Many workers imagined that the Communist Party were Revolutionary; but one of their leaders, R. Palme Dutt, admits in The Workers’ Life (Nov. 15th), that it is not so. He says :—
“The chief task of the coming congress is to revolutionise the party and its leadership in readiness for the developing period of mass struggles.”
According to his view they need to get rid of relics of Social Democracy and find new leaders and to get into contact with the masses. He is still talking of factory groups years after the “thesis” merchants declared that factory nuclei were the basis of the party. He states that “the question of leadership is at the centre of the whole situation.”
The article is full of the usual high-sounding phrases like “orientation,” “dialectics,” “objective situations,” but one looks in vain for any understanding of the road to Socialism. He talks of the need “to press fighting demands on the Labour Government,” and never once points out that the sole need of the working class is to organise to control political power to establish Socialism.
Labour Deals With Unemployment.
The Labour Government, through its leaders, MacDonald and Thomas, are continually telling us that the only real road to curing unemployment is to increase our trade—especially our export trade. One of the chief defenders of the Labour Party is Forward of Glasgow, which has to admit that their leaders’ theory is all wrong. Forward quotes an answer in the House of Commons (Nov. 26th) by the President of the Board of Trade, and heads the paragraph, “More Work and Fewer Men.” This is the information given by the Board of Trade:—
“The total mercantile tonnage launched in the United Kingdom in 1925 (excluding unregistered vessels of under 15 tons gross) was 1,123, 049, while the estimated number of persons in the ship-building, ship-repairing, and marine engineering, etc., industries, who were insured against unemployment in July was 301,340.
“But while in 1928, the comparable tonnage had risen to 1,458,058, the insured workers in these trades had fallen to 257,460.”
The “great” schemes of granting millions to railways, gas companies, road boards, etc., to make these services more efficient; plans to cheapen costs in coal and steel industries, and similar policies, are therefore bound to fail to reduce or arrest unemployment, because efficient industry increases output faster than trade increases.
Mr. Thomas said in the House of Commons (Nov. 4th) that he did not attach so much importance to work schemes as a solution of our unemployment problem as he did to the wider aspect of the “development of our export trade.”
But the Labour Leaders know that when Britain’s export trade was good unemployment and poverty were widespread and now that productive powers have been vastly increased in every country the increase of export trade cannot cure unemployment.
Look at America with its vast Home market and great export trade—a country in which the Telegraph tells us there are millions of “out-of-works”! Was it not only the other day that leading commercial men warned the motor trade that there were a million surplus motor cars in the U.S.A. looking for a market!
The Labour Liberals.
Labour supporters criticise the Liberal Party’s legislation but they forget that the Labour Party supported all the leading measures passed from 1906 to 1914, although ever since they have claimed these measures were miserly and ineffectual. How close the Liberal Party and the Labour Party were during those years can be gathered from a quotation from the “Life of Philip Snowden, Chancellor of the Exchequer,” by Mr. Bechofer Roberts. The reader can gather how great was the Labour Party’s support of the Capitalist Reform Legislation of the Liberals.
On the Insurance Act. Snowden took a line directly opposed to the majority of his colleagues, led by Ramsay MacDonald. The Labour Party had put down amendments to the Bill; MacDonald came to an arrangement with the Government not to embarrass it by moving them. Snowden thereupon stood down from the executive of the Labour Party, and threatened to leave it altogether if these tactics were continued. What was the I.L.P. doing, he demanded, to permit such backsliding among its nominees in the House of Commons? Really, the I.L.P. might just as well dissolve, and consider merging itself in the National Liberal Federation; there was simply no difference any longer between the Labour Party and the Liberal Party. And for his part, he wasn’t going to acquiesce in this sacrifice of principles to prudence.
Followed by George Lansbury, F. W. Jowett and Will Thorne, he refused to obey the Labour Whip; they voted against their colleagues. In articles and speeches, Snowden derided the motives which dictated the tactics of MacDonald and the others. Everyone knew, he said, that four-fifths of the Labour Party’s members held their seats through arrangements in their constituencies with the local Liberals; was it not ridiculous, therefore, to expect that they would dare to quarrel with the party to whose goodwill they owed their election?
I have worked with them for years, trying to instil a working-class point of view into them, and all to no purpose. They sent for me to the House or Commons, and there I took Cook down to meet them. There was Wheatley, Buchanan, Campbell Stephen, Kirkwood, and Maxton, and they informed me that they had decided to fight MacDonald and the Labour Party leaders, and wanted my advice as to what they were to do. I told them that a manifesto must be issued and I wrote it for them, and helped them to organise the campaign, and persuaded Cook to go down to St. Andrew’s Hall for the opening meeting. When Wheatley was assuring me that he was out to fight the Labour Party leaders, he was busy arranging to bring Arthur Henderson down to Shettleston to speak on his behalf. No, I am absolutely finished with them, and am out to fight them.
“I am convinced that the propertied classes will never evacuate without the exercise of force. By force I mean physical compulsion. And physical compulsion is absolutely certain, in some phases, to involve an armed clash.”
“I think that the best evidence of a belief that the Kellogg Pact had removed all question of neutral rights at sea would be a drastic reduction in armaments.
“If the Peace Pact eliminated all question of rights of neutrals at sea, what can be the reasons for such vast navies? If we do not expect any conflicts at sea, and all conditions in that regard are removed by the Kellogg Pact, then let us manifest our faith in the Pact by taking away the crushing burden of armaments which we are now carrying”.