August 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard
‘‘If Labour Rules,” is the subject of an article recently contributed to the columns of ‘‘The Sunday Pictorial” by the chief contributor to that journal, Mr. Lovat Fraser. Mr. Horatio Bottomley once occupied the position of chief contributor to the “Sunday Pictorial,” but since his well-earned “retirement” the position has been occupied by Mr. Fraser.
It appears from his article that Mr. Fraser is scared out of his wits. He is shuddering, at so much per ‘‘shudder,” of course, lest something disastrous should happen to "British Working Men.”
The source of the trouble is that a conference has been held at Hamburg. The conference was convened for the purpose of devising ways and means of uniting the “Socialist” movement on an international basis. The British delegation, which numbered over forty, included such real live “representatives of British Labour” as J. H. Thomas, Arthur Henderson, and Sydney Webb.
Mr. Fraser tells us that after a good deal of talking at Hamburg, a new organisation was formed, which is to be known as the ‘‘Socialistche Arbeiter Internationale.” The name is sufficient to make any ‘‘true Britisher” turn upside down, but there is something far more terrible. The President, Otto Wels, is a German. The two French members of the executive are notorious pro-Germans. The two members from the United States are not American born; one being by birth an Austrian, and the other a Russian Jew. And if all that is not sufficient to transform the blood of the average Britisher into liquefied margarine, "every man upon the executive is an avowed champion of Germany.”
The greater part of the proceedings at this conference, says Mr. Fraser, were really a demonstration in favour of Germany. Hence he laments :—
“Nearly a million of our countrymen died in the Great War, and if they could have risen from their graves and contemplated the Hamburg jamboree, they might well have thought they died in vain.”
And so say all of us. For, after all is said and done, one can never tell with certainty what the dead are likely to think in the event of having risen from the grave. But we think we can say without fear of logical contradiction that the last thing in the world that those who died in the Great War would be likely to think about is the conference at Hamburg. What might engage their thoughts is the reward they would have received for having rendered their services to “ King and Country." The constant visits to the Labour Exchange, and the continual struggle against starvation, are things they would most likely be concerned about. They might even think that after all the Great War was not fought in the defence of “little nations,” and that the Socialist was right when he said that the war was carried on because of the quarrel between rival groups of capitalists concerning trade routes and the world’s markets.
Anyhow, there are many reasons why they might think they died in vain, apart from what took place at the Hamburg Conference.
The chief complaint of Mr. Fraser is that in the event of a Labour Government being elected it will have to obey “a foreign pro-German executive.” Now let us hasten to assure Mr. Fraser—that is, if he needs assurance, and did not write the article whilst deliberately lowering one eyelid, that there is no reason whatever for those he represents to fear the election of a Government composed of such men as those who made up the British delegation at Hamburg. These people may use the title of Socialist, but their actions—which, we are told, speak louder than words—disqualify them from a genuine claim to the title. They have shown over and over again that they can assist in carrying on the capitalist system quite as ably as Liberals and Tories. Of course Mr. Fraser knows this, and one gathers from his article that had the executive been made up of men such as J. H. Thomas and Arthur Henderson, to the exclusion of any representative from Germany, then not a word would have been written about the matter in the “Sunday Pictorial.” We, of the Socialist Party, repudiate those who met at the conference at Hamburg. As for their professed Internationalism, we need only refer to their activities in connection with the late war to show what humbugs they are.
Our point with Mr. Fraser is to expose the hypocrisy of his pretending to shudder at the prospect of British working men being ruled by “ oreigners.”
The workers of Britain, like the workers throughout the world, are ruled by those who own the means of life, and whether those who rule are British, French, German, or Americans, matters not one iota to the working class. The point that should engage the serious attention of the workers is the means they should employ to abolish class rule altogether. If the workers enquire into the laws of capitalist society, they will learn all about the process by which they are robbed of the wealth which they produce and the reason why they are poor in the midst of plenty. They will learn that the cause of their trouble is not to be explained through the hoary old stunt of the "foreigner,” but is to be explained through the existence of the class ownership of the means and instruments of wealth production. Having learned this, they will organise politically for the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of the Socialist form of society, wherein classes will not exist, because the means of living will be owned and controlled by and in the interest of the whole community.