Dora B. Montefiore

Our Class-Conscious Governing Class

A Professor’s Mission in Wales

Source: The Communist, August 26, 1920, p. 7 (915 words)
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

At Llandrindod Wells the Welsh League of Social Service is holding its Annual Convention, and among the items on its programme for Tuesday, August 17th, was an address on “Internationalism”—to be followed by discussion—by Professor Zimmern the University of Aberyswyth. I made a point of going to hear this young man whom I had known before the war as one leading spirits in the W.E.U., and whom I had argued in favour of the Central Labour College at Earl’s Court as opposed to his special brand of spoonfeeding for the workers.


I gathered that he had already reaped his reward from a grateful governing class having cushy jobs to bestow, as he passed the years of the war pleasantly at the Foreign Office, and had since been given the newly-formed Chair of International Questions at Aberystwyth University. As I listened to his brilliantly shrewd address, I realised why this young Jew had been sent to Wales at the present moment, and what his special mission among the workers was to be. Professor Zimmern is a Marxian scholar; and just as in pre-war days he was using his Marxian knowledge to head back the application by the workers of Marxian conclusions, so now his mandate in Wales is undoubtedly to carry on, the same propaganda from the more exalted position of the professorial chair.


“The diagnosis of Marx is right; his deductions are wrong” was one of his statements; and he then went on to describe the danger there would be to the countries of the West if the Bolshevists succeeded in inoculating countries like Afghanistan, and Turkestan with the Marxian microbe. It would spread, he said, as did the old teaching of Mahomedanism, in a devastating conflagration that would sweep away our civilisation. “If you want,” said Professor Zimmern, “to see what a dangerous and unsettling microbe Marxian teaching can be, try and argue it out of the mentality of a Glamorganshire miner, who has been well inoculated with it; and you will know what we are up against.” It was then that I realised to the full what was the special work for which Professor Ziminern had been sent to Wales, and I also realised what in twentieth century constitutes the “renegade Jew.” It is the Jew who supports anti-Semite Poland, as against tolerant Russia. The motto of these gentlemen, w the truth, but do not find it convenient to live up to it, is: “Stability at the moment is more important than Social Revolution.”


He admitted that we were in a worse physically, morally, and economically than in 1914, and that the war had not done what it was expected it would do. He further admitted that we were a dishonoured people in that we had not carried out the terms of the armistice as based on Wilson’s foutrteen points.


Professor Zimmern criticised the Russian Soviet Republic for granting concessions to syndicates of outside exploiters; but he, like many others, fails to, or will not, recognise that the newly-formed Russian Communist State, during this prolonged period of outside attack and pressure, is constantly forced to do what she must, not what she desires. It is perfectly true that all Central Europe is overrun with concession hunters, seeking to enslave generations to come in the way Persia, India, and Egypt are industrially enslaved to outside capitalists. But Russian Communist statesmen are doing the best they can under existing circumstances to get their country economically on its feet again; they have no intention of allowing the concessionaires to enslave Russian workers (who are, in fact, now the Russian nation) permanently. Professor Zimmenn is such a convinced Imperialist that he considers that only a great Imperialism like that of the, British Empire can control or keep in order a trust like the Standard Oil Trust. For that reason he has very little use for small nations, and, in fact, finds their representatives rather in the way, if anything, in the “League of Nations.” But we Communists can, reassure him that when International Communism is more fully organised the workers will be able to deal scientifically and effectively with both inside and outside capitalist exploiters, and even with the great Standard Oil Trust itself, which, being already internationally organised, will be all the more ripe for taking over by the international community.


Professor Zimmern made two attacks during the course of his address and the discussion on the management of the “Daily Herald,” accusing it of unfairness and bias in its statements about Russia. When pressed about the possibilities of a revolution, he replied that he held there would be no material revolution, but that a spiritual revolution was rapidly taking place. He possibly forgets that, as one of our poets writes, “It takes a soul to move a body,” and that therefore the spiritual revolution, which undoubtedly is stirring up the old world with dynamic force, is bound to produce a new material world, built on social service instead of on exploited labour; where there will be no room for the imperialist, the narrow nationalist, or the murderous blockader, but where “a socially equal people,” set free at last from the daily struggle for the lower life, can together begin the far nobler struggle for the higher life of the spirit.