Preface 1924 (A.A. Purcell)

No representative workman is better fitted than Edo Fimmen to discuss the All-World Industrial position. Since 1918 no man has moved so swiftly across the borders of the European States, and in his movements he has taken the fullest opportunities to size up the situation wherever he went and then to form conclusions. This he has done well, and these pages demonstrate clearly how he has taken what is known as the big view.

I have read the proofs through twice. I thought well of them at first, but the second reading compelled the conclusion that the alternative is our only effective way of ending the present European Industrial Chaos.

It is sad that one should have to say it—but it nevertheless is true—that there exists little enthusiasm for International knowledge among our British Working Class. It is also true to say there is much more interest being displayed than, say, two or three years ago, but still there is really no enthusiasm of the type which helps to popularise so vast an instrument as International Working Class Organisation. But it will improve; there will yet be a greater amount of enthusiasm displayed and ever so much will be born of the British million unemployed problem.

During the last three years more Working Class speeches have been made, pamphlets and books published, on Russia, Germany, Italy, France, etc., than in the course of the previous twenty years. But very few speeches, and certainly no pamphlets or books, were published with such a clear and easily understandable statement of the case as occurs in this instance. Here we have exposed in plain English the right and left hand of Capitalism; one day spreading the fingers out widely and then closing; another using right, then left; but always expanding whether opening or closing.

Then we have a well set out case for the bigger development of the Union forces in the direction of real unity between the Amsterdam and Moscow International Secretariats and Centres.

Fimmen is not blind to the faults of either organisation. He observes keenly enough that amalgamation on the basis of any one constitution is positively insufficient, but I am inclined to the view that his Secretariats may develop a sort of International Industrialism of too insular a type unless there exist at every turn of the power-indicator an all-in International domination. But all this in good time.

There has been growing in Britain this last two years a decidedly favourable impression of Fimmen, mainly, I believe, because he has been instinctively right in his references to International matters. This book should help many to understand why he has taken up his oft repeated attitude.

I commend the work to every Union man and woman in the British Movement. It is too much to ask that every Branch in every Union should hear the workmanlike case against Europe Limited?

A.A. Purcell (1924)

NEXT: Preface 2006: Edo Fimmen and Labour’s Alternative, Dan Gallin.