Socialism as It Is: A Survey of the World-Wide Revolutionary Movement

By William English Walling | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
"LABORISM" IN GREAT BRITAIN

The British Socialist situation is almost as important internationally as the German. The organized workingmen of the world are indeed divided almost equally into two camps. Most of those of Australia, South Africa, and Canada, as well as a large majority in the United States, favor a Labour Party of the British type, and even the reformist Socialist leaders, Jaurès in France, Vandervelde in Belgium, and Turati in Italy, often take the British Party as model. On the other hand the majority of the Socialists everywhere outside of Great Britain, including the larger part of all the working people in every country of continental Europe, look towards the Socialist Party of Germany as their model, the political principles and tactics of which are diametrically opposed to those of the British Labour Party.

Far from opposing their Socialism to the "State Socialism" of the government, the British Socialists. in general frankly admit that they also are "State Socialists," and seem not to realize that the increased power and industrial functions of the State may be used to the advantage of the privileged classes rather than to that of the masses. The Independent Labour Party even claims in its official literature that the "degree of civilization which a state has reached may almost be measured by the proportion of the national income which is spent collectively instead of individually." ( 1)

"Public ownership is Socialism," writes Mr. J. R. MacDonald, until lately Chairman of the Labour Party, ( 2) while Mr. Philip Snowden says that the first principle of Socialism is that the interests of the State stand over those of individuals. ( 3)

"I believe," says Mr. Keir Hardie, "the collectivist state to be a preliminary step to a communist state. I believe collectivism or State Socialism is the next stage of evolution towards the communist state." "Every class in a community," he said in this same speech, "approves and accepts Socialism up to the point at which its class interests are being

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