The Perturbation of William Bull, M.P.

“William Bull, House o£ Commons, S.W.,” is perturbed. He says the Socialist papers are justifying the murder of Sir Gurzon Wyllie by Dhingra; that this will act in India as an incitment to further murders; that Socialism is making alarming progress among the poor and unthinking ; and calls upon “certain Dignitaries and other clergy of the Church of England, Nonconformist Divines, clever writers and prominent Radicals” who are, it seems, lending the alleged light of their blooming countenances to the Socialist movement, to “recognise their responsibilities,” to “vindicate the Sixth Commandment against Socialists,” and generally wash their hands clean of the pollution of the Socialist movement. And William Bull, House of Commons, S.W., is so much in earnest about it that he has paid for an advertisement in the agony column of that organ of church Dignitaries, clever writers and prominent Radicals, the Morning Post, wherein is set out the encyclical referred to.

Now being a clever writer myself, I sometimes take in the Morning Post, and have known it to create an impression in that conveyance of the “poor and unthinking,” a workman’s tram. It is, moreover, an excellent journal to play cards on in a train. But its chief merit to me is its power as a sedative, and a never-failing antidote to insomnia. When I go to bed particularly restless I sometimes take it with me and in five minutes am asleep, so in the first place I must enter a protest against “William Bull, House of Commons, S.W.,” for disturbing my peace with that agony paragraph. It broke in upon the cure. It kept me awake for at least ten minutes while I recovered from the effect of a “poor and unthinking” burst of hilarity. “William Bull, House of Commons, S.W.” (the S.W. is particularly fresh) is worth a guinea a box.

I suppose William (whom intimates doubtless call Bill) is the distinguished knight who, in lieu of having anything to set out in his own merit, occupies quite a decent space in “who who” tracing his equally distinguished ancestry back several generations. However that may be, William has made his appeal to, among other people, clever writers. There are several such contributing to the SOCIALIST STANDARD. Perhaps they will not object to me answering Bill for them. I hope, also, that Bill won’t mind.

Let me tell Bill in the first place that the Socialist Party has not been favoured so far by the support of any Church Dignitaries, ete., etc. (excepting clever writers) at all. Nor has the Socialist Party “countenanced murder.” Nor has the most prominent Socialist organ, the only Socialist organ (couldn’t be more prominent than that, could it ?) incited to further murder. The Socialist Party has always, in point of fact, been strenuously fighting the murderous tendencies of the time. I suppose Bill will fancy he has been doing the same thing. That is only saying that Bill doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Bill will be pleased to observe that there were quite a number of murders perpetrated in South Africa a short time since. There are quite a number being perpetrated in the Riff just now—3,000 at a sitting, I believe. But these, and the countless other instances that could be recited, are legitimate. Bill thinks they do not matter. But if Bill wants to vindicate the Commandment which says “Thou shalt not kill,” he will be up against all forms of killing, legitimate and otherwise. Either that or Bill is a hypocrit. If Bill is keen on Bible lore he will know the ultimate end of the hypocrit.

But the murders of “war” in the ordinary acceptance of that term are as nothing to the murders of “peace.” Bill has referred to the justification of Dhingra’s act serving as an incitement to further murder in India. Has Bill ever heard of the ryot dying off like flies through starvation directly traceable to British administration and very largely preventable ? If so here is a form of murder that Bill is inciting by his support of the system to which it is due. I am afraid Bill will be having a very hot time of it presently if he is not careful.

However, we need not go to India for our cases. We need not go outside London for them. Ownership of the means of living implies ownership of the lives of those who are dependent upon the means of living. If Bill has any sense at all he will admit that Shakespear and quite a list of persons Bill doubtless venerates have admitted it. Then if a vast number of people who are dependent upon the means of living owned by others, die directly of want, or of the results of malnutrition, while at the same time the necessaries of healthy life exist in abuadance in the possession of those who own the means of living, they who die are being killed. And the Commandment says “Thou shalt not kill.” Is it not even so, Bill?

Now, “William Bull, House of Commons, S.W.,” who own the means of life ? Who control the avenues down which those who do not own the means of life have to pass to obtain the necessities of living—avenues to which they are not admitted except upon terms that require them to surrender three-fourths or more of the wealth they produce ? Who is it, Bill ? The Socialist says it is the capitalist class. You may not agree. That doesn’t matter—much. It is only another indication that the House of Commons, S.W., is not a decent training ground for the man who is after knowledge. All I want you to see is that the means of life are owned by somebody ; and that somebody is rendered absolutely dependent therefore. And this also, that it is the dependent somebody who always dies from the result of malnutrition while plenty is there to save him.

That is the present system, sweet William, the system you are maintaining to the best of your little ability. And it results in millions dying before their time after a life of penurious discomfort. If anyone by the exercise of powers he happens to be in control of, shortens my life to thirty or forty years when I could have lived to fifty or sixty if those powers had not been exercised, he is guilty (consciously or unconsciously) of. the essence of murder, and the man who says it is “death from natural causes” is a liar, William, and according to your book shall have his part in the lake of fire which burneth for ever. I’m very much afraid there will be a number of coroners’ juries in that fire. Ever been on such a jury, William ?

Now the Socialist enters his militant protest against this system of murder. He says it can be altered and it shall be, though all the bulls of Bashan, or the House of Commons, S.W., roar them never so loudly. If you really want to know how it can be, send me a line.

But I hope there is sufficient in the foregoing to place the act of Dhingra in its true perspective. The murder of Wyllie by revolver shot is no more, but rather less, than the murder of Brown, of the working class, by starvation. Brown’s wife and children are dependent upon him and they are left to put up what fight they may for bread. Who cares a curse about them and how they succeed in the struggle, or how miserably they die ? Do you care, Bull ? Do you ? If so where’s the evidence of it ? Multiply the case of Brown ten thousand fold and then rant and cant or do anything else you like about Wyllie—if you can. That was a little tragedy. Having regard to the protection afforded Lady Wyllie, a tragedy that we can no more than regret in passing. We can sympathise with the lady, and do, but a world tragedy absorbs us—the tragedy of our class, without the arm of knowledge, contending blindly against the hosts of hell made flash.

Our class, Bull, is the working class. It is the working class that produces the wealth; the working class that subsists upon a miserable fraction of that wealth for a miserable span of life ; the working class that goes under finally, beaten prone in the struggle, dead before it has started to really live. We are not murderers, nor the advocates of murder. We find the act of Dhingra unpleasant enough, aye, deplore that he should have thought it necessary. But remember this—that act is the product of, and incidental to, as well as indicative of, a system which you are maintaining. What have you to howl about because the inevitable has occurred ? Why haven’t you sufficient honesty to attempt a reply to the question Dhingra put from the dock ? Is it an act you would have applauded had the conditions been reversed ? Can you say, holding the beliefs you do, that you would not have applauded ?

That is all that I need say to you now, “William Bull, House of Commons, S.W.,” except this, that Socialism is making an alarming progress all over the world. That is not the result of the work of Church Dignitaries or prominent Radicals. It is the work of the Socialists and the pressage of events. Your system, William Bull, is doomed, and the evidence of its doom is beginning to make itself alarmingly apparent—to you. To us it brings knowledge of the approach of a new era; a time in which they who do not work shall not eat; in which to the man who does work shall go the full fruit of his labour ; when upon a basis of assured livelihood shall be built up a superstructure of character; when the arts of the world shall be ours, the literature an open book to us, the sciences capable of attainment; a time when individuality shall have opportunity of development—the opportunity denied it to-day under a system of individualism ! That time is coming, Bull. You can do nothing to finally stop it. And if I were you I should beware how I tried.

And now go and read your Commandments over again, and this time try and understand them.


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