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Why I'm A Socialist

Why I Joined the SPGB

During the nineteen-thirties it was commonplace for meetings to be held at street corners. Many sites became well-known. There were fewer cars and no TV. The audiences were attentive, asked questions and took part in discussion. Many workers became interested in politics at such meetings. I was an example. Apart from a critical attitude to Religion, as a youth, I took most things for granted.

Why I am a Socialist

I was not born a socialist. Although I was born social. We all are. As members of the human species, we are uniquely interdependent social animals, dependent for our survival upon co-operation. Born into that species, there was no option but to be a social being.

Years of conditioning tear to pieces the social part of most of us. We learn to translate We Are into I Am and then I Have: the insidious language of an anti-social system drains us of our humanity. We become alienated from our social selves.

The response we adopt towards this alienation and dehumanisation depends upon many factors. Who are our parents? What kind of teachers do we have? What economic opportunities exist in the time and district in which we grow up? How do friends influence us? What do we read or see in the cinema or on TV?

Why I Joined The S.P.G.B.

In the stormy period of the economic crisis of 1928-33 I was a member of the Communist Party. I joined in 1928, the year of the commencement of the first Russian Five-Year Plan. This plan inspired me, and as I thought that they were building Socialism — I wanted to support it. I was enthusiastic and arrogant, and walked into a Communist Party meeting and said that I wanted to join. No questions were asked me, except for my name and address, and I believe a few pence for a membership card, and I was in.

In 1931 at the time of the hunger marches, many party members believed that the revolution was just 'around the corner': and that we could expect that the country would soon be involved in some sort of civil war as a transition to Socialism. I found this idea extremely hard to swallow, and made myself unpopular by saying so.

Why I Joined the S.P.G.B.

Like most of you, I was always interested in politics to a certain extent. My first object of affection was the Labour Party, and whilst I never joined, I always gave them my vote and between elections occasionally went to meetings and applauded Labour speakers. That was before 1929—when the Labour Party took office for the second time. I had not thought deeply about the issues involved, it was just a matter of instinct and sentiment with me—just as it is with millions of working-men and women.

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