Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Doubts and Difficulties: Do the Workers Live on the Verge of Starvation? (1906)

From the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

Much discussion has been evoked at one time or another as to the statement alleged to have been made by Sir H. Campbell Bannerman that twelve millions of the population of Britain were living on the verge of starvation. To many people the important question has been as to whether the afore-mentioned individual made or did not make the assertion substantially given above. In all the discussions I have heard on the subject the question has never arisen whether the statement, whether made or not, was true in substance or in fact.

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To the Socialist the matter is one of vital interest. Half a century ago Karl Marx, after a close and searching examination of the conditions of English industry, arrived at the theoretic position that so long as the present basis of industrialism—the capitalist, privately-owned property basis—existed, for so long would the wages of the worker be determined by the cost of his subsistence, that is, by the barest amount necessary for maintaining the worker and his family. This theory arrived at by deducing from the basic laws of capitalist production, he verified it by a careful review of the conditions of the workers as found in practice and as described in the reports of Royal Commissions appointed to enquire into such conditions.

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True as the theory of a bare subsistence wage was found to be some sixty years ago so to-day is it true that the wage of the worker is similarly governed. An exhaustive analysis of present day conditions is not necessary to satisfy us as to the truth of this but for the benefit of some who may not have sifted the evidence for themselves, a few pointers may be useful in showing where the evidence may be found.

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A good many years have now elapsed since Mr. Charles Booth set himself the task of exposing the “wild” statements of the Socialist as to the poverty of the workers. The result of his work is shown in his Life and Labour of the People of London,” a remarkable indictment of our vaunted civilisation. The figures he gave of the poverty of the London workers showed that the statements of the Socialist were not an exaggeration but an understatement of the position. 1,300,000 of the population of London, or over 30 per cent. of the people of the richest mother-city in the world, were receiving a wage of less than a guinea a week !

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A guinea a week was the mark at which he had drawn his poverty line, and there were in London thirteen hundred thousand people below that poverty line. Assuming that this rate of poverty ruled throughout the whole of the United Kingdom we should, taking the population figures of 1901, have 30 per cent. of a population of 41,600,000 living under the poverty line adopted by Mr. Booth. Thirty per cent, of 41,600,000 ! 12,480,000 !! What a picture of misery, of degradation may be conjured up by a contemplation of these figures !!!

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It was, however, always open to critics to contend that owing to London’s premier position men and women were more likely to drift thither than to other towns, and that in any event, in the rural districts, such a rate of poverty must be impossible. Unfortunately for this contention, it was not in accordance with the facts, and subsequent investigation has proved that what obtains in London obtains likewise in rural villages like Egremont, and in small provincial towns like York.

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With Egremont I do not intend to deal, and I shall also pass over investigations into similar and subsidiary poverty problems in other towns. But with regard to York I may be permitted to write at somewhat greater length.

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In the Autumn of 1899, which was a period of comparative prosperity, Mr. Seebohm Rowntree conducted a house to house investigation into the conditions of working-class families in York. The results he arrived at were published for him by Messrs. Macmillan & Co. in a book called “Poverty. A Study of Town Life.” From this it appears that in York in 1899 “families comprising 20,302 persons, equal to 43.4 per cent. of the wage-earning class, and to 27.84 per cent. of the total population of the city, were living in poverty,” and Mr. Rowntree sums up by saying that the fact that nearly 30 per cent. of the population are found to be living in poverty is of the gravest significance.

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30 per cent. of the population in York. 30 per cent. of the population in London. Truly remarkable the way in which the results of capitalism are uniformly displayed. At page 133 he explains that the poverty of unskilled labour is due to low wages. I believe I have formerly quoted the following remarkable passage but it bears repetition:—

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“It is thus seen that the wages paid for unskilled labour in York are insufficient to provide food, shelter, and clothing adequate to maintain a family of moderate size in a state of bare physical efficiency. It will be remembered that the above estimates of necessary minimum expenditure are based upon the assumption that the diet is even less generous than that allowed to able-bodied paupers in the York Workhouse, and that no allowance is made for any expenditure other than that absolutely required for the maintenance of merely physical efficiency.

“And let us clearly understand what ‘merely physical efficiency’ means. A family living upon the scale allowed for in this estimate must never spend a penny on railway fare or omnibus. They must never go into the country unless they walk. They must never purchase a half-penny newspaper or spend a penny to buy a ticket for a popular concert. They must write no letters to absent children, for they cannot afford the postage. They must never contribute anything to their church or chapel, or give any help to a neighbour which costs them money. They cannot save, nor can they join sick club or Trade Union, because they cannot pay the necessary subscriptions. The children must have no pocket money for dolls, marbles, or sweets. The father must smoke no tobacco, and must drink no beer. The mother must never buy any pretty clothes for herself or for her children, the character of the family wardrobe as for the family diet being governed by the regulation, ‘Nothing must be bought but that which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of physical health, and what is bought must be of the plainest and most economical description.’ Should a child fall ill it must be attended by the parish doctor; should it die, it must be buried by the parish. Finally, the wage-earner must never be absent from his work for a single day.

“If any of these conditions are broken, the extra expenditure involved is met, and can only be met, by limiting the diet ; or, in other words, by sacrificing physical efficiency.

“That few York labourers receiving 20/- or 21/- per week submit to these iron conditions in order to maintain physical efficiency is obvious. And even were they to submit, physical efficiency would be unattainable for those who had three or more children dependent upon them. It cannot therefore be too clearly understood, nor too emphatically repeated, that whenever a worker having three children dependent on him, and receiving not more than 21s. 8d. per week, indulges in any expenditure beyond that required for the barest physical needs, he can do so only at the cost of his own physical efficiency, or of that of some members of his family.”

The italics in all cases are Mr. Rowntree’s.

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In face of these statements we can only conclude that there is more than sufficient evidence to show that at least twelve millions of our people are living below the poverty line, and that those living on the poverty line are on the verge of starvation. Nor is this all. Those who to-day are above the poverty line may to-morrow be below and vice versa. The conditions persist though the persons vary. Says J. A. Hobson “Only three out of every ten persons in the richest country in Europe belong to a class which is able to live in decent comfort . . the other seven are of necessity confined to a standard of life, little, if at all, above the line of bare necessity.”

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The persons differ. Again I quote from “Poverty.” “The life of a labourer is marked by five alternating periods of want and comparative plenty. During early childhood, unless his father is a skilled worker he probably will be in poverty; this will last until he, or some of his brothers or sisters, begin to earn money and thus augment their father’s wage sufficiently to raise the family above the poverty line. Then follows the period during which he is earning money and living under his parents’ roof; for some portion of this period he will be earning more money than is required for lodging, food, and clothes. This is his chance to save money. If he has saved enough to pay for furnishing a cottage, this period of comparative prosperity may continue after marriage until he has two or three children, when poverty will again overtake him. This period of poverty will last perhaps for ten years, i.e., until the first child is fourteen years old and begins to earn wages, but if there are more than three children it may last longer. While the children are earning, and before they leave the home to marry, the man enjoys another period of prosperity—possibly, however, only to sink back again into poverty when his children have married and left him, and he himself is too old to work, for his income has never permitted his saving enough for him and his wife to live upon for more than a very short time.

“A labourer is thus in poverty, and therefore underfed
(a) In childhood when his constitution is being built up.
(b) In early middle life—when he should be in his prime.
(c) In old age.”
o o o o

It thus appears that the number of the workers at some time or other below the poverty line is not confined to 43 per cent. It is true that this is the number at any one time. But the individuals at present below will to-morrow be above and their places will be occupied by others of their class. But the “aboves” and the “belows” cancel one another and we thus derive the result that the normal condition of the working class is to exist on the poverty line. The worker has absolutely no guarantee that he will escape from the position of having to receive less than is necessary to maintain him in a state of merely physical efficiency.

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The reason for this condition of things is that he must sell his labour-power in “free” competition with his fellows in an ever overstocked labour market. Hence no reform can do anything for him. The only remedy is to abolish the present method of private property-holding, the operation of which can be shown as the cause of the overstocked labour market with its necessary corollary of a subsistence wage. This abolition would be no mere destructive policy, but would be the preliminary to a system of common property holding, the end of which would be care of all and not the aggrandisement of a few.

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I think, therefore, that there can be little doubt that the statement that twelve millions of our population are on the verge of starvation is an understatement of the case, and that if this were clearly recognised to be the result of capitalism there would be a more speedy growth of a Socialist Party in this country than at present seems probable.

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Be that as it may the struggle has commenced, and to those who have studied the question there cannot be any doubt that victory lies with the working class and with Socialism.

The Machine in Agriculture. by L. H. Roblin (1906)

From the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Machine in Agriculture. By L. H. Roblin, Deputé de la Nièvre
The formidable crisis which accompanied the introduction of machinery into industry at the beginning of last century is well known. From day to day thousands of workmen were thrown out of work upon the pavement of the towns, without money and without bread. As the factory chimneys rose, as the progress resulting from the slow elaboration of ages, and produced by the successive efforts of past generations, replaced the less docile, less rapid and more costly hand of man in the daily labour by the brutal strength of steam and electricity, cries of poverty and anguish came from the breasts of the workmen violently expropriated from their living, hunted from the workshops by the discoveries of science by the onward march of mankind. It is remembered to what extremities misery forced the crowds of famished men, who threw themselves upon and broke into pieces the machines which had been substituted for them.

The same events which happened nearly a hundred years ago in industry are being repeated to-day in agriculture. Machinery is being introduced everywhere in our fields. The consequence of this new state of things, if it does not end as formerly in violence of the worst kind, is nevertheless most important and most dangerous to social life.

It is not only from to-day, however, that the machine has made its appearance in agriculture : twenty-five or thirty years ago the use of the steam threshing machine became general and replaced (by the aid of the traction engine which takes it from farm to farm) the antiquated threshing with the flail on the barn floor which occupied an entire staff of workers on all important farms during the whole of the winter. This transformation, however, was hardly felt because it occurred at a time when agriculture was at the height of its prosperity, when cultivators had not yet passed that crisis which has weighed upon them for so long a time and has caused them to modify more or less completely their old manner of life and ancient customs.

During the agricultural crisis the landowners and farmers have been led to cut down expenses, and they have sought to restrict in particular that item which costs most the labourer. Wherever possible they have abandoned the culture of cereals in favour of meadow and pasture for which practically no labour is required. It is indeed to be remarked that cattle raising has never suffered so much from market depreciation as the production of wheat, oats or rye. In many districts to-day only sufficient corn is sown to provide the straw necessary for wintering the cattle.

Cultivation, which was the great occupation of the rural population in former times, is much restricted to-day. Enforced idleness exists during a considerable portion of the year ; indeed, scarcely, except at the times of haymaking and harvesting, is the agricultural labourer sure of finding work. During these two periods of hard labour, the peasants, in several countries, have sought to earn more than in the past in order to compensate by a temporary but suitable wage for the long days of unemployment that they suffer during the winter and autumn. Conflicts, declared or veiled, have arisen recently between farmers and labourers, and they become each day more and more numerous. In order to oppose the demands of the labourers the masters shake before them the spectre of the machine. “If you create difficulties for us,” they say, “we will purchase machines. Then you will have no more work and you will earn nothing. It is preferable for you that you accept what we propose, even though you find it insufficient.”

A large number of farmers have passed from threats to acts. With the openly avowed aim of undermining the least manifestation of energy and combination among the agricultural labourers, they have purchased mowers, patent rakes and self binders, which enable them with an extremely reduced staff to take in their crops in a few days.

The development of machinery in our fields became generally noticeable four or five years ago, and it grows more and more in importance as rural knowledge becomes awakened. It is the direct reply of the exploiters to the demands of the exploited. It must also be remembered that the employers have been helped by recent improvements in agricultural machinery. Formerly the machines consisted only of a few parts, and when one of these was put out of action during operations (by the shock of a stone for instance) it was necessary to stop work and wait a considerable time for an urgent repair. At the present time, however, the new American machines are composed of many interchangeable parts, and when one of them is put out of truth or broken it is only necessary to unscrew a bolt and replace the part on the spot. The interruption of work is scarcely noticeable.

These various reasons are the cause that, this year in particular, complete train loads of harvesting machinery were to be met with in the stations of all agricultural districts. Everywhere, from every side, the agricultural labourer saw hitherto unknown machines arrive in the fields to displace him, and a dark anger takes possession of him as he sees these machines progressing and working by means of which it is designed to starve him into submission.

There have as yet been no acts of violence or grave and general disorders; nevertheless it sometimes happens, in the shadow of the hedge and under cover of night, that a machine left in the fields is destroyed.

As immediate consequence, the advent of machinery will hasten still more the exodus of the inhabitants of our hamlets and villages toward the towns. The periods of unemployment already so terrible will become intolerable, and the able-bodied of our country proletariat will be compelled to fly toward other destinies, to go into the great centres of population to find again the same poverty that they will have left behind in their cottages.

It is always said that “agriculture is short of hands.” No. It is agriculture that no longer employs the hands which are at its disposal. The rural proletariat in the literal sense of the word is no longer able to live. The advent of machinery has given it the final blow ; so true is it that, under capitalism, the most useful discoveries, the most remarkable inventions, every progress of science, if they profit a few, are nevertheless for the others—the victims—a cause of poverty and ruin.
L’Action. (Translated by F.C.Watts)

Railways and their Rise to Monopoly. (1906)

From the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The study of our railways is interesting and instructive in view of the rapid rise and development of this form of capitalism to monopoly.

The first railway sanctioned by Parliament, known as the Surrey Iron Railway, from Wandsworth to Croydon, was opened in 1805, under the “Iron Railway or Tram-road Act.” passed in 1801, which authorised the construction of a railway for the conveyance of goods and coal. The line was open to the general use of traders and carriers, who supplied their own vehicles and horses (horse-power being the only motive power used), for which the railway company were entitled to charge tolls.

Passing over a period of a few years, during which this Act was followed by several others, we come to the “Stockton and Darlington Railway of 1821 for the construction of a horse tramway. But before its completion, George Stephenson having established the value of the locomotive, application was made to Parliament in 1823 for permission to use steam-power ; the Act allowing the Company to charge a toll “for every gig, landau, waggon, car, coach, chariot, chaise, cart or other carriage which shall be drawn or used on the said railways or tram-roads, for the conveyance of passengers or small packages or parcels.”

The “Great Western Railway Act” (1835), states “That all persons shall have free liberty to pass along and upon and to use and employ the said railway with carriages properly constructed as by this Act directed, upon payment only of such rates and tolls as shall be demanded by this said Company,” etc.

Thus we see that the first idea in the construction of railways was merely the provision of another means of transit (the existing means being the roads and canals) open to the use of anyone upon payment of a toll. But it was not long before it occurred to the railway companies to be their own carriers, “to provide haulage as well as the road, and passenger carriages as well as the haulage,” the general economical advantages securing the ready adoption of the new system.

A Parliamentary enquiry in 1840 resulted in the railway companies being permitted to perform all the duties of general carriers, so that in the course of forty years, from being merely the providers of the railway for the use of carriers, they combined both functions and became the general carriers themselves. Thus the seeds of monopoly were sown.

As time passed the railway companies found that while they held a monopoly with regard to traffic in which quick transport was the first consideration, they had, in the carrying of minerals, grain, timber, etc., where speed was not the prime necessity, formidable competitors in the canals, whose small maintenance and working expenses gave them the advantage (it was declared that goods could be conveyed by water at one-tenth the cost of conveyance by railway). The railway companies therefore set themselves to kill such dangerous competitors, and have succeeded to such an extent that they now control more than one-third of the canal mileage. In evidence before the Canal Committee in 1883, Mr. Condor stated that: “they have obtained their 1,717 miles (out of some 3,800 miles) of canals so adroitly selected as to strangle the whole of the inland water traffic.”

Having obtained a monopoly, and by an amalgamation among themselves to keep up rates and fares made monopoly more complete, “from every district between John O’Groats and Land’s End, and from every industry and trade, come constant complaints against railway companies charging rates that are excessive, preferential, and unjust, and withholding facilities which the traders believe they have a legal right to demand . . . There is no need to attribute to railway directorates either an undue lack of patriotism, or motives uncovered by the usual commercial code. (Oh ! that elastic commercial code.) They are elected and paid to serve the interests of their shareholders, and if these are not coincident with the interests of the public then they can scarcely be blamed for the antagonism. The short-comings will have to be looked for in the intrinsic character of the present system.”

There is something delightfully quaint in this admission. Railway directors are elected to produce a profit, and if the interests of the public do not coincide with the interests of the companies, well—so much the worse for the public.

The cry of the commercial capitalist against the railway monopolist is but an expression of the commercial war in which one capitalist section obtains a pull over the other—and uses it. But while they compete one with the other they are united in the constant endeavour to wring an ever greater profit from the producers of wealth—the working class.

There is not the least doubt that railway rates have had a damaging effect upon British trade generally, nor, which is the important matter from the Socialist point of view, is there the least doubt that the private ownership of the means of transit (in common with the private ownership of all the other means of life), is entirely detrimental to the interests of the working class, but “these short-comings will have to be looked for in the intrinsic character of the present system.”

And since these short-comings are inherent in and inseparable from the present system (of private ownership in the means of life), it follows that the remedy must be in the abolition of the present system, and the substitution of another in which all means of production and distribution (land, factories, railways, etc.) are worked by and in the interest of—not a section of the community, to the hurt of the community in general —but in the interests of the WHOLE COMMUNITY.

This is the mission of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, to show the workers how they will have to effect the change, how they may emancipate themselves from the thraldom of Capitalism.

As every interest sends its representatives to the legislative bodies of the country to safe-guard those interests, so must the working class send their representatives to seize the reins of political power. The working class form about seven-eighths of the population, and hold over two-thirds of the voting power. They can possess themselves of political power directly they are ready. Therefore—
“Arise, ye workers of the world,
Gird ye your loins for the strife ;
For in thy power united lies,
The promise of a truer life.”
W. W. Hunt

Correspondence. (1906)

Letter to the Editors from the September 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

To the Editor.

Sir,—In The Socialist Standard for July, Mr. Anderson states in the Debate on Trade Unionism and Socialism, “he agreed with Kautsky that the political organisation must dominate the economic.” If the political forces dominate the economic forces, would Mr. Anderson have us believe that all reforms in the past have been brought about by political and not economic influences ?

Can Mr. Anderson point out where one Act of Parliament for the benefit of the workers has been initiated inside the House of Commons ? Are not all reforms brought about by agitation, such agitation being the result of economic pressure and not political force ?

If we were to have political freedom, we should still have economic slavery. But were we to have economic freedom we should not have political slavery.

Yours faithfully,
Printers' Machineminder. 
Clapton, N.E.

Editorial: Pills for Earthquakes. (1906)

Editorial from the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The President of the Local Government Board has made his long promised and (by some) eagerly anticipated statement upon unemployment and what the great democratic, progressive, etc., etc., etc. Liberal Government proposed as a solution for that vexatious problem. The introductory speech was, we understand, masterly. Probably. But it would require a speech a thousand times more masterly than the President is capable of, to obscure to even a poorly equipped mind, the real nature of the proposal made. The Liberal Party desire to burke discussion of the problem of unemployment. The Liberal Party will not because they cannot (although they must not, of course, admit that) take any more adequate steps in the matter than their predecessors in office. But the Liberal Party desire political kudos, because the Liberal Party require the support of the working class. Therefore, the Liberal Party must make a show of doing something so that the people may be deceived. That is where the President of the Local Government Board comes in. He has been hired to help make the show and deceive the people. That is his speciality ; his forte. Nobody with any political knowledge worth talking about questions that to-day. So the President makes a masterly speech. The Conservative Government were no use. They could not deal with the unemployed problem. They passed a stupid bill on the subject, which had been practically useless. Now, the Liberal Government of which I, the President, am a not unimportant member (loud “Labour” cheers) are up a different street. They know how to deal with the unemployed problem. But they do not propose dealing with it yet. They have not sufficient data to work upon. It would be highly dangerous if by any ill-advised step, the outcome of undoubted and overpowering sympathy with the genuine unemployed, the sturdy independence of the working man were sapped or Labour was rendered less instead of, as it should be, more fluid. Of course the Government recognised how hard was the struggle against starvation, and it was therefore proposed to make a great grant of money from the national exchequer, in order that the useless act of the Conservative Government might have a better chance of showing how really useless it is, while the Liberal Government are collecting more information upon which presently they will be able to proceed with certainty. The grant will be distributed under my own presidential direction, and I will guarantee that nothing will be wasted. This, aided by working-class thrift and temperance—especially temperance (Hear hear, from Mr. Crooks) should enable the unemployed to tide over next winter (sotto voce—or die in the attempt). The amount of the great grant would be £200,000 (Ministerial shrieks of delight) although I trust it will not be necessary to spend all that sum—and so on.

£200,000 to tide the unemployed over the winter ! Was ever such a palpable fraud perpetuated by any government ? Could any government have succeeded in foisting it upon a starving people without the assistance of a decoy like the President of the Local Government Board ? Indeed, the President is earning his salary well. He is giving good value for money. £200,000 to tide the unemployed over the winter ! All of them ! And Mr. Lansbury says a larger sum could easily be consumed in Poplar ! And the “Labour” group in Parliament puts up Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald to welcome the proposals, while Mr. Crooks is absolutely delighted, and says so. A fraud ! a palpable, bare-faced fraud ! Just the sort of fraud we expected. The Liberal Party can do nothing, but they must make a demonstration of doing something to save their face. And this is the something—this pill for an earthquake—expressly and obviously designed to put the whole matter off for a year. A fraud connived at by a “Labour” minister and condoned by a “Labour” Party. The working class have been gulled often in the past. It seems well-nigh incredible that they can be gulled this time.

A Look Round. (1906)

From the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

Loose phraseology is responsible for much misunderstanding concerning Socialism, and as it is often indulged in by professing Socialists it is small wonder that our opponents also sin.

* * *

Reynolds Newspaper often contains the statement, “A Socialist is one who advocates a more equable division of property, and a better arrangement of the social relations of mankind than one which has hitherto existed.” This could be said of almost all “social reformers” whether anti-Socialist or non-Socialist. They can and do advocate certain schemes with the object of bringing about such a change as is conveyed in be the words quoted, and yet at the same time can and usually are violent antagonists of Socialism.

* * *

I therefore suggest that Reynolds should amend its ways and reply to future querists somewhat as follows: “A Socialist is one who advocates the establishment of a system of Society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community, holding that in present-day Society the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced, is enslaved by the capitalist or master class, who own the land, factories, railways, and other means of living.”

* * *

“A more equable division of property” and “a better arrangement of the social relations of mankind” could be brought about and still the working class could be slaves of the masterclass. Profit sharing, model factories, co-operative societies, land law reform, free maintenance, a minimum wage, could all be adopted and the workers would still be dominated by the master class, still lack that freedom which Socialism alone can bring, because Socialism alone attacks the foundations of Society, and aims at the abolition of that class ownership of the means of life which gives the owning class domination over the working class.

* * *

From Reynolds to Joseph Chamberlain. Speaking at the Savoy Hotel Banquet to the 1900 Club, Joseph Chamberlain exhorted the Unionist Party to “meet Socialism by pointing out how impossible were its methods, and how much better its objects could be secured in other ways. For one thing, they could point out how far fiscal reform would carry them in that direction.”

* * *

H’m, Yes. Imagine any section of the Capitalist Party, whether of the Reynolds or Chamberlain label, helping to secure the object of Socialism, which object I have stated above ! But let the Unionist Party and the Tariff Reformers come on. Let them meet us in public debate, and point out our impossible methods, and how they could bring about the object we have in view by Tariff Reform or by any other item in their program, a program which, as Mr. Balfour has remarked, is “not merely to be distinguished from Socialism, but is the direct opposite and the most effective antidote to Socialism.”

* * *

In opposing Tariff Reform even Sir H. Campbell Bannerman was forced to admit that after 60 years of Free Trade we have 12,000,000 of our population on the verge of hunger. What reformers of all brands have to face is the indisputable fact that all over the world, no matter what political, fiscal, religious or other conditions obtain, the working class is poor and the master class is rich. Is this because there is not sufficient wealth produced to satisfy the needs of all ? No. Is it that the working class is poor because its members do not work long enough or hard enough, or because they drink ? No, for the master class drink and drinking does not them make poor ; they are rich altho’ “they toil not neither do they spin.” The universal poverty of the working class, the fact that the producers of wealth lack the necessaries and comforts of life, is due to the ownership of the wealth-producing instruments by the master class, which ownership enables them to control the disposition of the wealth produced by the working class.

* * *

The Woolwich Pioneer reports a meeting held under the auspices of the local I.L.P., at which Mr. H. S. Wishart presided and Mr. Moore Bell delivered the address. In his opening remarks Mr. Bell stated he did not see that there should be any conflict between Labour and Liberalism, because Liberalism should mean the uplifting of the working classes, justice to the workers, fair play, and a fair distribution of wealth amongst the workers who produced it. The Labour Party stood for these and therefore there should be no conflict.

* * *

In view of the compacts made by I.L.P. candidates with Liberals at the recent General Election one is not surprised at such a speech by an I.L.P. lecturer. But a protest must be entered against members of such a Party as the I.L.P. calling themselves Socialists, whilst declaring that there should be no conflict between Liberalism and Labour. And as the Labour Party stand for the same things as Liberalism, where is the necessity for the separate existence of the “Labour” Party. Let them dissemble and join the Liberals.

* * *

It may be objected that the speaker did not say that there is no difference but that there should be none. But this was either loose phraseology on his part or ignorance of Liberalism. In either case it proves his unfitness to instruct the working class.

* * *

We have to consider not what Liberalism, in the opinion of Mr. Moore Bell, should be, but what it is. Like every other phase of capitalist politics, it stands for the domination of the master class over the working class. Its philosophy and that of the Socialist are as wide asunder as the poles. The one assumes, not only now, but for as long at any rate as its exponents will live, the existence of a subject class and a dominant class, and its efforts are directed to maintaining and entrenching the dominant class in its position. Now and again, as the exigencies of the political machine demand, it makes “concessions.” But all the time it has one object and one alone in view, the strengthening of its position and the side-tracking of the working class out of the path that The Socialist Party urges it to follow.

* * *

On the other hand the philosophy of the Socialist finds expression in the belief that the working class, in the order of social evolution, will achieve its freedom from the domination of the master class, and is the last class to be emancipated. It holds that this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself, and not of the middle-class place hunters and rejected Liberal candidates who abound in the I.L.P., and it has therefore nothing in common with Liberalism or any other capitalist “ism.” It is up against them all, all the time.

* * *

The Aston Strike, the strike of workers employed at Dunlops, has collapsed, all having returned to work whom the Company would take back. The men were members of Will Thorne’s Gas Workers’ Union, but, pleading a technical offence on the part of the Strikers, the Union refused to support them. But, of course, Mr. Thorne, M.P., J.P., is now a capitalist law enforcer as well as law maker, and, naturally, is a stickler for the “law.”

* * *

Some three years ago, R. P. Houston & Co. started a line of steamers from Liverpool to Hamburg and another from Leith in order to compel the Union Castle Company to reduce freights. Houstons have now joined the Trust and, as a consequence, there has been a material all-round increase in general cargo freights.

* * *

During the past quarter the income of the London Society of Compositors, exclusive of balance brought forward, amounted to the sum of £8,865 19s. 7d., and the expenditure to £9,353 0s. 9½d. The balance in hand on April 1st was £703 0s. 11d. and on July 1st £225 19s. 8½d.
J. Kay

Books Received. (1906)

From the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Riddle of the Universe. by Ernst Haeckel (Watts & Co.) 6d.
Secular Education. by Joseph McCabe (Watts & Co.) 6d.
Socialism and Labour Policy. (Fabian Soc) 1d.

Are We Justified ? (1906)

From the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

Ever since its formation it has been urged against The Socialist Party of Great Britain that its attitude towards reforms or palliatives was not wise. It is contended by many that the best policy consists in agitation for this or that reform with a view to assisting the workers to get something now. Not the least of the opposition to the propagation of Socialism and nothing less has come from the S.D.F., an organisation which devotes practically the whole of its energy to the advocacy of one palliative or another, at one time urging the working class to demand an 8 hours day or work for the unemployed, at another time advising them to concentrate their energy upon demanding from the capitalist class the state maintenance of school children, latterly coupling with this secular education. A consistent and unremitting agitation in favour of Socialism is, of course, not to be expected, as it would not suit the book of the controllers of that body, and would probably result in the loss of at least the more aristocratic of its members, who, judging by their actions, are in favour of anything but Socialism.

While it is true of the I.L.P. that they have always disavowed the class war (although sometimes voting for it, as at the Amsterdam Congress in 1904) the fact remains that they have occasionally told the public that Socialism would be an improvement on the present capitalist system, taking care, however, in doing so, to include the proviso that the said improvement must come to pass by a series of reforms which will bring us to the promised land of Socialism at some date too remote to be worth consideration at the present period.

The L.R.C. (now the Labour Party) at their conference held in Liverpool in January, 1905, carried with acclamation a resolution stating that their ultimate object is the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, etc. Neither in the speeches, writings, or actions of its advocates, however, can much trace of this ultimate object be found, the immediate object apparently taking up the whole of their time and energy. The immediate object while the general election was in progress was to get in, and numerous were the arrangements made to that end, as was shown very clearly in “Labour at the Polls” in the Socialist Standard for March, 1906. The immediate object since the election has been to vote almost without exception in the Liberal lobby, to make speeches which receive, and well merit, the congratulation of some of the wealthiest capitalists of the land, and to back such beautiful samples of capitalist legislation as the Brunner Bill for the better exploitation of children.

It cannot be denied, therefore, that all these organisations hold that the quickest way to change the conditions under which the working class exist is to work for reforms, relegating to the far distant future the only remedy—viz., Socialism.

Whether the immediate complaint be that the worker is suffering from too long hours, insufficient food, sweated conditions or any other of the evils inherent in capitalism, the S.P.G.B. has always maintained that nothing short of Socialism could possibly effect a cure, and has consequently steadfastly refused to be drawn into any reform agitation whatsoever, urging that the quickest way to get “something now” even is to organise to obtain the whole.

To those who pooh-pooh this view ; to those who call us impossiblists for holding it ; to those who imagine that they are practical politicians while we are in the clouds : to all these the following extract from Lord Avebury’s speech on the burden of armaments made in the House of Lords on the 25th of May is offered for consideration.
“The unrest in Europe, the spread of Socialism, . . . was a warning to the governments and the governing classes that the condition of the working classes in Europe was becoming intolerable, and that if revolution were to be avoided some steps must be taken to increase wages, reduce the hours of labour, and lower the prices of the necessaries of life.”
It is granted that Lord Avebury has a big task on hand to convert some of the capitalists of this and other countries to his view ; it is granted that increase in wages, the lessening of the hours of labour, or the lowering of the prices of the necessaries of life will not come into operation on the 1st of January, 1907 ; but the fact remains that a member of the exploiting class has shown to every thinking worker who cares to examine his statement, the conditions under which the capitalist class are prepared to give the working class those reforms for which some individuals profess so much anxiety.

Will the members of the organisations alluded to and all the rest of the reforming angels justify their position in the face of Lord Avebury’s statement ? Will they show in the face of this wherein the position of the S.P.G.B. is assailable ?

Let the workers of the world organise for Socialism and refuse to be.drawn from the straight path. They may rely upon it that the more determination they evince to follow this course the more frequently will speeches like the extract given be heard preceding the reforms that will be thrown to them, in order that Lord Avebury and Co. may secure a little longer time in which to enjoy the good things of life, and in order that the day when the working class shall come by its own may be postponed. “Something now” will be attained, not by agitating for reform, but by organising for revolution, a work which, in this country, The Socialist Party of Great Britain alone is performing.
P. D.

The Socialist Party and Trade Unionism. (1906)

From the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

[All Resolutions adopted during the course of this discussion have to be referred to the Party Membership through the Branches for ratification or otherwise. The. decision of the Party will he published after the full Report of the Debate has appeared.]

R. A. V. Morris moved the following resolution on behalf of the Bexley Branch :
“Whereas the S.P.G.B. in its Manifesto recognises the necessity of Trade Unions under capitalism,

And Whereas Trade Unions, as at present organised on sectional or craft lines, serve only to disunite the workers, and to give power and influence to a class of so-called labour leaders who betray and mislead the working class on both the political and economic fields.

And Whereas the only sound form of economic organisation is a union that shall (1) unite all sections of the working class on an industrial or non-sectional basis, and (2) organise them on the economic field for the complete overthrow of capitalism and the taking possession of all the instruments of production and distribution, as a necessary adjunct to the action of The Socialist Party on the political field,

Resolved that The Socialist Party of Great Britain hereby declares war on all Trade Unions as at present organised, and calls on its members to carry on an active propaganda as a preliminary to the establishment of a Socialist Union.”
Morris said that Trade Unions organised on craft lines had the dual effect of misleading and dividing the working class and giving power to so-called labour leaders. The S.P.G.B. had beea attacking the leaders on the political field, but it was from the economic organisation that they derived their power. We had to choose between the present Trade Unions and a union which would unite the workers on the basis of the class struggle. The idea that we should support the unions at times and oppose them at others was the famous S.D.F. position.

F. Leigh seconded the resolution. He said it appeared that the only party which could take any definite Trade Union action was that which advocated a revolutionary industrial organisation without affiliation to a political party. The economic condition was the basis of all working-class action. The L.R.C. was merely the reflex of the pure and simple Trade Unions which had put its men into power. The pure and simple Unions were playing into the hands of the capitalist, and were based on the perpetuation of the wages system. If the Trade Union is class-unconscious on the economic field the only logical attitude was to come out and fight them. The idea of domination by a political party was putting the cart before the horse. If you once create a revolutionary organisation on the economic field then you would have a united revolutionary political party. Political unity would follow. The economic organisation was in the forefront of the battle. We should be prepared to sacrifice a little against present unions.

Jackson said the people who had formed the I.W.W. were very fond of saying that the labour leaders were in the pay of the capitalist class. The following was the latest:
“The striking silk weavers of Kaltenback and Stevens’ shop have won the fight. Yesterday afternoon a committee had a conference with the employers, the result of which was the sanction of all the demands. The bosses granted the demands under the provisions that the weavers should try to organise all other silk mills also and bring them to the same scale of wages as Kaltenback and Stevens’ shop.”
The capitalists granted their demands on condition that they should organise the others. Would the capitalist class be prepared to support a union which was organising to fight it ? The only way was to bring into existence an organisation based on class consciousness and it was only possible to make sound class-consciousness by a sound political party.

The meeting adjourned until the following Saturday.



Discussion on Bexley Resolution—Continued.

Jackson moved the following amendment:
“Delete all after “Manifesto” and substitute 

Affirms that the basis of the action of the Trade Unions must be a clear recognition of the position of the workers under capitalism and the class-struggle necessarily resulting therefrom.

This General Meeting of members of the S.P.G.B., in view of the fact that, “as the machinery of government (including the armed forces of the Nation) exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the workers must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery (including these forces) may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation,” calls upon Trade Unionists to recognise that the class-struggle is thus in its full development necessarily a struggle for political power, and that until they have understood this they cannot act rightly.

And furthermore warns the workers of this land against those so-called Revolutionists who, advocating the Anarchist theory of the General Strike (more or less artfully disguised) neglect thus the above-cited, essentially political nature of the class-struggle, and neglecting it, ignore the truth.”
Jackson said this conception of industrialism was either the old Trade Union idea or the Anarchist idea of the General Strike. All through the history of Socialism we had had this difference cropping up. What was the difference in the old International Workingman’s Association between Marx and Bokounine ? Simply that Marx said that the fight of the workers for their emancipation was chiefly a political one whilst the Bokouninists were clamouring for the General Strike which really ended in street riots. In this country then cropped up this new Trade Union movement. The Socialist League and members of the S.D.F. in their time formed what was practically an I.W.W., and laid it down that the struggle of the workers was to be fought on the economic field. And the Socialist League became Anarchist,. In France practically the same thing was going on. He had with him the Manifesto of the General Confederation of Labour. In it was said :
“The French Trades Unions unite the workers on an essentially economic basis, and endeavour to carry out as much as possible the following points: (1) They occupy themselves with ameliorating constantly the existing conditions of the workers by reduction in hours, increase of salary, the sanitary condition of factories and workshops, the moral independence of the workers, etc. They do not forget that the reforms obtained from the employers cannot be a final aim, but only a step towards more radical amelioration. Also in order to be effective all reforms must be accompanied by a curtailment of capitalist privileges. (2) They do not limit their activity to partial and immediate reforms ; convinced that only in the abolition of the wage system is the definite remedy of exploitation and human misery. They prepared the way for the capitalist expropriation, which making the Trades Unions and Trades Councils the centres of the new social life, will give to all the opportunity for integral development.”
That was precisely the argument in favour of Industrial Unionism—that the Trades Unions formed the basis of the future Society. As regards the General Strike they said :
“The General Strike reveals itself under two aspects which complete themselves mutually and both have in a high degree a revolutionary character. The General Strike can have as its aim the immediate conquest of partial ameliorations ; or it may be the equivalent of the proletarian revolution and imply the taking in possession of the whole social organism by the working class.”
And again
“Trades Unions will take as their mission the inauguration of communist property on the ruins of individual property.

“They will take possession of factories and workshops, and the Trades Unions in each industry, putting themselves in connection with their Federation, will regulate the amount of production.”
That was precisely the position of the I.W.W.

The essential aim of the revolutionary working-class party was the capture of the political machinery.

Anderson seconded the amendment. Certain political opponents of ours were ready to sidetrack our Party by this economic fake, and certain members of the S.P.G.B. were trying to do the same thing. Until all the members of the organisation were Socialist you would not have a sound economic organisation at all.

Leigh said he wished to oppose the amendment. He had had conversation with members of the S.L.P., and they had told him that they were ready to send out the men in their party who were keeping the two organisations apart. Jackson’s amendment was purely a declaration against Anarchism, where the political organisation of the working class was condemned. To admit the necessity of an economic organisation of the working class and then to tie them down to a political party was to make the success of the economic organisation impossible. The theory of the economic organisation alone was the Anarchist theory purely and simply, but the resolution advocated a sound economic organisation to work in conjunction with a political party. It was untrue to say that he was being used by another party to break up this party. He had pointed out to Jackson that he was in favour of political action, yet Jackson was accusing him of advocating Anarchy.

Neumann said when we found our men had backed up the S.L.P. position as far as Industrial Unionism was concerned, he thought he was justified in saying that their action had been detrimental to the Party. It behoved members of the Party to set a firm face against this. It had been said by a speaker that some of the people of this hostile organisation were prepared to dispense with their leaders. Well, we had not yet seen much evidence of it. If they would have nothing to do with us politically we could have nothing to do with them economically. If, by any miracle, their new economic organisation should be compelled to take political action, it would be reform action due to the men who formed its membership. If the S.L.P. was as good a political party as the S.P.G.B.; if it had in the eyes of certain members a better industrial organisation, why did they remain in the S.P.G.B.?

[To be Continued.]

The Socialist Party of Great Britain and The Socialist Labour Party. (1906)

From the August 1906 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Statement of Differences.
When The Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed in June, 1904, the bulk of the members were sufficiently acquainted with the work and attitude of the Socialist Labour Party to render unnecessary at that time any further statement of the differences between the two bodies. New members have, however, since joined our Party, unacquainted with the facts, and several enquiries have been received from provincial correspondents for information upon the subject. Moreover, the refined literary criticism of our Party in the S.L.P. organ, The Socialist, has now taken the turn of stating that the difference between the parties consists in their respective attitudes towards trade unionism. It is therefore well at this stage to take up the matter for the benefit of those mentioned above, although to make the position clear it will be necessary to go back to the period preceding the formation of both bodies, the more so because both organisations were formed by, and in their early stages consisted almost entirely of seceding members of the Social Democratic Federation.

For some time previous to the first secession in 1903 an agitation had been developing inside the Social Democratic Federation against the vacillating policy that the Executive Committee of that body had, with some success, been urging upon its members. This agitation had grown independently in London and Scotland, but, as subsequent events showed, in different ways. In Scotland it appears to have been organised, and its supporters worked as a regular faction. In London, however, no systematic course was followed. The supporters of an uncompromising policy (dubbed “Impossiblists” by Mr. H. Quelch) simply pushed forward their views at every opportunity, and supported each other when they came in contact without special plan or organisation.

At the Blackburn Conference of the S.D.F. in 1902, the so-called Impossiblist delegates from Scotland and London met and supported each other, the Scotsmen nominating Friedberg (a London “impossiblist”) for the E.C. Friendly relations were established and the understanding arrived at that the London members would work in conjunction with the Scotch members for the adoption of an uncompromising policy by the S.D.F., Friedberg agreeing to act as correspondent for London.

The report of this Blackburn Conference as published contained some inaccuracies and left out some very important items of business. Friedberg wrote to Justice (the organ of the S.D.F.) pointing this out, and upon his corrections being refused publication, he sent a letter to the Weekly People of New York, detailing certain events of the Conference. For this he was expelled by the E.C. of the S.D.F., and as his branch (Finsbury Park) insisted upon retaining him as a member pending an appeal to the Annual Conference, it was dissolved. Against this the branch, of course, protested, and issued a statement to the S.D.F. branches. In this it was assisted by members in Scotland. While the above incidents were taking place, W. McGregor (one of the delegates to the Blackburn Conference from Scotland) came to London and after some months residence here returned. Shortly afterwards the surprising news reached London that he had been expelled from the Leith Branch. As he had always acted the part of a straight comrade in London, he and those who expelled him were written to for their respective versions, so that the Londoners might have an opportunity of judging the case. No information, was supplied by Leith, but McGregor’s statement was received and was supported by an independent communication from a member named Gillespie. According to this statement McGregor and others were present, as non-delegates, at the Scottish District Council Meeting held on February 8th, 1903. After the Council’s ordinary business had concluded a meeting of the delegates from the branches running The Socialist was held, and before a secretary or chairman was appointed it was moved and seconded that “all those other than delegates leave the table.” As McGregor was one of the Auditors (though not a delegate) and wished to know how the paper was being managed, he resented this, and when the delegates of his branch (Robertson and Drummond) gave in their report, he asked if they did not move and second the above resolution. Robertson denied all knowledge of it, while Drummond replied “there was a suggestion of that kind.” Thereupon McGregor charged them with moving and seconding that resolution. Instead of hearing McGregor’s case a committee of enquiry was appointed, who simply wrote to the other delegates asking if such a resolution had been brought forward at the meeting referred to. The answers were in the negative, for the simple reason given by Geddes, who was appointed secretary and who, when asked why the resolution was not in the minutes pointed out not that no such thing had been proposed : it had been suggested before a secretary had been appointed, and therefore before any minutes were taken, or the meeting technically constituted. McGregor was called upon to withdraw, but as no refutation of his statement of fact was made and advantage was taken of this small technical point to refuse to consider any other portion of the gathering, he refused and was expelled—an inquiring kind of auditor thus being got rid of.

This was the first suspicious circumstance that came from Scotland.

A short time before this Friedberg had gone to Spain and Fitzgerald carried on such correspondence as was necessary with the Scotsmen.

About a week or so before the Shoreditch Conference 1903, letters were received from McGregor and Anderson, stating that a movement was on foot in Scotland to start a new party, and asking if the London “impossiblists” were aware of it. This was something of a thunderclap in the midst of the difficulties already existing—such as the Friedberg and Finsbury Park appeals. The correspondents were informed that nothing was known of this business in London, but as it was so close to the Conference and several Scotsmen would be in London on that occasion, the London section decided that no action should be taken other than to arrange for a joint meeting to discuss the whole business.

An incident confirming the foregoing occurred just previous to the Conference : the Leith Branch decided to send an ultimatum to the E.C., threatening withdrawal unless the compromising policy of the S.D.F. was dropped at the Conference. An attempt was made to persuade the Edinburgh and Glasgow Branches to adopt the same position for the reason (among others) that it was necessary for some branches to take the lead and then the rest of the “impossiblist” section would be obliged to follow them and form a new party.

At the Conference the expulsion of G. Yates, moved by the E.C., for his article entitled “The Official S.D.F.” in The Socialist, was carried, the expulsion of Friedberg was confirmed, and the dissolution of the Finsbury Park Branch was upheld.

As Anderson and McGregor were in London at the Conference it was suggested by the London section that they should be invited to the joint meeting so that the differences might be cleared up. The Scotsmen, however, declined to go to the meeting unless these two men were excluded. While this was thought another peculiar attitude, it was finally agreed to.

This meeting produced another surprise. During the course of his speech upon the situation Yates stated that in Scotland they had been building up a new party during “the last two years.” That is to say, during the whole time they were supposed to be working with the London section for the re-organisation of the S.D.F., they were playing a double game by forming a new organisation in secret.

This statement, coupled with the previous facts, showed the Londoners that if they joined the party thus forming, they would be simply leaving one organisation where the leaders deceived and misled the rank and file to support and strengthen another whose prominent members were prepared to play the same game. Accepting the facts of the class war and the necessary deduction made by Marx from those facts, “that the emancipation of the working class must be the conscious work of the working class itself,” the London section were no more ready to blindly follow would-be geniuses from Scotland than “highly educated” leaders from Queen Anne’s Gate, and therefore, despite the set-back that these incidents naturally gave to the business in hand, and the fact that a few Londoners joined the new party, the rest of the section decided to go forward on the lines originally laid down. When, at the Burnley (1904) Conference, fear of further exposure of their underhand trickery impelled the E.C. of the S.D.F. to further expulsions, the London members, after two meetings at which the situation was discussed, so clearly indicated their attitude that the bulk of the active S.D.F. membership in London revolted and, withdrawing in an open, above-board manner, formed The Socialist Party of Great Britain.

This difference of principle forms the real and substantial difference between the two parties—a difference the S.L.P. has always endeavoured to obscure by trying to find some detail point upon which to hang a sample of that cultured criticism for which they have something of a reputation. Chagrined at their failure to mislead the Londoners, they have thought to hide their disappointment in “a lofty superiority expressing itself in such observations as the following :
“Those timid souls (whom the S.L.P. will always find it hard to trust) i.e., those who against their expressed convictions have remained within this now discredited organisation [S.D.F.] have plucked up courage to give a gentle whine of protest, of course, on strictly constitutional lines.” (The Socialist, Dec., 1903,) while at the time of the Burnley Conference a leading article said:

“Some were sentenced to apologise and eat humble pie, and others were expelled. A meeting was held in London, after the return from the Conference, at which the expellees were largely supported and the result is that the London S.D.F. is rent asunder, and a considerable section will probably leave the Party and set up some sort of castle of cards of their own.” (The Socialist, May, 1904.)
No doubt, as in the argument put forward by the Leith branch 12 months previously, they hoped that this section would see their “castle” collapse in a short time and that then they would gravitate towards the S.L.P. But they were soon undeceived, and their next issue stated
“Our London comrades are face to face with a new foe, or rather an old foe in another guise. As a result of the Burnley Conference of the S.D.F. about 100 members have left that organisation and are forming a party of their own. Eighteen months ago most of these men professed to believe in our principles and tactics, but when 12 months ago adherence to principle meant leaving the S.D.F. and tackling the forlorn hope of founding a new party they basely deserted us. The preliminary spade work necessary to the building up of such a party as ours, accompanied by the risk of failure, was too much for the knees of those men, and the joints giving way through fear, they flopped prostrate before the ‘Holy Trinity,’ Hyndman, Burrows & Quelch, and craved mercy and forgiveness. And since the April Conference, 1903, their lives have been made miserable. Treated with contempt by the members of the Socialist Labour Party, sneered at, cuffed and ridiculed by their own organisation, they have been forced to save the small portion of self-respect still left by seceding from the S.D.F.

“Emboldened by the success of the S.L.P., they have decided to form a new party, and rumour hath it that they have adopted a similar constitution to our party. Such is the tribute mediocrity renders to genius. Our London comrades may be assured of every help we can give them in fighting this “Party of the Wobblers,” and though the fight may tax the energies of our members, the S.L.P. is too well disciplined and firmly founded to be swept off its feet by such a flood as has been loosed by the Burnley Conference of the S.D.F.” (The Socialist, June, 1904.)
The “success” which so “emboldened” us consisted, as far as London was concerned, in about 3 new members after more than twelve months existence ! while in addition to the modest (and grammatical) reference to their party as a “genius,” the material is supplied for a new definition of “basely desert.” Evidently, according to this quotation, to refuse to blindly follow the lead of one set of tricksters, while you are engaged in a fight with another set, is to basely desert the first one !

The constitution of the S.L.P., then, and for some time after, had a “palliative” or “reform” programme as part, while The Socialist Party’s constitution ignored such confusionist items.

When reporting the formation of the Wimbledon branch of the S.L.P. (since dissolved and its secretary, J. Grose, expelled) it was stated that this formation
“affords proof of the fact that in spite of the political mushroom growths that have made their appearance during the last month or two, in spite of the unscrupulous intrigues of those disgruntled individuals who are moving heaven and earth in London circles to gather together a party to enhance their political ‘exchange-value,’ the Socialist Labour Party is not only holding its own but is also annexing territory in the extreme South-West of London.” (The Socialist, July, 1904.)
In the next issue ” W.S.J.” writes that this formation is a
“fitting reply to the group of intriguers whose sole aim and object appears to be the splitting of the Revolutionary Socialist movement in Great Britain. But we can afford to ignore them, knowing full well that their treachery will meet with due reward in the future, and knowing, too, that a party built on sound scientific principles, as the S.L.P. undoubtedly is, need never fear the puny attacks of parties composed of tin gods and their worshippers.” (The Socialist, August, 1904.) 
A method of ignoring an opponent that can only be compared to that of the Irishman who made a long journey in order to tell an enemy “to his face” that he was going to treat him with silent contempt !

At the De Leon Meeting in London, August 31st, the chairman, E. E. Hunter, said
“One result of the formation of the London branch (S.L.P.) was that we already had imitators here—a sincere form of flattery greatly appreciated by the S.L.P.” (The Socialist, Oct., 1904.)
Evidently then, The Socialist Party, while being “base deserters,” a “Party of Wobblers,” “unscrupulous intriguers,” who were “moving heaven and earth … to enhance their political ‘exchange-value'” and whose “sole aim and object appears to be the splitting of the Revolutionary Socialist movement” are only imitators of the S.L.P. in these matters !

The International Congress was held at Amsterdam in 1904. While these congresses have never been purely Socialist congresses (as they allow organisations, that can by no stretch of language be called Socialist, to be represented thereat), yet this remains the only regular international gathering whereat the majority of Socialist parties are represented. This of course is well known to the various national parties, and a steadily growing section are endeavouring to ensure that future congresses shall be Socialist and nothing else. The point (as to the constitution of the Congress) is usually thrashed out at the Congress on the question of the right of entry and sometimes on the question of voting. At Amsterdam the Allemandist Party of France wished to have voting power independent of the two other French parties. This would have made an opportunity for fighting out the whole question of representation from the floor of Congress itself, but it was moved by those who wished to shelve the matter that it be referred to the Bureau. This motion the Scotch S.L.P. delegation supported, thus helping to prevent the question being dealt with in open Congress. It was decided by the Congress that credentials should be verified by each Nation. The S.L.P. delegation refused to submit their credentials to the English section because it was “composed of people whom they condemn at home.” The argument is doubly puerile. In the first place, for the purpose of obtaining provisional tickets they had already submitted their credentials to the International Bureau composed of Hardie, Hyndman, etc., whom they “condemn at home” ; In the second place they were already aware that the Congress had decided upon this course when they tried to obtain entry by other methods, while if they had been seated at all, they would have actually joined with those they condemn in an international meeting. (As a matter of fact for the first three days during which they sat in Congress they did so join with those they condemn.) They knew before they left Britain (if they knew anything of the international congresses at all) that these people would be present and would be accepted by the Bureau, and therefore they would be sitting with them (Hyndman & Co.) under any condition of entry that could have been expected to be in operation.

In spite of all this they have, tried to claim that their action was the only consistent one to follow, while our delegates sacrificed their principle by taking their seats under the conditions laid down. If this is so then of course every other delegate who sat in the Congress was equally guilty. But when this is pointed out to our objectors ; when it is shown that De Leon of the American S.L.P. (whom the Scotch S.L.P. parody on all occasions) sat with those he had continually denounced at home (the Socialist Party of America); when it is also pointed out that he acquiesced in the seating of the S.P. delegates in so far as he made no protest, and, stranger still, afterwards obtained a seat on the Bureau along with Hardie, Hyndman, and Hillquit—then the brilliant defence is put forward by the editor of The Socialist that De Leon submitted his credentials to himself. Sweetly simple ! Then why did the Scotch delegates abstain from submitting their credentials to themselves ? Because they were not a National delegation ? But neither was De Leon. Then under the rule of entry his credentials must have been submitted to and accepted by the American Delegation, unless there is a means of evading the rule, in which case he might have given his friends the “tip.” W. S. Jerman, in The Socialist for Jan., 1905, attempted to support the above thin editorial piffle by saying “they (the S.P.) no doubt thought they might pass it off with the aid of the stock-in-trade they brought out of the S.D.F., viz., “lies.” The “it” referred to being the point given above re De Leon’s credentials. As Mr. Jerman was in possession of the facts given here before he wrote this statement he is particularly well situated to talk about lies.

In the same issue, in the “London Notes” appears a statement that the S.P.G.B. was “formed for the purpose of popularising Esperanto” but “of late has been giving its attention to politics” —a fair specimen of the veracity of their statements. The writer there deals with a challenge sent to our E.C. by the London Branch, S.L.P. and the answers given thereto, which are termed “evasions.” Although these replies were lying before him, the writer, curiously enough, forgot to quote them, either in full or in part, but winds up by saying “they speak their volapuk with a decided S.D.F. accent.” The impression that it is endeavoured to convey is that we refused to debate. The truth, as the letters would have shown, was that, while pointing out that set debates were only undertaken with recognised political parties, all our platforms were open to opposition, while the statement in our Declaration of Principles stating that “we waged war against all other political parties” was a standing challenge to any who cared to take it up.

Writing in the March (1905) Socialist, Mr. Jerman, after about a column of similar inanities to those already quoted, says “As I pointed out in my letter to The Socialist, I tumbled to the motives of our one-time impossiblist comrades in the S.D.F., they were out for something shady, and if anyone has been sucked in, that is their fault, for it was pointed out time and again what one man in particular was moving heaven and earth to obtain.” Unfortunately we are again left without any information as to what we were “out for” or as to who the “one man in particular” who “was moving heaven and earth”—evidently a new Atlas with a double burden—was, or what he was out to “obtain.”

The criticisms given above, extending over a period from a few months before the formation of our Party to nearly twelve months after, have a certain feature that may be specially noted—they are, without exception, remarks dealing with the political question and the political position of the two parties. Illuminating indeed, then, is the statement of the editor of The Socialist in reply to a correspondent signing himself “G.G.” that “When the S.L.P. ” came into being, if there was one thing it was absolutely clear upon it was its hostility to the pure and simple Trade Unions and laying it down that this is the point of difference between the two parties (March, 1906), while in a further reply to the same writer he says “When the S.P.G.B. has emancipated itself from S.D.F. traditions and obsessions by adopting a clean and consistent Trade Union policy, it will be time enough then to talk of joining hands”, (April, 1906), for if this is correct, the whole of the criticism, extending over the period given, is inaccurate and misleading as it entirely fails to mention the Trade-Union question. We may be “base deserters,” “unscrupulous intriguers,” who are endeavouring to “enhance our political exchange-value” and who deal in lies, but if we only adopt “a clean and consistent Trade Union policy” we shall be whiter than snow and all will be well, But let us look at this matter a little closer. We are told that they were “absolutely clear” upon this question, yet, neither in the first Manifesto issued shortly after the Shoreditch Conference, nor in the second Manifesto, “The Party of the Workers,” issued some months after, is the Trade Union question dealt with at all ! Practically, with the exception of a rule stating that one of the duties of the E.C. is “the formation of Socialist unions,” the first official pronouncement was in the Manifesto issued to the International Movement, in Feb., 1904, where they state their policy as “one of criticism and exposure in order to prepare the minds of the workers for the Socialist unions.” Apparently although “absolutely clear” they require nearly a year to discover it ! And as (in his second reply) the editor states that “the T.U. policy of the S.L.P, is the foundation upon which the Party is built” an organisation can exist for some time without any foundation !

But in what does their “clean and consistent Trade-Union policy” consist ? First (aping the American S.L.P.), the adoption of a rule forbidding members to hold office in a present Trade Union, otherwise silence ; then that their policy is to be one of “criticism and exposure” with the object of establishing Socialist unions as “that portion of the working-class army which conducts on the economic field skirmishing operations with the view to seizing small points of vantage, while all the time working in close conjunction with the heavier and solider regiments which carry out the more serious pitched battles on the field of politics ” (Feb. 1904. italics ours.) Later it is stated that the Party will have to consider whether “the time is ripe for the formation of a Socialist union based on the lines of the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance and American Labor Union of America.” Then still another change comes o’er the scene and, when the new union called “The Industrial Workers of the World” is started, the E.C. of the S.L.P. without consulting their members send a message of approval and pledge themselves to work to establish a British wing of the I.W.W. (Oct., 1905). When the question of starting I.W.W. clubs was discussed at the S.L.P. conference, the delegates from the two strongest branches (Edinburgh and Glasgow) had received instructions to oppose, but were told by J. C. Matheson that the clubs, would be formed and so long as the members joining these clubs kept within the rules of the Party, the Party had no right to interfere with their activity on the economic field.

Evidently then the S.L.P. conception of a “clean and consistent trade union policy” is to repeat, parrot fashion, the decisions arrived at by the American S.L.P., including the contradiction of that Party’s past position on the S.T. & L.A., wherein it was laid down that the Trade Union was the skirmishing force or arm that must be dominated by the political arm, with the present one on I.W.W., wherein it is stated that the economic arm must dominate the political, which it now seems is the skirmishing force.

When the S.P.G.B. was formed a series of Party Meetings were held and the question of our attitude towards the Trade Unions discussed, with the result that a decision was arrived at to carry on the fight for Socialism inside and outside the present unions, with the object of educating the members thereof into realising the necessity for accepting and adopting the Socialist position, —that decision has been adhered to ever since.

In the preface to his magnificent work, “Capital” Karl Marx says, “I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense coleur de rose. But here individuals are dealt with only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class relations and class interests.” When, therefore, in dealing with political and economic opponents, such beauties of literature as the extracts immediately following (all from the organ of the S.L.P.) are met with, one can only wonder what ”economic category” or “particular class relation” these distorted facial and physiological descriptions are “embodiments of.” Old, however, is the remark “When you have no case abuse the opponent,” and the specimens of profound and scholarly criticism quoted certainly convey a volume of information as to the amount of argument in the possession of those using them.
“A prognathous, drink-soddened ranter.”(Sep. 1903.) “Political Debauchees.” (Jan., 1904.) “Flannel-mouthed S.D.F. organiser” (ibid) “the drivelling senilities of this dotard” (May, 1904.)

“… an official of the I.L.P. . . . had wild, staring, maniacal eyes, black dishevelled hair, a sloping forehead, prognathous jaws, and the general appearance of a congenital idiot. These beauties, however, were hidden to some extent by his mouth, which was wide open . . . while from the pit of his stomach he emitted a blood-curdling howl, the blind, instinctive, meaningless expression of a stricken beast.” (Sep., 04.)

“The Lancashire fakir . . . with black hair, oily skin, shifty eyes, one-and-half inch forehead.” (ibid.) “political swankers.” (Mar., 1905.)

“A wild, scatty individual.” (June, 1905.)

“Pouring forth a torrent of gush and slobber.” (May, 1906.)

“A flannel-mouthed, lank-haired, political individual with a pink complexion and a faraway look in his eyes.” (ibid.)

“Who conducted himself . . like an epileptic chimpanzee, whose spluttering, inarticulate malevolence . . equalled the performances of the most besotted and befuddled Hyndmaniac.” (July, 06.)
” G.G.” in the second article referred to above says that when he asks the members of the S.P. why they started another party they cannot exactly define the cause, “for like all facts it is not the result of any one cause, but of many.” (April, 1906.) While “G.G,” quite forgot to state the “many causes” that would even approximately define the facts, his statement is correct in so far as the main cause itself has certain minor ones contributing their quota to increase the sum total. First and foremost is the difference of principle given above ; while the vacillating policy of the S.L.P. on trade unionism and the gutter garbage ladled out as political criticism, complete the many causes that made it necessary for those who desired to spread the principles of Socialism among the working class and give correct instruction upon the economic categories and class relations of their position, to form a new party to carry on the propaganda of those principles, clean, straight and above board, and so organise the working class along the lines laid down in those principles, for their own emancipation.