By the Way

We have grown accustomed of late to hearing all sorts and conditions of men dubbed Socialists, and on seeking for the evidence in support thereof one has to admit that there is not the slightest pretext whatever for making such a claim. Only a few months ago we read of “Runciman’s Socialism,” because of this gentleman’s action with regard to shipping and sugar. In the interest of capitalist society, as affected by the war, it was expedient that some sort of modification and control should take place ; but to call even this slight State interference Socialism is indeed fatuous.

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With the break-up of the Coalition Government and the formation of a National Government, once again this idiotic statement of “Socialism” on the instalment principle is trotted out. In perusing that organ of Liberalism and “Voluntaryism,” the “Daily Chronicle,” Dec. 8, 1916)—the editor of which might profit from a study of Socialism—I find the following :

“Whatever prove to be the details of the policy thus sketched out, it is evident that Mr. Lloyd George has it in his mind to introduce a sort of war Socialism on a very extensive scale. For this the nation, we believe, will be quite ready in principle, provided the knotty practical problems which it involves are skilfully solved in detail.”

The policy referred to above is Government control of industry and the regulation of supplies and retail prices of foodstuffs. Of course the nation will be “quite ready” for any “sort of War Socialism” that will enable our capitalist masters to still retain their hold over the workers, and which also permits them to get away with the “swag.”

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In the same article reference was made to “Conscription of wealth in a form not yet fully explained.” The vagueness of this phrase is delightful. Whilst conscription of the workers may become an accomplished fact, both for military and industrial purposes, one is hardly able to conceive the idea of Parliament promoting a bill to take in like manner the surplus wealth of the capitalist class. Verily, verily, I don’t think, my brethren !

A few days later an appeal was made on behalf of the new War Loan and an offer of 5¼ per cent, in return for subscribing thereto was the bait hold out to the “patriotic.” Mr. Bonar Law in his speech said :

“We make this appeal on one ground—it is strong enough—and that is the sense of patriotism. But perhaps I may be permitted to say—and it is not unimportant—that anyone who invests in this Loan will do not a bad transaction. He will invest on better terms than have ever been possible in the past, and, I venture to express the belief, on better terms than he will ever get in the future.”
—”Daily News,” Jan. 12th, 1917.

In another portion of the speech one reads that the Chancellor asks “Shall it ever be said of us that we were willing to give our sons, but not willing to give our money?” Ye gods ! Fancy talking about giving our money at 5¼ per cent. and at the same time being informed that this is an opportunity to “invest on better terms than have ever been possible in the past.” It would appear that these high-minded, noble, “patriotic” souls will only give, no, pardon me, lend their money conditional upon a substantial rate of interest being offered in return.

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During the progress of the war we have heard a great deal with regard to the dilution of labour scheme, and of the necessity for the introduction of labour of the female variety in what in times past had been regarded as the sole domain of the male. While in many instances the employment of women has grown to an appreciable extent, I recently came across an illustration where circumstances alter cases, dontcherknow. The use of women in certain trades and callings may be all right in order to obtain more men for cannon fodder, but heaven forbid that women should trespass on the preserves of the legal fraternity. The announcement states :

“The General Council of the Bar . . . rejected by an overwhelming majority . . . a resolution . . that the General Council should report on the advisability of admitting duly qualified women to the profession.”—”Daily Sketch,” Jan. 19th, 1917.

From which it would appear that this highly organised body are not taking on any of the “dilution” of labour which its leading lights insist upon for others. Is the trade too dirty for women ?

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Reference was recently made in a leading article of a weekly paper to the coming Labour Conference, and to the fact that there were down for discussion various resolutions dealing with the attitude of Labour towards the Coalition Government. The writer went on to ask “Should its representatives (Labour) merely play the part of critics, or should they take a share in the work ?” Following on this was a statement that a Pensions Ministry and a Labour Ministry had been created, and then a further question was asked, i.e., “Would Labour rather see George Barnes and John Hodge responsible for the conduct of those Departments or see them in the hands of ordinary Liberals or Tories ?” For my part I should prefer to see them in the occupation of plain and straight Liberals or Tories, rather than of office-seekers masquerading in the guise of Labour, who, at bottom, are nothing more than hangers-on of the late Liberal Government. (Quotations from “Reynolds’s,” Jan. 21, 1917.)

Further, it might also be borne in mind that Hodge’s first act in his role of Minister for Labour was to order back to work a number of workers who had gone on strike, with the threat of issuing a proclamation under the Munitions Act should there be any failure on their part to do so. Good capitalist henchman, this !

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The confusion that exists in the ranks of the Labour movement is indeed lamentable. Small wonder is it, therefore, that the Labour shark is able to batten on the ignorance of the workers. Further point is added to this when one reads that at the coming Conference a resolution to the effect “That this Conference, believing that the continuance of this war can only bring further disaster to the workers . . . demands that the Government shall use all its efforts to bring it to an end by negotiation.” Then comes an amendment to the above suggesting the deletion of certain words and inserting others which then reads : “That this Conference declares that the invasion of Belgium and France by the German armies threatens the very existence of independent nationalities and strikes a blow at all faith in treaties. In these circumstances a victory for German Imperialism would be the defeat and destruction of democracy and liberty in Europe, and pledges us to fight until victory is achieved.”

One might go on to quote other instances of this kind to show the utter lack of unity in the labour world today. A clear recognition of their position founded on the class struggle would tend to remove these absurd and harmful misconceptions, and the day of the “labour leader” would then have passed away. Help, then, to spread the light of Socialism !

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The “Daily Chronicle” (Dec. 21, 1910) commenting on the appointment of a Director-General of National Service says: “If the new plan for mobilising and organising labour can be worked energetically along voluntary lines, it may contribute a good deal towards concentrating the nation’s activities on the things which really help to carry it through the war. Attempts to introduce compulsion in this field would meet with much greater difficulty ; and we echo the Prime Minister’s hope that no need may arise for them.” (Italics mine.)

Does the “Chronicle” mean that if compulsion were applied to the idlers and shirkers in the capitalist ranks that it “would meet with much greater difficulty” ? Anyway, let those same remember that compulsion for the Army commenced “along voluntary lines.”

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The muddling methods of our masters, like “the peace of God,” “passeth all understanding.” The other day I noticed an announcement that the “Class C 3″ men were to be used as substitutes for the men engaged in agriculture who had been exempted and were about to be called up. Next appeared an intimation that as a result of a conference some modification was likely to take place.

At a time when we are invited to turn our back-yards into potato and cabbage patches this taking away of essential men is, forsooth, ludicrous. From a highly patriotic paper I cull the following :

“Either there is a serious food and shipping question in this country, or there is not. If there is, the proposal to takeaway from the already over-depleted farms some 20,000 or 30,000 of their remaining workers looks like lunacy. If there is not, why has any fuss been made about it, why has a food controller been necessary, why do we eat war bread, and why did Mr. Prothero himself describe the situation of our island as that of a beseiged city ?”

After dealing with the diminished wheat acreage of last year, owing to the heavy recruiting in the villages, the article continues:

“The announcement now made will be received with something like consternation by farmers throughout the country. Beside such a direct blow to our organised food-production the ploughing up of a few hundred acres of the royal parks, and even, the conversion of a few thousand acres of vacant cites into allotments, become a hollow make-believe.”—”Daily Chronicle,” Jan. 17th, 1917.

With regard to the second announcement on this topic it would seem to be a case of confusion worse confounded. Let me again quote from the same source:

“An important man-power conference took place yesterday, at which Mr. Prothero as well as Lord Derby was present. The tone of the Minister for Agriculture’s recent public reference to the C 3 men, who are promised to the farmers as “substitutes” indicates that he is himself under no delusions as to their unsuitability. C 3 men have all, it must be remembered, been pronounced by their medical examiners to be unfit not merely for soldiering of any kind, but for work in “labour units” or on “regimental outdoor employments” in this country ; and except in those rare cases where they have had previous farm experience, these “piano-tuners” and clerks and similar sedentary workers can seldom earn their keep at agriculture within the duration of the war.”—”Daily Chronicle,” Jan. 20th, 1917.

In the scramble for “men and still more men” to regain possession of Belgium and France, and incidentally, of course, Constantinople, not forgetting other commitments to the remaining gallant Allies, our masters find the subject a somewhat difficult one, hence the endeavour to fit what are evidently square pegs into round holes. The whole business is a glaring example of the “directive ability,” much boomed in days gone by, of the master class.


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