1930s >> 1932 >> no-331-march-1932

Editorial: Bunglers at Work

The Collapse of the Communists


In our February issue attention was called to the change of view on the part of a leading Communist (Mr. R. P. Dutt) regarding the long-heralded collapse of capitalism.


Mr. Dutt is by no means alone in having beat a retreat from the position occupied by the Communists practically since the formation of their Party. According to the Daily Worker of January 20th, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain arrived at certain “important decisions” concerning its “revolutionary mass work.” “The Election results had shown that the isolation of the party, its main weakness, was not yet overcome.” Hence a “new line” had to be hunted for once more.


In the course of the discussion Mr. Rust remarked that—

   the loose talk about “No way out for capitalists from the crisis” led to fatalism, and passive waiting for the “collapse” to the “Let them Starve!” theory, and actually helped the Labour Party.

Speaking at the Tivoli Theatre, Sheffield, on January 24th (when he should have been debating with a representative of the S.P.G.B. at Stockport), Mr. J. T. Murphy spent over three-quarters of an hour riddling this and kindred delusions of the Communist rank and file. “There is no reason,” he declared, “why capitalism cannot stagger on from one generation to another, from one crisis to another, unless the workers end it.” Unfortunately, he did not enlighten his hearers as to how they were to do this.


Vague talk about ”fighting back” and dark hints about “inevitable civil war” (they promised civil war in the winter of 1921) were the only things offered in the way of “a constructive policy.”


   The man who says the workers will only fight when kicked in the belly only shows that he is not prepared to carry on the work of education,

proceeded Mr. Murphy.


What terrible “theoretical stuff” is this with which to feed red-blooded “men of action”? And then the speaker let the cat out of the bag; he commented on the frequency with which the I.L.P. leaders have of late been working up the idea of an impending collapse. The I.L.P. have stolen the Communist thunder. They have been out-ranting the professional ranters. In their indecent haste to distinguish themselves from their offspring, the Labour Party (from which, however, they dare not disaffiliate), the I.L.P. have thought it good policy to try to annex the Communist Party’s following. Hence attempts to run a rival unemployed organisation.


In turn, therefore, the leaders of the Communists. find it necessary to abandon the slogans once so lustily chanted, in order to preserve their distinction from the “phrase-mongers” of the I.L.P. The propaganda of the “united front” has given way to “exposure of left manoeuvres,” because “to many workers the difference in principle between the policy of the C.P. and the policy of the reformists was not at all made clear ” (Daily Worker, January 20th).


The issue, however, is by no means a purely national one. Wiring from Moscow on November. 3rd, 1931, Mr. Walter Duranty reported an interview given by a Soviet official to the New York Times (November 4th), in the course of which the official made the remark that—

  “capitalism was not yet at death’s door and the growing rate of under-production during the past year must ultimately stimulate demand and raise prices.”

Mr. Duranty proceeded to comment as follows:—

  Like all Soviet utterances, this tallied with the “Party Line” as expressed by Joseph Stalin and other leaders who believe the present depression is not the end of capitalism. Black as things look everywhere Soviet opinion holds this is no more than one grists in the long series which capitalist economists regard as indicative of capitalism’s “growing pains.”

How unfortunate that in their General Election manifesto, 1931, the British Communists should have committed themselves to the definite statement that “capitalism has gone bankrupt ” (p. 4).


A further example of the humble and contrite heart that has become increasingly noticeable at Communist Party Headquarters is provided in the Daily Worker of January 25th. Most Socialists and a large number of non-Socialists are familiar with the Communist Party’s boasts of their leadership of the local strikes all over the country in the day-to-day struggle with capital. The Daily Worker now says:—

   The textile workers, the hosiery workers and the London lightermen are all on the streets. In no case are we in the leading role.

Further on they account for this by saying:—


   We are slow to learn from our mistakes and there is such a rich experience to learn from. (Italics ours.)
What have been some of our chief mistakes in the strike struggles? First a very formal and frivolous attitude to questions of strike policy and organisation.
We have brought forward demands that have been worked out in the Party rooms by a few Communists, and many times by Communists who have not the faintest contact or knowledge of the industry in which the strikes are taking place.
We set up rank-and-file committees, which are committees composed of ourselves, destitute of representative authority, and which only succeed in degrading the conception of what a rank and file strike committee ought to be.
Many times we lightmindedly call for strike action without the semblance of preparation having been made, so that in some districts, when workers see our comrades, they are apt to say, “Hello, what are we to strike for to-day? ” Why do we mention these weaknesses so openly? Because, unless we can kill such methods we shall never correct our work. (“Daily Worker,” 25th January.)

Alas! even the Christians have for centuries confessed themselves as miserable sinners regularly every Sunday—without apparent effect. They still go on sinning.


The above “mistakes” of the Communists have been repeatedly pointed out for years in these columns, but, as they admit, they are slow to learn.


When the workers generally acquire an understanding of their position under capitalism, they will not require to be told what to do, either upon the political or the industrial field. They will then be in a position to dispense with leaders of the Henderson, Thomas and Clynes type, with their poisonous doctrines of conciliation; but just as little will they need the crew of conceited busybodies who have failed so conspicuously to dislodge these leaders from their position.