B.S.P. “Which horse do they ride?”
“Henceforth, possibly, we shall know whether it is Ramsay the national recruiting agent, or Macdonald ‘peace at any price’ politician who is ad¬dressing the public, and similarly with those other dual personalities, Keir and Hardie, Bruce and Glasier, etc., etc. Which horse do you ride, com¬rades, the white or the skew-bald ? ”
So wrote Mr. Hyndman in the “Sunday Herald” of March 28th, 1915, and it may, indeed, be difficult for the layman to say which horse the I.L.P. is astride. Some of its members, like Parker, M P., are foremost in their support of the “allies,” and are strenuously assisting the masters “to justify the war and glorify Great Britain’s share in the responsibility for its pestilential presence,” if we may quote his fraternal comrade Jowett. It is plain to the thinker with any degree of clarity that the I.L.P. is pursuing the old “facing both ways” policy in order to confuse the worker, and to enlist support from all sides.
Where, however, stands the organisation of which Mr. Hyndman is so shining a light, the “British Socialist Party,” the party that so short a time ago startled the world with its manifestoes hurling defiance to the master class and all its labour supporters, breathing fire upon all forms of compromise and reform ? Which horse does it ride ? Neither white nor skew-bald nor pied, but a new sort of horse, with many of the qualities of the ass, and with an outer covering of a rainbow hue.
A report of the voting at divisional conferences states that the conference “urged the party to take no part in recruiting meetings under any conditions whatever” and that the “conference regrets that the Executive Committee should have recommended members and branches under any circumstances whatever, to associate themselves with the recruiting campaign.” One resolution, carried by 97 votes to 24, declares the war to be “the outcome of commercial rivalry between the capitalists,” asserts that “the workers have no quarrel,” and “calls upon the working class to concentrate on class war,” declaring that the workers’ conditions make it “vital for them to organise for the over¬throw of the capitalist system.”
This, however, does not suit Mr. Hyndman. He openly supports the British capitalists in their call for cannon fodder ; accuses the I.L.P. of “distorting public documents,” “publishing the opinions of the German Government in their official pamphlets” (presumably with German funds) without thinking it necessary to bring forward a tittle of evidence for any of his statements.
Other prominent members, headed by Victor Fisher, have assisted in the formation of the Socialist National Defence Committee, which issues a manifesto urging Socialists to carry the British flag in the “war of liberation”—the most amusing document, that has appeared for some time past in that most comic journal, “The Clarion” (14.5.15). Here is a sample:
“In this gigantic struggle for the Soul of European civilisation, threatened to-day by a brutish but highly efficient militarist materialism, our allied nations have found their bulwark in an application of those principles which are the foundation of Socialist faith. Not to egotistic individualism, nor to competitive commercialism, nor to profit-mongering does Europe in her agony turn for strength and sustenance; but to Social solidarity, organization, co-operation, and an exalted self sacrifice. Who dies if England lives ? Is not this appeal the essential appeal of Socialism ?”
Now one can see the breed of the ass.
And of the signatories to the above, Mr. G. H. Gorle, writes to “Justice” (15.4.15) illustrating some of the confusion. He complains that “the Kentish Town branch dissociates itself from Hyndman ; the Executive goes out of its way to do the same to the I.L.P. conference. Some branches sell the “Labour Leader” and I.L.P. pamphlets. At least one branch refuses a speaker because he takes the allied Socialist view of the war.”
He declares himself a “loyal member of the Party,” and to display his loyalty says :
“I say quite frankly that in future if the opportunity occurs, I shall go on the recruiting platform, and that I believe the best way to serve the cause of International Social Democracy is to fight for the success of the Allies.”
It would seem to be by far the best way to serve International Socialism to preach to the fraternal comrades of each country that they should kill their fraternal comrades of other countries. This is the way to unity.
J. Hunter Watts goes one better (“Justice,” 22.4.15) and calls for recruits for a “Comrades company for service at the front,” stating that he has “now constituted himself a recruiting agent for the British Army” ; while at a Blackburn meeting of the B.S P. (May 2) he declares that “every Socialist capable of shouldering a rifle must enlist.” The meeting closed with “God Save the King” !
One resolution of the B.S.P. Conference reads :
“That this Conference is of the opinion that the present European war has its basic origin in the rivalry in the struggle for industrial and financial markets between the capitalist classes of the various nations of Europe . .”
This was carried, and it can be taken to be the opinion of the party. Mr. Hunter Watts, however, pours scorn upon the idea. He says :
“It had been stated by a few formula-ridden Socialists that the war had been engineered by capitalists in order to secure markets. Such a statement was rubbish.” (report of “Northern Telegraph,” 3.5 15).
I take it that Mr. Hunter-Watts knows that the “few formula ridden Socialists” who talk “rubbish” constitute the majority of his own fraternal comrades !
In the same speech Mr. Hunter Watts says :
“The war was aimed at crushing a power which had already been guilty of destroying one or two small nationalities.”
This sort of thing is quite a common failing of the quasi bourgeois As though Germany was the only power that had “crushed small nationalities” !
When Masterman contested Dulwich Hunter Watts voted for him and urged others to do so on the ground that Rutherford Harris, Masterman’s opponent, was a Jameson raider. He confessed that he “knew no more about Masterman than the man in the moon,” and in a letter dated 13.12.03 said :
“Though it goes against the grain to vote for a Liberal, it seems to me a duty to prevent a Jameson raider being sent to Parliament.”. . On Harris’s head rests some of the blood of the peasant farmers slain in the defence of their national independence.”
So he would support Beelzebub to cast out Beelzebub. And in the present case, in order to oppose the “Militarism of Prussia” and to restrain the hand of the German capitalist on the prowl for profit, he is ready to fight in the interest of the Russian, French, Belgian, and English capitalists who are doing exactly the same thing.
If the blood of the Boer peasant farmer rested upon the head of Rutherford Harris, what oceans of working class gore must anoint the of the group of exploiters in the allied camp !—The blood of the Communards, of the tortured men and women of Russia, of the decimated natives of the Congo, to say nothing of the butchered peasant farmers of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
The B.S.P. Conference by a unanimous vote passed the following :
“That this Conference expresses abhorrence of the brutal and tyrannical methods of the Russian Government and records its special protest against (1) The criminal attempt to deprive the working class of representation by arresting the Social Democrats of the Duma ; (2) the suppression of the right of meetings and of the Freedom of the Press [this is the first time the present writer has heard of its existence] ; (3) the imprisonment and exile of Trade Unionists and (4) the imposition upon the enlightened Finnish people of the barbarous Muscovite despotism.”
Bitter words indeed in which to describe the noble ally of Hyndman, Hunter-Watts, Gorle & Co.!
Deep is the pit into which they sink who by either ignorance or cupidity attempt to support and justify either set of thieves in their ghastly game of death. Hyndman waxes indignant over the “frightful outrages of the Germans and the piratical doings of their submarines,” and then openly sides with the Allies, thereby justifying, from his viewpoint, the atrocities he has denounced in the past—the horrors of India, of Siberia and of Ireland ; the suppression and betrayal of Finland, of Poland and of Persia.
Nothing that the German nation does will surprise us, because we know that in their struggle for profits there is no depth to which the capitalist class will not sink—no crime too foul for them to commit. We repeat now, after ten months of war, what we said before the war began, that in no circumstances can any Socialist urge the workers to voluntarily fight with or in the interest of any section of that piratical gang of financiers whose hands are red with the blood of murdered members of our class.
Those who, claiming to be Socialists, endeavour to entangle the workers in this bloody struggle, are working directly in the interest of our only enemy, the international capitalists, who, when their own squabble is settled, will again unite to exploit and rob the producers of the world’s wealth. The B.S.P. ride the ass of confusion—may they ride it to its death !