The Man in the Back Street

The Daily News, of May 16th, 1922, had an interesting editorial on the Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Masterman’s article in the same issue, entitled “The Wealth of England.” Sentences in the editorial were quite up to the S.S. Standard :—

“The contrast between the gaudy phantasmagoria of politics and the sordid facts which for the great mass of the people make up life is always there. The politicians talk on interminably of their high matters, determining the fate of great nations, regulating, or affecting to regulate, the courses of trade, composing peroration upon peroration on liberty, or the balance of power, or the honour of the Empire, or whatever other catchword best reflects the mood of the moment. The man in the back street feels no doubt in the end, and indirectly, the result of it all. Directly, it has as much relevance to his thoughts and his feelings, his hopes and his fears, as the road to Mandalay. His concern is to keep a roof over his head, and, if he is luckv enough to have one already, to earn enough money to keep himself and his family in some semblance of comfort; to win, if it may be, some stray glimpse of light and colour in the hard, squalid wilderness of his life. It is easy to rebuke men so situated for ‘taking no interest in politics.’ So situated, who would? It is easy to charge them with lack of patriotism or indifference to the things that matter. Let the prophets who say these things change places with their victims, and see how much they care for Empires on which the sun never sets in courts to which the sun never penetrates.”

The Daily News see the workers are tired of the old Liberals, and in despair say plain words about the conditions of the working-class. No doubt the Daily News would like the workers to vote out the Coalition Government. But there is something deeper that is the cause of this darkness and blight on working-class lives. The capitalist system of wealth production and distribution would keep out the sun and brightness whatever the Goverment. with whatever name you may give it. It tickles us somewhat, when the Editor says, “Let the prophets change places with their victims and see how much they care for Empires, etc.” What funny Daily News to give us. Surely the changing of places of individuals would only change the antics of individuals. Mrs. Soapsuds of the back street would surely become Lady Pears, and Mr. Coalheaver would shine as Lord Hard Nuts? Our cocoa editor—should the Liberals gain office—would get Empire on the brain again. Socialism is the only remedy—and the artfulness of parties out of office helps us to get on with the work—sometimes.

S. W.

(Socialist Standard, October 1922)

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