Editorial: The Budget; Religion

Raising the Wind
As expected, the Budget bids fair to take up most of the time of Parliament; but given the make-up of the “representatives of the people,” one way of killing time would seem to be as good as another. The Liberal Party, with Mr. Lloyd George’s land taxation, has taken one timid little step in the direction of the purely capitalist form of taxation. Were it not that Liberal manufacturer and Tory landlord are so very much akin one could conceive even of such an “extreme” budget as would so heavily tax land as to bring Nationalisation within reach. This reform so much advocated by your pseudo-Socialist of the I.L.P. and S.D.P., were it achieved, would, however, still leave the land at the disposal of the capitalist manufacturer and capitalist farmer, because of their power to outbid the workers in the payment of State rentals, so that the pretence of “land reform” we have heard so much of lately from the Liberal Press might well go much further without changing the relative positions of capitalists and wage-workers, and consequently the proposals, after all the fuss, resolve themselves simply into the question of how to pay for Dreadnoughts and other means of destruction and of class domination.

The taxation proposals, generally, are rather cutely drawn up, and much ostentatious “fairness to all classes” is paraded. Your average non-Socialist workman, if he has for the time being to pay a bit more for his smokes, has the satisfaction of feeling that he is not robbing his master, at least, and of course duly appreciates Mr. Lloyd George’s kind consideration in not overlooking him when presenting his little bill. Judging from the protestations of the Liberal Press one must conclude that the Liberal Party is, after all, the real best friend of the brewers. Are not they to reap many millions in additional profits as a result of the new taxation ? The Daily Ne\ws and the rest of them provide complicated calculations demonstrating as much and these good people should know.

Meanwhile be it noted that the Labour Party is, as might be expected, duly helping to vote the capitalist class, through the Liberal Government, the means (upkeep of armed forces, judiciary, etc.) with which to maintain its class domination. Keir Hardie and his colleagues support this “Socialistic budget” of their friends the Liberals. They would not be enjoying the opportunity and fulfilling their obligations were it not for the Liberal votes and often organised Liberal support with which they were elected to Parliament.

The Restrictions of Religion
“In a striking speech delivered on Tuesday night at Grosvenor House, at a meeting in support of the Bishop of London’s Fund, which builds churches and schools in poor districts, the Bishop of London contrasted the condition of rich and poor in the Metropolis.
‘If you left a million or two of poor people without the restrictions of religion you West End people would not take it so quietly as you do,’ said Dr. Winnington Ingram.” Daily News, May 13th.

“A striking speech” ! It certainly is, for here we have the personal testimony of the High Priest of Christianity (in Britain) as to his and its aims and policy. The spectacle of the Bishop of London appealing to the West End for funds to build slum churches, and loosening their purse-strings by the ready admission that their peace of mind was largely secured by the “restrictions of religion” upon the poor is distinctly striking. The point involved is the political role of religion, and we have little need to go back to such incidents as the bribery of the Delphic Oracle, the assembly at Rome of the heathen gods of conquered tribes, or even the “glorious Reformation” for illustrations of the important part played by religion in politics.

Wonderfully ready have the dominant classes in diverse countries been to recognise the usefulness of the “restrictions of religion,” and equally ready has the Church been to play the masters’ game. The present instance proves that “Age has not withered nor custom staled Her infinite duplicity.” Posing as the friend of the toiling masses, building schools and churches in our midst, Her bishops are busy among the parasites who live on our backs, pointing out that the “restrictions of religion” are keeping the workers docile, which is certainly worth a trifle. The Church is equally ready to preach “Thou shalt not kill” and “Blessed are the peacemakers,” as to bless the khaki clad men with knives in their hands, who go at the behest of a governing class to slit the throats of their fellows.

The Salvation Army, that resort of the mentally halt and palsied, has performed signal service to the capitalist class. They have saved them at least a little mental worry by taking shiploads of “superfluous” workers over to Canada and so partially relieving the situation here and helping to bring down wages there. The “fallen woman,” that typically capitalist production, is also a concern of the ”Army’s.” She is looked after in a home until a situation can be found for her, and in consequence of her having been guilty of the abominable crime of motherhood without a license, she has to accept a lower wage than she would otherwise. The S.A., by its clearing up the social wreckage, its doss-houses, soup kitchens, labour bureaux, emigration schemes, etc., keeps the working class content, or at least in passive discontent, and—”General” Booth is received by the King, is given the freedom of cities; his emigration dodge receives official recognition and approval. In Paddington the “Army” is allowed to take up collections without a police permit, whilst the Socialist Party is prosecuted for the same offence.

The capitalist class is fully aware of the judicious use to which religious chloriform can be put, and how ready the religionists are to serve their own and their masters ends even if it involves the jettisoning of the very principles which are supposed to be responsible for their existence. It only remains for the working class to refuse to be doped, and, not singling out the Church for isolated attack, to see to it that the “shaven and shorn” sulphur distributors go down in the final ruck with their unholy paymasters.

(Editorial, Socialist Standard, June 1909)

Leave a Reply