Dr. Eismann’s Last Word

Dr. Eismann, writing in the Beamtenjahrbuch (Berlin, February), says his last word on the question of Marxism and the Labour Party. (For previous references to Dr. Eismann, see ” S.S.” December, 1933, and February, 1934.)

In his present contribution, Dr. Eismann charges us with having abused him, and misrepresented him. He says that he stands by what he said and will decline to discuss the matter further.

What is and what is not abuse is largely a matter of individual taste, and our readers must judge for themselves whether we have abused Dr. Eismann. We would, however, say this: We hold that the Socialist case is correct and can be proved to be correct. We have nothing to gain by burking discussion and we would therefore not wish Dr. Eismann or any other opponent to think that he cannot get a reasoned reply to his criticisms, free alike from abuse and misrepresentation.

We would therefore assure him that he is at liberty to have reasonable space in our columns to put his case, if he wishes to do so.

On the points at issue we have a few remarks to make in the light of Dr. Eismann’s present statement. If he were arguing nothing more than that there are inside the Labour Party some individuals or scattered groups of people professing to be Marxists, who are trying to influence Labour Party policy in their direction, we would not dream of disputing it. That has always been the case. There have even been such people in the Liberal Party, and there are some in the Nazi movement in Germany. But Dr. Eismann claims more than that. In his present contribution, for example, he repeats the statement that “the agitation of radical groups in the English Labour movement . . . is changing the attitude of the great Labour Party on this point.”

We therefore repeat our statement that the Labour Party is a reformist body from top to bottom, and that it is not changing towards Marxian Socialism. The “radical groups” now gaining influence, such as the Socialist League, are not in any respect different from the active and influential so-called “left-wing” groups which preceded them. They are not Marxist in aim, method, or philosophy, even although a few individuals toy with phrases which they believe to be Marxist.

The difference here between us and Dr. Eismann is one of terms, and it is on that ground that we originally criticised him and the leading Nazis. In his latest article he says that Marxism has two expressions—the Social-Democrats and the Communists. And he concludes that the S.P.G.B. belongs to the Communist tendency. The whole of this conception is a mistaken one. The Social-Democrats (like the English Labour Party) represent not Socialism but reformism, and State Capitalism in various forms. The Communists represent the same main body of reformist ideas, with, however, one outstanding difference. Whereas the Labourites believe in striving for reforms and State control by peaceful and constitutional methods, the Communists fight for the same general objects by methods of violence and minority action.

The S.P.G.B. stands, not for reform and State Capitalism, but for Socialism and nothing else. It is, therefore, equally opposed to both movements.

One thing alone should cause Dr. Eismann to recognise the weakness of his case and the unsoundness of his classification, that is the fact that, during the thirty years of its existence, the S.P.G.B. has never at any time or in any way supported either the Labour Party, the Communists or any other reformist party, nor has it allowed any members to support them. Throughout its history the S.P.G.B. has maintained an attitude of unbroken opposition to both reformist movements. That is one answer to Dr. Eismann’s contention that Marxian Socialism can mix with Labourism and Communism.

(Socialist Standard, April 1934)

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