Th. Rothstein, under his pseudonym W.A.M.M. 1919

Lackeys of the Master Class

Source: The Call, 5 June 1919, p.1, (866 words);
Transcribed: Ted Crawford,
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
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.

Oh, those ever-obedient lackeys of the master class, our Labour leaders! Will the workers ever realise how they are betrayed by them each time they charge them with some mission? Here is Mr. Stuart-Bunning, one of our “younger” men, who, in a short time, has climbed up to the very top of the trade union official ladder and is now chair­man of the Parliamentary Committee. He led that famous — or infamous — deputation to Mr. Bonar Law in execution of the mis­sion entrusted to that Committee, by a strange delegation of power, by the execu­tives of the Triple Alliance. He clearly gave the representative of the capitalist Government to understand that he did not like that mission at all, and that he and his colleagues had only undertaken it in order to avert “an actual strike, with all that a strike entailed.” Those wicked miners, railwaymen, and transport workers were actually creating “a serious difficulty” by threatening a strike on the question of Conscription, intervention in Russia, etc., and so they, Mr. Stuart-Bunning and his friends, had “come to Mr. Bonar Law to find some way out.” Ah, those precious guar­dians of capitalist law and order! Mr. Stuart-Bunning did not say to the acting head of the Government: We have come to present you with the following demands of the masses organised in the three most im­portant trade unions, and if you do not ac­cede to them the whole blessed capitalist order in this country will be paralysed as from such and such a date by a general strike. Oh, dear, no. Well-bred Labour leaders who go to Switzerland to represent this country on the Socialist International do not talk to Ministers like that. They beg him to help them in the task of averting any danger to that order, and to ensure that help, they abate their demands in advance. Mr. Stuart-Bunning, for instance, is quite agreed that the blockade of Germany ought to be maintained (did he say so at Berne?), but it must be rendered more “humane.” What he meant, presumably, was that not 500,000, but only 250,000 German babies should be starved to death during the time still separating us from the ratification of the “Peace” treaty. Again, he has no ob­jection to seeing the Russian workers’ regime strangled with the assistance of capi­talist Britain; only he would prefer this be­ing done by the hands of voluntary hangmen. Of course, he is very much opposed to the secret order issued by the War Office, and “it would help us (in what?) if we could get an assurance that it would be withdrawn.” But Mr. Law declared that he “cannot answer that right off,” and Mr. Stuart-Bunning acquiesced. Indeed, it is a great and complicated State problem, and even a Minister cannot be expected to solve it on the spot.

Mr. Bonar Law’s reply was quite admirable; no, no, and no! The torture of the C.O.’s would soon be at an end — when the Peace Treaty was ratified, and so he need not take up time by that. The blockade? Why should it be removed, seeing that the Germans would be no-better off without it? Besides, the Germans thoroughly deserved their fate, for they had not changed a bit (was that what Mr. Stuart-Bunning had said at Berne?). Intervention in Russia? Why, we ourselves had instigated the counter­revolution, and should we now leave it in the lurch? And lastly, when we had ob­tained all the securities needed in Germany and Russia, then — perhaps — Conscription would come to an end. Mr. Bonar Law knew the men he was addressing, and so he warned them from the beginning that a strike by the Triple Alliance for such political objects as the deputation had enumerated would be a revolution, to which Mr. Stuart-Bunning hastened to reply by disclaiming any such intention. No, of course, neither Mr. Stuart-Bunning nor his friends want a revolution. They are quite content with things as they are. To take the settlement of political matters out of the hands of the House of Commons, to set up a revolutionary Government — what a monstrous idea! And so the deputation withdrew, without having obtained a single concession even to their reduced demands, and informed the executives of the Triple Alliance that they were quite satisfied with Mr. Bonar Law’s reply.

What the Triple Alliance will now do lies in the lap of the gods. That their leaders can talk at public meetings in a very r-r-revolutionary strain, we all know. So far, however, all we have had from them is just this talk, and nothing beyond. Will the rank and file assert themselves? If they are in earnest they will do so. They will meet at a convention, dismiss their incom­petent and dishonest leaders, appoint a strike committee, and declare war upon the Government, the House of Commons, and all the State machinery of British capitalism. It is time the masses took their fate and honour into their own hands. They will find that they can do so mach better than those whom they call lenders, but who, in reality, are lackeys of the capitalist class.