1920s >> 1924 >> no-244-december-1924

A look around


What slimy hypocrites are the ruling class of to-day. Every opportunity is seized upon to pour out tears of sympathy for their victims, when the process is not a costly one; but let it mean dipping into the merest portion of their wealth and, what a difference. Armistice Day is one of those occasions when our masters launch upon us a flood of nauseating cant. It is, we are told, in remembrance of our “glorious dead,” but compare such pretended capitalist sympathy with the treatment meted out to the workers at all times. It would indeed be surprising were it otherwise.

“At the present time there are 800,000 ex-Service men unemployed, of whom 300,000 are young men not much over 30 years of age, who gave their best years to serve their country. “—Daily Chronicle, 16/9/24.

In like manner their wartime heroes are left to die in want; same paper says (25/10/24) :—

“Thomas Whitliam, V.C., who won the honour when a private in the Coldstream Guards during the war, died of peritonitis at Oldham Royal Infirmary yesterday. Mr. Whitham, who leaves a widow and six children, had been out of work and had had to raise money on his medal.”

The following is also a specimen of our kind masters’ gratitude :—

“Wages of workmen in the Manchester Corporation Gas Mains Department were yesterday found to be 2s. 3d. short . . . the explanation given was that the sum represented two hours’ stoppage for Armistice Morning. Six hundred workers, all ex-Service Men, are affected.”—Ibid, 15/11/24.

Well might the workers remember their masters’ recruiting appeals : “Isn’t this worth fighting for?” “What will you lack sonny?” May they remember that it was the Labour Party that rendered such able assistance in such appeals. Likewise that it was the same Labour Party that was prepared to use the masters’ military legions as strike breakers when you were fighting to maintain your standard of living during their term of office.

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An applicant at Greenwich County Court said that his landlord, who was a “great Socialist,” refused to accept rent from him. Whereupon the oracle of justice, dipping deep into his reservoir of wisdom, delivered himself of the following : —

“Probably then he doesn’t want the rent. A Socialist I believe is a person who has no objection to accumulating Capital on his own account but denies the right of other people to do so.” —Star, 4/10/24.

Let us reason ! A capitalist is one who owns wealth in the form of capital : A Socialist is a member of the working class who realises his slave position and works for Socialism. Like the rest of the workers he is poor. It is his class whose wage labour applied to nature’s minerals provides the wealth which the capitalist class dissipate in luxury, spend on wars, armies, navies, etc., or accumulate in the form capital in order to further exploit the workers for profit. Wage slavery never permits of more than a continued poverty existence. The workers’ accumulation is one of misery and insecurity. The Socialist doesn’t deny the “right” of the capitalist to possess capital because he knows that “right” is backed up by the political control of armed forces. What the Beak calls “right’ is called by the Socialist “might.” When the workers organise to control that might the masters will be welcome to the right. We stand for the common ownership of the earth and its control by the whole people, i.e., the abolition of capitalism and its corollary capital.

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We have never doubted the sincerity of George Lansbury’s actions in the interests of—George Lansbury. Through the columns of the “Daily Herald,” 8/11/24. He puts forth an admixture of “Jesus,” “What I Think,” and spurious economics. Says he:—

“All who possess health and strength should be only too glad to help maintain those unable because of disability to do a full week’s work for a full week’s wage.”

Quite a common mis-statement dear to the Labour Party confusionist, plus the sentiment which is such an asset to Lansbury. He knows that the wages the workers receive hover round a bare cost of living basis, which only suffices to replenish their energy. In the “Herald,” 17/3/24, he wrote of “thousands of miners whose wages had sunk below subsistence level.” presumably by short working time, which had to be supplemented by Poor Law Relief. That section therefore of the working class not required by the masters, either because they are physical wrecks or those whom it is unprofitable to employ, must be retained in some sort of condition by the capitalists who own the mass of the wealth, which constitutes the proceeds of the robbery of the working class. Dare Lansbury deny that? Obviously the masters wish to keep their expenses (rates and taxes) as low as possible, for they come out of their profits.. This is where the Labour leader renders assistance, first by endeavouring to disguise the process of working class exploitation, and second by trying to convince the workers that the masters’ rates and taxes concern them in order to keep them as low as possible. Proof:—

“The larger Poplar ratepayers who squeal so much about the rates have therefore on the balance been saved at least £250,000 yearly as a result of the Poplar Labour Movement during the last four years.” —Poor Law Officers Journal, quoted Labour Leader, 6/3/24.

The “larger” ratepayers ought, therefore, to be grateful for they pocket an extra million in profit. Those who confuse the workers, knowingly or otherwise, are the best friends of the capitalist, and will merit their appreciation despite the pretence of their opposition. It is clear that it doesn’t
Matter whose the votes are, because—

“As your member in the last two parliaments, I desire to thank both friends and opponents for the loyal support which they have given me during that period. “—Lansbury Election Address, October 24th.

—As Socialists we know we will meet with bitter opposition from our opponents (Labourites included) : It is significant that while it took us six years to rake up £1,000 the I.L.P. Election Fund contained anonymous £500’s and £l,000’s, and one large employer of labour, Mr. Bernard Barron, while deploring the defeat of the Labour Government could contribute to the Labour Party funds, £5,000 in one gift. (“Chronicle,” 13/10/24.)

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“Business Organisation” is a magazine devoted to devices and schemes for extracting the maximum amount of energy from the workers, with the minimum cost. It claims to be disinterested in politics, save in so far as they “check trade and hamper the efforts of our readers to find work for labour and make profit for themselves.” (October.) Eager to obtain insight into this divine arrangement, we read on, and learn of the great Woolworth : ”The thought occurred to him that in future he would pay others to work for him, and so large did his business grow that he had never even entered some of his stores.” Another gentleman who also discovered the trick of how to find work—for others—was Mr. Selridge; he embarked on a world tour a few months ago, “just to show he isn’t indispensable in the business” (Ibid,). The above instances apply equally to the capitalists as a whole. When the workers no longer consider it a privilege to be allowed to fashion a world of pleasure for others, that pleasant world can be theirs.


(Socialist Standard, December 1924)

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