Edgar Hardcastle

Should Socialists Support Federal Union?

Source: S.P.G.B. pamphlet, May 1940.
Transcription: Socialist Party of Great Britain.
HTML Markup: Adam Buick
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2016). 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.

Report of a Debate Between Federal Union (Mrs. Barbara Wootton) and Socialist Party of Great Britain (Mr. E. Hardy). Chairman Mr. R.G.W MacKay. Debate held at Conway Hall, London May 6th, 1940.

THE CHAIRMAN, in opening the proceedings, said the debate had been arranged jointly by the organisation known as Federal Union and by the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Mrs. Barbara Wootton would answer the question, "Should Socialists support Federal Union?" in the affirmative, and Mr. Hardy would answer it in the negative. Mrs. Wootton would first speak for thirty minutes and then Mr. Hardy would speak for thirty minutes, after which they would speak in the same order for twenty minutes and then for ten minutes. There would be no speeches or questions from members of the audience.

Mrs. Barbara Wootton was well known as a Socialist thinker and writer, and Mr. Hardy was also well known, as a nondescript member (as he preferred to be called) of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

The subject of the debate was an exceedingly important one, and the question of what was to be done at the end of the war in order to organise a better world was no doubt a question that was very much in the mind of everyone present that evening.


MR. E. HARDY: As the Chairman has told you, the subject of our debate is, "Should Socialists support Federal Union? " Mrs. Wootton has said that Socialists should support her organisation, which she agrees is not itself a Socialist organisation and which does not pretend to be. I am going to oppose that point of view and to say that Socialists should not support Federal Union, and I do so on behalf of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. I shall say a few words about that for the benefit of those who are not already familiar with the stand taken by my organisation, but I would say this at the beginning. The question that matters is whether Federal Union can prevent or abolish war, and obviously if it could be shown that, even in a capitalist world, Federal Union could abolish war there would be an overwhelming case for Socialists to give up their concentration on Socialism in order to support Federal Union for the purpose of preventing war. But it is the view of the organisation I represent that capitalism causes war. Now, if capitalism is the cause of war the position is, of course, very different. If capitalism causes war and capitalism will go on causing war, then whether we have a Federal Union or not we shall have war. That is our case.

At the beginning of her address Mrs. Wootton made four general statements, which we said — and she hoped I would agree — summed up the position for Socialists. In those statements as given there is little or nothing with which one could disagree, although in certain respects the statements are not sufficiently precise to show exactly what conclusions could be drawn from them. I would, however, point out one or two things about them.

My opponent and I can agree that the world as it exists does not satisfy human needs, but that is not the position of other members of Federal Union. Lord Lothian, for example, who is listed as one of the prominent members of Federal Union, not only strongly disagrees with that statement but claims that capitalism is not the cause of poverty and inequality: that sovereignty is the cause of those things and that capitalism has been a great success. He, naturally, has no intention whatever of doing anything to assist the abolition of capitalism. My opponent will say, of course, that the members of Federal Union are permitted to have their own views on questions like this, that they come together merely because they agree about Federal Union. I will deal with that aspect of the matter later on.

We are agreed that the economic evils that exist in the world are caused by the class ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth. We can also agree that Socialists are internationalists. If a man is not an internationalist, he is not a Socialist. I would add this, that all these things are summed up adequately in the Declaration of Principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. I will not waste your time by reading the whole of them to you can make yourselves familiar with them. I would, however, point out one or two things about the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Our object is this: "The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community." One of the clauses in our Declaration of Principles points out that "the emancipation of the working class" — that is, the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Socialism — "will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex." There we have the perfect definition of the international standpoint of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The last clause in our Declaration of Principles says that the Socialist Party of Great Britain "calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom."

I may add one word, that as far as the question of equality under Socialism is concerned we cannot sum these things up better than the words used by Marx a century ago, taken by him from earlier writings on the subject, that the distribution we should aim at should be based on this principle: "From each according to his capacity; to each according to his needs."

I do not think I need say anything more than that about the internationalism of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, but for the benefit of those who are not familiar with that organisation I would point out that it was formed in 1904 out of the experience members had had of other organisations, and they formed a certain definite outlook on the subject of achieving Socialism that has been retained by the organisation ever since. They decided that the only way to get Socialism was to make Socialism their only "ism." The Socialist Party of Great Britain has no other "is" than that. We hold implicitly that Socialism is the only hope of the workers. Unlike other organisations that use that phrase, we do not at the same time suppose that there are a half dozen other hopes of the workers. The object of all our efforts is Socialism.

I might add that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is, and always has been, democratic. We have always aimed at achieving Socialism by the one way in which it can be done, that is, first, by making Socialists, and then by gaining control of the political machinery of society. But it is, of course, a very important point that we do not believe we can get Socialism by short cuts, by accumulations of reforms, by pacts with other organisations; in short, we shall never get Socialism until we have Socialists. Also we have never toyed with dictatorship, either Nazi or Communist, and we have never adopted the pernicious view of aiming merely at power. We have never supposed that Socialism was a question of getting rid of one ruling class in order to put another ruling class in its place. We have always aimed at building a better world for the people who live in it, and we have never supposed that Socialism was something that could be forced on the world against the wishes of the inhabitants of the world.

With regard to our definition of Socialism, we would say that there is only one definition of Socialism: we aim at replacing private ownership of the means of life by common ownership. We aim at production solely for use, which means the abolition of rent, interest and profit. Further, of course, we are international. Socialism is itself an international conception and there can be no such thing as Socialism in one country and, incidentally, of course, since we claim that capitalism is the cause of war, we believe that Socialism, and Socialism only, will get rid of that conflict of interest, that drive for markets, that striving for areas of raw material and strategic points, and so on, which are the causes of war.

There is one other thing that I must point out, and it is important, because certain of the people who support Federal Union (Dr. Joad, for example, who has written pamphlets for Federal Union and is listed among their prominent supporters) have used the argument which comes up again tonight in a slightly different form, that we shall want Federal Union whether we have Socialism or capitalism. Dr. Joad has said that during the past twenty years, what he calls Socialist countries have existed, and the arguments that can be applied to capitalist countries are applicable also to them. Mrs. Wootton spoke rather similarly this evening about the progress which she claimed had been made towards Socialism in the interval between the last war and the present war. It is implicit in the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain that Socialism is not State Capitalism, that the mere State ownership and control of transport, industries, and so on, is not Socialism; it has nothing to do with Socialism and will not bring us towards Socialism. The only basis for Socialism is the common ownership of the means of production and distribution and the production of goods and the operation of services, not for the purpose of making a profit, but solely for the purpose of meeting the needs of the population of the world. Therefore, in that sense we cannot agree about what Socialism is. I make the statement, which the Socialist Party of Great Britain makes, that there are no Socialist countries in existence now and there have never been any Socialist countries at any time in the history of the human race. Once you recognise that fact, you can see the falsity of the argument put forward, for example, by Dr. Joad, based on the supposed experience of the countries that he had in mind — such countries as Germany under its Social Democratic Government, or this country under a Labour Government, or Russia, which is the other country he mentions. None of these countries is now Socialist or ever has been Socialist.

I only want to say this, that it is implicit in the position of the Socialist Party of Great Britain that Socialism is a system of society based on common ownership, and the mere administration of capitalism by persons calling themselves Labour or Socialist or Communist does not produce a Socialist country and does not even lead towards it, but it is much more likely to lead to a reaction towards Fascism and dictatorship, such as the reaction in Germany, after years of Social Democratic government. I have heard of cases in which directors or owners of brewing concerns have themselves been teetotallers, but the fact that the directors or owners of Barclay, Perkins & Co., or Watney, Combe & Co., may be teetotallers does not mean that their organisations become any the less organisations for the purpose of making a profit and getting people to drink alcohol. I will give you another illustration. The late Mr. Nobel, who originated the Nobel Peace Prize, was himself an opponent of war and a pacifist, but that did not in any way diminish the explosive character of the instruments of war made by Nobel's Explosives, Limited. Similarly, it is an illusion that the mere administration of capitalism by persons who say that they do not believe in capitalism in any way changes the capitalist nature of the social organisation. It does not even change in an important way the day-to-day activities of the capitalist Government. That has very important bearing on Federal Union, because I am going to show you later that the supporters of Federal Union have a totally wrong conception of the nature of the State. The capitalist State exists for the purpose of preventing the class division of society from disrupting the social organisation, also for the purpose of protecting the different capitalist groups from the activities of rival capitalist groups abroad, and when people who call themselves Labour and who do not believe in capitalism take on the job of administering that State machine they are the mere instruments of the machine; they are not in control of it but they are controlled by it.

Mrs. Wootton raised the question that a number of small Socialist organisations have retained their internationalism, but the large organisations have not done so. My answer to that is, of course, that the large organisations never were really international. I have attended certain congresses myself that were alleged to be international congresses, but the national groups of delegates were so nationalistically-minded that I thought it a very good thing they could not speak the same language, or they would have quarrelled a great deal more than they did.

Now I come to a very important point. Mrs. Wootton says that the first cause of war is the lack of international machinery, and that is laid down in quite a number of Federal Union documents. Lord Lothian says it is "sovereignty and not capitalism or Communism which is the fundamental cause of war." I would say that that is in its nature a quite fallacious argument. One cannot explain war by the existence or non-existence of a piece of international machinery. One has to find the motive behind it, the driving force that makes the people who control that machine set it and its armaments in motion. In the industrial field there are people who say that if there were no trade unions there would be no strikes, but it is the drive, the urge behind it, which both creates the machinery and sets it in motion. The class division of society is responsible for trade unions and, of course, for employers' associations, and it is the class division of society and the fact that capitalist society is not a community but consists of classes struggling with one another that brings into existence the sovereign State and arms it. The fact is that the supporters of Federal Union have a view of the State which is fundamentally different from the view held by Socialists. They think of the State as an organisation brought into existence to promote the welfare of a great mass of individuals who happen to live in a particular country; they do not recognise that the State in the modern world is "the executive committee of the ruling class," and that it must perform the function of preventing the class division of society from disrupting society, and also the function of maintaining armed forces to protect capitalism from foreign capitalist States. Of course, when I speak of the State I am not thinking of a mere central administrative organisation, such as would be needed in any community and will be needed under Socialism. I am thinking of this coercive State machine, this organisation with armaments, and so on, which exists under capitalism and which I say is quite misunderstood by the supporters of Federal Union. When they claim that sovereignty itself causes war they are reversing the whole position and failing to recognise that it is capitalism which causes the sovereign State, this coercive organisation, to come into being, and it will also cause war.

Mrs. Wootton has touched on the question as to how capitalism helps to cause war. Production in the capitalist world has become international in this sense: capitalism has broken across frontiers and thrust itself into backward countries, destroyed agricultural self-supporting countries and forced them to become industrialised, and made them dependent upon raw materials imported from abroad to supply their machinery. But the social organisation of the world has not kept pace with this internationalisation of production. Every country now has great industrial concerns producing not for local consumption or consumption within its own frontiers, but producing for markets all over the world, so they are all seeking for areas of raw materials and they are all interested in guarding trade routes and in maintaining strategic points, such as Gibraltar, Malta and the Suez Canal. The fact that the capitalist must sell his product before he can reap his profit and must sell in a market which is constantly becoming too small for the productive power of the great capitalist industries of the world is the ultimate cause of war between countries in the capitalist world.

Mrs. Wootton said that there were wars before capitalism existed. That is true, but there were also class conflicts and economic rivalries before capitalism existed. They were not of a capitalist order, but they were just as capable of causing war. Capitalism nowadays, in the twentieth century, is the cause of the wars that occur in the twentieth century, and we shall never get rid of war until we have got rid of capitalism and replaced it by Socialism, in which there will not be these class divisions and this search for private profit.

Mrs. Wootton claimed for Federal Union that it would succeed in obliterating national sentiment within the area of the Federal Union. But what is that area? Mrs. Wootton went on to say that Federal Union would not in the first place be as wide as the confines of the planet. You will notice a confusion of argument. The arguments put forward by supporters of Federal Union are all based on what they assume would happen if Federal Union were world-wide, but they agree that it is not going to be world-wide. It has been pointed out by the Chairman of Federal Union, Mr. Kimber, that a world-wide Federal Union is not a practicable proposition, and he says that in an article in Peace for December, 1939: "To demand that it shall be world-wide at once is to insist on the impossible." Another supporter of Federal Union, Sir William Beveridge, says that world Federation is "not for the present time but for the millennium." So that what you have got to deal with is not some hoped-for Federal Union which is world-wide, but the Federal Union which will actually come into being if the activities of the Federal Union supporters are successful, and which will be confined to some smaller area. In other words, it will be a Federal Union based on capitalism and facing other groups of capitalist forces, and it will be under the same drive and urge towards war. True, the area of the capitalist State will be extended. Instead of there being separate countries, England, France and a few other European countries will be merged together, but you must remember this, that nearly all the supporters of Federal Union want to exclude the non-democratic countries and, if the dictatorship countries are excluded, the population of this European Federation will be roughly equal to that of the United States of America. America is a Federal Union and has been for 150 years, but it has been forced into wars. America was in a number of wars in the nineteenth century. It was in the Great War of 1914 and will probably be in the present war, and everything is drifting towards a war between the Federal Union of the United States and Japan. Both of them are now engaged in the competitive building of battleships for war in the Pacific at some time or other. Therefore, we are not dealing with a world-wide Federal Union but with a limited one, which will find itself face to face with other capitalist unions in the rest of the world. Sir William Beveridge, who said that world-wide Federal Union was for the millennium and that the area at the moment was to be a much more restricted one, also said this, which may, of course, be only his personal view as a prominent member of Federal Union, that the failure of the League of Nations has left a sort of vacuum in people's minds, and if we fill it with Federal Union it may help the Allies to win their war against Germany, since the German population will have the feeling that it is not worth while waging war against Federal Union. Therefore, in Sir William Beveridge's mind Federal Union has become at present time a means of winning this war. He went on to say this: "In view of the failure of the peace settlement of 1919 and of the despondency created by it in many minds, there is need of some new idea for the next peace — some different plan." There is a vacuum, but as a Socialist I object very strongly to filling that vacuum with Federal Union. The workers are despondent about the failure of these various things put before them. I want (and Mrs. Wootton, I think, should say she wants) to fill the vacuum in the minds of the workers, not with Federal Union, but with Socialism.

I wish to touch further on the question as to whether Federal Union will prevent war. It is agreed that Federal Union will not in the first place be world-wide but will be confined to a limited area, so that there will be still sovereign States in the world. There will be the sovereign State of this European Federal Union and of the other capitalist areas in all parts of the world, and I claim that the search for profits, this capitalist conflict, will drive them towards war. I want to draw your attention to a pamphlet called The Federal Idea, by Mr. Brailsford, in which he says (p.11): "Certainly the Federation must have a monopoly of air power, sea power and all offensive arms. It should control such strategic positions as Gibraltar, the Turkish straits, the Suez Canal and the entry to the Baltic." If there are any supporters of Federal Union present who think that Federal Union will prevent war, I can offer them, to start with, about half a dozen possible wars — a war with Spain and Italy about Gibraltar (Spain and Italy will be kept out of the Federal Union because they are not democratic countries), a war with Russia over the control of the Dardanelles, a war with Egypt and some other country, perhaps some rising nationalist country in Africa, about the control of the Suez Canal, and a war with some country or other about the entrance to the Baltic. Those are external wars. I should also like to point out that Mr. Brailsford claims that "the Federation must reserve the right to suspend or expel a Member-State for any grave or repeated offence its Constitution." If the Federation tries to throw out some Member-State it will probably find itself involved in war with that State, just as the Northern States of America found itself in war with the Southern States of the American Federal Union, although in that case it was a question not of throwing out a group but a group wanting to secede. Another man listed as a prominent supporter of Federal Union is Dr. Temple, Archbishop of York, and he claims that "to secede from the Federation would be an act of war against the Union." Therefore, given the continued existence of capitalism, the Federal Union is likely to find itself with a number of civil as well as external wars on its hands, and we come again to the original point, that in the view of the Socialist it is capitalism which sets up the sovereign State and arms it and drives it to war. By extending the area, we may avoid minor wars, in the same way as the League of Nations did, but at the best all I can see is that we shall have "fewer but larger wars" if we extend the area which the capitalist sovereign State , whether a Federal Union or not, happens to dominate.

The Federal Union is wrong historically in claiming that we cannot have unity without sovereignty. That is stated in all its literature. The true position is that, if Governments or other organisations have mutual interests and a common outlook, there can be unity without sovereignty and, conversely, even if there is a Federal Union and a central Government with power over all the area within it, if there are conflicts of interest and outlook the mere existence of an international machine, even with a strong armed force, will not prevent parts of the area from quarrelling with each other and going to war. You may say, as Federal Union does, that they would not have the armed forces to enable them to do that, but they will find them. There can be a civil war which verges on an international war. Such a war occurred in the United States of America. They had Federal Union in 1861, but they engaged in a civil war in which 600,000 men were killed or died of wounds or disease. This is a greater number than were lost by France in the whole twenty-two years of the Napoleonic Wars, it is about four times as many as were lost by France, Great Britain, Piedmont and Turkey in the Crimean War, it is about four times as many as were lost in the Boer War. It is an illusion to think that the existence of a sovereign State extending over a certain area gives freedom from the clash of capitalist interests within that area.

(End of the first speech for the S. P. G. B.)

Second Speech for the S.P.G.B

MR. E. HARDY: I will commence by answering the question put to me by the Chairman, as to whether I think there would have been more or less war in the United States had there been 48 separate States instead of the States being combined in a Federal Union. Like Mrs. Wootton, I must be very guarded in my answer. What I can say definitely is this, that America in a Federal Union has been engaged in six eternal wars and in a civil war, which resulted in the loss of 600,000 lives. There might possibly have been 48 little wars had the States not been combined in a Federal Union, and they might or might not have resulted in the loss of 600,000 deaths. I would say this that had there been no Federal Union there would not have been a civil war about the right of seceding from the Federal Union.

I might add, as it is rather to the point on this question, that, as I said before, if there is a common outlook and a common aim, even if the aim is merely mutual self-defence against some other Power there can be unity without sovereignty.

The supporters of Federal Union claim that it has been a success wherever it has been operated, and they name South Africa, where the Boers and the English combined in a State, which is a Federal Union. One of the men particularly well able to watch that at work is General Smuts, and he, instead of having been convinced that Federal Union is a thing to be aimed at, takes precisely the opposite point of view. In a speech that he made in the Union House of Parliament in 1928, dealing with this subject, he pointed out that the British Empire there is no sovereign State, no written constitution, no central Government with the written power or the armed force able to coerce all the Member-States in the British Empire, and he says that is something superior to this idea of common sovereignty. In other words, he maintains that if there is a common aim and a common outlook there can be unity without sovereignty.

There is a still better example of that in the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties in other countries. The Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, do not have to have a written constitution and a central authority able to coerce the member-parties. They have the same principles, the same basis, the same aim and the same outlook. And, of course, when we have Socialism, when we have Socialism, when we are sufficient Socialists to be able to make that a practicable proposition, they will not need to be coerced into agreeing with each other. They agree with each other now when they are small, and they will do so when they are large.

There is one correction that I want to make. Mrs. Wootton obviously misunderstood something that I said. I did not say, or intend to say that the Socialist Party of Great Britain did not aim at power. What I pointed out was that they had never adopted the pernicious doctrine of wanting power for its own sake — power to throw out one ruling class and to put another in it its place. We want power, but only for the purpose of introducing Socialism.

We do not deny that national sentiment exists, but we say that it does not cause war. To give an illustration, if national sentiment, national differences and national friction were the cause of war, we should probably find the English at war with the Welsh, instead of the English and Welsh being at war with the Germans. National sentiment exists, like national tradition, although national tradition is largely fictitious, being based on falsified history. National sentiment is something which is deliberately provoked and exploited by the States of the world.

With regard to the remark I made about a so-called international conference, it was not an international conference of Socialists, but an international conference of people brought together in various ways because they thought, like Federal Unionists, that if there is a machinery of international organisation one can by that machinery create unity. That is wrong. Unity does not exist because the machinery exists. The machinery cannot make unity exist. Unity is something arising out of a common aim and a common purpose, and when they exist there is no need to worry about machinery to make them effective.

I said that there never had been and were not now any Socialist countries, and there was some applause. Mrs. Wootton said she was surprised at the applause. The people who applauded did not mean by their applause that they were pleased that there never had been any Socialist countries, but they recognised the truth of this, that it is lamentable that so much time has been wasted by people who had a wrong idea about Socialism and who thought that, by having capitalism administered by people who called themselves Socialists, some progress would be made towards Socialism.

It is true that this party has had little success. The main hindrance to Socialism is the entrenched position of the capitalist class, with their wealth, their control of the political machinery and their power over propaganda, but an additional cause of the lack of progress of Socialism is the lack of comprehension on the part of various other people, who have not understood that there is only one way to get Socialism. The whole field of Socialist propaganda has been confused by people who have said and got others to believe, that the administration of capitalism by Labour people or people calling themselves Socialist or Communists is Socialism. That confusion has made Socialist propaganda doubly difficult.

Mrs. Wootton accepted my quotations from Lord Lothian and Sir William Beveridge but rather explained them away by implying that the authors of those quotations were heretics. I would point out, however, that they have not been repudiated by Federal Union, and their names are given on Federal Union leaflets as "prominent supporters" of Federal Union. They cannot be repudiated by Federal Union, because Federal Union disclaims responsibility for what it calls the details of Federal Union. It says in effect: "As long as you are agreed with the principle, you can have what form you like; these things are for your own judgement. " Federal Union wants to have the advantage of that irresponsibility, and, having got the advantage of that irresponsibility and having attracted a certain membership by saying, "You are free within certain limits to say what you like," it cannot at the same time claim the advantage of repudiating those people when they take advantage of the right given to them Federal Union.

With regard to the illustration of people travelling in a train and all wanting to reach a certain destination, that may sound all very well, but I would like to point out that this is not the first time we have had this illustration put before us. Twenty years ago many people whose names are listed as prominent supporters of Federal Union had another immediate object for which we were supposed to suspend all our Socialist activities. They wanted us then to support the League of Nations. They said: "Put aside Socialism and support the League of Nations, in order to prevent another war." The people who listened to them have wasted twenty years on League of Nations propaganda and they have not prevented another war. We Socialists do not want to see another twenty years wasted on Federal Union propaganda.

Mrs. Wootton referred to the question of appearing on the same platform with the wrong people and said it was a weak argument. I want to remind you that the Federal Union has views not only on war and the prevention of war, but also on Socialism, and these views are anti-Socialist views. It claims in principle that it is neutral on the question, that it takes no sides in the controversy between Socialism and capitalism. I would say it is not neutrality, but what Mussolini calls "temporary non-belligerency." I would quote from Lord Lothian's pamphlet, The Ending of Armageddon (pp. 6 and 7): "Unemployment and poverty are the inevitable results (of sovereignty). This is equally true whether nations maintain an individualist or a Socialist economy. We are not concerned, as Federal Unionists, to take sides in the controversy." Mr. Streit makes a similar claim. He says that "Federal Union will end the insecurity and economic warfare now ravaging the whole world." Lord Lothian also gives an illustration of what he claims that the Federal Union has done. In addressing an American audience last October, he said that the nineteenth century was an era of marvellous prosperity in England, which came to an end in 1914, and he said the reason why it came to an end was that Europe did not adopt the Federal Union as America had done. Now, if Federal Unionists believe that sovereignty is the cause of poverty, unemployment and insecurity, what are Socialists doing in the ranks of an organisation like that? It is fundamental to the Socialist case that capitalism is the cause of poverty, unemployment and insecurity, and that those things cannot be abolished unless capitalism is abolished. If Socialists join an organisation which says: "We are neutral on this matter; sovereignty is the cause of war and of all these evils," they will make Socialist propaganda infinitely more difficult than it would otherwise be. For a Socialist to be in an organisation like that, which repudiates the very basis of Socialist propaganda, is detrimental to Socialist propaganda.

There is one curious thing that I should like to mention. When Lord Lothian claimed that capitalism had been a great success in England in the last century, which covered the hungry 'forties and the depression in the 'eighties, and so forth, he went on to say, speaking to his American audience, that the era of prosperity came to an end because Europe did not adopt Federal Union, implying that if Federal Union is adapted there will be prosperity. But I can notice a discrepancy. That kind of propaganda is quite useful in England provided the audience accepts the view that America is prosperous, but in an American publication of the Federal Union I find they do not say, "You have Federal Union and you have prosperity in America." They say, if you did adopt Federal Union including America and other countries, "good times would come back to America."

Mrs. Wootton claims that Federal Union is in line with the needs of the modern world. In my opening speech I said it was not, and I want to develop that point of view. A man whose name is constantly appearing in connection with Federal Union is Alexander Hamilton, who is described as the father of the American Federal Union Constitution, and I claim that Federal Union ideas are not of the twentieth century, but back in the eighteenth century, along with Alexander Hamilton, who died in 1804. senator Borah, who died in January of this year, was a lifelong admirer of Alexander Hamilton, and in an obituary notice about Senator Borah, published in The Times (January 22nd, 1940) I find the following: "The America which he wanted to see was the America which was in the hearts of the Fathers of the Constitution — a country of free citizens each owning his own farm or his own business, independent both economically and politically, able and ready to stand up for his own rights and his own interests against any pressure from others." Then The Times goes on to say: "It is, however, an ideal which during the last quarter of a century has been rapidly losing any correspondence with reality. Even before the last War there had been great amalgamations in the oil, steel, packing, and railway industries, and the movement has developed in a remarkable fashion within the last twenty years. The independent citizen owning and running his own business has been to a large extent eliminated in favour of vast organisations, the ultimate control of which, through an intricate network of holding companies and subsidiaries, is vested in small financial groups in New York."

I want to point this out that Alexander Hamilton, who organised the Federal Union Constitution, had in his mind the late eighteenth century world of small producers and farmers, and that world no longer exists, though Federal Union believes that it exists. If you read Federal Union literature on the State you will find it gives the reason for the existence of the State in the following terms: "The State exists to promote the happiness of the individuals who make up the nation." The supporters of Federal Union see an organisation promoting the happiness of those individuals but I say that that is an optical illusion. They peep behind the State and think they see the individuals, whose happiness is being promoted by the State, but what they really see are economic classes with conflicting interests, great companies and combines, representing massed wealth and massed power. That is what exists behind the State, and when you have got Federal Union you will not have a sovereign State at the centre supported by masses of individuals, but you will have what exists in America, a country in which it is claimed by Mr. Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, that some 60 families, "through 200 corporations, control half of America's business and the people of the United States of America." When you have got your Federal Union you will not have got a union of individuals but a union of great corporations and combines, such as J.P.Morgans, which by directorships, controls corporations with total assets of some 20,000,000,000 dollars. This is the world you live in, and not the world that Alexander Hamilton saw in the late eighteenth century and which the supporters of Federal Union believe still exists at the present time.

Federal Union claims that it will safeguard democracy, but at the same time it is not committed to getting rid of capitalism. It recognises the importance of maintaining democracy and proposes to exclude undemocratic countries, but it has overlooked this fact, that capitalism is never really safe so long as capitalism exists. It has been widely admitted by students of the rise of Nazism that the great depression of 1929 to1930 played a great part in sending Hitler to power, just as it played a great part in this country in putting the National Government into power. What is Federal Union going to do when the next great economic crises comes? How it is going to prevent it provoking again the rise of anti-democratic movements? I read in the report of a recent address by the Secretary of the American Federation of Labour, that President Roosevelt, with his New Deal, promised prosperity and security in America — things which were embodied in the Federal Union Constitution that Alexander Hamilton helped to promote — and he goes on to say: "Instead, we find, labour torn into warring camps, industry depressed, capital 'on strike'; we find ten million unemployed, youth discontented and age discouraged." (Evening Standard, February 5th, 1940.)

We, as Socialists, say that wherever there is capitalism there will be permanent poverty and periodical depressions. In America there is always this condition — large numbers of unemployed, "youth discontented and age discouraged." In other words, there is always a fruitful breeding ground for movements like Hitler's and Mussolini's which will seek to overthrow your democratic institutions and send you on the road to dictatorships. Federal Union cannot prevent war. Nor can it even safeguard democracy, as it claims to be able to do, by keeping undemocratic countries outside, while it keeps inside the capitalism that causes poverty and war and discontent, and leads to dictatorships.

(End of the second speech for the S.P.G.B.)

Final Speech for the S.P.G.B.

MR. E. HARDY: Mrs. Wootton has again made the point that Federal Union is not a Socialist organisation. It is, in her view, a necessary tool for Socialists, and she used the illustration that it would provide a breathing space in which Socialists can get on with their work. The Socialist Party of Great Britain has been in existence, as I said, since 1904, and in every year since 1904 and almost everyday on our platforms and elsewhere we have had people telling us that if only we would give up our propaganda for some other most important thing at the moment it would help smooth the way to Socialism, and give us opportunities and breathing spaces. We know from experience that all those things have been illusory. They have taken effort away from Socialism and confused the mind of workers who might otherwise have been interested in Socialism, and they have been of no use to us as Socialists at all. But there is another even greater illusion behind this idea of breathing space. At the back of it there is no notion that if we do something or other with capitalism we can steady the boat and prevent it from rocking. But while we have capitalism, that is to say, while we have rival classes within the State opposing each other and capitalist groups coming constantly into conflict with each other about their markets, their raw materials, their strategic points, we cannot have stability or calm the storm in order to get on with something else. Always new crises will occur and new sources of conflict will appear, and if it is not between individual countries, as now, it will be between Federal Union groups.

Mrs. Wootton says that with Federal Union we may have wars, but that things will not be any worse then than without Federal Union. There are two things to be said about that. Even if we should have wars without Federal Union I do not want to waste, and see other Socialists waste, twenty years on supporting Federal Union, as they wasted twenty years on the League of Nations, only to find in the end, of course, that they have not advanced Socialism at all, but have, in fact, taken energy away from Socialist propaganda that might otherwise have been devoted to it. Seeing the world as it really is, we know that we shall have wars, whether the world is divided up into the existing nations and groups of nations or whether there is a Federal Union in Europe as there is in America and the U.S.S.R. We shall have these groups brought into conflict with each other, because the capitalist basis will remain.

I quoted Mr. Brailsford's words about the Federal Union controlling the entrance to the Baltic, and Mrs. Wootton said that many supporters of Federal Union have written things for which she would not like to accept responsibility, but it does not matter whether that is a view held only by Mr. Brailsford and some other group inside Federal Union or not; it is the logic of the case. A Federal Union of Europe must have boundaries and it must have an armed force. It will be faced with the usual necessity of capitalist States. Capitalism makes them come into conflict with each other. When Hitler said of Germany, "We must expand or explode," he was laying down the law for capitalism. Therefore, the Federal Union of Europe must try to control the Suez Canal, the Dardanelles, Gibraltar, the entrance of the Baltic, and anything else that will enable it to maintain its own position and prevent other capitalist States from encroaching on its position.

Mrs. Wootton referred to all organisations being judged from the point of view of their success, and mentioned that the Socialist Party of Great Britain, a small organisation, was not able to prevent war. But there is a difference between it and the supporters of the League of Nations. The Socialist Party of Great Britain was never under any illusion about the matter. It recognised from the beginning that while capitalism exists there will be this drive to war. We know that we shall not abolish war until we have abolished capitalism, and we cannot do that until we have got Socialists, so that, in our view, the prime purpose of a Socialist organisation is to preach Socialism and to make Socialists. That is where all these other organisations have failed. Many supporters of Federal Union do not want to preach Socialism and do not want us to preach it. They are, therefore, not merely not helping Socialism, but hindering the work of making Socialists. Had the efforts been devoted to making Socialists, the Socialist movement would have been stronger than it is now and far better able to avoid war.

Mrs. Wootton seized on my reference to the British Empire, but I think she rather misunderstands the point. I am not holding up the British Empire as the model of economic organisation, but as an instance of the basic wrongness of the basic principle behind Federal Union, that there can be "No unity without sovereignty." One of the admirers of Alexander Hamilton, his biographer, Mr. F.S. Oliver, held the view of no unity without sovereignty, and pointed out in 1906 that the British Empire had no sovereignty, therefore, its unity was fictitious and it would collapse under strain. But it did not collapse under strain of the war of 1914. I hold that the principle of Federal Union, that one cannot have unity without sovereignty, is wrong. There can be unity without sovereignty if there is a common purpose and a common outlook, even if the common purpose is merely defence against external Powers, that is, other States in the capitalist world. That has nothing to do with Socialism, but it does show the wrongness of the Federal Union principle that there can be no unity without sovereignty.

With regard to the companion parties of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, they are not confined to the Dominions of the British Empire; there is one in the United States of America.

There are one or two further points that I want to make in conclusion. When one is looking at an organisation like Federal Union one is entitled not merely to ask what are its principles and policy, but to look at the people in it and ask what are their credentials and whether they inspire confidence Mrs. Wootton will say, as she has said, that Federal Union does not claim to be Socialist and, therefore, its members are not confined to Socialists. I look down the list and I find Liberals and Tories, people who, like Lord Lothian, claim that capitalism has been an outstanding success and that sovereignty and not capitalism is the cause of poverty. Our answer to all those people, those Liberals and Tories, is that they have always been wrong on the major problems facing this country and other countries. We look at the other Federal Union supporters, people who believe in the administration of capitalism by those who call themselves Labour and Socialist. We said that experiment would not be useful, and in the event we were proved right. We were right about the war in 1914. Many of the present supporters of Federal Union claimed for the last war that it would make the world safe for democracy, but the S.P.G.B. said they were wrong. Those people supported the League of Nations, but we said: "Do not waste your time; the League of Nations will not prevent war; it will not make the world safe for democracy," and we were right. Can those people say: " We deserve your confidence, because we have always been right"? The utmost they can claim for themselves is this: " We are bound to be right this time, because we have been wrong so often before. "

What is the Socialist alternative to Federal Union? I have pointed out to you that the supporters of Federal Union cannot offer you a worldwide Federal Union and, therefore, all their main arguments go by the board. It will be a limited Federal Union, which will be faced by the capitalist rivalries that exist at present. Socialists have one, and only one, alternative. They say that capitalism causes poverty, unemployment and crises, and those three things taken together make it uncertain that democracy will ever be safe in a capitalist world. We say further that capitalist rivalries drive towards war, that until you get rid of capitalism you will not get rid of war and poverty, and that you will not get rid of capitalism until you make Socialists. Therefore, the only certain way to rid the world of war is to get rid of capitalism, and the only way to do that is to win over the majority of the population to Socialism. That is the work of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and it cannot be the work of the Federal Union, as admitted by Federal Union supporters. The whole tenor of Federal Union propaganda — such as the statements of Lord Lothian that capitalism has been a success and that sovereignty is the cause of war, unemployment, depressions and poverty — is anti-Socialist, and the only answer to it is the propaganda for Socialism carried on by the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

(End of the final speech for the S.P.G.B.)