An Open Letter to the patrons of the A.S.U.

I have received—no doubt under some misapprehension—a copy of the begging letter being sent to you by an organisation calling itself the Anti-Socialist Union.

Just over four years ago we exposed the fraudulent nature of this organisation. They—Lord Abinger, Mr. Claude Lowther, and all the active members—were appealing to you for funds to fight the Socialists. They challenged all and sundry, but when the S.P.G.B. took up their challenge at their street-corner meetings, it was repudiated at the head office of the valiant A.S.U. The reason given was that the Socialist Party published “a scurrilous article on the coronation of George V.” This same article, however, was used by the A S.U. to impress you with the magnitude and importance of the work they were doing in your interest. They reprinted it in leaflet form, and enclosed it in their begging letters to you, thus emphasising the momentous nature of the “Socialist menace,” and the imperative need for your financial assistance. But they dared not face the bogey with which they tried to frighten you.

The A.S.U. solicit funds to fight the Socialists with, but the only party which proves itself to be Socialist by its fearless denunciation of capitalism and its mummery is ruled out from the list of their antagonists, though its outspoken criticisms are used to terrify you into parting with some of your hard earned dividends. The funds they extort from you are obtained under false pretences. They have never fought Socialism. What is more, they have never understood it. This you can discover for yourselves by a study of the literary samples they have sent you. They gravely inform you that the tendency is to concentrate all the means of producing, distributing, and exchanging wealth into the possession of the State, under the supreme bureaucratic direction of the executive power, and tell you that this is “State Socialism,” the menace to your class supremacy. You, of course, have no fear of a “State Socialism” established, by your own executive. That executive has already “socialised railways, etc.,” in that way, for your convenience, in your interest, and with your entire approbation. You do not fear the Socialistic measures (so called) introduced by your executive. What you fear is the growing intelligence, the conscious and organised action of the working class directed against your class ownership and control That, for you, is the social canker gnawing continually at the vitals of your system. How many A.S.U.’s would you not subsidise if they could put up a real fight against this ?

The bogus, blackmailing Anti-Socialist Union informs you of the things you already know, advancing them to spur you to liberality. They say that

“In spite of the political truce agreed upon between the two great parties, the Socialists have not ceased to preach sedition, thus hindering the work of our soldiers and spreading unrest among the munition workers. The fruit of their work is already seen in many directions, and after the return of peace may easily prove a dire menace to the stability of the monarchy.”

You, gentlemen, knew all this and much more besides. You care little about the stability of the monarchy, because your class in other parts of the world manage quite as well without one. You, knowing what Socialism means, did not expect a cessation of the class war by Socialists merely because you are involved in a world war over the world’s trade. In your wisdom you regretted the fact in much the same way that you regrets the approach of old age ; it only irritated you to be reminded that “The fruit of their work is already to be seen of in many directions.”

Neither was it necessary to remind you of your class position, and obligations in the following terms :

“To you who have a stake in the Empire, and are convinced of the need for stability of government, it is unnecessary for me to emphasise further the good work being done. I confidently leave the matter in your hands.”

Being good, honest capitalists, with never a thought for anything beyond providing work for the working class and keeping them in order when performing it, you have all along made it your business to arrange a government equal to the task. Your “stake in the Empire” is ably defended by Liberal or Tory. Both these parties use the forces of order in your interest when necessary. Both parties give countenance and support to the ever-growing army of labour decoys. Both parties utilise to the full all the agencies for preserving threadbare and useless traditions and religions that have long since been proved to be nothing but ignorant superstitions. Your executive controls all these agencies and forces, and up to the present have found them effective. The rise of a genuine Socialist party, rapidly making its influence felt in all directions, is a new contingency for you. You may decide to meet it or to ignore it ; either method would be sane. But, to employ a swaggering organisation that loudly advertises the enemy, throws down the gauntlet, and runs away, is, to say the least, rank imbecility.

Even when this bogus champion of yours has slunk away to hide behind an excuse which should have been a spur to greater antagonism and effort, the inclination to brag is unquenched. No doubt with his tongue in his cheek Lord Abinger informs you that their speakers

“debate points of dispute with the sedition-mongers on the rare occasions when their advocates dare to intervene.”

His lordship knows as well as you that it is the Defence of the Realm Act, and not the valiant A.S.U., that is responsible for the comparative silence of the Socialist Party. They say :

“If you are an employer of labour you will realise how important this work is, and Socialism, which has received a check owing to the wave of patriotism developed by the war, can be greatly reduced in virulence by the work of the Union if carried on vigorously and unceasingly.”

But when the “wave of patriotism” has subsided, when hooliganism has sunk to its peace-time level, and a peace-time measure of free discussion is possible, the A.S.U. will have their opportunity with the rest. They will have no cause to complain of the rarity of the occasions when we “dare to intervene.”

“To you who have a stake in the Empire” contains a confession that everyone within the Empire is not so fortunate as to have a stake in it. Your stake is tangible and solid—part ownership in the means of wealth production. Those who do not share this ownership with you, what is their stake ? The afore-mentioned privilege of working for you if your efforts to find them employment have been succtssful. If some of you fail in this meritorious object, we know that you are not to blame. If your competitors push you out of the market they employ workers instead of you. It matters little to the workers who employs them, though no doubt they appreciate your strenuous efforts to become their benefactors. When they know the full story of your exertions on their behalf they must be eternally grateful to you. Your endeavours to “capture the enemy’s trade” in their interest is praiseworthy and creditable, and if successful, your employment of foreigners will be attributed to your boundless desire to give employment. Truly, “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” and your stake in the Empire is a double blessing to you. Utilise all available forces in its defence ; history is full of precedents to justify you in clinging to power until it is forcibly wrenched from your grasp. But beware of the A.S.U., for its cowardice and brag will only attract the finger of scorn to those associated with it.

In conclusion, do not mistake the motive with which these words are written. We Socialists are inflexibly hostile to you because you own the instruments of wealth production and compel us and our class to operate them in your interest. You have taken “the earth and the fullness thereof” and given us employment—enslaved us. We loathe your system, because it is responsible for our degradation and poverty. But we hold the master-key that unlocks the flood-gates of knowledge and fertilises the intelligence of the working class to achieve its emancipation.

Though fraudulent and parasitic organizations bleed you white, we have no sympathy for you. It is not to warn you I write. We stand for Socialism; ; fighting capitalism and all its manifestations. To every party, faction, or clique that enters the political arena for class or sectional interests we are uncompromisingly hostile. The A.S.U. has suffered ignominious defeat at our hands. They are only one out of many. Their exposure does not help you : it opens the eyes of the workers to the poverty of your case against Socialism; it records yet another advance by the working-class party in its prosecution of the class war.

The A.S.U. speakers met the representatives of the Independent Labour Party, as much anti-Socialist as themselves, and claimed a victory. But such a victory is worth nothing to you, because Socialism was never made the issue. You, ostrich like, may bury your heads in the sand, fondly imagining that because you cannot see danger there is none. You may shirk the issue for a time, but when you look again the danger will be nearer and more threatening. Capitalist wars may “develop waves of patriotism” ; capitalist demagogues may yet delude the workers by thousands ; shibboleths may yet lead them far afield : Socialism, grounded in science and speaking in language the workers understand, brings to them a philosophy that fits their conditions. It sweeps away all forms of confusion and points the way to emancipation from society’s latest and most effective form of slavery. It continues to advance, slowly it may be, but surely and without fear of reaction. This is the real danger that threatens your class supremacy. If you fight Socialism it feeds and grows on its victories ; if you ignore it your silence confirms and strengthens it. If you pay the Anti-Socialist Union to fight Socialism, it pockets the money, excuses itself for not attacking the real danger, and wastes both time and money kicking up a dust with your beat friends—the labour leaders, pseudo Socialists, Fabians, and other confusionists.

Tho Socialist Party of Great Britain is the only party that brings a Socialist education within reach of the working class. We hold that you and your class live in luxury and idleness because you own the means of wealth-production and rob the working class of the results of their labour. We are organizing to capture the political machinery of the State, that we may use it to transform your class-ownership into common ownership by the people with democratic control. That alone is the basis of Socialism, the next step in the evolution of human society. Its establishment is a revolution, because the fundamental principles that form the basis of social relations are completely subverted. Private or class ownership is replaced by common ownership. Class domination through an executive government gives way to control by the whole people through administrative assemblies. The commodity character of human labour-power is abolished and production is carried on for use instead of for profit.

With modern machinery and methods of wealth production society could satisfy all its needs by a trifling expenditure of labour-power, thus reserving to the individual ample time for enjoyment, recreation, and the exercise of an intelligent interest in social administration. None of these things is the worker’s to-day, though the desire for them is strong. A Socialist education exposes the fraudulent character of democracy as practised under capitalism, reveals the cause of poverty, and points with scientific precision to the only solution, and the manner of its achievement. Thus, the material needs and desires of the working class coincide with the avowed Object of the Socialist Party, which concentrates all its energies to the task of bringing a Socialist education within reach of the working class.

F. F.

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