A Duke on Hard Work

The “Daily Chronicle” of December 11th ult. gave us the following intoxicating toothful in spite of the no treating order:

      According to the Duke of Northumberland the only firm foundation for reconstruction was self-denial and hard work, and politicians should draw attention to this instead of trying to persuade people that they could get something for nothing.

 One would hardly have thought that the noble gentleman would have deemed it necessary to point the way to politicians just at the present moment, at all events, for ever since “reconstruction” showed its head above the political horizon politicians have done precious little but preach toil and abstinence on the part of the workers.

 In all the election promises which have recently flooded the country—mere humbug to catch the wage-slave’s assent to his own undoing—there is not one but which is found on analysis, if it means anything at all, to mean hard work and penury (for this is what the duke really means by “self-denial”) for the working class. All their schemes of “reconstruction,” from Adult Education to Afforestation, are schemes for securing hard work for the class which does not include the Duke of Northumberland, while the politicians’ idea of the importance of “self-denial” in the scheme of “reconstruction” reveals itself in the provision of a paltry dole equal to FOUR DAYS’ COST OF THE WAR to tide their teeming millions of human cattle over the hard times of the “transition period” !

 How little respite the political and other hirelings of the master class intend to fall to the lot of the toilers is shown in a score of ways. No windy gasbag from the Welsh Messiah to the Lib-Lab Pensions Minister who declared that no soldier was going to get a pension out of him in order to live without working, has held out any hope of the worker getting something “for nothing.” Everywhere the claims of the broken warriors to not by any means “something for nothing,” but to something for all they have suffered, and all they have given of health and limb, to keep contemptible and useless dukal parasites safe in their lordly domains, are being repudiated without scruple. No poor cripple, tormented by the agony of his wounds, is there but must, if he has within him any atom of industrial capacity, be “trained” in order that he may yield it up—a paltry additional “something for nothing”—to those who are not satisfied with having robbed him of his joy in life, but desire to “reconstruct” him on the basis of what little strength he has salved from the shambles—to pare down his niggard pension. Even the blinded soldier is not prey beneath the contempt of these ghouls, and St. Dunstan’s “reconstructs” on the foundation of “hard work,” and not of “something for nothing.”

 It is only the master class who get anything for nothing, and they get everything for nothing. This “reconstruction” is THEIR RECONSTRUCTION and it is quite true that it must be founded upon hard work and “self-denial”. But it will be the hard work and the forced abstention of the wage- slaves, not of the Duke of Northumberland and his like.

 There are signs, however, of the approach of the day when we, the workers of the world, will undertake a “reconstruction,” and it will be upon the foundation of the labour of all who are capable of labour, including those who are quite strange to work nowadays. No dukal coronet will then protect loose jawed humbugs from sampling the work they are so fond of prescribing for the workers, and the Duke of Northumberland may yet support the “dignity of labour” with a scavenger’s broom in the glorious day when, in William Morris’s beautiful words—

    “. . . a man shall work and bethink him, and rejoice in the deeds of his hand,
    Nor yet come home in the even too faint and weary to stand.
    Men in that time a-coming shall work and have no fear
    For to-morrow’s lack of earning and the hunger-wolf  a-near.
    I tell you this for a wonder, that no man then shall be glad
    Of his fellow’s fall and mishap to snatch at the work he had.
    For that which the worker winneth shall then be his indeed,     
    Nor shall half be reaped for nothing by him that sowed no no seed.

B. B.

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