Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Editorial: Retrospect (1954)

Editorial from the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

The first number of the Socialist Standard came out in September, 1904, a few years after the Boer War had ended and before World Wars had come into the picture. At that time the German Social Democratic Party had the support of millions, the Socialist Party of America was strong enough to put forward a candidate for the Presidency, in France, Austria and Italy, there were strong parties claiming to be Socialist, and even in the East the movement had spread—Russia, China and Japan, had small parties. Labour Parties and Welfare States had not yet emerged from the reformist womb, and the emptiness of nationalisation as a panacea for social ills had yet to be demonstrated.

To the uncritical it looked as if Socialism was “just round the comer.” What they overlooked was the weakness of the parties that claimed to be Marxian and the futility of those that did not. All of them were tied to reform programmes that ultimately put out the fire of revolution they had lighted; all of them were dominated by the fatal principle of leadership and all of them collapsed under the blow of the first Great War.

On the first page of the first number of the Socialist Standard there was an article from which we take the following paragraphs
“ In the Socialist Party of Great Britain we are all members of the working class, and cannot hope that pur articles will always be finely phrased, but we shall at least endeavour to lay before you on every occasion a sane and sound pronouncement on all matters affecting the welfare of the working class. What we lack in refinement of style we shall make good by the depth of our sincerity and by the truth of our principles.”

. . . 

“In dealing with all questions affecting the welfare of the working-class our standpoint will be frankly revolutionary. We shall show that the misery, the poverty, and the degradation caused by capitalism, grows far more rapidly than does the enacting of palliative legislation for its removal. The adequate alleviation of these ills can be brought about only by a political party having Socialism for its object. So long as the powers of administration are controlled by the capitalist class so long can that class render nugatory any legislation they consider to unduly favour the workers.”
That has been the outlook of the Socialist Standard during the past fifty years.

The leading article of the first number set down in detail the position of the workers under Capitalism and the only solution to their problems. On another page our Declaration of Principles was printed, and it is exactly the same as has appeared in every issue since.

Everything of fundamental importance that had a bearing on Socialist policy has been thoroughly examined and discussed in the Socialist Standard over the years.

The position and function of Trade Unions and the Socialist attitude towards them was the subject of discussion that appeared during some months of 1906. Industrial Unionism was the subject of numerous articles and correspondence from 1904 almost to the present day.

When the first Great War broke out in 1914 we printed our War Manifesto, in September of that year, in which we proclaimed our opposition to war, set forth the causes of war in the modern world, and pointed out that victory or defeat left the position of the workers, as a subject class, untouched.

When the Russian Revolution occurred in 1917 we printed an article which examined what lay behind that upheaval and stated, what subsequent history made plain, that it was not, and could-not be, a Socialist Revolution. As information came along later we demonstrated from the facts available the accuracy of our original statement.

In 1926 we showed the weakness of the General Strike and urged that, if the workers came out on strike they should do so in a body; if not successful within a short time they should go back in a body and not drift back. We pointed out that if they drifted back they would undo the work of years. In fact they were let down by the leaders they trusted and the masters were enabled to get rid of many limitations on their profit hunting that the workers had previously achieved.

In 1939, when the second Great War broke out, we reiterated the position we had put forward in 1914. In both wars our propaganda efforts suffered heavily. In the first war our speakers were arrested and our Head Office raided. In the second war we fared a little better but our Head Office suffered from bombing and it and much of our literature and records were destroyed.

In recent years we have put forward candidates for Parliament and our election literature has been reprinted in the Socialist Standard.

In the course of fifty years the Socialist Standard contains a faithful record of our work and our progress. In its columns will be found a mass of searching theoretical and historical articles that cover the main facts, principles, and policies, that are useful to the workers in their struggle to emancipate themselves from their subject position and to achieve the aim that we have unflaggingly put before them, the establishment of Socialism—a new form of society in which each will give according to his capacities and take according to bis needs.

When the workers understand, accept and act upon the views we have been pressing to their notice the social ills they suffer from today will vanish like a bad dream.

Our contributions to the Socialist Movement (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

After fifty years of the Party’s existence it is worth while drawing attention to the principal contributions the Party has made to the Socialist movement.
  1. We have always insisted upon the capture of political power before any fundamental change in the social system can be accomplished.
  2. Until the majority understood and want this change Socialism cannot be achieved.
  3. Opposition to all reform policies and unswerving pursuit of Socialism as the sole objective.
  4. Opposition to all war without any distinction between alleged wars of offence, of defence, or against tyranny.
  5. The understanding that taxation is a burden upon the capitalist class and not upon the working class, and therefore any schemes which are brought forward to cut down taxes are measures of interest to the capitalist class, and not to the working class.
  6. That when the workers understand their position and how to change it they will not require leaders to guide them. Leadership is the bane of the working class movement for Socialism. .
  7. That Socialism is international involving the participation of workers all over the world. Therefore any suggestion of establishing Socialism in one country alone is anti-socialist.
  8. In a given country there can only be one Socialist Party, therefore no member can belong to any other political party at the same time as he is a member of the Party.
  9. Likewise no member can speak on any other political platform except in opposition.
  10. The Socialist Party must be entirely independent of all other political parties entering into no agreement or alliances for any purpose. Compromising this independence for any purpose, however seemingly innocent, will lead to non-socialists giving support to the Party.
  11. We throw our platform open to any opponent to state his case in opposition to ours.
  12. Likewise all our Executive meetings, Branch meetings and Conferences are open to the public.
  13. The members have entire control of the Party and all members are on an equal footing.
  14. Finally the Party has a scrupulous regard for political honesty and no skeletons are permitted to moulder in cupboards.

Our electoral activities (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

One of my cherished papers is an Election Manifesto dated the first of November 1906 entitled Battersea Borough Council Election, Latchmere Ward; underneath this title are the words, Battersea Branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, followed by the object of the Party, and at the bottom of the front page, the words Socialist candidates' Election Address. Inside is an article, addressed to the Electors of Latchmere Ward, which explained the struggle for political supremacy, the necessity for class organisation, and exposed Municipalism (a now forgotten issue). The bogey of the rates was dealt with, the article ending as follows: “The Socialist Party of Great Britain therefore enters into municipal contests as a step in the work of capturing the whole of the political machinery. Fully realising and pointing out to workers the strict limitations of the power of local bodies, making no promises that are beyond our power to fulfil, we ask the members of our class, when (but not before) they have studied these facts, and realise their correctness, to cast their vote for the candidates of the S.P.G.B., who alone stand on the above basis”.

Finally appear the candidates names, George Frederich Moody, Frank Craske, George Money.

This was the first Election Manifesto issued by the Party, and is a reprint from the front page article in the October 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard.

It was also used in the other Wards, at Battersea, and the Tooting Ward of Wandsworth.

There were twelve candidates put forward, at the 1906 municipal Elections, nine in Battersea and three in Wandsworth. The Battersea results were Latchmere Ward, Craske 117, Moody 117, Money 113. Winstanley Ward, Blewett 57, Roe 49, Witcher 45. Church Ward, Greenham 93, Fawcett 88, Hunt 77 (incidentally Comrade Roe is still with us, and was a delegate for his branch at the 1954 Conference). At Wandsworth Tooting Ward, it was Barker 94, MacManus 77, Dumenil 59; of these votes fifty were for our candidates alone.

The Socialist Standard for December 1906 commented: - “All the candidates fought on the Election Manifesto published in our October issue, a few were distributed in each Ward. They had no programme of ear-tickling, side tracking, vote-catching “palliatives ” and did no canvassing. The candidates were practically unknown and had not climbed into popularity on the backs of the working class, by posing as 'leaders' of unemployed deputations ‘right to live’ councils, and similar confusionist conglomerations”.

Arising out of these Battersea contents, the question of non members signing nomination papers for candidates, was raised. The Executive Committee ruled that in future only Party members should sign nomination forms, which was later embodied in Party Rules.

The opening paragraphs of the election leaflet for the general election of this year was as follows:—
“Fellow members of the Working Class! at the present moment you, or those of you possessed of votes, are being urgently reminded of a fact that you may be pardoned for having forgotten—you are of consequence; then you, who but yesterday were 'hands,' dependant, hirelings, articles of merchandise are today dictators, history-makers, freemen, you are the power in the State. You hold the destiny of the Empire in the hollow of your hand. Yesterday, those of you who were unemployed were whining wastrels, scum unemployable, treated as children on the one hand and dogs on the other, Today if you have votes—you are the bone and sinew of England's greatness. ‘You count.'

“It is a fact you may have forgotten. It is some time since you were so generally and emphatically reminded of it. It may be some time before you are so reminded of it again."

“But sufficient for the day, is the fact of your greatness— if you have votes. If you have not you are still clods cyphers, ‘hands’ merchandise. Get back to your hovels, your single room tenement, your sweat shops, back to your wage-slavery if you are fortunate enough to be employed, back to your whining wastrelism, to the outer darkness of impotent despair—if you are of the hungry multitude who lack the means of sustenance. Back, scum, to-day has nothing for you.”

“But, if you have votes ‘men of England, heirs of glory’ you ‘hardy sons of Labour.' then—England expects that every man this day will do his duty! And what is your duty?”
The leaflet went on to deal with the Political Parties, and their programme. This quotation is an example of the style of writing, and also a reminder of the fact that universal adult suffrage is quite recent.

In December 1906, Battersea Branch, proposed to contest the London County Council Elections. Comrades Fitzgerald, and Jackson, were chosen by the E.C. as candidates.. This action was challenged by the Edmonton Branch on the grounds that die policy of contesting these Elections was one for a Delegate Meeting to decide. The Delegates confirmed this form of activity at the January Meeting. It was later found that Jackson was not eligible as a candidate the final choice being J. Fitzgerald and M. Neuman. There is no evidence of these comrades having gone to the polls, so one presumes L.C.C. Elections have not been contested.

September of 1908 provided the next opportunity, with a Bye-Election at Haggerston, where a candidate named Burrows was standing for a reformist organisation. An article in the Socialist Standard carried the title “The Harrying of Haggerston and the burying of Burrows.” The article is too long to quote. It should be read as a fine example of political writing of the period. It had humour and sarcasm and is a joy to read, even to-day long after the event it is dealing with has been forgotten.

In 1908 it was the provincial Branch of Burnley having a go. They sought, and obtained, permission for Comrade Tamlyn to contest the Gammon Ward, and Comrade Schofield the Whittleford Ward of Burnley. The total poll was 15 votes between them. The December Socialist Standard said “ We do not claim to have won either a numerical, or a moral victory, although our poll was minute we claim to have done some good, and are not dissatisfied with the results.”

About the same time Tooting Branch put forward Comrades Cooper, Joy and Barker for the Tooting Ward, the result being 60, 58 and 56 respectively. The Socialist Standard’s comment was: “We think we found fifty six supporters for the Revolution, and are encouraged in the hope that it is not altogether hopeless to appeal to the Electorate on the straight issue—Socialism.”

1910 was a busy year for the Party in the Electoral field. In January 50,000 General Election manifestoes were printed and distributed. Space prohibits quotations from this leaflet so only a brief reference is possible. Like all leaflets of this type it deals with the political parties of the period, Tories, Liberals and Labour Party, and gave the Socialist Party attitude to the points raised.

Tottenham Branch was in the field of municipal Elections in April that year. With Comrade F. W. Stern for the High Cross Ward, and Comrade A. Anderson, F. G. Rourke in the St. Anns Ward, of the local Urban Council. The voting was Anderson 143, Rourke 67, F. W. Stern 63.

A Bye-Election at Walthamstow provided the local branch with the opportunity to issue a fine Election leaflet.

In the same year there was a meeting of London members at Battersea, to discuss the action of Party members, if elected to local bodies, there does not appear to be any record of results of the discussion.

The Oath of Allegiance.
At the Annual Conference of 1910 electoral matters had a long discussion on a resolution from Manchester branch. "That any member elected to Parliament shall not take the oath of allegiance.” That this resolution was tabled in spite of a decision by the 1909 Conference, “That the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, in reference to the oath of allegiance to Parliament, is that oaths and forms imposed by the constitution shall not be allowed to prevent elected representatives from taking their seats,” showed the interest aroused by the issue. A resolution to send the question to branches was lost by 14 to 13 votes. Conference finally endorsed the 1909 ruling, and this was endorsed by a poll of the party and still stands as the Party position to-day. Since that year there have been no candidates put forward at municipal Elections.

Leaflets were, however, issued for the municipal elections of 1913, by the Watford Branch.

During the war years 1914-18 the party had a hard struggle to survive and there were no electoral activities. For the general election in December 1918 the front page of the Socialist Standard, reproduced at the beginning of this article, showed the position of the Party.

The Move to Contest Parliamentary Elections.
The next move in Electorial Activity came in 1928. At a meeting of Party members, held in Friars Hall on Saturday, Feb. 25th, with seventy-nine members present, a resolution was moved by Higgs and Cash: “That this meeting of Party members declares itself in favour of running Socialist candidates, at Parliamentary Elections at the first opportunity, and, therefore, endorses the action of the EC. in inaugurating a fund for that purpose” It was carried 41—18.

From this meeting can be traced the later developments in Electoral activity.

At the next General Election, in 1929, the E.C. agreed that Comrade Barker, of Tooting Branch, should be the prospective candidate for North Battersea, in opposition to Tory, Liberal, Labour and Communist candidates. An attempt was made to get the necessary funds, but it was hopeless, as the Parliamentary fund at that period showed a balance of £21 1s. 2d.

Battersea Branch were able to get in a good meeting at the local Town Hall, by using Comrade Barker in what has become known as a challenge meeting, at which the Tory and Liberal candidates put in an appearance. There was an audience of about nine hundred. This was the first gesture on the Parliamentary field.

For the next ten years Electoral activity was confined to issuing an occasional leaflet.

Electoral Activity in 1937 was a decision to contest one of the East Ham constituencies. Much work was done by bands of comrades in door to door canvassing. Meetings were held and Committee rooms were obtained, but activity was brought to an end by the outbreak of war in 1939.

After the Second World War.
The small amount of active work the Party was able to indulge in during the war years was followed by the 1945 election when, in Paddington North, the Party for the first time contested a Parliamentary Election. Members gave of their best to make the campaign a success. The weather was good, making outdoor meetings possible, and members were able to use the long June and July evenings for literature distributing and canvassing. The high spot of the Election, for those of unengaged in it, was the hiring and filling from top to bottom, of the Metropolitan Music Hall; a thrill which the writer of these words will never forget, thousands of men and women to hear the Socialist case. Finally, on July 5th, 1945, for the first time in the history of the working class movement, a Socialist offered himself for Parliamentary election, when the name of our Comrade Clifford Groves appeared on a voting paper.

The remainder of the story of the Party’s activity in this field, is recent; the contesting of each By-Election, as they occurred in Paddington North, and the contesting of two seats at the 1950 Election. Paddington North, with Comrade McClatchie as the candidate, and East Ham South, with Comrade H. Young. Finally the last By-Election of November, 1953, with Comrade Waters as the candidate.

In all Elections the Party has entered, the results, judged by votes, have been very small, but that, of course, is not the standard by which Socialists judge the value of these activities.

This review of Party activities in the electoral field started out on a personal note, appropriate to the fact that it has been written for the Jubilee issue of the Socialist Standard. May I, as one, who has had the good fortune to work on every Parliamentary Committee since 1929, send greetings to all those comrades, who by their efforts have made possible the work that has been done in this field, and hope they found joy, as I have in working together for our cause, Socialism
R. Ambridge

Greetings from the U.S.A. (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

Just as we are going to press we can record a visit by two comrades from the World Socialist Party of America, comrades Rab and Gloss. This visit has shown how closely associated in principles and policy our two parties are. They addressed a number of outdoor meetings in London and the Provinces and the policy they expressed was undistinquishable from that expressed by our own speakers.

This welcome illustration of the fundamental unity of our two parties, although thousands of miles away from each other, augurs well for the progress of the Socialist movement. They take back with them memories of the warmth of their reception, and we hope it is the beginning of an international exchange of delegates.

It is fitting that this should have happened when we are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary.

We hope the day is not far distant when we can also welcome delegates from the Socialist Party of Canada and the Socialist Party of Australia and of New Zealand.

Classic Reprint: Under Martial Law. (1954)

A Classic Reprint from the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

"Those of our friends who lend support to our outdoor propaganda meetings will be aware that for the past week or two those meetings have been suspended. Also, readers of this issue will notice that the Lecture List which until this date has appeared on the back page of this our official organ, has now been withdrawn. These occurrences demand some few words of explanation, which are offered here.

"When the war broke out in August the Socialist Party unfalteringly proclaimed the Socialist position in relation to it. From our platforms and, at the first opportunity, in the columns of our organ we took up the clear and definite attitude dictated by Socialist principles and working-class politics. This attitude, it is quite needless to say, was neither popular nor free from peril. It drew down upon us on the one hand the hostility of the rampant jingo hooligans of the streets, and on the other hand the “patriotic” fury of certain parasites “dressed in a little brief authority.”

"Our object was not to bid defiance to a world gone mad, but to place on record the fact that in this country the Socialist position was faithfully maintained by the Socialists. With this object in view we placed our backs against the wall and fought. Our platforms were smashed up and our members injured by mobs egged on by bourgeois cowards who, as usual, had not the spunk to do their own fighting for themselves. Not this only : one of our speakers was arrested and imprisoned, while others were dragged before the magistrates and “bound over to keep the peace.” In some instances the proceedings were rounded off by the victims being discharged from their employment by their “good, kind masters” for daring to hold political opinions of their own.

"We fought this fight long enough to achieve our purpose. In the columns of the last four issues of the Socialist Standard stand recorded our actions in this crisis, showing to the working class of the world that the Socialist Party in this country, acting in accordance with its declared principles, kept its hands clean in this, the most momentous crisis of its history. That is an asset to carry forward to the time when the war is finished.

"But now we are faced with a new situation. On the 28th of November last were issued Orders in Council (Defence of the Realm [Consolidation] Regulations) which render the prosecution of our propaganda a work of extreme peril. The following extracts from the Regulations will serve to show the nature of the impediment we are up against.
"27. No person shall by word of mouth or in writing or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular, or other printed publication spread false reports or make false statements or reports or statements likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty or to interfere with the success His Majesty’s forces by land or sea or to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with foreign powers, or spread reports or make statements likely to prejudice the recruiting, training, discipline, or administration of any of His Majesty’s forces, and if any person contravenes this provision he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.

"57. A person found guilty of an offence against these regulations by a court-martial shall be liable to be sentenced to penal servitude for life or any less punishment."
"In face of these restrictions and penalties the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party decided to suspend propaganda meetings for the time being, and called a meeting of Party members, at which meeting their action was endorsed.

"We are aware, of course, that we lost an unique opportunity of indulging in heroics. We shall be told, perhaps, that we ought to have gone on in defiance of the powers that be till we went down in a blaze of fireworks. Our view, however, was the sane one dictated by our avowed principles. We have always held that the supreme power is in the hands of those who control the political machine. The most we could hope for by going on was to prove that contention. But it is not for us to prove our contentions by acting in opposition to them.

"There was no question of fighting for Socialism or Socialist principles. The Regulations were not, as far as we could judge, in the nature of anti-Socialist legislation. They were merely the precautions ordinarily resorted to by countries embroiled in a serious war. For this very reason we had nothing to gain by running counter to the Regulations, for just as the temper of the working class is, at the moment, such as to prevent them benefiting from our propaganda, so it would prevent them learning anything from our victimisation or martyrdom. Clearly, then, it was our tactics to place ourselves in such a position that only by the Regulations being strained to the point where they would become obviously anti-Socialist could we fall victims to them. These tactics demanded, in view of the risk of having our spoken words twisted and distorted in the Courts, that we suspend propaganda meetings for the time, and confine our activities to such forms of propaganda as would secure us from any attack that did not reveal the deliberate intention of our opponents to crush us under the cloak of the present situation."

(The above article appeared on the front page of the Socialist Standard for January 1915.)

Some theoretical questions (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

Through having a formal Declaration of Principles to act as basis for membership and for the control of conduct, and through the use of Marxian economics and explanation of social change, the S.P.G.B. has maintained a continuity of outlook unknown in organisations guided largely by the mood and circumstances of the moment. But continuity has not meant refusal to recognise changes of capitalist trends or the emergence of important new information.

Marxian economic conceptions, in spite of the continuous stream of disparagement from critics, have shown themselves remarkably robust in serving to explain the workings of the capitalist system under modern developments. One illustration is the great rise of .the price level in the last forty years. While reformist parties have offered “explanations” which consist of little more than attributing the rise of prices to the wickedness of capitalists and the cowardice of governments,, Marxism economics enables us to see that the overwhelmingly largest factor has been the devaluation of the currency in terms of gold, in U.S.A., to about one half and in Great Britain to about one-third of the value before World War I.

Examination of current economic problems from the Marxian standpoint enabled the S.P.G.B. to show the absurdity of the periodical waves of currency crankism such as the Douglas Scheme; the truth that rates and taxes, in spite of their deceptive appearance, are a burden on property not on the workers' wages and that war likewise is paid for by the capitalist class; and that while wages do not merely follow prices—other factors including the workers' struggles play a part—the belief that lower prices mean prosperity for the workers is a delusion.

In all these matters economic understanding reinforced the S.P.G.B.'s political principles and saved it from floundering in the confusion that fogged the reformists.

Special reference needs to be made to economic crises.

Marx’s valuable material on capitalism’s economic crises was published after his death in Volumes II. and III. of Capital in virtually the incomplete form in which he left it—he had not reached the stage of rounding it off into a comprehensive whole. In the hands of later writers, friendly, critical, and hostile alike, who have overlooked this, Marx’s tentative and piecemeal conclusions have sometimes proved to be dangerous half-knowledge, and many are the explanations of and prophecies about, crises that have not stood up to the test of events; including some by the S.P.G.B. But this has not been of too great importance because the S.P.G.B. was never dependent on crises and crises theories in the way the Communists and some other groups have been. The S.P.G.B. has never been in the position of some reformists of believing that capitalism is only open to condemnation during crises and not during its boom periods; or in the position of Communists of believing that capitalism can only be got rid of through a crisis, a collapse.

This belief has a long history and it has been the S.P.G.B. alone which set itself firmly against it

When Marx and Engels were first approaching the subject of crises they thought, on the evidence then available, that crises happened at shorter and shorter intervals, each one worse than the one before. They soon dropped the first and worked on the supposition that crises happen about every ten years; and they later recognised that it was possible for a relatively acute crisis to be followed by a mild one. It is, however, probable that Marx, and certain that Engels, thought that the general trend was for crises to become worse. This came put most markedly after Marx’s death when we find Engels in 1884, under the influence of the prolonged “Great Depression,” believing that the 10 year cycle had gone and that permanent depression had taken its place; and writing two years later that “we can almost calculate the moment when the unemployed . . . will take their fate into their own hands.”

Just as 30 years earlier, in 1856, he had expected the coming economic crisis to end capitalism, so he now thought in 1886 that unemployment would drive the workers to revolt; and seven years later he was pinning his hopes on the crisis he anticipated from America’s invasion of world markets.

Nobody could hold a theory that crises become worse and worse without being at least strongly tempted to believe that this could not go on indefinitely; a time must come when the crisis would be too great for recovery to be possible. This notion was gratefully taken up by many groups, including the Communists and the I.L.P., for they had dire need of some such theory. How else could they envisage the end of capitalism? The Communists never accepted the S.P.G.B. case that capitalism would be ended by the positive action of a majority understanding Socialism. Instead they trusted in leadership of the discontented masses by an intellectual minority and they welcomed the notion that an economic crisis would provide the opportunity.

The I.L.P. had earlier believed that foe road to emancipation was through Labour Party pressure in Parliament for reforms, especially under Labour government. But by the 1931 crisis, after two Labour Governments, the I.L.P. leaders could no longer be enthusiastic for this and they gladly swallowed the “collapse” theory which promised an easy and early alternative.

The S.P.G.B., which had never needed such a theory, never entertained it and in 1932 marked its opposition to the then popular collapse doctrine by publishing a pamphlet “Why Capitalism will not Collapse,” in which was reaffirmed the Party’s view that “until a sufficient number of workers are prepared to organise politically for the conscious purpose of ending Capitalism, that system will stagger on indefinitely from one crisis to another.”

Because the S.P.G.B. has this firmly based and comprehensive Socialist case against capitalism and is not dependant on particular temporary trends of capitalism, it could view with equanimity unforeseen new developments and reversals of trends that have seriously shaken other organisations. The S.P.G.B. never mixed up State capitalism with Socialism and was therefore able from the start to examine critically the organisation, and finances of nationalisation and expose both the Labour Party propaganda asking working class support for it and the equally fraudulent campaigns against it carried on by sections of the capitalists and by the Tory and Liberal parties. The limited progress made by nationalisation in the U.S.A. and many other countries (contrary to Engels’ expectation 60 years ago), and the present perhaps temporary flow of the tide against nationalisation do not at all affect the S.P.G.B. case though they profoundly disturb the reformists to whom nationalisation meant something different and so much more important

The S.P.G.B., while opposed to building up an organisation on a reform programme, never accepted the two ideas that from time to time have obtained wide acceptance in Labour circles, that the capitalists either would not concede reforms or that they could not afford to do so. So the rise first of unemployment insurance (not foreseen by Engels and others who foretold unemployed revolt) and later of more comprehensive schemes has not in any way affected the basic case of the S.P.G.B. against capitalism.

Nor has the S.P.G.B. case needed to be modified because of the growth in trade union membership and changes in structure and activities. Members of the S.P.G.B. could be and were keenly interested in discussing trade union trends, forms of organisation, strike tactics, etc., but all of these aspects were secondary ones viewed in the light of the recognition that trade union action cannot end capitalism and establish Socialism. The “general strike” of 1926 was for the S.P.G.B. a complete confirmation of views long before thought out and discussed by members. The “general strike,” that is to say united action to hold up industry as a whole, had been advocated in the Socialist Standard four years before (Apr. 1922) as the only means of meeting the general attack on wages. The three guiding conditions then insisted upon were that the stoppage should not be prolonged, it would succeed in its object quickly or not at all; that it should be carried out peacefully for its limited objective with no encouragement of riot or destruction to give excuse for the use of the armed forces; and that the decisions to come out and go back should be in the hands of the rank and file and not entrusted to leaders. In the event it was misguided trust in leadership that made the strike of 1926 less impressive and effective than it could have been, though the S.P.G.B. certainly had never encouraged illusions as to what could be hoped for from such a strike.

On war there has been some development in the Party’s attitude due to events stimulating deeper consideration. In 1904 it seemed sufficient to explain war between capitalist powers (and their wars of colonial expansion) and to insist that the workers had no interest in the issues behind war; rounding this off with denunciation of capitalist greed and capitalist cruelty. Little was said of the attitude of Marx half a century earlier of being prepared to support one side in war either on the ground that the outcome would be an advantage for the democratic and working class movements (e.g. the defeat of reactionary Russia), or that the workers should resist aggression against the country they live in. Had this question been raised as a live issue in 1904 there can be no doubt that the Party would have decided then (as it did nearly 30 years later) that Marx was mistaken in thinking that results worth while for the working class or for the speeding up of the introduction of Socialism could result from waging war. That the S.P.G.B. should have reached a conclusion different from his was due partly to the fact that, looking back, we could see that his hoped for beneficial results did not happen; partly to realisation of the tremendous barrier to Socialism presented by nationalism; partly to the much greater magnitude and destructiveness of the weapons and organisations of war; but basically to the S.P.G.B.’s unique appreciation of the importance of understanding in the achievement of Socialism. For us it was unthinkable that lack of understanding could be compensated for by use of force. Hence the affirmation in a lengthy statement on war formally adopted by the Party that “war is not an instrument that can be used by Socialists or supported by Socialists.”

The Party’s original condemnation of unscientific emotionalism and insistence on the need to understand the causes and methods of social and ideological change and of the emergence of new forms has stood every test. The early issues of the Socialist Standard contained many articles and answers to correspondents on this issue and the article “Unscientific Emotionalism” in the issue for December, 1914, will show how adequately the problems were understood by that time. The following are extracts;—
"When our method of reasoning is applied back through history, we find that man’s thoughts have always been governed by his inherited notions and the material conditions surrounding him; and as these conditions have centred round the obtaining of food, clothing and shelter, so at each period of social history the more or less clear relations that were built up on this basis (the particular relations that existed at the particular time between the various producers and distributors of the social wealth) have been reflected in the mind in a correspondingly more or less clear manner. After the break up of the early tribal communities society was split into various classes, and history since then has been the record of the struggles of each class in its turn to control society for its own advantage. When the progress of the method of producing wealth had reached a certain point the class in society that, was taking the principal part in production found the old laws (that were suitable to the old governing class) placed a restriction on their further development. The problem of the removal of all these restrictions therefore constantly occupied them, and it is then forced home to their minds that the only solution to the problem of the removal of these restrictions is the control of society by themselves, and the alteration of the existing laws to suit the new conditions. Just so at present the spectacle of the workers doing all the work of the world forces home to the minds of men the socialist view that if the workers produce and distribute all the wealth of society they therefore should own it, and reap the benefit of their work themselves, instead of supporting a group of idlers and good-for-nothings. The solution of the problem is contained within the problem itself. 'Therefore mankind always takes up only such problems as it can solve’ (Marx).”
The article showed how the ideas of equality that had lain dormant in the minds of men since the break up of tribal Communism, had been exploited in the past by particular propertied classes struggling for supremacy and wanting the support of the oppressed, and were being exploited now by reformist bodies that did not understand the nature of the problem. The following further extract is a fitting note on which to end this brief survey of some aspects of Socialist theories.
"The socialist reasons from the practical affairs of everyday life to general conclusions, while the emotionalists set out with a plan formed in accordance with certain abstract ideas true for all time (!) without taking account of the historical development of society. They try to organise society according to the idea instead of recognising that the shape their particular ideas take has been formed by society.”
Edgar Hardcastle

Blogger's Note:
In the original text, Hardcastle thought that the article where the Party was advocating for a General Strike was from the February 1922 issue of the Socialist Standard; it was, in fact, an editorial from the April 1922 issue.

World Politics, 1904-1954: "Cities and thrones and powers" (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is difficult to parcel history. We place the feudal age between 500 and 1,500 A.D., and at once have to add there was chattel slavery after the beginning and capitalism before the end of it. When did modern European history begin? A dividing line has to be drawn, and sufficient reason found for it Most historians agree on the French Revolution as the convenient starting point: there is an intelligible, unbroken series of events that began in 1789. The Socialist Party was founded ten years before it reached its climax.

The outbreak of war in 1914 is often represented as a surprise—England on its August holidays, douched by the unforeseen. In fact, everyone knew it was coming. The Dual and Triple Alliances of the eighteen-nineties defined the position with painful clarity: the great European nations ranged in two hostile groups, each piling armaments and watching for advantage. Popular papers in Britain carried pictures of German militarism—stiff-legged marching regiments, the Kaiser in his spiked helmet —while Haldane reorganized the British army on German lines and France, Austria, Russia and Italy trained their conscript armies. No country could afford to fall behind: “You cannot when other nations are spending huge sums of money which are not merely weapons of defence but are equally weapons of attack,” said Lloyd George.

While the larger powers circled and feinted, the small ones were at one another's throats. Montenegro, Serbia, Novibazar, Albania—a dozen states in the Balkans with names that, twenty years later, ring of mustachios and musical comedy. Each of them was land-hungry and full of aggressive nationalism; all of them were caught in the struggle between Russia, Germany and Austria, for passage to the Mediterranean and the East.

Politically, it was a Machiavellian decade of plot and counter-plot—fundamentally, the seethings of a grand-scale eruption of imperialism and international competition. From 1870 onwards Germany had undergone a swift economic growth like that of Britain a hundred years before. Huge industrial combines emerged, trade multiplied, colonization started; shipping increased, and there was tariff protection against American and British goods. Britain had made its empire, held the markets and the sea routes; Germany was the rival, the strongest competitor. Many of the other European nations’ were still semi-feudal, but their growing commercialism (or that of their neighbours) drew them into the vortex.

The war changed the nature of European politics. Inevitably, it changed the map; its course included the Russian Revolution and the American entry to the arena. The relics of feudalism were swept away. While Russian aristocrats scurried across Europe for asylum, the Austro-Hungarian empire which had dominated central Europe was reduced to a small republic. The technical needs of twentieth-century warfare gave tremendous impetus to industry everywhere. And, at the end of the war, America was creditor to all Europe on a near-fantastic scale. Production for profit there had to be.

The Peace Treaties were shrewdly savage arbiters of the new balance of power. The principle that the beaten country must pay had been imposed by Germany on France in 1871; now it was imposed on Germany by France and Britain. The attitudes of the victorious nations differed, however. Britain had “raked in”— German ships, spheres of influence in the Middle East, spoils for the Dominions—and needed now a prosperous, buying-and-selling Germany; France's desire was for Germany stripped and subjugated. America withdrew politically but remained economically, bestriding the narrow, exhausted European world like a colossus.

By 1922 it was evident that, whatever had been intended at Versailles, German economic recovery had to be not merely allowed but encouraged. It is worth saying at this point, that the Socialist Party was not mistaken in its commentary before, during or after the war. The four years’ havoc was the inevitable climax to the commercial struggle which had spread and intensified for a hundred years. German militarism, which mostly took the blame, was simply the expression of a rapid, aggressive capitalist growth; given slight variations in nineteenth-century history, the enemy could as easily have been France or Russia. Many people in Britain were not patriots in the conventional sense but believed that to break German capitalism would bring jobs and prosperity. In the first wartime issue of the Standard facts and figures were quoted to prove them wrong, and wrong they were: mass unemployment began in 1920 and continued till 1939. The post-war world was shaped by capitalism, not by statesmen.

The steps to rehabilitate German economy were precipitated by the Germans’ attempt to evade astronomical debts by devaluing the mark. In a few months half a million marks were worth only a penny, and when the Germans reformed their currency the franc fell in turn. America, France and Britain, with scarcely an altruistic motive between them, collaborated to make Germany solvent and revive its industry. Five years' flourishing trade and high profits followed. They ended as abruptly as they began when the 1929 crash caused the withdrawal of American money from Germany and the collapse that paved the way for Hitler.

Meanwhile the “new civilization" was transforming Russia, and its votaries formed the Third International. The war had killed the second; its members, the social-democrats and the labour leaders' supported the conflict they had pledged themselves to oppose. The doctrine of capitalism’s impending collapse became a spearhead of “left-wing” political theory, seemingly given weight by the instability of finance, commerce and governments in Western Europe. The Russian Revolution’s effect on post-war world politics was mainly indirect, inspiring new ideologies and policies; the looked-for European uprising never came, and it was twenty years before Russia figured largely on the scene.

The peace treaty had set up the League of Nations, a permanent, elaborately-organized machine for conciliation and arbitration between nations. America was not a member, nor was Germany until 1926. Its Court of Intemational Justice at The Hague was to consider all quarrels between member-states; it sought reduction of armaments, above-board diplomacy, and co-operation between governments. There is a story that Abraham Lincoln, when his two little boys were in tears and a stranger asked the matter, answered: "Just what’s the matter with the whole world—I’ve got three apples and each wants two.” It was much the same for the League, except that "wanting two” was economic necessity and the other nations' reactions to disputes depended not on their ideals but on their interests. From 1925 onwards, every country was rearming. When the League disapproved, they left it.

The inter-war period has been called "the long weekend.” By the mid-thirties, Monday morning’s business was plain. After the depression, competition was fiercer than ever before. Cheap mass-produced goods from America and the East flooded across the tariff frontiers of Europe; the Lancashire mill girl stood in Japanese stockings and waved a Japanese Union Jack at the Coronation of George the Sixth. Italy, empire-hungry, flouted the League and attacked Abyssinia; Britain, with less fuss, annexed a hundred thousand square miles of Southern Arabia, breaking twenty-year-old pledges to the Arabs. Japan, too, lapsed from agreements with the western nations when driven by the same commercial interests to attack China. Pacts and treaties could mean little in the inescapable struggle for markets and empires.

The Spanish Civil War provided a bargaining counter for the European powers, and established anti-Nazism and anti-Fascism as positive political faiths for which the coming world war was to be fought. From early 1938, when Austria was seized, all eyes were on Nazi Germany. Needing still to expand, barred from movement to the west, the Germans went to Czechoslovakia, the most highly industrialized section of the old Austro-Hungarian empire. The hour seemed to have come. The British government, however, incompletely prepared for a European war and with little prospect of gain from it, delayed the outbreak.

Through 1939, frank preparations were made in every country. Japan, still attacking British interests in the East, was Germany’s ally. The signal for war was the Russo-German pact in August, and the invasion of Poland its swift consequence. The prevention of another power's dominating Europe was traditional, necessary foreign policy for Britain; Germany, still aggressive with success, had spread across the centre and the east and was within sight of the Rumanian oilfields and the way to the Mediterranean.

Russian imperialism showed its hand long before Russia entered the war; the hand was taken by Britain and America at the Yalta Conference in 1945, when the division of the post-war world was privately arranged. Russia was granted territory and spheres of influence in the Orient, and took them in Eastern Europe. Both coming late into the fighting, America and Russia tower in the war and its aftermath. The doctrine of the balance of power gave way to clear recognition of two great hostile camps of nations across the world, with convalescing Japan the unknown quantity and United Nations continuing the League of Nations’ losing struggle for world harmony.

The pattern of these fifty years, then, has been one of expansion; commercial expansion, and with it expansion in the conflicting political units. In 1904, Europe was the bone of contention for a crowd of scuffling puppy-nations. Today it is the world, contested by two great powers and their dependencies. The proposal of a federated Europe, first made in 1940, has been taken seriously since the war; national boundaries, so long considered an obstacle to Socialism, are being erased by capitalism.

Fifty years’ international strife. The Socialist Party has commented on but never entered it; it has opposed all wars because the working class can gain nothing from them, has been pilloried for saying so, and lived to see that it was right and the others wrong. World politics are capitalist politics: bluffings, courtship, threatenings and ultimately killings for markets, materials and communications. Not many people care much for the rights of small nations, but everybody cares for his interests in small nations. Men of goodwill and ill will have wrestled to control the consequences of competition; the truth is that they will continue as long as capitalism continues.
Robert Barltrop

50 Years Ago: The Socialist Party of Great Britain. (1954)

The 50 Years Ago column from the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

“How comes it that the men and women who till the soil, who dig the mine, who manipulate the machine, who build the factory and the home, and, in a word, who create the whole of the wealth, receive only sufficient to maintain themselves and their families on the border line of bare physical efficiency, while those who do not aid in production—the employing class—obtain more than is enough to supply their every necessity, comfort and luxury?

To find a solution to this problem is the task to which the Socialist applies himself. He sees clearly that only by studying the economics of wealth-production and distribution can he understand the anomalies of present-day society. He sees, further, that having gained a knowledge of the economic causes of social inequality, he must apply this knowledge through political action—through the building up of a Socialist organisation for the capture of Parliament and the conquest of the powers of government.”

(From the Socialist Standard, September, 1904)

From an old Austrian Comrade (1954)

From the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard

During my stay in England, some 40 years ago, I came in contact with your party whose teaching brought me out of the political quandary and wilderness in which I had till then been groping under the influence of Austrian Social Democracy. A study of economics and especially Karl Marx’s critical scientific analysis of the operation of the profit-making system, to which study I had been encouraged, was a veritable revelation. What I had previously been taught in Continental labour, “socialist” and “communist” circles and in Arbeiter-Zeitungen, and what is still being propagated to this day as being Socialism or Communism, or “ instalments of socialism,” revealed itself as the very opposite, namely the consolidation and strengthening of capitalism. So far indeed from touching or interfering with the fundamental principle of private or State-capitalist ownership of the means and instruments of wealth-production and distribution so far from touching the degrading fundamental status of the workers as a disinherited slave-class to capital, the policy of all the so-called Socialist and Communist parties in the world—save the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties overseas based on their Declaration of Principles—merely serves to prevent the breakdown of, and so to perpetuate the rule of capital and money.

The 60 years of Austrian “socialism ” or “ instalments of socialism ” have proved the truth of this contention. With “ socialist ” governments in a number of countries, with “socialist” State-presidents, Prime-ministers and Chancellors in others, with three times Labour party governments in Britain up to now, with “communism” in one sixth of the earth, capital and its privileged beneficiaries,. the shareholders, the millionaires, Royal families, kings and queens, landlords and aristocrats, the high priests and dignitaries of the church, and the rest of the masters’ supporters, are doing as well as ever. They can indeed feel quite safe in their palaces, castles and luxurious mansions, as long as the workers and their families do not ask the impertinent question where their “ instalments of socialism” are, or as long as they believe their leaders* assurances that the working-class has been “ uplifted ” from wage-slavery to “ free men.” What a farce!

Already at an early stage of my contact with the English comrades and my discussions with them—what a different picture was unrolled before my mental eye! I came to realize that as the very antithesis of capitalism, the term Socialism can mean nothing but the total abolition of private and State-ownership of the means of life and their conversion into the SOCIAL or COMMON property of the people as a whole. It had never struck me before that the true implications of such a new constitution of society and the completely changed outlook on every phase of human co-existence it is bound to produce, were never dwelled upon in so-called socialist publications. Ignoring, as they do, these implications, the leaders and mouthpieces of the big parties masquerading under the banner of Socialism, would seem to look upon a classless and moneyless society as a utopia, or else they are deliberate frauds. As a result of “ socialist ” education and propaganda provided by these workers’ organisations, most of their members will indeed tell you that a society without wages and without money—a society based on the principle : “From each according to his capacity, to each according to his NEEDS ” was an impossibility, a utopia. How pleased the capitalists must be with such loyalty of their slaves to capitalism! Well, dear brother, while wage-packets are a cardinal feature of their system of exploitation, they will have no place under socialism, since there will be no employers and no employed. There will only be co-operation in producing the wherewithal to live and enjoy life by so doing. The very word “work” will become generally identified with pleasure. Wealth will no longer be produced for buying and selling for profit, but for USE. Commerce will be replaced by distribution according to the needs of individuals the world over. With no more buying and selling, and no more money (which becomes unnecessary with the abolition of private property and will go into the museums for future generations to see and marvel at 20th century-man’s folly), there will of course also be no more buying and selling of human labour power (wages), no prostitution male or female, and no corruption. The dependence of individuals on other individuals or groups of individuals will cease. Since under socialism the means of subsistence, including all cultural needs and desires, will be guaranteed by society to every human being from the cradle to the grave, irrespective of services rendered, there will be no more need for insurance of any kind, nor pensions. The sick and infirm, the invalids and the old will naturally be provided for as well as the children.

With the gigantic means of production and distribution now at the disposal of mankind, all man’s needs and desires can easily be satisfied, especially when the enormous waste due to the protection of the private property “rights” by armaments, police, laws, insurance, etc. ceases, and all the complicated and intricate machinery of financial accounting. Banks, advertising, taxes, and the rest of the capitalist paraphernalia is no longer necessary. As there will be no more private or State-ownership, there can be no more coercion. Government, which is only the executive committee for the management and safeguarding of the interests of property-holders and the maintenance of privilege, will be replaced by a purely technical administration of things. With private interests and the question “does it pay” out of the way, it will be a comparatively simple process. In fact, most of the complications and problems with which society has to grapple today, will fall away. With the world and all its resources controlled and operated by, and in the interest of the people as a whole, as their common heritage, with all separating frontiers gone, as they will under socialism, not only poverty, but insecurity and the rest of the social evils arising therefrom, will be things of the past.

Mankind under socialism will no longer be dependant, for the continuance of life, on the crops and dwellings in this or the other locality. If they ate destroyed, no one who is not himself destroyed or struck down by the event, need suffer prolonged hardship; it will simply be a case of perhaps only temporary displacement until “his” devastated area has by common effort or desire been restored. Apart from this, mankind will not be slow in learning from the experience and probably take greater precautions against possible “accidents” and riotous nature in future. Anyway, the destruction and devastation wrought by natural catastrophes is as nothing compared with the havoc and ruin caused through capitalist wars and preparations for war, and the latter will certainly be things of the past under socialism.

Only the revolutionary objective of the S.P.G.B. is worthy of the name of Socialism; what goes today by that name. i.e. what is by present-day “ socialist, communist ” and labour parties represented and claimed to be Socialism, is a fraud, a delusion and a snare. To have allowed themselves to be misled and bamboozled by this lure, has not been without a heavy penalty for the workers and their families. By identifying themselves with the interests of the property-holders and voting for their political agents and executive committees (the modem capitalist State), the workers have been mixed up, with disastrous consequences, in the mercenary quarrels of their masters over property and trade routes in which the workers have no share whatever. Proof: The 10 years of war which left the workers, both in the “victorious” and the "defeated” countries alike poor, if not poorer than ever before. The present conflicts in Asia, Africa and elsewhere are of course no exception. The European, as well as the American and the Asiatic and African workers are all deluded in the belief that it is a struggle for their freedom. In reality, it is of course part and parcel of the eternal quarrels between rival groups of property-owners—hence of no concern to the propertyless working class. As an unknown poet sang during the first world-war:
“ Sing a sang of Europe, highly civilized,
“ Four and twenty nations, thoroughly hypnotized.
“ When the battles opened, the bullets began to sing,
" Wasn't that a silly thing to do for any king?
“ The kings were in the background, issuing commands,
“ the queens were in their parlours, by etiquette's demands.
“ The bankers in the counting-house busy multiplying,
“ while oil the rest were at the front, DOING ALL THE DYING."
That the teaching of Marx, which the S.P.G.B. and companion-parties elsewhere have been faithfully interpreting and spreading for the past 50 years, should not yet have found a more universal echo and response among the working-class, we all regret of course; The reasons are manifold, not the least of which is our lack of means, and the prodigious means (including the poisonous Radio-spider) at the disposal of the enemy. It cannot, however, discourage us from persevering on the straight and clean path we are pursuing, even if for the time being, we have to be content with the role of being just pioneers.

Upon returning to the Continent after World-War I, efforts, however feeble, were not wanting to make the founding of a revolutionary Socialist Party in England known over here. Comrades of the writer started a group in Dortmund, Germany, which however seems to have eventually disintegrated after the death of the more active members. Before anything could be got underway here in Austria, even the western pattern of democratic liberties was finally lost by the advent first of the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg dictatorship, then by Hitler and now by another occupation, so that for the last 20 years it has been virtually impossible to openly advocate the revolutionary socialist policy. I need hardly remind you of the fate awaiting anyone who exposes publicly in the Russian zone the fraud and masquerade labelled communism.

Personally I enjoy the satisfaction that I could contribute in England my own tiny share and have recorded in the Socialist Standard my adherence to that great cause even before capitalism’s great crisis and world-wars with atomic weapons had so glaringly demonstrated what capitalist greed, lust for power and domination is capable of and where what one of their most prominent representatives called "this appalling development” will land the human race, unless the workers of the world bestir themselves and join with us to end the nightmare. The Socialist Party of Great Britain points the scientific way how to dethrone the ruthless powers that impose upon the dispossessed the precarious and degrading conditions of existence—the wages-system—and how true Socialism will abolish it and ensure a dignified and enjoyable life for all.
Rudolf Frank

Classic Reprint: The Collapse of Direct Action (1954)

A Classic Reprint from the September 1954 issue of the Socialist Standard
We have reproduced an article contributed to the "Socialist Standard" in 1909. It will be seen that the main conclusions of this article are as fresh and pertinent to-day as when it was written. Time, that has played havoc with the parties that flourished at that period, has left the outlook we put forward still clear and sound.
Industrial Unionism” is merely a pleasant name for Anarchism and  “Direct Action.” It is one of those almost inevitable elements of confusion and disorganisation which beset the working class in its advance. Every dog has its day, and every freak idea its boom, as though the workers were prepared to traverse every avenue of error before keeping steadily to the right road. The freak idea that the workers can, without the conquest of political power and by means of an industrial organisation alone, “take and hold” the means of life from the capitalists, is one that has just enjoyed its brief boom; but its hollowness has been quickly seen, and its followers have in consequence been rapidly dropping away.

The Industrial Unionists of this country being entirely unable to think out for themselves the adaptation of means to end that would be suitable to the situation here, have hitherto blindly followed in the unsteady footsteps of that peculiarly American organisation, the Industrial Workers of the World, and have added to the gaiety of life by their ludicrous attempt at copying that organisation, from its structure even down to its slang. As things are going however, the British Industrialists seem likely to be hard put to it for something to imitate; and what will their “Union” do then, poor thing?

The Industrial Workers of the World, of Chicago and elsewhere goes from bad to worse. It still continues to propagate – by fission, for while the total number of members in all the I.W.W.s grows less and less, the number of distinct and warring I.W.W.s multiplies apace. This suggests the not impossible outcome that in the near future the few remaining adherents of that idea will be each a separate I.W.W. unto himself.
The General Confederation of Labour of France has also until now been a source of joy and inspiration to the Industrialists because of the theatrical policy of the Anarchist section which has hitherto controlled it. The English Industrialists, indeed, are fond of speaking of the Conféderation Générale du Travail as though it were a homogeneous body, when, in reality, it is, as its name implies, a heterogeneous agglomeration of unions and federations, each with its own rules, scales of subscription, and the like and comprising almost all shades of political opinion. But with that fine contempt for democracy which characterises the Anarchists, they have, until recently, bossed the French labour organisation, notwithstanding that they are a minority of the membership. The “blessed word” of the Anarchists is “liberty,” but not the liberty of the greatest number, for that would be democracy, and therefore accursed. Thus in the General Confederation of Labour the voting for the administrators is by group, and not per member, and since the Anarchists are divided into many small groups, and the Socialists united into fewer large ones, the Anarchist minority has been able to govern the majority.

But now there are tears and curses in the Anarchist camp. Their candidates have been beaten, and by a majority which, though it appears small, represents in reality two-thirds of the membership. Niel, an opponent of the Anarchistic “Direct Action,” has been elected secretary of the Confederation. The Guesdist organ, Le Socialisme, is naturally jubilant about it, and says:
“The Anarchist-Syndicalists, beaten twice by the election of Niel and of Thil, are again furious. The Confederal organisation was theirs. They thought it would endure so for ever, but they did not notice that their brutal authoritarianism had ended by disgusting even their friends. They believed that their electoral system would ensure their preponderance for ever, but they have been compelled to admit that even such a fantastic system may turn against them. And their chagrin equals their fury. The coarse abuse which their organ, the Revolution, pours out upon the ‘blacklegs’ and ‘traitors’ who have elected Niel will complete their discredit in trade union circles”.
 It will be seen that with the decline of the “Direct Action” movement in France and America, the British Industrialists are in a sad plight. They are likely to be left entirely to their own mental resources, and the worst is to be feared for them. It is, indeed, inevitable that the neo-Anarchist movement should, in every country in which it appears, soon begin to fall to pieces of its own unsoundness and futility; while it is equally inevitable that the sound Socialist movement should, in every country on the globe, advance steadily and surely, even if slowly, step by step nearer to its triumph.
F. C. Watts
(Socialist Standard, April 1909).