Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Asked & Answered (1912)

Letter to the Editors from the March 1912 issue of the Socialist Standard

REPLY TO R. T. (New Zealand.)
We have received the following letter from a reader in New Zealand :

Dear Comrades, — I do not subscribe to your theory that we shall ever obtain a class conscious proletarian majority sufficient to wrest political power from the hands of the bourgeoisie while the capitalist mode of production prevails. I incline more to the theory that the capitalist system will break down by its own weight long before the other desired event could take place. Marxists are turning their eyes to China, where a capitalist revolution is in full swing which, if successful, must fetch the Socialist Republic within measurable distance. Labour-power is cheap and abundant in the Flowery Land, and that fact, aided by the bountiful natural resources. must attract the international capitalist class to invest its surplus capital there, so soon as restrictions to commerce and industry are removed. When China is in full blast exporting cheap commodities to all parts of the world, a bad spell is in store for white wage slaves, for then a time must come when European and American factories will lie full of goods, which the working class is unable to buy back owing to lack of funds due to unemployment.

Then the capitalist system must come to a stop like a clock when its mainspring breaks, and tens of millions of wage slaves will he out of work.

If the Chinese revolution is successful I hope to sec the state of affairs outlined above reached within the next quarter of a century. 1 believe this idea to which I subscribe is known as the “catastrophic theory," and I would like to hear scientific arguments against it.

To prepare for this long looked-for day when the robber class is no longer able to continue its system of plunder, I hold it essential that we have powerful Socialist organisations, so that the Socialist Republic may be established as speedily and painlessly as possible. Hence the need for propaganda . The reason the proletariat is so backward in class consciousness is due to the faulty teachings of so called Socialist parties, and is not due to economic conditions being unripe for change, for we know the means of production are now sufficiently advanced to provide a cultured existence for all. The proletariat cannot improve its material condition by political action, for all laws are made in the interest of the ruling class, and never in the interest of the working class. If the working class has ever benefited by the passing of an Act, it has been quite a secondary consideration on the part of the law makers. In any case economic laws are more powerful than, and finally control political ones. Industrial organisation is the only method by which the workers can retard, though never prevent, their material conditions sinking from bad to worse this side of the Social Revolution.

I regard it as a small matter whether the slave endorses the S.P.G.B , the S.L.P or the Vincent St. John I.W.W., so long as he is class conscious. I have met class-conscious slaves who endorse each of these organisations. Class-consciousness is the essential thing. Political action is valuable as a means of propaganda only, and had the slaves of England been sufficiently enlightened to return one or more S.P.G.B. or S.L.P. men to Parliament last elections, a splendid opportunity would have arisen for the Class Struggle to have been exposed, when the Government used the military to shoot down workmen in the late strike. To have class-conscious Marxian proletarians in Parliament is the most efficacious of all methods of propaganda. I do not believe the Socialist Republic will be voted in; on the contrary, I believe its establishment will have to be fought for by Socialist organisations versus the capitalist class and their class-unconscious allies. Socialist parties are nothing more or less than potential military organisations. I am not dogmatic on all contained herein, and await with interest the blow of your critical judgment.
R. T. (New Zealand.)


Reply:
Our correspondent has predicted—what many have predicted before him—the breakdown of the capitalist system “of its own weight.” This prediction is, of course, based upon the fact that the wage slave is producing a progressively larger amount of wealth than he receives, and that this surplus wealth accumulates in the warehouses and chokes production. It is supposed that, since it is (as far as present knowledge goes) undeniable that the cause will go on increasingly that is to say the exploitation of the worker will continue to grow greater the effect will follow suit, and so of necessity eventuate in the strangulation of production and the breakdown of the system.

This excellent piece of reasoning would he all right were it not for the inevitable "if.” If no other factor intervened, then the growing disproportion between the worker's production and his consumption would lead to what R.T.’s logic says it would. If the matter were as simple as our friend represents it to be, he might, after a few hours arithmetic, go to sleep, leaving definite instructions as to the very hour he was to be awakened (well within the quarter of a century) to enjoy the realisation of his hopes.

But alas! there is a worm in the bud: the road to Anarchy is not quite so well defined as our correspondent thinks.

“Labour power is cheap and abundant in the Flowery Lind.” Granted. But it has got to be drilled and disciplined. Does R.T. quite realise what that means? Labour-power is cheap and abundant in Japan, but the labour-power of Lancashire cotton operatives, judged by output, is far cheaper. Chinese labour-power was terribly cheap on the Rand, but the sevenfold higher-priced labour-power that could be trusted with a rock drill was cheaper.

This, however, is not to discourage R.T. in the gentle hope that he may see "tens of millions of slaves . . . out of work.” It could only put off the happy consummation another quarter-century or two, time which R.T. can well spend making bombs.

That the revolution in China marks an epoch none can deny. What International Capital expects of the event is shown by the fact that so much of the siuews of war of the revolutionaries has been contributed by International Capital. The significant feature of the movement is that it has been to a large extent International Capital’s revolution. For many years International Capital, fettered by national bonds and jealousies, has been trying to bring about the revolution from outside, but in the end it has had to resort to the internal method.

That the Chinese revolution means that the white wage slave is in for a bad time is very probable. That International Capital will proceed to the exploitation of Chinese labour-power more promptly than it has to the exploitation of that vast store of equally cheap labour-power in India which it has forgotten seriously to tap may also he true. But even then, with the warehouses full and the system threatened, it may be possible for the capitalists to find some solution for the moment, at all events.

What would Lloyd George say? What he already says—dole out to the starving multitude the wealth that threatens your very existence, and so keep them quiet and save your bacon. What would the American cotton grower say? Just what he says to-day when he has too abundant a crop—burn the surplus and wax fatter. What would the Kaiser and the rulers of New Zealand and Australia say? Just what they are saying to-day: We are threatened by a red peril at home and a yellow peril abroad let us double and treble and quadruple our armies and navies, so that we may preserve the world’s peace. And what would the economic laws say? They would say that labour-power had become so beastly cheap that there was not much inducement to develop machinery.

And finally, what would R.T. say? Would he shout “bombs” where the New Zealand capitalists were drilling their, what does be call them ? “class unconscious allies”? Would he rub his hands gleefully and murmur: “Shades of Marx and Engels, here’s a Limehouse joke. The whole muddy thing’s stopped 'like a clock when its mainspring breaks’”? No, he wouldn’t. He would apostrophise the great dead and say sadly: ‘‘This one little mistake—your optimism as to how soon the system would ‘break of its own weight’—only shows you to be human it cannot dim the lustre of your achievements; but—how long is this going to last ? ”
 
For the capitalists would not have an insurmountable problem set them. It would simply be to find some way of continuing to exploit the workers. Powerful as the economic laws are, they could set them all at defiance to just the extent to which they could alter the conditions out of which they arise. The cotton growers do this when they burn part of their crops. The whole capitalist class might do this if they destroyed the surplus that was choking them.

Now as to R.T.'s idea that we shall never have a majority of class conscious proletarians sufficient to wrest political and military power from the bourgeoisie while the capitalist mode of production prevails, this belief may have been grounded on the circumstance that our friend was ready to take his dying solemn that the system was timed to break of its own weight in a quarter of a century. [If] he can come to see, however, how evident it is that the system could be made to support its own weight for a good many quarter-centuries, he may snatch a morsel of comfort from the reflection that it will give class-consciousness time to catch up.

But is R.T.’s pessimism well grounded? As regards the populous centres of advanced capitalist countries of the world it certainly is not. But R.T. must not make the mistake of having an eye for the thoroughly educated Marxist only. In the view of the Socialist, who looks to his class for the future, and not to individuals, it is the condition of the mentality of the mass that matters. As the skipper, waiting for the rising tide to float him off the mud bank, depends on the great mass of the water, and not upon the waves, so the Marxist watches the evolution of the class mentality. That this evolution is very rapidly taking place is demonstrated daily, at our propaganda meetings, and in the workshops and factories.

Our correspondent says that the proletariat cannot improve its material condition by political action because all laws are made in the the interest of the ruling class. But if the last were true, it could surely only be because they are made by the ruling class, and would not apply if the working class had power to make laws. The statement that the proletariat cannot, improve their material condition by political action is not very wide of the truth, but the reason given is a bad one. The true reason he states when he says that economic laws control political ones. But then action on the industrial field is just as much controlled by economic laws. Nevertheless, working-class resistance is one of the conditions presupposed by those laws, without which they would break down. The truth is that the workers have means of resistance on the industrial field, but in order to be able to make laws in their own interest they need to obtain command of that which will enable them to abolish the system.

R T. does not believe that Socialism will be voted in, but that it will have to be fought for by the Socialist organisations against the capitalist class and their class-unconscious allies— presumably when the system has broken down of its own weight. Everyone but the Anarchist, however, realises that while the Socialists are unable to find sufficient class-conscious voters to vote abolition of private property, the capitalist class will have no difficulty in finding ample "class unconscious allies” to render ridiculous any attempt to impose Socialism on a majority who do not want it.

If fighting is to be done, it must be after the working class have obtained control of the armed forces through the capture of the political machinery. The capture of the political machinery implies such a development of class consciousness as would permeate even the armed forces themselves, and make them not unwilling servants of their class interests. The capitalists would then not find many "class-unconscious allies” to assist them in their counter-revolution. In any circumstance this class consciousness must be waited for. It is indispensable if we work through political means. It is to an even greater degree indispensable if we lost the political weapon, for we should then have to wait until it had so permeated and undermined the armed forces as to make them an agent of revolution. And finally it is indispensable if the system breaks down of its own weight, for then, Socialism could only be established by a people who understood it. The moral is obvious.
A. E. Jacomb

Unacceptable Faces (1986)

Editorial from the January 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

Many people acknowledge what a thoroughgoing job Saatchi and Saatchi have done for the Conservative Party. It is widely known that the Tory image-builders have changed Margaret Thatcher's hair and her make-up, have brought a huskiness to her voice, have persuaded her to arrange her head into that irritating slant whenever she is being interviewed for television. We can only guess how effective all this has been, whether it has actually influenced any votes. The entire operation rests on the theory that political leaders need to present themselves to the electors, not as they actually are but in an image, and that no matter what reality lies behind it, the most attractive image will win the most votes.

A corollary to this is that the working class, heedless of their suffering, can be persuaded to vote for a political party under a kind of social anaesthesia which renders them insensible to factual evidence and experience. This would explain why the Tories are now campaigning to convince us that they have not been cutting, but have been increasing, state expenditure on medical and social services; that hospital patients who observe the extra stresses imposed by staff cuts are deluded; that workers who are homeless, or existing in slum conditions in temporary homes, are imagining it all.

And perhaps the Tories have got it right. Perhaps, in spite of all that has gone on during their time in power, when it comes to the next election the workers will return them gratefully to power, in the expectation of another five years of Tory capitalism. One piece of evidence in this direction is that the Labour Party are also turning their attention to the matter of their political image. In fact this has always been a concern of theirs, except that in the past they have tended to rely on the amateur talents of leaders like the late Richard Crossman, who was in psychological warfare during the last war and who brought that experience to bear in planning Labour Party propaganda, or on the spare-time services of sympathisers in the public relations business. But in their present plight, and perhaps impressed by what Saatchi and Saatchi are supposed to have done for the Tories, Labour are giving rather more attention to the matter of public deception.

Their new general secretary, Larry Whitty, has begun a drastic reorganisation of the party administration, part of which has brought a young man — Peter Mandelson — to be head of Labour's Communications and Campaign. Mandelson describes himself as ". . . an extremely talented, bright high flyer" and claims that the next general election will effectively be fought from his desk (public relations people have never been famous for their modesty). Another move has been to sift out Labour’s shadow environment minister, John Cunningham, as the personification of the thrusting dynamism so essential to something called "positive credibility" (which means he's more likely than most other politicians to be able to get away with lies and evasions). The process through which Cunningham was selected for this role is wrapped in the mysteries of the market research teams and the image-makers. But chosen he has been, and soon he will be presented to us. shaped and gilded and packaged, as Labour's new image of dynamism and credibility.

He will have a difficult job. Labour have to persuade the workers that those years when they were the government were not as bad as they actually were; that one Labour government after another did not attempt to hold wages down while goading workers to work harder in the interests of their employers. They will have to obscure the fact that their last Chancellor, Denis Healey, did not have a policy of reducing state expenditure, that unemployment did not double under Labour, that there was no such thing as that final winter of discontent in 1978/9. They must try to convince the voters that any problems in those days were really avoidable mistakes, which Labour has since learned to avoid; the future under Kinnock, with Cunningham at his side to give credibility, is an assured path away from Tory destitution to Labour prosperity.

Well it could be that by the time of the next general election there will be enough workers disillusioned with the Tories to fall for Labour's new image. If so, they will again be ignorant of, or will be side-stepping. the real issue and the genuine alternative. At every election, the Socialist Party campaigns to the limits of our resources. We point out that capitalism cannot solve its problems, that social ailments like poverty — with all that it means — and avoidable disease can only be abolished through social revolution. We argue that war can be ended only by eliminating its cause, by getting rid of capitalism, and that campaigns to ban some weapons, or to make others less destructive, or even to abolish weapons altogether, are a futile waste of time. Our propaganda reaches only a limited field but the substance of it that there is a fundamental fault in modem social organisation which must be put to rights — is evident in every moment of working class life.

Socialists campaign, all the time, not on any spurious image or blown-up personalities to gloss over the harsh realities. We appeal to the working class with solid argument, backed with undeniable fact. We were formed, and we operate, on the principle that socialism will be the democratic act of a majority of politically conscious workers whose understanding of socialism will mean that they do not need leaders, however glamorous, to tell them what to do, how to think, in which square to put their vote — and to deceive them. Socialism will be the end of capitalism's desperate problems; it will be the next, highest, stage in human social evolution. It has a promise which stands in stark contrast to the public relations gimmicks and to the squalid wheedling so characteristic of capitalism.

Shall We Join The Labour Party? (1923)

From the May 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

There are some people whose sole contribution to working class organisation is to moan perpetually about the multiplicity of parties, and to bleat day and night for unity. They are the mentally indolent who never trouble to understand the principles of the parties they criticise, and knowing nothing of the underlying causes of political antagonisms their criticisms have no value whatever. In the main, they are probably sufferers from the peculiar sensitiveness of confused and untrained minds, to which the very idea of conflict is intensely painful. They can be happy only in trying to reconcile opposites, and to weld all the mutually destructive elements around them into one apparent whole. Thrust into a world in which class war reigns supreme, they must veil the hideous reality, or suffer the mental torture of having to search for a solution and struggle to apply it. It is a type of mind infinitely valuable to the ruling class, who are themselves vitally interested in hiding facts from their victims. It is the fate of somewhat more discriminating advocates of unity, like George Lansbury, that they receive the support of these muddled sentimentalists. Lansbury wrote in the Daily Herald (31st March) on “A United Labour Party,"  urging all the small political bodies which claim to be Socialist to merge themselves into one. His argument is, that broadly speaking, we all have a common object; and that in addition to bringing its attainment nearer, we should be better able to meet the ruling class in day-to-day battles. Unity “should mean that all who are members of our Trade Unions should be inside the Labour Movement." George Lansbury seems to believe that the working class position would be bettered by the formation of such a united front. Let us then examine the assumptions on which his argument rests.

Have the Socialists the same object in view as the Labour Party? Mr. Lansbury would say, that broadly speaking, they have; but in a sense, that is equally true of all the existing political parties. Owing to the present nearly universal adult franchise, no party can gain power except it has the support of a large section of the working class, hence no party dare omit to make the claim that it stands for the best interests of the workers. This does not involve the imputation of dishonesty to the openly capitalist parties. In addition to the motive of class interest, and often disguising it from them, is the sheer inability of some of the capitalist class to conceive of a social system other than their own. For them the best interests of the workers are bound up in the stability of the capitalist system.

We, on the contrary, know that the interests of the workers are bound up in the destruction of that system. The essentials of Capitalism are the existence of a politically emancipated, but propertyless working class on the one hand; and on the other, a numerically small class owning the machinery of wealth production. The workers are paid wages or salaries for operating that machinery out of the wealth produced, which is the exclusive property of the capitalists. The surplus in the form of rent, interest and profit remains in the hands of the latter. We do not pretend to regard as immoral either the system or those who profit by it. Had we lived at the time of the break up of Feudalism, it would have been our duty to fight for the capitalist form of private property, because that was a necessary advance on the previous form. The capitalists had a mission to perform, but now that their work is completed, another forward move is required. Capitalism, which was the only possible social organisation for the conditions prevailing at its inception, now has to go because conditions have changed. The present conditions are those to which Socialism alone is appropriate.

Just as the Feudal proprietors stood amid the ruins of their world and gazed back into the past, while the revolutionary capitalist class fought for the future, so now the capitalists are still contemplating the shadow of their former glories; while the workers struggle to use their achievements as the foundation of a new and higher form of society. And just as the representatives of that decaying system fought tooth and nail in defence of their class interests, and for the retention of the only stable organisation they knew, so also the capitalists will use fraud, force and cunning in their fruitless endeavour to maintain things as they are. The capitalists are fighting for their right to the private ownership of the means of life, and we fight to take it from them. When the workers awake to their class position they can by the conquest of the controlling force, the political machinery, recast society as they wish, because the minority, no longer in political control, will be powerless before them. We, of the Socialist Party, have no other aim than to give the workers the knowledge that will enable them to act. Because we think that conditions are ripe for Socialism now, and only knowledge is lacking, we are not prepared under any circumstances whatever to divert the workers' attention from the main object; we do not aid the capitalist class, nor do we seek their aid, because we consider these things will not serve any useful purpose; we do not endeavour to interest the workers in the administration, nor in the reform of the capitalist system, because we regard the one as a purely capitalist question, and the other as a means of prolonging the system which we are bent on destroying; we do not formulate immediate demands, because we know that the capitalists will not yield one jot of their position unless they are compelled, by circumstances, or unless the yielding is conceived by them in their own interests. Reforms of the latter type will be introduced by the capitalists and imposed by them, irrespective of our wishes; and when we are strong enough to challenge them we shall formulate the only demand worth making, the final demand. All who are prepared to fight for this are invited to unite with us for that purpose.

Is this the Labour Party’s purpose, too? If it is not, why should we ally ourselves with them? If the Labour Party’s policy is one with which we disagree, we should have to oppose it whether an affiliated body, or otherwise. We consider our end can best be served by opposing all non-Socialist bodies, and apart from its effectiveness, it is hardly honest to enter a party merely to hamper it as disloyal members. Incidentally, we do not share the touching belief of the Communists in the simplicity of the leaders of the Labour Party. The visitor who asks a householder to be allowed through the door in order to smash the windows from the inside, really ought not to expect a very cordial welcome.

Let us now consider what the Labour Party does stand for. Although the rules of that Party prevent its candidates from running as Socialists, the word Socialism is often used by them. This is confusing, because the word is used by them to mean something essentially different from the meaning in which we use it. It is because the word is used so loosely and inaccurately, that we display our objects in every issue of this Journal. Mr. A. V. Dicey, a K.C., and not, therefore, likely to use terms loosely in the ordinary way, takes the trouble to explain in his “Law and Opinion During the 19th Century,” that where he uses the word Socialism, all he means is State as opposed to individual enterprise. Generally speaking, when members of the Labour Party talk about Socialism they also mean State or Municipal Ownership or Nationalisation. Thus we have the Daily Herald (5th April, 1923) devoting its main Editorial to praise of Municipal Trading (tramways, electricity undertakings, etc.) because of their efficiency and the value of the profits in lowering rates; and the Labour Magazine (April, 1923, p. 562) quoting against Sir A. Mond his own praise of the State Department which engaged in house building.

The Daily Herald (24th October, 1922) quotes from the Daily Mail (7th August, 1916) the following :—
  “Take away the working man’s fear of being exploited by private capital, by nationalising the essential industries. Let him see that by doing a full day’s work he is benefiting himself and the nation, and injuring no one . . . and Great Britain will enter on the new era as mighty in the time of peace as she proved herself in war.”
After that in heavy black type the Herald continues : —
“THAT IS WHAT THE LABOUR PARTY MEANS TO DO.”
Mr. Sidney Webb, one of the intellectuals, is responsible for a really priceless exposition of the Labour Party’s kind of “Socialism” (Daily Herald, 1st March, 1922):—
“My Socialism is founded on the four rules of arithmetic, the Ten Commandments, and the Union Jack.”
We have seen some curiosities, but nothing so extraordinary as this, but of course, not being intellectuals ourselves, perhaps we miss the point of it. The same person, in his “Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain," 1920, wrote (p. 1): ”Over a large part of Europe definitely Socialist administrations are actually in office.” It is because we believe that the Labour Party proposes to give us the same kind of “Socialism” as was visible all over Europe to Mr. Webb in 1920 that we oppose it. In passing I would like to draw Mr. Webb’s attention to the fact that, while this “Socialism” may have been based on the Ten Commandments and the four rules of arithmetic, it surely lacked the other ingredient, the Union Jack. Still, if some of the Labour Party’s mentally-fogged and imperialistic minor poets from the Clyde have their way, this may shortly be remedied.

The Webbs do not propose
  “The abolition of the ancient institution of an hereditary monarch (pp. 108), but (pp. 109) unless the court can acquire better manners . . . it may be expected that the institution of monarchy . . . will become unpopular.”
It is not intended to abolish private ownership (page 344) and people are encouraged to save money
  “to be used on such conditions as may be arranged (which may quite reasonably include a rate of interest if this is found necessary or desirable) for the industrial undertakings and public services of the several public authorities.” (Page 345.)
There will be “progressive taxation of incomes and of wealth passing by alienation or at death” and “differentiation against unearned incomes of more than a small amount” (page 346). In fact, we are, if the Webbs and the Labour Party have their way, going to keep capitalism just as it is now is in all essentials, except that we are to call it Socialism. That the limit of their desire is Nationalisation is shown by the following (page 318):
   “The process of transition from profit-making industry to public service, which has during the past quarter of a century made such great strides . . . will continue . . .”
The process referred to is in fact the process of transferring industries from individual to State control. This is not Socialism; is in itself directly harmful to the workers; and has not received, and will not receive, the least support from Socialists. Why is it impossible for these anti-Socialists to perceive that Nationalisationers “private ownership” in its last and most tyrannous form? While the capitalists can continue to receive interest on investments it is only because they still own and control the means of life. Does it matter to them whether they draw interest from commercial investments or on Government stock? Mr. Webb proposes that "Expropriation is to take the form of cash or Government securities, at their own market value . . ." (page 334), which is very nice, too—for the capitalists, but it is not Socialism.

Mr. Snowden, on the 20th March, 1923, introduced a Land Nationalisation Bill in the House of Commons, payment for the land to be made in 5 per cent, stock redeemable in 30 years. Mr. Snowden was quite right when he said (Manchester Guardian Reconstruction Number, October 26th, 1922):
  "The British Labour Party is certainly not Socialist in the sense in which Socialism is understood upon the Continent."
nor, I would add, in the sense in which Socialism is understood anywhere else by Socialists.

Mr. Snowden went on to say, again quite correctly, that the Labour Party stands for "nothing more than the nationalisation of the land, mines, and essential public services. . . . The nationalisation of the essential public services referred to does not carry the Labour Party further than many Radicals, who would vigorously disclaim being Socialistic, are prepared to go.”

Mr. Snowden himself, in the House of Commons on 20th March, 1923, used the words, "The Labour Party does not believe in confiscation” (Labour Magazine, April, 1923, page 561).

Now the Capitalists do at present own the means of wealth production. The Labour Party is either going to let them keep their wealth or it is going to take it away from them. There is no third course. To talk of buying them out or giving them something of equal value is absurd. The power to exploit the worker is a monopoly power, and has no equivalent, and there is no accumulated wealth of more than insignificant proportion other than that in the hands of the capitalists themselves. True, it has been proposed to tax the capitalist out of existence, but even Mr. Snowden would hardly suggest that the capitalists will be spoofed into submitting quietly to confiscation provided the confiscation is called taxation.

Mr. J. H. Thomas, in his book "When Labour Rules,” promises that the Labour Party will give the workers  "a share in the management” of industry. With whom are they going to share it if not with the private owners? And why aren’t the workers to have the whole? Mr. Thomas’s answer is that (page 24) "Capital will be entitled to some return.” The rich will, however, suffer "a proper limitation of their unearned wealth” (page 24). What, may I ask, is, according to Labour Party standards, a proper limitation of unearned wealth?

And it is for this that Mr. Lansbury wants us to join the Labour Party. He says (Daily Herald, 31st March) .
   “ . . . the central authority . . .  is not only legislative, but also administrative, and will become more and more so as we nationalise land, mines, minerals, transport, education, and many another industry.”
If Lansbury does not want to see his efforts for unity wasted he had better join MacDonald, who is trying to arrange something of the kind with the Independent Liberals. MacDonald writes of the Independent Liberal M.P.s:—
    “The best of the sixty ought to come over and act with the Labour Party. They share our immediate views on such questions as nationalisation, the capital levy, foreign policy, and not those of their leaders . . .”—(“The Socialist Review,” April, 1923, page 148.)
Needless to say, the Liberals do not share our views, and since all our energies will be directed to the destruction of capitalism, whether in the form of nationalisation or otherwise, Mr. Lansbury will not, if we can prevent it, nationalise anything. We fight nationalisation for the same reason that the Central Union of Industrial, Commercial and Transport Workers in Social Democratic Czechoslovakia fight it. In the Press Service (No. 207) of the International Federation of Trade Unions it is reported that the above Union bitterly protested against the Nationalisation of Forests:—
   “This land reform and nationalisation of forests are in line with the political requirements of the Czech Bourgeois parties. . . . The Trade Unions cannot and will not leave anything undone to protect the workers on the forests and agricultural estates from economic and social pauperisation."
We recognise that this brings us into necessary conflict with the Labour Party, but the recognition is not, as Mr. Lansbury would imply, only one-sided. For Labour Party members to use their majorities on Borough Councils to exclude the Socialist Standard from the Public Libraries, is, although somewhat silly, a quite legitimate form of warfare; it cannot, however, be said to be exactly brotherly, can it, George? One of the Boroughs where this happens is red revolutionary Poplar, a place not unknown to Mr. Lansbury.

If the Labour Party were Socialist this anxiety on their part to prevent their members and others from reading the case for Socialism would be curious.

Mr. Lansbury says of us and of the Communists that we "advocate impossible propositions." It is interesting to have this candid acknowledgment from one Labour man that Socialism is an impossible proposition, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the Labour Party can solve the problems which now face the working class by putting the brake on capitalist exploitation, and by making the Government and Municipal authorities the main and direct agents of that exploitation instead of leaving it to individual capitalists and private corporations, there is nothing more to say. If the Labour Party succeeds, then the advocates of Socialism are simply wasting their time. But if, in spite of all their patching and reforming, regulating and controlling, the contradictions of capitalism still produce their accustomed crop of class and international conflicts, and if, as I risk prophesying the Labour Party witch doctors fail to hypnotise the workers into contentment with their slavery, merely by labelling it differently, then recourse will still be had finally to the "impossible proposition" we advocate. We shall continue to advocate it because our knowledge and experience teach us that these problems cannot be solved inside capitalism. In the meantime I would only suggest that other supporters of the Labour Party might be as candid as Snowden and Lansbury and admit with G. D. H. Cole (“The World of Labour”) that:
   “It is at least time that all the forces of Labour in this country learnt to forsake the old superstition that the Labour Party is a Socialist Party. . . (page 207).
If they did this they would be honest, which is refreshing; they would be able to conduct their experiments free from the misrepresentation of enemies and the confusion of friends, and finally they would more easily appreciate our proposition—Socialism —when they had experienced the failure of their own.
Edgar Hardcastle