Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Socialists' Message

The word “socialism” is commonly used as a political trick. Various Labour Parties are called “socialist” and it is suggested that countries with large welfare state systems are socialist and that nationalised industries are socialist. There has been a persistent tendency to define the idea of socialism to as a mere legal alteration of the property system and the introduction of some sort of planned economy.

When production is for the requirements of the community and when production is for use and not for profit of a minority, this is the basis of socialism. This socialist commonwealth liberates the individual from all economic, political and social oppression and provides for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality, giving full scope for the growth of the creative faculties of the mind. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution it dissolves the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good.

Capitalism is a social system that stands condemned. Its usefulness of the past is now long over. If it is allowed to continue, the world will only plunge deeper into suffering, degradation, destruction. Revolution does not mean that we would “demand” that a government do this or that. It means that we, the working class, make the decisions ourselves.

“The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself” has been repeated by many who did not believe a word of it even though the Communist Manifesto’s message is that “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interests of the immense majority.”

We no longer want saviours and deliverers. We must take the work of salvation into our own hands. There is one, and only one, remedy. Help ourselves. We are many; our opponents are few.If the class must rely on itself, it must be united.

The “association of free and equal producers,” which determines its own production and distribution, is thinkable only as a system of self-determination at the point of production, and the absence of any other authority than the collective will of the producers themselves. It means the end of the State.

The socialist idea is the complete and permanent emancipation of labour all over the world. Socialism does not mean that the workers and capitalists will merely change places. It means an entirely new system, in which the exploitation will have no place. In every revolution of the past the false argument that the people were “not yet ready” has prevailed. Some intermediate class invariably supplanted the class that was overthrown and “the people” remained at the bottom where they have been since the beginning of history. In a way, they have never been “ready” to rid themselves of their despots and robbers. All they have ever been ready for has been to exchange one breed of vampires and parasites for another to drain their blood.

A socialist party is the political expression of what is known as “the class struggle.” The struggle for working class emancipation must continue, and will increase in intensity until either the ruling class completely subjugates the working class, or until the working class prevails over the capitalists and the class struggle ceases for there will be no more classes. There is no middle ground possible.

Telling workers the truth, the whole truth, even when it is painful, is perhaps the best way of serving their cause and working for their true liberation. The Socialist Party never compromises truth to make an ally. The lowest of slaves are they who are happy to be one. So in many ways the slave is as repugnant as his or her master. They tremble in a cowardly way before their superior, they avenge themselves in a no less cowardly way on their supposed inferiors. A worker who humbles himself with servility before his factory foreman makes up for it in the evening by beating his wife and kids. The working class has not yet reached a level of consciousness that enabled it to do anything but accept the concessions it was able to force out of the pro-capitalist parties.But the fact that society forces them to struggle begins to transform the working class. Lessons learned from past examples can suggest possible strategies in the future even if often in a negative way. The dispossessed can never throw their lot in with the ruling class and benefit from it. There is more to be lost from defending the lesser evil in the hopes that ultimately it will just go away, than from fighting a "hopeless" battle to end privilege and establish actual equality.

Unions are instruments of struggle, agencies of collective bargaining, etc. within the capitalist system. Trade unionism is by no means the solution of the workers’ problem, nor is it the goal of the labor struggle. It is merely a capitalist line of defense within the capitalist system. Its existence and its struggles are necessitated only by the existence and predatory nature of capitalism. By themselves, unions are not revolutionary instruments but we know that the more the workers are organised politically and industrially the faster and the thicker will the palliatives be piled up.

Until the workers become a clearly defined socialist movement, standing for and moving toward the co-operative commonwealth, while at the same time understanding and proclaiming their immediate interests, they will only play into the hands of their exploiters, and be led by their betrayers. It is up to the Socialist Party to point this out but it is not done by committing trade-unions to the principles of socialism with grandoise conference resolutions. Nor by meddling in the machinery of the trade-unions. Such commitments accomplish little good. It is better to have the trade-unions perform there designated role as the workers’ defense against the encroachments of capitalism, as the economic development of the worker against the economic development of the capitalist. But leave the Socialist Party as the political force of the socialist movement irrespective of union obligations. The Socialist Party is the political expression of the workers for their economic emancipation while the trade unionism is the economic defense of the workers within the capitalist system. Let us not interfere with the internal affairs of the trade unions, or seek to have them become distinctively political bodies in themselves. Let the Socialist Party attend to the development of the socialist political movement as the channel and power by which labour is to come to its emancipation and its commonwealth. It isimportant to the trades-union that its members be class-conscious, that they understand the class struggle and their duty on the political field, so that in every move that is made they will have the goal in view, and while taking advantage of every opportunity to secure concessions and enlarge their economic advantage, they will at the same time unite at the ballot box, not only to back up the economic struggle of the trades-union, but to wrest the government from capitalist control and establish socialism.

Revolutions are not made to order, socialism does not fall from the skies ready made. Nor are we talking about going door-to-door and converting workers into ideal socialists. Some seem to think that all they have to do is wait for election day to come and go and vote for socialism, and in this way socialism will someday be ushered in. But it must be built; not by the magic of wishful thinking but by the brain and brawn of the working class.

The socialist proposes the reconstruction of society but a detailed blueprint is not possible. It is not the mission of a socialist party to speculate concerning the manner in which the workers will conduct their affairs when it is established. No blueprint can be given but we must at least present possibilities as well as declare what is not possible. The most we can do or need to do is to lay out a general rough sketch. From actual experience, modifying, shifting, adapting, filling in the outlines provided by the rough sketch will take place as we go along.

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