E. Belfort Bax July 1910
Source: New Age, 28 July 1910, p. 309;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
However “extensive and peculiar” S. Verdad’s information concerning foreign affairs may be, it is quite evident his knowledge of Socialism is strictly limited, otherwise he could hardly have committed himself to the preposterous statement that a Socialist policy in colonial and foreign affairs does not exist. Mr. Verdad states that he has been unable to find any indications of such a policy in my own writings, which he is kind enough to describe as “otherwise authoritative.” I think I could lay my hand upon considerably more than one of my published essays in which such indications are given. However, I am prepared to rest my case upon something still more “authoritative,” to wit, the published resolutions of the Internationalist Socialist Party in Congress assembled. I would specially refer S. Verdad to the resolution on foreign and colonial policy passed at the last Stuttgart Congress of 1907, together with the one on militarism. I naturally assumed that the reading of the foreign critic of THE NEW AGE would have extended at least to the authoritative pronouncements, not of individual Socialists, but of the great International Socialist Congresses, as regards his own special subject. However, as Mr. Verdad challenges me, I am prepared to tell him briefly what the Socialist view in these matters is : –
(1) Socialism is opposed to all that tends to consolidate and prolong the reign of the capitalist system and its representatives, the present governing classes.
(2) It can, therefore, have no sympathy with the attempts of existing governments by means of their bureaucracies to manipulate alien peoples, be they savage, barbaric, or imperfectly civilised, in the interests of these classes at home The hypocrisy involved in the pretence of “benefiting the natives” only aggravates the position. From a Socialist point of view the European races have no more right to benefit the Asiatic or the African against his will than a quack doctor would have to “benefit” Mr. Verdad by performing a surgical operation on him or by ramming drugs down his throat without Mr. Verdad’s consent, or, still more, in the teeth of his opposition.
(3) Socialist policy in connection with backward races aims at guaranteeing them their independence and preventing them from being forcibly harnessed to the chariot of modern capitalism. Its policy is essentially a policy of “hands off.” So long as modern civilised races have nothing better to offer backward races than the curse of modern capitalism so long at least must this policy continue. The same policy applies to small and weak peoples within the circle of European civilisation.
(4) As regards international relations between the great Powers the policy of Socialism is essentially a peace-at-any-price policy, the sole possible justification for war being the advancement of the cause of the proletariat against the capitalist class.
(5) In a word the international solidarity of the Socialist proletariat is the aim, and the sole aim, of a Socialist foreign
policy. Such a policy must be radically opposed to any form of imperialism, which necessarily presupposes oppression and exploitation. The aim of Socialism is the free federation of peoples, and not the domination of a strong power whatever that power may be.
So there Mr. Verdad has my version of the foreign policy of Socialism, which I think in the main he will find to agree with the pronouncements of most Socialist bodies and of the international congresses!
Mr. Verdad asks why the Labour party are usually right on questions of foreign policy (from a Socialist standpoint) and very often wrong in home policy. I really cannot tell him. All I can do is to repeat that it is not a question here of “information” as he seems to think, but of principles and points of view.
Mr. Verdad talks loftily about his “facts.” Now what do his “facts” amount to? The coloured and prejudiced statements of certain reactionary Continental journals and of officials with whom he has come in contact, which he accepts at their face-value as though dictated by the Holy Ghost and retails for the benefit of THE NEW AGE reader as the only unimpeachable veracity on foreign politics.
Socialists will decline to accept Mr. Verdad’s unsupported affidavit as to the unimpeachableness of “facts” that come from such tainted sources. After Mr. Verdad’s defence of Russian crime and treachery in Finland, however, I venture to think every one of your Socialist and even Radical readers will have about taken his measure. I should like to ask, by the way, Mr. Verdad’s authority for stating that Hyndman is opposed to the evacuation of Egypt, or that I, in contradistinction to Hyndman, would not hail with satisfaction the emancipation of the Indian populations from the British yoke to-morrow, if that were possible!
For the rest no one can read Mr. Verdad’s notes, I am sure, without the conviction that for him nothing is truth that does not fit into his reactionary imperialistic scheme of things. If he has ever shown up an official falsehood I have never seen him do it. But I suppose a bureaucrat is like God and cannot lie! As Mr. Verdad protests against the allegation that his views are those of the Tory press, I would much like to challenge him to point out in what essential particular they differ from the latter. Side issues like that of Roosevelt don’t count. (Besides, there were plenty of full-blooded British jingoes who resented Roosevelt’s vulgar impudence in presuming “to teach his grandmother to suck eggs,” as one of them expressed it.) What I want to be shown is one single point of fundamental importance in which Mr. Verdad’s views differ from those expressed by the leader-writers of the Times, Standard, Mail, Express, or Pall Mall.
E. BELFORT BAX.