Thursday, July 27, 2023

Party Notes. (1905)

Party News from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Until further notice, the Executive Committee will meet on the first Saturday and third Tuesday in each month at 3 and 7 p.m. respectively, at the Communist Club, 107, Charlotte Street, London, W.

* * *

On. Sunday, 11th June, there will be held a Party demonstration at Watford, and on Monday, 12th June, will take place the first Anniversary Reunion in celebration of the establishment of the Party. Particulars of both meetings will be forwarded to the Branches in due course.

* * *

The reports to hand concerning our out-door propaganda are very encouraging, and excellent results will doubtless accrue to the Party. The idea ought to be not so much the holding of a great number of meetings as to see that a certain number of meetings are held regularly, so that the audiences may rely on hearing an address at the advertised time and place..

* * *

Socialist propaganda and unpunctuality have been largely synonymous in this country. The S.P.G.B. will change that.

*  * *

Each Branch, in addition to its regular Sunday meetings, should hold at least one week-day meeting, and the young speakers should be given every opportunity of developing. Active and vigorous propaganda is the need of the moment and all other work should be subordinated to the task of conducting meetings, pushing the Party Organ, and spreading the light.

* * *.

Many kind friends were of opinion that our organisation would not survive the  winter, but that was because they assumed the men and women who form the S.P.G.B. to be of the same calibre as the members of other organisations claiming to be Socialist. Those who rallied to the call when circumstances demanded the formation of our organisation were thoroughly cognisant of the nature of the task with which. they were confronted, and the efforts put forth during the first twelve months of its existence are but an earnest of what will be accomplished ere another summer goes by.

* * *

When obtaining handbills or other printed matter advertising meetings, etc., branch Secretaries should not fail to have included thereon an invitation to read the Party Organ. It is important that every possible opportunity of advertising the SOCIALIST STANDARD be seized.
C. Lehane.

Official Notice.

To all Party Correspondents. 

Branch Secretaries, members and others sending communications to the Central Office are requested to address them to C. Lehane, General Secretary, and to indicate such letters as are intended to be dealt with by the Executive Committee by writing the words “Executive Committee ” on the left hand top corner of the correspondence.
C. Lehane, 
General Secretary.

Alien Humbug. (1905)

From the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

Of all the fraudulent measures which the professional politicians of the capitalist class ever conjured out of the fertility of their imaginations to serve as incentives to that working-class division and confusion upon which their position as an exploiting class depends, surely the measure directed against the “undesirable” alien is the most glaringly fraudulent.

How it can be successfully foisted upon the credulity of the most purblind passes comprehension. Even for the most unthinking worker the Bill has but one claim—a claim that will not bear investigation—viz, that by keeping out cheap foreign labour the opportunities for employment of English labour are increased. As though the facts do not show that the proportion of aliens to natives in England is far less than in any other European country, and that therefore practically no effective alien competition affects the chances of the home-made worker; as though it was work that the unemployed required when their condition is traceable to the fact that they have already worked too long and produced too much; as though the capitalist-class would shut out cheap labour and therefore the larger profits for which they hunger. The cheap labour of women and children is an infinitely more effective competitor in the labour market to-day, and even were it not the development of capitalism and the higher organisation of industry must add to the quantity of redundant labour, must make the competition for work more keen, must operate to keep the price of labour-power (wages) from rising above sufficient for bare subsistence.

That is the matter for the consideration of the workers of this country. And when they have grasped the significance of it they will recognise why it is that the capitalist-class, through their political mouthpieces, parade their Alien Bills and other legislative flummery alleged to be designed to serve working-class interests. They will find, curiously enough, that such measures invariably coincide with working-class unrest, with such periods as when the pressure of exceptionally adverse circumstances tends to excite the unhappy worker out of his customary lethargy. And they will find upon further enquiry, that every such measure is an elaborate “fake” from their point of view.

When that time comes they will see the reason for the existence of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, and will join it as the only party in England to-day translating its knowledge of the working-class position into consistent political action.
A. G.

Blogger's Note:
There's a strong possibility that 'A.G.' was another pen name for A. J. M. Gray. Gray had already reviewed a Keir Hardie pamphlet in the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard so, perhaps, the editors did not want to give the impression that the same handful of writers were overly represented in the pages of the Socialist Standard and decided to switch around the pen names. Just a thought. 

Books and Booklets. The Citizenship of Women (Keir Hardie) (1905)

Pamphlet Review from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Citizenship of Women—is the latest pamphlet from the pen of Mr. Keir Hardie, and within its covers are probably all the few arguments that can be adduced by the supporters of what is known as the Limited Franchise Bill for Women. Its chief value, however, lies in the fact that it emphasises the back-door and step-at-a-time (the smaller the better) methods which find favour in the sight of Mr. Hardie’s I.L.P. Thus :—
“Once women are admitted to citizenship and some women become voters, the male mind will insensibly accustom itself to the idea of women citizenship and the way be thus prepared for adult suffrage complete and unrestricted.”
The same writer recently gave it as his opinion that Socialism would probably come as a thief in the night, and it is not extraordinary to find the same argument being used in regard to an alleged step that was used in regard to the ultimate object of that step. But to the man who understands that the first postulate of Socialism is the existence of a class-conscious and well organised proletariat whose every step towards emancipation must be taken with eyes wide open, Mr. Hardie’s position is grotesque.

If Mr. Hardie and the I.L.P. hold that the only way for the workers lies in the unconscious absorption of these alleged preliminaries to Socialism, obviously their duty to themselves and to the workers is to ensure that the process shall be unconscious. Because clearly if the workers have their suspicions aroused by the clumsy administration of an overdose, they may on the one hand do themselves an irreparable injury by refusing to acquiesce in a measure designed to benefit them, and on the other, summarily and ignorantly, seal the fate of the I.L.P. that to-day trembles in the balances. Therefore the course Mr. Hardie should adopt in this matter of the enfranchisement of women, is to reduce the persons immediately affected by the measure to the lowest possible minimum. Let it embrace the wives of, say, dukes only, and let it be smuggled through if possible without fuss and under some other guise by someone who cannot be accused of sympathy with the working-class. Thus a commencement will have been made, and the principle, which is to have such beneficial and far-reaching effects upon working-class life and outlook, will have been conceded, and, before the male worker who, according to Mr. Hardie, “will not lightly or all at once part with the authority which has so long been his, and admit that the wife of his bosom is his political equal,” will have awakened to the fact that his authority has been weakened, his mind “will have accustomed itself to the idea of women citizenship and the way will have been, prepared for complete adult suffrage.”

Really one would think from a perusal of Mr. Hardie’s pamphlet that the extension of the franchise to women was a matter of the first importance. The fact is, of course, that to-day the working-class have sufficient political power to do pretty much as they like. Unfortunately they like to return the Liberal or Tory or bogey Labour man. The reason they like to do that is because they do not know how to use their power. And they have failed to understand largely because reformers, with the best of intentions maybe, have worked upon the untenable assumption that the average mind is not capable of taking a grip on the whole Socialist position and have so omitted to tell the whole truth. While the workers do not know the whole truth they cannot understand, and while the mental activity they can spare is harnessed to and expended upon, attempts at altogether ineffectual reforms, they never will.

The pamphlet is prefaced by a character sketch of the author by W. T. Stead.
A. J. M. Gray

Correspondence: Evolution and Revolution. (1905)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1905 issue of the 
Socialist Standard 
Correspondents MUST be brief.
Communications must be authenticated by name and address of writer and written on one side of the paper only.
The writers only are responsible for the views expressed.
Evolution and Revolution. 

Dear Comrade,—Ignoring Mr. T. A. Jackson’s opening remarks on my article, “Evolution and Revolution,” I will come at once to his first point.

He complains that in one place I use the word “revolution” in the sense of “destruction,” in other places as meaning “dissolution,” “sudden transition,” and “catastrophic change.” Quite right, I do; but, what is more surprising, Mr. Jackson himself runs me pretty close in so defining the word, for after giving a brief account of his experience he says : —

”The acquirement of the knowledge necessary to the apprehension of this fact and to a recognition of its importance was a long and gradual process, but the apprehension was a single and sudden mental occurence.”

If that does not mean a sudden transition, what does it mean ? A little further on your correspondent says :—
“From one point of view here was a continuous development; from another a destruction of one form and the substitution of something entirely different.”
Had Mr. Jackson proceeded much further he would doubtless have introduced the other definitions to which he appears to take exception—dissolution, and catastrophic change; the former, by the way, being one of the definitions of “destruction.”

As it is, however, the comrade has practically conceded all I asked in that direction. Revolution is a sudden transition from one form to another; it is destructive to the old, and stands as base to something entirely different. So far we agree. Now as to evolution.

In the article Mr. Jackson so ably criticised these words occur :—
“The change revolution produces may of course go on evolving, but we must not forget that revolution brought that particular phase of evolution into existence.”
Here is my meaning:—

Man, it is affirmed, has evolved from the ape, but he is not an ape. Socialism, as we understand it, has evolved from the capitalist system, but it is not the capitalist system. Therefore, I hold that Socialism is not evolution leading up to revolution, but revolution in the process of evolution; that is, revolution evolving to its final consummation.

The theory of Socialism being revolt against present institutions, it must of necessity be revolution in the making; in other words, evolving revolution. Being so, it must, while fostering its own development, regard all similar developments with more or less hostility, proving that revolution is antagonistic to all forms of evolution but its own.

Without that revolutionary principal in our midst, no revolution, as we now use the word, could occur. That is to say, left to evolve without the revolutionary force behind it, the capitalist system could not evolve up to a revolution, only in the sense of a change produced by the lapse of time. The two systems being antagonistic, one could never evolve directly from the other, any more than a young tiger could evolve into a gazelle.

I submit that Mr. Jackson mistakes the nature of the force governing his conversion. When he first began to take a live interest in Socialism, he was immediately in the throes of an intellectual revolution ; consequently, his evolution up to a full apprehension of what Socialism means had a revolutionary base, without the aid of which Mr. Jackson would never have been a Socialist.

Is it not evident that as Socialism is revolutionary, all Socialists must evolve from that revolutionary base ? From the point of view of their ideal they have cut off all connection with the present system; standing, as an embodiment of revolution, in direct hostility to that system. If this is not correct, how is it that the present system does not evolve every man into a Socialist ? It is apparent that men must grasp the revolutionary principle before they can evolve into Socialists.

The capitalist system is complete in itself. The theory of Socialism is complete in itself. Each is controlled by a distinct and hostile evolution. The one is established; the other seeks to take its place. Each constitutes a system in process of evolution ; the one evolves with preceding revolution as base, the other evolves upon its own base, and when the time is ripe, will step in as a complete and new revolution, so cutting off the further evolution of the old.

If these two forces are not antagonistic, I should like to know where we are to look for antagonism.

Should these conclusions be correct, there is nothing illogical in certain Socialists calling themselves “Evolutionary Socialists” in contradistinction to the Revolutionary. They are evolving Revolutionists, believing that they can apply their principle of revolution a “bit at a time,” so gradually bringing about the realization of their ideal.

In the extract which your correspondent gives from Karl Marx, it will be noted that the great economist discriminates between evolution and revolution.

The former, he observes, “takes place unconsciously, strictly according to the laws of natural science.” Of the latter he says, “Men fight out this conflict as a revolution, conscious of their opposing interests.”

Therefore, without the revolutionary principle you cannot get the proletariat class-conscious. Evolving with the present system, they can never become class-conscious in a Socialist sense. They must step across the borders where revolution awaits them.

Mr. Jackson, like many another, had a hard fight with his doubts and prejudices, but being conscious of this, he was, as I have said, from the very first in the throes of an intellectual revolution. His new ideas, the instruction he received, did not come to him directly from the present system, but from the revolutionary impulse at work within that system. The comparison enabled Mr. Jackson to choose; his sense of justice enabled him to choose rightly. That, I submit, is the secret of the mental process he describes.

But introspective reasoning is always defective, for the experiences of any two men rarely agree. For instance, the experience of a young man who from his infancy had been brought up as a Socialist, would be quite different to that of Mr. Jackson ; for where, in such a case, would come in “an evolution with a revolution as an integral phase phase” ?

Again, suppose a man who was formerly a Socialist were to change his political belief and join one of the present political parties, would Mr. Jackson call this a revolution ? I am inclined to think our friend would call that man a Reactionary, not a Revolutionist. A man must change from the orthodox to the revolutionary before he can be regarded as a Revolutionist. From this base he stands as an individual personification of Revolution, ready to play his part in putting a period to the further evolution of the thing to which he is opposed.

Therefore, a complete change of opinion, as such, does not constitute a revolution, as Mr. Jackson appears to argue.

I am not trying to score points against Mr. Jackson or anyone else, rny sole desire being to lessen the confusion apparently prevailing as to the “true value and relative application of the words evolution and revolution.”

I could say much more upon the subject, but noticing that you ask for brief communications I will close with a few words in reply to your correspondent, Filius Populi.

I am sorry to say I cannot dispute his statement that he is a “peregrinating paradox and several other things.” The truth of his sad admission is only too apparent. He wants to know what he is as a Socialist. A ghastly failure, I should say, for a man afflicted with such a decided kink in his cerebrum could scarely be a success. However, let him take courage: with study and persistent application he may presently begin to understand things.

He requests you to fix on a title that will explain his brand of Socialism clearly. If you decide to oblige him you have some tall thinking ahead. But as he pleads so pathetically for your help, I trust you will not withold it altogether. May I suggest, however, that you refrain on this occasion from calling a spade a spade. You might hurt friend Populi’s feelings. May I also suggest that you make your answer as elementary as possible.
—H. Philpott Wright.


The accident of a call at the Editorial address coinciding with the receipt of Mr. P. Wright’s letter enables me to pen a line designed to appear in company with Mr. Wright’s latest contribution to the confusion of terms. I leave the task of straightening out Mr. Wright’s unhappy tangle to Jackson, moderately confident of his ability to deal with it expeditiously and effectively with no great mental exertion, and confine myself to pointing out with becoming humility, that Mr. Wright has shunted his responsibility in the matter of finding a name satisfactory to himself for the Socialist who is at once evolutionary, revolutionary, and involutionary in the definition I set upon the words, upon the shoulders of a long suffering editorial committee.

It was, of course, natural that Mr. Wright should endeavour in that way to unhook himself from the triple-horned dilemma upon which he so ably, howbeit unconsciously, transfixed himself, but I think he might have assisted the Editorial Committee with one of those scintillating inspirations that characterized his first letter and set the Party membership agog. We should then have again seen how far Mr. Wright can be wrong in his conception of what a Socialist should hold. I invite him most cheerfully to be quite ruthless of my feelings: they don’t matter. Let him call a spade a spade. It will be wonderful to hear him speak clearly, although I fear me he will get a hoe somehow woven into his definition. And then I will retire into my wonted obscurity with a full heart.
Filius Populi.

My conscience smites me. I fear I ought not to lure Mr. Wright into the position of a butt for derision. He didn’t know—how could he ?—that all Socialists are evolutionary, revolutionary, and involutionary to the extent suggested in my note. He didn’t know—how could he ?—that the “Dear Comrades” he fraternally addresses are “ghastly failures” to a man. Ah me! these intellectuals!—Fil.Pop. (not Philpott)

From Our Branches. (1905)

Party News from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard


Last month we were, according to a certain “organ of Social-Democracy,” financially ruined for months to come. We had also been “effectually disposed of” by—of all the good and harmless persons in the world—Mrs. Jarvis! who, together with other champions of irreconcilable and uncompromising class consciousness (S.D.F. brand), did their little best to help return candidates in whose programmes the eye of Faith, peering through the most perfect of microscopical appliances, would have failed to discover a distinctive labour characteristic, and who appealed piteously for votes on the ground that they would look after “the best interests of all”! Yet we have quite cheerfully commenced to financially ruin ourselves some more by running a series of meetings in the Market Place on Sunday evenings, at which we shall be pleased to welcome S.D.F.’ers or what-not, and to make clear how well Mrs. Jarvis (or whoever was responsible) has succeeded in deluding the writer of the note referred to into believing (if indeed he did believe) that we were disposed of. Nothing, says the report of the S.D.F. oracle, was spoken but undiluted Social-Democracy, Thus:—
We want the children brought up with wills free and strong in the image of God.
Socialism means the abolition of idlers at both ends of the scale.
Socialism means a fair return to the workers for their labour.
Etc., etc., ad nauseum. Samples of diluted Social-Democracy would be interesting.

We took the opportunity the elections presented to distribute some thousands of a special pamphlet dealing with the local situation. Of course the wrath of our “labour leaders” was aroused, but they will doubtless recover. We are quite ready to justify our action on the public platform as they well know, and that is probably why they give our public platform a wide berth.

The Raunds strikers passed through this town twice. The “Labour” Party supplied tea the first visit. The Liberal Party did ditto the second. Effect—confusion worse confounded.

And there are so few of us to clear the issue and keep it clear. But we go forward doing all a few men may, knowing that the future is with us ; that we hold the key to the door through which the workers must pass to their emancipation. And it is well.—THE BRANCH.


We have emerged from winter-quarters and initiated our 1905 open-air campaign. On May 7th we had an excellent meeting in Finsbury Park, with plenty of questions and opposition, 50 copies of the Party Organ sold and a good collection. A local supporter of Mr. Percy Alden, Liberal and Labour Candidate for Tottenham, challenged us to debate. We at once closed with the offer, and on Sunday, 14th, the encounter took place. An ex parte statement that we had the best of it may scarcely be a fair way of putting it, but at any rate the meeting was large, so was our collection, and again we sold 50 copies of our paper. On the following Wednesday we engaged the enemy at Highbury Corner, and forced the representatives of the local I.L.P. to accept a challenge to debate, which comes off on Wednesday, 24th May. This will afford us a good opportunity of exposing the pretensions of those who are trying to resuscitate the I.L.P. in Islington, and of exhibiting in their true colours the mar-eadh Socialists. In Islington, as in other parts of this country, those who call themselves Socialists can be divided into two classes, viz., those who believe in Socialism and those who don’t. It is our business to get those who believe in Socialism to join the S.P.G.B. and to keep those who don’t outside until they learn something of the science of working-class politics. At Highbury Corner two men came forward to join our party. On Sunday, 21st May, we were again in evidence in the Park where we held a large audience for two hours. One new member handed in his name, 50 copies of our Organ sold, and a good collection taken up. It is only fair to mention that no other organisation claiming to be Socialist has held an audience in Finsbury Park for the last three Sundays, although they have held meetings. We don’t mind this in the least. Soon the workers on Islington’s heights will realise that the S.P.G.B. is the only party of the workers. Saoghal fada dho !CONCHUBHAU.

Romford Division.

We congratulated ourselves upon the result of our first Sunday morning meeting this season, but our success was also our undoing. We had a large audience, sold over two dozen Standards, and had many questions and some teetotal opposition. But the police discovered that the meeting was a danger to the electric trams, or that the trams were a danger to the meeting, or something to that effect, and when we again essayed to hold a meeting in Ilford Broadway on the following Monday evening, the “force” prohibited it, and we were perforce compelled to seek a fresh location. But we shall make a good station of this by sticking to it and not disappointing our audiences. There is no question about the interest displayed by the public in our position. It is to them a welcome change from the attempts to confuse Socialism with Christianity and the perpetual glorification of municipal profit-mongering to which the speakers of a local “Socialist” body mainly devote themselves, what time they are not supporting Liberals for municipal elections. We have held meetings in Romford and Barking, and hope in the latter town to revive that revolutionary spirit which the confusing tactics of the S.D.F. turned Labour Fakir politicians have almost crushed out. At the last General Election the S.D.F. supported the Liberal candidate in this division, but we have made it quite clear that we shall oppose them all. We are not of those who advise the working-class to vote for their class and then blame them for the result.

West Ham.

Enthusiasm is working wonders in West Ham. We are having good and attentive audiences, both here and in East Ham, in the former case drawn chiefly from those to whom it is necessary to break the news very gently that they also are of the working-class, but so far we have had no fatality. The worst of messing about with ink, worrying over details of profit and loss, and looking like bosses is that it leads to so many cases of mistaken identity. Many are wroth to find that the profits are somebody else’s while the losses are theirs. The local “squints” continue to shape their course by the rule of “don’t let ’em see any red, Sir !” but there are signs of mistrust of those who see round corners. Especially is this the case in East Ham, where we hope to establish a branch almost immediately.—A. E. Jacomb.

Answers to correspondents. (1905)

From the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard

H. Te Dee—The article printed in this issue over the name of F. C. Watts should dispose of your difficulties.

J. C. R. (Soham).—Many thanks for extract and circulars. If our comments on the latter are not justified, our columns are open. Audi alteram partem.

Acknowledgments.—Articles from E. J. B. Allen, H. Davey and J. H. Kennett. Exchange List. “The Socialist Voice” (Oakland, California).

SPGB Outdoor Meetings. (1905)

Party News from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard