Monday, September 15, 2014

Socialism and the working class (1978)

From the December 1978 issue of the Socialist Standard

Modern society is split into two classes—the working class and the capitalist class. The working class is exploited by the capitalist class because it produces a surplus of wealth over and above what it gets back in wages. It is this unpaid surplus which creates the vast differences in the ownership of wealth between those who produce but do not own and those who own but do not produce. This simple fact provides the answer as to why seven per cent of the population owns eighty-four per cent of the personal wealth; why some people can spend more on race horses, sex, alcohol in an hour, a day, a week, than some (the vast majority) can earn in a year or a lifetime. It also explains why constant upheavals in industry take place, as men and women struggle over the fruits of production.

These glaring inequalities in the ownership of wealth, these profound economic struggles, can only be solved by the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by socialism, a classless society. Our opponents, however, whether from right or left, would disagree.

Nationalists, for example, would say that class is as irrelevant as it is outmoded, that it is much more realistic to talk of common national origins, such as Scots or Welsh, or whatever. By doing so, the nationalists hope to gloss over the obvious fact that in any nation state—independent or dependent—there exists deep conflicts between different sections of society and no amount of patriotism or flag-waving will overcome them: Scottish employers do not treat their workers any better than, say, Japanese employers would. Employers, no matter their national origins or colour, are only interested in getting as much from their workforce for as little as they can pay: profits come before patriotism.

In much the same vein, the television pundits, the employers, the politicians, both Labour and Conservative, and many trade unionists, often refer to industry in terms of teamwork. They deny the operation of the class struggle by insisting that there is a community of interests between the workers and management with both working towards a common end. (To a certain extent this is true, both are working for a common goal — the enrichment of the shareholders).

What these people fail to understand (or if they do they keep it quiet) is why the team continually falls into opposing parts over such things as wages and conditions. These apologists of capitalism put it down to either bad management or greedy workers led on by militant wreckers. This is not the case and never has been. Strikes and lock-outs happen because there is a struggle between the capitalists and the workers over the fruits of production and not because of the machinations of shady characters or the inherent greed of the workers. For this reason there can be no one team with agreed common goals in industry, but competing teams based on class membership.

Our opponents on the left would agree with us that there is a class struggle. If pressed they might even concede that this struggle is a two class affair, working and capitalist. However, given a few moments reflection, they would probably inform us that we are mistaken, there are actually three classes in society, the third being the 'middle class'. After another few moments our left-winger turned sociologist may come up with an even more complex array of classes; lower working class, upper working class, lower middle class, petty bourgeoisie, middle class, upper middle class, upper class (this is never sub-divided, the uppers is upper, OK), and so on, to the point where market research takes over from Marxism. But it doesn't stop here, the left winger will casually inform us, as if we didn't know, that there are also sub- or under-classes, that is, women, blacks, youth, catholics. This is where the socialist if he or she has not already choked on a handy volume of Capital, loses patience and makes a number of informative comments.

QUESTION AND ANSWER

1) What is class?
Class is not defined in terms of social status, that is, whether you attend the badminton club or the darts club, or by the colour of your collar, blue or white, or by the colour of your skin, your age, your sex. Class is determined by your relationship to the means of production, that is, if in order to live you are forced to sell your mental and physical energies for a wage or a salary then you are a member of the working class.

2) "But surely", asks the left winger, "the salaried worker and the wage earner have a different social standing?"

This may have been true in the nineteenth century in Britain, but it is certainly not the case to-day. In the nineteenth century, the clerk, for example, had a special place in the labour market. He lacked job mobility, he was associated with one employer and one business. Furthermore, the ties between him and his employer were close and personal. By loyal and faithful service, the clerk could look forward to becoming a partner in the firm, and many did. Again, there were no fixed or standard wages and conditions in clerking, just as each office had its own particular working arrangements each clerk had his own price.

Obviously under such widely varying conditions of work trade unionism developed very slowly. Although it is significant that in the larger offices successful attempts were made to organise the workers into trade unions, for instance, the Railway Clerks Association (later TASS) was founded in 1897.

The twentieth century dramatically altered the position of the clerk. The  introduction of the typewriter flooded the offices with cheap female labour, reducing the bargaining power of the clerks. The growth of bureaucracy blocked promotion chances and led to a clear cut division between 'managerial' and 'clerical'.

It also created standard conditions of employment, crowded people together in large offices, made the boss a distant figure, and increased the clerk's sense of powerlessness in his working environment. unions developed apace with the changing position of the clerk, and in its turn further uniform conditions in terms of wages, hours, and so on. It is changes such as these which have made the white collar section of the trade union movement the fastest growing. It is also a recognition by the clerks that their interest are not those of their employers.

Moving up the salary scale, the picture is the same. Groups of workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, have found their former position of relative privilege eroded and have been forced to take steps to intensify their opposition to their employers through strikes (previously unheard of) and other forms of industrial action.

This is unsurprising given the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few: ninety-three per cent of all adults in 1970 held not even one single share; five out of six families had no invested income.

3) But don;t the brain workers look down on the manual workers? What this really means is that the working class is not united  in its opposition to capitalism. This sad fact has to be admitted; there are divisions within the working class, and the divide is not simply a question of collar. The employed look down on the unemployed; white workers look down upon black workers; male workers attempt to block the hiring of female workers; region fights region, youth fights old. The policy of divide and rule is still profitably employed to split the working class into warring factions.

BLUE AND WHITE COLLAR

In the case of the blue and white collar divide, the office staff often enjoy certain benefits denied to their fellow workers on the shop floor, such as better pension and sick pay schemes, longer paid holidays, working in a cleaner and less dangerous environment. This can have the effect of maintaining the loyalty of the office staff in times of dispute, but since in many cases the wages of the office workers are lower that the manual workers, it is really a case of the merry-go-round and the swings.

In spite of this, such seemingly preferential treatment may encourage the white collared salariat to view themselves as superior to manual workers but it does not make them a separate class. There may be differences in wages and conditions but the uniting factor is working for a wage or a salary. It is the prostitution of one's labour which makes for the common bond between all members of the working class.

4) What then is the task facing socialists?
It is the task of socialists, firstly, to reject the terminology of class as handed down by the apologists of capitalism, the politicians, the media-men, the academics, and not pander to the illusions people may have about themselves; and, secondly, to encourage unbreakable unity of the working class to the extent that it can act as the agent of revolutionary change by making workers aware of their class position and common interests. In fact, to make the working class aware of itself as a class so that it might, paradoxically, end class society.
Bill Knox

HOW VICTOR FISHES FOR THE B.W.L. (1917)

From the September 1917 issue of the Socialist Standard

The British Workers' League was originated by patriotic "Socialists" to encourage and assist the growth of the "right kind of Socialism." That it was "the right kind" was apparent from the moment they issued their first manifesto, which, being entirely in accord with capitalist ideas on the subject, received the hearty support of capitalist newspapers in general.

If we are to believe the glowing accounts of their successful propaganda, published in the "British Citizen and Empire Worker," it would seem that the organisation now needs but little support from the capitalist Press. Its numbers, according to the reports from its one hundred and more branches, are increasing so rapidly that, if the pace can only be maintained, the "right kind of Socialism" will cease to be a "dream of disordered imaginations," and will be shortly, if it is not already, quite sane and practical.

We need waste no time quoting extracts from the "B.C. and E.W." to illustrate what they designate "the right kind of Socialism." All that is necessary is to call to mind the various government experiments in the direction of nationalisation, and to remember how they have been boosted by the capitalist Press as Socialism and eulogised for their practical value to the capitalist State in a great crisis. Bearing this in mind, it is easy to see that capitalist newspapers could readily support the B.W.L., seeing that the B.W.L. first gave its support to the schemes they had themselves approved of. B.W.L. "Socialism" was "the right kind" because it met with the approval of capitalist authorities—who, being quite neutral and disinterested on the question, are in a position to give undisputed judgment.

Long before war made any "kind of Socialism" practicable there were men and parties advocating the B.W.L. kind. The peripatetic pimps and palliators of the I.L.P., the Clarion Scouts, the S.D.P., and the Fabian Society, mistook nationalisation for Socialism, and when a capitalist Government started nationalising, they shouted with glee. We had told them often enough that the ruling class, through its executive, would nationalise railways or anything else, if capitalist interests demanded it. But they had so accustomed themselves to think of State ownership or nationalisation as the millennium that its practical application by a capitalist government did not even arouse their suspicions. And although its application did not alter the status or condition of the workers, they shouted for more, many of them rushing straightway to the B.W.L. for membership cards that they might lend a hand in the establishment of Socialism (!) that was being precipitated so eagerly by the very class that looks upon it as poison to their system.

The only addition necessary to the stock-in-trade of the pre-war labour faker was a fervid patriotism—a quite simple matter for them, seeing that patriotism was supposed to be popular and the only thing in which labour leaders were consistent was in striving after popularity by advocating popular notions. This explains the much-boasted success of the B.W.L. They denounced everything German, from the Kaiser downwards. They boosted Empire—British, of course—for all it was worth—to the capitalist. Trade unionism is their special concern. " What would British trade-unionism be under the Hohenzollerns?" shrieked Victor Fisher to the chain-makers of Cradley Heath, who stood to lose nothing, not even the chains that were never theirs, or the chains that bound them in servitude.

"Do not imagine," he wailed, "that you can lose your national independence and maintain? your class organisation." As though "national independence" meant anything to these overwrought slaves, or class organisation were impossible under German capitalists.

If the assertions of capitalist agents, and prewar Press reports, were worth anything, the class war was waged quite as vigorously in Germany as it was here. The German trade-unionists had the same freedom to organise as English trade-unionists. In fact, labour leaders here often looked to Germany, with its twenty labour dailies, as the advance guard of labour the world over. But quite independent of these facts, the class war must be fought out by the-workers against the capitalist class of the world. If the purpose of class organisation is to wage the class war it does not matter a brass farthing whether we organise against English or German capitalists. On the other hand, if the working class of any country are too apathetic or spineless to stand erect against international capitalism, it does not matter a brass cartridge by whom they are enslaved and exploited.

The English working class, when it organises on class lines, can have but one object, to throw off the capitalist yoke. The German working class, opposed to a different group of the same capitalist class, can only prosecute the class war for the same object. For the working class, not only of these two countries, but of all countries, "national independence" is as dust in the balance compared with their great need for a real International.

National independence means nothing to the wage-slave because his poverty and degradation are the same in all the nations; his class organisation is everything to him because on its growth and perfection, and, above all, its international character, hangs the hope of working-class victory over sordid, tyrannical, and bloody-capitalism, and the establishment of the one-and only Socialism.
F. Foan

From Methodism to Marxism (1994)

From the May 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Socialism? Nice idea. But too much like hard work!"
I used to be a Christian, once upon a time. A Methodist, no less, and a preacher to boot.
This is not some kind of confession or personal testimony – we have all had to make some sort of intellectual journey to call ourselves socialists. It is just that I called myself a Methodist – and yet I enjoyed a drink then, as I still do, regularly indulging myself, sometimes to excess.
The time at which John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, were preaching – the mid-18th century – was one in which there was widespread disquiet among the chattering (and, more importantly, the employing) classes of the day about the effects of the "demon drink" on society. Thus, Methodists were, for many years, encouraged to sign the pledge, and constantly railed against alcohol and those who consumed it. It was a theme that other sects picked up on. including, in the 19th century, the Salvation Army.
But it did not worry me that abstinence was – or had been – one of the central planks of Methodism. Indeed, it did not seem to worry many Methodists of my generation. "Well, we understand that there used to be a point to it." they would say, "but alcohol's OK in moderation, the problem's not the same now!" – ignoring the fact that there are many more alcoholics, and alcohol-related deaths, now than there ever were in the Wesley s' day.
That kind of selectiveness with ideas or creeds is common enough in Methodism, but it is by no means exclusive to it.
Many die-hard cold warriors, and sundry other tinpot armchair militarists, still sit in churches, praying to their god, in spite of the fact that, according to the New Testament, their god had enjoined his followers to "love their enemies" and to "turn the other cheek" when wronged.
The Queen – the richest woman in the world, or thereabouts – apparently has her god to thank for her position. Yet Jesus told his disciples that it was "harder for a rich man to enter through the gates of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle"; called the love of money the root of all evil; and instructed his disciples to give away all that they owned before they could follow him. (Anyone tempted to think, at this point, of Jesus as some sort of proto-communist would be well advised to remember his injunction to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's").
Various apologists for the exploiters in our society have tried to soften the blow of Jesus' apparent rejection of the rich. I remember reading one "explanation" which argued that the Eye of the Needle was, in fact, a small gate in Jerusalem's city wall; and that while it was difficult for a camel to get through, it was not impossible. But the fact remains that Jesus apparently took the view that one could not serve two masters at once: to serve the interests of one's personal fortune detracted from one's service to, and contemplation of, God.
I spent a lot of time making that kind of point from the pulpit. But in truth I was just as guilty of ignoring inconvenient parts of the doctrine. The Bishop of Durham and I both questioned the literal truth of the biblical miracles, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection. In my case I rejected them completely. I even came to the conclusion that Jesus was not the Son of God – an idea which, while it may not be central to the Gospels, is certainly central to the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith adopted by all the Western Christian churches.
And yet, for quite a time, I still continued to consider myself a Christian.
Most, if not all, Christians down the ages have tended to ignore bits of the creed that did not suit them. To a great extent this is because whole chunks of the Christian bible, at any rate, are contradictory, so a Christian has to decide what kind of Christian he or she is going to be. But also it is, in part, because many people's religious beliefs are inherited, rather than considered. As they get older, if they retain any religious faith at all, it is likely to be in a bastardized, even unorthodox, form.
Socialists, on the other hand, one might expect to be rather clearer about what principles they hold dear. People calling themselves socialists, or Marxists, should have no difficulty in thinking through logically what their credo is.
And yet, ostensibly socialist/Marxist groupings and political parties seem to have real problems with identifying their principles and sticking to them.
The Labour Party, taken as a whole, has never really had any principles, at least none that it was not prepared to sell in exchange for public office. It has long been what it calls a "broad church" of reformists, opportunists, and sundry ideologically-challenged bleeding hearts. As such, it has never really known where it wants to go, or how to get there. For a while, a majority of the party thought that nationalization was the way forward. But it was never clear where that way was supposed to go, whether public ownership was a means to an end or an end in itself. And now in practice, even Clause 4 has been abandoned in a bid to make the policy-less party attractive to voters.
But one thing that the Labour Party has always maintained is that it is a socialist party, albeit that the word has stuck in the throat of some of those party leaders using it. Socialism, in the Labour Party dictionary, is a vague, woolly catch-all word: anyone can be a socialist in the Labour Party. There are no central ideas there to embarrass voters or activists, be they never so egotistical, opportunistic, or venal. Or indeed as rich as Croesus. This non-definition of "socialism" is deliberate. The main objective of the Labour Party is to get elected, not to change society. So the fact that nothing substantive ever gets done to justify the use of the word "socialism" – that the Labour Party has not advanced the cause of the working class one jot, despite several terms of parliamentary office – is viewed as unimportant.
Marx existed
It is, perhaps, possible to view the word "socialism" as a nebulous term that can mean a variety of things. But not the word "Marxism". After all, unlike with Jesus, we can be sure that Marx existed. We know much of what he did and said. And, again unlike Jesus, we have books, letters and articles that we know he wrote himself. So there should be no problem with deciding what may legitimately be termed Marxism, and what may not.
And yet, astoundingly, there are groups, inside and outside the Labour Party, who call themselves Marxist and Trotskyist simultaneously, despite the fact that the two words are a complete contradiction in terms. These include Militant, Socialist Organizer and the SWP, to name but a few.
It does not take a genius to work out that, however Trotsky himself defined his political views, his ideas were fundamentally at odds with those of Marx.
For instance, Marx took the view that the liberation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself. The implication of which is that the transition from capitalism to socialism will be, and must be, a democratic process. A good Trotskyist, on the other hand, will say that the revolution will be brought about by a dedicated (for which read "small") band of professional revolutionaries, who will educate the working class to want socialism after it has supposedly been established. Trying to persuade the majority of workers to understand and want and work for socialism, in order that it may – as it must – be established democratically, is impossible in the eyes of the Trotskyist.
Far too difficult, too much like hard work. So the Trotskyist falls into the trap of the "revolutionary vanguard" concept, an apparently easier route to socialism which is, in fact, a cul-de-sac, a route only to dictatorship.
All Trotskyist sects thus fall at the first fence of the route to a Marxian socialist/communist society (and Trotsky distinguished between socialism and communism in a way that Marx never did).
But they also seem to have problems with what it is exactly that they are striving for.
Marx defined socialism as a society wherein wages and money, private property and profit had all been abolished. But I remember talking to a member of Socialist Organizer who scoffed at the Socialist Party's vision of society as pie-in-the-sky idealism, at best only to be seen centuries from now.
The Socialist Party does not, of course, believe that Marx was a god, or a Pope, there to be infallible. He was a man, whose thought developed over the years, and who quite often was wrong. But with others, drawing on earlier ideas and on observation, he came to an understanding of capitalism and its alternative, which is clear and logical – and which, as a whole, the Socialist Party believes to be correct. The Socialist Party, like Marx, holds that a moneyless, propertyless society is feasible and desirable. It also holds that the only way to achieve such a society is democratically, by persuasion. There is no substitute for hard work, for "making socialists".
Marx said that we have a world to win. He never said it would be easy.
Paul Burroughs

DOWN WITH LEADERS. (1918)

From the April 1918 issue of the Socialist Standard

Labour leaders, to say the least, are useless to the workers in their conflict with the capitalist class. An organisation whose members have no desire to control affairs for themselves, and therefore hands over the management to certain individuals, by so doing gives them the opportunity to use that organisation to obtain any object they may have in view. And judging by the past actions of these leaders their purpose seems to be always the same, that is, to earn a reward from the capitalist by betraying the workers whose interest they are supposed to safeguard.

The amount of evidence accumulated against these traitors is enormous. On both the industrial field and the political they have played the traitorous part. A further exposure comes from Mr. Lloyd George, who is reported by the "Daily Telegraph" (2.1.17) to have stated in the House of Commons that "I am not unmindful of the fact that he" (the reference was to Mr. Arthur Henderson) "has helped us and the late Government very largely owing to his official position in the great struggle on the question of organising the man-power of this country and carrying through the Military Service Acts. He took a leading part in securing the support of organised labour for these measures."

We have there a clear and definite statement which leaves no reasonable doubt as to why Henderson was given a position in the Cabinet. He was useful in persuading the workers to quietly accept measures that would tighten the chains about them and make more secure the power of the capitalists to throw millions of men and boys into the horrors of war.

The quotation given is of value, not only as an exposure of Henderson, but also as an example of the conditions under which labour leaders in general are patronised by the capitalist class. That they retain their position only so long as they comply with these conditions is convincingly demonstrated by the same honourable gentleman who, in explaining why he gave Henderson the sack gave us yet another peep behind the scenes.

"Well," runs the "Daily Chronicle" report (14.8.17) of the Prime Minister's pronouncement, "all he could say was that he had seen every member who was present at the Cabinet on the day of the discussion, and had asked them the impression left on their minds. The impression, they stated, which had been left was that Mr. Henderson intended to use all his influence to turn down the Stockholm Conference at Friday's meeting."

This time Henderson failed to do what was expected of him, and consequently was forced to "resign." The length of time he remained in the Cabinet gives us some slight idea of the amount of work he performed in the interest of the capitalist class, and considering the number of these political scavengers they employ, it is not in the least surprising that our work of working-class enlightenment should prove so hard.

Such is the worth of the Labour Party to the workers. "It has," said Mr. Philip Snowden, "betrayed working class interests in every direction, and the labour problems which have to be solved have been in the main created by the incompetence and conduct of the Labour Party. The Labour Party have been more capitalist than the employers and more militarist than the Government." -"Labour Leader," 12.7.17.

Mr. Philip Snowden, who made this discovery many months ago, should now try and explain his position as a member of that capitalist and militarist "Labour" Party which he so roundly condemns. Is the £400 a year which binds him to it a stronger shackle than he can break ? 

The shameful way in which the workers have been betrayed should surely force them to consider a method by which their organisation can be made proof against the undermining operations of such traitors. The first essential is that they must thoroughly understand their position as wage slaves. They must realise they live only by the sale of their labour power to the capitalist class, who, owning the means of wealth production, are able to claim the wealth produced, returning to the producing class in the form of wages just sufficient for them to exist upon on the average, and to produce a generation of future wage slaves—in other words, just enough to enable them to reproduce their efficiency in the widest sense of the term.

The sale of the workers' labour-power taking place under the same conditions that regulate the sale of any other commodity, it follows that with the continued improvement in machinery, "dilution" of labour still further applied, the rapid development of science, and the general speeding-up, their labour-power must tend more and more to exceed the demand for it, with the result that the effect on wages, or the price of labour power, is the same as that on any other commodity when the supply exceeds the demand its price falls. Thus we have the producers of the world s wealth forced to accept wages that barely supply the physical necessities of life.

Living under a set of social conditions that condemns him to a life of sordid poverty, the worker, to obtain relief, must change those conditions from top to bottom. That is to say, the means of wealth production, and distribution being the private property of the capitalist class, the latter are enabled to use them to exploit the workers. Since, therefore, the whole of the evil conditions of working-class existence spring from this property condition, the workers must make those things needed for the production and distribution of wealth the common property of Society.

The defenders of private property having, through their political power, control of the armed forces, use them to support their position. The first step, therefore, towards their overthrow, is to secure political power. The need, then, is for a working-class political party the members of which, united by a common understanding of their class interest, would have no need for leaders.

On the other hand, knowing the direction in which they must fight, the action of every member would be controlled to that one end, and any treachery on the part of any member, would be promptly dealt with. Such a party would be proof against leaders and therefore against betrayal by leaders.

Such is the character of the S.P.G.B. To those workers who understand and accept our Declaration of Principles we extend an earnest invitation to join us for co-operation in the fight for Socialism.

E. L. Wake.

The Commune of Paris: A Lesson for Today. (1916)

From the April 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

On March. 18th, 1871, after the capitulation of Paris to the Germans in the Franco-German War, Thiers, the new head of the French Government, foreseeing danger to the exploiting class in the retention of arms by the workers, who chiefly formed the National Guard, endeavoured to disarm them. The attempt to steal the guns these workers' pence had paid for precipitated a revolt. On the 28th of March the Commune of Paris was declared. Containing at first mainly, and later almost exclusively, working-class elements, the Commune endeavoured to express, according to its understanding, and within the limits of its power, the proletarian interests that lay behind it. This was its great merit. This it was that called down upon it the ruthless hostility of the capitalist government. For three months the working-class revolt struggled on, succumbing at last under a deluge of blood to the armed forces of capitalism. The German Government aided the French ruling class in this bloody work. With the defeat of the Commune, after an eight days' struggle,
“the murder of defenceless men, women, and children, which had raged the whole week through in ever-increasing proportions, reached its highest point. The breech-loader no longer killed fast enough; the conquered were slaughtered in hundreds with the mitrailleuses ; the "wall of the Federals" in the Père la Chaise Cemetery, where the last massacre took place, remains to-day a dumb but eloquent witness of what frenzy of crime the governing classes are capable as soon as the proletariat ventures to stand up for its rights.”
Thus spoke Engels of the final act of the tragedy; and this brief note of that defeat of the workers cannot more fitly end than in the words of Marx, written in May, 1871, which are eloquent of his view of the relative importance of the national and the class struggles.
“That after the most tremendous war of modern times the conquering and the conquered hosts should fraternise for the common massacre of the proletariat—this unparalleled event does indicate, not as Bismarck thinks, the final repression of a new society upheaving, but the crumbling into dust of bourgeois society. The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war ; and this is now proved to be mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out in civil war. Class rule is no longer able to disguise itself in a national uniform ; the national governments are ONE as against the proletariat!”

After Twelve Years. (1916)

From the June 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard

June 12th is the anniversary of the formation of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. On Saturday the 24th of June, 1916, a Reunion of Party members and friends is being held at Devonshire Hall, Devonshire Street, Mare Street, Hackney.

June 12th ends the twelfth year of the Party's existence. Twelve years, though but a span in the history of the working class movement, is a large slice of the individual man's "alloted span," and for that space of time the Party membership, in face many obstacles, have succeeded in their struggle to clear a space from which to prosecute effectively the vital work of Socialist education.

The way has been hard through those years. At first, faced not only with the opposition of our avowed enemies and the enmity of the "friends of labour," but also with the smallness of our numbers, internal difficulties, and with our means of subsistence barely visible, our fight seemed a hopeless one. But good progress has been made. Fighting with a determination born of the logic of the Socialist position, the little band clung to their task and consolidated the ground that they had won for Socialist propaganda and working-class politics. Forced to notice the "insignificant" party of "impossiblists" (as we used to be called), our opponents at home and abroad tried in turn to crush us and to cajole us ; but our case was too strong to fall before their whirl of windy words, and our principles too precious to pawn for the loan of their flattery or favour.

At the present moment, however, our Party has to face greater difficulties than it has yet been called upon to surmount, and the result of twelve years strenuous and unremitting labour is threatened with destruction.

The bulk of our most active members, always too few, are threatened with the chains of military prisons, or, what is to them perhaps even more objectionable, the degradation of khaki. It therefore behoves those who are left to redouble their efforts to keep the organisation together, to keep its policy as clean and its principles as clear as its record of past years.

Since we raised the "STANDARD" of the Socialist Party twelve years ago it has floated free to the breeze ; now that the winds of adversity freshen into a gale, see to it, comrades, that it is kept flying. 
Twel.