his Conclusion that it "stands fully armed, commands vast
organisations and steadily continues to exercise influence on the
masses, turning the slightest vacillation in philosophical thought
to its own advantage."
Discussion on philosophical fundamentals is as much a part
of the class struggle as a strike or a political programme. That the
discussion is widening is no accident.
I suggest that Lenin's
"Materialism and Empirio-Critic)jsm" is lucid, penetrating and
comprehensive on the fundamental issue as between Dialectical
Materialism and all forms of Idealism, however cloaked in
ON MAY DAY GREEN 1838
Yorkshire members, many of whose forefathers played such
an important part in the Chartist movement, and who are themselves
very active in the workers' cause to-day, will probably find
something rather piquant - and not without topical overtones in an account of a mass meeting in Barnsley in 1838.
May Day itself was not celebrated by the Labour movement till half
a century later, and then concentrated on a different vital demand,
a gathering of "thousands of persons", according to the Chartist
"Northern Star", assembled on the eve of that day on May Day
Green, for the purpose of petitioning Parliament for the political
rights denied to all but the propertied classes.
J. Crabtree, who presided, after proclaiming the purpose of
the meeting to demand Universal Suffrage, Annual Parliaments,
Vote by Ballot "and every thing else that the people thought
necessary for the protection of their rights (Hear, hear, and
laughter) ... took into consideration the several objections which
the enemies of the people frequently urge against the extension of
the Elective Franchise, such as their ignorance of political subjects,
their moral debasement, their incapacity to exercise a proper
He scathingly characterised these as truly
"worthy of the men who raised them", remarking that a more
ignorant set of men than the privileged order could not be found;
and ... he had no doubt he could find 658 men (the number of
members of the House of Commons. Ed.) in any manufacturing
town in England, Ireland or Scotland."
Referring to the Dorchester Labourers (then newly rescued
from Botany Bay and brought home). he demanded: "What was it
that brought them back? (Hear, hear).
Certainly it was not the
charity of the Whigs, nor the humanity of Lord John Russell.
was the people's exertions that brought them back; and they have
now returned to bless the people for those exertions (Hear, hear,
hear I}" The speaker denounced "in the most unqualified terms"
the "slavery system" of apprenticeship, the fraudulent Reform Bill
and the New Poor Law, to a constant loud chorus of agreement.
After which, a resolution, "carried unanimously, with three cheers",
declared that the petitioners were "deprived of those rights which