Letters: More on Mosley; No Demos
I have just seen Socialist Standard for July, in which my pamphlet on West Indian immigration was discussed and your reply published. I trust you will allow me to reply to this in return, even if belated.
I would certainly agree with you when you say it is not immigration itself which causes friction over housing and other problems. since these existed in Britain long before the first West Indian set foot here. Action and Union Movement say that mass immigration has aggravated the already existing problems, which have arisen mainly through the failings of the present economic and social system in Britain.
Our answer is to treat the original problem and the aggravation of it in separate ways, because they arc separate questions. We stand for the humane repatriation of immigrants, creating better jobs and conditions in their homelands to which they can return, through buying their sugar and other produce at good guaranteed prices and otherwise helping them develop their resources. Meanwhile the clearing of all bad housing in Britain, and large-scale rebuilding, will go ahead on mass production lines.
We certainly disagree with you when you say there must be “a social system in which human beings would be able to move freely all over the earth, in which there will be none of the false national barriers and patriotisms of capitalism”. There is little likelihood of this utopian state of affairs being established for a very long time to come. Since, as you state, the first requirement is the world-wide abolition of capitalism, the first question is : How long will this take? It is now well over a century since Karl Marx published his Capital, yet capitalism is going as strong as ever, if not more so. Most of the world is dominated today either by the finance capitalism of New York or the state capitalism of Moscow. How much longer must we wait for these bastions to crumble?
Action and Union Movement do not believe in waiting for the socialist millennium, but in doing something now for the present generations, who have seen enough political pledges betrayed. Put very shortly, we stand for a “third force” between the American and Russian varieties of capitalism, which will be neither capitalist or “fascist” itself. Instead of trying to change the system all over the world we confine the change to Europe and its associated lands overseas. The rest of the world can then follow our lead if they think we have made a success of it.
You ask why Mosley “did not object” to British workers being exploited by British capitalists? — the answer is, he did! In pre-war issues of his newspapers there were attacks on sweating in the furniture trade, in the clothing trade, in the cinemas and in the cotton industry. Also there were many exposures (which are just as important) of the cut-price undercutting at home and abroad which British firms had to face. Mosley had his policies then; today they arc to give government power, through the vote of the people, to fix high wages throughout industry, not only in Britain but throughout Europe. That will effectively cook the capitalist goose in Europe!
As for trade unions being “ruthlessly suppressed”, nothing could be more remote from Mosley’s aims. The very reverse is true: they would be asked to co-operate with the government and assist in planning its high wages policy, industry by industry. That will give them a far greater role than they have today.
Robert Row refers to “creating better jobs and conditions in (the immigrants’) homelands”, “clearing of all bad housing” and so on, as if the solution to capitalism’s problems was so simple. These empty words — for that is what they are — are of the kind which are always found in the propaganda of capitalist parties. Reality is much sterner: the economic anarchy of capitalism and its poverty (expressed in mass migration, bad housing, etc.) cannot be touched by promises. Only the abolition of the social system can be effective.
Of course nobody will be misled into thinking that members of Union Movement support Socialism and are in a racist party only because they arc too impatient to join the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Neither will they be impressed with such a phrase as “humane repatriation of immigrants”. But to answer the question; the establishment of Socialism will not be delayed, once the working class understand and want it. And the process of understanding is hindered by the many organisations which advocate capitalism. Union Movement is especially to blame here; they preach the false, divisive doctrines of racism — and may even call their policy Socialism.
The “third force” policy is of course not original. What have the workers to gain from a capitalist state which conducts its international disputes independent of the great power blocs? The blocs are an effect of, not the cause of, the wars of capitalism and the experience of the “neutral” countries in the world line-up is no encouragement to support this policy.
Most of the objections to sweated labour by the pre-war BUF were disguised racist attacks on Jewish employers, with the implied conclusion that British workers would have been better off under a master of their own “nationality”. Mosley never attacked the principle of exploitation; much of his policy was aimed at organising a more disciplined labour force for British capitalism. And as for Union Movement wanting trade unions to co-operate with them in government — what was the fate of the unions in those countries where similar organisations got into power?
I should like to oppose an argument I have come across in your excellent magazine the Socialist Standard. It is the one where you state reasons for refraining from demonstrations against particular injustices in society such as racial prejudice, sale of arms. etc., etc. I would agree with you that this is attacking the symptoms of a disease rather than changing the cause. Anybody who has opportunity and intellectual understanding should by all means attack the cause.
Please however take into account that many people are unable to grasp the meaning of the word “socialism”, but are able to see fairly obvious injustices. Demonstrations are valuable in so much that they develop people’s interests in their environment. Further analysis will always reveal capitalism to be the root of the evil, but many are unable as yet to have the time and opportunity to reach this conclusion. Particular issues are a stepping stone! So please do not discourage these activities. Student demonstrations have, I’m sure, aroused interest and this is valuable. Those who are able to make a more dedicated and intellectual commitment should do so, but please do not discourage others.