1950s >> 1950 >> no-545-january-1950

Let Us Reflect

Our Party was formed by a small group of workers nearly 46 years ago. At the time the members who formed it were referred to as “impossibilists”. Two years later another Party was formed, the Labour Party, which was alleged to include within its proclamations all that it was possible for the workers to achieve, and its highest and ultimate ambition was the accomplishment of State ownership of industry.


Our Party was held up as an object of scorn, at that time, as a group of “young men in a hurry”; the “possibilists”, on the other hand, were eulogised as the salt of the earth; the steady, plodding, reasonable people who were going to redress wrong after wrong and creep forward until the workers would find themselves landed, to their astonishment, into a paradise upon earth.


Well 44 years have passed by since the Labour Party started out upon its uplifting career and what have they accomplished? They have been creeping alright—but backwards. The working-class enthusiasm they gathered behind them has been shepherded into two of the most devastating wars the world has ever known and is now being acclimatised to the coming of an even greater war; the one-time opponents of conscription are now its fervent supporters. The Party that crept furtively from fiery denouncers of long hours, imperialism, the subjection of native races, slum housing, the use of the military in strikes and the rest of the inevitable evils of capitalism, into the government of the country bound up with the problem of trying to keep capitalism running smoothly. They have proceeded little by little and bit by bit in truth, but it has been the shedding of old attitudes and old enthusiasms little by little and bit by bit.


Outside of ourselves who, in 1906, would have imagined that the Party built up on those early ideals of redressing injustice would become the stern denouncers of strikes and the breakers of them by the use of troops to run the industries affected? Who would have imagined this Labour Party building up the bureaucratic services to pry into the private lives of workers to ensure that they delivered to the capitalist his proper pound of flesh? Who would have imagined that millionaires would flourish under Labour government or that native workers, like the Nigerians, would be forced at the point of the gun to submit to conditions that only permitted them a very low standard of living? That thousands of workers would be forced to live in overcrowded flats or prefabricated houses under a Labour government? Yet all these things have come to pass, and the conditions of the workers are to-day more insecure than ever with atomic energy being built up to let loose upon the world a horror that beggars description. Even the highest hopes of the founders of the Labour Party—state ownership—has been revealed as, at best, a better organisation of capitalism under which the workers are more completely fleeced of the surplus labour above what it costs to keep them fit to work and reproduce their kind. They are still slaves of the wheel of labour.


This, then, is the paradise into which the “possibilists” have led their blind followers. Yet the founders of the Labour Party had no evil intentions; their motives were good in intention. What was wrong with them was ignorance of the foundations of capitalism, the fatal illusions that capitalism could be modified to serve the interests of the workers and, eventually, modified out of existence.


The result of the reformist policy, the little by little programme, is now that the heirs to it, the present advocates of its policy, have completely lost touch with the genuine aspirations and enthusiasm of the founders and pursue a policy that is openly capitalist and even consists largely of avowed capitalists. This is made apparent by the reports that appear now and again of staunch supporters of Labour passing over into the Tory Party. One recent example is that of the novelist Naomi Jacob.


Reflecting upon those long dreary years of labour apostasy surely the workers must soon realize that there is no hope for them outside of opposition to capitalism and to all who support it, no matter what flag flies over them; that their only hope of salvation from a world of hard work, want and insecurity is to abolish the system from which these evils spring and replace it by a system in which all will have an equal opportunity of enjoying the fruits of the labours of all. Not Labour government nor nationalisation is the answer to the evils that afflict the world; only Socialism is the solution, and this is the sole object for which it is worth working.