History proves the soundness of our position

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, of all the political organisations in this country, is the only one which stands solidly and consistently for the attainment of the Socialist system of society. Others (meaning, of course, political organisations) have displayed that compromise and trading resulting either from ignorance of the worker’s status under the present system, or from the fact that certain persons preferred personal aggrandisement to the straight path of a revolutionary party.

The innumerable instances quoted in the SOCIALIST STANDARD and the S.P.G.B. Manifesto are sufficient evidence of the treacherous nature of parties who parade as Socialists. But the S.P.G.B., since the day it was formed, has ever insisted upon this basis as the essential to working-class salvation—the imperative necessity of


The constant use by the capitalist class of that power to quell any semblance of revolt on the part of the workers ; the endeavour to terrorise our class with demonstrations of military force, must be an indication of the value of the armed forces to the master class.

We of the S.P.G.B. realise, then, that the primary function of a Socialist party is to capture political power. What transpires after that will depend upon the democratic decision of an enlightened proletariat.

The record of incidents in the development of society should be a means of assisting the workers to realise how powerful, how necessary, is political control. History is a formidable foe to those who harbour Anarchist and reformist ideas. Generally speaking, the history of most countries, according to the majority of historians, is a record of the likes and dislikes of kings and queens and their favourites and paramours. Interesting as all this may be, it is not, and from a scientific standpoint cannot be considered to be, the history of the race. History to is is but


of all mankind, in which process one nation plays but a small part.

Further, unless we realise that the records of one epoch result from the actions of a previous state, and that our actions are but the inevitable growth from a condition in society precedent to us ; unless we clearly grasp that fact, a correct view of history cannot be obtained. Moreover, the keener the investigation into history, the clearer becomes the position we, as a party, occupy in this country. For by historical reference we are more than fortified in our position. In fact, the Socialist Party are the only party who can justify their attitude by history.

To us every method of government,-whether it be monarchical, autocratic, plutocratic, theocratic or “democratic,” is tyrannical, since government implies a subject class in society. Let us get to the Athenian ascendancy for proof of this contention.

Athenian society originally was tribal. Later on the citizens were divided into classes principally on a private-property basis. Each section had political power corresponding to the volume of property it possessed. In Athens there existed a large population of propertyless slaves, who had no political rights of expression.

A remedy for such conditions being necessary, the famous constitutionalist and law-giver, Solon, so organised the political State that though the democracy had a voice, the aristocracy


in Athenian political life. Nor was Athens the only State where such happenings were recorded, for after the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus—the last of the seven Kings—from Rome in 509 B.C., the Romans swore they would never have another monarch.

Admirable as that may have appeared, it was in reality a further means for the nobility to suppress the “lower orders.” The Patricians and the Plebians were really the Aristocracy and the Commoners of the time. The latter had a split, and threatened to withdraw from the State unless there was some modification of the laws.

The masters (that is the controllers) of the political machinery, thereupon permitted a tribunate to be appointed, who were invested with power to veto certain actions of the Patricians. Then came the “Licinian Rogations,” due to combined action by the tribunes Licinius and Sextiud.

From the economic standpoint those laws, passed about 367 B.C., had no great value, and were purposely introduced to give the aristocracy greater power. It caused discontent to be stifled by grants of land to the plebians in all new territory conquered by the Romans. A later result of those laws was the extension of citizenship to the occupants of conquered cities, but with no political rights in the way of voting. The idea of the rulers in Rome was, “Keep what you like but let us have the political dominance.”

With the development in Rome came, too, the intermarrying of wealthy Plebians with the Patricians, with the result that the two sections became, socially and politically, a combination, and monopolised the public offices,


of the day. Further, the constant usage of the political power had caused many acts which had been passed to become dormant. An instance is the Hortensian law of 287 B.C., which finally permitted the Plebian tribes to make laws without the assistance of the Comitia Centuriata.

Another interesting matter is that though each city conquered by Rome was given local autonomy, in most cases they were subordinate to the officials appointed from Rome. That had a tendency to give loyalty to the Romans, who, as are the British with regard to Egypt and India, were simply inspired by the possession of private property in the interest of the ruling class.

After the futile endeavours of Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, still another incident transpired that proves our contention conclusively. It was the reorganisation of the army by Marius, and after his death the actions of Sulla in using that army. The latter proved master of the situation because he had control of the army.

Let it be clearly understood that Rome was in a state of anarchy at this time. She was unable to master her possessions owing to the


amongst the propertied classes.

Another fact illustrating the strength of the political power is afforded us by a reference to the actions of Constantine when he was at war with Maxeratius and Licinius for control of both the Eastern and Western Empires. Maxentius was defeated at Myvern Bridge, and Licinius, who hated Christianity intensely, was anxious to become emperor. Constantine, knowing full well that Licinius had great power, made Christianity a State religion, by which means he got greater support than ever. But for that incident Licinius would have defeated him, and Constantine would have become a cypher. The political exigences caused Constantine to extend his protection to the Christian or his power would have gone. With the support given him by converts to his curious mixture of Christianity and paganism he was enabled to overwhelm his rival and retain his throne.

Coming still nearer to the present time, we find that the wisdom of Charlemagne gives a voice in the government to the people. That voice was the bi-annual conferences he presided at “to hear the opinion of his people.” His control was so great that at his coronation the pope paid homage to him.

Perhaps the history of England may be viewed profitably to show that, whatever economic power any class possessed, they were always at the mercy of those who possessed the political power. If it was economic power that was the prime factor, how was it the Roman Catholic dominance was destroyed by Henry VIII ?

Perhaps it is unlikely that any Direct Actionist or other individual displaying


would deny that the control of Parliament by Halifax and Cromwell caused a change in the British Constitution in 1649. A fact ever illuminating in history is that a class that had acquired great wealth were never free to utilise that wealth to its fullest advantage unless it had first the control of the political machinery. The severest impediment to the capitalist in this country was the control and monopoly by the landlords prior to the Reform Bill of 1832. In order to give free and full development to industry ; in order to sanction and legalise the. robbery of the working class ; in order to-cheapen the cost of production, the present capitalist class were compelled to get political control. But that was simply the act in the final development of capitalism. Then our capitalist went to Parliament himself, but now he is leaving his work to paid hacks, lawyers, solicitors, and professional politicians.

The increasing productivity of the working class has solved the problem of production. Prior to the capitalist system the periodic panics and financial catastrophes were unheard of. Now we have them frequently, showing that even the ingenuity of the capitalist cannot avoid the ever intensifying control Capital has over the capitalist. No longer can he control the profit system—the latter completely dominates him, and that is why the working class will have to take control of the political force. That this is evident one can see from the way the capitalist uses the political machinery. Strikes and economic eruptions,


as they call them, are squelched (where the starvation process is not sufficient) by sending armed forces into the disaffected districts.

We desire to obtain immediately a condition of society wherein we will enjoy all the means of life to the utmost advantage, and our fellow-slaves must be made conscious of it. The naval and military section of the working class can be made to understand that; and surely, when intelligence becomes uppermost in their minds, they will see that life under democratic control is much better than the rigorous discipline under which they exist at present.

Those who hold political power dominate the country in which they live. Therefore we strongly appeal to the working class to exercise their intelligence and to examine this question from the historical standpoint. The Socialist Party of Great Britain have never deviated from the scientific position such an examination logically leads to. It remains for you to put yourself in agreement with that position and to join us, and to assist in the spreading of working-class enlightenment.


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