From the March 1935 issue of the Socialist Standard
[We have received the following letter from a former Communist. It is particularly interesting, as the writer took an active part, in the Manchester area, in the work of the Communist Party. While we may not see eye-to-eye with the writer on every point, his letter merits serious attention, as an example of the outlook to which years of wholehearted support of the Communist Party has brought one of its adherents.—ED. COMM.]
February 20th, 1935.
The Editorial Committee,
THE SOCIALIST STANDARD.
Although in the past I have been an active and enthusiastic member of the Communist Party, the recent change of policy in relation to the Labour Party has compelled me to re-examine the principles and policy of the Party I formerly supported. The conclusions, for what they are worth—but by no means lightly arrived at—are set out below.
At the moment, the C.P., notwithstanding all specious reservations, is committed in principle to the return of a third Labour Government as a “lesser evil" to the National Government of to-day. This in spite of past vehement declarations that Labourism was Social Fascism, was, as Stalin declared, “objectively the moderate wing of Fascism." I, at least, have learned the lesson that the Labour Party “is the most dangerous enemy of the working-class within the working-class" too well; so well, in fact, that I find it impossible to support one capitalist party against another in the supposed interests of unity—even though the Party I am asked to support calls itself Labour.
The incontestable truth is that the change from unqualified opposition to the Labour Party and I.L.P. (quite clearly defined in the C.C. Resolution of the C.P.G.B., 1931) to one of support, was imposed from above by the Comintern when, after the German disaster and at a moment’s notice, it issued its world-wide appeal to its component parties to make unity overtures to organisations hitherto denounced as “Social-Fascist," etc. Evidently, one policy having proved so disastrous, it was decided, with a complete lack of political principle, to try something else.
The indecent haste employed by representatives of the Soviet Union in attempting to conclude pacts of an economic and political character with the butchers of the German working-class; the entrance of the Soviet Union into that “thieves' kitchen," the League of Nations; the substitution of the “defence of the Soviet Union" for the world revolution, can only mean that the Comintern has become completely subordinated to the special interests of the Soviet Union; and that, consequently, the various Communist Parties have been degraded to mere advertising agencies for Russia.
The advent to power in Germany of the Hitler dictatorship proves quite conclusively the bankruptcy of Communist policy. Through their blind “fetishism" of violence, the German Communists contributed just as much to the dissipation of the working-class forces as did the Social-Democrats through their shameless prostitution of the name of Socialism. Palme Dutt, in his book, "Fascism and the Social Revolution," quotes, in support of his case, Kautsky, who, in his introduction to the third edition of his book, “The Proletarian Revolution" (1931), says: “In November, 1918, the Revolution was the work of the proletariat alone. The proletariat won so all-powerful a position that the bourgeois elements at first did not dare to attempt any resistance." What lesson is drawn from this? That the German Social-Democrats betrayed the revolution because they persuaded the German working-class to adopt the “ peaceful path to Socialism," as against the path of violent revolution advocated by the Communists.
The one clear and indisputable conclusion, namely, that Social-Democracy was able to operate a policy of capitalism, suitably garbed in “Socialist" phrases, because the majority of the German working-class were in complete ignorance of Socialist principles, has so far been completely ignored by Communist writers on German events.
Before the workers can obtain political power, and wield it in their own interests, they must be conscious of those interests. The Communist Party, in urging the workers to fight for reforms, has not assisted in any way in aiding the workers to realise the need for Socialism. In fact, the thousands that have drifted in and out of the C.P. proves that they have failed to educate their own members in Socialist principles, to say nothing of the working-class.
For a so-called revolutionary party to enter into competition with reformist parties for reforms, is utterly futile. Any reforms that capitalism may think necessary will reach the working-class via parties with years of experience, organisation and traditions in the reformist business.
If the emancipation of the working-class is to be the work of the working-class itself, it follows with iron logic that the working-class must know from what it has to emancipate, and to what its emancipation will lead. This can only be achieved by spreading Socialistic knowledge.
Therefore, I appeal to all thinking members of the Communist Party to earnestly consider whether their time could not be more profitably employed in working for a Party that stands uncompromisingly for Socialism, instead of in a Party where half their time has to be occupied in explaining away the political somersaults of the Communist leadership. and the other half in urging workers to fight for reforms, which, even if granted, leave the position of the working-class materially unaltered.
A. H. Maertens