The Plutocratic Society which we Socialists are attacking, though an anarchy, is nevertheless an organized anarchy; an anarchy, too, which is sustained even by the efforts towards reform of those who are contented with it; as for instance the preachment of high morality and disinterested philanthropy among the well-to-do classes; the struggle of the Trades' Unions to keep up the wages of skilled artizans, while they admit the right of the masters to the sweating of labor, and are therefore still the slaves of the competitive market; the efforts of radical politicians to extend the franchise and improve the system of representation (?) while they are resolute to hand over the general welfare of the people to the tender mercies of laissez-fai... (From: Marxists.org.) THAT the wise speak is goodly gain,
For thereby do we win amain
Of sense, of good and courtesy:
'Tis good to haunt the company
Of him who of his ways hath heed,
And hath no keep of folly's deed.
For as in Solomon we find,
The man that is of wisdom's kind
Doth well in every deed there is;
And if at whiles he doth amiss
In whatso wise, unwittingly,
Swift pardon shall he have thereby.
Whereas he willeth penitence.
BUT now I needs must draw me hence
To rhyming, and to tell in word
A tale that erewhile I have heard,
About a King of Paynemry
A great lord of the days gone by;
He was full loyal Saracen
And of his name hight Saladin.
Cruel he was, and did great scathe
Full many a time unto our faith,
And to... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Our Policy” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 14, March 1886, pp. 17-18;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The recent ‘disturbances’ as the word goes, the stir in the dry bones of labor, is a strange phenomenon to most people, and even to us, who have been working towards a change in the basis of Society, is unexpected; amid the routine of our ordinary educational work we have been surprised, as it were, by something which, whatever else may be said of it, does look like the first skirmish of the Revolution.
The riot, or whatever it may be called, of February 8th, though a small matter in itself, became of importance because it has got to be a fixed idea in the heads of — well — most men, men of all classe... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Our Representatives” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 20, 29 May 1886, p.68;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The past week of parliamentary and party strife has been sufficiently barren of interest to the ordinary observer. No one has expected anything new to be said about the Home Rule Bill, and no one has been disappointed. The Disarming Bill was carried, as every one knew it would be, and the votes pro and con were very much what was expected. Accordingly, the thing which usually happens in a dull interval of an exciting period has happened now. People having few additional facts to go on have been turning guesses at facts into facts, and disputing about them as vigorously as if they had really happened.
As an addition to t... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “The Paris Trades’ Union Congress” Commonweal, Vol 2, No. 35, 11 September 1886, p.187;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Mr Burnett has written an article to the Pall Mall Gazette in which he has given his views of the International Trades’ Union Conference recently held in Paris. Considering Mr Burnett’s position and that of the English trades unions at present, this is a document of some importance, and it would be well to understand what the drift of it is. He writes as a trades’ unionist, and clearly is anxious to establish the superiority of the English workman over the French, who from his point of view is more backward as being less of an unionist, and also as being worse paid than his Eng... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Pentonville Prison” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 128, 23 June 1888, p.195;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The following letter is worth reprinting entire as a really cheering sign of the times; and one can scarcely be wrong in thinking that such a letter could hardly have been written to the ordinary press or printed by it but for Bloody Sunday and all that followed it, which has dragged to light the horrors of the English prison system.
Sir, — As foreman of a jury at Clerkenwell Sessions, on being discharged yesterday, after sitting six days, I with my fellow-jurymen (by order obtained of the judge) went over the above prison. We were much horrified and pained to see the brutal system under which torture is hourly ... (From: Marxists.org.) A note published from a correspondent about Peterborough Cathedral is somewhat alarming. Will you allow me a few words on this subject? As to what has been done at Peterborough I will not say much; some of us thought that when the necessary rebuilding of the arches of the crossing took place, it might have been possible to save the tower from rebuilding; but it was at any rate highly creditable to the good sense of the Chapter that they refused to allow the church to be disfigured with an experimental modern Norman tower, especially as much pressure was put upon them in favor of that absurdity. Let us hope that they will understand their responsibilities in the future as well as they did on that occasion. For it seems that not only are we t... (From: Marxists.org.) In your issue of the 28th ult. appears a letter from the Dean of Peterborough giving an account of the damage done by the recent storm to the west front of that Cathedral. Everyone who has any interest in art or history must be moved by this accident, and wish for its speedy repair. I may add also that from some years past it has been known that this magnificentwork of art, which is by common consent the noblest and most beautiful of our English west fronts, has shown signs of movement, probably due to some defect of the foundations caused by the draining of the fen-land, so that a thorough search into its present condition has been recognized to be necessary. I must say for my own part that an intimate acquaintance with the west front of P... (From: Marxists.org.) I am glad your correspondent `Muratore' agrees with me in deprecating the rebuilding of the west front of Peterborough [Cathedral]. As to the rest of his letter, I find some difficulty in understanding it, and more still in understanding why he should have taken the trouble to write it. It is proverbially difficult to argue about matters of taste; but the combination in one mind of the study (and perhaps consequent knowledge) of architecture with contempt for the west front of Peterborough [Cathedral] must point to such a rarity as almost to amount to a monstrosity. I can only wish that the fabric of that lovely work of art were as safe from the attacks of restorers as its reputation for beauty is from those of such a very queer critic as y... (From: Marxists.org.) I venture, at the risk of being troublesome, to draw your attention once more to Peterborough Cathedral. The Restoration Committee are calling on the public for £12,000, which is needed, as I gather from a note in the Standard, "to repair the damage done by the gale in the spring, to secure the safety of the west front, and to execute repairs still needed in the transepts and eastern chapel." Now, it may well be that this sum is under rather than over what is needed for indispensable work; but I must again repeat that the necessary work on the west front was necessary before the gale of last spring took place, and this work is not the replacing or re-doing of a few pinnacles, some of which have been knocked down and re-done before, an... (From: Marxists.org.) The blame for the waste of money in the interior of Peterborough Cathedral on things which must to everybody seem non-essentials (and which to me seem mischievous modernizations) does not rest specially on the restoration committee, and I did not in my former letter mean to imply that it did. The committee shares the blame with the general public. Yet it seems to me that as the body made responsible for carrying out necessary repairs, and which in consequence was and is bound to know more than others of the needs of the Cathedral, it was their business rather to lead the public than be led by it, and to point out emphatically what those needs were. The only effective way of doing this would have been to have refused money except for definit... (From: Marxists.org.) As the word "philanthropist" is pretty often used in the columns of Justice, it may be worth while to write a short chapter on the natural history of this species of man, with as little bitterness or even grumbling as may be; though it must he admitted that "their ways and their manners" are often not a little trying to those who are doing their best to get the "poor" to understand the real causes of their poverty, so that they may themselves attack the disease instead of sitting hopeless while others feebly palliate its worst symptoms.
Well, the Philanthropists may, first of all, be broadly divided into two kinds, the old and the new, or the uneconomical and the economical; the first give, I think, with some pleasure in the act of giving,... (From: Marxists.org.) There met three knights on the woodland way,
And the first was clad in silk array:
The second was dight in iron and steel,
But the third was rags from head to heel.
"Lo, now is the year and the day come round
When we must tell what we have found."
The first said: "I have found a king
Who grudgeth no gift of anything."
The second said: "I have found a knight
Who hath never turned his back in fight."
But the third said: "I have found a love
That Time and the World shall never move."
Whither away to win good cheer?
"With me," said the first, "for my king is near."
So to the King they went their ways;
But there was a change of times and days.
"What men are ye," the great King said,
"That ye sho... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Police Spies Exposed” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 104, 7 January 1888, p.1-2;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
There have always been found by the governments of all countries traitors ready to mingle in the ranks of every revolutionary party, including the Socialist, and by worming themselves into the confidence of the members, obtain their secrets to betray them, or by getting up dynamite plots and things of that kind, to arouse public feeling against the movement. Many other devices are there in the armory of a tyrant, and in the days of the Third Empire they were carried, as men thought, to the utmost pitch of a devilish perfection. It has been left however for Bismark and his underlings to attain a yet higher (or lower... (From: Marxists.org.) All Socialists who can be considered to have any claim to that title agree in putting forward the necessity of transforming the means of production from individual into common property: that is the least that the party can accept as terms of peace with the capitalists; and obviously they are hard terms of peace for the latter, since they mean the destruction of individualist capital. This minimum which we claim therefore is a very big thing: its realization would bring about such a revolution as the world has not yet seen, and all minor reforms of civilization which have been thought of or would be possible to think of would be included in it: no political party has ever had a program at once so definite and so inclusive: many Socialists wo... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “The Policy of the Socialist League” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 126, 9 June 1888, p.180;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Since the Socialist League was founded to support the principles of International Revolutionary Socialism, and since there has been some difference of opinion among us as to the meaning of those words, the Council of the League thinks it its duty to point out what in its opinion that meaning is, as expressed by publications of the League, which at the time of their publication were not challenged by any of its branches or members; and in doing this the Council wishes to disclaim any narrowing of the principles of the League beyond what it believes has been recognized from the first as necessary to give i... (From: Marxists.org.) Preface to 'Socialism made Plain'
I HAVE been asked to write a Preface to this book, and do so with pleasure, believing that it will supply a need to those who are really anxious to know the aims and methods of Socialism. There is, indeed, a good deal of socialist literature in circulation; but a part of this is in pamphlet form, and though often excellent in their way, not one of these pamphlets goes far enough towards exhausting the subject, and satisfying the demand for information. On the other hand, the more learned socialist literature, like Marx's celebrated book, requires such hard and close study that those who have not approached the subject by a more easy road, are not likely to begin on that side, or if they did, would find ... (From: Marxists.org.) THE papers that follow this need no explanation, since they are directed towards special sides of the Arts and Crafts. Mr. Crane has put forward the aims of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society as an Exhibition Society, therefore I need not enlarge upon that phase of this book. But I will write a few words on the way in which it seems to me we ought to face the present position of that revival in decorative art of which our Society is one of the tokens.
And, in the first place, the very fact, that there is a "revival" shows that the arts aforesaid have been sick unto death. In all such changes the first of the new does not appear till there is little or no life left in the old, and yet the old, even when it is all but dead, goes on livin... (From: Marxists.org.) It is not long since the Middle Ages, of the literature of which this book gives us such curious examples, were supposed to be an unaccountable phenomenon accidentally thrust in betwixt the two periods of civilization, the classical and the modern, and forming a period without growth or meaning: a period which began about the time of the decay of the Roman Empire, and ended suddenly and more or less unaccountably at the time of the Reformation. The society of this period was supposed to be lawless and chaotic; its ethics a mere conscious hypocrisy, its art gloomy and barbarous fanaticism only, its literature the formless jargon of savages; and as to its science, that side of human intelligence was supposed to be an invention of the time whe... (From: Marxists.org.) The Chapter which is here put before the reader can be well considered as a separate piece of work, although it contains here and there references to what has gone before in The Stones of Venice. To my mind, and I believe to some others, it is one of the most important things written by the author, and in future days will be considered as one of the very few necessary and inevitable utterances of the century.
To some of us when we first read it, now many years ago, it seemed to point out a new road on which the world should travel. And in spite of all the disappointments of forty years, and although some of us, John Ruskin among others, have since learned what the equipment for that journey must be, and how many things must be changed befo... (From: Marxists.org.) It is good to review the state of political parties from time to time and to try to get an idea of what our relations as socialists are to the general mass of political opinion, whether we are advancing, or retro[gressing], or standing still: in fact we cannot help speculating on the influence ordinary parties may have upon our movement and in what direction they are pushing us as to tactics in carrying on that movement: there are dangers as well as hopes for us in the welter of political life so that it behooves us to look at the prospect with as clear eyes as we can lest we fall into traps. Perhaps however some of you may say that unless to the eyes of an electioneering agent the prospect is so clear that it doesn't need thinking about or... (From: Marxists.org.) The Whig revolution, which began on the fall of medieval society and culminated in the French revolution, on the one hand, and the establishment of the factory organization of production amid the ruins of handicraft, on the other, seemed in the first half of this century to have stranded the civilized world on a period of academical coma, having some analogy to the great period of the classical civilization inaugurated by the accession of Augustus. In England at any rate a modus vivendi had been established between the employers of labor and their "hands," and free-trade and the abolition of the corn laws had so greased the wheels of factory production that, though profits were not made on the extravagant scale which obtained in the earlier... (From: Marxists.org.) That a weekly English journal would be started with every prospect of success to support organized Socialism in the British Islands would not so very long ago have been scouted as an absurdity by many, perhaps even of those who read these lines. Democratic Socialism was everywhere spoken of as merely another name for secret assassination or dynamite outrage, and the greatest efforts were made to show plainly that no matter how rife such ideas might be abroad, Socialism could never take root in England. Now, however, it is quite clear that Socialists are gaining strength more rapidly than any existing party. An interest has been roused in the propaganda, and Socialism in one form or another has become rather fashionable. Of this we may be su... (From: Marxists.org.) Printing, in the only sense with which we are at present concerned, differs from most if not from all the arts and crafts represented in the Exhibition in being comparatively modern. For although the Chinese took impressions from wood blocks engraved in relief for centuries before the wood-cutters of the Netherlands, by a similar process, produced the block books, which were the immediate predecessors of the true printed book, the invention of movable metal letters in the middle of the fifteenth century may justly be considered as the invention of the art of printing. And it is worth mention in passing that, as an example of fine typography, the earliest book printed with movable types, the Gutenberg, or "forty-two line Bible" of about 1455... (From: Marxists.org.) The Promise of May.
Certainly May Day is above all days of the year fitting for the protest of the disinherited against the system of robbery that shuts the door betwixt them and a decent life. The day when the promise of the year reproaches the waste inseparable from the society of inequality, the waste which produces our artificial poverty of civilization, so much bitterer for those that suffer under it than the natural poverty of the rudest barbarism. For it is undoubtedly true that full blown capitalism makes the richest country in the world as poor as, nay poorer than, the poorest, for the life of by far the greater part of its people.
Are we to sit down placidly under this, hoping that some blessing will drop down from heaven upon... (From: Marxists.org.) Those who care about the remains of the ancient art of our country may well be somewhat anxious about the scheme which is before the public for the building of a memorial chapel at Westminster to hold the monuments of distinguished men in the future, since it is now admitted on all hands that there is no more room for them in the Abbey church. As representing the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, it is not my business to criticize the various proposals, except from one point of view, that is: as to how they may affect the existing ancient buildings. I beg you to allow me a word or two on this point, while there is yet time to say anything concerning the scheme. What I have to say will be very brief. It seems to me that all th... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “Radicals Look Round You!” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 105, 14 January 1888, p.12-13;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The Winchester election is, it must be admitted, a shabby text to preach from: given, a cathedral establishment, a military depot, a middle-class public school, a large class of the villa-dwellers, and a noble lord as owner of a greater part of the town, and the result of an election in such a place would seem to be certain — the return of the Tory candidate — even if he were not a local magnate, and his opponent a mere name: only an electioneering agent on the look-out for a job one would think could venture to encourage opposition to the winning color under such circumstances. However, the Libe... (From: Marxists.org.) Source: “The Reaction and the Radicals” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 121, 5 May 1888, p.137-138;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The other day a friend was remarking to me that the ordinary Liberal and Radical of the Parliamentary type was very slack in his resistance to the Tory supremacy in these days; and in spite of the brags of the Gladstonian press, it must be admitted that this is true, after making all the allowances that can be made for the apparently brisk conflict over Irish matters: for that conflict is really in the hands of the Irish themselves; Mr Parnell’s causing the Irish vote to be cast in favor of the Tories in 1885 forced Mr Gladstone’s hand. Up to that time the Liberals had reckoned on the general s... (From: Marxists.org.) IN considering this important subject it is necessary to look 371 into the past history of the world, and, however summarily, glance at the tale of the twins. Art and Labor, which tale, indeed, means nothing less than the history of the world.
To pass over the conditions of men as mere savages, one comes across civilized men in history served by labor under three conditions—chattel slavery, serfdom, and wage-earning.
Under the classical peoples society was founded on chattel slavery; agriculture and the industrial arts were carried on for the most part by men who could he bought and sold like beasts; and as a consequence the industrial arts, at least in the heyday of Greek intelligence, were looked down on with contempt, and what of... (From: Marxists.org.) In putting forth their Second Annual Report, the Committee feel that while they have undoubtedly to congratulate the Society on the progress made by its principles, the nature of their work is little altered from what it was last year.
It must be remembered that as so much of that work is of a negative character, is preventive rather than creative, it is not easy to show the obvious signs of success that attend some undertakings; while on the other hand the Committee are apt to see most of the discouraging side of the matter, because the greater part of their work consists in protesting and advising in cases in which there is not much hope of direct success, since such schemes have already gone far before the Society can get to know of the... (From: Marxists.org.)