Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Australian Communists Answered. (1928)

From the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard
In the March issue, under the title “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” we replied to certain criticisms of our policy which appeared in the Australian Workers’ Weekly, organ of the Communist Party. Immediately after going to press we received from an Australian reader, J. McElligott, a copy of correspondence between himself and the writer of the Workers’ Weekly article. It is hardly necessary to say that the Workers’ Weekly first ignored the reply to their attack, and then, in answer to a letter of enquiry, refused to print it on the ground of lack of space. A final letter from our comrade McElligott was likewise ignored.

As the letter by McElligott is a concise and clear statement of the policy of the Socialist Party, we have printed it below. Some other Australian readers may be interested to note the cowardly attitude of our Communist critics. Possibly the knowledge that there are local comrades willing and able to defend the Socialist position will deter the Workers’ Weekly from again misrepresenting us.
Editorial Committee.

Townsville, 28/8/27.

The Editor,
The Workers’ Weekly,

395, Sussex Street, Sydney.

Dear Sir,

As a supporter of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, I wish to draw your attention to a number of inaccurate statements in an article entitled “History and the Workers,” published in the Workers’ Weekly for Friday, July 15th, 1927.

Under the heading “The New Opportunism,” the Socialist Party of Great Britain is attacked on account of an article, “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” which appeared in the Socialist Standard of March, 1927. The S.P.G.B. has been in existence since September, 1904, and during all that time its policy has been as constant as the Pole Star; it has “waged war on all other political parties, whether allegedly Labour or avowedly Capitalist”; … it has supported no Capitalist war and no Nationalist movement; it has always from the platform and press promulgated Socialism.

Your writer’s choice of a heading, “The New Opportunism,” was therefore an unhappy one.

Your article quotes the second paragraph ending with …”including a possible war in China,” and devotes 25 lines to exposing the definitely opportunist ending of the first question,” because, ”Despite the facts that the principal representations of Imperialism are piling up men and munitions in China, bombarding defenceless towns, murdering thousands of inhabitants,” etc., the S.P.G.B. traitorously says, “including a possible war in China.”

But your article was written in July, after “the bombardment of defenceless towns,” etc., by “the principal representatives of Imperialism” ; the article of the S.P.G.B. was written in February, before these events took place.

Your writer is therefore a fool or a rogue, and if a rogue he is still a fool, because others of your readers will remember, as I do, that the first time allied or foreign troops or warships were engaged in the recent Chinese disturbances was on March 23rd, 1927.

The term used by the S.P.G.B., “including a possible war in China,” was therefore correct, and not “definitely opportunist” (the Socialist Standard is published on the 1st of the month).

Your article goes on to say, “Let us suppose that Southampton, Liverpool and London were being bombarded from sea and air—would the theoreticians of the S.P.G.B. refer to it as a possible war on England?”

I suppose some term of reproach is implied in that “theoreticians,” but what it is or where he got it from Mr. Loughron does not say. If he cares to elaborate the term a little, I will deal with it.

The paragraph following in your article also leaves me mystified, and would, I think, be better, much better, for a little elaboration. I refer to the paragraph beginning, “We admit the weakness of our arguments lies in the fact that we imply the equality of Chinese and Britons,” etc. Can Loughron produce anything written or published by the S.P.G.B. claiming any “superiority for hundred per cent. freedom loving Britishers over mere chows”? If not, why does he make these dirty insinuations? Is it trying to live up to his self-imposed title, a “Leader of Revolutionists”?

In keeping with his unique style, Loughron goes on to say, “In the allegedly ‘ unambiguous No,’ the S.P.G.B. brand themselves as the henchmen of their Imperialist Masters. All their ‘No can amount to is the advocacy of a free hand for Imperial Piracy, which means the uninterrupted flow of members of our class as uniformed hirelings to strangle the aspirations of subject peoples such as India, Egypt or China, and guard the loot for their Imperial Masters.”

This, despite the fact that the article, “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” said, “Where the capitalist economic system exists (whether the government is Conservative, Liberal or Labour), armed forces are maintained for the protection of capitalist private property and capitalist interests generally. Foreign trade is one of the forces constantly creating friction with other capitalist competing’ countries and with ‘backward’ races which are unfortunate enough to dwell in parts of the earth endowed with rich natural resources. When the governing sections of the capitalist class think their interests seriously menaced, they set the armed forces in motion either at home or abroad. These armed forces are organised and controlled by these governing sections, and they are never used for any other purpose than the protection of capitalist interests. Wars waged by capitalist states involve, therefore, no working-class issue, and on no account would Socialists support them. The Socialist Party alone in this country consistently opposed the last war on Socialist grounds, and opposes any and every capitalist war. …”

That is what Loughron calls “the advocacy of a free hand.”

It is quite evident that Loughron does not understand English, and, if it were not reckoned presumption on my part, I would like to advise him to read more slowly, not to proceed to a fresh sentence until the last one is thoroughly understood, and, if necessary, to re-read an article several times, because, after all, it’s a pretty poor game writing such stuff; reading it is a waste of time and effort; and I cannot see that it does the workers’ cause or any other cause any good.

After the foregoing, one is not greatly surprised to read,

“The necessity of the National Revolution as the forerunner of the Social Revolution in subject countries is ignored, despite the fact that the class-conscious of all subject countries lend their driving force to the National movement, not as an end in itself, but for the weakening of the might of the Imperialist State, the getting of our propaganda to the broad masses, the gaining of their confidence, their acceptance of our leadership—the prerequisites for the Social Revolution.”

Prefaced by the usual lies—for on page 107 of the Socialist Standard for March, in the article “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” one reads :
“We are interested in one kind of struggle only, class struggle, and primarily in that phase which consists in the endeavour by wage-earners to overthrow capitalist private property and all forms of the wages system. The Nationalist movements blazing away in different parts of the world are not working class, but capitalist, in their aim. We therefore oppose them. Patriotism has the effect of binding together the classes in each geographical area. Socialists desire that conflicting class interests shall be recognised, not obscured. Socialism and patriotism are irreconcilably antagonistic. Patriotism is anti-working class, and Chinese Nationalism is no less so than is British. The one encourages the other. We wish to strangle both.”
That, according to Loughron, is “ignoring the necessity of National Revolution as the forerunner of the Social Revolution in subject countries” !

The last few lines of Loughron’s paragraph, “the getting of our propaganda to the broad masses, the gaining of their confidence, their acceptance of our leadership,” are more to the point. Herein is the profound difference between the S.P.G.B. and the Communist Party. The S.P.G.B. does not desire “the gaining of the confidence of the broad masses or their leadership.” There are no “leaders” in the S.P.G.B., “revolutionary” or otherwise.

The S.P.G.B. holds that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself,” and to that end the Party devotes all its activities to the making of Socialists, knowing full well that when a sufficient number of our class realise their class interest, they will organise and put Socialism into operation. “Leaders” will not be required; all will know the way.

So there is no need for “con men” or “magomen” to gain the confidence of the “broad masses” by taking up and advocating whatever rostrum happens to be prominent at the moment, the “Labour Party,” “Child endowment,” “Full pay for the unemployed,” etc.

All that is required is workers who will propagate the knowledge of Socialism. Socialism is “a system of Society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by and in the interest of the whole community.”

I remain,

Yours faithfully,
J. McElligott

The Failure of the Labour Colleges. (1928)

From the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

In July, 1925, we wrote on the significant action of the National Council of Labour Colleges in joining its old enemy, the Workers’ Educational Association, in an education scheme sponsored by the Trades Union Congress. We pointed out that the acceptance of money from the Trade Unions to co-operate with such bodies as the W.E.A. and Ruskin College meant the passing of the independence of the “Movement for Independent Working-class Education.” The “Plebs’ League” tried to derive comfort from the fact that, while urging the N.C.L.C. to accept the scheme, they themselves were not bound in any way and could continue their independent propaganda and criticism.

Time has justified our warning. The “Plebs’ League” has ceased to exist as an independent body and three years later others, including men in the N.C.L.C. itself, are recognising the truth of what we then anticipated.

In the Sunday Worker (22nd January) is a letter from Mr. W. N. Dias, Tutor Edinburgh District, Scottish Labour College, commenting on a book review in which T. A. Jackson had directed attention to the essential weakness of the position of the N.C.L.C.

Mr. Dias wrote as follows :—
“Contact with the local Labour Colleges convinces one that there is a gradual desertion of the whole position taken up by the Labour College Movement in the past, and it is gradually becoming another edition of the old W.E.A., which years ago it (rightly) condemned.”
In a subsequent issue of the Sunday Worker, a correspondent, who is described as being “prominently connected with the N.C.L.C.,” gives further support to our criticism. The N.C.L.C., he says :—
“is now fast becoming merely a piece of educational machinery, hitched on to the Trade Union machine, with its own staff of officials concerned mainly with administrative work . . . the N.C.L.C. is tending to come increasingly under the control and influence of this bureaucracy (i.e., the trade union officials) which finances it” (4th March).
In particular the N.C.L.C., as we long ago pointed out, cannot hope to receive Trade Union money if at the same time it exposes the part played by Labour and Trade Union leaders in supporting the capitalist system and its ways. The N.C.L.C. had to choose and it chose the money in preference to the independence. We wrote in 1925 :—
“The price of independence in the existing state of working class indifference and political backwardness is to be left outside the main field of trade union educational activity; and the N.C.L.C. and the Plebs have just decided that the price is too great.”
The significance of that step is now becoming evident.
Edgar Hardcastle

Letter: A Defender of the Russian Government: A Criticism and our Reply. (1928)

Letter to the Editors from the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard 

To the Editor of the Socialist Standard.

Bexley, Kent.

Comrade Loheit’s letter is straightforward enough, and I do not agree that he “makes a number of sweeping statements.”

Your enmity towards the Russian revolution appears to be the result of your conception of social change. You evidently believe that capi­talism can end and a shutter be put up, and that the new socialist society can begin afresh. Thus, in your January issue, A. Kohn wrote : “international Socialism will not deal with the effects of capitalist conditions, but lay the economic foundations upon which new social relations will nourish.” When it is remembered that Marx, in his letter on the Gotha Programme, wrote: “What we are concerned with is a communist society, not as it might have developed upon an independent basis of its own, but as it actually issues from capitalist society. In every respect, alike economically, morally and intellectually, it is afflicted with the congenital defects of the system from which it has sprung “—it will be clear that Kohn’s statement is quite un-Marxian.

This may help your other anti-Russian con­tributors to grasp that, although socialism is not fully established in Russia, the Soviet Union is no longer a capitalist State.

Your treatment of the Russian revolution is wrong because, while you may take a quotation from the “Manchester Guardian” of a report in the German bourgeois press, of a statement made by Trotsky, you do not give the statements of Bukharin, Mikoyan, Yaroslavsky, or others of the Party majority, on the points of dispute with the opposition.

During a discussion at the recent Fifteenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, Rykov said: “The Party directs the State and is responsible for its administration and for the socialist development of an enormous country.” You hate the Bolsheviks for this : but you seem to have forgotten the Communist Manifesto, where it says : “The Communists are the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others ; theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.”

It is disgraceful to say that the Bolsheviki “dis­persed the assembly by force, and have dictated by the same means ever since”; or that “they cannot revolutionise the economic basis of society by issuing decrees, nor by exiling or imprisoning all who are guilty of pointing out these obvious facts.”

In conclusion, I must say that some of your contributors who write about “legal and political rights,” need to remember Marx’s exposure of bourgeois parliamentarism in “The Civil War in France” ; and the last part of the Manifesto, explaining why Communists “in France ally themselves with the Social-Democrats,” and “in Switzerland support the Radicals,” and that they openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions “; together with the final portion of the “Poverty of Philosophy,” declaring for violent revolution, need to be re­viewed by some of your writers who tend to ignore whole passages of Marx. It would be pleasant to see attacks on Capitalism in the socialist standard, as a change from untruth about the Communist International.
Yours for history, 
Stuart Feather

Our Reply.

(We have for convenience numbered the paragraphs in Mr. Feather’s letter.)

(1) We did not say that Lobeit’s letter was not straightforward.

To say that we do not understand the “difference between dictatorship and democracy,” and to make bold assertions as to what might have happened in Russia if the Bolsheviks had adopted a different policy 10 years ago and to give no evidence for either assertion, is in our view, rightly described as making “sweeping state­ments.“ Perhaps, in any event, Mr. Lobeit will be able to state his own case.

(2) Mr. Feather talks about our “enmity towards the Russian Revolution” and later on (see 5) of our hatred for the Bolsheviks. He gives no evidence whatever for either of these charges, both of which are as vague and unilluminating as to say that we are “enemies of the battle of Waterloo.” We do state as a fact that the Russian Revolution has not and could not have achieved the impossibility of creating Socialism in industrially, socially and politically back­ward Russia. Mr. Feather quotes Marx on the obstacles which will face the working class when Socialist society “issues from capitalist society.” This brings us straight to the heart of our criticism of people like Mr. Feather who think that an intelligent and armed minority can create Socialism when there is no developed capitalist system for it to issue from.

The statement quoted from the article by A. Kohn is clear enough if read in con­junction with the preceding arguments. The capitalists here and the Bolshevik Govern­ment in Russia are dealing with the prob­lems of social relationships only in the framework of capitalism. That the Bol­sheviks show greater enlightenment does not alter the fact that the economic system in Russia is capitalist and will produce its inevitable effects. The prime task of Socialists will be to change the basis of society and thus get at causes. To say that the working class which tackles this problem will itself be the product of capitalist environment is a truism which we naturally accept. Mr. Feather cannot con­ceive that “capitalism can end and a shutter be put up.” We, on the contrary, cannot conceive of the wage-slave condition of the working class being brought to an end or being altered in any material way, until after the organised working class has definitely put a shutter up on the political and social control of the capitalist class. What bearing the quotation from the Gotha Programme has on this question it is im­possible to perceive.

(3) Mr. Feather gives no scrap of evidence to show that the Soviet Union “is no longer a capitalist state.” We will consider his evidence when he produces it. He does not disclose precisely what is his view, but the common fallacy shared by Labour Party and Communists reformers is the illusion that capitalism ceases to be capitalism when it is administered by a Lenin and his associates, or by a Ramsay MacDonald.

(4) Mr. Feather is so busy telling us what books we read and don’t read, and airing his views about our loves and hates, that he has, it seems, no time to acquaint himself with our position. If he will refer again to the December issue he will see that we published the extracts from Trotsky’s Memorandum for the information of our readers simply because Trotsky’s views are not readily accessible to them. The views of Trotsky’s opponents are readily accessi­ble in numerous Communist publications. May we also remind Mr. Feather that we expressly dissociated ourselves from the programme in question. Our views are not a copy of Trotsky’s but have been repeated in our journal at intervals for over nine years. Our main criticism was made soon after the Bolshevik’s seized power. Time has justified it and apparently Trotsky and others are coming to see the soundness of it.

(5) Mr. Feather knows and knows why we “hate the Bolsheviks.” May we ask him to believe that we have something better to do than go about hating Bol­sheviks. If he still believes that we hate them may we ask him for evidence, and finally, may we remind him that as early as 1917 and 1918, when those who were later to blossom forth as Communists were first applauding Kerensky’s rise and then deploring his fall, we almost alone in this country, were giving them due credit for the fine stand they made. Is Mr. Feather unable to appreciate the view that the Bolsheviks, like every other body which seeks working class emancipation, are justified, not by their sincerity or their intentions, but by the correctness of their position?

Mr. Feather quotes some remarks from the Communist Manifesto about the rela­tions between the Communists and the proletariat in general, but ignores the fact that the overwhelming mass of the population in Russia is peasant, not proletarian. This is the determining factor, not the hopes and beliefs of the Russian Communists.

(6) Why is it disgraceful to say that the Bolsheviks dispersed the Constituent assembly by force and have dictated by the same means ever since? Mr. Feather does not, let it be noted, deny the truth of those statements.

(7) Does Mr. Feather then believe that the economic basis of society can be revolutionised by issuing decrees or by imprisoning opponents? We, like Marx, are of the opinion that “no social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room within it have been developed.” (See Preface to “Critique.”)

(8) It is impossible to gather what is the connection between the phrase “legal and political rights” (and Mr. Feather, with typical slipshodness here, as elsewhere, omits to give references for his quotations) and some remarks in the Communist Mani­festo about associating with other parties. The section of the Manifesto referred to is in any event dismissed by Engels in his 1888 Preface as antiquated because “the political situation has been entirely changed.” It is kind of Mr. Feather to give as a list of books we should read and tell us that we “tend to ignore whole passages of Marx” (whatever that may mean), but it would be more useful and to the point if he would state precisely what is his case against Socialism or in favour of a minority armed revolt or whatever it is he considers necessary.

(9) Mr. Feather has not, so far, produced even one alleged untruth about the Communist International, much less proved his charge. His implication that the Socialist Standard does not contain attacks on capitalism is untrue and is of course known by him to be untrue. We do not, it is true, act as share pushers trying to induce investors to buy shares in the Soviet Govern­ment’s 9 per cent. Rail Loan as do various so-called Communist journals. Perhaps if we did Mr. Feather would be satisfied that we were attacking capitalism.
Edgar Hardcastle

Letter: The Aims of the I.L.P. Exposed. (1928)

Letter to the Editors from the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard
Below is a letter from Mr. H. W. R. Keeble, who wrote a letter published last month over the name “I.L.P.’er, Catford.”
Catford, S.E.6.

Dear Comrades,

I thank you for publishing my letter and for your reply, to which I should like to raise one or two points.

(i) Capital. You say that “the means of production will not then (when communally owned) be capital.” That is, at the present the means of production are termed Capital, which agrees with the I.L.P. statement you are attempting to criticise.

(ii) This is far more important. The I.L.P. realise that before the Socialist State can be realised there must be a period of transition, a period of “State Capitalism.” The S.P.G.B. does not tackle this important period, but you say “it is not a step towards Socialism.” I will refer you to the pamphlet you sent me, “Socialism Utopian and Scientific,” page 83, where you will find that Marx and Engels maintain that it is economically inevitable that the last phase of the capitalist system must be State capitalism.
“In any case . . . the State will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production. This necessity for conversion into State property,” etc. From the footnote.

“For only when the means of production and distribution have actually outgrown the form of management by joint-stock companies and when, therefore, the taking them over by the State has become ‘economically’ inevitable, only then . . . is there an economic advance, the attainment of another step preliminary to the taking over of all productive forces by Society itself.”
There you have the immediate aims of the I.L.P. justified by Marx himself. Since you are “Marxian Socialists” no further comment—but agreement—should be necessary

(iii) My remark that “H” [Edgar Hardcastle] should feel ashamed of himself referred to the intolerant and sneering style of his reply to I.L.P’er, Croydon ; not to any statement that he made, although it was obvious that he was confusing the transitionary period with a socialist state. That brings me to the broader question that has long puzzled me : Why does the S.P.G.B. in preaching the cause of the freedom that only Socialism can bring, maintain such a dogmatic principle as the last one, “Declares war on all other political parties.” Owing to that, I maintain that the I.L.P. has a better idea of Socialism than the S.P.G.B., inasmuch as we do tolerate the idea of free thought and speech. I am raising these points because I think that one of the greatest obstacles in the path to Socialism is the antagonism that various “anti-capitalist” parties show to each other, and of which the “Capitalist Press” knows how to make such good use. Yours fraternally,
H. W. R. Keeble,
I.L.P’er, Catford.

(iv) P.S.—Since you propose to run candidates for Parliament, could you let us have articles dealing with the transitory period from the S.P.G.B. Outlook?

Our Reply.
(1) Mr. Keeble here overlooks the important fact that the means of production at present are not only “termed” capital; they are capital. That is to say they represent money invested for the purpose of making profit for the propertied class out of the exploitation of the workers.

Under Socialism there will be no wages system, no profit, and consequently no capital. The means of production, no longer capital, will be communally owned. The I.L.P.’s statement that they aim at the “communal ownership of capital,” is therefore just nonsense.

(2) We had said that the I.L.P. aims not at Socialism but at State capitalism or Nationalisation, and we quoted from the I.L.P. publication, “The Socialist Programme,” in support of our contention. Mr. Keeble now says that this is not the aim of the I.L.P., but merely a first step. If Mr. Keeble will produce some kind of evidence in support of his statement we will deal with it. In fact, “The Socialist Programme” (particularly Chapter 5—”A Socialist Policy for Industry”) definitely offers state capitalism, based upon the continued payment of interest to the capitalist class, not as a first step but as the aim itself.

Instead of showing from I.L.P. sources that his statements about the I.L.P. are correct, Mr. Keeble makes quotations from ” Socialism, Utopian and Scientific,” to support his case.

Engels, writing in the seventies of last century, outlined the development of capitalist industry from small scale businesses, through the joint stock company, to trusts and combines. Reading the signs of the times and observing that the State was taking over various industries and means of transport and communication, Engels expressed the view that the capitalist class in their own interests would go on nationalising posts and telegraphs and railways and mines, etc., but what he emphatically did not say was that the workers should supinely wait while this process went on. He here, as always, emphasised the fact that the transformation of society to socialism must be a conscious and deliberate act of the working class. In the footnote, from which Mr. Keeble quotes, Engels goes on to say (P. 84) that this process of nationalisation “was in no sense a socialistic measure, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously.”

Because Engels in 1875 thought that the capitalist class would probably choose State ownership rather than the continued development of trusts, Mr. Keeble proposes to ignore the tremendous changes wrought in capitalist industry in the last half century, and bases his policy on a 50 years’ old cautious forecast of tendencies that has proved to be too narrow. Because in the seventies Bismarck was pushing forward State ownership, Mr. Keeble refuses to recognise the perfectly plain fact that since the war the tendency has definitely been away from State capitalism towards the national, imperial and international trusts. He is apparently unaware that Germany has denationalised her railways and (partly) her post office, Belgium her railways, Italy her post office (partly) and her telegraph and telephones wholly, and that Australia is selling her State ships. At the moment of writing it is anticipated that the new wireless and cable combine will take over the State cables and wireless. If it is true that the I.L.P. bases its policy on what was happening 50 years’ ago, but not to-day, that may help to explain the unsoundness of I.L.P. Policy.

As Mr. Keeble feels compelled to follow out meticulously every passing judgment expressed by Engels, will he please note that on page 27 Engels expressed the view that the Salvation Army may one day become dangerous to the capitalist class. Will Mr. Keeble advocate an I.L.P.—Salvation Army alliance on the ground of Engel’s remark?

It is typical of Mr. Keeble’s loose method of argument that on the strength of a statement written by Engels, he should feel entitled to deduce that “Marx and Engels maintain, etc.”

(3) The S.P.G.B. declares war on other political parties in this country because it holds (a) that only the abolition of capitalist private ownership will solve the poverty problem of the workers, and (b) that the use of the vote by the organised workers for the conquest of the political machinery, is the method. No other party believes these two things necessary. The I.L.P., for instance, thinks that nationalisation or State capitalism will prove a solution.

The S.P.G.B., being a Socialist organisation, cannot “tolerate” non-Socialists in its ranks. It does, however—in contrast with the I.L.P.—freely open its meetings and its press to expressions of opinion by all opponents. If the I.L.P. is Socialist how does it manage to retain Mr. J. R. Mac-Donald as a member?

(4) Mr. Keeble, knowing that I.L.P. candidates fight elections on non-Socialist programmes because they want votes and cannot hope to get returned unless they can get the sympathy of non-Socialist electors, is unable to believe that we mean what we say when we announce that our candidates will ask for votes for Socialism and nothing else. Socialism (see our “Declaration of Principles” on the back page) is our only programme. At present the task of a Socialist party is to propagate Socialism. When that has resulted in the organisation of the working class on a Socialist basis and they have obtained possession of the machinery of Government, then and only then will commence the work of transforming the property basis of society. That will be a purely economic problem, not a political one, since the power of the Capitalist class will by then have been disposed of. What the I.L.P. calls an “immediate programme” is a programme of reform for application within the capitalist system under Liberal, Tory or Labour administrations.

If Mr. Keeble will refer to the New Leader (24th February) he will see an ”Election Programme,” chosen out of over 300 which were submitted in a competition. That Election Programme (approved among others by Mr. James Maxton) contains no reference whatever to Socialism. It is a list of 41 reforms of capitalism. These are 41 reasons why we, as a Socialist Party, must oppose the I.L.P.
Edgar Hardcastle

Dishonest I.L.P. Journalism. (1928)

From the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard

Elsewhere in this issue appears a review of “A History of English Socialism,” written by G. Benson, and published by the New Leader, Ltd. The book in question contains the untrue statement that our organisation assisted in the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The book was reviewed in the New Leader on December 9th, 1927, and the reviewer laid special stress on the “direct honesty of statement” and the “proof of wide reading and hard-earned knowledge” possessed by the author, Mr. G. Benson. When we called attention to the incorrect and damaging statement about ourselves we were definitely promised by the Acting Editor of the New Leader that a correction would be published in the New Leader.

This promise was made in writing in a letter dated 18th January, 1928, but the following week the General Manager of the New Leader wrote refusing to insert the correction on the flimsy pretence that the matter “has nothing to do with the New Leader as an organ, but concerns the New Leader, Ltd., its controlling company.”

Then on February 2nd, two months after the publication of the book and the review in the New Leader, the General Manager, a Mr. L. A. Plummer, informed us that a correction slip containing the bare statement that “The words and ‘and the Socialist Party of Great Britain’ are here inserted in error,” would be sent out with copies sold in the future.

We naturally protested that large numbers of copies were already in circulation and it was not unreasonable to ask that the New Leader, which had strongly urged the value of the book to its readers, should take the step it had promised and publish a correction. The attempted distinction between the New Leader and the New Leader, Ltd., is in keeping with the I.L.P.’s past record of subtle propaganda methods ; are we to understand from this that the I.L.P. has in fact no control over the proprietors of what purports to be its own official organ?

Members of the I.L.P. will, we trust, notice the fact that whereas our columns, like our platform and our meetings, are open to all our opponents, it is not possible for us to obtain the retraction of a grossly untrue and damaging statement in the New Leader.
Editorial Committee

Parliamentary Election Fund. (1928)

Party News from the April 1928 issue of the Socialist Standard 

It is considered that the time has now arrived for the Socialist Party to contest Parliamentary elections by putting forward Socialist candidates in opposition to the various capitalist and alleged Labour Parties. In view of our limited resources and the heavy initial cost of the deposit (£150), our action in this direction is dependent on the amount of financial support forthcoming from sympathisers. Donations are therefore invited to our Election Fund. Sympathisers are particularly urged not to diminish their customary donations to our general funds in order to contribute to the new fund. Donations will be acknowledged in these columns.

June's "Done & Dusted"

A new feature on the blog . . . and like all new features on the blog, one that I should have put in place about 10 years ago. (It's the same with the Pages that I'm slowly introducing to the top of the blog's homepage).

It's perfectly simple. Here's a list of the Socialist Standards that were completed on the blog in the month of June 2022. Slowly but surely the digitization of the Standard is *cough* nearing completion. If I'd hazard a guess, I'd say it will be finished by the end of 2024. Famous last words, and all that. 

They are broken up into decades for the hard of hearing.

Note to self: Maybe try and throw in some completed Standards from the 1930s in the coming months. It was a good decade for the Standard, and it's sorely under-represented on the blog.

Party News (2000)

Party News from the June 2000 issue of the Socialist Standard

Annual Conference

The Annual Conference of the Socialist Party took place in London over Easter. A resolution was carried denouncing the Labour government’s Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill currently going through Parliament as it “introduces state regulation of the finances of political parties and bans donations from those it labels ‘foreigners’. As a democratic working class organisation we assert our right to manage our internal affairs, including our finances, free from state interference, and to accept donations from our fellow workers and socialists in any part of the world". Other resolutions were carried in favour of taking steps towards putting the World Socialist Movement on to a more structured basis, helping to establish a journal for Socialists in Africa, choosing by lot the person required by the Registration of Political Parties Act to be registered as “leader", and to reply to the question on “race” in the 2001 Census by answering “member of the human race”. A resolution to abstain from contesting national elections for the time being was defeated by 52 votes to 64.


The Socialist Party stood no candidates for the London Mayor and assembly elections in May. Members did, however, distribute 10,000 leaflets pointing out that those who wanted socialism could register this by writing “World Socialism” across their ballot paper. A Trotskyists United list, dominated by the SWP and calling itself the "London Socialist Alliance", obtained 1.6 percent of the party list votes but did better (2.9 per cent) in the individual constituencies, where it didn’t face opposition from the Scarglll Labour Party. Both the LSA and SLP were standing on a vote-catching reform programme. One incident worth recording is that when an SP member pointed out in a letter to the Guardian (1 May) that the LSA wasn’t standing for socialism as its progmmme implied the continued existence of the wages system, a leading SWP member (Derek Howl) replied the next day stating that “only a tiny proportion of the world’s workers are yet ready to subscribe to the abolition of wages. For most, the abolition of wages would mean starvation". Comment is superfluous.

The Socialist Party did stand a candidate for the Primrose ward of South Tyneside Council. The result was: Labour 998, Conservative 438, Socialist 184.


Socialist Party members distributed leaflets at the various trade union and “anti-capitalist" events on Mayday in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Bristol. In London, before the violence broke out, a Party speaker was able to make use of a loudspeaker system, set up by the organisers to allow people to express their views, to put over the case for a classless, stateless, moneyless world of common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit. This confirmed a front page article in a spoof edition of the free paper Metro called Maybe which imagined street meetings taking place all over Britain at which “some even proposed a stateless, moneyless society where goods were produced not to make profits but simply because people needed them".

Summer School 2000

The Socialism of William Morris. Birmingham: Fircroft College, Selly Oak July 7-9. Six lectures followed by discussion: 
Friday, 7pm-9pm. Who was William Morris? Edwin Walters.
Saturday, 10am-12 noon. The Utopian Tradition. Steve Coleman
Saturday 2pm-4pm Morris and the Romantic Movement. Ron Cook.
Saturday 7pm-9pm The Stateless Society. Richard Headicar.
Sunday 10am-12 noon ‘A Dream of John Ball’ Adam Buick.
Sunday July 2pm-4pm From ‘Nowhere’ to Somewhere. Stan Parker and Paddy Shannon.
Attendance at all lectures is free. Accommodation and all meals £85. Programme and full details from Ron Cook, 11 Dagger Lane, West Bromwich B71 4BT. Ini: 0121 553 1712.