Fools & their Folly

Capitalism grafted upon Oriental despotism, would appear to be a particularly vile combination, if we may judge from the “trial” of the persons accused of conspiracy against the life of the Mikado. From the Press little can be learned of the matter. In the same paragraph the accused are described first as Socialists, then as Anarchists, and again as followers of Dr. Kotoku —who is alleged to be a Protestant and a kind of Eastern Tolstoy. However, of the Mikado, his government, and the ruling class of Japan, we know that they constitute as villianous a tyranny as may be found. We know that exceptional and secret procedure was employed to secure the condemnation of the accused. We are told that Kotoku and his friends translated and circulated revolutionary literature, such as the “Communist Manifesto”—a work of propaganda tending to raise the exploited millions of Japan in revolt. Here certainly was ground for getting rid of inconvenient opponents—if the operation was not thought too risky. Consequently the charge of conspiracy against the life of the Emperor and the condemnation to death of twenty-four persons (commuted to imprisonment in twelve cases) appears to be a savage attempt to suppress an unwelcome propaganda. History shows, however, that suppression by such methods rarely succeeds. On the contrary, revolt often thrives under persecution. Not many years since the German Government tried persecution. The effect was the opposite of that hoped for, and the suppressive measures were suspended. While in England the individual agitator is often victimised through his employment, persecution of any kind has been the least factor tending to keep back Socialism. The Japanese ruling class will learn from experience that the murder of Kotoku and his friends will not avail them in a struggle where the very capitalist conditions of industry and society themselves breed revolting proletarians, and ultimately, by a refining process, clear-headed Socialists who know the road.

The Liberal Press is busy trying to impress the working-man with the picture of the blessings that are to rain upon the horny-handed ones. Invalidity Insurance has a leading position among these. It is to be compulsory, and will amount to five shillings per week ; half the cost to be met out of the worker’s wages, and half to be borne by the employer and the State between them—at least so the inspired ones say.

The whole proposal may be better considered when it comes before Parliament, but meanwhile the law of wages teaches us that the workers get on the average, enough to keep them in working order and no more. Also we remember the old and sage, if cynical, warning, that no one is out giving away. So we may expect to find ourselves after the passage of the measure very much where we were before it was proposed.

Really, the Hero of Homestead seems to be worried by his ill-gotten dollars. His latest re-endowment of Mr. C’s Institute to the tune of a million or two reminds one of his exceptionally stupid “peace” fund established a few months ago. True such gifts and professions help keep the blinkers over the eyes of those whose toil provides this cornucopia of abundance—and that is important. But otherwise the fund is simply one for meeting the travelling, hotel, and other expenses of innumerable peace-mumbling humbugs. One can picture to oneself the scramble for the spoils of senile millionairedom, the scheming, and trickery, and crawling.

‘Twould have been more correct to have named it a fund for the promotion of corruption.

A White Paper recently issued states that £346,274 derived from municipal tramway profits has been applied to the relief of rates. This is good business from the property owner’s point of view, but, as we have foten had occassion to show in the past, the question of the rates is not one that concerns the workers. Such enterprise will often, indeed, be found to act to their detriment. Thus the dailies reported a few days since, that the city of Leeds is delivering coal by tramway much more economically than was the case with the old private delivery, and that a general extension of the system is proposed. More economical distribution means fewer men employed, less wear and tear on material, smaller wages bills and less coming to the workers. Yet according to the Clarionettes and other pseudo-Socialists, this is one of the “practical steps” to Socialism. They neglect to ask who runs the show—it makes all the difference.

The Management Committee of the General Federation of Trade Unions circulate the following resolution:

“That nothing short of the restoration of the status quo (sic) in connection with Parliamentary funds of trade unions would satisfy the General Federation of Trade Unions.”

And in circulating this the secretary gives as the reason, that any legislation which would permit the minorities of trade unions to escape the decisions of the majorities would “complicate all accounts dealing with benefits and contributions.”

Any excuse, they say, is better than none, but this, coming from officials interested in making and rnaintaining secretaries’ jobs, is too thin.

We suspect that the real reason is that without compulsion the Labour M.P.’s salaries and expenses could not be raised.

H. B.

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