The socialist searchlight


What the Labour Party calls Socialisation can easily be gathered from the famous speech on “Gradualism” made by the “brains” of the Labour Party—Mr. Sidney Webb—who plainly showed that his conception of Socialism was the ordinary legislation of Liberals and Tories. He said:

“The process of Socialisation has been going on for a whole generation in National and Local Government without our realising it.”

If the I.L.P. thinks that Mr. Webb is not advanced enough what about their own Tom Johnson, M.P., who as Editor of “Forward,” continually describes Glasgow “City Owned” Tramcars as Socialism? This same I.L.P. leading Member of Parliament, in his debate with Mr. J. M. Keynes, said :

“That he regarded many of the proposals in the Liberal Yellow Book as proposals for which Socialists could vote with both hands (“Forward,” 11/8/28).

Mr. Aitken Ferguson, adopted as Communist Party Candidate for North Aberdeen, shows that he is a Communist in name only. The National Left Wing Committee asked him if he accepted their programme and he replied (Sunday Worker, August 12) :

“The whole programme is unreservedly accepted. I am enclosing a copy of my election address, and you will notice that it differs in no essential points from the programme of your national committee.”

This programme includes Nationalisation of Banks, Mines and Basic Industries, 44-hour week and £4 minimum wage Law, Nationalisation of Land (with due regard for Co-ops, and small holders !), Capital Levy, Unemployment Relief on a National Scale, Pensions at 55, Abolition of House of Lords.

This policy is not Communism nor is it one which alters the slave position of the workers under Capitalism. The programme can be carried out and still leave the Capitalists richer than ever, because nothing in such a series of reforms stops the normal development of industry benefiting the Capitalist at the expense of the worker. The last item—abolition of House of Lords—shows how “vote catching” has reduced for election purposes the Communist demand of “smashing the State” to the gentle liberal political reform of “No Second Chamber.”

“Apparently the increased seriousness of accidents during the last few years has been the direct result of the increased intensity of industrial activity during that period. There are, however, forces inherent in mechanisation itself and in the consequent speeding up of industry which have a direct tendency to increase the seriousness of accidents.”
(From “A Study of Safety and Production,” by The American Engineering Council.)

“The fact that during the past 20 years the number of factories has increased by 40 per cent., while workshops have fallen by 26 per cent., is regarded as an indication that “the small employer tends to drop out of existence, and that mass production in highly organised establishments is steadily replacing the village and rural workshop.”
The “Daily News,” July 31st, quoting report of Chief Inspector of Factories, 1928.

Since the theses of the Third (Moscow) International advocating violence and armed insurrection (1921) were suppressed by the authorities, many workers think that policy has been abandoned by the Communists.

We print below two quotations from the new draft programme of the 3rd International now being discussed by the Congress in Moscow, where a large number of paid officials of Communist Parties are meeting.

These quotations prove that phrases and slogans borrowed from Russian experiences are still being advocated for countries with a much different situation than Russia. The net result of such a programme is simply to get the minorities who act on these lines smashed by the powers of the governments. Steady organisation and education in Socialist ideas are neglected entirely by such schemes of sensational uprising.

“When the revolutionary tide is flowing, when the dominant classes are disorganised, the masses are in a state of revolutionary ferment, the intermediary strata are inclining towards the proletariat and the masses are prepared for action and for sacrifice; the task of the party of the proletariat is to lead the masses into the direct attack upon the bourgeois state. This is to be achieved by propaganda in favour of all transitional slogans (Soviet’s, workers’ control of industry, the slogan of peasant committees for the seizure of the landlords’ land, etc.), and the organisation of mass actions, to which all other branches of party work, agitation and propaganda, including parliamentary work, must be subordinated. This includes strikes, strikes combined with demonstrations, the combination of armed demonstrations and strikes, and finally the general strike conjointly with the armed uprising against the political power of the bourgeoisie. The struggle must be subjected to the rules of military art; it must be conducted according to a plan of war and in the form of a military offensive. It calls for the devoted loyalty and heroism of the proletariat. Such actions must be preceded by the organisation of the broad masses in military units which by their very form attract and set into action the maximum number of toilers (councils of workers’ and peasants’ deputies, soldiers’ councils, etc.), and by intensified work in the army and navy.” (Daily Worker, New York, July 16th, 1928).

“Countries of highly developed capitalism (United States, Great Britain, Germany, etc.) with powerful productive forces, a high degree of centralisation of production, relatively small significance of small production and with a long-established bourgeois, democratic political system. In these countries, the fundamental political demand of the programme is direct transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the sphere of economics the most characteristic are : The expropriation of the whole of large-scale production ; the organisation of a large number of State Soviet farms, only a small share of the land to be transferred to the peasantry ; unorganised market relationships to be permitted only on a small scale. Socialist development generally and the collectivisation of peasant farming in particular to proceed at a rapid rate.” (Daily Worker, New York, July 13th, 1928).

Bucharin was the official Bolshevik speaker in favour of the new Draft Programme on July 19th at the Moscow Congress (1928). His remarks, which we quote below, ask the workers to resort to anarchist street fightings and state smashing and such hopeless and out-of-date methods of struggle. Modern conditions make all such policies obsolete in view of the development of the mighty political machine and its forces, as Engels well showed in reviewing the class struggles in France from 1848 to 1850.

Here is the quotation from Bucharin as printed in the official “International Press Correspondence ” (July 30th, 1928).

“Mass actions must be regarded as one of the best means in our struggle. Our tactics must be to mobilise the masses, to become masters of the streets, to attack again and again the law and order of the bourgeoise State and to smash it, to capture the street by revolutionary means, in the strict sense of the word, and then to go further. Only on the basis of a whole series of such events and on the basis of the development of these events—mass actions, etc.—only through such a process can we prepare ourselves for fiercer and more stubborn mass struggles on a larger scale.”

If they could show that any of the above methods had led to Socialism in Russia they migjht have a plausible argument. But as we have shown in these columns the Russian Bolshevik Policy is neither applicable here with a different stage of working class development, nor is it able to give Russia Socialism.

How backward Russia is we can regretfully read in this quotation from the Bolshevik Workers’ Life of July 20th, 1928 :

“Russia is a country of small peasant farms, like those parts of Ireland, where landlords do not flourish. In general, the methods of tilling used by the peasants are very primitive, and little attempt is made to sort out good seeds or to study the characteristics of the soil.
But scattered throughout the Soviet Union now there are a number of Soviet farms, larger in size than the peasant holdings, and very much more efficient.
In the R.S.F.S.R. there are over 3,000 such farms, and in the Ukraine there were 633 last year.
Large though these numbers seem, Soviet farms are only “a drop in the ocean” in the vast expanse of Russia. Their production is a very small proportion of Russia’s total output. For instance, they have about 200,000 head of livestock on these farms (cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, etc.), but the total number of such animals in Russia is nearly 20,000,000 !”


(Socialist Standard, September 1928)

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