“Labour” in Parliament
The hideous farce of “democratic government,” perpetrated with the aid of the “biggest majority of modern times,” still contrives to satisfy our masters requirements. The pretence of “great reforms” to come, combined with judicious doses of football news, divorce case, invasion scare and labour misleaders’ “swank,” suffices to keep the mass of the working class blind to the murderous swindle of which they are the victims. It is transparently clear that the accepted Asquithian method of steadying the shaky fabric of capitalist institutions is just simply to make a great show of business while in reality simply seeking to gain time. Such a seemingly innocent measure as the Daylight Saving Bill would appear likely to provide the Government with evidence of something accomplished, something done, and the I.L.P. proof of the improving condition of the working “classes” under capitalism.

The debate on the Address showed plainly the Labour Party’s position, for Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, speaking on behalf of the Party, made it quite apparent, spite of all pretences, that the status quo suits that Party sufficiently well—”We are in no hurry,” quoth he. The Labour Party’s enthusiasm for triennal Parliaments waneth,and Ramsay Mac (who, Blatchford tells us, is, unlike himself, an aspirant for the Premiership) reassured his friends of the Liberal Government, that his party (Shackleton, Henderson, et al) do not at all desire that the Government should precipitate a general election. No, we guess not. This amiable luminary of the I.L.P. knows a game worth forty of that. Indeed, in the course of this typical facing-both-ways speech, the Party’s appointed spokesman contrived to demonstrate his regret that the purchase of seats “deprives the House of Lords of the respect which its historic position ought to gain for it.” The House of Lords going ? We don’t think. Not for a while, at any rate.


Volunteer or Conscript?
When the Rothschilds (an international family, by the way) spoke through the Alliance Assurance Company, and secured the Liberal War Minister, Mr. Haldane’s enthusiastic approval of their plan to assist recruiting by forcing their employees to join the Territorial Army, the Labour Leader called upon the Labour Party to take steps looking to the impeachment of Mr. Haldane. For, claimed the Labour Leader, he had approved “an action which is an open violation of the Constitution and of elementary freedom of contract as between employer and employed.” The Labour Leader defending the British Constitution, instrument of class rule that that Constitution is, lacks not interest. We in our outer darkness, not having imbibed the respectable atmosphere of St. Stephens (or should we say its whiskies and sodas, Pete ?) or basked in the smiles of ministers of the Crown, had not appreciated this joyous “freedom,” but we live and learn.

However, to our moutons. The fatal day came, but no impeachment. Mr. Haldane refused to withdraw his approval and apparently the fluster is over—the Labour Party meanwhile looking pretty silly after its bluster. It remains for the Socialist Party of Great Britain to point out that so long as capitalists can buy wage-workers, that is, while labour-power remains a commodity, they will from their coign of vantage—monopoly of the means of production—be able to dictate terms. And this despite Constitution, law, “elementary freedom,” and reformer to boot.

We may well opine that the master class of this country prefers, in its particular circumstances, to get its military and naval forces by a system supposedly voluntary rather than by open and above-board conscription, with the anti-militarist reaction that conscription provokes.

All the better, of course, from the oppressors’ stand-point, if the invasion scare and a vigorous newspaper campaign can obviate the objectionable (because enlightening) recourse to direct pressure through the threats of foremen and managers. However, those workers not entirely hypnotised by the Daily Distresses, “Wails,” and “Crocodiles,” do not require the official recruiting reports to tell them that a percentage closely approaching one hundred of recruits enlist in the Regular Army because they are unemployed and see no hope of getting food, clothing, and shelter elsewhere. Many’s the poor lad we know who, trudging the weary streets for weeks and months looking for a master and finding none, or else employment under the most degrading conditions, becomes an object of suspicion at home, and finding life unbearable outside, is simply driven into the ranks of Capital’s military protectors. (Yet the S.L.P. finds it in its heart, or rather in its unstable head, and in the face of facts, to declare that the soldier unclasses himself and is unworthy to be received within a working-class organisation.) This, then, is what the “voluntary” system really amounts to. In the circumstances, then, and considering how the system enables those more comfortably off to enthuse over the Empire and the glories of the Flag, while themselves escaping the worst consequences of Jingoism, one may be forgiven for asking—voluntary system or conscription : does it matter?


Soldiers and Trade Unionists
In a report on the trade training of soldiers, approved by the Management Committee of the General Federation of trade Unions, we find the following. “Before definitely opposing the trade training of soldiers trade unions will have to consider the chances of successful opposition, and the effect of that opposition upon public opinion and upon themselves.” (Daily News, 19.3.09.) The opinion strikingly shows how fallacious remains the ordinary trade unionist’s understanding of the industrial system that dominates him, and how fatuous his present methods of defending himself. The outlook is essentially that of ever more impotent, would-be monopolisers of a skill that is becoming redundant rather than, as we would wish, men who have understood capitalism and who are prepared to unite, shoulder to shoulder against the common foe, with their fellow who is exchanging his red coat for the mechanic’s grey shoddy. True, the civilian worker has cause to fear the competition of discharged soldier or sailor, for (illustrating the law of wages) the pension or reserve pay enables these latter to accept lower wages. But that is no reason for fighting them ; rather it is a good reason for getting them organised. The Committee suggest as much when they say that if the unions oppose the ex-soldier’s training and working, “his trade trading, even though imperfect, and his amenability to discipline, would be unscrupulously used by the strike breaker.” Some may persuade themselves that the soldier is incapacitated by his service, and therefore does not count, but these forget that with the short service now becoming prevalent the ex-soldier does and will count. To all the workers, no matter of what origin or sex—even to the belated trade unionist—we must carry the message of Socialism.


R. J. Campbell and the King’s Salary
The spritely inventor of the “New” Theology is nothing if not new in his “Socialism.” Says he, “I don’t object to the King: King Edward VII. is a very good worker in the State, and probably the first thing Socialists would do would be to raise his salary.” (Reynold’s, 28.2.09) Indeed ! So the gentleman who recently declared his intention to drive materialism out of Socialism now feels called upon to arrange Edward’s future. To us it seems that a self-respecting working class—one possessed of any sense of humour—cannot do better than deliver this bible-wrangling toady an Irishman’s rise.

While we have only contempt for the Social-Democratic “immediate demand” for the “abolition of the Monarchy,” we still strongly suspect that a people who have secured peace and happiness by “the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community” will have but little use for kings and theologians, new or old.

(Editorials, Socialist Standard, April 1909)

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