Straws that show
And Genius, too !
It has been frequently stated in the columns of this journal that those who are divorced from the means of production are dependent upon those who own and control those means. The more capitalist society develops the more noticeable becomes this fact, and a host of other callings, apart from wage-labour, falls under its influence. Doctors, artists, writers, and those following other professional callings become ever more dependent upon different sections of the ruling class. Many individuals, in the anxious desire to escape the degradation and misery of wage-labour conditions, seek a livelihood by writing books. In many cases the books come under the ban of the publishers, because the contents are supposedly immoral or in other ways do not meet with the approval of those who control the reading matter of their slaves. Smarting under a sense of injustice, or in a wild endeavour to smash their way through the ring fence with which their exploiters have surrounded them, these writers occasionally resort to the law courts, but instead of getting redress for their grievances, they invariably emerge poorer, if wiser, people.
A case was recently brought into the courts by Miss Kenealy, who sued a well-known publishing firm for slander. It was contended that for years this firm had declined to accept Miss Kenealy’s books, and that they had circularised the libraries, thus preventing her from obtaining her living. Needless to say, judgment was given against her, whereupon Miss Kenealy caused a sensation in Court by taking poison.
The sequel to this was heard at Bow-st. on November 30th last, when Miss Kenealy was charged with attempting to commit suicide. The prisoner made the following statement :
“I wish to say it is not I who have attempted my life. It is these men who have attempted my life. He takes my life who takes the means whereby I live. For five years, your worship, these men have tried to destroy my livelihood. The moment I write a book—before I write a book—they have slanderous interviews with the circulating libraries, telling them the book is too immoral for publication, or that it contains a libel anything. No slander is too bad in order to ruin the sale of my book. I want to live. I do not want to die. I have no alternative but to drown myself or take poison.”
In modern society there are two classes, one of which own the means by which both live. In the struggle to live the workers have to manipulate the machinery to produce the wealth, which then becomes the property of the masters, who pay the workers a portion thereof—wages. Without the permission of the owners of the machinery and raw material the workers have no access to the means of living and so must starve. In the relentless struggle numbers do starve, while many commit suicide rather than face further misery. But to the Socialist it is the braver way to seek the cause of the trouble and fight it. The horrible manifestations of society can only be obliterated by organised action on the part of those who are dependent upon the owners of the means of life. The Socialist Party is a working-class organisation which has for its object the establishment of Socialism, a system of society wherein the wealth that has been socially produced shall be socially owned and controlled. To become apathetic and indifferent to the evils of present-day society is tantamount to the acceptance of their continuity. Join up !
Thrift and the Workers
In the previous issue of the “S.S.” an article was published on the above matter, but it would not be out of place to have a little more to say upon the subject.
It is safe to assert that at this time o’ day no sane person will deny that those who manipulate the means of wealth production are faced with a ceaseless struggle for existence, and that those who own and control those things live in affluent and luxurious idleness. The very basis of society presupposes the aforesaid conditions, and every worker knows that the wages he receives in exchange for his labour-power is, on the average, no more than sufficient to keep him physically fit to go on producing wealth for his master. Since the advent of the present holocast in Europe, many members of the working class have been engaged in the production of implements for the destruction of their fellow wage-slaves. By working terribly long hours these workers have been able to earn something more than their normal wages. The capitalist ministers, grasping at any opportunity to relieve their masters of the hateful process of paying for their own war, have continually called upon the workers either to put their “spare” cash in the War Loan, or to save it up for future hard times—in other words, practice the most rigid extemption in order that part of their wages may go into their masters banks to finance their masters’ war.
But in spite of the appeals of the gutter Press the capitalist ministers lament the fact that the workers fail to practice thrift, but prefer to indulge in riotous living.
The “Daily News and Leader,” anxious to serve the interests of those who own it, sent a special commissioner to Birmingham to enquire into the “prosperity” of the workers there, and the emissary reports as follows (6.12.15) :
“At the beginning of my enquiry I was met by an ostentatious display of wealth on the part of those who were formerly ‘comfortably off’ and are now well-to-do, or even wealthy. All observation goes to show that the most marked extravagance is being displayed in the matter of food. The character of the goods sold in the working-class districts has completely changed during the past six months, and daintiness seems to be steadily on the increase. Women who used to be regular purchasers of sixpenny margarine now scorn anything but one-and-sixpenny butter, and oddly enough, the old patrons of butter (those unfortunate fixed income people) patronise margarine. The best bacon and the best fresh meat, retailed at very high prices, are now purchased by the Birmingham ‘poor.’”
The capitalists and their filthy Press, whenever it suits their purpose to do so, start a campaign of calumny and insult against the workers, or, if it suits them better, soft-soap them over with calculated eulogy. Quite recently, for instance, Mr. Asquith stated that without the workers the war could not go on, that the ruling class depended upon the toilers to man the Army, and to supply food and munitions. Then comes Mr. Lloyd George with his assertion that the munition workers were malingering. Not to be outdone in heaping insult on the workers the Press, besides giving great prominence to the speeches of these, ministers, takes up the cudgels on the capitalists’ behalf, and hurls epithets with vigour. The fact that thousands of single men did not join their masters’ fighting forces was sufficient reason for ridiculing and insulting them with much bitterness. First the “slacker” was hiding behind his mother’s skirt, or waiting to rob the new recruit of the job he had just left. Then the employers were urged to compel their men of military age to join up, and thousands, faced with starvation, attested.
But the blackest crime of all those committed by the class that malinger, and shirk, and drink, and slack appears to be that they presume to buy butter instead of that muck, margarine, to purchase bacon and other high-priced things that they produce but are not expected to eat. They even are alleged to be guilty of buying pianos on the hire-purchase system, and of clothing themselves far above their station, in the cast-off habiliments of their betters.
It seems almost inconceivable that the only useful class in society, the class that does all the necessary work of the community, should ignore the challenge conveyed in their masters’ talk of thrift. When Asquith was criticised over the pooling of the Cabinet plunder, he very quickly screamed out that no one should dictate to him how he should spend his salary. It is to the source of the great spending powers of men like Asquith, Lloyd George, Churchill, and so on, not to speak of the larger fry whom these men are so handsomely paid to serve, that the members of the working class should turn their attention when they are sermonized on the subject of thrift. They will commence to be thrifty directly they do so.
C. F. C.