1920s >> 1922 >> no-212-april-1922

“The Japs in Siberia”.

The above is the title of a leaflet published by the “National ‘Hands off Russia’ Committee.”

It contains an introductory foreword over the signatures of Robert Williams, Ben Tillett, M.P., John Bromley, Neil Maclean, M.P., J. E. Mills, M.P., and Robert Smillie. The leaflet points out how the Ruling Class of Japan are endeavouring to obtain a foothold in Siberia by means of their armies and navies for the purpose of furthering their imperialistic ambitions. The leaflet describes that in the process, however, atrocities are being perpetrated by Japanese, which bring to mind the mediaeval torture chambers.

We think there is nothing particularly unusual about these methods; they are merely typical of the long line of atrocities which have been inflicted by one capitalist power after another in their respective endeavours to monopolise markets and extend their fields of exploitation and plunder over the backward countries. Needless to say, in these adventures it has been the working class who have done the fighting ; it is working-class lives which have been thus offered up as sacrifices in the interests of International Capitalism. Organisations like the “Hands off Russia” Committee may continue to publish leaflets like the above to the extent of millions of tons, but it does not touch the root of the matter ; it is merely trifling with the effects of a particular system of society known as Capitalism. The mission of the Socialist Party, however, is to lay bare the general trend of Capitalist development; to point out unceasingly that, so long as the system lasts, atrocities will be repeated; that they are effects which spring from the very roots of the Capitalist system, because they are grounded in the soil of competitive rivalry for world’s markets, trade routes, etc. The only remedy is to remove the cause, capitalism, and replace it by the International Co-operative Commonwealth.

Therefore, when the above-mentioned well-known Labour leaders write as follows in their introductory note to the leaflet—

“As Internationalist, we would urge the workers of Europe, America, the British Colonies, and the world generally, to do all that is possible to apply a boycott of all things Japanese until the Japanese troops are completely withdrawn from Siberia.”

They are only confusing the issue by suggesting impossible things as remedies for a rotten system. Fancy the workers, of the countries preferred to boycotting Japanese articles ! The workers will always endeavour to obtain the best value for their money. It is one of the guiding principles of the Capitalist system to strive for the best value obtainable in the ordinary course of exchange—i.e., buying and selling. If applies equally to the workers as it does to the capitalist. The worker receives wages and expends them to the very best advantage—i.e., in the purchase of the best value in the shape of the necessaries of life. It matters not to him whether the goods he buys are Japanese, German, or Chinese— he seeks the best value for his money. He is bound to do this, or his power to work will deteriorate, and with it his chance of a job.

The capitalist seeks the highest degree of labour power which the labour market can produce; he wants the best value also.

Pious suggestions like the above melt in the air when they come into contact with the force of the facts mentioned.

But here is the cream of absurdity in the introductory note above referred to :—

“The workers of the West should spend tens of thousands of pounds in an active and well- directed propaganda amongst their fellow workers in the East, in order that the necessary and salutory pressure should be brought against the Eastern over lords of land and industrial capital.”

We wonder what the millions of unemployed wage slaves of the Western world will have to say to this. Faced as they are with conditions which mean a scanty, meagre, semi-starved existence, to collect “tens of thousands of pounds” from the workers is a suggestion grotesque and impossible under the circumstances. These Labour leaders are either fools or liars.

Once again, therefore, we tell the workers that they must overthrow the system which makes possible such misery and suffering to their class, which causes wars and the horrors arising therefrom, famines, atrocities, starvation in the midst of plenty, and all the countless evils which beset the worker to-day.

Further, we claim to have found the remedy. We say it consists in ceaselessly striving to acquire an understanding of the forces at work, and the economic laws which govern the capitalist system.

Fellow-workers, as a counter-blast to the above-quoted confusion, get down to the solid work of understanding your class position, which Socialist knowledge alone makes clear.

W. I.

(Socialist Standard, April 1922)

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