Wm. Paul

Scientific Socialism
Its Revolutionary Aims and Methods


Written: 1918
Publisher: The Socialist Labour Press, Renfrew Street, Glasgow.
Transcription: Adam Buick
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


CHAPTER ONE

I.—INTRODUCTION

MODERN SOCIALISM is a scientific movement based upon the historic evolution of the past and the economic conditions of the present. It is not, therefore, something that has been hatched in the brain of a poet or in the imagination of some idealist philosopher. It is true that many noble and generous souls in the past sought to outline ideal social systems wherein all the inhabitants would be happy and free from poverty and its cruel sting. The distinction between those early idealists and modern Socialism is the difference between Utopianism and Science. For example, Plato in his “Republic,” Thomas More in his “Utopia,” together with many other scholars, depicted a series of ideal social conditions by drawing upon a fertile and imaginative idealism. They were Utopians. But modern scientific Socialism builds upon reality. It looks upon society as an ever-changing category, and it is able to explain why society has changed in the past and why it must change in the future. The reason why Socialism is able to explain the past and the present and to foreshadow the future is because it establishes itself upon the facts of history and the truths of economic science.

II. MAN AND TOOLS

History clearly demonstrates that society is continually changing. It shows that stagnation means, relatively speaking, retrogression. And it shows that human evolution has passed up through Savagery, Barbarism, Slavery, Feudalism, and has now reached Capitalism in the higher industrially developed nations. Socialism, therefore, seeks to show that Capitalism is only a passing phase in the development of humanity, and scientifically contends that the next step must be International Socialism. This contention, however, is not made arrogantly or merely assumed; it is based upon historic and economic facts. We know, which no one will deny, that man, in order to perpetuate his species, must supply his material needs in order to live. He is one of the organisms of the planet, and, like them, has to depend upon extracting his means of subsistence from the forces of nature. The progress of man has been determined in the measure that he has perfected the means of production—the tools by which he compels Nature to yield up her wealth. The power to make tools at will for definite processes lifts man above the animal kingdom and the natural laws which govern the evolution of animals. The animal uses its organs which cannot be detached from its body to provide its means of life; these organs cannot be changed at will, and can only be modified after centuries of incessant struggle and adaptation. But man, on the other hand, by making tools, or organs for providing the things necessary for existence, can change them and alter them at will. He can add to the organs for procuring food by adding new and better adapted tools to the process of labour. Thus the power to make and devise tools places an abyss between the animal and the human species. It is the tool, or the means of production by which man wins his livelihood from Nature, that is the greatest factor in determining human progress. Hence, in studying prehistoric society the historians have named the various epochs of prehistory in the terms of the materials from which the primitive tools were made. These epochs are called the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

Having shewn how important a factor the tool is in human development, it is necessary to observe how it has reacted upon and influenced social evolution.

III. ORIGIN OF PRIVATE PROPERTY AND RISE OF STATE

In primitive society the tools were owned and controlled communally. The longest period of human evolution was spent under primitive communism. Within the clan system of common ownership was developed all the conditions which made civilisation possible. We cannot outline here the development which led to the origin of private property.[1] Suffice to say that with the advent of private property there grew up economic antagonisms among the propertied interests and a class struggle between the property owners and the propertyless. So long as the means of life were held in common the interests of the community were identical. This was the great bond that linked the members of the clan together as brethren. And, indeed, they were brethren in every sense of the word, because the clan was based upon blood-kinship. But with the appearance of private property kinship was destroyed and replaced by political society based upon a territorial basis, and within which property was the ground-work of social relations. From this period there began that clash of interests between individuals, between classes, and between nations, of which history is but the record.

With the destruction of primitive communism and the rise of private property there took place new social relations among men, and new social institutions were originated. In other words, new economic conditions created new social institutions. Due to the ferocity of the class antagonism, which now existed in society between the wealthy class and the propertyless inhabitants, it seemed as though society was going to be rent in pieces. The first condition of social progress is social order. Society presupposes organisation, and the latter involves social discipline. This, indeed, is the function of government. But neither government nor social discipline need mean tyranny or despotism. A captain of a football team is no more tyrannical than the conductor of an orchestra. They are both necessary in order to prevent chaos and to achieve that unity of effort which makes social co-operation so much greater in its results than mere individual effort. In consequence of the fierce class struggle produced by the antagonism of interests between rich and poor the property-holding class decided to enforce social order in its class interest. It thereupon used its economic power and made private property the basis of political power. This was done by throwing open the powers of government to property holders only. Thus by using its economic power to capture the control of government the property holders raised themselves to the status of the ruling class. Once in that position the propertied interests organised the armed forces of the community, which were placed at the disposal of the ruling class as a means of enforcing its will upon society. With the rise of a governing and property-holding power able to enforce its decrees by armed might we get the ORIGIN of the Political State. And with such a sovereign power in its hand the master class soon created social order by intimidating the propertyless by means of the State.

Thus was social order created. But it was social order in the interest of the ruling class. From that time to this the State has been the weapon of the ruling class by means of which it has maintained its economic power and enforced its will upon the subject and the enslaved class. Consequently the function of government, ever since the rise of private property and the State, has not been to organise society on behalf of the community but to govern society in the interests of property. Whether we examine Greece or Rome, the State was the power upon which the ruling class depended to maintain its supremacy over the slaves and its other opponents. Under Feudalism the Crown and the barons held back the growing merchant class in the town and held down the serfs in the country. And within Capitalism the State is the weapon by means of which the workers are held in subjection—the army and navy always being at the disposal of the propertied interests in their conflict with Labour. Thus the origin of the State begins with the revolt of the propertyless after the dissolution of primitive communism. Its function, under different ruling classes, has always been the same—to intimidate and hold down the subject class and thus preserve and enforce the interests and aims of the property-holding class.

IV. FUNCTION OF REVOLUTION

It may seem strange that, despite the many revolutions which have taken place in the past, class struggles should continue. And it is sometimes claimed that, since past revolutions have failed to modify the clash of classes, the social revolution as advocated by Socialism may not abolish the struggles of classes.

While all revolutions in the past have been socially necessary, it is quite true that they in no way abolished class conflict. But all revolutions of the past have been property revolutions. The driving force in each case was a struggle between propertied classes. The Cromwellian revolution in this country and the French Revolution (1789) were necessary in order to enable the rising capitalist class to win political freedom and control of the State. In each case the capitalist and merchant class boldly attacked the political privileges of a semi-feudal monarchy and aristocracy entrenched behind the powers of State. The landed aristocrats and the king used their political power to conserve their interests, and sought to perpetuate a social system which was acting as a fetter upon the expanding industrial forces. King Charles and the aristocracy in this country, and King Louis and the French landlords, used the State, not to facilitate commerce or protect the trading interests, but rather to bleed the merchants and to restrain economic expansion. The conflict was fundamentally a struggle between economic forces. There was the hide-bound, parochial system of semi-feudalism with its restrictions upon trade, on the one hand, and there was, on the other hand, the new commercial system seeking to remove all barriers against trade, and to launch upon a world-wide activity. But all economic struggles become class struggles. That is because interests become personified. The interested persons realise that they must combine with those whose interests are identical with their own in order to preserve or extend their interests against those who are opposed to them. When these individuals are bound together by the identity of their economic interests, we get a class. In this way opposing economic forces and interests reveal themselves politically as class struggles. The monarchy and the landed aristocracy sought to hamper the free development of the forces of wealth production by reinforcing their own obsolete social system. They attempted to do this through their control of the political machinery of the State. They refused to voluntarily surrender their political power to the rising revolutionary capitalist class which represented the new expanding economic forces. Nowhere in history is there any record of a dominant class voluntarily standing aside to enable a subject class to assume political power. Thus, in order to secure its triumph, economically and politically, it was necessary for the capitalist class to sweep aside the “divine” power of the king and the political dominance of the aristocracy. This class struggle culminated in the “glorious” revolution of England and the “great” revolution of France. These revolutions were socially imperative because the political supremacy of the king and the aristocracy enabled them to maintain a social system which was decadent. We know that a social system has entered its period of decadence when its preservation is only possible by hampering the expanding economic forces. Therefore, the capitalist class, by destroying the feudal restrictions, which were acting as a fetter upon industrial evolution, performed a mission which was historically necessary. Thus the destruction of the feudal regime made possible the advent of Capitalism, a higher and more complex economic system. The act of destroying an old system in order to create the new one is a revolution. The revolution in England and France, while necessary, brought into being a new ruling class—the capitalists. This ruling class, like its predecessors, was economically dominant, and in order to preserve its interests and enforce its will, it, too, used its political power to subjugate the new subject class—the wage-workers.

The Russian revolution was welcomed by the capitalist class in this country so long as the propertied interests in Russia were politically dominant. But a howl of rage and slander greeted the political triumph of Russian Labour. This incident demonstrates that it was not the revolution that won the enthusiasm of the imperialists of Europe: it was rather the hope that the revolution would mean the political supremacy of the Russian capitalist class.

For the first time in history a propertyless class, the modern wage-workers, steps forth as a revolutionary force. The propertyless class in the past has revolted against its rulers, but it never sought to overthrow them and to inaugurate a social system based upon the social ownership of the means of production. Until the advent of modern international social production, such a thing was economically and historically impossible. Another distinction of the modern revolutionary movement is that there is no subject or lower class beneath the class seeking emancipation. Thus, when the workers’ revolution overthrows the present rulers, it will mean the abolition of all classes and consequently of all class struggles. This is due to the fact that all past revolutions had for their aim the establishment of a certain propertied system—e.g., the overthrow of landed feudalism and the rise of the capitalist system. The social revolution, on the other hand, sets out to destroy private property in the means of wealth production and to establish social ownership. Socialism, therefore, means the end of class rule. It will have no use for the instrument of class domination—the State. That institution, the emblem of class hatred, will pass away. It was used by the ruling class as the instrument which attended to the administration of men. It will be replaced by an industrial executive committee which will attend to the administration of industry.

Such a system of society is possible. The essential conditions of its realisation are inherent within the present system of Capitalism. Indeed Capitalism is pregnant and is awaiting the revolutionary midwife of Socialism to usher in the new system. The horrors and problems of Capitalism are immediate effects caused by the contradictions which the system has developed. Thus reforms, palliatives, and patches will not rid Capitalism of its problems. It must be replaced with the new system of Socialism. Socialism is, therefore, not a reform movement. It means a transition from Capitalism to a higher system. And that is a revolution.

CHAPTER TWO

I. THE PASSING OF CAPITALISM

CAPITALISM is a social system based upon the private ownership of the means of wealth production. The means of production, while individually owned, are socially operated by the working class. Capitalism is solely a profit-making system. The great machinery of wealth production is utilised to produce commodities which are sold for profit. When profit is not forthcoming production ceases. The capitalist has no interest in the useful quality of the goods produced in his factory; the only thing that interests him is their selling quality, because profit is only realised after commodities are sold. Thus it matters nothing to the capitalist what the nature is of the commodity his capital is producing, or in what part of the world it is produced. The first and last essential of modern production is profit. Lord Rotherham, in discussing his financial affairs recently (Vide “Manchester Guardian,” Oct. 31, 1917), stated that he had capital invested in England, Wales, France, Africa, Russia, Canada, Manchuria, and Japan. And the “Sunday Chronicle” (April 14, 1907) showed with what readiness British capital is prepared to assist German capital in its fight with the German workers by providing English blacklegs.

Dunning has shewn to what extent Capital is prepared to go in its endeavour to get profit. He says:—“Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit Capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent, will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent, will produce eagerness; 50 per cent, positive audacity; 100 per cent, will make it readily trample on all human laws; 300 per cent, and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both.” The function of Capital is to produce goods for profit. To attain profit Capital will eagerly undertake to adulterate goods no matter how fatal such a procedure may be to the people who consume them. Adulteration is a legitimate method of competition according to free traders of the Cobden and Bright school. Many of the military expeditions of the British State have been undertaken at the behest of the profit-makers. The South African War was due to the profit lust of industrial magnates, like Cecil Rhodes, using the Chamberlains and Milners for their material interests.[2] And statesmen readily promise the use of the whole power of the British State to back up the interests of Capital at home and abroad.[3] The “secret treaties” of the European Imperialist States, published by the Russian Socialists, clearly show that the capitalist nations are fighting to extend the power of high finance and the interests of the large capitalists connected with the iron and mineral industries. We see, therefore, that Capitalism is organised in every channel of activity to maintain its existence as a profit-making system. It will be peaceful and warlike; it will encourage free trade or establish protection; it will municipalise, nationalise, and trustify undertakings; it will institute “welfare” schemes and inaugurate an era of “social reconstruction”; it will do anything and everything in order to perpetuate profit-making. Goods are destroyed and harvests have been burned to keep up profits.

II. MERCHANDISE NOT MEN

The means of production are operated by the working class. This class owns nothing but its mental and physical energy, which it must sell on the Labour Market for wages. The labour-power of the worker is sold for a price (wages); it is therefore a commodity—i.e., something bought and sold. But the worker cannot detach himself from his labour-power. When he sells his energy for so many hours per day he himself is sold. Thus Capitalism reduces the worker to the same category as ham, cheese, eggs, and other merchandise bought and sold in the world’s markets. The worker sells himself in the Labour Market and the price he receives is called wages. Wages, the price of labour-power, are regulated by the same laws which regulate the prices of all commodities. That law is supply and demand. When commodities are scarce prices rise; when they are plentiful prices fall. When there is a glut of labourers in the Labour Market their price (wages) fall; when Labour is scarce wages rise. But the law of competition tends to reduce the prices of all commodities to their social cost of production. And likewise the competition among labourers tend to force their price (wages) to the cost of reproducing workers—i.e., their cost of subsistence. The law that wages are fundamentally determined by the cost of subsistence—or, as it is sometimes called, the cost of living— has been admitted recently by workers and capitalists alike. Due to the recent rise in prices the cost of subsistence has increased. All the increases in wages during the war have been demanded by the workers and granted by the masters in view of the rise in the cost of living. This is a tacit admission that wages are determined by the cost of the subsistence of the working class.

We are now able to understand that the workers’ share in the wealth of the Empire is not determined by the amount of wealth in it. It is too readily assumed that the more wealth there is in society the more there must be to share with Labour. Labour’s share is determined by the price the worker will fetch on the Labour Market when selling his labour-power. The law of wages, as we have seen, shows that wages, on the average, simply amount to the sum of money which will purchase, for the labourer, the social necessaries of life. The added wealth of the Empire means nothing to the worker; being a commodity, his share of the social wealth is determined by the operation of laws of an economic character, which he has to enforce by organised methods. The worker can only increase his price (wages) by adopting the tactics used by all commodity sellers. For example, if a merchant wishes to raise the price of his commodity he tries to do so by withdrawing it from the market; he refuses to sell until his price is offered. If the worker wishes to increase the price of his commodity (labour-power), he too withdraws it from the market—i.e. , he comes out on strike. All commodity sellers have strong organisations to back them up in their endeavours to test the market in order to get the highest possible price. A good example is the liquor trade. This business group of commodity sellers has economic and political power. It uses its power to enlist the services of creatures like Ben Tillet, and it has the most uncompromising political party in the country to defend its economic interests. Thus when Lloyd George threatened to attack the “trade” and referred to drink as an enemy equally as dangerous as Germany, the political party of the liquor interests very soon quietened him. Labour, it is true, has an economic organisation—the trades unions—to assist it to maintain the price of labour-power (wages). It also has a political body—the Labour Party—which, it is alleged, represents the interests of the workers. But whereas the political and economic organisations of the capitalist class have maintained and even increased profits, the trades unions and the Labour party treacherously accepted the Munitions Acts and the various other legal enactments which prevented Labour from taking advantage of the law of supply to demand an increase in wages in keeping with rising prices. Thus while merchants were able to withhold goods from the market in order to force up prices,[4] the workers could not withhold their commodity (labour-power) from the market in order to raise its price. Where strikes took place on a large scale the leaders were arrested and deported, and they were insulted by the capitalist press.

It will be seen that anything that Labour gets, so far as the wealth of the Empire is concerned, can only be wrenched from the grip of Capital by the power of organisation. This is due, as our brief analysis has shewn, to the fact that the wage-worker is not a free unit living in a free society. He is a wage slave. He is a commodity; a piece of merchandise bought and sold; in the factory he is known by a number; and he is generally referred to as a “hand.”

III. THE SOURCE OF PROFITS

When the worker enters the factory he creates values. He has no control over the wealth he produces. The worker is paid the price of his labour power (wages), and the commodities produced belong to the capitalist class. The worker has no more share in the goods he produces than the coal in the furnace or the machine that helped to make them. What the worker creates for himself are his wages. His wages are not determined by the price that the product of his labour realises when sold on the market. Indeed, the commodity produced by him may not be exchanged for months after he has received his wages. Here again we observe that there is no direct connection between what Labour receives in wages and the value of the commodities which Labour creates.

The capitalist class, however, gets wealthier every year. The surplus which is annually created is not created in exchange as many economists assert. One capitalist may swindle another capitalist; what the one gains the other loses. But that does not add to the value of the wealth in society. Besides, the capitalist class, as a class, cannot swindle itself. Swindling does not produce wealth. The continually swelling volume of wealth can only proceed from the source of all economic wealth—the application of labour to the resources of nature. Labour alone creates value. All surplus value, from which comes rent, interest, and profit, represents the difference between what Labour receives in wages and what Labour actually produces. Every effort that the workers make to increase their wages means a decrease in the capitalist’s surplus value. And every effort that the capitalists make to lower wages, lengthen the working day, or speed up production, are attempts at lowering the relative wages of Labour. The cheaper Capital can buy Labour the higher its profit; the higher Labour can push its price (wages) the lower profits. Thus between profits and wages there is an antagonism which in its turn produces the class struggle between Capital and Labour.

In order to maintain its profits, and thus safeguard its best interests, the capitalist class has organised itself economically in richly endowed masters’ federations; it has control of the political machine and dominates the State, thus having the armed force of the nation at its service in order to keep the workers in subjection. Through its press and its educational institutions the capitalist class seeks to mould the opinions of the workers and to implant in their minds ideas which will make for the perpetuation of wage slavery and exploitation. We will show later how the workers must organise in order to combat the power of the capitalist class. The organisation of Labour will have to operate to cover the following avenues of activity:—(1) political, (2) industrial, (3) education and the press.

IV. SOCIAL DECADENCE

Capitalism has entered its period of decadence. Every social system, like every organism, sets in motion the elements of its own destruction. Social systems pass into the stage of dissolution the moment they breed contradictions which hamper economic evolution. By that test modern Capitalism is doomed. It is now a system socially perverted. And every new phase it passes into adds to the contradictory elements which are breaking it up.

In producing wealth men and women work in a co-operative and social way. The production of the most elementary commodity requires the social Labour of Continents. An ordinary breakfast table contains the products of the two hemispheres. So interlocked is the Labour of the various nations that isolation spells destruction. This alone demonstrates the social character of the modern process of wealth production. But while wealth is socially produced it is individually appropriated. Here, then, is the most glaring contradiction inherent within Capitalism. Capitalism is transforming the world in its own image. China and many so-called “backward” countries are speedily coming within the vortex of Capitalism. This development shows that modern industry is fundamentally international in character. But while the economic process is international, Capitalism, due to its competitive nature, breeds the narrow and intolerant spirit of nationalism. This is caused by the fact that the capitalist class of the various nations, in seeking profits in foreign markets, have to depend upon their national States, with its force of arms, to back them up. While each State swears by its own nation, the contradictory nature of Capitalism asserts itself by revealing that each of the nations, through imperialism, try to function internationally. The imperialistic aim of Germany, Britain, America, etc., is for their particular nation to become a WORLD-WIDE nation—that is, to have an international empire which will exclude all other nations. It is a sheer contradiction to attempt at having an international nation or a national international. The dynamic power behind imperialism is the class interests of each group of nationalist capitalists trying to capture the international markets, to control the international trade routes, and to dominate the international iron and mineral resources. But all this only proves that the international nature of the economic forces is breaking up the present national basis of political society. And in the measure that Capitalism tends to become more international; in the measure that “backward” nations become capitalised and intensify competition in the world’s markets; in the same measure will the nations develop a fanatical nationalism in order to meet world-wide competition. This imperialistic tendency within each of the nations will strengthen the despotic rôle of the State, which will become more powerful as a weapon of militarism to guard the nation’s profits abroad and to control the nation’s workers at home. Thus Militarism is the buttress of Capitalism because Capitalism is the buttress of Militarism. All this is implied in the sinister language adopted by capitalist diplomats when they refer to the capitalist states as—POWERS.

The contradictory aspect of Capitalism is obvious in the many commercial crises which take place. Due to the phenomenal productive power of international social labour, wealth is produced much faster than society can consume it. This is because the workers receive only a portion of the wealth they create in the shape of wages. In the ratio that machinery is introduced and the quicker wealth is produced, so in the same ratio the workers are thrown into the ranks of the unemployed. Machinery is never introduced unless it is cheaper than the labour it displaces. But with the introduction of machinery a greater number of commodities must be produced. Thus the tendency within Capitalism is for the production of greater and ever greater quantities of wealth to take the place side by side with a decreasing number of workers. In other words, greater production, due to the improvements of industrial technique, creates an increased number of unemployed. Hence, as machinery produces greater quantities of commodities the capitalist class requires ever more purchasers. But just because machinery has displaced workers who cannot purchase, the markets get glutted and the workers starve. In this way over abundance causes hunger and privation.

And the more rapidly Capitalism expands, the greater the productivity of the world’s workers aided by a continually improving industrial technique, the faster will commercial crises follow each other. Capitalism is, indeed, rushing towards a chronic crisis. Commercial crises prove that the product of social labour is so great that it is strangling society. Therefore Capitalism is being destroyed by the logical development of its own economic forces.

Revolutionary Socialism, realising that Labour creates all economic wealth, contends that the only solution for the social problem is to be found in the reorganisation of society upon the basis of the social ownership of the means of wealth production. This plan is neither based upon emotion nor sentiment. It is based upon economic necessity. It is a scientific proposition. Since wealth is socially created it must be socially owned and controlled. Until that is done Capitalism will stagger from one contradiction to another; from one crisis to a worse one; from one conflict to an ever fiercer one. Labour as the creator of all economic wealth demands the control of its product. To facilitate this end, Revolutionary Socialism has outlined the ways and means whereby the International Republic of Labour may be inaugurated. The importance of outlining the tactics and policy of Socialism has not been sufficiently emphasised in the past.

It is to that task we now address ourselves.

CHAPTER THREE

REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL ACTION
ITS DESTRUCTIVE FUNCTION

I. THE ATTITUDE OF THE S.L.P. DEFINED

THE Socialist Labour Party is a revolutionary political organisation which seeks to educate the workers in order that they may organise to combat Capitalism in every field of its activity. Capitalism is the most cunningly organised social system ever known, and the capitalist class is the most powerfully enthroned ruling power known to history. Therefore, the S.L.P. declares, Capitalism must be fought in every avenue of social action. In keeping with that attitude we have outlined a policy regarding the press, education, industrial organisation, and political action. Our policy is distinguished in so far as we have given a lead to Labour to control its press and its educational activities; and our tactics demonstrate the need for industrial unionism which covers the economic sphere of Labour’s activity. But we also emphatically insist that Capitalism’s control of the political machine—i.e., the State and the armed Force of the Nation—must be challenged at the ballot box.

Capitalism is a social system which breeds conflicts. It is a seething jungle of struggles wherein individuals, classes, nations, and empires fight against each other. Individual wage-earners vie with each other for jobs; capitalists outbid one another for markets; classes struggle against each other in the economic and political arenas; and nations are prepared to wipe each other off the map for the sake of imperial conquest. But the struggle, international in its extent, which looms larger than all others, is the conflict between Capital and Labour. In this struggle the former fights with ability and consciousness of aim, while the latter fights with great confusion and without a knowledge of its own strength.

We intend to examine one phase of the class struggle here—the great weapon which the masters wield through their control of the political State. The capitalist class clearly understands that, in addition to its economic dominion over Labour—through its ownership of the means of life—it is necessary to be able to crush the workers should they dare revolt or refuse to produce profits. In order, therefore, to strengthen its economic power, the rulers have left no stone unturned to capture political power—the State—which gives it control over the armed force of society. With this political power in its hand Capital is able to enforce its domination over Labour. In other words, the capitalist class looks upon political power as an important weapon to be used in its conflict with the working class. The political power of the masters is one of its chief fortresses against the rebellious workers. Thus Capital has used its political supremacy to intimidate and to murder those wage-earners who endangered its profits. The use of troops at Featherstone, Tonypandy, Belfast, and Dublin are only a few instances. And Asquith, a few years ago, warned the railwaymen that if they struck work the powers of the State would be placed at the disposal of the railroad magnates. The political power of Capital was energetically used in 1914 by enforcing new laws which sought to smash the rights of industrial organisation and the possibility of Labour striking for higher wages. Deportations, imprisonments, munition tribunals, and industrial conscription are vivid illustrations of how Capital strengthened its economic power by its political control of the machinery of Government.

II. OBJECTIONS TO POLITICAL ACTION

Because the political weapon is used by the capitalist class against Labour, and because the political State is a machine to maintain class rule, there are many workers who contend that working class political action is futile, if not dangerous. The S.L.P, declares that as political power is used by Capital to enforce its economic power, for that very reason the workers must meet Capital on the political field. In the class war the workers dare not allow the capitalists to hold any fortress without laying siege to it with a view to capturing it. We may ignore the political fortress, as our anti-political friends would have us do, but neither the class war, nor any kind of war, can be waged successfully by ignoring any stronghold of the enemy. To ignore the insuperable advantage which the political machine gives to Capital would be tantamount to closing our eyes when the enemy aimed a blow at us with a dangerous weapon. Sanity demands that we must tear the weapon from the grasp of the foe.

But, argues the anti-political, what is the use of returning members to Parliament—they always betray their class interests? What the critic of political action has in his mind are the betrayals of Labour by such creatures as Hodge, Thorne, Barnes, Henderson, etc. Let it be noted that we have exposed the treacheries of these political tricksters time after time. Nevertheless, we deny most emphatically that these men ever represented the interests of the working class. And we further assert that these betrayers of Labour learned the art of treachery before they entered Parliament; they were educated in that art on the industrial field. Our anti-political friends wish us to devote our energies to the industrial arena because they imagine that the workers are sold when they enter politics. But the workers can be betrayed industrially as well as politically. The history of the trade union leaders since the war began indicates this point. Until the working class is conscious of its own interests—until it clearly realises what it wants and how to get it—then they are the tools of the Labour fakir and the political charlatan. The moment that the wage-earners understand their class interests they will not be betrayed either industrially or politically. Because “leaders” are only able to act treacherously when the rank and file is ignorant and confused.

It is argued that the workers are easily misled on the political field. Here again we beg to point out the fact that Labour can only be misled politically so long as it can be betrayed industrially. The political field is where the conflicts of economic interests are fought out. If the working class does not realise its economic interests it will be sold in Parliament; and if it does not realise its class interests it will be sold out in the workshop. Thus every argument which can be urged against political action can be used against industrial action. They react upon each other. There is nothing inherently dangerous in political action. All the arguments brought against it prove that the Socialist movement has neglected its educational work; it has paid insufficient attention to the creation of a revolutionary press; it has not sought to industrially organise Labour as a class; and the result is that these weaknesses are glaringly reflected on the political field. When our anti-political friends contend that the political field makes for the confusion of Labour they are unconsciously passing censure on every other field of Socialist activity. The critic of political action, unable to perceive the law of causation, which links together the various weaknesses operating in the different channels of the Labour movement, places all the blame on the political field. He therefore decides to ignore political faction. But by doing so he ignores the whole problem.

III. PARLIAMENTARY ACTION

Many of the arguments against revolutionary political action are in reality criticisms of parliamentary action. The two spheres of activity must not be confused. Parliamentary action believes that by placing a series of reforms upon the Statute Book— “steps at a time” they are called—the economic position of the workers can be improved, and that they will be finally emancipated by such State measures. Such a line of activity is the aim of the “reformers” (who, since recent events in Russia, have mouthed revolutionary phrases) or State Socialists. This course of action is best represented by the pre-war literature of the I.L.P., although a healthy minority of the younger element is now in revolt against it. The attitude of the reform party means that it can throw open its ranks to those who do not believe in Socialism—but in “something now.” (See “Labour Leader”—27th September, 1917—which admits this regarding the entrance of Mr Dunstand to the I.L.P.) In brief, the logical outcome of parliamentary action, by seeking to show Chancellors of the Exchequer how to bring in Budgets, etc., is State Socialism. The S.L.P.—as the columns of the “Socialist” can testify—repudiates parliamentary action. We deny that it is the political function of the Socialist movement to show the capitalist class how to legislate for Capitalism or administer its laws. The S.L.P. does not aim at trying to outdo the capitalist politicians in the sinister game of Statesmanship. We hold that the purpose of political action is the destruction of the capitalist State. It would be the duty of revolutionary Socialists in Parliament to criticise every measure that came before the House of Commons, and to seek, by every means, to undermine the prestige of the capitalist class by exposing every one of its political manoeuvres. Thus the debate on the credits would furnish the fearless S.L.P.-er with an opportunity of demonstrating his uncompromising antagonism to militarism by voting against them.

We are aware that the pacifist I.L.P. members of Parliament refuse to vote against the war credits because, as Mr. Brace Glaiser has explained, they represent voters who are not Socialists. This, of course, is simply a damning admission that I.L.P. candidates do not make Socialism the only issue during electoral contests. If anyone cares to look up the election addresses of any of the I.L.P. members of Parliament, it will be found that the voters were asked to vote for Free Trade, and other capitalist patches, but not for Socialism alone. The consequence of such an attitude is that these members dare not and cannot act as Socialists once they are returned to Parliament.

IV. REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL ACTION

The S.L.P. takes the political field with one plank upon its programme—Socialism. It emphasises that only Socialists must vote for its candidates. It realises that its candidates may not get returned to Parliament yet awhile. But it knows that if there are only 200 class-conscious Socialists in any constituency, that must be the extent of its poll. Every other vote is useless and dangerous. Alliances, compromises, and arrangements with the Liberal Party may easily mean the return of a candidate, but not of a Socialist candidate. We are convinced that Socialists are only strong by themselves. Our political declaration is to aim at the capture of the political machine in order to tear the State, with its armed force, out of the hands of the capitalist class, thus removing the murderous power which Capitalism looks to in its final conflict with Labour. In a word, the revolutionary value of political action lies in its being the instrument specially fashioned to destroy Capitalism. Just as industrial unionism is necessary to construct Socialism.

But political action is further necessary in so far as it is its work to demand the right of free speech and of press. It must be used to combat the capitalist class in its attempt to filch away the rights of industrial action and other civil liberties. Political action, too, brings the propaganda of Socialism into the daylight and lifts the revolutionary movement beyond that of being a secret conspiracy. Political action, by insisting on free speech, prevents the capitalist class from forcing the movement underground—because once there the State would crush it. And, above all, the political method by bringing revolutionary Socialism upon the political field places it on that ground of social action where all conflicts tend to be settled peacefully. If Socialism is ushered in by violent means it will be because the capitalist class repudiated the civilised or political method, or because the Socialist movement failed to wrench the armed force of the State away from the control of the masters.

V. THE IMPERIALIST STATE

The war has shewn an additional need for revolutionary political action. Since 1914 the tendency of Capitalism is towards an intensified concentration of Capital. This need has been urged upon each national capitalist class in order to promote its economic security and profit. But with the concentration of Capital there has also sprung up closer, and sinister, relations between the State and Capital. The advent of modern Imperialism has made this necessary for two reasons—(1) the necessity for economic expansion abroad, and (2) the need for the better control of Labour at home. These two tendencies will appear in the form of an intensified Nationalism which will be the will be the sentimental lever to force the workers to increase output and to hate the foreign workers. Plans are now being prepared by the State to further speed up production in order to satisfy the British imperialists’ lust for profits. The capitalists, in conjunction with the State, have their schemes already organised. These will be put in operation immediately peace is declared. We see, therefore, that the capitalist class realises the value of controlling the political State.

The British capitalist class understands the need of political action. It intends to be prepared in order to crush the attempts of awakening Labour seeking to organise its forces. The workers will be confronted by the whole economic force of Capital in alliance with its political force—the State.

Can Socialists, therefore, neglect the political field, which is at present one of Capital’s strongest forts? The S.L.P. says no. We dare not leave the enemy entrenched in any position from which it can threaten Labour. Revolutionary political action has not failed for the simple reason that it has never been used. There has been plenty of Labour electioneering and parliamentary reformism, but that is not revolutionary political action. The time has now arrived for the Labour movement in this country to define clearly its attitude towards political action. Many are opposed to political action for no other reason than that they have not realised all that it means.

The S.L.P. believes in the political weapon as the instrument by means of which the workers can capture the State in order to uproot it. The S.L.P. advocates political action because it is the destructive arm of Labour which will overthrow Capitalism. And for these reasons the S.L.P. permits only those who believe in the efficacy of political action to enter its ranks.

CHAPTER FOUR

REVOLUTIONARY INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM. ITS CONSTRUCTIVE FUNCTION

I. FROM CRAFTSMAN TO TRADESMAN

MANY people are talking and writing about Industrial Unionism nowadays. Trade union federation and amalgamation is called “Industrial Unionism”; likewise, the middle-class theorists who advocate national guilds claim that they are “Industrial Unionists.” Revolts against trade unionism; temporary, unofficial, workshop committees without any definite outlook, are also looked upon as steps towards Industrial Unionism. While welcoming every move that the workers make towards a more vigorous prosecution of the struggle against Capital, we must not relax our determination to build up the revolutionary arm of the industrial workers.

Industrial Unionism is the only form of economic organisation that is in keeping with modern industrial development. It is not the outcome of any kink, nor is it the child of any agitator’s imagination. It draws its strength from the present method of organised industry, and it shows Labour how to offer the greatest resistance in the struggle against Capital. And it outlines a method which, by supplementing the efforts of the revolutionary political organisation, it can play its great historic rôle of inaugurating the international Republic of Labour.

To show that organisation by industry, along class lines, is the highest expression of economic development, it is only necessary to observe how industry has evolved. At the inception of Capitalism the production of wealth was organised upon a craft basis. A man could work alone in a small workshop. He could produce a commodity from its first to its last process. His varied skill was such that with a few tools he performed all the various operations himself and unaided. But in order to speed up production, and in order to get larger profits, the capitalist enlarged the workshop and sub-divided the labour process. At this stage we see the work of the labourer slightly narrowed down. Instead of doing all the processes necessary to produce a given commodity, the worker does a few of them, in the performance of which he becomes an expert. But the splitting up of the job brings into operation a condition of things wherein the worker labours in co-operation with other workers. Thus, instead of the old craftsman making a van and producing it painted and ready for the road, the newer form of production relegates one man to do the painting, and nothing but painting, and other men to do some other parts of the job. A similar tendency took place in almost every sphere of production. From this first step in the breaking up of the craftsman’s skill we get a detailed labourer who is generally designated as a tradesman.

II. TRADES UNIONISM

Coinciding with the appearance of the tradesman, it began to dawn upon the workers that they were no longer independent artisans. The splitting up of the labour-process; the introduction of machinery; and the rapacious greed of the capitalist class forced the tradesmen to realise that their interests could only be protected by combination. This led to the rise of trades unions.

At that period production was more or less localised. Hence the trades unions—trade clubs as they were called—were purely local. The aim of these unions was simply to defend themselves against the employers. Thus arose the famous maxim of trades unionism—“Defence, not Defiance.” Considering the despotic conditions of the time, when combinations were illegal and strikes were conspiracies, there was a challenge to Capital in that declaration. It required great courage at the beginning of the nineteenth century to insist upon the right of Labour to defend itself against Capital. But that was over a century ago. The old trade clubs were supposed to be friendly societies, but they were in reality fighting organisations. In this they differ from modern trades unions, which are supposed to be fighting organisations, but which are in reality friendly societies.

When the old trade clubs did strike, they stopped production in the particular establishment in which they were engaged. The capitalists at that period attempted to get their orders executed in some other town. The recognition of this fact led to the organising of trade unions upon a national scale. Likewise the persecution meted out to trade unionists locally and nationally compelled them to meet as a trades council locally, and a trades congress nationally. Each of these moves was forced upon the trades unions by the hostility of Capital. When Capital realised that its seventy years of persecution had failed to destroy Labour’s workshop organisation, it adopted new tactics. It began to “educate” the workers and to show them that the interests of Labour and Capital are identical, and that there is no such thing as a class struggle. So successful was the capitalist class in this move to undermine the rebellious spirit of the industrial artisans that prominent trade union leaders now contend that Labour and Capital are brothers, and trade union banners proclaim it. Distinguished Parliamentary Labourists like Mr Macdonald and Snowden contend that there is no class struggle between Labour and Capital. The capitalist class tried its hardest to crush trades unionism; for over seventy years it tried to smash Labour by the armed force of the State and the legal machine; by imprisonments, deportations, terroristic tactics, and intimidation; but all these methods were ineffectual in stamping it out. The moment, however, Capital approached trades unionism as a “brother,” and was received as such, from that moment trade unionism ceased to be the centre of the revolt of the industrial artisan.

III. PASSING OF TRADES UNIONISM

There were, several other important things which had taken place, and which would have weakened trades unionism, in any case, as a weapon in the struggle against Capital.

We have seen that Capital depends upon increasing its profits by splitting up the labour process and by transforming the skilled artisan into a detailed worker. With the increase of capitalist trade within the nation for foreign markets, this process proceeded slowly. Up to 1870 Britain was the workshop of the world, and the capitalist class, while tyrannising the workers, was able to carry on trade without devoting much attention to the technique of the industrial process. But with the entrance of the European and American nations into the industrial arena, with the increased competition for the world’s markets, the labour process was revolutionised. With the coming of the twentieth century Capitalism had reached the point where industry could only be profitably undertaken by large sums of concentrated capital. This was specially true of the iron and allied industries. In order to hold its own in the world’s markets, Capital in this country carried on the subdivision of labour to such an extent that trades were so split up that all lines of demarcation practically vanished. But in the measure that trades and crafts were swallowed up and replaced by simpler and more detailed processes; in the measure that production embraced more and ever more processes, and brought many together which had once been separated; so, in the same measure, by bringing together great masses of detailed labourers, did Capital demonstrate the great power that Labour could wield once it had made up its mind to organise its forces. Furthermore, by bringing together such armies of workers all labouring co-operatively for the world’s markets, Capital by its mechanism proved that all labour is social labour, and what is even more, that it is international social labour. And, again, with the advent of the joint-stock company conducted by a salaried official, the evolution of Capital showed that the capitalist class performs no useful social function now.

All these things are meaningless to modern reactionary trade unionism. While production is now in its industrial phase, sectional unionism is still in its century-old trade and craft phase. The result is that trades unions are only able to define what a trade or craft is by making artificial lines of “demarcation,” which are as stupid and as unscientific as the leaders themselves. The consequence is that unions dissipate more energy fighting each other than they do in fighting Capital. As an illustration of the reactionary and insane tendencies of sectionalism the following is a recent sample:—

RAILWAY SHOPMEN ON STRIKE

Unauthorised strikes have broken out at three railway centres—Derby, Brighton, and Eastleigh—among the workmen employed in the shops. The causes of dispute are different at each place.

At the Brighton railway shops the stoppage is restricted to the engineers, the N.U.R. men continuing at work. The cause of stoppage at the Eastleigh railway shops is a dispute respecting the district rate of pay, and here again the stoppage is restricted to members of the craft unions. At Derby the dispute was forced by men belonging to the Boilermakers’ Society refusing to work with men who are members of the National Union of Railwaymen.

In the Derby dispute the Midland Railway Company is not taking action on one side or the other, as it is simply a quarrel between rival trade unions, and does not affect the wages or conditions of service of the men on strike. —“Manchester Guardian” (Oct. 25/17).

Note the complacent attitude of Capital! It “is not taking action on one side or the other.” And why should it, considering it is such stupid and jealous internecine struggles within the movement of the workers that is the surest guarantee regarding the safety of Capital and the weakness of Labour. The whole sum and substance of the matter is that the present condition of highly organised and concentrated Capital, by wiping out sectionalism in the production of wealth, has deprived sectional unionism of its basis of organisation—the craft. Trade unionism cannot function within the modern factory or industry. And being functionless, it is dying from atrophy. It refuses to voluntarily give way to the modern and scientific organisation of Labour—revolutionary Industrial Unionism. But institutions do not pass away when their missions have been fulfilled. They struggle to live, and they exist functionless and fossilised. It is because of this historical law that Industrial Unionism rises and throws its gauntlet at the feet of the old reactionary movement of sectionalism.

IV. REVOLUTIONARY UNIONISM

Industrial Unionism, realising that all economic wealth is produced by the social labour of the international working class, sets out to organise the international workers industrially upon class lines. At one sweep it brushes away the poison of sectionalism which sets Labour against itself. It differs from all other industrial movements of Labour by affirming its intention of taking and holding the means of wealth production. By working co-jointly with the revolutionary political party of Labour it seeks to inaugurate the Republic of Industrial Democracy. Realising that Socialism is an industrial democracy, it contends that industrially organised Labour can play a great part in the social revolution by holding the means of production while the political organisation destroys the Capitalist State which has the armed force of the nation behind it. With the destruction of the Capitalist State, the capitalist system will be destroyed. And with the destruction of the State the work of the political organisation will be accomplished. But the ushering in of Socialism—the constructive act of the revolution—must be the work of an industrial organisation. To accomplish that task is the aim of Industrial Unionism. In the measure that the so-called “industrial unions” do not put this revolutionary aim to the forefront as the ultimate object, of their activity, in the same measure they reveal their weakness and confusion.

But Industrial Unionism not only aims at inaugurating Socialism. It braces itself for the immediate struggle with Capital. Whether we will it or not, the class struggle takes place in every workshop every day. To stimulate the workers to take an active part in that struggle is part of the work of Industrial Unionism. By linking the workers together industrially there will arise such a spirit of class consciousness as the world has never witnessed. By binding all workers together as a class, throughout the various industries, the jealousies and internecine sectional struggles which disgrace modern trades unionism will disappear. The quarrels which take place between trade unionists are based upon the narrow statement that the union fights only in the interests of its trade or craft members. Industrial Unionism, on the contrary, contends that the interests of the workers are class interests, and not of a sectional nature. Instead, therefore, of having the melancholy example, as cited above, of two groups of railway workers struggling against each other, Industrial Unionism would coalesce the energies of Labour and direct their against the only enemy—Capital.

Industrial Unionism will strive to raise the wages, shorten the working day, and improve the immediate conditions of the workers. These conflicts it looks upon as mere skirmishes pending the overthrow of Capitalism. But the class struggle cannot be suspended until some future date. There can be no “sacred union” with Capital. The master class must be opposed here and now and everywhere. The workers, too, must be assisted all the time. Wherever the Industrial Unionists see a bona fide fight being put up against Capital they will lend the strikers every assistance, even if they are not members of the Industrial Union. Thus the Glasgow branches of the Industrial Workers of Great Britain rallied nobly to the assistance of the emergency committee which so ably conducted the recent strike of the Scotch moulders who were deserted by their union. And for similar reasons the Industrial Unionists headed the workers in their various revolts since 1914. It will be seen, therefore, that Industrial Unionism is not a dogmatic doctrinaire formula, but is, on the contrary, a living illustration of the desire for industrial unity. It helps where it can, both anxiously and willingly, but it nevertheless refuses to leave the revolutionary course which it has mapped out. It believes neither in sabotage nor in violence. But calmly and with scientific precision it welds ever closer the weapon of industrial solidarity. It sees the numberless elements that are destroying Capitalism, but it relentlessly proceeds in its task of gathering together the industrial FORCE which is destined to proclaim the doom of wage slavery.

Industrial Unionism is the only true method of attaining real social reconstruction. It glories in its revolutionary rôle.

Industrial Unionism beckons on Labour to unite and march forward to its emancipation.

CHAPTER FIVE

INDEPENDENT WORKING-CLASS EDUCATION

THE class struggle reflects itself in the domain of ideas. The propertied interests seek to mould the ideas of the workers in such a way that their intellectual, industrial, and political activities may not be directed against Capitalism. Marxism, and the theory of value, has therefore become the storm centre of modern economics. The struggle waging round the economic and historical theories of scientific Socialism is but the intellectual counterpart of the class struggle which takes place in the industrial field between Capital and Labour. In so far as the revolutionary organisation of Socialism asserts itself, either politically or industrially, it is ferociously assailed by Capital. And so in the domain of ideas the theories of revolutionary Socialism are most viciously attacked. Hence the onslaught against Marxism. The very bitterness of these attacks prove with what dread Capital looks upon Marxism. It instinctively realises that Marxism is the theoretical expression of the revolutionary movement which is destined to destroy Capitalism. It is the recognition of this fact which has made many intellectual apologists of modern society declare that the destruction of the revolutionary movement of Socialism can best be accomplished by destroying the theories of Marxism.

Our contention that the propertied powers seek to use the avenues of education in their class interests is sometimes challenged by sentimental Labourists. It is as true to-day as it was true that under Feudalism the Roman Catholic Church dominated all the sources of education in order to maintain the supremacy of the landed interests against the commercial interests of the time. The Church, and its interests, were bound up in the perpetuation of Feudalism. Thus Feudalism, threatened with the rising revolutionary merchant class, sought to prevent the spread of natural science which exposed the “Divine Rights” of the monarch and the infallibility of the church; the spread of natural science was also a source of profit to the burghers and added to their growing economic power. Hence the attitude of the Church towards Copernicus and Galileo.

It is strange that anyone, especially in the Labour movement, cannot see that all modern education is hopelessly biassed in favour of the perpetuation of Capitalism. Eminent publicists, who are opposed to Revolutionary Socialism, admit the point under discussion. Mr. John H. Hobson, in his “Crisis of Liberalism,” says regarding the power of the capitalist class in dominating educational institutions and distorting the minds of the students:—

“In order to divide and degrade the moral and intellectual force of democracy, an informal Sociology is required. Those who watch carefully the influence exercised by the possessing classes over our universities, churches, political parties, press, and even our literature, and art and drama, can see how this body of social theory is consolidated for its defensive work. .....
To this Sociology of the vested interests Biology, Psychology, Economics, Ethics, Philosophy, Religion, are all made to contribute special aids. But the staple consists in an illicit extension of certain teachings of Biology, and a fabrication of curtain premises of economics. .....
Since the real battle is waged round the fortress of economic privilege, it was only to be expected that the new plastic science of political economy should be moulded and utilised for weapons of defence. .....
The immediate peril which immediately confronts us I cannot forbear to name. It lies in the temptation to rely upon the financial patronage of rich men, millionaire endowments, for the means of establishing universities and colleges for the higher education of the people. .... Education sustained by such means will never be really free, or fully disinterested. The biology, the economics, the ethics, even the biology taught in these privately bounty-fed institutions, will carry in various subtle but certain ways the badge of servitude to the special business interests that are their paymasters.”

Likewise, Mr. J. M. Robertson says in his “Fallacy of Saving,” regarding the opposition to those who dare challenge the orthodox theories of economics:—

“And yet, while the received doctrine stands naked to criticism, I find that when a young economist presses the criticism he is made to suffer for it by exclusion from educational posts.”

The above quotations could be multiplied from the writings of non-Socialists in order to show the almost uncanny power wielded by vested interests over the forces of education. Many scholars and professors who have refused to teach the economics and sociology which favours the capitalist class have been dismissed from their posts.

It will be seen, then, that revolutionary Socialism dare not permit its educational work to be conducted by any workers’ educational association which prides itself upon being “neutral” regarding the interests of Capital and Labour. In the class struggle the “neutrals,” so called, are always subtle and sinister elements in opposition to the workers. Therefore revolutionary Socialism must organise and control, independent of capitalist and other neutral bodies, its own educational movement. The rapid spread of tutorial classes, propagating the scientific theories of revolutionary Socialism, has already alarmed the press of this country. It is quite true, as the “Times” sought to show, that Marxism is the “ferment of revolution.” In South Wales and in the West of Scotland the Marxian educational movement has been particularly active, and in these districts the press has sought to frighten the capitalist class regarding the effect of such propaganda. These classes are but the development of those organised many years ago by the S.L.P. Due to the persistent advocacy regarding the need for educational classes, side by side with the growth of S.L.P. literature, this aspect of the movement has rapidly developed and is now being brilliantly conducted by an organisation which seeks to unify the educational efforts of the bona-fide revolutionary elements in the movement. [5]

II. THE PRESS

In every phase of the development of Socialist tactics in this country the S.L.P. has played the thankless part of pioneering. We do not consider that the strength of any party in the Labour movement is determined by the number of individuals which compose it. The real strength of a revolutionary party is rather to be measured by the manner in which it indicates the tendencies of economic development and outlines methods of action corresponding thereto. When the S.L.P. first outlined the real function of revolutionary political action, and of industrial unionism, we were most bitterly opposed. Likewise, our repudiation of State Socialism twelve years ago earned us the title of “impossibilists.” Perhaps the greatest opposition we encountered was our advocacy of a party-owned and controlled press. We contended then, and we reaffirm now, that the capitalist class with its financial power dominates the press of this country. Just as Capital reinforces its economic power through its control of the political machine, so, on the other hand, it wields political power due in great measure to its control of the press—the greatest weapon it has, educationally, for moulding the ideas and therefore the political activity of the workers. Capitalism, let us reiterate, uses its various avenues of activity in such a way that they support each other, and all of them combined reinforce the wages system. Thus the press, in the hands of Capital, attacks Labour in the field of education, industry, and politics. Just as Labour must control its own education, political work, and industrial organisation, so it must control its own press. Outside of the S.L.P. no attempt has been made to bring the control of the printing press of the movement under the direct control of the party membership. Much money has been expended in the Labour movement to print papers and pamphlets, and most of that money has been used to build up printing establishments which were privately owned and over which the rank and file exercised no control. Thus the defunct Social Democratic Federation built up a privately-owned printing establishment—the Twentieth Century Press. When the Federation merged into the B.S.P. the members thought they had some power over the press and “their” organ “Justice.” But the moment the rank and file of the B.S.P. came into conflict with the jingo shareholders of the Twentieth Century Press it was then realised that the party membership had neither an “official organ” nor a press.

The S.L.P. has created its own press. The policy of the literature and the party journals is determined by the rank and file of the organisation. Only in this way can the revolutionary press be built up and be democratically controlled. It is therefore no accident that the S.L. Press is the only printing establishment in this country which publishes nothing but literature of a revolutionary nature and worthy of scientific Socialism.

CONCLUSION

HAVING outlined the position of scientific Socialism, and having stated the policy of the S.L.P. in relation to it, we cordially invite all workers in agreement with our position to join our ranks.

We are convinced that Socialism is the only hope of the workers. Neither reforms nor palliatives can in any way remove the great economic contradictions inherent in Capitalism. The time has now arrived when all revolutionary Socialists must either join hands with the S.L.P. or strengthen the hands of the reformers and State Socialists. The latter exercise an influence as great as it is sinister in the Labour movement. Revolutionary Socialism can only win the workers when the S.L.P. has been so strengthened that it can carry out its work upon an even larger scale. To that end the party appeals for members.

In these days, when the conflict grows ever keener, it is the duty of every Socialist to be where he can best assist the movement. Neither personal feelings, nor a false sense of duty to some party which does not function as a revolutionary unit in the army of Labour, should prevent anyone from fearlessly throwing in his or her lot with the “fighting S.L.P.” Every-thing in these days must be subordinated to the class’ aspect of the struggle against Capital. We, therefore, appeal to those comrades who complain regarding the shortcomings of their present organisations to come inside and help us to convert the Labour movement, and the working class, to the policy we have outlined.

The influence of the S.L.P. is rapidly spreading, but with an increased membership our work can be extended and intensified. The growth of that work can only go on if new members come in. By taking your place inside our ranks you will become identified with the most fearless and virulent party of Socialism in the country. Outside the S.L.P. your efforts are probably being exercised in a wrong direction; inside the S.L.P. your efforts will be directed upon the greatest work in History—the emancipation of the working class and the freedom of Humanity.


Notes

1.  See first chapter of “The State; its Origin and Function.” S.L. Press, 1s. 3d

2.  See “Chamberlain: A Study,” by J. M. Robertson, M. P.

3.  See Sir Edward Grey’s promise to foreign investors on July 10, 1914, and Asquith’s offer to railway directors in case of strike in 1911.

4.  See Mr. Bonar Law’s threat to dealers who offer to sell potatoes below 6 per ton, (“Manchester Guardian,” November 1, 1917.)

5.  We are referring to the work of Plebs League.