We are now about the romantic period of the annual round. What innate property there is attaching to the eight days which follow Dec. 24 we are unable to explain. Those more deeply interested—the brewers and doctors—perhaps, know more about it. However, for some reason there is about as much gratuitous cant, hypocrisy, and humbug generated and set free in those eight days as in the other 357 days of the year. Cant ! —the atmosphere is heavy with it. From the suddenly obsequious postmen, hunting in couples for honesty sake (and sitting up all night in couples to “cook” the books) to the sponging professional charity-monger, the hosts and multitudes come grovelling with lying cant phrases, and expect payment for it.

Oh ! it is sickening, the sudden interest the world takes in our happiness and welfare, from the scraping dustman to the slobbering “fool of the family” in the pulpit. None would dream in the midst of it all that every man’s hand was turned against his fellow, and that even father and son, mother and daughter, were snatching the bread from one another’s mouths from one end of the land to the other.

“Peace and goodwill !” scribble the editors, while they long for a sensational murder, or a coal mine holocaust, or a great war—for the sake of their shareholders. The doctors use the familiar old phrases, and reflect with satisfaction that business with them is always at its briskest after the feast. The undertakers wish you long life and happiness, but secretly hope to have the pleasure of providing you with a Christmas box of a particular kind. Your very workmate slobbers “A Prosperous New Year to You,” and trusts that it will be you, and not himself, who gets the sack.

How can it be expected that there can be any universal goodwill in a system in which the well-being of each is conditional upon the misery of the other ?


While the bells were ringing the lying message of peace and goodwill the cotton lords were preparing to lock out 160,000 operatives, and the pulpit and Press making ready to fight the masters’ battle for them. Of course, the ostensible reason is that they are determined to defend the right of the operatives to remain outside the trade union. It is an excruciatingly funny idea, these cotton lords, whose mansions and factory walls would sweat blood of murdered men, women, and children, from every brick and stone and timber, could they be made to reveal the elements of their composition—a strange and fantastic idea, these ghouls and descendants of ghouls closing vast works and throwing millions of pounds worth of capital into idleness, in order to preserve the liberty of their wage-slaves. It is the superlative piece of hypocrisy of the whole deluge which has des¬cended upon the unfortunate world in this season of hypocrisy.

As a matter of fact the trade is very busy, and the masters know well enough that wages commonly rise during times of pressure. If they have been able to escape the general tendency in a great measure, they are not such fools as to expect to do so always. There had been a growing demand for a 5 per cent. increase in wages, and the masters knew that that question had got to be fought out. It is also claimed that so great has been the demand for yarn that the weavers have had to pay high prices for it, and that the consideration that the stoppage of the looms would enable the supply of yarn to catch up with the demand, and so reduce its price, has had its influence in bringing about the lock-out.

This may be so ; but in any event it is quite clear that the ostensible reason for the lock-out is nothing but a peg to hang lock-out notices up on. Employers are not so fond of ceasing their exploitation that they will lock out 160,000 operatives merely because 600 had struck on account of three or four non-unionists. No, if it wasn’t so easy to give the latter the sack, the masters would have them secretly murdered rather than allow them to stand in the way of their plundering activities—just as they are ready to have their workers shot down in their efforts to grind down wages.

The incident of the strike gave an opportunity to force the inevitable fight on a false issue, and this, of course, is a cunning move on the part of the employers.

As for the “moral” aspect of the demand for a 5 per cent. advance of wages, there is this to be said. The present basis of wages, it is claimed, is that of 33 years ago. In June Mr. Gill, M.P., secretary of the Bolton Spinners’ Provincial Association, speaking of the textile industry, said : “Since there was a general reduction of hours thirty years ago the speed of machinery has been largely increased. The size of machines is now much greater, so that the productive capacity per person employed must have increased by no less than 30 to 40 per cent.”

This estimate of the increased productivity per operative is absurdly low. In the absence of direct figures it may be pointed out that the population of the country has increased over 40 per cent. in the last 30 years, so that the production of textile goods for the greater population would demand a 40 per cent. greater out¬put, other things being the same. A second point is that in the 14 years (we have not the figures for 30 years) from 1893 to 1907, the amount of textile goods exported in a year from this country rose from about £86,400,000 to nearly £144,600,000 (“Statistical Abstract,” 55th number)—an increase, not of 30 or 40 per cent. in 30 years, but of more than 70 per cent. in 14 years. A third point is that during the same period the textiles imported have declined from 82 million yards to 77½ million ().

And now the most astounding point is this : This increased population has been supplied, this vastly greater exportation accomplished, this decreased importation endured, with actually fewer operatives than formerly !

For according to the Local Government Board publication Cd. 4671, the number of operatives in the textile industries declined from 1,391,453 in 1891 to 1,301,685 in 1901—a decline of just on 90.000, not in 30 years, not even in 14 years, but in a single decade.

In the 30 years 1871-1901 the decrease was 145,000 roughly, and from 1851 to 1901 (50 years) it was 370,000.

In face of such figures as these it is readily seen how laughably insufficient is Mr. Gill’s 30 or 40 per cent. in 30 years.

Out of all this wonderful increase of labour product, the labourers are demanding an increase of 5 per cent. in wages, and (Peace on Earth) the masters have locked “them out to starve.

Mr. Lloyd George, addressing a meeting of soft-heads in Cardiff on Dec. 29 last, said : “You cannot redeem those who are below except by the sacrifice of those who above.” This is a tip we heartily commend to the textile (and all other) workers to-day. They must recognise that the struggle for increased wages is futile to stave off the misery of their wage-slave position. They must recognise that their redemption from wage slavery can only take place through, as Lloyd George puts it, the sacrifice of those who are above—the master class—and they must proceed, firmly, unflinchingly, to sacrifice them.

The way lies first of all through the capture of political power, in order that the master class may be hurled from their possession of the means and instruments of production, so that this wonderful growth of the fertility of labour-power, half revealed by these official figures, may be directed to increasing the economic well-being of those that labour.

Goodwill to every hand that is given to this work, and may it prosper in the prosecution of the struggle this coming year.

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