Newsletter of the Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot

July 2023 Issue No. 16 ISSN 1756-4964 (Print)

Postal Ballot Fraud and the Working Class

At the centre of the ongoing struggle against election fraud in the 2020 US Presidential election and the 2022 US Mid term elections is the Right to a Secret Ballot. The challenge to the outcome of those elections in Arizona led by the Republican candidate for Governor Kari Lake set the pace both in regard to the courts and in campaigning activity. Her flatly stated assertion that “Globalism is just a fancy word for Communism” set alarm bells ringing in both the ‘Administrative’ and ‘Deep’ states and probably even in the UK ‘blob.’ These terms refer to the growth of unaccountable state bureaucracy and what former Chief Election Strategist for President Trump Steve Bannon has defined as the deep state ‘rogue element’ willing to use unlawful methods to gain partisan advantage. More recently he declared the US Council on Foreign Relations to be an accomplice to the Deep State.

After reporting addresses given for multiple postal voters were empty an Arizona election integrity activist was threatened by the US Justice Department. She was warned not to conduct such canvassing because this may incur penalties for ‘voter intimidation.’ Lake may yet win her fight against vote fraud in the courts despite such threats.

Such a victory will be despite the distortions introduced into legal process by billionaire George Soros who argued some 25 years ago words to the effect that ‘one world government must come before inheritance tax’ at his LSE public lecture. To this purpose he orchestrated an election funding operation for radical democrat Attorney Generals, one of which succeeded in getting former President Trump indicted in New York for business record keeping matters. In June 2023 further indictments against Trump for breaching security guidelines in regard to classified material - that is to say materials which he could have declassified when President if he so wished - were also attained by the administrative state. Alongside the Special Statewide Grand Jury organised in Florida to investigate Covid these indictments illustrate the vital powers that Grand Juries still retain within the US Constitution.

There are commentators who suggest that the US legal system is inferior to the British legal system because the former incorporates election of party aligned lawyers and Sheriffs whereas the latter is based upon the principle of impartiality in recruitment. The British legal system is however inferior to the American system even despite its flaws - many of which have been introduced by the so called left - precisely because decision makers in the US judicial branch of government are elected. Those who maintain that reports of corruption show the US system is inferior to the UK system fail to understand that British law may sometimes look more impartial but that is mainly because it functions in ways which are far less visible to the public. The Brexit voting majority got an inkling of this when on 4th November 2016 the Daily Mail front page declared three UK Supreme Court justices to be ‘enemies of the people’ after they ruled that the UK could not leave the EU until the remainer dominated Parliament had authorised it.

Beneath the procedural veils that obscure the mechanisms of judicial self appointment set up by Tony Blair the reality is that UK justice is closer to tyranny than its US counterpart. Grand Juries that can sometimes be induced to reach partisan conclusions are still better than no Grand Juries at all. Even the much weakened, administratively subordinated remnant of such bodies that still exist in the USA are better guardians of justice than the increasingly juryless systems of the UK ‘blob.’

The reason why no constitutional democracies in the western world tolerate cloistered systems of judicial self appointment other than those of the UK and Israel is because such systems are wide open to factional infiltration and corruption. That is why the conservative Israeli government is currently undergoing a hard fought battle to reform its legal system against the resistance of ‘left’ forces. The various tendentious rulings of British and European Courts in favour of Globalist judicial activism on questions of Border Security and National Sovereignty provide continuing ample evidence of the weaknesses of such legal systems.

Globalism has as indicated become virtually synonymous with totalitarianism from the viewpoint of most blue collar workers in the oldest extant republican democracy: the USA. Against this background it is in the public interest that the CDRSB clarify the relation between electoral integrity and what many, including Marx, recognised to be the first working class movement.

Primary Demand
As reported in the last issue the Right to a Secret Ballot was a primary demand of the first, British working class movement. It was incorporated in the campaigns for democratic rights that according to E.P. Thompson (The Making of the English Working Class) were subject to harsh repression and disruption by government spies, informers, and agent provocateurs during the last half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. These campaigns were influenced by the American and French revolutions but were driven primarily by the British working class (see Parliament website history). Their aims centred on the establishment of a democratic constitution in line with the unfinished business of the 17th century civil wars. They invoked Magna Carta and the right to trial by jury and regarded the Levellers as indicating the direction of policy to which they aspired in regard to political reform.

The Levellers were primarily apprentices within the artisan and small trading occupations of London craft industry and commerce. The late 18th century Paris reform activists known as the ‘sans culottes’ were similarly employed. The high value placed upon Magna Carta and veneration of the Levellers - whose leaders had refused to engage in Cromwell’s bloody suppression of Catholic resistance in Ireland - were ideals shared by most of those who sought reforms in the UK. Their empathy with the American and French revolutions was shared by Irish republicanism and its leader, Wolfe Tone. Tom Paine, perhaps the first British working class leader to declare his country to be the world, was granted honorary membership of the United Irishmen.

British working class activism was presupposed by centuries of attempts at realising democratic aspirations including both in the workplace and in open rebellions against tyranny stretching back to Magna Carta and beyond. As Dr Claire Kennan at London University has stated in regard to the relation between Guild and Trade organisations:

“Since the late Middle Ages, there have been attempts to resist these associations of workers, and even break their power. The 1179-1180 judicial enquiry and the 1388-1389 nationwide guild enquiry, ordered by Richard II’s government, demonstrate the early concerns of those in government regarding associations of ordinary workers.  In 1179-1180, the main aim was to establish which associations had been formed with royal consent and in 1388-1389 it was to discover exactly what these guilds were doing and how much wealth they had (in the aftermath of the 1381 Great Revolt the government was clearly wary of ordinary people meeting and coming together to improve their lot). So while we may think of trade unions and their disputes with the government as a relatively modern phenomenon stemming from the Industrial Revolution, they were in fact in existence, in some form or other, from a much earlier date.”

In the mid 13th century Simon De Montfort led a rebellion against Henry III and though eventually killed by Royalist forces his legacy in establishing regular proto democratic national Parliamentary commons meetings was retained as a feature of the English constitution. De Montfort’s high regard for local and grand jury democracy was reinstated by crown forces after being suppressed by them following their victory over him (Kings, Barons and Justices: the Making and Enforcement of Legislation in 13th century England. Paul Brand, 2003).

This was in sharp contrast to the French monarchy which only tolerated provincial or very rare national parliamentary meetings. The longstanding and gradually increasing role - despite setbacks - of the English House of Commons emplaced upon the bedrock foundation of jury and grand jury power was an important factor in enabling Parliamentarians to challenge the attempt by King Charles I to ignore the rights and liberties of the people which had been traditionally upheld by means of the nation’s ancient constitution. After the restoration conflict developed again between parliament and the crown resulting in the 1688 Revolution and Bill of Rights.

‘Freeborn’ English liberties were presupposed by jury powers that had for centuries comprised the foundation of common law upon which Magna Carta itself had been emplaced. These customs included most especially King Alfred’s use of juries and fyrd militias. Consequently unlike France, where absolutist monarchy and relatively powerless provincial parliaments functioned alongside juryless legal procedures that gave little or no protection to the rights of ordinary citizens English subjects enjoyed the right to both make and bear arms as well as jury trial. Consequently whereas French craft industry was geared in large part to making toys for the aristocracy, English manufacture developed upon a more directly utilitarian basis which in the long run helped pave the way for the industrial revolution. It was in these circumstances that the working class emerged as the main social force driving the movement for parliamentary reform in the UK and elsewhere.

The sympathies of the British labouring classes for American and French attempts to establish democratic constitutions were concentrated to their greatest extent in the London Corresponding Society and the Society for Constitutional Information. Despite some initially broad based consensus of
opinion among the middle classes which was compatible with such sympathies activists associated with these organisations were met with increasing hostility from the government and its supporters following the bloody turn of events in France and the outbreak of war with the French Republic. Matters came to a head in 1794 when nine advocates of parliamentary reform (mostly from working class backgrounds) were charged with sedition. The first three charged - which included John Horne Tooke - were acquitted thanks to the jury and the remaining six had their cases dismissed as a result. Coin Tokens and a silk print depiction of the event were produced to commemorate the power of juries to judge both the facts of a case and also the justice of the law being used to prosecute the accused.

Gained Traction

Despite this victory for working class freedoms based upon reassertion of the constitutionally pivotal role of jury power government repression continued for over half a century. In 1819 eighteen people died and up to 700 were injured when cavalry charged into 60,000 demonstrators who had gathered in St Peter’s field in Manchester to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Since called the Peterloo Massacre, resistance to such repression followed by means of a revolutionary attempt to seize control of the Westminster Parliament that became known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. It was betrayed by informers and its leaders executed despite their invocation of the Right to Resist Tyranny as enshrined in Magna Carta in their defence. In the following decades hundreds of working class activists who sought democratic reforms were imprisoned and deported to Australia.

Resistance took place most intensively amid the iron, mining, transport and engineering works of Glamorgan where the pursuits of modern science had accordingly given birth to the proletariat in its most classic, heavy industrial form. Through immigration South Wales developed to be the most internationalised section of the British labour force. The armed Merthyr rising of 1831 where the Red Flag was flown for the first time as the battle colours of the working class along with the Newport rising of 1839 showed that what Marx recognised to be the first working class movement had emerged first and foremost among what the UN has recognised to be the world’s first industrial nation: Wales.

The 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act extending the right to vote to the middle class but still excluding the working class resulted in a series of “Chartist” petitions in which the right to a secret ballot was included among the foremost democratic demands of the working class. The title of Charter used for the petitions was a deliberate invocation of Magna Carta and remained the chief symbol of ideological unity at the heart of working class activism up until the rise of the organised trade union movement in the 1880s.

Trial Juries and Grand Juries, which had inevitably played a role in the events of this intense period of class struggle, yielded mixed results. In the Merthyr rising the Grand Jury had second thoughts on its indictments of those involved in using physical resistance against government forces but were unable to stop deportations and the hanging of Richard Lewis in Cardiff Market even though thousands had signed a petition calling for commutation of his sentence to deportation. An attempt to organise a trade union for agricultural labourers in Dorset in 1834 was similarly crushed. The 'Tolpuddle Martyrs' were indicted with evidence from an informer and, like several Merthyr rebels, deported to Australia as were over 100 participants in the Chartist movement in England.

Nevertheless even though the movement was destroyed by imprisonment and mainly by deportation Chartist aims ‘gained traction’ in Australia. Their influence resulted in the establishment of the so called 'Australian Ballot' wherein the law requires voters to cast their ballots in secret in polling stations and to be officially witnessed to do so. This procedure was enacted throughout most Australian states by 1856 and subsequently adopted in the UK 1872 Ballot Act. Thereafter it was first introduced into some US states in 1888 until final adoption throughout most of them in 1950. It was adopted in France in 1913. This was the essential background to the legalisation of Trade Unions in 1871 and the 1872 Ballot Act. Accordingly it may be surmised that the most verifiably secure electoral standards of the Western World as a whole were brought into being by the First Working Class Movement despite severe repression mounted against it by the ruling classes - that is to say, not the working classes - of the British Empire.

Tom Paine’s achievements were widely recognised and supported by the British working class movement for most of the 19th century. Through his close association with the American and French revolutions, his opposition to slavery, his proposals for the funding of pensions by inheritance tax and his staunch internationalism Paine was seen as embodying much of the basic values and aspirations of the labouring classes that had been upheld to one extent or other by the Levellers, the 1497 Cornish Rebellion, the 1450 Jack Cade rebellion, the 1381 Peasants Revolt, De Montfort's parliament and Magna Carta. As indicated, the right to indictment and trial by juries along with their power to judge both the facts and the law itself were embraced by the London Corresponding Society and the Society for Constitutional Information and Chartism itself. It was this understanding around which the aims of the working class movement were oriented to realising the ‘dream of an egalitarian republic’ (E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class).

These sentiments were aptly expressed in a commemorative coin cast in 1823 to record Chartist aims (on display in the Grand Jury Museum) four years after the Peterloo Massacre. The following aims are engraved on both sides of the coin:

  1. Those principles of truth and morality on which political liberty and social order depend;

  2. A Militia of men capable of armsbearing;

  3. A Wittenagemote annually elected by the people for enacting laws;

  4. Grand and petit juries of the people fairly drawn for applying the laws;

  5. A Magistracy elected by the people for duly performing all executive duties.

These five aims were complemented by six goals presented on Chartist petitions following the 1832 reform law:
  1. Universal Male Suffrage;

  2. Equal electoral districts;

  3. Secret Ballot;

  4. Annually elected Parliaments;

  5. Payment of members of parliaments;

  6. Abolition of property qualifications for members of parliament.

The post 1832 Chartist demands and those listed on the 1823 coin are similar but different also. Both include annual parliaments. The coin demands are focussed primarily on specifying the general tenets of what may be termed a democratic or just constitution. Hence they include first and foremost those philosophical principles necessary for liberty and order and thereafter the right to bear arms, juries and election of magistrates. The later post 1832 demands are less comprehensive in regard to such constitutional principles and instead focus upon elections to parliament. This prioritisation occurred because the 1832 reform only went halfway in extending the franchise to vote and the consequent Chartist campaign was attempting to bring about a further, relatively modest step forward in extending the suffrage to all male voters.

It is now over two centuries since the Peterloo Massacre yet while some victories in realising these aspirations have been made some already won have been subverted and abandoned. The Chartist aim of what may be termed a ‘just constitution’ has not even been articulated as policy, leave alone realised. Some of the six aims of the Chartists were eventually granted in the expansion of the suffrage to the working class in 1867 and in the 1872 Ballot Act. Rights to indictment by Grand Jury and Trial by Jury were however gradually undermined and even eventually abandoned.

The method used to remove the grand jury from the British constitution was less than open and honest. As the Chief Clerk at Bow Street Police Court noted it was achieved “in section 2 of an Act with the clumsy title of Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1933. To include the subject under this disarming name was sound political psychology; a Bill to abolish the Grand Jury might have been abortive.” The Grand Jury was similarly abolished in the ‘Republic’ of Ireland soon after. The Right to Trial by Jury does not exist in Scotland. In Ireland Trial by Jury has been marginalised in regard to matters of sedition and civil rights due to the armed conflict that has continued intermittently since 1919. In England and Wales, E.P. Thompson made clear the diminishing prospects of the right to trial by jury in the eighties:

"The defence of the subject against the over-mighty state was once regarded – by such men as Sir William Blackstone and Thomas Jefferson – as a crucial function of the jury, elevating it to a high place among the defining institutions of a political democracy. For Alexis de Tocqueville the American jury was an ‘eminently republican element in government’ which ‘places the real direction of Society in the hands of the governed’. I know of only one old judge, long retired from practice, who even understands this language today. And he – Lord Devlin – now writes in elegiac tone. Thirty years ago he could still say that “the jury is the lamp that shows that freedom lives.” In 1978, he warned of the gathering signs “that the jury has another half-century or so of life to be spent in the sort of comfortable reservation which conquerors, bringing with them a new civilisation, assign to the natives whom they are displacing.” (Subduing the Jury, E.P. Thompson, December 1986).

Methods used to marginalise the role of Trial by Jury have included the increasing use of ‘summary’ trials wherein offences can only be tried in Magistrates Court and also attempts to diminish the range of ‘either way’ offences wherein the accused can still elect for trial by jury irrespective of whether the prosecution agrees or not. Such a right does not exist in Scotland. This method is tried repeatedly by different governments:

‘Over the last twenty-five years or so, governments of all political complexions have endeavoured with some degree of success to downgrade various ‘either-way’ crimes to the category of offences triable only in the Magistrates Court.’ (The Limitations On Trial by Jury, Peter Duff in Revue internationale de droit pénal 2001/1-2 (Vol. 72), pages 603 - 609).

The Blair regime has been the most dedicated in its attempts to limit jury trial. In 1999 Home Secretary Jack Straw got the House of Commons to approve measures to actually abolish the right to jury trial in ‘either way’ cases. Fortunately the House of Lords - then smaller and less packed with cronies - put up sufficient resistance to ensure that Straw’s bill was withdrawn at that time.

An underlying motive for such measures to abolish the right to trial by jury in England and Wales is in order that the controlled, quasi juries or juryless practices of European law become dominant in this country. The Labour Party and later equally misguided eurofanatic regimes accordingly also introduced other restrictions on the ‘freeborn’ rights won at such cost long ago in the English Civil War and before. In such manner double jeopardy and jury trial in cases where jury tampering might be suspected have been abolished as has also the right to trial by jury for libel. This last abolition was done by tampering with the very law which Charles Fox had introduced which as shown above enabled representatives of the early working class movement to resist state repression in 1794. Their victory was thanks to the power of juries to judge both the facts of the charge laid against them and also the justice of its particular application in their circumstances.

The weight of opinion in the legal profession - or at least the globalist faction within it - is against jury trial, as can be seen by virtue of the fact that these restrictions on the rights of Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights have very usually been preceded by some or other law report making such recommendations. Their clear preference is for ‘experts’ to control law not, as Horne Tooke correctly advocated, ordinary citizens. In such mode the Law Commission has recently recommended that the right of ordinary citizens to pursue private prosecutions of state officials on grounds of misconduct in public office be abolished. In this way the uncontrollable nightmare for ‘deep state’ corruption - prosecution by an ordinary citizen in front of a jury - could, given the already longstanding abolition of the UK grand jury, be finally put to sleep. The Right to a Secret Ballot was undermined significantly by the Representation of the People Act of 2000 which created the legal framework for the use of postal ballots on demand. This subversion of such longstanding rights of the British working class took place without protest from Trade Unions because it was deliberately orchestrated by the Tony Blair regime despite the fact that the French National Assembly had voted unanimously against such a policy in 1975.

How can such betrayals of the constitutional rights of the working class movement in regard to trial by jury and a secret ballot be explained? There are two main explanations. The first is very simple: the leadership of the first working class movement was decimated through repression. The second explanation is that fundamental concessions to the working class were made in regard to expansion of the suffrage in 1867, recognition of the right to form trade unions in 1871 and the Right to a Secret Ballot in 1872. Alongside rising living standards and legislation for the ten hour day and against child labour this stick then carrot combination of repression and concessions was sufficient to ensure acquiescence of the working class in the voting process. There are also a further range of secondary factors which directly or indirectly ensured such acquiescence. The first among these is confusion. Judicial and extrajudicial killing along with imprisonment and deportation of trade union and constitutional reform activists whose organisations had been disrupted by spies, informers and agents provocateurs without doubt created great difficulties impeding self clarification of leadership within the working class movement. The most complex of these difficulties were those which arose from dealing with the contrasting status and character of the American and French revolutions.

The independence of thirteen British North American colonies declared in 1776 led to the imprisonment of only one man on English soil: John Horne Tooke, regarded by Tom Paine as the most reliable supporter of American Independence. Thomas Jefferson met Tooke and referred to him as an ‘associate in persecution’ of John Baxter, author of a book on the History of England which was aimed at debunking David Hume’s work on that subject. This disagreement between Hume and Baxter touched upon fundamental differences that had arisen in the English Civil War. At the heart of the conflict were counterpoising views of the role of common law, jury powers and England’s ‘ancient constitution.’ While Cromwell at one point had referred to Magna Carta as ‘Magna Farta’ the radical democrats known as “Levellers” led by Lt Col John Lilburne held the 1215 agreement in highest regard as a cornerstone of the constitution. At one point they were feasibly able to challenge Cromwell for power.

Horne Tooke was certainly in full accord with the approach taken by the Levellers to jury power. During one of his several trials he described the role of the jury as follows: “In the performance of this duty to our country, I must beg you to observe, and carefully to remember it to the end, that there are only three efficient and necessary parties… the Plaintiff… the Defendant; and you, gentlemen, the Jury. The judge and the cryer of the court attend alike in their respective situations; and they are paid by us for their attendance; we pay them well; they are hired to be the assistants and reporters, but they are not, and they never were intended to be the controllers of our conduct… A Jury not entitled to inquire into the merits of the question brought before them, nor into anything that relates to the merits, is no Jury at all.” (John Horne Tooke by Minnie Clare Yarborough, 1926, p.148-149).

These insights provided by Horne Tooke are fully consistent with the great victories for jury power won by Lilburne and to this day continue to expose the anti-democratic tendencies within legal and academic professions. Later in mid-19th century USA Lysander Spooner further emphasised the full merits of jury power by clarifying in detail why the decision making processes of juries are considerably more complex and astute than judicial elitists would have us believe.

Lilburne died tragically young from the ruination of his health caused by the floggings, wounds and bad conditions of lengthy imprisonment he had suffered at the hands of both Royal and Parliamentary authorities before, during and after the civil war. He won legal victories against false prosecution by both the King and Parliament that have subsequently informed the drafting of the main provisions of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. He wrote most of the Leveller 'Agreement of the People' which could be described as the first democratic draft of a working class British constitution. His opinions evolved from radical protestant to a fairly non-sectarian viewpoint in defence of freedom of worship similar to the standpoint of the Quakers. He condemned Machiavellian influences upon the political struggle - which some claimed best explained Cromwell’s tactics - but did not ultimately renounce the right to armed struggle against tyranny. Further legal victories for jury powers were won by the Quaker William Penn and incorporated in the governing principles of Pennsylvania. These in turn were subsequently endorsed by Benjamin Franklin who, like Lilburne and unlike Penn, would not relinquish the right to armed struggle against tyranny. His assistance to Tom Paine is one of the main, final links in understanding how the unfinished business of the English Civil War emigrated to the thirteen colonies and reached a more developed but still incomplete stage of struggle in the American Revolution and adoption of the US Constitution.

These links demonstrate how this process of constitutional change endured for a period of centuries and helped elevate the role of commoners to exert an increasing influence upon local and central government. This took place most especially in the 17th century and was led by tradesmen and artisans. A half century later Tom Paine, a working class activist, was sponsored by the most intelligent craftsman and political leader of the age and emerged to lead calls to declare for American independence. At the forefront of these advances upon a world historical scale was jury power.

Notwithstanding the issue of slavery (Paine opposed it) the demands motivating the American Revolution were relatively simple and easy to endorse for any person who in some way approved of the demands that had long been already met by Magna Carta and the English revolution. In fact they were so popular that a substantial faction within the long dominant Whig party led by Charles Fox actually supported the American Revolution. For this reason he was compelled to resign through the influence of King George III and replaced by William Pitt the Younger.

One of the main causes of the American Revolution was denial of the right to trial by jury by the British authorities. This was a factor in the refusal of colonial grand juries to indict suspects undergoing prosecution for sedition. These issues were accordingly at the core of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution adopted by the new Republic. Rights to Trial by Jury and presentment and indictment by Grand Jury were included in three of the ten amendments that comprised the US Bill of Rights.

The French Revolution was very different to the American. It took place within a constitutional framework that was centuries behind developments in the British colonies. The Americans had the benefits of almost a century of stable, efficiently financed government following the concluding stages of the 17th century English revolutions based on common law sovereignty of the people albeit mediated by a parliament of male property owners within a constitutional monarchy. Although the Cromwell dictatorship had played a role in the first revolution its arguably most representative leader was John Lilburne, whose defence in deeds of the role of Magna Carta and juries in the constitution remains unmatched to this day. Americans also had the infrastructure for and experience of self government through the thirteen colonial assemblies. France had little or no such experience of these advantages.

The last meeting of the Estates General - the equivalent in tax raising power to the Westminster Parliament - had not been convened since 1614 and the local ‘parlements’ usually tasked with collecting revenue were obstructive and tended to resist changes for parochial, self interested reasons. Consequently the costs of war with Britain both before and during French assistance to the American rebellion created a debt servicing crisis and soaring food inflation. The King convened the first Estates General Meeting since 1614 in July 1789 to address these problems.

In this context the great example of self government set by the success of the American Revolution prompted calls for constitutional reform at the Estates General Meeting which were strongly supported by ‘Third’ estate representatives of commoners. The King’s government tried to control proceedings but they quickly got out of control such that they felt compelled to try and close them down. Troops were ordered to disperse a large number of demonstrators but some of them mutinied and instead assisted a mob storming the Bastille. Its guards killed 83 of the attackers but surrendered within hours. The prison Governor was beheaded and the skull stuck on a pike and paraded around Paris by the mob. Further attempts by the King to control events by the use of troops similarly failed to get on top of the situation. By autumn he was effectively under house arrest. This was the opening and decisive phase of the French Revolution. It soon led to further polarisation, threats from outside monarchies against the revolutionary regime and a declaration of war by the French government against them. Thereafter the conflict led to the Jacobin revolutionary terror and war throughout Europe up until the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815.

At a constitutional level the difference between French and American radicalism crystallised in the refusal of the French revolutionary leaders to include the Right to Trial by Jury in their Declaration of Rights. Jefferson warned about this failing in a letter to Tom Paine in which he made clear his recognition of “trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.’ Jefferson accordingly raised serious doubts about whether France was capable of overcoming centuries of autocratic rule and arbitrary, corrupt practices in legal method so as to be able to emulate the American example in a feasible time scale. Paine shared the letter with Edmund Burke who soon broke ranks with him and warned against the tyrannical direction of French radicalism.

Underlying these differences were the contrasting political philosophies that informed the European and British (later to be American) constitutionalists. There is little doubt that American radicalism was guided by the British school of common sense realism in constructing the design of their Declaration of Independence. It is accordingly wholly consistent with this factor that it was Paine’s mentor Benjamin Franklin - probably the most accomplished craftsman scientist and political theorist in history - who suggested that Jefferson change his wording from ‘sacred’ truths to self evident truths in the Declaration. In this seemingly slight adjustment it is possible to see traces of the ‘lazy theology’ of Thomas Reid at one and the same time as his stress upon the first principles of reason.

In contrast to the common sense realist orientation of the American approach French radicals looked to Rousseau as their intellectual reference point. Rousseau followed Machiavelli, as did Robespierre, who declared him to be the ‘guiding spirit of the French Revolution.’ It is not hard to see such influence among the Jacobins. The reign of terror with guillotines deliberately put on display not only in Paris but in many provincial city centre locations may have been inspired by Machiavelli’s dictum that a Prince who wishes to retain power in contested circumstances should rely chiefly on fear, not love, to ensure loyalty. Similarly Robespierre’s bizarrely ceremonial attempt to impose worship of reason as some sort of divine being seems to have been derived from Machiavelli, who advocated the creation of a state religion (to be imposed on pain of death if necessary) to help ensure obedience. Robespierre’s fully developed political priorities bore little resemblance to those of John Lilburne, William Penn, Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson and explains why Paine’s plea for asylum for the French King in the USA very likely ensured he would be listed for execution by the Montagne Jacobins (who some say were controlled by the Illuminati) once they had taken over from the more moderate Girondiste Jacobins.

It was such complexities that the London Corresponding Society and the Society for Constitutional Information had to deal with in formulating internationalist policy for democratic reform in the UK. Their efforts were in large part reactive to the repressive legislation that the Government introduced to maintain the peace during the wars - including the espionage and propaganda wars - with the French empire. Support for the Jacobins was prosecuted under such laws and it was, as indicated, the attempt to define such activism as sedition that resulted in the major victory in 1794 for the power of juries to reach their verdict based on their judgment of both the facts of a case and the justice of the law being used to enforce government policy.

Given these antecedents at the outset of the 19th century the most influential exponent of the merits of common sense - Tom Paine - had gained wide recognition in formulating the constitutional priorities of the working class movement. In his Rights of Man and Agrarian Justice he outlined key policies that should be incorporated in a just constitution. These included the funding of an embryonic welfare state by means of a progressive tax system incorporating inheritance tax. Elizabeth Anderson makes clear Paine intended such tax to be imposed not merely in regard to land ownership but also in regard to other forms personal wealth. (Thomas Paine and the Ironies of Social Democracy, Elizabeth Anderson, Lecture, Chicago University 2012).

Jefferson was supportive of this approach while formulating the constitutional principle that ‘the earth belongs to the living’ in 1789. These priorities have
remained potentially implicit to republican, radical democratic and working class aims.

Indeed, given Lilburne’s flexibly militant prioritisation of the sovereignty of the people over all else depending on the circumstances they could even be regarded as potentially implicit to constitutional monarchy. They are based upon common sense realist reasoning: the self evident truth that the ‘earth belongs to the living’ implies redistribution of inherited wealth is best understood as a derivation of natural, not merely positive law. There are recent cases in American law where this understanding has been taken into account with regard to Indian reservation land matters. A half century after its formulation this truth remained so clear to Orestes Brownson that he complained of difficulty in coming to terms with why certain, intelligent people - possibly including some clergy - seemed unable to understand that it is an elementary, ‘first’ principle of reason that is consequently self evident to common sense.

The chief aims of the early British working class movement at the level of fundamental constitutional principle included those concisely expressed in the engraved commemorative coin produced in 1823, four years after Peterloo and the same year as the Cato Street Conspiracy. It can accordingly be seen that these aims, together with the six demands of the Chartists and the policies advocated by Tom Paine, were at the centre of the original constitutional aspirations of the British working class. The principles of truth and morality on which these aspirations were based were primarily those derived from common sense realist analysis. As indicated, the sharp contrast in tactics adopted by the American and French revolutionary movements presented substantial difficulties impeding the formulation of strategy by leading activists of the first working class movement. In consequence notwithstanding the complexity of less central developments in the labour movement since there have been essentially two main schools of thought that have come to dominate this field: Marxism and its variously conceived neo-Marxist cousins of reform socialism. The policies that have resulted however can be seen to rest upon political philosophical and constitutional premises that are at best a long way from common sense.


Marxism was an ideological product of the German academic realm with Hegel as its chief intellectual. Unlike British philosophy which tended to view the state as a contractual relation understood from the viewpoint of the common sense understanding of individual persons German philosophy tended to view the state as a singular, abstract, objective idealist entity in and of itself. Hegel claimed that the highest form of the state would be the semi-constitutional monarchical arrangements being organised in Prussia. This speculative contention was formulated by contorted rationalist reasoning. The Hegelian method of understanding reality exemplified Francis Bacon’s description of continental rationalism as a spider producing from within itself a silken thread of notions spun into a web of abstract logical deductions. Common sense reasoning by contrast bore a closer resemblance to the way ants go out into the world to collect fragments of material from the surrounding environment, bring them back to their nest and assemble them to build its structure. Bacon advocated this ‘empirical’ method of applied practice and though not entirely rejecting the role of teleology saw Aristotle as having failed to properly recognise the trial and error techniques of craft industry in the development of scientific method.

German philosophy accordingly effected a less thorough critique of Aristotle’s method and tended to adopt an exclusively rationalist, quasi teleological approach. The particular context for this orientation in Germany was the perceived need to unite the dense patchwork of numerous statelets ruled by feudal autocrats that had emerged from the demise of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Each of its 39 principalities, duchies and various other autocracies were governed under the Westphalian principle that religion could be decided by its ruling power. This thereby increased further the complexity of problems which could impede unification.

Hegel’s work can be seen as compiled in blatant defiance of Occam’s razor with little or no regard for the consideration that theory is best developed in as simple a manner as possible. His last words are said to have been: "There was only one man who ever understood me, and even he didn't understand me." Schopenhauer regarded him as an opportunist and hated his impenetrably dense, arguably futile reasoning so much he once stated that when he had a student he did not like he would recommend Hegel for study. Hegel’s careerism may have been one reason why the great pessimist regarded institutions as being intrinsically corruptible by their tendency to attract career opportunists. Complexity naturally leads to varied interpretations such that Hegel has been cited (e.g. by William Shirer and Stephen Hicks) as a philosophical root not only of Marxism but also of German National Socialism. As history demonstrates, this suggestion is not so strange as it might seem.

For Marx, Hegel’s telos was the development of the ‘Absolute Idea’ which he ‘turned on its head’ to reveal class struggle culminating in the ‘historic mission’ of the working class to establish socialism. Informed by his inversion of Hegelian theory Marx wrote the German Ideology in April 1846 and the Communist Manifesto in late 1847 with the declaration that communists ‘disdain to conceal their views.’ Weeks later revolutions erupted across Europe. The first was in February in France followed in March by uprisings in south west Germany. Over a dozen reforms were demanded including welfare provisions for the poor, a health service, progressive income tax, an end to religious discrimination, the abolition of feudal restrictions upon the peasantry, habeas corpus and ‘wealth, education and liberty for all classes of society, regardless of birth or status.’ The radical republican lawyer Gustav Struve condensed the proposals into four demands agreed at a mass meeting in Mannheim:
  1. Arming of the people with free election of its officers;

  2. Freedom of the press;

  3. Jury courts after the English model;

  4. An immediate parliament.

The German Revolution of 1848 began therefore on a fairly promising note, though the promise of trial by jury ‘after the English model’ has never, to this day, been upheld. What state controlled remnants of jury trial there were in the Weimar Republic were abolished by 1924. Nevertheless in 1848 it seems the foremost representatives of the German labouring classes may have been informed by a more consistently democratic understanding of the merits of English jury power than had their French counterparts in 1789.

As indicated such consistency in understanding was unlikely to have emanated from the German academic realm. Ultra Militaristic Prussia - viewed by some as an army with a state, rather than vice versa - was the chief representative of conservative German nationalism. Hegel had been decorated by the Prussian King for his services in this context. Bismarck famously declared German unity would be achieved not by talks and majority decision making such as had been tried in 1848 but by ‘blood and iron.’ This idea was admired and continued by Hitler whose telos was the perfection of a German state by means of a social darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest culminating in the superiority of the Aryan race in establishing the Third Reich.

After wars with Denmark, Austria and France Germany was unified by Bismarck to found the 2nd Reich in 1871. He then proceeded to consolidate the German state further by laying the foundations of national socialism by means of a long term stick and carrot approach in dealing with the working class movement to ensure its obedience. He made laws to suppress the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and then, alternately, gave it reprieve in exchange for participation in the first welfare state in history and a fake parliament rendered ultimately powerless by a monarchical veto.

Helped by Engels Marx settled in Britain after his part in the German 1848 Revolution and worked to establish the First International. Despite such accomplishments he was unable to build a secure basis of support within the British working class. Part of this difficulty was the convoluted character of his Hegelian approach, which unsurprisingly failed not only to attract a viable level of working class support but also to pass muster with much of the British left intelligentsia. G.D.H. Cole, for example, regarded Hegel’s dialectics as ‘mumbo jumbo.’ (G.D.H. Cole, A History of Socialist Thought, Vol 1, 1953, p. 235).
In this context probably the most significant policy positions which Marx and Engels espoused was their shifting, somewhat obtuse standpoints in regard to inheritance tax. In the 19th century as feudal monopolies on land ownership gave way to broader forms of government and tax collection there were fairly similar opinions taken by liberalism, radical democracy, socialism and communism in regard to such tax. Most such activists usually agreed that the legal standards of inherited wealth could not be determined by natural law given that the original but now dead owners could have no claim on the wealth they had acquired through their own living labour and enterprise. Even the Christian inclined first leader of the Communist League Wilhelm Weitling broadly agreed with that standpoint. In this context Professor Jens Beckert along with his research team present a fairly comprehensive analysis of European and Anglo-American perspectives on inheritance tax with especial regard to the mid century role of Orestes Brownson: “Invoking Kent, Blackstone, Bentham, Mirabeau and Jefferson, he argued that property rights terminated upon death and property thus reverted back to society.” (Inherited Wealth, Jens Beckert. 2008 p. 172).

After examining the more conservative views of what he describes as the ‘Historical School’ in Germany Beckert outlines in some detail the positions of Marx and Engels:

"A second thread of the inheritance tax discourse that had a social reformist orientation emanated in the 19th century from Socialists and Social Democrats. It was reasonable to expect them to put forth a demand for a redistribution of inherited wealth that was much more radical than what the liberals or the Historical School proposed. It is therefore surprising that such demands came only from the early Socialist currents, which virtually ceased to have any influence in the second half of the 19th century... This is also true for the early German Socialist Wilhelm Weitling... Weitling’s demands included the abolition of the private right of inheritance and its conversion into a communal inheritance... The early Socialist position in Germany achieved its greatest political influence, however, in the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels, whose catalogue of demands included the abolition of the right of inheritance... All this makes the subsequent development of the Socialist position on inheritance law surprising. The introduction of steep inheritance taxes did not become a prominent political goal. Marx and Engels withdrew their call for the abolition of the right of inheritance not long after the publication of the Manifesto, and it also ceased to play a role in Social Democracy after 1860... Marx himself gave a lecture on inheritance law in 1869 at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in Basel. In it, he objected to the early Socialist position by arguing that the demand for the abolition of the right of inheritance inverted cause and effect: the real lever for social change was the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, not the elimination of the symptomatic consequences of the existing property law. Moreover, inheritance law was not an issue for the working class, which had nothing to pass on anyhow. If the abolition of the right of private inheritance were elevated into a major political issue in spite of this, “it would be sure to raise an almost insurmountable opposition which would inevitably lead to reaction.” (Ibid 216-217).

Marx included a critique of Saint Simon in his 1869 speech because he had posed inheritance tax as a point of departure for leftist social change:

“The disappearance of the right of inheritance will be the natural result of a social change superseding private property in the means of production; but the abolition of the right of inheritance can never be the starting point of such a social transformation... Considered from this standpoint, changes of the laws of inheritance form only part of a great many other transitory measures tending to the same end.”

These little known shifts in position provide clear focus on the speculative reasoning presuppositions which German enthusiasm for transformational grand theory tends to conjure. In the process Marx fails to grasp that even taking account of Saint Simon’s linkage of his viewpoint to economic theory the central issue at stake is not economics but social justice. This consideration also underlay the viewpoint taken by Thomas Paine, the chief though imperfect proletarian spokesman for common sense. He did not advocate abolition of the right to inheritance or a future utopian form of socioeconomic transformation but fairly limited and precise improvements to the social order financed by government revenue acquired by means of inheritance tax. Paine’s proposals in regard to inheritance tax were not ‘only part of a great many other transitory measures’ but rather the most self evidently truthful policies based on natural law and fully in accord with the common sense understanding of the labouring classes and their long held aspirations for progress towards a more egalitarian order.

It was against this background that Marx and Engels strove to play the leading intellectual role in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) but arguably were never able to break the links of corruption which bound its working class to the nationalist cause. Indeed the question remains whether their positions on inheritance were not really internationalist but geared instead to placating Bismarck in his dealings with the German working class movement. It has been claimed that Bakunin, the chief rival of Marx for control of the First International, believed Marx was in league with Bismarck and Rothschild. Though Lassalle played the major role in developing cooperation with Bismarck it could nevertheless be argued that Marx had contributed to it by his failure to take full account of the accomplishments - including jury trial - won by British workers and radical democratic movements. Yet as shown they were highly valued not only in Britain but also in Germany itself, most especially in Mannheim. Marx and Engels make little or no mention of the Mannheim Declaration either in their account of Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany or in their later Critique of the Gotha Program. Their conclusions could be interpreted as implying that the Mannheim Declaration was a non-proletarian, radical democratic action rather than an expression of working class aspirations.

However the inaccuracy of Marx’s account has been demonstrated by research showing that his conception of the proletariat is so narrow as to be irrelevant and indeed fictitious as regards the events of 1848. As Bruno Leipold explains in regard to the 1848 French uprisings:

“In his recent and much noted biography of Marx, Gareth Stedman Jones harshly criticises Marx’s account on the basis of this accumulated research, and he elsewhere accuses Marx of offering ‘no solid evidence of the existence of a class war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie’ and having instead resorted to ‘fiction’. That judgment has increasingly become the scholarly consensus.” (The Meaning of Class Struggle: Marx and the 1848 June Days, Bruno Leipold LSE)

Leipold attempts to resolve this conundrum by broadening the narrow definition employed by Marx to distinguish proletarian from artisan (the former defined as wage earners who do not own any means of production; the latter as workers who own some means of production such as tools and are self employed):

“The advantage of including both artisans and proletarians in the larger category of workers…is that it allows for a more accurate description of the participants in the June Days and clarifies some of Marx’s linguistic and conceptual innovations. Specifically… it reveals how Marx displaced artisans from the category of workers into the category of the petty bourgeoisie. We should bear in mind that all of these categories and terms were in a conceptual flux at the time of Marx’s writings, and that even ‘proletarian’ was in 1848 still sometimes used in an older more encompassing sense that included artisans and even peasants.” (Ibid).

Given these antecedents the failure of Marx to mention the Mannheim Declaration can be interpreted as failure to fully account for the role and accomplishments of the British working class upon a world historical scale. From this broader understanding of class the struggle for democracy and equality in Britain assumes a more continuously proletarian character stretching back to the Levellers but also even back through the Peasants’ Revolt to the role of Simon De Montfort and Magna Carta.

This consideration regarding the more longstanding and diverse nature of the labouring classes in the struggle for democracy points to the growing and mutually developing affinity between common sense and science. As indicated, the Marxist camp failed to fully grasp this process. This can be seen in the absence of any account of the work of Thomas Reid in the Soviet Dictionary of Philosophy first printed in 1967 and translated by Progress Publishers in 1984. As shown, Reid was the chief exponent of common sense realism which became the core perspective of the radical democratic wing of the American Revolution and the first working class movement.

By 1875 Bismarck was faced with leftist intellectuals who placed little importance upon the Mannheim Declaration with its key inclusion of the demand for Trial by Jury ‘in the English manner’ (which had thereby corrected what Jefferson had warned was its fateful omission from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man). The German ruling class was therefore relatively confident of its ability to embark upon a breakneck arms race without having to make any constitutionally decisive concessions to the most powerful Marxist party in the world. That confidence was shown to be fully justified in 1914 when the SPD shocked Lenin into a state of stunned disbelief by voting for war credits.

After the Versailles Treaty the common ground that existed between Marxism and German nationalism in their scant regard for jury trial found expression in a proposal promoted by Goebbels that the Nazi and communist parties jointly demand war reparations be paid for by the wealthy German landowners. This was the background to the term ‘social fascism’ deduced by the Comintern to condemn the Social Democratic Party’s collaborationist tactics following the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht under Weimar government auspices. These setbacks were brought about largely in consequence of a prolonged state of confusion that had predominated in the international working class movement during and since the French and European revolutions of 1789, 1848 and 1871. It was in these circumstances that, having disrupted by repression the difficult processes of self clarification in the labour movement the British political establishment chiefly under Disraeli’s leadership was able to extend the franchise and retain sufficient working class support for conservatism to ensure that political stability could be maintained. Not least among the reasons Disraeli was successful is the fact that proletarian living standards rose significantly throughout most of the 19th century. This defied the assumptions implicit to Marxist economics that living standards would fall due to an inevitably falling rate of profit. Against this background there followed two major adjustments in Marxist strategy in later decades of the 19th century.

First Adjustment
The first adjustment in analysis was geared to explaining the rise in living standards by the claim that the British ruling class had created a ‘labour aristocracy’ of skilled workers with profits from its empire. Marxist analysis began to downplay the original assumption that Britain as the most industrially advanced country would be the first to have a socialist revolution and instead to raise the possibility of less advanced nations being the first socialist states. Marx henceforth suggested that Russia could be the first country to undergo a socialist revolution. He also changed his mind on Ireland from at first believing that its revolution would follow the British revolution to arguing that the British working class ‘will not accomplish anything until it has got rid of Ireland.’ At the same time in the Second International anti-imperialist sentiment was encouraged such that a radical change in the Marxist standpoint regarding the colonies began to emerge. Marx had supported the occupation of Algeria by France and California by the USA as progressive steps in social and economic development. Such assumptions were quietly set aside to make room for a new orientation in international analysis as it became ever more clear that there would not be a catastrophic fall in British working class living standards.

At the Seventh Conference of the Second International held at Stuttgart in 1907 a major adjustment to world socialist strategy was chiefly engineered by the ‘orthodox’ Marxist faction led by Kautsky. The majority committee report on colonialism had endorsed the possibility of ‘socialist colonialism’ to navigate what, in line with the original Marxist viewpoint was perceived to be both the exploitative but also progressive role of capitalist expansion as a necessary means of economic and political development of the third world. Despite this proposal the conference subsequently voted unanimously for a resolution condemning colonialism per se as a purely exploitative system which would not provide benefits to the colonial nations. Instead of a global policy coordinating the tactics of the labouring classes of all countries undergoing capitalist development the conference placed nationalist demands for independence above that of international working class unity. This signified a major shift in global socialist policy which inevitably - despite the warnings of Rosa Luxemburg based on her allegiance to the old version of Marxist proletarian internationalism - promoted the role of petit-bourgeois nationalism and the national bourgeoisie in supplanting that of the working class as the leading political force in the colonies. This would have an increasingly divisive effect upon the international unity of the working class.

A debate on nationalism and internationalism took place in the Second International after the 1907 conference on these questions culminating with the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914. In these debates Lenin opposed Luxemburg essentially by re-inverting the inversion put forward by Marx regarding immediate and ultimate aims on inheritance back to their logical starting point. As indicated, Marx had effectively argued inheritance tax should only be adopted as one of many auxiliary policies before socialism had been established, not as a central policy, since equality could only be attained after socialism had been established. In like fashion, Luxemburg had argued that Lenin’s elevation of the Right of Nations to Self Determination to a central policy was wrong, since equality could only be established after an international socialist revolution. The irony is unfortunately lost on most Marxists.

Second Adjustment
The second adjustment in strategy came into operation as openly revolutionary Marxism collaborated in the creation of a new reformist organisation which adopted a recognisably - certainly by H.G. Wells - new Machiavellian approach to the tasks of radical change: the Fabian Society. Its strategy was illustrated in two emblems: the first denoted a methodology of reform by radically drastic means depicting the shattering of the globe with a blacksmith’s hammer and implying it should be reconstructed as an entirely new global shape of things to come. The second emblem denoted that these aims would be achieved primarily by means of deception, depicted as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That is to say, the Fabian Society could be an organisation of fanatical extremists, yet it will present itself as respectable members of very polite society. This is the context of the view put forward by Peter Hitchens that Tony Blair is actually a more revolutionary character than Jeremy Corbyn.

A central tactic of the Fabian Society has been ‘permeation,’ a polite though sinister form of infiltration by the osmotic effect of their ideas seeping into the centre and left spectrum of opinion through both their membership and their allies among the academic, media, legal and political establishments. This strategy is supposedly less secret but nevertheless noticeably similar to the tactics of the Bavarian ‘Illuminati’
of the 18th century who emigrated to the Carbonari according to Trotsky after their suppression a decade or so before the French Revolution (George Washington studied the Illuminati and claimed it had not affected the American Revolution. See his letter to William Russell, September 28, 1798). Indeed, some believe the Fabian movement is more dangerous than the communist movement itself. Fabian influence has been decisive in facilitating the ‘long march through the institutions’ and capture of the ‘inner fortifications’ of the ‘ideological superstructure’ favoured by followers of Antonio Gramsci. The Frankfurt School of social theory complement and serve this process of infiltration and capture to a considerable degree.

Since the Russian Revolution communism has made great inroads into world capitalism by fomenting independence for colonies and developing direct and indirect networks of support in the western political, media, academic and legal realms by fair means or foul. Globalism, as Kari Lake made clear, is now essentially a both soft and hard totalitarian cause and can muster majority support in the UN (most of which governments are tyrannies). The capitalist superstructure in the academic, education, media, legal and political realms has been penetrated so thoroughly that some now claim that the culture war has already been lost to the long marchers (e.g. see The Long March, Marc Sidwell, 2020). Indeed, the evidence is mounting that both the intelligence and medical establishments have also been similarly penetrated.

The comprehensive scale of the capture of western state superstructures has also for some time enabled a near plausibly deniable escalation of communist aggression in various fields of what the CCP has termed ‘unrestricted warfare.’ As Covid is continuing to demonstrate, these fields include possibilities of biological warfare, psychological control methods such as ‘nudge’ policies and the impending imposition of Chinese style social credit scoring digital technology in the commercial and communications industry. One notable complement to the process of infiltration and capture were campaigns devised by Professors Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, a married team at Columbia University. The wife advocated increasing welfare claims to overload state funding needs; the husband advocated increasing voter registration by decreasing standards of electoral integrity. These tactics - which were endorsed by Bill Clinton - paved the way for more electoral fraud by means of postal ballots. They culminated in the still contested 2020 Presidential election.

Perhaps the most decisive outcome of policy development in the Labour movement is the loss of integrity and honesty in political process. Whereas Communist Manifesto supporting revolutionary workers in 1848 looked to those who would ‘disdain to conceal their views’ the adjustments to Marxist strategy outlined here towards the end of the 19th century - including especially the turn to Fabian deception tactics - has undermined standards of integrity in the working class movement. To best grasp the scale of this negative turn there have been few events which better illustrate it than those described by Ignazio Silone that took place in a Comintern Executive Committee meeting. After giving an account of the way Communist Propaganda became increasingly disingenuous Boobbyer relays Silone’s account of the incident:

"The very meaning and nature of lying had in effect been re-interpreted to suit party interests. The new attitude to lying is illustrated by an occasion described by the Italian communist Ignazio Silone in 'The God that Failed' (1950). Silone recalled a meeting of the Comintern Executive in the mid-1920s at which the Russian delegate suggested that for tactical reasons the British trades unions should publicly agree to the decision of their Executive not to support the communists, but in practice do the opposite. An English communist objected on the grounds that this would be a lie. This objection, Silone recalled, was met with widespread mirth: “Loud laughter greeted this ingenuous objection, frank, cordial, interminable laughter, the like of which the gloomy offices of the Communist International had perhaps never heard before. The joke quickly spread all over Moscow, for the Englishman’s entertaining and incredible reply was telephoned at once to Stalin, provoking new waves of mirth everywhere." (Conscience, Dissent and Reform in Soviet Russia, Philip Boobbyer 2005, p. 30).

The incident illustrates how the British working class was compelled to retreat from the commanding heights of integrity in the political process which it had originally upheld. This lowering of standards was due chiefly to the failure of Marxism to provide a stable theoretical foundation for political strategy. Bear in mind the British generation of workers who despatched their representatives to the Comintern were not snow flakes but veterans of the Great War and all its horrors. They had sought to offer their sympathy, support and solidarity with the Comintern knowing full well the cost in lives, limbs and lungs which the Bolshevik experiment had incurred for those tommies who had to finish without Russian assistance what Germany had started.

It is against the background of these historical precedents that the Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot was founded in 2002 following letters to the Daily Telegraph by a former Labour Party and Social Democratic Party MP and a member of the Labour Party Parliamentary Panel after postal ballots on demand were introduced in the 2001 UK General Election by Tony Blair. Having demonstrated as above that in the modern era most basic democratic rights, including the Right to a Secret Ballot, were fought for and won primarily by the British labouring classes, the steps we suggest should be taken to address these difficulties are as follows:

  1. Postal Ballots. The CDRSB will continue to oppose the use of postal ballots on demand and for reinstatement of the limits on their use which were in force before 2000.

  2. Juries. The public should be alerted to the constitutional importance of the Right to Trial by Jury and Presentment and Indictment by Grand Jury as the least imperfect means to constrain the scale of badly designed or applied law, misconduct in public office and secret factionalism.

  3. Inheritance tax. We shall continue to research the importance of inheritance tax as a socially just form of taxation. Polling and outreach activities in London, Belfast and the USA has already yielded positive results in this regard. Perhaps future research will reveal whether respondents think that promoting the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is more likely than inheritance tax to "raise an almost insurmountable opposition which would inevitably lead to reaction."

  4. Honesty. We shall formulate policies aimed at cultivating honesty in political practice. For example, it is a self evident truth of common sense that sortition can be used to constrain the influence of secret factions. We are at best sceptical of the use of sortition by those who avoid taking full advantage of its potential to yield impartial results by instead selecting from its results samples which suit the preferences of those conducting such research. A further consideration is the especial difficulty of encouraging honesty within the soft and hard totalitarian camps. This is because Marxism ordinarily does not properly value or even recognise the democratic elements that can be found within its own ideology. Lenin's approach for example is not uniformly less democratic than 'soft' totalitarianism. His position on the vanguard party in regard to advanced theory was more transparent than that of Kautsky. Lenin sought ‘more light’ in the party paper on questions of advanced theory so working class party members would be able to examine the records of party leaders ‘as if in the palm of their hands.' Kautsky sought to confine discussion of advanced theory to a narrow circle of intellectuals, with the party paper itself being aimed at more popular levels of understanding. Lenin was also more democratic in his approach to jury trial: he specified the right of workers to summon employers and officials in front of juries in his party program of June 1917. Post Lenin Marxism has become more, not less ‘dishonest’ in this regard on top of the fact that it in any case rests in the main upon flawed premises. One last consideration for promoting honesty in political practice is that global governance will require it more than national governance because there are less counterbalancing effects in the former than in the latter. If we assume the standard three branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary) then clearly the more independent states there are the less likelihood there is of a descent into tyranny by stealth, that is to say by dishonesty in political practices.

  5. Common Sense. The CDRSB can help educate the public as to the importance of common sense realism as the least imperfect philosophical foundation for democratic strategy. Francis Bacon’s contribution to science was based on his work on patents in craft industry. Modern science is a chiefly British achievement (75% of patents until fairly recently were British). While supported with research by the world’s oldest universities this achievement was chiefly a consequence of centuries of commonsensical democratic advance based upon jury power and craft industry. Philosophy followed as ‘humble under-labourer’ to science. German science is by contrast a consequence of academic enquiry generated by dozens of universities created at some speed in later centuries on a sociopolitical foundation of little or no democratic progress and only secondarily by the achievements of common sense and craft industry. This inverse relation is at bottom the root cause of the political backwardness and totalitarian tendencies which presupposed both Marxist and fascist ideologies neither of which has a clear grasp of the self evident truths of common sense which are borne of both ‘lazy’ theology and craft industry. The chief turning point in the history of philosophy was when Reid ridiculed Hume's scepticism and forced him to moderate it to 'mitigated' scepticism. Kant failed to acknowledge this and continued to awake from his dogmatic slumber regardless of the real world, giving birth ultimately to postmodernism, which has continued to miss the point.

  6. Conflict Resolution. The CDRSB will continue to promote global conflict management consistent with the findings of our Report on the First Conference on International Electoral Standards in 2006 (see The conference, held at the UN in New York, discussed the use of postal ballots on demand. A delegate from the Ukrainian section at the UN in New York attended the event. Our research in this field will concentrate on the development of just constitutions able to serve as viable platforms for ongoing systemic change which does not preclude future systemic options. We will oppose the establishment of all forms of dictatorship, whether by open or secretive methods.

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