From the March 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have received the two following letters from a reader in America, and are glad, in order to make our reply more “strong, official, and efficacious,” as well as to refresh the memory of certain of our critics at home, to give both these letters and our reply the publicity of these columns.
Morgantown, West Virginia,
United States, North America.
December 18, 1912.
To The Socialist Party of Great Britain,
Comrades,—A quarrel has broken out in Socialist circles of our country, and we ask you to settle it.
Some time ago my neighbor, Comrade Joseph Mras, ordered of you 100 copies of your booklet “Socialism and Religion." I bought of Comrade Mras several copies of the said booklet and quoted it on some occasions. Now the comrades accuse me of insincerity. They tell me that I quoted a booklet, of which I knew that it is of no authority whatever. They maintain that your party has not the slightest connection with the International Marxian Socialism. Your booklet, they say, is the rankest forgery, because page 6 contains the sentence: “ It [the booklet] is issued, not as the view of an individual, but as the accepted manifesto of the Socialist Party on the subject,” whereas it contains only the personal opinion of some individual or small group of individuals.
The Socialists are treating Comrade Mras not better than they treat me. They tell him he should burn the booklets he ordered off you rather than sell them. They display a genuine fury against the circulation of your booklet.
Comrade Mras wrote to the National Secretary, John Work, of Chicago, asking him for information, and sent him a copy of your booklet. Comrade Work sustains the views of our antagonists, as you see from the enclosed letter.
Now. there is a great deal of insincerity, not on our part, but either on the part of John Work and his followers, or on your part. I have studied many Socialist standard works, and I find the principles contained in your booklet in perfect harmony with the teachings of Marx, Engels, Dietzgen, Bebel, Bax, Morris, Hyndman, and the rest of the great Socialist champions. On the other hand, John Work, John Spargo, and Morris Hillquit are trimmers who strive to hide the basic principles of Marxian Socialism, for the purpose of catching votes. We think, however, that you deserve credit for the frankness with which you stated the said principles.
Be this as it may, we ask you to send us a clear, concise, and official statement concerning your attitude to the International Socialist Party and its Bureau. Please make your statement as strong, official and efficacious as possible. We do not like to be abused on account of your booklet, in which we placed in good faith our confidence. Kindly return also John Work's letter.
Please favour us with an answer.
With best wishes and kindest regards,
Respectfully yours, (Signed)
C. J. Kluser.
* * * * *
The Socialist Party (of America).
John M. Work,
111 North Market Street, Chicago.
December 9, 1912.
Morgantown, West Virginia.
According to the Bulletin of the International Socialist Bureau, the Socialist Party of Great Britain is not affiliated with the Bureau.
The book is apparently the personal opinion of some individual or small group of individuals. It does not correspond with the policy of the Socialist Party of the United States.
(Signed) John M. Work.
* * * * *
The Socialist Party of Great Britain
193 Grays Inn Road,
Jan. 31, 1913.
C. J. Kluser,
Morgantown, West Virginia.
Dear Mr. Kluser,
In answer to your query regarding our attitude toward the " International” as represented by the “International Socialist Bureau,” the following points from our official records will be sufficient.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed in 1904 as the culmination of a revolt of the rank and file of the Social Democratic Federation against the reformism and corruption of the official section.
The S.P.G.B. was represented by two delegates at the ”International Socialist Congress” at Amsterdam in 1904. Their report appeared in the official organ of the S.P.G.B. (the “Socialist Standard") for September 1904.
In the "Socialist Standard” for January 1905 appears an address, in three languages, to the “International” stating the S.P.G.B. attitude toward “a communication from the Secretary of the British section of the Amsterdam Congress asking among other things whether the Party (S.P.G.B.) favoured the holding of a Conference with a view to forming in England a national committee to deal with matters arising out of the International Congress.” The address continues: “ We have declined to take part in any such conference on the ground that it should be the task of the Socialist Party alone to deal with these questions, and that, judging from the composition of the British Section at the Amsterdam Congress, at which the Party was represented, the proposed committee would consist of men who are in no sense of the word Socialist.”
Elsewhere in the same number of the official organ the correspondence is published in full and evidence given in support of the above contention, while measures necessary to remedy such a state of things are also outlined.
The matter was then discussed at the Annual Conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain at Easter, 1905, and reported in the official organ for May, 1905. At that Conference it was moved ”that the Executive Committee be instructed to draw up a series of resolutions embodying the following points : —
- That only Socialist organisations recognising the class war in theory and practice should be represented at the International Socialist Congress.
- That disputes between the various parties in each country as to the genuineness of their respective organisations be settled by the Congress itself.
The scandal of a non-Socialist majority of the British delegation bossing the International relationships of the Socialist Party is also referred to in the leading article of the “Socialist Standard” for June, 1905.
In the "Socialist Standard” for January, 1906, the following manifesto to the Socialist workers was issued by the Executive of the S.P.G B. under the title of "The Essentials of Socialist Unity ” : —
“In the January number of our official organ, the “Socialist Standard,” we addressed you concerning the International Socialist Congresses, and briefly dwelt on our reasons for declining an invitation from the Secretary of the British Section at the Amsterdam Congress, to take part in forming a national committee to deal with matters arising out of the International Congress, on the grounds that it should be the task of the Socialist Party alone to deal with these questions, and that, judging by the composition of the British Section at the Amsterdam Congress, the proposed committee would consist of men who arc in no sense of the word Socialists. That committee has now been formed, and its composition fully justifies the view we took of it in January last. “In accordance with our promise we have forwarded a communication to the International Socialist Bureau asking that, in our name, a motion be placed on the agenda of the next International Congress, for discussion in open Congress, embodying the following proposals:
"(a) That admission to future International Socialist Conferences shall be open only to all avowed Socialist bodies that accept the essential principle of Socialism, i.e., socialisation of the means of production and distribution; union and international union of workers; Socialist conquest of the Public Powers by the proletariat organised as a class party recognising and proclaiming the class war, running all candidates on this basis, and adopting an attitude of hostility under all circumstances to sections of the capitalist party.
"(b) That all previous resolutions (defining the basis of admission to the Congress) be rescinded.
“(c) 'That all matters upon the agenda be discussed in open Congress, and that the methods of discussion in commissions be entirely abolished.
"(d) That each delegate shall have one vote, but if a poll be demanded each party represented shall be entitled to one vote.
"(e) That representation upon the Bureau shall be upon the basis of parties represented at the Congress, each of which shall be entitled to one representative on the Bureau, etc., etc.
“THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN.
“Head Office, London,
This request to the Bureau was not granted.
At the Annual Conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain held in London at Easter, 1907 (vide report in official organ, April 1907), the first business of the Conference on the second day was a discussion on the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart. The questions were whether the S.P.G.B. should seek representation at that Congress under the conditions laid down by the non Socialist British National Committee and the International Socialist Bureau, and what was the best method of getting into communication with the known representatives of that uncompromising policy of which the S.P.G B. are exponents in this country. In the result, it was passed that “This Conference of the S.P.G.B. recommends that no delegates be sent to the next International Congress, but that the E.C use their best endeavour to get in touch with those abroad who occupy our position.” (“Socialist Standard.,” April, 1907.)
All along we had, of course, regularly received the communications of the Bureau and published them when necessary. But although the matter of the International Congresses has been reopened in the S.P.G.B again and again, the above resolution still stands, and consequently the answer you received from John Work is partly explained.
No such objection to our literature as the one to which you refer has been, or is likely to be, urged against us in this country, for obvious reasons. J. Work and others are simply exploiting the lack of knowledge which exists on your side regarding political conditions here.
The pamphlet you refer to "Socialism and Religion''; was revised, endorsed, and issued by the Executive Committee of the S.P.G.B. As stated in the pamphlet, it represents, not the views of an individual, but the accepted views of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.
The position laid down in the pamphlet is the Socialist position and nothing else. It is based on the bed-rock of Marxism. The proof that the pamphlet expresses the Socialist position is contained within the pamphlet itself. The paltry subterfuge of those incapable of answering its arguments only succeeds in being ridiculous.
I am returning herewith letter from John M. Work as requested.
Trusting the above explanation will prove satisfactory, I remain, yours respectfully,
A. L. Cox,
Gen. Sec, pro tem.