Dora B. Montefiore 1918
Source: The Call, 27 August 1918, p. 2
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
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It is interesting to note the very different way in which this proposal is conceived, compared to the centralised Communist International that eventually was created. W.A.M.M. is of course Theo Rothstein.—Note by transcriber.
(The last Annual Conference of the B.S.P. passed a resolution instructing the Executive Committee to take steps to secure the reconstruction of the International Socialist Bureau, and the Editorial Committee has arranged for a symposium of articles on the subject to appear in “The Call.” These will subsequently be considered by the Executive Committee with a view to drafting a series of proposals. Contributions from comrades W.A.M.M. and J.D. Macdougall have already appeared. Comrades G. Davey and Dora B. Montefiore follow with the articles below, and others will appear in due course. It should be understood that the writers are expressing their own personal opinions and are solely responsible for what appears over their signatures.)
In thinking out the bases for the new Socialist International that must rise from the ashes of the old one (which has been tried in the furnace of war and found wanting), we need, it would appear, to keep before us ever more rigidly and faithfully the formula that “Socialism is an interpretation of capitalist society which is based on the exploitation of the workers.” Our new Red International will then be composed of those, and of those only, who accept that formula in its full interpretation, and who have either proved in the past and are prepared to give proofs in the present that they will act upon it.
Let us put to the test certain phases of industrial and political expression which manifest themselves in present-day war conditions, and see how many, judged by that test, will be qualified for admittance into the Red International. The supreme test at present is the manner in which the workers in various lands are either supporting or helping to destroy the Soviet Administration in Russia. The Soviets or Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils are the only democratically elected bodies in Europe; they express the modern industrial, economic, and social revolution towards which the exploited masses of hand and brain workers in every country aspire. In proportion as they do this, and at the same time clarify and crystallise the action of the masses, so are they maligned, misrepresented, and feared by the capitalist Press and their hirelings of all countries. That is only to be expected. But for us Marxians the interesting test is: “How far do the non-class-conscious proletarians, the still unconscious brain workers, and the smaller bourgeoisie, who should all be solidly inside the organised ranks of the exploited—how far do they still, at the crack of the capitalist whip, rush into the capitalist fold, and thus prolong the life of capitalist power?” These are the three buffer classes whom we must beware of in forming our Red International; we must see to it all the time, and in spite of every blandishment, that only those who have proved themselves class-conscious, and whose actions are governed by the Socialist formula enunciated at the beginning of this article, are allowed any preponderating influence in the new International. Those, for instance, who were responsible for the recent appearance of Kerensky at a Labour Party Conference must be excluded from the British Section for that act of treachery to the Soviets, and in consequence, to revolutionary Socialism. Another test must be the exclusion of all those who have allied themselves with capitalist Governments by taking office and by using the power thus given them to stop strikes or any other revolutionary action on the part of the workers. All power of voting or of speaking at any New International Socialist Congress must be withheld from any men or women who have acted in the past in the ways described; also from all Pacifists, who are not anti-militarists, accepting the Socialist interpretation that militarism is but the reflex expression of capitalism, and that the two must be destroyed with one and the same blow.
Upton Sinclair once wrote: “There is no danger to the Socialist movement so great as the danger of becoming an established institution.” The same applies to any International Socialist Bureau that may be organised during the period of capitalism.. It should be organised purely as a weapon of offence to be used only by skilled and trusty soldiers of the Revolution, and every blow dealt by it must be a shrewd blow directed against the enemy by those who do not hide in trenches or dug-outs, but who are prepared to go over the top all the time.