Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For People, Peace, and the Planet - Not Profit

The failure of socialism to replace capitalism is perhaps the biggest tragedy of modern times. The failure has driven many millions to a state of disillusionment and demoralization and that has resulted in the rise of reactionary movements throughout the world. The roots of the failures are not the socialist ideas themselves but their distortion and corruption. So-called Communist and Socialist parties perverted the socialist idea, misinterpreting the meaning and manipulating its message for new rulers and leaders to defeat their opponents and to wrest control. With a near monopoly on news media and academia, they have successfully waged an ideological battle against what socialism really stood for. They use their revolutions and national liberation struggles to defend their lies and falsehoods denying the socialist tradition as “not really socialist” but unachievable utopian aspirations, discrediting the authentic voice of socialism.

All those academics and media intellectuals concur: Socialism is a dinosaur.  All of them will tell you socialism is extinct.  It didn't work, they say.  Anyone who imagines a different system of social organisation is an impractical dreamer. Capitalism is the best economic system possible.  They tell us that the market encourages efficiency through competition, creates an unequaled range of consumer goods, permits people to get ahead if they work hard, that capitalism respects the individual and promotes democracy.

If so then does the socialist idea keep returning? You can’t keep a good idea down. As much as they try to declare it dead, socialism keeps coming back again. Why? Because it is the best way to understand the insanity of a world governed by an unrelenting drive to profit, and it is a road-map to fight for a better world. We know that if we let capitalism run its course it will lead to ruin. The only alternative is to take back the immense wealth accumulated by a tiny minority at the expense of the majority, and use it to democratically serve human need rather than corporate greed.  As unrepentant socialists we want to share a different perspective with you. We maintain that capitalism, not socialism, is the dinosaur.  We seek to replace capitalism - which by its nature produces oppression and exploitation - with a new society, a new form of democracy confident in purpose and open to new ideas, vigorous and self-critical, free and cooperative, humanist and ecological. We seek to unleash the full potential of human ingenuity. We call that alternative socialism.

The task of Marxists around the world is to build a new socialist party that encompasses all the working class that must organise in their workplaces and communities to build the real revolutionary struggle against capitalism. By revolutionary we mean a radical and fundamental change in the structure and quality of economic, political, and personal relations. The building of socialism requires widespread understanding and participation, and will not be achieved by an elite working "on behalf of" the people. By fielding Socialist Party candidates in elections at all levels of office, we educate the public about socialism, agitate against the capitalist parties and advocate the politically independent organisation of working people. We need to clearly state our values even if they are considered “radical” and “not popular” with “public” opinion. By gliding toward the compromise and concession, we run the serious risk of moving farther away from where we want to be. Even those who only seek moderate reforms, it’s in their best interest to support those of us pushing for the creation of a movement for social change. If the activists have the goal for making a better world, they should be allowed the loudest and most recognised voices to denounce the continuation of our oppressive, repressive system than any who suggest collaboration and accommodation. In other words, those who point the need for revolutionary change shouldn't be asked to be silent. The effect would be that the ruling class will let bigger crumbs to fall off their table, they will offer larger slices of the pie to divert and disarm protest and resistance.

The challenge now is to expand solidarity and build toward radical change. Life is getting worse, not better. It’s the system which is our real enemy, not its particular sectors or individual actors. Capitalism is designed to profit a privileged few, not to nourish a humane, productive, sane civilization. Unbearable conditions are causing upheavals globally, and rulers are desperate to clamp down. Reforms under capitalism are temporary and the ruling class reverses them as soon as possible. It’s going to take a revolution to abolish this system. Crucial to protest and direct action is organisation. Capitalist barbarities are global and cooperation across borders vital. And the essential form of organisation to achieve that goal is the socialist party, which studies the lessons of history and dedicates itself to working-class capture of the state machine. Such a party’s arsenal of know-how and confidence is pivotal to building mutual solidarity across the world. The current ecological crisis results from the capitalist system, which places profits for a global ruling elite over people and the planet. It must therefore be confronted through a mass movement of working people around the world. The thirst for change runs deep.

We should be clear about what we don't mean by socialism.  Certain governments calling themselves socialist or communist distorted socialist theory offering the illusion that socialism could be constructed by insurrection or by gradually altering the government without winning mass support from the majority. Rather than persuade us that socialism is wrong we understand the prerequisites of building a socialist society better. Socialism offers the best hope for humanity.  We aren't idealists who think people can be made perfect. We simply think a society run by people themselves would, freed from both bosses and bureaucrats, be far more democratic and liberatory than capitalism ever has been. We think that a society constructed on upon the basic foundation that enhancement of life rather than the perpetuation of profit would stand the best chance of putting a halt to the environmental devastation now ravishing the globe. But we can't get there on our own. Although for many people the prospect of a revived socialist movement seems but a pipe dream, capitalism is showing its impracticality and obsolescence in a host of ways at this very moment.  A rebirth of socialism is possible, just as periods of calm in the past have been interrupted by resurgences of radicalism.  Socialism will only be worth the effort, though, if past socialist conduct is subjected to an unflinching criticism.  Many reservations that people have about socialism are the result of a perfectly healthy revulsion against the monstrosities which have masqueraded as "socialism" throughout much ofmodern history.  Around the world, states ruled by single parties and dictatorial autocrats draped themselves with the trappings of Marxism , minuscule groups announced themselves "the vanguard" of the working class, where the stifling of democratic norms was as " democratic centralism", supposedly crucial for political effectiveness. Others tried, with miserable results, to dispense with political parties and structured organisations in the belief that these automatically authoritarian and a tiny minority of self-styled direct-actionists have acted out infantile, self-indulgent acts of rage. While other workers organisations resorted to parliamentary lobbying and reformism that don't challenge people to act on their own behalf. The Socialist Party is confident that reflect the rejection of elitist, condescending, top-down politics and offer socialism from below, based on one central conviction: that human beings can construct a society without exploitation and oppression through, and only through, the maximum extension of democratic control, not only in the political-electoral arena but throughout economic and social life. Freedom will be won by people on their own, together, in collective and democratic action, firstly, organized for basic self-defence in the unions and in socialist parties for political action to expel the capitalist class from their position of state power.

Democratic planning and control of society, a social system not based upon profit or the power of a bureaucracy, will be exercised through participatory decision-making bodies, based on the shop-floor and workplace and extending to communities and then further afield.  A society not based upon profit or the power of a bureaucracy

Socialism will be a time for culture and imagination, relaxation and leisure, self-expression and education - would expand dramatically as social wealth is diverted from the obscene enrichment of a few toward the vast benefit of many.  People would be free to live and love without the prejudices and restrictions fostered by all exploitative systems.  When the social consequences of  production and manufacturing rise to the forefront of economic decision-making, as has never been the case in capitalism the environment will be integrated with economics.  Conserving and recycling resources, growing food naturally and organically, clean and efficient mass transportation - all are thwarted by the needs of today's agri-business, chemical and automobile industries.  Modern technology and science have created the potential for sustainable abundance, but only if reason and rationality is the basis for their use rather than profit and class greed.

The emancipation of humanity from capitalism will only come about when people act in their work-places and neighbourhoods on their own behalf. It cannot be achieved through any shortcut, though many have been tried. Socialist action does not rely upon the layers of intermediaries - professional politicians, union officials, and community “leaders” whose interests are distinct from and, in key ways, opposed to those of the working class. Paradoxically, reformism it's not the way to win reforms. We don't object to reformism because it advocates reforms, but because it has such a sorry record for obtaining them. Social gains can only be won through the militant collective action of working people and mass movements aiming at the democratic conquest of social power.  Without such pressure from below, the election of well-intentioned reformers is basically meaningless. In the absence of revolutionary politics, the aim of socialism can be sacrificed at crucial moments to the error of moderation. We have no callous desire to "bring the system down" by letting people starve, as is sometimes attributed to revolutionaries.  On the contrary, we aim to show people that by organising and struggling, they can win. 

Is all this talk about socialism and the working class old stale stuff, no longer appropriate for today?  Many on the left of the political spectrum have come to believe so. They argue that the hope for liberation is a romantic hopeless dream. They seek to focus on identity politics class such as race, gender, nationality and other such factors used to oppress us rather than class. Socialism won't solve your personal problems or bring you eternal peace. Nevertheless, the revolutionary potential of the working class has been demonstrated many times. Through debate and analysis, socialists help one another understand what's happening in the country and the world and how best to face the challenges working people confront. History is full of examples of workers’ struggles. Our political practice has to be conducive to better activism. The main reason to join a socialist organisation is work toward socialism. We constantly keep your eyes on the prize. Membership in a socialist group ought to complement your practical and theoretical work - not compete with your activism, drag you into sectarian irrelevance, or hold you prisoner to rigid schemes inappropriate to the world around you.

No comments: