I was very surprised indeed that the SPGB and the Socialist Standard did not use the opportunity of the centenary of the start of the First World War to re-publish, and in full, one of what must be one of the most powerful anti-war messages produced by revolutionary socialists, that of the SPGB, published in the September 1914 Socialist Standard.
You quite rightly re-published part of it in the October 1939 Socialist Standard in response to the start of the Second World War, and I understood the Party was extremely proud of the prose and the revolutionary socialist anti-war message it expressed.
As you have chosen for whatever reason not to re-publish your original anti First World War manifesto, may I have at least part of it re-published in your letters column?
“Placing on record our abhorrence of this latest manifestation of the callous, sordid and mercenary nature of the international capitalist class, and declaring that no interests are at stake justifying the shedding of a single drop of working class blood, we protest the brutal and bloody butchery of our brothers of this and other lands, who are being used as food for cannon abroad while suffering and starvation are the lot of their fellows at home. We have no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to the workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism, The World for the Workers!”
I note the one good thing the SPGB ever said about the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution was that they took Russia out of the war. The workers and peasants revolution in Russia in November 1917 was surely the single most powerful and most effective anti war action ever taken in modern history.
Does not the fact that the Bolshevik Revolution so clearly and unambiguously pulled Russia out of the First World Slaughter, and published and exposed all the secret treaties and pacts, showing all the dirty connections and inter relationships between apparently hostile imperialist powers, indicate that, perhaps, there was more of a proletarian content to that Revolution than the SPGB has ever felt able to acknowledge?
With very best wishes
Andrew Northall (by email)
There’s no doubt the Bolshevik Revolution (in reality more of a coup d’état) was carried out by proletarians in the main and it did have the positive effect of taking Russia out of the First World War, as we indeed acknowledged at the time. Set against that though is the legacy of the decades of totalitarian dictatorship that followed, and the mistaken association of this brutal state capitalist regime with ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’. – Editors.