Thursday, April 15, 2021

To Wives, Mothers and Others. (1929)

From the June 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

A few months ago I promised to show you how you could improve your conditions of life by using your vote in the right direction. Now, in order to carry out that promise I intend using one particular instance, the remedy for which applies also to other troubles that arise from the present mode of living—that of only being able to obtain necessities if you have the money, although you have worked harder than those who have the luxuries. Apart from the everyday worry of providing food and clothing, the housing problem is a special worry at the moment—even to those who have the other necessities.

So we will see about the whys and wherefores and the way in which we can put things right.

Most of us are, or have been, faced with the difficulties of the housing problem, and instead of insisting that houses be built because they are urgently required, we take no organised action in the matter, but hope some day things will be better.

While we are putting up with antiquated and insanitary houses, we see all around us business premises being extended, garages and cinemas being built and old houses giving place to non-residential buildings, even though they be more commodious than those we live in, and still we are the silent sufferers and cast longing eyes and hope.

Much has been made of the housing problem at election times of late years, and at such times, if at no other, you manage to attend meetings or read circulars promising to alleviate your housing and other financial troubles.

The candidate who puts the case most plausibly gets your vote, then you leave him to carry out his promises and forget to notice whether he does so or not.

At the next election you do likewise, but somehow things seem just as bad as ever. You still find it a struggle to make ends meet, but the reason does not strike you, except, perhaps, that you put it down to your husband not getting enough money or that there are not enough houses built.

It is not that there are not enough land, building materials and workers to build houses (or materials for making clothes and food), but because there is not much profit to be made from building houses for the vast number requiring them, so that only those things are done which do produce a profit, this being the natural result of living in a system of society which is run on profit-seeking lines.

The various governments which have been in power since the war—the starting point of the present housing shortage—have done little to remedy the shortage. They have given the builders subsidies (which shows the power they can use) to encourage them to build, and the councils have made some effort to provide accommodation for those who could not afford to pay the market price. Does it not seem strange to you—if you will ponder a moment—that the obtaining of such important items as decent housing conditions, good food, etc., should depend, not on the needs of the people who do most of the work, but upon the profit-making of the few?

Now we come to the question. How and why is it that the majority of the people are worse off than their employers—the few? Mainly because the workers do not realise that their vote plays so important a part in influencing their conditions of life.

Let us remember that whatever government has been in power its influence has been used, for instance, in deciding industrial disputes, even to the extent of using the police, soldiers, etc., and don’t forget that those who have to work for a living are those who have the majority of votes and are themselves responsible for having elected the governments which have used their power against the workers.

Think what could be done if those who required houses, etc., organised together to get those needs fulfilled, recognising that one can do little by oneself.

What might take place is this :—

A candidate is elected to Parliament by the majority of voters in a particular locality. Since he (or she) represents the majority he could be made their servant— as it were—to carry out the wishes of that majority. He could be made, when attending the Central Organisation (Parliament) to put forward and endeavour to carry out the wishes of his electors.

Now most of you are quite clever at making a 1/- do the work of 2/- in various ways, saving, cooking, etc., but you might go on with that struggle for ever and your children likewise, if you do not try to devote at least a little of your time to thinking of how you can abolish that terrible nightmare of trying to make ends meet. Like the other jobs you are doing, it only requires practice and you will soon get the hang of it.

What is taking place in this country is, generally speaking, taking place in other up-to-date countries—therefore mothers, wives and others are faced with the same thoughts and problems and have similar methods of cure, too, if they only knew how to use the remedy. We are all in the same boat.

Under a more reasonable arrangement of society, if the majority decide that more houses or corn, clothes or fuel are required, then it would be easy enough for that majority to see that the factories, etc., are set to work to provide the necessary goods, whereas now the very goods the workers pile up for their masters they must very often go without until such time as the goods have been disposed of to somebody else.

The method of production and distribution under which the people freely use the goods that they make in common by common agreement, we call Socialism and those organised for that purpose are Socialists. This method of common ownership can be carried out successfully only when the majority vote in that direction and put their candidates forward to change the present system of a few owning all, to ownership by all, that is by society as a whole.

The rather hard lesson we all have to learn is that our everyday bread and butter questions can only be solved in what looks at first a roundabout method. To make our homes worth living in and to make our lives themselves more worth living, we have got to get together in a political organisation —the Socialist Party—for the purpose of gaining control of the key which will open all these closed doors. That key is Parliament. Parliament carries out the wishes of the majority. But if the majority have no decided views or are divided, the Capitalist minority will go on as now, running the world in the way which is very comfortable for them, but not for us. We tell you the way out, and we are sure that if you think about it you will sooner or later agree with us.

You have tried Conservative, Liberal and Labour. We ask you to try Socialism instead. But you must first understand what Socialism is and how it is to be attained.

When we ask for your vote it is not with the idea of promising to do something for you, but with the idea of getting you to join us in building up a system of society in which all will co-operate to produce and distribute the things needed by all. It is not a question involving bloodshed or violence. It only requires a majority of convinced Socialists to take organised political action through Parliament. We are workers just as you are, wives, labourers, clerks, bricklayers, managers, salesmen, shop assistants and unemployed, etc. Our needs are the same as yours. Help us to satisfy
Hilda McClatchie

Letter: Answer to Correspondent (1929)

From the June 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard 

The correspondent who asked how to vote is referred to the article in this issue “A Push for Socialism.“

Communist Rioting (1929)

From the June 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party takes its stand on the policy so clearly stated and defended by Marx and Engels that the working class must, as a preliminary to the establishment of Socialism, gain control of the political machinery of society. They can do this in the advanced Capitalist countries through political organisation and the use of the vote; the working class possessing, as they do, the overwhelming majority of votes. The Communists reject this theory of Marx founded on the lessons of everyday experience, and advocate the fundamentally different and fundamentally unsound policy of trying to create a working class armed force with which an attempt is to be made to fight and overthrow the armed forces of the Capitalist state. They reject the possibility of gaining control of the political machinery and the existing armed forces, and base their hopes instead on barricades and street fighting. Bucharin, speaking for the Executive at the 1928 Congress in Moscow of the Third International, made no attempt to hide this aim of the Communists. The following extract from his speech is taken from a report in the Communist publication “International Press Correspondence” (July 30th, 1928) :—
  Mass actions must be regarded as one of the best means in our struggle. Our tactics must be to mobilise the masses, to become masters of the streets, to attack again and again the law and order of the bourgeois State and to smash it, to capture the street by revolutionary means, in the strict sense of the word, and then to go further. Only on the basis of a whole series of such events and on the basis of the development of these events—mass actions, etc. —only through such a process can we prepare ourselves for fiercer and more stubborn mass struggles on a larger scale.
May Day Madness
On the instructions of the Third International the German Communists tried out this policy on May Day. May Day street demonstrations by every party had been prohibited by the Berlin Police Authorities because of the alleged danger of conflict between rival organisations. The Communists announced in advance their intention of defying the prohibition. According to a report published in the “Daily Herald” (May 1st) and received from German Labour Party sources, the Executive Committee of the German Communist Party were prepared for 200 deaths, but nevertheless gave instructions for demonstrations to be held at all costs. The demonstrations ended in an attempt by the Communists to hold two Berlin working class districts (Wedding and Neukoln) against the police. Barricades were thrown up consisting of tree trunks, paving stones, overturned carts, etc., and Communist snipers are reported to have fired on the police from houses in these areas. Brutal methods were used by the police. In all 23 people were killed and many others wounded before the authorities finally suppressed the demonstrators. The following summary of this criminal action of the Communists, taken from the “Manchester Guardian,” is based on the first hand reports of their representative in Berlin :—
  Many of the casualties were youthful Communists, most of them were inoffensive passers-by, only a few were policemen—it does not seem that one policeman was killed. Nearly all the execution was done by police rifles and machine-guns. The Communist rioters were poorly armed —they do not seem to have had more than a few revolvers—nor do they themselves seem to have been very numerous. The police showed some restraint at first, but then fell upon their opponents with great savagery, shooting and bludgeoning rioters and casual passers-by alike.” (“Manchester Guardian,” May 7th.)
Only one policeman was injured in the actual fighting on May Day, and the following days, and he shot himself by accident. (“Daily Telegraph,” 8th May.)

The Dummy.
This incident only serves once more to indicate the futility of the whole Communist theory of armed revolt. The Capitalist class, by their control of the State machinery, control powerful armed forces possessing all the latest and most potent weapons of destruction. In addition they can and do prevent the formation of any serious rival force. Even if the workers had any means of purchasing expensive modern weapons they would have no means of training themselves to use them. The “Guardian” points out how these hare-brained “revolutionaries” sent their boy dupes into action against a semi-military police force, armed only with a few revolvers. The “Guardian” is not quite accurate. According to photographs published in the London press, they also had at least one machine gun—a dummy ! With it they attempted to scare off the police. A harassed policeman is certainly likely to lie low when he sees something which looks like a machine gun. But these Communist children had apparently overlooked the very pertinent fact that to a fleet of tanks it is a question of supreme indifference whether your machine gun is a dummy or not. The authorities brought out their tanks and their armoured aeroplanes, with troops in reserve, and the issue was never in doubt. Even if the Communists could have resisted for a few days they never explained, and do not appear to have considered, what they were going to do with Wedding and Neukoln after they had demonstrated their ability, temporarily, to hold them against the police.

Police Spies
Even the temporary success of such a move depends on a circumstance which is so unlikely as to be well nigh impossible of achievement, that is to keep the plans from the police. It is common knowledge that semi-secret organisations advocating violence as does the Communist Party are honeycombed with police agents and informers.

In Paris, also, May Day demonstrations were forbidden, and there also the Communists threatened to defy the prohibition. The police accordingly rounded up the leaders just prior to May Day and kept a large number under preventive detention. This practice serves a twofold purpose. It deprives the rank and file of their leadership and at the same time enables the police to save their spies from danger or exposure by keeping them, with other prisoners, safely under lock and key.

How prevalent spying is and how difficult to detect is shown by the case of “John Vidor,” author of “Spying in Russia.” This person (the name is apparently an assumed one) claims that he not only wormed his way into the Communist movement, but got himself sent to Russia as a member of the “Workers’ Delegation,” which went there in 1927. (See “Daily Telegraph,” 3rd May.)

The “Morning Post” periodically prints scare articles written by one of its informers who apparently holds some minor official position in the British Communist Party.

Mass Action—Mass Suicide.
History knows many instances of romantic hot-heads vainly trying to overthrow powerful Governments without considering the hopelessness of the odds against them, being, in fact, more interested in heroics and martyrdom than anything else. But it has remained for the modern Communist movement to reduce this tactic to its last futility. Ever since the formation of the Communist Parties we have seen them denouncing the alleged Labour Parties as being in fact parties of Capitalism. We have also seen them voting these parties into control of the political machinery and the armed forces of the State. Finally, having placed in the hands of Capitalist parties the power to build up armed forces for the defence of Capitalism, they then commit the further criminal folly of sending boys “armed” with revolvers and dummy machine guns against the tanks and battle-planes controlled by those whom they have voted into power. The Communists, in pursuing this policy, are a danger only to themselves and to the working class.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Labour Party and the London County Council (1934)

From the April 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard 

It is a curious circumstance that the forcible removal of the Austrian Social Democrats from the Vienna City Council was followed within a month by the entry of their British counterparts into control of the London County Council for the first time. The major issue before the voters in London was the same as that on which the Austrian party was elected and kept in office, the problem of housing and slum clearance. By promising to build more houses at low rents and to dear away slum areas, the London Labour Party, under the leadership of Mr. Herbert Morrison, managed to get about 340,000 votes against 300,000 cast for the Conservatives and 23,000 for the Liberals. They now have a comfortable majority on the Council and have three years in which to try to carry out their pledges and prepare for the next election.

The position of a party controlling local councils while an opposing party controls the central Government is a dangerous one for reformist parties. In a country like Great Britain, where the control of finance and the armed forces is strongly centralised, the capture of a local council means little in itself, because the central Government is always in a position not only to enforce the existing narrow legal restrictions on the local elected body, but— if need be—to alter the law so that the restrictions are made narrower still or the powers entirely abolished. If we were dealing with the control of a local council by Socialists elected solely on the demand for Socialism, the position would be understood by the voters and no difficulty for the party would arise. The voters would know that while the control of the machinery of local Government will be a useful support for Socialists when they control the machinery of central Government, control of local councils alone does not open up the road to Socialism. Such control would be valued by Socialists for its propaganda value and for the part it would play in the larger scheme of control of the machinery of Government. There would, therefore, be no possibility of Socialist electors expecting great present benefits from capturing the L.C.C. or any other body, and no danger of them turning away disappointed when benefits failed to accrue. With the reformist parties the situation is different. The workers who voted for Social-Democratic candidates in Vienna, or Labour candidates in London, expected two things: firstly, that the reform programme would be carried out, and, secondly, that this would materially improve their position. On the first point the Austrian Social-Democrats can claim that they did their best to fulfil their pledges, and there is no reason why the London Labour Party should not carry out many of its promised housing schemes.

That, however, is only half the problem. It is the second part that is fatal to the reformist parties. The Austrian party erected its huge modern flats for Viennese workers, and hired them out at very low rents, far lower in many cases than would have been charged by private builders.

The flats were subsidised by the Vienna municipality, the cost being raised by taxation, largely from landlords. This, on the surface, looks like a gift to the tenants in the flats, and so it has been understood by the superficial admirers of the Vienna scheme to be found in the I.L.P. and Labour Party. Actually, the workers gained little or nothing financially, for, with a lowered cost of living, the employers were able to reduce wages without making the workers less efficient wealth producers. The subsidy was not a gift to the workers, but a levy on one section of the propertied class, to be handed over, indirectly, to the industrial capitalists. A similar position happened in Germany and elsewhere, as testified by the International Labour Office in a report published in 1925: “The Workers' Standard of Life in Countries with Depreciated Currency."

The result was that the hardships of the Austrian workers were not materially lessened, and they were in exactly the same subject position after long years of Social Democratic rule as they were before. That is one of the reasons why the Social Democrats were losing members to the Austrian Nazis during the past 12 months, under the attraction of new and more seductive promises.

Mr. Herbert Morrison will find that the same causes will have the same effects in London. Not that we expect to find him three years hence manning machine guns at the County Hall, but that those who voted for the Labour programme will turn from it sooner or later when they realise that its fulfilment does not solve their problem of poverty and insecurity—in short, when they find that capitalism goes on in very much the same way as before.

One feature of present-day local elections in Great Britain is the small number of voters who trouble to use their local vote. Whereas in 1907 some 55 per cent. voted, in the present election it was only a little over 30 per cent. This, of course, makes the tenure of office of the Labour Party still more precarious. If they do anything whatever to rouse the fears of the apathetic thousands of Conservatives and Liberals who did not go to the poll this time, at the next election these voters will be stirred into activity and the small Labour majority will be swamped. On the other hand, unless the Labour Party makes some show of activity its own supporters will drift back into apathy again.

Other features of the election call for comment, the first being the calm way in which the leading Conservative newspapers took the “victory for Socialism." Although they declared in their usual misleading fashion that the Labour voters had voted for "Socialism," their placid acceptance of it showed that they knew they were lying. The Times, for example, devoted its comments largely to chiding its own party for faulty organisation, inactivity, and, in. particular, for its inadequate housing programme.

It was noticeable how little support the I.L.P. and Communists obtained. Their total vote was less than 7,000 and, in most areas, it was only a tiny percentage of the votes cast for Labour and Tory candidates. The Communist, Saklatvala, formerly M.P. for Battersea (which he won only because the Labour voters then had no candidate of their own and voted for him), polled 577 votes in the present L.C.C. election, against 8,334 Labour votes and 4,549 Tory votes.

Another interesting feature is provided by the leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Herbert Morrison. After the crisis of 1931 many of the Labour Party leaders, including Mr. Morrison, and also all the I.L.P. and Communist leaders, lapped up the silly theory that capitalism could afford no more reforms, with the consequence that the workers would be driven to accepting the revolutionary position. Now, one by one, they are recovering their nerve and their sense of proportion and are entering the fight again with the same old list of reform measures. They do it, of course, for the reason that they cannot win elections any other way, and reformist parties cannot live unless they are always able to hold out to their members the prospect of early electoral victory. Hence we find Mr. Herbert Morrison, who so recently told us that “the Labour Party must place Socialism in front of social reform, and must achieve much more clean-cut, reasoned Socialist propaganda," (News Chronicle, August 2nd, 1933), leading his army to victory in the L.C.C. election behind a programme in which, as usual, social reform was everywhere and Socialism nowhere.

Now, one last word for those who believe that reforms are stepping stones to Socialism, and those who believe that what they call “revolutionary reforms" lead to revolution. The Social Democratic Federation held these views half a century ago and, among the points in its programme of palliatives, was one calling for the “compulsory construction of healthy dwellings for the people, such dwellings to be let at rents to cover the cost of construction and maintenance alone." After all these years of wasted efforts leading to no tangible result, and helping Socialism not at all, even the modest demand for “healthy homes" is as far from satisfaction as ever it was, and still the “practical" men of the Labour Party, and the mock revolutionaries of the I.L.P. and Communist Party can think of nothing better to do than fight elections on such issues.
Edgar Hardcastle

The Mirage in Spain (1934)

From the April 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard 

From recent reports Spain appears to be well on the road already trodden by other European countries. Somewhat similar circumstances have thrown up similar groups and catchwords and the leaders of labour are making the same mistakes and marching to their doom with a blindness that would almost drive one to despair.

The economic development of Spain has been such that, until recent years, it has not favoured the rise of a strong capitalist class or a considerable body of proletarians in the modern sense of the term, although the mass of the people have been poverty stricken. The helm of state has been controlled by a small group of nobility in alliance with the Catholic Church.

During the 19th century the industrial and commercial development of Spain was unimportant. In fact, so backward was it that the mass of the people were illiterate, and even to-day half of them can neither read nor write. An economically privileged nobility and clergy had control of political power and reduced the majority of the population to a low level of existence by grinding taxes and tributes of various kinds.

There was a professional element that drew their ideas from the more advanced countries and strove to fit on to the country a political system out of harmony with the economic framework. Periodically there were revolts, sometimes instigated by dissatisfied sections of the ruling group, sometimes led by the professional element who wished to see Spain take its place with the more advanced countries.

One result of these struggles was the constitutionalist movement of 1868-76, during which a republic was proclaimed so weakly founded that, after an existence of three years, it ended with the Constitution of 1876 and the return of the Monarchy. In spite of the collapse of the republic, however, the constitution represented a real advance and was based on liberal views. But the old repressive measures and the control by the Church of education continued. However, the economic development of the country was beginning to gather energy and Bilbao in the Basque Provinces, Barcelona in Catalonia and Valencia were becoming the centres of considerable industrial activity.

The isolated industrial development in departments such as Catalonia, Valencia and the Basque provinces, combined with differences in language and the hopelessness of breaking the wall round the central government developed a movement towards local autonomy. Nationalist movements within the country aiming at separate and autonomous departments have arisen and anarchist and syndicalist movements have flourished. The nationalist sentiment was the mainspring of the federal constitution of 1931 and the anarchists and syndicalists who joined the unions were the despair of the leaders of the growing labour movement, who modelled their attitude upon that of the leaders of the other European Social-Democratic movements.

During the present century industrial development has made considerable progress and industrial and commercial capitalists have joined in the struggle to obtain political influence. The capitalists objected to the commercial competition of the Catholic Church (which took part in ordinary industrial ventures) and to its freedom from taxation. They also objected to the heavy cost of an overgrown and inefficient bureaucracy and mismanaged military expeditions. In short, they had reached the time when they wanted a political apparatus cleared of antiquated rubbish and fitted to meet the needs of modern conditions.

While the Monarchy existed it represented the tyranny of the past and people of all shades of opinion could unite against it under the slogan of Republicanism and settle their differences afterwards. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, in 1923, was a belated attempt to save the old order by keeping down some of the disruptive dements. But the dictatorship was expensive and it failed to keep down internal turmoil. It thereby lost what support it originally commanded outside the Church and the aristocracy. The franchise was sufficiently wide for the local elections to show that the aristocratic group were going to be swept away in the elections to the central Parliament, so they took time by the forelock and went before the storm broke.

The movement that ended the dictatorship was the result of an agreement reached at San Sebastian between the Regionalists (the advocates of local autonomy) the Liberals and the “Socialists" which united these groups in a common movement for a Republic.

The Spanish Socialist Party originated in the ’80’s before there was any large body of wage workers in existence, although there were plenty of poverty-stricken peasants. As the Democratic-Socialist Working Men's Party it was formed at Barcelona in August, 1882, at the National Working Mens' Congress. It was influenced by the movement in France and Germany and issued a Manifesto almost identical with that of the German Social-Democrats. This Manifesto proclaimed the necessity for the Spanish proletariat to seize political power “in order to transform individual and corporate property into common property belonging to the whole community."

At the Annual Conference, in 1884, of the Spanish Working Men there were 120 delegates present, many of whom were representatives of agricultural labourers.

The growth of the movement was slow, but, in 1904, the party had 10,000 members and obtained 29,999 votes at the Parliamentary elections. The Anarchist and Syndicalist movement considerably hampered its development and there was a struggle for influence in the labour unions.

The industrial crisis following the Phillipine and Cuban wars gave the movement a bad setback. The membership of the party and of the labour unions declined.

The war and post-war economic development, during which rapid industrial progress was made in many directions, particularly in transport, coal, electricity and agriculture, gave the party a considerable push and, in the elections after the establishment of the Republic, they became the second largest party in Parliament, with a representation of 117 members out of 475 elected.

The quality of the support given to the party, however, has not taken long to show itself. In the recent elections it was only able to secure the return of 60 members ! The reason for its decline is quite simple. It was one of the supporters of the Government since 1931 and has had to carry the blame for the conduct of the Government—an inevitable result of alliance with avowedly capitalist groups.

The facts are that the original professions of the Manifesto remained pious ones, and the party occupied itself with the much lauded practical policy of reforms, losing sight of the object originally conceived—on paper, at any rate.

At the moment of writing it is threatened with the same fate that has fallen upon its Austrian counterpart and it is debating the fatal policy of armed resistance.

A situation closely resembling that which occurred in Italy in 1920 now exists in Spain. A minority of the population supporting the “Socialist,” Syndicalist and Anarchist groups are considering united action against the Government. The strike fever is spreading and an attempt is being made to bring about a general strike of all workers, with the object of overthrowing the existing system. The ground has been prepared, as it was fourteen years ago in Italy, for the rise of a Fascist movement, and two such groups have been organised and have made rapid progress during the last few months.

The view taken by the Government is illustrated by the following significant quotation taken from the Observer (March 18th, 1934): —
  A curious commentary on the trend of Spain’s Republic is the official announcement of the establishment of permanent concentration camps to hold 3,000 men. The gem of this announcement lies in the statement by the Director of Prisons that “a special camp to hold 160 persons is being erected on the Island of Hierro (Canary Islands), and which will be devoted to writers, authors, journalists, and suchlike persons.” About sixty social prisoners were removed from Madrid Prison this week, and it is understood, although no official statement has been made, that they are en route for the main concentration camp for 1,600 persons which is being hastily prepared on the Island of Lanzarote (Canary Islands), and which will be ready for occupation within fifteen days, according to the Director of Prisons.
The Labour movement in Spain has manoeuvred itself into a hopeless position, and is simply asking for the fate that befell the Italian movement.

Dr. Eismann’s Last Word (1934)

From the April 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dr. Eismann, writing in the Beamten-Jahrbuch (Berlin, February), says his last word on the question of Marxism and the Labour Party. (For previous references to Dr. Eismann, see ” S.S.” December, 1933, and February, 1934.)

In his present contribution, Dr. Eismann charges us with having abused him, and misrepresented him. He says that he stands by what he said and will decline to discuss the matter further.

What is and what is not abuse is largely a matter of individual taste, and our readers must judge for themselves whether we have abused Dr. Eismann. We would, however, say this: We hold that the Socialist case is correct and can be proved to be correct. We have nothing to gain by burking discussion and we would therefore not wish Dr. Eismann or any other opponent to think that he cannot get a reasoned reply to his criticisms, free alike from abuse and misrepresentation.

We would therefore assure him that he is at liberty to have reasonable space in our columns to put his case, if he wishes to do so.

On the points at issue we have a few remarks to make in the light of Dr. Eismann’s present statement. If he were arguing nothing more than that there are inside the Labour Party some individuals or scattered groups of people professing to be Marxists, who are trying to influence Labour Party policy in their direction, we would not dream of disputing it. That has always been the case. There have even been such people in the Liberal Party, and there are some in the Nazi movement in Germany. But Dr. Eismann claims more than that. In his present contribution, for example, he repeats the statement that “the agitation of radical groups in the English Labour movement . . . is changing the attitude of the great Labour Party on this point.”

We therefore repeat our statement that the Labour Party is a reformist body from top to bottom, and that it is not changing towards Marxian Socialism. , The "radical groups ” now gaining influence, such as the Socialist League, are not in any respect different from the active and influential so-called “left-wing” groups which preceded them. They are not Marxist in aim, method, or philosophy, even although a few individuals toy with phrases which they believe to be Marxist.

The difference here between us and Dr. Eismann is one of terms, and it is on that ground that we originally criticised him and the leading Nazis. In his latest article he says that Marxism has two expressions—the Social-Democrats and the Communists. And he concludes that the S.P.G.B. belongs to the Communist tendency. The whole of this conception is a mistaken one. The Social- Democrats (like the English Labour Party) represent not Socialism but reformism, and State Capitalism in various forms. The Communists represent the same main body of' reformist ideas, with, however, one outstanding difference. Whereas the Labourites believe in striving for reforms and State control by peaceful and constitutional methods, the Communists fight for the same general objects by methods of violence and minority action.

The S.P.G.B. stands, not for reform and State Capitalism, but for Socialism and nothing else. It is, therefore, equally opposed to both movements.

One thing alone should cause Dr. Eismann to recognise the weakness of his case and the unsoundness of his classification, that is the fact that, during the thirty years of its existence, the S.P.G.B. has never at any time or in any way supported either the Labour Party, the Communists or any other reformist party, nor has it allowed any members to support them. Throughout its history the S.P.G.B. has maintained an attitude of unbroken opposition to both reformist movements. That is one answer to Dr. Eismann’s contention that Marxian Socialism can mix with Labourism and Communism.

Marxism and the Labour Party: Dr. Eismann Replies (1934)

From the February 1934 issue of the Socialist Standard

In the December issue, under the heading Marx and Hitler, we criticised an article by one of Hitler’s supporters, Dr. Eismann, in which he had claimed that the British Labour Party is a Marxist organisation.

Writing in Beamten-Jahrbuch (Berlin, January), Dr. Eismann replies to our criticism. He quotes a fairly lengthy passage from our article, but omits the last paragraph. By doing this he is able to argue that, reading between the lines of our article, he can find an admission on our part that the I.L.P., the S.L.P., and the S.D.F. have influenced the Labour Party towards Marxism.

Let us, therefore, reproduce the paragraph he omits to quote : —
  If he knows anything about Marxism, he must know that the Labour Party is no more a Marxist party than the National Government Party, now led by McDonald, the former leader of the Labour Party.
Unless Dr. Eismann believes that Baldwin and Sir John Simon are Marxists and that MacDonald is, or has been, a Marxist, we fail to see how he can really believe that paragraph indicates that we admit the Labour Party to be a Marxist organisation. Unless, of course, anyone he does not like is in his view a “Marxist.” However, in case he is in any doubt, let us assure him that the British Labour Party is not now, and never has been, Marxist. Its programme, policy and whole philosophy (if it can be credited with a philosophy) have been, and are, essentially anti-Marxist.

It may, incidentally, interest Dr. Eismann to know that the Times (January 4th, 1934), in an article on the influence of the Fabian Society, attributes to that organisation the chief responsibility “for the characteristically native form assumed by English Socialism in contrast with revolutionary Marxism.” (Italics ours)

“English Socialism” is the Times’ way of designating the Labour Party.

Not Marx, but Robert Owen, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill are claimed by Sidney Webb (now Lord Passfield), and by the Fabian Society, as the “spiritual fathers” of the British Labour Party.

In short, we repeat that when Dr. Eismann denounces the British Labour Party for being Marxist, he does not know what he is talking about.