Begbie Answered

In an article entitled “Democracy in Flood” (“Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper,” Sept. 2) Harold Begbie unloads his mind. After admitting the unhuman conditions of existence of a large section of the working class of the North (it might be information to him to be told that these conditions are not confined to one section or to the North, but to the whole working class, North, South, East and West), he says, with astonishment expressed in every word, that the pitmen of a certain Northern town are eager for lectures on a subject of real intellectual interest. In this town there are gatherings of 3,000 men every Sunday in a large hall, and Mr. Begbie says : “I am assured that these quarrymen, pitmen, turners, fitters, shipwrights, are debating the whole question of human existence. Industrialism is now recruited from the ranks of a partially educated democracy which is determined to become more educated, which sees that education is not only a means of improving their social position, but a means of spiritual evolution.”

The latter part of which prepares us for the introduction of the Holy Spirit and his partners, God and the Eternal Will. Mr. Begbie continues:

“They want not only food for their bodies, but better sustenance for their minds ; they would be loyal to the immortal spirit within them, those longings for growth, knowledge, and spiritual power, the denial of which brutalises the human race. They are conscious of sinning against the Holy Spirit in resting satisfied with their life as it is.”

These working men are too hard-headed says this canting humbug, to dream of revolution. “Constitutional evolution” is the thing. Unfortunately he does not tell us what he means by “constitutional evolution.” But seemingly it is a high sounding name for some lure for drawing the workers from what should be their real object: the only one that the master class and their touts fear—revolution.

Let me quote further:

“War has revealed to them [the workers] the power of the State ; this of itself is the greatest revolution (he means “constitutional evolution,” surely) in the history of the world, this realising by democracy of the almost boundless powers of the State action, i.e., co-operation.”

Here we have either the confused mind of the sentimental Harold or a deliberate attempt to cause confusion by writing of the State as if it represented the people. From Frederick Engel’s “Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”we glean the following :

“The State is simply a product of society at a certain stage of evolution. It is the confession that this society has become hopelessly divided against itself, has entangled itself in irreconcilable contradictions which it is powerless to banish.

The State is the result of the desire to keep down class conflicts. But having arisen amid these conflicts, it is as a rule the State of the most powerful economic class that by force of its economic supremacy becomes also the ruling, political class and thus acquires new means of subduing and exploiting the oppressed masses. The antique State was, therefore, the State of the slave owners for the purpose of holding the slaves in check. The feudal State was the organ of the nobility for the oppression of the serfs and dependent farmers. The modern representative State is the tool of the capitalist exploiters of wage labour.”

In the above Engels answers men of the Begbie type, and I hope that the working class will gather understanding from history, ancient and modern, and not be led astray by sentimental talk about the ” rich and the poor” being “of one mind and one spirit.” Beware of men who talk about reconciliation between the working class and the master class. That is impossible. The only firm ground upon which the working class can successfully stand is the full recognition of the class war and the determination to fight on to the end—the Social Revolution ; the inauguration of Socialism.

E. J.

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