1950s >> 1953 >> no-585-may-1953

Slings and Arrows

Time off for Apes!

So often is man’s inhumanity commented upon by critics of the present social system, that it becomes a pleasure—if not a duty—to bring to our readers’ attention an incident which will show that the milk of human kindness runs warm in the veins of one man and a great man at that!

We all know that during the late war the efforts of every politician and military leader were devoted to finding the quickest, most efficient and. of course, the cheapest method of killing the greatest number of people in the shortest space of time. The Germans developed flying bombs, rockets, and human incinerators. The Allies added atom bombs. During this destruction and loss of life appeared a light “no bigger than a man’s hand,” but nevertheless, still offering hope to suffering humanity. Who was the man who thus illuminated the world, who, while making wonderful speeches and organising battle-fronts where thousands lost their lives, still found time to perform an act of mercy ? None other than Mr. Churchill

The story about to be unfolded will touch the hearts and minds of our readers and if there is a dry eye left when this has been read, there must be harder hearts than we thought possible. On the Rock of Gibraltar depends, to some extent, the safe keeping of sea routes and strategic points for the British Commonwealth. Legend has it that if a certain species inhabiting the Rock were to become extinct, British ownership of Gibraltar would come to an end. In 1943, while Mr. Churchill was convalescing in Morocco after a severe illness, news was brought to him of a startling fall in the population of Gibraltar. In spite of his convalescence, Mr. Churchill was not disposed to view the matter with equanimity. In wartime falls of population were to be expected. But our gallant leader was not to be daunted. He went into action immediately. One can only imagine, for history has not yet recorded, the rolling prose, the fine sounding sentences, with which Mr. Churchill addressed himself to the problem. Within a short time and due to his exertions the situation was rapidly transformed, and readers will be relieved to learn that this species is now flourishing again on the Rock of Gibraltar, and Mr. Churchill is personally informed of any “happy event” that occurs there.

It is good to know that our Mr. Churchill, bowed down, as he was, with cares of State, could take time off to save life—even if it was only that of monkeys!

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Time off for Mourning

When King George VI passed away, and again on the recent death of Queen Mary, journalists, politicians and the like assured us that it would be in line with the wishes of Their Majesties for us to go on working as usual. It is true, however, that in the case of King George we were expected and, indeed, allowed to take two minutes off to stand in silence on the day of the funeral. We cannot complain. No employer likes giving time off and even though Kings and great men pass away life must go on. But all this takes place in capitalist Britain, and that is all one should reasonably expect

In other lands, however, we are told that “Socialism” exists under a label marked “People’s Democracy.” In these lands things are vastly different, as they should be, since Socialism is not Capitalism. When a great man passes “over” in Russia or Czechoslovakia, the obsequies and public mourning are on a much vaster scale. The body of the departed “Father,” or, if in a smaller “People’s Democracy,” “little father,” is embalmed so that not only this, but succeeding generations may gaze upon and contemplate the glory that has departed. If in capitalist London the queue to see the lying-in-state stretches for two miles, in the “Land of Socialism” they stretch for ten. If in capitalist Britain the dead ruler is laid to rest and then almost forgotten, in Russia he is embalmed, canonised, and almost turned into a God . . . But this is not all. In the “land of Socialism” poets compose odes of love and praise to the qualities of the dead man, while in Britain Mr. Pollitt tells us that our eyes are “ dimmed with tears,” and Mr. Campbell in the Daily Worker, rebukes the British Press for not observing the decencies expected when the great ones pass into the Great Beyond.

But of all the distinctions that mark off life here from life in the People’s democracies, one stands out most prominent of all. True that when Stalin and later Gottwald died, we were told that they would have wished the workers to go on working. And so far, it would appear to be no different from capitalist Britain. But, and here is the great distinction, in Moscow and in all the villages and towns of Russia and the “people’s democracies” from East Germany to China and Mongolia, every worker was allowed to take time off for mourning to the tune of five minutes. How different from those greedy capitalists of the Western world, who only allowed us two minutes. It’s almost worth emigrating for.

* * *

Profound thought dept.

“Raise level of honesty and we can smash crime, says Fyfe” (headline, Evening Standard, 14/3/53). Who would ever have thought of it ? Such genius must obviously be preserved and applied in other spheres. For example, “Raise level of health and smash disease, says Health Minister”; “Raise level of bank balance and smash overdraft, says Bank Manager.” The permutations are inexhaustible and no prizes are offered for any submitted to us.

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“Enough, no more!”

Since the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth not a newspaper has been published without some mention of the Queen, her husband, her children and the rest of the Royal Family. Journalists have tripped over each other in their efforts to boost circulation by publishing highly-coloured stories of Royal doings. The articles are written in such obsequiously nauseating terms that one can only turn from them in disgust. No effort is spared to convince everybody that the Queen is the repository of every human virtue, that she smiles, is sad, has dignity and poise, and yet is modern and even advanced. We are told that this will be a new and glorious Elizabethan Era for Great Britain. Playwrights will become Shakespeares, musicians Purcells, and adventurers Drakes or Raleighs.

It would appear, if these scribblers are to be believed, that the Queen has no faults whatsoever. We are not disposed to dispute that assertion. As we are not personally acquainted with Her Majesty we are unable to pass judgment. But now that this publicity is reaching its zenith with the approach of the Coronation, is it too much to ask that it should come to an end ?

So that these Fleet Street hacks may be assured that their message has reached us all we hereby declare that we believe every word they tell us about the Royal Family, that we accept every tale of the indomitable courage with which Her Majesty faces her duties, and that we believe that under the inspiration of the Queen this country will become Glorious again. Having issued that declaration, we hope that these inane drivellings will cease and that journalists will now devote themselves to other and more serious matters, that is, provided always that they are capable of anything other than Society chit-chat

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Threat or Promise?

The Sunday Pictorial (5/4/53) tells us that American scientists are far advanced in experiments which, if successful, will enable men to live for ever.” What could this mean in everyday language?” asks the Pictorial, and proceeds to tell us. “It would mean that outstanding men like Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower could still be conducting affairs on either side of the Atlantic in the year A.D. 2953.” Cripes!

Here at last is what we Socialists have been looking for. Here at last is the short cut to Socialism that we all want. War, poverty, hunger and all the other evils of capitalism do not constitute so telling an indictment as the threat that Eisenhower and Churchill might still be in control in a thousand years’ time.

If mankind will not rouse themselves for their own sakes, surely they will hear the cry of generations yet unborn and establish Socialism before it is too late.

S. A.

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