If there is one thing more than another which Socialists resent, it is the master’s contempt of working-class intelligence. Think of the recruiting posters of six and seven years ago, of the kind of nursing the constituencies get prior to a general election. Look at the public speeches of Mr. Lloyd George, with their inevitable and ludicrous metaphor. A picturesque figure catches the workers’ fancy; they take up a pat phrase like the latest comic song, and he knows it. The capitalists and their apologists have taken the measure of proletarian simplicity, and the workers generally prove their calculations right.
But to see what, downright insolence our class will tolerate it is necessary to go with them to the theatre or cinema, and see some of the things they applaud. A recent popular Douglas Fairbank’s film is a gem of this kind. The heroine of “The Nut,” a girl of the upper class, has a bright plan for bringing the millennium. “If everybody with a refined home,” she declares, “would open their doors for an hour each day to a child or two from the slum districts, the influence of these surroundings would be so great that the children would be bound to grow up better citizens in every way.” This hour, she is sure, will so colour the child’s growing mind that it will as naturally seek the good and beautiful as a growing flower seeks the sun.
Can you beat that?
A regular contributor to the Star, G.F.M., had a few words to say about it when the film was first shown, thought it a most beautiful idea in the abstract, and practicable, possibly, in America, where the poor have a “different attitude” towards the rich, but foresaw a little difficulty, somehow, in working it in London. She couldn’t see herself going to a woman’s door in Bethnal Green, and explaining “how much more refined my home was than hers, and how greatly her children would benefit by a daily visit.”
On the whole, we think G.F.M.’s instinct was sound. The idea being, presented not on the screen, but on her own doorstep, the woman worker would almost certainly say many things not printable in the Socialist Standard. Let us hope she would go further, and having heard and thought upon the message of our speakers in the open places and at street corners, would add, “You can boast of a refined home because we and millions like us spend our days in toil. You can point to our squalor because you and a few thousand like you steal what our toil brings forth. You want our children to have high aspirations. They shall; we will attend to that ourselves. For we are learning at last that the power is ours to despoil you, and make the world our own.”