Sunday, July 19, 2020

Not Taking Any, Thanks! (1912)

From the July 1912 issue of the Socialist Standard

The following, we think, sufficiently explains itself


London, W., June 14, 1912.

Dear Comrade,—At a meeting of the above on the 13th inst., it was unanimously agreed that your party should be asked to send a delegate to join and co-operate with us, in order that this committee should be as representative as possible of all those who are in sympathy with the objects of this committee.

We are resolved to carry on this agitation on a wider scale and are assured of the support of prominent men, including M.P.’s and other influential people.

Awaiting your favourable reply,

Yours fraternally, 
(Signed) J. F. Tanner, Hon. Sec.

#    #    #    #

Mr. J. F. Tanner.


Sir, –Your letter inviting the Socialist Party of Great Britain to send a Delegate to co-operate with your committee was duly placed before my Executive, who instructed me to inform you that The Socialist Party declines to join with working-class enemies for any purpose whatever, and that therefore your invitation is declined.

Your Mr. Malatesta, if a victim at all, is but a victim of the system both he and you do your best to maintain by the spreading of confusion in the minds of the working class. Your whining for mercy, therefore, savours even more of the hypocrite than of the coward, while your “Demand” for release is grotesque.

That your committee should have entertained the idea (even for a moment) that the Socialist Party could be seduced from its allegiance to the working-class by the glamour of temporarily associating with “prominent men including M.P.’s and other influential people” shows not only how woefully you have miscalculated the moral strength and integrity of the Socialist Party, but also the cant, humbug, and mental debasement of the ultra-revolutionists—the Anarchists—the anti-political giants who yet can be got to glory in the prospect of associating with “M.P.’s and other influential people.”

In the interests of the working class we decline your invitation and say “Down with Anarchy ! Long live Socialism !”

On behalf of the Executive of

The Socialist Party of Great Britain,

C. L. Cox, Gen. Sec. pro. tem.


Imposs1904 said...

Copied from the SPGB website.

The following info was culled from the discussion forum of the SPGB:

The News from Nowhere Club in Leytonstone, East London, are advertising a meeting on this, at 8pm on Saturday 10 December, 1911

William Morris and Errico Malatesta: A Fraught Relationship
Speaker: Dr Carl Levy
‘This is a talk from my forthcoming book: ‘The Rooted Cosmopolitan: An Anarchism in Exile, The Life and Times of Errico Malatesta’. It will discuss the encounters of Malatesta & Morris during the Italian anarchist’s sojourn in London. Malatesta (1853-1932), the greatest Italian anarchist during the ‘classical’ period of anarchism (1860s -1940s), lived in London for nearly 30 years & was present in the 1880s & 1890s. Malatesta & Morris met & clashed in the Socialist League in the early 1890s. Malatesta & his comrade, the intellectual Saverio Merlino, were critics of Morris’s work. Malatesta also knew James Tochatti, an Italo-Scot anarchist who worked with Morris & was a bridge between the two men via the journal, Liberty. The Morris-Malatesta encounter is characterised by tensions & lack of understanding of their respective positions, but it also illustrates the differences between Morris’s libertarian socialism & Malatesta’s version of anarchism.’ Dr Carl Levy is a Reader in European Politics in the Dept of Politics, Goldsmiths, University of London. He has written extensively on comparative European politics & history, specialising in Italy. He is the author of ‘Gramsci and the Anarchists.’

The venue is: Epicentre, West St, Leytonstone E11 4LJ.

Nearest underground: Leytonstone or Stratford,
then 257 bus from Stratford
257 or W14 bus from Leytonstone. Nearest overground train: Leytonstone High Road.

Imposs1904 said...

And the following was a write up of the meeting by ALB:

Interesting meeting last night in the middle of nowhere at which some interesting facts emerged.1. That Malatesta was never actually a member of the Socialist League but merely knew some of the anarchist members of the League and attended some of its meetings. He did meet Morris at that time (1889-90) but they would have had to have spoken to each other in French since Malatesta didn’t speak English then.2. That Malatesta actually shared some of Morris’s criticism of the anarchists who drove him out of the League, eg their talk of “absolute freedom” and advocacy of “individual appropriation” as also their belief that all that was required was to destroy capitalism (by bombs or “the new chemistry” as it was known in the anarchist movement) and an anarchist society would spontaneously arise on its ruins.3. On Morris’s death in 1896 Malatesta wrote what was described as a “rather bitter” obituary in which he criticised the fact that in his will Morris, like a good bourgeois, left all his money (some £1.5 million) to his family and not a penny to the workers’ movement or to workers. Morris, said Malatesta, was a socialist in literature but a bourgeois in life (and, it’s true, Morris did not abandon his bourgeois lifestyle, though over the years he did give considerable sums of money to the socialist movement). Malatesta, suggested the speaker, was criticising Morris for not doing what he had done. Malatesta (who was born in 1853) himself came from a bourgeois background (though not as privileged as Morris’s) and gave up his medical studies to learn a trade (in the event, as an electrician, then the cutting edge technology). Incidentally, £1.5 million would be worth at least 100 times that amount today, so Morris was definitely one of the 1%.4. Peter the Painter and those involved in the Sidney Street siege a hundred years ago were not anarchists (as in the popular imagination and as anarchists sometimes claim). They were in fact Latvian members of the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic party. Malatesta was only incidentally involved in this since they had borrowed an acetylene torch from his electrician’s business without him knowing what for. It was in fact to use in their raid on the jewelry shop.