Baby Week

The city of London has been en fete for a whole week. Members of the idle master class gathered in large numbers at classic Westminster in order to do honour to the resurrection era of King Baby. Never since the days following the Great Plague has “Mother’s boy” been so sincerely greeted, and fondled, and feted, as during this right royal national reception. Ladies of the highest title and social standing took upon themselves the honourable task of tickling the tootsiess of mere working-class kiddies what time they showered congratulations upon their beaming mothers.

Let it be most distinctly understood that the object of all this chivalrous attention was to do honour to WORKING-CLASS babies. Should you be so indiscreet as to inquire why the “sunbeams” of our particular class should be singled out for this shower of sentiment I should merely suggest that it arises from the fact of these ladies of title having no children of their own, comparatively speaking.

Why have they no children of their own, you ask. Well, sir, my lady has her form to consider, as well as her position in society, in addition to which, childbirth is a rather painful and disagreeable process.

And how comes, you again ask, that, during the progress of the world’s greatest war so many ladies—and gentlemen—are able to find so much time to spare when so many humbler folk are in the trenches or the munition works ? Ah ! to be coloured like a canary or disfigured in an explosion is not fashionable in high society, nor, come to that, is—WORK !

But what is the reason for this celebration of “Baby Week” ? It appears to our masters that the male population of the British Isles is falling to alarmingly proportions, and that the death rate among children of working-class parentage has increased to dangerous limits. The reasons advanced for the high mortality are many and varied. One newspaper ascribes it to “Slums, dirt, disease, drink, ignorance, and virmin.”

The inclusion of drink as a contributary cause is only to be expected, for the bosses’ agents always declare that “drink is the basic cause of poverty.” It is, of course, a deliberate lie. The working man is poverty-stricken before ever he starts to purchase drink. Apart from this, the price of drink has placed it almost beyond the reach of poor people at the very time that infant mortality is reaching its highest point.

In the present period it matters not so much whether your child is born in the legitimate manner or not, so strangely has capitalist society transformed its moral code in order to fall in with supply and demand. This come-down in social morality is all the more notable because it strikes such a staggering blow at the foundation of the Christian Church. A slight idea of what is taking place may be gathered from a perusal of the following extract:

“The time has gone when people turned up their noses at illegitimate children, and now these, as well as legitimate children, are welcome, so long as they are healthy,” said Coroner Graham at an inquest held at Gateshead.”-“News of the World,” 8.7.1917.

This spectacle of the unfortunate girl who dared to give birth to a child out of wedlock now being fawned upon as a desirable member of society by those who never hesitated to ‘down” her would afford an interesting study for a cynical philosopher. Still, in these days when those who should have been the fathers of the future are dying like flies, the upkeep of the children of whatever parentage is of vital consequence to the British capitalists.

At London celebrations of “Baby Week” numerous speakers referred to the imperative duty of every working-class wife bearing children for the benefit of the State. No serious proposal, however, was made as to the State aiding her in feeding the children she bore.

The patrons of “Baby Week” would admit, doubtless, that they regard it as a matter for general regret that Mr. McNiell’s “war baby” prophecy was not more true than it proved to be.
Had it been the necessity for a “Baby week” might never have arisen.

Just at the time when people are wailing about the paucity of good, healthy children it behoves us to look back in order to see how carefully babies were looked after in pre-war days. Referring to our London milk supply Lionel W. Lyde, M.A., F.R.G.S., Professor of Economic Geography in University College, London, wrote some few years back the following significant statement :

“For our huge city population the milk supply is miserably deficient. Holland, which is only about about one-tenth the size of the United Kingdom, has about 4,000,000 more cows ; more than a quarter of our milk supply is used for making butter and cheese ; hundreds of gallons go bad every day, because the poor cannot afford the price demanded for it ; and a large proportion of the milk which is sold in poor districts is watered, especially in London and on Sundays.”

When we recall that countless children of working-class parentage have died because pure milk has been beyond their mother’s slender purses, the damnable character of the practice of destroying foodstuffs in order to keep up prices becomes increasingly apparent.

As a concluding comment. I would commend to the reader the appended statement made by A. A. Phillips, M.B.C.M., late Medical Officer ol Public Health, Northern Divisions of Scotland, in his book, “What a Young Husband Should Know” :

“The change in social conditions, the modern struggle for life, has brought women everywhere into competition with men. Look at as we may, like it or dislike it as it pleases us, it becomes daily more clear that women are being FORCED into sexlessness by causes which are beyond our or their control.”

When you are tired, therefore, of listening to the usual humbug of the master-class agents regarding the size of your family as distinct from their own, you might reasonably examine the Socialist case. Wake up now, for the age of enlightenment is upon you. Think out your position and study the only means whereby you may free yourself from the tyranny and oppression of capitalism. Only when you have done this can you satisfactorily solve the question of the number of children who should be brought into the world. Arm yourself against the menace of modern society, and march in the already singing army whose voice rings out the glad words : “The International unites the human.”

B. B. B.

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