Drinking and Shirking

Capitalist politicians of the Lloyd-Georgian type, that is to say, Liberal adventurers who have wriggled up out of the gutter by showing themselves the obsequious hacks of the capitalist class at large and of the manufacturing element of that class in particular, cannot get along very far, it seems, without heaping insults upon the heads of the working class. It is quite easy to understand why this is. It is the rich manufacturers, ship-owners, mine-owners, and the like who provide the party funds without which the Liberal party could not hold its own, and its purely professional and mercenary politicians would lose their incomes As we are constantly stating, between the master class and the working class there is a conflict of interests. In the struggle generated of this clash of interests the hireling capitalist politician necessarily sides with his paymasters, and his assistance takes the form of filthy insult as often as not.

The particular form of abuse which is the rage and fashion at the moment is that of accusing the members of the working class of


There is, of course, nothing new about the charge. It was worn threadbare long even before Mr. Philip Snowden (who waxes indignant now that Mr. Lloyd George agrees with him) referred to the “drink-sodden democracy.” But the insulting charges are given a peculiar emphasis and a particularly sinister aspect just now. It is pretended that the workers are not only shirking their work, but are shirking a patriotic duty ; and it is declared that the man who drinks in England is murdering the men in the trenches.

These are nice charges to be formulated by the agents of the class who have launched this wholesale butchery— and who are not satisfied with the output of material and instruments for


It is easy to see through this campaign of calumny. The men in the trenches are being butchered. It is necessary to hide from them certain contributing factors. It is necessary to hide from them the fact that military experts, whose business it was to understand war, failed utterly to grasp the power, scope and requirements of the awful instruments of slaughter placed in their hands ; it is necessary to hide from them the fact that, with the full knowledge of impending war, the Government dared not ask their parsimonious masters to face the cost of adequate preparation ; it is necessary to hide from them the fact that the strikes among the producers of munitions and shipping are due to the same old cause as in the piping times of peace—


and simply reflect the plain truth that no “call of patriotism,” no ”necessity of their country,” and no consideration for the men in the trenches will ever induce the masters to loosen ever so little their grip upon their profits.

If “drink” is hampering British military operations why don’t the capitalist class cease its manufacture? If the workers are not turning out sufficient munitions and fetching and carrying with the strenuosity demanded by the dire straits of their masters’ country, why don’t the wealthy mumpers who are so fond of preaching of “patriotic duty” take a hand? When the workers leave off they leave the job open ! Strange, isn’t it, that though many among the master class are ready to forswear intoxicants in the


as an example to the workers, few attempt to come out into the light of day and show the workers how to WORK!

The Bishop of London says that he is ready to break stones if necessary, but he takes good care not to go down to the docks and handle pork. Of course it isn’t necessary ! It never is necessary for anybody to work but the working class, and they, as we all know, don’t and won’t.

The fact is that the present situation is proving the truth of what we have always contended—that in normal times the workers are speeded up to the point of exhaustion. The attempt to speed them up still more has not, therefore, met with the success hoped for by those who thought they saw in the war an opportunity to squeeze greater profits out of their slaves. It would never do for the masters to admit that their victims have in normal times no margin of energy left them which can be exploited under patriotic fervour, hence those who have supplied from their ranks two million men for the new army, and fully equipped them in eight months, besides carrying on the nation’s work and maintaining an army in the field are, according to the sober and industrious parasite class, drinking and shirking.

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