Editorial from the April 1941 issue of the Socialist Standard
On the evening of Tuesday, March 11th, Mr. W. J. Brown, General Secretary of the Civil Service Clerical Association, gave a broadcast address on “Is Hitler a Socialist?” The B.B.C. had chosen their man well, for it was a very good address, and nearly everything that he said could have been endorsed by the S.P.G.B. If the speaker had been one of the men the B.B.C. usually selects for talks on Socialism Socialists could have dismissed the whole thing by asking: “ How on earth can he know whether Hitler is a Socialist or not?” But not so with Mr. Brown, who showed on this occasion that he is well aware what is the real case for Socialism as understood by Socialists.
Yet there are a number of things that Socialists are entitled to question. In the first place, how comes it that the workers need to be warned against Hitler’s claim that Nazism is Socialism? Plainly those in authority are somewhat worried because some workers do believe it, and it happens—because there is a war on—that those in authority are most anxious that Socialism should be properly defined. This is very solicitous, but it is also most extraordinary. Never before have the Conservatives, Liberals and Labourites shown such solicitude. How often have members of the S.P.G.B. complained that these three parties, in their different ways, have done everything they possibly could to fog the issue? Conservatives had denounced Socialism as being a dictatorship and Bolshevism; Liberals have pretended that it is State interference with the individual, and Labourites have solemnly propagated their doctrine that it is Nationalisation or State capitalism. Now those chickens have come home to roost. Having completely muddled the minds of the workers so that most of them are at the moment quite unable to distinguish Socialism from its enemies, the men who were responsible for the muddle find that Hitler is taking 'advantage of it to spread his own vicious theories. So Mr. Brown is helping out his former political opponents and colleagues; but Mr. Brown is also hardly blameless. As a former member of the Labour Party and the I.L.P., and as one who was for a moment swept off his feet by Moseley's “New Party" in the days before Moseley was a Fascist, and as a supporter of. silly currency-mongering policies, Mr. Brown, on that Tuesday evening was helping to clear up some of the confusion spread by himself.
One other thing we have to say is this. Let us grant that Mr. Brown did show quite convincingly that Hitler is not, and never has been, a Socialist. Why did the B.B.C. have to call on Mr. Brown? Why has the B.B.C. never called upon a Socialist to talk on the wireless about Socialism ? More than that, how can the B.B.C. justify its repeated refusals to allow the S.P.G.B. to broadcast? The answer is quite simple. Until now the B.B.C. and the Government have never been interested in spreading knowledge of Socialism, they have only been interested in letting the confusionists broadcast, who, either by design or out of pure ignorance, wanted to represent as Socialism lots of doctrines to which Socialism is completely opposed.
No doubt when the war is over it will be the same again. Those who have a temporary enthusiasm for allowing Socialism to be described on the air, will revert to the good old custom of misrepresenting Socialism.