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Reformism

Editorial: The Futility of Reform

The Socialist Party of Great Britain has often been asked why they have not drawn up a programme of measures for the partial redress of those evils which most immediately affect the position of the working class. “Should we not strive to palliate the existing misery”? “Should we not seek to foster the sectional differences existing among the capitalists so that we may use them in the interests of the working class"? “Should we not temporarily support, or form temporary alliances with, other political parties while working for common ends”? These and other questions of like import are constantly being put to us by non-members of our party. We now propose to answer them.

Reformism: A Waste of Precious Time

The part of the case that separates Socialists most firmly from all other attitudes is our insistence that reform will not do. It is the cause of the most pressure and argument by those who want our energy given to their causes: there are struggles going on for innumerable things, and we should be in all that flailing-about. And to many whose hearts rule their heads it is continually unpalatable. With the world full of misery and suffering, surely — they say — attempts at alleviation must be made; the efforts may be foredoomed, but the compunction at not making them is too great.

Letter from Austria

In the 'free world', demonstrations and marches of discontented workers are now the order of the day. No trade, profession or service is exempt from these public protestations against rising prices, lagging wages, social injustice and other evils suffered by all sections of the wage-slaves. One trade after another, from transport, metal, textile and chemical industries to doctors and teachers, is on the move threatening strikes, and marches to the seat of government. Banners and posters are carried, airing grievances and demanding redress and help. Television usually focuses on these demonstrations — such mournful processions, plus military parades, are indeed among the regular tele-features.

In Austria, last year's march of a thousand miners to Vienna recently had its double, this time from the federal province Burgenland, the most depressed area of this country.

The Uselessness of 'Practical Politics'

Most Socialists are familiar with the type of criticism which consists of arguing that Socialism is a vague proposal for general change, whereas what is needed is a series of definite, practical reforms. Bertrand Russell, in the Sunday Referee for November 5th, reproduces this argument with a variation which is new, at any rate, to the present writer. This is the opening paragraph, which provides the key to the entire article, entitled “The age of stagnation”:—

    "The nineteenth century, judged by any definite test, was a period of solid progress, in comparison with which the present is an age of stagnation. This not because there were, in those days, more people who desired change, but because reformers worked patiently for definite objects without any thought of altering the entire social order.”

He then goes on to specify the particular types of reform he has in mind, such as Parliamentary reform legal reform, sex reform and prison reform.

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