1920s >> 1924 >> no-241-september-1924

A look round


“Deducting loafers and criminals one person in three was in a state of perpetual poverty. . . The merely idle should be taught with the lash if need be, the dignity of work.”—(Rev. Basil Bourchier, St. Jude’s, Hampstead. Morning Post, August 11th, 1924.)

Without doubt the bogey men of Capitalism fear the danger of being left behind with their out-of-date contributions toward stifling working-class discontent. Statements upon social evils become increasingly common; but a tirade against poverty does not imply the knowledge or desire to remove the cause. Witness Lloyd George, who, with his fulsome pretence of sympathy for the workers’ suffering, still makes every effort to win their support for the system that makes that suffering inevitable. Our cleric is another, but lacking the experience of the astute politician, he lets pussy out of the bag easily. He said :

“Poverty was dangerous, it created the revolutionary temper, and was a menace to the very existence of society.”—(Ibid.)

The Socialist knows, of course, that poverty alone does not make the revolutionary. It is the knowledge of their class position and knowledge of their potential strength as a united body that makes revolutionaries among the ranks of the working class. But when we read the suggestion of flogging loafers, well ! We fear there is a grave mistake somewhere. A real Lady, writing in the Express, August 11, 1924), says :—

“The London season that has just closed has been the most brilliant and noteworthy in my memory. . . . Three months of perpetual amusement take their toll of everyone, and society is obliged to retire to the sea and the moors, or to seek the peace and tranquility of the countryside in order to recuperate. … I am inclined to think it would be better to reserve some charitable functions for the winter months, when there is little to do and time hangs heavily on our hands.” (Lady Alexander.)

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“Attempts are to be made during the coming days by several scientists to communicate with the Planet Mars, which will be in closer proximity to the earth than it has been for years. Life of a very high order it is suggested lives upon the Planet.”

Man of Mars : Say ! you must be pretty comfortable over yonder with your science, machinery, fertile soil, etc.

Earthly Socialist: Well, not exactly, there is plenty of everything for all, but the producers haven’t got it.

M. of M. : Here, no leg-pulling ! Who the stars has got it if the producers have not?

E.S. : Truth to tell, the non-producers, our masters who we do the job for.

M. of M. : Good heavens ! Are you all mad?

E.S. : No, not exactly; we, the workers, keep the show going, but our masters keep us mighty poor. You see, they have pinched this old earth and everything on it. We’re trying to get our mates to see through the game. Better news next time.

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It is not in the least surprising to the Socialist that in the rotten system of to-day those with any outstanding ability unless possessed of cunning and business acumen, lay up little for moth and rust to corrupt. Just as the labours of the inventors have mainly benefited those who could financially exploit their ideas, leaving them mostly in the direst poverty, so we find the story re-told in every walk, of life. For over 30 years the late T. E. Dunville, the music-hall comedian, continued to provoke laughter, holding his own, until quite recent time, with every popular star of his day. But fear of a declining popularity and a much reduced salary brought him to a watery grave in despair. (Daily Chronicle, March 24, 24.) As a laughter maker he must have brought fortunes to the music-hall magnates, yet he left behind the paltry sum of £236. (Daily Chonicle, August 11, 1924). How much of the great wealth of the few is coined in the tears and agony of men, women and children of the working class?

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Ask the average worker, Do the capitalists as a class work? and he will probably answer: “Well, with their brain.” Karl Marx, in his work, Capital, showed how the reaching of a certain stage of capitalist development relieves the capitalist of his onetime function of directing industry, bringing forward at the same time a special kind of wage labourer whose exclusive function now becomes the work of supervision, management, etc. Capitalists still endeavour to convince the workers that they are indispensable in order to justify their now entirely parasitic part in society. The enormous wealth extorted from the working class demands no service or ability from its receivers; they may be financially interested in dozens of concerns without any personal contact:

“Colonel Arthur Barhum is director of 62 concerns, Mr. Seymour Berry, J.P., appears as director of 71, while five of the Cory family, partners in Orders & Hansfords, are directors of 136 different companies.” (Directory of Directors.)

Let our so-called business men speak and show how they buy the brains they require like they do raw material.

“Mr. Eric Gamage, Director and General Manager of A. & W. Gamage, Ltd., says: ‘I never wasté time in doing work other people can do for me equally well.’ Sir Ernest Benn is Managing Director, Benn Brothers, Ltd. ‘These,’ he says, ‘are my rules. I never do a piece of work that can be avoided; I never do anything until I am perfectly sure that no one else is capable of doing it. It is the greatest folly to hug work.’ Sir Charles Wakefield, Director, C. C. Wakefield and Co., Ltd., ‘is emphatic upon the importance of the delegation of duties which it is not necessary he himself should perform. “I must not be interpreted wrongly when I say that I have found the golden rule to be ‘Do no work that you can put on other shoulders”.’ ”—Quoted from “How we get more into the business day,” System, July.).

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Outlining the objects of the Boy Scout movement at St. Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow, Gen. Baden Powell said (Observer, June 22, 1924) what was at the root of our troubles to-day was :—

“Selfishness of class against class, party against party, between employer and employed, and between the rich and the poor; there was continual fighting for self interest, and that was what they were out to combat.”

Which we call, without sentiment, the class struggle. That the object of the Scout movement should be to combat self-interest we never doubted—but in whom? Do the capitalists, who enjoy all the advantages arising from the workers’ efforts, require instruction as to which is the most desirable life, theirs or the workers’? Or will they rather use every effort to subdue self-interest in our class, upon whose docility and submission their privileges are based? The Chief Scout tells us other objects are the stimulation of character, handicraft, and physical health.

“All three went together, and the fourth was to harness those three points of efficiency to the service of others of the community.”

There you have it. Our masters require patriotic, industrious, and healthy boys, so that when the time arrives they may be efficient in the SERVICE OF OTHERS—in war and peace. Fellow workers, to-day you are notoriously unselfish. When, like your masters, you fight for self-interest through understanding your class position there can only be .victory for you and the establishment of Socialism.


(Socialist Standard, September 1924)

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