A Burning Question
t is pretty generally admitted that the relatively considerable personal liberty, particularly in freedom of expression in the political field, prevalent in this country, should be strenuously conserved. Political careerists of all colours “ Right ” or “ Left ” notwithstanding, who would be prepared to compromise to a point not easily distinguishable from Hitlerism or Stalinism, the rank and file are sound on this momentous issue.
Where does the Socialist Party of Great Britain stand on this issue? Alone among political parties, it faces the position fairly and squarely; it has an answer to the questions: “What would your party do in case of overwhelming evidence that any ‘democracy’ attaching to the present constitution would go by the board in case of a smashing ‘Fascist’ victory? Would it not be the duty of your party to definitely assist in averting such a catastrophe?”—the implication being a greater or less adhesion to a “Popular” Front.
The answer is implicit in the policy which the party has consistently adopted towards war generally, and exemplified specifically by word and deed during the Great War.
Applied to the specific question under consideration (for argument’s sake alone, admit possibility of an overwhelming “Fascist victory), the answer may be stated in fairly precise terms:
(a) The contingent and certain consequences of war to the working-class (war horrors of all kinds, including shooting of frightened boys acquiesced in by “Labour” ministers), and immediate deprivation of civil liberties (D.O.R.A. a lustier and thrice-brazen wench than in 1914), these considerations alone would weigh against the party receding one inch from its clearly expressed principle that no conceivable group of non-Socialists fighting one another are worthy of support of any kind from the Socialists.
It may be noted, incidentally, that history (ancient and modern) is pretty emphatic in its verdict that a dominant conquering power will always find willing tools to impose its regime among the conquered governing clique; history can afford more ironical instances than a fire-eating Labour “leader” doing the dirty work of a Hitler or Stalin—native “Hospodars” of the old Balkan States were frequently more oppressive than the Turk (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, 13th edition).
War is but one of the curses arising from the capitalist system; peace is ardently desired by the Socialist Party of Great Britain; the Party, while deprecating a “Pacifism” based ultimately upon disputed utterances of a problematical “youth with patient looks nailed to a crucifix,” appreciates the kindly sentiment and decent outlook of the young men and women of the “Peace Pledge Union,” for instance; it welcomes the recent I.L.P. approach to the same question, but “joining hands” on that particular issue, the Party would find itself out of step on fundamental issues.
One way only to conserve the “Democracy” of to-day and to attain Socialist Democracy eventually. Irritating, perhaps, to ardent but misguided souls who think the capitalist Jericho can fall by shouting, who pin their faith to “slogans” and fussy demonstrations. The immediate task is: make Socialists, and that is the work of the S.P.G.B.