1940s >> 1943 >> no-471-november-1943

With and Without Comment

“Socialism” in Russia: The Archbishop steps in where angels fear to tread
Dr. Garbett, Archbishop of York, after his visit to Russia, has taken it on himself to give us a little lecture on Socialism : —

“Russia is at its present stage a Socialist rather than a Communist State : that is, while the means of production and distribution belong to the State, the individual may keep for his use or dispose of as he thinks fit whatever he has himself earned, including the houses built by individuals on collective farms.” (Daily Express, October 12, 1943.)

This is, of course, not really Dr. Garbett speaking, but the usual propaganda hand-out of the Communists. In recent years the Communists have found it convenient to misapply the term Socialism to Russia’s present form of State capitalism, with its new rich, the rouble millionaires, and to use the term Communism to describe what they used to call Socialism

Exactly 20 years ago the Communist Party of Great Britain published “A Short Course of Economic Science,” by A. Bogdahoff. This book was a textbook used by the Russian Bolsheviks. In it Bogdanoff used the term “socialist system” to describe “the highest stage of society we can conceive” (p. 391). Dealing with distribution, he distinguished between a first phase when, owing to low production, distribution will have to be on the basis of giving products to each individual “in proportion to the amount of labour he has given to society,” and a later phase when “complete freedom of consumption will be established for the worker. Giving society all that he is able in strength and ability, society will give him all that he needs” (p. 385); but he did not seek to justify vast inequality and call it Socialism. Compare, too, his statement : “Under Socialism the question of profits will disappear in production also” (p. 380) with the following statement in the “U.S.S.R. Handbook,” 1936 (compiled from Russian sources with the help of “distinguished Soviet scientists and writers”) : —

“The State farms are operated in the same manner as mills and factories—on ‘business principles’—i.e.. on the basis of yielding profits defined according to the balance sheet of each farm.” (p. 158.)

Socialists do not need the help of the Archbishop to decide what is Socialism and what isn’t.

The Labour Theory of Value
Capitalist economists reject the Marxian labour theory of value, according to which : —

“That which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, or the labour-time socially necessary for its production.” (“Capital,” Kerr Edition, p. 46.)

As this applies to all commodities, including gold, it explains why gold, the money commodity, can serve as a measure of value and medium of exchange for other commodities. A curious illustration of the labour theory has arisen in trade between Sweden and Germany. Not wishing to accept from Germany gold which may have been looted and which may therefore be reclaimed after the war, the Swedish Government has refused to accept payment in gold. Instead, “the Swedes in their barter trade with Germany were now working their exchange on a ‘man-hour’ standard. For example, the Swedes, when importing one ton of coal from Germany, would settle the transaction by exporting as much iron ore as could be produced with the same number of man-hours as went to the production of the ton of coal.” (News Chronicle, July 10, 1943.)

Questions and Answers on Religion
Under the heading, “Why Keep Dog-collar?” Canon T. P. Stevens wrote in the Evening Standard (October 6. 1943) about a soldier’s doubts and difficulties on the subject of religion. He said that he had received a letter “of enormous length” which asked among other things, “Why not get rid of the parsonic voice and the parsonic collar? ” Canon Stevens is sensible enough to realise that those strange whining, toneless voices we hear on the radio are not an asset to the Churches. He is also easy on the subject of the dog collar.

We, too, have received a letter on the subject of religion, but it is not of enormous length. All it says is, “Why keep the dog ? ”

Millionaires of the World, Unite !
The Daily Worker (October 14, 1943) announces that a pamphlet by Reg Bishop has been published entitled “Soviet Millionaires,” explaining the whole nature of Soviet “millionairedom.” “The key point,” says the Daily Worker, is made plain—namely, that no person in the Soviet Union can acquire wealth by exploiting other men’s labour for profit, nor can he use acquired wealth for such exploitation.”

The same day the Daily Telegraph published figures about the top salaries paid by various companies in the U.S.A. to film stars, newspaper cartoonists, and others. Mr. Louis B. Mayer, head of the Metro-Goldwyn Film Corporation, receives a salary of £237,000 a year, while Mr. Thomas Watson receives a salary of £115,000 a year from the International Business Machines Corporation.

The point of mentioning these high salaries is that the gentlemen in question can (and do) put forward precisely the same justification as the Daily Worker puts forward for the high salaried individuals and prosperous farmers in Russia. “Do we not work for our money?” they can say. “Is it not payment for the work we do?

And having saved some part of their salaries and invested it in War Loan or other investments, they can likewise argue that their accumulated wealth and the income they derive from their investments is not “exploitation of other men’s labour.” There is nothing in the Russian finaincial system to prevent those who inherit large sums of money, win big prizes in lottery loans, receive big salaries, or make big profits by the sale of their farm products, from investing in State loans and deriving a larger and larger proportion of their total income from those investments.

A quarter of a century ago Lenin, proclaiming the principle of reducing salaries to the standard remuneration of the average worker (“Soviets at Work,” 1918), said that to pay high salaries was a “regrettable necessity” and “a step backward,” and that to pretend otherwise was to “cheat the people.” Cheating the people seems to be the order of the day among Lenin’s successors.

Of course, the new-rich in Russia have a long way to go before they reach U.S.A. levels, but it seems they will always be able to count on the Communists giving them their blessing.

Conscientious Objectors
“Stanley Hilton, the Rochdale conscientious objector, who on July 26th was sentenced at his fourth court-martial to two years’ detention, has been released on a ‘suspended sentence.’ . . . Hilton, a Jehovah’s Witness, had spent three years in jail.”—(News Chronicle, October 5, 1943.)

“In this war, as in the last, the position of M.P.s in regard to military service is a difficult and delicate one. The public and even many members of the House of Commons believe that they are legally exempt from the provisions of the National Service Act. This is not so. … A member of the Commons is, by custom, left to decide for himself whether he will serve in the Forces. … In spite of these privileges, some 150 M.P.s are engaged on full-time war service. . . . Rightly the decision is left to the individual conscience.”—(Evening Standard, September 23, 1943.)

H.

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