Sunday, April 16, 2017

The First of The Few (1949)

From the April 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mainly About Ourselves

On the 15th, 16th and 17th of this mouth we shall be holding in London, our 45th Annual Conference. This means that the Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed forty-five years ago. In 1904, some members of the Social Democratic Federation, having done their damnedest to steer that compromising, reformist organisation on to the Socialist road, were expelled from it. With others, they set about creating a political party with which they could work for Socialism. The meeting at which it was decided to launch the S.P.G.B. was held at Battersea on May 15th, 1904, and the meeting to formally constitute the new party was held just off Fetter Lane, London, on the following 12th of June.

The first issue of the Socialist Standard appeared in September, 1904. The first Annual Conference was held at the old (now non-existent) Communist Club in London on April 20th and 21st, 1905, with twenty-one delegates attending, representing thirteen branches. The Party membership was then 150.

The founders of the Party were under no illusions. They knew the task that lay ahead when they gave up the Social Democratic Federation as hopeless. The issue of the Socialist Standard for June, 1905, carried an editorial reviewing the first year’s work. It said: 
  “The founders were fully alive to the fact that much spade work had to be performed; that there could be no mushroom growth for the new party; that its ranks could only he recruited steadily and, at first, slowly.”
It is true that these early members had ambitions that have not yet been realised. They hoped that the Socialist Standard would soon be a weekly, or maybe, even a daily paper. That is something we still hope for.

Our Declaration of Principles was laid down when the Party was founded. Acceptance of these principles is demanded of every applicant for membership, in the interest of the Party and the applicant. We do not want, within our ranks, those who do not subscribe to the principles. Neither would it be honest for workers to be drawn into our organisation without fully realising the implications of the principles and the nature of the Party they were joining. So, our Party has been kept on a straight course since its formation.

It has maintained its opposition to Capitalist wars during two major world conflicts, and although the first of these conflicts was a bad setback for the Party, it did not destroy it. The Socialist Standard has appeared without fail every month since the first issue and every issue stands as a record of the Party’s soundness and consistency.

The report of our 45th Executive Committee to this year’s Conference carries the statement that membership on the 31st of December, 1918, stood at 1,036. Some of our critics will point to that figure and say, "What, after forty-five years you have only just over a thousand members?” We are not satisfied with our numerical strength, but we are certainly not ashamed of it. Of one thing we are extremely proud. That is the quality of our membership. It is the quality—the understanding and determination—of the members, that gives an organisation its strength. We have seen a number of so-called working-class political parties grow into mass organisations — then wither away to nothing. We remember the days when the Independent Labour Party claimed to have over two hundred of its members elected to parliament. Where is the I.L.P. now? Where is the Social Democratic Federation, later called the Social Democratic Party, from which the S.P.G.B. was born? It had numbers, but it did not have a sound Socialist membership. Quantity, but no quality. With the outbreak of the 1914-18 war it just disintegrated. Our growth is slow, painfully slow, but it is a steady, sound, reliable, healthy growth. A graph of our membership will not show any high peaks with following deep declines. The Labour Party and the Communist Party now have numbers and sneer at us because of our size, but their members are recruited from workers who have insufficient understanding of their class interests and have not the knowledge how to replace Capitalism by Socialism, which is essential to a revolutionary Socialist Party. We shall see the day of their decline. In the interim we shall go on steadily and surely making Socialists and enlisting them to our ranks. The process will not always be as slow as it has been during the past forty-five years. The development towards Social Revolution is not to be measured strictly by the growth of the Revolutionary organisation. The workers have been, and are, throwing off the capitalist ideas that have been instilled into them. Many of the arguments against Socialism that the founders of our Party had to answer are seldom heard today. The Socialist case, although it is not widely accepted, receives tolerant attention now-a-days. The days when members of our Party had to defend their speakers from the fury of a jingoistic audience are past. The process of discarding old ideas and accumulating new ones goes on all the time, and the numerical strength of the Party that gives expression to the new ideas can only be taken as an indication and not as a measure of the progress made.
“Who can say whether even the humblest of us will not sooner or later become the medium for quickening the pace of progress and find his hands strengthened and forced by events.”
Thus wrote an early member of our Party to our 1948 Conference. Who can say? Hang weights on the end of a piece of string. Continue adding one weight after another. A superficial observer will see little change up to a given point. The final addition of the smallest increase in weight and the string will snap. Close observation would have revealed that with the addition of each successive weight the strands of the string twisted, writhed and stretched, but held together until they could take the strain no longer. So it is with society. Men’s ideas are not to be emptied from, or crammed into their heads as one empties a sack of potatoes and refills it. Old and unsound ideas can only be removed when new ones drive them out. New ideas are continuously being accumulated until the equivalent of that breaking point is reached. Not until a man’s mind has been cleared of its Capitalist notions by the introduction of Socialist ideas does he embrace the Socialist Party. The minds of all workers in the Capitalist world are undergoing this process and are progressing, in varying degrees, towards a Socialist understanding. Our task is to assist the process.

We are not alone in the task. The undertaker and the midwife are our allies. One carries away those who are so imbued with Capitalist ideas that they can only with great difficulty assimilate any others. The other brings in a new generation, as yet unsullied by the bilge that flows from the pulpits, the radio sets, the film studios and from Fleet Street. The development of Capitalism, including the work of Socialists, will mould them in the right shape.

We are proud of our Party. With all its limitations, its small numbers and its smaller funds, we are proud to be members of it. Forty years ago, Mr. Lawler Wilson, a prominent anti-Socialist, wrote a book entitled, “The Menace of Socialism,” in which he said, referring to the S.P.G.B.:
“The members are Marxians and Revolutionaries preaching the Class War. The catechumens of the party are put through a rigid course of training in the principles of their creed, which they must be prepared to defend at the risk of their liberty. What is most remarkable and disquieting about this organisation is the fact that the members are unquestionably higher-grade working-men of great intelligence, respectability and energy. They are, as a whole, the best informed Socialists in the country, and would make incomparable soldiers, or desperate barricadists. As revolutionaries they deserve no mercy; as men they command respect.”
That is certainly spreading it on thick. We are not higher-grade or more intelligent than other workers, we do not wish to become soldiers and we do not intend to be barricadists. But we are gratified to be members of a Party that drew such comments from its opponents, for our organisation stands as sound now as it did when that was written.

These reflections into the past and the future remind us of the words of William Morris:
  “One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman. Two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad. Ten men sharing an idea begin to act. A hundred draw attention as fanatics. A thousand and society begins to tremble. A hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories, tangible and real. And why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace on earth? You and I who agree together, if is we who have to answer this question.
W. Waters


"Socialist" Unity in U.S.A. (1950)

From the April 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard

Two American reformist organisations, the "Socialist Party" and the "Social Democratic Federation," have decided to unite in the blessed name of "Socialist Unity." How little the united organisation will have to do with Socialism is shown in the same issue of the "Call" (S.P. of America) that reports the decision to unite.

In this issue (10th February, 1950) Mr. Norman Thomas, on behalf of the S.P.A., and August Claessens, on behalf of the S.D.F., both complain bitterly about Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Junr., because, at a public dinner he said: —
“Let me make this dear. As a Democrat. I hate Socialism just as much as I hate Communism or Fascism or any other ism."
Of course, the S.P.A. and the S.D.F. are entitled to attack Mr. Roosevelt who is a supporter of Capitalism; what could be more natural? But that is only half the story. Their indignation arises from the fact that these two so-called socialist parties supported Mr. Roosevelt when he was "elected to Congress on the Liberal Party ticket, having failed to get the Democratic nomination." In the words of Mr. Thomas: "Socialists of all sorts took a benevolent view of your candidacy and scores of socialists, especially of the Social Democratic Federation, were very active in your election."

And now, no longer needing their votes, Mr. Roosevelt turns and rends them. As Mr. Thomas indignantly writes: “You didn’t say that when you needed our help."

Mr. Gaessens adds a threat: "Had we known that you hate socialists we surely would not have embarrassed you with our co-operation."

Even this will probably not be taken seriously by Mr. Roosevelt. When the next election comes round this precious united "Socialist" party will doubtless again find reasons for supporting him, or some other enemy of Socialism.

When Mr. Thomas describes his supporters as all sorts of socialists " he could have added, except those who really are socialists.

Evergreen (1951)

From the April 1951 issue of the Socialist Standard

To re-read a favourite book is to meet up with an old friend. Sometimes it is more. It is an encounter with a creditor you can never hope to repay. To most socialists this rile is played by the Communist Manifesto.

In these days when the word "communism” is used as frequently as “fascism” used to be, with as many different interpretations, and “marxist” is an adjective applied to everything from the forces of North Korea to the Polish dental service, it is, to say the least, gratifying to hear these words used and recognise them as clear, tangible things instead of symbols for everything distasteful.

The Communist Manifesto provides the information required, and the object of this review is to recommend anyone who hasn’t read it to do so.

Don’t let the title put you off. Any connection between the Communist Manifesto and Uncle Joe’s private army is purely deliberate—but not on the part of the authors. The state of affairs they visualise and that obtaining in Russia are poles, indeed, a social revolution apart. The Manifesto is a brief statement of Marxist ideas written by the old bogyman himself in collaboration with his lifelong partner, Frederick Engels. Straight from the horse’s mouth!

“The (written) history of all hitherto existing societies is a history of class struggles.” So begins the first chapter in which the writers briefly outline the class struggles in the multi-divided societies of the past and their final culmination in capitalism wherein the struggle has resolved itself into one between two classes, the workers and the capitalists.

It continues by describing this system and its differences from those which preceded it; how they relied upon stability while the capitalist must, in face of competition, constantly revolutionise his means of production to produce cheaper goods. He must seek new markets as the mass of wealth increases, and wherever he goes he plants the seeds of his own system.

How correct that is in the light of our own experience. The competition has spread to an international plane with new powers, first Germany, then Russia, eager for a “place in the sun.” Here lies the cause of today’s world crisis.

In spite of their scientific approach Marx and Engels do not overlook the effects of this system upon the lives of men. “It has resolved personal worth into exchange value.” is but one quotation. They comment upon the rise of ugly cities. "The work of the proletarians (that’s us) has lost all individual character and consequently, all charm for the workman.” They condemn the rapid disappearance of skill and the rapid development of a world in which the craftsman is an antiquated oddity.

For its description of capitalism alone, its history, working, and effect, it is worth a careful perusal.

The second chapter “Proletarians and Communists” makes clear the scientific approach of the Marxist.—“The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based upon ideas and principles that have been invented or discovered by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express in general terms actual relations springing from an existing class struggle going on under our own eyes,” and goes on to build up the case for our aim—the abolition of private property.

In presenting this aim Marx and Engels were confronted with exactly the same questions as we are today. Are we opposed to personal property? What about lazy people? What about the family or education or sexual relationships? Patriotism? Nationality? There is no need to précis their answers here. Enough is it to quote the last sentence of the chapter. “In place of the old bourgeois (capitalist) society with its classes and class struggles, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

It may well be asked at this juncture why the Socialist Party should subscribe to the Communist Manifesto, or conversely why a party subscribing to it should call itself Socialist. Engels, in his preface explains that in 1848 when the Manifesto was written the word “socialist" was widely used in connection with various reformers whose sole aim was to alleviate the major miseries of the system while leaving the basis untouched, and with various Utopians, most of whom are dealt with in the third section. When we were formed that confusion was at a low ebb. Unfortunately it has since grown again.

The Communist Manifesto is not a gospel On certain aspects they were incorrect. They were as optimistic about the rapid coming of the social revolution as the present writer is about the effect of this short introduction upon the sales of the Manifesto, and being so, laid down certain "immediate aims.” Forty years later in 1888, Engels wrote "that passage would, in many respects, be very differently worded today.” And with regard to the use of force Engels views on barricades and street warfare were considerably revised as can be seen in his preface to the "Class Struggle in France,” written shortly before his death.

The Manifesto is more than a historic document. It is a crisp analysis of the socialist position in its main aspects as correct today as when it was first written.

Shortly you may be asked to fight against "communism.” You won’t be. The struggle will be one between eastern and western capitalism from which the working class can gain nothing. As the Manifesto will show you, communism or socialism isn’t a thing to die for, but a new system of society to live and work for.
Ronald.

Note:The Communist Manifesto and the Last Hundred Years” published by the S.P.G.B., contains the Manifesto unabridged and a forty-eight page summary of the past century of working-class struggles. Price I/- from all branches or Head Office.”
Ronald

Another Wandering "Intellectual" (1952)

Book Review from the April 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Science, Liberty and Peace" by Aldous Huxley, publishers Chatto and Windus, price 3/6d. net.

The book is a short one (63 pages) and for a while we gallop merrily alongside the author, enthusiastically cheering him on as he sets forth with clearness and precision the evils of the present system of society. “The oppression of the many by the few . . . the unprecedentedly efficient instruments of coercion in the hands of the ruling minority which make nonsense of the old techniques of popular revolt . . . the poverty of the workers, not only propertyless but many deprived of skill, since the operation of semi-automatic machines does not require skill." Mr. Huxley does not believe in the theory sometimes put forward that because atomic missiles are so destructive “it will put an end to men's inveterate habit of making war." At present there is no defence against atomic attack “but that does not presage the end of warfare" as in time instruments of counter-attack will be invented. Regarding present day methods of warfare he points out that “no nation even makes a pretence of observing the traditional distinction between civilians and combatants . . . but all devote themselves methodically and scientifically to general massacre and wholesale destruction."

Mr. Huxley refers to “State Socialists" and their “nationalisation schemes to centralize economic as well as political power" and states: —“ In cases where State Socialism succeeds Capitalist democracy by non-violent constitutional means, the rules of the political game are likely to remain, in many respects identical with those prevailing under the elder regime.”

Regretfully, as we proceed, we find our disagreement with Mr. Huxley growing. He tells us “The chief consequence of progressive science is a chronic social and economic insecurity," a condition, we would point out, which is a direct outcome of the present system of society.

Mr. Huxley suggests that “through organisations scientists and technicians could do a great deal to direct the planning towards humane and reasonable ends," as “applied science has not been used for the benefit of humanity at large." He thinks that scientists should ask themselves “Are they working for the good of mankind if the results of their disinterested research increase the power of the oiling capitalist or governmental minority at the expense of personal liberty and local and professional self-government."

“They should refuse to collaborate if their work involves destruction or enslavement.” In passing we may point out there are a variety of reasons why scientists cannot exercise any appreciable influence on the general trend towards destruction; mostly they work in teams, many are working “blind" and cannot foresee the outcome of their labours. Aldous Huxley himself, quotes the case of Clark Maxwell's “study of light and magnetism," and says “he would have been horrified to know that his conclusions would be developed and used in the dissemination of maudlin drama, cigarette advertising, bad music and government sponsored or capitalist sponsored propaganda." Apart from this we must not lose sight of the fact that scientists and technicians are wage slaves (high grade it is true), and also, to quote Huxley, “not immune to deceitful propaganda, which ensures their compliance, particularly in times of national stress.”

To digress for a moment, it has been demonstrated that science can be effectively hamstrung by a powerful and unscrupulous government. The Lysenko controversy is a case in point. (“Soviet Genetics," by Julian Huxley).

Aldous Huxley then suggests the desirability of internationally organised science, an international Inspectorate and the adoption of a security measure advocated by Lord Strabolgi, namely “the pooling of all scientific discoveries considered by competent experts to be actually or potentially a danger to mankind."

We need only ponder the present world situation for a moment to realise the futility of this suggestion. Also, as he himself says; “Once suspicion is aroused" (between nations), “governments will send their scientists to carry on research in caves, forests or mountain fastnesses away from prying eyes." He continues, “International trade has always hitherto gone hand in hand with war, imperialism and the ruthless exploitation of industrially backward peoples by the highly industrialised powers. Hence the desirability of reducing international trade to a minimum until such time as nationalist passions lose their intensity and it becomes possible to establish some form of world government."

We would like to put on record our unshakable conviction that “national passions" will continue to be roused while the struggle is waged for markets, trade routes and spheres of influence in which to dispose of surplus goods at a profit.

The ever increasing use of machinery, labour-saving devices and speeding up of the workers send production skying to hit the ceiling of limited markets. To-day the Press bewails the return of Japan and Germany to compete in British markets. Mr. Huxley foresees more trouble and sorrow when industrially backward India and China develop and their goods, produced by workers with a very low standard of living come into competition with the goods produced by the “better paid" workers of the west.

We do not believe in Mr. Huxley's hypothetical “Boy Gangster" who lurks in every Foreign office, every war department and every private home and gets a kick out of pressing a button and starting a war if he thinks he stands a good chance of winning it

We diverge on many points, particularly on his suggestions for dealing with the evils he has enumerated. He mentions the idea of World Government then argues that power corrupts and suggests a limitation by “decentralisation and de-institutionalisation" into small self-governing and co-operative groups. We find it difficult to understand how this even if attainable would mitigate the evils of the system or alter its acquisitive nature, in fact, while the profit motive exists, it is likely to complicate and increase competition between groups as well as between nations. Furthermore, as capitalist society hobbles from crisis to crisis “national emergencies" would call for some form of central government. In democratic countries the government (whether central or decentralised) would be voted into power by a politically ignorant working class, suitably well soaked with propaganda and (on the whole) prepared to accept and abide by their decisions.

Mr. Huxley thinks that the workers could adopt Gandhi's idea of “ Satyagrapha,” an organised form of non-violent direct action, but he does not “guarantee success.”

This sort of action (or non-action) might force concessions on a limited scale, similar to a strike, but it would only be “a sop to Cerberus” and the worker's position remain substantially the same, i.e., a wage- slave.

Given the necessary knowledge an enlightened working class can vote for their own emancipation, which will automatically wipe out all “international tension” and war. The present system is beyond reform and Mr. Huxley's ideas only scratch the surface. He has diagnosed the disease but has not delved deeply enough for the cause (i.e. the private ownership of the means of life) so he is unable to prescribe the only possible cure, common ownership by and in the interests of the whole community.
F. M. Robins

The Fruits of False Theories (1953)

From the April 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Origins of Stalinism

In the eulogies of Stalin, as with those following the death of Lenin, the movement to which both their names are given—Stalinism and Leninism—is represented as an innovation; as an essential departure from the ideas and policies of the social democratic movement, though at the same time it was claimed to be in line with the views put forward by Marx. In fact, however, though both of them broke away from the 2nd International (which had already fallen to pieces), they carried out policies that were implicit in the aims and the practice of the 2nd International. The face of Russia today is the logical working out of these aims and policies. The disputes between the Social Democrats and the Bolsheviks, in spite of the vituperation and clouds of words, was not over aims and policies but over the methods of pushing forward the policies and accomplishing the aims. It was the utter ruthlessness of the Bolsheviks that frightened them.

Both Lenin and Stalin poured loads of scorn and denunciations upon the old Social Democratic Parties and their leaders, as well as upon the syndicalist section of the International, but Bolshevik policy embraced the outlook of them all. Lenin and his associates claimed that the Social Democratic leaders were renegades when, in fact, all that the Bolsheviks could have argued against these leaders was that they were more cautious in pressing forward similar aims. Lenin was a fraternal delegate to 2nd International Congresses and only fell out with these leaders in 1914 on a particular interpretation of the war as the propitious moment to aim at the conquest of power. Although the Social Democrats made much of the minority aspect of the Bolshevik capture of power it was also accepted in their own practical actions in spite of theoretical statements to the contrary.

What has led many people to see a fundamental difference between, for instance, the Social Democrat, the Bolshevik and the Syndicalist in the ranks of the 2nd International is simply that the International contained what is called a left, a centre and a right wing— a group that carried 2nd International ideas to their logical conclusion in practice, a group that vacillated and a group that shut their eyes to the logical outcome of the ideas they advocated.

The Future as seen by Social Democrats
To what, briefly, were the leaders of the 2nd International looking forward? A transition period in which Capitalism would merge into Socialism. And how did they define this transition period? Let us see what they had to say about it. Owing to the limitations of space we can only quote from three sources, but they were leading representatives of the 2nd International on the theoretical side—German, Belgian and American.

First let us see what Karl Kautsky said about the society that would follow capitalism. The quotations are from “The Class Struggle,” a book published in English by Kerr & Co. of Chicago in the early years of the present century.
   “The distribution of goods in a socialist society might possibly continue for some time under forms that are essentially developments of the existing system of wage payments.” (page 141)
  “All forms of modern wage-payment—fixed salaries, piece wages, time wages, bonuses—all of them are reconcilable with the spirit of a socialist society; and there is not one of them that may not play a role in socialist society, as the wants and customs of its members, together with the requirements of production, may demand.” (page 143)
Russia has carried these ideas out.

In 1907 Emile Vandervelde, another leading member of the 2nd International, wrote a book entitled “Collectivism and Industrial Revolution.” In this book he went into considerable detail about the future, and we are quoting from it at some length because the extracts give a fair idea of what the prominent theoreticians of the 2nd International were anticipating as the face of the future.
 “Consequently, under a regime of pure collectivism—to suppose what we do not assume beforehand, that this regime is to be realised some day—the land, mines, manufacturing establishments, the instruments of credit, the means of communication and transport will belong to the community: only articles of consumption would remain personal property.
 “The management of affairs, instead of being as today monarchical or oligarchical, would take the republican form; instead of being given over by right of birth or by right of conquest, to capitalists competing or combined it would belong not to the State, as it is said and repeated in order to mislead, but to autonomous public corporations under the control of the State." (Introduction pages xiii-xiv)
  "By the very fact of its magnitude, this revolution can only be the result of a long and complex series of partial variations. 'Radical changes cannot be sudden: sudden changes cannot be radical.'" (page xv)
   “In fact there is nothing to prevent us imagining a socialist state, in which individual ownership and labour would co-exist with collective ownership and labour." (page 47)
After distinguishing between the authorative and economic functions of the State—the former gradually decreasing and the latter gradually increasing—he projects across the future the “Governmental State" and the “Administrative State" based upon voluntary cooperation and then says of the “Administrative State": 
  "States when thus transformed, regulating in different hierarchical ranks the movements of commerce and finance, presiding over the external industrial relations of the different centres of population, are nothing else than Agencies appointed by more or less numerous associations, and invested with the confidence of those who have chosen them." (pages 160-161)
   "Likewise, in a Socialist state, it is after having satisfied all needs which are of general concern, after having secured for all members of the community the right to existence, that the excess of products, or rather of values produced, should form the object of differential distribution.
   “In the proportion in which it would be socially useful from the point of view of production to allow special advantages to certain workers or to certain categories of workers, in order to stimulate their energies and their power of labour, nothing would prevent a collectivist society from maintaining—mutatis mutandis—the graduated scale of salaries which exists today in the public services.
    “Collectivism does not, then, necessarily imply equality of remuneration.” (pages 177-178)
It will be noticed that at one time Vandervelde uses the State to mean governmental machinery and at another a particular society but, even so, for him the State is still something apart from the mass of people, the controlling and deciding body.

The Practical Result of the Vision
What is the essence of all these quotations but, near enough, what at present obtains in Russia? True, freedom to think does not exist there; the dictatorship is ruthless and bureaucratic—but this was the logical outcome of Social Democratic theory. They held up their hands in horror at the speeding up process which involved the sacrifice of millions of lives, but they accepted, as part of their own idea of protracted development in which millions of lives were also sacrificed in “Offensive" and “Defensive" wars, in which was also implicit the “socialism in one country” idea—the “armed militia,” the “armed people" and the “citizen army.” 

So close was the fundamental identity between the policy of the 2nd International and the policy of the Bolsheviks that leaders of the 2nd International were at pains to try and find some distinguishing characteristic that would enable them to dissociate themselves from the ruthlessness and rebut the criticisms of Lenin. They all had to agree that the Bolsheviks were socialists but —they were doing some things they “didn’t orter do"— they were forcing the pace too much. Not that this would fail to achieve the object, but that it would shake their hold on power.

After the Bolshevik Capture of Power
The third member of the 2nd International whom we will quote, is Morris Hillquit, once a prominent theoretician of the Socialist Party of America. He summed-up the position in 1921 in his book “From Marx to Lenin." Here are some extracts from it:
   "And it is idle cavilling to dispute the Socialist character of the Russian Revolution. A socialist revolution does not mean the immediate establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth. It is only the political act of seizing the power of government on behalf of the workers and with the object of using it for the abolition of private ownership in the means of production and for the development of collective work and enjoyment.
   “The Russian revolution has taken possession of the government in the name of the workers. It has effectively expropriated private capitalist owners and has nationalised the greater part of the industries. It has also written into its program the socialisation of the land. Measured by all practical tests it is therefore a Socialist revolution in character as well as intent.” (Page 33) .
   “What is the historic form of a Socialist government?
  “Every attempted answer to the question must take into account the fact that political institutions are not viewed by Marxist students as static forms, nor as definitely demarcated historical periods. The Socialist political revolution marks the conscious beginning of the process of transformation into Socialism, but only its beginning.
  “The revolution, which is the working-class conquest of the political power, leaves the capitalists for the time being in possession of the economic power. On the day of the revolution the capitalist class still owns the essential means and instruments of wealth production and distribution. It manages the financial, industrial and commercial institutions of the country and controls the whole intricate and delicately interwoven economic life of the people. The transfer of all industries from private capitalist ownership into communal property and public management; in short, the break-up of capitalism and the building up of a pure Socialist order, calls for a series of planful and fundamental industrial and political changes. Such changes will, of course, not be undertaken by the capitalist class. They can only be brought about by the workers. In order to accomplish them the workers must be in control of the governmental machinery and their control must continue until the task of Socialisation of the industries has been fully performed, all economic class divisions have been abolished, the working class itself has ceased to exist as a class, and the working class government has given way to the classless administration of the Socialist regime. The consecutive stages of development roughly succeeding each other may be regarded from different points of view and characterised according to the angle from which they are viewed.” (pages 49-50)
Here again we see clearly expressed the harmony between the outlook of the 2nd International and the practice of the Bolsheviks in spite of the hot air that developed between them over the years. Hillquit identifies the conquest of power by the Bolsheviks as the conquest of power by the workers. Thus, by implication, he illustrates the accepted idea of leadership which was ingrained in the 2nd International, in spite of protestations about capture of power by the workers. Lenin, at a time when he was writing eulogies on Kautsky and the German Social Democratic Party, was also contending that the workers were incapable of developing social democratic ideas from within their own ranks; these, he said, they could only get from outside, from the “ bourgeois intellectuals.” Stalin has only carried on this contempt for the mass of people along with the expansion of the bureaucratic machinery so dear to the social democrats.

Syndicalists and Bolsheviks
Now let us compare the ideas of the advocates of Syndicalism in the International with those of the Bolsheviks. Syndicalists argued that Syndicalism was based on the principles of Marx; they were opposed to democracy as a capitalist form; they contended that the mass of workers were ignorant and inert, requiring an intelligent and militant minority to lead and force them into the promised land; they claimed that Syndicalism was the form at last discovered under which the workers could work out their emancipation; they propagated the idea of violence against both workers and capitalists; they claimed that the days of theory had passed and the days for action had come; they also put forward a number of other ideas which, as well as those mentioned, became a part of Bolshevik propaganda and demonstrate a certain similarity of outlook between Syndicalism and Bolshevism, indicating the common source of both movements. Even the much vaunted Soviet organisation was a reflection of Syndicalist ideas eventually set out in detail as a social organisation by the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905, a group that included a confused mixture of political and industrial action as a means to accomplish the end they had in view.

Syndicalism set out to secure the victory of a militant minority by the use of violence just as the Bolsheviks did. The claim that they were acting in the interest of all reminds one of the anarchist in Richard Whiteing’s novel “No. 5 John Street” who defined anarchism as a system of society in which everyone shall do as he likes, and those that don’t shall be made!
Beginning and End of the Dream
Lenin constantly referred back to the French Revolution and the attitude of the Jacobins for inspiration. The practical policy that grew out of the French Revolution and continued like a red thread through the working class movement afterwards, openly adopted successively by Blanqui, Bakunin, De Leon and Lenin was based upon the idea that an active minority can carry with it an inert and ignorant mass; it is a policy that depends upon leadership and ultimately places power in the hands of one or two outstanding people, finally degenerating into personal quarrels between these leaders as Bolshevism has amply demonstrated. The 2nd International was soaked in this despite the protestations and lip service to the control by the masses by some of its outstanding spokesmen. What Lenin and Stalin did was to stress whatever part of the 2nd International hotch potch best suited their purpose to get and keep control in Russia; thus they vacillated from one aspect to another and then back again, but always moving towards, and eventually achieving, that alleged transition form envisaged by the spokesmen of the 2nd International. Time has had its joke. The “transition form” has emerged as simply a particular form of unbridled Capitalism.

It should be clear from the quotations we have given that the Russian dictatorship, far from representing a fresh and fundamental departure from the ideas accepted by the 2nd International, has only been the logical working in out in practice of those ideas, though at a more rapid pace than was originally anticipated. The end of the process has been—just a particular form of Capitalism. No wonder Wilhelm Liebneckt was apprehensive and took time off from a holiday to write “No Compromise” in 1899, which contained the following pregnant words:
  “We cannot traffic in our principles, we can make no compromise, no agreement with the ruling system. We must break with the ruling system and fight it to a finish." (page 55)
Gilmac.