In both theory and practice the SPGB was an extreme manifestation of the pre-1917 Marxist tradition. Its function was to educate the workers in the intractability of capitalism and the hopelessness of all trade union action or reform: its medium was the streetcorner pitch where speakers would harangue passers-by and sell the Socialist Standard . Since prospective members were examined for their knowledge of Marxism and ability to speak in public, and since they prided themselves on their ‘scientific socialism’, propagandists of the SPGB enjoyed a reputation as formidable Marxist purists.
The Russian debacle is rather appalling but quite explicable. Lenin and Trotsky appear to me to be of the SPGB type or the wilder types of the SDP.
In the coming revolutionary confrontations between the working class and the bourgeoisie the role of the SPGB will be indistinguishable from that of any of the other bourgeois parties.