A look round
THE GLORIES OF THE EMPIRE.
“I can see nothing but progress in the British Empire and nothing but progress in the British race.” (Lord Leverhulme, Daily Sketch, May 3rd, 1924.)
Our noble Lord, including his “directive ability,” has returned from a world tour; in the meantime the production of soap and margarine had proceeded undisturbed. One lesson the workers have yet to learn is that had Leverhulme taken the whole of the Capitalist class with him the production and distribution of wealth would have been unhindered as far as their absence is concerned.
The results of his observations appear to be as mythical as his directive ability, or perhaps he has peculiar notions of progress. According to that organ of Empire (Observer, May 4, 1924) the number of persons in Great Britain in receipt of poor law relief for the year ending 1923, had reached a proportion higher than at any period since 1879. One town within the “Empire,” namely Glasgow, sheltered within its police cells, not as prisoners, but as “destitute persons,” 51,598 people within that same year (Parl. Debates, February 19, 1924). Pages could be filled with similar items of starvation, disease and despair, touching every phase of working-class life. Space only permits of one further item, illustrative, in an indirect manner, of the sanctity of family life (Capitalist variety) on which we are for ever told the greatness of our Empire was built :—
“Before the Royal Commission upon Venereal Disease, a witness estimated that in the British Isles there are about 850,000 fresh cases of venereal disease every year.” (Pamphlet issued by the National Council for Combating Venereal Disease.)
THE MEANING OF THE HOUSING BILL.
“The Wheatley method of presentation of the Housing Bill has not conduced to its ready acceptance, except by those who hate Capitalism in whatever shape or manner it may be presented.” (Democrat, July 11, 1924).
Even were the above statement true it could still be shown that the Labour Party’s Housing scheme is not only a necessary Capitalist reform, but that it will confer a much greater benefit upon that class than upon the workers. Every reform, whether it has been the franchise, the factory Acts, or old age pensions (all reforms equally essential to advancing Capitalism) has met with sectional opposition from the master class, an opposition always more or less fraudulent, and calculated to convey the impression that the opponents’ only thoughts are for their wage slaves. A peep behind the Capitalist scenes reveals the truth of the above and shows the lying nature of the statement that the Labour Party are Socialists. Introducing the Housing Bill Mr. Wheatley said :—
“I notice that the right Honourable member for Twickenham in criticising my proposals the other day, said : ‘This is real Socialism.’ . . . I am going to remind them as the representatives in this house of the great industrialists of the country. . . for the sake of their pockets, to recognise that it is impossible to produce in the housing conditions of to-day workers who can successfully compete in the world’s markets of to-morrow. The proposals which I am submitting are real Capitalism—an attempt to patch up in the interests of humanity, a capitalist ordered society.” (‘”Parlia-mentary Debates,” Vol. 174, June 3rd, 1924.)
Fellow workers, you voted for Capital¬ism either avowed or masquerading as “Labour.” Now, in order that you may be made more efficient workers to compete for your masters’ markets, they will “patch you up,” giving you “real Capitalism” for “the sake of their pockets.”
THE LABOUR PARTY’S “SOCIALISM”
“Many years of study had overwhelmingly convinced him that in the gradual application of Socialist Principles lay the future hope of the world. . . . The police force, Courts of Justice, the army and navy, and our civil administration were Socialist and collective institutions”(Oswald Mosley, Manchester Guardian, May 6th, 1924).
Some hope ! No wonder Ramsay MacDonald welcomed this recruit to “Socialism,” whose years of study convinced him that Socialism would be a sort of international police force. Definitions, as such, can have little bearing on Socialism as a science, but even a shilling Capitalist dictionary gets nearer than our “overwhelmed” student. Cassell’s pocket edition says :—
“Socialism is the theory that the materials from which labour produces wealth should be the proerty of the community.”
And providing the “community” be the whole people we agree. To-day we live in Capitalist society, in which those materials are the property of Capitalists, including, of course, the form into which the workers’ industry has changed such materials, i.e., railways, machinery, warehouses, etc. Such wealth is called Capital, and is used to exploit the workers for profit. An analysis of the above mentioned institutions will show their primary purpose to be the continuance of that exploitation, and whether it takes the collective form of the trust, the combine, or nationalisation as in the Post Office, Capitalism it remains, and it is indeed in such forms that we see the present system in its highest form of Capitalist ownership. There is no gradual transition to Socialism within the present system. We claim that all the industrial forms of to-day are ripe for social change BUT for the understanding of a majority of the workers. Only social revolution can bring that change and as the Labour Party stand as “a bulwark against revolution” (L.P. Manifesto. Oct. 24, 1922, General Election), they are anti- Socialists.
“The suggestion that advertising should be applied to popularise religion was discussed by Father Knox, who preached at Westminster Cathedral yesterday, his subject being, “Truth in Advertising,” the slogan of the Advertising Convention” (Morning Post, July 14th, 1924.)
The subordination of art, literature, drama, etc., to the mercenary requirements of capitalism has long been a recognised fact. The artist must embody his art in the poster of the adulterated provisions purveyor, the journalist must meet the mentality of a war-mad world, or the ethics and ideas of our masters’ so-called peace, the cinema star must in devious ways serve up the carefully prepared and censored material that portrays working-class poverty as incidental and romantic. The scientist, the priest, all must, if they would bid for Capitalist patronage, bring their services to the buyers. Small wonder that the awakening of the workers alarms the religionists, and suggests to them the methods of the soap boiler, or the medicinal quack. The ever increasing number of workers who despise the promise of a heavenly reward in a world in which they provide material comfort for an idle few, drives religion to the last ditch. It is as Marx says, “The opium of the people.” Socialism is its antidote.
(Socialist Standard, August 1924)