From the October 1916 issue of the Socialist Standard
An American Blatchford.
England cannot claim a monopoly of "Socialist" patriots. One of the leading types of American vote-catching "Socialist" Party men is Victor Berger, who was the lone "Socialist" elected to Congress from the city of Milwaukee in the State of Wisconsin. At the present time there is a ballot amongst the members as to whether Berger should be re-called from the National Executive of the Socialist Party of America for his stand on patriotism.
Training the Children.
Berger stated his position in the 'Milwaukee Leader," and outraged the feelings of some of the "comrades"—and to do that it must be pretty bad and rank.
Among his statements are the following:
Any man who is unwilling to fight for his class or nation does not deserve to belong to a class or nation. The "Leader," therefore, is in favour of a "preparedness" that shall unite and protect the bulk of our nation—that is the working people. . . . . This preparedness must become a part of our early education by practising calisthenics and by encouraging outdoor sports from childhood on, in order to produce healthy men and women. But this cannot be all.
The more to follow that he promises is a new way of "protecting the working people." He says:
Every citizen should devote one year—between 19 and 20—to the service of his nation. The citizen—male or female—may stay at home during the time and receive for the service such pay as will be fixed by Congressional legislation. The education must be in charge of the nation and the nation must pay for it.
Such are the leaders and "brains" of the Socialist Party of America. No wonder "the Party" here is the happy hunting ground of freaks of every kind and of professional wind-bags who find a soft haven of refuge from work in preaching the gospel of Government Ownership and Christian Fellowship, seasoned with a little higher wages and more efficiency.
"Worse than Hell."
Mr. Berger closes his editorial with this:
We Socialists are as much opposed to militarism as we ever were. But the Socialist Party is not for peace at any price. War may be hell, but there are some things in this world worse than "hell." Real Socialist are willing to fight these things.
What "these things" are we are not told. Where ignorance is bliss silence is golden.
A "Socialist" In Sackcloth
This puerility recalls the attitude of the present lone Congressman of the "Socialist Party," Meyer London, who represents the East Side tenement district of New York City, which has been described as "a pocket edition of hell." On May 5th there was a debate in Congress on giving the franchise to the people of the American colony, Porto Rico. After London had said: "The man whose vote you take away will have the right to put the knife of the assassin into the heart of any man who attempts to govern him against his will," an uproar took place in the House and a member moved that London be expelled unless he apologised for insulting Congress. Meyer London apologised. Not only that: as L. B. Boudin said in the "New Review," he did it "in such a miserable way that the reading of the printed record of the scene is sickening and disheartening beyond measure." And as asked plaintively, "What has happened to London?"
History as It is Not.
The conspiracy of silence with which we were met in the English labour Press because we dared to expose the fraud of political compromise and reform advocacy, has spread to America. Ever since the war started the Labour and alleged Socialist Press of the United States has carefully refrained from referring to our Party at all when dealing with Socialism in Great Britain. The "New York Call," the privately-owned organ of the Socialist Party of America, continually refers to the Independent Labour Party as the only party in England that is standing against the war, and this in spite of the fact that we have sent the SOCIALIST STANDARD regularly ever since our masters decided on war.
The "International Socialist Review" is a non-party magazine which is practically run in the interests of the I.W.W. and "Direct Action." The "International Notes" of the July issue (written by Wm. E. Bohn) are an example of the misrepresentation of the movement in England. Says Mr. Bohn, "The Independent Labour Party has been against the war from the beginning." To those who have carefully followed the actions and literature of this body this is grotesque. We know that right through the war it has allowed its members, and especially its members in Parliament, to push recruiting and to appeal to working men to join this this capitalist war. Even its alleged anti-war member, Ramsay MacDonald, states that "we" must carry the war to a successful conclusion. We know that long before conscription started the I.L.P. left it to each member to decide whether he would enlist, which is not a Socialist position. When we recall the speeches of the I.L.P. Members of Parliament like J. O'Grady, G. N. Barnes, Charles Duncan, Adamson, Richardson, and W. C. Anderson, we realise the depth of the "Review's" distortion of facts.
Fact versus Fiction.
The writer evidently that the campaign against conscription (which was not supported by many of its Members of Parliament) entitles it to be called "anti-war from the beginning."
The Independent Labour Party is a part of the Labour Party which has used all its energy to support the war and seduce the workers into supporting it. The Independent Labour Party is pledged to maintain the Labour Party constitution and also its candidates.
When the "Review" says that "we on the outside are obliged to take the votes of the Independent Labour Party and the British Socialist Party as the true indications of Socialist opinion in England and to say that American Socialists are pleased with these indications," it is lying, and that is putting it mildly.
The Test of Socialism.
The Independent Labour Party, whose leaders like Keir Hardie and MacDonald, denied the class struggle; the party which advised the workers to vote for one of the capitalist parties in politics; the party whose members were allowed to support increased armaments; the independent labour party financed by avowed non-socialists; a party which, as Engels said long ago, was brought into being with the help of Maltman Barrie, the paid Conservative agent; this organised body which has lately given support to the nonsensical propaganda of avowed anti-Socialists like E. D. Morel and Mr. Ponsonby, M.P.: this is the party which represents the true indication of Socialist opinion! Save us from such!
The British Socialist is also a true indication of Socialism! A party whose policy has been to support the Conservative and Liberal sections of the robbing class, which has advocated a Citizen Army, a score of rotten reforms, a large Navy and a strong Army, etc., without the protest and in most cases with the support of, the very men who still form the rump of the British Socialist Party. The whole controversy within the latter, too, has been about details of war, and there has been no large conflict of opinion as to the support of the war itself — because the members do not understand Socialism.
I challenge the "Review" to answer—if it can. Perhaps, too, when dealing with influences against the war in England it may find space to mention the S.P.G.B.