Thanks to the Enemy

The following is taken from the report in the “Daily Telegraph” (2.5.13.) of Mr. Walter Long’s address to the Primrose League. “It was as much to-day a fact as it ever was in the history of our country that some must lead and others must follow, and the leadership naturally fell into the hands of those who had leisure and opportunity to consider for themselves what were the problems of the day, and to offer wise advise to those who did not enjoy the same pri­vileges.” In other words, according to this one­-time president of the Anti-Socialist Union, the parasite alone is competent to advise his victim. Take that “wise advice“ and all will be well—with the parasite, of course. One is glad to learn that for this and other jokes Mr. Long was awarded the fifth grade of the Grand Star.

* * *

In their appeals for patriotism our masters do not usually tell us point blank that the country is theirs, not ours. The most hypocritical, however, sometimes make mistakes, and if the Bishop of Peterborough let the cat out of the bag when speaking recently on patriotism, it must be remembered that he is more used to dispensing that other chloroform, religion.

The bishop, who was preaching as Chaplain of the Royal Society of St. George, finished by asking for generous help for the Royal Naval Ports Church Building Fund. According to the “Daily Telegraph” report (21.4.13.) the prea­cher “stated that the object of the fund was to provide sufficient churches in Plymouth and Devonport, Portsmouth, and Chatham for the men working in our naval dockyards, and for their wives and families. . . . During the last generation the population of the four towns mentioned had increased by 200,000. The na­tion had collected these masses to do the nation’s work ; they laboured that our land might be spared the horrors of invasion. We were their debtors in temporal things, and we were called upon to aid them in spiritual things.” [The italics are not the bishop’s.]

Precisely, and, in case there should be any doubt as to who “we” are, it may be mentioned that when “we” assisted at the annual dinner held at the Hotel Cecil in connection with this Royal Society of St. George, it was in the com­pany of Lord Willoughby de Broke, the Duke of Marlborough, Lord Desborough, and about three hundred others of those who make up the “nation.”

“We are their debtors in temporal things.” Decidedly unfortunate, this statement, for it expresses only too obviously the position, not alone of the dockyard workers, but of the work­ing class as a whole, who produce the wealth which is appropriated by the master class.

* * *

Much difficulty is experienced in getting clerks and some other proletarians to recognise that their real status in society is the same as that of those other wage workers who produce the means of existence for society as a whole. The lower-paid members, especially, of this pen-pushing brigade become quite indignant when classed as wage-slaves.

This makes one regret that the following should have appeared in the “Daily Telegraph” (24.4.13) rather than in one of those journals which, by reason of their cheapness and other attractions, are more popular among these self-styled “middle-class” persons.

“The clerk or shopman may at twenty years of age receive 30s. a week and feel well off, but at forty, when he has a family, he finds that his income of 50s. or 60s. is no longer sufficient to meet his expenses, and with no prospect of promotion—for he seldom qualifies himself for the better paid positions—he feels the younger generation treading on his heels, waiting to step into his place. Tied hand and foot by his responsibilities, tied by his education to the one kind of unskilled labour, he is no more free than a slave, for to lose his post is starvation or the workhouse.”

* * *

“Judge Hill Kelly refused, at Abegavenny County Court, to order a payment to Henry Miles of £50, being one-half of compensation money paid into court by the man’s employer in respect of an accident. The man said he wanted to provide a home, as he was going to get mar­ried, whereat the judge said it was criminal for a man in Miles’s position to waste £50 in fur­nishing. He ordered £20 to be paid out as quite sufficient.” “Lloyd’s Newspaper,” 22.6.13.

Another example, you see, of the reckless extravagance indulged in by the workers when they get half a chance. One dreads to think what they would do were it not for the restrain­ing influence of their “betters”—and of their poverty.

In the capitalist Press one constantly finds articles showing how to live on meals costing on the average about ¾d. each, and lamenting the extravagance of the workers. If, however, the latter regard these jokes as being in bad taste one cannot wonder. But £50 to provide a home ! Is it not possible that a proletarian who would spend £50 for such a purpose would be quite prepared, given the opportunity, to live in an inhabitable house ? The growth of such notions must be checked. They constitute one, among many, of the incentives to a study of the robbery process involved in capitalist production. As such they may be made use of by the advocates of Socialism. And hasn’t that humorous platitudinarian, Lord Raspberry, told us that this would mean the end of all things and the beginning of something else ?

* * *

This marriage difficulty reminds one of an­other beautiful example of bourgeois morality, which came to light recently when the “Daily Telegraph” published the following under the title of “A Marriage Problem” :

“A singular predicament, which was solved in a singular way, faced the Morpeth Board of Guardians yesterday regarding the appointment of a porter and a cook. A married couple were required, but the feeling of the meeting was that the posts should be given to Mr. W. J. Bentham, South Shields, and Miss Annie Slater, London, both of whom are single. The marriage ques­tion was the only obstacle, and eventually the Guardians decided to offer the positions to Mr. Bentham and Miss Slater, on condition that they became husband and wife before taking up their duties. They have a month yet in which to take or reject this step.”

A wonderfully fine solution, certainly, and one that could have occurred only to those thoroughly imbued with the ideas of the bour­geoisie. Among the latter it is natural enough that the amount of property possessed by the contracting parties should be the important consideration when a (regular) marriage is to be arranged, due weight being given, of course, to the possession of titles. What these Guardians of the Poor RATE seem to have overlooked, however, is that among the propertyless quite other ideas may obtain with regard to this sub­ject of marriage—ideas which differ from those of the master class just because they are born of a different set of conditions. These “Guar­dians,” at all events, will do their share to oppose that horror “free love.” They are in a position to say : “Away with your proletarian notions of marriage. Adopt our suggestion or seek a livelihood elsewhere !” And they show us here that they intend to make no bones about saying it.

And now may I point out how, after all, the parson who scornfully rejects the idea that “a marriage is a civil contract between two parties” appears to be right on some occasions, for it seems that where a Board of Guardians finds its interests touched, a marriage may be a civil contract between three parties.

A. C. A.

Leave a Reply