Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

10 articles on this Page

"Papers for the Present. "


"Papers for the Present. THE POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY OF THE CITIES COMMITTEE. A STRONGlcASE FOR CONSCRIPTION OF WEALTH. Peculiar times—such as these we live in-al- ways somehow bring back into social life the pamphleteer. Normally the pamphleteer is con- fined to the young parties who have to get to the Democracy a Democracy that cannot afford expensive monographs, and, even if it could, has neither the leisure nor the training necessary to qiiiet. study of more or less technical works. But directly there is a convulsion in the struc- ture of society—social, civic or international— so, too, the leisured ease of the book-reader tumbles to pieces his brain lacks the quiet ease that study demands; agitating agents oecupy his attention he falls to the level of the artisan and he has to he appealed to in the same way—' succinctly, quickly, without the gloss of scholas- tifism; or tne critical veneer of sell-conscious pedantry. The writer is niovedby the times, he has a message to deliver that will not wair, whilst it is cheeked by references to economists, or historians; it is red-hot within him, and be-j cause it is red-hot it comes forth with a vigour and incLsiveness that does not brook the ifs and bute and "might he's" of easier days. That is why some of our best shorter works have been pamphlets or newspaper articles. And the pamphlet has succeeded in doing more than the heavier works, the more learned works, be- cause it finds the trader in the same turmoil as the writer, except that he has no solution, whereas the writer- propound s one. The func- tion of the pamphlet is_ to meet a momentary need; its actual effect may be a real revolution that will hlst, for all rime. To-day we are again in the throes of pamph- leteering..Pamphlets dealing with every con- ceivable aspect of international politics, diplo- macy, and home affairs actual and prtaspeetivo, are the commonest expression of literary men and politicians. All the old societies are issuing, and many new ones ha.L\ entered the lists. Amongst the hotter 's the Cities Committee of the Sociological Society, which has issued a pros- pectus of ten pamphlets divided into three sec- tions. Fiivt. Scries— ilorals and Economics (:1): Second Series—A rt and -FAI-icl-i,tiott (4): Third Series—Politics and Civics (:1). NEW PAMPHLETEERS. So far the First, Series of these Pa-peiv, foi the Presenr" —-as they are generally styled—is the only one through the press, its three six- penny issues being The Modern Midas," "The Bankers' Part in Reconstruction," and "The Spirit (treative." Before we glance at the pamphlets let, us take a peep at the Cities Oom- mittee itself, which in addition to its pamphlets is issuing a series of books on "The Making of the Future," under the editorship of Victor Branford and Patrick Goddes. Obviously the Cities Committee is not a pauper body, or it. could rot the books through the press these days. Though a Committee of the Sociological Society, the Cities Committee points out that it alone, and not the Society, "a body of research and other purely scientific aimSj" is responsible for this venture. The Committee alone is em- barking on propaganda, with an issue of ten pamphlets: three 5/- voluoies, and lantern slides for the illustration of tho'last three pa- pers. But propaganda of wha.t? That is an swered in a platform of ten planks, the intro- duct,ion to which says, Our faith is in moral renewal, next in re-education, and therewith Reconstruction. For fulfilment there must be a Resorption of Government into the body oi the community. How ? By cultivating the habit of direct action in&tcad of waiting unOIî representati ve agencies?" So the message is that of individual responsibility; .the old, old message that every propagandist body has ad dressed''to "you"; and which invariably "you" have rer.d as meaning the other chap. Here arc the ten planks in most ca-ses summarised: (1) Ce-aso to feel Labour, personally, as a bur- den, or see it, socially as a "problcm"; practice it, as a primary, function of life; (2) the life-standard of the people and the thought standard of schools and universities (3) Stimu late sympathetic understanding between all sec- tions of the community by co-operation in local initiative, so may European statesmen be no longer driven to avoid revolution 'by making war; (4) Let cities, towns, villages, groups, as- sociations, work out their owiy regional sa lva- tion: (o) Make free use of the public credit for these social investments, but don't pay the tri- bute called market rate of interest the public purse from a. steeply graduated in- come tax (proceeds being shared by the local with the central authority) (") Eschew the des- potic habit of regimentation, whether by Gov- trusts, companies, tyrants, pedants. vernment-s, (8) Resist tho' political temptation in or police; centralize all things in one metropolitan city (9) Encourage the linknges of labour and pro- fessional associations across international fron- tiers; and (10) In general, aim at making indi- viduals more socialized and communities more individualized. To that end, let schools subor-, dinate books to outdoor observation and handi- crafts let teachers draw the matter and the method of education from the life and tradition of their pupils' own region, as well as from the history and culture of mankind at largo. Let universities seek first for synthesis in 'the civi- life around them, and onlv thereafter in the pages of philosophy. Above all let. governing bodies learn, if not from the Churches, at least from the psychological and social sciences, the distinction between temporal and spiritual powei-s, and cease to play the double role of Pope and Cesar. As for the chemical and me- chanical sciences let them repent of making hell- upon-eavj;h under war-lord and money-lord, and take service in the kingdom of heaven on earth, Then may the machine industry learn from ar- tist-craftsman and town-planner the social s.ig- j nificance of Design in all made things, including the city itself; they way lies the guild ideal and hope of its expressing the civic spirit. Let civic designers give rustics access to the city as well as townsmen access to nature; that way lies the regional iddal; and some day men" will enter through thus portal into paradise regained. STEPS TO SOCIALISM. I With these ideals Labour has no quarrel. Some of them seem only possible ignoring the obvious, lessons of industrial, and necessarily political, evolution; all of them have a sweep- ing stifge that recalls Wm. Morris, and prac- tically every object, if not every means pro- pounded, is a step in the direction of Socialism. But to the pamphlets. The first one is an un- signed production. entitled "The Modern Medas," and its eentral theme is "Conscription of Wealth," as will he seen from these subjoined extracts; with that proposal we are in entire agreement. MAN-POWER DRAMA. The Mobilisation of Man-Power has been effectively carried out. Recall its well-marked stages. It began with lVegistration. Everyone between 1.') and 60 -yeaio of age was made to file all the needed personal information. ext fol- lowed the stage of compulsory mobilization com- monly called Conscription. Every male of mili- tary age was declared by Act of Parliameijt to be a mem ber of the army and accordingly su b- ject to military discipline. All the possible lighting men being thus commandeered, the next problem was how to make the best, use of them. Given so much human eneigy. how to organize it so as to yield the maximum national energy:" The redistribution of men to the .ser- vices of war and peace was undertaken: and that was the final stage in the mobilizing of man-power. If a. name be wanted, call it Allo- cation. These, then, wer the three Acts of the Man-Power drama: Registration. Conscription, Allocation." « Now the proposition is -elf-evident that Na- tional Power is at its heigh:, if Man-Power, Machine-Power and Commodities are all directed to one desired end. But we are far from this achievement. One great factor has been omitted from the scheme of national control. The pull of the private purse on commodities, on machin- ery. on human service, has not been regulated. The money-power has not been mobilized. On air sides are evidences of lavish waste lhroug\lt persona! expenditure not 'drected to national ends." RATIONING OF INCOME. way of handling the money-power problem. The men of military" age have surrendered their liberties to the Gdvernment, for the period of the War. Lot the property-holders and the -alary-receivers follow suit and do the same. The least .\lollev-P¿"t'r can do is to follow the lead of Man-Power. I?e.& us adopt, thcr?t'or?.? ?tl.ia6 w(?ll-tlioiight-oitt ot Registration, Conscription, Allocation, and apply it to money- power. First let all income-yielding property be registered. We should ,110n know" where the money-power is and in \vhat sort or hand. Xext. let the legal ownership of all tin's income-yield- ing propertv be transferred to the Government for the term of the War. Tha.t might he called Conscription of Wealth. In reality it is but a step towards a Rationing of Income." In order to control private expenditure effectively, the scheme wouffl. of course, have to be extended beyond the range of property holders. It would have to include all receivers of salaries above a certain minimum, and also recipients of wages above a. certain minimum. Thehe also would he allocated by the Military Tribunals a subsistence allowance. And the bal- ance of the salary or of the wages would in the same way go as a loan to the Government. The Joan would lie repayable under terms not neces- sarily the vsame as for property holders. The right to mortgage property or to sell would not, of course, fall into abeyance, but would proceed by licence, as does at present the pufcha-e of staples like metals and timber." IGREAT ILLUSIONS DISPELLED. 'In point of cost, nrst for bringing the scheme into working order, and thereafter mainMinin? it, the expenditure entailed would probably be less than that for making and keeping up the 1an-Power Register. The mere maintenance of the latter costs about ?.)0,(?0 per annum. In- ?dd(,?d-, is only one substantial obstacle standing in the way. That, ;s the habit of mind which puts property before life. But this ha oil of mind, if not wholly confined to the govern- ing classes," is practically inoperative in the wage-earning classes. Now the war has dis- pelled many illusions and driven society back on the elemental realities of life That, gold-power, which was the symbol and iivstiument of the governing-class habit of mind, has proved an illusion. The idol has fallen. Man-power is now in the saddle. The sovereignty of gold is for the moment replaced by the sovereignty of Labour. A unique opportunity is therefore afforded to the Labour Party. Can the world of La bour dev ise a feasible plan for the mobili- zation-of money ? Can they agree upon the course of action required for curving it out? Can they plan so comprehensively that their scheme of war finance is but the opening move in a great game, of constructive peace finance ? If so, assuredly they are in a. position to make tftfci.' will prevail. The cry is*all for Co-ordina- tion. is at bottom but a system of co-ordination. And those who co-ordma'o govern. If, therefore, the Labour Party can put hefore the nation a vital scheme of finance, they will have a unique cbiim to occupy the seats of authority. For the long association of the traditional political parties with the cult of Midas cannot.. be broken, in a day." 1 That, is the central theme of the pamphVt. The question is discussed in many bearings, and in particular as it touches the banker and finan- cier. but tha aspect is more fully ,developed in u the Banker's Part in Reconstruction/' which will have "to be read in full because the nature of all works on finance prevents anything like -adequate or fair treatment in the eolumas of a newspaper. Briefly, the argument. of the book favours a. monetary registration of property as a stap towards replacing our present gold econ- omy by one of the public utility. The Spirit Creative," the last of the three bookl., is devoted to the moral aspect of the suggested reconstruction. It is the philosophy of the Cities Committee's platform, and in it is worked out with more ..detail the moral side of the programme we have reproduced above.


Absolutely Obsolete.. I

Membership of Trade Unions…

The Wakefield Terrorism.

Colliery Assessments.


" Under Divine Guidance."..

Labour and Education Bill

[No title]