1960s >> 1964 >> no-718-june-1964

Editorial: Sixty years on

It was on June 12th, 1904, that a hundred odd men and women, at a meeting in London, formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

We do not intend to let the sixtieth anniversary of our foundation pass unnoticed—but neither shall we celebrate in the manner so popular with other political parties. We shall not arrange any great banquets (they would be a flop if we did) or balls (dancing has never been one of our strong points) or any of the other events which are notable only for their false glitter and pompous self- congratulation.

We regard our sixtieth birthday as an occasion for reviewing the work we have done, and the contributions we have made to the international Socialist movement; for intensifying our propaganda both written and spoken; and for planning more work to occupy the busy years ahead.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain came into existence without premises, a journal, literature or funds. Its founder members were derided on all sides as “Impossibilists” who would soon go out of existence. In some way the new party was a very feeble infant but it had a powerful heart—Socialist principles and understanding—the like of which no other organisation possessed.

It was that heart which brought our party through its first, anxious months. It conceived and nurtured the Socialist Standard and it built and expanded the Socialist Party into what it is today—an established revolutionary organisation with its own permanent headquarters in London, its own monthly journal, companion parties in a number of other countries and a library of pamphlets the consistency and correctness of which we feel entitled to take pleasure in.

That strong heart brought the idea of Socialism through the persecution of the First World War, through the black days of the rise of Fascism in Europe and through the battering of 1939/45. It has always been a heart which has beaten true. The members who make up the Socialist Party today have exactly the same principles and understanding as did the gallant few who set out on their seemingly impossible task so long ago.

In September this year the Socialist Standard too will be sixty years old. We shall mark the event with a special issue, which will review in some detail the history of our party.

For the moment, let it be enough to put on record our admiration for the comrades who took on unflinchingly the hardest job the Socialist movement will probably ever have to face—its own foundation. And let us declare that we who are the Socialist Party in the nineteen sixties will carry on the work.

We shall uphold the principles which were formulated, for the first time as a consistent whole, sixty years ago. We shall continue to be an independent, democratic, political party which maintains that Socialism can only come as a result of majority understanding. A party which has no leaders, which opposes all capitalist wars and is hostile to all other political organisations.

And lastly, a party which stands for Socialism; a social system in which the things which man uses to make and to distribute his wealth are owned by the whole of mankind, in which the barriers of race and colour are recognised for the falsities which they are and in which man is truly free.