1920s >> 1928 >> no-288-august-1928

Correspondence: The aims of the I.L.P


Catford, S.E.6

Dear Comrades, .

I am sorry I was not able to continue our debate in time for the May number of the “Standard.” However, if you will tolerate a final letter, I should like to reply to two of the points you raise.

(1) You challenge me to quote from I.L.P. literature that the I.L.P. aims at Socialism. Here are four quotations taken at random :—

(a) From the Constitution of the I.L.P. :

Object.—Establishment of Socialist Commonwealth.

The Socialist Commonwealth is that state of society in which land and capital are communallv owned and the processes of production, distribution and exchange are social functions.

(b) From Fred. Henderson’s Case for Socialism, Chap. II. (Reprinted as a pamphlet by I.L.P.) The whole chapter explains the Socialist outlook on confiscation of ”private” property, e.g., “Socialists advocate the expropriation of the landed and capitalist class, the deprivation of their way of living ; and the organisation of the wealth-producing activities of the nation by nation itself, by the whole people acting in civic co-operation, for the benefit of all the citizens and members of the nation” (pages 31-32).

(c) From a leaflet “Socialism—What it is—What it is not.” (published by I.L.P.) “Socialism is the ownership of the means of life by the people and for the people.”

(d) From “Keir Hardie’s Socialism”—Francis Johnson (published by I.L.P.).

Object of I.L.P. : “To secure the collective ownership of all the means of production, distribution and exchange.” (Page 6.)

(2) I appreciated the “Salvation Army” joke —both in the original (Engel’s “Socialism,” p. 11), and in your use of the reference on p. 27, but I was annoyed at “my loose method of argument” because I said “Marx and Engels maintain,” etc. In the introduction to Engel’s book he explains how the book came to be written and how it expresses “the views held by Marx and myself on this great variety of subjects,” etc. (page 4). The number of times Engels used “we” instead of “I” must be hundreds. “H” is guilty of a lie to score a point—a genuine Socialist would not stoop to that.

Yours fraternally,



(1) (a) If Mr. Keeble will refer to the June SOCIALIST STANDARD, he will see that Mr. Maxton, Chairman of the I.L.P., agrees with us that ” communal ownership of capital ” is not Socialism, but a meaningless phrase.


Mr. Fred Henderson’s writings are not the official policy of the I.L.P., but merely his private opinions.


Mr. Keeble forgets that both the I.L.P. and the Labour Party (as we have repeatedly shown from their official publications) regard State Capitalism or Nationalisation, which still permit bondholders to live by owning property, as being “ownership by the people.”


The quotation from Keir Hardie merely bears out our contention in (c). Under Socialism there will be common ownership of the means of production and distribution. There can be no “exchange” except under a private property system.


(Socialist Standard, August 1928)

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