“Full employment is not a new issue. Tom Paine suggested that there should be full employment in 1794. There is nothing in the Beveridge Report, except the amounts. which was not foreshadowed by Tom Paine in “The Rights of Man.” (“Forward,” October 30, 1943.)
Which is just what the Socialist Party proves in its new pamphlet, “Beveridge Reorganises Poverty.”
“The Beveridge proposals will not solve the problem of the working class. They will level the workers’ position as a whole, reducing the more favourably placed to a lower level and putting the worst paid on a less evil level. This is not a ‘new world’ of hope, but a re-distribution of misery.” (Page 20.)
The outstanding social problem of the age is “the poverty of the working class, and not just the additional burdens borne in times of unemployment, old age and sickness, burdens which incidentally Beveridge does little to lift. The poverty of the working class is due to the private ownership by the capitalists of the means of production and distribution. Socialism alone can end that poverty.” (Page 20.)
See Naples—and Die!
The “Independent” Trader
Mr. Lynch, the President of the National Union of Small Shopkeepers, has sent Mr. Bevin a telegram “pointing out that 100,000 traders have had their businesses closed down during the war.” The telegram states “that traders over forty . . . have been told to sell their concerns and go down the pit.”—(“News Chronicle,” November 4.)
Mr. Lynch might have saved himself the telegraph charges. One of the effects of modern war is the acceleration of the process of the Concentration of Capital. Commerce as well as Industry is being trustified. It has become well-nigh impossible for any appreciable number of working men to achieve “independence” from employers by opening a small shop.
What this “independence” is worth, when obtained, the Hardships Tribunals (representatives of the capitalist class), who instructed small traders to “sell up and go down the pit” have shown.
Nothing can prevent the small traders from being always on the verge of “going down the pit” into the ranks of the wage-working class. Socialism—not small shops—is the way.
Crime After the War
The London evening press has published official reports of important conferences being held now by London police to make plans to deal with the wave of violent crime which is confidently anticipated after the war.
And surely, alongside the other post-war plans to consolidate Capitalism, with the Beveridge Report and the new Plan of London—Scotland Yard’s Post-War Reconstruction deserves an important place.
What the police chiefs are mainly concerned with, quite naturally, is the advent of thousands of unemployed desperate men, some even perhaps in possession of arms, highly trained in all the most effective means of violent assault and killing, and inured to bloody violence.
A leading article in the Atlantion, the Atlanta Penitentiary convicts’ paper, quotes Lord Wavell:
“Field-Marshal Wavell is said to have described the modern soldier in these terms—a good soldier must be part burglar, part footpad, part athlete, part gunman, and all guts.”
“If this is on the level, General Eisenhower is overlooking a lot of good material—and we don’t mean at Harvard either.” (The Star, quoted in Forward, 16th October, 1943.)
His commanding officer claimed that Ruby Sparkes was the best soldier in his company.
The London police chiefs are probably right. Alongside of Unemployment, Disease, Invalids, Poverty and Prostitution there will probably appear their bed-fellow—Violent Crimes. Whatever they plan may catch criminals—but will not abolish the cause which makes them—Capitalism.
1,250 Cigars for Cairo Talks
“Five hundred native servants were engaged to assist five officers and 17 other ranks of the British Army in catering for the delegates attending the Cairo conferences.
“Three hundred lb. of tea, 37,500 eggs, 400 lb. of coffee, 7,500 lb. of bread, 500,000 cigarettes, 1,250 cigars and 2,000 tins of milk were ordered for the conference by the supervising officer, Major N. P. Jeffery, of the Army Catering Corps, who was in charge of catering services for the Eighth Army in the Western Desert.
“A.T.S. sergeants and corporals were brought from all parts of the Middle East to act as housekeepers for the delegations. One A.T.S. sergeant had a full-time job as personal attendant to Mine. Chiang Kai-shek.”—(“Evening Standard,” December 8, 1943.)
The banquet at Cairo was, however, exceeded by the colossal spread at Teheran, where Stalin, as usual, drank over twenty toasts in rare wines.
Well! It seems to be a pretty good instalment of “freedom from want,” if you happen to be one of the “chiefs.”
Austerity at Home
The ”News Chronicle” (December 11, 1943) reported a sale at Christie’s on December 13 of fine wines, spirits and liqueurs from the Kentish home of the Countess of Limerick who died some months ago. “Among the top prices were £46 for a dozen bottles of champagne, £60 for a dozen bottles of brandy, and £48 for twelve bottles of German wine.”
“A box of 92 Corona cigars went for £39, or over 8s. each.”
Probably over-paid miners, of course, who don’t know what to do with the high wages they’re not used to!
Recently the Press has made much of the accounts by an R.A.F. pilot of the destruction of the Ruhr dams. He describes how a scientist instructed him for months—scientific experiments were made on a dam due for destruction in the Midlands. A picked team trained incessantly to fly at exactly the right height—to ensure complete demolition.
When the dams were burst the damage by flooding was colossal. Millions went down the drain.
Again, as the Allied forces pressed on into Italy the Germans decided to open the flood-gates and flood the Pontine marshes, the reclamation of which (by draining) was claimed as a major triumph of Fascism. In this case the military reason was the opposite one—defence, not attack.
Again the destruction of wealth was incalculable. In a further case, the mighty Dnieper dam, in the Ukraine, was blown up by the Russians themselves to prevent its use by the Germans. The Dnieper dam was the crowning achievement of the Soviet Government; its loss, immense.
In all these cases we see one thing clearly apparent— the destruction of what man has toiled to create by war is staggering. Why is this? The Socialist Party, learning, from Marx, pointed out years ago that Capitalism is in the daft and senile stage now.
Productivity of labour has now become so great that man can harness the rivers to his purpose.
But so long as these great works are privately owned (as they are under Capitalism, even if State controlled) their very ability to increase the supply of wealth becomes the cause of wars, for the shrinking market.
The war solves the crisis, for the time being only, by destruction.
After having converted swamps into fertile lands, or diverted rivers to assist navigation, man blows them all up, so as to start all over again.
In the same way as he digs gold out of the earth, under Capitalism, to put it down there again.
So long as humanity is divided into warring cliques (inevitable under Capitalism) we shall never get much further than making wonderful things, and blowing ’em up.
Socialism, by making the great achievements of modern engineering science the common property of all, will abolish war and the senseless destruction of what should be great boons to humanity, because crises will go with capitalist production.