Editorial from the February 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard
The system that oppresses us to-day has centred in the hands of a few the control of the wealth produced by the many. Like an echo of this the blind strivings of the workers for freedom from oppression has centred the control of their organisations in the hands of a few trade union and political leaders. For decades the cult of leadership has lain like a blight on the struggles of the workers. The International Working Men’s Association opened full of promise, but was split and broken by this foul disease; its successors were born with this birth-mark upon them and linger a living testimony of futility.
The parties that claim the suffrages of the working-class to-day are, with one exception, saturated with the worship of the “great.” Avowed enemies, or professing friends, they alike deserve the uncompromising hostility of the workers.
The Labour Party, which opened its political career as the self-appointed guardians of the interests of the working class, after a long period of active work quenching the fires of revolution, and heading off almost every aspiration that promised progress to the workers, has finally graduated into the official opposition, the grave of dead hopes. Its leaders preach and pen empty platitudes, futile reforms that have seldom even the merit of simplicity. Intellectually bankrupt, undisciplined and eternally torn with dissension, it forms a solid barrier across the path to working-class emancipation.
The Independent Labour Party, having been built up on the same shifting sands of reform, is useless, and worse than useless, for the purpose of' achieving Socialism. It is irrevocably bound up with the Labour Party. It is in name “independent,” but one single independent blow for Socialism would bring upon it the open opposition of the Labour Party machine, would rend it from top to bottom and destroy the illusion that it is a real political force.
The Communist Party spurns Parliament and watches leaders, in theory. In practice, it helps into prominence and position the ghouls of the social battlefield, and prepares, a shambles for its guileless victims. With every change in the Russian situation it changes its policy and tactics. The “heroes” of yesterday are the “Petit Bourgeois” of to-day, and the “trusted leaders” of to-day will be the “traitors” of to-morrow. And as Russia, in harmony with historico-economic laws, daily proves more and more clearly that a society “can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development,” so the water of capitalism enters the milk of Communism in increasing abundance. The latter loses its driving force, and the wiser political charlatans turn to the richer field of spoil in the Labour Party.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed to propagate great principles and not “great” men. From the beginning the Party unflinchingly rejected all attempts at taking out of the hands of the working-class the control of its destiny, taking as a motto the watchwords, "The emancipation of the working-class must be the work of the working-class itself.” The social sufferer, like the sick, is slow to grasp the cause of his sufferings and prone to place his trust in those who promise quick relief —at a price. Hence we, who urge the worker to raise himself and conquer the world for himself, have made headway very slowly, and only after much toil. But we have made progress. Slowly the seed we have sown is bearing fruit. Here and there through the world, modest though it be at present, the germs of a greater International than the world has ever known is struggling into being. Here and there in the mighty cities that crowd the earth the voices of brother slaves have echoed our message: “Too long have the toilers been the playthings of the idle and the ambitious; let the capitalist world tremble at the upward march of its grave-diggers.”