Mr. Will Thorne has introduced a Bill in the House for the Nationalisation of the Railways and Canals. What have the tripe shops done amiss ?

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In a leading article describing the history of the Socialist Movement in France, which appeared in the “Labour Leader” (24.2.11), the writer, Mr. J. F. Mills, states:

“To Blanc must be accorded the credit for theoretically bringing Socialism down from the empyrean to the solid earth. The conquest of political power by the masses and the democratic State as the great instrument of social transformation, and the right to work, … all these principles reveal Blanc’s originality, and proclaim his right to be entitled ‘The Father of Modern Social-Democracy,’ or if Marxists dispute his right to the word ‘father,’ then let us say ‘grandfather.’ ”

* * *

As a Socialist, I am not in the least concerned about the principles of Louis Blanc, nor yet his right to the titles claimed for him by the writer quoted—except to suggest that “grandmother” would, perhaps, have been more appropriate. If by “originality” is meant Blanc’s experiment of the national workshops, then it is about on a par with the “originality” of the Labour Party in tbeir schemes of social reform, and so on.

But to attribute to Blanc that which Marx really accomplished, is a piece of unblushing effrontery indeed. To Marx, and Marx alone, is to be attributed the placing of Socialism on a scientific basis. He it was who discovered and established the great law of economic determinism, which may be briefly stated thus : Morals, laws, and political conditions grow out of, and are determined by, economic conditions.

The application of this law spells revolution and the end of wage-slavery. But as the “Labour Leader’s” policy is anti-revolutionary, it must expect the opposition of Socialists.

* * *

The same writer in a further article (10.3.11), in the midst of a tirade against Marxists (whom he refers to as Ishmaelites, Irnpossibilists, etc.), says: “Revolutionary Socialism (Marxism) is becoming merely a catchword . . .” And he remarks further on upon the scanty following of Marx, which following, he alleges, is chiefly confined to the Continent. Yet on the front page of the same issue we find an advertisement of a biography of Marx (published by the people who issue the “Labour Leader”) eulogising him, and in which occurs this passage: “Karl Marx, founder of modern scientific Socialism, under whose banner ten million voters are enrolled.” No wonder the workers are misled !

It might interest our modern Rip Van Winkle to know that not only is Marxism not dead or dying, but that it is, on the contrary, very much alive indeed—though, perhaps, it is not apparent to those suffering from that aggravated form of mental myopia prevalent in the I.L.P.

* * *

Speaking of the forced labour in the Congo, and the necessity for its abolition, Sir Edward Grey said (27.7.07): “If it is to come to an end it is essential that without delay the natives should be put in possession of large tracts of territory, which will enable them to keep themselves. Otherwise they will have no means of livelihood.”

This must have preyed on the mind of Mr. W. H. Lever, for we learn from the Brussels correspondent of the “Standard” that “the Minister for the Colonies has just come to an agreement with Messrs. Lever Bros., Port Sunlight, for the formation of a limited company, with a capital of £1,000,000, for the planting of palm-oil trees, and the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of oil products in the Congo.”

Is Mr. Lover going to do for the poor natives what he has done for the Sunligliters—socialise and Christianise business relations ? Will he extend to them his noble scheme of co-partnership, with its five per cent. certificates and the “feeling of brotherhood and partnership” ? Or (as I strongly suspect) is he going out there in order to still further augment his already bloated income ? If the latter, then he will have an easy thing on, for the cruel treatment of the natives under the Belgian administration will have rendered them easy victims for the exploiting process upon which the success of the scheme will largely depend.

* * *

That Mr. Lever (like William the Little) fondly believes that he is endowed with a divine mission is evident from the following statement made by him in the first number of the “Anti-Socialist” (Feb., 1909) :

“We cannot wisely disregard the very basis on which human nature was founded by a Divine Creator, viz., self-interest. We can only direct self-interest, as its Creator in tended, into beneficent and utilitarian channels, and check and control it from becoming a curse and a clanger to society.”

No one, I am sure, will accuse Mr. Lever of disregarding the “Divine” authority. It has been left to Mr. Lever and his kind to “check and control” it from permeating the brains of the workers. When it does do so, and the workers begin to “check and control” for themselves, it will be a bad look out for the class to which Mr. Lever belongs.

* * *

Mr. J. C. Wedgwood, M.P., has resigned his membership of the Fabian Society because his opinions are no longer in accord with the aims of the society. He has not joined the S.P.G.B.


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