1940s >> 1941 >> no-443-july-1941

Notes by the Way: Well-Known Non-Socialist Becomes Ex-Socialist

Well-Known Non-Socialist Becomes Ex-Socialist

In his “What Have I To Lose?” (Allen & Unwin. 1941. 2/6) Mr. W. J. Brown explains why he is no longer a Socialist in the sense understood by him. He writes: —

   “In earlier days I described myself as a Socialist. Except in a very generalised sense, I should hesitate to so describe myself to-day. This does not mean that I am less radical than I used to be. It means that I am more radical. For I have rebelled against the ‘rebels,’ who (I now perceive) are not ‘rebels,’ but inverted imitators of the reactionaries. I must explain this a little.
“Britain and the British are older than the Capitalist system. They are older than the Socialist reaction against the Capitalist system. In their true nature they are not intimately concerned with either, for they are bigger and better than both. The curse of Capitalism (whose historic merit it was that it released the productive forces of society from the constraints and limitations of the feudal system) was that, in doing so, it subordinated Man to Money, and life to the mechanics of life. The curse of Socialism is that it accepts that subordination of life to the mechanics of life, and proposes only to substitute the State for the private Capitalist.”

Mr. Brown’s candour and sclf-assurance are alike amazing. He started off by failing to perceive that State capitalism, which he supported in the I.L.P. and Labour Party, was utterly opposed to Socialism. Being thus self-deceived he was able to preach State capitalism while calling it Socialism. Socialists, of course, never admitted Mr. Brown’s, absurd claim and denied his right to describe himself as a Socialist.

Now Mr. Brown comes forward in a white sheet of repentance—or, at least, he ought to. Actually, instead of admitting that he was wrong and that Socialists were right in condemning him, he continues to blame Socialism for his own caricature of it, and presents himself as a Socialist converted to rebellion against the rebels.

Perhaps Mr. Brown, through his success as a broadcaster, will be better known as an “Ex- Socialist” than he was before, but nemesis will overtake him. Let us suppose that Mr. Brown becomes a front-rank politician (an idea that has perhaps occurred to Mr. Brown). He will then be called upon to help in the administration of capitalism. In that position he will have to choose between introducing more State capitalism and trying to revert to the former state of affairs when private capitalism held undisputed sway. What will he do then? His present mood will turn him to private capitalism, but capitalism itself is not going that way, so Mr. Brown will be at war with himself. He will write another book explaining how he ceased to be an ex-Socialist. But unless, for the first time in his life, he becomes a Socialist he will not be anything but a hindrance to social progress.

A Testing Time for Prophets

This has been a high old time for prophets, both of the astrological and the political varieties. Here are a few utterances already liquidated by explosive events or still waiting their luck.

     “To-day the U.S.S.R. is the mightiest military and diplomatic force on the Continent of Europe or Asia.”— (Mr. W. P. Coates, “The U.S.S.R. and Poland,” October, 1939. Page 32.)
“In a 6,000 mile journey through Soviet territory Professor Lancelot Hogben, of Aberdeen University, saw nothing to suggest that the Russian industrial system could stand the strain of a prolonged conflict with Germany.”— (News Chronicle, March 11th, 1941.)
“Only yesterday we and America were faced with the tremendous job of smashing Hitler—with Russia looking on smiling. To-day . . . we have nothing to do but sit and smile while Stalin smashes Hitler.”—(G. B. Shaw, Manchester Guardian, June 23rd, 1941.)
“Thus it may be admitted that Hitler has a fairly probable, if not absolutely certain, case for assuming that Russia cannot resist for long.”—(George Knupffer, Daily Mail, June 24th, 1941.)
“I still hold to my forecast that they (Stalin and Hitler) won’t quarrel yet.”—(“What the Stars Foretell,” by R. H. Naylor, Sunday Express, June 22nd, 1941—the day the German, attack began.)
“We, too, shall remain friends.”—(Stalin to the German Military Attache in Moscow, April, 1941.—Times, May 1st, 1941.)

War on Unemployment

The former Foreign Minister of France, Pierre Laval, is quoted as follows: —

   “First of all she [France] must make peace and then overcome unemployment, poverty and disorder and carry out social reconstruction.”—(News Chronicle, May 27th, 1941.)

Here is the same old confidence trick that has been played so often, that of pretending that it is war that causes and aggravates unemployment and poverty and that capitalism at peace can solve the problems. The answer is to be seen in the well-known fact that capitalism at peace has had ample time to tackle the problems but never did so. Only in war does capitalism reduce unemployment to negligible proportions.

It is now claimed by the Ministry of Labour (Daily Express, May 22nd, 1941), that after cutting out people who are unsuitable for industrial employment owing to age or infirmity, “there remain barely 200,000 workless men and women available for other jobs.” Only in war can the Ministry claim “that unemployment in the ordinary sense has been practically wiped out.”

Quick Changes by the Communist Party

A few quotations from publications and speeches of the Communist Party of Great Britain :—

September, 1939.
“The Communist Party supports the war, believing it to be a just war which should be supported by the whole working class and all friends of democracy in Britain.”— (“How to Win the War,” by Harry Pollitt, published by the Compiunist Party.)

October, 1939.
“We are against the continuance of the war. We demand that negotiations be immediately opened for the establishment of peace in Europe.”—(Daily Worker. October 4th, 1939.)

November, 1939.
“This is an Imperialist war, like the war of 1914. It is a sordid exploiters’ war of rival millionaire groups, using the workers as their pawns in their struggle for world domination, for markets, colonies and profits, for the oppression of peoples.
“This is a war to which no worker in any country can give support.”—(Mr. Palme Dutt, “Why this War?” published by Communist Party, November, 1939. Page 12.)
The same month in 1939 Mr. W. Gallacher. M.P., wrote a pamphlet, “The War and the Workers,” which was published by the Communist Party. Among the “demands” made in the pamphlet was: —

“Formation of a new Government which will carry out these demands, begin peace negotiations and represent the interests of the people against the armament kings and plundering millionaires.”

The week before June 22nd, 1941,

“Soviet diplomacy has triumphed, the effort of the Anglo-French group of Capitalists to embroil the Soviet Union in war with Germany failed, and to-day it is the Capitalist Powers which are exhausting themselves in a devastating war.”—(From a Daily Worker Defence League pamphlet. Daily Telegraph, June 27, 1941.)

June 19th, 1941.

“When Mr. W. Gallacher (West Fife), the only Communist M.P., interrupted Mr. Churchill in the House of Commons yesterday, the Prime Minister exclaimed: ‘ You had better be careful; you may get your marching orders— right about turn.’”—(Daily Express, June 20th, 1941.)

June 24th, 1941.

   “In view of the war that has been launched against the Soviet Union, it may be said that in a very short space of time there will be a-considerable shifting of attitude. I am not the only one who will do the shifting . . .”—(Mr. W. Gallacher, House of Commons, June 24th. Hansard, Column 985.)

June 26th, 1941.

     “Declaring that the Communist Party of Great Britain now stands for full co-operation with the Government in the defeat of the common foe, Mr. William Gallacher, Britain’s only Communist M,P., explained yesterday the new turn in his party’s policy.”—(Daily Telegraph, June 27th, 1941.)
“I admit we have called this ‘a monstrous Imperialist war,’ but when there is an attack against the vanguard of the working class, the working classes in every country must unite.”—(W. Gallacher, reported in Daily Telegraph, June 27th, 1941.)
“Mr. W. Gallacher, Communist M.P., in a statement yesterday outlining the party’s policy in face of the German attack on Russia, said that the Government would be supported in any steps to further co operation between Britain and the Soviet Union ‘in the interests of the peoples of both countries.’
“They would be prepared, he said, to discuss with members of the Labour or any other party measures to ensure that co-operation, and to inaugurate a big drive in the factories. The situation had now so changed that it was not necessary to put the campaign for a ‘people’s peace’ in the forefront.”—(The Times, June 27th, 1941.)
“At the same time Mr. Pollitt made it clear that he at least is out to fight the war to a finish.
“He said: ‘We must go on increasing our production and we must throw all our weight into the fight so that we shall batter hell out of Hitler and Fascism.’ ”— (News Chronicle, June 27th, 1941.)

Nat Gubbins and Mr. Laski

In a speech to a meeting of the London Labour Party, in which he dealt with Post-war Reconstruction, Mr. Harold Laski said: —

‘‘The war has proved beyond all question that the conflict of private interests could not produce a well-ordered commonwealth. The Government must control the whole mechanism of national credit—banks and the rest, and transport, coal and electric power.”—(Daily Herald, June 19th, 1941.)

This is the familiar Labour Party plan for State capitalism. A remark that Mr. Nat Gubbins puts into the mouth of one of the characters in his Sunday Express column seems to say all that need be said: —

“The war has really resolved itself into one issue. Shall the people be exploited by the State or by private enterprise? ”
“Whatever happens, they’re going to be exploited.”— (Sunday Express, June 22nd, 1941.)

Not What They Expected

Just before the cynical and brutal Nazi onslaught on Russia the National Committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union voted by 29 to 21 in favour of the programme of the People’s Convention, which includes the demand for “A people’s peace that will get rid of the causes of war ” (Manchester Guardian, June 21st, 1941).

They can hardly have foreseen that the Communists, who were most active in the People’s Convention, would be saying a few days later that the war had become a people’s war and that “it was not necessary to put the campaign for a people’s peace in the forefront ’—a discreet way of saying that the whole thing is to be postponed indefinitely.

New Champions of Christianity

War produces curious changes and makes strange bedfellows. When the Russo-German Pact was signed in August, 1939, Mr. Duff Cooper said he was not surprised. While conceding that Bolshevism “is indeed less ignoble” than Nazism he found them “fundamentally akin.” “Both,” he wrote in an article in the Evening Standard (September 19th, 1939), “are bitterly anti-Christian.” He was glad that “The Powers of evil are now united. . . . The anti-Christian and anti-God forces are in step.”

But both, it seems, are now anxious not to offend Christian opinion. From Germany comes the news that ”the German episcopate” (a Nazi-controlled body) “has sent a message to the pastors of all dioceses describing the war against the Soviet Union as a fight for Christianity in the whole world ” (Evening Standard, June 25th, 1941).

From Russia a few days later came the news that “12,000 worshippers thronged Moscow Cathedral to-day, when 26 priests, led by the acting Patriarch Serger, prayed for victory for the Russian troops” (News Chronicle, June 30th, 1941).

Edgar Hardcastle