Monday, 26 September 2016

Solidarity is so nourishing, but action needed too.


My partner currently very ill, but still carries so much strength, it's left me feeling rather wobbly, but this morning  I have got on laptop to find so many positive messages.
It really is so moving  to see so much humanity, to see so much kindness. Solidarity is so nourishing.
However despite this  and my gratitude please keep pressuring your Governments to acknowledge the plight of refugees, facing incredible difficulties too at this moment in time. This is after all what makes us human. Doing nothing is simply not an option anymore.It is more than time that our lazy Governments find some humanity too, so keep up the pressure.
At the end of the day, all the compassion and empathy in the bloody world, is useless without any actual change taking place. It is our duty as humans to achieve real change, not just for ourselves, but for every future generation. Collectively we have the power to do this, to shape the world and make sure better policies are actually put in place.
This winter will be especially cold and conditions enormously difficult for  people basically fleeing for their lives, we have to continue to speak out, defend and protect. This crisis that our own Govenments have created must be defeated. Everyday now because of no fault of their own thousands of ordinary people like you and me are forced to flee their homes, in search for a better future, escaping violence, they leave everything behind,everything except their hopes and dreams.
It is so important to continue to share the reality of the inherent violence and repression  that comes with the current existence of states and borders, so please continue to amplify your voices for those affected as active agents in the struggle for freedom and justice. Many thanks.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Well done Jeremy Corbyn: The fight continues



Like many people up and down the country I have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's radical vision. Today he has once again  won the Labour leadership election, winning convincingly by a large margin, taking 333,000 votes compared to rival Owen Smith's 193,000 votes, picking up .61.8% of the votes cast to beat his rival despite a media onslaught against him, and dirty tricks that saw many members losing their right to vote.An increase by the way  on the 59.5 percent he won last year in a crushing victory.
With this result comes an increased mandate for his leadership, who has won in every single group and sees the complete demolishment of the ideas of the Labour right from its grassroots movement. In the following speech he has vowed to wipe the slate clean, calling for unity. I wish him success in this endeavor, and hope people will  be energised by this victory, and sees people getting  behind his clear voice and continuing the job of opposition to the Tory's toxic policies and building a movement that continues to change society for the better, not just for the privileged few. That will continue to drive forth the complete opposition to the politics of austerity and spread the message of social justice at home and abroad and harness the energy and enthusiasm for real change for  the people across this land, that is so  needed in the current climate.

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Here is his victory speech in full :-


"Thank you all for being here today. 
I want to thank the more than 300,000 supporters, who’ve given me their support and trust in this Labour leadership election.  
I’m honoured to have won the results of a majority of members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters, who’ve given me the second mandate in a year to lead our party.
I want to thank all the volunteers in our amazing campaign. The tens of thousands who’ve helped all over the country in my campaign. 
I also want to thank all those volunteers and worked so hard and helped in Owen Smith’s campaign as well.Volunteers and the work they put in are the very life blood of democracy and we both had amazing sets of volunteers. So I say thank you, to all of them, for all the work they did over the summer. 
And I want to say thank you to Owen Smith as well. Owen, we’ve had an interesting summer of debates all over the country, thank you very much for all of that, for the good discussions and good humoured debates that we’ve had. And no doubt it will continue, because we’re part of the same Labour family and that’s how it’s always going to be. Thank you. 
And it has been an amazing summer, we’ve had good weather of course, and we’ve had events and rallies and hustings all over the place. 
But it’s been about our Labour family facing the future of how we do things together in the future.
 I will do everything I can, to repay the trust and the support, to bring our party together. To make it an engine of progress for our country and the people that depend on the Labour party, to protect their interests and win power to deliver real change in this country. 
Elections are passionate and often partisan affairs and things are sometimes said in the heat of the debate on all sides which we sometimes later come to regret. 
But always remember in our party: We have much more in common than that which divides us. 
As far as I’m concerned, let’s wipe that slate clean, from today, and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together.
We are proud as a party to that we’re not afraid to discuss openly, to debate and disagree. That is essential for a party that wants to change people’s lives for the better. That isn’t prepared to accept things as they are. 
It’s also an essential part of what has drawn half a million people into membership of what is now the largest political party anywhere in Western Europe. We have almost tripled our membership since last spring. 
Those new members are part of a nationwide movement who can now take our message into ever community in the country. To win support for the election of a Labour government.  
Our party has a duty of care to our members. That means intervening to stop personal abuse and also abiding by the principles of natural justice in the way that we handle it. 
Politics is demeaned and corroded by intimidation and abuse. It’s not my way and it’s not the Labour way and never will be. 
Now, friends, is the time for all of us to focus every ounce of our energy on exposing and defeating the Tories and the damage they are doing to our country. 
Theresa May’s government isn’t a new government. It’s David Cameron’s government with a hard right edge, repacked with progressive slogans, but threatening to take the country backwards and dithering as we face the historic challenges of Brexit.
So, if you believe that education is better than segregation; that we need an NHS that isn’t threatened with breakdown and loaded with debt; that older people deserve dignity and  care they need in their own home; that we have a duty as a country to refugees and promote peace, rather than conflict; if like me, you believe that it’s a scandal that here in Britain, the sixth largest economy in the world, four million children are in poverty, six million workers are paid less than the living wage; and if like me, you believe we can do things far better, then help us build support for a genuine alternative that would invest in our future. 
A more prosperous future, in which the wealth we all create is shared more equally. 
Together, arguing for the real change this country needs, I’ve no doubt that this party can win the next general election, whenever the Prime Minister calls it, and form the next government.
To do that, we need to work together. This time next week, we’re all going to hit the streets, united as a party. I’m calling on Labour party members, all over the country, to join us in a national campaign for inclusive education for all, next Saturday. 
The Tories’ plans for grammar school segregation of our children exposed their divisive and damaging agenda for our country. 
My responsibility as Labour leader is to unite this party - at conference this week, here, in the wonderful city of Liverpool, in Parliament and in every community around the country. 
But it’s also the responsibility of the whole party - MPs, councillors, party members and our wonderful supporters across the country - to work together and respect the democratic choice that's been made.
Labour is a party brimming full of ideas, of talent, of creativity. And so is this country. Unleashing that potential is the job of all of us. 
Let us work together for real change in Britain. 
Thank you very much 


Friday, 23 September 2016

Solidarity Forever - Ralph Chaplin (1887-1961)


This  Labour Song ' Solidarity Forever' was  written by Industrial Workers of the World songwriter and their poet Laureatte Ralph Chaplin, he wrote the song for a hunger march, which was led by Lucy Parsons in Chicago in mid January 1915. He wrote of the songs origins in Wobbly an IWW journal, ' I wanted the song to be full of revolutionary fervour and to have a chorus that was ringing and defiant.  It was sung to the tune of 'John Brown's Body'  and was inspired by 'the Battle Hymn of the Republic'.
Ralph Chaplin was born in Ames, Kansas in 1887. The family moved to Chicago 1893, he did a variety of low-paid jobs before moving to Mexico  where he became a supporter of Emilliano Zapata He  joined the International Workers in 1913,but got distracted  after converting to Roman Catlolicism but  continued to back grass-roots activism and libertarian radicalism and to publish poetry. He died in Tacoma in 1961.
The following version of  his song was recorded in 1941 by Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers  and is contained on their album ' Talking Union'. It is still probably one of the most well known union anthems after the Internationale.
It is still being sung by people still at war against capitalism's tyranny, and by those who are convinced in nothing less than the solidarity of freedom. As austerity grips, its message resonates even more,as  the greedy still try to lay the blame at the doors of the ordinary man. The song still chimes today because it describes the realization that collective power of workers and unions is greater than those with armies or hoarded gold etc.
The wobblies and the IWW still going strong, standing as a dedicated force for social change, internationally across the globe. It is still a member led union, for all workers, (whatever your job, whether unemployed or not.) Their motto being 'an injury to one is an injury to all.
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Solidarity Forever

When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yest what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.

CHORUS:

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the Union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organise and fight?
For the union makes us strong.

Chorus

It is we who plowed the prairies, built the cities where they  trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes  us strong.

Chorus

All the world that's owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

Chorus

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single whell can turn,
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

Chorus

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold,
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Gresford Colliery Disaster



The Gresford  disaster took place this morning on September 22, 1934, at Gresford colliery near Wrexham , which employed 2,220 men, at about 2am in the morning. In total 266 men and boys were killed with only 6 men surviving, caused by poor safety standards combined with poor management.
After a few hours of the first explosion, more than 1,000 men had assembled around the pithead standing silently in the cold and pouring rain, waiting to help their comrades who were trapped down below.For two days brave men fought to reach their entrapped colleagues, until came the terrible inhuman decision to withdraw and seal the pit shaft, with men still trapped inside. The roads and shafts were burnt and collapsed forever entombing the bodies of the victims closed.
With this some 800 children lost their fathers and more than 200 women lost their husbands and loved ones. It was not to be the worst mining disaster in the  history of  British mining though, Senghennyd holds that dubious privilege,https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/100th-anniversary-of-senghenydd-mine.html but still serves as a tragic reminder of how in a single day a community was to see and witness and feel the real price of coal .
Following the disaster there was a huge cover up,plus the wages of over 1,000 miners were docked by the owners adding further insult and injustice that would add much further pain d bringing much untold hardship to the area, with the result being that by the end of autumn, an estimated 1,100 Gresford men thrown on the dole. This combined with the fact that the management were never prosecuted,  because they  destroyed all records of this disaster was  an absolute betrayal of the men who perished. 
In its aftermath however numerous breaches of law were eventually exposed  in which saw the pit owners eventually  getting fined, but only by a meagre £140 each. It would also get a Royal Commission on mines safety being established, but it would be yet another twenty years before the lessons learned would bring fresh legislation in the form of the 1954 Mines and Quarries Act.
The colliery was to eventually be closed down for good for economic reasons in November 1973.Eventually in 1982 a memorial to the victims was erected nearby, constructed by using a wheel from the old pit-head winding gear. We should remember the desperate situation of those who were trapped, and their darkest hours just before dawn. An incident of national importance that should never be forgotten.





The Gresford Disaster


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Dripping with Hope (a poem for the autumn equinox)


Sept. 21st is a special day. A time to celebrate the final harvest of the season and the abundance that the Earth always gifts us with. As well, join 200 countries and over 75 million people who will be celebrating Peace on this International Day of Peace, established by the United Nations.The following is an old  poem updated to mark the occasion.

Dripping with Hope

     As geese flock above
     beginning long journeys home,
     rumors of war do not recede
     the guilty hiding on all sides,
     while the sky turns from blue 
                                          to grey.
    
    What is essential
    is invisible to our eyes,
    underneath branches
    the sap of peace,
    dripping with hope
    nurturing the restless,
    fostering friendliness
    delivering sustenance.    
    
   There is no need for panic
   no need for alarm,
   above the clouds, harmony's 
                                    roar,
   pouring raindrops to soothe
                                   the earth;     
   smouldering heartbeats,
   splintering divisions sore.

   So as summer recedes
   try to keep on turning
   tearing through the skies,
   spreading peaceful intention  
   making love not war,
   breathing in air
   breathing out light.
                                          
                                                      

Monday, 19 September 2016

Bertrand Russell (18/5/1872 -2/2/1970) - In Praise of Idleness


In 1932 Bertrand Russell, the philosopher wrote the following interesting essay ' In Praise of Idleness.' In it, Russell eloquently explains the actual benefits of idleness and criticises the idea that work is inherently virtuous and an end in itself.
I do however personally believe in the benefits of mutual aid and solidarity and greatly admire too all those that have to endure a tough 9-5 existence, but forced employment has led to two nervous breakdowns and paths of despair that I would not recommend to anyone. Beyond procrastinating to much, idleness though can actually be beneficial to all, as long as you don't waste the day sitting around doing bugger all, it can be a way of celebrating life that is extremely wholesome. Idleness is not a force to despise but an energy that can be a force for good and change, if like all things it is used in the right way. A positive essence that can be used to write poetry, learn a language, cultivate a garden, express feelings and emotions etc etc.
At the end of the day indulging in life's passions can actually be quite consuming, writing this blog for instance and searching for new things to write about is no simple task, but I see it though as a way of celebrating existence, even though some of the subject matters that I am drawn to, might not reflect this inner impulse. 
The system that compels people to work just in order to increase once wealth has been proven to be wrong and increasingly to many seems absurd and immoral,  and I believe to be far from emancipating and is seen by some as a form of consensus brainwashing. Surely there are other ways that can be of benefit to mankind that can be nourishing also for mind, body and spirit.
As The Idler Academy reminds us, http://idler.co.uk/ ( a fine resource by the way) the ancient Greek word for leisure, skhole, later turned into our word for school. We must also remember that the opposition between work and life is not inevitable: is a painter who lives for her art working or playing?
There is room for letting some gaps into our lives out of which creativity can grow. This might look just like idleness to someone in thrall to the work ethic. But it is a different, mindful kind of idleness: not numbing the mind but stilling it to allow the imagination to flourish.
Anyway enough of my lazy preamble, one that I actually had to rewrite again, because in my idleness I pressed a key on computer and my original thoughts were completely erased, so had to start again, so will leave you in the hands of Bertrand who explains these ideas much better than I ever could. Will be quite next few days off idling and generally mooching about.

Bertrand Russell - In Praise of Idleness, 1932


"Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: ‘Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.’ Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. this traveler was on the right lines. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the YMCA will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.
Before advancing my own arguments for laziness, I must dispose of one which I cannot accept. Whenever a person who already has enough to live on proposes to engage in some everyday kind of job, such as school-teaching or typing, he or she is told that such conduct takes the bread out of other people’s mouths, and is therefore wicked. If this argument were valid, it would only be necessary for us all to be idle in order that we should all have our mouths full of bread. What people who say such things forget is that what a man earns he usually spends, and in spending he gives employment. As long as a man spends his income, he puts just as much bread into people’s mouths in spending as he takes out of other people’s mouths in earning. The real villain, from this point of view, is the man who saves. If he merely puts his savings in a stocking, like the proverbial French peasant, it is obvious that they do not give employment. If he invests his savings, the matter is less obvious, and different cases arise.
One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some Government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized Governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a Government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man’s economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it in drink or gambling.
But, I shall be told, the case is quite different when savings are invested in industrial enterprises. When such enterprises succeed, and produce something useful, this may be conceded. In these days, however, no one will deny that most enterprises fail. That means that a large amount of human labor, which might have been devoted to producing something that could be enjoyed, was expended on producing machines which, when produced, lay idle and did no good to anyone. The man who invests his savings in a concern that goes bankrupt is therefore injuring others as well as himself. If he spent his money, say, in giving parties for his friends, they (we may hope) would get pleasure, and so would all those upon whom he spent money, such as the butcher, the baker, and the bootlegger. But if he spends it (let us say) upon laying down rails for surface card in some place where surface cars turn out not to be wanted, he has diverted a mass of labor into channels where it gives pleasure to no one. Nevertheless, when he becomes poor through failure of his investment he will be regarded as a victim of undeserved misfortune, whereas the gay spendthrift, who has spent his money philanthropically, will be despised as a fool and a frivolous person.
All this is only preliminary. I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.
First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organized bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising.
Throughout Europe, though not in America, there is a third class of men, more respected than either of the classes of workers. There are men who, through ownership of land, are able to make others pay for the privilege of being allowed to exist and to work. These landowners are idle, and I might therefore be expected to praise them. Unfortunately, their idleness is only rendered possible by the industry of others; indeed their desire for comfortable idleness is historically the source of the whole gospel of work. The last thing they have ever wished is that others should follow their example.
From the beginning of civilization until the Industrial Revolution, a man could, as a rule, produce by hard work little more than was required for the subsistence of himself and his family, although his wife worked at least as hard as he did, and his children added their labor as soon as they were old enough to do so. The small surplus above bare necessaries was not left to those who produced it, but was appropriated by warriors and priests. In times of famine there was no surplus; the warriors and priests, however, still secured as much as at other times, with the result that many of the workers died of hunger. This system persisted in Russia until 1917 , and still persists in the East; in England, in spite of the Industrial Revolution, it remained in full force throughout the Napoleonic wars, and until a hundred years ago, when the new class of manufacturers acquired power. In America, the system came to an end with the Revolution, except in the South, where it persisted until the Civil War. A system which lasted so long and ended so recently has naturally left a profound impress upon men’s thoughts and opinions. Much that we take for granted about the desirability of work is derived from this system, and, being pre-industrial, is not adapted to the modern world. Modern technique has made it possible for leisure, within limits, to be not the prerogative of small privileged classes, but a right evenly distributed throughout the community. The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
It is obvious that, in primitive communities, peasants, left to themselves, would not have parted with the slender surplus upon which the warriors and priests subsisted, but would have either produced less or consumed more. At first, sheer force compelled them to produce and part with the surplus. Gradually, however, it was found possible to induce many of them to accept an ethic according to which it was their duty to work hard, although part of their work went to support others in idleness. By this means the amount of compulsion required was lessened, and the expenses of government were diminished. To this day, 99 per cent of British wage-earners would be genuinely shocked if it were proposed that the King should not have a larger income than a working man. The conception of duty, speaking historically, has been a means used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters rather than for their own. Of course the holders of power conceal this fact from themselves by managing to believe that their interests are identical with the larger interests of humanity. Sometimes this is true; Athenian slave-owners, for instance, employed part of their leisure in making a permanent contribution to civilization which would have been impossible under a just economic system. Leisure is essential to civilization, and in former times leisure for the few was only rendered possible by the labors of the many. But their labors were valuable, not because work is good, but because leisure is good. And with modern technique it would be possible to distribute leisure justly without injury to civilization.
Modern technique has made it possible to diminish enormously the amount of labor required to secure the necessaries of life for everyone. This was made obvious during the war. At that time all the men in the armed forces, and all the men and women engaged in the production of munitions, all the men and women engaged in spying, war propaganda, or Government offices connected with the war, were withdrawn from productive occupations. In spite of this, the general level of well-being among unskilled wage-earners on the side of the Allies was higher than before or since. The significance of this fact was concealed by finance: borrowing made it appear as if the future was nourishing the present. But that, of course, would have been impossible; a man cannot eat a loaf of bread that does not yet exist. The war showed conclusively that, by the scientific organization of production, it is possible to keep modern populations in fair comfort on a small part of the working capacity of the modern world. If, at the end of the war, the scientific organization, which had been created in order to liberate men for fighting and munition work, had been preserved, and the hours of the week had been cut down to four, all would have been well. Instead of that the old chaos was restored, those whose work was demanded were made to work long hours, and the rest were left to starve as unemployed. Why? Because work is a duty, and a man should not receive wages in proportion to what he has produced, but in proportion to his virtue as exemplified by his industry.
This is the morality of the Slave State, applied in circumstances totally unlike those in which it arose. No wonder the result has been disastrous. Let us take an illustration. Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins: pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?
The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In England, in the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day’s work for a man; children sometimes did as much, and very commonly did twelve hours a day. When meddlesome busybodies suggested that perhaps these hours were rather long, they were told that work kept adults from drink and children from mischief. When I was a child, shortly after urban working men had acquired the vote, certain public holidays were established by law, to the great indignation of the upper classes. I remember hearing an old Duchess say: ‘What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.’ People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion.
Let us, for a moment, consider the ethics of work frankly, without superstition. Every human being, of necessity, consumes, in the course of his life, a certain amount of the produce of human labor. Assuming, as we may, that labor is on the whole disagreeable, it is unjust that a man should consume more than he produces. Of course he may provide services rather than commodities, like a medical man, for example; but he should provide something in return for his board and lodging. to this extent, the duty of work must be admitted, but to this extent only.
I shall not dwell upon the fact that, in all modern societies outside the USSR, many people escape even this minimum amount of work, namely all those who inherit money and all those who marry money. I do not think the fact that these people are allowed to be idle is nearly so harmful as the fact that wage-earners are expected to overwork or starve.
If the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day, there would be enough for everybody and no unemployment — assuming a certain very moderate amount of sensible organization. This idea shocks the well-to-do, because they are convinced that the poor would not know how to use so much leisure. In America men often work long hours even when they are well off; such men, naturally, are indignant at the idea of leisure for wage-earners, except as the grim punishment of unemployment; in fact, they dislike leisure even for their sons. Oddly enough, while they wish their sons to work so hard as to have no time to be civilized, they do not mind their wives and daughters having no work at all. the snobbish admiration of uselessness, which, in an aristocratic society, extends to both sexes, is, under a plutocracy, confined to women; this, however, does not make it any more in agreement with common sense.
The wise use of leisure, it must be conceded, is a product of civilization and education. A man who has worked long hours all his life will become bored if he becomes suddenly idle. But without a considerable amount of leisure a man is cut off from many of the best things. There is no longer any reason why the bulk of the population should suffer this deprivation; only a foolish asceticism, usually vicarious, makes us continue to insist on work in excessive quantities now that the need no longer exists.
In the new creed which controls the government of Russia, while there is much that is very different from the traditional teaching of the West, there are some things that are quite unchanged. The attitude of the governing classes, and especially of those who conduct educational propaganda, on the subject of the dignity of labor, is almost exactly that which the governing classes of the world have always preached to what were called the ‘honest poor’. Industry, sobriety, willingness to work long hours for distant advantages, even submissiveness to authority, all these reappear; moreover authority still represents the will of the Ruler of the Universe, Who, however, is now called by a new name, Dialectical Materialism.
The victory of the proletariat in Russia has some points in common with the victory of the feminists in some other countries. For ages, men had conceded the superior saintliness of women, and had consoled women for their inferiority by maintaining that saintliness is more desirable than power. At last the feminists decided that they would have both, since the pioneers among them believed all that the men had told them about the desirability of virtue, but not what they had told them about the worthlessness of political power. A similar thing has happened in Russia as regards manual work. For ages, the rich and their sycophants have written in praise of ‘honest toil’, have praised the simple life, have professed a religion which teaches that the poor are much more likely to go to heaven than the rich, and in general have tried to make manual workers believe that there is some special nobility about altering the position of matter in space, just as men tried to make women believe that they derived some special nobility from their sexual enslavement. In Russia, all this teaching about the excellence of manual work has been taken seriously, with the result that the manual worker is more honored than anyone else. What are, in essence, revivalist appeals are made, but not for the old purposes: they are made to secure shock workers for special tasks. Manual work is the ideal which is held before the young, and is the basis of all ethical teaching.
For the present, possibly, this is all to the good. A large country, full of natural resources, awaits development, and has has to be developed with very little use of credit. In these circumstances, hard work is necessary, and is likely to bring a great reward. But what will happen when the point has been reached where everybody could be comfortable without working long hours?
In the West, we have various ways of dealing with this problem. We have no attempt at economic justice, so that a large proportion of the total produce goes to a small minority of the population, many of whom do no work at all. Owing to the absence of any central control over production, we produce hosts of things that are not wanted. We keep a large percentage of the working population idle, because we can dispense with their labor by making the others overwork. When all these methods prove inadequate, we have a war: we cause a number of people to manufacture high explosives, and a number of others to explode them, as if we were children who had just discovered fireworks. By a combination of all these devices we manage, though with difficulty, to keep alive the notion that a great deal of severe manual work must be the lot of the average man.
In Russia, owing to more economic justice and central control over production, the problem will have to be differently solved. the rational solution would be, as soon as the necessaries and elementary comforts can be provided for all, to reduce the hours of labor gradually, allowing a popular vote to decide, at each stage, whether more leisure or more goods were to be preferred. But, having taught the supreme virtue of hard work, it is difficult to see how the authorities can aim at a paradise in which there will be much leisure and little work. It seems more likely that they will find continually fresh schemes, by which present leisure is to be sacrificed to future productivity. I read recently of an ingenious plan put forward by Russian engineers, for making the White Sea and the northern coasts of Siberia warm, by putting a dam across the Kara Sea. An admirable project, but liable to postpone proletarian comfort for a generation, while the nobility of toil is being displayed amid the ice-fields and snowstorms of the Arctic Ocean. This sort of thing, if it happens, will be the result of regarding the virtue of hard work as an end in itself, rather than as a means to a state of affairs in which it is no longer needed.
The fact is that moving matter about, while a certain amount of it is necessary to our existence, is emphatically not one of the ends of human life. If it were, we should have to consider every navvy superior to Shakespeare. We have been misled in this matter by two causes. One is the necessity of keeping the poor contented, which has led the rich, for thousands of years, to preach the dignity of labor, while taking care themselves to remain undignified in this respect. The other is the new pleasure in mechanism, which makes us delight in the astonishingly clever changes that we can produce on the earth’s surface. Neither of these motives makes any great appeal to the actual worker. If you ask him what he thinks the best part of his life, he is not likely to say: ‘I enjoy manual work because it makes me feel that I am fulfilling man’s noblest task, and because I like to think how much man can transform his planet. It is true that my body demands periods of rest, which I have to fill in as best I may, but I am never so happy as when the morning comes and I can return to the toil from which my contentment springs.’ I have never heard working men say this sort of thing. They consider work, as it should be considered, a necessary means to a livelihood, and it is from their leisure that they derive whatever happiness they may enjoy.
It will be said that, while a little leisure is pleasant, men would not know how to fill their days if they had only four hours of work out of the twenty-four. In so far as this is true in the modern world, it is a condemnation of our civilization; it would not have been true at any earlier period. There was formerly a capacity for light-heartedness and play which has been to some extent inhibited by the cult of efficiency. The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake. Serious-minded persons, for example, are continually condemning the habit of going to the cinema, and telling us that it leads the young into crime. But all the work that goes to producing a cinema is respectable, because it is work, and because it brings a money profit. The notion that the desirable activities are those that bring a profit has made everything topsy-turvy. The butcher who provides you with meat and the baker who provides you with bread are praiseworthy, because they are making money; but when you enjoy the food they have provided, you are merely frivolous, unless you eat only to get strength for your work. Broadly speaking, it is held that getting money is good and spending money is bad. Seeing that they are two sides of one transaction, this is absurd; one might as well maintain that keys are good, but keyholes are bad. Whatever merit there may be in the production of goods must be entirely derivative from the advantage to be obtained by consuming them. The individual, in our society, works for profit; but the social purpose of his work lies in the consumption of what he produces. It is this divorce between the individual and the social purpose of production that makes it so difficult for men to think clearly in a world in which profit-making is the incentive to industry. We think too much of production, and too little of consumption. One result is that we attach too little importance to enjoyment and simple happiness, and that we do not judge production by the pleasure that it gives to the consumer.
When I suggest that working hours should be reduced to four, I am not meaning to imply that all the remaining time should necessarily be spent in pure frivolity. I mean that four hours’ work a day should entitle a man to the necessities and elementary comforts of life, and that the rest of his time should be his to use as he might see fit. It is an essential part of any such social system that education should be carried further than it usually is at present, and should aim, in part, at providing tastes which would enable a man to use leisure intelligently. I am not thinking mainly of the sort of things that would be considered ‘highbrow’. Peasant dances have died out except in remote rural areas, but the impulses which caused them to be cultivated must still exist in human nature. The pleasures of urban populations have become mainly passive: seeing cinemas, watching football matches, listening to the radio, and so on. This results from the fact that their active energies are fully taken up with work; if they had more leisure, they would again enjoy pleasures in which they took an active part.
In the past, there was a small leisure class and a larger working class. The leisure class enjoyed advantages for which there was no basis in social justice; this necessarily made it oppressive, limited its sympathies, and caused it to invent theories by which to justify its privileges. These facts greatly diminished its excellence, but in spite of this drawback it contributed nearly the whole of what we call civilization. It cultivated the arts and discovered the sciences; it wrote the books, invented the philosophies, and refined social relations. Even the liberation of the oppressed has usually been inaugurated from above. Without the leisure class, mankind would never have emerged from barbarism.
The method of a leisure class without duties was, however, extraordinarily wasteful. None of the members of the class had to be taught to be industrious, and the class as a whole was not exceptionally intelligent. The class might produce one Darwin, but against him had to be set tens of thousands of country gentlemen who never thought of anything more intelligent than fox-hunting and punishing poachers. At present, the universities are supposed to provide, in a more systematic way, what the leisure class provided accidentally and as a by-product. This is a great improvement, but it has certain drawbacks. University life is so different from life in the world at large that men who live in academic milieu tend to be unaware of the preoccupations and problems of ordinary men and women; moreover their ways of expressing themselves are usually such as to rob their opinions of the influence that they ought to have upon the general public. Another disadvantage is that in universities studies are organized, and the man who thinks of some original line of research is likely to be discouraged. Academic institutions, therefore, useful as they are, are not adequate guardians of the interests of civilization in a world where everyone outside their walls is too busy for unutilitarian pursuits.
In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving, however excellent his pictures may be. Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and capacity. Men who, in their professional work, have become interested in some phase of economics or government, will be able to develop their ideas without the academic detachment that makes the work of university economists often seem lacking in reality. Medical men will have the time to learn about the progress of medicine, teachers will not be exasperatedly struggling to teach by routine methods things which they learnt in their youth, which may, in the interval, have been proved to be untrue.
Above all, there will be happiness and joy of life, instead of frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia. The work exacted will be enough to make leisure delightful, but not enough to produce exhaustion. Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. At least one per cent will probably devote the time not spent in professional work to pursuits of some public importance, and, since they will not depend upon these pursuits for their livelihood, their originality will be unhampered, and there will be no need to conform to the standards set by elderly pundits. But it is not only in these exceptional cases that the advantages of leisure will appear. Ordinary men and women, having the opportunity of a happy life, will become more kindly and less persecuting and less inclined to view others with suspicion. The taste for war will die out, partly for this reason, and partly because it will involve long and severe work for all. Good nature is, of all moral qualities, the one that the world needs most, and good nature is the result of ease and security, not of a life of arduous struggle. Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever."

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Autumnal

 
My mind is restless today, one of my sisters celebrates her birthday today, the other one lies ill in bed, as summer ends and autumnal clouds drift overhead,tender our hearts full of sorrow, I pray to invisible gods to release healing to earth, to grant a better tomorrow, giddy is my futile hopes, in reality I curse and scream, but at least at moment a gentle hand touches mine, but the spectre of despair breathes as my words melt into the air....