Friday, October 6, 2017

Panic in the Fields (1986)

From the July 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

The severity of a crisis cannot always be gauged by a government's public response to it. That is why, at times of obvious threat to our well being, we might be officially assured that there is no great cause for concern.

This is the case with the current level of unemployment, which is tightening the screw of poverty ever tighter on the working class but which merits the attention of only a minor minister, whose main function seems to tell us about the latest additions to the dole queues. It also applies to world famine, which needlessly kills tens of millions a year but which can apparently be left to be solved by charitable joggers and rock music devotees. The unimaginable menace of nuclear war need not deprive us of any sleep because wise Ronald Reagan and resolute Margaret Thatcher have got the balance of power into so fine an adjustment that the weapons will never be used. The explosion at Chernobyl caused a few worried moments but, after all, human beings were being bombarded by natural radioactivity long, long before anyone had even heard of the atom. In any case nuclear power stations in this country are (like Windscale) Made In Britain, which means they will never blow up or leak or run out of control.

So don't worry, is the official message. The public should keep calm. There is no reason for undue alarm.

And then somebody called "the hippy" bursts on the scene, causing feverish panic where before all was tranquil reassurance. Hippies, we are told, are a cause for concern. They are like a plague sweeping across the country. They seem to have taken all those Thatcher speeches about individual liberty a bit too seriously. They choose not to wash or comb their hair, they don't send their children to school to be indoctrinated into an acceptance of wage slavery. They don't live in mortgaged semis or in council high rise estates, they don 't stuff themselves into rush hour trains and buses and traffic jams. They don't have a regular job in factory, office or supermarket. Clearly, they are a menace to civilised society and every right-minded Britisher will agree with the government taking the most stringent measures to suppress them.

It is true that hippies sometimes join up in a convoy of slow, ramshackle vehicles which is liable to block the road and they pitch in fields without the owner's permission, perhaps leaving the place in a bit of a mess. One of the gutter press drew on its resources of instant hysteria to describe them as "the world's most famous blot on the landscape"—worse, presumably, than the effects of the military practising their tanks and guns over vast tracts of the countryside, worse than the ripping out of miles of hedgerows and the ploughing up of ancient downlands by farmers who, in their lust to climb aboard the grain subsidy bandwagon, create huge eyesores of prairies.

Douglas Hurd, who is said to be a kindly, moderate man. did his kind, moderate best to stoke up the panic about the hippies by likening them to medieval brigands. This phrase should come easily to an aristocratic, ex-Etonian, member of the British ruling class, who may be gratefully aware that some of his class owe their privileged position to the activities of medieval brigands. Others came to riches through the pitiless enclosures and clearances of the land in other words, stealing it from the local people Then there was the slave trade, which enriched ports such as Bristol. London and Liverpool, which built many an opulent mansion among lush landscaped estates and which provided some of the capital for the Industrial Revolution, with its slums and its ruthless working of pregnant women and children, literally to the point of exhaustion or even death.

It is an affront to all workers, that a member of the class whose position originated in these offences against humanity should presume to denounce this small band of ragged people.

In any case, what does this hippy threat amount to? There is no evidence that they are dangerous criminals; so far none has been arrested for murder, or mugging a pensioner. or raping a child. Even their efforts to claim Supplementary Benefit are hardly likely to bankrupt the DHSS. So why has there been so hysterical a response? Even a government as quick as this one to harvest the votes which sprout from the issue of Law and Order can hardly justify the large, relentless and meticulously organised police operation to drive hundreds of people, including their children, into homelessness. How can a government which has pledged itself to "fight crime" justify sending hundreds of police to deal with these uncriminal. unresisting people? In such situations, it is not uncommon for the police to commit illegal acts and for Chief Constables to reveal some alarming ambitions about curtailing civil liberties. But even at that the government have some very far-fetched plans, including a new law which promises to be so catch-all as to affect the tradition that a hunt may trample wherever they will.

The hippies will reply that all this is happening because, yes, they are a threat to property society. They have, they say, seen through it all and have dropped out of the sham material obsessions which dominate the lives of the majority. No-one can be criticised for doubting the morality of capitalism, based as it is on the class ownership of the means of life, the production of wealth for sale and profit and the exploitation of the majority by a parasitic minority. But it is not possible to opt out of the system, in fact the hippies don't even try, since they know they depend on many things—modern communications. services like clean piped water, the internal combustion engine—which capitalism has developed. They must buy and sell, or scrounge, in order to survive. In spite of what they think, somewhere they are on file. Like some other socially peripheral groups, the hippies attempt to blanket their confusion with religious and mystical obscurities, in idle debates about ley lines, reincarnation, the phases of the moon . . .

But none of this can be remotely construed as a threat to capitalist law and order — to the property rights which it is the job of the police to uphold and defend. It is difficult to believe that any government would seriously regard this pathetic, impecunious bunch as any more than a minor eccentric nuisance, not worthy of being spoken of in Downing Street as public disrupters in the same breath as miners or print workers. The real menace of the situation is more likely to be that hippies have made themselves available as convenient scapegoats for workers who are mindful of poverty, famine, the nuclear threat and who are too ready to displace their fears and confusion onto someone. Scapegoats, like royal weddings, like the sick hypocrisy of the media, are useful to capitalism because they divert attention from the real problems of this society. That is why the hysterical panic about the hippies will be matched by a hysteria of false joy when the two foolish parasites Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—who live off a different type of social security—get married.

The problem with setting up scapegoats, however, is that the campaign against them may get out of control and lead to capitalism being organised almost exclusively in panic. Nazi Germany is only one example of this. All workers, then, would do well to ponder what is implied by the persecution of the hippies. So should the hippies themselves; whatever it is they aspire to, cannot be realised under capitalism, which dragoons us all into some measure of wage slavery. Indictment of what this society does to people is not enough; opting out is an admission of failure. Success means organising together to end it and all its inhuman works.

New Pamphlet: Women and Socialism (1986)

Party News from the August 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

For thousands of years and in most societies in the world, women have had a worse deal than men. Even today, in the "advanced industrial nations", where physical strength has ceased to have any real value on the labour market, men still get the jobs with more pay. more prestige and more power. Feminists have pressed for, and won, the vote and various pieces of legislation designed to give women equality in education, property rights and employment, but the basic inequalities remain.

Why has feminism failed to bring about women's liberation? A condition which affects half of the working class like this is of major importance to socialists. The new pamphlet produced by The Socialist Party and issued this month re-examines the whole question, looking afresh at the origins of sexual inequality, and then at all the disappointing attempts to rectify it The Russian revolution, which was supposed to be ushering in sexual equality with socialism, did neither; and the pamphlet draws out the inescapable conclusions about Russian society which follow from the present condition of women there.

Particularly valuable to socialist speakers and writers is Chapter Two. which analyses the three main strands of feminist theory and endeavour. Full credit is given to those elements of social analysis which are accurate and unique to feminist thinking And one cannot help but admire the dedication and self-sacrifice of so many of the campaigners for "women s rights" But the fact that so little real advantage has been gained after all this time and effort is, in the end, clearly the result of a fundamental fault in the feminist theory of sexual inequality and discrimination.

Socialists, male and female, are striving for the real emancipation of women. Our analysis shows, however, that this is not an aspect of society that exists in isolation and can be dealt with separately. The last chapter of this new pamphlet demonstrates in detail that the oppression of women can only be effectively ended by eradicating the underlying conditions which cause and perpetuate it. It is a pamphlet which fills a long-standing gap in socialist exposition.

Obituary: Bert Fletcher (1986)

Obituary from the September 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

Bristol Branch reports with great regret the death of Bert Fletcher. For personal reasons Bert had never joined the Socialist Party, but he was entirely in agreement with our principles, had been a regular attender of branch meetings for several years and took part in branch activities. He had recently been invited to address the branch, as a guest speaker, on Rosa Luxemburg. His careful, well-researched and witty talk produced a lively discussion. Bert was a cheerful, likeable comrade and his presence will be sadly missed. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and family.
Keith Graham

Rogues, Liars and Fools (1986)

From the October 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

The general election is coming and the dinosaurs of capitalist politics are making their way to seaside towns, there to think up ways of winning votes from wage slaves. Out will spew the cliches and the promises and the rhetoric of reformist hope. Into the homes of the working class, via TV and press, will come the speeches of sterile minds locked into a system long past its historical usefulness. Capitalism is outdated: it is out of line with what we could produce to satisfy needs, with how we could live if only we threw their system onto the scrapheap.

At the party conferences those who believe in capitalism — the utopian form which they think will result from their schemes — talk themselves into beliefs which are defied by experience and logic. The Tories proclaim that all we need is a few more years of Thatcherite toughness. The Liberals giggle among themselves, consoled with vague hopes about forming a different kind of government — with the SDP to lend a bit of extra indecision to their confused outlook. Then the Labourites — nice, new slick Kinnocky types —make speeches about how it will not be easy under them, but at least the suffering will be administered by men who know how to look like they care.

At every Tory conference at least one nutter is allowed up to give the troops what they want: whipping soccer louts (back to public school perversions for a few backbenchers) and giving the school kids a few more Victorian values to screw them up. Anything to please the old ladies with blue rinses: after all, the silly old ducks will be leaving their fortunes to the Smith Square coffers before too long. At the Liberal conference they usually put up at least one philosopher each year: invariably a bearded chap from Yorkshire who drones on about fairness in the rural areas and better bus services for the disabled. Liberals clap and think of Gladstone who by all accounts was a right old swine. Every year the Labourites allow up one — sometimes more — r-r-r-revolutionary who yells about Clause Four and betrayals by the leadership and dire warnings that the kids in Liverpool can only take so much. These are the exceptions, allowed to get near the microphone so that the believers can be heard.

Most people who attend party conferences are followers. Their political function is to clap, cheer and. on special occasions, give standing ovations. On very special occasions — like the cabinet being almost blown up they're allowed to offer standing ovations before the speech has even been made. Saves listening to it. These are the political fools: the men and women who have been conned by hopes for capitalism. Some of them lose their foolish illusions and stop clapping; more of them will. You can't listen to politicians for very long without having a few doubts.

Apart from the fools there are the rogues. The climbing boys of politics — nothing to do with chimneys, but twice as dirty. Their task in life is to get power. Not power to share or power to help or power to teach, but power to dominate the powerless. They look at it this way: it's a filthy bloody rat-race out there, so I had better aim to be the top rat. Life in a capitalist political party is not. as many outside them believe, mainly about distributing leaflets and debating policies. Such trivial pursuits are left to the fools. The real struggle in politics is between the rogues: the committee manipulators; the infiltrators; the rule-twisters; the gasbags who know how to squeeze a few votes out of someone else's misery. To be a successful political rogue involves back-stabbing, petty and less petty corruption, and deviousness turned into an art form or a perversion. If you want to succeed in politics (as opposed to being a following fool, which is free and open to any sucker) have no illusions about principles or honesty or decency. They are not the qualities required for winning the race to become a governor within capitalism — they are the characteristics required for losing it.

Then there are the liars: the ones who pretend. These political know-nothings are either the victims of bad memories or. more often, they live in the expectation that workers are suffering from a collective loss of memory. There are Labourites who talk about the good old days of social justice when hospitals never closed down and it was a pleasure to be a wage slave. Or the Tories who tell us how much better off we are now that Britain has had seven years of "sensible'' government. We are expected to swallow these myths, like kiddies who are told that if they go to sleep early on Christmas Eve Santa will deliver the goods. The liars are only happy when workers are half-listening, half-observing, half-remembering. Then they can catch us with their speeches, crammed to the top with well-flavoured deception. The fools like it; the rogues use it; Kinnock, Thatcher, Owen and Steel are doing "very nicely, thank you" out of it. The workers have nothing to gain from putting up with it. Let them have their sterile conferences and immerse themselves in the dogmas of an anachronistic social order. The conscious working man or woman will see through the illusion, and seen through by enough of us it will not be there.
Steve Coleman

Society doesn't owe you a living . . . (1986)

From the November 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

How many times have you heard apologists for capitalism spout such slogans as "the jobs won't come to you", "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay" or "on yer bike!"? They're all akin to the offensive adage "society doesn't owe you a living". Capitalism is a society which owes the majority nothing, and anything we need must be worked, if not fought, for by prostituting our mental and physical abilities to the whims of the market system.

The most disturbing thing about the idea that capitalist society doesn't owe us a living is not so much that it is undeniable reality, but that it often originates from the lips of workers themselves. They might as well say "the system is at liberty to wring out of me everything it can get". So why is it that the majority of people are willing to abide by capitalism's rules and expect no more than a subsistence of relative poverty in return?

One reason is that it's not the majority, the wealth producers, who make the rules. Instead the rules, enshrined in the edifice of the legal system, are made by the ruling class which legally owns and controls most of the wealth and wields economic power over the working class. These rules do in fact guarantee the members of the ruling class a living, but because of differences in the way such regulations apply to the two classes, there is no promise of due recompense for us.

As far as workers are concerned, the rules apply something like this:
  • Provided they agree to be used by an employer, workers shall be entitled to a paltry amount of the wealth they produce in return.
  • If they are unable, or do not agree, to serve employers workers may be entitled to a pathetic "benefit" designed to barely maintain them in a state of readiness to be utilised at some future time.
  • The taking from others of the tokens known as money, which entitle the bearer to a claim on wealth, is prohibited, even though others may possess copious amounts of these tokens.
  • When bereft of the necessary tokens, appropriation by workers of commodities by any other means is also strictly prohibited.
  • There shall be no guarantee of shelter and workers are required to place themselves at the mercy of landlords, building societies and council housing waiting lists.
  • Workers are expected to keep good order at all times and violent outbursts will be dealt with severely. (This rule should be ignored when the government decrees otherwise, especially in time of war).
  • Anyone found breaking the above rules will be punished.
These are the regulations as experienced by the majority of individuals and are clearly more than a little biased. Here roughly is how the rules apply to capitalists:
  • Wealth and profit are the ultimate concern of the system and there is no need to consider human needs (except of course, your own).
  • Capitalists should be free to employ workers for the minimum possible wage in return for the maximum possible number of hours worked. Capitalists need only return to the workers a small proportion of the wealth produced approximate to the survival, health and proliferation of the work force.
  • Capitalists may compete collectively with those of other countries over markets, resources and trade routes. Should diplomacy and business strategy fail to resolve disagreements, violence may be resorted to. Naturally, the job of actually fighting shall be left to the workers.
  • When a law does not suit capitalists or the politicians who represent them, if possible the offending law should be repealed or changed.
So the statement holds true: capitalist society doesn't owe us, the working class, a living. In fact, the hideous reality is that it is we who owe the capitalists a living, through no choice of our own. Capitalists, through their legal claim to wealth, are ensured of a privileged and comfortable existence without ever needing to dirty their hands on a tool or machine. They are not obliged to sell themselves to an employer, to have a proportion of the wealth they produce stolen from them in the form of profit. (Theft is of course against the rules for workers). The prosperity of the few is indeed founded on the exploitation. coercion and acquiescence of the many. We'll never get "fair play" or "compassion" or "equality" when the rules are stacked against us. Play by the rules and you'll be left alone to squirm; buck against the rules and you'll be dealt with severely.

One day, society will owe to all an equal and undeniable right of access to the wealth produced, in a world where everyone works to benefit the needs of all. But our just deserts won't be owed to us by way of a legal contract, but because all will contribute voluntarily and co-operatively and take what they need because everything will belong to humanity as a whole instead of being the property of a parasitic minority class.
Nick Brunskill

Murder on the High Seas (1986)

Theatre Review from the December 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

If you are looking for a contemporary indictment of super-exploited jingoism, Sink the Belgrano, a play by Steven Berkoff (Mermaid Theatre) is a devastating exposé of this ferocious and lethal cancer.

Britain 1982, demoralised by the effects of economic recession, looks to its leaders for guidance. They could provide none. Conveniently and for not dissimilar reasons, the Argentine Junta decided to raise the international stakes. This allowed "Maggot Scratcher" (Margaret Thatcher) to play the patriotic card and so manufacture a badly needed consensus around which the bourgeois political opportunists in Westminster could cluster, like flies on dung.

From these heaving decks of collective insanity the play ignites into a searing attack on one of the most obscene episodes of the Falklands Campaign, targeting the manipulations of power politicians with such precision that they are contemptuously blown out of the water. Gotcha!
Harvey Harwood

Ourselves and the Socialist Labour Party. (1913)

Editorial from the January 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the fifth edition of the Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Great Britain we point out, in reference to the S.L.P., that “its founders did not comprehend the real significance of the revolutionary struggle,” and a glance at the rambling record of that organisation will prove conclusively that, as a party, it is to-day as ignorant of the revolutionary rôle as were its founders at its inception.

Pinning its faith to political action alone, and advocating a series of capitalist reforms, the S.L.P. for a time tried to ignore the “economic field,” then, realising the error of this, they declared for Socialist Trade Unions, and instructed their Executive to proceed with the formation of the same.

They also realised the stupidity of reform-mongering, and, dropping their palliatives, they denounced all reforms as useless and reactionary. At this stage there seemed to be a slight prospect that the S.LP. might see the Socialist fight, but, unfortunately, a few Anarchist spasms in the “Labour movement” in America gave birth to an “ Industrial Workers of the World.”

This sounded big, and the SLP. were carried further adrift. Denying their previous declaration in favour of Socialist Trade Unions, they endorsed the American I.W.W., and gaily proceeded to denounce all Trade Unions as effete.

The new method — Industrial Unionism — became the Alpha and Omega of their “philosophy.” Political Action was thrown overboard, and the workers were told to “take and hold” on the economic field, and thus emancipate themselves. “Direct action.” “sabotage,” and other Anarchist theories got such hold of their members that a vote was taken to find out how many were Anarchists, but the result was never published.

However, to be in something “big,” the S.LP. on the economic field does not now scruple to call comrades those they previously denounced as fakirs, and who, on the political field, they called “unclean,” while, to allow to enter the S.L.P. itself those they previously strove to keep out, an alteration Iras been made in the hitherto “too rigid” constitution!

How the weak have wobbled ! As the self- styled “fighting S.L.P.” (with uplifted arm and hammer as their motto) they originally claimed to be the only Socialist party, and declared themselves to be out to smash all but themselves. Their fighting propensities however proved to be but vulgar abuse and puerile personalities, and eventually tiring of these, the “fighting S.L.P.” has become the frightened S.L.P., and solicits, cap in hand, the co-operation of all sections of the working class, as the correspondence published hereunder will show.

*      *      *      *      *

53 Waverley Road, Reading.
                                                                                                                               November 1912.

Dear Sir,

I am directed by the National Executive Council of the above Party to write to you with reference to the present situation in the Balkan Peninsular.

The position is admittedly critical, and there is every indication of the European powers being involved, and then a grave danger of a European War.

Such a war would prove highly reactionary to the progression of the Working Class. My Executive are of opinion that every possible means should be taken to prevent such a disaster, and they believe the occasion is one calling forth a strong agitation against war.

Such an agitation to be effective must be carried out on a large scale, and could only be brought about by the co-operation of all sections of the Working Class Movement.

My Committee think the existence of differences of opinion in the various organisations should not prevent a common agreement on this matter.

I am directed therefore to approach the various organisations in Great Britain with a view of securing their co-operation for the following proposals:—

  1. The formation of Committees co-opted of members of the various organisations in every district for the dissemination of non-military literature, and for holding meetings and demonstrations in opposition to the butchery of war.
  2. The formation of central committees to supervise the agitation and to communicate with the International Socialist Bureau, requesting their assistance upon similar lines throughout the European countries.
I shall be glad to hear from you if your organisation is prepared to co-operate in carrying out snch a scheme. If so, we suggest that a conference be called aa early as convenient, wherein the whole matter might be worked out in detail.

Hoping to receive an early reply,

I remain,
Yours faithfully,
(Signed) L. Cotton,
Nat. Secy. S.L.P.

*      *      *      *      *

193 Gray’s Inn Road, London, W.C.
                                                                                                                     11 December, 1912.

To L. Cotton,
     National Secretary S.LP.,

Dear Sir,

Your letter, addressed to us by direction of your National Executive, inviting the Socialist Party of Great Britain to co-operate in some form of an Anti-War campaign, was read to the Executive of that Party at its meeting last night, and instruction was given for the following reply.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain declines your invitation.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain refuses to suspend its propaganda of Socialism, its intelligent prosecution of the Clans War, to join with those who may be prepared to “shout” against wars far away, yet are often found ready to deny the existence of the greater war—the Class Struggle —here at home. The Socialist Party knows that wars are a feature of Capitalism. When the Socialist Party is strong enough to prevent war it will be strong enough to overthrow Capitalism; meantime it can only protest against both, but it dare not betray Socialism by uniting with defenders of Capitalism to protest against a feature of that system.

What simpletons your Executive Committee must be if they seriously believe that those of the master class who have the power of forcing war, or of declaring peace, would be gulled by any protest emanating from such a group of mutually warring elements as you propose to suddenly call together.

Your desire to be in something “on a large scale”—the thirst for publicity and notoriety— should not be allowed to blind yon to the fact that the master class are quite capable of appreciating a protest at its real worth. They know (as we know) that the only protest they need ever fear, is the protest of the class-conscious workers organised in the Socialist Party. That protest has been, and is still being, made in our Press and from our platform, and its effect must not he impaired by our joining with those who do not understand. Those who would be with us must be with us for Socialism ; if not, they are against us, and between such there can be no co-operation, no compromise.

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of Great Britain,
A. L. Cox,
General Secretary pro. tem.

The Franchise Fiasco (1913)

From the February 1913 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “After years of promise the Liberal Party have drawn up a Suffrage Reform Bill. With a long sham fight about ‘Home Rule’ and ‘Welsh Disestablishment’ before them, the measure seems to have had its last and first reading.”
    “The suffrage for women, too, seems to have been left out of this Government measure in the hope that it will help to keep the fires of controversy burning—and perhaps to sufficient effect to cremate the Bill.”
So wrote we in our issue of July last upon the introduction of the now cremated Bill. We wrote the truth because we know the history of this party of cravens—of their contemptible cowardice in the past. We never expected them to do more than dress the political window to catch the eye of the voter in bye-elections.

It is the old, old story—ever new to the politically blind—the story of ’32, ’67, and ’92. Hypocrisy writ large over the actions and speeches of the “leaders of the People.” Just as King Edward conveniently died to prevent them “doing things” to the House of Lords, so now something turns up to help them out of the ditch.

“The Speaker” discovers that if Asquith keeps his promise and allows the Bill ‘‘to be widened in its scope,” it can’t go through. So Asquith pronounces its funeral oration.

They never dreamt of such s thing as the Speaker doing that! Oh, dear, no! Eminent lawyers, too, most of them! The very men, moreover, who make and maintain the laws of procedure in the House of Commons! What a sorry tale of bluff!

It was ever thus with them. They don’t want j to see a wider franchise. They fear its possibilities. They are afraid of political changes—they might lose their jobs. As the passing of a Franchise Bill is coincident with a General Election, they don’t like to take their chances. The story of the fight for the franchise is a story of Liberal and Tory betrayal of the working class. Both parties made use of the Chartist movement, and both helped to smash it. Persecution and broken promisee were the weapons then used, and they served their purpose well. After a generation had passed that grand old humbug, W. E. Gladstone, promised the workers the franchise, but, true to his kidney, he wobbled when the time came. So they went on. Parliament after Parliament voting down franchise Bills.

Yet to-day, relying upon the working class short memories, the lying Liberals boast of having given the toilers the vote.

So now, after years of promise, they deliver their still-born Bill. But just as Household Suffrage was inevitable, so now we believe that in the march of events Adult Suffrage is bound to come. But, true to their historic methods, the Liberals will try it in instalments. A small portion at a time in order to reap the kudos on many occasions. They will go warily, lest they alter the complexion of political life.

We, however, do not regret the death of this Bill. As we pointed out in July last, there was nothing democratic about it. But the way it has gone shows what a fund of ingenuity these cunning lawyer politicians can bring to tbs bluffing of the working class. And is it not significant that we were able to foretell this six months ago ?
Adolph Kohn

Our Attitude Toward The International. (1913)

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,
                                           London, England. 

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,
National Secretary.

National Headquarters.                                                                                                          
111 North Market Street, Chicago.
               December 9, 1912.

Joseph Mras,
       Morgantown, West Virginia.

Dear Comrade,
   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.
Fraternally yours,
(Signed) John M. Work. 
National Secretary.

*      *      *      *      *

The Socialist Party of Great Britain
                                   193 Grays Inn Road,
                                                   London, W.C.
                                   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 : —
  1. That only Socialist organisations recognising the class war in theory and practice should be represented at the International Socialist Congress.
  2. 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,
    “December, 1905."
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.