E. Belfort Bax

Hysterics in Political Discussion

(5 July 1902)

Hysterics In Political Discussion, Justice, 5th July 1902, p.6 (letter).
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


The unfortunate exhibition of the above which my eminently sober-minded and courteous reference to him in the Social-Democrat has called forth in friend Hyndman, can only be accounted for on the hypothesis that he is suffering from a kind of chronic inflammation of the conscience as regards his attitude to the late South African war and that I have the unhappy knack of causing it to become acute ever and anon by any casual reference to the subject. If a quiet expression of regret, coupled with a complimentary acknowledgment of services, constitutes an “eccentricity,” I am afraid I must plead guilty to it.

I am sorry really, if Hyndman’s sense of international justice is not strong enough to bear the imputation of drunken helotry in its interest. To his credit, be it said, be does not fear the same imputation in the direct interest of the economic class-struggle. In fact, I thought we of the SDF prided ourselves upon refusing to trim our sails to the wind, in spite of the Liberals accusing us of being the drunken helots of politics and such things, as they commonly do. Having worked so much already in the way of what the ordinary politician terms “drunken helotry” i.e., adherence to principle however unpopular it may be, it seems, I must say, drawing rather a curious line when comrade Hyndman refuses to do so where it is a question of opposing a “national policy.” With all the apparent hopelessness of accomplishing our economic aims this year or the next, it really seems a little far-fetched to quail before the uselessness of opposing a dominant “national policy.”

It may be my obtuseness, but I fail altogether to see where the “good joke” comes in, that having been at Monte Carlo last winter, I should still think I had the right to criticise Hyndman’s attitude over the war. The conundrum is fairly beyond me. Hyndman says I spend half my time at Monte Carlo (as a matter of fact. I have spent two weeks and three days there last winter, but that is a detail), but even were I so depraved as to spend the whole of my time there rather than in the chastened and purer atmosphere of Queen Anne’s Mansions or the “City,” I cannot for the life of me see the connection between my place of residence and the justice of my strictures on H.M. Hyndman. Not that I have no qualms of conscience anent this Monte Carlo episode. On the contrary, I feel that perhaps I devoted too much of my time while there to the completion of a literary work (now on the point of publication), and that I should perhaps have acted more truly altruistically had I utilised the altogether infallible “system” which my well-known remarkable mathematical gifts have enabled me to excogitate, for replenishing the coffers of the SDF, subsidising the T.C.P., and perhaps incidentally financing myself.


Yours fraternally,
      E. Belfort Bax


Editorial Note

[We print this letter as it is in reply to that of comrade Hyndman which appeared last week; but we think this purely personal controversy is somewhat out of place in the columns of a propagandist paper and has gone quite far enough. We do not therefore intend to insert any more letters on the subject.]


Last updated on 11.6.2004