The Reward of Charity

The trite old adage, ”Charity covers a multitude of sins,” can be exemplified to-day in many ways. One can hardly look at a daily paper, for instance, without finding most pathetic appeals for contributions to the maintenance of hospitals, orphanages, homes, and the like.

Such institutions are a feature of modern society in the “piping times of peace,” when the hatchet is buried and the sword lies rusty in its sheath—and each worker has his hand at the throat of his fellow in the competition for jobs. Such institutions, indeed, are part of the masters’ insurance against the workers realising the extent to which they are robbed.

However, we are living in time of war. Yes, and that but makes the position worse; for the so-called charitable institutions of peace times find their struggle for existence more intensified through having to meet the rivalry of innumerable funds having some connection with the war, and all having, broadly speaking, the same object in view, yet all in deadly rivalry with each other.

Why this rivalry ? At the inception of the “National” War Relief Fund it was stated that the one fund would cover every case of distress caused by the war. Would it be uncharitable to mention the many salaries and pickings for officials which the funds provide ?

These “charitable” concerns, whether pro- or post-war organisations, have for their object the mopping up of the mess engendered by the capitalist system, notwithstanding that the ostensible reason for their existence is to relieve the “deah poah.” The organisers and others connected with them know full well that while they can keep the workers contented, and therefore docile, this, coupled with an abysmal ignorance of their class position, must mean the most efficacious safeguard of the exploiters’ position.

It looks very nice to see healthy specimens of the predatory class running about organising shows of all kinds for returning a little of the wealth they have stolen to those from whom they have stolen it —the workers. But we Socialists suggest the possibility of obviating the need for these degrading institutions. “Charity” being a necessary feature of capitalism, it will disappear only when the working class end the capitalist system. Let the workers, then, banish the hateful charity-mongers by overthrowing their social system and establishing the Socialist Commonwealth.


(Socialist Standard, October 1915)

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