Sir,—I note with interest your Election Manifesto of current issue. My attention has been arrested more particularly with regard to that part which runs as follows (page 51, column 24, S.S. :— “As a sufficient number of the working class is not yet desirous of establishing Socialism to permit of any candidates being put forward at this election.” “Here you offer advice.” It is specifically the paragraph marked with * that I wish to deal with. That statement I accept as definite, and upon analysing same deduct the following : (a) Sufficient number, a portion definitely held in mind by the S.P.G.B. organisation. (b) You would fall into line with other political expressions, i.e., L.P., C.P., or I.L.P., and adopt Parliamentary candidates. (c) The possibility of witnessing a nominee of the party contesting a by-election. (d) A Socialist in the “House” with his or her hands tied to their back. I do not think I can be accused of misrepresenting your statement. There certainly is a significant deviation from Marxian philosophy, and it is hoped that it is not wilful. If you hold that the putting into operation of your objects (and mine) depends on a sufficient number of Socialists acquiring the useful Parliamentary machine, whether or no, democracy demands and desires that change of society, you will, as the principaled men that I know you to be, stand by that conviction at the next election. This, although constituting a compromise and place your party on par with C.P., would in itself be inconsistent with your general principles. I trust this letter will be published in your next issue, and that the anticipated reply will be given in accordance with true camaraderie.
I am, fraternally,
P. J. Lockwood, U.P.W., E.C.D.O. A Wage Slave.
Mr. Lockwod asks that our reply hall be given in accordance with true camaraderie. What a pity he did not write his letter in that same accord instead of trying to hide deliberate misrepresentation uunder the fuise of “deductions.”
The paragraph Mr. Lockwood refers to is as follows : —
“As a sufficient number of the working class is not yet desirous of establishing Socialism to permit of any candidate being put forward at this election, we call upon all those who wish for Socialism to express their wish by going to the ballot-box and voting for SOCIALISM by writing it across the ballot paper.”
Instead of dealing with this paragraph as it is written, Mr. Lockwood prefers to draw what he calls “deductions.”
Let us examine some of these.
(b) Either Mr Lockwood has read our literature and heard our speakers, or he has not. If the former is true then his “deduction” is a deliberate misrepresentation, because, as all our writings and speeches show, we are directly opposed to, and have fought on every occasion, the methods of the parties to whom he refers. First, and above all, these organisations are anti-Socialist and run their candidates on anti-Socialist programmes. Secondly, as a result, they engage in underhand trickery, open and secret bargaining for votes, and indulge in various intrigues to obtain money from Trade Unions and other organisations.
If Mr. Lockwood has not read our writings, or heard our speakers, then his impertinence in classing us with anti-Socialist organisations is great. Neither he, nor any one else has any right to criticise a person or an organisation of whom they are in complete ignorance, still less to attribute to them the very things they oppose.
(d) This “deduction” sounds curious. Why should a Socialist have his hands tied behind him (or her) any more than any other individuals member? If Mr. Lockwood means that a Socialist Member of Parliament could not pass a resolution, or a Bill, by himself, this almost childish truth is equally true of any other individual member, whether he belongs to any party or whether he does not. But why stop at an individual member? The same, is equally true of a minority. The Labour Party at the present moment can only do those things that suit the other parties in the House of Commons. As soon as it attempts to interfere seriously with any interest of the Capitalist class, it will be thrown out of office by the majority in the House. All this has been pointed out scores of times in the Socialist Standard.
Mr. Lockwood says “there certainly is a significant deviation from Marxian philosophy, and it is hoped that it is not wilful.”
Where is this deviation?
Mr. Lockwood does not tell us, because it only exists in his misrepresentation of our case, and cannot be found anywhere in the Manifesto he is supposed to be criticising.
Mr. Lockwood’s next statement is a contradiction in terms. Having apparently filled his head with Communist rant about a minority seizing power, he is unable to see the facts of the situation.
“A sufficient number of Socialists” could, obviously, be nothing less than a working majority above all other parties combined. This majority can only exist when a majority of the Electorate desire to establish Socialism, and show their desire by voting for Socialist candidates. But what is the “democracy” Mr. Lockwood has in mind? He does not tell us. Unless he has some fantasy of his own on the matter, “democracy” means the mass, or majority, of a people in a given society. Hence the return of a majority of Socialists to the House of Commons is impossible until a majority of the working class (we prefer this clear unequivocal term) or the “democracy” as Mr. Lockwood prefers, had become Socialists.
Where is the “compromise” ? So far being on a par with the Communist Party, as shown above, our Marxian position is in direct opposition to that freak and fake organisation.
(Socialist Standard, April 1924)