Monday, March 9, 2020

Correspondence : What is our attitude toward the Communist Party? (1921)

Letter to the Editors from the July 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. Mosley, of Gedling, Nottinghamshire, writes appreciatively of the "S.S." and asks some questions. He says he could ask more. We invite him to send them along. Our editorial staff work under certain difficulties, but all questions are considered and dealt with as soon as circumstances permit.

Oar correspondent's chief question is: What is the S.P.G.B.'s official attitude toward the recently formed Communist Party of Great Britain? The answer is: One of opposition. The reasons are as follows :

The Socialist shows that the master class are able to maintain and continue their rule in society because they control political power. The centre of this power is Parliament. Here the laws are made and the forces (Army, Navy, Police, etc.) are authorised and supported for the purpose of enforcing those laws, the wishes of the master class. This political power is placed in the masters' hands by the workers, as the latter possess the majority of the votes. At every election the candidates depend upon receiving a certain number of votes in every area before being elected. Except for two or three special constituencies the workers have the majority of votes in every area. Hence the necessity for the masters to obtain these votes either for themselves or for their agents, at each election.

Once in control of political power the masters can crush any attempted use of force by the workers, whether such attempt be through economic organisations or secret societies.

The only solution in line with the facts of life around us is for the workers to use the franchise to obtain political power for the purpose of achieving their emancipation. Equally clear is it that, until a majority of the workers understand their slave position and desire to alter it, they will allow the masters to continue to rule by voting them into control of political power. Hence the stupidity of fancying that an "intelligent minority" can carry through a revolution.

At the moment of writing the Communist Party have not published a constitution of their own, but as they are affiliated to the Third (Communist) International, obviously they accept the conditions laid down for joining that body. Among those conditions are the following:
  4. A persistent and systematic propaganda is necessary in the Army where Communist groups should be formed in every military unit. Wherever, owing to repressive legislation, agitation becomes legally impossible, it is necessary to conduct such agitation illegally. Refusal to carry on, or to participate in such work, should be considered a treason to the revolutionary cause and incompatible with affiliations to the Third International.
Apart from the fact that it is impossible to organise the working class secretly, there is no country in the world that allows of the formation of such groups in their fighting forces. Hence the above conditions are ordered to be applied in all countries quite irrespective of the conditions prevailing there, and of the means of propaganda that may be available in any of them. In backward countries, countries of low economic and political development, such methods may be useful, but that is a point to be settled by the people in those conditions. In countries where there is an easy, simple, safe means of seizing full power ready the hands of the workers (i.e., the franchise)—and this exists in all fully developed capitalist countries—to adopt the methods of the Third International is not only idiotic, but suicidal. Therefore all Socialists must be opposed to organisations that preach such futile methods in the latter countries.

Another reason for our opposition is that Socialism means the social ownership of the means of life. Hence the majority of society must not only be convinced of the necessity for Socialism before it can be established, but they must keep control in their own hands if social ownership is to continue. The Third International lays down a system of rule by oligarchy, for in Clause 12 of the "Conditions" it says:
  In the acute period of civil war the Communist Party will be able fully to discharge its duty only if it is thoroughly well organised, if it possesses an iron discipline, and if its executive enjoys the confidence of the party members, who are to endow the Executive with full power and authority.” (Italics ours.)
This is exactly the claim of all the misleaders of the working class, from the Tory politician to the Labour leader. "Trust us," they say, "we will look after you." To give "complete power and authority" to any individual or group is to give them something they can and may sell to the enemy. The only safeguard the working class has in its fight for emancipation is to keep control and power in its own hands. Executive committees, organisers, officials, etc., paid or unpaid, must all be servants of the working class, taking their instructions from, and carrying out their orders under the control of, that class.

The policy and method of Communist Party being thus shown to be in direct contradiction
t to Socialist policy and methods, the Socialist organisation must be in opposition to the Communist
 Party.
Ed. Com.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

Hat tip to ALB for originally scanning this in.