1920s >> 1927 >> no-276-august-1927

A man of God and his “Economics”

Capitalism nust be getting in a bad way when the bogey man from the cloud department has to lend a hand in the political dope business. Between saving souls and saving capitalism, first things must be first. After the professional politician the “Fool for the Family”.

In the Evening Standard (June 22nd, 1927), the Very Reverend Dean Inge, of St. Paul’s, asks, “What is Socialism?” Under this heading he splutters about as much nonsense as will condense into two columns. In order to “mug” himself up a bit upon the “thing,” he goes to the anti-Socialists, Dr. Shadwell, Ramsay MacDonald, and F. R. Salter, for information. He learns that Plato and Jack Jones, Sir Thomas More and Tom Mann, were Socialists. In order also that he may show how Marx’s theories have been “ludicrously falsified,” he solemnly informs you that Marx “was a fierce looking man with glittering eyes and a bushy beard.” Whether he ate food or walked upright we are not told. According to the Dean, one of the falsified theories is that of the concentration of capital, with the consequently growing antagonism between workers and capitalists as distinct classes. Proof number one is that ”no more large private houses are built.” How that helps the case after the workers have built the drab and monotonous streets and tenements for themselves, as well as the “large private houses” for their masters, heaven only knows ! Proof number two is that “We can no longer distinguish classes by their clothes.” No longer ! As Socialists we never did, any more than by their faces or their feet. We do, and so can anyone, distinguish classes by the manner in which they live, as buyers or sellers of wealth producing energy. That method gives us the only two classes, the capitalists and the workers. Then we have the well-worn story of the increase of small capitalists. That this is disproved from even the masters’ own business publications we showed in the July SOCIALIST STANDARD. The Very Reverend Dean being somewhat of an amateur in the game of politics, neatly floors himself in one sentence, thus :— “There has been concentration of management, but this is a very different thing from concentration of capital.” Is it? Will he or anyone tell us how, say, twenty competing concerns can concentrate management without unifying their capitals? Are drapery, tobacco, soap, and other trusts, formed for social intercourse, or more economical working? Does not more economical working mean fewer workers required ? Did not the amalgamation of the railways mean more traffic carried with 50,000 fewer railwaymen? (See SOCIALIST STANDARD, December 23rd.)

This applies to every large industry. Marx wrote years ago that “Capitalism begets monopoly.” Was he correct, or is the Dean? Substituting Hegel’s Idealism by Historical Materialism, as Marx did, is considered by this would-be scholar a “trifling” change. Such profound learning can dismiss the corner stone of Socialist economic theory in seventeen words and not one piece of argument. This is how it is done :—”Nothing is now left of the Marxian theory of value. Political economy has finally disposed of it.” That’s all. “It is greatly to his credit, for he himself hath said it.” We ask what other theory explains the value of the mass of commodities that are all sold before they are used? What economist, past or present, has shown a flaw in “Value, Price and Profit”? We defy the Dean to show one. All we get in the way of argument is that “Marx was a poor economist, he was a poor philosopher …. he is the apostle of class hatred, the founder of a satanic anti-religion.” Could a poor village idiot without opportunities of learning make a weaker defence of the system that pampers this capitalist divine? According to his reasoning there would have been no circulation of the blood if Harvey had died a boy, no war if the Kaiser had not lived, no bitter class struggle between the masters and the modern slaves, the workers, if Marx had never analysed capitalist society and shown its cause. Every criticism ever levelled against Marx’s theories was met in the work “Capital,” where he expounded them. There even the mental decadents of a tottering system are placed in their intellectual category.

Let the Gloomy Dean take his place with capital’s great men, the alkali sweaters, the soap boilers, and the Rothschilds. His criticism appears that of a mental pigmy against the work of a scientific thinker who so well rated the puny efforts of their type to stem the tide of revolution when he wrote :—

“On the level, plain simple mounds look like hills; and the imbecile flatness of the present bourgeoisie is to be measured by the altitude of its great intellects” (“Capital,” Vol. I, p. 527)


(Socialist Standard, August 1927)

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