1950s >> 1958 >> no-642-february-1958

Note on inspiring Conference in U.S.A.

News from the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

I learn that some American readers are disturbed by the fact that, in the write-up of my trip to America in the November SOCIALIST STANDARD, I did not mention the festering slums, the dingy tenements, the innumerable houses like large dog kennels only more dilapidated, the turmoil inside the factories, and the other social sores. To the people for whom I was writing it is common knowledge that every modern city in the world has its large cesspools of misery—American cities no less than others. Likewise that the insides of factories are places where tortured humanity toils and sweats for the class that owns.

The paragraph that led to a misconception is preceded by the sentence: “I would add a few words on my impressions—necessarily scanty.” I then mentioned a few things that I thought would interest members and sympathisers here—among them a reference to wood-built houses to indicate that they could be as pleasant and comfortable as those built of brick. I did not think it necessary to add that there were thousands of them that were practically uninhabitable. In another column of this paper there are references to the appalling state of housing in the United States.

Perhaps I should add that I was only making a comparison of a few externals to indicate how factories and streets could be laid out in the future. I did not need to go inside the offices and factories; I knew what they were like before I set out on the visit, and so did those for whom I was writing. Of course there is rush and tear inside, but I was interested in some differences outside, compared with here. Naturally my references only concerned the particular places I visited, which are mentioned in the write-up.

Need I also add that I did not go to America to study conditions and report on them—that would have taken months. I simply went out to meet, and become closer acquainted with, the members and sympathisers connected with our companion parties over there. When I came back I wanted members and sympathisers here to know how warmly I was received, and those in America to know how much I appreciated the reception they gave me.

Gilmac.

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