Our comrade Grant represented the Haringey (formerly Wood Green and Hornsey) Branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain at a controversial teach-in on Vietnam, sponsored by Haringey Council, on May 21. The local Tories had refused to take part. “We are not interested in the goings-on of a lot of long haired cranks and loonies”, declared one councillor.
Our comrade spoke in opposition to Baron Brockway, Richard Gott, a local CND man, Labour M.P. Norman Atkinson and academics Sean Gervasi and Malcolm Caldwell.
The Socialist speaker was the only dissenting voice as he didn’t support the Vietcong. After pointing out that many of those who clamoured for “Peace in Vietnam” in fact wanted a victory for the Vietcong, our speaker went on to say that in the 19th century when capitalism had not yet established itself against feudalism as the dominant world system, Marx had taken sides in wars because he held that the triumph of capitalism over feudalism was necessary for social progress. For over half a century now capitalism had dominated the world and the idea that Socialists should take sides in wars was obsolete. What was going on in Latin America, Asia and Africa was the transition from feudal society to capitalism. Movements like the Vietcong, when victorious, led not to the establishment of a classless society but to the rise of a new ruling class. This had happened in Russia and China where state capitalism existed. Socialists did not support such movements nor did they take sides in the Vietnam war. As far as they were concerned wars would last as long as capitalism and there was no solution to the Vietnam war. The task of Socialists could only be to make more Socialists.