1900s >> 1908 >> no-49-september-1908

‘A Banner with a Strange Device.’

The Shoreditch Branch of the Social Democratic Party has a banner of which, no doubt, the members are exceedingly proud. It bears what at first sight would appear “a strange device.” But when one recollects the hopeless confusion obtaining in the ranks of the S.D.P., when one remembers its pro-capitalist tactics and propaganda, ’tis not such a very strange device after all. “Reform Delayed is Revolution Begun” it reads, but it must not be regarded as an injunction to the working class to oppose reform with the object of beginning the revolution. That is not the intention of the Social Democratic Party, as is evident by a reference to the list of “immediate reforms” (commencing with the most immediate— “the Abolition of the Monarchy”) of which its program is composed, it appears on the S.D.P. banner as a warning note to the exploiters. “Do you wish the revolution delayed?” asks the S.DP. of these, “because if you do, pass the reforms we advocate in our program. We know,” they sometimes add, “these will not affect the position of exploiter and exploited in the least, still, pass them as soon as possible.” They will assist the exploiters to maintain their supremacy, and therefore it will be to their interest to pass them.

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If any member of the Shoreditch or any other branch of the S.D.P would like to dispute the conclusions we of the S.P.G.B. draw, the columns of The Socialist Standard are always open. We may, after all, be wrong. We are not popes and claim no infallibility. We are always willing, and indeed anxious, to hear the other side, and to give all our readers an opportunity to hear it also. We know the Social Democratic Party claim that they object to palliatives “if they obscure the issue.” Well, what is the issue? Briefly, it is that so long as capitalism endures the workers must be poor. Exploitation of the working class by the master class is the essence of capitalism. Exploitation means that the wealth which the working class alone produce is taken from them, and therefore they are poor, degraded, brutalised. The master class will not get off the backs of the working class as the result of appeals by the S.D.P. or anybody else. The workers will he enslaved so long as they remain there, and therefore nothing but the establishment of the Socialist Republic will avail. The advocacy of anything short of this obscures the issue, side-tracks the working class, causes them to devote their energies to reforms instead of to organising for the revolution, and ultimately lands them in the bog of disappointment and despair. If, as members of the S.D P. sometimes state, they are opposed to the advocacy of reforms if they obscure the issue, they should at once give up the program by which they set such store, and work only for the revolution. That, of course, means leaving the S.D.P. and joining the S.P.G.B.

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