Arthur MacManus

The Vendetta

Source: The Communist, March 21, 1921.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: 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.

Alarmed by the success of the formation of a United Communist Party in Britain, and disturbed by the welcome of our policy by the working class in all parts of the country, the custodians of capitalism have sworn a vendetta, and that worthy Corsican, Sir Basil Thomson with his department, have been entrusted with the mission. Still elated with the 1919 success (the smashing of the police strike) and the 1920 success (the expulsion of Kameneff), and no doubt a bit worried as to what might provide the laurels for 1921 (Ireland at the moment scenting a somewhat doubtful field), the zeal of the Department in its latest task call well be imagined.

At any rate, judged by results, it can be tested and demonstrated. Although practically only some four weeks old, the Party has experienced the attention of the Department to such an extent as goes to form a striking tribute to our propaganda of Communism. Already on a previous occasion we had to draw attention to the inspired attempt to boycott THE COMMUNIST, which had for its only result the sending up of its circulation by at last 600 per cent. This policy, therefore, was not by any means either a happy or successful one, and it was changed, or one should rather say, supplemented; because, without relaxing the boycott in any way, the attention of the Department was also turned to the arresting of our speakers.

One by one they were being picked up on the flimsiest of pretexts and convicted, until to-day the list stands as follows:—

C. L. Malone, six months; Sylvia Pankhurst, six months; E. Veithime, six months; Taylor, six months; Scott, six months; Peterson, six months; Steele, three months; Harvey, three months; Webb, three months; Gallagher, three months.

Determined to acquaint the workers of the country with the full facts of the situation, we made several attempts to procure the use of public halls in which to hold demonstrations of protest, but here again we had evidence of the vendetta against the Communist Party.

Upon our application for the use of the Albert Hall, a meeting of the directors was summoned, at which it was decided that the Communist Party be not allowed the use of the hall. Any other political group, organisation, or society might be granted its use, but the Communist Party was taboo. Likewise was the Party refused the case of the Central Hall, Kingsway, etc. From the provinces came every day fresh evidence of the boycott of halls, and in some cases even the right to hold open-air meetings is denied to the Party.

Such is the liberty which our Constitutional friends keep assuring us is the prime virtue of democracy. Well, now is the time, and here is the opportunity, for those friends to protest against this apparent abuse of Constitutionalism and give us a little less proclamation but a little more demonstration of those virtues.

We on our part are not to be deceived by platitudes. We know capitalism, and understanding it we know just what to expect from it. We know that when any body of workers dares to raise its voice in protest against the continued subjection of the working class by capitalism there is but one thing left to do, hush that voice. The method of dosing with political soothing syrup may be applied in the first place, a process which explains the spineless character of the Labour Party, but when that method fails, as with the Communist Party, then there is nothing left for it but the mailed fist.

One thing stands out clear, capitalism has determined that all such voices shall be hushed, and it means to hush the voice of the Communist Party. Knowing full well that we are immune from the seductive whispers of the political harpy and that self-aggrandisement has neither a promising nor comfortable home in a party such as the Communist Party, capitalism is left with no choice of methods. Always it is and always it will and must be the mailed fist, because the Communist Party will always refuse to have its voice hushed.

Capitalism may hold the working class subjection by the strength of its might and power, but capitalism will never do it with the willing consent and acquiescence of that working class. Always and under all circumstance, will there be found fresh voices, growing not only in volume, but in numbers, raised to protest against this enslavement, and the rigour of the oppression will determine always the vigour of the protest. And to-day, with a number of its best members in gaol, with the use of the public halls denied to it, the street corner closed against it, and its central organ THE COMMUNIST, struggling out each week in increasing numbers in the teeth of its would-be suppressors, the Communist Party still more loudly raises its voice in protest, and its membership returns to greater activity than ever.

The vendetta is welcomed by the Communist Party and finds its fitting reply in the increasing enthusiasm of the workers for our revolutionary message. Use that enthusiasm for a general agitation to secure the release of all Communists who are in gaol. Comrades, get busy. Demand the release of the prisoners.