Source: The Labour Monthly, Vol. XIII, July 1931, No. 7.
Publisher: The Labour Publishing Company, Ltd., London.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
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.
TEN years since the foundation of the LABOUR MONTHLY—a great term, particularly if these ten years occur between 1921 and 1932. It is a great term, for each day brings with it such a tremendous amount of events as would have sufficed before the war for a whole year.
The usual thing to do on anniversaries is to sum up results, otherwise there would be no need to celebrate anniversaries. I therefore take the liberty of touching on that which is the central problem for the international and British labour movement, the question of the extent to which we have progressed in Britain in the struggle for the masses.
A study of English history for the last ten years shows us plainly that English capitalism, English economy is steadily on the downgrade. However, the strength accumulated by British capitalism during the century of its world rule and perfection of machines, squeezing the blood and sweat out of the millions of colonial slaves and turning the energy and labour of these millions into ringing gold, makes it possible for British capitalism to hold firmly to the reins of government.
The chief strength of British capitalism, however, lies not in the amount of gold accumulated, not in the large navy and the tremendous experience in exploiting. Its chief strength lies in that the broad masses of the British working class are still ideologically and politically pinned to the capitalist treadmill; they believe in the invincible power of the British Navy, the stability of the English pound sterling, the inviolability of the English constitution and the impossibility of human society without capitalists, bankers, parsons, kings, and all the other ornament of civilisation. The trade unions and the Labour Party, which arose in the struggle of the working masses during the course of long years, have become the chief props of British imperialism. Unless the working masses are torn away from the constitutional glitter, from imperialist labourism, the British bourgeoisie will continue their slave-owning activities in Britain and throughout the world.
Forced labour in the U.S.S.R. is particularly cried down in Britain and in other countries, thereby erecting a smoke-screen to hide the plunderous and forced slave labour of the British worker, who thinks that he is free in working for the exploiters in return for a pittance, keeping up the colossal machine of capitalist oppression. The task of the day is to wrest the masses from capitalism, to uproot capitalist psychology from the minds of the workers, to make clear to every worker the entire chain of treachery perpetrated by the trade union and Labour Party leaders.
This is all the more important as the British bourgeoisie are again attacking. They carry out this offensive with the assistance of the “Labour” Government, which lulls the worker with hopes for the future. There are many parsons and hypocrites in the Labour Party who console the toilers with the thought that they will be better off in the next world. Why is the oppressed worker, the starving unemployed, promised a paradise in the future? So as to blind them to the paradise which the capitalists, parsons, and labourites build for themselves on this earth. The workers should give the capitalists, parsons, kings, and other superfluous people the paradise and future world for permanent use, settling the more urgent, concrete problems of the day for themselves.
Century-old capitalist civilisation is still strong, particularly in Britain, and this is why we are confronted in Britain with a particularly difficult, complicated, but to the highest degree necessary, task to win the masses. What has been accomplished during these ten years? Are we able to say that the supporters of the class struggle, the Communist Party and the Minority Movement, have made great progress during these stormy ten years of human history? No, their successes are not great, and if compared with the favourable objective situation, with the tasks which confront the working class of Great Britain, it would be more in place to remain silent with regard to successes. Why is it that the working class moves from the right to the left so slowly? Why is it that the masses free themselves from the influence of capitalism and reformism so slowly? How can we hasten this historically inevitable process? These are the questions which should be considered, particularly by a monthly magazine whose task is to confront the working class with the fundamental problems of the international and national labour movement.
During these ten years your magazine has done definitely useful work, but this is only a drop in the ocean. British imperialism plays first fiddle in world politics—what part is occupied by the revolutionary labour movement of Britain in the international labour movement? It enough just to ask this question to realise clearly the tremendous disproportion between the needs of the movement and the objective possibilities and what we observe now.
The Labour Government and the trade union bureaucracy, day by day betraying the workers, try to mend matters by asserting that if they were not in power the workers would have been still worse off. This theory of the “lesser of two evils” is an important trump in the hands of the labourites, but is it true that the British workers would have been worse off? Baldwin’s anti-labour Bill expires on July 8th. Have the Labour Government seen to it that the seven-hour day is established for the miners as from July 8th? Nothing of the sort. Has anything been done for the unemployed? Not so that it can be noticed! Has anything been done for the colonies? Nothing more than Baldwin did!
What is the secret that the minority Government remains in power? The secret is that it is to the advantage of the English bourgeoisie to push all their reactionary and oppressing measures through the party which still possesses certain influence over the masses. The Labour Party makes out that it is saving the English working class and the whole of humanity from unheard of calamities, but what it actually attempts to do is to save capitalism, of course, as far as is in its power, from destruction.
Are these quacks able to cure the incurable organism of British economy? Doubt is creeping into the minds of millions in Britain itself. There are all the grounds for thinking that the British working class to a certain extent is now beginning to lose confidence in the miracle-working effects of the MacDonald Government. Facts are stubborn, irrefutable. It is the task of the working class press to facilitate, to hasten the process of the liberation of the masses from the reformist illusions, to win these masses to the side of the class struggle, and to lead them in the struggle against capitalism and reformism.
I am profoundly convinced that your journal will occupy a prominent place in this struggle, will do everything possible to hasten this inevitable historical process.