John MacLean Internet Archive                                                    From the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement

Red Flag Flutters

by John Maclean

First Published: Issued together with November 1922 election address
Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

To the Gorbals electors I’m issuing the address, a leaflet entitled “All Hail! The Scottish Workers’ Republic!” and an article from the November issue of The Socialist which I got ready in prison and had written before reading Bonar Law’s “Programme Speech” on Thursday, 26 October, in St Andrew’s Hall, Glasgow.

I urge readers to buy The Socialist and carefully digest my article on the Pacific Ocean Trade Conference sitting whilst Law was speaking. They will then understand that I forestalled Law’s single suggestion of an Imperial Trade Conference by my description of the Pacific one.

The silence of the press and Law on the USA’s Pacific Conference, whilst urging the British one, is one more proof of my claim that Britain and America are manoeuvring for position before plunging the world into a blood-welter ten times as fiendish as the “great” war.

I agree with Bonar Law when he frankly stated: “In my opinion trade is the most important thing. Now, I have no remedy to give you, but it is the duty of the government to try to help it.” Then followed reference to his empire development proposals. I claim that workers need place no faith in empire development as a solution to the trade paralysis of today, the unemployment, and the starvation wages. Britain must have big markets outside the empire, as well as inside.

Where can these markets be obtained? Certainly not in Europe which is plunging deeper into poverty.

Austria is down and out, and closely following her are Germany, Poland, Bohemia, the Balkan States and Greece. The “unconstitutional” and forceful victory of the Fascisti in Italy will lead to imperial ambitions worthy of the Roman empire in its heyday. That signifies class-warfare in Italy and “trouble” in Africa and Asia.

Law says we must regain the confidence of France. I am convinced that France will never again be the dupe of John Bull’s old “confidence trick”. France will likely continue the obstruction of British trade in Europe until French factories and towns destroyed during the war are restored by Germany.

European possibilities are anything but rosy. What about Asia and South America? South America is about as shaky as Europe in an economic sense and the USA are bent on capturing what trade is going. The Honolulu Trade Conference just ended shows the USA’s plans to capture the trade of the Pacific Ocean.

Britain will have a tight run for trade, it must now be clear. The USA ’s new tariff (1 October 1922) of 50 per cent on many imports (that is, of 10s on every £1 of goods) must limit the American market for British goods.

The home market depends on the docility of the workers and the situation in Ireland. As long as Lord Carson and John MacLean are alive and free, I fear the prospects of peace are limited.

Law said about the Irish “treaty”: “Our word is our bond…. Our hearts are moved by the account of horrors which are going on now in parts of Ireland. The people who are suffering have their claim naturally on the Irish government, but we cannot divest ourselves absolutely of responsibility…” etc.

At this point in steps Carson with a letter to the press. Most of the letter is a quotation from a writing by a priest deploring the “moral breakdown” in South Ireland. The heading to the letter characterises the Irish treaty as “the great failure”.

Only one vaguely worded sentence need be quoted to prove that Carson, with his die- hards in London, is bent on mischief in Ireland. “It is quite true that the new government must give a fair trial to ’the treaty’, and the question of ’how long?’ must be one of grave consideration.” I’m convinced by that hint that Carson is out for more trouble in Ireland, with economic ruin as a sequel.

So far as I am concerned, I wish it to be understood clearly that there shall be no peace under capitalism, if I can help it.

I mean to fight for the wage-earners by pushing the establishment of one union for all workers so as to prevent further wage-drops and hour extension.

I mean to fight for work for all unemployed or full maintenance at trade-union rates of wages.

I mean to fight for a Scottish workers’ republic in which all robbery shall cease. The break-up of every empire, including John Bull’s, will make more easy the world revolution from capitalism to communism, and may help to avert a world war which otherwise might come before the workers were ready to take full possession of our planet.

To carry out such work effectively, I have resolved to stay in Scotland, even if the winner in the Gorbals, and so will adopt the Sinn Fein tactics. My battle with Bonar Law will become all the more striking and important. I am looking to Scottish comrades in the colonies taking the cue from me and working for the conversion of these colonies into independent republics. My influence is so great in New Zealand, seemingly, that the government there has excluded my pamphlets. They will simply have to be smuggled in, that’s all, for TRUTH MUST PREVAIL.