The Big Crocodiles of Fleet Street

As Socialists, we do, of course, expect the Capitalist Press on both sides of the Iron Curtain to be two-faced. The fact that the Press, along with the other media of mass head-fixing, has to present Capitalism to the workers in palatable form, makes hypocrisy unavoidable. Amongst the most glaring examples of recent hypocrisy is the dual attitude on strikes.

When a strike occurs in this country, the Capitalist Press, with the exception of the Daily Worker, is agreed that the time’s not right, the “country” can’t afford wage increases just now, arbitration is best, or the grievance is not a genuine one. The Red Bogey is often used amongst other cheap tricks to poison public opinion. “The Reds are stirring up trouble again—but for these Moscow agents, things would be all right.” That’s how the theme goes. The Daily Worker loves to play the role of workers’ champion and, to those with short memories, about its opposition to past strikes, it goes down well. Who would suspect that the Daily Worker might have a motive other than the successful organisation of workers for wages and conditions?

The ironic thing about Capitalism, however, is that it laughs at them all in the end. What happens when there is a strike behind the iron curtain? Wages and conditions are still the issues, but the Daily Worker and the rest of the Capitalist Press change over. The strikers suddenly become “heroic freedom fighters” to the pro-British Press, and to the pro-Russian they are “Fascist Agents.” At first sight this may seem very bewildering, but really it is simply that policy is dictated not by workers’ interests on either side, but the nation of preference to those concerned. If they favour British Capitalism, strikes in Britain are bad, but strikes in Russian colonies are good. If they favour Russian Capitalism, the position is reversed. Perhaps the greatest ally the propaganda agents of the Capitalist class have is the short memories of most workers. The events in Hungary in the latter part of last year caused a momentary wave of excitement, but the so-called Communist Party, with its anti-working-class poison, is still here. If they shout “Down with the Tories” loud enough and often enough, they hope people will believe that there is actually someone blacker than they are, then Hungary and the general set-up in Russia can be conveniently forgotten.

How long the “plain sailing” between the Moscow earthquakes will last each time they do not know. They only have to print what Pravda says about Molotov and Malenkov and wait for the next lot. Recently there was the strike at Lodz in Poland (caused by some Fascist agents left over from Poznan no doubt).

The Daily Express (14/8/57) traced the trouble in Poland to “trying to build Socialism on a shoe string budget and keeping as far as possible from entanglements with Russia.” It is doubtlessly true that Gomulka and the present gang at the top in Poland would rather not tangle with the military might behind the Russian ruling class, but surely the Express knows that Socialism is not involved. Budgets, shoe string or otherwise, are obviously part of the buying and selling basis of Capitalism. Workers are always poor whatever the State budget might be. They are poor because the places they work in are not theirs, and, working for wages, they only get back part of what they produce; the boss who pockets the rest always wants them to work harder for less. As much as the Press might try to ignore it, the class struggle between those who produce but do not possess and those who possess but do not produce is always with us, and the State running of industry alters nothing. State running of industry has nothing whatever to do with Socialism, which is a fundamentally different system. Socialism means the end of a class of wage earners, and a class of interest and profit and rent receivers. It means the end of buying and selling completely. Obviously under Socialism, where the means of production are held in common, the fruits of mankind’s co-operative labours will be freely available.

The Daily Express for the same date continued as follows: “But the Poles, a proud people, are tired of hunger. They are just as tired of high prices—of working for a week to buy a shirt, and two and a half months to earn the price of a suit.” Now there is a fine piece of rousing warm-heartedness for you, how different from what the Express was saying a couple of weeks before about the Midland Transport strikers. Perhaps under Polish Capitalism the “benefits” of hire purchase and “pay as you wear” have yet to make their appearance.

Now remember the point made at the beginning of this article, remember also the familiar excuses as to why workers here should not have wage increases, then read what the Daily Worker says about Lodz. Before we quote it, let us point out again, this time they don’t quote Pravda, but quote the Polish paper Trybuna Ludu. They have a Daily Worker reporter in Warsaw, and yet the report of just over two dozen lines was mostly quotes (15/8/57). (That’s one way of getting the line right). Having announced the end of the strike, they go on: Trybuna Ludu, reporting the return to work, said: “ ‘The Lodz tram workers, recognising the unfairness of the strike action, resolved to return to work.’ The Editorial added that the Lodz tram workers let themselves be influenced by irresponsible elements and had put forward unreal demands.”

A Government communique on August 10th announced a wage increase for the tram workers which was “the limit of the possibilities of our economy.” The Polish trade union paper The Voice of Labour said that the rise asked for by the tram workers “is due to them as well as to other sections of the working class. But the Government is today unable to pay a wage increase such as all of us would like to have. Neither,” it added, “should the Government act in such a way as to cause inflation.”

Please don’t tell us you have heard it all before, we know you have, and while the wage slaves on both sides of the iron curtain see no alternative to Capitalism, we are sorry, but it will be more of the same.


Leave a Reply