J. T. Murphy

Milner’s Ghost


Source: The Communist, February 3, 1923
Publisher: The Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
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.


THE story now is ended. The actor as. I foretold you, is a spirit—“a new spirit—”which means the will to restore capitalism. That is the conclusion Lord Milner has to offer in his final article in the Sunday Observer.

His final cry is “back to reconstruction“ to an “Industrial Parliament“ to Whitley Councils.

First Mr. Henderson—then Mr. Henderson’s good friend Lord Milner. Lord Milner is now a fit and proper person to join the Labour Party. He has repeated Mr. Henderson in almost every particular. But nowhere in the whole four articles is there a single new proposal. Why then this digging up of the old war-time stuff at this particular moment?

What is the significance of the campaign to the workers? Why this accord between Labour leaders and a leading representative of the ruling class? These are the significant questions which should run through every workers’ brain at this moment.

Note first of all that both the plea for the “new spirit” and the proposed mechanism for its operation did not appear in the midst of the savage onslaughts of the last two years.

Not in the Miners’ dispute of 1921; nor the Engineers’ lock-out of 1922. Only after the working class in this country has received the most severe battering of recent years comes the pacific note.

After the workers’ wages in this country have been reduced some 10,000,000 per week, the olive leaf of “peace in industry” is held gracefully before us by a labour leader and a lord.

First by a labour leader then by a lord! Could a better moment have been chosen or a better leading combination have been suggested?

And the meaning of it is clear. The capitalist class are conducting an economic retreat at the expense of the working class. For two years or more they have been cutting right and left. Geddes’ axe in the Government—offensive on wages in industry—economy in organisation.

Have we not centralised the railways, amalgamated banks, made great industrial combines?

All these things have been carried through with a vigour and swiftness unparalleled in the history of capitalism. And still they have not solved their problem. So a labour leader and a lord come along, ridicule the bad organisation, scoff at the little factory man, plead for more efficient centralisation in industry, for mass production, and “peace!”

Above all things peace—amongst the workers and the workers—and the new spirit which will quietly agree to all the economies and see the good sense of them being carried out at his expense.

With that guaranteed, we can gradually emerge through “reconstuction” to—well Lord Milner doesn’t say exactly.

But at any rate revolutionary upheavals are discouraged. Speaking through “a detached and philosophic mind” he says: It is not through revolutionary upheavals that mankind will grope its way out of the chaos.”

He must have forgotten all about the rule of Cromwell in England and how the French Revolution liberated capitalism from feudalism in Europe. He must read history again.