Editorial: The Past, the Present, and the Future
Another year is dawning and perhaps it is as good a time as any to take stock of our progress.
That the class struggle exists and is waged consciously by the masters should be obvious to those who have given a little thought to recent events. The struggle the miners put up and the relentless attitude of the coalowners, backed up by other sections of the employing class, makes this clearer than it has ever been.
The general rise in wages due to war causes (though this rise lagged behind the rise in the cost of living) had given place to a general downward tendency as the shadow of war lifted. Professional politicians and Labour leaders vied with one another in helping the campaign for increased production, urging that to get back to prosperous peace conditions more goods must be produced at a cheaper cost of production. The plea was put forward on two entirely different lines, so that if one failed to catch the credulous the other might succeed.
One line of argument was that owing to the slackening in production of ordinary merchandise during the war period the world was poorer and different countries were heavily in debt. In order to save the world from bankruptcy, then, all workers were urged to put their backs into production to bring into being the rosy future that was promised.
The other line of argument was that we had fallen behind during the war and our competitors had cornered the market. So that we must work harder and cheaper in order that the “foreigner” might be pushed out of the markets upon which he had obtained a grip.
Of course the tale told to the workers of this country was similar to that told to the workers of other countries.
To some extent the propaganda succeeded and those who sought to show the ugly hand of exploitation in the tangle of romance and fable pouring from press and platform were treated as victims of a narrow outlook that prevented a clear conception of world problems.
Down came wages and harder became the conditions, until the workers were at last forced to take more or less united action lest the last vestige of the conditions, obtained after years of struggle, should be filched from them.
In the early part of this year wage-struggles were imminent in the more important industries; then, like a clap of thunder, came the miners’ lock-out and the partial general strike, the latter brought to an ignominious end by the action of the Government and the connivance of those who had so energetically backed the “increased production” campaign.
These events have already been fully dealt with in these columns, but black though the recent record has been, it yet contains gleams of brightness that promise well for the early coming of daylight.
In spite of the limitations of the recent strike and the deplorable attitude of many of those who were its leaders, it yet demonstrated beyond contravention, to those who look facts squarely in the face, that however useful a General Strike might be in a wage-struggle, it is utterly useless as a means to remove the capitalists’ domination. It further demonstrated that class solidarity has made considerable progress among the workers.
Before the Labour Government came into office, a few years ago, large groups of workers had taken part in disastrous strikes. The results sickened them for a time of what goes by the name of “mass action,’” and they turned their attention more to political action, with the result that the Labour Party were returned to Parliament with a vastly increased vote. The actions of the Labour Party when in office alienated a good deal of its support, with the result that “mass action” again had a vogue. Now we have a gigantic object lesson of the weaknesses of “mass action,” and again the workers are turning longing eyes politically. To some, memory is a fleeting thing, and in spite of the history of the Labour Party and the political organisations that support it, there appears to be a tendency to give it another trial. It is just here that we come in to make our protest.
Times out of number we have shown in these columns the fundamental weaknesses of the Labour Party, and have demonstrated that it is unworthy of working-class support.
Our propaganda, however, is seriously limited by the lack of finance. With infinite difficulty we have managed to publish a few thousand copies of the Socialist Standard and spread them as widely as means would permit. We have struggled to place a few pamphlets in the field of propaganda, but lack of funds has prevented the reprinting of old ones and the publication of new ones. We are unable to send speakers to many places throughout the country again because of the lack of the sinews of war.
For the above mentioned reasons we have only been able to reach a limited number of our fellow workers. Yet in spite of this serious defect our progress during the past year has been gratifying. We have had a most hopeful and continued influx of new members, and branches have been formed, or are in process of formation, in districts that hitherto had heard no word of us. This shows that there is a demand for a genuine working-class political party having for its avowed object the abolition of wage-slavery.
With the coming of the New Year, we therefore appeal to all those who are in agreement with our principles and policy, but have not yet joined, to take the step now and help us in the only struggle that dwarfs all others—the struggle of the wealth producers for control of the instrument they operate and the wealth they produce.
To further this end we want as much funds as sympathisers and supporters can contribute. For instance, now that we have received the final delivery of our pamphlet Socialism, we have another pamphlet on historical lines that waits but the funds to publish.
Help us with your membership and with funds so that we can carry the fight all over this island.