1910s >> 1910 >> no-69-may-1910

Editorial: Our Position

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, during the last General Election, took up the only attitude the working class, conscious of its own position, can assume, viz., contemptuous indifference for the intrigues of its masters for political power, with a determination of pushing the working-class point of view forward as the only one interesting it.

The capitalist class in selecting those questions upon which to summon its supporters among the workers to rally, necessarily has to choose from among those making the widest appeal, and the explanation of the “democratic” tendency imparted to modem electioneering is that the working class has to bulk largely in the programme in order to be persuaded to lend its polling strength to this or that set of the masters’ political servants. The Election of this year was eminently typical of this in placing so far to the front the question of those constitutional changes alleged to be designed for the safeguarding of the privileges of the “democracy” on the one side, and the more direct appeal to sections of workers on behalf of fiscal changes ostensibly designed for the purpose of improving trade and mitigating, if not solving, the particularly working-class question of unemployment on the other.

The utterly fraudulent nature of the first position is clear from the arguments put forward by the Peers themselves and their apologists in the Commons. The virtual rejection of the Budget was not effected directly by the Lords as a right, but was done in the name of democracy by referring it to the ultimate tribunal— the people; since when, those who support this action have been protesting that it never was, or will be, the intention of the Lords to stand between the definitely expressed will of the people and its legislative outcome. The very fact that they should have seen fit to cloak their action under the guise of democracy makes it abundantly clear that they recognise the undoubted power of the “people,” as represented in the Commons, to legislate in their own way at their own pleasure. The “Constitutional outrage,” therefore, that was put forward sufficiently successfully to invoke the support of the S.D.P. in shouting “Down with the House of Lords,” has no terror for the Socialist desiring to give expression to his readiness for the economic change he seeks, because he knows that, no matter how often you refer the question of Socialism to a Socialist working class, the vote will necessarily be “for” every time, and any such delay but strengthens his hand when the Peers give way. Which is not to say they will give way as readily on so vital a matter to their interests as Socialism, as they will on such an issue as the Budget, but the alleged “outrage,” so far as their defence has been carried, specifically maintains the final decision to rest with the people themselves. More than that no Socialist requires. It is not conceivable that Socialism can be forced on an unwilling or unready working class, who, when converted, can under existing political conditions—“outrage” as well —say so.

The “Tariff Reform” nostrum requires little demolishing. If all that were claimed for it by its advocates were taken as granted—increased business included—the position of the workers would still manifest the same relative position of poverty amid the increasing wealth they produce, and would still demand the same solution—ownership of the instruments they use.

That Socialist objective is the only thing that matters to us who are Socialists. Its achievement is possible whenever the bulk of our fellows are of like opinion, howsoever the political or other barriers are arranged by our opponents, the capitalist class; and its achievement is not possible while we have a minority, under any conceivable political or social circumstances. To produce that majority is the immediate object of the Socialist, by which time the movements of our rulers may have created a position entirely different from the present one in its political aspect. But in those movements we can have no part: they concern them, not us. We know that the economic position of our class is incapable of any essential improvement within the limits of capitalism, and are therefore out for its abolition, and we refuse to stay our hand from that work for anything any section of the masters like to propose for our temporary benefit economically, or for the alleged purpose of facilitating our movement politically. It is thus we make ourselves Socialists in the present, and it is thus we shall win Socialism in the future.

The present political situation makes more than ever necessary the Party which alone in this country is emphasising the need for conscious working-class action along political lines for the realisation of Socialism—the Socialist Party of Great Britain.