1920s >> 1922 >> no-214-june-1922

Light on Communist Policy.

It is with a certain interest, not to say unfeigned delight, that I learn from Max Eastman (Liberator, April, 1922), that E. T. Whitehead, of the Communist Party of Great Britain, is “inclined to believe “that in the last few years” an unusual number of other-regarding spirits have been thrown down into the physical sphere “from some haunt of the disembodied ! He believes this because it is “more likely to be true than not.” This credulity perhaps explains Whitehead’s little vagaries.

Max Eastman facetiously suggests that the American Communists “solve their problem of perfection by organising a party on the astral plane to control the one which now controls the visible manifestation.” I should be sorry to rob Max Eastman of the credit due to the originator of so charming an idea, but I fear he is too late. It has already been done here. I have tried hard to keep up with and understand the erratic moves in Communist policy, never realising until now that I was following a will-o’-the-wisp, not the product of gross human minds, but of ghostly Third International “pixey wixies.”

For alas, even out of the physical sphere conflict reigns. There are other sources of Communist inspiration; for instance, the much older firm established long before Theosophy raised its upstart head. In the Evening News (27th March, 1922) I read that “at a confirmation service last evening at St. John’s Church, . . . over 40 Socialists and Communists, members of the Church of England, were confirmed by the Bishop of Whalley.” I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this report, but like Whitehead “I am inclined to believe it” about members of the Communist party because “it is more likely to be true than not.” A writer in the Communist recently waxed merry over the untutored person who described them as “communionists.” On second thoughts I think the apparently
ignorant one must have known something.

A correspondent of the Daily Herald (31st Dec., 1921) relates how the South Shields Branch of the Communist Party had “a clay bust of Lloyd George with horns” before which apparently they discussed business.

Here are a few other things to be accounted for only by the hypothesis I have accepted. At the Communist Party’s recent policy conference a resolution was introduced which affirmed that “It is our duty also to strive for the formation of a Mass Party . . .” Eden and Cedar Paul reporting the conference in the Workers’ Republic (8th April, 1922), say “The discussion . . . turned on the question as to what was really meant by the Third International slogan of the Mass Party.” However, although “the discussion seemed to leave unsolved the problem precisely what the Third International means by a Mass Party,” the resolution was carried. Puzzling, you say? Not at all : they knew what it meant on the astral plane.

From the Communist (25th March) I find that the Communist Party’s “historic mission” is “the leadership of the working masses — — — .”

Of course, the “working masses” already have leaders, heaps of them, but these it seems are not good leaders : “Watch them,” say the Communists.

Why are they not good ones ? One reason say the Communists is that they have lost contact and sympathy with the rank and file.

But E. and C. Paul, two of the stars, say “the official group (of the C.P.G.B.) unfortunately consists of persons who have become professional politicians and are removed thereby from the activities of working class life” and “the slogan ‘ watch your leaders ‘ is as necessary in the Communist Party as in the Trade Unions.” (Workers’ Republic, 8th April).

Not only that but although Stewart says a mass party “takes leadership of the masses, not by going back to where they are, but by taking them from where they are to where they ought to be,” his fellow member Brain says “they had found by experience that the workers did not come out of the craft unions to the revolutionary movement; they stayed where they were. They would not come out so the Communist Party had to go to them.” (Communist, 25th’ March).

(This points to physic communication with Mahommet, who solved a little problem of his own on just such lines as these).

Some there were like Leckie who thought that it was the party which was going to lead the masses and therefore wanted in it “only those who really understood Communism.” This of course was absurd. What has the Communist Party, the party of “action” to do with an understanding of Communism? Murphy is of the opinion that “only a small minority of our party has any idea of the significance of the mighty task before us” and as a writer in the Worker’s Republic (official organ of the Communist Party of Ireland) remarked, not only do they not understand now, but lots of them never will; the revolution will be here before that can happen !

No, it is evidently the “professional politicians” who are to lead: “It is one thing to call upon the Party leadership to give the lead, another thing to put into operation that leadership.” (Murphy.) While Walter Newbold favours affiliation to the Labour Party, but temporarily opposes it, because he believes “that at this juncture roe have not had the constituent parts of the Communist Party sufficiently long together, we have not welded them sufficiently into an intelligent party understanding the implications of political action for us to be able to take them as a. party into the Labour Party.” (Communist, March 25th). (Italics mine).

Excellent advice that “Watch your leaders”—for the members of the Communist Party.

As for Labour Party affiliation it is interesting to note that while the Communist Party proposes to insist on “freedom of criticism and freedom of action,” inside the Labour party (if it gets in), a Daily Herald correspondent writing on the L.C.C. elections stated with regard to Inkpin, who, although a Communist, ran as Labour candidate, that “it should be clearly understood . . . that Inkpin has definitely agreed to the Labour programme and will act in accordance with Labour Party decisions if desired.” (28th February, 1922).

It is all now perfectly clear. The “working masses” will watch their leaders, on the advice of the Communist Party. The latter’s members will watch their leaderr. on the advice of Eden and Cedar Paul. While the leaders themselves will have their eyes fixed on Whitehead’s hobgoblins and other divine and satanic sprites who sit up aloft and watch over the tribe of Labour fakirs !

Could the revolutionary movement be in better hands than these?

R. BIRD.

(Socialist Standard, June 1922)

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