Skip to Content

Book Review: An I.L.P. Evangelist


An Evangel of Unrest: The Life Story of Bonar Thompson. 1/-. From the author. (Marble Arch, W.l.)

 Bonar Thompson
tells his life story in his usual style, from the days of unemployment processions in Manchester to his C.O. days during the so-called Great War. He pays tribute to our Party’s unswerving attitude during the war, but makes the curious statement that the I.L.P. was as firm as a rock against the war. He avoids the gymnastics of Ramsay MacDonald on the question and the association of the I.L.P. as an integral part of the Labour Party which joined the War Government.

 Bonar Thompson does not tell us of his joining and leaving the Communist Party, and his reasons for that. He simply says he belongs to the I.L.P. now. What connection the I.L.P. has with Socialism he does not say. The prominent "pacifist” users of force in the Labour Government belonging to his I.L.P. he avoids to mention.

 He denounces those who harp on “the position” and “economics," to the exclusion of the more emotional life, but he does not argue his case. He leaves it to denunciation. He is very bitter about those who object to paid speakers and paid literature sellers, etc. Here again he does not argue, but becomes vitriolic in denouncing his critics. So there is nothing to answer.

 In a letter accompanying the book Bonar Thompson tells us that he has been a consistent reader of the Socialist Standard since 1907, but he accounts for his “political ignorance” by his “temperament and intellectual constitution.” Parties, however, are the expression of economic interests, not temperaments, and Thompson’s excuse for his outlook simply avoids the question of the soundness of the Party’s position.

 For those who are interested in Bonar Thompson’s life the book will be of interest for what it contains, as well as its omissions.

C. R. B.