Speaking in the House of Commons on Nov. 20th in support of Barnes’ amendment with reference to Government workers and the Insurance Bill, the Right Hon [Can’t allow coming events to cast their shadows here—ED.] I mean-Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald (it is reported) said :

“There is a good deal of sponging going on. I think it is high time Government workers were told that they have to submit to the same terms as obtain for employment in the outside market.”

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Of course it is high time. Didn’t Bill say something about “There comes a tide in the affairs of men” ? Well, Mr. J. R.’s affairs have reached the particular stage indicated. So far the tale has been “nationalise,” and great amelioration has been promised to workers coming under Government employment. Mr. Macdonald has exploited this story for all it was worth. It has enabled him to climb as high on the workers’ backs as is possible. His next rise must come from the masters. So as it is high time that he got his— [Now it won’t do. You know Mr. Macdonald has told us we must not say he is after a job. It is a sore spot. As he is a man who means what he says, he is just itching for someone to tell him the truth, and he is going to issue a writ. Whatever Mr. Macdonald is after, he has told us that we have got to shut up while he gets it.—ED.]

Well then, as the tide of Mr. Macdonald’s affairs are at about that point where he would expect a very lucrative job to be thrust upon him by the capitalist Government, it is “high time” the Government workers were told that they are “sponging,” and that “they have to submit to the same terms as obtain for eroployment in the outside market.”

That’s all there is in it.

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The “Postman’s Gazette”—representing a union of 40,000 postmen—in its editorial comment upon the above incident, says (2.12.11):

“The attack was not made by an irresponsible member of that party, but by the present and past leaders of the party, hence the deeper significance of the statements used in endeavouring to secure their object with regard to amending the National Insurance Bill. . . . We are practically being denounced as a privileged class of employees, enjoying benefits which the Labour Party leader thinks we ought not to enjoy. . . . Nevertheless both he (Barnes) and Mr. Macdonald must be held responsible—the one for giving an opportunity to attack, and the other for making a general onslaught on the alleged privileges of established civil servants. . . . Surely the Labour Party leaders . . . have suffered a severe lapse of memory in not remembering the very great assistance the Postman’s Federation has been able to render to the cause in all parts of the country—and in the Law Courts. We are not out to seek any special thanks for the little we have been able to do, (but we certainly think many of our readers will look upon Mr. Barnes’ ill-considered amendment and Mr. Macdonald’s attack as a poor ‘return’ for services rendered. . . . We must confess that our dealings with the Labour Party or individual members of it, have been disappointing—not only disappointing, but in many respects unfortunate. . . . We cannot tolerate any further jerrymandering or the drawing of red-herrings across our path.”

Such laments are a very touching reminder of the old saying abolish the fool and his money, but no amount of “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” will replace in the coffers of the Postmen’s Federation the £5,000 they have spent in connection with the Labour Party. If, ah ! if the postmen had only read, marked and inwardly digested their SOCIALIST STANDARD, they would not now be retching their hearts up at the muck they had got on their hands by hand¬ling something infinitely more noisesome and filthy than pitch.

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The following extract is also interesting, not only because of its truth, but because it explains much. It should be specially interesting to members of postal and other unions who have been strong in their allegiance to the Labour Party. It is from an article by Joseph Clayton entitled “On the Way to the Cabinet” (“Daily Dispatch,” 289.11).

“He [Mr. Macdonald] has never allowed his connection with the Socialist and Labour movement to effect his separation from the great body of Progressive thought, or from the social life of the wealthier middle-class Liberals. … As wire-pullers he and his late wife were never so successful as Mr. and Mrs Sidney Webb, but they understood that much could be accomplished by evening parties . . . The Labour Party, when it made Mr. Macdonald chairman, gave him a position of high importance in the House of Commons, but now, having reached that importance, the next step must surely take him into a Liberal Cabinet. . . . Once in the Cabinet what is to prevent Mr. Macdonald from reaching the Premiership. … He has learn’t that one of the secrets of political success is to make use of everybody available and everything to hand.”

I have italicised a few luminous words for the particular benefit of federated postmen and others who are in the position of sucked oranges. They have been used to advance Mr. Macdonald to his present eminence; now that gentleman is constrained to convince the Liberals that all his “Labour” professions and protestations are but a part of his method of “getting there,” and that now he has got there the workers are nothing but mats for him to wipe his feet on, and that therefore he is a safe man for their Cabinet. Hence “it is high time” he told the Government workers that they are sponges, and they can look to him to keep them in their proper places.

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Various papers have endeavoured to attach a Socialist label to the Chinese rebellion. In order, therefore, to point out the true nature of the rebellion, and to prevent anti-Socialists pointing to any subsequent actions of the rebels (if they are finally successful) with the remark: “What you may expect under Socialism,” I give the following translation of a notice posted in the city of Shangai by the rebels.

“The Chinese governed you before the Manchus came into power 300 years ago.
“The Manchus are not business men, hence the backwardness of our country.
“We want the Chinese (you) to rule our country again and make our laws, and also to increase our world’s trade.
“Foreigners and their property must be respected more than ever during the revolt, so that we may deserve their good opinion.”
—“Manchester Guardian,” 21.11.11.

Rather reminiscent of Bottomley’s John Bull League and their “business Government,” is it not ? The plain truth is that the rising capitalist class of China are endeavouring to throw off the yoke of feudalism, which prevents the expansion of Capitalism and limits the country’s “trade.” In this respect the history of England, France, and other European countries is repeating itself in China, even down to the delicious little piece of humbug so beloved of the working class all over the world : “We want you to rule.”

* * *

It is very significant to note that in recent successful rebellions, as in older instances, armed force has been on the side of the rebels. Portugal and Turkey are cases in point. In each of these cases, however, the opposition to the existing order has been well financed by interested people. But the Socialist movement, being a proletarian movement, cannot possibly subsidise paid troops, and must depend upon capturing the machinery of government by political action in order to use the armed forces of the State for its own ends. Secret attempts to bring over sections of the Army and Navy to our side would but lay us open to the agent provocateur.

I have stressed this point because so many persons nowadays, in view of the comparative ease with which the capitalist class in various backward countries are throwing off the remnants of out of date feudalism, seem to think that the direct capture of the armed force offers a speedier road to Socialism than by making the majority of the workers class-conscious and so capturing political power.

* * *

Mr. Keir Hardie, opening a sale of work at Westminster on December 2, said : “The whole attitude of the present Cabinet in regard to foreign affairs, was outraging the whole Liberal traditions of the past,” because “Sir E. Gray is so obsessed with the old Liberal Imperialist idea of maintaining the balance of power in Europe” that to make a friend of Russia bad blood had been created between England and Germany.

Now had Mr. Ramsay Macdonald said that, I should have suspected him of raising a protest at the instance of the German Emperor. But “Honi soit what is it to him who evil thinks.” Being Keir Hardie he is above suspicion, and it can only be concern for the dear, glorious old traditions of Liberalism, from Featherstone to Tonypandy, that wrings these broken accents from his lips. Struth, Liberalism is going to the dogs, sirs. The only gleam of comfort left us is the reflection that the rot which has set in in the Liberal conduct of foreign affairs does not show any signs of immediately extending to home affairs. At the time of writing the police and the bonnie Highlanders are at Dundee, prepared to deal with the situation according to “the whole Liberal traditions of the past.”

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By the way, will the gallant policeman who smashed a baby’s face during the recent dust-up at Dundee kindly communicate his name. I should like to have the honour of presenting his case to the Trustees of the Carnegie Hero Fund.

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While, of course, it was very helpful to kosh this baby striker in its mother’s arms, it occurs to me that the police hardly make sufficient of their opportunities at the other end of the scale. If advantage was taken of these disturbances to work off some of the Old Age Pensioners, I am sure a grateful taxpaying public would respond in liberal fashion. It might be mentioned in this connection that “every constable in the City Police Force has received ‘with Messrs. N. M. Rothschild and Sons’ best wishes,’ a box containing a briar pipe, and a tobacco pouch, and a ¼ lb. of smoking mixture.”

One can’t help thinking that Houndsditch and Sidney Street have cemented the bond of sympathy between those who have so much to lose and those whom they pay to look after it for them.

Meanwhile, have you ever watched a rich man’s bull dog wag his tail in satisfaction ? It is wonderfully educational, and it brings home to one the fact that bad blood between England and Germany doesn’t matter much after all—to the likes of you and me.

J. B. S.

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