Skip to Content

Reform versus Revolution

Obituary: Death of Harry Martin

 Through the medium of a correspondent we have learnt with regret of the death of Harry Martin, who was a familiar speaker to those in London who attended meetings at Tower Hill and similar spots.

 He was one of the small group that took part in the foundation of our party forty-seven years ago and fought out the problems the solution of which helped to clear our vision and reinforce the soundness of our general attitude.

The Impermanence of Reform

 The Socialist Party supports Trade Union organisation; so does the Labour Party. Yet there is a world of difference between the two attitudes. On the political field the Socialist Party does not deny that a particular piece of legislation may, for a time, relieve extreme hardship to workers affected by some outrageous failure of the capitalist system; yet the Socialist Party logically and consistently opposes reformism, the policy of building up a political party on a programme of demands for legislation to relieve all the separate evils. The difference is rather like that between the attitude of the A.R.P. expert and the attitude of the Socialist. The man whose efforts are devoted to studying the problem of defence against air raids is not required to have any knowledge of the ultimate causes of war. He may simply take war for granted, one of those things that happen. So the Trade Unionist, for the most part, and the advocate of reform, takes capitalism for granted.

Revolution not reform

 We are soldiers of the Social Revolution. No reform can bring any economic benefit to the whole working class. Do you think Municipal Ownership will abolish poverty? If you do, read any recent description of the slums of Glasgow, where Municipal Ownership has been carried farther than any American reformer has yet proposed.

Labourism: A Confession of Failure

 Mr. A. M. Thompson of the Clarion, was one of the founders of the Labour Party. He has, throughout a long career, consistently opposed the formation of a definitely socialist organisation striving for Socialism, on the specious plea that the workers could not afford to sacrifice possible present gains for the sake of a solution of the whole problem of their poverty through a Socialism which could not be obtained immediately.

"Half a loaf is better than no bread ”— so declared Thompson and his fellow Labourites. We opposed that view then, as we do now, on the plain ground that people get what they fight for. If they fight for reforms, they get reforms but not Socialism. Whether reforms are worth struggling for is another point. Experience always testifies that they are not.

Syndicate content