LABOUR POLICY FALSE AND TRUE.* Bra LYNDEN MACASSEY, who has
had a long and varied experience as engineer, banister, Board of Trade arbitrator and member of the various commissions on industrial disputes during the War, addresses this book impartially to manual workers, to employers and to the public. All will profit by it. It is written with sympathy for the manual worker, with understanding of the employers' difficulties and with a strong sense of the interests of the public. After all, the public is the third party to every industrial dispute, and is quantitatively the most vitally affected of all.
Sir Lynden Macassey recognizes that modern industrial problems are not mere questions of wages and hours but are insoluble if not regarded also from a psychological point of view. Motives must be understood or inquiries lead nowhere. At the same time we have to persuade people to combine human development with their occupation and to be industrious. If there is a motive for not being industrious we must find out at once what it is and replace it by another. Formerly, as Sir Lynden says, men worked to benefit themselves ; now they are apt to refrain from working lest they may benefit other persons. There is something very wrong there, and yet it is all the result of misunderstanding. The injury to the " capitalists " from such a course is obvious ; but the injury to the workers them- selves, though less obvious, is even greater. The ultimate test which Sir Lynden Macassey applies to all problems is whether a solution places the public interests above those of a section.
In view of Sir Lynden's experience as an official under the present Government the following words are very significant :—
" There is little to choose between the revolutionary Socialist, whose solution consists in thrusting industrial demo- cracy into supreme economic or political power through ruthless direct action and then socializing industry, and the constitutional anti-Socialist, who would solve the problem by pledges to inaugurate a new industrial Heaven and Earth, and other ' nine- penny-for-fourpence ' promises, which he has no honest con- viction can be redeemed, and which, if he seriously considered, he would know can never be fulfilled. On the whole, during the last few years, the latter has proved the greater menace to the nation."
Although Sir Lyndon thinks so much gratuitous harm has been done during the past few years his book is as remarkable for its optimism as for its human sympathy. He has a strong faith in what he calls the "robust common sense" of both British employer and British workman. "Of its ultimate triumph," he says, "I am convinced." He tells us that time after time during the War in industrial controversies both skies instinc- tively drew back from the very brink of the abyss. He therefore believes that our industrial problems will be simplified as know- ledge grows. As the will is there it only remains to show the way, and that is what he has tried to do in this book.
We need not follow his summary of the rise of Trade Unionism and of the Labour Party, nor his discussion of the various forms of Socialism. We will pass on to his dissection of motives as between Capital and Labour :—
" First, it is said that under capitalism the incentive stands ethically condemned in that an employer is actuated wholly by a desire for his own private profit. I fail to see any turpitude in that motive ; an employer can only make profit if he succeeds in serving the community. There are, of course, some—I per- sonally have met very few—employers who deliberately try to foist on credulous consumers an adulterated or spurious article. But it is exactly for the same motive, namely, for profit, that the worker serves his employer, or, if that is an unacceptable analogy, that a member of a gang of workers serves his fellow-worker who is head of the gang and employing him. There are just as many workmen, indeed more, who are ready to pass off bad work upon their employer as employers prepared to pass off bad work upon the community. As • Labour Policy--False and True. ByLynden Mammy. Loudon: Thornton Butterworth. [7s. ed. net.] against this incentive of private profit the Syndicalist. would substitute the imaginary incentive that each worker would work for the good of his own group of workers ; the National Guildist that each worker would work for the benefit of his Guild of workers, and the State Socialist that each worker would work for the State. Reduced to its elements, it means that each worker would, in the end, work for what he could get out of it, or if he found that he got the same advantage without working so hard, then he would not work so energetically. The suggestion that workers would work more vigorously for the community or State is so absolutely contrary to my own experience that I find
it difficult to treat the suggestion with respect. It was never so during the War—in Government factories, dockyards, arsenals,
there was just as much restriction of production as in the works of private employers, and considerably more strikes. Li none of our municipal services is it found to be a fact."
Although the whole book is instructive, by far the most important part is Part Ill, in which Sir Lynden Macassey out- lines the "true Labour policy." He admits that before accepting this as the best policy for themselves the manual workers will
have to acquire a much greater appreciation of economics. During all his official inquiries he was appalled by the general ignorance of economics. He found few of the rank and file with any conception of the factors and forces which are brought into play by industry and fewer still who had any idea of the contri- bution of industry to national prosperity. As for commerce, they did not seem in the least to understand that it was ancillary to industry. The intricacies of finance and of the whole organ- ization of buying and selling were hidden from them. But he adds, "Who can blame them ? They have never been told." We have often wondered whether it would not be possible to teach some of the rudiments of economics in the higher classes in elementary schools.
In aux case, Sir Lynden is enough of an optimist to believe that discontent must always be an incentive to better con- ditions. He does not call discontent "divine," but perhaps he would not reject the adjective. Ho insists on the fact that one of the most real grievances of the manual workers is the haunting fear of unemployment. We absolutely agree with him. This problem must be tackled and settled quickly. He shows the utter economic unsoundness of the claim to "work or maintenance" as a right, but he is sure that all the diffi- culties surrounding insurance against unemployment can be surmounted. He does not say very much about the demand of the workers for a share in management—which is also a very conspicuous point in the demands of Labour. This is a defect
in the book. He is probably right in declaring that management is a matter for the executive of each firm, but the need remains
for a definition of management. It is a strange fact that the
most thorough investigation of this subject was carried out by an American visitor to England—Mr. C. L. Goodrich, the author of The Frontier of Control. We have often hoped that the workers' wishes could be met by placing some of them on boards of directors. They would then learn what they might not be able to learn in any other way—something of the diffi- culties of financing industry, of the responsibility and risks in
the accepting of contracts and of the narrow margin of safe profit with which most factories are conducted.
Sir Lynden has nothing but praise for the work of the Work- shops' Committees, representing both sides, which were created during the War. He picks out three aspirations of Labour as on the whole transcending in importance all others. These aro (1) the removal of the constant menace of unemployment, (2) tlie recognition of the worker's human status, and (3) the granting to Labour as a moral right an equitable share of the product. He firmly believes that these three aspirations can be realized with the co-operation of the employers, and he advises Labour to concentrate upon their attainment.