E. Belfort Bax

A Personal Explanation

(26 December 1903)

A Personal Explanation, Justice, 26th December 1903, p.6 (letter).
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.


Owing to illness in my family and other untoward personal reasons I have been completely “out of things.” for the last three or four weeks, even to the extent of not seeing my Justice regularly. Judge of my astonishment on looking through the recent back numbers, a day or two ago, to find in the issue of November 28 ult. a statement in a communication from a certain Mr. C. Loftus Reade as follows: “I recollect quite recently that he (viz. - myself) seemed panic-stricken at the idea of the National Debt being held as an immediate object of Socialistic repudiation” The above I can only qualify in one way, and that is, as the most impudent piece of concocted fiction that one could meet with is a very long experience of such things. (1) To the best of my knowledge I have never seen or even heard of Reade, though from his expressions one would be led to suppose I was in the habit of exchanging views on politics with him. (2) I have never, either recently or otherwise, on any occasion expressed any opinion whatever on the point referred to; though, of course, it has been before all of us of the SDF for 20 years past. The reason for this is that I hold no very decided views on the question, never having made a special study of it. I may say, however, that my provisional opinion has always been, and is rather in favour than the reverse, of the proposal at the bare mention of which Mr. Reade assures the world I recently seemed “panic-stricken.”

The devious paths of our friend's intellect are certainly wonderful, The vision of my panic-stricken self leads Mr. Loftus Reade to believe strange things as; e.g., that I hold some not very intelligent, but, doubtless highly reprehensible, heresy on the theory of money in economics. This he has, of course, conjured entirely up out of the depths of his own soul; but even so, it appears to have about as intimate a connection with the tactical question of the immediate repudiation or not of the National Debt, as (say) the lost top-hat of one of our comrades has to do with the square root of minus 1.

And now a parting word of friendly, advice to Mr. Loftus Reade. He is, I trust, still a young man. Now, let me assure him he has a good deal to learn yet as to the theory of scientific Socialism. If he finds an “apparent contradiction and stultification” in my simple statement of one of the commonplaces of modern Socialist theory (in the article to which he takes exception), it only shows his insufficient grounding in the subject. Before he takes to teaching his grandmother to suck eggs let him pursue his own studies further! And meanwhile, let him give up - well, “romancing” about other people's sayings mand doings. It is a bad habit and may, some day, lead him into difficulties. – yours,


E. Belfort Bax


Editorial Note

(We regret there should have been any occasion for the above. The statement of C. Loftus Reade was obviously a mistake. - Ed.)


Last updated on 11.6.2004