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We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun. It is unfortunate that the English working class are exceptionally ignorant about and wasteful of food.
(George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier)

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

There is an ideal country called Utopia (“Nowhere”). Its people are always happy. No such place has ever existed, but because a number of men have thought and hoped that it might be possible for such things to be, socialism has come into existence.

The first socialists were called the Utopian Socialists. Their plan was to reconstruct society and establish a system by which the profits produced by labour should be divided among the workers. Robert Owen (1771-1858), one of the most famous of the Utopians, was a wealthy manufacturer, who made his own factory town, New Lanark, in Scotland, a model community.

Owen wished to establish such communities all over the world. Each was to contain about 1,200 people, who were to live in one large building and share the profits from their labour on farm and in factory. Several communities modelled on his ideas were set up, but failed. The chief outcome of the movement was the forming of co-operative and profit-sharing industries and stores, which have been successfully introduced into many parts of the world.

Louis Blanc, a Frenchman who was at the height of his fame in 1848-49, represents a second type of socialism, sometimes called “political” or “government-ownership socialism”. Its chief outcome was the gradual adoption in many lands of government ownership of railways, telegraphs, telephones, waterworks, etc.

Karl Marx, a German Jew, was the founder of modern “scientific socialism”. He maintained that through all history there had been a struggle of classes. The last phase of this struggle would be that of the labourer against the capitalist. With the victory of the labourer the socialist state would be established. In it only those who toiled – with their hands or their heads – would receive the products of labour. Since labour was the sole creator of value, it alone had a right to the fruits of its efforts. All means of production – land, factories, mines, and so on – should, therefore, be controlled by the workers and operated for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Socialism should not be confused with anarchism (from the Greek for “without rule”), which demands the utter abolition of the state. Many great and good men (e.g. John Lennon, Ronald Reagan) have believed in anarchism in this sense, for they contend that human beings if left to themselves without prescribed laws or organized authority, will soon learn to adjust peaceably all their conflicts over property and privilege.

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Star Inn, Higher Broughton, Salford

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.

The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has merely established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

(Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto)

Simon Hattenstone of the Grauniad returns to his childhood home of Salford to uncover the messy truth behind the rhetoric of a “classless society”. Click his name for the full article and comments.

Marx and Engels’ local was the Crescent when they lived in Salford. Mine was the Star Inn, a scruffy, working-class pub with the most miserable landlord in the world – one-armed Wally. But we liked it. Today, it’s just as scruffy but one of the country’s few community pubs owned by the people who drink there.

Margaret Fowler, a university lecturer with silver hair and an easy manner, is one of the shareholders. I ask if there are any Tories in the pub. She shakes her head.

I used to drink in “one-armed Wally’s” when I lived in Higher Broughton. I also spent a great deal of time in the Crescent when it was run by a couple known locally as “The Grims”.

Now that I am middle class, I live in the centre of Manchester of course. Let us not forget that the newspaper Hattenstone writes for used to be called the Manchester Guardian.

Let us also remember that Manchester has, or had, the only public building named after a political and economic concept, i.e. the Free Trade Hall, now, sadly, a hotel where Simon Cowell stays when he is judging British Special Needs Factor, or whatever television show it is that humiliates ordinary people by encouraging them to believe that they can emulate Cowell and make a lot of money by doing nothing in particular.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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