HIGH TREASON The Plot Against the People by Albert E. Kahn
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3. “Bennett’s Pets”
Among the feverishly active workers at the River Rouge Plant, there were always a number of conspicuously idle men. Muscular hulking fellows, with broken noses, cauliflower ears and scarred faces, they sauntered up and down the busy assembly lines, stood beside the doorways to the various shops, and hovered near the gates leading into the plant. They were members of the Service Department’s strong-arm unit. Ford workers called them “Bennett’s pets.”
With the current centennial chatter on the whys and wherefores of the First World War, not much has been said about the preceding general European social crisis as a force for international tension in 1914. The debate on the origins of the war has long revolved around ascribing responsibility for the bloody conflagration on this or that state or on the breakdown of the standard operating procedures of the various alliance systems of the great powers. 1 The other main focus of historical attention has centred on the Marxist-Leninist theory of imperialism, which contends that international rivalry, aggravated by the need for markets and sources of raw materials, made the war inevitable. Marxist historian A.L. Morton (A People’s History of England, 1976) has highlighted some of the key points of conflict around which the international politics of the period turned: trade rivalry between Britain and Germany; the economic struggle between France and Germany over the iron deposits in eastern France and the coal mines of western Germany; Russia’s desire for easier access to the Mediterranean. These problems had, however, existed for some time and, in spite of the series of international crises which marked the decade prior to 1914, none, as James Joll (Europe Since 1870, 1983)
has pointed out, had led to violent conflicts. Not one of the great powers had been prepared to go to war for the purely selfish, local interests of any one of the Balkan states as against its neighbours. What then differentiated the situation in July 1914 from other similar crises, and initiated the process that many people throughout Europe had been predicting for the past nine years? Perhaps one answer lies in an additional contending factor — the rising curve of social discontent throughout Europe that marked the early years of the twentieth century.
I have not voted through the ballot box or taken part in any sort of electoral process for years. My politics belong in an alternative tradition. I stand with the anti-parliamentarian left. It is a solid part of the wider socialist movement. A great many share this position throughout the world. In Britain people are less aware of this alternative tradition. State propaganda pushes the anti-parliamentarian left somewhere to the outer limits. We are asked to believe that all shades of opinion are included in its own political process. What a lie! It is so brazen. It says we can all be accomodated within a political framework that is in essence hierarchical, so much as so that it includes an extremely large extended family each of whose members we must address as “your majesty”, pay to them huge sums of dough and grant them lands and general riches.
THE GREAT DECEPTION. How Parliamentary Democracy Duped the Workers, Donovan Pedelty (ISBN 978-1-873976-00-5), £2.71, ChristieBooks. PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN341ZS. First published by Prometheus Press, Powys, Wales, in 1997 as The Rape of Socialism. This fully revised ChristieBooks (Kindle eBook) edition published 2013 Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE —eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf) Also available from Kobo and Kindle
‘An elegantly argued and searing indictment of the economic and sociological background of the British political system of “representative” democracy in general, and parliamentary socialism in particular. The first hundred pages or so examine the evolution of the British Conservative Party over the past two centuries; the remaining four-fifths of the book focuses on the British Labour Party and how it corrupted the socialist ideal. An important and challenging book that should be read by ANYONE interested in politics, especially those who put their faith in the “Labour Movement”’ — Stuart Christie
A hundred years or so ago socialist thinking, in tune with the rising tide of labour protest, presented a serious challenge to the capitalist hegemony. However much they differed over ultimate objectives and how to reach them, the socialists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were at one in their conviction that possessive, individualistic, capitalism would have to be overcome to establish a just, equitable and sane society. They were equally certain that the huge advance in productive capacity which capitalism had helped to bring about, by proving that poverty could be abolished, had made such a transformation possible, immediately or at least within the near future.
The British Council and the Edinburgh Writers Conference
On a recent Sunday the Herald had a twenty page full colour supplement in association with the Scottish Tourist Board. Stories from the land that inspired Disney Pixar’s Brave. That’s us. The land “Where Legends Come to Life”. People wonder why we get irritated occasionally. It isn’t to do with the movie itself. I havent even seen it. The storyline involves loveable indigenous aristocrats, which is familiar: the kind of shite favoured by Scottish politicians, cuddly comedians and cuddly actors, cuddly rockstar rebels, millionaire sportstars and, of course, the cuddly ruling elite. This particular movie has a royal daughter hero rather than a royal son, which appeals to some as a blow for female emancipation, apparently.