Correspondence: Does this mean Tory Gold?

Dear Sir,— Will you kindly insert the following in your next issue, for the information of your members, and Socialists generally.

To the Editor of the Saturday Review

25th October, 1906.

Sir,- In your interesting article on the attitude of Conservatives to Socialism you remark that “Conservatives have no need to be frightened from their own principles by the name of Socialism. If Liberalism has had to desert individualism, and come round to the conception of State action operative in any and every sphere of social and industrial activity, Toryism has not had to execute any such volte-face.

This is not the only right-about turn the Liberals have executed. After a prolonged and fruitless effort to cajole us into an alliance with them they now threaten us with a crusade against Socialism—a threat which we deride as we derided their proffered alliance. With characteristic confusion of ideas they have mistaken Anarchism—the logical issue of their own political faith, though they are not courageous enough to face that fact—for Socialism, and it is a significant circumstance that representative Anarchists like my friend Kropotkin, are constantly rebuking Socialists for their hostility to the Liberal Party.

Antipathies are more irreconciliable than hatreds. The Socialist opposes both Liberal and Tory because they are prepared to defend in common a position of economic vantage which which they occupy jointly and from which the organised workers will have to oust them before they can enjoy the social freedom which is the field of conquest of democracy. To the extent that Tory and Liberal alike are determined to preserve private property in the means of life, there is, from the Socialist point of view, no difference between them, though a distinction is not difficult to discover between our irreconcilable antipathy to Liberalism and the sneaking regard we preserve for a party that never embraced the doctrine of “everyone for himself and the Devil catch the hindmost.” The Socialist attitude to Liberalism is one of unrelenting hostility; to Conservatism it is one of watchfulness. When the Tory Party is prepared to fight us we shall not decline the combat, and—God defend the right! In the meantime we are waiting to see how far you are prepared to go in such matters as the nationalisation of the railways or of mines. We share the opinion of your reviewer that “there are at least as many if not more Conservatives than there are Liberals who would be prepared to go with the Socialists” so far. As a member of the Executive of the oldest Socialist organisation in this country I cannot pledge myself that it will call upon its members to vote Tory if your party adopts in its program those two planks, but I am perfectly certain in which box Socialist voting paper would be dropped in constituencies where no candidate of our own are in the field. Liberal promises to support the same proposals would fail to catch Socialist votes because we know from experience the value of their election promises.

The difficulty about Socialism to which your reviewer refers—”that it has so many different meanings”—is more apparent than real. The root of the word indicates its meaning, but companionship can never exist between master and slave. Socialism seeks therefore to extinguish every form of servitude to which man has subjected his fellow-man. Wagedom is in some respects the worst form of slavery and we believe it will prove to be the last. We deny the title “Socialist” to anyone who refuses to assist the workers in their effort to emancipate themselves from wagedom, and we refuse it to the workers who hug their chains. Mr. Chiozza Money has been inviting us to drop the title and to be satisfied with that of Collectivist, which only proves that Mr. Money has not yet completed his education in Socialism. Socialists are Collectivists merely because we can discover no other economic basis on which to rear the Socialist superstructure.

The Labor Party in the House of Commons includes in its ranks a handful of Socialists but it is unkind to saddle us with any responsibility for the Radicalism and Liberalism of the majority, and by so doing your reviewer wounds our keenest susceptibilities. It took twenty years’ active propaganda among the trade unionists before we could induce them to abandon their motto “No Politics” ! and we cannot expect them to complete their education more rapidly than Mr. Chiozza Money is perfecting his knowledge of Socialism. They prelude the advent in the House of Commons of a social-democratic party whose influence will soon rival that exercised by our colleagues in the German Reichstag and in the French Chamber of Deputies. When we have pushed aside the Liberals we shall be ready to cross swords with the Conservatives. In the meantime we may continue to preserve mutual respect. Yours faithfully,


P.S.— The above letter appeared in the Saturday Review, 27th Oct., 1906.
The italics are our own.—[ED.]

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