F. A. H. (Leicester.)—Taking your points in the order in which you give them we append our criticism.

“(1) That social development takes place through the action and reaction of economic and political power.”

This question assumes that there is an “economic” power apart from political power, but this assumption is incorrect. Actually “economic” power is a misnomer, and is merely a term for actions of an economic character which take place under the shelter and protection of the political power.

To take a well-known historical instance : It was not until the merchant class—the forerunners of the modern capitalists—had gained a large share of political power that they were able, effectively, to fight against and finally overthrow, the feudal rulers.

Fundamentally social development takes place because of the continued discoveries and inventions in the methods of producing and distributing wealth. When these changes reach a certain stage in their growth they come into conflict with the social arrangements and order that were made to suit the older methods. To continue in existence society must alter its form and order, that is, re-adapt itself to the new conditions. Obviously the class whose material interests are bound up with the old methods will endeavour to retain and preserve the old form and order of society, while the class whose interests are connected with the new method will endeavour to bring about a change. The power to make this change—since the institution of private property in the means of life—rests in the control of the political machinery, that is, the machinery under which laws are made and the force raised to carry them out. Hence as Marx says: “Every class straggle is a political struggle,” because it is only by obtaining possession of political power that the new rising class can establish the social forms in harmony with the economic changes. History shows this in every change that has taken place in the forms of society since private property was established.

“(2) That each developing class takes the line of least resistance, which is to say, of course, that it takes the one that is open to it.”

Not until a series of struggles and experience’s have shown them the error of various ways do the developing class find the right road—which is really the line of least resistance—for the object in view. Over and over again a developing class has been deceived and misled by the ruling class of its day into taking a road quite contrary to its (the developing class’s) own interests. How often have the modern working class been, misled in this way !

“(3) That the difference of the coming revolution from previous ones lies in this, that some measure of political power must first be acquired, and this results from the fact that in the movements which have previously led to revolutions it was not necessary at their inception to visibly deprive the then ruling classes of property, this being effected by the development of the means of production or the property forms themselves.”

As shown in the answer to No. 1, the idea in the first portion of the above statement is wholly incorrect, and the reason given in the second portion is equally erroneous. To go back no further than the French Revolution of 1789, the feudal owners were completely dispossessed of their property, which was handed over to the peasants under conditions laid down in the Code Napoleon. When chattel-slavery was abolished in America it meant the confiscation of a huge amount of property—for, of course, the chattel-slave was property in every sense of the word—from the slave owners. And this has been true of every revolution in history.

“(4) When the S.P.G.B. is attacked for not defining in detail the method of organisation and procedure, am I right in saying that if their general principles are correct efficient organisation will naturally follow ; and to a certain extent the details must be dictated by circumstances yet to arise. Also that their organisation, will be, by its very nature, sufficiently pliable to meet all the needs of the revolution ?”

Your answer generally is right, but it may be noted that a real understanding of correct principles is necessary for sound and efficient organisation. Then the direction of such organisation will be retained in the hands of its members, who may vary its details to suit circumstances.


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