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
Ed. Com.

The “Plebs” Again (1923)

From the May 1923 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our exposure of the ignorance of the Plebs” magazine editor on currency questions has driven that individual to various shuffles, as each attempted excuse has been shown up.

In the February issue of the “Plebs,” our article in the December issue of the Socialist Standard is referred to, but not a single attempt is made to deal with the facts of that article.

While carefully avoiding our proof that prices had risen before any alteration of the currency had taken place—which one fact completely disproves all the rubbish about “inflation raising prices”—he tries to misrepresent our case by, saying in reference to our figures :—”Therefore, it is argued there was no inflation of currency relative to prices.”

As the “Plebs” had stated that “inflation of currency had raised prices,” and as we proved that prices had risen first (thus knocking their whole case to pieces), it is easy to see how they are driven to misrepresentation in the attempt to hide the collapse of their case.

More ! Despite our repeated exposure of the falseness of their claim that “inflation had raised prices,” they repeat the same lie in their attempt at a definition of inflation. Their statement is that inflation “simply means an expansion in the volume of currency leading to a rise in prices,” and the editor adds, “And the figures in the Socialist Standard merely go to show this.”

As our figures proved exactly the opposite, the statement shows the contempt the editor of the “Plebs” has for his readers when he can write such a brazen lie. 

Not only so, but his so-called definition smashes his own case. Our figures proved that the rise in prices preceded the expansion of the currency. Therefore, the expansion did not lead to a rise in prices; and, therefore, there was no “inflation,” according to the “Plebs'” own attempted definition . In other words, the “Plebs” has given up its whole case.

Once again, an endeavour is made to save a plank from the wreck by stating that the Socialist Standard is wrong about convertibility, as “There was only nominal convertibility.” We quoted the Act of Parliament. The “Plebs” dare not touch that point. The matter, however, is placed beyond all dispute and cavil by certain facts.

Thus, to take an illustration, in 1919 a couple of private individuals drew out 110,000 sovereigns, weighing more than 18 cwt., from the Bank of England, in exchange for Treasury Notes (see Daily News, 28/2/1920).

If the changing of Treasury Notes into sovereigns to the extent of nearly a ton is only “nominal” convertibility, it would be interesting to know what is “real” convertibility !

There the matter may rest. Not one of the facts, figures, or arguments of the Socialist Standard on this question has been met or touched by those who, either from ignorance or fraud, have supported the capitalist lie about “inflation raising prices.”
Jack Fitzgerald