Labour Party and Socialism

At the almost original Conference of the S.A.L.P. the Socialists' objective was made the main plank of their platform-this was in Johannesburg in 1909. Then all Left-wing bodies were allowed representations, which included the S.D.F. of Cape Town, of which Bob Stuart and Jim Davidson were the representatives; from other Socialist bodies Crawford and Mary Fitzgerald represented Johannes­burg, Duncan Livingstone and W. Blake from Pretoria; with other representations of the I.L.P. they managed to affirm their object by a small majority. It has been said that Colonel Creswell had it deleted at the following Conference in Durban. I have had a recent declaration from their present General Secretary-Senator C. L. Henderson-that it is still the main plank of the Labour Party' platform. Mr. Barlow and myself put the for and against in The Cape of June 8th, 1925. Here it is:

June 8th, 1925.


The Labour Party, the Communists and the "Socialist Objective."

To the Editor of "The Cape."

Sir, -I did not think your footnote merited any reply from me. As you seem to think it does I will answer you:

Your original article implied we (the South African Labour Party) were connected with the Communists; in fact you have often said so. We are not. In the words of Colonel Creswell at the big Labour Rally at the City Hall, "We shall fight both the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the Capitalist."

I have never objected to the socialistic objective as an ideal, and the Durban Conference was never asked to object to it. If the Labour Pasty did away with that ideal it might just as well call itself the "Philosophical Radical Party."

Neither "The Red Flag" as an emblem nor as a hymn are officially recognised by the Labour Party.

It is true that The Cape does at times sum up sufficient courage to rather timidly protest against the sins of the S.A. Party, but it is always done "in a Pickwickian sense."

As an ''opponent" of the S.A.P. you are regarded as a joke -and a bad joke at that. I am, etc.,

arthur G. barlow.

House, of Assembly, May 25.

[(I) Mr. Barlow am trying to run away from the main issue which is concerned with facts. We venture to trip him up again with a repetition of our question: Is it or is it not the case that he and Col. Creswell made a desperate attempt at the end of last year to get the "Socialist Objective" removed from the pro­gramme of the Labour Party; that on the suggestion of the Bloemfontein Labourites (over whom Mr. Barlow presides) the proposal was to be referred to the Durban Iabour Conference of January of this year: and that this was not done because of the outcry from the Rand and other sections of the Labour Party who threatened the disruption of the Party if any attempt were made to water down the Socialistic principles of the Party. Let us give a friendly warning to the impulsive Mr. Barlow that he ought to be very careful in answering this question.

(2) But the "Red Flag" both as "an emblem and a hymn," are regularly used at all assembles of the S.A. Labour Party; and provide their inspiration. If Mr. Barlow and his leader deny this Red Flag and regard it as the emblem of Communism (as it is) why don't they prohibit its use. We should like to see them try!

(3) We never said that The Cape was an "opponent" of the South African Party. What we said was that The Cape is not in any way whatever bound to the South African Party. It finds a good many faults in the S.A.P., and has no hesitation in indicat­ing and criticising them. But it most certainly prefers the South African Party with all its faults to the unholy alliance of the "Nationalist" and Internationalist parties.

(4) As to the real relations of Labour Party ideals to those of the Communist and Soviet Party, we refer Mr. Barlow to the subjoined correspondence.]

The Labour Party and the Social Revolution.

To the Editor of "The Cape."

Sir, -As to your challenge to Mr. Barlow, M.L.A., to deny that the anthem and flag of the S.A.L.P. are the same "Red Flag" which is driving God out of the Socialist schools in Russia, Germany, England and even South Africa, allow me to tell you, Mr. Editor, that Mr. Barlow cannot deny that "The Red Flag" is the anthem of the S.A.L.P., since "The Red Flag" is the hymn of the "People" whom Mr. Barlow is supposed to represent- whether he does or not is another matter. And as for driving God out, well, sir, words almost fail me. Let me take you for a day to some of the slums of Sunny South Africa-to a room 7 ½ ft. by 15 ½ ft., where ten human beings are herded together to sleep, eat (when they have anything to cat) and drink.

Take the case that came up recently of over-crowding (five in a single bed), when the Judge told the man to go home and see if he couldn't make better provision for his children! (Per­haps God would send him down another bedstead!)

There are two and three families living in one room, built up out of the sides of biscuit tins. Poverty, misery, starvation, unemployment are the things which are driving God out, and not the "Red Flag," and until these things are put right can you dare to talk to these people of God, for fear of insulting them? I trust you will find a small space for these few lines. -I am, etc,

mabel Green

" Cape Town. May 26.

A Communist on the Labour Party.

To the Editor of "The Cape."

Sir, -In reference to your contention that the Labour Party and the Communist Party have common aims, Colonel Creswell possibly thought he had exploded that view of the situation at the City Hall meeting last week. But after his onslaught on Communism, a Communist present asked if it was not a fact that the Labour Party had a "Socialist Objective," and if so, how did that materially differ from the Socialist Objective of the Communist Party? Colonel Creswell admitted that the Labour Party had as an object the social and common ownership of the means of production with a view to establishing the Socialist Commonwealth. "What the Communist Party objective is," he said, "I don't know."

Questioned further how he could differentiate between the two parties if he did not know the objective of the Communists, he went on to explain that their tactics differ. But even here he is wrong. The quintessence of the Labour Party belief, paradoxical though it may seem. Colonel Creswell docs not represent. In the first place, they are all Marxians, basing their policy on the original Marx and Engels "Communist Manifesto" of 1847. They, too, simultaneously with the Communist Party, hold annual May Day celebrations to hail the coming Socialist Commonwealth. They also, with them, support all forms of industrial unrest on a class-war basis.

Mr. Boydell published a minority report on the Cost of Living Commission which for revolutionary phraseology would do credit to any Communist.

Mr. Kentridge, on unemployment, has produced one in similar vein. These are used as propaganda leaflets by the Com­munist Party.

Bob Waterston formed a commando, and the unemployed under the aegis of the Communists, now in Johannesburg are adopting his tactics.

Walter Madeley has ripened Benoni for Communism-Jack Alien, Labour Mayor of Springs, was a delegate at the Communist Party Conference in Johannesburg a few weeks ago with myself.

Now these gentlemen are undeniably some of the foremost men of the Labour Party and they are also the true personal and political representatives of it, as against the bourgeois democrats typified by Colonel Creswell and Mr. Barlow. These, no doubt, are conscientiously sincere in their political convictions; but that, unfortunately, is as far as they have got. There are plenty like them in the orthodox political parties. Parliament certainly offers them a more suitable platform for their moderate opinions than they can find amongst the rank and file of the working class. As Parliamentarians, the Communists may differ regarding what is called "moderation," in that they see more (being more philo­sophical) the futility instead of the utility of so many so-called "reforms" and extravagant expenditure, now discussed and recognised by the Labour Party.

Fundamentally, we do not differ. We may be more deli­berate, less compromising and with a more revolutionary outlook; and in these facts our supposed vices are placarded. Hence the Communists are the "mud guards" for the diplomats and moderates of the Labour Party, who erroneously seem to contend that the Government are responsible for the evils of our present order of industry, and that the remedy is the Government of the Labour Party on a reformist basis.

Colonel Creswell and Mr. Barlow, however, the other even­ing, in outlining their policy, did not give us a tittle of evidence of how this was to be done, but merely indulged in considerable abuse and discussed many abstract questions, with an incidental reference by Colonel Creswell about "developing the resources of this country." He did not say, though, on what basis. Apparently, he does not yet understand that the development of the resources of any country under the present system of industry is not a remedy for, but is the cause of unemployment and its attendant evils.

Finally, Mr. Boydell, in the pamphlet I have mentioned, after quoting the Constitution of All Russian Congress of Soviet', laid down July 10 th , 1918, Clause 3:

"The Congress of the Soviet of Workers, Soldiers and Peasant Deputies consider it to be its fundamental duty to abolish all exploiters of one set of human beings by another and the division of society into classes, to summarily suppress all exploiter' establish a Socialist organisation of society." and again the Berlin Soviet (by proclamation, November 12th, 1918):

"The ultimate aim of the revolution is the Socialisation of the Capitalist means of production."

He goes on to say, in support of these and other objectives he has quoted, including the one of the S.A.L.P., that "as these and similar objectives have only been arrived at after many years of discussion and deliberation on the part of millions of trade unionists and other workers in all parts of the world, the policy enunciated can safely be said to express the voice of labour, the ideal aimed at being the common ownership and control of land and capital."

Therefore, on this abounding evidence as to the policy of the Labour Party. Colonel Creswell's and Mr. Barlow's efforts to show the contrary fade into insignificance. -I am, etc.,



The Labour Party are quite as emphatic about Socialism as the Communists. At the recent Conference in Johannesburg, the Hon. W. B. Madeley made that particularly clear, in spite of his being a Minister of a Capitalist Government.

I am prepared to admit that the old Social Democrats lost their identity as a revolutionary force by associating themselves with the petty reforms of the Parliamentary machinery-the "Back to the Masses." Communists again have lost their identity as a revolutionary force by associating themselves with the petty reforms of the indus­trial machinery, which in the final analysis means the same thing. As a result we found the Parliamentary Social Democrats of Germany sold the cause to the Kaiser on his war march in 1914. Then we found their greatest accusers, the Communists-in greater numbers- sold the cause to Hitlerism in 1933. They had eighty seats in the Reichstag, and six million voted for Thaelmann, the Communist can­didate for the Presidency. Truly may we quote Burns: Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oorsels as ithers see us. . . ."

Following my expulsion from the Communist Party in 1932, and finding many of the old school unattached to any organised body, amongst whom were D. L. Dryburgh, W. Green, M. Lopes, J. Pick, and others who, like myself., were either expelled or inactive with what was then called "The Communist Party." We decided to form an International Socialist Club, and invited some of Cape Town's prominent public men to lecture in our propaganda work. Gordon Bagnall, the famous broadcaster on "This World of Ours," and Mr. L. Gradner, then Deputy Mayor of Cape Town, were amongst them. Of course it was our duty to show them how stupid all their attempts were to put the world or even Cape Town in order unless they applied the real solution-Socialism. We had some packed meetings, and everything went very well for a time, but we older ones haven't the urge these days, so we left it to the young ones, who it appeared did net have the necessary enthusiasm and energy to do the "donkey" work required, and it faded out.

However, the public lacked nothing in numbers, and showed a deep interest in our proceedings. Some of them felt that some effort should be made to continue. This section comprised also the dissenting elements of the Stalinite Communists, but on different grounds from Dryburgh, Green and myself. They were Trotskyites, and they formed a Lenin Club. It has been said that Stalin elevated his popularity as head of the Russian Soviet Government by making a God of Lenin and a devil of Trotsky. If the Trotskyites version is true it was the emissary of Stalin who followed Trotsky to Mexico and murdered him. It is well-known, however, that Trotsky expected assassination by the way he was guarded, but in spite of that the assassin com­mitted the dastardly deed posing as a visiting friend.

Many will think such criticism unjust to the Russian system, which is the only country of the world to dispense with Capitalist exploitation. The social and industrial developments there since, as a consequence, have been an example to an ignorant political world, seeing that they were able to suppress and drive back the most efficient armed forces and scientific devices of war strategy the world has ever known. That phase of their development is, of course, now being eulogised by the Allies' forces as successful fellow combatants, but no praise is ever given by them to the ideological character of the Russian system, which was able to create such machinery for their service.

Other pages of this book will show that I have no use for organised armed force under any political circumstances, exercised in mass form. Stalin has fitted in as Trotsky's substitute all right there, and if all that has been written about his summary executions is true, he, like the rest of the war lords, can urge on such mass slaughter without a blush. Summary executions to political offenders have been the life of the Russian people fur ages, hence the evolutionary process has not yet in that country reached the more humanitarian stage, neither have they yet evolved to social ownership and control. Tradi­tional Russia makes them cling to the idea of monarchy. Stalin still has greater powers than the monarch of England, who is merely the puppet of his Ministers. Idolatry seems to be as prevalent as ever with the Russians, hence again Stalin, like the immortal Lenin, is the "divine" substitute who is worshipped and placarded in almost every household. That, with the ikon and other forms of worship, is typically Russian. Little of that is seen in the more Western world or South Africa. The modern Communists, however, seem to follow every Stalinite move without any concern of its ideological character.

Arthur Koestler'-who for years was a prominent Communist, who suffered the deplorable concentration camp of France-in his book, Scum of the Earth, says: "The Communists are a well-meaning people-in fact their only fault is that years of systematic doping with Stalinist dialectics has affected their grey matter with a sort of colour blindness, both in their logical and ethical outlook. It is their only fault, but disastrous in its effect."

The Trotskyites are dissenters on the ground that Stalin succeeded Lenin against Trotsky, whose reputation and abilities were the more suitable, especially on international grounds. This view was shared by mostly all Communists when Stalin was elected.

However the Lenin Club could not harmonise their members' opinions. On what details I don't know, but another section left them to call themselves the Spartasists, and one of these sections published a typescript called "The Spark." Truly named, perhaps, but it doesn't appear very illuminating. To differentiate their policy from that of the Stalinite Third Internationalists, they describe them­selves as the Fourth International. It is impossible to discern the difference at their meetings, but the latter appear to have a more international outlook, and of the two movements they are better grounded on the principles of Socialism or Communism.

The Lenin Club also invited public men to address them, which included Duncan Burnsides, a Labour M.P. Whether that inspired him to make comparisons and note the lack of Socialist propaganda in the Labour Party I don't know, but he left the Parliamentary wing of that Party soon afterwards, and with a few others made some efforts to form a Socialist. Party. One of his prominent adherents- Comrade Laing, a well-grounded Socialist-took me to Mr. Burnside's hotel to discuss the question with him, but I found him very much on the reformist side of propaganda work as a means. Yet I have heard him give lucid expositions of the Socialist philosophy on several occasions, but then fie will also discuss mere platitudes on other occasions.

In the formation of the New Socialist Party, the beginning looked promising until, in war phraseology, the firing parties were properly lined up for action. There the Trotskyites and Stalinites had a favourable opportunity to meet, and when they do they snarl and spit at one another like cats and dogs. These and a few political opportunists who rather feared in pre-war days the word of Com­munism, were the strongest and most-heard-of people in the New Socialist Party. Therefore, Mr. Burnside, rather than finding himself in a peaceful Socialist Society as it ought to be, found himself in a veritable lions' den from which he, unlike the proverbial Daniel, dis­creetly cleared out, and was obviously forgiven by the Labour Party, in which he is again a shining light.

Reviewing other parties of the Socialist denominational creeds, the Constitutional Socialist League, whose headquarters are in Cape Town, had a Parliamentary Bill drawn up by Herbert Hiscox and one, Rayner, many years ago. This is meant to imitate the new system of Socialism-or so they tell us. In addition to the above, H. Hiscox, the hon. secretary, has written many convincing essays-all of which he intends to combine and publish in book form. They are not exactly of the Marxian vocabulary. He also delivered a special lecture on the and June, 1938, at which-at his request-I presided, but I was careful to emphasise the fact that I was not a member of the Constitutional Socialist League-the chapters of his book will per­haps show the reason why. To those who may also read this book our object is the same, but the tactics we employ to reach our heaven, like the various religious faiths, differ. Everybody ought to be a Constitutional Socialist. Our own constitution represents every organ of our body, a constitutional Socialism ought to represent everybody in the universe. The tactics hitherto employed by the Constitutional Socialist League have not, and that is the difference.

Wilfrid H. Harrison

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