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Communist Consistency

'The Communist', April 20th, 1921:

(Page 2.) “ . . . let us also emphasise the fact that those who come into the real working-class International must come prepared to concentrate on industrial organisation and the freeing of the workers, leaving political  and social questions to fall into their proper place for attention after the Revolution.”

(Page 3.) “The Communist Party . . . will conduct an unflinching campaign against the power of capitalism; and relentlessly strive by industrial organisation, agitation, and revolutionary political and parliamentary action to urge the working class on towards revolution.”

Same paper, same date:

Report of Chairman’s address to Manchester Conference.

“ . . . the chairman stated the attitude of the Party to be in opposition to all other Labour organisations.”

This is the same Communist Party which applied for and was refused permission to affiliate to the National Labour Party. It still allows its branches to affiliate locally, has members on Borough Councils who were elected as Labour men and are still members of local Labour parties and has taken joint electorial action with these bodies.

This “party of the workers” proposes to teach “the smallholders and farmers  . . . that the Revolution comes as their friend and to relieve them of the unendurable burden of landlordism.” It considers that “mischievous land nationalisation policy of the (agricultural) unions must be fought and overcome in favour of a policy of socialisation without compensation” (Agrarian Question, p. 7.) It also supports the nationalisation of the mines.” (Communist, 2nd April, 1921.)

The “Marxist” Communist Party on wages

'The Workers’ Dreadnought', 19th March:

“A Marxian American gives his viewpoint.”

“If too great a proportion of the workers are employed, the effect is to temporarily bring about a crisis of unemployment. Wages continue to rise until they actually catch up with or pass the increases in the cost of living . . . As soon as the increasing wages seriously reduce or threaten to destroy his (the employer’s) profits he closes down his plant.”

'The Communist', 19th February:

“For generations the trade unions have been attempting to improve the status of their members by increased money wages. This has proved futile. Every nominal increase conceded to-day is filched back to-morrow by an even greater advance in the cost of living.”

Asked if this meant that the Communist Party accepted the view that “employers can at will raise the price of their goods to the buyer,” Mr. Francis Meynell, Editor of the Communist, replied (28th February:

“Because we say that every nominal increase conceded to-day is filched back to-morrow by an even greater advance in the cost of living we do not mean, as we do not say, that this must be so. If the selfishness of the Capitalist class could be destroyed, or that class destroyed itself, probably an easier task, one could happen without the other.”

So now we know all about it.

The capitalist, being selfish, can put up his prices and to whatever extent he chooses, so presumably he doesn’t mind giving increased wages. He also resists increases until he can no longer do so and then closes down. Also in the Communist Millennium, supposing the capitalists have been rendered unselfish, we shall be able to get higher wages without higher prices, but should they be obdurate they will be destroyed and replaced, I suppose, by unselfish Communists.

The real gem of the reply is the concluding paragraph, which refers the enquirer to Wage-Labour and Capital and Value, Price and Profit for further information !

When this interesting correspondence was followed up Mr. Meynell wrote this (March 16th):

“I was foolish enough to think that your first letter was a genuine enquiry out of a desire for information. As it was no more than a trap for my time and temper, I refuse to put either of them any more at your disposal.”

If Mr. Meynell ever does change his mind and decide to answer will he please tell me too if bad tempers, like “selfishness,” will debar entrance to the promised land.

E.H.