En passant

An editorial in the “Daily Sketch” of May 7th runs as follows: “But a more dangerous sort of interference with parental authority will be confirmed by the passing of the Defective and Epileptic Children Bill. Defective children (of the poor people) are to be sent to residential schools, and Mr. Josiah Wedgwood moved an amendment for the purpose of making it clear that such children should not be removed from their homes without the consent of their parents. The amendment was negatived by a decisive vote.”

Leaflet No. 45 of the Anti-Socialist Union bears the following bright gem :

Infant Gatherer [who is the State Nurse existing under an impossible Socialist State]: “I’ve called to take your baby to the State Children’s Home.”
Mother : “But you will let him say ‘good-bye’ to his father ? ”
Infant Gatherer: “Father! There are no fathers now. The State’s his father.”

It has often been pointed out to the intellectuals of the Anti-Socialist Union that the bogey they attack is not Socialism but State capitalism. But it is easy to apologise for not hearing after you have stuffed your ears.

Today, under capitalism—”the best of all possible systems in the best of all possible worlds”—you must not be born without the State knowing; you must not “shuffle off this mortal coil” without the State being informed of the fact; if you are on the panel you cannot be ill without the State being aware of your malady. Under tyrannical Socialism the only added danger could be that the privacy of the bath-room might be invaded.

* * *

To turn from the Anti-Socialist Union to members of an Anti-Socialist Party, the appended statements are enlightening.

Mr. Philip Snowden, in the “Labour Leader” of April 30th: “If we take the Liberal Party at its best to-day and accept its professions at their apparent value, and if we compare its programme with that of a labour party which is not Socialist, then there is no doubt that Mr. Asquith’s statement that the differences are trivial and unimportant represents the actual facts.”

Mr. Jowett, in the “Labour Leader,” April 16th : “On one occasion the Labour Party had declined to introduce an Unemployment motion because the Government had to be kept in office, and often it had been difficult to defend the votes which the Labour members had given.”

Two minds with but a single thought; two mouths that bleat as one.

These extracts may be used as supporting an argument in re Philip sober. P. Snowden, “Labour Leader” 30.4.14.: “The irony of Social Reform within the present economic order is that every reform which improves the health and intelligence of the workers benefits the capitalist still more.”

The same Snowden—the summit of conceit— in the House of Commons (7.5 14), on Mr. L. George’s Budget: “The taxes on the rich provided revenue to be used for social reform purposes and must economically benefit the landlord and the employing class.”

Yet again, the same Philip, in the same speech: “If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was prepared to continue to use taxation not merely as a means of raising revenue but as a potent, if incomplete, method of social reform, he would be prepared to give him support.”

There, what base knave dare deny that one Philip, of Blackburn, is a Socialist. To all anti-Socialists he is a revolutionary of the most rabid type, because they do not understand Socialism.

* * *

This extract is not from an old file of the “Socialist Standard.” Mr. Arnold White writes a weekly article for the “Daily Express” entitled “Looking Round.” Sometimes he squints and sees “wisions,” yet on other occasions he sees things in their true perspective. In the issue of that organ of mal-education for 11 5.14, he says “Mr. Lloyd George’s scheme to provide aid from taxation for the feeding of necessitous school children appeals to warm hearts and soft heads. The plan is as old as Rome. To make the community help manufacturers to pay wages necessarily implied reduction of wages the limit to the fall of wages is automatically determined by the cost of bare maintenance of the labourer and his family. If the average subsistence rate of the lowest form of slum worker is £1 a week, and the average number of children is three, the labourer must be paid a pound a week, since he cannot exist on less. If, on the the other hand, the State steps in and helps to feed the children of unorganised labourers, the cost of subsistence will be less. Being subjected to unrestricted competition, the labourer, if he can live on less than £l a week, will take less.'” A Socialist could improve that very little.

Some people have heard of the London City Mission, a body, presumably of human beings, which held its 79th Annual Meeting on May 8th. During the course of the meeting, the Rev. T. S. Hutchison, M.A., must have felt relieved when he got the following off his chest: “Socialism, of a godless type, was said to be spreading rapidly among the working men, even to some extent among employees where the cooperative system had long existed, and where, but for the agitators, the men would be happy and contented. The result was the growth of discontent and unrest.” Dear readers, please shudder to oblige our dearly beloved vicar. Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the columns of the “Times,” that we, the feeble band, the few, are the cause of the great totality of wretchedness and discontent at present existent. Sir George Askwith is wrong when he attempts to settle strikes (in the masters’ interest) by haggling over wages and hours of labour. How much could he not learn, would he only sit at the feet of this far seeing disciple of the Prince of Peace ?

* * *

You have a working man earning a quid a week, and he is satisfied. His town house in Stepney and his country seat in Victoria Park provide delightful changes of scenery and atmosphere, guaranteed to revitalise any constitution accidentally undermined by the pure air of the sweat shop. So I could continue to describe the idyllic existence of the working man. To suggest any improvement would be to attempt to paint the lily. But stay, into the picture of contentment, slyly creeps the strife stirring Socialist. Without him all would be well. He can even surmount the protective barriers of co-operation and co-partnership. He seems all-powerful and he is of the godless type. If he believed in a god or worshipped a tram-ticket he might be tolerated. As he is, he is anathema.

Christian, Ragtime “Reynolds” here comee in useful. In its issue for 1.2.14 it said : “We should have thought that no man capable of two consecutive minutes’ thought still held the antiquated notion that strikes are due to the ‘agitator.’ The whole of the British unrest of the past three years has shown that the agitator is powerless where men have not genuine grievances.”

The missioner’s speech prompts me to ask, what was the cause of discontent before the godless Socialism existed? I could continue with questions, but the harrowing of Hutchison is too pitiful to contemplate. Besides, I might trouble him and make him discontented. And, I am a godless Socialist. Grrrh !

* * *

The manufacturer threw a belligerent chest. “arrest ’em,” he said. “If I had my way, I’d arrest every blighted Labour agitator.”

A gaunt figure, with a skull in place of the head, rose exultantly. “Then arrest me,” it cackled, capering. “I am the original stirrer up of those who do hard labour. I am the ancient breeder of discontent, the father of Socialists, the agitator of agitators. Arrest me.”

“But who are you?”

“I am Hunger.”

“Tut! tut!” said the manufacturer pleasantly, “Why should I arrest my best and chiefest Labour agent?”

Poor Hutch!

A. L. Cox.

It ain’t only a barrer that wants pushing; the “Socialist Standard” for instance. Not. ‘arf.

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