If the working class is ever to succeed in establishing a free and democratic society in which all will enjoy peace, abundance, and security, it must first have a proper understanding of capitalist society. It is correct to say that the capitalist system will destroy itself. It does not follow from that with equal logic that socialism will be the successor.
Whether the reforms proposed by the liberals are direct aids to capitalists in exploiting the workers, or in perpetuating the capitalist system, or in deceiving the workers into believing that their fate can be improved under the capitalist system, the fact remains that their reforms and their "resistance" to ever more reactionary restrictions on workers are generally contrary to the interests of workers. They invariably are designed as, or turn out to be, props for the collapsing structure of capitalism, or even as weapons for the use of the plutocracy in consolidating its power and stranglehold on society. It does not require any great insight to see that hope for a sane and decent society does not lie with the oligarchs and plutocrats; nor with any government. Nor do they rest with men and women "of good will," no matter how sincere or commendable they may be. Our hope lies with the World's working class and their latent political and industrial might, the only power that can neutralise and defeat the capitalist class and provide the basis for a new democratic and prosperous society.
Neither the welfare state or the social security safety-net has anything to do with socialism; yet, it may also be said that they are a result of socialism. It can be said that all reforms designed to ease the pain capitalism has on the working class result from capitalism defending itself from the advance of socialist ideas. They are in the nature of capitalist strategic manoeuvers in the face of the socialist challenge. The purpose is not to ease the burden of the victims of the profits system, but to deflect the socialist movement and, if possible, to split it. Reformism is a skillful piece of political strategy that has worked like a charm, as the difficulty the socialist movement has had in overcoming the seductive lure of such reformists shows all too well.
The reason social reforms has anything to do with socialism, of course, is that socialism implies an end to the poverty and insecurity that come from private ownership and control of the economy. There is but one principle that the Socialist Party holds and that is the unconditional surrender of the capitalist class and the abolition of wage slavery. Bridging the gap between the establishment of socialism and the prevailing consciousness of the working class has always been a challenge for the Socialist Party. Something now reformism and making immediate demands has been at the root of the decades-long debate as to what constitutes proper strategy and tactics between the Socialist Party and those other workers' parties. This question impinges directly on socialists' attitude toward, and involvement in, workers' daily struggles against both their exploiters and the executive committee of their exploiters -- the political state. The Socialist Party holds that any involvement by a socialist organisation in the daily manifestations of the class struggle will inevitably cause that organisation to stray from the revolutionary path. We contend our case for socialism is undermined by being associated with other organisations that aim at anything less than the overthrow of capitalism.
The Socialist Party clearly recognises the dangers that lurk in the swamp of reform. It keeps uppermost in mind the need to promote among the workers it reaches a clear class-conscious understanding of the nature of capitalist society and its inherent contradictions. A socialist revolution is needed to abolish the entire system based on private ownership and control of the means of production by a parasitic capitalist class. The potential of cooperatives can be fully realised only by replacing an economic system based on exploitation, competition, the market and the profit motive with one based on social co-operation for the common good.
A state-run economic system is not socialism! Karl Marx and Frederick Engels clearly distinguished between state ownership of the means of production and social ownership. They opposed the very existence of the state. A society divided into classes is not socialism, and a society without classes has no need of the instruments of class oppression. State ownership means the continued existence of a governmental power over and above the people themselves; it signifies continued class rule. Social ownership means that the people themselves, collectively and democratically, govern the use of the means of production. Marx and Engels described socialism as a society run by "associations of free and equal producers."
Socialism means the abolition of classes -- of two groups of people, one of which owns and controls the means of wealth production and distribution, and one of which owns nothing but their ability to perform productive and otherwise socially useful labor -- and with the abolition of classes any need for the state, i.e., the instrument by which class rule is enforced. Socialism, as Engels expressed it, is to be an administration of things. The things to be administered are the products and services that flow out of the industries, and the administrators will be the useful producers democratically organized to carry on production and the delivery of goods and services. Socialism, as Marx said, must be the class-conscious act of the working class itself. The role of the party now, as the Socialist Party sees it, is to stimulate class-consciousness and to urge the working class to organise itself.