The Fetish of Unity (1908)


Nous continuons ici une série d’articles sur la situation politique et sociale en France il y a un siècle, écrits par des camarades du SPGB travaillant à Paris.

To the gushing sentimentalist the word Unity is as the Ark of the Covenant. Insistence upon the necessity for agreement on principles, on methods, and above all on the object in view, is scorned as sectarianism and as heresy against most holy Unity by such worshippers of empty forms. True unity is a means to an end. First of all the essentials regarding the end to be sought and the means to that end must be agreed upon, for « unity » without this is unity only in impotence, being without everything that makes unity useful, namely, common principles, methods, and aims. Unity under any other conditions than that of agreement on the essentials of aims and methods is like tying cats together by their tails.

Our French comrades are finding this out. Rappoport, after a word in praise of what he calls international discipline, lets the cats out of the bag when he says in Le Socialisme: « Besides, unity is not a restriction. It does not hinder even those who pine for the old ‘dangerous alliances,’ and of the false households of three with the ‘Democracy.’ It does not even prevent certain members of the party from calumniating fraternally their ‘dear comrades,’ and from persecuting them with their deadly hate. Unity is therefore an excellent thing from every point of view, especially if, as we hope, American comrades will not inflict anarchists and those with anarchist methods upon themselves as companions of the road—the false road. »

Ch. Bonnier, in a later issue of the same journal, also confesses that « the great trouble with the French Parti Socialiste is that it falls continually from the fever of anarchism into the heat-sickness of radicalism ; never can it grasp its true class policy, never can it understand that it is entirely apart, and that it has not to do the work of the others. How many times has not the spook of reaction caused it to fall into the arms of its born exploiters—the radicals ? »

In short, the only unity worth worrying about is Socialist unity, and most of those who gush about the words have still to realise what they mean.

(F.C. Watts, Socialist Standard, June 1908)

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