Saturday, July 22, 2017

Obituary: Kitty Gostick (1941)

Obituary from the November 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

Another Old Comrade Crosses the Line 

We are sorry to have to record the death, on October 8th last, of another old member of the Party—Comrade Kitty Gostick. 

Mrs. Gostick, who was a sister of the late Comrade J. Fitzgerald belonged to that dwindling group of members who founded the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904; she thus remained a steadfast and solid prop of our principles and policy for nearly forty years. Of late years her health has not been good, and for the two and a half years preceding her death she was an invalid, a condition she bore with surprising patience, but she was always keenly interested in the activities of the Party.

During the last World War she served on the Executive Committee of the Party, and she also did good work on another committee assisting members who were in trouble during that war. Older members remember with gratitude the assistance she gave them and her devotion to the cause in those difficult times.

In Mrs. Gostick’s early days members froze around our sparsely attended outdoor meetings, but time has justified the fortitude and enthusiasm of those days. The work she, and others like her, put into the Socialist movement has borne fruit and one day, perhaps not far ahead, the long awaited harvest will be reaped.

To the writer her death recalls old happy days when her jolly face appeared at homely little gatherings, and many of us were too young to appreciate the bitter times that lay ahead. But death "the silent pilot" has come at last, and another link with the past is broken.

In expressing our regret at the death of Mrs. Gostick we also offer our sympathy to her husband, Comrade Harry Gostick, and her daughter in their bereavement.

Is Capitalism a "Conspiracy"? (1941)

From the December 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard

On Thursday, November 27th, there was a debate in the House of Commons about the cause of war, and in it the I.L.P. group stated their view on war’s capitalist origin. Commenting on this, the Daily Herald (November 29th) said that the I.L.P. members “tried to interpret the war as a ‘capitalist plot'—and were denounced with patient tolerance but overwhelming emphasis by their colleagues." Whether the Herald's description of the I.L.P. case is an accurate one is something the I.L.P. will look after. It need not concern us here, though it may be remarked that in the past the I.L.P. have often fallen into the error of explaining capitalism and its wars on those lines. But they were not alone, they were only following—or perhaps leading—the Labour Party and its organ, the Daily Herald.

It is easy to demolish the conspiratorial conception of capitalism, a conception that is mostly wrong and never adequate. Though some industries may thrive in war, and though on occasion a ruling class group may be tempted to look to war as a means of averting social upheaval, the capitalist class as a whole would be acting very foolishly from the standpoint of their own interests if they sought war for its own sake. It is their wealth that is swallowed up in armaments and the upkeep of armed forces, their property destroyed in air-raids and the bombardment of cities, their ships by the hundred that go to the bottom of the sea, and it is on their backs that falls the great burden of taxation to pay for wars. True, the workers produced the existing wealth for the capitalist class, and will produce more when the war is over, but that will not bring back what is irretrievably destroyed.

Has capitalism, then, nothing to do with the cause of war? Indeed, it has; and sometimes the Daily Herald has been well enough aware of it. Will the Herald assert that the struggle for overseas markets, in which to dispose of the surplus products of capitalist industry and thus realise profit, has no bearing on international rivalries? Or that the acquisition of sources of raw material and control of trade routes can be left out of the picture? Will the Herald maintain that the wars of the modern world can be explained by some theory which leaves out of account the capitalist ownership and control of the means of production and distribution? If the Herald has such a theory, let us hear what it is.

Actually the Herald—along with some occasional appreciations of the real nature of capitalism —has a particularly rich record of error through following the “plot" line of explanation. It was the Herald that invented the "Hard-faced Men," the theory of capitalism as a secret conspiracy of callous business men and their politician tools driven, not by the necessities of capitalism, but by pure devilry to create poverty and unemployment. This fitted in perfectly with the Labour Party’s belief that new men and a new spirit could make capitalism function satisfactorily. When Labour Governments tried to do this and naturally failed, the Herald discovered a new and slightly different conspiracy to explain away the failure. This time it was not capitalism that had produced one of its normal industrial crises, but, in the eyes of the Herald, a banker’s plot which had manipulated the monetary system with the evil design of spreading unemployment and driving down wages. Again, it was the Herald a few years ago that attached excessive importance to the machinations of the armament makers as an explanation of world unrest.

Two final questions to the Herald. Now that the Labour Party is associated closely with those it used to denounce as “hard-faced men" and conspirators, and affirms that they are not so bad after all, what explanation would the Herald offer for the unemployment and industrial crises and so on of the past? Secondly, what remedy can the Herald offer other than that advocated by the S.P.G.B., the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution?

Upset in Accra (1958)

From the January 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Colonel Pewter is a cartoon-strip Edwardian pukka-sahib who daily amuses readers of the News Chronicle. In his latest adventure he uses an Injun stick, which magically compels its victims to tell the truth in order to upset the party propaganda in a by-election. The whole joke, of course, is that nobody ever expects a politician to describe himself as other than a selfless, devoted slave to the voters’ interests.

Perhaps that is why so many eyebrows were raised when Mr. Krobo Edusei, Minister of the Interior in the new African State of Ghana, was reported as saying that he loved power. Had the man gone mad? Or was he just telling the truth? Worse, this outburst was only one of several newsworthy actions by the Ghanaian Government. Journalists and political opponents have been deported, opposition leaders have said that they are under threat of imprisonment and death, and it has been reported (and later denied) that ministers would in future carry revolvers. Mr. Fenner Brockway, the Labour M.P., who can usually be relied on to support nationalist movements in ex-colonial territories, has publicly expressed regret and protest at these actions. He put it all down to an evil genius at the ear of Ghana’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. But that is too easy; we must look a little more deeply into the history and the background of it.

The Modem Story
The first explorers of Africa named parts of the coast by the wealth they found there. There was the Grain Coast, the Slave Coast and, roughly bordering the area which is now Ghana, the Gold Coast. The modern story begins in the 15th century, when European traders, coming from countries which were desperately short of gold, found the precious stuff in common use among the Gold Coast natives. (Three hundred years later William Bosman, who worked for the Dutch West India Company, could still write of the natives of Dinkira, “They are possessed of vast Treasures of Gold, besides what their own mines supply them with;”). At first the Portuguese dominated the trade, but soon the Danes. Dutch, French and Germans came, and in 1553 Thomas Windham led the first English party. None of the expeditions tried to penetrate the interior; they only wanted to establish trading forts along the coast. Gold was not the only attraction, for there were plenty of slaves to be branded and shipped to the Americas and to the Middle East. This last journey was terrible indeed, involving a trek across the Sahara desert And there was every incentive to mutilate the slaves, to satisfy the great demand for eunuchs in the Middle Eastern palaces. The slave traders thought that Allah was being kind if ten out of a hundred survived the operation.

The English settlements date from 1651, when the English Trading Company built the first of several ports. In 1672 the Royal African Company commenced operations, building other trading stations, and later the African Company of Merchants carried on trade in gold and slaves until they were crippled by the abolition of slavery in 1807. Life in these settlements was a precarious business— Bosman has described the "excessive tippling and sorry feeding" among the Europeans, which made “most of the Garrison look as if they were hag-ridden.", and the "odious Mixture of noisome Stenches" from the coastal villages.

Inter-Tribal Wars
As the mercantile adventurers of the 16th and 17th centuries grew bolder, sailing out to America and the Far East, European interest in Africa declined and most of the trading settlements along the Gold Coast were left to decay. It was not until the American War of Independence had been won and lost and Great Britain was established in India and Australia, that Africa, lying between England and her Far Eastern possessions, regained its importance. The 18th and 19th centuries were years of inter-tribal wars, mostly between the Fante and the Ashanti. Great Britain kept a traders’ neutrality, which did not preclude the occasional double-cross. After one famous betrayal, which caused some native chiefs to be tortured and killed, the torturing chief remarked that he thenceforth took the English for his friends, ". . .  because I saw their object was trade only, and they did not care for the people." The chaos of these wars almost caused the British Government to withdraw from the territory, but the commercial interests prevailed on them to stay put, to unify the command of the trading forts, stamp out the slave trade and develop the Gold Coast’s mineral and agricultural possibilities. Thus, in 1821 the British Government took over the operations of the African Company of Merchants and in 1844 signed a Bond with several local chiefs, which recognised Queen Victoria’s jurisdiction and laid it down that ". . . the first objects of law are the protection of individuals and property." In 1850 they winkled out the Danes and in 1871 the Dutch. Thus also, any missionary who undertook to spread the word of Christianity and British "law and order" among the natives of the interior was assured of the benevolent protection of English arms. They did not leave it all to the missionaries; right up to 1900 British soldiers were fighting against the natives in the interior in defence of the commercial and strategic interests along the coast

Ghana Arise
The two world wars sharply emphasised the importance of Africa strategically and as a source of vital raw materials—in particular the last war saw a tremendous development of the Gold Coast's airfields, harbours and internal communications. The need for self-sufficiency caused independent local industries to be built up. This, with the war’s expanded social intercourse, promoted the Gold Coast’s political development and the inevitable demand for independence from British rule. In 1951 the Gold Coast legislature for the first time represented all the territory's inhabitants, voting in secret ballot. The elections of 1951 and 1954 were won by the Convention People’s Party (CPP), whose leader, Dr. Nkrumah was brought from jail to fill the newly-created post of Prime Minister. The CPP stood on a programme of independence from British rule and when they won a third overwhelming victory in the 1956 elections, Whitehall agreed to the inevitable. At midnight on 5th March, 1957, the Gold Coast ceased to exist and the State of Ghana took its place. A new national anthem—Ghana Arise, by Hector Hughes, a British Labour M.P.—was substituted for God Save the Queen.

The country which Dr. Nkrumah took over has a population of 4½ millions, most of them Africans and pagans. The economy is heavily dependent on cocoa farming, which, said Finance Minister Gbedemah, dusting off a clich√©, is ". . .  the life-blood of this country." (Ghana turns out 30 per cent. of the world crop.) The Government are uneasy about this dependence on a primary produce industry, so vulnerable to world economic changes. There is a heavy tax on cocoa farming, which is invested in other fields; there is also a tax relief for those who finance "pioneer" industries. So far these measures have not had much effect and Ghana's prosperity still varies with the price which Cadbury and Fry, Ltd., the United Africa Company, and the like, have to pay for cocoa on the world market.

Betrayed Hopes
Ghana also has substantial deposits of gold, diamonds, manganese and bauxite. Most of the gold and diamonds, mined by companies incorporated in the United Kingdom, are sent to London. The manganese deposits, as an ingredient to steel production, are becoming increasingly important. Bauxite is mined by the British Aluminium Company, who are interested in the prospect of damming the Volta River to generate electricity for smelting the bauxite into aluminium. Although Great Britain takes nearly one-half of her exports, Ghana is anxious to attract any foreign investment. Because of this the Government will take no sides in current Great Power conflicts; Dr. Nkrumah had said,". . .  Ghana . . .  should not be aligned with any group of Powers or political blocs."

The first signs that Ghana was going to betray the hopes of its friends came when Dr. Nkrumah appeared to be fostering his own little personality cult by having his head stamped on the new coinage and going to live in Christiansborg Castle which, as the old residence of Danish and British governors, is heavy with unpleasant memories. Then came the expulsions and a Special Bill to allow Mr. Edusei to deport two men without the right of appeal. The municipal councils of Accra and Kumasi were suspended and so was the chief of the 300,000 Akim Abuakwa tribe. Several members of the opposition were kidnapped and from the other side, a plot to assassinate Dr. Nkrumah was alleged. In this hysterical atmosphere, it seemed, Africa’s immaculate embryo democracy had been born a deformed dictatorship.

The truth of the matter is that last March saw the end of Nkrumah’s days of agitation and faced him with the realities of power over a country which is trying to make its way in the capitalist world. The first reality was a staggering fall in the price of cocoa, so that the first budget was chillingly austere and the Ghanaian workers were told that it would be unpatriotic to ask for higher wages. They had expected better than this from Nkrumah; a national transport strike was called and rioting broke out in Accra. Another difficulty is that Nkrumah is struggling to establish government on modern capitalist lines and to stamp out the old system of tribal rule. These stresses have caused quarrelling within the government. To clean the matter up a strong-arm policy has been tried, with Mr. Edusei, known in Ghana as the Minister of Noise, to apply it.

Settling Down
It seems that things are now settling down. The cases against the journalists have been dropped and the Emergency Powers Bill, published at the beginning of November, was much easier than expected. The government was probably getting worried about reactions in the countries which would supply the necessary development loans and of the old-established foreign firms, who have kept their interests in Ghana. The opposition groups, formerly diverse, have united and almost certainly will emerge as an alternative administration. These are all strong checks upon extreme government action. In any case, there is no good reason why Nkrumah’s misdeeds should cause such a fuss in quarters which accepted, among other things, the deportations from Cyprus and Uganda and the deposing of the popularly elected government of British Guiana. Nor does it end in London. America has recently altered the constitution of the occupied island of Okinawa to get rid of a troublesome Mayor. Dr. Nkrumah’s is only one of a number of distasteful policies and should be seen in its perspective. It will be forgotten long before the world stops remembering the French in Algeria and the Russians in Hungary.

Crisis in Indonesia (1958)

From the February 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Television, radio and newspapers for several weeks, on and off, have been announcing news from Indonesia: Military Coup in Sumatra, Oil Installations in Rebel Hands, Banks Seized in Indonesia, Take-Over Flags Hoisted, Dutch Alarm Over Communist Threat, Air-Lift for Dutch from Indonesia, Dutch Navy Moves, British Firms Fear Loss of Staff, Sea Claim By Indonesia.

Why the Western Capitalists are worried
Western capitalists with investments in Indonesia are, of course, worried about the seizure of property and investment in Java belonging to the Dutch. While the Western capitalists are prepared to cut one another’s throats in the struggle for trade, when there is a threat to their general interests, then they become brotherly. Of a total foreign investment of U.S. $1,400 million in Indonesia, the Dutch own U.S. $1,040 millions, the British U.S. $200 [millions], and the U.S.A. $90 millions. The Daily Express, which expresses a viewpoint of some of the capitalists in an editorial column, pressed the British Government to take action against die rebels.

But the map shows the strategic importance of the threat there to Western Capitalism. Indonesia, the sixth largest country in the world as far as population is concerned, consists of a string of islands stretching for 2,000 miles from Northern Australia across the Pacific Ocean to the mainland of Asia. Were Indonesia to fall to rebels favourable to the “Communist” group, the latter would leapfrog S.E.A.T.O. defences, the U.K. Far East Command in Singapore and the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya. Forming a barrier between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it would endanger “Free World" communications. Indonesia is the focal point in the S.E Asia collective defence system. How the great powers fish in troubled waters is indicated by U.S. aid totalling $33 million, while the Soviet Union have granted a credit of $100 million.

An Adolescent Ruling Class
These individual items of news are only facets of changes that are going on, mere symptoms of a grander development, and it might be as well if we look behind the news items at the developments taking place there. The Dutch East Indies, as Indonesia was called before independence, was sternly ruled by a Civil Service under the Netherlands. The native ruling class increased from small beginnings without training in the administration necessary for the efficient running of a modem state, for the Dutch filled practically every job. This had the effect of making the Indonesian capitalists rely particularly heavily on their workers for support for the Nationaist Party (P.N.I.) in attaining independence and in the running of that country since.

Workers in Indonesia
Strictly speaking the Indonesian working class started in the 18th Century as employees of the Dutch colonists, but it was with the opening of the Suez Canal and the demand by industry for rubber and oil, the two chief exports of the country, that led to rapid development. In 1919, the formation of the Central Workers' Union led to a wave of strikes. The Colonial Government was at first sympathetic but when they saw the conflagration spreading they soon turned on the workers. In 1923 the Communist Party (PKI) was formed and grew in popularity, claiming to be a Workers’ party. Although its policy was one of reforming capitalism, many gave their support as the one hope (or so it seemed to them, not being socialists) in a repressive colonial set-up. The pressure of the Dutch workers and administrators forced the concession of freedom of the press and assembly for the whites, but the Indonesian workers also benefited to a lesser extent. The workers who bore the exploitation were supported by the native capitalists who found it quite simple to lay the blame for the workers' troubles on the foreign exploiters and also by the student body who had poor hopes of suitable employment whilst the Dutch filled the Civil Service jobs. In 1927 a Communist Party insurrection was suppressed.

Meanwhile, the radical transformation of village life proceeded apace as the great plantations with their demand for wage-labour and the oil wells were developed. Strikes grew more frequent and in 1926/7 there was a particularly serious outbreak.

During World War II the Japanese seized the colony from the Dutch, and partly because they were heavily committed elsewhere, gave a measure of self-rule to the budding native capitalist class. After the War was over the Dutch tried unsuccessfully to resume control of this former colony but it was already too late; the Native Government, with the support of the workers, were too firmly entrenched. In 1947 the Dutch resorted to warfare, and the Indonesian workers fought for their masters with Japanese arms.

But in 1948/9, the U.S.A., dreading the setting-up of a Communist Government in Indonesia hostile to western capitalism, suspended Marshall Aid to the Dutch, and their attempt to resume control failed.

Trade Unions flourished and in 1953 they had a total membership of 1,400,000. The reforms advocated by the “Communist” PKI and their hostility to the Free-World Bloc brought them support and in June, 1954, 17 of their members were elected to the Indonesian parliament. In the provincial elections of last year the PKI made further advances.

Thieves fall out
But things have not gone too well for the ruling class. Having seized control of the machinery of government they are now quarreling over the division of part of the spoils; on the chief island of Java, where the capital is situated, they are fiddling the central government taxes to the anger of the exploiters on the other islands of the Archipelago. Although this passing of the taxation buck to less powerful groups is quite a normal procedure for some capitalists, those who are being mulcted of their hard won proceeds of exploitation have not been philosophical about it but have rebelled, under the leadership of the local military. It is this that chiefly lies behind the news of revolts in the outlying islands earlier last year.

Indonesian Meat but with Different Gravy
But with the rebellion in Java there are other factors. One of the dangers in Indonesian society is that of authoritarian political methods above the village level. The authoritarian tradition and the related habit of dependence upon orders from above, both stemming from the long period of colonial rule and from the absence of democratic methods in the past and the ignorance of the workers as to their true class interests, has left the working-class movement wide open to reprisals from their masters. The latter have had enough of the well-nigh endless demands for better conditions. It has for some years now been fairly generally recognised there that it only required a market setback to spark off a general attack on the workers. The falling prices of rubber and other tropical products and the surplus of oil on world markets in recent months have done the trick. In the mixed reports from Djakarta can be seen the anti-working class trend of events. The situation here recalls our comments on Hungary and on Malaya in past issues of the Socialist Standard where we said “In other countries whenever the ruling group is firmly in the saddle of government they lose no time in turning on the workers.” This attack was under the cover of a New Life Movement aimed at getting the workers to work harder. All party leaders are agreed that the seven hour day, existing on all estates and mines, is wholly inadequate. Workers were recently taken during working hours from a variety of coffee houses by military police and excoriated as “time corrupters.”

Another red herring is the Government’s claim on New Guinea. This vast undeveloped area 1,000 miles away would be nothing but embarrassment to the Indonesian Government unable even to control their existing domains, but it serves to distract attention from their anti-working class actions at home. Visitors to the lush tropical islands of Indonesia may find the landscape a great change from the more temperate parts of the world but if they listened to the utterances of the Indonesian government leaders they might well imagine themselves back home again. The current policy of telling the worker to take his finger out and get cracking with a developing welfare state as an inducement, is another instance. To an extent, then, the crisis in Indonesia is the pay-off for the workers there.

Homeless Dutch Refugees
But we cannot conclude without a comment on the Dutch refugees. Once again the similarity with the fairly recent events in Hungary is in the plight of these people. The inhumanity that results from the decision to expel the Dutch residents by the Indonesian Government acting in the interests of the capitalist class there is revealing. The break-up of families and the horror of both young and old at being uprooted and driven out is an almost continuous process in a class-dominated society. The Dutch refugees now join the grim procession; before them the Hungarians, the 900,000 Arab refugees in the Middle East, the Muslims who have fled from India, the Hindus from Pakistan, the continuous stream from East Germany and the enormous number of White Russians in China now being forced to move again. It seems that this column of spectres will go on while the present system of society lasts.
Frank Offord

Russian Imperialism (1958)

From the March 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

In these columns we have many times answered the empty claim that Russia is a Socialist country. Those who propagate the Russian myth usually claim that private enterprise has disappeared there, and that private ownership of land and houses does not exist. None of these statements is completely true, for a whole lot of small businesses have recently sprung up in Russia, especially for house repairing and the supplying and servicing of radio and television sets. Wealthy Russians own country houses, not to mention the fact that there are the millions of peasants who own land and farm it in competition with the state farms. But all this means little, anyway, when we consider that Russia has a gigantic army (the world's largest), navy and air force, whose real purpose is to preserve property, even if it is the collective property of the ruling class. The police force, whose function it is to preserve the state (the executive committee of the ruling class), and the immense system of secret police and internal spies which has been in existence since Tsarist days, and still performs the same function—that of preventing the ruling hierarchy from being exposed or overthrown—all testify to the existence of two classes in society, and indicates that nothing of the nature of Socialism can exist there. On top of all this, there was a law laid down by the Stalinist constitution of 1934 and still applicable today, that every factory in Russia must make a profit! Where factories fail to accomplish this it has always meant serious trouble for the managers.

The making of profit is a fundamental of the capitalist system; socialism, of course, will not busy itself making profits and extracting wealth from the workers. This fact alone is enough to show Russia to be a capitalist state. All over the Soviet Union they have a monetary and wage system. Marx, in Value, Price and Profit, and elsewhere, made it clear that for him Socialism involved the abolition of the wages system, and showed that it is in the wages system that exploitation is veiled. Our pamphlet Russia Since 1917, and the many articles in the Socialist Standard make it indisputable that Russia could not be considered a socialist country.

During last November the Soviet Union celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Millions of words from the Moscow radio, and millions of words in the Soviet Press have publicised what they call the “success of Socialism." Pamphlets and books have poured out all over the world and broadcasters in many languages have been shouting themselves hoarse with the achievements of the Russian state. But nowhere do they define Socialism.

Alongside of all this jubilation they have been attacking what they call “Imperialism"—the imperial war mongers of America and England. Again they do not tell us what they mean by imperialism. Fortunately Lenin wrote a little book on the subject—one of the few that he penned that is really worth reading—and which differs from his usual rubbish in that it is not one long attack on Kautsky and others, although even here he cannot completely refrain. Lenin's usual defamatory vituperation gives place to some figures of capitalism’s development, especially in Germany, and, above all, he tells us what Imperialism is in no uncertain language.

The subtitle of Lenin’s Imperialism is "The highest stage of capitalism," and in the text he defines Imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism. In the preface to the French and German editions (1920) Lenin states:—
    “Private property based on the labour of the small owner, free competition, democracy—all these catchwords with which the capitalists and their press deceive the workers and the peasants are things of the distant past. Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world by a handful of 'advanced’ countries. And this ‘booty' is shared by two or three world-dominating pirates armed to the teeth (America, England, Japan) who embroil the whole world in their war over the division of their booty."
Today, we could put Russia in place of Japan. In the body of the book Lenin gives five facts that make up Imperialism, and these constitute the headings of the first five chapters. The first is the "Concentration of Production and Monopolies." In this he points out the enormous growth of monopolies in Germany and the elimination of the small producer. This, of course, applies to Russia today. Chapter II is "The Banks and their New Role." Here he states:—
    “In proportion as banking develops and becomes concentrated in a small number of institutions, the banks grow from modest intermediaries into all-powerful monopolists having at their command almost all the money capital of all the capitalists and small businessmen, as well as the greater part of the means of production and of the sources of raw materials of a given country or in a number of countries. This transformation of numerous small intermediaries into a handful of monopolists is one of the fundamental processes of the growing of capitalism into capitalist imperialism. For that reason we must first deal with the concentration of banking.”
Again, all this applies to Russia today. Consider the financing of the five-year plans and the last war.

Chapter III is headed "Finance, capital and financial oligarchy.” Here Lenin quotes Hilferding as writing:—
    "An ever-increasing portion of industrial capital does not belong to the industrialists who employ it. They obtain the use of it through the bank, which, as against them, represents the owner of the capital. On the other hand, the bank is forced to leave an increasing share of its funds in industry. Thus, to an ever-increasing degree the bank is being transformed into an industrial capitalist. This bank capital, i.e., capital in the form of money which is thus transformed into industrial capital, I call finance capital. . . . Finance capital is therefore ‘capital controlled by the banks and utilised by the industrialists'."
Lenin remarks that this definition is incomplete, because it is silent on one of the most important points which is the growth and concentration of production and capital, otherwise he endorses it.

Chapter IV is "The Export of Capital.” This is almost too well known to need emphasising. Although Russia’s export of gold and of loans may be small compared to that of England in the past, loans have been made by Russia to China, capital invested in many Eastern European countries under Russian domination, and recently we have witnessed Russia’s loan to Egypt which has brought her directly into the Imperialist branch of the money-lending business beyond any dispute. Now comes the drive for the controlling interests in the Middle East with its oilfields, all clearly connected with the export of capital. A Financial Times correspondent (27/1/58) gave particulars of Russian aid and loans to foreign countries totalling £673 million.

Chapter V is "The division of the world among the capitalist combines.” Here the Soviet monopoly combine already controls Hungary, Rumania. Bulgaria. Czecho-SIovakia, a large chunk of Germany. Latvia. Lithuania and Estonia. Northern Korea—not to mention her enormous controlling influence in China and other territories in the Far and near East. If this isn't full-blooded Imperialism—then what is?

Chapter VI is an extension of the fifth with the heading, “The division of the world among the great powers." Witness the way Russia and Germany divided Poland in 1939 and Russia and America divided Germany and Korea since the second war, and Syria, Jordan and Egypt are all being pigeon-holed by the Imperialist vultures.

Towards to the end of the book Lenin writes:—
    "Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the domination of monopolies and finance capital has taken shape; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world by the international trusts has begun, and in which the partition of all the territory of the earth by the greatest capitalist countries has been completed.”
According to Lenin’s Imperialism, Russia is therefore a full-blown Imperialist state, and the giant powers are now about to re-divide the world. Russia is no longer a backward agrarian and semi-feudal land, but a highly developed and powerful capitalist state.
Horace Jarvis

Curious Friends of Freedom (1958)

Editorial from the April 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is one thing that the Tories and the Labour Party, the supporters of “controls" and the defenders of “private enterprise,” have long had in common: they are all the friends of freedom. They were all very anxious, or so they said, to protect the rights of Minorities and see that these Minorities received opportunities to state their point of view. But they differed, and differed violently, about the best way of securing this happy event. The Labour Party has always said that you cannot expect the profit-hungry Press Barons to play the game, and the sole way to get freedom of speech for Minorities was to have the Press and the Radio nationalised; then there would be reasonable facilities for every point of view, however small its numerical and financial backing. The newspapers and the advocates of commercial broadcasting scoffed at this. They pointed to the habit of bureaucratic Government organisations, once they got a monopoly, of blotting out every dissident point of view.

As the Socialist Party of Great Britain is a small organisation, we are the very people whom both groups were dying to serve. So how could we fail to benefit? If Tweedledum defaulted on his principle we only had to turn to Tweedledee to get a fair deal. And thus it didn’t turn out. Tweedledum and Tweedledee found that they don't disagree at all, for they both see eye to eye about not giving the Socialist case a chance to be heard. So for over twenty years the B.B.C. has refused to allow the SP.G.B. an opportunity to put its case on the air and this in spite of the recommendation of the Committee set up by the Government which in 1949 recommended that the B.B.C. should consider giving “all minorities which had messages, religious or other, some time to broadcast.” But there still remained the other groups, those who got their chance to behave differently when commercial television was started. They were going to show how much better they would do things than the B.B.C. On February 10th of this year in an I.T.V. lecture on “ International Socialism," Mr. A. J. P. Taylor, Fellow and Tutor in Modem History at Magdalen College, Oxford, made a statement which viewers heard as bring in the terms that all Socialist Parties supported the 1914-18 war. We wrote to Mr. Taylor and to Associated Television Ltd. on February 11th, drawing attention to this and asking that Mr. Taylor defend or withdraw his statement, and that the controllers of the programme allow us facilities to state our position. In order that there could be no reason for doubt about the facts, we forwarded to Mr. Taylor a copy of the Socialist Standard for September, 1914, in which our manifesto reaffirming Socialist opposition to war was published. From Associatd Television Ltd. we received a letter saying that “the import of Mr. Taylor's remarks in connection with the 1914-18 war were not quite correctly stated by you in your letters"—but not giving the correct version: a courteous letter; which, however, ignored our request, though it expressed the opinion that no doubt Mr. Taylor “will be making any reply to you which is appropriate."

At this point it may strike the reader that Mr. Taylor doubtless erred quite innocently—his historical studies might well not have extended to noticing a small organisation; but he would naturally put the matter right without delay.

But six weeks later we had not heard from him. With our accustomed charity we appreciate that his various activities, including his preparations for and appearance in, a programme called “Free Speech," might take up much time and in addition he was busy writing for the Press. In the Sunday Express (2nd March, 1958) appeared an article by him defending certain organs of the Press against some Bishops and M.P,s and the Times. In this article Mr. Taylor called them men who “imperil freedom.” His particular concern was that these men had made “exaggerated charges, false charges, charges that should never have been made," in connection with the photographs published after the Munich disaster to Manchester United footballers. It may be wondered what this has to do with our subject matter. The point is that Mr. Taylor agreed that the offending critics of the Press made their charges as “the result of an honest mistake." But, he wrote indignantly. “What about a withdrawal and an apology? Not at all. Silence by the bishops; silence by the M.P's.; silence by the Times."

Need we labour the point? Pray, silence for Mr. Taylor of Television Free Speech fame!

The Communist Patriots (1958)

Cartoon by Robert Barltrop.
From the May 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard
   “Real patriotism to-day can be found among the millions of workers and middle-class people—the industrial and professional backbone of England."
   "To win rising wages is one of the most patriotic things to do because rising living standards benefit the vast majority of our people and, therefore, promote the welfare of the nation.”
No! This is not a statement by the “League of Empire Loyalists ” or the Daily Express. It is quoted from a recent leaflet entitled “Patriotism Ltd.”, published by the British Communist Party. It attacks certain Tories and businessmen in Britain for being “anti-British” and unpatriotic.

The leaflet informs us that ". . . the Tory leaders gave the Americans permission to patrol our skies with loaded H-bombers” (emphasis ours.)

Now all this “Communist” patriotism seems, at first sight, all very peculiar. For the Communist Party, ever since its inception, has claimed to be a party of the working-class; the party which addresses itself to “the masses.” But why talk of patriotism or “our country” or “the national interest” to the working-class? Did not Marx and Engels, the founders of modern Communism, say that the worker is “without property” (Communist Manifesto)? And, later in the Communist Manifesto, they wrote:—
   “The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality
  “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got."—(p. 78. The Communist Manifesto and the Last Hundred Years, S.P.G.B. ed.)
The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels was written over a hundred years ago—when the vast mass of the people owned nothing in the means of life: they were “without property.” They did not have a country; the skies were not theirs, neither was the land; they could have no “national interest,” neither were the workers of 1847 “. . .  working for themselves and their country . . . " as the recent Communist Party leaflet puts it.

But, of course, things are different today!! Do we not live in a “property-owning democracy,” as the Tories put it? Do the workers of 1958 own Britain? Are ‘‘they working for themselves and their country” as the Communist Party pretends? Or are our so-called modem Communists, like Tories and Labourites, pulling a fast one? Do the workers work “for themselves” or are they working for their employers, as Marx and Engels claimed in 1847?

According to Lord Beveridge in 1943 “80 per cent. of the private property of the country is owned by seven per cent of the population.” And, more recently, in December, 1955, Prof. W. Arthur Lewis, of Manchester University, admitted that “two-thirds of the private property in this country is owned by less than four per cent. of the population” (Socialist Commentary, December, 1955), which leaves virtually nothing for the mass of the population—the working-class.

The fact is that, despite the lies of the Communist Party and others, the workers of today do not own Britain; it is not their country. They are propertyless wage-workers—proletarians in the language of Marx and Engels—working for, and creating a profit for, the people who really do own Britain—the capitalist class. If Marx was alive today he would vomit at the lies and the rubbish that “Communists” publish and put before the workers of this and other countries. He would reiterate what he wrote in 1847—"The working men have no country.” And he would not bother himself unduly at the lack of patriotism of British Tories as does the British Communist Party!
Peter E. Newell

Obituary: Harry Gostick (1958)

Obituary from the June 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Another Old Member Goes
We regret to record the death on the 25th April, at the age of 83, of Comrade Harry Gostick. He had been ill for two years and died of pneumonia. The cremation took place at Streatham, the same place as his wife, Kate Gostick, was cremated some years ago. She was the sister of Jack Fitzgerald and one of the co-founders of the Party.

Harry Gostick joined the Party in 1907 and was active, in an unobtrusive way, until a few years ago, when the illness of his wife and advancing years compelled him to drop out of activity. He belonged to the dwindling group of members that participated in the work of the Party during the early years, when the Party was struggling hard, and under great difficulties, for recognition. During the first World War, when the Party was badly knocked about, he was one of those who helped to keep it going.

It is always very sad to have to say the last farewell to a staunch old comrade who played his part in the only cause that is worth the effort of a lifetime.

The Old Order Changeth (1958)

From the July 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Readers, especially those overseas, may be interested to learn that the old Marx house, his last dwelling place, in London, is now being demolished.

41, Maitland Park, just inside the borders of the Borough of St Pancras in North West London, and practically on the edge of Hampstead, which was No. 1, Modena Villas, when Marx moved in, on the proceeds of his small legacy from his mother, is now part of a terrace of derelict property.

For years now, the famous room on the first floor, where the great thinker paced the carpet from one comer to the other like a caged lion, wearing a path through it, has been a dangerous structure.

Some of the best and greatest work was written in that room: The Civil War in France, the greater part of Capital, the Address of the International Working Men's Association and the numerous critical and controversial monographs, Gotha Programme, Value, Price and Profit. (which though delivered verbally, was prepared there) and others.

The first house he moved to on leaving Dean Street, Soho, on medical advice, after the death of his son, Edgar, was No. 9, Grafton Terrace, just around the corner.

Here Marx and his numerous family suffered the most desperate privation. Here it was that he underwent the harrowing experiences which all the readers of his biographies know.

From this address came the frantic appeals for help because his children were dying, every piece of decent clothing was at the pawn shop, and butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker, were hammering on the door. Grafton Terrace, for the Marx household, was Heartbreak House.

Even after moving, things were not all that good, although some journalistic work did come from America. However, eventually Engels was able to retire from “filthy commerce” and move to 122. Regents Park Road, making his friend a regular provision and walking the short distance to see him every day. Engel's old house in London is still occupied.

Those interested could take the opportunity now to visit the Marx house before it is finally carted away.

A No. 24 or 21 bus or Primrose Hill station from Euston will land them a few steps away, Engel's old house is a few hundred yards distant.

In this contributor’s view, the great experts, in this case the St Pancras Council and London County Council, are making a grievous blunder. Preserved as a historic monument, Marx’s house could be a business proposition, increasing as the years go by.

On the other hand, Marx himself would have been the first to appreciate the inevitability of change.

Politics (1958)

From the August 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

Every so often the worker is invited to the polling places to elect a government for the term to follow. At such times he is an important person—the salt of the earth, the backbone of the nation, the mainstay of civilization. With the compliments of this or that political party his baby is kissed, his hand is shaken, his back is slapped, his ego is catered to and the floodgates of oratory are opened to deluge him with emotion-packed words arranged to suggest that they mean something. Whatever his wishes may be—from the distant moon to the lowly carrot—they shall be granted.

It is a beautiful and inspiring sight. Men of stated worth, whose talents and virtues are repeatedly affirmed in all the important journals, imploring that the worker deliver his vote to them. Billboard signs, newspaper advertisements, radio and television programmes, garden parties, mass rallies, volumes of verbiage, all designed to ensure that he does the right thing.

And he does.

Then comes the morning after. The signs are taken down. There is room in the important journals for more sporting news. The candidates congratulate each other. The oratory is ended. The babies are unkissed except by their mothers. The moon fades with the dawn, but still hangs high. The carrots remain in the stalls. And the worker turns up on the job at the usual time to continue the business of working for wages.

All is normal again and one of the contending political parties has received a mandate from the electorate to keep it that way.

That's how it goes. Lower income taxes become a substitute for higher wages. Increased old age pensions struggle to keep up with higher prices. A national health plan takes the place of local and company plans. Measures of little merit replace measures of little merit.

It doesn’t matter what condition the world is in. There may be a boom, a depression, or a war. There may be masses of people overworked, underfed, or dying violently. There is no shortage of politicians, amply provided with funds, preying on the gullibility of the populace by insisting that there is nothing wrong with society that cannot be cured by a little patchwork here and there. They may make their appeals to “the People,” or to “ Labour.” They may in some cases believe the things they say and they may if elected bring into effect some of their promises. But however impressive and down to earth their efforts may seem, they never succeed in making the existing system of society fit to live in except to the parasite class and their principle protectors and bootlickers.

The game of politics, for all the sham, the vaudeville, the bombast, the empty promises so often associated with it, is a serious game. Vast sums of money are poured into it and these sums are not provided by the workers. The workers are not usually well supplied with spare cash and they are not in any case very much interested in politics. Their interest is limited mainly to giving ear to the commotion created at election time and deciding in favour of the candidates they think have given the best performance. The vast sums of money that are used to din from all directions the superiority of certain programmes, policies and candidates are provided by the property-owning class, the capitalist class, and they are not provided because of any thought that in this way the interests of society may best be served; they are provided in the expectation that only their own interests will be served, even though these come into serious conflict with the interests of society.

The capitalists have special material interests that cause them to have differences among themselves and these differences result in the experience of two or more political parties in most countries. But in one thing above all others they are united and that is in their support of parties that stand first of all for the continued existence of capitalism. They are prepared to sanction a generous outlay of attractive promises and political horseplay for the approval of the workers, since it is necessary that this approval be obtained, but whatever the politicians do to get themselves elected they cannot hope to retain the support of the capitalists if they allow the suggestion to enter into their activities that capitalism is not the best of all possible systems of society. Needless to say, they are careful to protect their sources of campaign funds.

From all this it must be clear that the capitalists are far more aware of the importance of political action than are the workers. They sponsor and finance vast campaigns to ensure that governments are formed that will protect their privileged position. So great is their interest that in all modern nations they control not only the government, but also the greater part of the opposition. This leaves the workers with little of prominence to choose from other than the various parties which, with slight differences dictated by sectional capitalist interests, all represent the capitalist class. But there is an alternative. It is not necessary for the workers to continue supporting parties that represent interests opposed to their own. They can when they choose look beyond the noise and deceit that draw their attention at present. It will require some interest in politics. It will require some thought and study—far more than is now shown. But every moment of it will be worth the effort, for it leads unerringly toward a system of society that will rid mankind at once and for all time of the terrors and uncertainties that are so much a part of working class life under capitalism.

Socialism is the alternative. Its introduction means a change that will make the world a fit place for humans to live in. Most people today oppose Socialism because they do not understand it and are influenced by the sneers and misrepresentations instigated by the beneficiaries of present society. Study and knowledge will change that attitude and will teach the workers that capitalism is not worthy of support no matter what party speaks in its name; that for them only Socialism is worthy of support and Socialism is represented only by the Socialist Party.
(Leaflet published by the Socialist Party of Canada.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Anti-Socialist Front (1958)

From the September 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Make certain we keep the Socialists out next time—this is what we ask you to do."

Almost every day some new group or sect thrusts itself upon the political scene. “A New Workers’ Party” is born one day; “A League for the Defence of Freedom against the tyranny of Trade Unions” the next. They come—and go. The latest appears to be “The Anti-Socialist Front"; an organisation sponsored by a long list of “homy-handed sons of toil” and well- known champions of the working class, which include the Earl of Mexborough, Lord Moynihan, the Dowager Viscountess Trenchard, Sir Alexander Anderson, General Sir Evelyn Barker, Lady Katherine Beresford-Peirse, Air Vice-Marshal Donald Bennett and many other Sirs, Major-Generals and Colonels.

Being a brand new group they felt that it was their sacred duty to let the “general public,” their fellow-workers, hear the good news. The world must be told “the truth.” Therefore, rumour has it, Major Duncan Keith-Shaw removed his top hat (or was it his deerstalker?) and asked for a few coppers (£1,000 cheques will do!) from each of those present. Well . . .  to cut a long story short, by tremendous sacrifices (such as cutting down on fags and beer) our “Front” members ultimately scraped up a mere £2,650, and invested in a full-page advertisement in the Daily Telegraph of July 15th, 1958.

The crusade had begun.. At last die world had been told the awful truth! “Most of the evils of our time stem from Socialism, either the full-blooded kind of a Socialist administration or the watered down concoction favoured by the present Government.” That’s the stuff. Expose that “red” MacMillan! Purge the “Socialist Revolutionary.” Dr. Charles Hill! These “Socialist infiltrators” in the Conservative Party are ruining the country, losing the Empire and weakening private enterprise, by gad! But worse is to come. For despite “most of the evils” which we are told are caused by this non-existent Socialism that our Anti-Socialist Front imagines exists in Conservative-run capitalist Britain today, we are also warned that “Under a Socialist Government we might well become bankrupt!” Now this complicates matters somewhat, because we are not quite certain what is meant by this rather startling remark. If by a “Socialist Government” our “Front” really means a Labour Government, which we suspect, then it seems very unlikely that “we (meaning our lord- and ladyships) might well become bankrupt.” For, as far as we know, very few concerns became bankrupt under previous Labour Governments. On the other hand during the last two Labour administrations, the number of millionaires increased, which only shows how ignorant our so-called Anti-Socialist Front can get. Still, if the Dowager Viscountess Trenchard, Major-General Sir Basil A. Hill or any other sponsors of the Anti-Socialist Front is a reader of this journal, we can give them some information—quite freely. In a Socialist society they will be bankrupt in the sense that the employing class will no longer exist; that is as an employing, exploiting class. They won’t even have any bank accounts, no banks to go to. For, like the rest of the community, they will —we hope!—work, to the best of their ability, and will get from society not rent, interest or profit, but like everyone else, just what they need. Or is such an idea, such a state of affairs, beyond the ken of these “ Anti-Socialist ” crusaders? To these people, as with many others, workers included, Socialism means government control, nationalisation of industries, bulk buying and the like. And because of this they liken the Labour Party to Socialists. They even call the British Labour Party a Socialist Party—the Socialist Party.

“The Socialist Party,” we are told, “is only the political end of the trade union movement, with its tyrannical and selfish aims.” Tyrannical and selfish aims! Because some trade unionists understand their subject position in our present society, because some workers continue to fight for better conditions and more pay, these Major-Generals and Dowager Viscountesses consider them selfish! Its a pity some trade unionists—and other workers—are not a little more selfish.

What, then, is the solution to the evils of “Socialism” (i.e. Conservative and Labour administration of our capitalist society)? How does the “Front” intend to save us from “Socialist tyranny”? Firstly, it is “to bring home to the general public the disastrous consequence to every man, woman and child in the country of nationalisation or renationalisation”—which, as we have previously said, has nothing to do with Socialism. Secondly, to prevent Conservatives and Liberals (they all worry about the dead-but-it-won’t-lie-down Liberal corpse) from splitting the “Anti-Socialist” (read Labour) vote in marginal constituencies, by adopting the following formula:—
—In Conservative-held marginal seats no Liberal candidate to stand at the next General Election, and Liberals to vote for the Conservatives.
—In Labour-held marginal seats no Conservative candidate to stand and Conservatives to vote for the Liberal.
And the Anti-Socialist Front's third bright idea for solving “most of the evils of our time . . . ” is “to persuade the Government to give an undertaking that it will include the alternative vote in the programme on which it will fight the next General Election.”

These, then, are the “revolutionary” proposals that the Anti-Socialist Front considers is worth £2,650 to advertise in the Daily Telegraph. And for those who may be interested they intend raising an “initial” Propaganda Fund of a mere £100,000. For our part, without the thousands of pounds, we will continue to propagate Socialism (not the spurious invention that the Anti-Socialist Front calls Socialism) as the solution to “most of the evils of our time . . . ” We do not expect any help from retired Colonels, Air Vice-Marshals or Lords and Ladies. Only capitalism can expect such help.
Peter E. Newell

Socialism and Perfection (1958)

From the October 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The aim of the Socialist is to achieve perfection, and perfection is unattainable—so goes the argument. The assumption is that somehow human beings are to be transformed into supermen and women, all virtue and no vice, once the millenium has been reached. This approach to the problem is the wrong one and very misleading.

The improvement in human behaviour which we envisage is not an abstract conception of how people might behave in a better world, but is based on our observation and knowledge of how people actually do behave. It can be seen that sometimes people react in a truly human way to each other, and sometimes the reverse. An objection here may be: “What do we mean by truly human, surely all the actions of human beings must by definition be human? ” If we can agree that men are primarily social beings, that everything they do and think is connected in diverse ways with, and affected by, what others do and think (even in matters of sex), that what we recognise as human as opposed to merely animal is the result of thousands of years of social evolution; of living together in mutual dependence, then the act of, for example, saving life is more human than destroying it

We may ascribe changes in our behaviour to each other to quite arbitrary vagaries of human nature, but once an analysis has been made of the conditions and circumstances in which our actions occur, we will see that a definite causal connection can be traced. A man who is worried about his relations with his employers and fears the sack, is possibly not going to be easy to live with as when he is relatively safe. (Assuming for the sake of argument no other disruptions.) Meeting such a person for the first time we might say: "What an unpleasant man Smith is.” Or if we heard he had been beating his children; “What a brute that man Smith is.” We would have implied by our remarks that the trouble was entirely with Smith, and not, as in this case, the result of a conflict between Smith and the owner of the means of his existence. Though it is interesting to note that if we knew him, we would probably say: “I wonder what has got into old Smith? ” Here the implication is the reverse, we have recognised a contributory factor. Once this point has been agreed upon, it is not a far step to realising that if the conditions of society were changed the circumstances (e.g., labour and capital relationship) producing undesirable human behaviour would disappear. If asked what proof we have of this apart from the logic of the argument, it would suffice to say that if mankind is capable of behaviour conducive to social well-being some of the time, it is capable of it all of the time and in all spheres of human activity.

This is no perfectionist myth which implies the singular development of man along the road of constant progress. The perfectionist idea implies also that man is now inferior to what the would-be perfectionists might make him. In some cases it takes a mechanistic form, too; that is, it conceives men as living together by agreement or contract, that society is a man-made utopia rather than a social growth. That Socialism would be a distinct form of society and unconnected with Capitalism, a Minerva springing complete from the heads of the idealists rather than being born of the society existing prior to it and bearing the marks of its origins. All this is a fallacy. What we as Socialists aim to do is to organise society in such a way that there will be no fetters and restrictions on the desire for peaceful and purposeful co-operation, the desire of millions of people caught in the maelstrom of Capitalism, who as yet see no way out. It is on the basis of our knowledge of what man is that we want to change the world, not from some abstract concept of what we imagine would be nice: simply extending our own preferences on to society at large.

The important question now arises: at what point does the change in human behaviour take place; before the revolution in the social structure in order to change it (in which case it would then seem unnecessary), or afterwards, which would be an impossible absurdity, like a baby begetting its parents in order to be born. To quote Marx (Capital, Vol. I, page 157.): “By action on the external world and changing it. he (man) changes his own nature.” It is in the union in time and place of the desire and the action of its fulfilment that man will become truly human in the complete sense. It follows from this that mankind as a whole must make the effort. There are no means by which the Socialist Party of Great Britain alone can do this, nor are there any verifiable laws of nature, society or history to help, or for that matter to hinder the attainment of Socialism. The only laws are the exigencies of the immediate social condition, the state in which we find ourselves and the power of social consciousness.

Man makes his own history, albeit according to the conditions of the time. Conditions which have today raised problems not only of the fundamental relationships of simply living together, but of even the very survival of the human race. Problems which have got to be solved.
Ian Jones

"The Defiant Ones" (1958)

Film Review from the November 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Defiant Ones (Directed by Stanley Kramer)

In 1948 Stanley Kramer formed his own film company with Carl Foreman. He produced a number of films that were, to quote “Sight and Sound"—“courageously off-beat.” In 1950, under agreement with Columbia, he produced more “off-beat” pictures, among them “Death of a Salesman.” The critics began to take notice. Eight years later, film-goers are catching up, and his latest film “The Defiant Ones,” which he produced and directed, has not yet received an adverse review.

Kramer has now become one of America’s leading producers with an eye to controversial subjects and new methods. Posters for “The Defiant Ones” carry a list of newspaper blurbs that would make Cecil B. De Mille envious. The film has in fact even been serialised in the Daily Express, so setting the seal on success. It seems that Kramer is now established after an erratic beginning. Audiences now know him and want for more.

The Defiant Ones” is a story of two convicts, one a negro and the other white, who defy the written and unwritten laws of the land (The American South) by making for freedom and making for friendship. They are Joker Jackson (Tony Curtis), a brash white youth whose aggressive attitude results from being pushed around by rich men, and whose bigoted hostility to Noah Cullen, the negro, is a result of being brought up in America; and the negro (played by Sidney Poitier). an embittered, cynical man whose bitterness lies in the whole racial issue.

Chained together, they both escape from the state police after a road accident. Moving through rough country they are pursued' by a sheriff with state police and sworn-in deputies from surrounding farms. The convicts flee to the North, all the time with their antagonism graving. Though it is the general opinion that they won’t go five miles without killing each other, they manage to stay on the loose, narrowly avoiding a lynching party and ending up with a lovesick woman and her son. The woman takes a fancy to Jackson and suggests they both escape in her car to the big city. Her husband has left her and she is full of get-away-and-go-places dreams (which have no place for the negro). Finally, they all agree upon it, and Cullen makes his own way North, leaving Jackson with the woman and her son. Later. Jackson discovers that the woman has given the negro directions that will lead him into a treacherous swamp.

Negro and white are together again when Jackson realises the friendship that he has for his companion. They both travel towards the railroad and wait at a bridge to jump a freight to freedom. Cullen scrambles on to the train, but Jackson, who was shot by the woman’s son when he ran from their house, has no strength left, but grasp’s the negro’s hand (as in earlier shots of the two hands chained together) and tries to pull himself on. They end up by toppling down an embankment to be captured by the police.

The film is from beginning to end an allegory. A scratching upon the surface of the race problem that gets nowhere, but shows that both black and white workers are pushed around all their lives. In the dialogue, the two convicts are discussing their ideas of the world. The white is bitter about his old job as a garage attendant where he had to say “thank you" for a living. The negro talks of the land he once tended with his wife, dispelling Jackson’s ideas of “a farm of your own.” Cullen worked hard all day, but was still hungry. They argue and Jackson, slighted by this, makes believe that when they are free he will go into a large hotel, but throws at Cullen, “you will have to go in the back door,” with Cullen rejoinding, “while you go in the front door just low enough to collect your tip.” This sums up the situation that both black and white workers have to work all the time or starve. Race prejudice on the part of white workers towards black or Jewish or Chinese workers is but a reflection of their own insecurity and ignorance of Capitalism.

No film has been made that shows racialism for what it is, one of the group antagonisms of Capitalism, but “The Defiant Ones” is about as far as any film maker can get with the colour problem. It is, though, a film of great qualities. Kramer is a director of merit, with ideas and techniques that make this film, which could easily have been a flop, a success. The handling of the posse sequences, with police, hounds and rock 'n' roll from a portable radio accurately give the atmosphere of the lawful hunting the convicts, the dangers to society. The superficial aspects of race prejudice are expertly presented with feeling and understanding. The episode of the lovesick woman also indicates this.

The Defiant Ones” contrives real tension and suspense in a record of a pathetic attempt by two men to escape from the law. and their success in defying the prejudice that they have always known. Their escape is summed up by a character who lets them free after they have been captured by a lynching mob. He watches them escape with the words. ‘‘Run chicken . . .  run! ” The racial issue is summed up by Cullen and Jackson just before they are captured. They both lay exhausted, and the negro sings a bitter blues that has run throughout the film at intervals. Gun in hand the sheriff of the posse approaches then puts it away when he sees the fugitives together nursing their wounds and thinking they have had a good run for their money. He stares quizzically and the negro spits out the final line of the song at him, smiling contemptuously.
Robert Jarvis

Life or Death, 1958 (1958)

From the December 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

There is something cold and detached about the world of statistics, for it forms a part of a science based upon self-evident truths and abstract relationships, and there was certainly something chill about the proceedings in the Central Hall, Westminster, on the evening of September 22nd.

On the platform were three eminent scientists—Professor Linus Pauling, of Pasadena, U.S.A., Professor Marcus Oliphant of Australia, and Professor Powell of Bristol University; three men whose contribution to science is acknowledged as great within their own lifetime. They were there at the invitation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, to be cross-examined “about nuclear and hydrogen bombs and the responsibility of the Scientist in the Nuclear Age.” Their interrogators were two journalists, a liberal politician, and a Q.C.

In expert and erudite terms—terms which any layman could well understand—Messrs. Pauling, Oliphant and Powell explained with the cold compulsion of science the horrors of living in this nuclear age. To have been unmoved would have been to deny that one was a human being. To have accepted their conclusions would have been to deny the very “scientific method” that they had earlier evoked to their aid.

What did they say?
They told us that the genetic mutations caused by radiation from one 20 megaton bomb would cause the birth of 15,000 deformed children, and that consequently mankind had already mutilated 150,000 of its future offspring; and that there is no defence against a nuclear weapon, as indeed there is no defence against high explosives or bullets, save not to have them.

They told us that a limited nuclear war is impossible. That once a nuclear weapon is exploded, retaliation is certain. It had been estimated that even if 630 H bombs were dropped on the U.S. (which number would kill 150 millions of the total population of 175 millions by direct action alone), America’s retaliation potential would not be seriously impaired. This because U.S. missile bases were spread throughout many parts of the globe, and atomic weapons are standard equipment carried by patrol aircraft and submarines.

They told us that though it was possible to detect nuclear explosions and control the making of nuclear weapons, it would be impossible to detect a store of nuclear weapons already assembled. Nuclear materials can be buried conveniently underground, and a plot of earth 30 foot square could house enough nuclear potential to blow the earth out of the universe.

We were told that clean bombs are the starting point for all conventional nuclear weapons. That a clean bomb can be converted into a dirty bomb of twice the power by the simple expedient of changing the nature of the outer compartment metal. And that far from cleaning its bombs, the U.S. was at the moment removing all its nuclear weapons from stock and dirtying them up, by adding something to them. According to Professor Pauling, such a dirty bomb if dropped on London would kill the populations of Manchester and Liverpool by the direct fall-out of radioactive material.

They told us that in a matter of a few years the number of nations which possessed nuclear weapons would be doubled. That a nuclear weapon could be exploded anywhere without anyone having the slightest idea where it came from.

And one thing was said which shows the barrenness of supporting campaigns like the one organised by the nuclear disarmament people. Even if it were possible to destroy all stocks of nuclear weapons and prevent the manufacture of more, even then, in the event of a war, it would take but a year to re-assemble the knowledge of the past and make further bombs. As Professor Oliphant said: “You cannot banish nuclear war without banning all war.”

What is the answer ?
Our three scientists thought that international agreements and pacts, designed initially to ban the further testing of nuclear weapons, were the starting point. From this, they thought, growing confidence and mutual trust would finally make complete disarmament a possibility.

Such, a position is untenable because it is unscientific. If, as our scientists admit, nuclear disarmament cannot be divorced from the problem of war itself, a solution of the former can only be accomplished within a general solution of the latter. War is no act of God, no manifestation of human nature. War is a product of the nature of society. A society whose basis, private ownership of.the means of living and_sale of goods for a profit, is the cornerstone of man’s inhumanity to man. It is the result of international competition by groups of property-owners for raw materials, markets, and strategic positions. Though the players may be disguised and masquerade as governments, the game is just the same, the spoils just as large, the rules just as ghastly.

What place has mutual trust in a world which exhorts the act of legalised plunder and pillage as its premise? Where a sense of growing confidence as half the world’s population dies of slow starvation? What price international agreements with a ballistic missile levelled at your head?

It is difficult to conceive the horrors of an H.B. war; to realise that each bomb is 20 million times bigger than the biggest block buster used in the second world war. Who can imagine London lying obliterated and the peoples of Leeds and Birmingham dying by the same act? Such things are almost beyond the grasp of human comprehension. And yet they may become reality tomorrow. The choice is yours. Is it to be Capitalism or Socialism, private property or social equality, war or peace, life or death? 
Michael Gill

The Correspondence of Marx and Engels (1937)

Book Review from the January 1937 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Correspondence of Marx and Engels pp. 534. (Martin Lawrence, Ltd., 12s. 6d.) 

The above letters, dating from 1846 to 1895, and numbering over two hundred, cover a wide range of subjects, topical as well as theoretical.

Industrial developments in various countries, and political movements arising therefrom, coupled with conflicting economic theories and philosophical methods are all brought under review. It is, of course, out of the question that such a collection should make smooth, connected reading or that all parts should be of equal value. Some of the letters are of outstanding merit and well worthy of preservation. An almost equal number are of only historical interest as illustrating the development of their immature ideas and the points on which they erred even later in life.

Among the most interesting of the former class may be mentioned the letter of April 18th, 1883, written by Engels to Van Patten. Engels here declares that it had always been the view of Marx and himself that “the working class must first take possession of the organised political power of the State and by its aid crush the resistance of the capitalist class and organise society-anew.”

In opposition to the anarchists, who proclaimed the abolition of the State as the first and last word of the revolution, Marx and Engels always insisted on the necessity, to the workers, of political power. This would be the means whereby the revolution (i.e., the substitution of common ownership for ownership by the capitalist class) would be carried out. The disappearance of the State would result from this. It was thus regarded as an effect of the revolution, not its primary condition. (Lengthy extracts from this letter were reproduced in the Socialist Standard in January, 1935.)

Other interesting letters are the six written by Marx or Engels to Danielson on the development of capitalism in Russia. They argued that a Socialist revolution in Western Europe was the only means by which Russia could escape the normal development of capitalism.

Of particular value is their joint letter to the leaders of the German Social Democratic Party, written in September, 1879, dealing with the internal condition and unsound policies of that organisation. The following extract might have been written this year about the British Labour Party, which is deeply engrossed in the problem of winning over the so-called ”middle-class” by pandering to their prejudices and ignorance: —
   In the opinion of these gentlemen, then, the Social- Democratic Party should not be a one-sided workers’ party, but an all-sided party of “everyone imbued with a true love of humanity.” It must prove this, above all, by laying aside its crude proletarian passions and placing itself under the guidance of educated, philanthropic bourgeois in order to “cultivate good taste” and ‘‘learn good form . . . .” Then, too, “numerous adherents from the circles of the educated and propertied classes will make their appearance. . . .  ”
   German Socialism has “attached too much importance to the winning of the masses and in so doing has neglected energetic (!) propaganda among the so-called upper strata of society,” and then “the Party still lacks men fitted to represent it in the Reichstag.” It is, however, “desirable and necessary to entrust the mandate to men who have the time and opportunity to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the relevant materials. The simple worker and small self-employed man . . . has the necessary leisure for this only in rare and exceptional cases.” So elect bourgeois!
   In short: the working-class of itself is incapable of its own emancipation.
Patching up Capitalism
Then Marx and Engels went on to ridicule the notion, familiar to-day in Labour Party—I.L.P.— Communist circles, that it is necessary to concentrate on immediate demands and leave Socialism to the future.
      “Let no one misunderstand us”; we do not want “to give up our Party and our programme, but think that for years hence we shall have enough to do if we concentrate our whole strength and energy upon the attainment of certain immediate aims. . . . ”
This is what Marx and Engels had to say about that: —
     The programme is not to be given up, but only postponed—to an indefinite period. One accepts it, though not really for one’s own lifetime, but posthumously as an heirloom to be handed down to one’s children and grandchildren. In the meantime, one devotes one’s “whole strength and energy” to all sorts of petty rubbish and the patching up of the capitalist order of society, in order at least to produce the appearance of something happening without at the same time scaring the bourgeoisie. There I must really praise the Communist, Mique, who proved his unshakable belief in the inevitable overthrow of capitalist society in the course of the next few hundred years by heartily carrying on swindles, contributing his honest best to the crash of 1873, and so really doing something to assist the collapse of the existing order.
The letter contains much more of the same kind, Marx and Engels urging that if non-workers join the Socialist Movement “the first condition is that they should not bring any remnants of bourgeois, petty-bourgeois, etc., prejudices with them, but should whole-heartedly adopt the proletarian point of view.”

Considering the time and circumstances under which it was written, the letter to the leaders of the German S.D.P. is a fairly vigorous statement of the case against “reformism” as a basis for a political party.

Bernstein, however, its foremost representative, became editor of The Social Democrat within a year or so of this letter. Marx and Engels appear to have swallowed their threats to sever connection with the Party. Marx died two or three years after; but during the following decade Engels developed a most ill-founded optimism concerning the Party they had jointly criticised.

Marx and Engels on War
It is when we come to their letters on the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1, and Engels' letters to Bebel in September and October, 1891, on the coming European conflict (page 488 et seq.) that we find lacking in moments of practical crisis some of the brilliance which marks most of the theoretical passages.

During the Franco-Prussian War they appear to have been hypnotised by the supposed necessity for national defence.

Socialists, who remember to what uses the doctrine “national defence” was put in 1914-18, will find the arguments of Marx and Engels, in this connection, extremely unconvincing, and it is interesting to notice that Lenin, of all people, appears to have swallowed them (see footnote, pp. 297-8). Just as “liberty,” in the mouth of the capitalist, means his freedom to exploit the workers, so does “national defence" mean the protection of his share in the international swag.

As the war progressed Engels appears to have developed doubts as to its "defensive" character, but twenty years afterwards (September, 1891) he still cherished similar ideas. Anticipating the wider outbreak of hostilities, he wrote to Bebel (p. 490), “If we (Germany) are victorious our Party will come into power. The victory of Germany is therefore the victory of the revolution, and if it comes to war we must not only desire victory, but further it by every means. . . .” (The end of the sentence is omitted in the volume.) If, then, the Social Democratic Party in Germany, like the Labour Party in this country, betrayed the interests of the working class in 1914, they did but follow the path indicated by Frederick Engels.

They could, however, have recalled the words of 1847 to the effect that "the workers have no country," "they have nothing of their own to fortify and secure," "they have only their chains to lose" and “The executive of the modern state is but a committee of the capitalist class" (Communist Manifesto).

These words have encircled the globe in numerous languages, while the lapses of Marx and Engels into ideas of national defence have sunk into obscurity. It may restrain some workers from a tendency to hero worship and to suspension of their critical judgment, to be reminded that Marx and Engels could go badly astray on certain questions.

In general, it is, of course, also necessary to remember that this is a volume of letters written for private reading, not for publication. They were for that reason often in the nature of “thinking aloud," a groping towards conclusions rather than a statement of definite conclusions.

The volume is well indexed, and the text is illuminated by numerous biographical and historical footnotes. The student will, however, need to be flushed with more than ardour, in view of the price.
Eric Boden