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

Editorial: The ‘Paid Agitator’ Again

When the capitalist class (who preach the virtues of selling anything for as high a price as can be got) want to discredit critics of their system they trot out the stories about discontent being created by paid agitators. Abraham Lincoln, who met the same thing from the defenders of slavery, ridiculed them by saying that when a slave cried out because the slave-ganger had hit him with a whip, the defenders of slavery always hastened to explain that the slave had only been put up to it by some rascally agitator. We hold no brief for. the followers of Trotsky, but we notice a curious contradiction in the complaints of the capitalist press about the Trotskyites, who are alleged to have had a hand in recent strikes. The Daily Mail (October 7th, 1943) got their industrial correspondent to investigate, and he found that “they live and work in poverty.” The People (October 3rd, 1943), in an article dealing with the strikes, and announcing that the use of Regulation 18B may be considered, referred to strikes “fanned by highly paid political agitators” (italics ours). This presumably also referred to the Trotskyites, though it did not mention them by name. May we recall Abraham Lincoln and suggest that workers do not strike unless they are discontented, and they do not need to be put up to it by agitators, low paid, highly paid, or unpaid.

Incidentally, we notice that many appeals go out from the B.B.C. to Germany and the occupied countries, urging the workers to strike and organise sabotage. Will The People assure us that these broadcasters (also their own correspondent who discovered the highly paid agitators) give their services for nothing.

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