Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Stranglers (1920)

Editorial from the April 1920 issue of the Socialist Standard

For our March issue we prepared and had put into type, an article dealing with the late atrocities in the Punjaub. This article was based entirely on the published report of the commission which was appointed to put the whitewash brush over the bloodstains. But putting it into type was as far as we could get with the business, for at that point there came into operation that vaunted prop and pillar of the British Empire, the "Freedom of the Press," to wit.

As is generally known, though this Party owns and controls its official organ, and therefore is able to, and does, keep out of its pages all matter which it believes to conflict with working-class interests, it has never yet been in a position to own and control its own printing plant, with the consequence that we are not able to print much that we otherwise would.

The present instance is a case in point. The firm which machines our paper declined to proceed with the printing of the issue, and we had to have the "wind up" article removed and another substituted for it before we could get the number published.

Of course we are not blaming the printer. It is only logical to suppose that there is some element of risk attaching to the printing of a revolutionary paper. Our hypocritical bosses, who of late years have traded so much on the word "democracy," have taken great care, while mouthing the magic phrase "Freedom of the Press," to manufacture such an atmosphere of fear as effectually strangles any shred of literary freedom that may have been left to the working class of this country. With so many acts of tyranny before their eyes, printers who otherwise would are afraid to print matter which is likely to rouse the ire of our "democratic" bosses.

Hence the hypocrites who profess such virtuous indignation and horror at the brutalities— real or alleged—of their German capitalist rivals, are able to enact brutalities equally atrocious upon inhabitants of the Empire, and we are unable to publish criticism of their dastardly crimes.

Such a position is a shameful one for a revolutionary organisaton to be in. It means strangulation. The grip of the capitalist garrotter is upon our throat, and that grip must be removed. There is only one way, and that is by owning our own printing plant and taking our own risks. That, of course, will not by any means give us freedom of the Press, but it will place us in a vastly different position in so far, that, instead of being checked by third-party fears, we shall come to grips with principles, and instead of our sneak-thief tyrants being able to effect their purpose through veiled, but none the less real, standing threats held over the heads of those we are compelled by circumstances to engage to do our work for us, they will have to face a direct issue, and deal with us on the actual substance of the matter we publish.

It comes to this, then, the time when we can free ourselves from this intolerable strangulation, the more galling because of its insidious character, must be near. We can never carry out our work in a manner worthy of a revolutionary party until we are our own printers. Those who agree with us can give expression to their opinion—through the £1,000 Fund.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

'Punjaub' is the original spelling in the article.