Editorial from the February 1909 issue of the Socialist Standard
In issuing “The Socialist View" of the unemployment question in leaflet form for free distribution, we have commenced the year well. The leaflet is at once a clear, comprehensive, simple and straight-forward statement of the case, and it is up to the Party members and sympathisers to see that it is placed in the hands of as many members of the working class, employed and unemployed alike, as is possible. This is particularly desirable at the present time because not only is the question of unemployment very acute, but the confusion that has overtaken the pseudo-Socialist and Labour parties on this matter seems to have reached something of a climax. Take, for instance, the grand national campaign that was to have been organised by the Social Democratic Party. This, has fizzled out, as Socialists knew it must, and now that “collections” are not forthcoming, and the “leaders" are not prepared to take their own advice and “rush the bakers’ shops,” the London unemployed decline to be used as “unpaid sandwich men,” to walk the streets accompanied by more policemen than “comrades,” to advertise the S.D.P. Those leaders sought to excuse their use of the unemployed on the plea that they were teaching them the principles of Socialism, illustrating those principles by the unemployment of their students. The force of this is seen when the “leader” is hustled out of Berkeley Square by the police. The men, being without a leader, disperse. Their class-consciousness could not be very profound, nor their Socialist education complete.
And what of the “Labour” Party—the great Independent-Free-Trade-Radical-Gospel-Temperance-Secular-Nonconformist-Labour Party? In the House of Commons its members were busy prating about opening ports and closing “pubs” ; outside, they are now, on the platform and in the capitalist Press, slanging each other as traitors and enemies. Yet despite the ever intensifying poverty and misery due to increasing unemployment, they are all of them content to moon about in what Liebknecht well termed “the dream of the right to work,” content to dream—for £200 a year.
Take the Socialist Labour Party—this party through a somewhat chequered career has, as it were, boxed the compass, yet has failed entirely to grasp the Socialist position. From advocating palliatives it has swung to the other extreme, and absurdly talked of “taking and holding,” and now we find it appealing, cap in hand, to the representatives of the capitalist class, asking what they are going to do for the unemployed, while, as if to further illustrate the confusion existing in that party its national secretary has been expelled for assisting a “right to work” committee.
The only remedy (!) the Tory Party can suggest is the same Protection that is proved powerless to touch the unemployed problem in Germany, France, or America; while the panacea of the Liberal Government is to be found in the new army scheme, coupled with the (conveniently made from the necessity of) putting in hand that work purposely held over from the Summer.
Amid and against all this confusion the S.RG.B. pursues its course as steadily and uncompromisingly as ever. The first and only Socialist party established in these isles, it has consistently held aloft the banner of Socialism. Increasing numbers and increasing strength have but spurred it on to greater efforts, while neither the wiles of the capitalist-class politician nor the sentimental ambiguities of the "labour leader,” the shrieks of the ultra moral and religious anti-Socialist, nor even the increase in working-class unemployment has succeeded in effecting in it the slightest deviation from the Socialist principles or change in its policy. Coming from such a party, the leaflet mentioned above will throw a welcome light on the outer world of political and economic darkness, and shed a peculiar light on the burning question of unemployment from an unmistakably Socialist, and therefore undeniably working-class, view-point.