1960s >> 1968 >> no-767-july-1968

Marx Memorial Library twists History

The Marx Memorial Library, in Clerkenwell Green, London, tries to present itself as a centre of “truly Marxist studies”. But it is incapable of maintaining even ordinary standards of historical objectivity. As the library is run by supporters of the so-called Commnist Party it is not difficult to understand why. We wish to draw attention to one example of how they twist history.

The January-March 1968 issue of their Quarterly Bulletin has an article on “Socialist Education and Propaganda before 1917” which seeks the reason for the favourable reception of the Bolshevik coup by many politically active workers in Britain. It argues that this reception had been prepared by over twenty years of socialist education and propaganda carried on by the Social Democratic Federation, the Socialist Labour Party, the Fabians, the ILP, the Clarion Fellowship, the Herald Leagues, the Labour Colleges and the Plebs League. No mention is made of the Socialist Party of Gt. Britain. We hasten to add that we would not want to claim any share of the blame for misleading workers about the Russian revolution and the Bolshevik regime. Indeed, it is a measure of the confusion spread by the above organisations that they did not provide workers with enough insight to see that Socialism was impossible in Russian conditions. All the Bolsheviks could do was to develop capitalism, which they did as state capitalism. In Britain the Socialist Party was alone, at the time and up till the end of the 1930’s, in pointing out this Marxian truth —a stand which earned us the undying hatred of the so-called Communist Party, reflected in this crude attempt to suppress the fact of our existence and intense activity before 1917 (including our clear opposition to the war right from its start).

We know this omission is deliberate as there is a reference to a series of articles entitled “The Socialist Movement in Great Britain” that the Times ran in 1909 (January 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19). The Quarterly Bulletin quotes the series on various organisations, including the SLP. Now the Times mentioned the SLP only twice and both times together with the Socialist Party:

    Another organisation worth noting is the Socialist Party of Great Britain; it is a political body which declares war on all other parties ’whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist’, and is distinguished by its revolutionary aims. So, too, is the Socialist Labour Party, which seems to be a sort of Scottish counterpart of the last, having its seat in Edinburgh. If anything, it is still more uncompromising and boldly demands a Socialist republic.

The Socialist Standard, along with Justice (SDF), Labour Leader (ILP), Clarion and the Socialist (SLP) is described as among the “more important journals”:

   If Justice is more violent than the Labour Leader it is as mild as milk compared with the Socialist and the Socialist Standard. These are penny papers representing the Socialist Labour Party and the Socialist Party of Great Britain respectively.

There follows a paragraph in which the writer discusses what he thinks the demerits of these two journals (for him, they have no merits!)

On this evidence, then, we accuse the so-called Marx Memorial Library of dishonestly suppressing the historical fact of the active existence of the Socialist Party before 1917, and we challenge them to deny it.

Editorial Committee