Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Labour Leader: Faux Radicalism (2020)

From the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

Labour Party: normal service is resumed

Keir Starmer has been elected the leader of the Labour Party with 56.2 percent of the vote. His background is a legal one. He became a barrister in 1987, only being elected MP in 2015, following Frank Dobson’s resignation, in Holborn & St. Pancras, a Labour safe seat. He was knighted too, in 2014 (though he still prefers not to go by ‘Sir’). While Starmer is no centrist, he will, according to the BBC, attempt to ‘unite supporters of both Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Blair within the party’. He still describes himself as a socialist, which of course, just means nationalising a few industries and regulation on portions of the private sector. That being said, this is still noteworthy, as the Blairite faction of the Labour Party sees Starmer’s victory as a victory for them despite this. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the left-wing (or as some have put it, Corbyn-continuity) candidate, won only 27.6 percent of the vote – not even half of Starmer’s.

 As some see it, this marks the end of Corbynism and the left-wing policies that the Labour Party has advocated in the last few years. While Jeremy Corbyn’s positions were nowhere near as radical as the press made them out to be, Keir Starmer’s policies will then be a significant shift back to the centre. Starmer has been described by an aide to Corbyn as ‘actually [having] zero politics, which often means he follows the crowd’ (FT, 22 February). Of course, the business class are significantly happier with this: Henry Mance writing for the Financial Times (3 April), a newspaper which, unlike the mainstream press, acknowledges class war, expresses their reaction to Corbyn: ‘It’s been a surreal time. The threat came out of nowhere. It quickly torpedoed things that we once took for granted. But rest assured, it will end. On Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader of Britain’s Labour party finally expires. It’s been five years’.

Starmer’s shadow cabinet reflects the shift quite dramatically. Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor is no longer interested in ‘overthrowing capitalism’, as her predecessor John McDonnell was (whether his policies would have contributed that overthrow is a separate question altogether), but more Keynesian policies. Ed Miliband, an advocate of ‘responsible capitalism’, returns to the front bench, this time to a position as Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy

The spectrum of debate will narrow more, then. Socialism, a word that has had all meaning already evicted, is now thrown about with reference to centre-left policies. One of Jeremy Corbyn’s successes (or failures, if you’re so inclined) in the Labour Party was engaging more extensively with grassroots movements. This at least helped to destigmatise real socialist politics and connect socialism to working class movements and democracy, rather than simply being a synonym for autocratic state-control. What might happen now is that even Corbyn’s trade-unionism and idle class-war rhetoric can be pushed out as ‘going too far’. Socialism à la Starmer doesn’t even touch on the important talking points – it simply means having a strong public sector. Perhaps on that basis the East India Company, nationalised in 1858, would be an example of socialist enterprise.

Keir Starmer’s tenure as leader of the opposition will be many things, but controversial is not one. The faux radicalism is evident. Starmer is keeping some of the policies from the Corbyn-era, including nationalisation of rail, a Green New Deal, scrapping Universal Credit, and so on. However, his support for the EU is notable as a shift back to more neoliberal-friendly politics. The notion of the Labour Party as a ‘people-powered movement’ will be weakened if not eliminated entirely. Momentum, a pro-Corbyn grassroots pressure group, will almost certainly be further derided as radicals trying to cling onto the sinking ship of left-wing politics. The most telling thing is how the business press are no longer afraid. Starmer’s policies will not get in the way of the private sector, or certainly not as much as Corbyn’s policies did.

There isn’t going to be a threat to the business elite from within the Labour Party, it seems. At every opportunity, the party turns on radicals and the left and quells talk of genuine democratic change. With any luck, disillusionment with the establishment will be heightened rather than workers being lulled into passivity. If genuine change is going to happen, it won’t come through an establishment tool like the Labour Party. With the current coronavirus crisis, whispers of a different social order become louder. It is clear that Keir Starmer isn’t offering much in that respect.
M. P. Shah

The Virus Media Perspective: Televisual Tripe (2020)

From the May 2020 issue of the Socialist Standard

Covid-19 and the Media: Myths and Mystifications

Perhaps I’m not the best person to be writing this article. Quarantined at home for the last few weeks, my media consumption has mainly revolved around my three-year-old son’s favourite TV animations. But in between episodes of Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig, I’ve been watching the Covid-19 news narrative unfold. Every crisis brings opportunity for a few and recently the news media have benefitted big time from a locked-down public hungry for information. The audience for television news, especially on BBC, has skyrocketed. And while their print circulations have been in long-term decline, the big newspapers have also strongly influenced public debate about the pandemic, providing many of the stories we access through social media.

Much of the mainstream coverage of this emergency has been informative and it’s not necessarily true that journalists have simply been fuelling panic or fear about the coronavirus. There is some room for debate about how much ‘overreaction’ there might have been to Covid-19 and experts are far from unanimous on this question. But this is a genuine crisis, if only because the capitalist states it is impacting have been so badly prepared for it: placing profits before people, they completely failed to invest in the scientific research and healthcare equipment needed to cope with this widely foreseen pandemic.

Nevertheless, there’s much to criticise in the media coverage of the emergency. After all, a media system owned and directed by the exploiting class is bound to discuss Covid-19 in ways that reflect capitalist interests and ideologies. Here are just a few of those ways.

Fighting Talk

Many media and political discussions of this crisis have been wrapped in the language of patriotism and war. Trump called Covid-19 the ‘invisible enemy’ and across the major media outlets, journalists have routinely talked of the ‘fight’ or ‘battle’ against the virus. ‘WAR ON CORONA’ went the headline of Scotland’s Sunday Mail on 15 March. Other British papers have praised the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ of the population. Of course, war metaphors are always popular among politicians and journalists seeking dramatic effect, especially when the state perceives a threat to its authority (British newspapers were full of them during the 2011 riots) and no doubt Boris Johnson talked about ‘beating’ the enemy of Covid-19 in order to project his strength and ‘leadership’ skills at a time when even other members of his class were questioning his abilities.

All this war talk may have distorted public perceptions of the crisis, however. In one of their online broadcasts in March, Novara media showed footage of an elderly Londoner (a woman clearly in the ‘high risk’ category) declaring that she would not stay at home to curb the spread of infection because that would be ‘giving in to the virus’ – as though Covid-19 were a group of jihadists hell-bent on destroying ‘our way of life’! Presenting the coronavirus crisis as a ‘war’ also conditions the public to accept the tougher new policing and surveillance measures being put in place by governments across the world and which many people fear will continue after the lockdown has ended.

Finally, militarist language tends to channel workers’ dissatisfaction with capitalism into admiration for the nation state. Before the first ‘Clap for our Carers’ event which swept across Britain on 26 March (and which then became a weekly occurrence), Leo McKinstry of the right-wing Express came over all Churchillian, asking readers to ‘salute our NHS heroes in this their finest hour’. And after the event, the front page of the left-leaning Mirror newspaper was given over to photographs of smiling NHS workers being publicly applauded. ‘Your country LOVES you, gushed the newspaper, along with ‘NATION SALUTES VIRUS HEROES’. Not to be outdone, the BBC’s Breakfast programme started a daily Hero Half Hour segment, in which viewers were invited to share praise for key workers ‘on the frontline’.

But there’s something fishy about this newfound love for often low-paid workers and as for NHS ‘heroism’, perhaps we should recall Albert Camus’ novel The Plague, whose central protagonist, a doctor called Bernard Rieux, states that his work ‘is not about heroism’, but about doing what’s necessary in an absurd situation. In fact, ‘Clap for our Carers’ has been a well-camouflaged propaganda campaign. It has certainly tapped into positive public feelings of solidarity with hard-pressed healthcare workers who are saving lives under difficult circumstances; however, those circumstances are due in no small measure to healthcare cuts imposed by successive governments, including the present one. The media’s militarist and nationalist framing of the event has tended to obscure such facts, deflecting any criticism of the state with the feel-good message ‘we’re all in this together’.

China Crisis

Britain’s tabloid newspapers have a global reputation for sensationalism and racism and they have not disappointed during this emergency. Back in January, for example, the Daily Mail and other mainstream media sources published lurid images of a Chinese woman eating a bat in what some claimed was a Wuhan restaurant, although the pictures turned out to have been taken in 2016 in a restaurant in Palau and were therefore not connected with the recent outbreak. But that did not matter. The ‘fake news’ story went viral, no doubt because it appealed to racist Western stereotypes of exotic Orientals with bizarre habits.

It’s hard to prove that the media affects attitudes or behaviours in the real world, but it seems likely that the anti-Chinese messaging of the tabloids has contributed to the present climate of xenophobic hostility towards East Asian people. This has led to harassment and sometimes brutal physical assaults. On the 3 March a Singaporean student was left needing facial reconstructive surgery after being attacked in London. And on 14 March an Asian-American family, including a two-year-old girl, were stabbed in a retail outlet in Texas by a man who apparently feared that the victims were infectious. Being the cynics that they are, politicians such as Johnson and Trump, who has referred to Covid-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’, might be hoping to benefit from this popular anti-Chinese sentiment, as they try to sidestep responsibility for their failures in handling the outbreak by shifting the blame onto China – even to the point of asking for ‘reparations’.

In parts of the left-leaning media, meanwhile, the China card has been played in a very different, but equally dishonest way. During an interview on the Kremlin-supporting Russia Today television news channel, Stalin enthusiasts George Galloway and Ranjeet Brar heaped praise on the efficient and organised Chinese response to the outbreak. This is reasonable up to a point. After all, a case could be made that China marshalled its immense state apparatus to deal with the coronavirus outbreak more effectively than many other countries and it seems to have kept its death toll low. Then again, we surely ought to be suspicious of health-related statistics reported by the authoritarian Chinese state. And Galloway and Brar conveniently forgot that the Chinese government had initially tried to suppress the warnings of medical professionals about the spread of the virus. None of this has stopped left-wing ‘anti-imperialist’ publications from praising the glorious People’s Republic. The People’s Dispatch even published an article with the title ‘How Chinese Socialism is Defeating the Coronavirus Outbreak’. I can only recommend that the authors of this piece actually visit China to witness its obscene wealth gap, rural poverty and hyper-exploited workers. Some socialism!

Corona Communism

Some very odd ideas about socialism have also been aired in more mainstream media. On 20 March, in the right-wing Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard urged that ‘Boris must embrace socialism immediately to save the liberal free market’. But this only shows the capitalist press’s confusion about the meaning of socialism. For Evans-Pritchard, socialism means the state taking over control of the economy from private industry. This has of course happened with dizzying speed in recent months, with the nationalisation of the hospitals in Ireland and the suspension of the rail franchise system in the UK, to give just two examples. Genuine socialism, however, means a world without classes, commodities, money and borders. What we have been seeing over recent weeks is not socialism, but the capitalist state putting in place measures to cover a proportion of workers’ wages, bail out businesses and keep key services running. The state is simply doing what it must in order to head off any ‘social unrest’ that might arise during the epidemic and to ensure that the wheels of production can grind back into motion afterwards. To a limited extent, governments have been ‘putting their arms around workers’ – but only so that they can get their hands back around our necks when normal business resumes.

Another, particularly daft media myth has been that the virus is a social leveller. This idea gained some traction in the major media when, on 25 March, the British public learned that the virus had pulled off its most audacious stunt so far, shamelessly infecting the first in line to the throne, Prince Charles. In the Express, Dr Hilary Jones was quoted as saying that the virus ‘is a great leveller’ that is ‘just as virulent for politicians and celebrities and the monarchy as it will the homeless and destitute’. A few days later, Clare Foges of The Times waxed lyrical on the theme, writing: Coronavirus: the great leveller. Infecting princes and prime ministers, making hermits of most, hushing the concrete council estate and the millionaires’ leafy square’.

Fortunately, not many people seem to have been fooled by this sort of twaddle. Sceptics on social media have argued that Prince Charles, who had shown only minor symptoms of C-19, had ‘jumped the queue’, having been given a coronavirus test despite NHS guidance that only hospitalised patients could receive one. The public have also given short shrift to celebrities claiming to be ‘just like us’ when faced with the threat of the virus. Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot’s attempt to prove that ‘we’re all in this together’ by leading a star-studded singalong to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ was widely ridiculed on social media. And megastar Madonna, the world’s wealthiest female musician, was mocked for an Instagram video in which she called Covid-19 ‘the great equaliser’ while sitting in a petal-filled bathtub.

Far from thrusting us towards socialism or uniting the celebs with the plebs, the corona emergency has brought the savagely class-divided nature of our world into sharp focus. While it is true that anybody can catch the virus (this is surely one reason why the capitalist class is taking it very seriously), this has been a tale of two pandemics. On the one side, the super-rich have headed for their disaster bunkers in private jets; on the other, workers on temporary or insecure contracts have faced destitution (by early April in Britain there had been a staggering one million new registrations for Universal Credit), while the most vulnerable groups in society, such as refugees, homeless people, those with pre-existing conditions, or the many low-paid key workers who cannot simply ‘stay at home’, are widely exposed to the virus.

Their Media and Ours

Despite all of these myths and mystifications, the mainstream media are not entirely bad. Tough questions have sometimes been asked of the government. For example, on 26 March the editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, appeared on the BBC’s Question Time discussion panel, condemning Britain’s unreadiness for the pandemic as a ‘scandal’. And at the time of writing in mid-April, much of the British media has spent weeks castigating the government’s inability to guarantee adequate testing and protective equipment for NHS workers. But it has been primarily through the social media that working-class people have found solidarity via community information and support groups. And only socialist publications such as our own have managed to cut through the nationalist claptrap and geopolitical blame games of the mainstream media to expose the underlying problem: the global capitalist system, which exists to protect profits rather than human life.

Where Russia Stands. Our Attitude Supported by Latest Literature. (1921)

From the May 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

A large quantity of literature now exists in connection with the Russian question. While much of the information is contradictory, and a confused assortment of statements, still we can glean sufficient from it to enable us to make a fairly accurate survey of the general position, although details of certain matters, such as the method of taking the vote, are still lacking.

Conditions Favoured Bolshevists
From this literature we can see what the conditions were that enabled the Bolsheviks to obtain possession of power, and to retain their hold upon it up to the present time.

Before proceeding with our investigation it will be, perhaps, as well to point out that neither Socialism nor an approximation thereto exists in Russia yet. No less an authority than Lenin has made this clear. For example, in a pamphlet entitled The Chief Task of our Times, published by the Workers’ Socialist Federation, he points out: “Reality says that State Capitalism would be a step forward for us ; if we were able to bring about in Russia in a short time State Capitalism it would be a victory for us.”

Before information on this point had been received in this country, those people who suffer from an overheated imagination, and who put wishes in the place of knowledge, sedulously propagated the idea that Socialism had been established in Russia and that all we had to do was to copy the Bolsheviks. However, even these individuals are now compelled by the facts to admit that they were too hasty in coming to their conclusions.

An Unsound Foundation
As to the capture of political power by the Bolsheviks, Lenin, Trotzky, John Reed, and others supply us with convincing evidence that the Bolsheviks rode into power upon a wave of emotion, and used the customary bluff of the sensationalists to carry the mass of the people with them. In the first place the bulk of the Russian people had not the knowledge or experience to enable them to understand the meaning of a basic change in their conditions. The overwhelming mass of them were peasants, with the reactionary and conservative outlook of the peasant. Their ideas were bound up with the personal ownership of a small piece of land and freedom from the oppressive landowners and the rural pests, tax-gatherers, money-lenders, and the like.

Lenin’s Pessimism
At the All-Russian Congress of Peasants on the 27th November, 1917 Lenin made the following remarks during the land debate :
  If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years (Ten Days that Shook the World, John Reed, p. 303.)
This statement suggests a lack of understanding of, or a wilful blindness to, one of the fundamental teachings of Marx:
The Marxian Corrective
 No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed ; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have been matured in the womb of the old society. Therefore, mankind always takes up only such problems as it can solve; since, looking, at the matter more closely, we will always find that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.
Had the above principle been thoroughly grasped by those who write so glowingly of Bolshevism, and expect so much from it, they would have realised that the new society must grow out of the old, and could not be imposed upon it from without. The latter was the view and the practice of the Utopians of the past.

In view of the fact that the mass of the Russian people were intellectually backward, how was it that such a measure of success attended the efforts of the Bolsheviks ? The answer to this question is not far to seek.

John Reed’s Testimony
The Russian masses were heartily sick of the war. This war-weariness had been brought about not only by the ordinary conditions of war, but also on account of the action of a section of the Russian ruling class, who wished to come to an understanding with Germany. In their blind pursuit of this object they laid the foundations of their own ruin by disorganising the army, creating a shortage of food in the towns and villages, and so forth. Of this John Reed writes as follows :
  In considering the rise of the Bolsheviki it is necessary to understand that the Russian economic life and the Russian army were not disorganised on November 7th, 1917, but many months before, as the logical result of a process which began as far back as 1915. The corrupt reactionaries in control of the Tsar’s Court deliberately undertook to wreck Russia in order to make a separate peace with Germany. The lack of arms on the front, which had caused the great retreat of the summer of 1915, the lack of food in the army and in the great cities, the break-down of manufactures and transportation in 1916—all these we know now were part of a gigantic campaign of sabotage.—(Ten Days that Shook the World.)
Here was a fact of prime importance that played right into the hands of the Bolsheviks. Just as the National Assembly of France in 1851 voluntarily destroyed the root of its own power by handing over military control to Bonaparte, thus preparing the way for the Third Empire, so the Russian ruling class voluntarily impaired the efficiency of the very military machine that maintained them in power.

The Procession of Muddlers
Eventually the revolt against the war and war conditions broke out and Tsarism, left without a repressive weapon, collapsed. The parties that came into power after the fall of Tsarism, failed to understand the conditions that had given rise to the revolt. Each in turn made the prosecution of the war the first and all important objective. This policy brought about the downfall of one ministry after another.

There was only one party in Russia that promised immediate peace, and made that a central plank in its platform. This was the Bolshevik Party. The soldiers, the workers, and the peasants wanted in the first instance peace. Consequently, as time went on, they turned more and more toward the Bolsheviks— the party that held out the promise of an end to war troubles.

In the meantime an event occurred which still further favoured the Bolshevik movement, justifying the charges of its adherents against the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries—who were in power at the time—and compelling the latter to place arms in the hands of Bolshevik supporters. This event was the Kornilov affair, an adventurous attempt to conquer power by a late Tsarist general.

After Kornilov
The following reference to this event appeared in the Socialist (26.8.20) under the heading “The Bolsheviks After the Revolution ” :
  Trotsky, Lunacharsky, Kameniev, and others were arrested. They were tried by magistrates of the old order, and the trial resulted in setting the prisoners at liberty. During this time occurred the march of the Caucasus Division on Petrograd, headed by Korniloff. The Revolution was in danger. The Bolsheviks, the causes of all evil, had to be appealed to. The prisons were opened, the Kronstadt sailors called upon, and the Bolshevik workmen armed.
  Public opinion came with tremendous rapidity to favour the audacious Bolsheviks, who now seemed to be the only Socialists capable of realising popular aspirations, as expressed in the slogan—”Peace, Bread and Land”.
The Bolsheviks took full advantage of all the circumstances favouring their coup. They promised the war-weary soldiers peace ; they promised the starving town workers bread ; and they promised the land-hungry peasants land. By such means they gathered together sufficient support to carry them to power—the disorganised and badly equipped army proving useless, as a weapon of defence, to the falling coalition Government.

Bolshevik Good Faith
To the credit of the Bolsheviks be it said, they were the only party in Russia that endeavoured to keep the promises made during the struggle for power. Their first work immediately they had captured the political machinery was—the declaration of an immediate armistice by all the belligerents for the purpose of arranging peace terms ; the promulgation of the Land Decrees ; and the endeavour to obtain food for the starving population of the towns. For the latter purpose thirteen trains loaded with bolts of cloth and bars of iron were sent eastward to barter with the Siberian peasants for grain and potatoes.

These acts justified for the time the trust of their supporters, and increased the antagonism toward the supporters of the previous governments, besides providing the Bolsheviks with good propaganda arguments for the future. The point not to be lost sight of is that the supremacy of the Bolsheviks depends upon their power to satisfy the demands of the Russian people for means of subsistence. Unfortunately for the Bolsheviks, the bulk of the people are peasants who do not understand the meaning of co-operation for the purpose of satisfying social wants. We will return to this point later on.

The Military Pickle
The position in the army immediately preceding the Bolshevik rising is summed up by Trotsky as follows :
  At the front, the situation grew worse day by day. Chilly Autumn, with its rains and winds, was drawing nigh. And there was looming up a fourth winter campaign. Supplies deteriorated every day. In the rear —the front had been forgotten —no reliefs, no new contingents, no warm winter clothing, which was indispensable. Desertions grew in number. The old Army Committees, elected in the first period of the Revolution, remained in their places and supported Kerensky’s policy. Re-elections were forbidden. An abyss sprang up between the Committees and the soldier masses. Finally the soldiers began to regard the Committees with hatred. With increasing frequency delegates from the trenches were arriving in Petrograd, and at the sessions of the Petrograd Soviet put the question point blank: “What is to be done further? By whom and how will the war be ended ? Why is the Petrograd Soviet silent?”
“The Petrograd Soviet was not silent. It demanded the immediate transfer of all power into the hands of the Soviets in the capitals and in the provinces, the immediate transfer of the land to the peasants, the workingmen’s control of production, and immediate opening of peace negotiations.” — (Brest-Litovisk, pp. 32.33.)
The Soviet Not New

The Soviet, the method of organisation flourishing in Russia and utilised by the Bolsheviks, was not built up by the latter: They found this organisation already existing, obtained the majority of support in it in the industrial centres, and conditions then favoured their move for the conquest of political power, although their first venture in June 1917 had been unsuccessful.

Once in power the Bolsheviks found that the conditions that placed them there were stumbling blocks to future progress. Slogans and watchwords helped them no longer. They had to deal with a population in a backward state of development, a population mainly made up of peasants, whose outlook is essentially reactionary. The mass of this population was utterly devoid of all knowledge of social organisation, not having had the opportunity of learning the lessons social production taught to the populations of more advanced nations. Consequently the Bolsheviks could only proceed by methods of compromise, in spite of their previous denunciation of compromises when taken part in by the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. That there may be no doubt about the fact that the Bolsheviks had to enter into numerous compromises we will quote some remarks Lenin made with reference to the German “Left,” who declared against compromises :
Lenin on Compromise
  It is to be wondered at that, holding such views, the Left do not decisively condemn Bolshevism ! Surely it is not possible that the German Left were unaware that the whole history of Bolshevism, both before and after the October Revolution, is full of instances of manoeuvring, temporising and compromising with others, the bourgeois parties included.—(Left Wing Communism, p. 52.)
In justification, however, Lenin claims that the Bolshevik compromises were revolutionary compromises. This has been the claim made on behalf of nearly every compromise throughout working-class history, including the well known Gotha compromise of the German parties in 1875 that brought about the collapse of German Social Democracy at the outbreak of War in

Not Exact Veracity
In the early days of the struggle (October, 1917) the Bolsheviks placarded the walls of Petrograd, and sent pronouncements throughout the country, to the effect that the vast mass of the soldiers, the workers, and the peasants were supporting them. The emptiness of the catch-cry, so far as the peasants were concerned, was soon illustrated. At the All-Russian Congress of Peasants (November 23rd, 1917) summoned by the Bolsheviks, the latter were howled down. Zinoviev could not get a hearing, and Lenin was received with a tumult of opposition.
  Almost immediately it was evident that most of the delegates were hostile to the Government of People’s Commissars. Zinoviev, attempting to speak for the Bolsheviki, was hooted down, and as he left the platform, amid laughter, there were cries of “There’s how a a People’s Commissar sits in a. mudpuddle.—(John Reed, p. 297.)
So strong was the opposition that the Bolshevik delegates, who were only able to muster a bare fifth of the delegates present, were at one time on the point of withdrawing from the Congress. (A full report of this Congress is given by John Reed, p. 296 et seq.)

Eventually, in order to get the support of the peasants, the Bolsheviks were compelled to compromise with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. A compact was made at a secret conference of the leaders of the two parties whilst the Congress was actually in session. This was the beginning of the many compromises of their programme the stern facts of the situation forced upon the Bolshevik Government—compromises essential to their retention of power, and signifying the throwing overboard of many of the principles they had previously laid down as of paramount importance in the struggle for Socialism.