Five Penny Pamphlets. A Review
Of these, one, “The Condition of the English Working Classes” contains some really useful information for the Socialist. The conclusion drawn from the full particulars of money-wages, prices, and unemployment since 1900 is that there has been “from 1900 onwards, a steady lowering of the standard of life to the working classes.” An attempt is also made to estimate the effect produced by the payment of unemployment benefit.
The others, while carefully prepared, were intended chiefly for the defence of the Labour Government at the Election, and are a typical product of the disgruntled Liberal now so common in the Labour Party, the kind of people once happily described by the “Morning Post” as “Bourgeois turned sour.”
The “British Bondholders” after pointing out that the bondholders “are not the working class,” asks the workers to support the Russian Treaty, which is to force payment of interest to bondholders on old loans, and arrange a new loan on which more interest will be paid to bondholders.
“Why a Treaty with Soviet Russia?” instead of explaining why some capitalist interests support and others oppose the Russian Treaty, is based on the simple and misleading statement that “The capitalists hate Soviet Russia.” It contains a summary of the relations between the British and Russian Governments since 1905.
“Facts about the Combines” and “Who Keeps Prices High?” contain figures about the profits, and facts about the organisation, of several big trusts. They both argue in the style of the old Liberals, that capitalism would be all right if it were not for the wicked trusts which keep prices high. “Under these trusts in the last twenty-four years the condition of the working classes has become worse and worse; if the condition of the workers is to improve it will only be after they have broken the power of the capitalists who control these trusts.” One might suppose that before trusts were heard of, back in the middle of the nineteenth century, the working class (Who are these working classes?) were doing very well, instead of being actually in the same position as they are now.
These are obtainable from the Labour Research Department, 1G2, Buckingham Palace Road, S.W.1.
(Socialist Standard, November 1924)