The presence of Mr. A. Henderson, M.P., at a P.S.A. conference leads one to imagine him a Christian, but when we read that only when Christians “learned to vote as they preyed”—beg pardon—”prayed” could they convince the world that Christianity was the only answer to the problems pressing for solution.
If Christianity is true, then there’s no need of the vote for Labour or Socialism. Are we not told to “ask and it shall be given,” etc. ? But Mr. Henderson does not want to rely too much on prayer. £200 a year only comes through people voting certain persons into Parliament.
The eighth conference of the Municipal Tramways Association was held in London on Sept. 22nd. A certain Councillor A. W. Chapman of Manchester, read a paper setting forth the advantages of medical examination of tramway employees. The system was to affect the employers, the employees, and the ratepayers, beneficially. Let us see the advantages to the municipal employees under this system of medical examination, as they are the only class whose interests concern us.
(1) The medical examination itself is only a means of procuring a physically better wage-slave, to endure the “speeding up” due to the electrification of the urban tramway systems to day. The position of the worker unable to pass the medical test was not (according to my report) dealt with.
The speaker gave the chief reason when, he “cited a number of cases that had arisen under the Workmen’s Compensation Act which would have been avoided had a proper system of medical examination been in existence earlier,” because, explained another speaker hailing from Manchester, “If an accident happened to an employee they had to pay half his wages whilst he was off work.”
It will be recognised by even the tyro in Socialist thought that profit-making is an anti-Socialist process, therefore it should be clear that the ratepayers interests and those of the employers (i.e., the exploiting interests of the stockholders) are not the interests of the tramway employees, for Councillor Chapman stated that “The ratepayers expected the undertakings to be run on business lines and make a profit in relief of the rates,” which latter we have often shown the workers do not pay.
The Archbishop of Westminster speaking before the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, in Manchester, on Sept. 19th, deplored “the terrible cleavage between class and class which unhappily existed in this country.”
“Here in England we were face to face with terrible social difficulties,” Dr. Bourne declared, and in order that the people should not be carried away by their sympathies into the adoption of Socialist principles, he advised the teaching of the Catholic Church as “a real bulwark against those theories which are undoubtedly gaining ground in this country.”
Dr. Bourne appears to recognise the significance of the class cleavage in this country—a distinction the I.L.P. does not share.
The appeal to the working men and women to remain in or join the Catholic (or any other) Church on account of charitable doles accruing from membership of such church will lose its force to a greater degree as economic evolution proceeds. It seems to me that the accumulation of capital into fewer hands will eliminate even those people whose business is “charity.” Finding the source from whence they formerly received assistance (?) dried up, people will look more to themselves to achieve a change in their economic conditions. It may be, however, that our Archbishop’s appeal is really to the exploiters to not throw his particular brand of religion overboard because it may yet prove useful.
“No social conditions, no legislation, could ever affect the Commandments of God.”—Archbishop Bourne at Salford Cathedral, 19.9.09.
Social conditions to-day compel men, be they capitalists or workers, to sink much of their better qualities or sink themselves. In the existing struggle for life some Biblical injunctions are daily, aye, hourly, broken. “Thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,” are only two. The Right Rev. Doctor probably never heard of a wage slave being done to death by the conditions of production now prevalent, and he is, one must suppose, quite ignorant of the fact that the working class are robbed of their labour’s product every day.
“Six days shalt thou labour and do all that thou hast to do” is another reputed Commandment of God that, owing to social conditions, is seldom fulfilled. If it means that every man shall work six days each week then it seems very few fulfil it. Don’t people go about demanding the “right to work” ? If it means all a man’s work shall be done within six days, then I wish God would exercise his omnipotence and put it into effect. There are not many working men who would not be absolved, and very many parsons would have their six days to complete.
A Mr. A. H. Watson, S.D.P., in debating the possibility of Socialism with a representative of the Young England Patriotic Association, is reported as saying “Social Reform was merely palliation, it was fiddling with the disease. Socialism would stamp the disease out altogether.” Daily Chronicle, Sept 25.
Whilst Mr. Watson himself may not advocate reforms, the organisation of which he is a member does. (Incidentally, if neither he nor his organisation support reforms there is no reason to refuse questions from S.P.G.B. Members.)
Proof, however, that the S.D.P. does play the part of “fiddling with the disease,” is shown by the following extract from that Party’s programme.
“4. That in order to ensure greater material and moral facilities for the working class to organise itself and carry on the class war, the following reforms must immediately be carried through.”
Then follows the “Transitional Programme,” formerly headed “Immediate Reforms.” Not many of the original number have been removed, but these are re-stated in the new Rules (1909). And has not Mr. E. C. Fairchild written a pamphlet defending the reforms advocated by the S.D.P.—in which he shows their futility ?
Councillor A. A. Purcell is to come before the West Salford electors as an avowed Socialist for Parliamentary honours. He is not prepared to sign the Labour Party programme.
I wonder if the Amalgamated Society of French Polishers will agree to their Secretary contesting a seat at which a nominee of the Labour Party is also to seek election ? And how does Councillor Purcell stand as a delegate to the Manchester and Salford Trades Council (which is affiliated to the Labour Party) ?
Further, why does the Amalgamated Society of French Polishers pay £7 10s. to the Parliamentary Fund and 15s. affiliation fee to the Labour Party if their delegates to the appointing body don’t agree with the national policy ?
I don’t ask in order to “queer the pitch,” but because, like Rosa Dartle, I want to know.