Hammersmith Socialist Record, Number 13, October 1892

[Untitled] Notes on Parliament


It has not been considered necessary to call the Parliament together before the beginning of next year and it is to be supposed that in the meantime the country is thought capable of governing itself without the elected representative legislative body, which indeed it probably can do pretty well on the usual lines of real government by an all-powerful possessing class with a machinery of law and police attached to it, whose business it is to administer all matters on the basis of the greatest good for the greatest number—of possessors of capital: Yet supposing that the British Empire could receive any useful service at the hands of a legislative body, the present scarcely seems a time at which the said body could well afford to waste six months of its life in doing absolutely nothing. For it may be stated with no fear of contradiction that our British Countries, outside the charmed circle above mentioned of possessors of capital, are a seething mass of discontent; and that on all hands all those whose business it is to produce what is useful or pleasurable to human life are demanding, some vocally, others dumbly, help of someone to enable them to change their condition. Indeed so obviously is this the case, that one does not so much wonder at our capitalists’ legislators taking a long holiday, as one does at their apparent intention of showing their faces again in the House of Commons.

Yes; the working population of the world are certainly endowed with a terrible patience, that they can bear all this shilly-shally so long: that they can wait so long for the day when these parliament gentlemen shall begin to do something for them: a patience which may one day be found to have been terrible to others besides themselves. What a pity that this patience has not been exercised on their own attempts to better themselves, their own failures and shortsightedness; which must have been the case if they had attempted to do anything serious for themselves.

Supposing for instance that working men should learn so much during the next twelve months, that at the next Trades Union Congress the delegates come prepared to move for the assertion of quite new principles; to state that as workmen and their genuine representatives, they feel themselves to be, and are, whether they like it or not, in definite opposition to their employers; that their real ultimate aim is the ruin of their capitalist employers, and that their other present business was to do their best to mitigate the sufferings of the workers while that ruin of capitalism was being brought about. Supposing this, which is the true state of the case, were put forward openly, could they then ask the aid of a capitalist parliament to bring it about? Yet, nevertheless, when they they had shown that they understood their position, and that they were prepared to act upon it, would they not be nearer to the new society than they would be after the parliament had been tinkering at the matter unwillingly for a dozen years?

After all, the parliament gentlemen are probably not far from wrong in thinking that it matters little whether they meet for 'business' now or six months hence— or ten years hence.