Editorial: “The Red Peril” and its Methods

On another page of this issue we publish certain correspondence which has appeared in (or been suppressed from) the columns of our contemporary, “The Standard.”

As some of our readers may know, those responsible for the appearance of that daily pennyworth of unblushing falsehood, “The Standard,” have had recourse to that hoary old wheeze, the “Red Peril” crusade, as a means of working up a circulation. In the usual course, they baited the trap with the “Atheistic tendency of Socialism” lure, in the hope, of course, that the unco’ guid might plank down their heaven-sent coppers for the melancholy pleasure of learning how Socialism will imperil their precious souls.

This lay commended iteelf to various episcopal leeches, who do not see in Socialism any security for their lucrative idleness. A statement made by one of the lesser lights of the mental chloroforming institution, concerning ourselves, was such a disgustingly deliberate falsehood that we felt compelled to issue a denial, even though we knew the hopelessness of tilting at a parson engaged in the congenial occupation of scattering lies under the protection of the reptile Press.

The statement referred to was this: “There is a new society formed . . who put Atheism first in order of importance, aid Socialism afterwards. I refer to the Socialist Party of Great Britain.” (The reader is referred to the correspondence for the words which we have, for clarity’s sake, omitted.)

Now we are not concerned, and never have been concerned, to hide our antagonism to religion, as a form of error inimical to working-class interests. We proclaimed that from the housetops when we published our pamphlet “Socialism and Religion,” and in that direction our reverend antagonist could add nothing (as the correspondence shows) to what the Party have said.

But when the servant of God says that we put Atheism before Socialism he accuses us of being false to our Socialist principles, traitors to the cause we profess to embrace. He could not well say anything worse of us than that.

Mr. Drawbridge very soon discovered that he had bitten off more than he could chew. He had levelled an accusation, which he could not substantiate, and he began to wriggle. He did it with real or affected clumsiness. He first of all offers to withdraw his statement that “It is not generally recognised what a very large number of Socialists are Atheists” if it is incorrect, and by his remarks as to his experience, tries to make it appear that he thinks his statement that a fact concerning Socialists “is not generally recognised” is a statement that the fact exists. So Mr. Drawbridge offers to withdraw a statement which he never made.

Having endeavoured to make it appear that he is too big a fool to be a rogue, our opponent goes on to quote himself as follows “There is a new society formed whose speakers are very active in the open spaces, and who put Atheism first in order of importance, and Socialism afterwards,” and says: “If my statement with regard to their speakers is inaccurate I will very gladly withdraw it.”

Now the only statement regarding the speakers is that they are very active in the open spaces. We cannot doubt that the writer would “very gladly” withdraw that if it were not true. But it happens to be the only piece of truth in the quotation ; for it is not correct to refer to us as a new society, except in the sense of the fatted calf which was killed when the Irish prodigal returned, and which “was no ordinary calf, but a calf which had been cherished in the family for twelve years.”

Mr. Drawbridge’s object, however, is very clear, more especially in the light of his later letter. He is anxious to shoulder the slur of writing bad English in order that he might claim that it is the Party speakers who “put Atheism first in order of importance, and Socialism afterwards.”

Unfortunately for him, however, the Reverend twister made the mistake of bringing forward many quotations from our pamphlet “Socialism and Religion” in support of his first statement, and these nail his second lie to the counter. For the quotations from the pamphlet cannot possibly be evidence against the speakers, whatever they might prove against the party. Why, the very first of them proves that the writer put them forward against the Party, and not against the speakers. “I have in my hand,” he wrote, “their pamphlet’ Socialism and Religion,’ which states on page 6 that: ‘It is not issued as the view of individuals, but as an accepted manifesto of the Socialist Party on the subject.’ ”

No words could have said more plainly that the reverend penman was supporting a case against the Party, and not against its speakers. It gives the lie, completely and utterly, to the statement in his final letter—”I said, and I repeat, that speakers of the Socialist Party of Great Britain put Atheism first in order of importance, and Socialism afterwards.” He said nothing of the sort, and he knows it.

Further confirmation of this is contained in Mr. Drawbridge’s letter of December 27, where he says :

“But the reader can decide the point at issue for himself if he purchases the manifesto in question.” These words, following the statement that Mr. Quelch “argues . . that his society places Socialism first in order of importance (and the attack on Theism afterwards)” prove that the writer accepted as the point at issue, his statement that our party puts Atheism before Socialism.

The attempt to prove from the anti-religious character of one of our publications, that we are more concerned with Atheism than with Socialism, was in itself ridiculous. That pamphlet is No. 6. What of the previous five ? Do they count for nothing ? Even if Mr. Drawbridge had not himself demolished his accusation against the Party by taking refuge in the lie that he meant something else, it would be sufficient for us to point out that all his quotations no more prove us to be Atheists first and Socialists afterwards than his anti-Atheist activities prove him to be an anti-Atheist first and a Christian afterwards.

But the reverend gentleman is not satisfied with a disgraceful retreat. He must, under cover of a prostitute Press, descend to the particularly loathesome expedient of bearing false witness. He says in his final letter: “I recommended your readers to secure a copy of the pamphlet “Socialism and Religion,” and gave the name and address of the publisher. I have before me a letter from one who took my advice and sent sixpence for the penny pamphlet but has had no reply. . . If I have been unintentionally reticent with regard to the context from which my quotations were ‘torn,’ apparently there is also some lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Socialist Party of Great Britain with regard to the context.”

This is simply heaping lie upon lie. In the first place Mr. Drawbridge did not give the name and address of the publisher. It is plainly stated on the cover of the pamphlet that it is published by the Socialist Party of Great Britain at 10, Sandland Street, and the name and address our opponent gave was that of a trade agent, which is also plainly stated on the cover. Such “Christian evidence” makes even the tale of the tanner “suspect.” But it served his purpose equally well, false or true.

We owe Mr. Drawbridge nothing even for the recommendation to read the pamphlet, for that was merely a cunning effort to lend an air of verisimilitude to his charge.

As to our opponent’s statement that he is concerned “not with Socialism, but with Atheism,” the falsity of that is demonstrated by his letters. Where, in the whole length of them has he written one word of attack against the strong anti-religious case we have presented in our pamphlet ? His only concern has been to fasten upon the Socialist Party the charges that they are Atheists before they are Socialists, that they are cowards who are afraid to distribute their own pamphlets, and that they are thieves who steal money sent to them for literature—a nice catalogue of charges to have recoil upon his own head. But the fact that he has levelled them against us knowing them to be untrue proves that he is not so much concerned with Atheism as he is with Socialism. To say that we are Atheists first and Socialists afterwards is not to level a shaft at our Atheism, but at our Socialism ; and to say it untruly is to make it still more apparent that our traducer is lying again when he says that he is not officially concerned with Socialism. The Church, like the whole capitalist world, could much more easily forgive us for destroying God and his heaven than for abolishing private property.

As for the share of “The Standard” in this despicable business, little need be said. Their action in allowing an accusation of pilfering to be made against us, and then refusing us the opportunity of refuting the charge, proves to what unspeakable depths of terpitude and corruption modern capitalist journalism reduces its wage-slaves. A dog’s carcasse that has laid by the margin of a pool through a hot summer month is wholesome and sweet-smelling by comparison. However, it is a good day’s work for us and for Socialism that reveals so plainly and unmistakably that the authors of the “Red Peril” are not interested in telling the public the truth about Socialism and Socialists, but are simply concerned with earning their daily by the disgusting practice of slinging filth and dressing up lies in the garments of Truth.

Well, few of us can choose our trade, and the price overcomes many scruples. And the gentlemen who are paid to write such lies concerning political opponents, may in their day have been capable of playing a fair, sportsmanlike game of cricket, and perhaps, even now, do not cheat at cards ; but—we would rather play cards with someone else.

However, such men, such work, such alliance between prostitute Press and parasite Church, proclaims the truth of our propaganda from the housetops directly they let it be seen that they have nothing but li^s to oppose to it.

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