Harold Walsby: Mugwump and Moonshine

Mugwump and Moonshine by Harold Walsby

To the Editors,

Socialist Standard
Dear Comrades:

Your very belated review in the Socialist Standard (April 1949) of my book, The Domain of Ideologies, unlike your reviewer’s appraisal of the latter, is certainly not disappointing – though, no doubt, it was fervently intended to be so. It comes fully up to expectations and, so far from complaining, I am gratified to see that it provides us with further opportunities of dealing with your so-called scientific position.

Your choice of reviewer was indeed admirable; we couldn’t have asked for a better. His series of misrepresentations, deliberate distortions and omissions, confused misunderstandings and inconsequential irrelevancies, almost outshines (if that were possible) anything he has ever done in your columns. Let us deal with the omissions first.

To all but a few initiates who read Gilmac’s rather long article, it would appear that the book came into your hands through the normal channels and was merely reviewed in the ordinary course of your policy of occasionally reviewing books of a political flavour. No hint whatsoever of certain special circumstances connecting the author, the co-publishers, the views put forward in the book and the SPGB, was allowed to creep into the text of your review. Yet these facts, which you very carefully omitted to mention, are obviously pertinent in assessing the value and objectivity of your criticisms, and your readers are perfectly entitled to know what they are. The facts in question are completely familiar both to your reviewer and your Editorial Committee. Other reviews (less under an obligation to their readers to mention matters in which they or their organisations are not directly concerned) have nevertheless taken upon themselves to refer to these matters as facts relevant to the issues presented in the book (F.A. Ridley in “Left” for example). They, however, had no motive for concealment.

Not a few of your uninitiated readers must have felt some puzzlement as to why you should devote the extraordinary amount of 70 inches (nearly 6 foot long!) of valuable column space in dealing with such trivialities as Gilmac treats of at great length in his article. Their perplexity would have lessened considerably, I fancy, had you come clean and disclosed what you deliberately withheld from them. For it was obviously a case of the lady who protested too much!

Now for the facts which your reviewer and your Editorial Committee (of which your reviewer is also a member) took very good care to “overlook.”

The Domain of Ideologies is published, according to its title page, in collaboration with the Social Science Association. Practically all reviews which have so far appeared, with the notable exception of yours, in the Socialist Standard, have mentioned this relevant item of information since, not only is it customary for reviewers to state who the publishers are, but it is also of obvious interest to readers. But perhaps the reason for your omission was that the readers of the organ of “Scientific” Socialism could have no possible interest in such a body as the SSA – which, according to the page facing the aforementioned title-page, has as its object “the application of scientific method to contemporary social and political problems.!”

An even more pertinent reason why you should completely avoid any kind of reference to the sponsors of The Domain of Ideologies in your review of the book, is that the SSA has recently, and to your knowledge, published a statement of the case against the SPGB – a specific criticism of your position which I wrote myself and which as yet has remained completely unanswered. And when we ask the question, “Who are the SSA?,” there emerges the most potent reason of all why your review should studiously avoid revealing who the publishers were. In answer to this question I will quote from a foreword in the above-mentioned pamphlet:

“For the first time in its half-century of existence the SPGB has come up against organized opposition to its whole case by people who come from within its own ranks. These people, in the recent past, have been either Party members, Party speakers, Party writers, Party supporters or even members of its Executive Committee. By reason of these credentials they have been accredited by the SPGB with ‘socialist understanding’.”Some of them were founder members of the Social Science Association in October 1944; others came over later; others still are now in the process of coming over, though formally retaining, for the time being, their SPGB membership.”Hitherto, all opposition to the SPGB by organised bodies has come from those who have not fully appreciated and understood the Party’s case, and who therefore have not been in a position to point out its fundamental contradictions. These are the facts which distinguish the S.S.A.’s position from that of all other organisations.”

The uninitiated readers of your article naturally assumed in all good faith what you intended they should assume, namely, that (as is usual in such cases) you did not know the author or publishers from Adam, and that you were solely concerned with the book under review. That this is evidently not the case is obvious in the light of the foregoing facts which you have deliberately striven to hide from your readers’ gaze. These facts should disillusion some of them at least on the score of (1) your spurious claims to scientific objectivity and (2) your equally spurious methods in dealing with opposition.

Having dealt with the more blatant omissions of your review, and having shed some light on its motives and object, let us now examine Gilmac’s article itself.

Firstly, let us sort out some of Gilmac’s statements concerning what The Domain of Ideologies is all about. In order to avoid any possible confusion in the minds of his readers on this important point, the incomparable Gilmac gives us five different versions…

(1) He asserts on page 38 (Socialist Standard April 1949) that the book purports “to be a new and scientific explanation of the origin, development and structure of ideologies…” This he presumably gets from the subtitle of the book which is, namely, “A Study of the Origin, Development and Structure of Ideologies.” Nowhere else, apart from this use as a subtitle, does this phrase occur.

(2) On page 39 he refers to “the alleged frustration suffered by the intellectual” which, he then tells us “appears to be the object and main burden of the book.” (My emphasis).

(3) Then, later on page 39, he asserts that the “professed aim of the book is to show that a social (!) hierarchy is permanent and that a few must always direct the many. (My emphasis and exclamation). He adds the rhetorical question, “… how then can human society be master of itself? Now, nowhere in the book does the author profess to show “that a social hierarchy is permanent” or “that a few must always direct the many” and I categorically challenge your muddle-headed reviewer or anyone else, to produce from the book a single statement in which I have professed to show that. What I did say in the book, and anyone can look it up on page 131 to verify it, was this: “Human society began its development as a more or less loose collection or assemblage of individuals (with no great degree of mutual dependence except in relation to the sex function) very much in the same manner as the animal body began its evolution as a loose, homogeneous assemblage (colony) of individual cells; and, just as in the evolution of the animal, there occurs an increasing specialisation and integration of function among groups of individual cells – and consequently, an increasing dependence of these groups upon one another – so, similarly, does human society exhibit in its development, an increasing specialisation and integration of function among groups of individual members of society. In the same way that the animal body; in the course of its evolution, gradually develops into a more and more self-regulating, self-controlled organism, so does human society; and, as in the case of the animal, different groups of cells become related in different ways to the whole mechanism of the economy, regulation and control of the organism, and form a series of levels of function – a hierarchy of functions – so, we suggest, in the case of human society, different ideological groups of individuals become related in different ways to the whole mechanism of the economics, regulation and control (or government) of the social organism, and form a similar hierarchy of functions.

(4) Not satisfied: with giving us three different versions of what the book is supposed to be about, your incredible reviewer later on decides that it is something else entirely different, and proceeds to give us yet another version: On page 47 of the Standard he states: “This book is supposed to he an examination of the application of scientific method…” This, quite frankly, is just utter nonsense! The book is supposed to be nothing of the sort. Once again I categorically challenge this addle-brained “Scientific” Socialist, his editorial colleagues or anyone else, to produce a single statement from my book which purports it to be such an examination. This lying rubbish and schoolboy misrepresentation, which comes from the journal of “scientific Socialism,” is “supposed to be” a review!

(5} Not content with these four versions, the fantastic Gilmac follows hard on the heels of the last with a fifth version of what constitutes the central theme of the book. In the same paragraphs as the above he tells us that “the layer stratification of intellect is its central theme.” (My emphasis)

So much for your inventive “reviewer” and his Gilbertian consistency in communicating to his readers a clear idea of what the book he is reviewing is really all about!

Next, let us deal with several first-class distortions. Near the beginning of his article on page 38, Gilmac writes:

“First of all let us note the statement by Mr. Walsby in his ‘Foreword‘ that the evidence for his contentions is drawn mainly from the researches and conclusions of the psychologists.”

“Let us note the statement…”? What statement? Innocent and gullible readers, mistaking this clumsy piece of sharp-practice for a genuine reference, will naturally assume in all good faith that there is such a “statement by Mr. Walsby in his ‘Foreword‘” which, had they the book before them, they could duly “note” as requested. But, in fact, no such statement is to be found! No matter whether you read the Foreword” forwards, backwards or sideways – there just isn’t such a statement! Again I challenge Gilmac or anyone else to produce it. What, in truth the “Foreword” actually does assert is this (p.l0):

“Hitherto, the study of the intellectual-emotional attitudes or ideologies of social groups has been left very largely to philosophy, to historians and to literary speculation. Ethnologists and psychologists have here and there touched upon the subject, but only upon particular aspects and problems which arise in connection with their own subject-matter. The objective study of ideologies in general; as a distinct and legitimate field of study – existing, so to speak, in its own right – has still to be widely recognised.”Yet the beginnings of this recognition take us back over half a century to the time of Marx, Engels and Morgan…”

The “Foreword” then proceeds briefly to trace Engels’ ideas concerning ideology and unconscious motivation; it also mentions several Hegelian and psycho-analytic conceptions (such as e.g. repression) “which enable us to explain much of the layer-structure and the actual ideological process itself…” Reflexology – “upon which we have freely drawn for factual material in connection with the process of assumptions” – is the only other main influence mentioned. Thus are mentioned Marx, Morgan, Engels, Hegel, psychoanalysis and reflexology, and the “Foreword” sums up:

“These various influences, then, were the main ones under which the whole subject of ideologies was eventually approached, and under which the following chapters came to be written.” (p.3).

The “Foreword” concludes with a reference to the large number of necessary quotations, asserting that “these quotations constitute the direct ideological evidence, and are more or less unavoidable if the main contentions are to be properly established.” (p.14)

This all adds up, according to the twisted mind of Herr Gilmac, to “the statement by Mr. Walsby in his , ‘Foreword’ that the evidence for his contentions is drawn mainly from the researches and conclusions of the psychologists.” And with the consummate effrontery typical of these intellectual spivs masquerading as objective social scientists, he calmly bids us to “note” this “statement by Mr. Walsby!”

Having created this so-called statement out of his own droll imagination, and set it up as his own Aunt Sally, the ludicrous Gilmac proceeds, in true Quixotic fashion, to knock it down; after “noting” this imaginary statement he goes on:

“This is a disastrous start for a book that claims to be the very essence of the scientific outlook…”

“Claims to be the very essence of the scientific outlook…”? What claim? Where? This is just another product of the inventive, cranium of your fanciful reviewer! Once again I categorically challenge him or anyone else to produce any such claim made anywhere in the book. This testy caviling at figments which he dishonestly fastens onto me deserves the utmost contempt of all serious-minded people, and is strongly indicative of the complete bankruptcy of his critical faculties. It is also indicative, incidentally, of the poor case he is indirectly, but very anxiously, trying to defend.

Still bashing his own Aunt Sally, our worthy reviewer continues:

“… psychology is such a welter of discordant views that one writer, A.H.B. Allen, was compelled to state in a preface to his book: ‘In the present state of psychology, however, there being little enough agreement on general principles, it is practically impossible to treat of anyone part of the mental life as a closed-off department, separate from the rest'”

What, precisely, is this supposed to prove? Psychology is not the only science which is “a welter of discordant views.” Practically all social science is in the same position. Biological sciences – especially genetics – are, at the present time, the subjects of even a greater “welter of discordant views” on general and fundamental principles. Physicists have long been divided on the nature and constitution of the fundamental units of matter. Relativity physics, which was banned from a large part of Europe until recently, looks like becoming once again a subject of controversy. Astrophysics and especially mathematical physics have a large share of “discordant views.” Axiology, the foundation of mathematics and mathematical systems, also contains a “welter of discordant views.” The solid ether; the fluid ether, the luminiferous ether, no-ether-at-all, have all, in their time, been the subject of a similar “welter of discordant views.” Controversy still rages over the principles (fundamental and otherwise) of logic. So what? The world of science has always had its “discordant views,” even where they were not allowed to flourish. The different sciences will continue to have “discordant views” if they are to progress – it is simply a matter of degree. Psychology, being a comparatively new science, is bound to be in a greater state or controversy than most others.

But because psychology contains a lot of “discordant views” are we to avoid it like the plague and regard it as completely useless? And what of the other sciences? At what precise degree of “discordancy of views” do we begin to condemn a whole science as such? Psychology contains “a welter of discordant views,” says our “scientific” Socialist, and proceeds to quote McDougall criticising Watson, McDougall criticising Freud, etc. and then draws the following conclusion:

“Mr. Walsby’s sources of evidence seem to be at loggerheads over the very problem which he has taken as solved by them.” (S.S. p.4l, my emphasis).

As a matter of fact, the quotations given by Gilmac, showing various points of disagreement among psychologists, are completely and utterly irrelevant so far as my cited “sources of evidence” are concerned – as anyone can verify who takes the trouble to do so. What is significant is that where Freud, McDougall and company are quoted at length in the book assources of evidence,” they are either entirely in agreement, or differ in some small degree which is irrelevant to the issue.

This tacit condemnation of psychology as such, because it contains a lot of “discordant views” is purely schoolboy stuff, characteristic, not only of your “scientific” reviewer, but also of the typical “non sequitur” of many another hypocritical and sanctimonious philistine. One would think from his ludicrous attitude towards psychology, that Gilmac’s own views on social science and “scientific” Socialism had the security of universal acceptance and agreement! No “welter of discordant views” exists concerning the “science of society!”

Here is another good example of your reviewer’s fantastic reasoning powers. On page 40 he quotes from a footnote in The Domain of Ideologies which runs as follows:

“This independence of the mass group is not only expressed intellectually but in many other ways – e.g., circumstances permitting, in particular forms of behaviour and aesthetic tastes, certain modes of dress, long hair, beards, etc.”

Herr Gilmac blithely tells his readers that this footnote “enlightens us about the method and the intellectual” and continues:

“On this basis the lady who appears in unusual dress or wearing some weird form of headgear has the guinea stamp of the intellectual, so also has the bewhiskered tramp in his holy rags with his bag or pram of curiosities. Many a mediocrity has worn long hair to give him a false artistic standing, and many another has a dirty neck because he is too lazy to wash himself.”

This drivel is not even up to schoolboy standard. Even a good schoolboy could avoid the obvious logical fallacy – of the Undistributed Middle – involved in this typical piece of Gilmaclatchian “enlightenment!” This so-called consequence of the footnote he quoted certainly “enlightens us about the method” of your fallacy-mongering reviewer. For the personal edification of Herr Gilmac (since he evidently knows little or nothing of logic) and for the benefit of other “scientific” Socialist comrades of his own standard, we will explain. One of the rules of the syllogism is that every syllogism has three and only three terms: the major term, the minor term – and the middle term. Another rule is that the middle term must be distributed at least once. Breach of this latter rule constitutes the “Logical Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle.” For instance, if “P” Is the major term, “M” the middle term and “S” the minor term, then

P is M
S is M
S is P

is invalid if the middle term is not distributed at least once – that is to say, is not once used exhaustively to mean all parts or all members or its class. Thus: Morons are people with brains (P is M); “scientific” Socialists are people with brains(S is M); therefore “scientific” Socialists are morons (S is P) – does not logically follow, however much we may be tempted to draw the conclusion, since we have not once used the middle term (“people with brains”) in an exhaustive or universal sense to mean all members of the class of people with brains. But according to Gilmac’s version of logic, it does follow for he tells us that if Intellectuals are people who wear unusual dress (P is M) the fact that certain ladies wear unusual dress (S is M) logically implies that these certain ladies are intellectuals (S is P) – or, as he puts it, have “the guinea stamp of the intellectual!” Or again: Intellectuals are people who grow whiskers (P is M); tramps are people who grow whiskers (S is M); therefore tramps are intellectuals (S is P).

And this, mark you, is the logic of the one who breezily assures us, in the first paragraph of his review, that my book “consists mainly of baseless statements, logical fallacies, and the rehash of outworn ideas; the whole of which is presented in a cloud of words!” (My emphasis). There is many a sharp child who, knowing nothing of syllogistic rules, has nevertheless enough native wit to see through the kind of “logic” which Gilmac evidently regards as cast iron.

Here is yet another example of the kind of logic which passes muster for both the effulgent Gilmac and the Socialist Standard. Once again it is sheer schoolboy stuff involving, this time, the Third Material Fallacy – that of the Irrelevant Conclusion. On page 39 of the Standard, Gilmac tells us:

“On the other hand Professor Wm. McDougall, one of Mr. Walsby’s sources of ‘evidence,’ gave to the world in 1921 the following views: ‘We have pretty good evidence that capacity for intellectual growth is inborn, that it is hereditary, and also that it is closely related with social status’ … Fourteen years later Prof. McDougall demonstrated to the world the value of his studies in psycho-analysis. (My emphasis).

Apart from the fact that the study of innate capacity for intellectual growth (i.e. intelligence) has little or nothing to do with psycho-analysis, and also the fact that McDougall was not a psycho-analyst and did not profess to be (see. e.g. Gilmac’s own quotation – p.41 – from McDougall on psycho-analysis) – aside from these grotesque and glaringly erroneous implications, how, according to your comic reviewer, did McDougall demonstrate “the value of his studies in psychoanalysis”? He did this, says our worthy Gilmac, by being defrauded of ¬£4,100 by a New York confidence trickster: After quoting a newspaper account of the fraud, Gilmac continues:

“Comment on the above hardly seems necessary, but we cannot refrain from suggesting that the Professor must have got mixed up about the social status of the swindler’s intelligence. It also gives an indication of the value of the professor’s researches, of which Mr. Walsby might take note.” (p.40, my emphasis).

Well, Mr. Walsby certainly has taken note of this mighty and profound conclusion. But – and this is the amusing point – I am supposed to it seriously: Of such illogical irrelevancies and piffling rubbish does this burlesque of a review mainly consist.

Another sample of the same “logical” vintage: on page 39 Gilmac says that, before dealing with certain “unsupported statements” (which, by the way, he never does deal with) “let us call attention to a writer who proceeded on lines similar to what Mr. Walsby has done.” (My emphasis). He continues:

“In 1899 S.N. Patten wrote a book entitled ‘The Development of English Thought.’ The first chapter contains an explanation of the psychological theories underlying the book according to which there is a stratification of society, and the writer says; ‘Political changes are due less to changes in national character than to rearrangements of classes in society. Classifications of society based on wealth or social position are superficial; they should be according to psychic characteristics.’ (Page X). He then gives the four main strata of society as ‘The Clingers, the Sensualists, the Stalwarts and the Mugwumps.'” (My emphasis – H.W.)

One can see how “similar” this is “to what Mr. Walsby has done!” Our ludicrous reviewer hasn’t quite got the brass or the courage to state explicitly what he obviously and seriously wants his readers to infer, namely: that because a person named Patten classified the strata of society into “the Clingers, the Sensualists, the Stalwarts and the Mugwumps” – therefore Mr. Walsby’s theories, which involve “a stratification of society” etc. are baseless and unsound. Gilmac evidently had decided in advance that his admiring readers all belonged to the Mugwumps!

Another choice effort, this time involving a typical piece of Gilmaclatchian distortion: On page 40 we read:

“At the beginning of his book Mr. Walsby has a diagram which is supposed to represent the proportion of people at the different levels of intellect, the nearer the apex the higher the level of intellect. Commenting on this he tells us that proof of its accuracy in reflecting the real position is that the higher you go the more you find the narrower level occupied by the ‘left’ with an increasing proportion of scientists among them.’ (My emphasis).

‘Commenting on this diagram he tells “? What comment? Where? Unsuspecting readers, taking this lying nonsense at its face value, will naturally and innocently assume that there is such a comment in my book. Again I challenge Gilmac and his ineffable “review.” I challenge him, or anyone else to produce from the book what he states is there – viz: a comment on “this diagram” which “tells us” that the “higher you go the more you find the narrower levels occupied by the ‘left’ with an increasing proportion of scientists among them,’ is the “proof of its (i.e. the diagram’s) accuracy‘:

Gilmac continues:

“Yet on page 22 he (Walsby) writes: ‘Although there may be among them a higher proportion which tends towards the Left, scientists and scientifically-minded people are, on the whole, almost as divided as the layman when it cornea to political theory.'”

Somehow or other (we are not told in what way) the latter quotation taken from my book is suppose to contradict, or to be inconsistent with, the aforementioned diagram showing the hierarchic structure of ideological levels. Nowhere does the book categorically assert that there is a greater number of scientists among the Left. Even the statement reproduced above refers to “scientists and scientifically-minded people.” But if Gilmac thinks that the higher levels of the ideological hierarchy should imply greater homogeneity of opinion on “political” theory, he has another thing coming. The Socialist Standard (Oct. 1948 p.111) for example, states (in a somewhat satirical vein):

“At the time of writing the world anarchist movement is formed by 197 different philosophical trends or schools of thought, but the current shortage of paper prevents an analysis of all these schools…”

Here is another piece of crass distortion. After quoting at length from pp 122-3 of my book, your worthy reviewer begins his cavilling remarks on the quotation as follows:

“It will be noticed that (1) Mr. Walsby is only ‘questioning’ and ‘doubting,’ he is not asserting; (2) that he is doubting whether people, as a mass, are capable of thinking like the ‘scientific-intellectuals.’ In the first place; outside his particular line, the ‘scientific-intellectual’ is capable of being a fathead…”

We certainly agree with the last remark of Gilmac – but what of it? What’s the point? Evidently Gilmac, the “scientific” Socialist, is a little “outside his particular line!” He continues:

“… Sir Oliver Lodge (another of Mr. Walsby’s sources of evidence) demonstrated this with his mysticism… ” (p. 4l, my emphasis).

Another of Mr. Walsby’s sources of evidence!”! This blatant lie is so easy to nail that one – wonders how the man can be so stupid and infantile as to think he could get away with it! There is only one reference in The Domain of Ideologies to Sir Oliver Lodge, and that is on page 20. His words are used to provide a typical example of an attitude with which I profoundly disagree; he is not quoted – as Gilmac wishes his readers to believe – as an authority or “source of evidence.” Here is my reference to Lodge in its context:

“If in the past scientific and literary men have contributed in no small measure to the maintenance of this attitude by a frequently expressed prejudice that the subject-matter of politics is forever outside the scope of scientific method. It is a long-established idea among scientists that it is not the business of science to say how its results shall be socially applied; that the limits of its social uses are solely the responsibility of the layman. Science must not meddle in politics.’ For instance, in his contribution to ‘Science and the Changing World,’ Sir Oliver Lodge says: ‘(Machines) are made possible by science, but the responsibility for their use or abuse belongs not to science but to civilisation. If so-called civilisation allows machinery to sap human freedom and enslave mankind, science washes its hands of any such egregious folly.'” (D of I, p.20).

So, although it is obvious to a schoolkid that I’ve quoted Lodge’s words as an example of “a frequently expressed prejudice,” Gilmac nevertheless glibly tells his renders that Lodge is “another of Walsby’s sources of evidence” and, because of his (Lodge’s) mysticism, a tainted and unreliable source at that! Your reviewer, to put it plainly, is either a preposterous fool or, worse, a deliberate glib-tongued liar. We are prepared to entertain the charitable view.

But enough! I could go on for hours dealing with other misrepresentations, distortions, mis-statements, and foolish errors of one kind or another. In fact, thoroughly to cover them all, it would need a fair-sized volume, so numerous are they. One might almost, say that seldom, in the field of human endeavour, has so much error been parked into so moderate a space.

Apart from the stupid errors or intentional misrepresentations with which Gilmac’s phoney “review” is crammed, the rest of the article is taken up by a lot of fantastically petty cavilling and dog- yapping about the size of chapters, the simplicity of diagrams, etc. Two examples of this petti-fogging stuff will suffice. On page 40 he yaps:

“Chapter 4 entitled “The Masses and Emotional Suggestibility” consists of ten pages in which are quoted statements by Le Bon, McDougall, Freud and Chakotin… “”This is the author’s idea of a diagrammatic scale of the political levels of the whole system of political groups – a triangle, two dotted lines and four phrases of two and three words!”

Although this simplicity gets his goat the opposite of simplicity evidently does the same thing to our inimitable reviewer. Elsewhere in his article he carpingly complains on several occasions of “a cloud of words,” “complicated phraseology” etc! Throughout¬†The Domain of Ideologies I have tried to avoid dogmatism and unqualified statements. This care to qualify one’s statements comes in for especially bitter caviling. For example, on page 39 of the Standard, he quotes the last paragraph of the book which ends: “With the aid of science and the self-deterministic principle, these problems, too, may eventually be conquered. Human society would then be master, not only of inanimate nature, but of itself.” This is Gilmac’s comment on it:

“Note the author’s doubt – the problems may be solved, he is not sure of it. Why? Because he is troubled with that old bogey-man ‘human nature’.” (My emphasis).

It is, of course, Herr Gilmac and the SPGB who are really “troubled with that old bogey-man ‘human nature'” – for they are continually telling us that “all the material and economic conditions are ripe for Socialism”; “all that is required” says Party pamphlet Socialism (p.48″), “is that working class intelligence shall rise to the height” of establishing Socialism!

Other examples of Gilmac’ s heel-yapping from page 41 of the Standard:

“On page 28 we have one of the numerous examples of Mr. Walsby’s care not to commit himself to anything definite. This is what he writes: ‘Psychologists have shown that intelligence 1s largely and predominantly inborn, or inherited, and that it remains fairly constant throughout the major part of a person’s life.’ “… It will be noticed that intelligence is only ‘largely’ or ‘predominantly’ inborn, not wholly so; that it does not remain constant but only ‘fairly’ so, and not even through the whole of life but only through the ‘major’ part… “It will be noticed that (1) Mr. Walsby is only ‘questioning’ and ‘doubting,’ he is not asserting…”

And so on, ad nauseam! This liverish, carping muck is strewn liberally all over the pages of his “review.”

At the end of his long series of irrelevancies, illogicalities, distortions. omissions, deliberate misrepresentations and stupid caviling, your rather wonderful reviewer states:

“We have not sufficient space to deal further (!) with this book, but from the foregoing the reader will gather the nature of its contents… ” (my exclamation & emphasis)

Comment on this is quite unnecessary – especially when we add that Part Two of the book, with the exception of a brief reference to the conclusion, is not even mentioned in his review! Another interesting omission is that part of my book which deals with the political individualism of the SPGB. It could of course be of no possible interest to his readers!

The most suitable summing up of all Gilmac’s burking against “the inverse ratio of quality and quantity” is provided by the first page of the Socialist Standard in which his bogus “review” appears. The article is headlined “THE FIRST OF THE FEW – Mainly about Ourselves!”

“The report of our 45th Executive Committee to this year’s conference carries the statement that membership on the 31st of December 1948 stood at 1,036. Some of our critics will point to that figure and say, ‘What, after forty-five years you have only just over a thousand members?’ We are not satisfied with our numerical strength, but we are certainly not ashamed of it. Of one thing we are extremely proud. That is the quality of our membership. It is the quality – the understanding and determination – of the members, that gives an organisation its strength. We have seen a number of so-called working-class political parties grow into mass organisations – then wither away to nothing. We remember the days when the Independent Labour Party claimed to have over two hundred at its members elected to parliament. Where is the I.L.P. now? Where is the Social Democratic Federation, from which the S.P.G.B. was born? It had numbers, but it did not have a sound. Socialist membership. Quantity, but no quality… The Labour Party and the Communist Party now have numbers and sneer at us because of our size, but their members are recruited from workers who have insufficient understanding of their class interests and have not the knowledge how to replace Capitalism by Socialism, which is essential to a revolutionary Socialist Party.”

Immediately above this rather embarrassing let-down for Gilmac, there is a legend which says of the Socialist Standard “… every issue stands as a record of the Party’s soundness and consistency.”

“Legend” is the word!

Fraternally yours,


P. S. In the course of this reply to your review I have thrown out several challenges to Gilmac and the SPGB. Here is the final one: I challenge the Socialist Standard to print this reply in full – and to answer it.

Circa 1949