Monday, May 25, 2015

Watford Branch Report. (1913)

From the February 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

The year 1912 has been quite an eventful year for Socialists in Watford. We have had several bouts with the Anti-Socialist Union representatives, and in spite of the boasted training of these hirelings of the mentally bankrupt capitalist class, they cut a very poor figure when confronted by a Socialist.

These Antis like to get their assistants, the B.S.P., and the I.L.P., and so on, to oppose them, and between the two sets of confusionists sone sort of hotch-potch is attacked and defended, and the audience is led to believe that the case for Socialism has been demolished.

We have given these frauds a warm time here this year, especially those of the A.S.U., who have had to earn their dirty gold, and were glad to shake the dust of Watford from off their feet.

We have tried to get the A.S.U., the B.S.P., and the Tariff Reform Union to justify their claim that they out for the benefit of the working class, but all are afraid to face the onslaught of a Socialist in debate.

The B.S.P. have been proved the greatest cowards or frauds of the whole lot, for at the meeting held under their auspices in Boxmoor Hall, Oct 16th last the local secretary, in order to assist the speaker (Mr. Kehrhahn) and the chairman (Mr. Gorle), announced that his branch had passed a resolution that no question should be taken from a Socialist!

What have they to hide? We know, and they know we know. Mr. Kehrhahn, after the meeting, said: "We are not afraid of your opposition," so he was promptly challenged to defend the B.S.P. in debate. But the Boxmoor branch refused to back him, and when we told him that we could not debate with a person who had no organisation behind him, and asked him to get the sanction of his E.C., he wrote back: "To hell with the Executive in matters of this sort."

After this the only thing left us was to hold a meeting and expose them. This we did, and the meeting was a great success.
Watford Branch.

The Communists and Beveridge (1943)

From the January 1943 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communist Party is giving its support to the Beveridge scheme, subject to certain amendments. This has, however, not entirely pleased the readers of the Daily Worker. In their issue of December 22, 1942, J. R. Campbell confessed that the attitude of the Communist Party paper "perplexes a number of our readers, who ask us whether this system of benefits represents our ideal of a new world." Campbell answers that it does not represent the ideal, but that the report, "if it becomes law, would be a definite improvement on the existing chaotic muddle in the social services. Why not support it?"

To a reader who asks why not consider instead ways and means of ending the capitalist system, Campbell replies that "he is presenting an unreal alternative."

The gist of the argument is expressed in the following passage from Campbell's article: -
Will we get nearer to Socialism if we stand aside from the struggle around the Report and indulge in Socialist propaganda? On the contrary, we will only reduce our propaganda to impotence. Surely no reader is suggesting that we should organise a campaign to force the Coalition Government to introduce Socialism? Or that we should forget the war and go out on a campaign for the overthrow of the Government, which could only divide the British people, prolong the war, and reduce the chances of Socialism to zero.
One comment on the above is that made by the Manchester Guardian: - "There in a nutshell is the political philosophy of the Fabian, of the once-despised reformist, of every Socialist member of the Labour Party." - (Manchester Guardian, December 24, 1942.)

Also the reader to whom Campbell addressed his question about the war might have recalled that it is not so long ago that the Communist Party was quite ready to call off what it called "an Imperialist war, like the war of 1914." The Daily Worker of October 4, 1939, said :-
We are against the continuance of the war. We demand that negotiations be immediately opened for the establishment of peace in Europe.
And the Communist Party wholly approved the People's Convention demand for the overthrow of the Government and the setting up of a People's Government, which in the words of D. N. Pritt, K.C., M.P., "would know that its first duty to the people was to secure the earliest possible termination of hostilities by a peace that was neither one of conquest nor of capitulation, but a peace that safeguarded the interests of the peoples and enabled them to build a new world without war and economic crises." - ("Forward to a People's Government," published by the People's Convention Committee, D. N. Pritt, page 12.)

Socialism in Sheffield: The recent by-election (1930)

From the March 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

The recent by-election in Sheffield would have appeared tragic had it not been so amusing. After a knock-out contest lasting several rounds the Labour nominee emerged into full public view in the form of a local Trade Unionist.

The Communist candidate, J. T. Murphy, also made the most of his local connections and his activities in the shop-stewards' movement during the war. His supporters, however, do not appear to have learned the lesson of the collapse of that movement, but still cling to the "industrial" illusions associated therewith. In the face of experience of the power of the employers on the economic field (as exemplified in rationalisation, etc.), they still swallow the yarn that it is possible to develop a movement which will "take and hold" at the point of production and successfully challenge the armed forces of the nation. Murphy took his stand on the Communist Party's programme of reforms (comically labelled "class against class") and left the basis of Capitalism untouched. He had the easy job of pillorying the failure of the Labour Government to solve the problems afflicting the workers; but in general his remedy was the delightfully vague one of "raising the workers' standard of living." Challenged to explain why the Communist Party had supported the Labour Party at elections over a period of six or seven years he took refuge in the feeble plea that the Labour leaders had been "obliged by circumstances to appear on the side of the workers." From which we reach the conclusion that the Communist Party backed them in 1923 and 1924 because the said leaders "led" the strike of 1926!

This champion of a "disciplined revolutionary international," however, was candid enough to admit that the Communists had maintained their support of the Labour Party "too long." They should, he said, have abandoned that policy immediately after the strike fiasco and not have waited till 1929. He was thereupon challenged to debate with a representative of the S.P.G.B., and this he accepted with the assurance that "he would debate with the devil himself." We cannot promise the workers of Sheffield any display of Mephistophelian fireworks, but the debate may provide them with food for thought.

The Labour nominee's case was so feeble that he dropped seven or eight thousand votes. Tory criticism was directed towards showing that "Socialism" had failed to do anything but add to the numbers of the unemployed, and relatively speaking he got away with the story very well. Possibly on some future occasion the local branch may invite him to explain why two million unemployed exist in Germany, and from three million upwards in the U.S.A., countries which have enjoyed the benefits of "safeguarding" for generations.

The Liberals' case was that the Labour Government needed gingering up, but probably could, with parental supervision, be relied upon to do the right thing. "After all," argued their street corner orators, "it was the Liberals who had made it possible for the Labour Party to experiment in social reform."

The election proved once more the vast amount of propagandist spade-work needed in this reputed "hot-bed of Socialism." We are not greedy! Socialists in Sheffield are invited, nay urged, to come and give a hand in this work.
Eric Boden