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As to Keir Hardie

This article appeared in International Socialist Review, September 1912. Wilfrid Gribble was a prominent member of the Socialist Party of Canada, in Toronto. Keir Hardie (1856-1915), was a founder and leader of the Labour Party in the U.K. Haywood (mentioned in the first paragraph) was "Big Bill" Haywood, a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and a leader of the left wing of the Socialist Party of America.

Thanks to Peter Campbell for submitting this article to the Socialist History Project.

As to Keir Hardie

by Wifrid Gribble

I write in support of Haywood’s opposition to Keir Hardie being invited to tour this country under the auspices of the Socialist Party of America. Of course, I recognize that Hardie would be a good "drawing card." That is all the "leaders" and "intellectuals" seem to think about. Get the crowds, get the cash, and let the education of the workers to their class interests go to hell.

The Socialist Party of the states affirms the class struggle, which Hardie both affirms and denies, sometimes in the same sentence. Read these gems of thought culled from an article written by Keir Hardie early in 1904, entitled "An Indictment of the Class War."

      "For my own part I have always maintained that to claim for the Socialist movement that it is a ‘class’ war, dependent for its success upon the ‘class’ consciousness of one section of the community, is doing Socialism an injustice and indefinitely postponing its triumph. It is, in fact, lowering it to the level of a mere faction fight."

Then again in the same article:

      "Now, it is not disputed that there is a conflict of interests between those who own property and those who work for wages. The tenant and his landlord and the worker and his employer have interests which lead to inevitable conflict and antagonism, and the object of Socialism is the removal of the causes which produce this antagonism."

Of course, "antagonism" is not "war!"

The unconscious humorist Hardie also writes in the same article: "The working class is not a class; it is the nation."

How does Keir Hardie account for the working CLASS unless there is an idle CLASS for it to be classed with?

Again in this precious article of this eminent Socialist (?): "Socialism will come, not by a war of classes, but by economic circumstances forcing the proletariat into a revolt, which will absorb the middle class and thus wipe out classes altogether."

A "revolt" is not a "war," of course.

What beautiful phraseology, and how impressive to those who have never studied Socialism, but to those who have, how patent it is that the writer of such is either ignorant or treacherous, or both. This writer thinks both. Why? Because Keir Hardie says he learnt his Socialism (?) from the Bible and Shakespeare.

Such a man must be ignorant.

Because he affirmed the class war at the International Socialist Congress, and immediately on returning to England denied it.

Such a man must be treacherous.

I saw Keir Hardie a few years ago in Toronto and he told me that "there was a class war, but it was not expressed by the Socialist movement, but by the trade unions (ye gods!); that the Socialist movement was not a class movement, because there were other than workers in it; that the labor members of parliament in Britain were run as labor men, but returned as Socialists." (How ingenious!)

The very next day he was interviewed by Comrade Weston Wrigley, who was that day reporting a banquet given by the Canadian Club (the swellest club in Toronto) to Keir Hardie, and on being questioned as to the class struggle, Hardie pettishly said: "There is no class struggle; you people in Canada and the States are spoiling the movement by insisting on it." This article is long enough now. I have cited enough facts, which I can prove by witnesses, but if necessary can cite many more.

Go to, Keir Hardie; the "leaders" and "intellectuals" may want you this side, but the revolutionists don’t; but if you do come—you may depend upon it—you will be put through the mill, as we have too many of your sort this side already.

  The enemy who comes to us with open visor we face with a smile; to set our foot upon his neck is mere play for us. The stupidly brutal acts of violence of police politicians, the outrages of anti-socialist laws, the anti-revolution laws, penitentiary billsthese only arouse feelings of pitying contempt; the enemy, however, that reaches out the hand to us for a political alliance, and introduces himself upon us a friend and brotherhim and him alone have we to fear.

Our fortress can withstand every assaultit can not be stormed nor taken from us by siegeit can only fall when we ourselves open the doors to the enemy and take him into our ranks as a fellow comrade. Growing out of the class struggle, our party rests upon the class struggle as a condition of its existence. Through and with that struggle the party is unconquerable; without it the party is lost, for it will have lost the source of its strength. Whoever fails to understand this or thinks that the class struggle is a dead issue, or that class antagonisms are gradually being effaced, stands upon the basis of bourgeois philosophy. —Wilhelm Liebknecht.


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