1920s >> 1929 >> no-304-october-1929

“Nationalisation is Obsolete”

Mr. Walton Newbold makes a discovery.

Mr. J. T. Walton Newbold, M.A., who has been preaching nationalisation of the mines for nearly 20 years, has decided that it is now obsolete. He contributes to the Miner (August 17th) an article in which he argues that the grouping together of South Wales mining, iron and steel, wagon building, electrical and banking interests,

“Makes obsolete the whole notion of nationalisation of the mines. Actually, that panacea of the propagandists of the last twenty years has been as dead as mutton for half a decade.”

Although this is not by any means the first time Mr. Newbold has discovered his politics to be obsolete, and we shall not be surprised if, as on previous occasions, he shortly swallows his words, it is interesting to have this direct admission from one of the purveyors of obsolete remedies. It is still more interesting to hear why the secret has not been disclosed before. Addressing1 his remarks to the miners, he writes :—

“Every Marxist has known that, though, I grant you, most of them have been too fearful of your disapproval to tell you the honest truth. Socialists are supposed to be guided by science. Actually, they are all too often swayed by the most sloppy sentimentality.”

To that statement we would like to put in a protest and add a question. We deny that those who understood Socialism ever had any doubts on the question or ever believed nationalisation to be a panacea for working-class problems or deserving of any support whatever from the workers.

Newbold, the reformer, in his unstable passage through the Fabian Society, the Labour Party, the I.L.P., the Communist Party, the I.L.P. again, and finally the Social Democrat Federation, might have thought that nationalisation was a panacea; and Newbold, the carpet-bagger, when he learned differently may well have kept his thoughts to himself for fear of the disapproval of those whose votes and financial support he was seeking. Socialists never made the original error, nor had the need to be dishonest about their objects.

The question we would like Mr. Walton Newbold to answer is this :—

“What are his reasons for believing that Nationalisation, before it became “obsolete” half a decade ago, would have proved a panacea for the workers ?”

It would appear that Mr. Newbold still finds it expedient not to risk the disapproval of those who supply the funds and the votes. At the last election he fought as a Labour candidate, committed to support of the Labour Party and accepting its programme of nationalisation and its string of capitalist reforms. But although Labour Party rules definitely prevent Labour candidates from running as Socialists, we notice that when Mr. Newbold appealed for funds through a Canadian journal, his candidature suffered a strange transformation. In Epping he was a Labour Candidate seeking the non-Socialist votes of the Labour Party’s supporters. In Winnipeg, he became a Socialist, and the votes he polled were “votes for Socialism.”


(Socialist Standard,October 1929)

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