The Western Socialist
Vol. 33 - No. 252
No. 4, 1966
pages 17-18


The Censors' Reply

Ottawa, Canada, June 14th 1941

Dear Sir:

We have your letter of June 8th inquiring as to the reasons for the banning of The Western Socialist from Canada.

Action against this publication was recommended by us only after close examination for many months, during which objectionable material appeared on several occasions.

Decision to recommend action was finally made after the publication of an article in which such statements such as these occurred: "The worker has no interest in maintaining war production." "Patriotism serves merely as a cloak for loyalty to capitalism, for sacrifice of the workers so that industry may have its profits; it can bring only harm to the working class," "It (the war) is simply the competition of two rival business firms, so to speak, for trade."

This sort of thing, we think you will agree is not likely to be helpful to our national war effort. We must emphasize that our action was not taken against this publication because it was socialist, evidence of which is the continued publication in Canada or free admittance to Canada of a number of well known socialist and labor publications which are honestly critical of the present order of things, both political and economic. However, statements which are deliberately intended to sabotage morale cannot be tolerated, as you will understand.

The fact that any publication is banned at a given time does not necessarily mean that it will remain banned for the duration of the war. If after a period of time its publishers were so disposed, they might seek a review of its case especially in the light of issues published since the occasion of the ban order.

Sincerely yours,

Press Censors for Canada


* * *

The Canadian Government obviously feels that It must take pains to prevent allegedly treacherous or heretical ideas from reaching its population. The governmental letter concerning the banning of The Western Socialist calls its contents "objectionable." "THIS SORT OF THING, WE THINK YOU WILL AGREE, IS NOT LIKELY TO BE HELPFUL TO OUR NATIONAL WAR EFFORT," they write to us.

How very true! Could the Socialist message be transmitted to and understood by the workers of all belligerent countries, the capitalists, in their war efforts, would have to struggle against the awakened social consciousness, the stimulated thinking, of the people of the entire world.

Canada, like so many "democratic" countries, refuses to allow its workers to hear all sides of the argument. These workers are continuously filled with warmongering propaganda. The serum of capitalist distortion is constantly injected into the workers' minds to innoculate them against any ideas which may be harmful to the national war effort.

Can it be that the Canadian Government is afraid to trust the working class to think and judge for itself? Or does it fear that its workers once given the opportunity may really understand what it is all about, with disastrous results to the capitalist structure?

"...statements which are deliberately intended to sabotage morale cannot be tolerated," the governmental letter continues. Socialists condemn sabotage as a dangerous and detrimental policy since the working class emancipation can only be attained as the result of the democratic act of the overwhelming majority. Moreover, they do not favor enemy capitalists as against native ones — they support neither. The object of Socialist education is to build the working class morale throughout the entire world — for the inevitable Socialist victory.

The Canadian Government especially objects to our statement: "The worker has no interest in maintaining war production." Why indeed, is it to the worker's interest? Is it to his interest to produce instruments of death to be used in the slaughter of his fellow workers? Obviously not.

Just what is the object of this war production? Even prominent administrative officials of the "democratic" countries admit that this war is, as the last war was, a trade war, a war for markets and profits.

Unfortunately, some workers are forced to be interested in war production as it may offer them a job and a means of livelihood — for the time being, at least, until the war industries shut down.

The letter continues: "We must emphasize that our action was not taken against this publication because it was socialist, evidence of which is the continued publication in Canada or the free admittance into Canada, of a number of well-known socialist and labor publications which are honestly (the italics are ours) critical of the present order of things." Evidently then, these publications are in harmony with the national war effort and therefore neither truly socialist, nor in the interest of labor.

As a conclusion, the letter suggests that we mend our ways and stop putting "bad" ideas into the heads of innocent workers. Then the Canadian Government will forgive our past sins. It will allow our paper into the country again.

Somehow we remain untouched by such benevolence. The whole approach is typical of the capitalist technique. It tries to coerce Socialist education into submission, or at least into compromise.

Not with defiance, but with the persistence and patience which comes from knowing that Socialism is historically correct and some day will be accepted as such, we reply: Rather than emasculate The Western Socialist into a fear-watered, anemic, irresolute publication, where only that appears which is sanctioned by the capitalist censors, we would suspend publication altogether. When The Western Socialist can no longer present a Socialist message it will cease publication, for its reason for existence will have vanished. In the meantime, we will continue to publish honestly and scientifically those ideas which we feel must be contrasted with the prevailing capitalist ideas in order that the workers may arrive at an understanding of the society in which they live.

Reprinted from The Western Socialist, July-August, 1941