1920s >> 1920 >> no-187-march-1920

The Thieves’ Kitchen Records

“Giveth His Only Son.”
As usual, the old farce of the Kings’ Speech to Parliament was carried out with mock solemnity and cobwebs, a la Dirty Dick and King Solomon. Considering that it is now some sixteen month’s since the war actually ceased— the war which was to inaugurate a “beautiful new world” for the workers of this country, the Speech offers nothing but flap-doodle touching on this point, and precious little even of that. In fact, the only indication of anything tangible, in connection with this matter of “everything for nothing” for the working class, has to be read into, or got out of, the royal announcement that He (G. Wettin) has “had great pleasure in assenting to the proposal that the Prince of Wales should visit Australia and New Zealand and should take the opportunity on his return voyage of seeing some of My West Indian possessions.” So it seems that the King gives his only begotten (if he hadn’t begotten any others) son in order that the workers may enjoy by proxy all the delights that the “beautiful new world” has to offer, what time they are slogging into the task of increasing production to enable the pound sterling to “look the dollar in the face.” May the thought sustain them in their monotonous and wearisome labours, until the young man returns and his father finds him a job of work to take some of the weight off Ole Bill’s shoulder, and enable Tom Smith to let go long enough to spit on his hand— may the reflection sustain and refresh them, I say, and revive their drooping spirits, and renew their ebbing strength, and soothe their aching limbs, and charm away the pains of their cramped and pitiless occupations, for nothing else in King Capital’s Gracious speech will.


The New Forty Thieves.
In the Thieves Kitchen there were prior to the war, in addition to the old hands at the game, who had been in the business donkey’s years before Blueskin and Jack Shepherd were thought of, a new  group of approximately forty, of whom it may be said that, though they were only minors in the matter of golloping up the swag, were the most active and assiduous in supporting and forwarding any scheme afoot for the robbery of the human bees, possibly for the same reason that the petty sneak thief is the most active member of other thieves’ kitchens—he has to do a big business to keep up his fat. Of these forty many a year or so ago got soused in boiling oil—which is no loss to public life. But some have survived even unto this day, and their reception of the Speech was characteristic.


More pay for lickspittles.
Mr. Adamson, the leader of the Lib-Labs, in his comic-opera role of leader of the Opposition, opened: “I desire to offer my congratulations to the mover and seconder for the excellent speeches . . .” et so on ad vomitum. That was about the limit of his “opposition.” He was glad to note that the mover of the Address had “struck a very optimistic vein, and thought we would be able to overcome these difficulties [the “aftermath of the war”] in the manner in which we have been able to overcome the difficulties of the past. This is a welcoming and supporting of smug capitalist complacency which should be noted by all workers who are satisfied with the way in which “the difficulties of the past” have been overcome, and especially those workers who elected Mr. Adamson to represent THEM.


Once Bit Twice Shy.
In the debate on the Address the question of Russia arose, and in replying Mr. Liar George became really funny. “The horrors of Bolshevism have revolted the consciences of mankind,” said he who has taken no step to purge British Authority of the dastardly massacre of Amritsar, “The first war on opinion was made by the Bolsheviks when they dissolved the National Assembly,” wailed he who for five years has tyranised under that garrotter’s outfit of noose and bludgeon and pitch-plaster — D.O.R.A. “We were bound to give the anti-Bolsheviks their chance to recover Russia. . . . We were bound by considerations of honour,” cried he whose considerations of honour never prevented him breaking pledges given to his working-class dupes. “There is no government in Russia which can speak for any defined area. It is perfectly true that the Bolsheviks have over-run the Ukraine and part of the Cossack land, but they have only been there a few weeks and they have been there before. I do not say that General Denikin will drive them out, but no one can tell whether the Ukranians will tolerate them. No one can say whether the Cossacks will tolerate them in their country.” So again spoke the spokesman of the Thieves’ Kitchen. And it is strikingly strange how every one of his arguments might have been used with even greater force to deter him and his gang from conceding to Denikin and —what’s his name, Coldchuck ?—the right to speak for, not only people of territories it was doubtful if they could hold, but of territories they did not occupy.


Of course, no member of the “Labour” Opposition had the courage to open his mouth to say these things, notwithstanding the professed Bolshevik sympathies of many of them. They, grateful dogs, respect the hand that feeds them.


Hands off Profits !
On the second day of the Debate on the Address Mr. Brace moved an amendment regretting “the absence of any proposal to nationalise the mines of the country . .” He had a pretty good turn before three o’clock, and he carried on well after four, but he contributed nothing to the cause of the workers, but something to the cause of the masters. Here are samples of his arguments:


  “An hon. Member asks me, ‘Suppose it does not pay ?’ But it must pay ! . . . In addition to paying interest on the Bonds it must find money towards a sinking fund to redeem the Bonds. Indeed it must find profit for national purposes. For the mines are to be worked not to produce profit for a few people, but for the whole.”


So the capitalist Shylock is to have his pound of flesh —the Labour Party will see to that. The mines are to be run for profit to pay capitalist State expenses ; and to provide interest on capitalist Bonds; and to redeem those Bonds so the mines shall become the property of the whole of the capitalists instead of of a few of them. The capitalists will lose nothing—the Labour Party will see to that.


On the other hand, Mr. Brace and those for whom he spoke were thoughtful enough to provide additional shackles for the miners, for he embraced the following from the Sankey Report:


  The contracts of employment of workmen shall embody an undertaking . . . that no workman will, in consequence of any dispute, join in giving notice to determine his contract, nor will he combine to cease work, unless and until the question in dispute has been before the Local Mining Council and the District Mining Council and those Councils have failed to settle the dispute.


That is the sort of strangle hold the Labour Party are ready to get fixed on the workers—the treacherous hounds! We have only to consider how long we have been kept in the shackles of D.O.R.A., under the pretence that the war is not yet finished, to imagine what tricks the ruling class could play with that phrase “failed to settle the dispute.”


Welsh Humbug again.
The Prime Minister butted in in due course, and as usual indulged in cant so open and shameless as to suggest an utter lack of the sense of humour on his part. He wanted an illustration, and turned, of course, to the workers of Russia, who, he said “are to be told [by the State] where they are to work—not in what particular factory, but in what particular town or locality. The State is to say to them ‘You are no use here ; you must go to another village, which is 100 miles away.'”


This the speaker called labour conscription. But one would think that he, Mr. Lloyd George, would be the last to drag that in, when one remembers how many thousands ol men were sent, under his tyranny, not one hundred miles but three hundred, not only to certain districts but to particular factories. He did not call that labour conscription, the canting hypocrite !


The Straight Griffin.
In the debate on Supplies on Feb. 10th Mr. Lloyd George received the lie direct regarding the whole tissue of falsehoods with which he has supported his sneak-thief, under-hand, shame-faced policy of British intervention in Russia. Lieut.-Colonel Malone, taking the Government to task for treacherously supplying arms, munitions, and forces against a people who are still technically their allies, had many things to say which no member of the Government, nor any supporter of their policy, had the courage to attempt to controvert. Here are some of Lieut -Colonel Malone’s remarks :


  “I see that General Knox declared publicly a short time ago that it is no use keeping Bolsheviks in prison ; that it is much the better plan to shoot them without trial. . . Yesterday General Knox was granted the K.C.B. Was it for that he was granted the K.C.B., or was it for organising the Koltchak regime? Who were the men who surrounded Admiral Koltchak? Unelected, unnominated, unconstitutionally elected people, who had no connection with the Russian people. . .”
“I now pass to General Denikin. I will not burden the House by repeating the terrible list of atrocities which have been reported concerning territories occupied by Gen. Denikin. I will only mention one or two.”


The Picture Reversed.
The speaker then gave details of massacres, rape, branding and other villainies committed by the Denikinites which all the elaboration of capitalist hatred, could not surpass in their charges against the Bolsheviks. He then showed, from the evidence of correspondents serving with Denikin, what sort of man the “saviour of Russia” is, and drew attention to the case of the G.O.C., North Command parading his officers and men to “listen to one of these propaganda lectures by a certain reverend gentleman, a member of the Church of England, . . which is intended to stir up hate against the Soviet population.” Later the speaker squarely challenged Lr. George on his statement that the Bolsheviks had sold guns to the Germans to be used against the British. The cowards who followed wisely changed the subject.


A. E. Jacomb