A Soviet Republic for Britain! (January, 1919)

Author: 

Manifesto of the Socialist Labor Party of Great Britain

FELLOW workers of Britain, "The air of Europe
is quivering with revolution”!

And not alone the air, but the whole land-owning
and capital class of this country arc quivering with
tor at the unforeseen results of the European War.
Immediately following the armistice the Prime Min-
ister proclaimed the speedy dissolution of the Gov-
ernment, hoping that in the psychological moment of
victory( ?) and the resulting disturbance to the public
mind, the capitalist class would snatch another vic-
tory at the polls. Obtaining a new lease of power they
would be enabled to re-establish their system of so-
ciety on the old basis.

Accordingly they proclaim themselves to he recon-
structionists, as if, forsooth, it was some extraneous
force that has disrupted their society and not the con-
scious, deliberate actions of the capitalist ruling
class of Europe who, arming their workers to the
teeth, let war loose upon their unhappy countries in
the struggle for markets for their products and wealth
for themselves.

Fellow-workers, what is the society that Mr. Lloyd
George and the Coalition Government wish to recon-
struct?

It is the capitalist system, the society that produces
strikes and lock-outs, unemployment and poverty.
One thing alone can save them and that is the will-
ingness of the workers of Britain to replenish their
exhausted coffers.

Fellow workers! shall we sweat and toil for these
men—to replace their worn-out machinery and to
build up for them their neglected industries?
If so, then within a brief period we shall glut the
markets, trade will decline, and unemployment and a
beggarly State pittance will be our reward, whilst our
masters will be living luxuriously on the wealth we
have created for them.

Mr. Lloyd George makes certain glowing proposals,
because of "this quivering revolutionary air." His
promises of high wages, shorter hours, and increased
production are shrieking absurdities. During the war
we worked long hours and increased production, and
the capitalist class promptly blew our products to
smithereens, and called for more.

Judge, then, between the proposals of the Industrial
Socialists or Communists and the economic fallacies
and plausible rhetoric of Mr. Lloyd George and the
Coalition ruling class. On the one hand lies an op-
portunity for the workers of Britain to emancipate
themselves from all the evils that now threaten them,
and to form a society of free men and women living
in their own land and enjoying the fruits of their in-
dustry in comfort and leisure.

On the other hand—capitalist employment and all
that it means to the working class—social degradation,
poverty, and economic servitude.

Choose, then, fellotv workers, the choice is here and
now.

State, Guild and Industrial Socialism
The Socialists of Britain have three schools of
thought. The State, the Guild, and the Industrial
Socialists. The State and Guild Socialists base their
ideas on the economics of the capitalist system. The
Industrial Socialists frame their future society on the
economics of Karl Marx.

The State Socialists declare that the State must
control industry, that the private employer shall be
eliminated or given a maximum of profit, and that the
workers shall be suitably clothed, fed, and sheltered.
The Guild Socialists divide society into three cate-
gories, the State, the Consumer, and the Guilds. The
latter are subdivided into Guilds of Industries, decid-
ing their own conditions of labour and wages, whilst
the prices of their products are fixed by consultation
and agreement between themselves, the State and the
consumer, the State acting as a sort of referee or arbi-
trator. The whole machinery of production and dis-
tribution is leased to the Guilds by the State, and part
of their profits provide for its upkeep and administra-
tion, the remainder belongs to the Guild producing
them.

Both State and Guild Socialists are putting the new
wine of Socialism into old capitalist bottles. They
declare that under Socialism goods will be produced
for the market for profit, and wages will he paid to the
workers. Profit and wages mean capital, whether
owned by State or Guild or private capitalist.

Both State and Guild Socialists assume a clashing
of interests between consumer and producer. Their
minds are still in the class ruled capitalist system, with
its strikes and lock-outs and the haggling of the mark-
ets. What do they mean by the State? They mean
that the direction of the whole economic problem shall
be in the hands of an over-bearing class of State of-
ficials living on the workers' backs.

The State and its administration for the bureau-
cratic class; industrial labour for the working class.
That is the finality of State and Guild Socialism.
Industrial Socialism or Communism

The Industrial Socialists or Communists declare
that in order to emancipate themselves the working
class must abolish the entire capitalist system of pro-
duction, distribution and exchange. With it will dis-
appear the capitalist State and the division of society
into classes. The new society will be a Co-operative
Commonwealth, wherein the land and the means of
production and distribution will be controlled by, and
on behalf of, the whole of the people by the demo-
cratic vote of all its adult members. The production
of goods will be for their use-value for consumption,
and their distribution on the basis of social and eco-
nomic equality.

These are the objectives of the Co-operative Com-
monwealth; Within industry to increase production
in order to give ample leisure to all its members for
the enjoyment of life, and to further their intellec-
tual development.

Each adult member of the Co-operative Common-
wealth functions as a co-controller of its society and
as a co-worker in its industries.

The control of the Co-operative Commonwealth is
by the democratic vote of its adult members.
The Parliamentary vote is not a democratic fran-
chise. As a capitalist institution Parliament is purely
a law-making machine to keep the working class in
subjection and to adapt capitalist society to any new
environment—or situation—brought about by one de-
velopment of the capitalist mode of production. The
working-class electors by their votes hand over com-
plete power to their masters who are also in possession
of the means of production. Accordingly, within Par-
liament, the capitalist class adjusts and controls capi-
talist society in its own interests. At the same time
by softening the economic hardships inflicted on the
workers by what it terms reform legislation, the
workers are deceived into the belief that Parliament,
by its remedial legislation will relieve them ultimately
of all the social evils that capitalism inflicts upon them.
However essential Parliament is to the capitalist class,
it is unnecessary in a society where all men and
women are socially and economically equal. Within
the Co-operative Commonwealth there is no class to
dominate and exploit.

A democratic franchise is a vote by which every
holder has a direct control over the whole social
order of production, distribution, and administration.
Within the Co-operative Commonwealth, in place of
a central legislating body whose legislation is admin-
istered by local bodies, the whole social order must be
decentralised and local councils elected. These coun-
cils, linked together, formulate their demands which
are executed by a central body under their direct con-
trol. In other words the Co-operative Commonwealth
is a Republic of Soviets or Communal Councils.

The Communes in Britain would comprise areas
approximating to the Parliamentary constituencies.
Every adult member of 21 years possess the vote
on a residential qualification.

Each Commune elects a Communal Council to deal
with its wants. Also each Commune elects one of its
members to a Communal District Council whose area
of administration is determined by dividing Britain
into ten Communal Districts.

The members of each Communal District elect two
representatives to an Executive Council.
Each Commune elects a representative to the Com-
munal Congress.

Accordingly by direct Communal vote there results:

About 800 Communal Councils.
Ten District Councils.
One Executive Council.
One Communal Congress.
The functions of these Councils are as follows:
The Communal Councils are concerned with distri-
bution.

The District Councils with supply
The Central Executive with centralised production
and supply, and also functions as the Executive of the
Communal will as expressed by the Communal Con-
gress.

The Communal Congress decides upon all matters,
relative to the united Communes, that is all questions
concerning the social and industrial relations of the
members of the Co-operative Commonwealth and
their relations with the inhabitants of other territories.
The detailed work of these Councils is concerned
with the sub-divisions into which the life of the Com-
mune is divided.

These sub-divisions are:—

(a) The ordered demand of the Communes to sat-
isfy their wants.

[b) The methods of production and distribution.
The Communal Councils form Departments of Snp
ply, Labour, Public Health and Sanitation.
The Department of Supply is concerned with the
distribution of food, clothing, house accommodation,
fuel, light, water, and all the products of industry
necessary to the life of the Communes.

This department is sub-divided into its essential
divisions.

The Department of Labour is concerned with the
distribution of the labour available, in each Commune.

The Department of Public Health and Sanitation
concerns itself with all methods for the preservation
of public health.

The District Councils form corresponding depart-
ments, and in addition form Departments of Roads,
Transport, and Communication.

The Central Executive forms Central Departments
for the Production and Supply of all essentials to
Communal life. These Central Departments form the
link between the Industries and the Communes.

The actual working of these Councils would be
somewhat on these lines: The Communal Depart-
ments of Distribution would affect the details through
the Communal Depots to the members of the Com-
mune. The supply to the depots from the Communal
warehouses would be by requisition to the correspond-
ing Communal Departments. The latter would obtain
their supplies through the Communal District Supply
Departments who would tabulate and submit their
requirements from time to time to the Central Supply
Departments.

The Central Departments would also tabulate the
immediate and future wants of the Communes, and
give the necessary orders to the various Communal
Industries for a supply of their products. They would
also act as Supply Departments to distribute raw ma-
terial and labour to the industries as required.

Just as the great armies of militarist Europe have
bcen supplied with the essentials from. the centralised
control of the munitions of war through the various
departments and sub-divisions of Army Supply and
Transport, in order that each unit of the armies shall
he supplied with food, clothing, arms, etc., so will the
men, women, and children of the Communes be sup-
plied from the Communal Industries through the
Communal Departments of Supply and Distribution-
only with this difference that they will be supplied ac-
cording to their expressed wants and not according to
the will of bureaucrats and army generals.

The Methods of Production and Distribution

The next step is to discuss the second sub-division.
(b) The methods of production and distribution
upon the basis of economic equality.

Let us turn for a moment to the capitalist system of
the production of commodities. Raw material enters
the factory and is operated upon by the labour of the
workers with the aid of machinery. The resulting pro-
duct is sold either directly to the consumer or usually
to a middleman who disposes of the goods through the
usual trade channels. The price of the commodity is
determined by the value of the average socially neces-
sary labour embodied in its reproduction, but usually
fluctuates above or below that value according to de-
mand and supply. The owner of capital determines
his profit by the difference between the cost of produc-
tion of his commodity and the price realised by its
sale. He determines his cost of production as follows:
Cost of raw materials and depreciation of machin-
ery and rent and repair of factory and administration
expenses and cost of distribution. /. e.. carriage, adver-
tisements, etc.. and wages paid to workers.

The difference is his profit or the surplus value
extracted from his workers. For in this cost of pro-
duction no new values are created in the first five
items. These values have already been created by
other labour. Therefore the only source of his profit
is the difference between the price realised for his
product and the price paid to his producing workers
for the hire of their labour power. He can increase
his profit therefore by three methods: ist by increas-
ing the length of the working day and by a reduction
in wages: 3rd by increasing the productivity of his
workers.

Within the Co-operative Commonwealth the rent of
land and the extraction of surplus value is abolished.
But the Communal Industries must still produce
surplus products over and above those essential to meet
the needs of the producing workers. Therefore, is it
possible at this period in Capitalist Society to
mantain and if possible increase its productivity, and also
to establish economic equality by the adoption of some
simple method, whereby each Communal member can
freely interpret his or her needs?

Turning again to Capitalist Society we find the
greatest difficulty of the capitalist is to dispose of his
products. This difficulty of finding markets is due to
the enormous ratio between the surplus exchange
value and of the products produced by the producing
workers, and the exchange value paid to them in
wages, in other words, not only are the producing
workers unable to purchase but a small amount of the
products of their labour, but the whole of capitalist
society, with its millions of parasites, State officials,
armies, navies, and non-producing wage workers, can-
not absorb the product. Thereupon stagnation of trade
and unemployment results until the glutted markets
are relieved of the surplus.

Should anyone still be doubtful of the capabilities
of man to produce under modern conditions, let him
reflect upon the fact that for at least three years of
the European War three-fourths of the populations
of capitalist Europe, Great Britain, and America were
engaged either as workers in the organized produc-
tion of munitions of war or as combatants organized
to consume them. Let him reflect upon the enormous
masses of wealth produced by labour and literally
thrown away in that mad struggle between the contest-
ing ruling classes, and he will doubt no longer that
within the Co-operative Commonwealth wealth can
be made to flow like water!

Therefore, taking into consideration the produc-
tivity of man only as it is to-day, and also seeing that
during the transitional period of the abolition of Cap-
italism and the establishment of Communism a definite
standard of subsistence based on capitalist values and
a definite number of working hours must be estab-
lished, we are justified in stating that the following
conditions could at once be adopted and would pro-
vide for the immediate needs of the whole population.
(1) A working day of six hours. i. 36 hours
per week.

(2) A subsistence grant to all adults, represented
in capitalistic values, of 7 pounds ($34) per week.
And in addition a sliding scale of subsistence grants
to the parents of children up to five, ten, and fifteen
years respectively, and a subsistence grant to both
sexes over fifteen and under 21 years of age.
The equalised standard of subsistence is reckoned
in capitalist values for these reasons:

1st—It is essential that all individuals shall be able
to gratify their wishes in realising the use value of
the products of industry. Thus the progress of inven-
tion is unretarded and the human mind so varied in
its likes and dislikes, is not compelled to adapt itself
to some uncongenial environment of food, clothing
and shelter, whose finality of horror is that determined
by the capitalist class for the producers of their
wealth. Accordingly it is necessary—at any rate during
the transitional period—to fix distributive value on
the product, based on the cost of production in labour
time from the source of the raw material to the fin-
ished product. Eliminating from this cost the expenses
of transport and administration, the cost of produc-
tion would be:—Raw materials and depreciation and
repair of machinery, tools, etc., and factory and sub-
sistence grant to workers of £7 per week of 36 hours
labour.

and—The whole of the surplus products of the
Communal Industries would be available to support
those workers who will function as factors in distri-
bution and the public services, the aged, infirm and
sick, and the maintenance and education of the rising
generation.

It must also be remembered that large numbers of
non-producing workers, who do not function in pro-
duction or distribution under capitalism, yet are fed,
clothed and sheltered will, within Communism, be
absorbed into its industrial life.

Taking all the foregoing factors into consideration,
the production of the communal industries would be
increased fourfold as compared with Capitalism, and
the proposed subsistence grant of £7 per week would
have a corresponding distributive value reckoned in
capitalist terms of at least an income of £700 per
annum to every adult member of the community.
Distribution of Currency Notes

The subsistence grants would be in distributive
notes of decimal values or of the present monetary
system. As already pointed out their use would enable
each communal member to acquire any desired pro-
duct, and also enable the Communal Industries to
place a cost of production on their products. The cost
of production value would also enable the Central
Departments to arrange the necessary credits for the
importation of goods of foreign origin and the ex-
portation ef certain surplus products of the Co-opera-
tive Commonwealth.

The wives and mothers of families (who would also
receive the subsistence grants of their children), the
aged, infirm and sick "would receive these distributive
notes from the Communal Note Department.

The adult workers would obtain them from these
departments upon presentation of a voucher received
from their units of industry.

These notes do not function as money. Under Com-
munism, goods are not produced for sale, but for con-
sumption therefore the communial distributive notes
do not represent exchange values but distributive
values.

The Communal Industries

By industry is meant the entire work of the Com-
mune essential to its existence.

Each unit of industry, factory, mine, workshop,
agricultural district, fisheries, etc., would be managed
in the communal interests by a workers' committee
appointed by the workers within that unit.

Each division of industry appoints a Council elected
by its workers for the following purposes:—
ist—To apportion the orders received from the
Central Supply Departments amongst the units of that
industry according to their capacity for production.
2nd—To requisition the necessary labour for each
unit according to its requirements from the Central
Labour Department who in turn requisition the Dis-
not in any way interrupted capitalist progression),
the working class has never yet, as a class, attempted
the fight, not merely against the capitalist, but against
the system that produces him.

With the downfall of the ruling classes of Russia
and the Central Empires, their position to-day is even
more perilous than at any time during the war. Ob-
viously the Government could not prolong its exist-
ence for another two or three years, its plea of na-
tional necessity existing no longer. Yet the economic
problems created by the war could not wait and the
possibility of a Parliamentary election occurring at a
period when these problems had become acute has
compelled the oligarchy to act even against the advice
of some of its most faithful adherents.

They accordingly dissolved Parliament, and selec-
ing their nominees under the label of Coalition, they
calmly inform the working class that these protectors
of the rights and liberties of democracy await their
franchise!

Their objective is evident. By hook or crook the
oligarchy is determined to control political power.
In doing so it is compelled to show openly at last that
Capitalist Society is governed and controlled by a
small ring of very wealthy capitalists who govern
through a Capitalist Dictatorship in the interests of
capital and not by the democratic votes of the people
of Britain.

Yet, in order to establish a Soviet Republic, it is
essential for the working-class to posses the political
control over society that will enable it to abolish the
capitalist mode of production. In other words the
working-class must become Ihe ruling class, and
through a period of time—the transitional period—
sufficient to establish firmly social and economic
equality, it must function as a Proletarian Dictator-
ship over the whole of society and bend it to its will.

At present, at any rate, the capture of Parliament
is impossible, for the working-class have no Parlia-
mentary organization and the oligarchy will use every
method to delay its formation; nor can Industrial So-
cialists, if elected, do anything: completely under their
domination, Parliament acts and reacts solely to the
will of the oligarchy, who directed its legislation.

Also it has been shown that Parliament will not
function within the Co-operative Commonwealth.
Accordingly, to bring about a Proletarian Dictator-
ship, the working-class must form its own political
machine on the same basis upon which it will form the
Co-optrative Commonwealth, viz.. the administration
of industry.
There is another factor in the present situation.
Millions of the workers have been conscripted, and
although regarded by their masters as future indus-
trial workers,they are still organised as part of the
capitalist military machine. As members of the work-
ing-class, they function in its political machinery, not
as workers in industry, but as soldiers of the army.

Therefore, the methods to be adopted by the work-
ers of Britain in their struggle for emancipation is
that adopted by the revolutionary proletariat of
Europe.

The Formation of Workers' and Soldiers9 Councils
These Councils have two objectives. The first is to
construct the machinery for the control of industry;
the second is to function as the masters of society.
The Workers' Councils have their embryos in the
Shop Steward Movement and the Industrial Unionists
Societies.

They can be formed as follows:—

The workers in each industrial unit of workshop,
mine, agricultural district, etc., form a Workers' Com-
mittee. From these committees and Socialist organi-
zations and committees of unemployed workers of a
locality, say a Parliamentary constituency, is formed
a Workers' Council, and from this Council delegates
arc elected to a District Council and Industrial Ex-
ecutive.
The soldiers form their Councils similarly within
their units. Wherever situated they consult with the
Workers' Councils, and the methods and details for
taking over the control of society are discussed and
adopted.

Throughout the whole of industry, throughout the
ranks of the armies, the workers perceive that the
war has shaken the pillars of Capitalist Society to its
foundations. Faced with the economic chaos resulting
from the transference of State-controlled industries
producing munitions of war, to the capitalist industry
producing goods for the market, the working class
already perceives in the near distance the spectre of
poverty which will presently stalk through their ranks.
The capitalist oligarchy seek to reorganize their
system. Compelled by the exigencies of the war to
centralize the control of industry, they have so
developed the means of production that it threatens to
overwhelm them: either through the lack of raw
materials, as at present, or later on, through the
immense mass of products they will throw on the
markets.

What arc their chief proposals to their workers?
To return to the old methods of peasant holdings
and allotments, thus chaining up the worker to a piti
ful existence on the land, and incidentally providing
cheap labor for the capitalist farmer, whilst within the
industrial cities the glut on the markets is to be met
by beggarly pittances of State relief to the unem-
ployed worker.

These are the measures they propose at a time In
the history of mankind when his knowledge of pro-
duction can make wealth to flow like water!
Truly the capitalist class is bankrupt in intelligence
and ideas. Their further control of society is inimical
to its fullest welfare. As a ruling class they are obso-
lete. They must step aside and accept the new con-
dition produced by the means of production.

The working class alone can solve the economic
problem. In their ranks are the skill, technique, and
ability for organization which shall cause the
machinery of production to work smoothly for the
benefit of every member of society. Prevented by
their position as an exploited class from competing in
the mad struggle for individual gain, they have not the
lust for wealth and power which is so marked a trait
of the capitalist class. Society is safe within their
dictatorship. With the downfall of capitalism the
necessity for exploiting new markets and new lands
exists no longer. Thus the long series of wars and the
conflicts of dynasties and peoples come to an end and
mankind enters into a new. and glorious era.

The capitalist class accuses the Communists of
fomenting industrial discontent and class warfare. It
is trufe, the Communists everywhere endeavour to
show their fellow workers their true position in so-
ciety. What the capitalists really desire is that they,
as a class, should dominate society, whilst their pas-
sive, obedient wage-slaves produce their wealth and
humbly receive the crumbs that fall from their tables.
Accordingly, they conspire to continue their do-
mination. Meanwhile their press brazenly affirms that
of all societies, capitalism alone is the best and the
only possible.

'"The Communists disdain to conceal their aims."
They openly declare that only the abolition of Capi-
talism will end the poverty and degradation of the
working class.

Workers and Soldiers of Britain: form your coun-
cils!

Let your watchwords be:

Social and economic equality!
The land and the instruments of production for the people!
A Soviet Republic for Britain!
All power to the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils!