Emulating the Ostrich

On 20th May the Sunday Pictorial published an article by Douglas Warth regarding a group of people calling themselves the Society of Brothers. Would-be members of this community, which claims to be self-supporting, sell all their personal property and the proceeds of sale go into a common “pool.” They then work on the 545 acre farm at Bromdon in the Shropshire hills and according to Warth “should never have to worry about war or unemployment, loneliness or personal insecurity, world turmoil or money for the rent. As long as Mother Earth can produce crops to feed and clothe them, they may look forward to a simple life and peace of mind.” The article states that they are “exchanging the luxuries and amenities of modern civilisation for the simple security which the Society of Brothers have found by stepping back some 1,900 years.” This last would appear, to say the least of it, to be a slight exaggeration. A picture of half-a-dozen of the Brothers complete with superabundant beards confirms that they unanimously eschew the modern idea of using a razor but apart from this they are up to date with tractors, telephone and wireless. The community has its own school and a carpenter’s shop for the making of simple furniture. The women work in a communal laundry and kitchens. In their leisure time they make a study of economics, history and languages. We assume them to be Christians as there are several “servants of the word” whose duties include the celebration of marriages. These marriages are afterwards legalised outside of the community at the registrar’s office. The children go camping in the summer, visit a coal mine or go to see Nature films. There are 300 acres under crops, cattle, sheep, pigs, hens and a 20 acre vegetable garden. Much of the produce feeds the community but what is not needed is marketed and the proceeds go into the common pool for general expenses. They call in help from outside on technical fanning matters. There are 180 members in all and they are pacifists. The idea is not a new one and this community no doubt derives satisfaction from the way of life which they have chosen, but they are burying their heads in the sand if they delude themselves that they have shaken off all worldly cares. As Warth points out their children are liable to conscription. Furthermore in the event of war their crops, etc. would be subject to controls, also the men of military age eligible for call up. Their pacifist convictions might obtain exemption from service but they would be subject to direction. Experience has taught us that in modern warfare, rural districts do not escape destruction from the air. Shortages and difficulties would hit the community such as scarcity of farm implements, parts for tractors and machinery and rationing of fuel. Even in times of so-called peace, farming is a chancy business with its periods of depression, crop failures, and outbreaks of foot and mouth among cattle.

A very large percentage of present day evils can be laid at the door of capitalist society, and these groups of people who endeavour to escape into a world of their own making are tacitly agreeing to a continuance of that system so long as they can go their own way unmolested (they hope).

Since the 1914 War there have been active pacifist movements in all parts of the world, increasing rapidly since 1945, organising petitions and clamouring for peace. Never in all their previous history have these activities been so amply demonstrated to be absolutely futile and impotent as at the present day. With various comparatively small scale wars on their plates the nations in the western bloc appear to be heading for a global conflict which bids fair to dwarf into insignificance previous records of horror and devastation. The efforts of the pacifists are misdirected and quite useless. Their cry of “peace” is as puerile as a man shouting in a desert. The juggernaut of capitalism lumbers on unheeding to the inevitable clashes, pitting worker against worker in ineffectual and ghastly conflict. The pacifist loudly calls attention to the evils .of war (of, which we are already painfully aware) but stops short of unearthing the cause, i.e., capitalist competition between the nations for trade routes, markets and sources of raw materials. The solution follows logically, i.e. a world wide movement by the workers for the establishment of socialist society.

The slow growth of socialist ideas among the workers is in its way a silent tribute to the efficiency of radio and press propaganda and is not due to the workers’ inability to grasp the cause of their slave position in society. Preoccupied with their very real day to day problems the vast majority accept these ready made ideas unquestioningly and uncritically. Those workers who do interest themselves are more often than not side-tracked into political dead-ends.

In his fourth talk on “The New Society” and reported in “The Listener” of 31st May, E. H. Carr says:—“Propaganda is as essential a function of mass democracy as advertising of mass production. The political organiser takes a leaf out of the book of the commercial advertiser and sells the leader or the candidate to the voter by the same methods used to sell patent medicines or refrigerators. The appeal is no longer to the reason of the citizen but to his gullibility.”

Confusion is worst confounded by the Labour Government calling itself “Socialist.” However, in time, worsening conditions and the ever present threat of war together with the efforts of socialists will speed the ultimate awakening of the workers. We are working for the overthrow of capitalist society which has already drawn too large a draft on the bank of time. Wc ask for your understanding, help and co-operation that the necessary knowledge may be spread to the workers and a world wide brotherhood of man be established in our time.


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