Class-consciousness is a term widely quoted and almost equally widely misunderstood. A thorough knowledge of all that it implies is essential if we want to understand why our Declaration of Principles lays it down that we are absolutely opposed to all other political parties. We are in. opposition because they are not class-conscious. They do not recognise the existence of the class struggle, the social war in which we all, willy-nilly, are engaged. Many of their actions, professedly designed to benefit the working-class, have, as a matter of fact, a directly opposite effect. We have so-called Socialist parties in existence, whose programme no Radical would hesitate to endorse. The palliatives which they put. forward as necessary steps in the evolution of the Socialism that is “coming as a thief in the night,” have in a number of cases, already a place on the statute books of capitalist governments. Where is it found that they have been of appreciable benefit to the working-class ? An instance has yet to be found. And yet these parties continue to chase their immaterial Will-o’-the-Wisps, leaving the question of the emancipation of their class untouched, which, after all, is but natural. They are not class-conscious, and until they are the chances are all in favour of them being on the wrong road rather than the right.

This is seen more clearly when specific instances are taken, instances which afford much food for reflection. If it were not so indicative of pitiable ignorance, what could be more amusing than the exhibition of class-unconsciousness presented by the engineers, when they voted for the political return of their employer whilst they were at the same time engaged in an industrial battle with him. Tired of him as a sergeant, they made him a field-marshal, putting him in charge of the police, the military, and all other clubs that are used to batter in the heads of the recalcitrant workers.

The l.L.P. openly deny the class struggle. Of course, they are willing to modify this view—when they wish for representation at the Amsterdam Congress. But ordinarily they designate the man who preaches the class-war as visionary, firebrand, disrupter, etc. Their conduct is a fairly plain guide as to how far they are class-conscious. In Willesden at the present time they are pointing out the advantages of extended municipal control. Curiously enough the municipal employees do not appear to be enthusiastic over the advantages. They turn out in a miserable drizzle to demonstrate with band and banner for a living wage. The S.D.F. is a body admitting the class-struggle in word but repudiating it in act. How the party with such a record of intrigue and compromise can reconcile their action with the class-war doctrine at first sight appears, incomprehensible. It can only be explained on the ground that they have no clear conception of what the class-struggle is, or that they are prepared to deliberately sell working-class interests.

No class-unconscious party can be representative of the interests of the working-class. The capitalist-class is essentially class-conscious. They recognise that their position as rulers is purely relative to and dependent upon the existence of a class subservient to them. Just so soon as the workers realise that they are the subservient class ; that they are the producers of the sustenance which is greedily grabbed by the parasitical shirkers who rule them: just so soon shall we begin to see things. “The great are great to us because we are on our knees. Let us therefore rise.” We call upon every man who is conscious that the working-class and the capitalist-class have interests mutually antagonistic, to join The Socialist Party of Great Britain, to drop his shackles and stand erect. Mr. Balfour has just shown how to be class-conscious. “We can do nothing for you,” he says, and he is quite right. The only surprising thing about the utterance is that the meaning is so clear. It makes the alternative equally clear. Workers of England, don’t plaintively appeal to the enemy for assistance. Don’t ask them if they would be so good as to stop plundering you for a time. You have their answer: ”we can do nothing for you.” Organise in a class-conscious party, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, and do something for ourselves.


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