1960s >> 1965 >> no-730-june-1965

50 years ago: reformers, not socialists

To the working-class student who has begun to free himself from the the mental bondage of capitalist teaching, the admissions of some of the agents of the master class often come as a surprise. This surprise sometimes has the effect of obscuring his view of the relative value of the other statements, made by these agents, and so leading to unsound or even false conclusions.

This is seen in the attitude adopted by the rank and file of the Labour Party. Clarion organisations, the so-called Independent Labour Party, etc., when some capitalist supporter happens to admit the existence of evils that stand out clear enough for any child to see. These supporters are at once hailed as “advanced”, or even as “Socialists”, when not the faintest real ground can be found for such a claim. The worker who has a firm grip of the essentials of Socialism, however, sees the matter from another standpoint. He knows that the development of capitalism forces forward certain changes (accompanied by new evils) that call for some regulation on the part of the masters. These admissions are, to him, evidences of the changes, signs of the development; but in no way do they mislead him into fancying the makers of these admissions are Socialists. He always applies the touchstone of Socialism to their views and actions on fundamental matters, and usually finds that these persons are the more acute and up-to-date of the capitalists’ agents, and that their work is the more misleading on that account.

From a review of “Elementary Principles of Economics” by Ely & Wickers, SOCIALIST STANDARD, June 1915.)

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