1920s >> 1921 >> no-197-january-1921

The Irony Of It

“It is a strange irony”—so concludes an editorial in the “Daily News” of 13.11.20, under the title of “The Two Paths,” wherein is described the ceremonial which took place on the day following the anniversary of the armistice. The writer, playing upon the emotions, remarks:


  “The kings and chaplains and prelates had departed, the pomp and ceremonial ended, and then the people, not only those of London, but from all parts of these islands, drawn as naturally as men lost in a desert, came quietly together and made Whitehall the beating heart of England.”


We are not unmindful of the untold suffering and misery which has been inflicted upon the working class of the world as a result of the Great European War. Millions of working-class lives were sacrificed ; shattered constitutions and wrecked hopes are the lot of many thousands of victims who have survived King Capital’s carnage. And the class responsible for all this misery—the ruling class of the world—still are the principal figures in the drama of life ; and the working class, doped, dazed, bewildered, still gaze on the players with reverence and awe—a satisfied audience whose emotions are carried along on the tide of a stupefying misconception of life. The working-class conception of life conception of life consists of work and wages. These two things fill their horizon and colour all things else. Their inevitable reward is insecurity of livelihood, poverty and toil. It is for a condition of life like this that the workers have made their sacrifices and given their best to further the interests of King Capital.


One of the greatest tragedians on the social stage—David Lloyd George—on the occasion of one of the numerous rehearsals which are periodically held throughout the land—the Lord Mayor’s banquet at the Guildhall—said in an optimistic speech : “The workmen are three fourths of the population and the future of the country depends upon their common sense and their patriotism.” (“Daily News,” 10.11.20.)


There you see the actor setting the scenery for another drama which will shortly be acted—The General Election. They are rehearsing; they are advertising. They will organise a mammoth campaign. Coalitionists, Liberals, and Labourites will come before you, each blackguarding the other, each representing different sectional interests of the capitalist class. They will cajole, flatter, and trick you into going to the great show. They are prepared to spend millions of pounds in this direction, though thousands may be destitute and starving. They depend upon the common sense and patriotism of three-fourths of the people—the working class.


The term ”common sense” is a vague phrase typical of the foggy nature of most of the utterances of men like Lloyd George, who, we call to mind, coined those mystic phrases, “A land fit for heroes to live in” ; “Let there be sunlight in the workman’s cottage” ; “The land shall be a field of waving corn.” They reflect the depth of working-class political ignorance and apathy.


“Patriotism” is something more concrete. It is the love of one’s country. The country belongs to the master class. Those who own the earth own those who live upon the earth. It should be clear, therefore, you dignified, politically ignorant three-fourths of the population, that you are nothing more than wage slaves—you cannot well be less.


It is a strange irony, therefore, that while you are marching with your grief to Whitehall there should be another army of marchers, as the editorial above referred to points out, the great army of unemployed—men and women denied the opportunity to live, compelled to see those dependent upon them reduced to hunger, reduced even to starvation.


The “Daily News” editorial finishes with heart-tearing sighs and veiled regrets. Hypocritical, maudling, sentimental pathos is contained in those words—”It is a strange irony,” because the “Daily News” serves as one of the daily programmes of King Capital’s drama, figuring the scenes which tell of the misery and sufferings of the workers—that three fourths of the population upon whose votes so much depends.


How much depends ? Why, the very existence of the capitalists as a ruling class.


The picture drawn above should be clear. The capitalist Press of the entire world is the servant of the capitalist class. Its members know what is behind the scenes, and their function in life is to provide the limelight, the music, and the curtain.


I will conclude with the remark that it is a strange irony that a small minority—the ruling or capitalist class—should retain their privileged position in modern society while “three-fourths of the population” should be compelled as a consequence to live miserable lives, struggling for the mere necessities of existence. Truly it is a strange irony that the working class, by whose labours, applied to the raw materials of mother earth, all wealth is produced, who fight the sectional battles of the ruling class, should be so politically ignorant that they give all power to their enemies when at election times they record their votes in favour of the class who are the cause of all the economic evils mankind is suffering throughout the capitalist world to-day.


Fellow Workers, arise from the depths of your dumb despair. Arise and avenge yourselves for the untold suffering which for so long has been your lot. Rid yourselves of the horrors and nightmares of capitalism. The world and all its fruits stand ready for you to take—are you worthy to enjoy them? If you are you will be with us, helping to organise your class in the Socialist Party, in order that the present social system may give place to the Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth.


Do not run away with the idea that you cannot help, that your weight will not count, that your efforts do not matter. To those who think thus there is a special meaning in Clough’s splendid lines:


“Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.


If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars:
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And but for YOU possess the field.”


So if you agree that our principles and policy are correct, do your obvious duty and join us.


O. C. I.