Sunday, April 16, 2023

A lesson in capitalist ethics. (1908)

From the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard
"The fact brutally resolves itself to this. Society ultimately depends on force. Happily force is not constantly employed, but, until the world becomes very different from what it is, it must always be latent."—The Times, Feb. 29, 1908.

Review: The Problem of Race Culture. (1908)

Book Review from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

[“The Bar of Isis : the Law of the Mother.” By Frances Swiney. The Open Road Publishing Co. 6d. Nett.]

The subject discussed in this well-printed brochure of 50 pages is one that is beginning to have more attention paid to it than formerly, although not more perhaps than it deserves. Isis, the wife and the sister of Osiris, the God of the Egyptians, became later the patron Goddess of women, and the Bar of Isis represents the sanctity of the prospective mother from all approaches of the male. The argument of the book is that the husband must learn to be sexually abstemious, for on his continence depends, to a very large extent, the health and constitutional vigour of the offspring. Many of the ailments of children are alleged to be attributable to the incontinence of the father during the period of gestation. Medical evidence is quoted in favour of this position, yet Dr. Allinson lays down a different position, and he is probably one of the best known writers on this subject. Apart from certain personal factors, he says nothing in favour of complete abstinence on the part of the husband and no injury to the offspring is suggested as the result of indulgence during the prohibited period.

But all that apart. We are not particularly concerned with questions of that nature. The important part of the book to us, is where it is argued that race deterioration and degeneracy are attributable to the violation of the Bar of Isis ; for whether such violation does or does not adversely affect the child, it seems abundantly clear that such pre-natal factors are as dust in the balance against material factors of a post-natal character, such as food, clothing and shelter. As with our author, so with the Eugenist. Indeed, their objects seem to be the same, viz., a short cut to the solution of the social problem; the one through heredity, the other through an improvement in pre-natal environment. Both positions fail by ignoring the material conditions with which the Socialist primarily deals. The offspring of genius, developed under ideal conditions of pre-natal development, would still need to be fed, clothed, housed, educated, etc. The words of Max Nordau in this connexion carry considerable weight owing to their obvious truth :
“Marry Hercules with Juno, and Apollo with Venus, and put them in slums—their children will be stunted in growth, rickety and consumptive. On the other hand, take the miserable slum-dwellers out of their noxious surroundings, house, feed, clothe them well, give them plenty of light, air, and leisure, and their grand-children, perhaps already their children, will reproduce the type of the fine, tall Saxons and Danes of whom they are the offspring.”
There is no way of taking the slum-dweller out of his noxious surroundings except by abolishing the poverty that sent and keeps him there. As William Morris said, while you have poor people you will have people poorly housed; and the same thing applies to feeding, clothing, etc. Socialism alone can abolish poverty by abolishing private ownership of the means of living which allows the workers to be expropriated of the wealth they produce, yielding them only as wages the cost of their subsistence.

Were it not for the overshadowing fear of the Editor’s blue pencil, I could show, from the pronouncements of the Eugenists themselves, that the improvement of the environment is essential to the improvement of the race. Eugenics is, for the present, mainly negative. It consists, in the words of Dr. C. W. Saleeby, in the denial of the supreme privilege of parentage to those suffering from congenital defects of mind or body. On the other hand it seeks to encourage the fecundity of superior types. This then is the Eugenic aim, the discouragement of the unfit and the encouragement of the fit to perpetuate the species. There is a difficulty in the fact that the lower type is naturally the more fertile. Dr. J. L. Tayler, in a long paper on Individuology, in discussing this subject, differentiates the prevailing types as mainly paleogenie and neogenic, which we, being under no obligation to use unnecessarily long words, may call the low type and the high type. He shows that the low type persists owing to the existence of the material environment adapted to it; and it would seem, therefore, that the more effective method of discouraging the continuance of the low type lies, not in artificial and oppressive sterilisation, but simply in improving the environment, thus automatically discouraging the low type by forcing it upward in an endeavour to adapt itself to a higher environment. The potentially high types who acquire the characteristics of the lower through “noxious surroundings” would be enabled to develop ; the low types would cease to flourish in an environment unsuited to them; while each individual of whatever type could adequately develop the best that it had the fortune to inherit.

This cannot be done under the conditions of modern society. The thirteen millions of people in this country “on the verge of hunger ;” the 30 percent, of the people of London who live on or below the poverty line ; the million or more of the inhabitants of London who live under “overcrowded” conditions, are all hopelessly handicapped in their development, and it is to these conditions we must turn our hand before we can even be sure of the other facts in the question. Socialism will apply the solution to all these problems, in the first and most important place, by removing the economic hindrance to a full and adequate satisfaction of the material requirements. In the second place by removing the property restrictions which hinder the operation of what in biology is known as sexual selection, and allowing freedom of choice between the individuals, irrespective of the all-pervading influence of economic considerations. And in the third place by removing that economic necessity of obedience to the breadwinner which will probably explain to the author of the book we set out to notice the main causes of the violation of the Bar of Isis.
Dick Kent

A Labour Review. (1908)

Book Review from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

[“The Socialist Review.” I.L.P., London. 6d. Nett.]

The Editor of this Review tells us that one of the circumstances which call for its publication is the desirability of attracting sections of the middle class. The movement “must command the support of the intellectual democracy ; the professional classes—the men and women whose ‘wages’ is not merely an income, but the mental satisfaction which their work brings; the intellectual middle and rich classes—men and women who are moved by intellectual ideals, repulsions and attractions.”

The review, presumably, is an appeal to the “brains” of the nation, in contradistinction to the unintellectual bestiality of the lower orders.

Since, however, the middle class is helpless without the aid of the workers, the Editor is constrained to insist on the futility of a separate middle class organisation. “A middle class Socialist Society is an absurdity.” It could be nothing but an uncertain, isolated and somewhat despised influence. So this coterie of politicians are prepared to use the working class as voting cattle under the guidance of middle-class “intellect” for the furtherance of middle-class interests.

One of the contributors, Mr. J. R. MacDonald, in advocating the taking of office in a capitalist cabinet by “Socialists,” under very elastic conditions, shows how keen is his scent for the fleshpots of office.

He also says: 
“A Labour Party in the House of Commons can do as much for Socialism as a Socialist Party can do, because the former can use to the maximum every Socialist tendency of the present day. We may have a hundred debates on Socialism in the House of Commons, but the unemployed will be starving unless we get an act passed that will work. Many people will support such an act who are not Socialists. They belong to the tendencies making for Socialism.”
A non-Socialist party in the House of Commons could neither assist in the spread of Socialism by making its principles clear, nor use to the maximum the events of the day, since it would lack the necessary knowledge and backbone. Its ignorance and blunders give rise to the confusion of the workers, and at the same time provide the opportunity of the enemy. The result can only be disappointment, apathy and retrogression.

The overwhelming majority of the Liberal Government against the “Unemployed Workmen Bill” shows that even the paltriest measure that threatens their interests finds the capitalist class united against it. Many even among those who voted for the Bill did so merely as a “blind,” because they knew it could not pass, as indicated in the “House.” While the Bill itself is hopeless, its penal clause is deserving of the strongest condemnation. Even if passed it would only be administered by the class in control of the administration in so far as it served their interests, and wherever the worker might theoretically stand to gain, its provisions would be distorted, re-interpreted or neglected, and no power could say them nay.

What do these facts show but the necessity for the revolutionary method at which Mr. McDonald sneers? Is it not imperative that the workers be helped to see that to legislate in their interest they must control political power ? and to have such legislation administered in their interests they must themselves administer them? The reform method is hopeless. The only hope lies in the consciousness of the workers in their class interests, and in their persistent organisation and advance toward the control of the political machinery, for then only can they commence to use the economic forces which have developed under capitalism, for the well-being of those who produce ; while only by the adoption of this method are they likely to get “something now.”

The review also contains some extracts from letters by Marx and Engels which the Editor tries to use in support of the Labour Party.

The letters, as they are printed, are not authoritative since they have the appearance of having been edited with a purpose. The full text of the letters would have been more convincing.

As they stand, however, the letters by no means support the position of the “Labour Party,” for Marx shows how the middle class is to be distrusted ; whilst his appreciation of the attitude of Belfort Bax, who, whatever his shortcomings in economics, was at that time the aggressive exponent of working class interest, is significant of what Marx judged important.

The letters of Engels are instinct with confidence in the working class and reliance on the logic of events, while insisting on the danger of dogmatism. He insists that “the great thing is to get the working class to move as a class.” The italics are Engels’.

And is not the following extract from a letter of Engels’ also the condemnation of the policy of the I.L.P.? He says:—
“The Fabians here in London are a band of ambitious folk who have sufficient understanding to comprehend the inevitableness of the social revolution but who cannot trust this gigantic work to the proletarian alone, and therefore have the kindness to place themselves at the head of it. Dread of the revolution is their fundamental principle. They are the cultured par excellence. Their Socialism is municipal Socialism—the commune, not the nation, shall at least be the possessor of the means of production. This Socialism of theirs is then presented as an extreme but inevitable consequence of middle-class Liberalism, and hence their tactics are to fight the Liberals not as decided opponents but to drive them on to socialistic consequences; therefore to trick them, to permeate Liberalism with Socialism and not to oppose Socialist candidates to Liberal ones, but to palm them off, to thrust them on, under some pretext.”
* * *

The review also contains articles on Italy, Food, the Unemployed, and one by Kautsky on the Belgian Peasantry. It is well got up and will doubtless have a large sale among the many who, under the influence of economic pressure, are becoming dimly conscious of the necessity for social change; but who will have to unlearn, in the hard school of experience, much of what they gather from the literature of the I.L.P.
F. C. Watts

Letter: Municipal politics. (1908)

Letter to the Editors from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Comrades,

In the January issue of the Socialist Standard there appeared an article under the head of “Municipal Politics” and signed “W.” Upon that article I should like to pass a few comments, lack of time being my excuse for not having done so before.

In its Declaration of Principles the S.P. states it “enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties,” etc.

la his article “W” evidently tries to prove that the administration of laws made by other political parties may be held to be consistent with this clause.

That is to say, S.P. members may consistently help to administer laws made by political parties against which their organisation has declared war.

For instance, the members of the S.D.P. and I.L.P. now in Parliament, may, with the assistance of the Liberals and Tories, place a certain law on the Statute Book. This law the S.P. will at the present moment decry as useless and mischievous, yet in the future, according to the article under notice, some of the party members may be busily employed in administering this very act.

It appears to me that to object to the making of a given law and then to concientiously see that it is properly administered, is to give a new meaning to the word hostility.

The S.P’er does not work directly to bring about Old Age Pensions, the Feeding of the Children, etc., yet when such proposals have become law he must see they are properly carried out ! But if such laws are good enough to be administered by S.P. men, the principles they embody are good to be advocated by S.P. Men—or so, at least, it appears to me. This will apply equally to any other measures.

I have frequently heard I.L.P. speakers enunciate precisely the same sentiments as those expressed in the article under discussion.

They claim that there are in existence many laws which, if properly administered, would tend to ameliorate the condition of the working class, and that it is, therefore, the duty of Socialists to obtain seats on the governing bodies for the purpose of getting out of such laws all that is in them.

I submit that to administer the laws better than they are now administered is a reform—a reform of administration.

To “insist on the futility of reform,” and then to see that such reform is carried out “according to the Act,” seems to me to be acting on the principle of exhausting all the possibilities of error before getting down to concrete business. There are many excuses to be made for a party which does not know its business, but for the S.P. to go on such lines !

I am not now arguing whether the policy outlined by “W” is right or wrong, but I submit it is, so far as I can see, hostile to the hostility clause in your Declaration of Principles.

In conclusion I would like to ask “W” the following questions :

If a reform act, carried out to the letter, tended in any way to hurt capitalism, would not the capitalist central authority quickly interfere with its operation ? If such reform did not hurt capitalism, of what use would it be to the working class ?

If S.P. members on local bodies may there work in harmony with Radicals, S.D.P. and I.L.P. men, why may they not do so on the platform’?

If S.P. members may help to administer capitalist laws why may they not help to frame them?

May members of the S.P. become J.P’s, magistrates, judges, etc., if such positions should come their way ?

If an S.P. man may help administer local affairs, why not national affairs also ? That is, would he be allowed to take a seat in the Cabinet should an opportunity offer ?

If he may do either of these, will he be permitted, as an official, to administer the affairs of a Trade Union ? If not, why not ?

Finally, will “W” explain the difference—if any—between the policy he lays down and that adopted by the S.D.P., I.L.P. and similar organisations ?

As a Revolutionist, and as an admirer, hitherto, of the main policy of the S.P., I, and doubtless many others, would feel obliged to “W” if he would deal again with the subject in the next issue of the Standard.
Yours fraternally,
Philpott Wright

It was neither said nor suggested in the article under discussion that the Socialist was to see capitalist laws carried out “according to the act.” The phrase Mr. Wright puts in quotation marks is a fiction of his own of doubtful honesty.

It is, therefore,, quite irrelevant that an I.L.P’er conceives it to be the duty of an elected member to administer existing laws to the letter; for the Socialist does not seek to use the powers of the municipality “to the letter,” but only in so far as they can be used in the interest of the revolutionary working class, ignoring or fighting everything that cannot be so used.

There can, moreover, be no question of administration, even upon a local council, until the Socialists have the majority. Then only can they use the limited “power, funds, and organisation of the municipality, as far as is locally possible, in helping to complete the task of the workers in the capture of the central powers for Socialism,” as shown. And this is very different from administering laws “according to the act.”

Nor, indeed, was there any question of administration at all, except in so far as the use of the local powers as a weapon by the Socialist workers may be held to be such.

Since, however, the powers of local councils are practically limited to the use of laws defining their spheres of operations,—which are passed, not by I.L.P. or S.D.P., but by the capitalist class irrespective of initals,—it follows that to take any action within the framework of the local powers may be held to be the administration of local government acts. In this view, then, to do anything upon a local council is to endeavour to administer—either in the interest of the workers or of the masters—laws passed by the central power. But the Socialist Party, being a political party, is (as evidenced by its participation in municipal elections) prepared to use the local powers as a weapon in the great class struggle.

According to Mr. Wright to do thus is to give a new meaning to the word hostility. To use legality in so far as it serves our aim in hostility to all sections of the capitalist class is to work in harmony with I.L.P., S.D.P., and Radicals. It can surely only be Mr. Wright’s modesty that makes him stop at Radicals; for wherein do they differ from the rest of the master class as regards the workers ?

The Socialist Party, moreover, is not to be turned from its endeavours by fear that the ruling class will use the force of the State against the municipalities in revolt, for the response of the capitalist class to the efforts of the class-conscious toilers cannot fail to fan still higher the flame of rebellion and hasten the day of complete victory.

But what appears to be the alternative to the policy that has been outlined, as adumbrated by Mr. Wright ? It is to repeat empty, would-be-revolutionary phrases. To do nothing.

If one is not prepared to use the municipal powers, why contest local elections at all ? Indeed such a policy leads directly to Anarchism, for does it not follow that if the use of local powers by Socialists is to work in harmony with capitalists, it is equally so to use the capitalist franchise laws to get a man elected ? Such a policy is obviously absurd.

No verbal twisting can make the use of the local powers by a Socialist majority as a weapon of hostility in the class struggle be at the same time a working in harmony with capitalism. Mr. Wright, consequently, is wasting time.

Having set out to show that the policy of endeavouring to use the administrative powers of the municipality by S.P.G.B. candidates is contrary to the hostility clause in the Declaration of Principles, and having signally failed, Mr. Wright further shows his confusion by asking nearly a dozen questions not one of which deals with the supposed contradiction he attempts to prove.

His thesis having fallen to the ground, it is unnecessary to waste space in following Mr. Wright in all his devious wanderings.

He claims to be an admirer, hitherto, of the policy of the S.P.G.B., but his present opposition, and indeed his every communication, has shown that he has never understood that policy. It is, then, not surprising that he should not know the difference between the policy outlined in the January No. and that of the I.L.P. The differences are, indeed, legion, and though it does not properly come within the scope of this reply, yet it may be useful to restate the essentials briefly.

The policy of the I.L.P. is based on Utopian ideas of universal brotherhood fostered by place-hunting politicians. It is opposed to revolution and does not work for the supremacy of the proletariat, while it repudiates the class struggle. it holds that what it calls Socialism is to come by a gradual accumulation of instalments, or “like a thief in the night.” It promises and seeks support for reforms, which, if obtained,, could only be gifts from the capitalist class. It keeps in the background the extremely limited nature of the powers of the municipality, and puts forward big programs, as in the I.L.P. manifesto on “A Commune for London,” that are mostly quite outside the power of the municipality, and therefore fraudulent. It repeatedly bargains with, and seeks support from, sections of the capitalist class. In short, it is in no way a Socialist party, but is a party seeking only to modify capitalism and to harmonise capital and labour. And the I.L.P. is typical of the reform movement generally.

The policy outlined in the January issue is on the other hand the logical policy of the class struggle based on the antagonism of interests between capitalist and proletarian. It is a policy of war, and is inconsistent with any support of, bargaining, or harmonious working with, the capitalist class. It points out that no important amelioration can be obtained under capitalism unless as sops thrown by the master class in fear of extinction by revolution. It insists, consequently, that Socialism cannot come from an accumulation of reforms, but that the essential is the revolutionary step of working-class supremacy to which all else is subordinate. While the futility of the reform method is also proved by the fact that, until the workers are the ruling class, reforms are only the gifts of capitalism and therefore no concern of ours, and when the workers are triumphant, then reforms are stupid and unnecessary. It also shows the necessity of seeking support for nothing else than Socialism in order to secure a solid, class-conscious and revolutionary backing. It insists upon the extremely limited nature of the local powers, and therefore makes no false promises and raises no false hopes. It points out that while in a minority the only effective political weapon of the workers is the relentless opposition and exposure of capitalism ; while when the municipality is captured, then its limited powers will be used in the workers’ interest—and therefore of necessity in hostility to capitalist interests—not to lengthen the life of a rotten system, but as a centre of resistance in the struggle for supremacy and an aid to the militant working class. The Socialists will, in short, take all they can get in the open class struggle, and will use every suitable weapon to their hand in prosecution of the proletarian historic mission.

The policy of the I.L.P. is to divert the worker from the class struggle and from the revolutionary step, keeping him ever at the mercy of the capitalist, and as a wage slave within the capitalist system.

The other policy which has been sketched is that of a keen edged sword cutting through Society to the extinction of capitalism and the emancipation of the worker.
F. C. Watts

Blogger's Note:
I'm not 100% sure that the above Philpott Wright is the same person as the H. Philpott Wright that previously appeared in the pages of the Socialist Standard but 'Philpott Wright' could not have been that common a name back in the day, surely?

Correspondence: I.L.P. compacts in Manchester. (1908)

Letter to the Editors from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard

To the Editor

Comrade,—In the last issue of the Socialist Standard Mr. Swan again charges me with “a deliberate lie” for stating that the evidence of a compromise appeared in the Clarion, and asserts that I have read into the Clarion letters, etc. “something they do not contain.”

Let your readers note the italicised passages of J. Nuttall’s letter and the amendment of Messrs. Hunt (Bradford) and Jones (Ardwick) to the resolution moved and seconded by Councillors Fox and Sutton, and then consider in what way the prospects of Messrs. Kelley and Clynes would have suffered by the introduction of a third Labour candidate in Manchester, unless by the Liberals opposing Kelley and Clynes.

Mr. Swan states that “certain verbal or written communications” can only form the basis of a compact, and he denies emphatically that any such communications passed between the L.R.C. and the Liberal Party. This denial proves nothing, especially as he does not seem sure as to the veracity of his denial, ”if I am speaking the truth” writes Mr. Swan; “if” implies a doubt, or want of knowledge of the subject dealt with. As “verbal communications” may form the basis of a compact it would be a waste of time to trouble the local L.R.C.

The charge of using statements from the Liberal and Tory press without verifying them fails, as every reference in my first letter, with one exception—that from the Courier—was from the Clarion. Is Mr. Swan of opinion that the Clarion is a capitalistic newspaper ?

I submitted the Courier extract in order that a refutation of the charge therein contained might be forwarded to the Courier office. Arising from that refutation we should see what information the Courier had at its disposal, and what facts formed the basis for the statement. The place to deny statements is through the columns of the journal printing them. That Mr. Swan has taken this course in the case of the statements in the S.S. I admit—will he do so with reference to the Courier extract ?

If it be “stupid pugnacity” to bring forward what one considers evidence in proof of a statement, then I plead guilty.

I also desire to see the truth prevail, and on evidence being produced which disproves my statementsts will apologise through these columns.

The S.P.G.B. deem the L.R.C. one of the “mutual foes” to Socialism which Mr. Swan refers to, and that is why the L.R.C. are opposed and exposed.

The Daily News, Jan. 11th, 1906, stated—
“The Labour vote is an important factor in most of the divisions, and particularly in those in which Mr. Balfour, Sir James Fergusson, Mr. Galloway, and Mr. Schwann are candidates. If Mr. Horridge gets a large proportion of this vote Mr. Balfour’s political association with Manchester will cease
“At the recent municipal elections the Labour Party with the Liberal aid, carried all before them. 
“In East Manchester Mr. Horridge has made great progress, and though the Socialists will not make any public recommendation, I have it on the authority of a well-known member of the I.L.P. that the Liberal candidate will get their support. 
“The official Liberals intend to issue a manifesto urging the members of the Party to support the two Labour candidates, … if this advice is generally adopted, and the Labour men in the other four divisions vote for the Free Trade candidates, there should be a clean sweep of Toryism on Saturday.”
The Manchester Guardian, Jan. 12th, 1906, informs us that the Liberals advised their supporters to vote for Kelley and Clynes. The L.R.C. constitution, which candidates running under its auspices sign, contains the following words: (candidates are) “To abstain strictly from identifying themselves with or promoting the interests of any section of the Liberal or Conservative parties.” Evidently the interests of the Liberals were promoted by only two L.R.C. candidates standing in Manchester, otherwise they would not have instructed their adherents to vote “Labour.”

Having been elected by Liberal votes one understands why Kelley and Clynes are useless as Socialists in the House of Commons. They cannot go beyond their electorate and are therefore doing Liberal work whether they are paid for it or not. I cannot understand Mr. Swan’s dislike to having his party alluded to as compromising with Liberals, as I and others have heard him say “It does not matter how they (L.R.C. men) get to Parliament, as long as they get there.”

The only point of difference between Comrade Evans and myself is whether the arrangement at the election was “a compact” or a “tacit understanding.”
—Yours fraternally,
Jim Brough

P.S. The Daily News (Jan. 15, 1906.) also stated that “Mr. Clynes (Lab.) said ‘The victory is due to a combination of forces, which, by their united power, had given a great blow to Chamberlainism, and paved the way in the coming Parliament for dealing with labour and social legislation of which the people were so much in need.’ “

Correspondence: Does this mean Tory Gold? (1908)

From the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard 

Dear Sir,— Will you kindly insert the following in your next issue, for the information of your members, and Socialists generally.
A. Jacobs.

The attitude of Socialists to Conservatism. 

To the Editor of the Saturday Review
25th October, 1906.

Sir,- In your interesting article on the attitude of Conservatives to Socialism you remark that “Conservatives have no need to be frightened from their own principles by the name of Socialism. If Liberalism has had to desert individualism, and come round to the conception of State action operative in any and every sphere of social and industrial activity, Toryism has not had to execute any such volte-face.”

This is not the only right-about turn the Liberals have executed. After a prolonged and fruitless effort to cajole us into an alliance with them they now threaten us with a crusade against Socialism—a threat which we deride as we derided their proffered alliance. With characteristic confusion of ideas they have mistaken Anarchism—the logical issue of their own political faith, though they are not courageous enough to face that fact—for Socialism, and it is a significant circumstance that representative Anarchists like my friend Kropotkin, are constantly rebuking Socialists for their hostility to the Liberal Party.

Antipathies are more irreconciliable than hatreds. The Socialist opposes both Liberal and Tory because they are prepared to defend in common a position of economic vantage which which they occupy jointly and from which the organised workers will have to oust them before they can enjoy the social freedom which is the field of conquest of democracy. To the extent that Tory and Liberal alike are determined to preserve private property in the means of life, there is, from the Socialist point of view, no difference between them, though a distinction is not difficult to discover between our irreconcilable antipathy to Liberalism and the sneaking regard we preserve for a party that never embraced the doctrine of “everyone for himself and the Devil catch the hindmost.” The Socialist attitude to Liberalism is one of unrelenting hostility; to Conservatism it is one of watchfulness. When the Tory Party is prepared to fight us we shall not decline the combat, and—God defend the right! In the meantime we are waiting to see how far you are prepared to go in such matters as the nationalisation of the railways or of mines. We share the opinion of your reviewer that “there are at least as many if not more Conservatives than there are Liberals who would be prepared to go with the Socialists” so far. As a member of the Executive of the oldest Socialist organisation in this country I cannot pledge myself that it will call upon its members to vote Tory if your party adopts in its program those two planks, but I am perfectly certain in which box Socialist voting paper would be dropped in constituencies where no candidate of our own are in the field. Liberal promises to support the same proposals would fail to catch Socialist votes because we know from experience the value of their election promises.

The difficulty about Socialism to which your reviewer refers—”that it has so many different meanings”—is more apparent than real. The root of the word indicates its meaning, but companionship can never exist between master and slave. Socialism seeks therefore to extinguish every form of servitude to which man has subjected his fellow-man. Wagedom is in some respects the worst form of slavery and we believe it will prove to be the last. We deny the title “Socialist” to anyone who refuses to assist the workers in their effort to emancipate themselves from wagedom, and we refuse it to the workers who hug their chains. Mr. Chiozza Money has been inviting us to drop the title and to be satisfied with that of Collectivist, which only proves that Mr. Money has not yet completed his education in Socialism. Socialists are Collectivists merely because we can discover no other economic basis on which to rear the Socialist superstructure.

The Labor Party in the House of Commons includes in its ranks a handful of Socialists but it is unkind to saddle us with any responsibility for the Radicalism and Liberalism of the majority, and by so doing your reviewer wounds our keenest susceptibilities. It took twenty years’ active propaganda among the trade unionists before we could induce them to abandon their motto “No Politics” ! and we cannot expect them to complete their education more rapidly than Mr. Chiozza Money is perfecting his knowledge of Socialism. They prelude the advent in the House of Commons of a social-democratic party whose influence will soon rival that exercised by our colleagues in the German Reichstag and in the French Chamber of Deputies. When we have pushed aside the Liberals we shall be ready to cross swords with the Conservatives. In the meantime we may continue to preserve mutual respect. Yours faithfully,

P.S.— The above letter appeared in the Saturday Review, 27th Oct., 1906.

The italics are our own.—[ED.]

SPGB Meetings. (1908)

Party News from the April 1908 issue of the Socialist Standard