What The Socialist Party Has Done
“What has the Socialist Party done during the fifteen years of its existence?” This is a query that Socialist lecturers frequently meet with at propaganda meetings. The answer is quite a simple one, in fact, so simple as to appear flippant: “The Socialist Party has remained in existence!” But, as I have said, because of its seeming flippancy, I will go further and explain my meaning.
Fifteen years ago what was the position of the working class? There were strikes, “industrial unrest,” unemployment, poverty, and misery, just as there are to-day. The worker was forced upon the labour market to debate the price of his labour power and go to the wall when his usefulness to the capitalist had ceased. This sounds very much as if I am decrying the Socialist Party, as if I am arguing from your side that the Socialist Party has done nothing to justify its existence. You come to that conclusion because you do not know what the Socialist Party is and what it stands for. I cannot blame you for your ignorance. You live in a world of benefit clubs, slate clubs, goose clubs, Liberal, Tory, and Labour parties anti profiteering associations, and others equally ephemeral and useless. It is, therefore, quite apparent that you would imagine we had something to offer. You are used to the election posters: “Vote for Bloggs and cheap workmen’s fares,” “Vote for Horatio Bunkum, the people’s friend,” “Hands off the people’s beer,” and so on. And thus, when at the end of fifteen years the Socialist Party has not manufactured a slogan of that ilk or joined issue with any of the popular reform movements, you naturally would think that it had not done much if anything.
Now what are the facts ?
The Socialist Party is simply another name for the class-conscious workers organised in one body for the overthrow of the capitalist system and the consequent emancipation of the toilers from the thralldom of wage-slavery. Knowing and understanding that you will realise that until the working class desires its emancipation the Socialist Party can serve no other purpose than to keep propagating Socialism until the consummation of that desire. Thus it is we work patiently, tolerantly, ever pointing out the right path while the workers chase up and down the side streets of Reform and beat themselves stupid upon the walls of cul-de-sac strikes and direct action. We know, as Marx has pointed out, that the working class will try every road before it finds the right one, and that eventually we shall be rewarded for our long and arduous fight.
For fifteen years strike after strike has occupied the industrial arena, reform after reform has been enacted on the political field, and still the proletariat is the slave class in society. But we see that on all hands more and more attention is being given to the doctrine we teach and the philosophy we expound. At every propaganda meeting held now thoughtful interest and a desire to understand is manifested, while intending members come forward in larger numbers than before. And we tell the working class, as we told them fifteen years ago when first we challenged capitalism, that only in our ranks will they achieve their victory.
Thus when pseudo-Socialist organisations waver and foil, when politicians have so turned the workers from this stunt to that that they do not know where they stand and are an easy prey to the political harpies who batten upon their ignorance, we can repeat: “We have remained in existence! ” Our clarion call has not wavered one semi-tone. We challenge all traducers; we flaunt our principles pennon-wise, stainless and unrent, and call to the straggling proletariat to come with us out of the blood and tears and agony of Capitalism into the joyous, sun-litten new world of Socialism.
Stanley H. Steele