The Eternal How

Perhaps no question salutes the ears of the Socialist more often than that which runs : “How are you going to brine; it about?”—the “it,” of course, meaning Socialism. The questioner, as a rule, expects a very exact map of the route, showing bivouacs and half-way houses, together with a time-table and a plan of campaign, leav­ing nothing but the date to be filled in.

It is to be regretted that the reply is not so easy and accommodating as the usual questioner wishes, but surely a little reflection will show the unreasonableness of insisting on such a definite, cut and dried plan. Human society is not the same yesterday, to day, and forever. It differs not only from time to time and place to place, but many of its essentials, though constant, will have varying weights.

Capitalism may be cosmopolitan, but in one country the landed interest may be a heavy or dominant factor, in another country the industrial, and so on. So that the exact method of proceeding to the overthrow of the dominating class will depend upon the conditions under which that class hold their power, and also on the means available. Obviously, it would be useless to call upon a proletariat that possessed no franchise, to vote their own representatives into power instead of their masters.

I think, therefore, it is fairly apparent that the question is too bare to allow of a standardised answer. It should rather take the form of a series of supplementary questions, as thus :

“Is Socialism possible now, at once ?”
“Socialism is possible now, at once, as all things are possible, if— ah ! that if—the elements needed are present.”
“Then are the elements necessary for Social­ism present ?”
“As we contend, all except one, and that one is—a working class who want it, and who are organised to get it.”

But to avoid giving this the appearance of a catechism—for all such, including Socialist catechisms, are abomination—suppose we run over the ground in a general way and endeavour to get the problem in focus.

Out of the Atlantic Ocean there arise some lumps of dirt which are called Great Britain and Ireland. Specimens of the dirt may be seen in Hyde Park free of charge, and it will be noted that trees, grass, and shrubs find it useful as a medium of growth. The railings are an alien growth having their origin deep in the bowels of this same Great Britain. More strictly, they are not a growth at all, but are fashioned by man from the raw material, from which he also fashions a variety of well known artcles, such as pocket-knives, locomotives, garden trowels, and dreadnoughts.

From these two small facts alone it should be plain that, with the exception of the raw materials and divine revelations, the earth is the great source of all things, the storehouse whence mankind obtain the food they eat, the clothing they wear, the houses they inhabit, and the tools they use.

This being admitted, we may ask ourselves why the common storehouse should be in the hands of a few individuals, why mankind should have access to the things that keep them from dying, only by permission of, and paying toll to a few of their number.

The history of the process by which this source of all life has fallen under the control and possession of a few individuals is long and full of interest, but suffice it to say that naked brute force was the primary factor at the birth of private property, as it is its guardian at the present day. By many unlawful deeds of vio­lence, and by a long series of enactments—all quite legal, you know—which culminated in the Enclosure Acts of a century ago, the people have been divorced from their natural heritage—the land. And they obtain permission to live from the masters of the earth only by yielding up the produce of their toil and receiving enough to enable them to keep on doing it.

Like horses and mokes, they occasionally jib, and, furthermore, there is always the danger of them realising that they have as much right to Great Britain as their self-appointed masters. To neutralise, and, if possible, to obviate that this danger, a portion of the proceeds of the robbery are devoted to the upkeep of an army of black coated bogey-rattlers, who contract clergyman’s throat in exhorting the multitude to be content with the kicks of this life in return for bliss unspeakable when they are dead.

This keeps many of the disinherited quiet, but with many the blows and buffets of this world are more insistent than the shadowy bliss beyond the Milky Way, and they list not to the bogey-men.

The masters, however, are not taking any chances. They proceed upon the ancient philo­sophical doctrine : “Whom you can’t chloroform you can club,” and employ armies of men with deadly weapons to gently reason with the refractory ones.

This process, with elaborations, is the whole science of government. So confident are the masters of the woolly-headedness of the people, that they entrust the duty of appointing the governors to the governed ! The latter would not for the world betray the trust reposed in them, and time after time they return their mas­ters to authority over them. And so their chains become more tightly rivetted to their bodies. To give the silly business a semblance of reality master class array themselves under two flags, and stand as it were on either side of the workers, so that when the latter develop signs of jibbing they are distracted by first the wav­ing of one flag and then the wagging of the other, as thus:

Workers : “Work ! Work ! ! Give us work that we may buy bread !”

Tory Old Party : “Work ? How can you ex­pect work when you have voted for those infamous, impious empire-wreckers over the way ?”

The workers here make a rush for the indi­cated virmin over the way, who discharge a volley of nobs of Featherstone or Lanelly coal, and discreetly retreated, murmuring : “The swing of the pendulum.”

“Now,” say the Tory Party, “give us time to settle down and repair the cracks in the Constitution made by the last tenants, and then—ah ! and then—we shall !

The process of settling down proceeds for some years, and many of the workers die and new ones are born ; some, also, go to the ends of the earth, and others become Syndicalists. And so at length the time comes when the workers jib once more, and they cry with loud howl “Work ! Work ! ! For the love of God, give us work, that we may buy alum and ground bones, which is called bread.”

And this time the Liberal Old Party answers : “Fellow Christians, can you expect work from rapacious landlords ? Do you expect work from holders of titles ? Is it possible you are so fool­ish as to hope for anything but kicks, tariff trifling, and toothache from Tories ? Away with ’em !”

The hungry workers here “away” with the holders of titles, who hurriedly depart, discharg­ing a “whiff of grape” into the bodies of the workers, and muttering : “The swing of the pendulum.”

Then the Liberal Old Party settles down, and when, after many moons, the workers say : “Look here, we’ve watched you both take turns at settling down ; when do you propose to settle up ?” the dear old hen clucks out: “Home Rule ! for the Isle of Wight! ” or: “Patience, friends, let us first disestablish Pudsey.”

And that is where the workers shine. Pa­tience ! Patience by the rod, pole or perch. And the only worry of the Tory old lady and the Liberal old hen is how far off are they from the bottom of the workers’ patience.

We think that the existence of our party shows they are within measurable distance of it. Our patience is exhausted, anyhow. If the man who asks : “How are you going to do it ?” is any good at riddles—easy ones—and has read the foregoing, he should find himself in possession of the answer.

We_are going to it with your help—that is essential—by saying to the Tory party: “Get out! ” and to the Liberal party : “Ditto.” And should they pause for a reason we shall tell them : “It’s the swing of the pickaxe.”

And believe me, the pendulum will have ceased to interest them.

With the demise of the parasitic parties and with the workers in control of the men with the clubs and guns, the rest would be easy. The land would be restored to its original and right­ful owners, and the factories, railways, steam­ships, machinery, and all the other means and instruments for producing and distributing the good things society needs would be converted into the common property of society.

Then rent, profit, and interest would cease to be, and the whole product of labour would go to those who produced it, and poverty and the results of poverty would become a nightmare of the past, seldom referred to except in tones of wonderment as to the kind of creature that put up with it.

This, then, is how we—you and us—are go­ing to do it. We are going to organise ourselves in a political party—the Socialist Party—for the purpose of capturing political power. This will give us control of the machinery of the State—including the armed forces. This machinery will be used in order to dispossess the capitalist class and forever end their rule, setting up in its place the Socialist Commonwealth.

That is how we are going to do it—come in and lend a hand.

W. T. H.

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