Pravda No. 109, May 14, 1913.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 93-95.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The British Socialist Party was founded in Manchester in 1911. It included the former Socialist Party, which had earlier been known as the Social Democratic Federation, and several isolated groups and individuals, among them Victor Grayson, a very fiery socialist but one not strong in principles and given to phrase-mongering.
The Second Conference of the British Socialist Party was held in the seaside town Blackpool from May 10 to May 12 (N S.). Only 100 delegates were present, less than one-third of the full number, and this circumstance, coupled with the bitter struggle of the majority of the delegates against the old party executive, produced a very bad impression on outside observers. The British bourgeois press (exactly like that of Russia) does its best to pick out, colour up and make a splash of episodes from any particularly acute struggle between the party and its executive.
The bourgeois press is not concerned with the ideological content of the struggle inside the socialist movement. All it needs is sensation, and a spicy bit of scandal....
The ideological content of the struggle in the B.S.P., however, was very serious. The old executive was headed by Hyndman, one of the founders of the party. He has been acting for a number of years without any attention to the party, and even against the party, on the important question of armaments and war. Hyndman has got it into his head that Germany is threatening to crush and enslave Britain and that socialists should, therefore, support the demand for a “proper” (i.e., strong) navy for the defence of Britain!
Socialists in the role of supporters of a “strong” navy—and this in a country whose navy helps enslave and plunder in the most shameless, feudal manner the three hundred millions of India’s population, tens of millions of people in Egypt and other colonies.
Understandably, this fancy idea of Hyndman’s pleased the British bourgeoisie (the Conservatives and Liberals). It can also be understood that British Social-Democrats—be it said to their credit—would not tolerate this disgrace and shame and heatedly opposed it.
The struggle was a long and stubborn one; attempts at a compromise were made, but Hyndman was incorrigible. It is greatly to the advantage of British socialism that Hyndman was forced to leave the executive at this Conference and the composition of the executive was, in general, changed by 75 per cent (of its eight members only two were re-elected—Quelch and Irving).
The Conference adopted a resolution against the old executive which reads as follows:
“This Conference congratulates our French and German comrades on their vigorous opposition to the increase of armaments in their respective countries, and pledges the British Socialist Party, as an integral part of the International Socialist Party, bound by the resolutions on war passed at Stuttgart and Basle, 1912, to pursue the same policy in Great Britain, with the object of checking the growth of all forms of militarism and of reducing the existing abominably high expenditure on armaments.”
The resolution is sharply worded. But the truth has to be told, even if sharply. The British Social-Democrats would have forfeited their right to struggle against the opportunists of the so-called Independent (independent of socialism, but dependent on the Liberals) Labour Party if they had not sharply opposed the nationalist sins of their executive.
Let the bourgeois press display their wrath and their buffoonery over the internal struggle among Social-Democrats. The Social-Democrats do not regard themselves as saints; they know that now and again the proletariat becomes infected by some dirty disease from the bourgeoisie in its environment—this is inevitable in filthy, disgusting capitalist society But the Social-Democrats are able to heal their party with direct and fearless criticism. In Britain, too, they will certainly cure the disease.