To-day October 1887
Source: To-day October 1887, pp. 93-5;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
In To-Day, for June last, we, deeming that the time had come for some plain speaking, invited “A Socialist Politician” to express himself freely in our columns on the need for reform in the conduct of the Socialist movement. Justice complained bitterly of the criticism, and asserted that “the Social Democratic Federation was never gaining ground so fast in its whole history.” Thereupon we, to make it clear that we were thoroughly on the side of our contributor as against Justice, told the Social Democratic Federation some strong and straight truths as to the position into which its leaders had misguided it. This, observe, occurred in June.
Justice, having presumably nothing to say, made no defence; but remonstrances were not wanting from some of our friends who are so good-natured that they would, as far as we can judge, see the movement dragged through the mud and suffocated rather than say a word (publicly) which could give pain to its leaders. Towards us, however, they displayed no such forbearance. Our conduct was declared “offensive” and attributed to an impotent desire to “split the party” and “upset the apple cart.” This, mark, was in July.
September came in due course, and what did it bring with it? Nothing less than a manifesto by Mr. H.H. Champion in his paper, Common Sense, not only making a full confession of everything alleged by us against the Federation managers in our July number, but advocating, as to the future of the movement, exactly the line indicated by “A Socialist Politician” in our June number.
For example, compare these quotations from our “offensive” July notes and Mr. Champion’s article in Common Sense.
“Mr. Hyndman is still really, though not nominally, editor of Justice; but the money is squandered and the prestige a minus quantity, most of the good men and women driven out disgusted, the few that remain unanimous as to the need of a new departure, and the paper degenerated into Mr. Hyndman’s weekly bulletin, with such a record for wanton vilification and insult to friends and foes as no paper is ever likely to surpass in an equally short space of time.” To-Day, July.
“Writers and readers of Justice are ashamed of or disgusted at the barefaced exaggeration, the jealousy of all persons not members of the Federation, the constant breedings of dissensions among Socialists themselves, the wholesale scurrility and imputation of bad motives, which are levelled, without distinction, and even without reasons alleged, at all who differ, whether little or much, from the kaleidoscopic views of Socialism held by those who are directly responsible for the conduct of .he paper.” Mr. Champion in Common Sense, 15th September.
It is evident that if we have been out of sympathy with Mr. Champion and his friends, it is only because we have been three months ahead of them. We laid our hands on the apple cart of the Federation and were not struck dead. Its high priests, after a brief remonstrance, are now shaking it more rudely than we did or could. We cannot resist the temptation to amuse ourselves by asking them whether their old opinion of our conduct remains unchanged, and, if so, what they think of their own.
One word more before we drop the subject. Our criticism of the Social Democratic Federation was directed personally and particularly against Mr. Hyndman and Justice. With those members of the Federation who have worked hard without approving of either, we have no quarrel. If esprit de corps should lead any of them to resent our indictment of their leader even whilst recognising its soundness, we shall not think the worse of them for that, and shall bear any hard things they may say of us with patience, silence, and good temper. But we are bound to acknowledge that no such feeling was expressed at the Fabian meeting of the r6th ult., where our views were practically endorsed by speaker after speaker from the Federation, the League, and the Union. On the platform, as in print, it proved that our views were the popular views and that in our onslaught on the apple cart we were peculiar in no one respect except that – which we rather covet – of having been the first to put our shoulder against it. We wish Mr. Champion all success in the effort he is at last making to rescue the Federation from Mr. Hyndman; but we venture to warn him that he cannot succeed merely as an advocate of political action; for that Mr. Hyndman, too, has always professedly been. Nothing but a vote of censure, backed up by the capacity and determination to supersede Mr. Hyndman in the indispensable functions he has hitherto fulfilled – and fulfilled with no common adroitness and ability – can remove the manager whose removal we have not hesitated to declare necessary to the welfare of the movement.