Pot Pourri

I did not go to the Business Exhibition, but I have done the next best thing — read the newspaper puffs of it. One needs not to be a master of deductive philosophy to read the lesson writ large over the pages of booming devoted to it. The features of this year consist of calculating machines for eliminating clerks ; a machine (the Dictaphone) for doubling one’s output ; another that addresses envelopes at the rate of 2,000 an hour, and so on. Competitions for speed and accuracy are again a leading item, marked this year by the large number of women who have entered for the first time. One firm will teach you (for a consideration) how to develope your powers, how to manage men, increase efficiency and such like.

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The Dictaphone is best described in the maker’s advertisements : “enabling one person to do the work of two, saving 50% time and labour in any office. The work of the principal is simplified, the output of the typist doubled.” Wages, we understand, will remain stationary. When the envelope addresser and the Dictaphone get thoroughly going, throwing half the clerical workers on the streets, making the unfortunate remainder work doubly hard, I suppose the Tariff Reformer will still have no difficulty in proving to them that a tax on Dutch cheese and a preferential tariff in favour of Colonial sardines will solve the problem. The Free Trader, doubtless, will glibly assure the beaten competitors of the Dictaphone and the mechanical calculator that as soon as the Budget has had a chance, and when the 99 year leases fall in, and when the great schemes that the Liberal party has up its sleeve (at present only darkly hinted at) get in full swing, “then !” he’ll say, “then !—” Ah ‘then !

To the clerk, as to every other labourer for hire, it should be clear that the good things of life are not for him whilst the present system of “managing men” is the vogue. If you believe in a step at a time (most of them backwards), join the Liberal party, or its adjuncts, the I.L.P. or S.D.P., and work for State Christmas Trees for your great-grandchildren and municipal icecream barrows. If you want freedom now, not in 99 years, join the S.P.G.B.

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I would like to say just here that we Socialists don’t ask for any license, poetical, political, or of any other variety. When we say the I.L.P., Labour Party, S.D.P., Fabian Society, etc. are capitalist agencies, please don’t assume that pique or arrogance actuate us. Just to show you what is meant, here is an instance.

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The Railway Clerks’ Association has recently affiliated to the Labour Party. The latter, of course, accepted it on the usual terms. The character of the.R.C.A. is succinctly outlined in. the October No. of their official organ, p. 202 : “The policy of the R.C.A. is not only to secure justice for its members, but also to urge and assist them to make themselves worth more to their employer.” Of such is the kingdom of Henderson & Co.

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Whilst we are on the subject I may have a jab at the Fabians. Now look at this !

“I came to the conclusion that just as it is in the interests of Capital to keep the rolling stock and the permanent way in good repair, so it must be to the interest of Capital to be constantly raising the standard of living for the men in order that the human factor may be improved.”

Who said that? None other than Mrs, Sidney Webb, at the opening of the new A.S.R.S. offices. That’s the sort of fool’s errand the Fabians are on. Don’t join them.

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A few lines from a poem by Mr. James Stephens are worth repeating.

For I’ve sat my life away with pen and rule,
On a stool,
Totting little lines of figures, and so will
Tho’ the chill
And the langour of gray hairs on my brow
Mock me now.
And sometimes while I work I lift my eyes
To the skies,
To the foot or two of heaven which I trace
In the space
That a grimy window grudges to the spot
Where I tot.
And I ask the God who made me and the sun
What I’ve done
To be buried in this dark and dreary cave
Like a grave,
While the world laughs in scorn now and then
At my pen.

You see, that’s just where he is silly, asking God anything. You can sit on a stool asking conundrums of space and gather nothing but a harvest of wasted years and a heap of worn-out trousers. It may be easy, but it is quite profitless. Get off your stool and get to work on your slave-irons. Gazing through a couple of feet of smoky window-glass wont help you any. If you have any spare brain your employer has not a lien on, we’ll tell you what to do with it. Come in.


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