Editorial from the August 1909 issue of the Socialist Standard
If the Labour Party engages in strenuous agitation, it is always for something that is utterly useless to the working class. It is so in its agitation in favour of the capitalist budget, and so it was also in its protest against the visit of the Tsar. Whenever the boom of the “ Labour” drum is heard it betokens an attempt to divert the attention of the workers from things that really matter, and to rally them in support of the class that battens upon their misery. This is the characteristic of the “Labour” and reform parties, and it is the reason why, even in the matter of the Tsar’s visit, we are compelled to join issue with them.
The visit of Nicholas Romanoff will doubtless have taken place before these lines appear; but supposing it had been prevented, would the working class, or even the middle class, of Russia, have been benefited in the slightest? Obviously they would no more have benefitted on this occasion than they did after his cowardly majesty abandoned his visit to Italy through dread of a hostile demonstration. Moreover, we read in the Labour Party’s advertisement of their “Protest” (in the I.L.P. and S.D.P. organs) that the Tsar is “Our Guest’’! And it is asked “Will the hand of England be stained by grasping his?” We, in turn, protest against these “protesters.” We deny that the Tsar is “our guest.” He is solely the guest of our enemies, the capitalist class. And the “hand of England” (which, to-day, is that of the class who own and rule) can hardly be further or deeper stained by grasping the bloody hand of a brother in exploitation and repression.
True the “middle” class and their hangers-on often speak as though this country were the peaceful haven of freedom and happiness, and Tsardom the only repressive State in the world. But that is only because the middle class have yet to achieve their complete emancipation in Russia, while in England they are the ruling class, and themselves make use of “Russian” methods in governing dependencies, and even in crushing workers and strikers at home. It naturally makes all the difference to the "middle” class whether they are the upper or under dogs; hut the worker is under dog all the time, and is crushed under both forms of class rule.
The capitalists of Western Europe are equally guilty with Russian despotism. Germany in S.W. Africa and Poland; Belgium on the Congo; France in Morocco; England in India and Ireland : each can parallel Russian atrocities. To take England as typical in internal affairs, capitalist rule condemns one third of the population to slow starvation, while thousands are killed or maimed yearly for the profit of the capitalist, and the mass of the people are condemned to leisureless, joyless lives of poverty, toil and suffering.
This progressive crushing of humanity by class rule is international, not local; and Russia's stain is of scarcely darker hue than the rest. It is, therefore, sheer hypocrisy to pretend that the ruling class of this country would be contaminated by the presence of the Tsar. On the other hand, in the welcome to bloody Nicholas that is given by a Government responsible for Featherstone and Belfast, there is a peculiar fitness that aptly illustrates the international character of class oppression. The ruling class of each country use the surest and most deadly means of repression that are suited to their circumstances, and the Government here would repeat the worst Russian atrocities in England if it could thus strengthen its position.
We are of and for the workers, hence as distinct from the Labour Party, we do not protest against oppression abroad and actively support the oppressor at home. We recognise (as members of a subject class) that the only effective help we can at present give to our Russian comrades is to push on faster the work of making Socialists and of exposing the rascality of the international ruling class. Indeed, before England can aid working class emancipation in Russia, England herself must be conquered by those who produce.