The Capitalist Principles of the I.L.P. Confessed
Our criticism of the I.L.P. in the January issue has brought from a correspondent copies of a letter written by him to the I.L.P. Head Office on this subject, and their reply. The letter of enquiry was passed over to the I.L.P. Information Committee, and the reply, signed by Ernest Hunter, contains the following illuminating passages :—
“The I.L.P. does state that production should be for use and not for profit, but this is not the be all and end all of Socialism. This statement does not exclude any possibility of the State making a profit. What it does mean is that service should be considered of more importance than profits.
“There is nothing in Socialism that prevents a man owning property. Socialism is chiefly an expression against the power which this possession of property involves. Hence some Socialists believe that interest—(not, as to-day, dividends)— should be paid to the wealth lent to the State; this interest to be equitable and fair. The chief feeling against the National Debt is not that it exists, but that it is owned by a comparatively few people who draw a huge tribute from their fellow countrymen.”
The really startling admission is this :—
“It is a little difficult at the present moment to give a statement of what accurately represents the I.L.P. point of view on these financial points.”
One cannot but be amused at the spectacle of a political party which, after thirty years of propaganda, finds it a little difficult to say exactly what it believes on a fundamental Socialist principle.
In reply to another definite question, the I.L.P. Head Office wrote :—
“I do not think there is any official I.L.P. view regarding the limited use of interest in a Socialist StateIt is a matter for future decision whether it will be absolutely abolished under Socialism.”
It is therefore not surprising that we should have Mr. Fred Longden, a member of the N.A.C. of the I.L.P., writing of that Party’s unemployment programme, that it
”Is the very antithesis of Socialism, and lends itself to the entrenchment of a system that is naturally dying and is out of date.”—(Labour Monthly, January, 1925.)
A similar enquiry addressed to the Labour Party brought a quite definite statement of their intention to allow the capitalists to go on “living by owning,” their property to take the form of Government Stock :—
“…. I think I am right in saying that there is a considerable concensus of opinion in the Movement against the usual principles of compensation being applied with regard to unknown minerals.
“Generally speaking, however, the Party accepts the principle of compensation, and, although close details have not been worked out in many instances, the problem will be met by the issue of redemption bonds.”
(This letter is signed by Mr. J. S. Middleton, the Assistant Secretary.)