1920s >> 1924 >> no-234-february-1924

By The Way

Under the heading of “The Workers’ Searchlight,” a writer in The People, 7/9/23, Andrew Buchanan, J.P., appears rather anxious regarding what he terms, the various and contradictory conceptions of “Socialism” existing. Of the writings of Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Webb he states :—

  “It would be of immense advantage if their next book would deal with the various conceptions of Socialism and ‘Control of Industry,’ held by the leading members of the Labour Party, S.D.F and I.L.P.”

With real sporting instinct we may gamble that there is one conception that they, like Mr. Buchanan, will leave severely alone, and that is the scientific conception of Marx and Engels, upon which the Socialist Party is founded. A conception that furthermore proves the above organisations to be useless to the workers. Only the Marxian conception, which renders clear an understanding of the class conflict existing under capitalist society, can explain the misconceptions of such parties as the I.L.P., S.D.F., and the Labour Party, whether such misconceptions arise from a conscious effort to confuse and sidetrack the workers, or from the sickly religious sentiment of’ a large proportion of their members. The manifesto of the S.P.G.B. is a small work that deals with the treachery and confusion of the various parties existing in this country, it is a challenge to all comers, our anti-socialist J.P. included.

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Another body of people with a burning desire to “do something” for the dear workers is the Brotherhood movement. One of their number outlining their so-called principles in The People, 7/9/23, and anticipating that some impudent interloper may ask, “Is it practical?” “Does it do anything?” gives the answer in the softest of Brotherhood tones :—

  “In Britain at present we are trying to help the unemployed. During the week we held a series of meetings on the Tyneside. At these we were able to offer refreshment, some good music, and a bit of good cheer.”

Beautiful! Almost gives the impression of sublime innocence, had not the dear brethren something more far-reaching to offer:—

  “We propose an industrial truce for a period of at least five years. During that period there shall be no strikes or lock-outs, and no attempt to abuse the present situation. A genuine attempt shall be made to cope with foreign competition and restore prosperity.”

As one of the methods used by the master class to cope with foreign competition, and compete in the world’s markets is to intensify exploitation, and reduce wages as far as possible, we can imagine to what depths the Brotherhood bunkumites would reduce the workers by their nonsensical proposals. Contemplate the position: The masters using every means to wring the utmost ounce of useful energy from the toilers, gratifying their profit lust, whilst the said workers are to become such abjectly servile creatures as not even to raise a murmur in protest. What a paradise—for the masters. Truly the Brotherhood reveals its’ obsequious capitalist nature in every utterance.

  “By means of warm-hearted fellowship it endeavours to free society from the murmur and the subtlety of suspicion with which we vex one another and to persuade the public mind with the finer essence of generosity forgiveness and forbearance. ”

What drivel! Warm-hearted fellowship under class robbery, through the vilest form of human slavery that ever existed, forgiveness foe the wholesale murder of the workers in industry and war, forbearance amidst unemployment, wearying toil, and vile surroundings; and yet this sloppy crew would plead with you that “There shall be no attempt to abuse the present situation.” Why? for their capitalist masters’ sake they do not wish to see the workers restless and impatient, seeking the way out of their misery, spurning the proffered assistance of the liars who pretend solicitude for the workers’ welfare. They declare that

  “In place of the present feud between Capital and Labour there ought to be understanding and help. Unless it is secured we shall plunge into bankruptcy.”

We declare war, bitter, relentless war upon capitalism and its defenders until victory to the workers shall be secured by the coming of Socialism.
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 “The time had come when someone should speak instead of waiting for Socialists to explain or exploit evils. People were asking for ideals, and it was the man with such who was after all the most practical and ‘got there’ every time” (South London Press, 2/11/23).

What a harvest awaits the advent of these practical people to-day. In Great Britain alone over 40,000 men, women and children succumb annually to that dread disease tuberculosis, a disease admitted by all authoritative opinion to be due to poor resistance to infection, through bad conditions, i.e., bad housing, insufficient food, etc.

  “The sanatorium treatment has taught this lesson—that Tuberculosis is more a social and economic than a microbe problem, and could be more or less eradicated in a generation if the nation seriously attempted to improve the social conditions of the people. Better feeding and better housing are surer weapons against Tuberculosis than vaccines” (Dr. Muthu, 25 years Mendip Hills Sanatorium: Daily News, 23/8/23).

But these conditions are an inseparable part of capitalism; it breeds them and fosters them.

 “When these are remedied this fell disease will as surely disappear in the same way as leprosy, typhus, smallpox, and typhoid fever ” (Daily Mail Year Book, 1923, p. 4).”

How does our idealist “get there”? He is so very practical, you know. By removing the cause? Oh dear no! A few months away from the original breeding ground, improved conditions—for a time, and then—the victim is returned to the same old source of infection to become acquainted with the same old conditions such is the remedy of the people who are the “most practical.” Disease is only one of the effects of the social conditions of to-day, and the only real service to suffering humanity is rendered by those who seek to establish a sane and healthy system in place of capitalism with its multitude of disorders.

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What superficial observers of the social conditions of to-day we Socialists appear to be, for here in our midst is a source of social corruption unestimated by us, and yet so great in magnitude that common or ordinary mortals cannot even imagine its devastating influences!

  “I do not think it is possible for the ordinary reader to imagine the moral decline, the mischievous influence over all alike, which spring, from this evil thing. The steady receipt of money for which no equivalent in work is rendered makes against everything that is good in the receiver’s life. I do not hesitate to say that tens of thousands of people in these islands have learned, or are learning at this very time, to live without work” (General Booth: Daily Mail, 14/12/23).

Without work—how sad, and terrible, and all that was once noble and idyllic in their tranquil lives bartered for a paltry pittance—a dole: surely the end of everything. It is not poverty, nor prostitution, your filthy slums or your work-burdened lives that casts a gloom over your existence, but, according to the comic opera general, the return by your masters of a microscopic portion of the wealth stolen from you in order to effect them a cheap insurance against the more costly discontent that might arise from your desperate plight. Is work such an elevating and ennobling pastime that it should be the sole purpose of your existence? The capitalist idlers and their charity mongers would have you believe so, that they may continue in affluent security; when all partake in the needful work of an organised community insulting charity for you and senseless luxurious debauchery for your masters will be relegated to the many absurdities of a class society.

W. E. MacHaffie