Letters: A Question On Our Pamphlet: “The Socialist Party—Its Principles and Policy”
We received the following letter from Mr. Simcox to which we replied. He now asks us to print his letter and our reply.
To the Executive of the S.P.G.B.
In discussion with one of your members of the 1934 edition of your pamphlet “The Socialist Party,” I drew his attention to the second half of the second last paragraph of p. 9 in which it is stated that under Socialism “no able-bodied member of the community would be exempted from rendering his due quota of useful service to the community, in return for the material wealth placed at his disposal by society.” This did not seem to me vastly different from what was denounced at the top of page 8 as part of Capitalism: “They (the workers) have to sell their labour-power to the owners of the means of living in order to obtain subsistence.”
On inquiry, my S.P.G.B. friend found that, in the 1950 edition of “The Socialist Party” pamphlet, the second half of the paragraph to which I had drawn his attention is omitted on p. 9. The 1949 prefatory note says that the pamphlet is “re-issued with minor deletions and additions made necessary by the passage of time since the first edition was published.” May I then ask whether the omission of the passage to which 1 drew my friend’s attention is regarded by the executive as a “minor deletion made necessary by the passage of time since the first edition was published.”? It seems to me a very important deletion.
John V. Simcox,
P.S.—Possibly the matter could be cleared up in the Socialist Standard.
Mr. J. V. Simcox.
We have your letter in which you claim that “a very important deletion” was made in the 1949 edition of the pamphlet “The Socialist Party—Its Principles and Policy.”
May we point out, however, that you only arrive at the conclusion that it is “very important” by attributing to the deleted passage a meaning which it never had. Your interpretation is that it meant something “not vastly different” from the workers having “to sell their labour-power to the owners of the means of living in order to obtain subsistence.”
But as it was clearly and repeatedly shown that under Socialism there would be no wages system and no class owning the means of living your interpretation is absurd.
The passage (“no able-bodied member of the community would be exempted from rendering his due quota of useful service to the community, in return for the material wealth placed at his disposal by society”) was written in the Socialist Standard in July, 1912, and carried on in the pamphlet. It was intended to emphasise (as you can see by the whole paragraph) that there would be no privileged section of society. The writer, having his attention on that aspect merely meant to show that under Socialism there would not be people, like the capitalist class, “exempted,” etc. It was not until we were going through the pamphlet again that our attention was drawn to the possibility of it being misunderstood to mean a form of state compulsion. It was therefore deleted. If it had ever been intended to mean what you suggest its deletion would have been important. As it never meant that its deletion was a minor one to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding.
Yours for Socialism,