, according to the Express, was to wait until a certain handbook was published, which would contain information that would simply wipe the Socialist propagandist off the map. We waited patiently and with some interest for our untimely end to overtake us, but that dark, documentary spell-binder never saw the light, and the “Black Marias” out of which our doom was to be pronounced, are probably now doing more useful service as coffee stalls.

The Anti-Socialist Union’s special line, however, is not a book, but a list of 100 questions. When all these have been answered satisfactorily, its speakers take the road, and the Daily Express, unabashed, anticipates that that moment will see the rout of the Socialists commenced.

Well, the Express is welcome to its anticipation, and it had better get all the comfort it can. before the realisation comes. Because if there is one thing more certain than another it is that the Socialists will run when the rout commences—in chase of the “anties,” who will be hot-foot in retreat.

But we fear that, although it is welcome, to it, the Express gets no very satisfactory comfort out of its anticipation. The Express is vastly more knave than fool, and although it may jeer at our confidence, it knows quite well that its anticipation will never be realised. However, our contemporary cannot be expected to admit anything of the sort. Its express purpose in life is to run the gamut between the mild perversion and the downright lie, particularly when dealing with the position of the Socialist. Its business is not to say what it thinks so much as to say what it wishes its readers to think. And as the potential orators of the Anti-Socialist Union will doubtless be amongst its most assiduous devourers, they may, if they are very simple, derive sufficient confidence from the utterances of the organ of the greatest hustler on earth to go on with their work—particularly if, as will doubtless be the case, a decent stipend is attached to the job.

We only wish that it were possible for us to be present at some of the meetings of the circle whereat “ideas” will be exchanged. Might we suggest to the Anti-Socialist Union that the public be admitted at a small charge. We at any rate would get full value for our outlay—in merriment.

However, let them all come, and the sooner the better—for us. But we hope the two first questions on that hundred list will not be, say, “Is there any remedy for the poverty problem that will stand the test of examination other than Socialism ?” and, “Is there one single useful or necessary thing performed by the capitalist to-day that the workers, properly organised, could not perform for themselves ?” Because in that case there is a very good chance that the other 98 questions will never be reached and therefore the compleat anti-Socialist propagandist never be fashioned and let loose to add to the gaiety of life. And that would be a pity indeed.

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