A Soviet Republic for Britain! (January, 1919)

Submitted by dalcassian on 17 February, 2017 - 1:37 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 are quivering with fear at the unforeseen results of the European War.
Immediately following the armistice the Prime Minister proclaimed the speedy dissolution of the Government, hoping that in the psychological moment of victory and the resulting disturbance to the public mind, the capitalist class would snatch another victory at the polls. Obtaining a new lease of power they would be enabled to re-establish their system of society on the old basis.

Accordingly they proclaim themselves to he reconstructionists, as if, forsooth, it was some extraneous force that has disrupted their society and not the conscious, 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 reconstruct?

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 willingness 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 opportunity 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 industry 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, fellow 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 categories, the State, the Consumer, and the Guilds. The latter are subdivided into Guilds of Industries, deciding 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 arbitrator. The whole machinery of production and distribution is leased to the Guilds by the State, and part of their profits provide for its upkeep and administration, 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 markets. 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 officials living on the workers' backs.

The State and its administration for the bureaucratic 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 production, distribution and exchange. With it will disappear 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 democratic 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 economic equality.

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

Each adult member of the Co-operative Commonwealth 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 development of the capitalist mode of production. The working-class electors by their votes hand over complete power to their masters who are also in possession of the means of production. Accordingly, within Parliament, the capitalist class adjusts and controls capitalist 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 administered by local bodies, the whole social order must be decentralised and local councils elected. These councils, linked together, formulate their demands which are executed by a central body under their direct control. 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 Communal 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 distribution.
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 Commune is divided.

These sub-divisions are:—

(a) The ordered demand of the Communes to satisfy their wants.
(b) The methods of production and distribution.
The Communal Councils form Departments of Supply, 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 departments, 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 Commune. The supply to the depots from the Communal warehouses would be by requisition to the corresponding 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 material and labour to the industries as required.

Just as the great armies of militarist Europe have been 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 be supplied with food, clothing, arms, etc., so will the men, women, and children of the Communes be supplied from the Communal Industries through the Communal Departments of Supply and Distribution -vonly with this difference that they will be supplied according 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 product 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 necessary labour embodied in its reproduction, but usually fluctuates above or below that value according to demand and supply. The owner of capital determines
his profit by the difference between the cost of production 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 machinery and rent and repair of factory and administration expenses and cost of distribution. i.e carriage, advertisements, etc.. and wages paid to workers.

The difference is his profit or the surplus value extracted from his workers. For in this cost of production 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: first by increasing the length of the working day and by a reduction in wages: third 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, cannot 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 production 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 contesting 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 productivity of man only as it is to-day, and also seeing that during the transitional period of the abolition of Capitalism and the establishment of Communism a definite standard of subsistence based on capitalist values and a definite number of working hours must be established, we are justified in stating that the following conditions could at once be adopted and would provide 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:

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 finished 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 subsistence grant to workers of £7 per week of 36 hours labour.

The whole of the surplus products of the Communal Industries would be available to support those workers who will function as factors in distribution 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 production 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 product, 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 exportation ef certain surplus products of the Co-operative 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 Communism, goods are not produced for sale, but for consumption therefore the communal 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:—
First, 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 progressio), 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. Obviously the Government could not prolong its existence for another two or three years, its plea of national 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 selecing 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 the 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 Dictatorship 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 Parliamentary organization and the oligarchy will use every method to delay its formation; nor can Industrial Socialists, 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 industrial workers,they are still organised as part of the capitalist military machine. As members of the working-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 workers of Britain in their struggle for emancipation is that adopted by the revolutionary proletariat of
Europe.

The Formation of Workers' and Soldiers 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' Committee. From these committees and Socialist organizations and committees of unemployed workers of a locality, say a Parliamentary constituency, is formed a Workers' Council, and from this Council delegates are elected to a District Council and Industrial Executive. 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 are their chief proposals to their workers? To return to the old methods of peasant holdings and allotments, thus chaining up the worker to a pitiful 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 unemployed worker.

These are the measures they propose at a time In the history of mankind when his knowledge of production 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 obsolete. They must step aside and accept the new condition 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 true, the Communists everywhere endeavour to
show their fellow workers their true position in society. What the capitalists really desire is that they, as a class, should dominate society, whilst their passive, obedient wage-slaves produce their wealth and humbly receive the crumbs that fall from their tables. Accordingly, they conspire to continue their domination. 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 Capitalism will end the poverty and degradation of the
working class.

Workers and Soldiers of Britain: form your councils!

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!