Political Notes AL vr By F. W. Jowett, M.P: SIR G. CAVE, APOLOGIST. The Home Secretary, Sir Geo. Cave, has at- tempted to justify his outrageous new plan for preventing the printing and distributing of leaflets and pamphlets on the ground that leaflete have been distributed advising people not to invest in the War Loan. The leaflets in ques- tion do not bear the printers name, and no in- formation whatever is available to show that such leaflets have, in fact, been distributed. For all we know—or the public is allowed to know- the offending leaflets may have been specially I printed for the purpose of making Qut a case for the suppression of anti-government publications. Sir Geo. also tried to justify his policy by stating, on hearsay evidence, tha,t wounded sol- diers, and relatives of soldiers killed in action, have had pacifist literature forced upon them which gives the number of casualties multiplied by tens, hundreds, and sometimes by thou- sands." With regard to this latter statement of Sir Geo. Cave's I will make one remark only, which is that when a Cabinet Minister indulges in exaggeration it is well that he should do so on a collossal scale, for he is less likely to be believed than if he were more moderate in his misrepresentations. GOVERNMENT FAKED HANDBILL. I It has now been acknowledged in Parliament that in one Government department handbills have been" faked." Mr. Kellaway, Parliamen- tary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions, asked by, Mr. Anderson whether he was aware that during an engineering dispute Messrs. Hazell, Watson and Viney, Ltd., had printed for distribution among the engineers concerned a leaflet that purported to have come from Ber- lin bearing a message of greetings and thanks from the Kaiser and Hindenburg, and address- ing the engineers as Kamerads, replied in the affirmative. Mr. Kellaway made the lame excuse that the object of the offieial responsible in the iHfvtter w-as "humorous." He did not inform the House that the" faked" leaflets were to have been scattered—a hundred thousand of them-over a munition area where a strike was in progress by British aeroplanes falsely repre- sented as German aeroplanes. This, however, was the intention, but the dispute was- settleld before the plan could be carried into effect. WHO WILL DARE? The greetings of the Kaiser and Hindenburg were printed on the leaflets, above mentioned, in the following telrms:- TO ENGINEERS ON STRIKE! I K AMEHADS I. GREETINGS AND THANKS. f. WILRELM II. HINDENBURG. Berlin, 19th May, 1917. H -IN])-ENBTrRG. No more guns; no more tanks, No more aeroplanes; many thanks. In the light of this revelation and the record of the agent provacateur, "Alec Gordon, who would dare to affirm that the anonymous leaflet asking the public not to invest in the War Loan was not also faked Y GEORGE'S SON'S-WIFE'S FATHER. I The name of the contractor for the ninety- four uninhabited huts provided for 2,760 men, still missing, for work in the ironstone mines of Cleveland, is Mr. McAlpine. The huts cost t75,000, and the furnishing £10,000, Mr. Mc- Alpine's daughter married the son of the Prime Minister. The wedding, it will be remembered, was conducted in style approaching a State Ceremonial. Troops lined the streets a,s if the (bridegroom's father, Mr. Lloyd George, and not Lord Northcliffe, his master, had, in effect, been king. NO PROOF YET. In the debate on the new regulation for the suppression of leaflets opposed to the war, Sir George Cave had occasion to refer to the raids he had made on different associations for the alleged purposes of searching for treasonable documents and printed matter. He confessed that lie had been curious as to the where the money came from to pay for peace propaganda. After taking away the books and everything his police could lay hold on in the offices raided, Sir- George Oave was obliged to admit that he had secured no information whatever to warrant the slanders circulated under the inspiration of the ..r the i3asp i l-a: ti* oil of the yellow press concerning the source of the money subscribed for peace propaganda. Instead, how- ever, of making a frank and unreserved ack- nowledgment in accordance with the facts Sir George Gave wickedly insinuated that money might have been received for peace propaganda from enemy sources and not recorded in the ac- counts. This insinuation was made, let it be noted, by one of the leading Ministers of a Gov- ernment which has impulently declared its in- -bention of spending public funds to an unlimited amount, secretly, on its propaganda, FINANCING PROPAGANDA. I It is clear that the Government is not so con- fident as it pretends to be that public opinio* is in favour of the knock-out blow policy for which it stands, or there would be no necessity- to spend 2100,000 or £ 200,000 in opposing the organisations that are advocating peace by nego- tiation. The purpose for which the War Aims sarerot v v,; *• <•*■ ■ ■ Committee, entrusted with the expenditure in secret ways of vast sums of public money on propaganda was formed, is not to enlighten the public on the nation's war aims, but to counter- act the influence of the I.L.P. and other bodies engaged at the present time in trying to pre- vent the nation drifting into irretrievable ruin. THE I.L.P.Is IMPREGNABLE POSITION. I The case of the I.L.P. is so overpoweringly I i strong it cannot be honestly met in open con- i troversy paid for by the voluntary subscriptions of those who pretend to hold a monopoly in patriotism. Sir Edward Carson acknowledged this in the House of Commons when he stated that the only war aim the Government had in view in subsidising the War Aims Committee, was that of counteracting the speeches of Mem- bers of Parliament who are opposed to the Gov- ernment's policy in regard to the war and the making of peace. It is, therefore, quite evident- ly the opinion of the Government that its policy cannot safely be put before the public on its merits—and the Government, in this matter at all events, interprets the public mind correctly. FUTILE FOOD DEBATE. I The debate on the food question in the House of Commons did little or nothing to improve a situation which is fast becoming intolerable. Mr. Clynes, as was expected, made the best of .the case for the Government. He explained the policy of his department with great clearness, and gave an account of what had been done to limit prices and increase supplies. But on one vital point he did not touch, viz., the equitable division of available supplies of food. It is a fact-that-people who have plenty of money can get almost, if not quite, all the food they want; and they do not stand in queues to get their food. ik s* THE ONLY WAY. I. 11 ) The proposed committee of consumers, sug- gested by Mr. Clynes, will, however, have little or no bearing on the real cause of the present trouble in regard to the food qquestion. The committee is to be invited to make suggestions in regard to the transportation and distribution of food, but the fact is that the whole nation is in a position similar to that of a beleagured city and nothing will meet the difficulties of such a position if the nation does not take possession of all available supplies of food and give to one I and all their right to a fair share..To effect this object all who are engaged in the distribution of food should be made the agents of the Gov- ernment for the distribution of national supplies to their registered customers, and the remunera- tion of the distributors should be,-in all cases, a fixed sum for services rendered. In this wav only is it possible to prevent preference being given to rich and well-to-do people avoid dupli- cation of purchase by those who are selfish, and put an end to profiteering. The Board of Trade is gradually introducing a, new method* of comparison between the present coat of living and the cost of living in the pre- war period. The effect of the new method is to make it appear that the increase, in cost is not so great as really it the case. 'Foi.- the purpose of the new method of calculation it is assumed that eggs are not included in the/ diet of work- nig people, margarine is substituted for butter, and the consumption of sugar and fish is reduced one half in working-class households. By this means the Board of Trade contrives to show that the percentage increases in retail prices of food consumed by an average family of the working- class, as compared with July, 1914, is only 59 per cent., whereas at the pre-war standard of living the cost, has increased 106 per cent. In other words, the standard of living having been reduced since July, 1914, the Board of Trade now assumes that the new and reduced standard is the normal standard, which working people are expected to live down to as a- matter of course and without question. REASON OF ITALIAN REVERSE. I Further light has been thrown recently on the reason for the Italian reverse which has seriouslv affected the military situation. It now trans- pires that the reverse was largely due to the folly of the Italian military authorities in send- ing troops that refused to fire on the people during the bread riots at Turin to the most ex- posed aftd dangerous front trenches and keeping them there, as a punitive measure, for 37 davs without relief. When the enemy attacked the part of the front held by these starved, ex- hausted, and disaffected troops, they were in no mood and condition to fight, and the result was, therefore, a foregine con elusion. MR. DILLON'S SPEECH. I The following is an extract from a speech made by Mr. Dillon on the vote- of credit which was not reported in the ordinary press. I make no comment on it, for comment is unnecessary: '• There was a verynasrty disaster on the Western front on the 15th and 16th of August. I chance to know some of the incidents which led to that disaster. I do not like to go into them in much detail, but the whole thing was hushed up, and I know that a, large section of the soldiers and the regimental officers were of the opinion that a certain gene.ral was respon- sible for the whole thing. I heard rumours that that general was going to be superseded, but he has not been superseded, and lie is there still in full command. One of the incidents that took place before that disaster was that a very famous Irish regiment—I will not mention the name-- was gassed in the trenches. Five hundred and twenty strong, it was gassed badly, and owing to some invention of new gas, or to some other accident of which I clr,,i not know, the masks failed and the men were badly decimated—200 men!—and all the r,eg.iment was gassed. Then these men were ordered back to the reserves to rest and recover. TN-v. days afterwards an at- tack was ordered, and the doctor in charge of these men, having examined them, reported to the brigadier that they were wholly unfit to at- tack. I feel this very bitterllv, because they were a very famous Irish regiment, and are the only Irish regiment I ever heard of who in this or any other war failed when ordered to attack. They were ordered ba.>k, and the brigadier in very rough language saidtha the men must go over whether they were fit or not. They were ordered into the trenches and were ordered to attack. They refused when they were brought back to the trenches, and threw away their arms, and the result was that the line was broken at that point. Some neighbouring troops refused also, and the result was a verv considerable disaster, resulting in a good many prisoners and a great many casualties. Bitter complaints were made to me on the subject, and I hope the matter has been investigated, al- though I do not think anybody has been re- moved on account of it. MR. CLYNE'S MISFORTUNE. I Mr. Clynes, Parliamentary Secretary, Minis- try of Food, has been bt; dly served by the officials of his department, who gave him the weekly cost of the four articles of food included in the voluntary rations. Mr. Clynes repeated the in- formation given to him in reply to a parlia- mentary question, and has had to report since that the figures he gave related to a fortnight's consumption and not to a week's consumption. The articles of food included in the voluntary ration are bread, meat, flour and sugar. For a woman and child, therefore, according to the amended figures, these four articles, consumed according to the amount indicated in the volun- tary rations scale, will c )iit 7/8 per week. Separ- ation allowance for the wife and child of a sol- dier amounts to 19/6 per week, so the mother spends 7 18 a week on bread, meat, flour and sugar, 11/10 a week is left with which to pro- vide all other articles of food and for rent, fuel, light and other necenaat -expenses. As I quot-ed the information previously given in the House of Commons by Mr. Clynes in the "Pioneer" of December, readers will please note this cor- rection. WAR AND PEACE. -1 The House of Commons debated on war and peace for two days last week. Much familiar ground was covered but there was one important point of difference between the debate in ques- tion and all previous ones on the same subject. The difference was that a number of members joined in demanding from the Government a clear statement of its war aims who have' not pre- viously done so. Hitherto only a small group of members, ineluding \;he five I.L.P. members who are loyal to the principles of their party, have called upon the Government to define its war aims. On this occasion the discussion was commenced by Sir William Collins, a Liberal. He was supported by Mr. T. W. Wilson, Mr. Holt, Mr. Kendall, who a.re also Liberals, and by Lord Hy. Cavendish-Bentinek, a Conserva- tive. All these members took part in a debate on the subject for the first time, and they an supported the Lansdowne policy. LLOYD GEORGE'S EYE WASH." I Mr. Lloyd George was far more sane than he was- when he replied to Lord Lansdowne a week before. He reverted to the position he took up some time ago at Glasgow when lie said that the disposal of Mesopotamia and the German Colonies would be determined at a peace con- gress—in accordance with the wishes of the in- habitants in each case. This is, at all events, an admission that some regard must be paid to appearances, at present, when annexations are contemplated. Even the "Times," however has to confess "to a certain doubt about the practical possibility of consulting the wishes of African natives." Of course the Times could not be expected to admit that Mr. Lloyd George's reference to the wishes of the natives was mere" eye-wash. But it was nothing else.
Fred Bramley's Socialism. I SCATHING INDICTMENT OF CAPITALISM. I THE MOST BRUTAL STAGE IN SOCIAL I EVOLUTION. GREAT SPEECH AT MERTHYR. I It is strange that Mert.hyr, which during the course of each year stages most of the luminaries of the Socialist and Labour propaganda plat- form, and many of the lesser lights, should have run without having had the privilege and plea- sure of listening to Fred Bramley, until last Sunday. That first visit to the Rink-or the town—placed him among the select few who will be ever welcome. His racy style of delivery, the soundness of his economic .criticism; and the educational value of his easy outline of "indus- trial development were admirable; and all were agreed that the audience, and it was a. big one, had had the very best possible start to the Christmas holidays. Bramley's speech aroused tremendous enthu- siasm, and it should have done much to further the thousand new members by Easter campaign which was inaugurated by the Merthyr I.L.P. a fortnight ago, and which has already roped in over 100 new members; and in connection with which Mr. W. J. Davies made a strong appeal from the platform on Sunday. Mr. Entwistle made a capital chairman. I MR. BRAMLEY'S ADDRESS. ( Mr. Bramley opened by naming his credential, and many were surprised to hear the list of dis- tinguished posts in the Trades Union, Co-opera- tive and Socialist world that the Organising Secretary of the Furnishing Trade fills so well. His subject was Capitalism," and after giving a true Socialist economic definition of Capitalism he went on to say that many people believed that Capitalism was something which was destined to be permanent. Some of them wrote books and made speeches in which they assumed that Capitalism had always existed, and would exist for ever. As a matter of fact, the Capi- talistic system was a comparative modern social development, and if past history was anything to go by it was condemned to disappear like every economic, system that had appeared before it, and whioh, from many points of view, were very much to be preferred to it. THE FIRST ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. I In a clever thumbnail sketch of social develop- ment, Mr. Bramley reminded us that the first stage we could discuss from the point of view of social reasoning' was tho form known as the tribal system of existence. Our ancestors existed as the result of recogNising the fundamental law of mutual aid and co-operation. But amongst the tribes were persons who believed in tribal ex- pansion-in other words, who believed in steal- ing their neighbours' property—Imperialists they would be known as to-day. (Cheers). And the result of the conflicting ambitions of these tribal Imperialists was war, and, even in those days, two sides could not win at that game. The vic- torious tribe made a practice of taking their captured and defeated opponents into their own camp, and the first method of dealing with them was to recognise them as a direct commercial asset and eat them. Those early tribes were can- nibals. But later, amongst these cannibals there developed a Herbert Spencer, a thinker, who de- clared to his fellows that cannibalism was unpro- fitable and unbusiness like, and who pointed out that even in the primitive technique of thoeo days these captives would produce more than their keep if employed and exploited as labour- ers. The Tribal leaders recognised this great economic fact and they became moral. (Laugh- iter and cheers.) They decided to forsake canni- balism and allow their captives to live. And de- spite the wonderful achievements of the thou- sands of years that had since passed, despite the wonderful modern methods ?f industry, and in ??spit-e of all that orthodox Churchianity had done for us, that was still the only reason why the workers were allowed to live to-day. In other words we were allowed to live by our masters so long as they could make a profit out of our La- bour-power, and as soon as we ceased to be pro- fitable we were only allowed to live by the charity of friends or of charitable institutions. THE SERF AND HIS PEER. I The recognition of the fact that it paid the possessor to allow his victim to exist and exploit his industry meant a change in social relations; it meant the death of cannibalism and the estab- lishment of chattel slavery, under which the in- dividual became the absolute property of his master. But eventually another discovery was made. A John Stuart Mill arose amongst the slave owners and argued: "I have discovered that in order to have the full power that we de- sire over those victims of ours it is not necessarv for us to have the responsibility of owning them in the form of property, and having to buy new ones when they are worn out. That is an ex- pensive business and I have discovered that to have the full power to exploit them all that we require is to own absolutely the means by which they live. That gives us full power without the moral responsibility of ownership." As recogni- tion of this important economic truth spread chattel slavery disappeared, and serfdom was es- tablished. The serf was allowed to cultivate a very small plot. of land and to grow the food necessary for his own family, on condition that for every day he spent on his own land he would spend two days on the land of his mas tor. That was long before we had a.n enlightened. Demo- cracy, or a Liberal Party to lead us, or politi- cians to advise us, yet that was the exact con- dition of the worker to-day. Every worker who works nine hours a clay was proved by our sta- tistics of wealth production and the wage bill of the nation to have produced all that lie will re- ceive as wages in three hours. Under a natural system of society where the worker had no bo&s he would then knock off" and go home; but he is not emplolyed because it was necessary to do certain work to satisfy his own needs, and so ho had to work another six hours to produce rent for the landlord, interest for the money- lender, and profit far tiie. profit monger. Every penny of rent, interest and profit was token from the wealth produced by the workers of the na- tion. The worker had to work those extra six hours to keep a very large number of idle and useless pehsons who had nothing to do but to discuss amongst themselves the best- ways and I means of giving the workers advice how to vote for them. (Cheers.) FEUDAL PERFECTIONS. I Under the feudal system which followed serf- dom, we had the workman somewhat master of his own destiny. He could go to market, pur- chase his raw material, work it up into a finished production in his cottage and sell it on the mar- ket subject only to economic conditions. It was in this period that we had the development of craftmaiiship, but with all its advantages this system had to go. The improvements in, ma- chinery, and the growth of the factory system spelled the destruction of the cottage industry, and gave rise to modern Capitalism, the most brutal stage in social development that had ever inflicted itself on humanity. It was to the un- trammelled evils of early Capitalism, the horrors of which he illustrated with forcible extracts from contemporary Royal Commission reports, and from historians works-1-the horrors of the women and child workers- in the filthy under- ground tunnels of the coal pits, and the still more loathsome evils of the textile mills of Lan- cashire and Yorkshire, and Mr. Bramley traced the terrible feast of bloodshed that we had in Europe to-day. -For in those early days Capital invested in textile factories returned as much as 500 per cent. interest, a rate never equalled after State interference and combination had arisen to protect the workers from unfettered Capital- ism. I MODERN CAPITALISM. He could bring forward an indictment of Capi- talism that would make our blood boil, yet it had taken countless years of continuous, hard toil in trades unionism to bring us the compara- tively speaking better conditions that existed to- day. Yet people, who disagreed with his view on the war, said that it was our duty to defend the freest country of the world who pointed out how much better were the conditions of the la- bourer in Britain to his fellows in other nations. It. might be perfectly true that the British De- mocracy was freer than the Democracy of Ger- many, but we owed no thanks for that to the governing-class of this country. (Cheers.) We had had to fight every inch of the way even to get the conditions which existed to-day. But he wanted to call attention to what the results of that early Capitalism meant. When the capi- talists at home had made enormous fortunes out of the exploitation of the home workers, they had to seek for an outlet for their wealth, and thus arose the desire for commercial expansion in other parts of the world. Mr. Llovd George —whom he regarded as a political hum-bug— (cheers)—had told the financiers of the Cfity only a few weeks before the outbreak of war that during the past ten years from a financial point of view we had made such wonderful develop- ment that British capital fertilised the world. The speaker wished it would start to fertilise East London, or some parts of Merthyr. (Cheers.) Still that wa& the fact, so much wealth was taken out of the bones of the home workers that its employment had to be sought in other parts of the world. Capitalist develop- ment here speeded up capitalist development in Europe, and then began the search for" baok- ward nations to exploit. Exploration syndi- cates- sent out explorers, scientific experts who reported on the mineral and natural wealth of the backward places of the earth, and an Eng- lish explorer had told him that he had had to meet the competition of the representatives of the exploration syndicates of every nation in Europe. In this way we found ourselves on the verge of an international conflict, which more than once had plunged us into war after the original incident that lead to the trouble bad be«en forgotten. It might be said that such a cri- ticism did not apply to the present war; but such a contention was a delusion. He found plenty of indications in the British financial papers— and he read some convincing extracts from "The Financier"—to justify the suspicion of the Rus- sian people that the war was being perpetuated in the interests of the capitalists of this and every other European nation. At all evento capitalist development went on. and eventually an international system was built up, which, be- cause of its character, because of its purpose, and its aims, must bring us sooner or later, into the position in which we find ourselves to-day. I LABOUR'S GREATEST QUESTION. The most important question that workmen had to keep in mind to-day—thinking about it all the time-was the relationship which existed between the working-class-not merely of this country, but of all countries—and the Capitalist System. The capitalists of this and all nations were absolutely regardless of where they exploit or whom they exploit, provided they could get the power to do it. (Cheers.) Deep in their hearts the capitalists of every European nation were united in their determination that at all costs the working-class shall be kept in that stare of economic slavery which is their lot to- day. (Cheers.) A modern British lord would prefer his daughter's marriage to a German Count than to a Welsh miner, notwithstanding, the racial hatred engendered by the war. Capi- talism knew nothing of patriotism, of national dignity, of colour demarcations or of anything else that would effect its rate- of interest ad- versely. He had been ashamed of his nation when he had seen the advertising, the tanks and the oands tha.t it had been necessary to co-opt m the call for the war-bond campaign. Those people knew where to take their money without that advertisement, but they must have a. show, a circus even before they would part with the money necessary to carry on the war which was conducted for the purpose of protecting their property. (Cheers.) I FRED'S SOCIALISM. National and International Capitalism had played a preponderating part in plunging us uito this war; and it was against, this Capitalism tha.t Socialism was uncompromising in its hos- tility. For this we required unity and a great inspiring purpose. On the economic plane we attacked Capitalism, but our Socialism was more than a mere elconomic creed, and a political doc- trine. His Socialism was his religion, not based on obsolete theological dogmas, but a. religion firmly builded on human knowledge and experi- ence. The religion of the future. The religion that in the not far distant future would brinr mea totihe realisation tha;t their best interest". cannot be secured by the perpetuation of a sys- tem of brutal antagonism a-nd destruction: would bring them to a realisation that their real happiness, their real mental, phvsicaJ and moral developments could only be secured by the further application of the principles of mutual aid and collective services. (Loud cheers ) y >-
MERTHYR I.L.P. WHIST= DRIVE, TEA êJ DANCE, BENTLEY'S HALL, MERTHYR, NEW YEAR'S EVE. Tea on the Tables from 4 till 7. I Admission One Shilling.
TRADE UNION NOTES. SEE PAGE 3
OUR OLIGARCHY II. By W. N. Ewer. PAGE 2.