John MacLean Internet Archive                                                    Transcribed by the John MacLean Internet Archive

Clyde Labour

by John Maclean

Source: The Call 11th October 1917, p.4
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive ( 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Within the last three weeks have appeared articles in the “Glasgow Herald” under the heading, “Labour and the War,” dealing with the payment of engineers and others in munition factories, the general relationship between the employers and the workers, and the steps necessary to “reconcile” the workers to the present wage slave system. Amongst the contributors, writing virtually in the interests of the capitalist class, have been Messrs. G.N. Barnes, M.P., Brownlie, of the A.S.E., Young, of the A.S.E., and Mosses, till recently of the Patternmakers. They have been writing alongside “An Employer” and Mr. Walton, Controller of Projectiles in Scotland. The appearance of Mosses’ article on October 1st is clue to the fact that the pattern-makers on the Clyde have imitated the moulders by forming an Emergency Committee in preparation for coming events. Mosses was secretary of the Patternmakers’ Union until he was appointed Secretary of the National Advisory Committee on War Output. The capitalists are skilful in the use they make of men they have lifted out of the ranks of the: workers!

As these articles have not gone deep enough the “Glasgow Herald” has bought some specialist to give a series of articles entitled “Clyde Labour.” This specialist is discreetly dubbed “a special correspondent” and is probably some member of Glasgow University. The first article appeared on October 3rd and was entitled “Some Undercurrents.” It touches generally on the fundamental ideas the Clyde Socialists of all shades are ably instilling into the minds of the mass of the workers through the new and rough experiences in the workshops brought on by the war. For readers of the “Call” it is but necessary to quote the “Glasgow Herald” itself to see the significance of the series:

“In the second article, which will appear on October 6th, our correspondent will discuss Marxian Economics and Syndicalism; in the third, which will appear on October 9th, Industrial Unionism and National Guilds; and in the fourth, which will appear on October 12th, the Clyde Workers’ Committee, the Shop Stewards’ Committee, and the so-called Rank and File Movement.”

As a consequence of the Marxian classes in past years, and the Scottish Labour College Conference in February, 1916, the Workers’ Educational Association has been galvanised into activity, and special efforts are this year being made to use it as a counteragent to Marxian educational efforts. But it seems as if the Glasgow capitalists have doubts as to the ability of the W.E.A. movement to counteract Marxian teaching on the Clyde, and hence this special series of articles. When I was a student at Glasgow University about twenty years ago it was then a hoary University tradition that Marx did not count, as his theories had been pounded to invisible particles. Needless to say, this was neatly used as an excuse for ignoring Marx. I resolved that I would do my little bit to force the “intellectuals” (so-called) to reckon with Marx and his disciples, to bring to the surface the class-warfare in ideas. The moment has now arrived. Here is the explicit expression of it in the last paragraph of the first article. “Ideas must be met with ideas, and the first step is clearly to apprehend the position of the promulgator of a doctrine. Accordingly it would seem to be of value for the prosecution of the war and the reconstruction after peace is declared to set forth with some definiteness the various forms which advanced propaganda has taken on the Clyde, to analyse these, and to estimate roughly their following and influence.”

We could not wish for a clearer avowal than this—“ideas must be met with ideas.” It justifies our case for Independent Working-class Education. Let every man with an atom of determination start a class on his own if none has been started already. Try, try, try. Do not let bashfulness stand in your way. Bashfulness is the crime of the working-class. At any rate, start a study circle in some house or hall, and particularly in the workshop, the workers’ laboratory. Start, say, with the “Communist Manifesto,” then proceed to “Wage-labour and Capital,” “Value, Price and Profit,” “Socialism, Scientific, and Utopian,” “The Economics of Socialism.” The main thing is to get right down to the Marxian “ideas,” and exemplify them by concrete illustrations from the workshop and technical magazines.

How nicely the enemy proceed! The first article appears on October 3rd, and the second out October 6th; the Marxian classes on the Clyde start on October 7th. Thousands of Clyde workers will discuss these articles and use them as a means of advertising the various Marxian classes, long before they see this article. We trust that the “Glasgow Herald” will keep it up and be imitated by other capitalist papers. Why? Because we wish the working class to get clear ideas on society, and thus prepare for the march forward to Social-Democracy. A Labour College in Glasgow is our ideal, and if the capitalist’s only continue the attack we will do the rest. On with the war of “ideas”: it is the healthiest sign that has appeared above the horizon since August, 1914.