1920s >> 1928 >> no-284-april-1928

Australian Communists Answered

In the March issue, under the title “Socialism and Chinese Nationalism,” we replied to certain criticisms of our policy which appeared in the Australian Workers’ Weekly, organ of the Communist Party. Immediately after going to press we received from an Australian reader, J. McElligott, a copy of correspondence between himself and the writer of the Workers’ Weekly article. It is hardly necessary to say that the Workers’ Weekly first ignored the reply to their attack, and then, in answer to a letter of enquiry, refused to print it on the ground of lack of space. A final letter from our comrade McElligott was likewise ignored.

As the letter by McElligott is a concise and clear statement of the policy of the Socialist Party, we have printed it below. Some other Australian readers may be interested to note the cowardly attitude of our Communist critics. Possibly the knowledge that there are local comrades willing and able to defend the Socialist position will deter the Workers’ Weekly from again misrepresenting us.

ED. COMM.

Townsville, 28/8/27.

The Editor,

The Workers’ Weekly,

395, Sussex Street, Sydney.

Dear Sir,

As a supporter of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, I wish to draw your attention to a number of inaccurate statements in an article entitled “History and the Workers,” published in the Workers’ Weekly for Friday, July 15th, 1927.

Under the heading “The New Opportunism,” the Socialist Party of Great Britain is attacked on account of an article, “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” which appeared in the SOCIALIST STANDARD of March, 1927. The S.P.G.B. has been in existence since September, 1904, and during all that time its policy has been as constant as the Pole Star; it has “waged war on all other political parties, whether allegedly Labour or avowedly Capitalist”; … it has supported no Capitalist war and no Nationalist movement; it has always from the platform and press promulgated Socialism.

Your writer’s choice of a heading, “The New Opportunism,” was therefore an unhappy one.

Your article quotes the second paragraph ending with …”including a possible war in China,” and devotes 25 lines to exposing the definitely opportunist ending of the first question,” because, ”Despite the facts that the principal representations of Imperialism are piling up men and munitions in China, bombarding defenceless towns, murdering thousands of inhabitants,” etc., the S.P.G.B. traitorously says, “including a possible war in China.”

But your article was written in July, after “the bombardment of defenceless towns,” etc., by “the principal representatives of Imperialism” ; the article of the S.P.G.B. was written in February, before these events took place.

Your writer is therefore a fool or a rogue, and if a rogue he is still a fool, because others of your readers will remember, as I do, that the first time allied or foreign troops or warships were engaged in the recent Chinese disturbances was on March 23rd, 1927.

The term used by the S.P.G.B., “including a possible war in China,” was therefore correct, and not “definitely opportunist” (the SOCIALIST STANDARD is published on the 1st of the month).

Your article goes on to say, “Let us suppose that Southampton, Liverpool and London were being bombarded from sea and air—would the theoreticians of the S.P.G.B. refer to it as a possible war on England?”

I suppose some term of reproach is implied in that “theoreticians,” but what it is or where he got it from Mr. Loughron does not say. If he cares to elaborate the term a little, I will deal with it.

The paragraph following in your article also leaves me mystified, and would, I think, be better, much better, for a little elaboration. I refer to the paragraph beginning, “We admit the weakness of our arguments lies in the fact that we imply the equality of Chinese and Britons,” etc. Can Loughron produce anything written or published by the S.P.G.B. claiming any “superiority for hundred per cent. freedom loving Britishers over mere chows”? If not, why does he make these dirty insinuations? Is it trying to live up to his self-imposed title, a “Leader of Revolutionists”?

In keeping with his unique style, Loughron goes on to say, “In the allegedly ‘ unambiguous No,’ the S.P.G.B. brand themselves as the henchmen of their Imperialist Masters. All their ‘No can amount to is the advocacy of a free hand for Imperial Piracy, which means the uninterrupted flow of members of our class as uniformed hirelings to strangle the aspirations of subject peoples such as India, Egypt or China, and guard the loot for their Imperial Masters.”

This, despite the fact that the article, “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” said, “Where the capitalist economic system exists (whether the government is Conservative, Liberal or Labour), armed forces are maintained for the protection of capitalist private property and capitalist interests generally. Foreign trade is one of the forces constantly creating friction with other capitalist competing’ countries and with ‘backward’ races which are unfortunate enough to dwell in parts of the earth endowed with rich natural resources. When the governing sections of the capitalist class think their interests seriously menaced, they set the armed forces in motion either at home or abroad. These armed forces are organised and controlled by these governing sections, and they are never used for any other purpose than the protection of capitalist interests. Wars waged by capitalist states involve, therefore, no working-class issue, and on no account would Socialists support them. The Socialist Party alone in this country consistently opposed the last war on Socialist grounds, and opposes any and every capitalist war. …”

That is what Loughron calls “the advocacy of a free hand.”

It is quite evident that Loughron does not understand English, and, if it were not reckoned presumption on my part, I would like to advise him to read more slowly, not to proceed to a fresh sentence until the last one is thoroughly understood, and, if necessary, to re-read an article several times, because, after all, it’s a pretty poor game writing such stuff; reading it is a waste of time and effort; and I cannot see that it does the workers’ cause or any other cause any good.

After the foregoing, one is not greatly surprised to read,

“The necessity of the National Revolution as the forerunner of the Social Revolution in subject countries is ignored, despite the fact that the class-conscious of all subject countries lend their driving force to the National movement, not as an end in itself, but for the weakening of the might of the Imperialist State, the getting of our propaganda to the broad masses, the gaining of their confidence, their acceptance of our leadership—the prerequisites for the Social Revolution.”

Prefaced by the usual lies—for on page 107 of the SOCIALIST STANDARD for March, in the article “Socialism or Chinese Nationalism,” one reads :

“We are interested in one kind of struggle only, class struggle, and primarily in that phase which consists in the endeavour by wage-earners to overthrow capitalist private property and all forms of the wages system. The Nationalist movements blazing away in different parts of the world are not working class, but capitalist, in their aim. We therefore oppose them. Patriotism has the effect of binding together the classes in each geographical area. Socialists desire that conflicting class interests shall be recognised, not obscured. Socialism and patriotism are irreconcilably antagonistic. Patriotism is anti-working class, and Chinese Nationalism is no less so than is British. The one encourages the other. We wish to strangle both.”

That, according to Loughron, is “ignoring the necessity of National Revolution as the forerunner of the Social Revolution in subject countries” !

The last few lines of Loughron’s paragraph, “the getting of our propaganda to the broad masses, the gaining of their confidence, their acceptance of our leadership,” are more to the point. Herein is the profound difference between the S.P.G.B. and the Communist Party. The S.P.G.B. does not desire “the gaining of the confidence of the broad masses or their leadership.” There are no “leaders” in the S.P.G.B., “revolutionary” or otherwise.

The S.P.G.B. holds that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself,” and to that end the Party devotes all its activities to the making of Socialists, knowing full well that when a sufficient number of our class realise their class interest, they will organise and put Socialism into operation. “Leaders” will not be required; all will know the way.

So there is no need for “con men” or “magomen” to gain the confidence of the “broad masses” by taking up and advocating whatever rostrum happens to be prominent at the moment, the “Labour Party,” “Child endowment,” “Full pay for the unemployed,” etc.

All that is required is workers who will propagate the knowledge of Socialism. Socialism is “a system of Society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by and in the interest of the whole community.”

I remain,

Yours faithfully,

J. McELLIGOTT.

(Socialist Standard, April 1928)

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