Superstition still has its uses. It has been used with effect during the war, not only by the regular professional venders, but by the civil and military authorities, when it suited their purpose.

Only recently, in the excavations on the Palantina at Rome, Commendatore Giacomo Boni, the Italian archaeologist, unearthed a magnificent statue of Victory, carved from marble from Pentelikon, near Athens, which dates back to the 5th Century B.C. Ordinarily a discovery of aesthetic value such as this one would have been sufficient to send into raptures archaeological students all over the world. As it is, the discovery has been accepted as an augury of victory for allied capitalism. In other words, Someone placed it there to be found at this juncture to indicate the triumph of “right” over might. As a consepuence the Italian workers will be spurred on to still further efforts, and because of its discovery thousands more lives may be lost.

* * *

So the Americans now have discovered “incontestable proof” that Lenin, all on his lone some, has been plotting to hand Russis over to the Germans. How the international master class do hate this revolutionary ! They could forgive the Kaiser and all his brood of blood-letters, but the man who has helped to bring peace to Russia—never.

* * *

As illustrating the “impartial” application of the principles of justice and liberty which is so prominent a feature of our democratic country, and for the maintenance of which thousands of lives are being sacrificed, perhaps the following items will be found useful as well interesting.

The instances referred to are taken from the “Manchester Guardian” (9.1.18), but are too long to quote in full. On the day previous a London engineer named Tinsley was tried for having made a statement likely to cause—you know the gag. It seems that he had stated that the war would soon be over, and that we should have to make the best terms we could, as we were beaten, and could not beat Germany. He was fined £25.

On the same day Sir Harry Johnston, in his presidential address to the Association of Public School Science Masters, said we had muddled and misconducted our operations by land and sea through lack of knowledge on the part of those at home, and to a less degree of those abroad. When such outrages as the commandeering of the British Museum were perpetrated, it behoved all who loved learning to swear a solemn oath that they would save England from the barbarism with which she was threatened by Sir Alfred Mond, Lord Rothermere, and the Cabinet behind them. In this hour of our abasement, our uneducated government, which could neither carry the war to a conclusive victory, nor make peace on equitable terms, was engaged in its madness or levity in hacking at the foundations of sure knowledge.

There was no fine.

* * *

Evidence is not wanting to show how our patriots are taking advantage of the excessive toil, hunger, and suffering to squeeze huge profits out of the workers. Not content with the results of the process of squeezing them to the limit in the workshop, there are those who are prepared to cheat them out of the little they have been allowed to retain in the form of wages. Certainly, exploitation takes place only once—in the workshop—but this fact does not prevent one from being cheated after he has left the pay-box. In these days it is exceedingly difficult to follow the market, and one can go day after day to purchase the same article, only to find that it has “gone up.” If remonstrated with the trader will tell you it has “gone up” to him, that he is entirely in the hands of the manufacturer or merchant, and as we must eat and drink to live there is nothing else to do but pay or starve.
Early on in the war Mr. Lloyd George said that the worst enemy Britain had to fight—a far greater enemy than the Germans—was the demon Drink. Let us take an example of how this demon had been vanquished. The test is by gross profits:

1913-14 1917
£ £
Allsopp 68,100 239,700
Ind, Coope & Co. 94,100 204,700
Watney, Coomb & Reid’s 904,200 1,112,900
Salt & Co. 30,300 (1911-12) 98,100

At the annual meeting of Allsopp’s the other day the chairman observed that “the restriction on the output of beer had been to the benefit of the brewers, who had been able to secure a fair price because there was not too much of the article on the market. It had also been to the benefit of the State because of the tendency, in view of higher prices, not to drink more than was good for one. And it had assisted the claim of the temperance people.” Thus are two apparently opposing interests reconciled. One shareholder was frank enough to remark that he had given up drinking beer and taken to wine instead. “Beer is getting too much like swipes.” Of course we know who have to be contented with the swipes. To account for a higher profit on a reduced output it is explained that as the brewers are allowed to laise the price of beer, while the gravity, and therefore the cost of production, are lowered, a larger margin of profit is secured on each quantity sold.

One day those who drink swipes will awake.

* * *

A great deal of comment and controversy has arisen as the result of the verdict given in the recent case where a soldier, returned from the front, murdered his wife in a moment of thwarted sex-motive. The woman had violated the moral law—whatever that is, The husband forgave her, and then, afterwards took her life. Among others Mr. Hall Caine entered the lists in defence of constituted law, questioning the judge’s authority to go beyond the written law, and entirely condemning him for pardoning the man.

Mr. Hall Caine believes that the judge, in acquitting him, was actuated by a mistaken sentiment. In a long article in the “Sunday Herald” (3.2.18) he sets out to show how such procedure tends to “outrage the sense of justice, and disturb the stability and authority of law.”

Without going into Mr. Caine’s arguments (which would raise a large issue and divert me from the point I wish to make) it is sufficient to say that he himself is led to express a mistaken sentiment, based upon unscientific reasoning and neglect of historical fact. The point I wish to make is this : The verdict given in this case shows that what was known (mistakenly) as an absolute standard is now open to modification. Not because our judges are capable of scientifically interpreting a certain act from the point of view of cause and effect, but as a matter of expediency.

The prisoner had been engaged in the killing of Germans, and as an instrument in such process was a “useful” member of society in the period in which we exist. The woman—well ! was she not better out of the way ? For such is the implication. Is it a violation of the moral code when international capitalism sends to their deaths millions of its subjects and slaves ? Assuredly not—from the standpoint of the ruling class.

The woman’s conduct was determined by the conditions operating in the present form of society. Capitalism killed her ; the husband was merely the instrument. When the judge acquitted him he acquitted capitalism from all blame.


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