1980s >> 1984 >> no-959-july-1984

50 Years Ago: Socialists and Free Discussion

It may perhaps be of some use to point out to those who are following methods that kill free discussion, that they are following in the path of their predecessors in Italy and Germany, and provoking the ogre they fear. The starting-point of the Fascist career in Italy was the seizure of the Italian factories by the workers and the propaganda of violence by the Communists. Germany tells a similar tale. It may be added that the country that gave them the lesson was Russia, and one of the principal defenders of Russian violence Trotsky — is now wandering about seeking an asylum — a victim of the methods he advocated.

It is only by free and open discussion that the workers can grasp the essentials of their present condition of servitude and the way to abolish it. Until they have this knowledge it matters little which of the capitalist parties they support.

While we are on the subject of “freedom of speech” we cannot help being surprised to find what curious, not to say, suspicious friends, this “freedom” has. We see among them the numerous organs of capitalism, which steadfastly decline to allow the publication in their columns of a statement of the Socialist case.

(From an editorial, Reason or Violence, Socialist Standard July 1934.)