Ownership and Political Power

We have received an Edinburgh journal called “The Proletariat,” the organ of the British Section of the Socialist Labour Party. This is a body which has “existed” since 1912 and broke away from the now defunct Socialist Labour Party. Why they call themselves the British Section it is hard to judge, because the other Socialist Labour Party (in America) repudiate them.

“The State of the S.P.G.B.” is the title of an article purporting to deal with us. The state of this British Section of the S.L.P. may be judged from their criticism which we quote:—

    “To show far misconception dominates the S.P.G.B., Engels, in the closing chapters of Origin of the Family points out that the State derives all its substance via taxation from the economic factors. These dominate the State which includes the Army and Navy. In a word, condition them in the fullest meaning of the term. And, further, the capitalist class to-day, who are the economic masters of all wealth, mark you, the civil power, subject that military thing to their requirements, increase or decrease it as the case demands. The owners of the economic wealth factors are masters of the situation.

    “The S.P.G.B. position that ‘dispossession necessitates disarmament,’ suggest that it is the armed force that dominates the situation, and consequently, from the Marxian position, must be ruled out.”

Can criticism be more idiotic?

Ownership depends upon power to maintain possession, therefore the capitalists depend upon their control of political power, which gives control of the armed forces. As Marx says in the Communist Manifesto, the first step in the emancipation of the working class is the winning of political supremacy.

Engels, in his “Retrospect,” points out the all-importance of political action for the purpose of wresting control from the hands of the employing class.

The recent general strike completely justifies our position that those who control the armed forces dominate the situation. Hence a capitalist victory.

Our critics quote from the January, 1925, issue of the “Socialist Standard” on disarmament. Let us give the full statement from that issue:

    “Ownership to-day consists not in occupation but in mere legal title, meaningless, unless recognised and upheld by the forces of State. The overthrow of the capitalist ownership, therefore, and the establishment of common ownership, involves the capture of the State by the working-class. Dispossession necessitates disarmament. The organisation of the working-class must, therefore be a political organisation i.e., a Socialist Party.”

Like all other species of Anarchists the so-called S.L.P. of Edinburgh offer no alternative to political action.

Adolph Kohn

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