The Church has been used for many and varied purposes since the time when the Christ of the Gospels was supposed to have turned the money changers out of the Temple. The observation which, according to the narrator, he then made, namely, that his father’s house, which was a house of prayer, had been converted into a den of thieves, would apply with equal force to-day. However, the latest 20th century use to which the Church has been put is to convert it into a kind of picture palace so that well-fed and well-groomed bourgeois women can see on the sheet how their poorer sisters live, move, and have their being in that “station of life in which it has pleased God to place them.” Beautiful phrase, this ! I’ve heard many an oily-tongued parson work it off with due solemnity. But let me return to the announcement:
“Fashionably-dressed women crowded into St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church yesterday to see the production of a film depicting the lives of the poorer women of the East End.”
It was much more pleasant to glean the desired information this way than going through dismal alleys and squalid courts to see these things as they really are. My lady might peradventure soil her gown, or in some other way become contaminated.
The Mayor of Bethnal Green said that in one locality he had visited a soldier’s wife lived with her four children in one room. Standing in the room, he could touch the ceiling with one hand and reach the wall on either side without moving. It was quite easy to push a stick through the wall and make a hole through which the street could be seen.—”Daily News,” Feb. 24th, 1919.
Whether, as a result of this entertainment, the above-mentioned soldier’s wife and her four children (which are a “priceless national asset”) have been invited to come over West and live sumptuously is not recorded. But doubtless the “fashionably-dressed women” are cheered on life’s rough way by the thought of the hymn which says:
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate;
God made, them high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.
Since the above remarks were written another wonderful discovery has been made. Owing to the publicity given to the gathering at St.-Martin-in the-fields Church the Queen summoned the Mayor of Bethnal Green to the Palace that she might hear more about slumdom. And lo and behold one morning on perusing the daily paper we read :
“It is pretty clear to me that when I have visited the poorer districts I have been taken mainly to the highways and not to the by-ways.”—The Queen, “Daily Sketch,” March 15th, 1919.
Now it would appear that those who are responsible for organising the joy-rides which royalty partake of have been guilty of perpetrating a cruel hoax. At long last the truth is out. In this fair land of England there are sunless homes.
“Describing one set of properties, Col. Lewis said they were what was known as “back-to- back” houses. This he illustrated by two boxes, and explained that only one side was open to the outer air, and that was the front of each cottage.
As the whole of the sanitary arrangements were located close to the front door, her Majesty could imagine what the conditions of life must be.
“Horrible !” was the Queen’s comment.
The Mayor further stated that some of the properties were never reached by the rays of the sun during any part of the day.” (Same paper.)
One would imagine from the prominence given to this subject that slumland was a characteristic only of the East End instead of being one of the main features of capitalist society. The workers are herded where the idle master class would scorn to keep their cattle.
But fortunately the dawn appears to be breaking, and at last the workers show signs of studying their class position and the cause of their enslavement—the class ownership of the means of life. When they fully grasp this they will join with us in the Socialist Party, realising that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.
We have on more than one occasion in the past drawn attention to the fact that in spite of the label “Liberal” or “Tory” which the adherents of these political parties attach to themselves they are at bottom supporters of capitalism. Consequently when they think that their interests as such are threatened they drop their labels for the time being in order to present a united front to the impending menace. Never was this more clearly shown than in the recent London County Council Elections.
In the North Paddington District the mere nomination of a couple of Labour candidates was sufficient to “put the wind up ’em.” The municipal reform candidates enclosed with their election address the following note :
“LONDON COUNCIL ELECTION, 1919.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ELECTORS.
The Progressive Party are NOT opposing our re-election—but at the last moment the Labour Party have nominated two Candidates, therefore we trust Electors will not fail to record their votes.”
To those who have carefully studied Labour’s Programme for London, which, after all, is not very revolutionary, this attack of nerves of the reformers may cause some amusement.
There recently appeared in “Reynolds’s Newspaper” (23.2.1919) an alleged copy of an official document published in the “Anarchiste de Briansk,” as follows:
“The Workmen’s Soviet of Mourzilowka,
September 16, 1918.
An order to Comrade Gregoire Savelieff, The Soviet hereby gives full power to Comrade Gregoire Savelieff to requisition at his choice and discretion for the needs of the Artillery Division stationed at Mourzilowka, district of Briansk, sixty women and girls of the bourgeois and speculator classes and bring them to the barracks.
(Signed) President of the Soviet, Skameikius.”
Then the “Reynolds” scribe adds—”We print this document because it shows better than anything else what our women have to expect from any triumph of Bolshevik principles in this country.”
Unfortunately for the writer of those words, this document has appeared in slightly different form in other capitalist journals. On one occasion a reader of the “Times,” who had spent two years in Russia (Sept. 1916 to Oct. 1918) wrote to that journal explaining the “nationalisation of women” proclamation, but failed to get his reply inserted. Such tactics show the value of these “reliable authorities” and “official documents.”
We might ask our contemporary in passing what they have to say with regard to the “nationalisation” of the women and girls in the licensed houses in France. This canting hypocrisy maketh one sick!
Perhaps it would not be amiss at this juncture to again refer to the “Infamous Circular Memorandum” issued in 1886 by Lord Roberts, part of which read as follows :
“In the regimental bazaars it is necessary to have a sufficient number of women, to take care that they are sufficiently attractive, to provide them with proper houses, and above all, to insist upon means of ablution being always available.”
The story of how these “attractive women” were obtained is told in the work entitled “The Queen’s daughters in India,” published in 1898. One extract must suffice :
“The orders specified were faithfully carried out, under the supervision of commanding officers, and were to this effect. The commanding officer gave orders to his quartermaster to arrange with the regimental Kutwal (an under official, native) to take two policeman (without uniforms) and go into the villages and take from the homes of these poor people their daughters from fourteen years and upwards, about twelve or fifteen girls at a time. They were to select the best looking. Next morning these were all put in front of the Colonel and Quartermaster. The former made his selection of the number required. They were then presented a pass or license, and then made over to the old woman in charge of this house of vice under the Government. The women already there, who were examined by the doctor, and found diseased, had their passes taken away from them, and were then removed by the police out of the cantonment, and these fresh, innocent girls put in their places.”
After such, well-authenticated evidence as to the ”nationalisation” of women and girls in India by the British authorities one would have thought that even writers for the capitalist Press would have been more careful when engaged in mud-slinging lest some should recoil upon themselves.
The following titbit, one of many, shows the supreme disinterestedness of the Allies, and proves conclusively that they only seek to make the world safe for themselves, no, beg pardon, for democracy.
“The question of the Italian—Jugo-Slav territory will not be easily settled. . . .
Signor Orlando and Baron Sinnono have been in communication with M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George, and will shortly also see Pres. Wilson on the matter to intimate that the Italians must possess Fiume, and that if the Conference refused this they will withdraw from its deliberations.”—”Reynolds’s,” March i6th, 1919.