50 Years Ago: A Retrospect

The 12th of June witnesses the first anniversary of the formation of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. It thus affords a meet opportunity to review our year’s work to ascertain whether our hopes have been fulfilled and our efforts justified.


The formation of a new party was rendered imperative by the falling away of the S.D.F. from the path of political right doing. Those who formed the new party had, almost without exception, been members of the S.D.F., the primary and for many years the only Socialist organisation in Great Britain. During many years of its life it had held aloft the banner of uncompromising Socialism in this country and many of us hoped that it would continue to work along the lines of no compromise with other political parties which is dictated by the existence of a class struggle.


Some years ago, however, when reaction dominated every sphere of thought—political or scientific—throughout Europe and America, new ideas were introduced into the S.D.F. by members of the organisation whose Socialism was rooted in sentiment rather than in scientific knowledge. Looking around them in the political world they saw that organisations of the half-way house character were obtaining a larger measure of support than was their own organisation. Unwitting that such must needs be the case in the present stage of capitalist development, they set themselves to the task of winning their own organisation to a similar position and to the adoption of a similar line of action. In this they were highly successful and the manner in which the S.D.F. adapted itself to its new way of looking at political events is of exceeding interest, and at a more convenient season we shall unfold the manner of its development from a no-compromise organisation to an organisation believing in and accepting entangling alliances.


The falling away of the S.D.F. from its traditional method was viewed with the deepest regret by those members of the organisation who still adhered to the ideas of uncompromising Socialism. They hoped against hope that their organisation would be recalled to a sense of its wrong-doing—that once again it would return to the path of Socialist progress and weld itself into an organisation deserving the support of every Socialist.


Such was not to be the case. Reluctantly there was forced upon them the opinion that the organisation to which they had hitherto given a whole-hearted support was unworthy, and they decided to withdraw from its ranks and form a Socialist organisation into which they could throw their entire energy and untiringly work towards the making it into a strong political organisation.


This, then, was the idea of those who, in June 12th, 1904, decided to form the Socialist Party of Great Britain.


The Editorial from the June 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard.