1900s >> 1908 >> no-46-june-1908

The damn’d grotesques

    The S.D.P. annual Conference laboured mightily and brought forth several gems. I hasten to rescue some of them from an unhonoured and unsung obscurity, and give them the benefit of our rapidly increasing circulation.

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    First Mr. Quelch presents his compliments and begs to say there is no such thing as a Socialist Party of Great Britain. He wishes there was. And yet “Fighting Carmichael,” “Camborne Jones,” and a host of other young bloods out of the camp of the Quelches were largely occupied at Manchester with appealing to their comrades to hold them back in case they (the young bloods) should “go for” certain members of ihe Socialist Party of Great Britain who insisted upon preaching Socialism as against Danirvinism—the name given to the queerest lot of rant, cant, and fustian extant.

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    Quite apart from the reports the young bloods undoubtedly gave him, Mr. Quelch has many excellent reasons for knowing of the existence of the S.P.G.B. So excellent that Mr. Quelch is probably mortally anxious to escape the necessity for dealing with us other than in the dark and devious ways that seem to delight him.

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    But if there is no such thing as a Socialist Party of Great Britain, what have the “old gang” got to say about it? They have “borne the heat and burden of the day,” as Quelch would phrase it, for thirty years, in an endeavour to build up the Socialist Party that Harry Quelch laments does not exist. Harry will not admit us as the S.P.G.B., and yet there is no other ! For he himself has said it. But it’s a most depressing admission—for him and the “old gang.” However, we refuse—it’s most ungracious of us—but we refuse to consider ourselves dead, even to please Mr. Quelch. We ought to have died within a few weeks of our birth, but somehow or other we’ve hung on, increasing our membership and the sales of our literature for four years. And so far as I can see we shall have to keep on going on.

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    For example, it took a member of the S.P.G.B. to polish off Lawler Wilson of the Tariff Reform crowd. Wilson had met the champions of several of the parties misrepresenting themselves as Socialists, and as he is a fairly ‘cute chap, and his opponents’ parties had records that will never come out of the wash with credit, Wilson had a gorgeous time. He came to Battersea Town Hall, therefore, rather cock-a-hoop, and—a packed audience saw him die.

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    This isn’t bounce, it’s truth. Ever heard of truth, Harry ?

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    Apparently Harry is not prepared to recognise any organisation until it is as big as his own. That is an excellent reason for the I.L.P. ignoring the S.D.F., for the “Labour Party” ignoring the I.L.P., and so on. But then Harry would call the I.L.P. names, among which “cowards” would he the mildest, and something with several B’s in it among the stronger !

    o o o

    Harry is fond of “langwidge” and big things—particularly S.D.P. big things. That’s why Jack Jones finds favour in his sight. Happy Jack!

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    And that reminds me. Jack Jones at the Conference gave off this: “Correspondence is the curse of democracy.” A delegate had attacked the S.D.P. Executive for not doing what the Conference had instructed it to do, and had read the letter (“unwisely,” says Justice) the Executive had sent in reply. “Unwisely ” is a good word, but it barely meets the case.

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    The purport of that letter has already appeared in this journal. It was to the effect that the S.D.P. opposition to “Lulu” Harcourt in the Rossendale Valley had been withdrawn partly, at any rate, for the reason that Harcourt was a better chap than many of his colleagues ! As if from a Socialist standpoint there were degrees of goodness among capitalist politicians.

    o o o

    Undoubtedly the letter was read “unwisely.” It isn’t wise to let the rank and file of the Party know that such views are held by their executive officers. They may begin to have doubts. And Happy Jack was right in the circumstances when he said correspondence was a curse—not a curse in itself, of course, but the very devil of a curse when it is read to others for whose ears it is not intended.

    o o o

    But this method of secret diplomacy is, of course, vide H. M. Hyndman (same Conference), “wholly undemocratic and dangerous, tending to the support of despotism and the maintenance of corruption and intrigue.” But in the conduct of a supposedly far more democratic organisation it is very good and very necessary, while the publication of correspondence is a curse. We are lovely democrats in the S.D.P. !

    o o o

    Still, one can understand Happy Jack’s disgust. He is doubtless still painfully aware that Camborne is standing on the map. And I wonder whether it was his experiences in that delectable district that led him to the conclusion that it was desirable to get somebody—”a good cadger” was Hyndman’s felicitous term—”to get down into other people’s pockets without them knowing it.” Nice anti-secret-diplomacy chap, Jack,

    o o o

    On this matter of the Rossendale Valley contest, it is of some little interest to observe that “there is no folly in striking a blow for Social-Democracy wherever it can be done as effectively as it was at North-West Manchester, with the result of demonstrating to our enemies that there is no position too strong for us to assail.” (Justice, 2/5/08.) Apparently it can’t be done effectively at Rossendale, although they have more branches in that division than they have members in N.W. Manchester !

    o o o

    It would, in the circumstances, be nice to know what the sapient editor of Justice regards as an effective strike at capitalism. And I wonder what, if any, correspondence, that “curse of democracy,” has passed between the anti-secret-diplomatists at Chandos Hall, and the “good capitalist” party in Rossendale.

    o o o

    Also I should like to know what F. Davey, of Paddington, and others interested, now think of the reply of the editor of Justice to the statement published by us on the reasons for the withdrawal of the S.D.F. Rossendale candidate.

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    This reply characterised our report as misleading and untrue. According to the Justice report of the S.D.P. Conference, however, it was quite true. Oh, the curse of this unwise correspondence !

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    And how does this square with the S.D.P. Executive’s statement that “Lulu” Harcourt had improved his position—become more democratic, more sympathetic to Labour, and so on ? “Harcourt had certainly a greater grip on the capitalist parties and would get more Tory votes than before.” (Fred Knee, S.D.P. Executive representative at Conference.)

    o o o

    That either means that Harcourt is getting more into favour with the capitalist class, or it means nothing. And that’s the way Harcourt is improving his position and finding favour in the S.D.P.’s sight !

    o o o

    Another matter. I cannot fill the paper with S.D.P. Conference absurdities, lies, and contortions, although it would be the easiest matter in the world. We are for ever being asked why we continually attack the S.D.P., I.L.P., and other parties “who are coming along to the same goal as ourselves.” Our reply is contained in the foregoing—a fair sample of the pitiable, if ludicrous, position the strenuous endeavours of the S.D. and I.L. Parties to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds are for ever landing them into.

    o o o

    These parties are appealing to the working class for support. The working class does not know what it is letting itself in for if it responds to the appeal. Therefore we do what we can to open its eyes ; or at any rate we have taken the precaution of repudiating any responsibility for S.D.-I.L.P. action. When, therefore, the storm breaks and swamps the time-servers in a deluge of the wrath of the once deluded working class, we shall be in the ark with the blessed.

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    Ever heard of the Ark, Harry ? No, you’re wrong. It isn’t a public-house.

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    Which again reminds me. The S.D.P. are “agin” the Licensing Bill. The l.L.P. are largely for it—most enthusiastically. Another case of unity of idea among the forces of progress.

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    What is our view of the Licensing Bill ? It leaves us unmoved. It doesn’t matter a tinker’s anathema. It’s part of the great game of political “coddem”—if that’s how the word is spelled.

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    I was going to refer to the repudiation by the S.D.P. Conference of Gott, of Bradford, a S.D.P. member suspected of the intention of issuing an agnostic pamphlet about Christ, the enemy of the human race. This might injure Danirvinism in North-East Manchester. Wherefore the S.D.P. solemnly repudiated the pamphlet and worked off its stock cant resolution about religion being a private and personal affair,

    o o o

    Now perhaps they will repudiate Blatchford and his anti-Christian books. Because Blatchford holds the anti-Christian propaganda of such importance that he would put it in the forefront of the battle.

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    Will the S.D.P. repudiate him ? Not much. You see Blatchford is a sort of important person and Gott is not. And the S.D.P. Executive are keen on important persons.

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    Sometimes, however, the important person, having been roped in, fails to exhibit becoming respect towards his loving parent organisation. There’s the.unhappy case of H. G. Wells, who burst upon North-West Manchester with two columns of advice to the elector to vote against Darwinism and S.D.P.-ism.

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    Of course Wells is merely an insufferable person whose hat is too small for him, and the present Justice estimate of his Socialist knowledge is fair enough. “Nobody but himself takes Mr. Wells seriously.” A novelist of the Jules Verne school who “thinks he knows something about Socialism” but doesn’t, and so on. But readers of Justice will clearly remember the great chortle with which Justice welcomed the addition to the ranks of the S.D.P. of the great thinker, the literary genius, Wells.

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    ALEGRA

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