Arthur MacManus

Stand by the Miners!

Source: The Communist, October 21, 1920.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). 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.

The miners’ ballot has been taken, the infamous “datum” line securely damned, the expiry of the men’s notices decided upon, and to-day the entire British coalfield is at a standstill. Practically a million men have responded to the call to “down tools,” and the situation now depends upon the rank and file of the Triple Alliance. We say the “rank and file” advisedly, because, despite the repeated declarations of sympathy and support which have come from the various leaders of both the railwaymen and transport workers, one can only assume from the experience of the past, that now, when the time has come to translate those declarations into deeds, these leaders will fight shy of their responsibilities, and even attempt to compromise a settlement rather than take their place side by side with the miners out on the street. Already there has been manifested quite some concern over the prospects of effecting such a settlement, and backstair whisperings and lobby chattering have become features of official activity. The miners have nothing but supreme contempt for such support, and rightly so. Had a compromise settlement been desired and even acceptable, this could have been secured without the aid or assistance of these creatures, hence such efforts can serve no other purpose than to reveal the aspirations and secret political ambitions of the individuals concerned. It is not to the officials of this calibre that the miners turn for support. It is to the members of the rank and file; those railwaymen, dockers, seamen, and vehicle workers, who have in the past sought the support of the miners in their own cause, and who rely upon such support to assist them in their struggles of the future. In the measure that such is granted, to that extent at least, are they justified in expecting the same in return. And the day of the rendering of that support is here! The miners are at grips with the common enemy, and have massed their full strength to sustain their cause, and courage and determination mark their efforts. Were it simply a trial of strength and endurance between the miners and the mine owners, then the miners would have little need even to seek other support than that which can be derived from their own ranks, but the odds against them are greater than this. Arrayed against the force of the miners is the massed strength and resources of all the forces of Government. There has rallied in behind the mine owners all the powers of wealth and privilege, from the class Government of Capitalism with its arbitrary use of the Army and Navy, to the dirty little local hack Press, with its yellow staff who have sold their manhood, and who, at the word of command, spit forth invective against others who refuse to sell theirs. The action of the miners has served once again to bring out into the open the class instinct and hatred of the capitalist class. My noble lords and dukes, and their lickspittle lackeys, have all rallied to the call of their class, and the blacklegging agencies are kept busy. The Coldstream Guards have been moved in preparation, and no doubt the secret instructions which were issued to the military commands recently, and the application of which to strikes was so strongly denied, will now he put into operation. Pulpit, politician, and Press, with the exception of “The Herald,” have all of them united in their endeavours by misrepresentation and vilification, to crush the miners and break the strike.

They will succeed in this only if the rest of the workers refuse to assist the miners. If they will be as true to their class interests as the capitalists are to theirs, then they will refuse to blackleg on the miners either directly or indirectly, but will take their place alongside of them, out on the street, fighting shoulder to shoulder as a solid and united body. An injury to one section of the working class should be the concern of all, and to the rank and file of the railwaymen and transport workers is given the opportunity of making this a living sentiment. The Communist Party takes its stand beside the miners, sharing its responsibility in waging the struggle against capitalism, conscious of the fact that sooner, or later that struggle must centre round the final effort of the working class to free itself from the domination of an employing class, and sure that just as the workers join hands to-day in a strike for better wages, to-morrow they will join in a revolution for their freedom and emancipation from wage slavery. Capitalism no longer fights in sections, and every struggle sooner or later becomes a struggle against the Government. It was the Government whom the railwaymen had to fight, and it was the Government whom the transport workers had to fight. Again it is the Government whom the miners have to struggle against. The quarrel of the discharged ex-Service man for justice is a quarrel against the Government, just as the grievance of the unemployed is a grievance against the Government. Capitalism is so strongly centralised that all disaffection finds its centre of gravity in the Government of the day, and the fight of the very near future must be against the right of capitalism to govern at all. When that day comes the Communist party will fearlessly and without equivocation direct the attention of the working masses to the revolutionary task of uprooting entirely the capitalist State, and the proclaiming of a Workers’ Republic. Meantime, the working class learns from the struggle itself the real nature of the task ahead of it, and the experience gained will equip it for the final work of emancipation. Hence it becomes the duty of all sections of the working class to rally to the side of the miners and thus make victory in this issue assured. Should the miners be defeated in this struggle, then it will not be because of their own weaknesses so much as because of the treachery and betrayal by official Labour, and the desertion by their colleagues of the Triple Alliance. We feel sure the rank and file will rally to their cause and thus administer to capitalism the much-deserved lesson that the working class may be deluded part of the time, but not all the time.