January 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard
A regular column dealing with the antics of those who call themselves socialist but in practice do nothing but harm to the cause.
First, a look at the title of this series. We all know what an enemy is, but what is "the left"? The matter is not as simple as it sounds. Was Nazi Germany "left" and Stalinist Russia "right"? How absurd, most people would say. Just the opposite. Yet the similarities between the two régimes were most marked. In particular, both countries were wage-slave societies where the wage-slave had practically no rights and where the concentration camp and the death penalty were the answer for those who dared question the actions of the rulers. And, as is well enough known, their differences were so unimportant that in 1939, the Hitler-Stalin pact gave the green light for the start of the holocaust.
So perhaps we will have to deal only with those people and parties who pretend to be socialist (maybe closing our eyes, for convenience, to the fact that the very word Nazi was only shortened for National Socialist; while as to the communists — who, in Marxian terms, are but synonymous with socialists, the term "red-fascist" is really nearer the mark.) Some readers may recall that the French writer and pseudo-socialist, Jean-Paul Sartre, once coined the slogan "No enemies on the left" in an endeavour to produce a "united front" of French pseudosocialists. The reality is, however. that it is precisely these leftists. all these people who masquerade as socialists, the Wilsons, the Foots in this country, the supporters of Brandt or Brezhnev, of Mao or Castro et al, who are the real villains of the piece. The reason is simple. In order to achieve Socialism, in a world such as we live in now where the objective conditions, the power to produce abundance to satisfy all human needs, have long been established, the only real obstacle is the subjective one of convincing the working class of the world that Socialism is the answer. It therefore follows that all these people who lead false trails merely produce the confusion as to what Socialism is all about, which, sadly, characterises almost the whole electorate over one hundred years after Marx and Engels had pointed the way ahead. And it is even worse that that. For not only do these people sow confusion, they also have the effect of producing revulsion against the very thought of Socialism among such elements of the working class who are prepared to think (or who have the time and energy to think after they have been through their day's rations of exploitation). Who would wish to be socialist who believes that Wilson's government was an example? Who would not be sick of the very idea of a communist (or socialist) society if that means anything like the vicious tyranny which exists for to see in places like Russia or China?
It is hoped that this brief introduction will have set the scene. In future issues we can deal with some of the activities of these leftist enemies of Socialism and of any progress towards a sane and humane society.
L. E. Weidberg