1920s >> 1920 >> no-189-may-1920
Letter: Concerning Maresnests and other things
To the Editor.
13, Park Parade,
Dear Sir,—I am sorry to read your criticism of Mr. Dell’s book in your March issue. Your criticism is far more confusing and contradictory than Mr, Dell’s clear thinking. For instance, if Voltaire is out of date and keeping with the present condition, how can Marx be up to date? Yet you quote Marx. If Marx lived later than Voltaire, Marx also attempted something more concrete in theories than did Voltaire. Many of his theories have miscarried, therefore they are equally out of date in their usefulness as Voltaire.
The Bolsheviks could no more use Marxism than any other old theory. Does the Editor really believe the workers will ever hold power by the use of the present parliamentary machine? I hare been accused of being an optimist, but I have yet to reach a pitch of exhilaration wherein I can believe that a volunteer army officered by Bourgeois will obey a Socialist parliaments laws for the abolition of capitalism. I would like to know why the Editor thinks that if armed the workers would readily fight, yet could not be got to strike successfully—especially when one considers that trade unionism the farthest the workers have yet reached to. What difference to the workers when faced with starvation whether badly armed or not at all ? In the division of classes you make a slight mistake by leaving out about half of the population. You have completely forgotten the unhappy, misled, aspiring, unsuccessful Middle Bourgeoisie. He is the hardest worked, heaviest taxed, and perhaps poorest individual in the country. I say this fully realising that this class of slave toils, yet produces not, and that this slave is a hindrance to the workers and the mainstay of capitalism in peace. This middle man would soon be deserted by the capitalist in time of hunger. During a prolonged strike this individual would perforce become convinced of the absence of any affinity ‘twixt the capitalist and himself. Perhaps hunger and mutual suffering might weld the link with his fellow wage slave of a differing grade. Mr. Dell is quite right when he says it is inconceivable that the workers will reach a stage of development when they will cease to be true to their education and see clear, while the machinery of public opinion is in the unscrupulous hands of the class who are under no misapprehension as to what is best for themselves and hence worst for the workers. So long as they guide, so long will the workers come in contact with the greatest obstacles in their march to freedom. All clear issues will be confused, all maresnests held up. Anything so long as it is not the real thing. I am not a believer either in the political machinery nor yet in trade unionism. I know that both have evolved with the present system. Yet I would like to see this machine used for the coercion of this present parliamentary machine. These two are of a kind. When the crush comes we would begin to think of the political machinery, a machine that will fit in with the new conditions as they arise. Then we might even arm the proletariat. But at present it is dangerous and useless and a hindrance. I would be very glad if you could find room for this.
Had Mr. Horn read the review he is so ready to criticise more carefully, he would have found many of his objections met in the review itself. For instance, he would have seen that our objection to following Voltaire was not that he lived a certain time ago, but that his views were those of the now ruling class. Our critic carefully ignores this point.
Which of Marx’s theories have miscarried ? We are not told. When our critic can point to what he considers such a case we will examine it.
Whatever the Bolsheviks may have used, they certainly have made the loudest claims that their actions are the purest “Marxism.” Mr. Horn should send his denials (without evidence) to them.
The question of the parliamentary machine is another point dealt with in the review. Our correspondent should read it.
The “volunteer” army of Great Britain is officered by wage slaves of the professional type not the bourgeoisie—and always obeys the orders formulated in Parliament. The Army does not question its orders, and if it is prepared to shoot down its fellow workers when ordered by the masters’ Government to do so, surely it has no reason to refuse to shoot the masters at the orders of a Socialist Parliament. Only blind ignorance of the Army and its methods, and the system by which it is controlled, could account for such views as our correspondent puts forth.
The reason the workers could not “strike successfully” for the overthrow of capitalism is another matter fully dealt with in the review.
Mr. Horn first says that we have made a mistake in our division of the classes because we have left out the “middle bourgeoisie.” Further on he calls this “bourgeoisie” “fellow wage slaves,” thus agreeing with our description of this section.