First we had the Scottish Socialist Party , then there was Sheridan's Solidarity , and now we have the Socialist Party Scotland. The SPS are part of the Committee for a Workers International - the Socialist Party of England and Wales.
As Trotskyists its not surprising that they have a hotspotch of reforms that they demand:-
Minimum wage to £8 an hour as an immediate step towards £10 an hour.
35-hour week without loss of pay.
An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension.
Tax the super rich.
Re-nationalise all privatised utilities and services.
Nationalise the top 150 companies and banks and run them under workers control.
etc etc etc...ad nauseum
Sounds all so very familiar , doesn't it?
We in the Socialist Party - the original and genuine one - oppose organisations like Socialist Party Scotland that promise to deliver a platform of reforms on behalf of the working class, simply in order to gain a position of power. Such groups on the Left have aims quite different to the reform programme they peddle. Socialist Party Scotland put before the working class simplistic demands of what they think will be understood by the workers and then , of course , they are going to try to acquire the leadership of the struggles for the reforms so to achieve political advantage for their party. These Leftist parties also try to muscle in on any struggle by workers started off by themselves. And it is all very cynical because they know that reformism ultimately leads no-where (as they readily admit in their rarely read theoretical journals but never explain in their populist, propaganda papers). Members of the SPGB occasionally come across individual Trotskyists who hold the belief that the reforms they advocate can indeed be successfully achieved under capitalism (as a few actually can be without tumbling down the whole edifice of capitalism.) Thus, many members of political groups such as Socialist Party Scotland are often the victims of their own tactics.
A list of reform demands is the bait for a Trotskyist party to get workers to struggle to try and get them, on the theory that the workers would learn in the course of the struggle that these demands cannot be achieved within capitalism and they would then start to struggle (under the leadership and guidance of the vanguard party, naturally)to abolish capitalism. The purpose in telling workers to demand reforms is is to teach them a lesson the hard way. The expectation is that when, these struggles for reforms fail, the workers will then turn against capitalism.
It is the stale old argument, advanced by Trotsky, that socialist consciousness will develop out of the struggle for reforms within capitalism, when workers realise that they can’t get the reforms they have been campaigning for they will turn to the "cadres" of the Fourth International for leadership. In fact, it never happens so all that's achieved is to encourage reformist illusions amongst workers and disillusionment with the possibility of real radical change.
It can be summed up in the following:
1 ) The working class has a reformist consciousness.
2 ) It is the duty of the Revolutionary Party to be where the masses are.
3 ) Therefore, to be with the mass of the working class, we must advocate reforms.
4 ) The working class is only reformist minded.
5 ) Winning reformist battles will give the working class confidence.
6 ) So that, therefore, they will go on to have a socialist revolution.
7 ) The working class will learn from its struggles, and will eventually come to realise that assuming power is the only way to meet its ends.
8 ) That the working class will realise, through the failure of reforms to meet its needs, the futility of reformism and capitalism, and will overthrow it.
9 ) That the working class will come to trust the Party that leads them to victory, and come a social crisis they will follow it to revolution.
It all relies upon a notion of the inherently revolutionary nature of the working class and that through the class struggle this inherently revolutionary character will show itself - Although, it hasn't.
Its also flawed because it shows no reason why, due to the failure of reform, the workers should turn to socialism. Why, since it was people calling themselves socialists who advocated the reforms, should they too become socialists and not turn against the idea, instead ? Under the model of revolution presented by the Trotskyists the only way the working class could come to socialist consciousness is through a revolution if made by the minority with themselves as its leaders.This, then, explains their dubious point about needing to "be" where the mass of the working class is. It is the reason put forwrd why a supposedly revolutionary party should be with the masses, rather than trying to get the masses to change their minds and be with it. They do not want workers to change their minds, merely to become followers. Their efforts are not geared towards changing minds, or raising revolutionary class consciousness.The fact remains, though, that the “revolutionaries” of the Socialist Party Scotland are incapable of taking these reform campaigns or the trade unions further than the bulk of the membership are willing to tolerate .
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