The Growth of Labor Faking. And its Fruits

The Work of the S.P.G.B.
If the birth of the Socialist Party of Great Britain five years ago did not exactly sound the death-knell of Labour-fakerdom, it at least laid the foundation of the revolutionary Socialist movement in this country—a movement that, owing to its sound, invincible principles, must in spite of many vicissitudes eventually succeed in sweeping completely out of existence the present reactionary labour movement, which is so magnificantly serving the capitalist class as a powerful brake upon the wheel of the Social Revolution.

When in June 1904 a number of determined, uncompromising Socialists left the (then) Social Democratic Federation (now S.D.P.) and established the S.P.G.B., it was not, as interested labour misleaders even now assert, to spite the S.D.F. or to attain position and admiration in a sphere where there were better opportunities.

No, they took up this struggle against tremendous odds because they had come to the conclusion that all working-class organisations then existing in this country, including the would-be-Socialist S.D.F., clearly served the purpose of aiding the capitalist class in their efforts to gull and chloroform the workers, thus preventing it from understanding the need for and means of its entire emancipation.

The S.D.F., during the early years of its existence, although even then victimised by eager office-seekers and charlatans, at least carried on a revolutionary propaganda, and its branches and members refrained from compromising with the possessing class.

But with the advent of the Independent Labour Party in the early nineties, the ambition and greed of S.D.F. “leaders” burst forth in a keen combat for the sweets of office in Trade Unions, and for supremacy in the political field. The “new Trade Unionism,” which was to be used by the S.D.F. “stalwarts” for “Socialist” permeating purposes, proved an easy and most effective means of adding to the then already large number of labour fakers, a motley crowd of would-be-revolutionist permeators, who, in the long run, turned out to be far greater mis-leaders of the working class than any of the pure and simple labour men.

The Pot and the Kettle
And when some years later the labour-misleading was extended to the political field and the Labour Representation Committee sprang into existence, subsequently succeeded by the official Parliamentary Labour Party, the S.D.F. champions of reform and compromise moved heaven and earth in the effort to succeed in their competition for political “prestige” against the “labour” crowd who, then, according to S.D.F. opinion were merely the tail-end of the Liberal Party.

But this was only a pious opinion on the part of the S.D.F., who for some time joined the Labour Representation Committee, to leave it because this avowedly non-Socialist body would not permit the affiliated S.D.F. to run its candidates as Social Democrats.

This formally leaving the L.R.C. did not, however, mean that the crafty string-pullers of the S.D.F. had given up all idea of co-operating (as Mr. H. Quelch calls it) with the class unconscious labour movement. On the contrary, the knowing E.C. of the S.D.F. encouraged and even ordered their branches to join the local Labour Representation Committees, which by now have everywhere swallowed up the S.D.F. branches.

Thus while at annual conferences and in the pages of Justice the organisation repudiates the idea of affiliating to the Labour Party, S.D.P. branches and members are financially and actively supporting that party through the local Labour Representation Committees.

When in 1900 Mr. Will Thorne broke with impunity the rules of the S.D.F. and ran as Parliamentary candidate for South West Ham under the auspices of the non-Socialist Labour Party, good S.D.F’ers shut their eyes to the fact. Mr. Thorne has since remained a faithful member of the Labour Party, and to-day can boast of having as one of his colleagues Mr. Hancock, M.P., the hero of Mid-Derby, who was so heartily supported and congratulated by the Liberal Party through the Featherstone butcher Asquith and the Radical trickster Lloyd-George.

Our Forecast is Vindicated
Writing in the SOCIALIST STANDARD in 1904 (October issue) on “The Futility of Reform,” we concluded by saying :

“We have, therefore, to recognise all the time that it is only possible to secure any real benefit for the people when the people themselves become class conscious, when behind the Socialists in Parliament and on other bodies there stands a solid phalanx of men clear in their knowledge of Socialism and clear in their knowledge that the only way to secure the Socialist Commonwealth of the future is to depend only upon the efforts of themselves and those who have the same class-conscious opinions. Therefore we have no palliative programme. The only palliative we shall ever secure is the Socialist Society of the future gained by fighting uncompromisingly at all times and in every season.”

And in an article in the March 1906 issue of our organ, entitled : “Labour at the Polls” we wound up with the following statement:

“Sufficient has been said to show the hollowness of the claim that there has been a victory for Labour or a triumph for Socialism. If further evidence is required one has only to take the declarations of the successful candidates as to why they won and what they think should be done. Free Trade, Trades Disputes Bill, Chinese Labour and the like. There is only one phrase that will express the result was a victory for capitalism

A victory for Capitalism
And to-day, looking at the results of the reform and palliative propaganda of the Labour Party, Independent Labour Party, and S.D.P. inside and outside Parliament, we may emphatically add to the above our present pronouncement, namely: The parliamentary career of the Labour Party has proved a tremendous boon to the Capitalist class.

To the manner in which the “Labour” M.P.s sought and received the suffrage of the unhappy class-unconscious workers we need hardly refer in this place. Those of our readers who desire to know all about it or wish to refresh their memories are earnestly recommended to read the March 1906 issue of this paper.

Being prepared to criticise the Labour Party and their would-be-Socialist allies on the basis of their own pretences we shall here take it for granted that all the Social Reforms since 1906 were inspired and forced through Parliament by the Labour Party.

Let us see. First came the Trades Disputes Bill.—Sequence, capitalists don’t bother very much whether Trade Unions use their funds for lock-outs or strikes, as they (the capitalists) are pretty sure to come out right side up, while police interference with pickets goes on just the same.

Then followed the glorious Compensation Bill.—Result, one worker in ten thousand is compensated and hundreds, nay thousands, of them, especially those getting a little feeble and over thirty-five years of age, are discharged from or refused employment because the Insurance Companies will not take the risk.

After that the great measure of “feeding the children” an optional law. Result, wherever adopted wages tend more rapidly downwards, as the workers are able to offer themselves more cheaply to the employer, their requirements being partly attended to ”out of the rates.”

Hyssop and Vinegar
Next came the mighty Old Age Pension scheme of 5s. per week at 70 years of age (except for those who have been in prison, or [worse] have received poor relief). Result, the capitalists save 7s. 6d. per head, as it costs on the average quite 12s. 6d. per week to keep a “pauper” in the workhouse. We do not lay stress on two “minor” points, namely, that the average life duration of the worker is about 33 years and that they are now generally considered too old for work at forty.

It is, indeed, amusing to hear the members of the I.L.P. and S.D.F. allege that Parliament did not pass the “Right to Work” Bill of the Labour Party because it contained the “germ” of the solution of the unemployed problem. Such argument only proves that these men do not understand capitalism or the position of the capitalist class. There are, indeed, few wide-awake capitalists now-a-days, who do not know that it would be sheer, downright class suicide were they to seek the abolition of unemployment. Why the capitalist Parliament did not pass the “Right to Work” Bill was because they know that it is economically impossible to carry it through under the capitalist system. But the capitalists are artful enough to understand that a great number of unsophisticated workers firmly believe in the Bill being “a step in the right direction,” and worth fighting for. Why then should the capitalists be stupid enough to pass the measure and prove in that way its impracticability, and so force the attention of the reform-mongers in the direction of revolution, that is, Socialism ?

Coming to Mr. Lloyd-George’s wonderful “democratic Budget” (which was inspired, they say, by Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P., I.L.P., P.L.P., etc.), the enthusiastic support given it by the Labour Party (even the “revolutionary” Will Thorne does not squirm) shows that these people are nought else than so many masquerading Radicals, playing into the hands of the capitalist class, while thousands of ignorant but honest proletarians still think that they (the Labour Party) are doing something for them. Fancy ! here are these “great Socialists” in Parliament kidding the workers that the little quibble between thief land-owner and pickpocket industrial capitalist will result in returning to the workers more and more of that “blessed uneared increment so unjustly retained by those very wealthy chaps,” you know. And that in face of the fact that the workers are getting worse off every day !

Finally, we must refer to the Labour Exchanges and insurance against unemployment proposals. The former is indeed a good and easy way to facilitate the separating of the young, sturdy and cheap workers from the old, feeble and more expensive. While the latter, like the Old Age Pensions law, is merely an instalment of that reshaping of the Poor Law system so often promised, a readjustment that will leave the workers if anything worse off than at present, for it does not even pretend to lessen unemployment, and tends to weaken what organisation the workers have, to the greater extension of capitalist control.

In placing the forgoing brief survey of the recent history of labour-faking before the thoughtful wage workers we hope to render a service to our class, and believe that, enlightened by the information contained in our “Manifesto” and in the SOCIALIST STANDARD they will at last throw off those who throttle them to-day, and see that only Socialism is the workers’ programme. Fortunately, there are many signs at hand that the rank and file of the S.D.P. and I.L.P. are growing tired of their leaders’ compromise with the Liberal Party and of the reform and palliative propaganda in face of the inevitable increase of poverty, unemployment, and insecurity of occupation among the workers. Let us therefore plod on with our revolutionary propaganda ! The truth of uncompromising Socialism is bound to conquer at no distant period over the combined forces of capitalism and labour-fakerdom.

H. J. N.

Leave a Reply