References to the “Haves” and “Have- Nots” have suddenly sprung into prominence during the past 12 months, and all sorts of people are demanding that an international conference be called to remove this cause of world unrest immediately. As Socialists have used the same phrases for upwards of half a century at least, we should be glad that we have been heard at last. It turns out, however, that it isn’t our problem they are worrying about, but the problem of the older and fatter bandits again, in their relationship to the lean and hungry ones. Poor Germany and Poland and Japan and Italy have no colonies, or none to speak of, while England, France, Holland, Belgium and Portugal are glutted. So Mr. Lansbury, in the House of Commons on February 5th moved a resolution which asked that a new international conference be called owing to the widespread preparations for war.
To deal with the economic factors which are responsible, such as the necessity for access to raw materials and to markets and for the migration of peoples, with a view to arriving at an international agreement which will remove from the nations the incentive to pile up armaments and establish the peace of the world on a sure foundation.—(Times, February 6th.)
The intention behind the resolution may be good and it is conceivable that international nego-. tiations between the capitalist powers behind which would be the threat of war, might secure some transfers of territory or access to markets without an actual outbreak of war on a large scale. Nevertheless, the scheme itself is a hopeless one from the point of view of removing friction and world unrest. It is capitalism itself which breeds rivalries and hatreds at home and abroad, not the fact that some countries have much and the others no colonial territory. The problem of finding markets is the same in little as in large countries, and the solution is not to be sought abroad at Geneva, but at home in London, Paris, Tokio and New York.
Are we opposed to the have-nots entering into possession? By no means. On the contrary, it is only the Socialists who are in favour of it, while all the Powers which shed tears of self-pity about their wrongs are as firmly opposed to it as the big colonial Powers. The have-nots who must take over are the dispossessed masses of all countries. Having done so the world will no more be troubled by the ambitions, hatreds and war-threats of the capitalists and their military machines.
Mr. Lansbury wants “poor” Germany and Italy to have “access to raw materials.” Great Britain has such access already, and Germany had it before 1914, but the British and German workers had not and have not. British workers have no more right to work the raw materials in British territories than German workers have. The cultivable territory and all the mineral wealth underground is owned and controlled by the capitalists and their Governments.
In short, Mr. Lansbury’s proposal is to redistribute the loot among the world’s brigands. Our proposal is to end the brigandage, that is capitalism, at home and abroad.