By the Way
Interesting statistics with regard the number cf schools, with their accommodation, are furnished in a blue book issued recently on public education in England and Wales during 1912-1913.
One point stands out beyond all others—the innocents—265 special schools are necessary for defective and epileptic children, with a total accommodation for 20,333, whilst the certified schools for blind and deaf children numbered 89, with room for 6,782.
An official return issued on December 26th states that 63 persons in all died of starvation during 1913, eight of whom were old age pensioners. In each case coroners’ juries found the specific cause of death was due to starvation.
Another year of office by our Liberal reform-mongering politicians leaves the working class in much about the same position as it found them, whist eight old people, who were to be “raised from the slough of pauperism to the dignity and the comparative comfort of State pensions” have starved like sparrows in the snow on Liberal liberality !
Our masters and their agents, who provide the latest form of entertainment—at a price—and bid us “walk in : we are now showing, see the world from an armchair,” are now booming; the “war pictures” for all they are worth. In this connection a cinema prospectus affords interesting reading. One paragraph particularly deserves notice.
“Few people outside of the trade are aware that nearly all War Pictures are ‘faked’ or ‘manufactured’ by capable Cinema Actors with appropriate stage settings. The cost under efficient management is very small, and particularly to at the present moment when so many actors are out of employ. The profits of film production are simply enormous. . . . The demand is continuous, as each Theatre must have fresh pictures every few days to attract patronage. . . . The average picture film costs about 9d. per running foot to produce, and is hired out to theatres at 2d. per foot for three consecutive days, so that in a fortnight the initial outlay is already fully secured.” (Italics mine.)
The above affords a good illustration of our masters’ patriotism—and keen desire for profit. When the jaded worker seeks relaxation from his monotonous round of toil, the British capitalist will provide him with some “faked” war pictures, produced cheaply “when so many actors are out of employ.” And perchance some recruit may be gained to defend “our honour” and our profits.
That present-day patriotism and profit are interdependent is shown by the following figures published by the Dutch Government and quoted by “Reynolds’s Newspaper,” December 6th, 1914 :
“The quantity of tea sent into Germany from Holland during
September and October 1913 1,028,356 lbs.
September and October 1914 6,328,464 lbs.
and the exports of cocoa from Holland to Prussia for
October 1913 1,038,400 lbs.
October 1914 7,581,200 lbs.”
Any person who could be base enough to imagine that British tea and cocoa dealers ship their commodities to Holland as the best way of getting them into Germany is a traitor to the flag and should be taken out at daybreak and shot.
The exportation of tea has now been prohibited despite the efforts of one of the London M.P.’s to prevent the Government from taking action.”
“In an article by Mr. Keir Hardie in yesterday’s ‘Pioneer’ (Merthyr) he says: ‘I have never said or written anything to dissuade our young men from enlisting. I know too well all there is at stake.’ “(“Manchester Guardian,” November 28th, 1914.)
Does he speak from the £400 per annum point of view ?
We are informed by the “Manchester Guardian” of December 9th, 1914, that: “Since the outbreak of the war about 150 Boy Scouts have been employed by the military offices in the city [York], and by an arrangement between the military and the Education Committee the boys are employed in weekly relays, spending one week at school and one week at their other duties. The arrangement has proved a great success, and other educational authorities are considering the advisability of adopting it.”
Doubtless the end in view is a two-fold one, for by using boy-labour the employers obtain a cheap variety, and the men who otherwise might find employment in these offices are available for the recruiting officer.
In perusing the leading article in “Reynolds’s” of November 29th, 1914, the present writer was somewhat surprised at the child-like simplicity of the writer of the article in question, for believing that the British capitalists would, in time of war, act more conscientiously than they had done in the past. Let me quote :
“We had hopes when the present war started that the seriousness of our position and the general feeling of patriotism, of moral uplifting and national unity, would have purged the nation of its baser elements. We sincerely believed that it was impossible for the intolerable scandals of the past to be repeated. . . From all reports we were too optimistic ; we rated . . . . the integrity of a section of our traders and merchants too high … If a tenth of the charges that are being levelled against contractors and officials in Government Departments are true, then the old, old scandals of the Crimea, the Mutiny, and the Transvaal are being repeated . . . Allowing for all the exaggeration that may creep into the charges that are being made, there is still sufficient evidence to prove that the charges are not without foundation.”
This, then, from a capitalist organ which has for weeks been telling us that “our honour” and “our integrity” were at stake! We should imagine from the foregoing that our masters have nigh on exhausted the before-mentioned honour and integrity.
And again, after referring to the charge that the Government is being made the victim of combines or rings of manufacturers who manipulate prices, comes the charge that the goods supplied are of inferior quality. “With regard to the second matter there is no difficulty whatever ; the facts stare us in the face. We have watched some of the regiments of the new army as they drilled or paraded the streets. Their uniforms were of the veriest shoddy ; their boots were of paper, they were neither properly clothed nor well shod.”
What an unclean thing is Capitalism. It begets rings, combines, shoddy clothes, shaky little wooden huts, horror of horrors, “the food in many cases is still reported to be scandalous.”
The writer in “Reynolds” asks: “What do Britons deserve who, in this her hour of greatest need, attempt to enrich themselves at the expense of the comfort, the health, and even the lives of Britain’s defenders ?” and closes by stating that: “One section of our patriots are lip patriots only ; the realm to which they own honest allegiance is the realm of 50 per cent. If they can make it out of the British Government, good ; if not, well can they not do business with—Holland.”
The capitalist class at all times enriches itself at the expense of the comfort, the health, and even the lives of the working class, and the only solution is for an intelligent working class to dispossess the master class of those things needful for the well-being of the whole of society.
“And for those also, O Lord, the humble beasts, who with us bear the burden and the heat of the day, and offer their guiltless lives for their countries, . . .” (Lady Paget in the “Daily Chronicle,” 6.1.15.)
Two guesses—who does she mean ?