Unconsidered Trifles. Being Letters not hithero published

To the Editor of the Daily News.

Sir,— I observe in your issue of date that Mr. D. A.Thomas, M.P., has been threatening that unless the Government is prepared to bring in forthwith a radical measure of temperance reform, he will seriously consider the advisability of going over to the “Labour, Independent Labour, or Socialist Party.”

This I think is most kind and considerate of Mr. Thomas and I make no doubt that the “Labour and Independent Labour Party,” which is always on the look-out for persons of political or social standing, will be happy for the chance of welcoming the Welsh gentleman to its councils and adding his political scalp to the tent pole of its wig-wam. Particularly as he is in favor of a “radical measure of temperance reform,” which so far as I have noticed, represents the “Labour and Independent Labour Party’s” most revolutionary proposal. I cannot speak for that Party, but I can speak for The Socialist Party of Great Britain—the only real Labour Party of my knowledge—and on its behalf I must inform Mr. Thomas, M.P., that we cannot do with him.

Mr. Thomas would, I am sure, prefer to have it pointed out quite frankly that we have no use for M.P.’s whose political development has only reached the stage in which such grotesquely unimportant matters as temperance reform occupy pre-eminent positions. The Socialist Party has to deal with great working-class issues and until Mr. Thomas has given some evidence of his appreciation of those issues I am afraid it will be useless for him to apply for membership. Our measure of the fitness of a man to voice Labour’s claims is neither membership of a Westminster political club nor a standing in “Society,” but the indications he gives of a clear knowledge of the. working-class position, its causes and its only remedy, and of his determination to proceed to that remedy along the only lines that can logically be followed by any person claiming to be a Socialist, viz., the lines of relentless hostility toward all other parties of whatever political label.

This may sound strangely to Mr. Thomas but then clearly Mr. Thomas doesn’t understand. The Socialist can only justify his separate organisation upon the ground of the futility of all the other bodies claiming working-class support. Not being able consistently or honestly to support futilities or to stand by passively while his own object is obscured and his work frustrated, he must actively oppose. If he does not he is useless as a Socialist—worse than useless indeed. That is our complaint against all other political parties. If they are representing capitalist interests as is indisputably the case with the orthodox Liberal and Tory, they cannot represent working-class interests which are always and in every essential particular, in antagonism to capitalists’ interests,—witness Belfast where, by the way, Liberal sympathy with the workers in revolt under oppressive conditions, is manifesting itself in the same old way: through soldiery and quick-firing guns even as at Featherstone and Hull. If they are claiming to specially represent working-class interests (as in the case of the “Labour” Party falsely so called), they must establish their claim by giving evidence of their understanding of the working-class position and directly pointing their efforts to the overthrow of the prevailing (capitalist) method of production based upon the exploitation (robbery) of Labour. This evidence is entirely lacking and the conclusion is forced upon us that the “Labour” Party is either composed of ignorant persons, or those who have deliberately bartered their Socialist principles for the wages which the Party pays. If they are definitely asserting their Socialism as is the case (at times) with the Social-Democratic Federation, they are also, by supporting capitalist candidates, by arrangement with capitalist parties and by the propaganda of inconsequentialities sometimes called palliatives, nullifying any good effect of their occasional assertion of Socialism as admittedly the only hope of the workers, obscuring the class issue, confusing the working-class mind and, therefore, as Socialism is inconceivable apart from a class conscious working class, delaying the day of Labour’s emancipation.

For these reasons we are opposed to them all. For these reasons we claim to stand as the only party of the workers—the only Socialist Party in this island. And for these reasons we cannot at this stage of his development accept any application for membership from Mr. Thomas. It will save the gentleman some humiliation if he will try and understand this at once.
Yours etc.,



To the Editor of the Daily Express.

Sir,—I pray you be gentle. As you value truth—and how much you value truth the world knows well—be merciful. Say what you will; do anything that seemeth you fit, but spare us who are Socialists the dire infliction of the public association with our movement of the names of such gentlemen as the vice presidents of the Land Nationalisation Society or similar organisations—names like Thomasson, Cornwall, Macnamara, Bell, Vivian, and unkindest cut of all, Burns ! Scourge us not with whips like these. Have pity ! We do not deserve it—really !

And, oh ! Sir, tell the trenchant, virile, truthful and painstaking author, of your articles under this head, to take it from me that there is nothing subterranean about our propaganda. We are loudly, openly, and unblushingly preachers of discontent, organisers of working-class revolt, propagandists of a fierce, unrelenting war upon Capitalism and all its works and all its champions and must remain so while we remain Socialists, until the working class, with whose well-being we are solely concerned, shall have taken control of the political machinery and through that the whole of the land and other means of life, in their own interests. And we include among the works and champions of Capitalism all shufflers and intriguers, all misleaders whether styling themselves Labour men or otherwise, or whether merely fools or arrant knaves ; Liberals and Tories to a man, Constitutionalists and Tariff or Municipal Reformers so called, literary pimps and panders, journals with the largest circulations, and so on. All who do not accept Socialism as the only hope of the workers, all who are not with ms, are against the working class.

Of course we who are Socialists cannot help people taking our name in vain and working in dark ways for the realisation of their ends any more than you could help the good name of your paper (if it had one) being besmirched. But if these people think, as some of them, I believe, quite honestly do, to achieve Socialism by back-stair methods, they must be deplorably stupid people; and deplorably stupid people cannot be Socialists—any more than jingo editors can be honest. If they are not stupid they may be and probably are as you describe them, “political fakes working craftily in the dark” but they will be working for their own aggrandisement.

But that’s not our fault. Not every one who cryeth “Lord! Lord!” shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven ; and not every one who sayeth (on occasions) that he is a Socialist will come through an examination creditably. In short, we are not all Socialists now, notwithstanding a certain fat and be-knighted person’s notorious asseveration to the contrary. We repudiate these men of craft and do our best to let in the light upon the stupid; and we are continually exposing the working-class misleader. The young person with a passion for righteousness who spreads himself on your front page every morning, should read THE SOCIALIST STANDARD, the organ of The Socialist Party of Great Britain. He would then be able to get a notion of what Socialism means, the only way it can be realised and the only position a Socialist party can take-up. And he would learn that the Express is not a Socialist paper because it is presumably in favour of the nationalisation of the postal service; nor are Belgium and Germany Socialist countries because they have nationalised railways ; nor is Japan Socialist because she has a form of land nationalisation. And then he may discover to his (probable) surprise that a man may even be a “Constitutionalist,” an anti-Socialist, and a member of the “Socialist” Land Nationalisation Society ! I say probable because I have some reason to know that the writer is quite as well aware as I am that he is writing “piffle.”

However, I note with more than ordinary interest that you include in your latest, list of “Spies and ‘plants’ and political fakes who work craftily in the dark and fight under any colour but their own” the name of your erstwhile particular political pet, your own levelheaded labour-leader, your strong anti-Socialist fighter, Richard Bell, M.P., who, I conclude from your remarks, is really working insidiously for Socialism in the “Socialist” Land Nationalisation Society” ! I hope poor Richard will be properly grateful.

Finally, Sir, I don’t suppose for a moment that you will publish all this. What you will do (if you publish anything at all) will of course be to select those sentences which you think may in themselves look rather atrocious and arrange them in an order that will either seem to reflect upon the writer or support your contention. That of course is the pretty way usually affected by the Northclilfe-Pearson combination. But as I have taken the precaution of keeping a copy which I expect will appear in THE SOCIALIST STANDARD, it won’t greatly matter what you do.

Believe me, Sir,
Yours appreciatively,

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