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Reconstruction in Russia. PART II. WHAT THE SOVIETS HAD DONE UP TO MARCH. HOW ACRICULTURE WAS ORCANISED. 7.—The strengthening of the real dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia during the second half of 1918, in place of tiie predominating in- fluence. of the peasantry, permits of the creation of Socialist agriculture, resting in the hands of the organs of the proletariat. This was first of all realised by the organisation of great agricul- tural enterprises, under the direct administra- tion of the organs of the Soviet power, and car- ried on by paiid workers. By the end of Febru- ary, 1919, these agricultural undertakings of the Soviet Government amounted to a total area of about 800,000 dessiatines (about 2,000,000 acres), of which 500,000 dessiatines are in Great Russia, and 300,000 in the province of Minsk. In order to develop this system of subordinating agriculture to the interests of the -industrial population, great tracts of land are handed over to factories, enterprises, and Workers' societies, so that they may organise agriculture thereon.- also to the organs of muni- eipal government. The decree of February 15, 1919, encourage* still further such acquisition ot land. All this produce^ side by- side with pri- vate agrarian undertakings, with small peasant MnS, with individual enterprises, a Socialist form of HwiNltttl; -tyn the domains of the former great landed proprietors, whose es- tates were not divided to any great extent amongst the peasants. organisation must in the future diminish the dej>endonce of the population of the towns on peasant agriculture. Jo this way we are setting up before the eyes, of the peasants a number of agricultural centres which, by the farce of their ex-ample, will con- vince the peasants_j<>f tlwr advantages of a col- lective and rational agrariiu-» organisation, and will induce them t,x 1. t!' NATURALISATION OF WAGES. 8.—As can be seen, the new organisation of Russian economic life is nearing the moment when the problem of the naturalisation of wages can be solved; that is, when the workers will re- ceive free of charge nearly all tbe objects of pri- mary neeesity-housillg, food, manufactured l. products. etc. In a principally agricultural country like Russia, this system has a great class significance. In proportion a-s it does away i with the question of the money value of products for the workers, it allows us to maintain a bal- ance between the prices of industrial and agri- cultural products, without striking at the worker doubly—as consumer of the products both of the country and of -industry. This until now entailed a general increase of wages by 50 per cent: every three or four .months, with all 6 its consequences. At present the decree of f Fehruary 17th, 1919, fixes the standard of wages y as from 600 to 3,000 roubles per month. All categories of all industrial workers are covered by tills decree, from young male and female general unskilled workers to engineers. To cal- culate wages in foreign currency, it is necessary to take into consideration that, at the beginning of February, 100 roubles were quoted on the Stockholm bourse at the following rates: 84 marks, 55 francs, a.nd £ 2 sterling. t 9.—Without examining a host of other ques- tions which lie at the root of economic recon- struction at present—the organisation and the requirements of the building industry, for ex- ample—one cannot pass over the question of con- ces-s>ions made to foreign capitalists, whom [ Soviet Russia has admitted as a means of break- ing through the economic blockade, and of ob- taining from the capitalists of ather countries L certain classes of overseas raw materials. We f have in our'hands two such concessions. Both .'0 situated in distant and sparsely-peopled ter- ? ritories; both, from the technical point of view, ? involve the opening up of adjacent natural forces J finaBy, both can be worked by foreign capitalists f only in accord with ourselves, thanks of our military occupation of a part of the territories without which the two concessions are unrealis- able. The first consists of the forest riches of the North, with the construction of a railway from the White Sea. to the Ob. The other con- sists of the turjping aside of the river Ainu-Dana into the Caspian Sea; or, more exactly, the con- struction of a canal from that river to the sea, starting from the Afghan frontier. By means of this, 200,000 dessiatines of land in Afghani- stan, over 300,000 in the Trans-Caspian terri- tory, and about 400,000 in Persia, will be ren- dered productive; and about 00 million poods (one million French tonnes) of cotton will be produced annually. The export of a certain quantity of the raw material made available by the exploitation of the two concessions will cover the "loss" .sustained by foreign capitalists in conseqof the stoppage of pavrnerlt of in- terest on the Russian Loans if Capitalism is still vouchsafed some years of existence in England and in Fiance.
Merthyr's Chamber DISCUSS LOCAL TOPICS. I EARLY CLOSINC & CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. Several matters of looal interest were div cussed at a meeting of Merthyr Chamber of Trade and Commerce on Tuesday evening, Mr •fohit Mann, president, in the chair. A letter-circular from the National Chamber of Trdae asked the members for an expression of opinion as to the proposed constitution of the Railway Board of Control, it being pointed out that the 12 members indicated by 31 r. J. H. Thomas did not include a representative of the Retail Trade, although two seats were given to the Co-operative (Societies, and Mr. W. Francis, ex-president, expressed the opinion that it was out of their province to attempt to interfere in the control of the and Mr. John Mann and Mr. John Morgan tried to explain to him that tilieir interests a-s traders and users of the railways would be safeguarded by having a re- presentative among the 12. The Co-operators were having two representatives, and they were in a minority to the private retail traders gener- ally. Mr Francis maintained that any advan- tages secured by the Co-operators would un- doubtedly coine to the private traders in con- nection with the railway service. A resolution was passed to (the effect that the interests of the distributive trades should have recognition in representation on the future Railway Board of Control, and it was agreed to scud copies of this opinion to Merthyr's M.P. and also Sir E. Geddes, Minister of Transport. Following this matter, Mr. Francis made a. big wmplaiint on behalf of the retail traders at the delay being caused on the railways through the congestion M the distributing centres. It was .stated that a month and six weeks were being taken for the delivery of goods from Bristol. What they were told was tlrnt the railway could not cope with the work because of the congestion whskI by h" lack Dr W. W. Jones said the Government had shown what they could do during the .strike, and he thought they could overcome this congestion if more motor transport was used. Mr. John Mann, the chairman, said he was told there were thousands of waggons in France that could be used. It was decided to appeal to the Railway Con- troller and the Government to give what assist- ance they could to Bristol in the distribution of goods to South Wales. The question of Early Closing on Saturdavs in the district was also raised, the Hon. Secretary (Mr. R. Edwards James) remarking that lie found a strong feeling at Dowluis that there should he earlier closing on Saturdays. A good many traders felt their chie-f chopping was donH on the Friday night, and they could easily afford to close -oil S, y, 6 o'clock, or even five. The Chairman thought the time was ripe for such closing, and Mr. Z. Jones tlnought it only wanted a little courage on the part of a few of them to lead the way. Meantime the general closing js 9 p.m. Satur- days. I Mr. W. Francis had another wail at the three days closing this Christina,stide for shopkeepers and their assistants. He thought it wtas very hard on the traders with several assistants, par- ticularly when small one-man business would be open and would do an enormous trade. It was stated that there would lie no legal penalty for opening on Saturday, the 27th, al- though the King has proclaimed it a Bank Holi- day. Mr. Z. Jones: I don't think we will lose any- thing by closing on Saturday.
Down With a Bump ALFRED ONIONS AND MRS. ANDERSON IN LIFT MISHAP. When the British delegation to the Interna- tional Labour Conference in Washington—in- cluding Mrs. W. C. Anderson and Mr. Alfred Onions—visited Samuel Gompers in the Ameri- can Federation of Labour oiffces in that city they had a narrow escape from a nasty accident. Whilst in the lift, along with nine other persons, something went wrong with the works when about seven stories from the basement, fortun- ately the lift-man was able to pull up some- what, ibut there was a nasty bang at the bottom as a, result of which Mrs. Anderson sprained her ankle and another lady sustained a fracture of the leg.
The East-end tailors' dispute has resulted in s* victory for the men, the masters having agreed that a 48-hour week, as laid down by the Trade Board, should be worked, without overtime, un- til ovel,time rates are determined by the Trade Board, and that no non^uriioni st shall in future be employed.
I News of Soermus. I HAPPY AND BUSY IN PETROCRAD. I I LT.-COL. MALONE MEETS OUR COMRADE. I At long last and indirectly new s ha-s filtered through with regard to Scermus, our Russian vio- linist comrade who was deported from South Wales after a worked up agitation, as mean and unjustifiable as any in the political history of this country. When last heard of Soermus was languishing in a Finnish prison, and when months passed without any additional news from him it was feared that lie had met the fate of secret murder that so mainy.fine democrats have met with under the reactionary regimes that the old order in Europe so sympathetically backs. We mourned Stermus as dead. However, it appeal's during his visit to Petro- grad, Lieut .-Col. Malone met and talked with Scermus, who is there happy !to be playing his part in the work of Soviet Russia through the instrumentality of the violin that he loved so fervently, and played with such master skill. Soermus is busy teaching the populace of Potro- grad from the platforms of theatres, music-halls ami conceits the meaning of the music of the great masters 'of melody, and from what Mr. Ma- lone says, his efforts are even more appreciated by "the Russian proletariate, than they were by the South Wales j^wisalists during his months amongst us. Mrs. Soermus and baby are there and are as happy as our Russian comrade himself. May they long continue to play a happy part in the building up of the first people's Socialist Commonwealth, and may they, when the block- ade is lifted and peace has come, from the action of th- international proletariate that moves so slow, spare a short iflpace to holiday again in Britain and renew the many- friendships that were but intensified by the pesrsecutiqp that re- moved our comrade and his family from our midst.
The Dowlais Elections. MR. TUDOR DAVIES HOLDS BOTH SEATS. I HEAVIEST POLL FOR YEARS. I Polling in the by-elections in the Dowlais Ward for the .appointment of a. Town Councillor and Guardian in succession to the late Mr. Fenwick, produced polls heavier than has been known even at General Elections in the ,area. Mr. Tudor Davies was the Coalition candidate for both seats, and was opposed, by Mr. Sam Jennings, the Labour candidate for the Council, and Mr. Sam Dawkins as the Party's nominee for the seat on the Board of Guardians. The declara- tilon of the result of the vote for the Town Coun- cil seat was announced on Thursday last, the figures being:— Town Council Election. Mr. Tudor Davies 1,982 Mr. Sam Jennings 1,714 Maiorilty 268 For a week after that an energetic and spirited* oontest for the seat on the Jkxard of Guardians was waged, and on Wednesday this week the re- sult, of the poll Nvits announl-ed. Board of Guardians Election. Mr. Tudor Davies 2,057 Mr. Sam Dawkins 1,674 Majority 383 Angry scenes were witnessed outside the Town Hall when the result was announced for the Council Election, a hooting mob refusing to al- low Mr. Davies to address them from the bal- cony, wliilst Sam Jennings was .given an orderly and enthusiastic hearing when he proposed the vote of thanks to the Returning Officer, and in- cidentally made some outspoken remarks on the contest and its meaning. The incident was un- fortunate, but election crowds are not to be argued with. I
I Cardiff I.L.P. I I STAGE MR. MACLAREN AT CORY HALL. I Air. Andrew Maclaren—the Labour candidate for Wimbledon, was the speaker at an I.L.P. de- monstration at the Cory Hall, Cardiff, last week- end. Mr. Maclaren in a reference to the French Premier's visit to Britain, strongly condemned secret conference, and made an eloquent plea for open diplomacy. He was inclined to believe that the Government was going to fall by reason of the financial position into which the country had drifted—a position that never would be relieved until a. real Socialisation of industry and distri- bution had been ushered in. As a step in that direction he advocated the taxation to extinction of all excessive fortunes. Mr. L. Ridgway presided.
The Llantrisant Band Ojama. LIVELY PUBLIC MEETING BACKS THE BAND. AND DEMANDS HANDINC OVER OF MONEY COLLECTED. 0 Ding, ding; ding, ding; ding, ding; so the crier's bell rang out on Monday night last. Run- ing out to see what was on, people were greeted with: "A public meeting will be held at the Church Hall to-night, by the Llantrisant Town Band, in order to obtain the moral and finanoial support of the public for the proposed Town Band, and to refute certain misleading and un- true statements contained in a circular exliibited in the Pearl Office window." The circular re- ferred to by the crier has been dealt with in our previous notes. So to the Church Hall iA-e all went-to watch developments. A LIVELY MEETING. A goodly number of people at tended the meet- ing, which turned out to be one of the liveliest held in Llantrisant for a considerable time. Mr. Ivor Jacobs, a discharged soldier invalided out of the army through malaria, took the chair and, in opening the meeting, stated that the meeting was being heldto give the people the real facts. He regretted the 'necessdty of the meeting- sinccl, knowing the intense suffering caused by the w ar, he had looked forw ard to the time when men would treat men as men and narrow mind- edness would be wiped out. Councillor Stephens j i%s the only one to stand 'by what was right. We do not want personalities," he exclaimed, but we do think that the statements contained in (the circular were untrue." They were told that the workmen's representatives were unfit to ait with. The colliers agreed to support a non-political band movement, although the ma- jority of the workmen at Ooed-Ely were Labour. We oome before you," he said, in an upright and fair manner ito ask for yotir swpport." He had .served four j;ears 4ft t, and as one of the workmen's representatives, he thought it a shame that the statement that he wos unfit to sit with should be made. He then read the cutting from the "South Wales Daily Newis," referred to in our previous notes, and also the circular of the resigning members, and sat. down amidst applause, which clearly indicated that the meeting was with the bandsmen. COUNCILLOR STEPHENS. Councillor Stephens next gave the history of the band movement. He had been at several meetings in the "Pearl Office" (which, by the way, seems to play a conspicuous but not very popular part in numbers of movements) and gave details of meetings there, which, put mildly, do not reflect credit upon those who con- vened them. At the last meeting he attended, j one gentleman (?) had stated that he would rather sign a cheque for £ 70 at once and ha no it over to the band than sit on the committee- with certain persons, and two resolutions were passed at • this Pearl Office meeting, with which Stephens did not agree.' One was—That unless money was handed over to the Trustees they would withdraw; and the other was—That un- less the extra workmen's representatives were withdrawn, they, the trustees, president and vice-president, would resign and take tfheir money with them. Stephens sat down at the conolusion of a spirited performance amidst ap- plause. The big principle w'hich epaerged from his speech was this: Are workmen to be repre- sented by the men they themselves elect, or are t'hey to be represented by those elected for them, at some little hole and corner, ill-advertised public meeting by those who want to boss the show ? Workmen have fought that principle out in the past successfully and will do so again. Mk. WILLIAM JEWELL. Councillor Stephens was followed by Mr. Win. Jewell, who had been a member of the Drum and Fife Band from .eleven years of age. He was now 43 years old, and gave us also a, history of the band w'hich, where it touched Stephen's history, agreed. He dealt with the circular is- sued by resigning members, and refuted certain of its statements. He also quoted "Pioneer Notes on the Band, and also the paragraph in the South Wales Daily Noms." He described the effect of that paragraph and showed how the man (responsible for it had caused the band a loss of .several pounds per month, by the suspicion he had aroused that the band was being used for an anti-Socialist movement. He showed how the workmen insisted upon representation, and how they were met with approval by the band. He emphasised the principle which emerged from Stephen's speech and concluded with a Scriptural quotation, amidst great applause. His performance was a most courageous one. MR. JOHN WILLIAMS AND CHAIRMAN AND £ iS. The chairman now resumed possession or the meeting and challenged Mr. John Williams 38 to whether he had a cheque for £25 handed him for the band. Mr. John Williams replied by re- questing permission for a statement of the oaB by the resigning members. This was fairly granted, and Mr. G. T. Davies mounted tlie platform. He took exception straight away to the introduction of Scriptural quotations at such a meeting. Probably he considers Scripture fit for Sunday use only. It is not an unusual con- sideration amongst Christians. He also' objected to certain statements of the chairman. His statement ,llÍc;11 was frequently interrupted by lively interjections from platform and audience, did not add any new light to the business. A most lively conversational debate took place on the platform between Mr. Davies and the chair- man as to the statement that the workmen's re- presentatives were not fit to sit with. Mr. Da- vies denied either saying it or hearing it, and his denial was accepted, but the statement itself has caused a great deal of justifiable resentment. QUESTIONS. There were questions and cross questions, statements and cross statements, all made in the liveliest way, and indicating a good deal of ex- citement and feeling, -and it was rather difficult to gather amidst it all the leading features of the controversy. But questions as to the con- stitution of the Finance Committee elicited most important information. I WORKMEN'S CQNTRIBUTION AND -1 REPRESENTATION. From these questions we gathered that the miners contributed about tiO per month for 12 months—a total of £ 120. The amount to be raised from the public would be å£105, and the public would be in a large measure the miners again. But the miners had no voice in the election of the trustees, and only four out. of 13 representatives -on the Committee. Just ima- gine! the miners were to contribute more than half of the amount to be liaised and were to be given no effective voice i. thef matter. It was these facts and the Sov^* Wales Daily Nevv* silly the cxcitemeut. An effort to jockey the miners into a position of this kind is always foredoomed to failure. They are too wide awake now. IMR. JOHN WILLIAMS' COMMITTEES. This Band Committee appears to be something like the committees which Mr. John Williams, who has been taking a leading part in this band movement, seems to be fond of creating. This was what he considered fair representation on the War Memorial Committee, as he himself said in a letter which appeared in the "Pioneer" on January 25th: "What I consider a fair re- presentation. on a committee of, say, ten, would be as follows—One clergyman, one minister, four tradesmen or professional men (two should be ex-soldiers or sailors), and four Labour men (two should be ex-soldiers or sailors), with an inde- pendent chairman elected at a public meeting." Amongst other things we called such a commit- tee a crazy committee, and it is just such a crazy committee which lias come down. It does seem to be difficult to drive the lesson home that the middle-classes are not the divinely-appointed leaders of the working classes, and that the working-classes are now growing more conscious day by day of their right and ability to share, and more than share, to take control themselves of all movements which concern them, and any fancy or crazy committee which does not give them what they consider to be adequate and just represeutat,ion is foredoomed to failure. Perhaps after this exciting experience the resign- ing members of the Town Band Movement will realise it. I THE FINAL RESOLUTION. The meeting concluded by passing a resolution demanding the handing over of the money ob- tained from the players to the band. As this money was obtained from the public for the pur- pose of financing the band, and as it would be mean anO, dishonourable to use the money for purposes other than those for which it was given, without the consent of those who gave it, it is to be hoped that those who hold the money will have the good grace to take the request of this —the most representati ve public meeting yet hold in connectaon with the band—seriously and hand it over. Public opinioh is with the bands- men, and if they only persist they are bound to succeed.
I Merthyr Education Committee on Wednesday discussed the question -of an increase of salary to Mr. Rhys Elias, the director of education, and Councillor W. Marsh moved that it be in- creased by £ 100, and to rise to 2700 per annum by annual increments of je25. This was defeated by the Labour group, who approved of the pro- posal to advance the director's salary by £100, making it in all £660. Mr. Richard Davies, Gellifaelog Schools, was appointed to the Pentrebach hea^lmastersh ip, a vacancy caused by the death of Mr. T. T. (Jen- kins.