By the Way

The contempt of the master class for the workers is seldom so clearly shown as in the discussion which took place on foreign policy prior to the House of Commons adjourning for the summer recess. Several speakers had been presenting the point of view that foreign policy is the exclusive affair of the foreign office, and, as a contemporary states, that everybody else ought to be kept off the sacred grass. It goes on to say that “The time has gone by for the Cecils or any other governing family to expect the people to put their trust blindly in them and their officials. Lord Hugh Cecil, in a lofty lecture to the workers on their unfitness to meddle with foreign policy, says:

“Labour is quite unfit mentally and by training to deal with the questions that will come under discussion ; in fact, I would as soon send a child of three up in an aeroplane as let the Labour Party send delegates to Stockholm.”

The article continues “Labour is fit to fight and die by the hundred thousand, but it is not fit to decide for itself what it shall fight and die for ! . . . It is preposterous to pretend that the millions of workers can be treated like children, and given the war or the peace that the high priests think good for them. It is theirs to do and die : It is also theirs to know the reason why.” (“Star,” 18.8.1917.)

We move even though slowly. It is at last beginning to dawn upon some that those who are called upon to do the fighting, and also the suffering, should likewise know what the trouble is all about; that they should no longer be the pawns of kings and diplomats ; and why they should continue to offer themselves upon the altar for capitalist gain. For, after all, to the imprisoned wage slave what does it matter what kind of flag sets the seal to his slavery ?

The gratuitous insult hurled at the workers by the “cultured” Lord is an eloquent example of the narrowness of vision of our masters and pastors. The workers are fit mentally and by training to produce wealth, which they hand over to the employing class, and which ensures a life of ease and idleness to the Cecils and their tribe. Some day ere long we hope to see the workers rise triumphant in their might and throw the parasites from off their backs and end forever the domination of these noble nonentities.

* * *

The assumption of the Cecil type of individual that they and they alone are the people fit to rule and shape the destiny of mankind is easily seen to be false by even the most cursory glance at current events. One has only to briefly examine such things as the munitions muddle, the food question, and so on, to observe what frightful confusion they have brought into being. The crowning infamy of all is to be found in the Mesopotamian Commission Report (published at 2s.), which is a sorry spectacle of lack of business ability and mediocre mentality of those entrusted with the campaign. At a future date I hope to give some extracts.

* * *

In the “Evening News” (7.8.1917) I read: “The paper used by the British and Foreign Bible Society for its cheap editions of the Scriptures cost just 2d. a lb. in pre-war times.” It would be interesting to know what the pay of the workers producing paper to be sold at 2d. per lb. at a profit might have been in those far-off days. Was it a case of getting their reward in “heaven” ?

* * *

The same source informs all and sundry that “The Clergy of Willesden Parish Church have been granted war bonuses.” Evidently a case of “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

* * *

The new honours list is an interesting document. How the capitalist powers that be estimate the value of the labour misleaders is clearly shown in the lavish bestowal of these new honours. One error seems to have occurred. Should not they have been created “Dames” of the order ? A good reference to some of them occurs in an article in the “Daily News” (25.8.17) which asks:

“Is it seriously possible to pretend that Mr. Appleton, for instance, or Mr. Havelock Wilson have performed services to the Empire so conspicuous that they deserve recognition which is not conferred on the mass of men who have been fighting abroad for the last two or three years ?”

Verily they have deserved the “Well done thou good and faithful servant” of the capitalist class in so far as they have diverted the attention of their dupes from things that really matter.

* * *

A farewell dinner was recently given to the departing Premier of New South Wales. As is usual at these functions a large amount of gas was let off. Our of the English Labour members, Mr. G. N. Barnes, in supporting the toast of Mr. Holtnan’s health, delivered himself of the following :

“He did not agree with the talk about “class consciousness.” He never endorsed the phrase nor had he any sympathy with those who talked on those lines, because class consciousness and class war engendered bitterness and an atmosphere of suspicion, out of which nothing good could come. There was something infinitely superior, and that was social consciousness.”—”Daily News,” 28.8.17.

Of course, when one attains to such heights as Cabinet rank it is quite easy to understand how respectable such people become. But surely the time has arrived when the workers should take a leaf from the book of the masters, and look to their CLASS interest—the only class that matters is the working class. The master class organises along class lines, though some may be Liberal while others are Conservative, yet they combine in order to dominate and rob the workers. Just prior to the war our liberty-loving masters established a 50 million pound fund wherewith to fight labour, proving conclusively thereby the existence of the CLASS-WAR, which our sycophant “friend,” Barnes, deprecates hearing anything about during the war. To-day there is “national unity”; the labour leader decoys are busy kidding the lambs of labour to lie down with the capitalist lion.

The “class,war engenders bitterness,” and it is our aim to accentuate this. Would Barnes have us kiss the hands of his cold and callous capitalist friends who strike us ? Let him read the history of the working class under capitalist rule—a long chapter of oppression and murder most foul and bloody. Let him give up also speaking in the name of labour. Labour is sick unto death of him and his kidney.

* * *

One of the facts we Socialists frequently point out is that rates of wages are determined by thr cost of living, and it is interesting and instructive to receive confirmation of this from capitalist sources. When the Corn Production Bill left the Commons the minimum rates were to be fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board appointed for the whole country. This Board was to receive advice from the District WTages Committee, but was not to be bound by it. The Lords reversed the position of the central and local bodies, and the “Daily Chronicle” (20.8.1917), commenting on this says :

“The change has doubtless been made to please the farmers, who can expect to overbalance the local committees much more easily than the Central Board. It is a disastrous change, not merely for that reason, but because the Central Board alone could be expected to make a really scientific survey of the question, and to fix rates not by higgling and guesswork, but in the light of thorough data as to cost of living, prices, cottage rents, and the wages paid in other industries. The whole of the large experience now available from the fixing of minimum wages under the Trade Boards Act tells dead against the transfer from the centre to the locality proposed by the House of Lords. There is really nothing to be said for it, except that it is a cleverly disguised class-manoeuvre in the interests of the agricultural employers.”

Another instance of the Press letting the cat out of the bag.

* * *

From a review of a book entitled, “Under Fire,” I cull the following which states there is nothing in war except “frightful and unnatural weariness, water up to the belly, mud and dung and infamous filth . . . befouled faces . . .. tattered flesh” (Daily News, 17.8.1917.) Some opportunity yet for the fight to a finish type of person to sample the above, not in picnic tours to the front but in real equality of sacrifice style. “Greater love hath no man,” etc., we have heard a lot about. Deeds not words, my masters.

* * *

The war for freedom, honour and truth brings in its wake a steady yet persistent policy of suppression and doctoring of news items. This is only part of what takes place, for in addition to the above there is another feature, that of “elaborating” what are called successes. In the columns of the “Daily Telegraph” (13.9.1917), under the heading “Inaccurate War News,” their New York correspondent states :

“The Publicity Department of the Admiralty at Washington, established to give “war news,” yesterday announced that American warships off the coast of France in one fell swoop had sunk six submarines. Naturally we had special editions, and joy bells rang everywhere. In succeeding reports, however, the sinkings diminished from six to one,, and regarding that one there is much doubt. . . . In the case of the Fourth of July victory, Mr. Daniels, Secretary of the Admiralty, and Mr. Creel, the department’s publicity agent, both highly successful newspaper reporters in their day, admitted that there had been some “elaborating,” but not enough to justify severe criticism.
In the case of yesterday’s “victory,” the censor’s man is blamed for reading one submarine as six. It is admitted that there was no wilful intent to misrepresent, but the mistake certainly fooled the entire country for twelve hours. It is urged by newspaper critics here that some compromise in reporting war news, which should not lean too much to the conservatism of the British news bureau or to the sensationalism of the American Yellow Press “writers, would probably meet the situation.”

The concluding paragraph quoted above is distinctly good, for apparently the better method of telling the truth is not desirable and, indeed, would appear to be the last thing the master class think of doing. A “compromise” in the case of the six and one is a really brilliant idea !

* * *

At a luncheon party held at the House of Commons a few days ago in honour of a Mr. Medill McCormick, a Congressman representing Chicago, a little plain speaking was indulged in. We have on many occasions been informed that this war had nothing to do with capitalist development ; its origin was to be looked for outside such a paltry affair as seaports and commercial rivalries. But lo and behold this wise man who has travelled from the West informs us that:

“We purposed to abandon, and to make Germany abandon, wanton bloodshed as a means of acquiring markets—the Kaiser’s “place in the sun” which any people might win by industry and skill.—”Daily News,” 13.9.1917.

One by one and in strange places the international master class let the cat out of the bag. For which, thanks.

* * *

From an unsigned article in the “Daily Express” (31.8.1917) I recently strayed across the following :

“The German loves order and discipline. He has a genius for obedience. Germany is perhaps the best governed country in the world. Her cities are well kept. Her poor are well looked after. She possesses a competent, rigid, and honest bureaucracy. The German appreciates all this. If he is a Socialist, he really does not want to change the system fundamentally. He probably only wants to give the wage earner a chance to become a bureaucrat.”

Really amazing, is it not ? How often have we been told of the awful things that would happen if German militarism was not crushed and we came under the heel of German rule. Terrible pictures have been conjured up in the imagination of our masters and pastors concerning the terrible Hun, and yet withall the Distressites print the above. I leave them to :reconcile the seemingly absurd and contradictory statements.

* * *

We have grown accustomed to hearing the pathetic wail of the anti-Socialist in his puny effort to stay the onward march of Socialism. How he repeats like a gramophone the statement that Socialism will break up the home life, and so forth. In this connection I have read and re-read a long article under the heading : “Should the State have the Babies ?” in a weekly newspaper. It is enough to make the hair stand on end of the average anti. The writer of the article sketches two pictures: one the ordinary working class home conditions on a washing day, and the conditions of “home” life in the State creche. The former needs no repetition her», but the latter is indeed illuminating. After describing the idealistic conditions under the new arrangement which he suggests he goes on to say :

“There are women about the palace—women in humble circumstances of life, but so much healthier, and happier, and less careworn than the half-distracted mothers of the old days, whose poor backs ached from morning till night, and whose knees trembled with the endless fatigue of trying to bring up a large family and earn money for it at the same time.
These mothers are paying their weekly visit to their little ones. Each week, since the State Creche received the babies into its wise, strong and bounteous arms, they have been able to note the advance made by the children. Clean, well fed, sanely clothed, fearless, happy, eager for life—what a nation will ours be when this new generation of young people stand forth to carry on the work of the Empire!


And why not ? Will that dream ever come true ? Will any Government, seizing the moment when all minds are receptive, many conventions shattered, most weak sentimentalising gone by the board, have the courage to gather up the little ones, take them out of the reeking gutter and the awful slum and the fetid cottage, and bring them up in its series of States Creches?
Or shall I be told that nobody can bring up a child but its own mother ? That the mother’s knee is the best school, and the mother’s love the best protection, and the father’s example the surest guide in life ?
Namby-pamby rubbish, I retort ! Go into the slums of the big towns, and into the poor quarters of the country towns and villages, and look into the dwellings. Listen to the language, and examine the food the children eat and the clothes the little things have on their bodies ! And look at the little unwashed bodies and heads ! Look at their mouths ! Shrill all this continue because no leader has the courage to say to the mother: “When your child is twelve months old, when he can toddle about and is beginning to be a nuisance and to get into danger, when another child, perhaps, is on the way, and you are distracted for want of money, and health, and strength—then the State (which needs him so badly) will take your child, and tend him, feed, clothe, educate him. And all this we will do within a few miles of your home, so that you may see him every week of your life and mark his progress !”—”Sunday Pictorial,” 24.6.1917.

There you are, my working-class sisters, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. The scheme is only for the poor ! Up to the present I have seen no appeal for funds for the Anti-Socialist Union to combat such a “pernicious doctrine.”

Such a condemnation of capitalist society from this quarter is truly valuable. We could hardly be more emphatic ourselves.


Leave a Reply