1960s >> 1967 >> no-753-may-1967

The Passing Show: Fighting Mad…

FIGHTING MAD . . . (1)

There is a delightfully vague phrase beloved of the left, meaning all things to all left wingers. They talk glowingly, emotionally, of “the fight for Socialism.” The words roll from their tongues and dribble from their lips and probably there is barely a handful among them who have the slightest notion of just what the words mean.

This is equally true of the young left-wingers as of the old. Year after year, we hear them protesting about this act, denouncing that man, telling governments to do the other thing, and generally making a nuisance of themselves to the authorities. Such actions are all described as “fighting for Socialism”, but if you listen to those concerned or read their literature, quite clearly Socialism is the last thing they would dream of fighting for. Yes, of course, the term is thrown about like so much confetti at a wedding, but never are its implications discussed as you will appreciate if you take a look at The Newsletter, the weekly organ of the Central Committee of the Socialist Labour League.

I got a copy dated March 25th; it was full of glowing reports on the discussion at the Young Socialist conference at Morecambe the previous week. “The delegates who assembled at Morecambe are much more politically mature than when they were expelled from the Labour Party in 1964” enthused the front page reporter. Well, let us see. In one resolution, Vietnam was described as the “cockpit of the world struggle of the working class against capitalism”. In another on Rhodesia (which was passed unanimously) the demand was “arm the Africans; scrap the 1961 constitution”. What maturity! Just how the cause of Socialism is to be advanced by such notions escapes us.

The paper is full of demands, recriminations, accusations and wild claims on the effect of the Y.S.; for instance: “They are rapidly being transformed into a hard core of revolutionary socialist leaders inside the Labour movement.”

But perhaps their astounding capacity for self-deception is best illustrated by their assertion that ” . . . Everyone can see that the reason why Wilson expelled the Young Socialists was because they were the first section of the labour movement to expose his treachery . . .” And what were they doing before they “exposed his treachery” (whatever that may mean)? Why, helping him into power of course! Political maturity? It’s pathetic!

FIGHTING MAD . . . (2)

But of course the Young Socialists are not the only ones who are wholly headed. Labour M.P.’s seem to think you can have capitalism without its evils, and wax indignant when the system proves them wrong.

Take, for instance, the Hon. Member for Eton & Slough, Miss Joan Lestor. On March 13th, she voiced concern at the appearance of Navy recruitment adverts in children’s comics and accused the Services of “seducing” young people. Yet what the devil does she expect? The armed forces have to compete with the rest of capitalist industry for manpower and of course will want to create a favourable image at as early an age as possible. They are not going to tell a youngster of the filth and mire he is likely to encounter during a forces career or of the blood and gore he may have to spill in various parts of the world. And in this they are doing no more or less than many other adverts aimed at catching ’em while they are young.

We agree, it is pretty horrible that killer adverts are aimed at kids, or anyone else, but if Miss Lestor objects, then the way to deal with it is to end all armed forces by doing away with capitalism; not  by urging some piffling reform like extending the option period for boy recruits from three months to six. Ah, but we forget, Miss Lestor is not in favour of abolishing capitalism—she is too busy helping to run it—and she certainly does not want to get rid of the armed forces. Rather does she want their image to be less objectionable; hence the grave concern that:

    “Including such advertisements in children’s comics is bringing nothing but discredit on the armed forces.” (Guardian, 14.3.67).

Eddie Critchfield

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