1930s >> 1936 >> no-384-august-1936

All Aboard for ‘Progress’


The electoral victory of the Lib.-Lab.-Communist “Popular Front” in France has quickly made the question of a similar movement in this country into a live issue for the parties concerned. Those leaders of the Labour Party who oppose any alliance with Liberals or Communists are at the moment going against the popular tide, even in their own ranks. Mr. Herbert Morrison, who is one of these, put a straight question to the Communists. Are they, he asked, prepared to work with the Liberals? Mr. William Gallacher, the Communists’ one Member of Parliament, wrote to the News Chronicle on July 18th, replying to this and other questions. Read what Mr. Gallacher says: —

“Will the Communists work with the Liberals ? Surely, if the Liberals are prepared to fight for peace and for the practical proposals that will mean an advance in the health and well-being of the workers.

Already we have been on peace platforms with Labour, Liberal and Co-operative representatives. What’s wrong with that?

If we can get unity of the workers’ forces, the strength gained thereby will attract more and more the middle class towards our movement.

The Liberals who represent these middle-class forces will have to come towards us. If they are prepared to support the campaign that we are making —such campaigns, for instance, as the fight against the Unemployment Regulations, shorter working-week, peace, etc.—it would be political folly not to accept their co-operation.”

Mr. Gallacher also explains in his letter that the Popular Front in France was “directed towards the fight against Fascism and war, for peace and progress.”

Now, at least, we know precisely how far the Communist Party has moved from what were once the distinctive characteristics of the Communist movement. The “Statutes of the Communist International,” which are the fundamental basis of the Communist International and of each of its separate parties, demand of the Communist Party of Great Britain that it shall “denounce not only the capitalists, but also their allies, the reformists of every colour and shade”; that it shall “systematically and regularly . . . remove from all responsible positions … all reformists and supporters of the ‘ centre ‘ ” ; that it shall “recognise the necessity of a complete and absolute rupture with reformism and the policy of the ‘centre-ists ‘ ” ; furthermore, that it declare war upon ”the old Yellow Social-Democratic parties” (meaning the Labour Party) and “conduct a relentless struggle against the Yellow Amsterdam ‘ International ‘ of Trade Unions” (meaning the International Federation of Trade Unions, to which the Trades Union Congress belongs).

On the positive side, if a policy so fatal to the working class can be called positive, the Communist Party of Great Britain is bound by its allegiance to the Communist International to assist that body “to organise an armed struggle for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie.”

Now, instead of preparing for that armed struggle, the Communists are anxious to line up with Labour or Liberals, or anyone else who is “against Fascism” (say, 90 per cent, of the population), “against war and for peace” (say, 99 per cent.) and ” for progress ‘” (surely all the woolly-headed would say they are “for progress” ?).

In other words, the Communists are willing to fight on a programme which consists of a few slogans so vague and general that hardly anyone would disagree, plus a few detailed proposals (shorter hours, and opposition to the present Government’s means test regulations) so restricted in scope that sufficient concessions could be made to satisfy large numbers of workers without causing any serious inconvenience to the capitalist system.

The Communists will no doubt reply that any manoeuvre is justified if it prevents war. The answer to which is that capitalist wars arise from capitalism, and are not to be waived away by reformist groups solemnly protesting—while maintaining capitalism—that they are in favour of “peace, democracy and reform,” or any other nebulous phrases. If Mr. Gallacher would look up the “Statutes” again he would find this argument was foreseen, for the Communist Party of Great Britain is there pledged “to demonstrate to the workers that, without the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, neither international arbitration nor conferences regarding the limitation of armaments, nor the ‘democratic’ reorganisation of the League of Nations, will be capable of saving mankind from new Imperialist wars.”

It appears then, that the Communists, under Moscow orders, are now committed to a policy of Liberal-Labourism, which makes an absurdity of every theory and every proposal in the Statutes on which the whole Communist movement rests. There is no logical reason why the Communist Party should continue to exist, except that the turn of the year may find Moscow initiating still another change of direction, when Mr. Gallacher will perform his customary feat of swallowing his own words. The fact that he is now a Member of Parliament recalls that, not so many years ago, he was not only outside Parliament, but the most uncompromising opponent of the whole Parliamentary system. If Parliament has had a degenerating effect on him, he will hardly be surprised, since he used to say that Parliament has that effect on those who reach its cushioned seats.

Leave a Reply