The Socialist Party and You
Before many weeks have passed we may hope that brighter weather will permit us to begin a new propaganda season. It will permit, but it will not compel. Be the sky never so blue and the sun never so warm, no seeds of Socialism will be scattered unless there are sowers to do the work. Capitalism may prepare the ground in men’s minds, but that alone will bring no harvest. The growth of Socialist knowledge requires effort; the effort must be organised and the organisation must have resources.
Knowledge of Socialism we have, and the rudiments of organisation; resources far below even our present needs and a measure of effort quite inadequate to the task we have in hand.
HOW DO WE STAND?
We have a few hundred members, upwards of 5,000 readers of the “Socialist Standard,” some 40,000 copies of the three pamphlets advertised in this issue; we hold a certain number of indoor and outdoor meetings and doubtless we all find time and opportunity to impress our point of view on our acquaintances. These activities, with the difficulties, by no means few or negligible, which attend publishing our Journal and finding the necessary money, absorb all of our available energies. And with this “Light Brigade” we propose to conquer the world—not unnaturally a subject of mirth for the enemy!
Why is our membership numbered in hundreds instead of thousands? Why not fifty thousand readers, and why not a weekly paper? Why not 30 pamphlets and meetings too numerous to mention? These things, you will say, are at the moment pleasant to dream about but not practicable propositions. True, but there are other developments by no means beyond our range, only waiting for just that little extra effort. Another 1,000 copies of the “S.S.” sold and it would more than pay for itself; double its circulation and we could reduce the price to 1d. ; make a hole quickly in those 40,000 pamphlets and we can get on with printing some more; give us a little more financial support and we could offer much needed assistance to scattered provincial members anxious to make us known and organise new branches.
WHY DON’T YOU GIVE US A HAND?
These words are addressed in a sense especially to those numerous old readers and sympathisers of long standing who have never yet felt the urgency of joining actively in our work. Many of them would justify standing aside, perhaps, with the remark that they would willingly join in if they could see some signs of activity; if only the S.P.G.B. would be more lively and do something. To which we can only reply that with their help, perhaps, we might, and in any event if they would but come inside they would better realise how great are the difficulties to be overcome before we can do even what little we succeed in doing now.
We are a working class organisation and our funds are accordingly very strictly limited. The whole of the work of the organisation has so far depended entirely on the voluntary unpaid services of our members. This must, of course, remain generally true, however our activities may grow, but there are many things which can be done so much better, and others which can only be done at all by full time paid officials. We cannot, for instance, have organisers at work in the provinces until we can afford the expense, and only those who have tried know that there is a soon reached physical limit to the spare time work that can be performed after our employers have had their eight hours of the best that is in us. Much as we should like to attain a level of efficiency in internal administration equal to that of the best business concerns, it is a sheer impossibility to do so with the necessarily irregular and haphazard efforts on which we must rely.
If, then, you have in the past been discouraged by our little show of activity, you will realise that we carry on under difficulties. We are, in fact, in the position of having to trust to the excellence of our wares. We cannot compete in advertising and service with the numerous purveyors of political shoddy who are our competitors.
WHAT CAN YOU DO
If, then, you already understand and accept our principles, why not apply for membership? To do so will give encouragement to us; it will keep you in touch with the internal work of the party, show you our difficulties and open up forms of activity you had not considered. You can, perhaps, find ways of co-operating with other members, at present isolated and inactive like yourself. All who can afford it can give us welcome financial aid.
Practically everyone can make a point of pushing the sale of the “ S.S.” and our pamphlets. You can and should perfect yourself as a speaker or as a writer, for in both directions we are sadly handicapped. You can send us your criticisms of the matter in our publications and of the manner of its presentation. If you dislike what we say or how we say it we can promise to consider your points and endeavour to meet them so far as our limited powers permit. Above all, if you have difficulties or want particular subjects dealt with and explained, do not hesitate to write and tell us. Without some such guide it is difficult indeed to know to what extent we are making the best use. of our limited resources.
Never before have external conditions been so favourable! never have the workers been more ready to listen to and examine the Socialist case, but with this decline of hostility has come a corresponding disinclination to give enthusiastic support, due, no doubt, to the disappointment born of repeated disillusionment suffered at the hands of professional politicians of the old school, or at the hands of the new and numerous brood who distort and bring into disrepute the Principles of Socialism. Remember that you and we are of the working class and we cannot, if we would, wash our hands of working class troubles. Their problems are also yours and ours, if they sink further into the mire so do we and you. If we cannot win the workers for Socialism, they will be retained for the Capitalist system and you will share the suffering that will ensue.
Just think it over and consider whether it should not be your duty and privilege to have a hand in this work.