Wm. Paul

Are We Realists?

Part I

Source: The Communist, October 29, 1921
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.

To be a Communist signifies to combine fearless resolution and unqualified fidelity towards the revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, with the utmost flexibility and adaptability; with the qualities that are necessary for the adoption of all means that will lead to the desired end; with the faculty for yielding in one place and fighting through in another; for making compromises here while resisting to the uttermost there; with the readiness to yield to circumstances in one place, while in another, even when all seems lost, to be able to keep our heads and stand our ground.” (Dr. Victor Stern, in “Die Internationale.”)

The International Situation

THE inner essence of Communist revolutionary strategy rests upon its realism. In the past we often based our policy upon our like and dislike of movements, and sometimes even of persons. We generally consulted our feelings and unknowingly our actions were frequently dictated by prejudices. The curse of every political organisation is that it develops a particular party prejudice and, unless we are very careful, this tends to crystalise and renders us hopelessly incapable of seeing issues, problems and solutions. We are apt to view these from the standpoint of our prejudices and not as a result of coldly examining the urgent needs of the moment. The full force of these observations is going to be emphasised by an all important problem which is rapidly coming to the front and which is going to severely test whether the Communist Party is capable of far-seeing revolutionary strategy or whether its members will be content to grope about in the doctrinaire rut of blind sectarianism.

The economic collapse of capitalism is already manifesting itself in a thousand ways. Millions are starving, unemployment is almost universal, and 58 per cent. of the population is in receipt of some sort of relief or other. The industrial crisis must be rapidly followed by one in the political field. The only escape from such a political upheaval is for the financiers to get a further lease of life by rushing a General Election upon an unwary electorate, by stampeding the voters, and by returning in triumph to power. The British Federation of Industries have made their plans and Lloyd George drafted his electoral campaign during his sojourn at Gairloch. They intend, if need be, to force an election. They don’t want to, but conditions may compel them to take that step. No one needs to possess a nose for mysteries to smell what’s coming.

As revolutionary realists we must utilise the election to advance our power at home and to consolidate the revolution abroad. The most important factor in the international situation at the present moment is the Allies contemplated attempt to try and crush Russia. During the forthcoming winter. The British plans are all ready to repudiate the Russian Trading Agreement when the hour arrives for the imperialist assassins to strike. This will give Churchill, Curzon, Leslie Urquhart, etc, a free hand to back up France and her subsidised Border States, in their savage onslaught upon the wearied Soviet Republic at present staggering with its famine burden. Let there be no mistake about it, the projected French offensive will be a much, more serious thing than any of the attacks led by Koltchak, Denikin, or Wrengel. So far as this country is concerned, one thing alone can save Russia, and intimidate France, and that is for us to ruthlessly stamp out the present government at the forthcoming election. We need not waste a moment considering the chances of the feeble and already discredited Asquith-Cecil-Grey coalition—it is every whit as bad as the Lloyd George clique and has not the power to defeat the influential Lloyd George-Churchill-Curzon combination. A humiliating defeat of the Lloyd George gang and all the vile things it represents, at the hands of the Labour movement, would strike terror into they very heart of the rapacious French jingoes and would shatter their efforts against Russia. We can only stop the murderous plot against Russia by hurling the corpse of the present government in the face of Briand, Clemenceau and Co. To do this let us unflinchingly face the price we must pay. It means that the Communist Party must seriously consider the urgent need of forming a bloc with the Labour Party. It means that however serious are the sacrifices we must make in order to drive the present hypocritical charlatans from office these are as nothing to the bloody sacrifices we will compel Russia to face because of our shortsightedness. We must fight in the forthcoming elections as our comrades fought in Sweden, we must see that any action of ours does not aid, directly or indirectly, the chances of the Lloyd George candidates. Our tactics in attacking Labour Party candidates at recent bye-elections were correct. But the issues involved in the forthcoming General Election are altogether different and call for new methods.

There is another Republic that will be grateful if the Communists in Britain help to destroy the Lloyd George murder gang, and that is Ireland. Likewise, our international pledge to assist the Indians, Egyptians, etc., in their fight against British imperialism demands that we do everything humanly possible to uproot the political organ of modern imperialism—the government of Curzon and Churchill.

Accelerating the Revolution at Home

One of the things that has led the masses to turn with bitter revulsion against the Lloyd George government is its seeming helplessness and incapacity in dealing with many immediate and vital problems. Most of the difficulties confronting modern society can neither be solved under capitalism nor can they even be adequately tackled by any government elected upon a parliamentary basis. A great part of the work of the Communist Party is to show the masses by concrete demonstrations the need for destroying capitalism and its parliamentary system. So far; events in the form of hunger, unemployment, and policemen clubs, are showing the workers the sheer hopelessness of expecting anything from the present government. The Labour Party, on the other hand, contend that once in control of parliament they could solve all the problems at present oppressing the masses. Here we come to a second point which we must fearlessly face. We must realise, as revolutionary strategists, that the success of the Communist Party can only come when the Labour Party has been as utterly discredited as the coalition government is to-day. Just as the trade union bureaucracy is being exposed every time it is forced into action, so the complete bankruptcy of the Labour Party cannot be fully realised while it is a mere opposition political group in parliament. To enable it to finally expose itself it must prove to the masses that it, too, cannot use the parliamentary machine to solve the problems, which capitalism, in its breakdown, has created. It is our duty to see that the Labour Party, which alone stands between us and the masses, is put into power at the earliest possible moment in order to speed the day when the masses will turn against it as readily as they have now turned against Lloyd George’s government. Four years ago Lloyd George swept the masses off their feet; they are now in the mood to sweep him to oblivion. Get the Labour Party into power and with the growing tempo of economic dislocation it may not take four years before it stands, stripped, of all its pretentious quackery, before an indignant proletarian mass headed by the Communists.

By making a bloc with the Labour Party to help to return it to power will not only help Russia, but we will also demonstrate that the Henderson’s, Thomas’s and MacDonald’s are all that we have said they are. The moment they are returned to power the Communist Party must immediately pass over to the opposition and by its criticism force the Labourists to prove to the whole world that parliament cannot solve the manifold problems confronting it and that it is impossible to reform capitalism. The virulence of the Communist agitation against the Labour Government will compel the Snowdens to expose their pacifism by using the State to suppress us precisely as Curzon, Churchill, and Sir Basil Thomsen have used it. Until the Labour Party becomes a government we cannot destroy it. When Clynes, Thomas, Henderson, etc., are forced to club down their own unions during industrial unrest, they will drive their own members under the leadership of the Red Trade Union International.

Let us be courageous. Let us be worthy disciples of Lenin and his revolutionary strategy. Let us accelerate the development of events that will provide these concrete experiences which educate the masses and which throw them ever more and more in our direction. Let us form a bloc with the Labour Party, and if that is impossible, let us raise it to power in order to facilitate its final destruction.