C. B. Stanton puts Marx Right. A New Twister with Old Twists

Why have the Social Democrats of Germany offered no resistance to the war and German militarism is the repeated query of the British labour misleaders. They fail to see that the Social Democrats were not the only party, affili­ated to the International, that had forgotten or violated the solemn pledges exchanged annually. Like automata they periodically passed reso­lutions confirming their adherence to the ”class war” without once understanding its import, or considering the possibility of a crisis that would test their allegiance. Their ignorance or insincerity is patent from the first days of the European war. The majority of labour leaders of every land forgot their affirmation of the class war in their concern for the triumph of “their country.” We in England only read of the be­trayal of principle by the German Social Demo­crats, in voting supplies in the Reichstag. The labour leaders who are strongest in their denun­ciation of this are the very men who have been most active on recruiting platforms, and have voted supplies here.

That many of the professed Socialists in every European country have taken up sides with their respective masters proves, not only their ignorance or insincerity but their similarity proves what we have so often repeated, that the Social Democratic Party of Germany differs little from the Labour Party of England in its attitude towards capitalism.

The latest English “Socialist!” to be boomed by the capitalist Press as a recruiting agent Mr. C. B. Stanton, is a sample of the British international pot calling the German international kettle black. “I am a Socialist,” he says, “and a member of the old red international.” “The German Social Democratic Party, the immediate inheritors of the orthodox tradition, have in the majority of the cases, out-junkered the most extreme of junkers in their support of what they regard as their national policy.” He then tells the “Daily Express” readers that he read of an American journalist who asked Kautsky “why his party had done nothing to protest against the violation of Belgium— nothing to vindicate their revolutionary principles.” When Kautsky pleads the party’s help­lessness in the face of German militarism, Mr. Stanton taunts them with having “slave souls.” His own servility to the English ruling-class, because it is voluntary, does not appear to him as a betrayal of the workers or as a lapse from his “Socialist!” principles.

His excuse that there is “very little class war in this country between aristocrat and manual worker” reminds us of the previous efforts of similar “Socialists” to blur the line of class cleavage . . . notably of the British delegates to the Amsterdam International Congress who voted for a resolution “extolling the ‘tried and victorious policy based on the class war,’ and on their return to England referred to the class war as a ‘shiboleth’ and as a reactionary and whiggish precept, certain to lead the movement away from the real aims of Socialism.”

Mr. Stanton, mounted on an intellectual pedes­tal, graciously calls attention to the genius of Marx. “Let me pause here to comment on the folly and the short-sightedness of the orthodox schools of economy in this country in attempting to ignore Marx’s work. Right or wrong, or, rather, partly right and partly wrong, intel­lectually he was a commanding genius and I deny that any man to-day can assume to be an authority on, or even a serious student of, poli­tical economy who has not read him and under­stood him.” This brilliant thinker and imitator of Robert Blatchford then proceeds to put Marx right. “His slogan, Workers of the World Unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a World to Win,” is a “false slogan.” “A very large proportion of the organised workers have a great deal to lose, individually and col­lectively.” They might lose their leaders, eh, Mr. Stanton ? the leaders who have so carefully guarded their collective funds in the past, ad­vising, or ordering them to return to tlieir work just as a strike was on the point of succeeding. Without such leaders they might even be per­suaded to think for themselves and, woe unto Stanton and his tribe, they might think their “trade union and coffin club funds” mere dust in the balance compared to the World and its wealth they would win through Socialism.

Where Marx again went wrong—and we have to bear in mind that it is “a Socialist and a member of the old red international” that points the error—”was that he ignored the sense of nation-hood. Hence his amazing edifice of economic theory collapsed like a house of cards at the first signal of international war.” Of course, the wish is father to the thought ; how easy it would make things for Mr. Stanton and all his kidney, how trivial the sacrifice entailed in forty European wars, in the eyes of “King Capital,” if only the works of Marx and Engels and the whole Socialist philosophy would fall to pieces as a result. But not so ; the thing that collapsed was an international gang of labour decoys and social reformers, who only passed resolutions based on the class war, and fired off revolutionary phrases to capture those on the threshold of Socialist knowledge and lead them blindfold into the camp of one capitalist party or other.

The Labour Party in England, the Social Democrats of Germany, the Syndicalists of France, and the Communists of Russia were as a whole never class-conscious or revolutionary ; consequently the capitalist war splashed and scattered their international froth backwards over the very boundaries they had sworn to ig­nore—that is all. “Das Capital,” with its scientific analysis and philosophy still remains, for some future International, representing in the truest sense the workers of the world ; who will be responsible for the International because they understand the philosophy.

No doubt it appears strange to the readers of the “Daily Express” that “a member of the old Red International” when attacking Socialism should choose the wildest and most fallacious of anti-Socialist arguments, and arguments that have been exposed time and time again. But that only proves the impregnability of Socialism and the poverty of capitalist philosophy. The defenders of capitalism, from Malthus to Lloyd George and Ramsay Macdonald, have racked their brains incessantly for a philosophic armour that would resist the penetrating logic of the Socialist.

The class war is the greatest bugbear of all, and every issue of recent years that has been raised by capitalist parties—not even excepting the European war—has lamentably failed to hinder the growth of class-consciousness among the workers. Mr. Stanton knows this and would like to be able to prove that such growth is neg­ligible and evanescent. He can do nothing, however, but reiterate the already exploded argu­ments of the Anti-Socialist Union.

“It might be supposed that a straight line could be drawn right through the social order, dividing the capitalist evolves from the labour sheep. Is this so? Surely not. The social organism is not so simple. The same individual in innumerable cases is both exploiter and exploited. He may work for a wage in the morning and himself be an employer of labour and the recipient of ‘surplus value’ in the afternoon. From Monday to Saturday he may be a toiling wage-slave, yet all the time through his co-operative society, or from some other source, he may be, and frequently is, the thoughtless, if thrifty, recipient of rent and interest.”

Of course, we know equally with Mr. Stanton that there are some managers who are likewise shareholders, and some capitalists who work themselves, or direct—themselves chiefly into the bankruptcy court, by the way—but their number is exceeding small in comparison with the vast army of wage-slaves living in perpetual poverty that constitutes the working class. The wealth they own is as a drop in the ocean com­pared with the wealth and means of wealth pro­duction owned by the capitalist class proper. From either point of view these intermediates are a negligible quantity, as likewise is the two­pence half-penny in the pound that the co-opera­tive customer gets as interest (!) or discount. Science in its generalisations ignores negligible quantities, and the Socialist contention that society is divided into two classes is just as true as the biological generalisation that the “orga­nic world is made up of animal and vegetable forms of life ; though some forms partake of the properties and functions of both, leaving it im­possible to say whether they are animal or vegetable. They occupy the dividing line and on each side are the two great kingdoms.” So with capitalist society ; the existence of petty capita­lists and working-men here and there who have a few pounds in the bank or a tumble-down tenement in a slum, does not upset the great generalisation, but rather strengthens it, for they occupy the dividing line.

These objections to Socialism by a “member of the old Red International” are numerous. Their exposure might be extended, but suffici­ent has been said to prove that not even a renegade Socialist can put up any better fight than the regular army of capitalist champions that for half a century has writhed under the scath­ing indictment of Marx and Engels and the rest of those real internationalists who have borne the red flag since their day. For a time Socialist propaganda is forced, as it were, partly underground ; yet still it bears fruit, as many a labour leader could testify from personal experience—if such admission did not impugn his own efficacy and break the slumbers of the class that employs him as a watch-dog.

Mere denunciations of class hatred by labour leaders and other capitalist defenders, are just as futile and silly as exhibitions of class hatred by Socialists would be. Antagonism of classes is inherent in capitalism because it is a system based on the ownership by the capitalist class of the means of life and the consequent enslave­ment of the dispossessed working class, which reduces all wealth by endless toil in field, factory and mine, yet suffers life-long poverty and degradation.

F. F.

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