1920s >> 1924 >> no-237-may-1924

The Quick Change Artist

At the moment Winston Churchill is very much in the public eye on account of his latest change of front. He was once a Conservative, then he became a Liberal, and lately he appears to have returned to the Conservative ranks again. But in one thing he is at least consistent, he has always supported Capitalism and has not pretended to do anything else.

There is another man, once very much in the public eye, but now a setting star. This other man is Tom Mann. He has also changed his front many times, but he also has at least been consistent in one thing— consistent in advancing the personal interests of one Tom Mann.

For years Tom Mann waved the big stick of Industrial unionism and cut capers on platforms whilst pouring scorn upon Political Action as a weapon in the working class struggle for emancipation. We have, on previous occasion, given examples of the way in which this platform pantaloon at one time backs industrial action and at another political action. A recent illustration of his change of front moves us to extract one or two more examples from his record.
The Labour Leader of June 20th, 1918, issued an appeal inviting workers to join the I.L.P. The following extract is from this appeal:—

  We must not go back to pre-war conditions— else why all the sacrifice of the. war? We must have a fuller life—which is only possible on Socialist lines advocated by the I.L.P. This Party, of which we, the undersigned are members, is growing rapidly, is a fine propagandist body, and will assist to co-ordinate the industrial and political efforts of the Unions. We must not forget all we owe to the I.L.P. in the past.

Amongst the names of those who signed the above appeal (wherein it is stated that the “undersigned are members” of the I.L.P.) appears that of Tom Mann, the industrial unionist!

Later on Tom Mann signed the Trade Union Leaders’ ‘Manifesto supporting the League of Nations. Item 4 of this Manifesto runs as follows :—

 4. The prospect of another and still greater war is one we must either prepare for by vaster armaments than ever, or prevent. The first alternative is unthinkable. There remains only prevention. Prevention is possible by the League of Nations to enforce the peace. There isno other way.—The Times, 7.11.19.

Is this Tom Mann the Industrialist or Tom Mann the I.L.P.’er who signs the Manifesto? If the “League of Nations” is the only way to prevent war, then where does Socialism come in? A very little examination of the “ League of Nations” should convince those who will look at it from the working-class standpoint that it cannot prevent wars in a Capitalist world because it leaves the cause of wars untouched. It has a two-fold object. It is a method by which a section of the Capitalist Class hope to cut down the enormous sums they have to throw away on large armaments, and it is also a convenient method of throwing dust in the eyes of the workers and keeping them from finding the real cause of wars—the profit-making nature of the Capitalist system. The Capitalist hoodwinking scheme then has the support of Tom Mann.

In 1920 a pamphlet was issued by “The Labour Abstentionist Party” (a party that was still-born). This party advocated

  (a) Securing the election of Parliamentary Candidates pledged to abstain from taking their seats; (b) Propagation of the futility of Parliamentary action.

The “Foreword” to the pamphlet was written by Tom Mann and the following extracts are taken from it:—

  The workers are travelling rapidly in the direction of obtaining control of industry. They will travel with accelerating speed as they learn the unwisdom of relying upon Parliament. .   .   .
 The glamour of Parliament naturally has attractions which many good men are reluctant to forego; as these comrades grow in strength and clearness of view they will discard the plutocratic institution and learn the wisdom of Direct Action, and complete. control of industrial affairs in the communal interest.  .    .    .
  I therefore heartily commend this pamphlet as being in my judgment calculated to be really educative in enabling readers to estimate Parliamentary action correctly, and to see the necessity for Industrial Solidarity.

Here we have a change back again to Direct Action—he has apparently grown (backwards!) in strength and clearness and discarded the “ plutocratic institution ”

But now we come to the cream of the business—the “real currant bun.” The monthly journal of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, number forty-four, March, 1924, has been brought to our notice, and was the immediate inspiration of this article. On turning to page 6 we find the following:—


The following have accepted nomination for the above positions. All pay the Political Levy and accept the objects, policy, and programme of the Labour Party, and are prepared to accept a constituency in the event of being selected. (Italics ours.)

On looking down the list of those who “have accepted nomination,” etc., we find among them

Mann, T., Woolwich, 6th.

So the Labour abstentionist has grown further in “strength and clearness” and is back in the Parliamentary fold trying to get a seat in the “plutocratic institution” ! He accepts “the objects, policy, and programme” of the party which assisted in sending thousands of working men to the battlefield and whose present programme includes the settling of strikes, the increase of armaments, and the attendance at glorious feeds provided by their wealthy patrons—the Capitalists.
We have given the above particulars not because any great importance attaches to Tom Mann (as a matter of fact among “labour leaders” he is practically a back number at the moment), but because his record offers a convenient illustration of the futility and foolishness of trusting in “leaders.”
The antidote to the blind following of blind or tricky leaders is to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge that will acquaint you with the road you must travel to achieve your freedom from wage slavery. Once you have grasped the fundamentals of your position in society you will lay down the policy to be carried out and you will not require ‘‘leaders.”
Popular idols are the abomination of working-class movements. Away with them !

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