J. T. Murphy

Milner Becomes Irritable

Source: The Communist, January 27, 1923
Publisher: The Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/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.

Perhaps you don’t believe it. Well it is quite true. And at a most interesting moment too. So long as he was talking of some labour utopia or quietly admonishing the Guild Socialist for using inflammatory phrases to cover up reformist and utopian schemes, he is quite polite, even paternal. But get him to the law about the sacredness of property and Fascism looms up virtuously. Listen:—

“Before any serious discussion is possible, it is necessary to make the issue clear. Does the proposal to nationalise this or that form of property mean that it is to be simply taken away from its present owners without giving them fair value of it? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then there is no room for argument. We are just in for a fight . . . ”

No question of reasoning the position out this time.

Not for a single moment must the ruling class be disturbed or inconvenienced in the least. We are simply in for a fight. This the Communist has said over and over again. This is called “loose and inflammatory talk” when we say it. Firmness, straight talk, no nonsense, etc., when uttered by Milner.

Turn this matter over again and think of all its implications. Although Milner has confessed the complete bankruptcy of his class in ideas; although he has confessed the mismanagement of the capitalist class and its most violent contradictions, he and his class refuse to discuss the confiscation of private property as a means to the solution of the world economic crisis. What if a thorough investigation of the situation objectively reveals this as the one means of social progress? What becomes of all the talk of goodwill of the classes, working together for a solution of the situation, if the Milner attitude is the attitude of the ruling class?

It becomes utter nonsense. And remeber the Milner attitude is the attitude of the ruling class. Indeed, Milner in these articles represents the moderates, the “reasonable” elements of the ruling class. Scratch the reasonableness, the veneer which covers the will to fight to the last ditch in defence of private property, and you get the rabid, black-shirted, armed militant, Fascisti, the white guards, and the armed forces of the State.

Milner will talk terms, purchases, and skit at its practicability. He will tell the Guild Socialists as he does, that their dreams are nice, and dangle their moneyless position before them to check their enthusiasm. He will talk damned nonsense about Labour hiring capital. But on no account will he argue with the Bolshevik as to what the world needs to solve its problems. Trotsky wrote a year or two ago that the ruling class had learned that it was easier to hang a Communist than to meet his arguments.

Milner proves it once again.

Up to now he has not offered a single helpful idea. Yet he talks of it being a matter of economics. Very well, a few questions bearing on his economic proposals still remain to be answered. And here let me make a correction in my last week’s article. In the following sentence, the word not was omitted accidentally:—“To increase the capacity for production does not mean that we correspondingly increase production.”

So getting back to economics, let me put another question:—

Have we not passed beyond the stage when it is useful to face economic problems as if they were the problems of a single country?