A Socialist Survey

Socialism in this country is dead and gone—according to Mr. Guy Bowman. He told a meeting of railwaymen at Burnley (5.4.14) that “the payment of M.P.’s, the establishment of Labour Exchanges, the granting of Old Age Pensions, National Insurance, and other such measures had resulted in there being nothing left for Socialist speakers to do,” and that Lloyd George had taken their best men and found them good posts. Thus, by the artfulness of Lloyd George and the Liberal Government, Socialism was gone in this country, etc.

Which to put it mildly, is a lie. Not one of the above-mentioned measures ever was advocated by a Socialist. They are no part of Socialist propaganda and no Socialist is concerned about them—except fo point out their futility. As for Lloyd George taking their best men, I should like to know the name of one. Perhaps Mr. Bowman will oblige ? Not only is Socialism not dead, it is making greater headway in this country at the present moment than ever before in its history. There are more Socialists working for Socialism than ever before; but they are not to be found in the company that Mr. Bowman keeps. Is it Mr. Bowman’s complaint that he hasn’t got a job ? Couldn’t somebody find him one, say—in the Anti-Socialist Union, where he belongs ?

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“It is doubtful whether Mr. Sexton’s play, ‘The Riot Act,’ which is to be produced in London shortly, will repeat its Liverpool success before audiences not particularly interested in Labour problems. It is said that the financial success of this play was due largely to the support accorded by well known shipping mag­nates, who were delighted with Mr. Sexton’a modified views and indicated their pleasure in a practical manner, much to the chagrin of the Labour leader’s comrades.” (“Daily Sketch,” 20.3.14.)

There is nothing surprising in this. There is surely nothing about Mr. Sexton’s views that the masterclass can find objection to. “Jim” always had a leaning for the patronage of the aristocracy and was never happier than when he was in their company. I remember the occasion when Lord Derby received the freedom of the City of Liverpool. “Jim” was there, very much in evidence. On this occasion also, his comrades exhibited their chagrin at his con­duct, even to the extent of forbidding him to appear. But this didn’t upset “Jim” ; not a bit ! He even repudiated his comrades to his distinguished hearers, and told them that he “regarded it as a very considerable privilege to be there.” Afterwards, he produced “The Riot Act,” which was a success. Fidelity was re­warded !

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According to “The Times” (16.3J4) The United States Express Co. has had to wind up its affairs and go out of business as a result of Government competition and interference. Some 15,000 of the company’s employees will be affected. As the Government will naturally run its Express service under a system of the greatest economy, both in labour and everything else, it follows that only a small proportion, if any at all, of the jobless fifteen thousand will find work under the Government. This “nationalisation,” whether it be brought about by buying an in­dustry, or squeezing it out of existence, always has the same effect, namely—the augmentation of the unemployed army, with the consequent intensification of the competition of wage labour. These are cases of “improvement” that do not benefit the workers in the slightest; yet—my goodness—we find our well-paid and well-fed “Labour” members and Trade Union officials, howling fit to burst their jugulars for “nationali­sation,” “Government ownership,” “State in­terference,” etc !

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Speaking of Labour members, the following incident deserves to be placed on record :

At a delegate conference of the Joint Labour Board to discuss the case of the South African deportees, a resolution was moved by Mr. R. Macdonald, calling upon the Home Government to compel the repeal of Clause 4 of the Indem­nity Act. An amendment to the resolution that “failing satisfaction, the Labour Party turn the Government out at the earliest opportunity”was vigorously opposed by Macdonald, and on a card vote the amendment was defeated.

To anyone familiar with Labour Party history the reason will be quite clear. The Liberal Government are absolutely indispensable to the Labour Party. “In every fundamental question of home politics the Government has had no more consistent supporters than the members of the Labour Party, and that not because of any underground compromises, but simply be­cause the Government happened to produce schemes which the Labour Party were bound to support, for the reason that they believed in them.” (“Daily News & Leader”, 28.1.14.) In other words, because they both stood for the same thing !

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Instances are not wanted to prove the truth of the foregoing. The only difference is that between them they dispute as to who should take the credit for producing these schemes. Only a few days ago at the I.L.P. Conference at Bradford, Mr. Snowden remarked that it (the I.L.P.) had sown for others (meaning the Liberals) to reap. The Liberal Party was in power to-day because it was pledged to a pro­gramme of social reform. Astute Liberal politi­cians were putting before the country specious and attractive programmes, and advertising them to the electors in a vocabulary taken from Socialist leaders and Socialist propaganda. If this is so why not definitely declare for adhesion to Liberalism, seeing that the Liberals are already accomplishing what they (the I.L.P. and Labour Party) ostensibly set out to perform ? If the Liberals have reaped where the I.L.P. have sown, clearly there must be a mutuality of pur­pose. Had they sown, instead, the seed of Socialism, the Liberals would have reaped—only eventual extinction.

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Apart from social reform, what can be said of the party which, while pretending to serve the workers, undertakes at the same time to introduce scientific management into a system where its introduction can only mean the inten­sification of the appaliug misery that we have to-day ? True, it is indisputable that produc­tion under Socialism tends to become more and more concentrated, and distribution more and more scientific and economical; but is that any reason why a so-called working-class party should bring pressure to bear on the Govern­ment to compel them to adopt schemes that will still further tighten up the process ? A percen­tage of the workers at the present time depend to a great extent upon the waste engendered by capitalist competition for their livelihood. Every attempt to reduce this waste is an attempt to save wages, and so make the position of the workers more precarious than ever.

Mr. Thomas, M.P., has introduced a Bill which is backed by Mr. J. R. Macdonald, Mr. Mr. G. Barnes, and others, which provides for the compulsory examination of engine-drivers and motor men on railways. Of the certificates required for competency, one will be of examination, to be granted by the Board of Railway Examiners to be appointed by the Board of Trade, consisting of six representatives each of the railway companies and railway men, and three inspectors of railways.

Given the passage of this Bill, one can easily see, as the outcome, the elimination of drivers and others for the slightest physical fault—for a fault that would, perhaps, be no detriment at all to the job, yet which can be made the excuse for turning a man down.

Nor is this all. Mr. Keir Hardie has also introduced a Bill—the Prevention of Unemploy­ment Bill—which provides that a Ministry of Labour shall be set up, who shall sit in the House of Commons and receive the salary of a Secretary of State. It would devolve upon him to regularise the national demand for labour. In this connection he would bring into opera­tion the National Labour Exchange, Unem­ployment Insurance, Industrial Regulation, Statistical Emigration and Immigration, Industrial Training, and last, but not least in impor­tance, the establishment of reformatory detention colonies. Phew !

But why call it “prevention”of unemployment ?

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Something of the kind is already being tried by the Leeds City Council. Profiting by their defeat of the strikers and the knowledge of the actual number of men needed, they have decided to introduce automatic appliances wherever possible. In the lighting of the street lamps it is calculated that a saving of £6,000 a year will be effected by introducing a system of turning the lamps on and off automatically. With regard to the Gas Works, the committee who investi­gated point out that much of the plant is obso­lete, and they are informed that it is possible to introduce improved forms of gas plant which will return the whole of the capital in four years. By the introduction of one vertical retort plant a million and a quarter feet of gas were produced daily by twelve men, as against sixty men under other processes obtaining in the works.

In the Cleansing Department alone they have discovered that they can dispense with three hundred men, and at the same time save some £21,000. And so on through every department.

This emphasises the need for the workers to understand their position.


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