1920s >> 1921 >> no-199-march-1921

Letter: The “Daily Herald” Finds Another Defender

To the Editors.

 

Dear Sirs, —As one of the rank [and] file of the Labour movement, and believing as firmly in the principles of Socialism as any of those who produce the Socialist Standard, I must confess to a feeling of despair when reading such articles as the one of attack upon the “Daily Herald” in your November issue. One wonders when we shall cease giving the reactionary forces the cue for attack upon the forces of Socialism. All the more pitiful is it on account of the bitter personal animosity that seems to prevail amongst those who are all at one when it comes to the desire for the dismissal of the capitalist system.

 

It seems to me it is about time we faced the facts and dealt with things as they are and not so much with what we would desire them to be. We are living in a state of society under which most of us are oppressed ; but even the most extreme Socialist would have to admit that we have progressed during the last decade, and it is also true that those who have been violent in their attack upon the more moderate section of the movement have been willing enough to reap the benefit of any of the stages of progress.

 

Time and again I have listened to Socialist speakers deploring the apathy and lethargy of the workers; time and again listened to the urge for educating the workers up to the realisation of the power they do really possess. Assuming that the writer of the article “To Heel” believes this, the attitude is surely inconsistent, for it is certain if you cannot get the masses to support a paper that even the writer admits tells a little more of the truth than the ordinary capitalist paper, you are not going to get them to support a paper that believes in more drastic measures for bringing its aims into being.

 

Again, some of the left wing Socialists that I know and have spoken to believe quite definitely that holding that the Materialist outlook is the only logical one, one must work for the material well-being whilst in the flesh and reject the idea that there is something to follow the physical life that shall be a reward for labours that have been put forth here. Following these statements there come others to the effect that much as we may work and strive we cannot hope to see much if any of the ideals of a Socialist State during our time. Those statements surely suggest that it is essential that we all enjoy to the fullest what there is to enjoy whilst we are in the flesh. My contention is, then, that much as we may deplore the shortcomings of the “Daily Herald“—and I am aware she has many—it is a weapon that all of us who have the Cause at heart should support. I do not need to go over the many things the paper has done to bring to light the intrigues and deceptions of the governing class: they should be well known to all readers of the “S.S.” Neither am I or many other readers of the “Daily Herald” concerned so much about whether the directorate knew about the intention of Mr. Meynell’s wanderings in Russia. What I am certain about is that the thing was put quite democratically before its readers and turned down on their disapproval. Neither am I concerned so much about the paper’s lack of criticism of Smillie during the recent strike—that is a concern of the miners themselves. What I am concerned about is the fact that in a movement such as ours there should be such a lack of human co-operation.

 

I suggest it is time such writers as “D.W.F.” realises that whilst he spends his efforts attacking Lansbury and the “Herald” there are hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children lacking the necessities of life, and it is no use going to those thousands with a handful of Socialist Ideals and the capitalist class firmly rooted in the departments of Whitehall. Men need bread to-day, and much as we all desire the incoming of a Socialist State, we only retard its incoming by such wanton attacks. Will D.W.F., I wonder, openly advocate that Socialists should buy the “Daily Mail,” etc., rather than the “Herald,” or would he advocate that Socialists hold aloof from the purchase of any dailies that keep one in touch with the affairs of the world, because there is no paper that is no paper that is clean cut Socialist ?

 

In conclusion, I appeal to those Socialists who believe that you cannot have a true Socialist State until you have made men and women realise to the full the corruption of the present system, that to do this we need a live Press, and since the “Herald” is a thing in being, let us work for its perfection.—Yours faithfully,

 

M. H. Barton.

 

Reply:

 

Impersonally I must confess to my sorrow that any member of the working class should be moved to a “feeling of despair” by such criticism as were offered by me—it provides yet another instance of clinging to the shadow in mistake for the substance. Why my critic accuses me of “giving the reactionary forces the cue” passes my comprehension, as I certainly had no intention of giving the cue to the “Herald,” and did my best to make it clear that that journal is one of the units of the reactionary Press, and, as such, was engaged at every conceivable opportunity upon anti-Socialist propaganda.

 

That Socialists are “all at one when it comes to the desire for the demise of the capitalist system” is admitted ; but that does not admit that all who mouth that desire, or who call themselves Socialists, are such—in fact, a great part of the Socialist Party propaganda has to be directed to clearing from the minds of the workers the effects of the work of all varieties of political imposters and frauds.

 

One can be in complete agreement with Mr. Barton when he says “it is about time we faced the facts”; but it is to be assumed that he was speaking for himself and those who think like him, and the question naturally arises—why do not he and they for whom he speaks do this ? That is the whole trouble—they will not face the facts. And when we of the Socialist Party endeavour to make them do so they do not like it and deluge us with sentimental clap-trap about “personal animosity” and the like. We are not concerned with individuals, whether they are worshipped by the “poor in spirit” or not. We are concerned with the working class and its straggle for emancipation and we shall continue to expose all the political mountebanks and time-servers that come before our notice to the best of our power.

 

Does our correspondent really imagine that the progress made during the last decade is due to such propaganda as he feels called upon to champion, because if be does he must be unable to comprehend the rudimentary law of capitalist development, and as for being “willing enough to reap the benefit,” even were there any benefit, the capitalist class would see to it that we reaped it, otherwise they would not waste time and money putting the “benefits” on the Statute Book.

 

What my critic does not appear to understand is that under capitalism what suits the capitalist goes, and the activities of all self-styled Socialist societies, publications and individuals are quite to his liking and merit and receive his support.

 

The whole point, which Mr. Barton misses is that the “Daily Herald,” like “John Bull,” tells the truth on occasion, as do all the other organs of the Press. The rest of the time they are all contributing to the chloroforming of the working class and making it more difficult to propagate Socialism, which is the only concern of the Socialist as such. As for the ”Herald” being “a thing in being,” so is the “Daily Mail” and the Socialist Standard, and the last being the only Socialist periodical published in this country, calls for and should receive the support of all Socialists, and no Socialist should concern himself with upholding the “Daily Herald,” but would merely regard it as a daily newspaper from which he would gather some idea of what is happening from day to day.

 

D.W. F.