1920s >> 1925 >> no-255-november-1925

Socialism is not Christianity

“Socialism is Christianity,” by John Shelburne. 2½d, post free, from the Author, at 6, Marlboro’ Hill, Harrow.

This is a pitiful pamphlet. It contains more confused thought and more misunderstanding of Socialism, of history and of the economics of capitalism than one would have thought possible in 16 pages. The author’s contentions are simple ones :— “Socialism is Christianity”—”Christianity is love”—and “By love, we can achieve all.” Mr. Shelburne is in ecstasy over his discovery of this solvent for all problems, but, sadly enough, after he has yearned and dithered soulfully about Love, for 15 pages, he has to confess that there is one thing he cannot achieve. To his question, “What is Love?” he can only answer enigmatically with another question, “Who can define it?” Not Mr. Shelburne, at any rate.

But we can leave this stuff and get down to the real purpose of the pamphlet—the defence of exploitation and a plea for its continuance. We are asked to look upon the question of the ownership of wealth as a “secondary purpose” (page 13), not to let ourselves be confused by such “subsiduary issues,” but to “Look with visionary eyes into the far distances” (page 16).

Rewards for following this course of action will duly be distributed :—for the workers the “Peace which passeth understanding,” and for the capitalist class “the current rate of interest” on their investments.

He is a Labour man, writing for Labour Party branches, and naturally, therefore, he is an advocate of that form of capitalism known as nationalisation. At present the capitalists live on the dividends resulting from investments. Mr. Shelburne will allow them to go on living without working, that is, living at the expense of the wealth producers, provided only that they submit to the epoch-making innovation of calling their profits “interest” instead of “dividends.” He proposes that the Government shall “use their capital . . . paying the shareholders interest according to the state of the money market” (page 10). Capitalists will invest their money in “Government and Municipal stocks and bonds,” which “is justified as it receives the current rate of interest ” (page 9).

Mr. Shelburne is enthusiastic about the late “Labour” Government, but omits to complete the picture of this party of “simple,” “innocent,” “pure,” “true,” and “beautiful” walkers on “the heights of love.”

He does not mention Mr. C. G. Ammon, Christian and pacifist, defending the flogging of boys in the Navy, or the Labour Cabinet permitting repeated shooting at strikers in India, or ordering bombing expeditions on Irak tribesmen.

But when a man has one “visionary eye” fixed on the “far distances” and the other on the “state of the money market” and the “current rate of interest,” he cannot be expected to see everything.


(Socialist Standard, November 1925)

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