Our Annual Conference
On Friday and Saturday, April 14th and 15th, was held the 29th Annual Conference of the S.P.G.B. to discuss, in the light of past experience, our propaganda plans for the future.
It was reported that the growth in membership had not been so rapid in 1932 as in the previous year; but the financial statement showed a position of solvency, with a definitely larger turnover. There was an increase in the number of outdoor and indoor propaganda meetings, in spite of the difficulty of keeping the very important study classes going; and proposals went forward for improving the general layout of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, which was recently enlarged. Contact has been maintained with foreign sympathisers and comrade parties in Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A., and Canada. The urgent need for full-time party officers meets with the difficulty of providing the funds in a party whose income can come only from working-class pockets. Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism in the consistent steady increase in numbers and activities which each succeeding conference reveals.
The Annual Conference is something more, however, than a review of past activities; something more than a source of encouragement to old members and of instruction to new ones. It is a perennial demonstration of the meaning of organisation for Socialism, of the principle that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.”
Just as the S.P.G.B., unlike other parties, is not a battle-ground of divergent views and rival personalities, but an organisation whose consistency of action flows spontaneously from its singleness of aim, and which is held together, not by a superimposed machinery of discipline, but by community of purpose, so our conference lacks characteristic features of non-Socialistic party conferences —the pious thumb-twiddling, the back-scratching and back-biting. Here is no eulogising of some leaders, and denunciation of others: for the Socialist Party has no leaders at all. Leaders cannot arise in a party whose members subscribe to the one straight issue of Socialism, based on a clear declaration of principles. For as each knows what is aimed at and what must be done to get it, there is no one to be led.
The democratic organisation of the S.P.G.B. is not an accident, but is the natural offspring of its unique singleness of object and clarity of principles. Only a militant organisation of revolutionary Socialists, an organisation democratically controlled at all times and on all matters by the membership, can accomplish the revolutionary act which shall abolish the class ownership of the means of living and establish the common ownership and democratic control of those means, in the interest of the whole community.
(Socialist Standard, May 1933)