Review of Creative Revolution
Book Review: Creative Revolution by Eden and Cedar Paul (1920)
The authors of this book tell us that Creative Revolution is an endeavour to clear much prevalent confusion away from the path of socialist theory, but it is likewise a call to arms, and so on.
It would seem that the work was chiefly written for revolutionary leaders and propagandists especially those of an artistic temperament. The writers think that “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat” should be superseded by a newly-coined word “Ergatocracy” and the first chapter is a definition of it and its underlying principles. “Ergatos”, it is explained, is the Greek word for “worker”. The term seems so unfortunate; it savours of autocracy and suggests a smile when one thinks of “ergo”. But it might go into the language like ochlocracy–mob rule–without ever becoming popular like democracy.
The chapter on Social Solidarity is primarily address to bourgeois intellectuals. It deals principally with Bertrand Russell (who, by the way, puts Ethel Snowden in the shade in his polite attack on the Russian Communists in the Nation of 10th inst.) Ramsay McDonald and the Fabians. One gathers from it that while this gang would endeavour to capture parliament, and institute a reformist rule of labour, the workers should concentrate on the destruction of Parliament and the substitution of “regional and occupational soviets.”
In The Class Struggle the work of the Plebs League and Labour Colleges, the Syndicalists and the I.W.W. is lightly touched upon. Towards the end of the chapter we find the pronouncement: “We do not build too much on the possibilities of corrupting the armed forces of the Crown. There are other methods for ensuring the victory of the workers when the decisive moment comes.” But somewhere else the authors hint at the perils and hardships that a revolution in England might bring to the workers from her utter dependence on foreign countries for food. Such suffering would become unbearable, if a loyalist Navy controlled the trade routes and America and the great Colonies remained reactionary, and would inevitably result in an abortive revolution which might lead to a subsequent period of inaction and reaction. It seems that, as was done in Russia, some efficient means must be devised to disseminate propaganda among the highly-organised and trustworthy fighting forces of the world, unless the “other methods for ensuring the victory of the workers” are made known, tried and deemed feasible.
In appraising the Shop Stewards' movement, the authors declare that “we have no Lenin here, nor need of one”; a rather odd thing to say when, as Communists and Revolutionaries, we are always slating our official leaders for betrayal of the cause. Personally, I do not care what class the English Lenin comes, but I am sure it will require an iron will to mould the efficient minority that must carry on the work of the revolution during the transition stage.
The book is well prepared and it runs the gamut modernist literature from Whitman, Marx and Morris to Freud, Jung and Trotsky.
The quotations are copious This from Rosa Luxemburg's Revolutionary Socialism is very fine:–
“To-day we can seriously set about destroying Capitalism once and for all . . . If the proletariat fails to fulfil its duty as a class, we shall crash down together in the common doom.” There is another, exceedingly good, from Direct Action by Willie Gallacher and J. B. Campbell:–
“The workers have to create organisations to counter the State organisation of capitalism. The joint industrial and social committee should be the nucleus of working-class political power. As the industrial and social organisation grows strong enough it will be forced to fight the Capitalist State, not to take possession of, but to smash it.”
But there are also a strangely-involved passages like this which is apparently meant to explain the principle:–
“As Communist ergatocracy realises itself in practice; as the socialist mentality becomes generated under Socialist institutions; when the ownership rule, which is the essential characteristic of bourgeois democracy, has been destroyed beyond all possibility of revival; when the government of men has been replaced by the administration of things–then, with the passing of the phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the connotation of the “cracy” element of the term ergatocracy, will suffer a sea-change.”