That “Beautiful New World”

The Bishop of London has said that “a chaplain has reported to him that all the troops were talking about was the beautiful new world that will follow the war. Soldiers say it is the only thing worth going over the top for. An admiral had told him it was the same in the Navy.”

Now, while I don’t want to discourage these optimists, I think it would be well that nobody should hold up his sub. to the £1,000 fund on account of these predictions. For, look you, Dr. Vernon, who is a Fellow of Magdalen College and therefore must know, says that “accidents in the main are caused by carelessness and lack of attention, and increase the concentration of the worker on his work, the more will accidents be reduced. One wants to induce in all the workers through all their hours of labour the same mental otitlook as exists at present in the night shift workers in the early hours of the morning.”

These workers have, for the most part, forgotten the pleasures and. excitements indulged in shortly before coming in on the night shift and have nothing but an unexhilarating breakfast and bed to look forward to. The day shift worker, on the other hand, comes to work only half awake, but brightens up gradually during the morning. Still more does he brighten up during the afternoon, as he looks forward to rest and pleasure. This anticipation of pleasure to come leads to lack of attention and carelessness, and consequently to accidents.”

Now, this brightening-up business is bad in Dr. Verncn’s opinion, and in order to “induce in all the workers the same mental outlook as the night shift workers who have nothing to look forward to but an unexhilarating breakfast and bed,” he suggests : Forbidding talking to one another ; plugging the ears, and separating machines by partitions.

Now, right here, we do not think Vernon is sufficiently thorough. Why the ears only plugs might be inserted. A large stopper for instance, might be firmly strapped over the mouth. A small chain,;costing very little, might be used to attach the worker to his or her machine. Also a man might walk up and down with a whip and brighten up any worker who, in spite of all these precautions, still showed that lack of attention that is so bad for the work and productive of accidents.

And finally it would be essential to have a notice on the wall warning all that any worker taking his or her plugs out would be fined or instantly unlocked from his machine and dismissed.

The Bishop of London, who, I understand, is not to be plugged (though I am sure people would flock from all parts to see him in a pulpit with a plug in his mouth), says that the Labour Party has now been enlarged so as to include the brain workers, and even bishops could join. (One fails to see the bishops’ qualification for entry from either standpoint.) From this one’s imagination runs along to the Labour Party, who so love the advocacy of reforms, standing firmly in the House of Commons for “longer chains for workmen,” “smaller plugs,” “reduction in the number of organs plugged,” “no man to be lashed oftener than once an hour,” etc.

Lest I be accused of a lack of seriousness by some people who think Vernon “barmy” and plugs impossible, isn’t it a fact that many working men still believe that this same master class that in time of strikes will fight to the limits of brutal bitterness over a farthing an hour, is now generously spending eight millions a day in order to get freedom and justice for US drunken, dissolute, inattentive, at present unplugged, brighteniiig-up working men ? Was there ever such a joke ? No, on weighing it all up I think you had better spare a trifle from those miraculous wages you are getting to the only party which has consistently opposed the war from the beginning, and will certainly oppose the era of so-called peace that is to follow, which we know will be much more like the old hell on earth than a “beautiful new world.”

H. C. G.

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