Socialism and the European ‘Socialists’


The part played by the so-called Socialists of this and other countries in the present European situation calls for a further pronouncement by us upon the matter of the Socialist position in relation to the war.

In England, and we do not doubt in other countries too, the capitalist Press has seized with avidity the opportunity of making political capital at the expense of the Socialist Movement by parading under their distorting review the recent actions of those, both in this country and on the Continent, who have gained international prominence upon the claim of being advocates of and adherents to Socialist principles.

We should not take the responsibility of basing even the lightest of charges against any section or member of the working class upon the reports of such venomous rags as comprise the international capitalist Press, and we do not do so. But, unfortunately, when these organs point out that in the various nationalities those whom it pleases THEM to recognise and acclaim as Socialists—as THE Socialists, in fact—have everywhere fallen before the appeal to nationalism, and are to be found on every side, bearing arms against their comrades in as tempestuous a blood-lust as the most conservative patriot, we know that, save for the exceptions which they take care to hide, it is true. We know that it is true, not because these hirelings have said it, but because it could, as we have always claimed, be the only possible result when the test came. Our knowledge of the foundations upon which the “great Socialist (!) parties ” were built allowed of no other deduction than this, hence we now take what action we may to clear the Socialist Movement of the dire consequences and the stigma which have been brought upon it by the folly or deliberate treachery of those who have dabbled in compromise and confusion.

We have always held that the only possible basis for a Socialist organisation, no matter where it exists, must include


There is no capitalist country under the sun to whose social conditions this principle does not apply. We do not pretend that, had the great political parties of Germany, Austria, and France claiming a Socialist constitution, been firmly based upon this principle, it would have made even the slightest difference in regard to the war. For while we assert that only the knowledge and understanding of the principle of the CLASS STRUGGLE, with its implication of the unity of interest of the proletarians of all lands, could have saved the workers from that flood of national feeling which has swept them off their feet, we know how few adherents they could have found to the principle. They had not done the work necessary to give themselves any great class-conscious strength.

But if a class-conscious foundation to the so-called Socialist parties of Europe could not have affected the main course of events, it would have had at least this important result for the working class : it would have kept the name of Socialism clear of the stigma the enemies of working-class emancipation are now able to throw upon it. What have the millions of votes commanded by the so-called Socialist parties of the Continent accomplished for Socialism in this crisis? Nothing but harm. The workers of the world, who are to receive such terrible punishment for their ignorance, and to learn in such bitter suffering, will, when they awake from their nightmare of “patriotic” frenzy, judge Socialism by those millions of pseudo-Socialist voters who could not stand the test of


For this reason the immensity of these organisations is itself the measure of the harm they have inflicted upon the Socialist Movement.

We have before us at the moment a circular issued by the Socialist Labour Party of America in which they state : “The events in Europe are likewise a demonstration of the principle that a pure and simple political party of Socialism, however revolutionary it may be in its utterances, cannot be of real service to the proletariat . .” This is another example of the opportunity the compromising policy of the pseudo-Socialists has provided for other enemies of class-conscious organisation. The statement is false. It is not for the reason that it is a “pure and simple political party of Socialism” that the “International Movement” has failed the workers in this crisis, but because its politics were impure. Its foundation had the cardinal fault which, among others, attaches to the pet obsession of the S.L.P. : it was not grounded upon the principle of the Class Struggle.

We, the SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN, declare again that there was nothing in the conditions of any country which justified Socialists voluntarily supporting either side in the war, and record our condemnation of such action as a betrayal of Socialist principles arising from lack of political knowledge and unsound political organisation.



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