A great deal of ink has been spilled and much perturbation caused in the “Labour” Press by the re-opening of the issues that led Mr. H. G. Wells to “denounce” the labour movement in general and the Fabian Society in particular, and finally to sever his connection with the latter body. There appears to be a general feeling of regret that Mr. Wells should have taken up an attitude of hostility in view of the services he is supposed to have rendered to the cause of Socialism. A lot has been said and written in praise of Wells’s services to Socialism, but why this should be is beyond the writer’s understanding, seeing that neither in his writings nor anywhere else is there any indication that he ever was, or ever will be, a Socialist. Nor is there any indication that he ever understood Socialism.

* * *

In the “Morning Post” of September 19 Mr. Harold Cox has a bit of a dig at the trade union leaders on the futility of “collective bargaining.” He thinks the inference to be drawn is that “collective bargaining cannot greatly affect, if at all, the price which labour can command under the free operation of the law of supply and demand. . . . When there are two pigs in the market and only one buyer, pigs are cheap ; when there is only one pig and two buyers pigs are dear.”

Mr. Cox says he has been led to this view by reading a few pamphlets. Has he, perchance, been perusing the SOCIALIST STANDARD or the S.P.G.B. pamphlets ? He couldn’t do a better thing ! His inference is correct. Before the workers and masters could “bargain” they would have to meet on a common ground ; to be on terms of equality, which, under the present system, is manifestly absurd. All the “bargain¬ing” is one-sided—the masters alone at the present time possess the power to enforce their terms.

The “Daily Citizen” rejects this theory and taunts Mr. Cox with “placing labour in precisely the same category as sacks of wheat and bales of cotton—as a commodity to be bought and sold.” This fundamental fact of capitalist exploitation the “Citizen” dismisses as unsound ! An economic heresy ! How clear our contemporary is upon the position of the workers may be seen by the way in which it disposes of the above “heresy.” It says :

“Labour is not some passive commodity to be bartered like dead pigs or pig-iron, without interest in the transaction. Labour is blood and brain and sinew. Labour is life. It is neither in the interest of the individual nor the community that labour should be bought like timber in the cheapest market.”

In whose interest does the capitalist buy it, then ? Any fool knows that labour (for which read labour power) is blood and brain and sinew, but is it any the less a commodity for that ? As a matter of fact that is just why it is a commodity. Being “blood and brain and sinew.” and being capable of producing more value than it receives in return, it is more or less in demand, and the worker, not possessing anything else, is compelled to take it into the market and barter it for the most he can get for it in order to live.

“The worker, having no land or capital of his own, must sell his labour, and in a large mea¬sure sell himself, to their owners. Landlords and capitalists buy labour as they buy bales of cotton. They pay the workman the lowest possible wage, and coin rent and dividend out of his toil.”

No, this is not a quotation from Marx, but an extract from an editorial of the same paper (24.10.13) that taunts Mr. Cox with “placing labour in precisely the same category as sacks of wheat and bales of cotton” !

* * *

Mr. James Larkin addressed a meeting at Birmingham on October 11th. In the course of his remarks he had occasion to mention that the “Morning Post” had paid Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P., the sum of £20 for writing an article. Larkin, it appears, got quite excited about this.

Why should he ? Is this a feature the labour movement that he had not heard of before? Surely not! When asked for proof he said :

“I can prove that the “Morning Post” paid Philip Snowden for writing a special column about the sympathetic strike, and I can also prove that I was offered the same terms ; and further, I can prove that the “Evening News” of London offered to pay whatever I demanded to put forward my methods and policy in the columns of a Conservative newspaper.” (“Manchester Guardian.” 13.10.13.)

Who said strikes didn’t pay ?

* * *

Speaking at Oldhamon October 26th, Mr. W. C, Robinson, prospective Labour candidate for the division, said : “Workers ought to be compelled by law to become members of a trade union.” Why not shove it in the programme of the Labour Party as one of those things that ought to be “nationalised” ?

At the same meeting the brutal methods of the police during the Dublin strike was commented upon—a strike, mind you, created by the avowed determination of the masters, and aided by the law, to smash trade unionism !

* * *

During the recent municipal elections the Values League submitted the following proposition to all candidates in the Manchester and Salford area:

“The transference of the cost of such national services as poor relief, education, police, and asylums from the local rates on to the national exchequer ; a fund for such purposes to be provided by a Budget tax on all land values.”

Although this is obviously and essentially a capitalist proposition, it nevertheless obtained the unqualified approval of the I.L.P. candidates !

* * *

Among the many resolutions passed by the various organisations in condemnation of the Aisgill verdict the following is worth reproducing. It goes further than all the silly twaddle that has been uttered. It was passed by the Chopwell Lodge of the Durham Miners’ Federation (31.10.13).

“This lodge views with sincere appreciation the tender solicitude of the Government and its judges for the susceptibilities of the Midland Railway Co., whose poverty unables them to provide a better class of coal and sufficient oil for their express trains, or to incur the terrible expense of providing a pilot engine to assist an overloaded train up the steep incline at Aisgill, which train, as was expected, stuck fast before reaching the top, and was subsequently struck in the rear by another train, whose driver, with demoniacal cleverness, had succeeded in getting his train up the incline at almost full speed with, the same necessarily cheap working material.
“We further applaud the action of the learned judge, whose pathetic anxiety for the welfare of the travelling public, and incidentally the railway company, nerved him to sentence Driver Caudle to two months imprisonment for his criminal inability to do more than five things at once.
“We are also of opinion that the fireman was deserving of at least three months for having failed to make coal at 3s. 11d. do the work of coal at 9s. 6d. per ton.
“We suggest that, in view of the straightened circumstances of the company, and the opulent wages paid to workmen, drivers ought to provide their own coal and oil in future, a condition which would enable railway companies to insist upon the use of best coal.
“Finally, we wish to record our sorrow that some of the people prominently associated with the case were not in the rear coach of the first train.”

* * *

How proud those Buckingham Palace workmen must have felt when the King entertained them to dinner at the Holborn Restaurant ! How they must have congratulated themselves on the conclusion of the remarkable achievement of transforming an architectural eyesore into something just as ugly ! And at the close of the dinner each guest was presented with a real amber and—I mean a real clay pipe and a packet of tobacco, ornamented with the royal arms and bearing the inscription : “From His Majesty the King, October 31, 1913.”

Rather unfortunate, though, that the King was unable to be present. The picture would have been complete. What’s that you say ? Because they were working-men ? ‘Sh ! Perish the thought !

* * *

An unusually pathetic case was reported in the Press recently—pathetic enough to excite the lachiymal glands of a stone image into working overtime. I refer to the report of the death of Mr. Edward Morris, head of the Chicago firm of Morris & Co, who died through overwork (sic). His firm was among those indicted by the U.S. Government in the Beef Trust case. He is believed to have left a fortune of somewhere about £8,000,000. No wonder it killed him !

He must have worked damned hard ! Why, I have known men work hard all their lives up to old age, and yet not possess eight pence to bless it with.

“There’s something rotten in the State of Denmark !”

* * *

At the Reading bye-election last month the Independent Labour Party unanimously endorsed the candidature of Mr. J. G. Butler, of the B.S.P. Mr. Butler in return pledged to associate himself with the Parliamentary Labour Party in the event of his election. These organisations are erstwhile “foes,” but both have conveniently discovered that they stand for the same thing. “Two minds with but a single thought.”

* * *

Probably one reason why Mr. Lloyd George was so sanguine of the success of his latest anaesthetic was because he could count on its complete assimilation by the Labour Party and its supporters Whether it be Home Rule or Old Age Pensions, State Insurance, or any other old thing (in the way of dope) it is received by the Labour Party with acclamation. One of the latest is “State cottages for the aged.” At its inauguration in London on November 9th, Mr. G. N. Barnes, who was very much to the front, pointed out that, at the present time, it costs 13s. 8d. per head per week to keep people in the workhouse, while under the proposed scheme it would cost only 8s. 8½d. “to keep the old in dignity and freedom.”

The main point, however, was that it was estimated to save “the country” a matter of £585,000 a year on the transaction.

As the “saving” of this can only mean that it will be shifted from the pockets of one section of the capitalist class to the pockets of another section, one naturally wants to know why Labour M.P.s should support it. Where are the workers’ interests served in a case like this ? Do they think they are doing the aged persons in the workhouse a good turn by lowering their cost of maintenance by 5s. a week ?


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