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.Political Notes AL

Fred Bramley's Socialism.I

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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 >-

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