Arthur MacManus

The Spectre at the Feast!

Source: The Communist, December 23, 1920.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The usual Christmas festivity and pomp is somewhat restrained in excess on this occasion because of the “spectre” of unemployment. The growing industrial depression since the Armistice has reached such a magnitude that the preparations for a “right riotous gorge” are accompanied by the cry of the starving millions or so, who are at present huddled away in our back streets when they are not sheltering in public baths and town halls. The spectacle thrown into bold relief by the two sets of circumstances is vivid in the extreme. On the one hand, a lavish abandon to luxurious feasting, without limit or restraint; and on the other hand, a starving and famished populace, deprived of even the meagre essentials for keeping body and soul together.

This latter is no platitudinous exaggeration, but the mere expression of the actual facts, there to be seen by those who have eyes to see.

The Two Extremes

Capitalism has given way to its own licentiousness, and is in fact staggering towards that crisis which will mark the beginning of the end. A survey of the advertised Christmas festivals and the lavish and gorgeous preparations being made to ensure that our borgeoisie will have the most perfect “abandon to the flesh,” when contrasted with the general condition of the mass of the working class at the moment, gives more than sufficient justification for any movement which will end for all time a system so built and maintained.

What Capitalism Offers

But, it is urged, “we have attended to the question of the unemployed, and are preparing legislation to cope with it.” The cynic would retort that the urge in this direction was more to ensure an easy conscience than a sincere desire to effect a remedy. The test, however, lies in the proposals projected. What does capitalism offer as a solution to the unemployment?

Non-productive road repair schemes.
Insurance relief—and
Insurance subsidies for the absorbing of workers into already inflated industries.

Never an attempt to tackle the problem at its roots. Not a word about the huge overstocked warehouses and stores. No mention of the fact that those who created these stocks are compelled to go without a Christmas dinner because they have created too much wealth. Not a slightest indication as to how, despite the present palliation, to prevent a recurrence of the depression and unemployment.

Nothing, in fact, but to fling a scrap of charity at the hungry mouth of the unemployed to gain a moment’s time.

Capitalism is Helpless

Capitalism has no solution for unemployment; hence, why the present unemployed constitute a “spectre”—in fact, the death’s head” at the feast. The Labour party are, however, apprehensive of the seriousness of the matter, and they have solvents. Do they get any nearer the roots? Not a bit! Higher doles than the other people over, but simply doles!

Subsidies versus Self-respect

The question arises as to why this should be, and the answer comes up at once: neither capitalism per the Labour party want to solve the unemployment problem. Capitalism and unemployment are indispensable to each other.

Without the latter, capitalism cannot go on. The capitalist class will not commit economic suicide, hence why they may palliate unemployment to avert danger, but never attempt to end it. The Labour party, on the other hand, may desire to tackle the problem, but even if they did, the fact that they believe in Constitutional Government, and stand opposed to any suggestion of revolution, renders such a solution impossible. The Communist Party alone have an effective Christmas message to send to the unemployed and the working class generally. Whereas capitalism and the Labour Party only offer charity work, subsidies, doles, and soup, the Communist Party offer self-respect, organisation, and freedom from all class domination by revolution.

A Message of Hope

We remind the working class that if they will have capitalism, then they must have unemployment; that to end the latter means to end the former, and to smash capitalism means to organise and work for a social revolution. There is no other remedy, and every day spent in tinkering with false hopes simply delays the inevitable day. One greeting to the unemployed on this Christmas is a message of hope. Capitalism has no sympathy with your deprivations and misery. Capitalism, in fact, requires it, in order that it may have its lavish Christmas dinners. Constitutional Government is built up on the continuance of unemployment, and none save the Communist Party are organising for a social revolution.

On with the Revolution

Our policy is clear. Down with capitalism and class exploitation. Away with palliation of any sort, and on with the revolution and building of the working-class dictatorship. Until those who produce are prepared to control what they produce, things may get worse, but can get no better.

Let the unemployed take heart of grace. We live in strange times, when the old order groans in travail, and new thoughts stir in the minds of men. No longer in doubt and despair, but with the joy of conflict filling our souls, we hail the Red Dawn that heralds the sweeping away of the twin curses of capitalism and unemployment alike.

Christmas is the symbol of new birth. Let it symbolise the birth of the Working-class Republic.

Christmas Greetings for the Revolution.