Tuesday, December 06, 2022

One Day More (music)

 




Abolish the State

 


The common view of socialism is a collection of confusing misconceptions. One popular idea is that socialism means nothing more than the control of everything and everybody by an all-powerful Big Brother State. Anti-Socialists tell us that with socialism we would all become regimented and lose our individuality. There is the illusion that socialism will create such a pervasive coercive one-party government. Once again, the Socialist Party makes it very clear that socialism cannot be created by any State, benevolent or authoritarian. The Socialist Party is not concerned with the “coming” of any state, but with its “going.” The Socialist Party agrees with Marx and Engels that, ‘with the disappearance of classes, there also disappears the necessity of armed repression or state power’ (Letter to Von Patten, on April l883). The state will, therefore, in due course ‘wither away”. 


We would not now be so inclined to use the words "wither away" which is one translation of what Engels wrote in German. This suggests some quasi-natural and not necessarily rapid process. It does lend itself to interpretation as meaning “gradual decline”. This was probably Engels's own view but it is a decline he envisaged as taking place in the period between the winning of political power by a socialist majority and the establishment of socialism and not in socialism after it had been established. Engels, just as much as us. repudiated the idea that the state should continue into socialism and only then decline. Engels and Marx did envisage a more or less lengthy period of transition between capitalism and socialism.This was understandable in the 1870s when the means of production were much less developed than they are now. Our view is that the "period of changeover” between capitalism and socialism can now be very short. All that is required today to bring the means of production into common ownership under democratic control is, on the one hand, a declaration that all property titles over means of production (stocks and shares, etc) are no longer valid and will no longer be enforced by the state and, on the other, the implementation of the precise arrangements for them to be democratically controlled. Such arrangements will have been worked out before the actual winning of political power by a socialist majority and would be able to be put into practice fairly rapidly after it. This is why we prefer to use. in connection with the end of the state and its repressive organs, terms such as "dismantle”, “abolish” or "dissolve" which suggest an active intervention rather than "wither away”, “die out" and "decline” which can suggest a passive, gradual process.

 

Only when the workers, organised consciously and politically, capture the State and convert it into the agent of emancipation will it be possible to convert the means of life (i.e., the land, factories, transport, etc.) into the common property of the whole people. This revolution within the State, necessary as it is for the social revolution, so far from extending the bureaucracy will abolish it. The first act of the revolutionary administration will be to take direct control and responsibility from the hands of the officials in every department. The working class must itself become the State. As the revolution proceeds and the capitalist class are stripped of their economic privileges, so the workers’ organisation will cease to be political and will become economic. It will be concerned, not with the government of persons, but with the administration of the social means of production and distribution. Class distinctions have been abolished, class antagonism will disappear and with it the need for a repressive force. The concern of society under socialism will not be oppression. Camaraderie will take the place of coercion. Socialism will be a system of society involving a community of shared interests. Socialism is not the result of schemes and dreams. It is but a convenient name for the stage in social evolution made possible and inevitable by the economic tendencies of our time. It is not built up out of vain yearnings and longings.  The Socialist Party understands that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself. Unless we can convince and convert the majority of workers, socialism is an idle dream. If you bring about a revolution with an uninformed or hostile working class, defeat sooner or later faces you. 


When classes disappear so also disappears the need for the state as a public power of coercion resting ultimately on the ability to use armed force to impose the will of those who control it. Socialism will be a state-free society, which follows from the fact that the state is an instrument of the class rule while socialism will be a classless society and so have no place for such an instrument. There is no place in socialism for a state even a declining one.


Genuine cooperation can be born only when working people, having seized political power, use it for the purpose of making the means of production the common property of the whole of society, and proceed to administer them for the common welfare of all. Then the need for the State, for government, will vanish, and mankind will, at last, be free.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Socialists Against the State

 


Our aim is socialism, which we define as a worldwide society in which the Earth’s resources will be the common heritage of all humanity under democratic control at the world, regional and local levels as appropriate. It will be a society where we shall work voluntarily as best we can, as far as our ability goes, to suit our joint needs, as part of a cooperative society. It will be a society in which the state, as the public power of repression at the disposal of a ruling class, will have been abolished and replaced by participatory democracy. This is our immediate aim, not some long-term goal.


We think that given the development of productive capacity since Marx made the distinction in 1875 between a “first” (when full free access according to needs would not be possible) and a “higher” phase of “communist society” (when it would), the so-called higher phase can-and should-be established more or less immediately. Although we call such a society “socialism” we have no objection to it being called “communism” as long as it is clearly understood that this has nothing to do with the state-capitalist dictatorships that used to exist in the former USSR or in China today.


We are workers who don’t see ourselves as a group doing anything for other fellow workers other than putting before them the basic socialist propositions that under capitalism there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between capitalists and workers; that capitalism can never be reformed so as to work in the interest of workers; that what is required is a society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use, not profit. If workers want such a socialist society this is something they must do for themselves without following leaders or relying on benefactors. We can’t establish it for them. As we say in our declaration of principles “the emancipation of the working class must be the working of the working class itself”.


We don’t suffer from the illusion that existing MPs or local councillors can do anything to further the cause of socialism. Their job is merely to run the political side of capitalism and capitalism can only be run as a profit system in which priority must always be given to making profits over meeting needs. We also agree that there can be no real democracy under capitalism in the sense of a situation in which everybody has an equal say in deciding what should be done and in which those decisions can be implemented without hindrance. This is not the case today.


Having said this, in many parts of the world a sufficient degree of democracy exists for a socialist majority to be able to use existing elective bodies, such as parliament, to win control of the state machine through the ballot box. Of course, to work, this presupposes a socialist-minded and democratically organised majority outside parliament standing firmly behind the delegates they will have sent into parliament with the single mandate to take the formal steps to stop the state from supporting capitalism.

 

The socialist transformation of society entails the dispossession of the minority capitalist class of their ownership and control of the means of wealth production and distribution. All of their lands and factories, mines, media and transport will be taken away from them. The machinery of production will become the common property of society. In order for the capitalists to be dispossessed — or "the expropriators to be expropriated", as Marx put it — there is one prerequisite. Working people must be conscious of what they are doing. The dispossession of the capitalists cannot be carried out by politically unaware workers, and nor can the task be performed for them by any enlightened elite. The Socialist Party makes clear, the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves. If the social transformation is carried out in an organised fashion by people who know what they are up against and what they want to establish as an alternative, then what can stop us?


A majority of politically conscious workers must democratically gain control of the state machine. The revolutionary mandate for such political action will not be like any given  in the past. Socialists will enter the state bodies as delegates, not representatives or party leaders. They will be accountable at every move to the socialist movement and their sole purpose in entering the state bodies will be to abolish ruling class power. They will formally enact the abolition of class ownership, and in doing so will express the wishes of millions who have voted for socialism and nothing less.


It is vital that the state, which controls the means of coercion including the police and armed forces, is not left in the hands of the capitalists it presently represents. Unlike previous occasions, the working class will not seek to establish its own state: a workers' state. As Engels pointed out, the workers' conquest of state power will be the last act of the state. The state will be dismantled. Government over people will be replaced by the administration of things. A class-free society will exist the moment that the capitalists are dispossessed. The Socialist Party rejects the self-defeating tactic of insurrection as foolish and dangerous. Even if the insurrectionists won, they would be forced to become dictators over those they will have “liberated" against their will. The sorry history of coup d'etats is sufficient proof of that. If insurrection is advocated by those who envisage majority support for the socialist revolution, then why fight it out when we have available to us the far simpler method of expressing our decision? After all, if a majority cannot be persuaded to vote for socialism it is going to take even longer to persuade them to join an army and fight for it.

We Do the Work (music)

 


Saturday, December 03, 2022

There Is No Lesser Evil


 In the world today, the Socialist Party hold no control over events. The fact has to be faced that events might produce setbacks, real or apparent, despite the will or desire of socialists. While the workers are in the main not ready for socialism this is unavoidable.  The time has not yet come when the Socialist Party can consciously plan to overcome events. In the meantime, however, we reject any evils which the world offers as choice. The Socialist Party does not have to choose which is the lesser of the evils. In a world where the majority are dispossessed of the means of living and where the minority who own quarrel between themselves over possessions which should belong to society, working-class independence should remain among the first and fundamental of socialist principles. Socialists want a world based upon voluntary co-operation, in order that the products of working people’s efforts can be of free access—a world where money will not be necessary. We want people to break out of this vicious circle that perpetuates the ideas of property society. We want their thinking to be socialist thinking.


While some reforms might be able to alleviate, at least temporarily, problems facing some workers, they will never be able to solve any of the multifarious problems from which workers suffer under capitalism. This is because reforms are aimed only at treating effects while leaving the cause (capitalism) unchanged, and as long as capitalism continues it will create problems for those who depend for a living on working for an employer for a wage. More accommodation might indeed be provided for some of the homeless but the housing crisis would remain. The only lasting solution lies in the establishment of socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production with production for use not profit and free access to consumer goods and services according to self-determined needs.  The kind of socialist society we advocate is money-free wage-free market-free  based on  social cooperation.


The “lesser evil” argument is invalid because it assumes that what a government does depends on the good or bad intentions act, and their priorities, is the workings of the capitalist system. Capitalism is based on the concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few. Under it production is carried on for profit. The world is divided into a number of capitalist states all of which are competing against each other to sell their goods on the world market at a profit. International capital will drag governments around by their ears. How successful a state is in this is what of the leaders of the party in power. In fact what determines how governments limits its government’s actions. This is why it does not matter which party forms the government; in the end all governments are forced by economic circumstances to pursue basically similar policies. Capitalism is a class system that can only work for those who live off profits, and never for those who work for wages.


Socialism is the solution to the workers’ problems and until they establish socialism they will have to put up with capitalism and all its attendant evils. The great need is to convince the workers of the necessity for socialism and that will not be done by telling them to support a capitalist party because it is considered to be a “ lesser evil ” than some other party. By that means they will be giving support to the capitalist class to prolong this system and delay the establishment of socialism. By supporting the capitalist parties the workers are forming the tail-end of capitalist politics. Those who urge them to do that and betraying working class interests. The workers must be urged to break completely with the political parties of capitalism. They must be brought to realise that they must join a political party, separate from and opposed to the capitalist parties. Socialism is an immediate necessity. As long as capitalism lasts there will be wars, poverty, insecurity and all the rest of the evils that flow from this system. There is no “lesser evil ” to be found by supporting any one of the capitalist parties in preference to another.



If a person is robbed by two thieves, it is in his or her interest to regain his property, not to take sides with one thief or the other in their differences about the share-out of their loot, even if one of them has got a kind-looking face. When one tries to get one’s stolen property back he or she will soon find that the two robbers will sink their differences and gang up to prevent the recovering of the  goods. They will both be vicious and must be opposed.


 The SocialistParty has been accused of refusing to opt for the least, or the lesser, of many evils. This argument was based on the assumption that there was something in common between the Socialist Party and the capitalist parties. Socialism is an idea which implies certain political principles and one of these is an unshakeable refusal to compromise with the enemies of the working class—with any political party, whatever it calls itself, which stands for capitalism. 

Sergeant Where's Mine (music)

 


Friday, December 02, 2022

Socialism is not a dirty word

 


Capitalism is the system which now dominates the world. No country escapes or can escape from its influence and effects. It is essentially an economic system where the means for producing useful goods and services take the form of “capital”, or wealth used to produce more wealth with a view to profit, and where the goods and services produced to take the form of “exchange value”, they all have a price and have to be exchanged for money. It’s an irrational system of “production for production’s sake”, of “growth for growth’s sake”. There are other anti-social results of capitalism. Such as the recurring economic crises and slumps. People’s needs are met but only to an extent that they have money to pay for them. What sort of society is it where most people have to fend for themselves to get money so they can access what they need to live? From the point of view of technology, society could produce enough for all, especially if we get rid of capitalism’s artificial scarcity (the need to make a profit holds back producing enough to meet people’s needs) and its organised scarcity (not just of wars and preparation for war, but also all of the resources devoted to the counting and transfer of money). As socialists, we say capitalism must go if we’re going to be able to provide a decent living for every man, woman and child on the planet. 


What is needed in place of capitalism is for the Earth’s resources to become the common heritage of all. Then, they could be geared to satisfying people’s needs. If productive resources were commonly owned, then so would what they produced. The issue to be dealt with would be, not how to sell to people what had been produced (how could you when they’re already the joint owners of it?) It’s how to share-out/distribute what’s been produced. In other words, exchange (buying and selling) is replaced by distribution (sharing-out and taking). For this, money is not needed.


Socialism has come to be misconstrued and misunderstood. But there was once a time when socialist society meant production for use, not profit where nobody will have to pay—to study, housing, travel, heat, or food. Production for sale with its profit motive will come to an end; goods and services will be produced to directly supply needs without the intervention of buying and selling.


 The mechanisms of the market will be replaced by a self-adjusting system of production for use. The productive and distributive network will be geared to respond in a flexible way to information about needs, communicated to it directly as required amounts of specific goods and materials. With the abolition of market mechanisms, people will be able to obtain the food, clothes and other articles they need for their personal consumption by going into a store or distribution centre and taking them according to their own self-defined needs. Homes will be mortgage or rent-free, with heating, lighting and water supplied free of charge. Transport, health care, communications, education, restaurants and laundries will be organised as free public services. There will be no admission charges for entertainment and recreation. Money will become redundant. Since people will have free access to what they need, productive work will no longer be performed for an employer in return for a wage or salary but will become a voluntary service organised on a democratic basis. The factories, farms, offices, schools, hospitals and other places of work will be administered democratically by those working in them. People will undertake this work service as their contribution to the necessary social tasks of producing the goods to keep the stores stocked with the things for people to take for their personal consumption and of running the free public services and the administration.


If we want and enjoy having goods and services for free, there's only one obstacle – capitalism. If we choose to replace it with socialism, free access to whatever we need becomes reality. People don't have to buy goods and services when they directly own and control the means of producing them. Analogously, by collectively owning the bakery you own the bread, cakes and biscuits too, with the unrestricted ability to produce as much as is required.



Would people work co-operatively to produce the goods and services this moneyless free-access socialist society needed, in a similar way that a hundred million or so internet users are presently working together to provide and share free music?


Or, conscious of the differences between the capitalist present and a socialist future, would they choose to continue working and living within the money-wages-profit system, where incomes for most are insufficient to meet needs; involve a longer, harder, exploitative working week just so profits can be extracted from labour to satisfy the owning class's greed and selfishness; involve constant worry from mortgages, debts, bills, crime and burglaries; inadequate health care and inefficient public transport; environmental destruction and industrial pollution; endless food scandals; political corruption and sleaze; terrorism and warfare?

Rich man’s paradise (music)

 


Thursday, December 01, 2022

This will be socialism

 


The Socialist Party aims for a society based upon the common ownership and producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community. It would be foolish for socialists, in 2022, to devise detailed plans for the lives of emancipated humanity after they have carried out the political act to establish socialism. We are not the designers of a Utopia, but we can predict and speculate regarding life in a socialist society.


In socialism, a new-born baby will not be destined to accept the label of class,  male or female, black or white. The baby can expect the freedom to develop as a social individual in a world based on the practice of cooperative equality. The capitalist-style family will not exist if indeed the family is retained in any form. Certainly, there will no longer be imposed sex roles, indoctrination in the name of education, and repression in the name of discipline. Now, a child must learn to become a wage slave — or, if lucky, a supposedly cultured parasite. In socialism, children will learn from experience over which they will have control.


No society can operate without work and neither will socialism. Not employment, which is simply the capitalist word for slavery, but useful creative work. Production in a socialist society will be for use, not profit; with each member of society giving according to his or her ability and taking according to self-determined needs. There will be no wages as a price for a worker’s labour power, nor money as a barrier to the world’s wealth. Free access will be the basis of wealth distribution.


Without the compulsion of wage labour, men and women will contribute to the tasks of production and distribution. Work will be transformed by socialism; no more dull conditions, no more master-slave relationships, no more shoddy production of cheap commodities, and no more need to do one job for life. The aim of work will be the production of the best and the satisfaction of the producer. The latter is an important qualification. There will not be a producer-consumer division in socialism, but satisfactory lifestyles both inside and outside the production process.


A Socialist society will be a political and economic democracy. Everyone will own everything since private property will not exist. It means that men and women will use what they need. There will be no rights to property. Economic democracy will mean that decisions about production and distribution will be made socially, either by the whole of society — which would be no problem even today, with current methods of world communication — or by those involved in the processes, if society is prepared to leave the decision to them. We do not aim to replace the present capitalist elite with a new bureaucratic elite. The socialist revolution will be a permanent revolution in the sense that once enacted, people would have to participate in running society.


Freedom to move will be available for everyone in a socialist society. Today, workers often are born and die in one country, usually without travelling far out of its borders. No boundaries, nations or provinces will divide socialist society. The world will be one. That is not to say that we aim to create a monolith, devoid of cultural, language and other variations.


Social organisation in socialism will not depend upon governments, leaders or parties. These only exist in a class society, where laws are the expression of the ruling class's interest. When the socialist working class take power, they will use the law to dismantle capitalism and build socialism. Once that has been done, there will be no laws created by one section of society in order to control another.


Just as there will be no secular laws, so there will be no laws of the phoney creation of primitive man — god. Socialist society will have no need for religions and utopias beyond the grave. What if a minority within socialism want to continue their religious lifestyle? Then they shall be free to do so, and those who want to jump from a high building without a parachute may do so too.


The morals of socialism will be fashioned by common ownership and free access, and by the sovereignty of democratic decisions. Taboos about sex will be as laughable as taboos about witchcraft are today. To those conditioned by the popular prejudices of capitalism, socialism seems amoral. In truth, it will be a society which will reflect human urges — the imagination and the self-interest of humanity.

Joe Hill - Paul Robeson sings for the Scottish miners

 


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Why Are We Here?

 



Capitalism is the system of society which dominates the world today. It is a system where, either privately or through the State, the capitalist class own and control the means of production. It is a system of riches and poverty, of slums and palaces
.  It is through the exploitation of the working class that all the wealth of the world is produced. Capitalism denies workers access to the wealth they create beyond the extent of their wages. Truly it is a system where wealth concentrates in the hands of a few, where the market and the profit motive are supreme. Human need must come second in a society that lives on profits.The only possible solution is to change society. What is the fundamental change that we stand for? Briefly, we wish to establish a system of society where every single person will be able to take freely from the store of social wealth whatever he or she needs. Such a system — which we call “free access” — means quite simply what it says: there will be no restrictions (such as are imposed today by the size of your wage-packet or salary cheque) on the amount of goods or services which any individual consumes, enjoys or uses. We maintain that an abundance of wealth, which such a system implies, could quite easily be produced if production were motived by the desire to satisfy people’s needs, not by profit as at present. Profit acts as a barrier to production, since if a thing cannot be sold at a profit, it will quite simply not be produced, no matter how many people would like it.


Anyone who believes that capitalism can ever be made to work more humanely is being both naive and idealistic. Greed, envy and theft, are intrinsic to capitalism. Price and profit dictate in capitalism what pleasure and purpose will dictate in socialism. Capitalism’s obsession with ownership has in this case indisputably prevented significant technological progress. In socialism, the maxim “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” will transform the character and quality of human existence. People will be able to choose the sort of work they most enjoy and be creative to the best of their ability. People will be glad to give their best and take the best of everyone else. William Morris describes his vision of socialism as when work will become the ultimate form of art. In socialism, with its culture of free cooperation and sharing, there is no conception of private property ‘rights’.


Socialism is not a market economy. It is (as developed in Engels's Socialism, Utopian & Scientific) a society where money has become superfluous because the means of production are completely under social control. All labor is voluntary, everyone has free access to whatever goods and services are available. Marx’s  alternative to capitalism was one in which the relation of production would be that of an association of free producers. Freely associated individuals would treat ‘their communal, social productivity as their social wealth,’ producing for the needs of all. We need to remember the destination of our movement.  If you don’t know where you want to go, then no road will take you there. The goal that that Socialist Party has always sought is one in which people relate to each other as members of a human family, a world of human solidarity where  we have “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” In order to call up the concept of “socialism” as Marx used it in the 19th Century, it is also now necessary to add a qualifier. The qualifier is “non-market.” Without that qualifier, the word “socialism” means many different things to different speakers.


Socialists have sometimes called government “the executive committee of the capitalist class.” For that reason, the World Socialist Movement does not envision any role in socialist society for government per se, but anticipates that the men and women living in socialism will devise some method of managing affairs, with the necessary administrative authority but no coercive power.


Socialism is a world-wide community with common interests. Where the land, and all the means of production will be owned by mankind as a whole, with democratic control. Where the sole motive for production will be the satisfaction of your needs. Simply put — bread will be baked because people want to eat it — just that. Money will play not part at all in this society because there will be no need for money. Decisions by the community will be taken on their merits. The wages system will be abolished along with all the other stupid trappings of the present system. Socialism will be a system of co-operation; where each will give according to ability and take according to need. Mankind with its knowledge, harnessed to the riches of the earth, is capable of producing abundance. Why be satisfied with a world of shortages?


Socialism cannot be introduced by waving a magic political wand. It will be the outcome of understanding and hard work; your understanding, your hard work.  We ask you to study our ideas, and, if you agree with them, to make contact with our local branches so that you can find out more about them.


We are not asking you to vote for the Socialist Party because you are fed up with the others or because you think we should be given a chance. We only want your support if you agree with our case, our object and declaration of principles. Socialism means a way of life where the whole world and its resources will be held in common by all mankind. A classless world community with production solely for use and free access according to need. No longer will wages, markets and profits blight and restrict our lives. People will co-operate to produce an abundance — and then enjoy it. Socialism will be run democratically; that is why we have always stressed the need for understanding. Your support can help decide whether the misery of capitalism will continue.