Socialism is the future. Socialism is a wonderful goal and necessary vision, the promise of a life irresistible in its harmony, workability, naturalness, passion and compassion. We envisage a social order based on the common ownership of the means of production, the elimination of private profit in the means of production, the abolition of the wage system, the abolition of the division of society into classes. Socialism far from being an intolerable bureaucratic tyranny and individual regimentation, will be the means of greater individual liberty and shared abundance. Anything that has any kind of value is made, mined, grown, produced, and processed by working people. So why shouldn't working people collectively own that wealth? Socialism, simply, is non-capitalist living. Wealth is created to satisfy human needs, not inhuman greeds. The present economic arrangement is insatiable in its avarice, unrelenting in its viciousness, rife with contradictions, and veering crazily out of control. The rule of the almighty dollar or yen or mark must and will be overthrown and supplanted by the rule of reason and justice. Capitalism’s manifest inability to meet human needs and protect the ecological integrity of the planet makes socialism more urgent than ever. To get to that future, however, we have to deal with the present. We can transform our world by shedding not only the patterns of capitalist society but its mindset as well. With greater equality, co-operation and social justice, our planet can sustain our species and all the others that inhabit it. We can achieve a world where people have enough and where each of us can find the self-fulfilment and happiness central to the needs of every human being.
Socialism is a message of hope. It is addressed to the working class. It will save the working class, or rather, show the working class how to save itself. The world does not need to be cursed by long hours of hard labour, by low wages, by starvation, by worry and anxiety, and by disease. Millions now know that these conditions may be completely changed. When enough of the workers understand socialism, believe in it, and are firmly resolved to have it, the time will be ripe for the change. The working class is today enslaved chiefly because it does not understand the conditions of its life and labour. A few rich people own the lands and machines. The many labour and have nothing. This every worker knows. But why is this so? How long has it been thus? How long is it likely to continue? And most important of all, what are the workers going to do in order to help themselves? When we ask these questions, we find that very few workers can give a clear and satisfactory answer. Only when they can answer these questions will the first great step toward a better condition have been taken. The theory of surplus value is the beginning of all socialist knowledge. It shows the capitalist in his true light, that of an idler and parasite. It proves to the workers that capitalists should no longer be permitted to take any of their product. Without this knowledge the worker will never fight along correct lines. With this knowledge he will never stop fighting until socialism, which will give to the working class the whole of its product, shall be fully realized.
No worker should wish to become a capitalist. The small business-person cannot thrive as a capitalist without lying and cheating; without paying low wages and sweating his workers through long hours; without lying awake nights planning how to help himself by injuring others. Getting something for nothing is what capitalism is all about. That is what capitalists do best. Indeed, that is all they do. Capitalists do not earn, or create, or build anything. They live by profiting from the work done by others. They live off the labor of the working class. The names these two classes bear tell the story. Workers work and capitalists capitalize on the work that workers do. Capitalism exists and can only exist as a system of exploitation. Capitalists are the exploiters and workers are the exploited. Capitalism is an immoral system. It condemns millions to lives of poverty and despair just to enhance the worthless lives of a few. It is not the welfare single mum or the jobless dad on benefits who bleed society. It is the capitalist vampire that is sucking the working class dry. Working people are being victimised and demonised. Basic needs like housing remain unmet while industrial capacity and millions of working people remain idle. Commodities that could satisfy these needs sit in storage in warehouses, inaccessible to the working people who need but can’t buy them. Billions are being spent on arms while schools, transport systems and other social services are being curtailed or eliminated for “lack of funds.” Reduced to their essentials, the system’s answers are that workers have been asking for, and getting, too much, especially from government. Workers have demanded too much improvement in the quality of the environment, too much job safety, too much retirement protection, too much health care, too much racial equality, too much housing, too much pay, etc. Discarding the empty promises advanced in the past that capitalism could provide “more,” governments are now promising workers less in every respect. Gone are the days of expansive government spending in the areas of social services and job creation.
Less pay for workers, less spending for job safety, less investment for pollution control mean more profits for the capitalist owners of industry. Less spending for education and social services generally means more funding for the protecting of capitalist investments around the world. Like every ruling-class “explanation” advanced in the past for the economic problems faced by workers, the current ones diverts attention from the underlying causes. Those causes are profit-motivated production and private ownership of the economy. Moreover, current policies are fostering increased competition among workers for the limited number of jobs and social services capitalism has to offer. In this way, the ability of workers to mount a unified defense against enforced austerity is crippled. Even when a capitalist economy is relatively healthy, the needs of workers are never met. This is so because the capitalist economy does not operate to meet workers’ needs. It operates for capitalist profit. That profit is generated through the exploitation of working people—that is, by paying workers’ wages that amount to only a fraction of the wealth they collectively produce. The resulting limited purchasing power of workers accounts in large measure for the economic stagnation and unemployment that periodically plague capitalism. Austerity will neither correct this situation nor alleviate the suffering it is causing. In fact, to the extent that the administration’s policies are implemented, the problems working people face will only be aggravated. These policies seek only to increase profits for the capitalist minority through tax breaks for business and the wealthy, cuts in public services and schemes to increase productivity—that is, to increase the exploitation of workers. In short, the aim of Cameron’s policies is to shift the burden of the prevailing economic crisis onto the shoulders of the working class.
The worker cannot rise as a worker without joining in unity with other workers and helping all. This mutual dependence of worker upon worker, taught them by their everyday experiences in the shop, is the best and finest thing in modern life. It leads to solidarity. It develops the mind of the worker. It raises him or her out of a state of individual selfishness and meanness and points to the goal of civilisation - Socialism. Everybody now realizes that it is ridiculous for sane people to work all day and every day. "The less work the better," is the motto which the workers must set themselves. Let the newest technology and the best machines and most scientific methods be everywhere used. Let the intelligence of the workers be liberated. If all this were to be done, it is readily seen that a small portion of the day, or a few days per month, or a few months steady work per year, will yield wealth in abundance. It would be foolish for us to say how much a worker should work, because we do not know how much wealth lie will desire for themselves and their family. It is not for us to determine that. But it is most reasonable to suppose that with socialism an individual working a few hours a day for a few months in the year will produce food, clothing and shelter in abundance for all. Those who will not work will not be permitted to starve. They will undoubtedly be tenderly cared for and nursed back to well-being for at present, even, all healthy people wish to work, yet none desire life-long slavery to the profit of others
Government ownership can never lead to socialism. It is not a step toward socialism. It has nothing socialistic about it, because all political government is administration from the top. Socialism is industrial democracy. Socialism will need no armed forces, police and prisons. There will be no enslaved poor to be kept down. The Socialist Party is not a political party in the same sense as other parties. The success of socialism would abolish practically every office existing under the present form of government. The mission of the Socialist Party is:
First, it must be the bearer of sound knowledge, using its great and growing organisation to teach socialism.
Second, to lay hold of all the powers of political government and prevent them from being used against the industrial organisation of the workers.
When the working class is strong enough at the ballot box, it will make an end of capitalism. That period in which it will be engaged in the work of seizing all the powers of industrial and political government, will be the period of the social revolution. Of course we cannot tell when this will come. Neither can we tell whether the period of revolution will be long or short. The most important question is, how long will it take to educate and organise the working class? This will depend much on what the capitalists will do. The revolution might be hastened by a panic. It might be retarded by a foreign war or by capitalist reforms. But it is bound to come. That the socialists can clearly see. The Socialist Party is the political party of the working class. This is so because the Socialist Party is the sole protagonist of the principles that the working class must adopt if it is ever to achieve its complete emancipation from wage slavery and, at the same time, save society from catastrophe. The Socialist Party is the only organisation demanding the abolition of capitalism and advocating the socialist reconstruction of society. It has been doing so for over 100 years. It is, in short, the organisation through which the workers can establish their majority right to reorganise society. In a socialist economy based on collective ownership of industry, the workers’ condition would be the reverse of what it is today. Production would be for social use instead of for private profit. Through representatives elected by workers where they work, they would democratically administer the industries and make all economic decisions. Resources would be allocated and production would be carried out on the basis of social needs and wants. A socialist economy would thereby free society of the limitations now imposed by capitalism. Such a society will not, of course, come into existence by itself. If the working-class majority is to become master of the nation’s economic forces, rather than its victims, workers must organise to wrest control from the capitalist class and to lay the foundation for a socialist society. Specifically, working people must break with the political parties of the capitalist class and organise politically around their common class interests.