Joseph Hansen

Valiant British Brewers
Expose Fifth Columnists

(11 January 1941)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. 5 No. 2, 11 January 1941, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2019 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2020; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Some people argue that capitalists are nothing but parasites. Others believe, however, that this is going a bit strong, especially in wartime. After starting the war, they maintain the capitalists continue to do their bit. Standing bravely at their posts at home and seeing that law and order function smoothly, the capitalists by their example inspire the soldiers to more heroic and self-sacrificing efforts on the battle front. Likewise the workers in the munitions industries feel, better when the boss is right there to see that no saboteurs disturb the workers with disruptive talk about higher wages or shorter hours.

Only intolerant people would deny the weight of evidence in support of the latter view. Take, for instance, the public-minded stockholders of the Highgate-Walsall Brewery, whose annual general meeting was reported in the most recent issue of the London Economist. Despite bombs, convoy sinkings, destruction, and even loss of property, these stout-hearted British stockholders, aside from putting by enough reserves to take care of plant destruction by bombs, have carried right on as usual—so that the output of the brewery “has shown an increase notwithstanding the enforced advance in prices to our customers.” The public naturally appreciates that “this advance in prices has been forced on us by increased taxation imposed by the three Budgets.” The cost of war must be footed by some one, and the stockholders are performing a patriotic duty in seeing to it that the cost is passed on to their customers. How can such patriots be termed parasites? Only a red unable to adjust himself to society could cavil at the pleasure of the Chairman in reporting that: “Notwithstanding continual rises in the cost of labour and materials, especially barley ... the trading profit has shown a satisfactory increase.”

Whoever loses his equilibrium enough to call these sturdy pillars of British capitalism parasites fails to take into consideration their role in guarding the home front, especially against Fifth Columnists. Stockholders possess an innate gift which permits them to recognize a genuine Fifth Columnist instantly. This is proved by the Chairman’s exposure of an insidious campaign unleashed by organized propagandists against the British Government: “Using the war as a means to an end,” he informs the company meeting, “they still persist in worrying the Government. Such conduct in exploiting the national emergency is reprehensible.”

The Fifth Columnists Unmasked

Loyally defending his Government, the Chairman of the stockholders of Highgate-Walsall Brewery levels an accusing finger at the Fifth Columnist activity of the Oxford Temperance Council. The Chairman brings out into the blinding light of day the scurrilous tactics Of this unholy crew: “At the moment these agitators are concentrating on bringing about a reduction of the use of materials for brewing, such as barley, and the shortening of the permitted hours of sale in licensed houses.”

These agents of a foreign power boring from within, shall not succeed, however, in their sabotage of the defense program. The stockholders of the Highgate-Walsall Brewery stand in the breach! They defend the interests of the farmers: “It would be grossly unfair to farmers who grow malting barley to cut down supplies to brewers, for they would be forced to sell their malting barley at the price of feeding barley, which on this year’s figures would have been about one-half of its value.” The stockholders likewise champion the interests of the workers: “The Government know only too well the serious unrest, discontent, loss of working time and interference with the output of munitions which was caused in the last war by the too drastic curtailment of the supply of beer.”

From the report of the Chairman, it is clear that the agitators of the Oxford Temperance Council are in communication with the foe. Only Nazis could disseminate propaganda of such virulent nature: “Not content with demanding that the quantity of beer brewed should be curtailed, these agitators go further, and still using the war as an argument, urge that also the sale in licensed houses should cease at an earlier hour in the evening.”

In the welter of blood of the Second World War, it is a comfort to know that the British capitalists while increasing their profits are defending the ramparts of democracy and the interests of the poor even down to seeing that Fifth Columnists don’t separate the working stiff from his mug of beer.


Last updated on: 13 November 2020