Monday, September 10, 2018

"The Repair Gang" of Capitalism. (1926)

From the September 1926 issue of the Socialist Standard

Travellers in the wilds assure us that a man lost therein without knowledge of woodcraft or special means of ascertaining his position will find himself wandering in. a circle; the word circle is understood in a rather wide sense, the point being that the lost man arrives eventually at his starting point.


The planets likewise move in orbits, and a similar form would appear to characterise all blind, unconscious movements, political ones included. Thus, that outstanding phenomena of modern times, the "Labour” movement, presents almost innumerable instances of parties or sects, returning, after prolonged journeyings in the labyrinth of confusion, to the place of departure.

Take as an example the case of the I.L.P. We have heard a lot from that quarter recently about "Socialism in our time!” Does not this call to mind the early days of that body over thirty years ago? According to its leading lights then, the Social Democratic Federation of the time was not practical and did not present actual living issues to the masses. It was absorbed in revolutionary theorising to the exclusion of a definite line of action. The I.L.P. was going to change all that. It was going to bring Socialism into actual being.

It went about the business by seeking the support of the Trade Unions for candidates run on a programme of reform such as nationalisation of various industries with a living wage for all. So far as getting their candidates elected goes, the I.L.P. have been undoubtedly successful. The Trade Unions have found the money, and the I.L.P. found the men. Over a hundred of the Labour M.P.’s are drawn from its ranks. Yet even on the threshold of political success, with a parliamentary majority at no very distant date dazzling its eyes, disillusion creeps into its ranks.

The experiment in "Labour” Government, carried on with the connivance of the avowed capitalist parties, showed quite a number of the rank and file of the I.L.P. that, so far from leading to Socialism, their leaders had precious little time for even the I.L.P.'s reformists nostrums. Hence these nostrums are trotted out and restated with all the vigour and fervour of fanaticism just as though a new discovery had been made. We have the "practical” I.L.P. once more trying to find a comfortable half-way house between the capitalist Liberalism of its leaders and the vague, sentimental yearnings of its followers for “Socialism.”

No fundamental change in the object and policy of the I.L.P., however, is dreamt of. The simple fact that Socialism can only be established by a Socialist working-class is ignored. The leaders are criticised not because they are leaders, but because, in the eyes of their followers, they are not "good” leaders. The bewildered following look around for other leaders, but do not realise that similar results must follow. All leaders are "good” (i.e., make extravagant promises) so long as they are still on the climb. Their intentions may be benevolent or merely ambitious, but in the long run their actions are determined by the conditions of their existence. These conditions are: capitalist society, and a blind following, which, though dissatisfied therewith, does not understand how to overthrow it.

The policy of capturing the machinery of the Trade Unions while ignoring the necessity for Socialist education of the rank and file of the workers, has led, and can lead, to nothing more than the elevation of a series of "leaders” to office and favour with the master-class. If working-class history is any guide, it is only a matter of time before each little group of "leaders,” as it arises, follows its predecessor along the path to "responsibility” (to the capitalist class) and practical inability to reduce Utopia to a working formula.

A knowledge of the economic laws of capitalist development would prevent the workers indulging in day-dreams about "a living wage,” and would impel them to organise for the abolition of the wages system. The absurdity of attempts at compromise on this point was glaringly exemplified by the "Labour” representatives before the Coal Commission. These champions of nationalisation put forward elaborately worked-out schemes, only to be driven to admit that these same schemes would not solve the "wages-problem” with which the Commission was confronted. In short, the workers have nothing to look forward to under capitalism but intensified exploitation and insecurity.

As Socialists, we are not concerned with the dilemma raised at the I.L.P. Conference by the suggestion that industries not paying a "living wage” should be nationalised first. According to McDonald, this implied the taking-over of bankrupt industries first! The delegates forthwith became involved in a conflict between their devotion to their "ideals” and the necessity of being “practical,” i.e., making a State concern show a profit. It is sufficient to show, however, the essentially capitalist outlook of the I.L.P. As Socialists, we advocate the conversion into common property of all industrial undertakings which are indispensable for the provision of the wants of the workers, and we see no reason why the workers are obliged to pick and choose, in a piecemeal manner, the industries to be dealt with. That process is only necessary to the "Labour” politicians who know that they have no mandate for Socialism, and are thus obliged to frame a programme which will suit the interests of some section or other of the capitalist class.

The I.L.P. has climbed to influence by angling for Liberal votes. Having got them its representatives are necessarily bound to come to terms with the master-class. Any attempt to introduce Socialism with a non-Socialist electorate is foredoomed to failure, and it is only the dupes of the "Left Wing ” that imagine otherwise.

The Communist Party are another bunch who move in circles, and seem proud of it. Twenty years ago, the Social Democratic Party catered for those who delight in combining reformist action with revolutionary phraseology. Then, as now, there were not lacking short-sighted members of the working-class who imagined that they could rally their class round a programme of "immediate demands ”; they never knew quite what to do as a body at election time, but were usually to be found supporting “progressives” of all shades. The S.D.P. became the B.S.P., from which, after the war, the Communist Party sprang. We have witnessed a diverting exhibition of political hysteria on the part of this body, followed by an equally amusing volte face before the cold douche of experience. Now they are back again once more on the old familiar ground of "immediate demands,” plus support of the Labour Party. The "Communist” of to-day is but the Social Democrat of twenty years ago, under another name.

The Socialist Party was formed with a definite revolutionary objective expressed in unswerving tactics. The scientific method as applied by Marx and Engels has been its guide. Hence for us there has been no wandering in circles; no futile attempts to advance before we have accumulated the army for the attack. That we are satisfied with our rate of progress we do not, for one moment, pretend; but we have at least the satisfaction of knowing that if the workers exhibit the signs of confusion, it is not due to our propaganda.

That, at any rate, has been clear and definite. When the workers learn to see in Socialism their only hope, when they realise that it can only be gained by their own efforts in the teeth of the opposition of their masters, then we know that they will march forward as one body, blundering neither to right or left, till their emancipation is achieved.
Eric Boden

Crime and Punishment. (1927)

Editorial from the September 1927 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti.
All the world has been stirred by the execution of the two Italians, Sacco and Vanzetti, in Massachusetts, U.S.A. The workers, generally speaking, have assumed their innocence, and have seen in the case the vindictiveness of a ruling class which manipulates the machinery of the law against propertyless wage-earners. Legal circles in this and other European countries have been shocked by the glaring defects, of a judicial system which can keep men for seven years in jail, and still, in spite of manifest doubts as to their guilt, contemplate their execution. And hundreds of thousands of ordinarily humane people, who accept the original verdict of the American Courts, and do not think of reading class bias into the case, nevertheless felt impelled to protest against the brutality of adding to the sentence of death the torture of seven years' suspense.

By far the most significant and promising aspect of the tragedy has hardly been mentioned. We refer to the statement made by American newspapers that the attitude of propertied circles who resisted the release of these prisoners was frankly based on the interests, real or imaginary, of the ruling class in Massachusetts. They said, in effect, that, guilty or not guilty, Sacco and Vanzetti were men with opinions dangerous to the privileges of the capitalist class, and the latter needed, therefore, no other justification for taking their lives. This is naked and cynical class interest, the bold casting aside of the conventional cloak of the law. But we welcome it as a sign of the passing of the whole of the senselessly cruel and ineffective apparatus of "justice," which will have no place in the more rational social order at which we aim. We reject the self-righteousness of the timid nonconformist Labour conscience which mocks the victims of that modern Inquisition, the Law, by enquiring into their guilt or innocence. If Sacco and Vanzetti were "guilty," it would make no difference to our attitude. But it must not be thought that we share the equally vicious outlook of the alleged Communists who sought to justify the recent executions of political prisoners in Russia on the ground that they had been proved "guilty" of some crime or other, and that this was a piece of "stern revolutionary justice" meted out by the Soviet Government.

All this talk of crime and punishment is a relic of barbarism, and should be discarded by human beings laying claim to civilisation. “Justice” is "vengeance,” in origin the instinctive protection of primitive peoples against individuals who endanger the community by breaches of accepted custom. In later ages, with the entry of class rule, it became the repressive act of ruling classes against those who attacked their privileges. The human impulse which sanctions the cruelty, the legalised violence and murder of the law, is not obedience to some, noble abstract justice, but the animal instinct of vengeance. The infliction of punishment satisfies this primal impulse, and gives pleasure similar in kind both to the suburban Englishman, who likes to hear of criminals brought to book, and to the American mob, drunk with blood-lust, dragging some negro to horrible death by fire. Guilty or not guilty, what does that matter? It does not matter to the lynching party any more than do the moral qualities of the bull to a bull-fight audience, their pleasure is indifferent to such details, and it does not touch the real stability of society. The fabric of twentieth century civilisation is not held together by wreaking vengeance, in the name of justice, on the ignorant and half-witted who commit petty thefts, or on the too-clever Bottomleys who over-reach themselves in the circles of high finance, or even on murderers—what are the latter, anyway, but potential "war heroes” who have killed their man at the wrong time and place?

The emotionalists who gloat over the sickening details of murder trials and executions are a much more potent source of social instability than are the "criminals” who happen to transgress capitalist laws and are found out. If punishment were a question of "deserts," or if it served a purpose commensurate with the harm it does, why not punish these people too, and those who pander to their tastes? The obvious answer is that the remedy lies in education, not in the infliction of penalties. Socialist society will, of course, try to protect itself against anti-social acts. What it will not do is to debase human life and stultify its own efforts by introducing the irrelevant idea of punishment. It will seek primarily to remove the cause, a line which our present rulers are prevented from following by their need to defend private property. How can they, for instance, remove the incentive to theft—poverty—in face of the simple fact that, without the poverty of the workers, there would be no wages system and no profits for the employing class? Secondly, it will recognise that some breaches of public order are inevitable, and are risks which society must accept as it accepts the wind and the rain. To embody brutal penalties in legal codes is no better insurance against them than is the action of the savage who makes an image of his God to protect him against the terrors of nature and then smashes the image when he suffers loss through storm or flood. All he does is to give vent to his disappointment. We are not savages, and must learn not to wreak our rage on unfortunate prisoners whom chance has brought within the reach of the law!

To return to Sacco and Vanzetti—while we do not imagine that the Dollar aristocracy who wield the sceptre in Massachusetts is occupied with the problem of introducing socialism, their refreshing candour on the real nature of "justice" may well serve to interest others in the class motives of that institution. If the Sacco and Vanzetti case brings justice into disrepute so much the sooner will the workers perceive that the time has arrived for its abolition.

Letter: What is Capital? (1928)

Letter to the Editors from the September 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

To the Editor, Socialist Standard.

In your reply to Mr. Keeble’s letter concerning the aims of the I.L.P. you repeat for about the umpteenth time that the statement that land and capital should be communally owned is utterly meaningless.

I have followed very closely the controversies between various political parties, but never have I heard of one party accusing the other of putting forward as its chief doctrine a meaningless statement. Surely you do not really believe that such is the case with the I.L.P. ? According to your definition of capital, i.e., as money invested with the object of profit-making, it would be quite obvious to anybody that all talk about common ownership of capital would be meaningless, since under Socialism capital in that sense of the word would be non-existent.

Reverting however to what some people choose to call “bourgeoise” economics (which is the economics that the I.L.P. seem to follow) we find that capital is defined as “wealth set aside for the production of further wealth." This translated into everyday speech simply amounts to the means of producing wealth (i.e., machinery, factories, etc.). The I.L.P. are therefore in agreement with you that the means of production of wealth should be communally owned. I sincerely trust, therefore, that (even if you do not print this letter) you will in future refrain from levelling such a ridiculous accusation at the I.L.P.

Incidentally, I might point out to you that, your action only serves to confuse the minds of your readers. —Yours sincerely,
“Independent.”


Our Reply.
"Independent" believes that when the I.L.P. use as a description of their aim the phrase "communal ownership of capital" (admitted by their Chairman, Mr. Maxton, to be an absurd contradiction in terms) what they really mean is common ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution. That this is not so has been shown in these columns by numerous quotations from I.L.P. publications in which they admit their intention to be Nationalisation, with the present owners still drawing property incomes, but from the ownership of Government bonds instead of company shares.

Their aim is not common ownership, but merely State Capitalism.

For example, The Socialist Programme (I.L.P., 1924, p. 24) says:—
  The present shareholders in mines and railways could receive State mines or railway stock based on a valuation and bearing a fixed rate of interest.
It is amusing to be told that we are guilty of confusing the minds of our readers by using the only tenable definition of "capital.” An economic theory is either correct or incorrect. To talk of "bourgeois” economics as distinct from some other kind, as if two incompatible doctrines can both be correct, is nonsense.

(Incidentally, at least two anti-Socialist economists of note have explicitly rejected this unsound definition of Capital, viz., Professor Edwin Cannan, and the late Sir William Ashley.)

If "wealth set aside for the production of further wealth" is "capital" (as is taught by the I.L.P.) then Capitalism would be any society in which tools or machinery are used. Thus "feudalism" would be "Capitalism,” and, in fact, every system of human society, and some animal societies, would all be correctly described as "Capitalism.” Socialism itself would on this showing also be "Capitalism.” The theory is unsound, but exceedingly convenient to opponents of Socialism who wish to prove that Capitalism has always been and always will be. By spreading this confusion, the I.L.P. is doing the work of the anti-Socialist.
Edgar Hardcastle


Sir Ray Lankester and Karl Marx. (1929)

From the September 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The death of Sir Edwin Ray Lankester called forth the following letter, written by Max Beer and published in the Daily Herald on August 20th :—
  It may interest your readers to learn that Sir E. Ray Lankester was, at the beginning of the 'eighties, an admirer of Karl Marx.
  In the archives of the German Social Democracy there are some letters of his to the author of Das Kapital. He was one of the dozen mourners who, in March, 1883, followed the hearse of Marx from Haverhill to Highgate Cemetery.

"Capital" Going Abroad (1930)

From the September 1930 issue of the Socialist Standard

A reader asks us to explain what is meant by the statement that capital is leaving the country. Does it mean “gold and copper coins, or war-bonds or factories and I machinery, or what?”

The cry, “Capital is leaving the country,” is intended to signify that capital is being withdrawn from industry here and sent abroad. Capital is money invested for the purpose of profit, and it is invested by the buying of shares in a company. If a capitalist wishes to withdraw his capital from an undertaking he must sell his shares to realise their value. As he must sell his shares to another capitalist, which is all he can do, then capital has not been withdrawn. The only change that has taken place is one capitalist has been replaced by another in a given industry. As shares are constantly changing from one hand to another capitalists are constantly changing from one industry to another, or the amounts of capital they have invested varies in different industries at different times. At one time a given capitalist might own twenty shares in an oil company and ten in a soap company; at another time he might own ten in the oil company and twenty in the soap company.

To grasp the matter clearly it is only necessary to ask oneself the following question: If the bulk of the capitalists in this country decided to withdraw their capital, or, what comes to the same thing, sell their shares for cash, to whom would they sell them? It will then be seen how absurd is the claim that the capital which is sent abroad is being withdrawn from industry.

Capital, however, does go abroad, and it also comes from abroad. Briefly the position is as follows, leaving technicalities out.

The exports of a country are paid for by the imports either in goods only or in goods and services. For instance if the total exports of a country amount to £1,000, then payment is made by an import of the equivalent value of goods only or of goods and services. In the days when England was the carrying nation of the world, payment for services rendered to foreign merchants by carrying their goods was accomplished by the import into England of goods to the value of these services. When ordinary merchandise imported or exported is not sufficient to balance accounts between nations then the balance against one or the other nation has to be made up by the export of gold.

If a capitalist in England has accumulated dividends to such an extent above his spending power that he has a large balance at the bank and decides he will invest a portion of it in a company in Brazil, then he must proceed in one of the following principal ways:
(1) Buy gold and have it transported to Brazil.
(2) Buy merchandise and send it out to be sold in Brazil to realise the amount of his proposed investment.
(3) Pay a Brazilian debt in England and have the amount credited to him in Brazil.
(4) Get a bank to arrange the matter. This they would do by the mutual cancellation of debts or mutual exchange of capital between England and Brazil, or, the same thing at bottom, by a roundabout exchange or cancellation through other countries.
Each and all of these methods involves at bottom the mutual exchange of goods or goods and services. Fundamentally it is the exchange of the work of the working class of one country for the work of the working class of another, as far as the principal countries of the world are concerned. So that all that happens is, for instance, some Brazilian exploiters draw some of their unearned incomes from England and some English exploiters draw some of their unearned incomes from Brazil.

The answer to the question, therefore, is that when capital goes out of the country capital comes in; capital goes out in the form of goods and services and capital comes in in the form of goods and services in exchange for what has gone out. It being understood, of course, that it is only when goods are sold and the money realised is invested in an enterprise with the object of deriving profit from it that such money has become capital. It is not the thing, money, but the use it is put to that makes it capital, for capital is only one way of using money, and money is only the name applied to gold or representatives of gold used in a certain way.
Gilmac

A Socialist Searchlight. (1931)

From the September 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

New Communist Tactics— Wholesale Burglaries. 
Workers' News (April 30th), a Communist paper published in Moscow for English-speaking workers living in Russia, contains an account of an unemployed demonstration at Wellington, New Zealand. The unemployed, “under Communist leadership,” attempted to raid the Parliament buildings. Many were injured and several were arrested, including the Communist leader. He told the authorities that “they would organise wholesale burglaries and looting, inevitably entailing general turmoil."

In this way the Communists, bankrupt of ideas and ignorant of Socialist principles, come back to the old and discredited doctrines of individual attempts at law-breaking. And whoever heard of an intelligent burglar telling the police where they can round up the intending breakers of the law?

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Liberal-Labour Government.
As it is certain to be denied later on that there were ever formal negotiations between the Labour Government and the Liberal Party, the following extracts from the Daily Herald have an interest:—

From the Daily Herald of March 23rd, 1931 :—
  The fate of the Liberal Party depends on the events of the next few days.
 Either an arrangement must be reached which provides for a stable period of progressive legislation or an intolerable position must be ended by an appeal to the country.
 A continuance of the present deadlock indefinitely is unthinkable . . .   Already there have been a number of meetings between Labour and Liberal spokesmen and these will be continued during the week.
 Among those who have taken part in these discussions are the Prime Minister, Mr.  Arthur Henderson, Mr. Philip Snowden (before his illness), Lord Sankey, Mr. Lloyd George, Sir Herbert Samuel, and Lord Lothian.
From a Daily Herald editorial on May 29th, 1931 :—
Two years ago to-morrow the country gave at the polls the verdict which threw the Tories from power and made possible the formation of the second Labour Government.
Like its predecessor of 1924, it is a minority Government. And hopeful Tories prophesied for it a short, feeble, and sterile career.
They have been disappointed. ’They will be disappointed.
They forgot that minority Governments are not necessarily either feeble or short-lived.
The Salisbury Government of 1886 was a minority Government; but it lasted its full term, and it heralded 20 years of almost unbroken Tory rule.
History may very well repeat itself. Assured now of Liberal co-operation, as Salisbury was of Liberal-Unionist co-operation, there is no reason why Mr. MacDonald should not hold office for a full and fruitful term.
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Fascism and the Communist Party

Reply to the “ Pan-Pacific Worker.”
The "Pan-Pacific Worker," published at Sydney, Australia, is one of the disguises adopted by the "Communist International,” calling itself for this purpose the "Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat."

In the Australian Edition (12th May, 1931) a Mr. Herbert Moore, in an article on "Fascism,” has a word to say about the S.P.G.B., the Socialist Labour Party, and the Socialist Party of Canada. He calls us all "thoroughly discredited and decadent.” The other two bodies must of course speak for themselves, but the S.P.G.B. has never been in better form than it is now.

Mr. Moore’s reason for regarding us as decadent is that he believes we "hold the illusion that we must pass through Fascism.” He gives no evidence for this belief about us and he is, of course, completely wrong. We hold no such illusion. So-called "Fascism” is as old as capitalism, and simply means the readiness of the capitalists, whenever they think it necessary, to use their power for the violent and brutal suppression of any insurgent minority, either of workers or capitalists. This is a common feature of capitalist political history in every country, before as well as since the war. To say then that the S.P.G.B. holds the illusion "that we must pass through Fascism" is only true in the sense that capitalism without the possibility of such violence by capitalist Governments is, and always has been, inconceivable. But this is not the sense in which Mr. Moore uses it. He thinks that this so-called "Fascism” is something which has not yet happened in the English-speaking countries, but which may happen. Mr. Moore is quite wrong and should acquaint himself with the records of the British, the French, the American, and the Australian sections of the ruling class.

The Socialist Party’s attitude has been logical and consistent. The one way to prevent the capitalists from using their political power against the workers is to refrain from voting them and their agents into control of the political machinery. We have always urged the workers not to vote for any candidate who is a supporter of capitalism.

Compare our attitude with that of the Communist Party, which has Mr. Moore’s sympathy and support.

In Germany, at the time of writing, the Prussian Communists are voting for the referendum initiated by the Hitlerite (Fascist) Party and the German Nationalists.

In Great Britain the Communists have supported Labour leaders notorious for their willingness to use the armed forces against the workers.

There was Mr. Arthur Henderson, who, as a member of the War Cabinet, urged the forcible deportation of the Clyde strikers in 1916. For years the Communists have urged the workers to vote for Mr. Henderson.

In 1922 the Communists voted for all the Labour Party candidates while declaring of them that "they support British imperialist policy in Ireland and India.”
  In Ireland they stand by the British machine-guns of the Irish Free State against the declared will of the majority of the Irish people for a Republic.—(“The Communist,” November 4, 1922.)
One of the most striking illustrations of Communist trickery in supporting avowed enemies of the workers relates to Mr. John Hodge, M.P.

At the 1922 General Election, which took place in November, the Communist candidate, Mr. Harry Pollitt, stood down in favour of Mr. John Hodge and supported him on the Labour party platform (see "Communist Daily,” November 13, 1922).

Nine months earlier the local Communists had asked some questions of the Right Hon. John Hodge, who was already the Labour M.P. for the constituency. Questions and answers were published in the "Communist" (February 4, 1922):— 
Question.—"Are you, if elected to Parliament, prepared to support the Government in bringing out the White Guards against strikers, as you did during the Boilermakers’ Strike at Liverpool? "
Answer.—" Yes."
We commend this to the “ Pan-Pacific Worker ” for their consideration.

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Socialism—“ For Export Only.”
Mr. J. T. Walton Newbold has for some time been a member of the Social-Democratic Federation. Until a month or two ago he was Editor of their journal, "The Social-Democrat.” During the War the Social-Democratic Federation called itself the "National Socialist Party” and devoted all its energies to helping the British capitalists win their war. In the "Writers’, and Artists’ Year-Book” the "Social-Democratic Federation” advertises its journal in the following choice phrase : "Though Socialist, was pro-Ally during thfc War.”

All of which leads us up to an article by Newbold and W. Craik, published in the Winnipeg "One Big Union Bulletin” (July 16). In this article, which describes the political Situation in Germany, the writers denounce and ridicule the German Hitlerites on the ground that their official title, "The National Socialist German Workers’ Party,” is a "contradiction in terms.” They point out that it is a useful name because it enables the party to attract all kinds of support, both big and small capitalists and also workers.

But why is "National Socialist” a contradiction only in Germany and Canada? Why not in England? Why is the policy of building up a party out of contradictory elements (vide the British Labour Party, or the Social-Democratic Federation) sound in England, where Newbold supports it, and unsound abroad? Why is Newbold so anxious to prevent his foreign readers from knowing the kind of policies he pursues at home?

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The Fabian Bolsheviks.
Mr. George Bernard Shaw, who received an idolatrous reception on his nine-day visit to Russia, has enormously cheered the Communists by his approval of their political and economic system. If they had stopped to consider exactly what Mr. Shaw says of them, they might be less happy about it. He told the I.L.P. Summer School that "the first thing I discovered, with great gratification, is that Socialism as established in Russia is Fabian Socialism” ("Manchester Guardian,” August 6, 1931). This particular description was used many months earlier by the Liberal, Lord Lothian, who was Shaw’s companion on the Russian visit, and Mr. Shaw is not above borrowing a smart phrase when he hears it. It is absurd, of course, to describe Fabianism as Socialism, and we have for a quarter of a century attacked that misconception, but it is indeed true that the Fabian nightmare of State capitalism run by "intellectuals” is. in many ways similar to the scheme of things in Russia. Long ago the similarity was referred to in these columns.

We wish the Communists joy of their new convert, who so lately was worshipping at the feet of Mussolini. We would, however, warn them that policies have a queer knack of "blowing up” as soon as Shaw endorses them. On August 10th, 1921, Shaw-congratulated the Russians on their existing policy, including forced labour. Twelve hours later the Russian Government announced the abandonment of their policy and the introduction of the so-called "New Economic Policy,” because the old one would not work.

On the present occasion Shaw’s approval was hardly in print before the Russian Government announced a big extension of their existing policy of inequality of pay between different groups of workers. Yet Shaw, it will be recalled, defines his "Socialism” as "equality of income.”

In one thing we can agree with Shaw, that is, in his assertion that the theories of the Bolsheviks are not the theories of Marx.
Edgar Hardcastle

A Fabian on Marx. (1932)

From the September 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

A well-known Fabian, who died recently, has been the means of press reviewers having a tilt at Marx. Professor Philip H. Wicksteed’s life, written by Prof. Herford, refers to Bernard Shaw’s debate with Wicksteed in the ’eighties.

Wicksteed is little read here, hut in American colleges the students are referred to his writings on Economics for guidance. This professor imbibed ideas from Jevons and “popularised" the utility theory of value. In 1884 he set out to show that Marx was wrong; labour was not the measure of value, and Marx had admitted this by including usefulness as a necessary condition of an article having value. Wicksteed’s ideas, like Jevons, were a revival of theories of supply and demand, which Marx had already exploded. Bernard Shaw squashed Wicksteed by using Marx’s economic writings. Shaw, however, found that Marx’s ideas were not suitable for intellectuals, and so he joined Wicksteed in worshipping at the shrine of Jevons.

The practice of modern capitalism in concentrating upon reducing the time spent in producing articles in order to sell cheaper, is a tribute to the truth of the labour theory of value. Nowadays, Bernard Shaw says Karl Marx “made a man of me,’’ which is a nasty blow to the Star reviewer, who says Shaw knew that he was beaten by Wicksteed.
Adolph Kohn

A Literary Man on Labour Leaders. (1932)

From the September 1932 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Sisley Huddleston, in his “Europe in Zig-zags," has something to say about the changed outlook of those whom he once regarded as Socialists. It is, of course, the social reformers he has in mind.
  When I was a boy already interested in social questions, it was taken for granted that Socialism was revolutionary. This did not mean that Socialists would necessarily provoke a Revolution, but certainly that they would not neglect the opportunity which might be offered by social upheavals. But when I became a man I found that all the Socialists whom I knew set themselves up as the guardians of the existing society. Since the war there are no anti-Communists, no anti-Revolutionaries so fierce as the Socialists. They have become respectable and respected. They make the world safe for capitalism. (p. 242.)



“Middle Class” Wage-Slaves (1933)

From the September 1933 issue of the Socialist Standard

To those who have the requisite background of Socialist knowledge, everything which appears in print has its own particular significance. The following advertisement appeared recently in the lists of vacancies at the labour exchange: —
  “Translator and teacher. Expert knowledge of German. Resident alien preferred. Highly technical vocabulary. £2 10s. 0d. per week.”
Being Socialists, we do not froth at the mouth with indignation at the low wage offered. We merely take the opportunity to point out that this is but another illustration of the Marxian theory that wages are based upon the cost of living, and further, that the “gentleman” who accepts this position and who might perhaps consider himself a member of the mythical “middle class,” is, in reality, just as much a member of the working class as the labourer who tucks up his shirt sleeves and gets busy with his shovel. Both are workers, both are forced by poverty to sell their labour power in order to live, and the wages of both are based upon the cost of living of the section of the working class to which they belong.

Both may be faced with the necessity of offering to work for a wage which will hardly cover bare necessities at times when unemployment and the struggle for jobs is specially acute.

Both, after years of toil, are still as poor as when they started, whilst the capitalists retain their wealth or grow more wealthy. Yet this wealth has been produced by the workers. It is evident, therefore, that the existing system of wealth production must be a system whereby one class grows rich by the “legalised robbery” of the class which produces the wealth. It is the ownership of the means of production by the exploiting class which enables this process of exploitation to take place. In the apparent equality of exchange, whereby the worker sells his labour power for a given period in exchange for a wage sufficient to enable him to exist, is hidden the fact that this wage bears no relation to the quantity of wealth which he produces.

The only means of doing away with this method of exploitation is to abolish the capitalist system of society. That is the mission of a working class politically organised with that object in view.
Ramo.

Changing Russia (1934)

From the September 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

The report that Russia is about to apply for admission to the League of Nations and to be given a place on the Council of the League brings to the mind the change that has come over Russian policy in the years since the Bolshevik uprising of 1917.

When the Bolsheviks came to power they and their admirers trumpeted forth the information that the first Socialist State had been established, but that it could not hold its place without the inevitable and imminent revolutionary flood that was about to sweep over the world. Russia was claimed as the vanguard of the Socialist revolution and in numerous writings it was pointed out that its policy would be to foment and assist the development of the social revolution in other countries.

For the first few years this was in fact the policy of the Bolsheviks who greeted the short-lived Soviets of Hungary and Bavaria with delight and extravagant phrases. It was also under the shadow of Russia that the now almost forgotten Third International was formed. It was also Russia that, in spite of the poverty of its workers, provided funds to enable glib-tongued Labour leaders to enjoy undreamed of trips across the world and return home to make triumphal tours relating the most minute details of what was being accomplished in a vast country of whose language they were entirely ignorant.

In the last few years a complete change has gradually come over the foreign policy of Soviet Russia. An indication of how complete the change is can be gathered from the following quotation from the pledge given by Litvinoff to President Roosevelt on November 16th, 1933, that it will be the fixed policy of the Soviet Government
  not to permit the formation of any organisation or group—and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organisation or group—which has as an aim the overthrow or the preparation for the overthrow of, or bringing about by force of a change in, the political or social order of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions. (“International Conciliation,” June, 1934, No. 301, page 232.) 
Compare the above with the statement from the "Communist Manifesto” quoted by Emile Burns in "What is the Communist Party?" which runs as follows:—
  The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.
Russia has evidently travelled far from this policy, although its Communist allies here are either too blind to see it or too servile to say so. Its continued economic relations with such countries as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy put the matter beyond dispute.

As Russia has not established Socialism and is not doing so in spite of the repeated statement of Communists, it has to carry on its work and build up its industries on lines similar to normal capitalist countries; it must therefore enter into normal trade relations with the rest of the world, and it does so. As Harry Pollitt put it, "Soviet Union, in her own interests, must buy where she can sell.” (“Communist International,” July 15th, 1933, page 478.) Which is sound capitalist economics!

When, in 1924, the Bolsheviks decided to throw overboard the "world revolution” (except as a mere phrase to give lip-service to) and concentrate on building up the internal resources of the country on the plea that they were building up Socialism in a single country (a complete reversal of their former views), the Communists of the world, who take their policy from Moscow, have simply been used to help on this object.

The foreign policy of Russia is aimed at living more or less amicably with the rest of the capitalist world, and they can only do this because they are building as the capitalists do. 

Socialism is a system diametrically opposed to capitalism and impossible in a predominantly capitalist world. It is impossible in one country alone, owing to international economic interdependence. It is international and not national.

The extravagant claims held out of the success of Socialism in Russia have one by one been proved by time to be groundless and Russia is rapidly approaching the stage of taking its place as a first-class capitalist power.

It may not be out of place to remind the more recent recruits to the Communist view that, among the many false forecasts made by the Bolsheviks, the most prominent was their utterly groundless view that the world would be a Communist one within a few years of the ending of the War. All the Bolshevik leaders of the time, including Lenin, Trotsky and Zinoviev, were swept off their feet by this view. How strongly they held it may be gathered from the following quotation from a statement by Zinoviev, the first president of the Communist International. On May 1st, 1919, he wrote: —
  Old Europe is dashing at mad speed towards the proletarian revolution. . . . Separate defeats will still occur in the near future. Black will perhaps win a victory here and there over red. But the final victory will, nevertheless, go to the red; and this in the course of the next month, perhaps even weeks. The movement is proceeding at such terrific speed that we may say with full confidence, within a year we shall already begin to forget that there was a struggle for communism in Europe, because in a year the whole of Europe will be communist. And the struggle for communism will be transferred to America, perhaps to Asia, and to other parts of the world. . . . Perhaps—for a few years, and side by side with Communist Europe—we shall see American capitalism continue to exist. Perhaps even in England capitalism, will continue to exist for a year or two, side by side with communism victorious in the whole of continental Europe. But such a co-existence cannot last long. Page 217. (Quoted by “International Conciliation,” June, 1934, No. 301.)
The first conference of the Third International also looked forward to the establishment of the world Soviet the following year.

Many years have passed away since the above expectations were expressed and nowadays the friends of Soviet Russia are busy trying to organise a united front against Fascism and Nazism when they are not busy explaining away the Bolshevik agreements with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
Gilmac.


The Present Condition of Italy (1935)

From the September 1935 issue of the Socialist Standard
 This article, which we publish for the information of readers interested in the attitude of Italian workers towards their rulers, is taken from the Indian Labour Journal, July 28th, where it appeared under the title, “Through Italy." It was supplied by the International Transport Workers' Federation and was written by a former resident in Italy who recently had the opportunity of making a tour of investigation. For reasons of space it has been necessary to shorten the article. While offering it for information, we do not share the writer's point of view on all points.—Editorial Committee
Grotesque as it may sound, Italy is at present a Fascist state in which there are no longer any Fascists. This is the astounding result of the observations I have made during a tour of several weeks through the entire country, a tour which enabled me to come into touch with all classes of the population and to learn what their disposition was. Clear distinctions must be made between appearances and reality. As far as appearances go, the Fascist spirit is still trumps. Fascist uniforms and badges are still being worn, and the Roman salute is given. But I have found that people who are outwardly out-and-out Fascists confess, in confidential chats, to being the most downright anti-Fascists. That this is not due to a concatenation of coincidences but represents the general situation is shown by a saying now current in Italy, which runs as follows:

Three Italians together—three Fascists; two Italians together—two friends; one Italian alone— one anti-Fascist!

The estrangement from Fascism is equally marked in all classes of the population. Workers are anti- Fascists, the farmers are anti-Fascists, the middle-class people are anti-Fascists, the capitalists are anti-Fascists. Some are so because, besides taking away their liberty, Fascism has also robbed them of their scanty livings, others because they tremble to observe that Fascism is steering more and more towards an economic disaster. Those basing their judgment on appearances alone and not getting into closer touch with the people, will have no inkling of such a disposition of the people in Italy. Again and again tourists in Italy have recounted to me in the most enthusiastic terms the great and far-reaching changes that have taken place under Mussolini. Fascism, according to them, has extracted Italy from its former position of backwardness, and raised it within hardly thirteen years to the level of the big European industrial states. In proof of this they point to the up-to-date arterial roads met with all over the country, one of which actually leads up Mount Etna to a height of 2,000 metres; to the work of modernisation, the signs of which are to be seen in any of the larger towns; to the progress of traffic facilities, etc., etc.; not forgetting, of course, the construction of new towns like Littoria and Sabauda, which announce their existence to the tourist from afar, being bathed in seas of light such as are elsewhere only to be met with in a metropolis.

Those are all incontrovertible facts. Those visiting Italy to-day, and remembering the state of the country ten or twenty years back, got the impression that a fresh state on a gigantic scale has been made in the direction of progress. But this impression rapidly fades on deviating even a few kilometres from the main roads of the tourist traffic in Italy. There the order of the day is not construction but dilapidation. The houses and alleys are dirtier than ever before. Nowhere is a new building, or even so much as a scaffolding, to be seen. The people are badly dressed and badly nourished. The tourist witnesses a scene of indescribable squalor. In Messina, for example, slums dating from the time of the earthquake are to be seen, generating pestilential smells. Usually—at least in the south—electric light extends no farther than a few kilometres from the towns, and even the railway stations have to carry on with oil lamps for illumination. In many cases drinking water has to be conveyed in big tank trains to places where there are no springs, not to mention water mains. Sicily, once the granary of Rome, is even now still withered and dried up in summer over two-thirds of its area, because Fascism, too, has failed to provide the necessary irrigation works, the construction of luxurious, and consequently uneconomic, arterial roads evidently seeming to Fascism to be of greater moment and thus more urgent.

It will be readily understood that the Italian country people are not exactly rapturous about the arterial roads. They are shrewd enough to know not only that they only swallow up the money needed for the construction of irrigation works and the better maintenance of their own roads, but also that their own increasing poverty is somehow connected with the luxury constructions of Mussolini. The country people, they say, must fare worse, so that the townspeople may fare all the more luxuriously.

Campaign against Abyssinia
What distinguishes Italy nowadays very markedly from what it was in former times is the dominance of the uniform in street scenes. Many towns give the tourist at once the impression of just having wandered into a big barrack. It is as if the entire Italian nation had exchanged the mandoline for the rifle and as if Mussolini cherished ambitions—besides those of being a maker of roads and builder of cities—to make Italy the Prussia of the Mediterranean.

In the south, uniforms are much more plentiful than in the north. Anyone travelling from Messina to Milan might get the idea that he was travelling, through two different countries, one at war, the other at peace. Militia especially are rarely to be seen in the streets of northern towns. In Milan I could go about for hours in the busiest parts of the town without coming across a single militia uniform. Fascist badges are also less plentiful in the north, while the Roman salute is conspicuous only by its absence.

These distinctions are not confined to appearances, either. The people of the north have not managed to get up any real enthusiasm for Fascism. They consider it as a fruit of the south and, above all, a costly one.

That antipathy to Fascism is stronger and less covert in the north, could be inferred from the short-livedness of the Fascist placards. Stuck up overnight they were torn up by the next day, in the hub of the town as well as on the outskirts. I was told that this has been quite a common occurrence for a long time past. Typical Fascist papers, too, are read in the north to a much less degree than in the south. Mussolini’s Popolo d'Italia, which is published at Milan, was indeed vociferously hawked about the streets, but hardly any were being sold.

Is this land of uniforms also indeed a militarised land? This question interested me keenly. During a long stay in the country previously I had come to regard the Italians as a peace-loving people, to whom militarism and war were abhorrent. It was just when more than two decades back I stood for the first time in the square fronting the cathedral of Milan, that I found myself surrounded by crowds of people taking part in a mass demonstration against the Lybian war. Had Mussolini succeeded in so completely reversing the character of a nation as to cause it now to greet a similar enterprise with jubilation?

In order to satisfy myself on this point I have taken great pains, making observations throughout the country as to how the nation is reacting to the Abyssinian conflict. And I have discovered no trace of any such enthusiasm as the Italian newspapers would like to make out as existing, for the sake of opinion abroad and even at home. The attitude of the people is one of earnest reticence, and in intimate chats I was able to elicit surprising opinions, lending a somewhat sinister aspect to the present state of affairs in Italy. A former Communist, now to all appearances a strict Fascist, explained to me that Mussolini’s assault on Abysinia was the most palpable proof that he was at the end of his resources. It had not been forgotten in Italy, he said, that former regimes had always begun an African campaign when they got into difficulties; and Mussolini was pursuing the same method. He should not be restrained, however, in this enterprise, but rather urged on. On the rock-bound plains of Abyssinia grew no laurels for him to pluck. He would merely be running his head against that rocky wall as so many others had done before him, not least the Italians.

In uttering these sentiments the Communist was only voicing the thoughts of many an Italian as to Mussolini’s Abyssinian venture. Similar expectations were expressed by the Italians in most of the conversations I had with them, and simple workers more than once remarked: “We need the guns to put an end to the famine.’’ And when, with feigned astonishment, I inquired whether by “famine” they really meant Fascism, the answer was in the affirmative every time.

A Hunger-Stricken Land
It made a great impression on me that the workers had hardly let themselves be infected by Fascism at all. Of one accord, north and south, they reject it; and this observation of mine has frequently been confirmed by remarks I have heard in bourgeois circles. This contrasts markedly with Hitler’s national socialism which, by means of the so-called “Battle of Labour,” has succeeded in sweeping a considerable portion of the workers off their feet.

I seek the explanation in the fact Mussolini had no such hard and unfortunately effective predecessors in wage-cutting as Hitler had later in BrĂ¼ning and Von Papen. He had to make the cuts himself and consequently to unmask himself before the workers from the very outset. Besides this, the severe unemployment prevailing in Italy to-day first came into the country under Fascism, so that Mussolini was not able, either, to lay the blame for it on to his predecessors in the Government; nor could he make “Marxism” the scapegoat, for its organisations had never obtained representation in the Government. The relief work provided by Mussolini in the shape of the construction of arterial roads, harbour works, public buildings, etc., did not succeed in making the desired impression on the Italian workers, who, in contrast to the Germans, are not satisfied merely with working, but want to make a living by it, too. And Fascism has failed to enable them to do so. The thirteen years of Mussolini’s dictatorship have proved to the workers to be thirteen years of continual robbery of their wages and thus of their subsistence.

The most deplorable conditions in this respect I have come across in the south. Here the average daily wages amount to a mere seven lire, equivalent to about 2s. 4d. Only in quite exceptional cases is this level exceeded in the south. A wage of twelve lire is regarded there as quite a big income. In Central Italy and, above all, in the north, the level is, generally speaking, higher, and would be, for the broad masses in the region of 18 lire. Skilled tradesmen may occasionally be found earning more, in exceptional cases perhaps as much as 30 lire, but this is exceptional indeed. The elite of the manual and brain workers is considered to be the civil servants, whose monthly incomes vary for the most part from 400 to 700 lire. All the figures given represent gross earnings which, in practice, suffer considerable reductions in the shape of compulsory contributions to Fascist organisations, etc.

But it should by no means be inferred that this low level of wages carries with it a correspondingly low level of prices. Italy is rather to be classed among the dear countries than among the cheap ones.

Another rock menacing Mussolini is his increasing isolation in the midst of the Italian people. It has already led to a fundamental alteration in the character of the Fascist dictatorship. Able, formerly, to rely on the support of certain sections of the bourgeoisie, it has now no other backing than that provided by the Fascist militia. For the alienation of the bourgeoisie from Fascism has been accompanied by an increasing loss of hold on the regular forces, the officers of which practically reflect the opinions and ideas in vogue among the bourgeoisie. The higher officers’ circles were never particularly attached to Fascism. The generals had compounded with it because they were in need of its services, and because they had their orders from the King. Now the old discrepancies have cropped up again, and on the part of the officers, at any rate, little effort is made to conceal them from the public. Yet Mussolini need have no immediate fears on this score. A military dictatorship would be compromised in Italy to-day just as much as the present dictatorship of the militia is, and at all events the fall of Mussolini would, to the masses of the workers, be the signal for a storm such as no military sabres could hope to arrest. This is indeed the sole reason why the bourgeoisie find it expedient to fold their hands and let things take their natural course. Fearing the consequences of Mussolini’s policy as they do, they fear even more the unknown things that may lurk behind Fascism to emerge when it has fallen.

Nor need Mussolini fear as yet the hostility of the agricultural and industrial workers. Their limbs are paralysed by the terror of dictatorship, and they lack, too, the organisational connections and political conceptions needful to enable them to carry out a really menacing movement against the dictatorial system.

More important to my mind at present, therefore, appears the rock which may loom up in Mussolini’s path in the shape of his own militia. It is no uncommon thing for the good understanding between dictators and their militia to be of short duration. We have a bloody case in point in the events of June 30th, 1934. Such St. Bartholomew’s Eves among friends Mussolini has not been obliged to exhibit to the world, only because, being a better student of history than Hitler, he had thoroughly purged his militia long before the fabled “March on Rome,” and thenceforward subjected it to continual siftings. Only just during the last few weeks he seems to have resumed his activities in this direction, for the dispatchment of strong contingents of militia to Africa is generally attributed to difficulties that Mussolini has experienced out of the ranks of his own troops. Everything points to the fact that this time he is carrying out the most drastic purge that ever the Fascist militia in Italy have experienced. But cauterise the existing sores as he may, the virus, uneliminated, is sure to break out again in fresh places, and the more evident the isolation of his dictatorship becomes to the public, the more and the worse these sores will grow.

I have not been in sufficiently close touch with the internal affairs of the Fascist militia to be able to determine with any degree of exactitude the extent and the reasons of the conflicts that have arisen within its ranks. But the looming shapes of these rocks are becoming more and more clearly outlined. Will Mussolini be able to steer clear of these, too? Just now it rather seems as if he will run straight on to them at headlong speed, if he does not run up against the financial or the Abyssinian rocks first.

The Mining Disaster (1936)

From the September 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard

Once again an English mining town has been stricken by a tragic disaster, this time Barnsley. In the early hours of Friday, August 7th, at the Wharncliffe, Woodmoor Colliery, occurred one of the worst explosions this country has known.
Fifty-eight men who had gone down the mine to work returned—but to the mortuary: their bodies twisted and battered beyond recognition. The wives, children and dependants who gathered at the pithead had one—though pitiful —consolation: death was swift. Unlike many previous disasters, the victims were not buried alive for days to suffer the tortures of lingering deaths.

There is hardly a year in which there is not a big disaster or series of accidents in the mines. They have come to be taken for granted. The miners accept the risk they run, inevitably, as men who have to earn their daily bread. They receive neither medals nor decorations, which such risks would bring in other spheres. Rather, their earnings are almost the lowest among organised workers.

Can mining be made safe, or safer, so that the risk of the loss of life through accidents may become non-existent or at least very much reduced? Responsible and professional opinion says that it can, as the following from the Daily Telegraph (July 29th) shows. Reporting the proceedings of the Royal Commission on Safety in Coal Mines, sitting at Caxton Hall, Westminster, the evidence of Mr. Arthur Roberts, President of the Colliery Under-Managers of Great Britain, is given as follows: —
 If the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, with the accompanying regulations and orders, were consistently carried out by all the parties concerned, he said, there would be a big drop in the accident rate. This particularly applied to accidents caused by falls of roof and sides, haulage and machinery.
And again, the evidence of a Government inspector in the same newspaper on the same day:—
  Nearly half the colliery accidents in the North-Western Division last year could have been avoided, states the Divisional Inspector of Mines, Mr. W. J. Charlton, in his report issued yesterday.
 He reports that 99 persons were killed and 322 injured during the year in the division, which contains the coalfields of Lancashire and Cheshire, North Staffs and North Wales.
  Falls of ground accounted for 54 of the deaths, and Mr. Charlton calls attention to the “disturbing increase” in the number of accidents from falls of side at the working face.
Here is opinion from two independent and opposing sources that mining could at least have been made safer to the extent that nearly fifty per cent. of the accidents in a certain period could have been avoided if “the provisions of the Coal Mines Act” had been “carried out.” Why were they not carried out? It is doubtful whether that question will be heard outside a Royal Commission of Inquiry. It is a measure of the ethical standards of capitalism that the complete resources of its scientifically equipped police force, supported by immense funds, would be set in motion to track down an homicidal maniac, yet expert opinion, which says that negligence has caused workers' deaths, is just quietly reported. There are no screaming headlines; no Scotland Yard sleuths to fix culpability for the slaughter.

It has often been argued that the cost of making some mines safe is prohibitive; that the result would be less profits and the inability to compete with fellow-capitalists in the markets, or no profits. Mark this, fellow-workers in the mines: Profits—but twisted and battered bodies and widows and fatherless children. No profits or less profits and less of these appalling and tragic "visitations from God”—which? If the choice were between these two simple alternatives then capitalism would choose—the first.

That is the tragedy.

When society is organised to produce things for use only, instead of for profit, then will risk to life in daily work be reduced to its minimum, and human life, health and well-being, be looked upon as society's first duty.
Harry Waite


East Ham, North (1937)

Party News from the September 1937 issue of the Socialist Standard

The campaign in East Ham, North is gathering momentum Meetings are better attended and the persistent efforts put in by our propagandists is showing results in larger and interested audiences. There is evidence now that our opponents are taking our activities seriously. Their instinct is sound. We are serious. Incidents have occurred which arouses the suspicion that organised attempts are being made to make the running of our meetings difficult, if not impossible. Such attempts won't succeed.

Anyone disagreeing with our case is allowed to question it or come upon the platform and state a case in opposition.

If our opponents have a case there is no need therefore for them to shout our speakers down. We have never been afraid of opposition and we are not afraid now. Socialist propaganda will thrive on it. We are democrats and have always practiced free and open discussion. We have never at any time favoured the stupid tactics of breaking up the meetings of any opponent. Such behaviour leads to the discredit of those who practice it. The banning of demonstrations in East London by the police is relatively fresh news. Workers who are wise will avoid giving any excuse to the authorities for the closing down of working-class meetings.

We appeal to all our members attending the meetings in East Ham, North, not to allow themselves to be provoked into doing anything which is likely to reflect on the time-honoured practice of the Party. Show by example, self-discipline and argument, that our democratic methods of running meetings are in the interests of the workers. The majority of workers who make up public audiences are intelligent enough to realise the importance of democratic principles and should quickly resent attempts by interested parties to prevent us from stating our case.

Arrangements are being made for a distribution of leaflets to the electors of East Ham. The first will be ready soon. 

About that fund. You know we have set ourselves the job of getting £400 in a very short time. You have convinced yourself that you have contributed your share? Good ! Now set yourself this task. Imagine you are without a cent in the world. Imagine you have the most wonderful idea which could only be turned to account if you managed to raise a few pounds. What schemes your imagination would evolve to make good your poverty! Now imagine that idea to be our Parliamentary activity and the raising of funds your personal responsibility, and see how quickly your mind produces plans. We want members not only to give, but to plan how to raise money.

Get going! Think and talk Socialism! Interest others in our activities, and, be assured, you will get a kick out of seeing the results of your own efforts.
Parliamentary Committee.

Click pic to enlarge.


Contact (1938)

From the September 1938 issue of the Socialist Standard

Probably nothing arouses more annoyance in Labour circles and all other Reform political organisations than Clause 8 of our “Declaration of Principles,’’ known briefly as the “Hostility clause.” Especially is this so since the frantic efforts put forth by sections of the Labour and Reform movements for the formation of a "Popular Front.” The Socialist Party is bitterly assailed because it refuses to “sink differences” and march forward (to the inspiring tunes of “God Save the King” or “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” is a detail not worth bothering about) to a “common goal.”

The quite sincere opinion of many earnest workers, that the "Hostility clause” is dictated by sheer cussedness or sniffy aloofness, deserves consideration, in view of the fact that questions to our speakers at open-air meetings not infrequently are mainly directed to this important issue.

The clause was born of quite definite historic happenings. The formation of the S.P.G.B. in 1904 was rendered necessary by, if on no other grounds, the compromises of the Social Democratic Party of that time—a Party possessing sufficient adequate knowledge of Marxian economics to issue a “Catechism of Socialism,” which, with certain reservations, was not a bad introduction to the main points elaborated in “Capital.”

For some instances of S.D.P. compromise, trickery and downright treachery on the field of compromise, consult our pamphlet, “Socialism.” Many of our readers will probably be surprised at the revelations on this head.

It is sometimes urged that, in the intervening period, events in the political field have rendered the clause to some extent academic, even obsolete for practical purposes; on the contrary, the fraud of the "Popular Front,” pushed especially with all the effrontery of the pinchbeck Stalins of the Communist Party, renders the clause more necessary than ever.

The facts are simple—the Socialist Party neither resorts to new-minted phrases, on the one hand, nor betrays a naive faith in the “dictionary” to guide its statements.

And these are the facts in answer to the general charge of “splitting the working class.” The first is—on the political field the S.P.G.B. has no common ground with any other political party; being a working-class organisation, we have all the “sympathy” in the world with members of our class. This "sympathy” is shared by many members of the Capitalist class, who are always prepared to shed a tear for the underdogs of that class, and to chuck charity at them. But our “sympathy” finds practical expression as a political body in seeking to show the way out through Socialism. Anything short of that leads to muddle-headedness; it delays understanding, and therefore is detrimental to Socialism. To be told this may hurt the feelings of the enthusiastic uninformed young Labour lad or lassie; it may (it generally does) bring painful surprise to the conceited old fool who “was a Socialist before you were born” and who has sat at the feet of a Blatchford or received the nod familiar from the cloth cap which covered the noble nob of a Keir Hardie. The latter type is probably beyond hope. ”Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone”; in the former case, the big mass of sterling metal in the rank and file of the "Labour” movement can stand hard knocks; it will ring true later.

The charge of snobbish aloofness is part sheer figment based on hearsay, and part oblique acknowledgment of inability to answer our case; it sometimes finds fuddled expression in “You are all right in theory,” or the snarl “Arm-chair philosophers.”

The sum up: The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that the material factors in the capitalist world (more perhaps in this country than anywhere else) have ripened to the point of plucking the unexpected fruit of Socialism; the harvest awaits reaping; the banditry of a decayed Feudalism, glorified Bank Shylocks and Factory Lords are now rather stage dragons at the gates of the Socialist Paradise. The really effective enemy barring the way is the twin-headed slimy monster wooing Eve with the deadly apple of Reform, and the fatal futility of “ Sovietism.”

Clause 8 still stands with all its implications; a Socialist organisation cannot conceivably make “contacts” with groups dominated by, or subordinated to, a capitalist ideology—touching pitch defiles in 1938 as it did in 1904.
Augustus Snellgrove