Friday, June 26, 2015

The New Age, June 17 1915

Ivor Brown's "Aspects of the Guild Idea" of the week is the perfect explanation of why the Guild Socialists are antifeminist (150-151). First, the classic-in-the-internet-age move of agreeing with your foes in principle: "In so far as the Woman’s Movement demanded the right of every one, male or Female, to live his or her own life it was asking for something extremely right and extremely vague." But of course, it's not the principles that are in question here, it's execution: "First of all it ceased to be a philosophy of woman and became a fight for the suffrage." Here's half of the problem. By fighting for suffrage, women were fighting for the wrong thing, because democracy had proven completely hollow: "At the very moment when man, after seventy years of political freedom, had laboriously discovered it to be barren, woman found fruit and virtue in the vote." The second half of the problem is that labor agitation is only as powerful as its ability to constrict the supply of labor, and women entering the workforce would flood the labor market. Brown wants women to wait until after the revolution to demand freedom, because when everyone is embedded in a broken system, moving up one rung will not ultimately be satisfying. Brown makes the case as clearly as anyone has in The New Age. That he is making this case in the middle of the war makes it seem belated.

Alice Morning/Beatrice Hastings continues "Impressions of Paris." I'm most interested in her ongoing skirmish with Arthur Hood. In the last issue Hood had attacked Hastings over her history of the French Revolution. First, BH/AM self-deprecates: "What can it matter what such a scribbler [herself] says about the French Revolution? Yet Mr. Hood attacks me in person as though my words were of importance" (153). Then, she counters with a more detailed rendering of her understanding of the Revolution, and a claim that "nothing is served by comparisons of atrocities."

R.H.C./Orage reviews Stendhal's L'Amour, recommended by Alice Morning in a prior issue. This passage feels to me like a covert love letter to Hastings, who is with Modigliani in Paris at this point. That's speculation--but since there are signs of the ultimate break between TNA and Hastings, perhaps this was a last shot at reconciliation? Especially with its texture of inside jokes: "I am trying to get it translated, possibly to run as a serial in THE NEW AGE--with the editor’s permission!" (150) He is the editor! But could this be a nod to Hastings' former position as secret literary editor, and maybe even a suggestion that she might be the translator? I hope so.

S. Verdad's "Foreign Affairs" contains sharp criticism of the English administration in India, accusing them of unfairness and inflexibility in their dealings with the Indian people (148-9). While that's not a surprise, he divides his palpable frustration on the behalf of the empire, on the one hand, but also on the side of competent Indians who are being shut out from influence by the administration. 

The "National Guildsmen" print this critique of "Marxian dogma": "In reply to several correspondents we may say that we accept an economic interpretation of history, but not the economic interpretation, as if there were none other. Reality being infinite in its aspects, and history being the record of reality, it follows that there are as many interpretations or readings of history as of reality ; and the attempt to reduce them all to the economic is equivalent to the old fallacy of the economists who conceived an 'economic man'" (149). It seems like the angle the Guilds are taking, lately, is that other theories are too narrow, while the Guild theory can embrace many readings of history.

The "Notes of the Week" that begin every issue of The New Age contain a very interesting shift in political allegiance. They call for a general election, and support Lloyd George in the eventuality that it would occur. There are many nice things said about Asquith, as well, even though he'd be the loser in the hypothetical election. Odd--in the past TNA has hated these guys. On research, this will actually happen in 1916.

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