Dora B. Montefiore

Book Review

Pink Pills

Source: The Communist, January 07, 1922.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Ted Crawford
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.

Revolution and Democracy
F. C. Howe
7s. 6d.

PERHAPS a good sub-title for Mr. Howe’s book would be “Pink Pills for Pale Revolutions,” for after diagnosing with some skill the evils with which present-day society is afflicted, he proceeds in the later chapters to give the prescription wherewith to cure these ills. On pages 199 and 120 the component parts of his very pale pill are disclosed.

(1) “The taxation of land values and the resources of the earth so as to force them into use and their most efficient use.

(2) The socialisation of transportation and the means of communication.

(3) The dedication of banking and credit exclusively to production, and the decentralisation of control from the money centres back to the producing groups.

(4) Democracy in industry and the participation of labour in the processes of production. Guild socialism, co-operation, and labour partnership . . . These economic changes would usher in a social revolution without the use of force. They would create a new society in a few years time.”

All these wondrous changes are to come about by the use of the ballot box, but we would remind readers of Daniel de Leon’s caution: “The ballot box is not an open field; it is a veritable defile. That defile is held by the agents of the Capitalist class.” Some of Mr. Howe’s data about other countries are, it would appear, gathered at second hand and do not bear examination. On page 207 he states: “Home-owners have always been free men. . . . . It is this that explains the democracy of Denmark.” If exporting the best of your butter and other farm produce while you and your family use margarine be “freedom;” then, of course, Mr. Howe’s logic may be without a flaw. The same superficial judgments are apparent in his praise of the results of the State Capitalism of Australia and New Zealand. On page 213 he writes in glowing language on the way cargoes of Australian products are collected by the Government and warehoused till “they can be shipped to London on a State chartered steamer.” Excellent, no doubt, for traders, but what about the man who goes out there having nothing to sell but his labour? He so often finds himself such a superfluity in “democratic” capitalist Australia that he has either to beg to be repatriated or to starve in the ranks of the unemployed.

On the whole, we would recommend to the proletariat of the United States and of Great Britain Russia’s red pills. Mr. Howe acknowledges their results are “a government of producers which has abolished all kinds of privileges, taken over the banks, the mines and the forest, ended secret diplomacy and imperialism, and returned Persia to the Persians, and Manchuria to the Chinese.”

Not bad for a beginning, and it leaves us wondering why Mr. Howe thought it worth while to advertise his pink nostrums!