1940s >> 1943 >> no-465-may-1943

Fireside Reflections

I drew my chair to the fire and settled down to a quiet perusal of the evening paper, the Glasgow Evening Times (January 2nd 1943). As I read, certain noises impinged upon my ears, “Bang, rat-tat-tat. Boom.” Then suddenly, “I’ve got you.” “You’re dead,” a small body slithered to the floor. It started all over again. “You’re a German,” “I’m an Aussie.” Their baby sister was brought into it. “You’re an Italian.” Taking cover behind the chairs (pardon, rocks), the battle was quickly in full swing again.

What is this in the paper about Roosevelt on Peace Planning? Nothing about the cause of war. For example, “Men had come to see that the maintenance and safeguarding of peace was the most vital single necessity in the lives of each and all of us. All planning for the future was dependant obviously on peace.” There was more that had little informative value, and it finished with : “All kinds of planning for the future—economic, social and so on— was not an awful lot of use if there was going to be another war in 10 or 15 years.”

Roosevelt expects this system to continue, and if necessary to protect the peace with armed force. Socialists are in no doubt in their answer—repeatedly they have pointed out that if a sane system of society is to be established, the cause of war must be understood by workers. Time after time in the Socialist Standard has the root cause of wars —the private property institution—been exposed, and so long as that system continues, so long may wars be expected, and when the next one comes along, the children in this one are learning to fight the next.

“Hands up.” The Italian was captured, and baby sister had to stick them up.

I turned the page, and was presented with the problem of “Britain’s Dwindling Population.” Some questions appeared in the article, such as: ”Why are people no longer having so many children? Is it desirable to concentrate on quality or quantity of population? Can we arrest the decline? ” Some conclusions appeared as well.

“Experience seems to show, however, that you cannot bribe people into having children.”

“Richard and Kathleen Titmuss, in their remarkable study of the falling birth-rate, emphasise that family allowances have in no country resulted in higher fertility.” The fall in the birth-rate of the people (over 2,000,000 of them) who have incomes over £250 per annum is greater than the fall in the rest of the population who have incomes of £250 per annum and less.

Again the problem is flirted with—the expectation that in this present system the problem can be solved. Is it not obvious that intelligent workers can see happening to their children’s lives what has happened to them in their lives? What monetary inducement can be offered to wage-slaves, who have suffered the consequences of wage-slavery, to introduce new lives to a similar situation?

We workers have witnessed the trials, the horrors, the ceaseless struggles to lessen our burdens. Workers tramped the streets looking for work. Marched on London to demonstrate the misery of our lot. Suffered the means test. Ceased work to forcibly present to our masters our grievances. Were regimented into the Army, Navy, and Air Force, into factories, to fight, bleed, toil and sweat for a cessation of hostilities that will eventually be the prelude of more strivings and strainings, horrors and wars.

Unless workers democratically and freely discuss and face the problems that confront them, and again make every effort to unite, not to fight the master class, but to abolish the capitalist system—” What was that? ” “Bang,” “Boom,” the rush of little feet. ” Rat-tat-tat-tat.” A small body fell again to the floor. “You’re dead.” The play may in time turn to reality.

We Socialists claim justly and logically that we have the solution to the workers’ problems, and we invite every worker, irrespective of race or colour, to our meetings to discuss their problems, and we hope that every worker will resolve to eliminate his difficulties through Socialist understanding.

F. and D.