Letters written in 1913 published in International Socialist criticising the Australian Labor Party and the support of the party from Australia's Socialist press.
This letter by Monty Miller to the International Socialist in 1913, clearly outlines an anti-parliamentarist revolutionary position. Monty envisaged the One Big Union taking over the economic administration of society and eliminating the need for politicians and parliament.
As an active participant in the labour movement, from the Eureka Miners Rebellion in 1854, to participation in early Labor Party organisation in Western Australia, his knowledge of the labour movement and the early Labor Party was extensive. His scathing criticisms of the Labor Party come from this experience.
His views on the Labor Party and parliamentary reform were held in common with many other members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and radical socialists, as for example the Barrier Socialists who, in the same issue of International Socialist, criticised Bob Ross (a 'socialist' newspaper editor) for advocating a vote for a Labor candidate as there was no endorsed 'socialist' candidate.
Takver - October 2001
From International Socialist - 20 December 1913
The "International" of November 22nd, in its editorial article, anticipates some degree of comment and inquiry as to the candidature of A.S.P. members, in the parliamentary electoral campaign of N.S.W. Let that anticipation be my justification for this effusion.
Re the advice of the aristocratic Italian to Massamillo, the revolutionary peasant, also that of the Virgin (?) Queen to her subjects: ditto the same advice by the Brooklyn journlist to the author you mention. I hold that in the light of history and human experience conjointly revealing the utter failure of political institutions and parliamentary representation as a means of redressing the disabilities of the masses, the advice was logical and sound.
Moreover, if memory serves me fair, Massamillo acted on it and took the direct and revolutionary method of winning - a release from the iniquitously oppressive market dues and taxes levied on the products of the toilers on land and sea.
It is true, as you urge, that capitalists have ceased to be at all alarmed at Labor in politics, that is owing to their experience of the deterioration of principle and moral fibre of men in the sinks of political corruption, owing to the richly gilded baits of emoluments and gifts of office spread on the traps of human ambition.
Your splendid impeachment of all and sundry labor traitors, in both States and Commonwealth parliaments, is of itself an argument in favor of the insidious and destructive nature of politics on the integrity of character in men.
Be it ever remembered that the principle and nature of the political machine is absolutely conservative. Let any measure, Lib., Lab., or Social be thrown in, it will come out quite immasculate of all its original beneficient intent and meaning, and useless for the purpose for which it was sent.
In short, the basic principle of all government is aggressive on, and restrictive of, the masses, and in the interests of the rulers against the ruled. And the application of the principle of tyranny to establish liberty is impossible as to "gather grapes from thorns", or figs from thistles.
Since you have quoted authorities advising the masses to keep out of politics, and conversely deduce the necessity of entering the field on behalf of Labor, permit me to quote a few authorities on the other side.
President Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the American Declaration of Independence, wrote: "I am convinced that those societies such as our (red skins) which live without government, enjoy in their general mass a greater degree of happiness than those who live under European governments. Among the former public opinion is in the place of law, and preserves morals as strongly as laws ever did anywhere: while amoungst the latter, under government, they have divided their nations into two classes, Wolves and Sheep. I do not exaggerate, this is a true picture of Europe today." And permit me to say that in the America of today, under universal suffrage, and the political machines, the wolves are stronger and are ravaging and devouring the sheep more cruelly than the European wolves of Jefferson's time or ever since; and the greatest intellect America has yet produced, Emerson states, "The less government, the better the fewer laws, and the less confided power."
And America's greatest politician, Lincoln, also struck a warning note when he said: "Politicians are men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are taken as a class at least one long step removed from honest men : and I say this with the greater freedom, because I am myself a politician and none can regard it as personal."
One clause of your article states, "We are told that government has always been as it is today, and always will be." The correct statement would be the principle of government is ever the same - the principle of force. The final recourse of every government is coercion - to the death - and as Emerson states, "Behind the ballot box is concealed the bayonet and the bullet." and our comrades who cast votes into the ballot box for their comrade candidates, by complicity, sanction and support the institution of government and its force principle.
When force is eliminated from government it is bereft of power, and ceases to be government in any sense.
Every Labor Party has utterly failed to give any measure of benefit to the workers - there is no instance where any industrial or social uplifting as a step to permanent benefit came out of political methods.
Are our comrades of higher moral attributes, more endowed with sincerity of purpose, or purity of motives than all those who have miserably failed; from John Burns to the latest traitor to our cause? Personally I never believed myself of such altitude in moral stature. To do so one should be like the Pharisee and thank all gods there may be he is not as other men.
I, as a member of the branch here, in this far distant State, have been elated by your Bosnerges spirit of declamation against Lib. and Lab. political treachery : now we feel disconcerted that the men of the advance thought, the fine earnest spirits that have in the face of all opposition kept the standard of revolution afloat, should take a rearranged name (as we honestly think), we have here the hybrid, pseudo. Socialists who are seeking pelf in the dirty byways of sordid politics, we say, let them have the adulterated loaves and the putrid fishes of the Judas pay of those who use the workers as pawns in "playing the game", not worth the candle light of Socialist intelligence.
Yours for Revolution
Beckford Estate, W.A.
Most of us, who have given even a little time to studying Socialism, were of the opinion, that the Labor Parliamentary party, of parasites and opportunists, constituted the greatest menace to the Socialist movement. We were of the opinion that a middle class party, with purely capitalist aims, which had laid itself out to deliberately chloroform the working class, and consistently set in motion the repressive machinery of capitalist law against the working class, could merit nothing but implacable hostility, from any man conscious of the class struggle. We believed that no Socialist could endorse a party guilty of the militarist laws, arbitration, and even an official manifesto calling on the citizens of Sydney to scab.
But lo! We have been mistaken : for there arises one Bob Ross (of Melbourne), an intellectual man and editor of a Socialist newspaper withal, and tells us to vote Labor - and Australia will cheer!
Two slimy articles from this individual appeared in the columns of the official organ of Labor opportunism ("Barrier Daily Perjury") of November 29 and December 25, urging the workers to vote for Jabez Wright, Labor candidate for Willyama.
In one of these remarkable effusions he says, "There is no Socialist candidate, in the sense of an avowed nominee of the Socialist movement, and in the absence of such, the man to vote for is the man for the organised movement of the working class." Grovelling flattery of the Labor candidate and dope worthy of the veriest Labor fakir characterise the articles throughout.
At a meeting of this branch, held on Sunday December 7th, the following resolution was carried unanimously: "That this branch condemns the action of R.S. Ross and the stand which he has made for the continuance of the legalised robbery of the working class, the jailing of the workers, and the garnisheeing of the wages of those who with-hold their commodity, labor power, from sale, in a body to enhance its price, and secure better conditions. We are also of the opinion that the man who tries to prevent strikes and votes to make it a crime to strike, and jails the workers who assert their manhood by striking, is as bad, or worse than, the man who goes in to break a strike."
Those are the views of Barrier Socialists, and we wish to make them known to Socialists in all other parts of the Commonwealth.
Yours for revolt.