J. T. Murphy

The Issue

Source: The Socialist, November 1918
Transcription: Adam Buick
HTML 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.


1914 saw the gathering of the national and imperialistic groups for their final bloody scramble on the fields of Europe.

1917 saw emerging from the mighty shambles a people dripping with blood but with vision clear and purpose well defined. Imperialism had to go and thrones began to tremble and crowns were kicked into the dust. By the November Revolution of 1917 the working class of Russia sealed for ever the doom of a once mighty empire and set the pace for the working classes of other lands. A new epoch in world history opened then. The war drum of capitalism, whose deep wail had filled the hearts of men with dread, has proved to be the birth pangs of a new order. The social revolution has begun and none can stop it. They who have dwelt in the dark places of the earth have seen a great light and “the peoples’ flag,” stained deep with their blood, now flies where once imperialism’s banners were unfurled. Not yet has the working class of Britain seen fit to take matters in their own hands and settle with the imperialists at home. But the hour is not far distant, and members of the ruling class are apparently anxious to get a blank cheque through their parliamentary institution to prepare the way, on the strength of their apparent victory in Europe, to deal as they think fit with what is called the problem of reconstruction.

A General Election is to be held and we of the Socialist Labour Party call on all Socialists to fight the political fight on the straight ticket of revolutionary Socialism. The Reformist programme, never truly Socialist, can be nothing but a reactionary capitalist programme to-day. The whole of the Socialist movement is lifted right from the platform of negative criticism, on the basis of generalisations from history, to that of having to provide more than criticism. It has to outline a definite and positive alternative to capitalism

I have been called upon and have agreed to undertake to fight for the Gorton parliamentary division against Mr. J. Hodge (Minister of Pensions). He represents a narrow nationalism and the working-class outlook of a period when Labour was saturated with capitalist ideas and ethics, and without any vision of emancipation from the rulership of the capitalist class. As a Cabinet Minister, in the office of Minister of Pensions, he represents the niggardly, contemptible meanness of a Government apparently incapable of rendering to the wounded and those bereft of their breadwinners anything more than miserly pittances and slobbering, sentimental charity.

We of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement will fight this fight on principles which penetrate to the foundations of society in all lands: the abolition of the private ownership of the land and means of production; the transfer of all power from the parliamentary institution into the hands of the workers, organised in Workers’, Soldiers’, and Sailors’ Councils. We seek to build up an International Federation of Workers’ Republics. The S.L.P. stands for the abolition of the present method of determining pensions and allowances and the substitution of a more equitable method by transferring the control over the discharged men, &c., to the discharged men themselves, working in conjunction with the industrially organised workers.

The eyes of the international working-class movement will be upon us. History has thrown down the gauntlet to the working class. We of the revolutionary section of that class must fling it fearlessly in the face of the master class and every renegade Labour leader who seeks to keep our class in subjection.

“The right of the people to make their constitution produced the first great modern earthquake.” The right of the workers to own the land and the means of production has produced the next. “Train your hands, and your son’s hands, gentlemen of the earth, for you and they will yet have to use them.”