Tuesday, September 13, 2016

THE TYNESIDE COMMUNIST COLLAPSE. (1931)

From the January 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is common knowledge that the membership of the Communist Party in this country has for a long time been on the downward grade. At one time it could boast of a membership of over ten thousand, but to-day its enrolled adherents number only two or three thousand at most. One of the distinguishing features of this self-styled "revolutionary" party is the violent revolutions which have occurred in both its membership and its policy.

The large industrial area of the North-East, known as Tyneside, has experienced a deluge of Communist activity second to none in the whole country. Huge quantities of literature, dozens of full-time organisers, and demonstrations by the score have been utilised in an endeavour to create on Tyneside what the Communists term a "revolutionary mass movement."

According to Communist reasoning, the workers of this country are "waiting for a lead.” This is a phrase which they have reiterated again and again.

After ten years of feverish and often farcical activity, they have succeeded only in leading their dupes either to gaol, victimisation or despair. The collapse of their organisation on Tyneside, where they were relatively strong, marks another stage in the general disintegration which has been sapping their strength for a considerable period.

This latest disaster is the expulsion of all but three members of the Newcastle City local, simultaneously with wholesale defections from the other locals in Tyneside.

The bitter disappointment which has been engendered by the utter failure of the Communists to produce the mass movement which they have aspired to lead, and for which they alternatively supported and then opposed the Labour Party; fraternised with the leaders of the T.U.C. and then denounced them in the strongest terms; allied themselves with Cook and Maxton, whom they now brand as tricksters and betrayers, is a complete vindication of the position taken up by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. That position, in brief, is that the workers can only advance towards Socialism in the light of Socialist knowledge.

A class-conscious Socialist working class presupposes the acceptance and understanding of the essentials of Socialist principles by a majority of the exploited class.

To the Communist, this is a process either impossible of achievement or too long to work for. A "proletarian dictatorship”—whatever that may mean—must be set up; and, in pursuance of this somewhat hazy objective,, the most startling and bewildering political somersaults have occurred.

Even in the initial task of attracting a considerable amount of support from a minority of the workers in this mad and dangerous undertaking, the Communists have signally and miserably failed.

It is hardly necessary to point out now to the Tyneside ex-Communists that their mistaken policy resulting from the non-acceptance of sound Socialist principles, the policy of political shuffling, compromise and expediency, leads not to Socialism, but to the shambles.

The realisation of the futility and incorrectness Of Communist methods is being forced upon them more and more.

In a debate with the writer, held in Newcastle some months ago, the Communist Party representative, T. Aisbitt, was compelled to defend and endeavour to explain the tortuous path of Communist policy. It is now admitted that it was known all along that this policy was dangerous and unsound. The truth, evidently, had to be hidden because "loyalty” to the party demanded it!

The Daily Worker, once held up as the organ of the 44 militant workers,” is now frankly described as the organ of the Communist Bureaucracy.

It is asserted that corruption and autocracy are rife amongst the officials, who resist any attempt to cleanse the organisation of these evils.

The path to Socialism is clear. It entails the acceptance of the principles and policy of the S.P.G.B. as laid down clearly and simply in the Declaration of Principles of the Party.

The Tyneside Secessionists would do well to study these principles attentively. They will then recognise that the Socialist Party is the only party worthy of the workers' support.
Edmund Howarth

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