The Patriarch and the mote

Hyndman on compromise ought to be funny. The “International Socialist Review” for February provides the interesting combination. Come, let us guffaw together.

It is a long article and contains the usual verbal hydrogen which bulks so largely and weighs so little; the usual Hyndmanic hysteria and verbal stage-strutting in which the patriarch delights. The smile comes in when one reflects on the little omissions that appear to have been made. As instance : “In order to make sure of retaining their seats in the House of Commons at the General Election, both the Labour Party and the I.L.P. have come to terms with the Liberals in a manner which must shake all confidence in them in the future.” This, of course, is all very horrible, and no doubt deserves all the vituperation of which Mr. Hyndman is capable, but we do not observe any reference to Herbert Burrows’ letter to the Daily Chronicle asking for Liberal support. We agree that “when a body of men returned to Parliament to represent Labour interests exclusively and independently, enter upon a whole series of bargaining with the national and local organisers of one of the great capitalist factions they do an amount of mischief to the whole movement which they do not comprehend ; “but we must confess our inability to discover the remotest difference between that action and the slimy evolution of Quelch and the S.D.P. at Northampton. The Liberals of the boot metropolis are not decidedly differentiated from the Liberals of the rest of this country. On what grounds shall we exclude the Northampton attempted deal from the “whole series of bargainings” ? Logic supplies no answer other than the thoroughly patent fact that the S.D.P. and the I.L.P. differ in nothing but their initials. And even this difference is got over locally by selecting another set, such as L.R.C., T. & L.C., or what not, under cover of which intrigue, chicanery and political poltroonery receive different values. The pure and spotless S.D.P. as a party, tire not in their denunciation of the foul and rotten Labour Party, but no objection is raised to segments of the pure and unspotted former allianeing with the specked and flyblown latter, also in segments.

Without going over ground already covered in our columns we would like to contrast the ponderous piffle of the patriarch with actual recent events. “‘No compromise’ must be our motto and our policy irom the first and all through,” he says. Then please explain Camborne, Haggerston. Northampton, etc. “Let us take all we can get, but never let us sink our principles, or lower our flag, for any consideration whatever.” Contrast this with Qnelch’s reply to a questioner: “If we cannot get anything better than the Budget, I shall vote for the Budget.” Supplement the latter with Hyndman’s “a Budget which I do not hesitate to declare is as outrageous a fraud upon the people of the United Kingdom as any swindle which even the Liberals have as yet perpetrated—and that is saying a great deal.” Quite interesting, isn’t it? Says Hyndman : “No Socialist can admit the right of the House of Lords to throw out the House of Commons’ Budget, however bad it may be in principle and application.” And again (same article): “I look with sadness, not unmingled with contempt, on the manner in which the Socialists of the Labour Party have surrendered to the capitalist Liberals on the Budget, on the House of Lords and on the General Election.” And so on.

There is quite a touch of sadness in the sentence where he looks back, at the age of sixty-eight, over his thirty years of Socialist effort, and realises that he will not see its fruition in the Co-operative Commonwealth. But does Mr. Hyndman think it will be brought nearer by the advocacy of more Dreadnoughts and the adoption of a modification of conscription, as suggested by himself and jingo Blatchford at Burnley. We who are nearer twenty-eight can join in deploring the non-imminence of the Socialist Republic, but the tears of regret do not blind us to the fact that every year of the S.D.P.’s further existence puts the Revolution back ten. And we are out to smash you. We are young, most of us of the S.P.G.B., but we are awake. We were born slaves, we are slaves now, but we are not going to die slaves if we can help it. Life is very rapid. A little twink of time and we are no more. The sweets of life are very meagre and Capitalism has the larger hand. Capitalism has got to go. The S.D.P. by its program of patches, immediate demands and general piffle, stands, wittingly or no, for its continuance. So the S.D.P. must go too. Every year we knock off its life brings Socialism and sunshine ten years nearer. Says Hyndman in concluding : “It is for us to take care that we hand on the torch of revolutionary Social Democracy … to those who shall in turn take up the splendid task from us.” There are signs, however, that this curiously named fire-brand will burn itself out even before Hyndman & Co. relinquish it, and then perhaps the path may be the more clearly seen in the absence of its reeking smoke and uncertain flicker.


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