Correspondence: A Defence of the I.L.P. and Our Reply

We print below a letter from a correspondent and our comments on same :—

Davenport Road, Catford, S.E.6.


Dear Comrades,

As a member of the I.L.P., may I be allowed to correct a mis-statement in your issue of November last? In your reply to ” I.L.P.-er ” (Croydon) you state : “It will be news to us that the I.L.P. propose to abolish private ownership. It will also be news to the I.L.P.” Of the first part of that statement I can but express my doubt. Of the second I can give a direct contradiction by quoting the object of the Party, which is printed on page 3 of the membership cards :

” Object—The establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth.”

” The Socialist Commonwealth is that state of society in which Land and Capital are communally owned.”

This object is similar to your own.

Will you be candid enough to publish this statement? I hope so ! Of the rest of that reply I will not deal, as I have no doubt that the comrade who was responsible for it has since felt ashamed of it. If he is not I shall be very glad to explain to him why he ought to be.

With every fraternal wish to your party and our cause,

Yours, ” I.L.P.-ER ” (Catford).


This correspondent objects to the reply given to “I. L. P.-er, Croydon” (see November issue), that the I.L.P. is not in favour of the abolition of the private ownership of the machinery of production. To support his contention, he quotes the I.L.P. declaration that its object is the “communal ” ownership of “Land and Capital.” This, he says, is an object similar to our own. That statement merely illustrates his own and his organisation’s confused thinking. Capital is money invested with a view to obtaining a profit by the employment of wage-earners. “Capital” cannot therefore be “communally” owned. Socialism or communal ownership involves the abolition of the wages system, the abolition of a propertied class and a wage-earning class, the abolition of capital. The means of production, land, factories, railways, etc., will be owned by the community, and it will no longer be possible for a propertied class to live by owning property : the means of production will not then be “capital.”

As was pointed out in our earlier reply, the I.L.P. programme does not involve the abolition of the right of property owners to live by owning property. It merely proposes that “The present shareholders in mines and railways could receive State mines or railway stock based on a valuation and bearing a fixed rate of interest” (The Socialist Programme (p. 24), published by the I.L.P.). In short, it proposes to replace individual and company capitalism by State capitalism. The object of the I.L.P. is to reform capitalism. The object of the S.P.G.B. is to abolish capitalism and establish Socialism. Our aims are therefore not similar; they are irreconcilably opposed.

As we have many times demonstrated, the reform known as Nationalisation, or State capitalism, is not beneficial but directly harmful to the working class, even considered as an immediate policy. Further, it is not a step towards Socialism.

With regard to the remainder of the above letter, it is worthy of notice that our original I.L.P. critic from Croydon has not contested the adequacy of our reply or the accuracy of our criticisms of the I.L.P. programme. I.L.P.’er, from Catford, intervenes on his behalf and can offer nothing better than childish remarks on the “shame” which we ought to feel for having made unchallenged statements about the I.L.P.’s position.


(Socialist Standard, March 1928)

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