It is interesting now and then to take stock of the various panaceas that are being foisted on the country as the one and only method of solving the social “problem.” Leaving out the various quacks belonging to the capitalist class — who advocate, after all, what is not even social reform—we find a pretty fair bunch whose claim it is that they represent the worker’s point of view. We have the Labour Party, bourgeois in tendency, anti-Socialist to the core, whose whole existence seems to depend upon the goodwill of the Liberals, and who are ready to snatch at anything that will give them a fresh lease of life. We have the I.L.P., who, just now, are kidding the workers into demanding the nationalisation of the railways, etc., quite oblivious of the fact that nationalisation of anything under the present system can only tend to accentuate the workers’ position. We have the B.S.P. with its “Britain for the British “; its queer mixture of nationalisation, municipalisation and “revolutionar” palliatives— of which the following is a delightful example.
“Socialism is only a method of extending State management, as in the Post Office, and municipal management . . . until State and municipal management become universal through the Kingdom. . . . The Government and the municipalities have proved that they can manage vast and intricate businesses, and can manage them more cheaply, more efficiently, and more to the satisfaction of the public, than the same class of business has ever been managed by private firms.” (R. Blatchford in the “Clarion,” 19.1.12.)
In order that the reader may discern for himself the advantages that have accrued from the Government and municipalities, all that is necessary is to acquire the child like faith of the average Clarionette, and the use of a powerful microscope!
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And. lastly, we have that anarchistic importation known as “Direct Action,” the benefits of which, according to Mr. Tom Mann, “have been most substantial.” “By adequately reduced hours we shall solve the unemployed problem : shall for ever cure the low wage problem: and by the same means entirely solve the economic problem.” (“Transport Worker ” for Jan.)
Socialism, and all it implies — knowledge of the workers’ position in society, based upon a scientific analysis of capitalism in all its ramifications — is useless according to Mr. Tom Mann. Therefore all we need do is to wait until this prophet on the bounce gives the word, when the workers will simply walk over and — — what?
Wait and see !
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And now, to add to the existing confusion, we are to have still one more “Socialist” party? According to the London correspondent of the “Daily Dispatch” (16.1.12) preparations are being made to launch a new Socialist party, in which “the Christian idea will replace the aims and devices of the hooligans.” This has been necessitated, we are told, by the fact that “Socialism . . . in its present crude form, embodies a grave menace to the country,” its association with Syndicalism and Atheism having given grave concern to several avowed supporters of the movement.
As a Socialist it is news to me that Socialism has any connection with Syndicalism and Atheism. Socialism means Socialism and nothing else. It would also be news to me to hear that Socialism could have any connection with any “Christian ideal” in view of the fact that Christianity stands for the negation if all freedom of thought, fosters superstition and teaches the divinity of capitalism. Moreover, it does not occur to this modest scribe that the “devices of the hooligans” are a product f this country. Elsewhere in the same issue we are informed that 4¼ millions voted the “hooligan” ticket, despite its “crude form.” Surely the joke is on the “Dispatch”!
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The unskilled labourers at a small ironworks had been engaged for several months at a wage of 16s. 9d., when it occurred to some of the mote enterprising spirits among them that this was not enough. A deputation was sent to the manager to say so. The manager listened, and then said : “So you think you ought to have another shilling a week, do you ? Well, I want to ask you men a question. How many of you, when you get your wages on a Friday night, go straight across the road to the public house ? ” The leader of the deputation admitted, not without a little defiance in his tone, that he generally went there himself.
“And how much do you spend ? ”
“Well, I ‘as sixpenn’orth o’ whisky and three- pennorth o’ beer, reg’lar.”
”Oh ! so your wages are not so low that you can’t spend 9d. in drink the first hour after you get them? Why don’t you raise your own wage by dropping the drink ? ”
“Well.” said the labourer. ” if tha wants to know, its like this ‘ere. If I didn’t get that there sixpenn’orth o’ whisky and threepenn’orth o’ beer I shouldn’t ‘ave the bloomin’ cheek to go ‘ome to my old woman and ask ‘er to keep the family together on the money I gets from you.”
“Why should not the present crude relations between capital and labour give way to a science of ethics founded on honesty to each other, a brotherhood founded on affection?” (Sir W H. Lever, Port Sunlight, 1.1.12.)