Sunday, March 26, 2017

Socialism and Religion (1926)

From the March 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Forward" looks Backward!
'Tis said that truth, like murder, will out; likewise, that when rogues fall out honest men come by their own. These old saws are called to mind by signs that the existence of the S.P.G.B. cannot be ignored indefinitely by its opponents. In their vote-catching contests these opponents see the party of revolution, watching and waiting, rigid and relentless, ready for the time when the workers shall tire of sham fights, and the game of the professional politicians is up for good.

The rise of the Labour Party, that vague, flimsy shadow of the substantial event that is to come, has provided frankly reactionary groups and individuals with the opportunity to indulge in attempts to raise the hair of the average elector by such means as the cry that “Socialism is Atheism!” The fact that the Labour Party does not stand for Socialism in the scientific sense of the term and consequently does not deserve to be reproached with materialism is, of course, ignored. The object is not merely to score points off the Labour Party, but to confuse the minds of the workers. If they can be persuaded that the Labour Party is Socialist, then the inevitable failure of that Party to justify the support it receives will be proclaimed far and wide as the “failure of Socialism." In its turn the Labour Party tells the workers that its “Socialism” has nothing to do with materialism and scornfully disowns any connection with the S.P.G.B.—fortunately for us!

An instance of this sort of thing is to hand in "Forward” (Jan. 16th). A certain Hon. Alan Boyle, in an effort to discredit the candidature of a “Labour” parson, quotes the “Catholic Herald,” which in turn quotes our pamphlet (No., 6) "Socialism and Religion.” Instead of facing the challenge from the Socialist point of view "Forward” sneers at us as an “insignificant organisation” with probably half-a-dozen members and professes to have had to drag in John S. Clarke “an antiquarian authority” (and, let us add, ex-member of another ‘‘insignificant organisation,” the S.L.P.), in order to discover the facts about our existence.

This would be a poor world without a sense of humour and we do not begrudge "Forward” and its like their little jokes. They have so little else to offer the workers. What “Forward” apparently overlooks is that by falling for the Tory bait it is helping to advertise its most determined enemies. There are three methods by which truth may be held back—persecution, ridicule and silence; and the most powerful of these is silence. Silence, both in the Capitalist press and the Labour rags alike, has helped to keep down the numbers of the S.P.G.B., but in their endeavour to settle accounts with one another our opponents are breaking the silence which has for so long been their only reply to our attack.
Eric Boden


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