1920s >> 1929 >> no-301-september-1929

All Quiet on the Parliamentary Front


As the evenings draw in, it is more and more evident that Socialism will not be here by Christmas. This, we must agree, is disappointing. True, the Labour Government has done its best, but what with the lack of rain, and the holiday season coming on, one must not expect too much. Photographs of Uncle Arthur at Scheveningen, looking the reverse of revolutionary, have appeared in the papers; others of Ramsay in flying kit, so anxious to achieve Socialism in Our Time that he has to resort to the airplane ; others again of Snowden, scowling, sneering or smiling. Delightful little paragraphs have appeared depicting the charming home life and complete domestic harmlessness of the Labour Cabinet. Altogether they can be said to have had a good press. Even when they disguised Sidney Webb in the fustian of a Lord, the jeers were fairly restrained. And now, after three months of office, we find capital going further still and saying, “the whole Empire is behind Philip Snowden.” Here is a revolution indeed. Three months ago they were disrupters of the Empire ; to-day, Snowden talks of its prestige and its rightful foremost place in world affairs.

What has happened? It is very simple. There is no need to expend a great number of words in explaining. During the great European war, the Labour Party was on the side of Capital. In 1924, when they were “in office but not in power,” their most outstanding achievement was to threaten revolting workers with the Emergency Powers Act. In 1929 the first jobs they tackle are the safeguarding of capitalist rights in Egypt, the cheaper running of the Navy by arrangement with capitalist rivals, and the squabbling with European capitalists over the sharing of German reparations.

We submit those are not the actions of a party whose object is the overthrow of Capitalism. Briand, Stresemann and Snowden meet round the table as equals. They are equals. Each represents a separate capitalist entity. The workers will realise this as the months and years roll by and their lot remains the same. They will realise that to vote for a working man because he is a working man, and for no other reason, is the height of futility. Capitalism, administered by working men, differs in little from capitalism administered by capitalists. The workers must learn that it is not the individuals, it is the system that is at fault, They must grasp this fact and hold on to it, that changing the name and not the thing achieves nothing. They must cease to believe such tosh as that recently published in the New Leader, wherein the workers were urged to admire Socialism in practice at Bournemouth, Brighton and Blackpool. We hope to have many opportunities of commenting upon the career of foolishness that is now before the Labour Party. The problem is a simple one. The workers who produce all wealth are poor in the midst of plenty. A million of them cannot find a master. Their condition is acute. The remainder are poor, permanently poor. We shall see that the Labour Government has no remedy.


(Socialist Standard, September 1929)

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