TOPICS OF THE DAY
REALITIES IN THE COAL CRISIS.
public still do not realize the true nature of the facts in the threatened coal strike and what it will mean to them if a false settlement is made and Mr. Smillie gains a victory. People go on discussing the matter as if it were merely a question of wages in the coal trade, of how much the mining industry could or could not stand, or whether the profits made on coal sent abroad should go to the consumer at home, or should help a little to lighten the burden of taxation on all classes. The discussion is not even confined to these very broad limits. It ranges over such matters a3 royalties and their effect on production ; the amount of wages earned before the war by the miners and earned by them now ; by how much better their economic condition is now than before the war, and so on. facts in the threatened coal strike and what it will mean to them if a false settlement is made and Mr. Smillie gains a victory. People go on discussing the matter as if it were merely a question of wages in the coal trade, of how much the mining industry could or could not stand, or whether the profits made on coal sent abroad should go to the consumer at home, or should help a little to lighten the burden of taxation on all classes. The discussion is not even confined to these very broad limits. It ranges over such matters a3 royalties and their effect on production ; the amount of wages earned before the war by the miners and earned by them now ; by how much better their economic condition is now than before the war, and so on.
All these things, though important in themselves, are not at the present moment realities. The strike, if it comes, and the discussions which will precede a settlement, or an inability to settle, will have nothing to do with the economics of coal-mining or with the industrial situation generally. What Mr. Smillie and his followers are avowedly after is not a further rise of wages in the coal trade or even what they in their more altruistic moods call " Helping the consumer by lowering the price of coal." The talk of wages is camouflage. What they are after is revolution, and not industrial revolution but political revolution.
This is a matter at which we must not be afraid of looking. We must keep it steadily before us whenever we are touching on the coal question. The miners' leaders and their friends in other industries are trying to produce revolution. It must be the business of those who oppose them to prevent revolution, as unquestionably they can if they will. But though we must remember what Mr. Smillie and his friends are after, we must not be so absurd as either to shiver at the word " revolution " or to attribute any special wickedness to the revolutionaries. Even though we may feel a deep sense of disgust at their taking their orders from Moscow, and at the thought that the fate of England and the Empire may at this very moment be settled by a Committee of Russian Jews in the Kremlin, we shall do no good by mere raging, and certainly none by being unfair. Let us keep our energy for prevention, not waste it in indignation.
We must remember also that at the present stage on the road the revolutionaries among the Labour leaders, Mr. Smillie and most of his satellites, are quite honest. The cynical, corrupt and personally ambitious revolutionary comes a good deal later in the game when the Smillies and Thomases have been used up. The Gods of Revolution are not merely athirst. They are hungry and have an appetite dread and insatiable, for it is always keenest for their own children. When revolutions come to an end the men who made them are found to have disappeared. They were dead and done with long before the collapse. By the time the Consulate was established Mirabeau was gone, Danton was gone, Marat was killed, Robespierre and St. Just had got their deserts. The Girondists had been swallowed up by the mists of their own false words. Lafayette had only been saved from death by the bars of an Austrian prison. Of the Revolutionaries marked Al in the Lloyd's Register of the underwor'd Fouche alone survived. Fouche had chosen the wiser part. He had become the chief of the Secret Police. But the chief of the Secret Police is always wanted by tyrants, whether in gold crowns or red caps. Dzherzhinski will survive Lenin and Trotsky. He will live on to serve their reactionary successors at the Kremlin. Their styles and titles will not matter to the Secret Police. They are as impartial and as ready to serve us all as death itself.
We are not going to fight Mr. Smillie any less hard or think him any the less dangerous because we believe him to be a sincere revolutionary. Again, we shall be very foolish if we dismiss him as the mere tool of Russian conspirators, who feel that they cannot play the great part in the destruc- tion which they are determined to accomplish in Europe and even in America as long as Britain holds the fort. Mr. Smillie is, we are sure, a sincere and thorough-going convert to International Revolutionism. Like his chiefs, Lenin and Trotsky and the rest of the Jews who rule Russia, he probably has not the slightest doubts or fears as to the wisdom of destroying England and the British Empire. No doubt he thinks it the best and noblest future for his country to be merged in the universal Communist pool, and is quite willing to pay the price of a " heavy civil war," to use Lenin's phrase, in order to obtain advantages he deems so tremendous. We must not be surprised that a Scot, inflamed with the idea that a revolution will save the world, and enable the ideal state to be produced in every portion of the globe, is willing not merely to work with but under the Russian Soviet, and to take his orders therefrom. To him action, which seems to us so evil, appears to offer a glorious prospect of social regeneration. In so good a cause to take foreign help or even to take foreign money, not to be spent on private pleasures but upon speeding the revolution, doubtless seems, to all con- vinced International Communists, wholly justifiable. Those, then, who want to be of use at this crisis must not think, as Englishmen are always inclined to think, that the miners' leaders feel as they do about the future good of the nation. The easy-going view that the engineers of the strike, though perhaps a little bit extreme in their views, after all want what we all want at heart— the prosperity and happiness of these Islands—will not do in the present situation. They do not think like the bulk of Englishmen or wish for what the bulk of English- men wish. They are perfectly prepared for the acceptance of foreign influence ; nay, even for foreign domination as long as it will get them not only what they want personally, but what they deem the salvation of mankind.
The extreme Labour leaders, we repeat, do not want higher wages for the miner or cheaper coal for the consumers or anything of the sort. What they want is the first stage in international revolution. That this policy has been adopted in good faith will not, if we are wise, make us fight the less hard but all the harder to prevent revolution. What is more, we must keep the matter always in mind when we are negotiating or opposing Mr. Smile. He, we may be sure, will keep his eye always upon the object. We must do the same. In practice, this means that it is no good for us to deal with the matter as we have dealt hitherto with industrial problems, such, for example, as the wages on the railways or at the docks. We have got to consider a simpler, though much more tremendous, question—the question of how far any concession we may make will further the revolution which we mean to avoid. While we must never forget that Mr. Smillie and his friends are revolutionaries, and revolutionaries inspired from abroad, we must also never forget that they represent not only a minority of the people of Britain and a minority of the manual workers, but even a minority of their own restricted and mono- polized trade. There are probably not half a million sincere revolutionaries in England, though of course there are a vastly greater number of people who would like an increase in their weekly income. The man who would not like a rise may exist, but we have never met him or even heard tidings of him. But though the mass of miners are probably distinctly sceptical of the ways of the Communists, they are quite willing to let them have a try to get an increase of wages.