1920s >> 1925 >> no-250-june-1925

Our Revolutionary Position

In a world of political opportunism, the Socialist Party of Great Britain occupies a unique position, a position that has never been gainsaid by even its most inveterate enemies—it still adheres with unremitting persistence and firmness to the principles on which it was originally founded. Its Declaration of Principles remains, word for word, exactly the same to-day as it was when first printed. Is there in this country any other political party of which it can be said that it knew from the first the impregnability of the basis on which it stood, and that the test of time and experience has only gone to prove the sure judgment of those who, at its inception, conceived the idea of such an organization being in fact what it claimed to be in name? Is there any other political party that has not, at some time or other, thrown overboard its principles (or its alleged principles) tacking this way and that to catch the popular wind that should waft its leaders into the pleasant harbour of position and power and monetary advantage?

It is rather strange, when one considers it, how the strict adherence of the Socialist Party to its original principles irritates the majority of people. We have been and are criticised for being “narrow-minded”; have been likened to certain very dogmatic religious sects; have been continually reproached and admonished, both in sorrow and in anger, for our refusal to swerve aside from our business of Socialist propaganda into any of the numerous side tracks —such as the advocacy of woman’s suffrage, land reform, nationalisation of industries, etc.—which have, within the last few decades become popular with certain self-styled “advanced” and “modern” people, who seem to think that any activity, however futile, must be an advance, and any stunt, however foolish, a means to intellectual progress.

If our critics would take the trouble to analyse the actions and motives of the late Labour Government they might possibly come to the conclusion, that a strict adherence to principle is not so narrow-minded and reprehensible as they suppose. Nominally the Labour Party was in proud possession of the seat of Government. Actually what happened was that a number of men and women, some of whom call themselves leaders of labour and some who by no stretch of imagination can claim that they in any way represent the minutest fraction of the labouring class, were allowed, by the somewhat contemptuous consent of the Liberal and Tory parties, to act for the time being as the agents of the capitalists in national and international affairs. Neither in kind nor in degree were these Government Ministers distinguished from the other political parties when in office. They are as assiduous in attending archaic court functions; as eager to present their wives and daughters to the notice of royalty; as ready to hobnob, openly and shamelessly, with all sections of the capitalist class. The Parliamentary Bills they pass are but such as might well have been the production of Liberals and Tories (as in some cases they actually have been); and their methods of repression and secret diplomacy are all well in keeping with their predecessors’ traditions. As for the fulfilment of the promises made to the rank and file of the Labour Party whilst the Labour leaders were struggling for power, as might have been expected the things promised are now found to be “impracticable,” are “not possible under the circumstances,” are “regrettably impossible,” and so it has always been with these and such-like good shepherds of sheeplike followings.

Recently a writer in “The Star” recapitulated very effectively the exploits of some of the many Labour leaders who have in the past thrown over their erstwhile followers and tools, and have kicked away the props by which they had risen to positions of eminence, in order to place their services wholeheartedly at the beck and call of the political agents of Capitalism. Henry Broadhurst, John Burns, George N. Barnes, Isaac Mitchell, David Shackleton (plenty of others might have been cited) are shown as passing in procession before the reproachful and mildly indignant eyes of their deluded and forsaken followers. The workers’ past bitter experiences of the value of their leaders’ promises seem at times to have left the workers in very much the same position of blind trustfulness as hitherto. However many times they may find their confidence misplaced yet once again they are somehow able to assure themselves that at long last a leader will appear who will fulfil his promises, will justify the faith placed in him and will miraculously lead them to the promised land of plenty. They are too little informed to realise that most of their leaders’ promises could not be fulfilled in any case and that their leaders would cheerfully promise the moon or the millennium to anyone who could and would assist them in their rise to place and power.
And then these trustful beings, still retaining faith in the faithless, and hoping for what they should know is hopelessly impossible, will in one breath take us to task for holding firmly to the principles of Socialism, and in the next make the statement that any Socialist elected to Parliament would do as the rest do, would forswear his principles and seek only to further his own ends. Such people have not yet realised that it is simply because of their own weakness and ignorance that the political leaders whom they trust continually fail them; that the wisdom and strength of the electorate is the only guarantee that can be given for the honesty and integrity of the men and women elected.
In the meantime the Socialist Party will continue its business of propagating Socialism and making Socialists, and expose the MacDonalds and Snowdens and Thomases, knowing that it is but a matter of time before the curtain is rung down on the wretched political farce now being played by the Labour puppets of capitalism and their Liberal and Tory masters. One day the curtain will rise on an empty stage; the workers will not always be satisfied to be the contented spectators of a caricature of life; they will, by facing reality, learn how to live, and then goodbye to the political charlatans and the “captains of industry.” Goodbye also to Capitalism and the slaves of wagedom. But till then we of the Socialist Party will hold fast to the political and economic truth of life as we know it and leave the social, political and religious humbug to those who are content to sell their manhood for “a handful of silver ” or “a riband to stick in their coat.”
F. J. Webb

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