By the Way
While exhortations to economy are frequently made to the organised workers of this land and posters are lavishly displayed on every hand telling us to wear our old boots and clothes, &c., (which we do from sheer necessity), one finds a great difficulty in noticing any regard being paid to this advice by members of that class which neither toils nor spins, but yet, even in war time, manages to live, move and have its being under somewhat similar conditions to those which obtain in the piping time of peace. Large portions of the daily newspapers are occupied in extolling the beauties of the latest creations in ladies’ headgear, at prices which many of us slaves have to put in several weeks’ work to obtain. Afternoon coats, as per sketch, we are told are really cheap at 5½ guineas. Ye gods, my fellow workers, are you content to slave from morning till late at night in order to keep in idleness and luxury an indolent, parasitic class ? You produce the best and yourselves use the shoddy. Think it out. Shake off the chains which bind you, and join in the fight for Socialism—the only fight that will benefit the world’s workers. Arise from your slumbers !
There recently appeared in the Press an announcement of great importance to the working class—that class the members of which now receive 30 shillings on their coming in and 5 shillings on their going out of this (as our holy Joe friend would say) “vale of tears.” Provided always the necessary payments have been made in the first case, and in the latter that you are able to “keep on shuffling along” to the allotted span of three score years and ten.
A week or two since we were informed that strawberries at a guinea a box are one of the super-luxuries of war time, and the announcement goes on to say :
“The fruit has been on sale at this price in the west-end, each box containing about 50 strawberries nestling separately in a leafy wrapper. For a basket of 20, 7s. 6d. was asked yesterday.” “Daily Chronicle,” 18.3.16.
One can imagine the rush that would be made on receipt of this news by those who were de¬scribed by Mr. McKenna at the meeting of Organised Labour and National Economy as being in receipt of “large wages” and which had been “lavishly spent.”
Yet another war tragedy is at hand. Under the heading of “Broken by the War: Wounded soldier and mother live on 12s. 2d a week.” Although we read from time to time of the great interest taken in “our heroes” by our politicians and how their sympathies are directed to “these hard cases,” time after time fresh illustrations come to light of the generosity of a grateful country. One of the most recent is that referred to above which goes on to say:
“It was stated at a Battersea inquest yesterday . . . that the man joined the R.F.A. at the outbreak of the war, and, after having been twice wounded, was granted a pension of 4s. 8d. a week. His mother earned 7s. 6d. a week and the two lived on 12s. 2d. a week. . . . The family were too poor to pay for his burial.” “Daily Chronicle,” 5. (.16.
In the notes of the Parliamentary Correspondent of the “Daily Chronicle” a short time since, the writer, in dealing with the question of the recruiting of married men with money and the Government’s intention in regard to their liabilities, made a very significant admission. He stated that:
“The grievance is essentially a middle-class one, as the standard of life in the homes of manual workers is on the whole satisfactorily maintained by the scale of separation allowances in respect of the wife and the children. These allowances have no relation to the class of men who have heavy rents and insurance payments to pay and it is precisely this class that bulks largely in the residue of unenlisted married men. . . .”
Hush ! Hold your breath. It hath at last come to pass that one who knows has spoken, and he admits that a number of those who are supporters of the capitalist system of society and who have money have not yet gone into the army. But that is not all. He further adds :
“. . . but this particular section of the community is not largely represented in the men already serving.”—”Daily Chronicle,” 34.3.16.
Who are the slackers now ? No doubt by “middle class” men is chiefly meant the smaller capitalists ; but, what is true of the smaller fry is even more true of the bigger fish. They are “doing their bit” chiefly by “doing” the workers. The wage-slave, who has nothing to fight for, has to fight for those that have. And how the hireling liars of the capitalist class contradict themselves ! On the one hand we are told that the worker is, in civil life, “prosperous” and well paid, and on the other, as this parliamentary scribe admits, the standard of comfort in his home is “satisfactorily maintained” by the miserable army separation allowance !
Of late we have heard much of one W. M. Hughes, who is paying a visit to this country—obviously in the interest of his pay masters—for we are informed that he is here for the purpose of negotiating matters of business and trade on behalf of Australia.
In times past we have heard much of the “benelicient labour legislation” in Australia, which land has been described by emigration agents as a veritable El Dorado for the workers. A recent specimen of “Labourism” is to hand, and from an Australian paper I will quote one extract. A series of Regulations are printed over the heading of “War Precautions Extended.” The choicest of which is as follows :
“28c. The printer or publisher of any newspaper, periodical, or other publication shall not, without the permission of an officer of the censorship staff (i), print or publish any statement to the effect or from which it can be inferred that any alteration, addition, or omission has been made by the censorship in any matter submitted to it ; or (2) print any matter which has been submitted to the censorship in such a way as to show or suggest that any alteration, addition, or omission has been made by the censorship ; or (3) print or publish any statement to the effect that publication of such matter has been forbidden.” — “The Socialist,” Melbourne, 4.2.16. [A paper that has suffered severely from the censor.]
After having well digested this morsel, one is inclined to the belief that “Labour government” goes even further in matters of repression than Austria, Germany or England. Australia seems the only place where it is a crime to even suggest that, the censor has gagged one.