Class v. Class

The most astounding feature of the political ignorance of the workers is undoubtedly the fact that, while admitting the capitalist to be an enemy on the economic field, they will shout themselves hoarse for him on the political field.

The organisation of the workers into trade unions shows that a large section recognise that the exploiter is to be fought, even though it is true that the average trade unionist joins the union to obtain sick and unemployed benefits, etc. Enquiry shows that of the vast sum spent by the unions, the greater part is expended, not in fighting the masters, but on the above mentioned benefits.

However, trade unions, in so far as some struggle is made to prevent the depreciation of wages and the standard of living, are what our friend the reformer would call “a step in the right direction.”

That the trade unionist does not interest himself in the political struggle is obvious. Mr. G. Barnes, writing in the “Daily News” recently, was compelled to admit that the vast majority of the A.S.E. did not vote at all on the question of joining the Labour Group, and that consequently the money of that union is being paid into the Labour Party funds on a majority vote of a very small section of the union.

The reason for this seeming apathy is not difficult to find. The false idea of the men, supported by the action of their leaders, that an increase of trade, while benefiting employers, means better conditions for employees, coupled with the trade or sectional organisation, retards the recognition of their class interest as opposed to the interest of the masters as a class.

The capitalists are aware of this antagonism, and are not likely to arouse the suspicion of the workers. They do not forget on which side their interests lie, and they are prepared to use all the forces at their disposal to gull and browbeat the workers. Therefore they support the “identity of interest” fraud, and bribe with jobs trade union leaders to propagate the same.

Every reform introduced by the capitalists is boosted by them and their decoys as a benefit to the workers, and all new methods introduced to facilitate or cheapen the working of the capitalist system, is hailed as a boon and a blessing by these “Labour Statesmen.” Old Age Pensions, Trade Disputes Acts, Compensation Acts, even Liberal finance bills and “Socialistic” Budgets—all necessary to the continuation of the wages system—are claimed as being beneficial to the workers. The latest (with the exception of the “Veto,” which is, we are told, of first importance)—the Labour Exchange—is claimed as a Labour measure, forced by the fact that Labour is represented in the House of Commons.

Mr. A. Chamberlain, chairman of Kynoch, Ld., states that his firm has decided to employ all their men through the Exchange, and gives the following interesting reasons to a representative of the “Daily Chronicle” (5.5.10) ;

“Then I think it (the Labour Exchange) is good for the employers because their requirements will get to be known at the Labour Exchange and the Labour Exchange will do a certain amount of sifting for us.
It does not follow that we shall engage every person that they send to us, but at least they will only send those that are suitable. Working through the Exchange gives us practically the whole of England to supply our wants, because the Exchange under such circumstances will, if they are locally unable to supply our wants, make them known everywhere.”

Just so. The Labour Exchange will tabulate the qualities of the labour-power on the market and will enable the buyer to pick the best of the supply, that is, those workers who ran produce the greatest amount of surplus value.

Wherein will it benefit the workers ? Labour “spokesmen” themselves are forced to admit hat the establishment of the Exchanges will not find extra employment. Instead, it will simply enable the exploiting class to exploit under more favourable conditions, and consequently to wring more wealth from the exploited, which of course means more unemployed and lower wages.

But the Labour M.P. must, to keep his job, remain in the good graces of his masters, the Liberal Party (who help him to get votes) and yet retain the goodwill of the trade unionists, who supply the cash. Hence he must hide the class struggle, must beguile the workers with the “identity of interest” bosh.

The labour leader at present is in a bit of a fix. He has to pretend to be serving the interests of two opposing classes, the robber and the robbed. Further, to increase his difficulties, the robbed section is divided into two distinct parts. So he must appear to have at heart the interests of the pseudo-Socialist and the anti-Socialist sections of the working class. That the trade unionist is not bursting for labour representation is clearly shown by the political apathy of the unionist in general, but the unions supply the funds and lend colour to the claim of the leaders that they are labour representatives. So the trade unionists must be gulled. The quasi-Socialist section, supply the energy and enthusiasm at elections, hence they also must be hoodwinked. The Liberals (the rank and file, at any rate) are beginning to kick. Their votes are being claimed as Socialist votes by the Labour M.P.s, who, to continue the gulling process, shout revolution to the dissatisfied I.L.Peers. Between the Liberals the trade unions and the I.L.P. the Labour M.P.. seems likely to come a cropper.

The following from the “Daily News” (May 5th) puts the position fairly clearly :

“The political position in a number of constituencies in South Wales is considered grave, especially in the Merthyr Boroughs. One of the leaders of the Liberal Party in the borough declared that the Labour Party and not the Liberals were responsible for the trouble.
“In Merthyr,” he said, “we decided, after a consultation with the Liberal Whip, at the last election to run only one Liberal candidate, and our members conscientiously voted for the official Liberal candidate and Mr. Keir Hardie, leaving the unofficial Liberal candidate out in the cold. Yet the first thing Mr. Keir Hardie did was to claim the result as a win for Socialism, which it never was. That is not the way to secure peace between Liberals and the Labour Party.”
In Mid-Glamorgan, he added, a seat which was always Liberal was claimed for Labour. Another Socialist was put up, and in spite of the efforts to bring all the Labour members in the country to support him, and in spite of the opposition of tht Liberal leaders in London, the party won hands down.
“Now,” added the speaker, “they are trying to foist a Socialist on East Glamorgan. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Liberals turn round and determine to fight them ? The Liberals can easily capture the second seat in Merthyr, and probably those in Gower and South Glamorgan. Why should they not if the Labour Party decide to claim every seat as it falls vacant ? … As to the position in Merthyr, Mr. Keir Hardie by his taunts, is making it very hard for Liberals to try and advocate the status quo. Many of the leaders are anxious to maintain the existing position, but if the I.L.P. and the Socialists in the borough are determined to force the fight all round, they will find out that the seat of Mr. Keir Hardie is by no means safe.”

Unfortunately the fall of the Labour leader will not accomplish much. The working class themselves have to grip the essentials of the class struggle, and also to realise that it is upon themselves that they must rely, and not on leaders.

The Labour leaders themselves are beginning to realise the insecurity of their position and are resorting to all sorts of shifts and dodges to gain support from all shades of opinion. A dozen of the Labour M.P.s, we are told, have joined the “Fellowship of Followers” and have signed the following declaration :

“Jesus said ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ Meaning so to follow Him I wish to be enrolled in the Fellowship of Followers.”

A “religious appeal to South London workers” has been run by some Labour members including Hardie, Crooks, Snowden and Henderson, at the Browning Hall, Walworth Road. J. K. Hardie is reported to have said that “Socialists recognise that in nature there is a power unseen but felt, and a something beyond the grave.” The old game of spoof and bunkum. “Make sure of the front seat in heaven and leave the rest to—us.” Crooks plays another tune—called for by the capitalist class, and appeals to the audience with the following jingo-patriotism (we quote the “Morning Leader ” 7.5.’10):

“Speaking last night at the Browning settlement, Walworth, where a labour week is being held, Mr. W. Crooks suggested that the large audience should rise and sing the National An¬them. The audience at once responded and sang the National Anthem with great earnestness. Proceeding, Mr. Crooks said “I am one of those men who perhaps know more intimately than the majority of my people something about the king. I feel, and I know from the bottom of my heart, he is the greatest statesman the world possesses at this moment (applause). The peace of the world in his hands is perfectly sure. I have seen, I have witnessed, I have asked others to bear witness to the fact, that in these days of courtiers, when everybody who is anybody says ‘Stand back for the King,’ he has always been ready to say ‘Stand aside and let the people see.’ One instance of this that I witnessed ; A great gentleman was introduced to the King ; he walked up in a way that I am told people are trained to do (laughter). They say it is a gift (laughter). You can’t do it (laughter). The next man was a mechanic, but he did not know how to approach the King. The King, immediately he saw his embarassment, rushed out to shake hands with him (cheers). He always makes the poor man feel as comfortable as possible. He is above Tory above Liberal, above Socialist. He is in fact, the father of us all, who smiles at us and loves to see us fighting in our way. We cannot have the King in any controversy. We like to feel that he is above all and to look up to him.”

How sweet ! How touching ! It reminds one of the statement of R. J., that “the first thing a Socialist Government will do will be to raise the salary of the King.”

Another batch of them are junketing in Germany in the interests of Free Trade, looking for evidence of the German worker eking out a miserable existence on black bread and deceased cab-horse, in order to refute the lying statements of the wicked Tariff reformer, who pictures the worker of Germany as revelling in luxury and affluence. Add to this the blatant twaddle of Blatchford and the Hyndmaniacal naval scare, and you have evidence of the “educational” value of, and the knowledge disseminated by, the “leaders of Labour.”

Can one wonder that the workers are confused ?

With all this blather we can but conclude that these men are consciously playing the game of the master class. They have taken their stand with the masters and the toiler has to fight them with these that they are supporting—the capitalist class. It is to the interest of the masters that the workers should be confused. Such confusion prevents them from seeing the hellish class struggle that goes on all round, and means to the producers of the world’s wealth, misery, poverty, starvation and death. In that struggle thousands of our class are murdered year by year, and we ask you if it is not time that it were put a stop to ? This wealthy but useless class are murdering you and yours for their private gain, and you must fight them and those that support them—the “Labour leaders.”

Let us, then, sift out the wheat from the chaff and organise in a working-class party, with but one object in view—the end of the capitalist system, which produces this class antagonism.


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