The Clarion on its defence
The Clarion has been “hit in the place where it lives” by the protest against its unfairness which was printed in the last issue of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD. At any rate it devotes quite a space to a rather ill-humoured repudiation of the charge, in the course of which it says:
1) That my letter would have occupied a column and therefore was virtually in the waste paper basket before it arrived.
2) That my article contained “spiteful abuse” of the Clarion’s “poor old Editor” who
knew nothing of the matter in dispute.
3) That I stated the Clarion was filled with “piffle.”
To which I beg leave to make rejoinder as follows:—
(1) My letter was intended to outline and justify the position of the S.P.G.B. which had been criticised in two previous numbers of the Clarion. I thought this was a rather important matter. If a Party is contributing to working-class confusion, maintaining working-class ignorance and therefore delaying working-class emancipation, it is, I submit, an important thing from a Socialist point of view, to combat the work of that Party. I thought so, anyhow, and the Clarion says it thinks so too—sometimes.
The S.P.G.B. came into existence to combat the confusing effect of the work of professing Socialist organisations and to preach Socialism. The Clarion, which says it agrees with the position the S.P.G.B. alone upholds, refuses to print a letter from the S.P.G.B. because it would occupy a column. Mark. The case of the S.P.G.B., whose position the Clarion says it agrees with, has never been stated through the Clarion. We haven’t had a line. All the other Parties which,—if our contention is upheld as we say we can uphold it—the Clarion is supposed to be against, have pages !
This, however, may not be taken as a sign of a wonderful magnanimity on the part of the Clarion toward those with whom it is in disagreement. It agrees with our position all right, but it also agrees with the position of those we are fighting ! Rum? Not at all ! Just Clarionese.
Now accepting this basis, Clarion’s, it may not unnaturally be expected, I think, that as we are agreed with as much as the other chaps who are opposed to us, we should get as good a show in the Clarion as they. They have had pages. We have had the exact equivalent of nothing. We didn’t ask for pages. I only asked, it appears, so great was my moderation, for a column, and I only asked for that because we had been dragged into the Clarion without our knowledge or consent. I confess I expected to get the space necessary in the circumstances, particularly as it is an infraction of one of the few canons of honour journalism can boast of to print an attack and exclude the reply.
But—dear me ! no, says the Clarionesi Dangle. No code of honour of any newspaper in the world and certainly not the Clarion’ would stand the strain of any reply of over 250 words unless—-ah ! unless your reply will sell Clarions. If you are “Tess of the Suffragettes” for example, well,—”come and welcome, sinner, come.” even though the Clarion’s editor thinks the women’s agitation childish and silly. Or if you are an ecclesiastical dignitary, (Bishops preferred)—come again, even though your arguments are ”piffle” in three column efforts capable of being “smashed like an egg” by the Clarion’s fighting editor. Come one, come all—-if you can sell Clarions. But don’t expect to get in against the sellers of Clarions. You may be the very embodiment of all the virtues ; you may have the message that will set the people free, but if you are obscure and insignificant or if you are useless as a seller of Clarions—outside ! Perish everything—bar Clarions.
Well. I don’t sell Clarion. The Party on whose behalf I write don’t sell Clarion. My letter wouldn’t have sold any. Beside, it hit against the men of the Parties that do sell Clarion. It might have had a bad effect upon sales. Therefore, and so far as I can see only therefore, I am a “stodge-spinner” and am waste-papered.
All right. I don’t mind but—oh ! what a fall is here, my countrymen. What a descent from Olympian profession to Stygian practice. Poor old Clarion. Poor old Dangle.
(2) Wherein did my article contain “spiteful abuse” of Blatchford or anybody else ? Answer Dangle or withdraw. And please—I couldn’t help it if Blatchford didn’t see or hear of my letter. He is still Editor, isn’t he ? And—Dangle ! It occurs to me, speaking of Blatchford, that if he had had the same cause for writing that I had, and particularly if he had had the same case that I have, he would have run his article in weekly 4 column instalments over a period of six months at least, and yes, and then published it in book form ! You know he would.
(3) I stated the Clarion was filled with “piffle”? I? I said nothing of the sort. What I did say was that Blatchford would have called columns of what appeared “piffle.” If Dangle doesn’t believe it he should ask Blatchford himself.
Just another word. My friend Dangle appears to be absorbing some of the methods of the Yellow Editors whom he delights to pillory. He publishes sufficient of my statement to convey a false impression. He inferentially imputes certain beliefs to me which I do not hold, in order that he may have excuse for pouring out the vials of his strongest mixture of caustic and iron upon my head. His references to the flatulency of his correspondents, while doubtless intended to be scathing, are in exceedingly poor taste and if Dangle had been less hasty would probably never have been passed.
In short, my dear Dangle, you have in this matter adopted the methods that are cheap and nasty. And I am astonished !