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‘All Socialists now’

by
29 January 2016

January 28th, 1916.

EVEN before the war it used commonly to be said, “We are all Socialists now.” If this was true two years ago, it is infinitely truer to-day, and one sign of the advance of opinion in a socialistic direction is the fact that Lord Milner could deliver such a speech as that which he addressed to the students of Leeds University an evening or two ago. The war, his lordship remarked, had led our industries to incline more and more to Socialism, and he hoped that we should not wholly go back on that principle when the war is over. Under our changed conditions we have come to accept the State’s claim to a share in exceptional profits. The innovation was startling enough, and especially to timid folk who always keep an eye on the thin end of the wedge. Lord Milner put the matter decidedly well. At the outbreak of the war we were threatened with a great conflict between capital and labour. If it is not being waged at the present moment, it is because an armistice has been called, not because the conflict is really ended. In Lord Milner’s opinion, the only way of averting the renewal of the conflict is by “the introduction of a third partner, something above them both, yet embracing them both — the State”. As a controlling and harmonizing influence in the relations of capital and labour the State would encounter very little opposition, even though it should go very far beyond precedents in its economic enactments.

 

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