January 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
"Armchair Philosophers" is the phrase that has often been flung at us by the "men of action" when at a loss to meet facts and logical arguments from facts. Well, let us sit back in the armchair for a little while and ponder over the doings of the "men of action."
"Men of action"—the phrase at once brings to mind the Communist Party. "Action" has been the poison gas in that Party's programme for a long time; and in the name of "action" many weird and wonderful antics have been performed.
Not very long ago the Communist Party had difficulty in finding adjectives strong enough with which to belabour Ramsay MacDonald and the Labour Party. He who proposed union with the Labour Party was described as a traitor to the working class. But a change has come over the scene. The Communist Party transport us in imagination to Maskelyne and Devant's home of mysteries, where the waving of a wand performs marvels. The wand used by the Communist Party is the "United Front." Here are a few of the marvels it has performed.
In the Workers Dreadnought (21st February, 1920) Wm. Gallacher wrote:—
Any support given to Parliamentarism is simply assisting to put power into the hands of our British Scheidemanns and Noskes. Henderson, Clynes and Co. are hopelessly reactionary.
Since then Gallacher has twice contested Dundee as a Parliamentary Candidate on behalf of the Communist Party; and the latter has done all in its power to return the Labour Party candidates to Parliament in the 1922 and the late elections.
During the Caerphilly bye-election of August, 1921, the Communist, of August 13th, published on its front page a call to the workers to support Stewart, the Communist candidate. In the course of this front page article they make the following remarks:—
The Labour Party, as it stands, is what its leaders make it—and they will neither lead you into battle nor allow you to lead them.
The leaders who brought about the Triple Alliance disaster, in spite of the splendid solidarity of the rank and file; the leaders who beat back the miners after a three months' death grapple, and did so in contempt of the magnificent defiance embodied in your ballot vote; the leaders who, in industry after industry, accepted reductions and defeat in advance, and with a mere pretence of consulting the rank and file—these, and not the rank and file, constitute the Labour Party as it stands. "The best of men, of he were elected under their auspices, would be paralysed by their vacillation or crippled in the cogs of their controlling machine."
Bearing in mind the last sentence in the above quotation, it is curious to notice that Wm. Paul, a prominent member of the Communist Party, accepted the Labour Party constitution (see Daily Herald, November 30th, 1923) and was put forward as Labour Party candidate for the Rusholme Division of Manchester in the recent election. The following quotation from the Workers' Weekly (December 7th, 1923), the official organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, is also both curious and interesting:
The Labour Party has officially endorsed as its candidates both Comrade Paul in Rusholme, and Comrade Vaughan, in Bethnal Green. There are now four Communist candidates officially supported by the National Labour Party: while local organisations of the Communist Party are working their utmost for Ramsay MacDonald in Aberavon, Bromley in Barrow, Ernest Hunter of the I.L.P., in Hackney, J. R. Clynes in Manchester, and in hundreds of other constituencies.
Now contrast the above with the following quotation taken from the Communist of September 10th, 1921:—
Are you going in waiting in the streets for something to turn up, or do you want ACTION? IF you are a miner, or a docker, or a railwayman, are you happy and proud of your Black Friday leaders? Do you trust and believe in Thomas, Hodges, Bevan, Williams? Do you feel satisfied with the leaders who betrayed on Black Friday? Do you feel a sense of solidarity with Thomas, Hodges, Bevan, Williams? Will they do your fighting for you? If you think you can lie safely under their warm. protecting wings—well, try it. But the Party calls you if you want ACTION.
In the name of "action" you were asked then to throw over Thomas, Hodges, and Bevan, who had betrayed you. Thomas, Hodges and Bevan were candidates in the recent election, and in the name of solidarity you were asked by the Communist Party to support these traitors in the recent election. The Communist Party then stands self-convicted of betraying the interests of the working class and of supporting the opportunist line of action that has led the workers into so many blind alleys in the past. Such are "the men of action."