A Marxist Slogan with a Christian Meaning
THE previous article concluded with a reference to the division of labour which characterises modern industry. It is this division which condemns the individual to the performance of some small fraction in the industrial process. It was pointed out, however, that some measure of compensation could be found in the unity of the work as a whole and advocated, in accordance with expert reports on industrial questions, the initiation of all those employed as to the plan in which they were co-operating. We have already alluded to the stimulus which is afforded by co-operation in a common task. It is significant that one of the demands made by operatives, according to the Report issued by the Advertising Service Guild, is for "congenial fellowworkers." The social aspects of labour have been insufficiently considered.
This sense of fellowship begins obviously with the individual workshop. As it is in the intensive life of the family that we learn the lessons which are to be applied later to the life of the community as a whole, so it is in the small working unit that will be generated the sense of solidarity which it is hoped may bind together the whole working society. That is one of the advantages derived from decentralisation. From this point of view, the Guild provides a schooling which is lacking in the highly centralised systems of State Socialism and Totalitarianism. It is in the responsibility borne by the small group that habits are acquired which can be cultivated over the whole field of industry.
WORK AND RECREATION A DVOCATFS of the Leisure State have omitted " to mention the need so to transform industry that its character may fit the workers to spend their increased hours of relaxation in a fitting manner. The point is one of prime importance.
Let us take, as an example, the question of sexual indulgence. It can be scarcely denied that one of the contributory causes of this is lack of real interest in one's work and that another contributory cause is unemployment. The fact that the demand for contraceptives has greatly increased in garrison towns and has declined in factory towns shows that, even now, the spur which labour has received from patriotic motives has so changed its character that its interest supplies a corrective to the desire for such indulgence. Apart, however, from any statistics (though these could be given) the psychological effects of absorption in one's job are obvious. Incidentally, it would be a good thing if opponents of birth-control were to adopt a more positive policy instead of harking so exclusively on "Thou shalt not." The practice of which they complain is due not a little to the fact that the lives of so many are a vacuum devoid of any engrossing and honourable interest.
A parallel case is afforded by the story of the temperance movement. It is not to this negative movement that the decrease of drunkenness is to be attributed but to the multiplication of counterattractions. The man who said that the pub was the only escape from Whitechapel lived before the cinema, the wireless and the Free Library.
Make industry socially and mentally more worth-while, and We shall have less reason to be perturbed by the practices mentioned.
SKILLED AND UNSKILLED nNE of the great rifts in the Labour world is " that between the skilled and the unskilled workers. It is this which occasioned the split in the United States between what were known respectively as the Craft and the Industrial Unions. It is the latter (which organises all those engaged in one piece of work rather than the Craft Unions where the organisation is according to the division of specialised workers, weavers, carpenters, clerks, etc.), which is favoured by Guild Socialists. G. D. H. Cole, arguing the case for Industrial Unionism, says: " The true basis of Trade Unionism is in the workshop, and failure to realise this is responsible for much of the weakness of Trade Unionism to-day. The workshop affords a natural unit which is a direct stimulus to self-assertion and control by the rank and file. Organisation that is based upon the workshop runs the best chance of being democratic. and of conforming to the principle that authority should rest, to the greatest possible extent, in the hands of the governed. . . More conscious democracy is needed in the Trade Union movement. and this organisation based on the workshop does at least help to provide."
An even stronger reason for supporting the Unionism which bridges the gulf between skilled and unskilled is the opportunity it presents for the
co-operation of different grades of labour. Is it irrelevant to recall here St. Paul's statement of the way in which special honour is paid to those members of the Mystical Body whose functions are less important than others? That is the spirit which we desire to see in industrialism—the cooperation of the strong with the weak, of the better paid with those who earn a lesser wage. We want this not as Mr. C.ole wants it, as the Syndicalist wants it, in order that Trade Unionists may. by presenting a united front, put up a better fight, but in order that the unskilled may realist their part .in the industry and so be consoled for their inferior status and that the skilled may exemplify in their attitude the good feeling they hope to see in the commonwealth at large. Charity begins at home.
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYED VNIEN with the disappearance of the capitalist pure and simple, there would still remain two classes between whom the cleavage is deep—that of the management and of the vtorkers. Cooperation between these two in the actual conduct of industry has, in this country, made small progress. This conservatism is by no means due only to the reluctance of the manigement to consult the employees; the workers themselves as represented by the Unions have been equally slow in demanding a share in the practical working of industry.
There have been, however, certain steps towards this end. The Committee formed under the chairmanship of Mr. I. H. Whitley in 1916 fostered the setting up of Joint Industrial Councils which, in the words of the pamphlet on the Guild Social Order published by the C.S.G., "were to deal with many other matters besides hours and labour conditions; the Committee recommended consultation on such questions as technical education and training, industrial research, the improvement of manufacturing processes and proposed legislation affecting industry."
" The scheme for Joint Industrial Councils," continues the writer, " was most certainly a great step towards the establishment of vocational groups in England. It stressed the idea that each industry is a natural unit which must find the solutions to its problems in its own way."
For various reasons, hut chiefly perhaps because the scheme was premature, the experiments made were not successful. Such voluntary associations as those set up are not enough. To quote our authority once more: " If the vocational group is to be really effective, the decisions of its Council must become the law of the profession, as embodying the agreeteent of the majority of employers and workers in the industry."
Let us be quite clear as to the nature of the ideal which it must be the object of a Christian industrialism to realise. We are not considering any proposition regarding profit-sharing. It is responsibility-sharing which is under discussion. Strange as it may appear, it seems easier to persuade men to share their material gains than to win consent to the extension of management privileges to those whose role it has been merely to obey.
"WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE" MARX'S slogan is associated with the class war. " But that is not the only interpretation to be given it. Once we create an Order based on the co-operation of all concerned in industry, we glimpse the possibility of an International formed for constructive purposes. If the peace which follows the present war is to be permanent it must be created by others besides diplomatists and politicians. It will be necessary for the scientists, the technical experts in different industrites, the maritime services and the farmers of the world to consult With each other. The same process which is transferring interest in individual States from political assemblies to bodies representing the workers is likely to operate on an international scale. The fellowship which participation in the same job generates can be invoked on behalf of world-peace. It will have the greater chances of success because it will be formed of those whose
interests are not destructive but creative. The workers have an interest in preserving and developing that to the making of which they have contributed their toil, their sweat, their blood. It is not the owner of property as such who best appreciates its value, but the makers thereof. It may yet be that the greatest agency for peace will prove to be a Workers' International organised not for the prosecution of the class-war but for the safeguarding of a civilisation to the building up of which in fellowship with one another they have dedicated their strength and their time.