Socialist Brevities

Hey Presto!

Merlin and Cagliostrio were reputed to be the thing in wizards in their day. Of recent years the Welsh Wizard has eclipsed their old-time wonders. Ninepence for fourpence, for instance. But ninepence! What would you say to 2,666.6 ninepences for fourpence? Or, in good English, one hundred jimmy o’ goblins for fourpence! Not done, you say? Oh, well, you don’t read your newspapers. Besides, you do not realise the miraculous nature of the capitalist system. Read, mark, luke—I mean learn—etc., the following instance of modern necromancy as reported in the Daily News, 25.1.29:—

£100 for 4d.

In the early stages of the Ner-Sag meeting, when the first revelations were made, but before they reached the Stock Exchange, a man rushed from the meeting to telephone his stockbroker (writes a City correspondent).
He told them to sell 500 Ner-Sag shares which he did not possess. He sold at 17s. per share. He telephoned his brokers in the afternoon and told them to buy back the 500 shares to cover his bargain. He bought them back at 12/6 each.
On February 7, the next Stock Exchange Pay Day, his brokers will pay him a little over £100.
All that this “bear” operation will have cost him is 4d. for two telephone calls.

No wands, no incantations, no stinks, no ritual of any sort! All done by kindness. A wonderful system, capitalism!

Strange Bedfellows.

Wages seem to have got so high lately that they must soon be out of reach altogether. They are, of course, for some million and a half workers now. Yes, these “excessive” wages are an awful curse! This does not apply, however, to the “wages of superintendence,” or whatever the “economists” might call the “bunce” pouched by the non-workers.

There should be a law to stop paying wages altogether and let the workers eat one another. This would keep down the “surplus” population, I have little doubt. If you read the paragraph below, taken from the Daily Herald for 7.2.29, you will readily see that a substantial decrease in the wages of the worker would ease some of the unrest and discontent of the capitalists from which industry is suffering so acutely at the present time:—


But his Dividend is 18 per cent.
Mr. Henry Allan, chairman of the Clydesdale Bank, moved at the annual meeting at Glasgow, yesterday, that the dividend on Ordinary shares should be 18 per cent., and then proceeded to complain of what he himself called high wages.
Business conditions during the past year, said Mr. Allan, were disappointing. The unemployment figures showed a large increase. Unfortunately the remedy was very difficult. In the outstanding case of the railwaymen, high wages were actually fortified by Act of Parliament.
The evil of excessive wages was aggravated by the general fall in prices which followed the return of the gold standard. Prices had fallen about 15 per cent. since 1924, without any corresponding reduction in wages.
The 18 per cent. dividend was adopted.

Now, boys, let us all pull together and try to make that 18 per cent. into 1,800 per cent. !

Those Pampered Workers.

East is East and West is West
And ne’er the twain shall meet-O!
Left is Left and Right is Right
(With knobs), ditto repeato!

What philosophical depths are plumbed by these lines! What fecundity of thought! But lately I have been assailed by doubts as to whether they apply always and without exceptions. “Liberalism,” for instance, whatever else it may be, I am told, is “Liberalism.”

Similarly, I suppose, “Labour” is “Labour,” and that might or might not explain anything or nothing, whichever may be chosen. But that Labour stalwart, J. A. Hobson, has been contending recently that there is no real difference between the aims and policies of the Liberal and the “Labour” Parties !

In an article in the Manchester Guardian (8.2.29) entitled “ Liberalism and Labour,” he advocates co-operation between the two parties on the grounds that the Liberal programme “presents a sufficient body of agreement with the adopted policy of the Labour Party to warrant thoughtful members of that party in looking favourably on co-operation.”

So, it would appear that although Mr. Hobson belongs to the Labour Party, “Hobson’s Choice” is not too well grounded. H. N. Brailsford and others agree with Hobson.

Now read the following extract from the article referred to :—

The declaration of Labour in favour of “public ownership” of foundation industries, such as land, railroads, power, and banking, may seem at first sight a fatal obstacle to co-operation. But is there much substance in it? Labour does not propose to confiscate these undertakings. Its nationalisation would have to be financed by public bond issues, which for the most part would be taken in exchange for the existing share and debenture capital of the concern so “ nationalised.”
Fixed interest would still be paid to the persons who had invested their capital in these undertakings. Would this differ appreciably from the Liberal proposal to leave the ownership of the undertakings intact, but to put them on a fixed interest or debenture basis?

Having now learnt what “ Socialism” is, I invite you to read what the Morning Post, in an editorial (11.2.29) has to say about this conception of Socialism —

They (the Labour Party) have said a thousand times: “We do not believe in your ‘capitalist’ system yet they now propose to administer that “system,” and better, apparently, than those who do believe in it.
We can understand the logic and appreciate the honesty of Socialists who seek office in order to establish Socialism; but we cannot understand the mental or moral position of Socialists who propose to take office in order to continue Capitalism. And we suggest to our readers to put these simple tests to. the professions and promises of our Socialist leaders. Do they propose to put Socialism in practice? If they do, do we want Socialism? If they do not, then why should we want them?

Isn’t this too cruel to the Labour Party! To be bombarded with the same ammunition by both the Morning Post and the Socialist Standard! No, I can’t believe those lines now!

Out Of Their Own Mouths.

On page 3 of the circular issued by the Labour Press Service great prominence is given to a statement regarding Unemployment Benefit (February 13th):—


The Government pays :—
£1 9s. 5d. a week to keep a convict in a Convict Prison.
£2 4s. 5d. a week to keep a convict in a Preventive Detention Prison.
£1 6s. 9d. to keep an offender in a Borstal Institution.
But it only pays—
17s. a week Unemployment Benefit to keep an honest workman who has the misfortune to be unemployed.
The Labour Party has repeatedly asked the Government to increase the amount of benefit for the unemployed.
The Government has refused all these requests, and has actually reduced the benefit of many of the unemployed instead of increasing it.

Then on page 4 we are informed how a Labour Government will tackle the unemployment “problem” :—

Proper maintenance for the unemployed until re-absorbed.  Until they are re-absorbed into industry, a Labour Government would see that the unemployed are treated more humanely than at present. It would increase Unemployment Benefits to 20s. for men over 18, and 18s. for women over 18; it would raise the allowance for a wife or housekeeper to 10s. weekly, and the allowance per child from 2s. to 5s.; and it would make similar increases in the benefits of young workers.
At the same time, by the discouragement of luxury spending and the direct increase of purchasing power in the hands of the workers, through better provision against unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age, a Labour Government would increase the demand for staple commodities and powerfully assist the restoration of the chief industries of the country.

In other words, until the unemployed are re-absorbed into industry the Labour Government will pay to a man over 18 9s. 5d. a week less than it costs to keep a convict in a Convict Prison, £1 4s. 5d. a week less than it costs to keep a convict in a Preventive Detention Prison, 6s. 9d. a week less than it costs to keep an offender in a Borstal Institution.

Note how the Labour Government would “powerfully assist” the restoration of the chief industries of the country by disorganising some of the “chief industries”, of . the country—the “ luxury trades.”

Providence, presumably, will be left the task of re-absorbing the workers in the luxury trades who would be thrown out of work by the application of the suggested remedy.