The following letter, typical of the confusion that unfortunately exists, we the more gladly publish in full since it provides the post whereon to nail a common misapprehension of our position.

Larkfield, Chilbolton,
Stockbridge, Hants.
Having read your party organ for months past I beg to state that except as a purely propagandist body I can see no reason for the existence of your party or for believing in its successful growth. Parliamentary action may as well be dropped by you, as I am sure none of your candidates would care to be elected except by a majority of class-conscious Socialists—and that means waiting until the revolution shall be accomplished. Should any of your party be elected to administrative bodies they would, in order to justify their election, be morally bound to sit upon committees and discuss questions and administer affairs of the present day—of capitalist society—and that would be helping to carry on the capitalist system.
Reforms, of any sort, I gather from your paper, are not to be touched. No reform can be initiated, no new principle or statute enacted under capitalism that will be of use for any but the capitalist-class or the capitalist system. Invention and mechanical progress should be deprecated upon the same ground.
Sections of the population are physically rotten and rotting. To make them sound and healthy would, you say, but make them fitter wage-slaves ; therefore let them die out ! That they might also become more intelligent, mentally and morally sturdy, and politically apt, matters not.
The whole of your teaching may, in fact, be summed up as “Preach economic considerations as the nole factor in social development, and wait until the crash comes !” As for your objurgations against the S.D.F. and its falling away from councils of perfection, however maddening and regrettable such things are I am sceptical myself of their ever being eliminated from political life.
Yours truly,

With a most amusing assurance our correspondent tells us we may as well cease to exist as a political party because, forsooth, he can see no reason for our existence.

Let us help him.

Though he rightly apprehends that candidates of the S.P.G.B. would not care to be elected except by a majority of class-conscious votes, yet he couples with it the strange assertion that this “means waiting until the revolution shall be accomplished” ! Our friend evidently imagines that the revolution will be brought about by a class-unconscious proletariat ! that Socialism will come upon the workers unawares, “like a thief in the night” !

Such a position can only be honestly held by those ignorant of the meaning of the class-struggle; for if the workers are kept ignorant of their true aim, and of the fact that there is a class struggle, how can they be expected to fight for Socialism against the master class when the moment of decisive arid energetic action comes ?

A political party that begs votes and support for anything but Socialism, that neglects to organise the workers for the class-struggle, that fails to bring about the revolution in the minds of the working-class that must necessarily precede the political revolution, such a party at such a time, will be as a bubble burst.

Elected to administrative bodies the candidates of the Socialist Party would have to sit in permanent opposition to the capitalist party, for, novel as it may seem to our correspondent, the class-struggle cannot he abandoned because a few representatives get into Parliament. Genuine working-class representatives must carry on the fight for working-class interests and the abolition of capitalism, inside as well, as outside the administrative bodies.

Reforms, our correspondent gathers, we do not advocate, but he fails to see that reforms are no concern of ours, since, until the Socialists are in the majority, we shall only get what the capitalist-class care to give us ; whilst, when the Socialist working-class hold the political power, then we shall have Socialism. Nor this alone, for since no concession worthy the name was ever made to a subject class except through fear, the revolutionary method is also, all along the line, the most effective way to obtain even such reforms as are possible ; for they will be thrown to the workers by the ruling class through fear of the revolutionary movement, and in a vain attempt to attract support from the revolutionary party of the workers. The crumb-begging policy of the reform parties is both contemptible and hopeless.

Our friend, however, is strangely muddled, for while he says we do not advocate reforms, yet he says “Invention and mechanical progress should be deprecated on the same ground” ! That argument, surely, may only be applied to those parties organised for the patching up of capitalist society. We, however, decline to urge the working-class to undertake such Sisyphus-like labour, a labour doomed to be fruitless while the capitalist-class own and control the instruments of labour. Mechanical progress is not the enemy. The enemy is the class which controls and uses it against the workers.

The capitalist-class, ever cheapening production, dispense by the aid of machines with an increasing proportion of wage-workers, who, in turn, are compelled to intensify competition on the labour market, and so decrease the wages of those in work. Thus we get increased intensity of toil side by side with greater unemployment, and ever spreading poverty, resulting in an ever increasing deterioration of the working-class. The wages system is, then, the direct cause of the physical deterioration of the working-class. The capitalist being interested in cheap production will, so long as he controls administration, refuse to permit anything that cuts at his profits, whilst with international competition he could not if he would. Whatever measure is to the interests of the ruling class they may safely be left to obtain ; but they cannot arrest the physical deterioration of the workers without committing social suicide, for its cause lies in capitalist exploitation itself.

More or less hypocritical efforts to rescue handfuls of the workers from this degradation will no doubt be made as sops to Cerberus ; but the amount of degradation must inevitably increase much faster than it can be remedied, for, while capitalism endures, the cause still remains unchecked.

In a certain asylum it is one of the tests of sanity to give the patient a ladle and tell him to empty a tank into which water is running fiercely from a tap. If the patient has sense enough to turn off the tap he is judged sane; if, however, he endeavours to bail out the tank without doing so, his discharge is deferred. We are sadly afraid that our correspondent would not pass the test, for he would have us withdraw our energies from the abolition of the root cause of degeneration in order to make futile attempts to bail out effects while the tap of capitalist exploitation is still flooding us.

Our critic assures us that he has been a reader of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD for months past, yet a perusal of the Declaration of Principles appearing in each number must plainly show the nonsense of his pretended summary of our teaching.

Economic conditions form the basis of social development, and give rise to the class-struggle, a factor that our friend appears to ignore. It is inevitable that economic development will bring things to a crisis, but whether from out of this crisis will arise the Socialist Commonwealth depends upon whether sufficient of the working-class have been made Socialists and have been class-consciously organised. Obviously, then, to “wait until the crash comes” may be the policy of reform pedlars, but is decidedly not the policy of TiHE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN. Our work is to assist economic pressure in making Socialists, and to organise these into the army of emancipation. The seed must be sown before the harvest can be reaped ; and propaganda of scientific Socialism is as essential to the existence of a powerful, class-conscious political party of the workers as the latter is to the establishment of Socialism.

We can understand our friend’s objection to criticism of the S.D.F., since his unscientific position is their position. The question, however, is not that the S.D.F. contains an amount of corruption that may or may not be common among political parties, but that that organisation has become a mere penny-wise and pound-foolish reform party, anxious to catch votes under any pretext, contributing materially to the confusion of issues on the political field, and no longer an instrument in the education and organisation of the working-class in their historic mission. It has become an obstacle to the growth of a revolutionary working-class party and therefore must go.

The paramount necessity for the existence of THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN should now be clear. It is to form the effective instrument for the emancipation of the workers from capitalist domination, and to educate and organise the class-conscious army that must aid in the birth of the society of to-morrow.

If our correspondent will ponder these facts carefully, and persist with his regular perusal of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD, we have little doubt that he will presently understand the position a little better than at present he appears to do.


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