Karl Radek

The Menials of
English Imperialism

(13 October 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 88, 13 October 1922, p. 663.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). 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.

A telegram recently announced that the English Labor Party was plunged into great excitement over the danger of war in the Near East. We regarded this excitement on the part of the English Labor Party with extreme scepticism. Events have justified our scepticism.

The leaders of the English Labor Party requested an interview with Lloyd George. Lloyd George received them and furnished them with explanations, after which they left Downing Street pledging themselves to make nothing public regarding the purport of their conversation with the head of the English Government We have before us two reports of declarations by two leaders of the Labor Party: Mr. Clynes, M.P., and Mr. Thomas, M.P. These reports, which are published in the Manchester Guardian, expose the whole nature of the politics of the Labor Party, as well as the whole policy of the Second International.

What does Mr. Thomas say, the railwaymen’s leader who brought an action against the organ of our English comrades, an action in which the Royal Court of Justice confirmed with its signature that Mr. Thomas is no traitor to the working class. Mr. Thomas said:

“The past week was filled with the atmosphere of August 1914. The world was faced with the danger of a war the consequences of which would be no less severe than the consequences of the last world war.”

Mr. Clynes declared, on his part, that “the policy of Lloyd George was in words a policy of peace but in reality it was a policy which prepared for war.” He declared “that the Labor Party repudiated all responsibility for this policy”.

We now ask what inference any honest worker would draw after he had read these premises. He can but draw one inference, namely, that the Labor Party would declare war on the government in order to prevent an international war. That they would sound the tocsin with all their strength to mobilize the working masses. But only a naive person could expect such a thing from Messrs. Thomas & Clynes and similar leaders of the English working class. Their demands are quite of another sort. They complain that the government is leading to the isolation of England from its glorious allies, and that perhaps the English fleet will have to defend the Straits alone. Mr. Thomas welcomes the news from Paris over the agreement reached between Lloyd George and Poincaré. If these saviours of humanity go hand in hand, what more can the leaders of the English labor movement expect?

Clynes expresses himself in the same sense, but adds at the end of his speech that peace will not be secured unless adequate efforts are made. Mr. Clynes, however, says no word as to what efforts “everyone” must make. This “everyone” must probably listen to the speeches of Clynes and Thomas and then go quietly home. The leaders of the English Labor Party have again proved of what their policy consists. If the proletariat budges, they mount the tribune, but only in order to tranquilize the workers. They turn to Lloyd George and make the workers believe that “the thing is now in safe hands; they will talk to him straight.” After emerging from the ministerial reception chamber, they talk “daggers” for an hour, as Shakespeare says, but afterwards thrust these “daggers” into their pockets and divert the attention of the workers to the negotiations of those very diplomats whom they have just “exposed” and tell them to expect satisfaction from them. In the best case they do but disturb the air with some general phrases, and then calmly betake themselves to the offices of their trade unions. Everything is in the best order. They are great singers of democracy, but they help to blunt even those means which democracy places at the disposal of the working class in the struggle against imperialism. The bane of the English workers consists in that their leaders believe in the bourgeoisie and that they believe in their leaders. All shouts of “Down with War” are only a means of lulling the masses so long as these masses tolerate such leaders.

Filially, they were in continuous relations with the White emigrants whom they were instructing. We may add that they pursued their counter-revolutionary activity most often at the cost of- the proletarian government from which they received favored treatment, as the food rations allotted to scholars and all the other advantages accorded to specialists qualified to teach.

The Political Service of the Soviet Government has just decided upon the exile of the most active counter-revolutionary intellectuals – professors, doctors, agriculturists, litterateurs – either to the Northern provinces or to foreign lands.

This exile imposed upon the counter-revolutionary elements who imagined that the new economic policy offered them possibilities of preparing the ground for a bourgeois restoration, will show their colleagues to whom the ruling does not apply, the falsity and danger of such calculations. And the Russian workers who impatiently await the end of the propaganda carried on by Wrangel’s and Koltchak’s followers in Soviet Russia will fervidly approve of the measure that has just been taken.

Among the exiles there are few names known in the scientific world. In most cases it was a question of professors and other university employees, better known for their adhesion to the Cadets than for their scientific labors.

This measure should also again remind the workers and peasants that there are few intellectuals belonging to their class, and that the masses, awakened to a conscious life, as yet have everything to do to create their own culture and to produce their specialists of all kinds. But this task of setting scientific culture within reach of the large masses has already been begun and will be continued.

The measure taken by the Soviet Government against the counter-revolutionary intellectuals is only the first warning. But the Soviets appreciate as always, and will support with all their power those representatives of the intellectuals of the old regime who cooperate loyally – as do the best specialists – with the proletarian state. This will not prevent the latter from repressing at the start every attempt at open or disguised propaganda in favor of a bourgeois restoration.

Last updated on 3 December 2020