Down With Leaders
Labour leaders, to say the least, are useless to the workers in their conflict with the capitalist class. An organisation whose members have no desire to control affairs for themselves, and therefore hands over the management to certain individuals, by so doing gives them the opportunity to use that organisation to obtain any object they may have in view. And judging by the past actions of these leaders their purpose seems to be always the same, that is, to earn a reward from the capitalist by betraying the workers whose interest they are supposed to safeguard.
The amount of evidence accumulated against these traitors is enormous. On both the industrial field and the political they have played the traitorous part. A further exposure comes from Mr. Lloyd George, who is reported by the “Daily Telegraph” (2.1.17) to have stated in the House of Commons that “I am not unmindful of the fact that he” (the reference was to Mr. Arthur Henderson) “has helped us and the late Government very largely owing to his official position in the great struggle on the question of organising the man-power of this country and carrying through the Military Service Acts. He took a leading part in securing the support of organised labour for these measures.”
We have there a clear and definite statement which leaves no reasonable doubt as to why Henderson was given a position in the Cabinet. He was useful in persuading the workers to quietly accept measures that would tighten the chains about them and make more secure the power of the capitalists to throw millions of men and boys into the horrors of war.
The quotation given is of value, not only as an exposure of Henderson, but also as an example of the conditions under which labour leaders in general are patronised by the capitalist class. That they retain their position only so long as they comply with these conditions is convincingly demonstrated by the same honourable gentleman who, in explaining why he gave Henderson the sack gave us yet another peep behind the scenes.
“Well,” runs the “Daily Chronicle” report (14.8.17) of the Prime Minister’s pronouncement, “all he could say was that he had seen every member who was present at the Cabinet on the day of the discussion, and had asked them the impression left on their minds. The impression, they stated, which had been left was that Mr. Henderson intended to use all his influence to turn down the Stockholm Conference at Friday’s meeting.”
This time Henderson failed to do what was expected of him, and consequently was forced to “resign.” The length of time he remained in the Cabinet gives us some slight idea of the amount of work he performed in the interest of the capitalist class, and considering the number of these political scavengers they employ, it is not in the least surprising that our work of working-class enlightenment should prove so hard.
Such is the worth of the Labour Party to the workers. “It has,” said Mr. Philip Snowden, “betrayed working class interests in every direction, and the labour problems which have to be solved have been in the main created by the incompetence and conduct of the Labour Party. The Labour Party have been more capitalist than the employers and more militarist than the Government.” -“Labour Leader,” 12.7.17.
Mr. Philip Snowden, who made this discovery many months ago, should now try and explain his position as a member of that capitalist and militarist “Labour” Party which he so roundly condemns. Is the £400 a year which binds him to it a stronger shackle than he can break ?
The shameful way in which the workers have been betrayed should surely force them to consider a method by which their organisation can be made proof against the undermining operations of such traitors. The first essential is that they must thoroughly understand their position as wage slaves. They must realise they live only by the sale of their labour power to the capitalist class, who, owning the means of wealth production, are able to claim the wealth produced, returning to the producing class in the form of wages just sufficient for them to exist upon on the average, and to produce a generation of future wage slaves—in other words, just enough to enable them to reproduce their efficiency in the widest sense of the term.
The sale of the workers’ labour-power taking place under the same conditions that regulate the sale of any other commodity, it follows that with the continued improvement in machinery, “dilution” of labour still further applied, the rapid development of science, and the general speeding-up, their labour-power must tend more and more to exceed the demand for it, with the result that the effect on wages, or the price of labour power, is the same as that on any other commodity when the supply exceeds the demand its price falls. Thus we have the producers of the world s wealth forced to accept wages that barely supply the physical necessities of life.
Living under a set of social conditions that condemns him to a life of sordid poverty, the worker, to obtain relief, must change those conditions from top to bottom. That is to say, the means of wealth production, and distribution being the private property of the capitalist class, the latter are enabled to use them to exploit the workers. Since, therefore, the whole of the evil conditions of working-class existence spring from this property condition, the workers must make those things needed for the production and distribution of wealth the common property of Society.
The defenders of private property having, through their political power, control of the armed forces, use them to support their position. The first step, therefore, towards their overthrow, is to secure political power. The need, then, is for a working-class political party the members of which, united by a common understanding of their class interest, would have no need for leaders.
On the other hand, knowing the direction in which they must fight, the action of every member would be controlled to that one end, and any treachery on the part of any member, would be promptly dealt with. Such a party would be proof against leaders and therefore against betrayal by leaders.
Such is the character of the S.P.G.B. To those workers who understand and accept our Declaration of Principles we extend an earnest invitation to join us for co-operation in the fight for Socialism.
E. L. WAKE