Monday, October 12, 2015

The S.P.G.B. versus the I.L.P. (1933)

From the January 1933 issue of the Socialist Standard

A debate was held between the S.P.G.B. and the I.L.P. at Bethnal Green Town Hall on Friday, December 2nd. The I.L.P. speaker, N. Dunbar, claimed that the revolutionary ferment among the workers since the Bolshevik seizure of power has completely changed the problem of overthrowing capitalism. The workers have made inroads into capitalism by such achievements as unemployment insurance, and that the I.L.P. policy of Workers' Councils is the road by which the workers will achieve Socialism. The present I.L.P., since the Bradford Conference early this year, is a fundamentally different body from the old I.L.P., and must not be held responsible for its predecessor's actions.

Comrade Hardy, for the S.P.G.B., denied that the problem is essentially different from what it was before the war.

To get Socialism, the workers must gain control of the political machinery, yet the General Election last year showed the workers, employed and unemployed, prepared to vote the capitalists into power. Russia is not an instance of Socialism but of state capitalism, and in any event the I.L.P. cannot claim any credit for what the Bolsheviks did. In 1917, when Kerensky was in power and oppressing the Bolsheviks, the leaders of the I.L.P. sent this capitalist government a telegram of congratulation, urging the Russians, subject to certain conditions, to continue the war. (See Labour Leader, May 3rd, 1917.)

Social reforms like unemployment insurance, are methods by which the capitalists buy off working class discontent, with the result that unemployed riots are far less formidable than they were before the War.

The I.L.P., right from it formation, entered into electoral arrangements with the Liberal Party and had never fought elections on the simple demand for Socialism. The new I.L.P. is just like the old, a reformist body. The claim that the I.L.P. stands for any definite policy, cannot be maintained. The New Leader, for weeks past, has been publishing letters from influential I.L.P. members disputing with each other as to what the I.L.P.'s policy is?

The debate was well attended and both speakers obtained a good hearing from the audience, many of whom appeared to have Communist sympathies.


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The S.P.G.B. versus the Co-operative Guild
A debate was held on Tuesday, November 15th, at Sutton, Surrey, between Comrade Ginsberg, representing the S.P.G.B., and Mr. Atkins, representing the Sutton Branch of the National Guild of Co-operators. The audience was small but interested and attentive.
A.F.

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