By the Way

At the time of writing these paragraphs there has been going on in the daily Press a considerable agitation with regard to the prices of foodstuffs. For a whole week glaring headlines have appeared intimating to all and sundry what the great man of the “Business Government” Lord Rhondda (formerly known as Mr. D. A. Thomas, of the Cambrian Combine) is going to do when he gets into his stride. How these men who are alleged to be the be-all and end-all of great commercial undertakings, possessed of the bump of directive ability and so forth, come and go is indeed pitiful to behold. To mention two only who have recently strutted across the stage and departed, leaving behind them a record of dismal failure, one might cite Lord Devonport and Neville Chamberlain. Other instances will readily suggest themselves to students of current events.

One of the articles of food which plays a very important part in our existence is meat, though, of course, we wage-slaves seldom become possessed of the historic “roast beef of old England,” our masters considering that the foreign variety suits our tastes, and also our pockets, better. However, to come to the price of this said meat, let me quote:

“Lord Inchcape, the chairman of the P. and O. Company, has raised the question of the price of Australian meat in a manner which cannot escape the notice of Lord Rhondda.
In a letter to the “Times” Lord Inchcape states that he is chairman of the company which owns the steamers that bring the frozen meat from Australia and therefore has inside knowledge. The meat is sold in Australia to the British Government at the following prices : beef 47-8d. per lb., mutton 65-8d. per Ib.
Under the arrangement made by Mr. Runciman two years ago the shipowners carry this frozen meat to this country at a freight of 1d. per 1b. If cost freight, two months interest, and cost of insurance is added, the meat is delivered on the quay in London at these prices : beef 63-8d. per lb. mutton 65-81d. per 1b.
The price of Colonial lamb in London stores just now varies from 1s. 3½d. per lb to 11s. 5½d per lb. In small butchers’ shops it is more.”—“Star,” June 22nd, 1917.

Now from the above it will readily be seen that some of our patriotic capitalists are doing a fine thing out of the war. While “our heroes” are bleeding for their masters’ country, our Business Government stands idly by looking at the profiteers bleeding the wives of the men at the front, and the remainder of the workers at home. When will the day dawn ?

* * *

The continual demand for men to keep up the strength of the Army is an additional factor for promoting the development of engineering science. With the taking from industry of men hitherto engaged in peaceful pursuits, an ever-increasing demand is made for what are called “labour-saving” devices. One of the latest of these is a machine for farms, and the claim is put forward that it takes the place of four men. The announcement reads :

“I have to-day witnessed a demonstration with a machine capable of doing the work of at least four men, and can be managed by one. It does away with “the man with the muck-rake.” There are no heaps to be spread ; the distribution is done by one operation.
The machine, which is a British patent, can spread, it is stated, a ten-acre field with manure in almost one-sixth of the time taken by hand labour.”—”Daily News,” June 9th, 1917.

From the foregoing it would appear that the war after the war will be very much intensified as a result of the advances which are being made in various directions, the case quoted being typical of many. How numbers of men are to regain possession of jobs which they held prior to enlistment, and which were promised them on their return from the field of battle, is an interesting question. It would seem that quite a number of these promises are of the pie-crust order. The scramble for work which is bound sooner or later to take place must inevitably lead to a general worsening of conditions of labour ; and the retention of the means and instruments of wealth production, including these so-called “labour-saving” devices, by the master class will be a curse instead of a power for good to the many. Work, then, for the social ownership of these necessary means of life which when thus owned will ensure more time for rest and recreation to those who use them.

* * *

On previous occasions reference has been made to the “patriotic” generosity of the master class. It is no new thing for these profiteers to seek to batten on the misfortunes of their wage-slaves. They are prepared at all times to suck the life-blood of the workers, whether they be men, women, or little children. In the course of debates on Pensions in the House of Commons some of the more honest members have frequently pointed out that the unscrupulous employer is always endeavouring to take advantage of the pension awarded to the discharged soldier in order to obtain his services cheaper than he otherwise would do. Recently I came across an advertisement which will further illus­trate the point. It is as follows :

“Army, navy, or police pensioners, or men invalided from either service, wanted as warehousemen ; wages 30s. to commence ; perm., with certain advancement to suitable men. Apply Kearley & Tonge, Ltd., etc.”—”Daily Chronicle,” June 19th, 1917.

As some people change their names during their lifetime, and working men have a habit of forgetting these facts, let me say at once that the late Sir Hudson Kearley is now Lord Devonport, and was until recently a prominent member of the win-the-war government. Now, it is the firm with which he is connected that issued the advertisement above referred to. Does he think 30s. a week sufficient to exist on in these days of high prices ? And what of the specious promises held out to “our heroes” who “kept the Huns from our door”? Verily, the precepts and the practices of our masters are as wide as the poles asunder.

* * *

I notice that the Discharged Soldiers and Sailors Association are running a candidate for the Abercromby Division of Liverpool. The other nominee is Lord Stanley, the 22 year old son and heir of Lord Derby. It would be interesting to learn why it is that this “soldier” son of the Secretary of State for War is seeking Parliamentary honours when so many other mothers’ only sons are sent to the trenches. Is St. Stephen’s so much safer even than the staff headquarters in France or Flanders ? And where is the “equality of sacrifice” ?

The workers of Abercromby should remember that the present Lord Derby, at the time he was Lord Stanley and Postmaster-General, referred to the Post Office workers as “bloodsuckers” when they were seeking better conditions of employment. And also that in supporting Mr. Hughes, the “soldiers’ candidate,” they are voting for a continuance of capitalist exploitation and the misery arising therefrom. The only effective means of putting an end to the dirty, mean and despicable practices of the international master class is by understanding Socialism and becoming one in the class-conscious army. When the workers generally have done this and, only then, will they be in a position to write “Finis” to the anomalies and injustices which arise from capitalist society, including this manifestation of hostility toward the re-examination of discharged and rejected soldiers.

* * *

The loftiness of those noble souls who form the Cabinet and who have recently agreed to grant a general amnesty to the Irish political prisoners is nicely set forth in the terms of the announcement. Mr. Bonar Law said :

“The Government, after long and anxious consideration of the position of the Irish political prisoners, have arrived at a decision which it is now my duty to announce. They feel that the governing consideration in the matter is the approaching session of the Convention upon which Irishmen themselves will meet to settle the difficult problem of the future administration of their country.”—”Daily News,” June i6th, 1917.

One can understand this act of condescension. With the loss of Nationalist seats to the Sinn Feiners and “our” protestations of concern and filial “affection for smaller nations,” the retort is being made in many quarters : What about your attitude toward Ireland ? It is said that America desires to see some concern shown for this country as well as for Belgium. And last but not least, it is just possible that by fixing up some kind of Home Rule the Government may be able to extend their recruiting campaign.

Notwithstanding the acts of grace on the part of the Government, a still larger expenditure of lotion will be required to eradicate the nasty taste left in the mouth as a result of the shootings in the early days of 1916.

* * *

The tit-bits that appear in the newspapers here regarding Russia and the revolution are of a very contradictory nature. However, some very interesting quotations do occasionally creep into the columns of the Press, as instance the following :

“The organ of the Council of Soldiers and Workmen’s Delegates, after quoting two English newspapers to the effect that the declaration of the Provisional Government and the pronouncements of the revolutionary leaders show that the Russian peace formula coincides with the British and French war aims, says :
“You are deceiving yourselves, gentlemen, or, rather, you are vainly striving to delude your fellow-countrymen concerning the real policy of the Russian revolution. The revolution will not sacrifice a single soldier to help you repair “historic injustices” committed against you. What about the “historic injustices” committed by yourselves and your violent oppression of Ireland, India, Egypt, and innumerable peoples inhabiting all the continents of the world ? If you are so anxious for ‘justice’ that you are prepared, in its name, to send millions of people to the grave, then, gentlemen, begin with yourselves.”—”Daily News,” May 30th, 1917.

After well chewing this delectable morsel I can quite conceive the need for sending the decoy ducks, Thorne, Henderson & Co., to Petrograd to counteract this rather frank statement of Russian opinion concerning the aspirations of their British and French Allies. Ireland, India, and Egypt ! A hit, a palpable hit, my masters !

* * *

It is recorded that the meek and lowly Nazarene once said : “A new commandment give I unto you that ye love one another.” But I read of a man of cod who came many many centuries after, and who lives on the cross instead of dying on it, that his gospel is one of “tar and feathers.” He is a whole-hogger for the war, and wants two tribunals set up, one for determining essential businesses and what individuals are essential to those businesses. The scheme is to apply to single men. Those, essential, according to this divine, “he would dress up in red and purple so that there would be no doubt that they should stay.” He then says :

“Every man not so dressed he would make his life such a burden to him that he would get out somehow or somewhere.”

The other tribunal to deal with Government departments is to work along somewhat similar lines. Says Dr. Furze, Bishop of Pretoria :

“Get everybody exempted who is essential to stay, and as to anyone not essential, give him a week to get to the front or to Potch (training camp), and if he did not get there in that period, tar and feather him.”—”Daily News,” May 24th, 1917.

The scheme suggested is worthy of a Christian parson ! A mission to clergymen is indeed necessary.

* * *

Is this a joke ? The Coal Controller recently announced that now is the time to store coal. Lots of four tons may be ordered at a time, but the total tonnage to any one private house from now up to September 30th is not to exceed twenty tons ! Twenty hundredweight would be a devil of a lot for most working-class families to pay for, and quite beyond their means of storing.

* * *

Mr. Bonar Law a short while ago made reference in the House to the profits of shipping companies during the war. The shipping interest is strongly entrenched in that place, which may possibly account for their unique position. He thus unburdened himself

“As an illustration of what profits shipowners had made, he mentioned that he himself had a few hundreds invested in shipping, and last year he received on his shares a dividend of 47 per cent., which was after excess profits duty had been deducted.”—”Daily News,” May 25th, 1917.

The thought arises in one’s mind that, seeing that the shareholders are doing so well, are the seamen and others working on the boats sharing is this increased prosperity, or is their reward only the increased risk of finding a watery grave ?

* * *

Many strange and incomprehensible things have happened during the last three years in what is called the “war for liberty.” A contributor to the “Daily News” (8.6.1917) who writes under the heading of “Under the Clock” draws attention to a notice which was exhibited at the works of the South Metropolitan Gas Co. Here it is :


“From and after this date no appointments to or engagements on the Company’s permanent or regular staff will be made until the close of the war. When peace is declared applicants for such positions will be required to produce satisfactory evidence of what they have done for their country in her hour of need.
19th August, 1914.
By Order.”

The “Daily News” writer says he objects to the last sentence, which suggests an inquisition that no private body ought to undertake. To which I say hear, hear. This is the firm where the employees have the doubtful blessing of a model system of co-partnership.

* * *

The present scribe recently came across an announcement that the Scottish burghs were allowing the sale of sterilized tuberculous meat, which was destined for the poor. Really, the poor are a long suffering lot, and one sometimes wonders when they will turn like the proverbial worm. However, to return to our sterilized beef, let me lift the following :

“While the Local Government Board is considering whether it will follow the example of Scottish burghs and permit the sale of sterilized meat, it is interesting to note that in a comprehensive report written by Dr. Howarth, Medical Officer of Health, City of London, he says : “In my opinion it would be inadvisable for the Corporation to undertake the sterilization of condemned meat with the object of subsequently selling it to the public.” –”Daily News,” June 1st, 1917.

True, members of our class build decent houses, but most of us live in bug hutches ; produce spacious and comfortable railway carriages, but are content to travel strap-hanging ; yet, at least, one hopes that our fellow workers will resent partaking of condemned meat which has been sterilized. If there is a shortage why not despatch this aforesaid meat to our old nobility for a change

* * *

We are still being urged to stave off the “German menace” by a more rigid economy of food-stuffs, and we are further informed that the latest key to victory is the kitchen. So to the whole bunch of keys already provided is added the skeleton key. But the way our masters muddle is enough to make the angels weep. Listen to this:

“The other afternoon I saw with my own eyes two piled-up lorries of putrid sides of bacon in process of conveyal through Paddington, what time such women of England as happened to be passing (and there were numbers of them) held their noses and did their best to cry “shame !”—”Daily Sketch,” June 21st, 1917.

* * *

When perusing the quotation which follows I thought I was reading an account of how the Germans treat British prisoners. The idea that such was not the case is almost unthinkable to one brought up in Christian England, and who is continually told that we English are clean fighters and love to play the game straight.

“Mr. G. Dyce Sharp writes “A story of how officers in charge of British prisoners divert themselves at the prisoners expense has recently come to my knowledge. The sister of one of the prisoners, who has just heard from him writes : ‘My brother then goes on to speak of the way in which the officer read through their letters, asking inquisitive questions about the writers jeered and commented upon the contents, and finally tore them up before their eyes. He thought it such fun that he took a fellow officer to enjoy it with him.’ These were English officers at an English barracks, and the prisoners in question were conscientious objectors.”—”Star,” June 22nd, 1917.

English militarism is on all fours with the Prussian variety.

* * *

The urgent need for men for the Army which we are again hearing a lot about, reminds us that there are quite a considerable number of sky pilots, or gentlemen of the cloth, who are firm believers in the righteousness of “our” cause and who are skulking around. Might I suggest a comb-out of the clerical profession beginning with my Lord Bishop of London, who, I notice, recently explained in Hyde Park to the procession he had led thitherward was no a pacifist one. He further stated that there were no more mistaken people than the consciencious objectors. “He had studied the Bible far more than they had, and his conscience was absolutely at peace as day by day he prayed for victory in the great cause.” (“Daily News,” June 11th, 1916.) How this divine is able to make so sweeping a statement one is at a loss to understand. His bald assertion that he has studied the Bible more than the objectors or I have cuts no ice. Then why is he so arrogant ? Has the mantle of the Pope fallen on his shoulders ?


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