Mr. A. D. Steel-Maitland and Miss Rose Squire were appointed to investigate the relationship of industrial and sanitary conditions to pauperism. Their report to the Poor Law Commission is issued as a Blue Book. Their summing up gives the following conditions as being contributory to pauperism in the order given.

1. Casual and Irregular Employment.
2. Bad Housing Conditions.
3. Seasonal Fluctuations in Trade.
4. Unhealthy Trades and Insanitary Conditions of Work Places.
5. Earnings Habitually Below what are required for Healthy Subsistence.
6. Dangerous Trades.
7. Excessive Hours of Work.

Regarding cause 2 the investigators say ”These contribute to pauperism through disease and demoralisation. They are important causes of Pauperism, but less so than the first.”

The Socialist is well aware that the bad housing conditions are consequent upon (or effects of) the irregular employment under existing conditions. Shortness of wages compels the wage worker to accept a slum dwelling.

Some of the slums are the result of “improvements,” it is pointed out.

“Improvements in towns, accompanying the increase of wealth, by the demolition of badly built quarters, the erection of palaces for banks, warehouses, etc., the widening of streets for business traffic, for the carriages of luxury, and for the introduction of tramways, etc., drive the poor into worse and more crowded hiding places.”—” Capital,” Vol. I, p. 674.

This shows clearly that the palliative of better housing does not palliate the real evil of the present system at all, but this by the way.

* * *

With reference to No. 7, “Excessive Hours of Work,” the comment of the investigators is “We have been unable to trace any connection between long hours of work and pauperism.”

Whilst, however, they cannot trace “any connection between long hours of work and pauperism,” they tell us that drink is one of the principal causes of pauperism, but for the most part it is the effect of causes such as dangerous and unhealthy conditions of work, excessive hours, low wages and bad housing. So showing drink to be a cause of pauperism and excessive hours to be a cause of drinking habits, these blind tools of capitalist hypocrits cannot (?) trace any connection between long hours and pauperism.

* * *

The June issue of the Pioneer, the organ of the “Labour and Socialist” movement in Burnley and edited from the S.D.P. club in that town, contains an article on the Budget by Robinson Graham.

The sixpenny super-tax is hailed gladly by the writer of the article. He goes on to say “we Socialists (!) are determined that the working class shall be reminded that this Liberal tax is a tax which has been advocated by Socialists on the platform and in the Press since the inception of the Socialist movement.” Again, “the Government has merely embodied the public wish formed by the Socialist agitator.” Quite unconsciously Mr. Graham belittles the “Socialist” effort alluded to above and points out that “ten Budgets like this one would make little or no difference to the lives of the working classes.”

As the item advocated since the inception of the “Socialist” movement is contained in the Budget, those “Socialists” who advocated it stand condemned, on their own admission, for side-tracking the workers, in so far as time has been wasted on a useless measure.

There is some sound advice in the concluding paragraph of Mr. Graham’s article, which the workers of Burnley and elsewhere (and Mr. Graham himself) should take to heart. They are urked to “direct their attention to ways and means of overthrowing the capitalist system which makes poverty the common experience of the great majority of our people,” and since it is admitted that the Liberal Government have brought in this Budget with a view “to restoring the confidence of the British workmen” in themselves, it should be a lesson to the workers to fight shy of even S.D.P. agitation for super-taxes and the like, which can be used for the restoration of confidence in a capitalist Government.r

Socialism is the only remedy, and that alone, for our social evils. Super-taxes will not make any alteration whatever in the basis of society, in fact, they presuppose exploitation in order that the taxes may be levied and realised.

Those who, claiming to be working-class leaders, direct working-class political activity against anything except the capitalist system must be swept away.

* * *

We are informed by the Baker’s Record, that the S.D.P. have convened a meeting to consider the food supply of the nation, at which they propose to put forward a resolution urging the Government to purchase large reserve stores of corn with money invested in the Post Office Savings Bank. This all very fine as an example of revolutionary daring, but it isn’t to be supposed that the capitalist class are going to put up for ever with the revolutionary (!) plots that are hatched at Mooney’s bar. One of these fine days the S.D.P. will find itself suppressed, unless some particularly funny turn so excites the hilarity of the police as to prevent them executing their duty. Moveover, they are in for a “rough-and-tumble” with the I.L.P., for I hear that the latter have long ago ear-marked “the money in the Post Office Savings Bank” for the capitalists to buy themselves out with.


Leave a Reply