Editorial from the July 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard
The present world depression is like all the depressions that have gone before in the effect it is having on the workers and their organisations. During a depression events move fast, and opinions are quickly changed when adversity stimulates interest in political and economic theories. Capitalism during its crises presents its more deadly aspects, and the most optimistic exponents of the “getting better and better” type of self-deception become apologetic and admit that there is something amiss. It is then that the Labour parties have their testing time. And how they have fallen! The world is strewn with the debris of reform programmes and reform parties.
In this universal destruction of jerry-built political parties, the truths of Socialism come into their own. The Socialist Party of Great Britain has in consequence enjoyed a period of relatively splendid expansion. We had a record influx of members in 1931. The sales of the Socialist Standard have increased steadily and encouragingly during the past two years. More interest is shown in our case, as is evidence by the attendance at meetings and the inquiries we receive. Interest has not only grown in amount but has extended to new foreign fields where in the past we have been unknown or ignored. We have found a bigger demand for pamphlets. In short, we have every reason to congratulate ourselves on the increasing effect of our propaganda.
We are, however, well aware, that our expanded activities are only the expansion of a very small effort. What we can do is so far tragically small in relation to the vast problem of converting the workings class to Socialism. Events tend in our direction, but the difficulty of getting our attitude to the workers is only a little less than it was: it is still very great. The disturbance caused by the crisis and by the discovery that the old theories were worthless has a double effect. It sets men's minds in a ferment, but it calls forth increased activity from the hosts of political quacks who formerly shouted their wares in obscurity. A glance over the shelves of bookshops which cater for working-class students of politics will show that the present period is like the crisis of ten years ago in respect of the multiplicity of groups and propaganda papers seeking to attract interest in untenable theories—land-taxers, bimetallists, inflationists of all degrees and kinds, anarchists, direct actionists, and peculiar religions and philosophies without number. The depression helps us, but it also plagues us with this swarm of freaks, frauds and cranks.
We are doing what we can to seize whatever advantage the opportunity offers. In September, when the new year begins for the Socialist Standard, we are producing it with a somewhat larger page and are making improvements in its appearance. We are publishing this month a pamphlet which will help to fill a big gap in our propaganda. We have developed our advertising in order to get at workers to whom formerly we were unknown. That is our contribution. Now what of yours?
The larger Socialist Standard will involve a considerable increase in expenditure. In a comparatively short period we have gained 1,500 new readers. If you will help us to gain as many more, that will pay for the extra outlay. We also need to reprint other pamphlets. A 20,000 edition of “ Socialism ” is nearly exhausted, and will need re-printing. Other pamphlets are either out of print or nearly so. If we are to make the most of the present favourable situation we need money urgently. We ask all our readers to do their utmost during the coming summer propaganda months to extend the sales of the Socialist Standard and our pamphlets and those who can to help us with donations.