Socialist Unity

This question has agitated such pseudo Socialist organisations as the I.L.P., the Fabian Society, and the S D,F. (the latter now known as the B.S.P.) for years past. But for the last two years it has been a “burning question” with the B.S.P., and although attempts have been made to secure “Socialist unity” by uniting these anti Socialist organisations, they have been, and must continue to be, failures.

The cause of this failure is obvious and sim­ple. They can find no common standpoint. It is the irony of their fate that the very thing which prevents them being Socialist prevents them attaining even quasi-Socialist unity.

This thing which keeps them apart is the lack of understanding of the working-class position. Out of ignorance of this position spring all those divergences of opinion which not only keep them from uniting on a basis for which the description “Socialist” would be a shameful misnomer, but prevent them realising unity on a Socialist basis, in the only place in which it can be realised—the place in which, indeed, it is realised—in the Socialist Party.

The lack of this understanding deprives them of all legitimate claims to be Socialist organisations, and being Socialist only in name (or not even in that in most cases) it is childish of them to talk of Socialist unity.

To be a Socialist the recognition of the Class Struggle and what it implies is necessary. A large section of the above parties not only do not recognise that a war exists between the capitalist class and the working class, but deny that it exists. Other sections admit the exist­ence of the Class Struggle, and at the same time proceed to lead the workers into traps laid by the ruling class, thus vindicating the claim of the S.P.G.B. that they are assisting the capital­ist class, and therefore must be opposed by the Socialist Party.

Having made these assertions I will bring witnesses from these parties to prove them.

It is not necessary to go at length into details as to how the I.L P. and Fabian Society have perpetrated frauds on the workers, as it is fast becoming recognised that they are nothing but a part of the Liberal party, and one statement which has never been contradicted will suffice to bear out my assertion.

Mr. Philip Snowden, after admitting the ex­istence of an arrangement between the Liberals and the Labour Party, made the following statement:

“If the Labour Party Executive had en­dorsed a second candidate for Leicester, it would have jeopardised the seats of four fifths of the present Labour Members. It is no use putting forward every reason except the true one. The present Labour representation in Parliament is there mainly by the goodwill of the Liberals, and it will disappear when that goodwill is turned into active resentment.” (“Labour Leader,” June 26, 1913.)

Thousands of other equally damning state­ments against the I.L P. could be adduced if it were necessary.

With regard to the B.S.P. more must be said.

On September 30th ami October 1st 1911, a “Socialist Unity” conference was held at Caxton Hall, Salford. This was attended by members of the I.L P. and S.D.P. mainly, and after two days talking the nett result was the changing of the S.D.P. into the B.S.P., and the unity of a few more confused persons.

As a basis of union, F. Burgess (I.L.P.), Stoke Newington, moved the following: “That the only basis for Socialist unity is to proclaim for Socialism only, and that there shall be no political alliance with any non Socialist or Labour body.”

Further, one of the methods in the Constitu­tion is as follows :

“The establishment of a militant Socialist party in Parliament and on local bodies com­pletely independent of all parties which support the capitalist system.”

The unity of this body did not last after the rising of its inaugural meeting, and to prove this let us take its own evidence.

Firstly, some of the ways it proclaims “So­cialism only.” “Justice,” March 9th, 1912, advocated the supporting of the Tory against the Liberal at the St. Rollox bye election, and again in its issue of May 25th, 1912, it advised the workers in two bye-elections (Norfolk and South Hackney) to vote Tory and so deal a blow at the present Government.

Dealing with the coal strike, the London Committee of the B.S.P. issued a special leaflet, and a paragraph in reference to it in. “Justice” of March 16, 1912, contains the following : “It demands that the Government should stop this robbery, and calls for the national ownership of mines, thus securing a decent wage for the miners and coal for the people at half the ordinary price.” But to add to its record of inconsistency the Executive Committee of the B S.P. issued a manifesto to the strikers giving them advice, and after a warning against treach­ery comes the following : “remember also, that mere government ownership is no remedy. The sweating and tyranny in the Post Office are conclusive evidence of that.”

So inside one week the workers are told (1) that national ownership will secure “decent wages,” and (2) that sweating will prevail under national ownership !

However, when one knows the composition of the B.S.P. one ceases to be surprised.

Take the following, from the private official paper of this weird organisation, the “Socialist Record” (Feb. 1913) : “I [the writer of the article, Mr. F. Edwards] know one branch of the Party which will not sell ‘Justice’ or the ‘Clarion’ because they advocate piffling reforms. One branch seriously discussed the expulsion of two members who publicly referred to nationalisation of the mines at the time of the coal strike. One branch engaged several speakers advocating different policies.
“One speaker declared for nothing but the Revolution, and another for everything that would help on the Revolution. One speaker said that what was wanted was class-conscious poli­tical action, whilst another urged that nothing but Industrial Unionism would serve.
“One branch has the words : ‘Socialism and Syndicalism the only Hope of the Workers’ emblazoned on its banner. Some branches will only sell the pamphlets recommended by a certain speaker who is not a member of the Party, and they ignore the suggestions of the Executive Council.”

The above quotation is backed up by Mr. Hunter Watts, who writes in “Justice” (March 8, 1913):

“Labourites and Syndicalists, Idealists and Realists, anti-politicals and champions of political action, have all of them embarked in the B.S.P. boat, and are all rowing in different directions, though each avers he is steering for the one port—Socialism.”

Furthermore, an article in the “Socialist Record” of May 1913, by an expert confusionist, Mr. F. H. Gorle, gives an idea of how united this B.S.P. is on essentials.

“Some of the resolutions on the Conference Agenda show an amusing diversity of opinion. Gorton ‘believes that the B.S.P. must definitely and emphatically declare that it cannot work with any other party.’ Pollockshaw says the B.S.P. should affiliate to the Labour Party.
“Derby is of the opinion that ‘no branch’ should enter into any alliance with the Labour Party for elections both local aud national. South Salford declare that we must be neutral, but our members must work only for their own party.
“Erith demands that ‘no member shall join any party which professes to have for its object the same aims and inspirations as ours.’”

The late H. Quelch (“Justice” 29.3.13) deplored the fact that the time of the E.C. was largely taken up by squabbles owing to its Anarchist or Syndicalist members, and advised the B.S.P. members to bear this in mind when electing the new executive. In other words, kick out the Syndicalists.

But what is the present attitude of the B.S.P. towards these Syndicalists who they admit are opposed to Socialism ?

In the E.C. minutes of Sept. 27th and 28th, published in the “Socialist Record” for Jan. 1914, a “letter was read from the Gorton branch returning the cards and stamps for the Parliamentary Levy, with a general expression of opinion against political action.”

It was decided to point out to them that “the whole tone of their letter was against the political object of the B.S.P.” They were asked to rescind their decision, and do their best to collect the levy. The minutes of the next meeting re­corded that “Gorton branch again returning cards and stamps for the Parliamentary Levy, with a definite refusal to subscribe the levy, it was pointed out that the branch was nearly 12 months in arrear with the ordinary dues to Central Office, and no satisfactory assurances being forthcoming, it was decided to suspend the branch under rule 9 for non-payment of dues, and they were to be warned that unless the arrears of dues were paid and Parliamentary Levy loyally collected and remitted to the Central Office, the Conference would be recommended to dissolve the branch.”

Fancy a political party in conference being recommended to dissolve a branch that has de­clared against political action !

Again—and this reference must be the last, although one could go on—on page 2 of a leaf­let coupled with membership form of B.S.P. we find the following by Victor Grayson :

“The I.L.P. is no longer a Socialist party, at least while it remains a component part of the Labour Party.”

Mr. H. M. Hyndinan said in “Justice,” (Nov. 16, 1912) : “As a member of the International Socialist Bureau, I strongly opposed the admission of the British Labour Party to representa­tion on the Bureau, as well as at the International Congresses, because it was not, and is not, a Socialist Party in any shape or way, but is, on the contrary, an anti-Socialist party.”

Three paragraphs from the “Socialist Record” of July 1913 will fit in here.

“E. R. Hartley was publicly adopted as Socialist and Labou candidate the following evening, and the contest was entered upon.
“The relations between the B.S.P. and the local Labour bodies during the contest were of a most cordial character, and valuable support was rendered to Hartley’s candidature by active and prominent members of the local Labour bodies.
“Up to the evening of Thursday, June 19th, the date on which the Labour Party Head-quar­ters finally refused to sanction Alderman Banton’s candidature, the B.S.P, studiously refrained from any action which would embarass either the National Labour Party or the Leicester Labour Party, or prejudice their decision.”

Please re-read the basis of union resolution previously quoted and it will show you another S.D.P. somersault.

I am afraid I have been rather lengthy in my survey, but the trickery and ignorance of these bodies is very extensive, aud the semi-privacy of the B.S.P. makes it necessary that the ground should be covered. It is very difficult to get copies of the official orgin of the B.S.P.—the “Socialist Record”—but when one can do so it is a revelation of confusion and discord that makes their aspirations toward unity laughable.

T. W.

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