Monday, November 18, 2019

Not Nationalism

The love for the land of our birth is foolish, absurd, and the enemy of progress. The Socialist Party seeking to win support among working people face the obstacle of class collaboration in the form of nationalism. Socialist principles and working class interests take precedence over all national interests whatsoever. The Socialist Party internationalism involve being also being anti-patriotic. Patriotism is an objectionable sentiment since it means the placing of one’s own country, its interests and well-being, above those of the rest of humanity. We are constantly having impressed upon us by the Left that internationalism does not mean anti-nationalism. Those who wishes his or her country strong invariably requires it to be at the expense of the welfare and interests of other countries. 

Nationalism is really only thinly-veiled imperialism. All nationalisms are reactionary. Nationalist struggle denies class struggle. The left wing error is assuming that national liberation struggles lead to an escalation in class struggle. Nationalism is a weapon in the hands of the ruling class in order to mislead working people.

Too many nationalists say “My country right or wrong.” Even if it is is committing crimes against international law , they wish to see that crime succeed to a certain extent. The Socialist Party regards patriotism as the enemy of socialism and human justice. W e aspire to a greater sentiment than that of loyalty to a particular piece of soil, or even to a particular section or group of the human race into which one happens to have accidently been born into. This is the adequate ground, speaking for myself for my enthusiastic espousal of the cause of the wantonly invaded against the wanton invader. The principle of nationality – of “fatherland” or “motherland”- is not held dearly by ourselves. The principle of being part of the human family is. It is incumbent upon every socialist to assume an anti-patriotic, anti-nationalist, attitude. It is a question of fighting, not for the political independence of one nation, but for a new society – for the worldwide Socialist Cooperative Commonwealth. The cause of the working classes is lost if we allow ourselves to be caught again in a web of patriotism.

The achievement of socialism awaits the building of a mass base of socialists, in factories and offices, on farms and campuses. The development of socialist consciousness, on which can be built a socialist base, must be a socialist’s first priority. Socialism is a process of raising socialist consciousness, and a strategy to make visible the limits of capitalism. Capitalism must be replaced by socialism. Any section of the capitalist class is an enemy of the working class. Only the working class can change society. No small group can perform this task for them. The conspiratorial methods of terrorism runs counter to the mass mobilisations of workers and are alien to the labour movement. It is a tactic of despair which is doomed from start to finish.

There can be no socialist movement which does not face the elementary question of the unity in struggle of the working class beyond borders and nation-states. Nationalists have successfully dress themselves in ‘radical’ clothes. They succeeded because there was no genuine class alternative. Workers can be won from the blind alley of nationalism only if the socialist movement spells out the alternative, drawing workers together around its red banner. Let us cast off all sectionalism, all parochialism, and sit down as brothers and sisters.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Lest we forget


Obituary from the June 1966 issue of the Socialist Standard
Yet another old comrade, Jimmy Dowling, died suddenly in the latter part of March. He joined the Glasgow Branch in the early 1930’s and despite many vicissitudes never relaxed his adherence to the socialist case. Only those who knew him intimately could appreciate his solid grounding in the Marxist classics. An omnivorous reader, he specialised in the philosophical aspects of historical materialism. Unfortunately, he never became a speaker or writer. Nonetheless, everyone will remember him for his quiet caustic wit and his undying hatred, based upon understanding, of capitalism.
Tony Mulheron

The only path is revolution

The Socialist Party has fought the good fight since its foundation, and will fight it again and again until at last the co-operative commonwealth shall be established and the red flag flies over all lands. Now the time is ripe for the working class to move on to a different system of society.

Capitalism is an uncontrollable economic system which will bend neither to the wishes of politicians nor to the opinions of experts. To live under capitalism is to live for some other purpose than our own fulfilment, as Erich Fromm recognises. We strive and suffer, not to grow more fully ourselves, but to amass figures on a screen somewhere. Our lives only have meaning, and our needs will only be met, if someone else can extract some value from us. To live is to be used. Capitalism can be seen as a big abstract parent, telling us what we can’t have, punishing us for not being good enough. In the face of this system, our deepest needs have to be set aside as we try to satisfy its endlessly changing demands. Perhaps our acceptance of such a punitive social system is merely our replaying in a different form our punitive childhoods.

Capitalism or socialism, this is no longer a debating issue of the future, it is a life and death issue for so many of our fellow workers around the world. And on which we ourselves may be facung with the on-coming climate catastrophe. There is no going backwards. There is only going forward to the socialist future. The old ideas of progress of the old reformist Labour Party which sought to win advances for the workers within capitalism has ended. Capitalism maintains its profit solely on the basis of lowering and worsening the standards of the workers. The crisis is not a crisis of natural scarcity or shortage. Harvests are abundant. Foodstuffs are rotting in the warehouses, or are being burnt. Stocks of goods of all kinds are piled up, unsold. Millions of workers are willing and able to work; but existing society has no use for their labour. The crisis is a crisis of capitalism alone.

The power of producing wealth is greater than ever. It has grown far more rapidly than population, thus disproving all the lies of those who talk of “over-population” as the cause of the crisis. Although capitalism does not use more than a portion of modern productive power, although it wastes most and deliberately cuts down and restricts production in order to increase profits, actual production has grown much faster than population. More foodstuffs. More raw materials. More manufactures. More power. All increasing beyond the rate of increase of population. And the outcome? It would seem natural that the outcome should be greater abundance for all. But what is the result to-day under capitalism? The result is mass impoverishment and lowering of standards. Why? Because capitalist monopoly cannot organise production for use; because the growing discord between ever-greater capitalist accumulation of wealth on one side and growing poverty on the other, makes impossible the use of more than a diminishing proportion of the rising productive power. Every advance of production only intensifies the ferocity of capitalist competition for the market.

Would-be reformers of capitalism (including the Labour Party) urge that if only the capitalists would pay higher wages to the workers, enabling them to buy more of what they produce, there would be no crisis. This is utopian nonsense, which ignores the inevitable laws of capitalism — the drive for profits, and the drive of competition. The drive of capitalism is always to increase its profits by every possible means, to increase its surplus, not to decrease it. Individual capitalists may talk of the “gospel of high wages” in the hope of securing a larger market for their goods. But the actual drive of capitalism as a whole is the opposite. The force of competition compels every capitalist to cheapen costs of production, to extract more output per worker for less return, to cut wages. Just as in America, where the “gospel of high wages” was most talked of to conceal the real process of capitalism at work (intensified output from the workers, with a diminishing share to the workers.) All the leaders of capitalism, economists, financiers, politicians, are at sixes and sevens.

Who would have thought that cheap and abundant supplies of all the basic commodities should find the science and civilisation of the world unable to utilise them? Had all our triumphs of research and organisation bequeathed us only a new punishment “the curse of plenty?” (Churchill: Romanes Lecture, 1930.)

There are voices crying out to know how a world can produce so much food that people starve, and so many manufactured goods that people go without. Any attempt to organise the growing productive power to meet human needs is a question that does not even enter into their heads because it cannot arise within the conditions of capitalism. Capitalism has no solution. Only socialism can bring the solution. Only Socialism can cut through the bonds of capitalist property rights and organise production to meet human needs. Once capitalism is overthrown, then and only then can production be organised in common for all, and every increase in production bring increasing abundance and leisure for all. This is the aim of the Socialist Party. Only the organised working-class can drive the capitalists from possession and organise social production.
“But these inventions and discoveries, which supersede each other at an ever-increasing pace, this productiveness of human labour, which increases day by day at a hitherto unheard of rate, finally creates a conflict, in which the present capitalist system must fall to pieces. On the one side, immeasurable wealth and a surplus of products which the purchasers cannot control. On the other, the great mass of society proletarised, turned into wage workers, and just on that account become incapable of taking possession of that surplus of products. The division of society into a small over-rich class and a large propertyless working-class, causes this society to suffocate in its own surplus, while the great mass of its members is scarcely, or, indeed, not at all, protected from extreme want. Such a condition of things becomes daily more absurd and unnecessary. It can be abolished; it must be abolished. A new social order is possible, wherein the class differences of to-day will have disappeared, and wherein — perhaps, after a short transitional period, of materially rather straitened circumstances, maybe, but morally of great value-through the systematic use and development of the enormous productive forces already in existence (with equal obligation upon all to work), the means of life, of enjoying life, and of developing all the physical and mental capabilities, will be at the equal disposal of all in ever-increasing fullness.” (Engels: Introduction to Marx “Wage-Labour and Capital,” 1891.)

Marx and Engels wrote in the nineteenth century, this is still the theory to hold  by.