Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Year of War. (1915)

Editorial from the August 1915 issue of the Socialist Standard

With the present issue the “Socialist Standard” will hare completed an extremely important volume. Socialist propaganda under war conditions in the capital of a belligerent nation is naturally not the easiest of tasks,yet throughout this onerous year, as heretofore, that task has been faithfully accomplished. We have the consolation of knowing that we have said nothing that we shall need to unsay when "peace" comes—be that soon or late. And we have said many things that we are most thankful to have said; and have kept the Socialist flag proudly flying in the face of the coalition of robbers, the treachery of labour organisations, and tbs hostility of a, people war crazed. And we have, moreover, the somewhat melancholy satisfaction of knowing that we are the only party in the belligerent countries—so for as can be ascertained—that has not betrayed the Socialist position.

At the beginning of the war every effort was made to maintain outdoor propaganda meetings, but the brutality of crowds made drunk with patriotism, the prohibitions by the authorities, and the series of police prosecutions of our speakers, compelled the rank and file of the Socialist Party to put an end to the fruitless sacrifices of their spokesmen by stopping outdoor propaganda. But propaganda did not cease. It changed its form.

The "Socialist Standard” became of even greater importance to the Party, and it has unflinchingly held high the flag of intelligent revolt against the system of robbery and murder.

Yet even here the mailed fist has been closing in. Every month that passes sees an increasing restriction of the liberty of the Press. Tbs assassination of freedom of speech was followed by the destruction of the liberty of the Press. Unceasing vigilance has been and is needed to keep the "Socialist Standard” out of the grip of the brutal bands of the ruthless coalition of exploiters. And it will be our endeavour to keep this "Standard” constantly fluttering defiance of oppression until the workers come at last into their own.

Throughout the year the Party has stood as one man. There has been no doubt, no hesitation, and no faltering in its ranks as to the attitude to be adopted. And this unequivocal maintenance of the Socialist position amidst the difficulties of this hellish time, has completely justified our faith in the efficacy of Socialist education. Once the working doss as a whole are imbued with Socialist knowledge the cause is won. No blandishments of patriotism, no lies of an unscrupulous and corrupt Press, can then seduce them from the accomplishment of their mission. Therefore we continue in the work to our hands—the great task of Socialist education, satisfied that at least we have done our duty as far ac in us lies during this year of madness and murder.

There is also satisfaction to be obtained from the fact that the circulation of our official organ has been wall maintained during a period noted for its shipwreck of labour journals. This journal, as well as the Party, emerges strengthened by its time of trial; and the volume that now closes will have a particular value in after years as a record of the firm stand of the Socialist Party of Great Britain for Socialist Principle in the midst of almost universal apostacy.

Nor has this voice of the Party been unheard or its work unappreciated. From far and near have messages of encouragement and rapport reached us. And to show how we value such spontaneous messages of appreciation and fraternity we print a selection of them in another column. They are words of encouragement to us all in the dreary times of the present and in the difficult and dangerous times ahead. They an an acknowledgment that our labour is not in vain. They fan the flame of our faith that the cause of the workers must triumph despite the difficulties and dangers that undoubtedly beset its path. We know that it is always darkest before the dawn. The intellect of the workers slumbers fitfully at present, but this cannot always be. The march of events, the pressure of economic circumstances, of the greed and callous brutality of the ruling class, will help to open their eyes and make them rise to an adequate conception of their great historic mission. Then we may say with Shelley, but with a deeper meaning to the working class:
"Rise! Like lions after slumber,In unconquerable number,Shake your chains to earth like dew That in the night had fallen on you.Ye are many, they are few.”

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