Editorial: S. O. S.

Our effort to raise an unlimited sum of money for the purpose of Socialist propaganda is meeting with encouraging success. For the moment the figures set at the head of the appeal in our last issue will do, but we do not want any of our sympathisers to get into the vicious habit of regarding those figures as a fixed and final limit to the demands of the case. As jumpers (not fleas) place a handkerchief somewhere beyond the mark they expect to reach, in order to encourage themselves to “bust their wittles” for manhood sake, so we have set a figure for you to jump to, and, though we limited the figure to a 1 and three cyphers for the same reason that the jumper puts his handkerchief where he can see it, when occasion demands the 1 will be transmogrified into a 2 or a 3 or a 5, or the lonely cyphers will co-opt other cyphers to help keep the rising flood of quids within the limits prescribed for them. We give this warning so that we may not m the near future be accused of shifty practices or pronounced frauds.

And after all, is any among those who follow our fortunes, and go with us, openly where they dare, and furtively where the brutal fist of tyranny threatens to strike them down, going to feel flattered if we assume that he supposes Socialism can be purchased for a thousand pounds ? What, educate the teeming populace of wage-slavedom and organise them as an army for a thousand pounds ! Burst the bonds of hundreds of millions for a fraction of the price of an aeroplane ! It will never do to get into the habit of thinking after that manner.

If we want the Social Revolution we have got to think very seriously about it. We have got to think of it in terms of real sacrifice in all directions. We have got to have done with the idea that Socialism is an aspiration so little likely to be realised in our time that we are only called upon, and can only afford, to take an academic interest in it. It is no case for platonic love. No man can say how soon we may have our opportunity. The social world is in a very volcanic condition at present. Capitalist tyranny, revealed in the prosecution of the military needs of capitalism, becomes daily more obvious, and is already on everybody’s lips. Five years of hell is too great a deduction from the life of the multitude to pass without awakening the spirit of enquiry ; a diet of “the husks that the swine did eat,” and little enough of it at that, imposed year after year upon a helpless people, is bound to lead more or less to that “high thinking” which is popularly supposed to go with such plain living. The days when the youth of the land is satisfied with its cricket and football, content with the role of “muddied oafs and flannelled fools” for a few hours a week as a fair set-off against the weary days of toil, are gone for ever. The coming of women, not merely more extensively into industrial life—that in itself will bear tremendous consequences—but into an industrial position which is bound to bring them into direct and bitter conflict with the men they have been sending to the trenches, together with their recent conquest of limited political rights, must have the effect of bringing them to regard politics from a much more serious standpoint than heretofore.

Our lads will come back grave men, impressed with the knowledge that however lightly government may appear to press upon humble individuals in this “democratic” country, there is a power behind that velvet touch capable of inflicting terrible things, and they will want to know the source of that awful power, and who controls it, and why. They who have seen such devastation and wreckage as few ever dreamt possible by the agency of man, will realise that the interests that are worth it must be far more momentous than cricket and football, and they will want to know what those interests are, and what lot and portion they have in them. None can know better than they, who have seen men falling before the leaden torrent like corn before the scythe, what little value the present social system sets on human life; nor realise more completely than they, who have marched and fought through hundreds of miles of the fairest lands of the earth, stricken and blasted in this war as fair lands were never stricken by the worst of Nature’s visitations of fire and flood and pestilence and famine, through all recorded ages, what a ghastly failure the present social system makes of its sole logical mission and function—the ordering of social activities for the social well-being. The inadequacy of the system will be especially clear to them, and will incline their ears to lips that criticise it and tongues that tell of another.

Further, the history of the imposition of conscription upon the workers of this country, with its shameless lies, its broken pledges, its cynical scheming, its hypocritical humbug, its undermining here and flank attack there, its cunning setting of section against section, married against single, old against young, sex against sex—as when little girls were given by filthy-minded liars and skunks, banners to carry through the streets, bearing the insulting inscription : “If you won’t go we must”—this history has shown how utterly helpless is an unorganised populace to resist conspiracies against its well-being, even when it is not altogether without inkling of the true state of affairs ; and those who have had to suffer thro’ this lack of organisation for resistance (and who has not ?) will know now that organisation IS worth while.

And where should they organise? In the fraudulent Labour and pseudo-Socialist parties, which have played their part in delivering the workers to the masters, bound and manacled, and labelled “Cannon Fodder” ? No, they will ask the question taught them by their masters’ hireling: “What did you do in the great war?”—the question to which, only the Socialist Party can return the irreproachable answer.

So, out of the common suffering brought upon the world by the inevitable working of forces within the capitalist sphere but over which the capitalists have no control, will arise a new spirit of doubt and of enquiry. And out of this will come fruit in abundance, to be garnered or left to rot, as the circumstances may determine. Which shall it be ?

Is it necessary to point out what a calamity it would be for the working class should this harvest-time come upon us and find us unprepared, unequipped ? We must be ready. Our stock of literature is almost exhausted, yet it is essential that when the awakened worker asks the potent question : “What is Socialism?” we shall be in a position to put into his hands, before he falls asleep again, such an exposition as will keep him awake until he has earned the right to snooze. We MUST be able to do it ! And we must be able to send out into the highways and bye-ways, emissaries to do good by stealth ; to carry the mountain of social science to the Mahomets who won’t come to IT ; to offer the furtive bottle to those who are too shy to imbibe from the main ; to preach the pure milk of the blessed cokernut to the heathen playing pitch-and-toss in back alleys. Books, pamphlets, leaflets, organisers, paid servants—Ay! why not ? Why should our masters alone have the best that is in us and of us, and because before men can work they must eat ?—the means to pay for halls, to pay railway fares, and to eeek cur foes out at the polls and fight them there. All these we must have.

All these mean money—a thousand pounds first, and other thousands after. It is up to you to provide that. Feed your kids first, and then go pawn your shirt for the cause.

Next month we shall publish our first list of subscriptions. Will your name or nom-de-charity be on ? We will put it on for as much as you like. We will send a Tank to your door, or a teapot if that is as much as you can fill up. Next month also we shall talk to you about “Recuperation,” the gist of which is that he or she who has beggared himself or herself this month for the cause, by next month will so far have “recuperated” as to be able to beggar himself or herself again. It is a fascinating idea which we got from a church magazine, and in the case of parson’s “Church-Building Fund” seems to have been so effective that the whole bally shoot went bankrupt—except parson.

We must leave it at this for the moment, but offer the following mottoes, quoted from the Scriptures at random and from memory, as likely to be helpful.

He giveth twice who giveth to-day and again to-morrow.

And it rained quids forty days and forty nights.

Buy Class War Bonds now.

It’s your money we want !

And this special one for collectors—

Seek pieces and pursue ’em.


And now for that dear old thing, the SOCIALIST STANDARD.

It will not come as a surprise to many when we say that for a long time now our official organ has been produced at a considerable loss. Paper-makers and merchants have proved as consummate and merciless thieves as any to be found in the whole capitalist theives’ kitchen, and they have made such patriotic use of their opportunity that the ream of paper which cost 4s. 6d. now costs close upon £2. As the ream produces a bare 500 copies of our journal, it will be seen that of late the humble but democratic copper which we have asked for our publication has only covered the cost of the paper on which it is printed, leaving the whole cost of printing, carriage, postage, etc., to fall upon our—ahem !—accumulated reserve funds, which same it hath done like a cartload of bricks—and then they say the Socialists haven’t business ability enough to run a welk stall !

Well, to cut a long story short, the “S.S.” rose to the occasion and proved an excellent brass-finisher—it finished ours. Then a new problem was presented to us. An order was issued by the authorities limiting the supply of paper to all printers to 50 per cent. of their last year’s purchases. So we had to decide whether it should be a whole sheet for two coppers for half our readers, or a half sheet for all our readers for one copper. The great minds in council assembled decided to have no queques, and to deprive no one entirely of the mental nourishment which we have hitherto supplied. We had no option, either way, but to “pass it on to the consumer,” leaving it open to the latter to find a substitute—which he cannot do, because there is no substitute for the SOCIALIST STANDARD. Therefore our next number will consist only of four pages instead of eight.

Well, a four page paper may be as good an instrument for organisation as one of eight pages, and if it is not so good a weapon for propaganda, at least it affords us still the opportunity to deliver our message. That there is a growing demand for this message is shown by the fact that, in spite of so many who were among our readers being on active service at home and abroad, and of the entire cessation of our outdoor meetings, and of the depletion of the ranks of those who were active in pushing our sales, and of the ban which deprives us of our entire and considerable circulation abroad, we find it easier than ever to sell our paper, and do actually sell more than ever. In spite of paper shortage we must push our circulation higher.

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