Monday, August 31, 2015

Rise Up and Go Around in a Circle

The left nationalists in Scotland having suffered a set-back by the referendum defeat where they propped up the SNP now seek to offer themselves as the left opposition to their former allies.

 RISE – Scotland’s Left Alliance is a coalition formed by the SSP and various other groups with the noticeable exception of Sheridan’s Solidarity.

They have taken a cue from George Galloway’s party RESPECT by using an acronym to name itself:
Respect Independence Socialism Environmentalism

And similarly to “Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement” they require to add a qualifier on what they are – “RISE - Scotland’s Left Alliance”.

The RISE party logo is very appropriate, as you can see for yourself,  for a political organisations that is going around in circles. 

The SSP have said that they will not stand any candidates next year in order to maximise the attention upon RISE, although, of course, its leading lights such as Colin Fox will be favourites to stand as candidates for the new party.  It is a marketing re-brand offering voters the same old same presented as something different. It’s not. RISE offers very little new in its policies and positions from all the previous political alignments of the Scottish left-wing such as the Scottish Socialist Alliance. RISE are merely re-packaging previously flawed ideas and faulty analysis. 

The left nationalists urge Scottish workers to reject this historic solidarity with their English and Welsh fellow-workers, on the grounds that it is impossible to achieve progress at a British level; only in Scotland. But they are wrong if they think that a more radical, more socialistic agenda will emerge in an independent Scotland. The new Scottish state would find its policies constrained exactly the same sort of undemocratic and technocratic rules of globalisation that left nationalists stringently oppose. As with the formation of the Irish Republic, the political landscape will be dominated not by a consciousness of class but of “national interest”. Working people will be spun the line that sacrifice for the good of the nation is the symbol of patriotism despite the pain and privation. A new Scottish state would have an overwhelming incentive, like Ireland, to cut business taxation to gain a competitive advantage over its larger neighbour and would actively discourage collective co-ordinated action by workers across all of the nations of the United Kingdom. Scottish English and Welsh workers do not respond to an abstract appeal for “international solidarity”, they don’t need one, they act out of their already existing unity. The fact is that we live in a single state with a single economy and trade unions have created an organic unity with identical interests and a common consciousness. Independence will tear the fabric of unity apart. In Britain a division of the working class along national lines would be a huge step backwards for the workers movement, even from the weakened state it is currently in.  For though class struggle is at a very low level, those struggles that have taken place, including in Scotland, have arisen out of nationwide disputes.  The creation of an independent Scotland would break that unity and make the task of advancing the workers movement more difficult.

The left nationalists must ask themselves if the possibility of a few seats in a Scottish Parliament is a worthwhile exchange for an abandonment of basic socialist principles. Is such miserly gains worth draping themselves in the Saltire rather than the Red Flag. The truth is that there are "socialists" of the RISE-ilk who regard vote-getting as of supreme importance, no matter by what method the votes may be secured, and this leads them to hold out inducements which are not at all compatible with the uncompromising principles of a revolutionary party. They seek to make their propaganda so attractive— eliminating whatever may give offense to bourgeois sensibilities— that it serves as a bait for votes rather than as a means of education. Votes thus secured do not properly belong to socialism and do injustice to the movement as well as to those who cast them. These votes do not express socialism and in the next ensuing election are just as easily swing to another political party. Socialism is a matter of growth of understanding by education, but never by obtaining for it a fictitious vote. We should seek only to register the actual vote of socialism, no more and no less. In our propaganda we state our principles clearly, speak the truth honestly, seeking neither to flatter nor to offend, but only to convince those who should be with us and win them to our cause through an intelligent understanding of the Socialist Party's mission.

There is an alternative to nationalism and spreading false hope amongst workers in Scotland. It’s called class politics and it comes with working class unity and being honest with the working class, even if it’s not what some want to hear, rather than peddling cynical opportunistic shortcuts up deluded blind alleys to gain some supposed influence amongst workers. The Socialist Party rejects the idea that Scottish independence represents a way of advancing the interests of the working class.  All the arguments for independence are in essence nationalist and pro-capitalist whatever the left-wing gloss may be placed upon them. Our opposition to independence is not support for the status quo but for the unity of the working class. The workers movement would be weakened by a process where regional capitalist classes try to corner local resources and endeavour to win the workers over to defend them. The task for socialists in all countries, whether that be Scotland, Britain or Ireland, is indeed independence - not of nations or of regions - but of the working class political action. This class independence, in terms of politics and organisation, is the very foundation of the struggle for socialism.  It is because Scottish nationalism and the call for independence throw up yet more barriers to this unity that we urge workers in Scotland to reject the siren song of separatism

Our task as socialists is to try to provide clarity on the class basis for taking a position. And our position must always be based on what is going to be in the interests of the working class movement. We socialists want to show workers that their interests lie in the maximum unity of all workers against all oppressors. We want them to identify their interests with the oppressed everywhere, to discard the blood-stained Saltire along with the blood-stained Union Jack. But we will not do that without understanding clearly who our friends are and who are our enemies. Our job is to propagate a class-conscious understanding in order to help workers discard harmful popular prejudices. If we don’t do that, then there’s really not much point to our existence, since it is only through discarding the beliefs that keep us shackled to capitalist ideas that we will be able to build a movement capable of building socialism. The fact that good, well-meaning people have been misled must not prevent us from seeking truth from facts. The fact that left-nationalists Scots wish to see British capitalism weakened, and hope that by voting for independence they will achieve this aim, does not prove that that is what will actually happen.

Put your class first, not your country. The world is a “global village”. Each region may have its own particular traditions and distinct customs, but they are part of a greater system of society that is world-wide.
That "the emancipation of labour is neither a local nor a national but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists…" (From the rules of the First International) should be the guiding principle of the working class of the world.

John Lennon sang “Imagine no countries and the world will be as one” RISE and the left-wing nationalists who constitute it lack imagination.


Plenty for all

This is the age of science. We are on the thresh-hold to a new world. Never was there such an immense power for good. But how have the ruling class used this knowledge and potential. Have they ended poverty? Have they introduced security? Have they provided a high standard of living? Have they brought about the peace and harmony which is possible with plenty? Have they used new technology to create the more wealth to share in? Have they really made proper use of the power placed in their hands by science and technology? Never has the world had such a wonderful opportunity to build a decent place to live in but what kind of world have the ruling class built for us all? The industrial machine age did and still pours out great wealth but where is it going?  We can see the ordinary people are not growing fat on it. Mankind is smart enough to travel through space, dig into the bowels of the earth, travel deep under the sea; but we go hungry in the midst of food. That is capitalism! It cannot be otherwise under capitalism. Instead of plenty for all – it is luxury for the few and deprivation for the rest of us.

Why is this?
Because the very root of capitalism is wrong.
Because the basic idea is illogical.
Because the foundations are unsound.
Because the capitalist system is built on a contradiction.

It is the system in which the man who owns the tools of production does not work them whereas the man who works them does not own them. This is the basic contradiction of capitalism. The product does no longer belonged to the producer – the worker at the machine. It belongs to the capitalist owner of the machine. He sold it for the best price the market would pay. And gave the worker the smallest wage he would work for. The less wage for the worker, the bigger the profit for the capitalist. The bigger the wage for the worker, the less the profit for the capitalist. The capitalist is simply interested in longer hours, speed-ups and low wages. The worker is only interested in shorter hours, easier work, and high wages. Capitalism has employers pitted against employees - at war with each other - engaged in a class struggle with each other.

The capitalist owner of industry has only one reason to run his factory-profit. Under capitalism, the needs of the people for various goods are not the primary purpose of production. The capitalist will just as soon make rifles as bibles. All he asks is: "Which will pay more?" The fact that the millions of people depend upon industry for food, clothing, housing, furniture, transportation, communications and amusement is of interest to the capitalist only as the "market" in which he can realise a profitable return. He is the dictator over his plant. He can run it or shut it down to please himself. If production pays he hires and offers overtime. If profit falls, he throws his workers into the streets.  For all the rhetoric there exists no great plan nor social purpose. The only god is the Almighty Dollar and the Holy Script is the magic word "Dividends." This makes capitalism more destructive than any Act of God such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, cloudbursts, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions ever divinely visited upon earth from the beginning' of time. Capitalism kills and cripples millions in its wars, in class strife and civil war, in hunger and freezing, in industrial accidents and disease, in malnutrition, in poverty and crime. It destroys the wealth of society and wastes the potential of millions of idle hands. Place a hundred people in a room with a tiny opening for air. As they begin to suffocate, a mad fight takes place, with everyone attempting to get to the opening. In their madness, friend will turn upon friend, brother upon brother, son upon father. That is capitalism.

Capitalism pits worker against worker in bidding for a job. It pits capitalist against capitalist in fighting for profits. It pits workers against capitalists in class struggle. It pits capitalist nation against capitalist nation in war. It pits producer against consumer, landlord against tenant, farmer against city dweller, white against black, gentile against jew. All in a mad race for a crust of bread, for survival, for a bit security and this in an age when plenty is possible for all! It is the system of competition, dog eat dog, of each for himself and the devil take the hindmost, of the law of the jungle. An age of plenty - the New World within our power and reach - is being trampled in the dirt. Capitalism stands before us indicted as a system of criminal insanity, dripping with blood and filth. And the capitalist class stands before us as crazed overlords careering the planet towards its destruction.

When a capitalist nation is not at war, it is preparing for war. It must keep the people in a mood that makes them ready to fight. It is therefore necessary to instill a nationalist spirit in people. "My country, my flag." And not knowing whom they might have to fight, the capitalists instill in the people a hatred of all the neighboring nations.  In the Human Family such national hatreds would die out. And with the end of national hatreds and wars would come the end of militarism. Cutting out this great waste of resources would bring more to share in the good things of life. When one knows that one has enough for today and tomorrow and that there is more where that came from, one will no longer think as we do. We only want to heap up wealth for fear that we may some day be poor. Or else in order to get to the top of the heap and exploit others. Socialism will establish a new principle of pay: "From each according to ability, to each according to need." No longer driven to work by fear of hunger, labour will become a pleasure and a privilege to perform.

 Socialism will not only mean plenty for all, but also freedom for all. For the first time in history, people will really be free. Free from fear. Free from fear of the boss, fear of losing his or her job, fear of war, fear of insecurity, fear of hunger. Democracy cannot function when men and women  live in fear; when people fear to say what they think, fear to write what they believe, fear to join with those they agree with. Without true freedom there cannot be true democracy. For democracy to work it needs above all complete freedom for men to speak and write as they believe. Can there be freedom if one must depend upon others for the right to earn a living? If others can control our jobs, do they not control what we can say? If another has power over my bread and butter, over whether my children have food or not, does he not also have power over my freedom? That is why there can be no real freedom under capitalism, even in the "free-est" of countries. Every last person must have a feeling of complete freedom in participating in the affairs of a democratic decision-making. He or she must feel free to suggest, condemn, criticise, advise, proclaim without the slightest fear that those in charge will be able to strike back by discrimination on the job. This can never be under capitalism. That is why capitalist democracy can never reflect what the people are really thinking. Only the capitalist class are free in a capitalist democracy to speak out. Who controls the mass media, the school curriculums, the hundred and one ways of bringing ideas before the public? These are in the hands of the capitalist class. Is there a genuine right of free expression when the media can publicise what they please and refuse to circulate thoughts that capitalists think are "undesirable"?

If you are a worker, surely you cannot agree to go on living under capitalism, with its crises and uncertainty. Surely, you want to organise to fight to end it. The first step is to turn your back upon the parties of capitalism, Labour and Tory, Democrats and Republicans. The second step is to join with those who are striving to abolish wage slavery. The Socialist Party constantly seeks to educate our fellow workers as to the truth about capitalism and the need for socialism. Find out more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Spreading the socialist message

Marx wrote no “Utopia”. Nowhere in his writings is there to be found a detailed account of the new social system which was to follow capitalism but we can make generalized observations from what we know of the present capitalist system and what socialism needs to become. The first essential feature of socialism is that the means of production are taken from private ownership and used for society as a whole. The next step is the conscious, planned development of those productive forces. In socialist society, where production is not for profit but for use, a plan of production is possible. Therefore the factories and the mines, the power-stations and the railways, agriculture and fishing can and must be reorganised and made more up-to-date, so that a far higher level of production can be reached. What is the object of this? To raise the standard of living of the people.

One of the favorite arguments of the anti-socialists used to be that if everything produced was divided up equally, this would make very little difference in the standard of living of the workers. Even if this were true – and it is not – it has absolutely nothing to do with Marx’s conception of socialism. Marx saw that socialism would raise the level of production to undreamed-of heights. This increase in the level of production, and therefore in the standard of living of the people, is the material basis on which the intellectual and cultural level of the people will be raised. From the time when the working class takes power and begins the change to socialism, a change also begins to take place in the outlook of the people. All kinds of barriers which under capitalism seemed rigid grow weaker and are finally broken down. No person is treated as superior or inferior because of his or her gender, colour or nationality. In every factory, in every block of flats, in every aspect of life, men and women are shaping their own lives and the destinies. People are drawn into all spheres of public life, given responsibility for helping themselves and others. The self-seeking, individualist outlook bred by capitalism will have been replaced by a really social outlook. But even within capitalist society there is what is known as “solidarity” among the workers – the sense of a common interest, a common responsibility. This is not an idea which someone has thought of and put into the heads of workers: it is an idea which arises out of the material conditions of working-class life, the fact that they get their living in the same way, working alongside each other. The typical grasping individualist, on the other hand, the man with no sense of social or collective responsibility, is the capitalist surrounded by competitors, all struggling to survive by killing each other. Of course, the ideas of the dominant class – the competition and rivalry instead of solidarity – tend to spread among the workers, especially among those who are picked out by the employers for special advancement of any kind. But the fundamental basis for the outlook of any class (as distinct from individuals) is the material conditions of life, the way it gets its living.

Is this Utopian?

Human beings have no fixed characteristics and outlook, eternally permanent. In primitive tribal society, even in those forms of it which have survived to recent times, the sense of responsibility to the tribe is very great. In later society, after the division of society into classes, the sense of social responsibility was broken down, but still showed itself in a certain feeling of responsibility to the class. In capitalist society there is the most extreme disintegration of social responsibility: the system makes “dog eat dog” the main principle of life. Hence it follows that the outlook of people can be changed by changing their material conditions, the way in which they get their living. When therefore the material basis is socialist production and distribution, when the way in which all the people get their living is by working for society as a whole, then the sense of social responsibility so to speak develops naturally; people no longer need to be convinced that the social principle is right. It is not a question of an abstract moral duty having to establish itself over the instinctive desires of “human nature;” human nature itself is transformed by practice, by custom.

Marx’s whole account of socialist society shows that it will mean the end of wars. When production and distribution are organised on a socialist basis, there will be no group which will have the slightest interest in conquering others. A capitalist country conquers another country to extend its capitalist system, to open up new chances for profitable investments; to get new contracts for its corporations; to obtain new sources of cheap raw materials and new markets. Once again, it is not a question of morals; socialist societies will not make war because there is nothing they, or any groups within them, can gain from war. Years will pass and not a stone will be left of the accursed capitalist system, with its wars, its vile brutality and savagery. In the memory of people the times of capitalism will remain as a ghastly nightmare from a long gone era of darkness and ignorance. Socialist educators and agitators have capably demonstrated how socialism could end poverty, unemployment and war by eliminating private ownership of the means of producing the things of life, national and international competition, and the struggle for existence by the overwhelming majority of the population in this and all other countries. They have supplemented this campaign for socialism with a merciless exposure of the evils of capitalist society, its murderous exploitation of the workers, its utter hypocrisy in human relations, and the most evident feature of its class character: the impoverishment of the masses for the enrichment of a small class of capitalists.

The World Socialist Movement knows how to talk socialism. While, admittedly, failing in organising large groups of workers around the class struggle or the urgent need for constructing a mass socialist party with the aim of fighting for a socialist society, it has accomplished quite an effective job of telling people what socialism was. This propaganda for socialism, the “dream of socialism,” as it was often called, has taught thousands that socialism meant a society without classes, without the exploitation of man by man, without a production system operating for the purpose of producing profits for a few. The PR of Big Business, the paid-for and bought professors and intellectuals of every variety have taken to the pen to explain why capitalism is a wonderful society and socialism a mere utopia. These hired apologists even argued that the new richness of capitalism was actually paving the way to the kind of life, the socialists wanted and now call for a new capitalism with no unemployment, high wages, workers owning their own homes and even sharing ownership of their work-places in various forms of co-operatives. The bubbles keep bursting and the foundations carry on tumbling down, revealing the prosperity was fraud and we the working class are emerging from the slump worse than ever.  We are now witness to a new experience.

The necessity of rebuilding the movement for socialism requires the re-establishment of the art of socialist propaganda and agitation, to tell millions what socialism is, its relation and comparison to capitalism, and how it can be achieved. The task now for the WSM is to once more keep describing the present capitalist system, revealing how thoroughly rotten it is, how it is an outlived system capable of producing nothing but unemployment, poverty, war, the scourge of dictators and suppression of the people. Others may have done the same thing. The importance of the WSM is that it points a way out of this foul system and not only shows why socialism is inevitable and necessary, but describes what it is and how it can be achieved. This is all to the good to spread the message of socialism.

Aberdeen Shadows

Following the global collapse in oil prices, North Sea oil revenues have been in freefall. In the first three months of this year they fell by 75%, continuing the downward spiral from the middle of last year. The downturn seemed to have justified the fears expressed by No campaigners in the referendum on Scottish independence. Indeed, tax receipts from oil accruing to Scotland between January and March this year were £168m, down from the £742m gathered in the final quarter of 2014. And nowhere is the economic wind-chill factor being more sharply felt than in Aberdeen.

Amid job layoffs in a region long regarded as Scotland’s Klondike, the big oil operators are putting an end to the longstanding “two weeks on, three weeks off” working model for oil-rig workers. Crews are being pressured into signing up to a “three weeks on, three weeks off” equal-time rota. This is a tougher regime than in Norway, but is comparable with working practices in regions such as the Gulf of Mexico.

Aberdeen international airport show that passenger numbers in May took a hit of 8.1% against the same month last year. The occupancy rate for city hotels, meanwhile, was 68.9% in April, down from 77.9% in April 2014. More than 1,200 oil workers have been laid off in the region since the downturn began last year, while local businesses – minicab firms, hotels and restaurants – are reporting fewer customers. The property market, once seen as the most buoyant outside London, has begun to retreat, with worse expected.

But it is not all gloom.

Eclectic Fizz is the city’s premier champagne bar, as its manager explains “There’s still a lot of money in this place. You might ask yourself where it’s coming from, but it’s still there and it’s still evident. Of course, the falling oil prices have had an adverse effect, but that’s happened all over the world. If this is what it’s like when money is supposed to be scarce, I’d love to see this place when the good times roll.”

Sales of Mo√ęt, the house champagne, remain healthy, he says, while prosecco and cava are still sold in high numbers for those who want as close an approximation of the high life as they can get.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Change the world before it changes you

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” can be achieved in today’s world only by a socialist revolution. The Socialist Party is a Marxist party in that we understand that the interests of the capitalist class and the working class are opposed and cannot be reconciled; that capitalism can and must be ended and replaced; that the working people must capture the State then build a socialist society. Reformism - the acceptance of the framework of the capitalist economy and state - and seeking to "manage" capitalism has always ended by leading the attacks on the working class. The attempt to travel the road to socialism in small steps, to start it off through changes or reforms which are possible under capitalism, leads inevitably to forgetting the final aim and making the means an end in themselves. Reformist tactics have up to now led to the the carrying out of reforms being by the leadership of working class organisations, the politicians of the parliamentary parties thus every successful reform strengthens the faith of the workers in ‘those in power’, who can ‘get it done’, and to weaken the independence and consciousness of the working class. Socialists call upon the consciousness, self-activity and self-reliance of the workers and thus strengthening them in the class struggle.

Socialism will not be won by moving speeches and convincing writings, nor will it come if we were to elevate the day-to-day struggles to the exclusion of the fight to win the minds of the working class. We do suggest that the outlook which sees these struggles as ends in themselves, will also prove lacking. Our approach must be a synthesis of ideas and action. A socialist party is needed to give the working people an understanding of the nature of the capitalist system in which they live. Socialist understanding does not arise by itself from the immediate struggles, however hard or successful they may be. The working class does not develop a political, socialist consciousness spontaneously, out of separate or even out of a series of struggles or campaigns. The impact of a recession upon workers does not immediately and automatically turn into class-consciousness, but only through long drawn out theoretical education, propaganda and agitation. Without these, sections of the working class can very easily develop a fascist consciousness instead of a socialist one in a crisis. Everyone who has participated in a strike knows that the strikers, however militant, do not automatically become socialists as a result of their struggles. Socialist theory enables the Socialist Party to present the interests of the whole of the working class and not of any one section of it at the expense of others. This means that the Socialist Party helps the working class to fight against narrow sectional advantage and to fight for the unity of the working class.  We have no ready-made solutions to this problem which events have forced upon us. We claim only that the problem must be faced: and there must be discussion. The result of this discussion, we hope, will be to liberate great political energies based on socialist principles. As in the case of the New Model Army during the English Civil War against the monarchists, those soldiers, “know what they fight for, and love what they know.”

The State is an instrument of power in the hands of the big industrialists, bankers and landlords, who by this token are the ruling class. The State is there to effect the exploitation and oppression of the workers. There is war. It is class war. It is waged by the representatives of one class, the oppressors, against the mass of another class, the oppressed. In this war, the State is always and invariably on the side of the oppressors. Some of its representatives may try to achieve the ends of capital by cajoling and wheedling. But they always keep the big stick ready. The State — that is the big stick of the owners of wealth, the big stick of the big corporations. This is the only realistic view of the State. Everyone who tries to persuade you that the State is your friend, your defender, that the State is impartial and only “regulatory,” is misleading.

The winning of a majority in Parliament, supreme organ of state power, is one of the essential steps. A primary task of the socialist government would be to deprive capitalists of economic and political power. When a socialist majority in Parliament is won it will need the support of the mass movement outside Parliament to uphold the decisions. The working class and popular movement will need to be ready to use its organised strength to prevent or defeat attempts at violence against it.

Suppose you reject the case for socialism and decline to organise for its establishment. Will the world stay just the same, will it move forward, or will it go backwards? It is most important to understand what will happen to capitalist society if it is not replaced by socialism.  In every country, the crises of capitalism makes life harder for people to endure. Silent obedience is made a “patriotic” duty. Today under the austerity policies being imposed, the unemployed, “maintained” by the government and are at the government’s mercy. They are ordered to take any job, regardless of wages of working conditions, which it instructs them to take. Although this may make the chains of wage-slavery heavier and harder to bear, it does not lead to our extinction as a species. Capitalism’s effects on the environment, however, does that very thing. Socialism will also conserve the natural resources of the country which are now being ruthlessly wasted in the mad capitalist race for profits.

We live in a world of enormous economic and social contrasts. Although the potential exists to create wealth unimagined by previous generations and distribute them around the world billions in the developing countries have no safe water supply, lack sanitation and millions suffer from chronic malnutrition. Capitalism is unable to tackle the problems of the world because it is a system based on private ownership and individual greed. Socialism remains the only alternative and this conclusion is not a case of wishful thinking.

The capitalist class own most of industry, land, commerce, the banks and the mass media. The overwhelming majority of people can live only by selling their labour power to a capitalist employer, or to the state. Under capitalism, the price of commodities that workers produce reflects the average labour time taken to produce them, including their inputs (raw materials, power, wear and tear of machinery etc.) But the revenue that capitalists receive from the sale of those commodities is more than enough to pay the wages bill, other production costs, taxes and renewed investment. The balance—capitalist profit—goes mostly in dividends to shareholder capitalists, in rent to landowning capitalists and in interest payments to money-lending capitalists. Where does this capitalist profit come from? It is the value created by the company workforce, over and above the value of their wages. Workers, for example, create almost twice the value of their wages. The portion they do not receive back in wages or social benefits is the ‘surplus value’ kept by their employers. Here is the source of capitalist profit, and in this way workers are exploited under capitalism.

As employers seek to minimise costs and to squeeze more surplus value out of their workforce, they will try to hold down wages while also investing in machinery and equipment that saves labour costs and enables them to produce commodities more cheaply than their competitors. As the price of a commodity is determined largely by the average labour time taken to produce it, companies producing it at below average cost and value will make extra profits at the expense of the high-cost ones. In the state sector, workers in local government and the civil and public services are also engaged in a struggle with employers. Lower costs and higher productivity of labour will keep public expenditure down—which means lower taxes, less pressure to increase wages and therefore bigger net profits in the private sector. Whether in the private or public sector, it is in the interests of the capitalist class to reduce labour costs by employing workers who can be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender, or age. Divisions within the working class on these and other grounds assist the capitalists to force down the general level of wages and other labour-related costs. That is why it is in the interests of all workers to unite against discrimination and inequality.

In a world-wide rush for profit capitalism has ravaged the resources and environment of the earth for more than a century. Widespread pollution of the air, soil, rivers, lakes and seas is but one of the consequences. Global warming and its ‘greenhouse effect’ threaten a greater incidence of climatic instability, crop failure and flooding. Destruction of the rain-forests is driving plant and animal species to extinction. We must move towards an overall system of production in which waste is either eliminated or reduced to an absolute minimum. The atmosphere, the oceans and the land can no longer be treated as a dustbin. Waste must either be recycled or used as a starting point for other processes. Where this is not possible in a particular process of production, that process may have to be abandoned or replaced by an alternative one. At all times, the effects of human activity on the environment will have to be carefully monitored, and research carried out to deal with problems as they arise. This applies to agriculture as much as to industry. The change to a closed system of waste-free production is incompatible with the existence of an unplanned capitalist economy dominated by the monopolies. Their drive for maximum and short-term profit takes precedence over the long-term consequences for the environment. The drive for private capitalist profit is an in-built obstacle to greater environmental protection. It regards ‘green’ policies as a drain on potential profits and dividends. It leads to the wasteful levels of consumption of raw materials seen today in the highly industrialised world.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Make socialism a reality

Socialism is a society in which all the members of the community collectively determine their conditions of life and their way of living. In order to do so, they must own and control in common all the means of production. Unless the means of production are effectively in the hands of the whole society there can be no question of the democratic control of the conditions of life. Every capitalist competes with every other one for a market. If one capitalist does not compete, he is lost. Capitalism is a social system which breeds conflicts. It is a seething jungle of struggles wherein individuals, classes, nations, and empires fight against each other. Individual wage-earners vie with each other for jobs; capitalists outbid one another for markets; classes struggle against each other in the economic and political arenas; and nations are prepared to wipe each other off the map for the sake of expansionist conquest. Socialism will be won through the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the seizure of political power by the working class. Working people will control the great wealth they produce, they will be fundamentally able to determine their own futures. The end of exploitation of one person by another will be an unprecedented liberating and transforming force. Socialism will open the way for great changes in society.

The Socialist Party is convinced that socialism is the only hope of the workers. The social revolution, on the other hand, sets out to destroy private property in the means of wealth production and to establish social ownership. Socialism, therefore, means the end of class rule. It will have no use for the instrument of class domination—the State. That institution, the emblem of class hatred, will pass away. Such a system of society is possible. Neither reforms nor palliatives can in any way remove the great economic contradictions inherent in capitalism. Thus reforms, palliatives, and patches will not rid capitalism of its problems. It must be replaced with the new system of socialism. Socialism is, therefore, not a reform movement. Our political declaration is to aim at the capture of the political machine in order to tear the State, with its armed force, out of the hands of the capitalist class, thus removing the murderous power which capitalism looks to in its final conflict with labour. In a word, the revolutionary value of political action lies in its being the instrument specially fashioned to destroy capitalism.

Because the political weapon is used by the capitalist class against labour, and because the political State is a machine to maintain class rule, there are many workers who contend that working class political action is futile, if not dangerous. The Socialist Party declares that as political power is used by capital to enforce its economic power, for that very reason the workers must meet capital on the political field. In the class war the workers dare not allow the capitalists to hold ground on the battle-field without a view to capturing it. We may ignore the political arena, as our anarchists do, but neither the class war can be waged successfully by ignoring any stronghold of the enemy. Until the working class is conscious of its own interests—until it clearly realises what it wants and how to get it—then they are the tools of the Labour Party and other left-wing charlatans. The moment that the wage-earners understand their class interests they will not be betrayed either industrially or politically. Because “leaders” are only able to act treacherously when their followers are ignorant and confused.

The Socialist Party takes the political field with one plank upon its programme—Socialism. It emphasises that only Socialists must vote for its candidates. Every other vote is useless and dangerous. Alliances, compromises, and all such arrangements easily mean the return of a candidate, but not of a socialist candidate.

Socialism is not some Utopian scheme. Capitalism has created the economic conditions for socialism. Today there is social production but no social ownership. Socialism will bring social ownership of social production. It is the next step in the further development of the world. Socialism will not mean government control.

Millions of people have come to realize that something is basically rotten with the whole society. Among these some people have begun to search out more the cause of the abuses and outrages they were fighting against and the solution to them. This led a number of them to Karl Marx whose work shows that capitalist society is based on the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class and that all the evils of this society arise from that. But more than that, it shows that throughout history society has been propelled forward through various historical stages by the struggle of the oppressed classes, and that in this era it is the carrying through of the working class struggle, to overthrow and eliminate capitalism, that alone can move society forward. And further it explains how the working class in abolishing capitalism will put an end to the division of society into classes and bring about a completely new era in human history where mankind as a whole, through it cooperative efforts and conscious planning, can continue to gain mastery over nature and harness its forces to advance to heights undreamed of in the past.

There is only one way that all the suffering caused by capitalism can be finally ended – by wiping out its source, capitalism. And there is only one force in society that can bring this about–the working class, uniting against the capitalists all those who suffer under their rule. This is why the aim of the working class, through all its daily battles against the capitalists, must not only be to win whatever concessions that can be wrung from them today, but to build the strength and unity of the working class and build for the day when it will be able to overthrow the capitalists altogether.

In Wages, Price and Profit Marx insisted that if workers were to abandon their battles around wages and working conditions, then “they would be degraded to one level mass of broken wretches past salvation ... By cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.” But these battles are not ends in themselves. In the very next paragraph Marx also warned against exaggerating the importance of such battles and becoming “exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly springing up from the never-ending encroachments of capital...” Thus while this struggle is necessary if the proletariat is to resist everyday attacks and still more to develop its fitness for revolutionary combat, such struggle is not itself revolutionary struggle. Moreover, unless the economic struggle is linked to building a consciously revolutionary movement–unless, as Marx puts it, it is waged not from the view of “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work” but under the banner of “abolition of the wages system”.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why we are socialists

When the working class has power it can build socialism. The political power of the capitalist class is exercised, not merely through the parliamentary institutions, which it modifies or discards according to the situation but through its own class control of all institutions, by its own officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, police force, law courts, press, schools. It is only possible to conquer this class domination when, the majority of the workers are prepared to throw off the capitalist class control in all phases of social, industrial and political activity, and themselves take control of the factories, mines, workshops, railways, etc. There can be no real democracy unless it is a workers’ democracy that is in power. Real democracy means the mass of the population being at once voters and administrators. This is can be possible under a system of workers’ councils or peoples’ communes or another form of participatory decision-making that is deemed fit and proper at the appropriate time and place

The establishment of a socialist, planned economy, based on the needs of the people, will mean the end to the chaos of capitalist production with its lack of planning, repeated crises, unemployment and criminal waste. The guiding principle will be “from each according to ability, to each according to needs”. Exploitation, oppression, and degradation will not exist in socialism. Commodity production, that is, production for sale or exchange on the market, will not exist. The system of wage labour will be abolished. The means of production will be held communally and private property will be eliminated.

With the abolition of classes and class distinctions, all social and political inequality arising from them will disappear. The conflicts of interest between workers and farmers, town and country, manual and intellectual labor will disappear. As classes will not exist, the state will not be necessary as an instrument of class rule and will wither away. We socialists are up against the fact of life that many people have to be convinced afresh that socialism does in fact represent a better and more fulfilling life, that the idea of the withering away of the state is not a pipe-dream, but a realistic sketch of the future state of human society. New recruits to socialism will be created only when people believe these things again, and only by cogent reasoning and intellectual demonstration can we hope to convince them. They will certainly never be won by repeating the tired old mantras and shibboleths. Socialism has been the goal of the working class political movement since the time of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Essential aspects of their political program can be found in the Communist Manifesto, which still has considerable relevance for our own time. Marx and Engels outlined the most important measures to be carried through by the proletarian dictatorship: expropriation of the expropriators, the replacement of private ownership of the means of production by social ownership, the abolition of exploitation of man by man and of the exploiting classes, and the ensuring of a rapid rise of the productive forces of society. Marx and Engels foresaw that in socialist society anarchy of production would be replaced by planned development of social economy.

Capitalism, no matter how it plans and hopes and prays, would never actually be able to do more than drive the worker to the bedrock of subsistence – although there is plenty to provide  feather-bed luxury for all. It is the very essence of capitalism to keep labour at a minimum point, just sufficiently above the starving point so that it can continue to produce. It should be clear that socialism will not come into existence unless the majority of the people are willing to struggle for socialism and that means that they have some idea of what it is. If the people who vote for a socialist do not do so because he or she is a socialist but because they do not know that he or she is a socialist, of what earthly use can that be for achieving the socialist goal? Socialism must depend upon the consciousness of a knowledgeable majority and not upon their lack of understanding. The idea that we should first be elected to office and then teach the idea socialism utterly absurd. From the point of view of achieving socialism a few hundred votes, obtained conducting a campaign where socialist ideas are stressed, are worth ten times more than if thousands of votes are cast in a campaign where the necessity for the struggle for socialism was not emphasised. Some within the socialist movement have expressed the opinion that the word “socialist” has kept the workers away and have advocated a change of terminology and language name as a method of weaning the working class away from the mainstream parties. The working class will come to accept the ideas of socialism party not because all the workers will read our literature but because bitter experience will teach it that there is no other way out. The working class always tends to take what appears to be the easiest path and only after constant disappointments will it come to realize that the path of revolutionary struggle offers the only solution. Our party was the only party that pointed out during the general election that there is no alternative for the working class other than socialism. The fundamental issue of our election campaigns is always socialism versus capitalism.

A reformist wants to achieve an immediate demand without struggle and as one of the necessary steps to achieve socialism without struggle. The socialist wants to educate the workers in the struggle as a step towards the final struggle for power. We take it for granted that socialism cannot be introduced by a change of the constitution and the enactment of one law after another. We take it for granted that the state is an instrument to serve and protect the interests of the capitalist class. One can shout from now till doomsday that socialism is necessary and that it is better than capitalism but to educate workers one must explain the significance of great events that agitate the minds of vast numbers of people. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong – in fact quite the contrary – in describing a picture of future socialism. But a picture book which has as its purpose winning workers over to the socialist movement which does not contain a word about the class struggle and which indicates that all the workers have to do, in order to get these nice things shown in the pictures, is to vote the socialist ticket, is worthy of the worst type of reformism.

If the political power of the working class is not used as a means to establish common ownership over the means of production and to abolish wage-labour, if this power is not exploited to bring about the economic revolution which constitutes the essence of the socialist revolution of the proletariat, then any victory is doomed to failure. Socialists are not out to create a bloody revolution. Socialists work for the improvement of the conditions of the people. Their understanding of social science teaches them that in the long run, such is capitalist development, that improvement can only be attained by changing basic social relations, by a shift in ownership and control from the few to the many. Capitalism produces its own grave-diggers, the masses of the wage workers and they reach a point where it is no longer possible to live, they see the limitations of the trade union struggle in the persistence of insecurity ... private ownership must go, social ownership must take its place, socialism.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Communicating revolution

People don’t suddenly understand everything at once. Often they are politicalised (radicalised, if you like) by one issue that effects or influenced them. These people begin to question the whole society, and to see the inter-relationships between different issues. Our aim, in fact, is to help move people to a wider and broader perspective and understanding of the world. We point the way to the goal of the class struggle: socialism. Reformism preaches defeatism to the exploited. Nothing can be expected, nothing is possible but what exists, and what continues is betrayal of what could be with the argument of lesser evil. Those who call for a “lesser evil” — that is, for evil — will unfortunately succeed. The call for a “lesser evil” is what makes possible the greater evil.

Often revolutions are defensive. Fundamental social change takes place as a defense against attempts to take back hard-fought rights, gains, or conditions. Often revolutions do not occur out of ideological commitment to a better or higher social order. Ideas, on a mass scale, can transcend the ideological constraints of the existing social order only in part and for short periods of time, during intense, mass, independent from the ruling class activity. Often revolutions occur because deep contradictions develop between what people see as justifiable — as taught by the existing society — and the unjustifiable policies pursued by the ruling class. Capitalism creates a continuous conflict between its own ideals and the reality it creates. Capitalism cannot resolve its basic contradiction by becoming more responsive to social needs except for short periods of time, and then only in a limited manner. This is the case because taking into consideration human needs always comes into conflict with the drive for profits that is capitalism’s reason for existence. Inevitably, capitalism is forced to go against its own ideals and thus open the road towards revolution. Even such a simple everyday concept as the right to education, which we have come to take for granted, at least at the secondary level, comes into direct conflict with the profit system and so we have a groundswell of opposition to student debt and privatized schools. The struggle for universal education is now deeply ingrained in our consciousness as a norm and a right and there exists resistance against it being undermined. The expression “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” takes on a 1001 varieties that are coming into increased conflict with the needs and very premises of the capitalist order. From efforts to protect our environment to the battles against oppression based on gender and race, people are drawn into the struggles to defend a “tradition” that lays claim to the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

An understanding of the traditions and ideals that exist among the exploited and oppressed is crucial if we are to develop a united working class capable of linking together with a common consciousness. It is essential for driving a wedge between the ruling class and the people to build mass movement against the ruling class. The traditions of the struggles of working people, includes the revolutionary rhetoric to Lincoln's claim that democracy should be “of, by, and for the people”, which we now have as the basis for opposition to present ruling class policies. Marx referred to a “dictatorship of the proletariat” as opposed to a “dictatorship of capital”. Marx was not speaking of a draconian government with a state-security apparatus. A “dictatorship of the proletariat defends the interests of the working people, is by definition far more democratic in any form than the most democratic dictatorship of capital, which must defend the interests of a tiny minority. The working class itself forms the absolute majority of the population. A call for control by working people is itself a call for democratic majority rule. Today, we have a government responsive to corporations run of, by, and for the rich. A majority of people, based on democratic traditions, favor a democracy genuinely of, by, and for the people, but do not fully understand that the present governments does not meet that goal. Our task is to claim for ourselves the positive interpretation of democracy and so drive a wedge between the masses and the ruling class. The world is ripe for a planned rationally based economic order that produces for human needs and is administered democratically. All our social problems are intertwined, and the struggle to improve the quality of our lives and our “rights” are tied to our tradition of struggle. The right to vote, the right to representation, is deeply ingrained in our culture and traditions and can become a powerful weapon against the ruling class.

A return to a better understanding of Marxism and a better grasp of linking up with one’s own revolutionary heritage could be a means of persuasion. The efforts of the well-intentioned but dogmatic sectarians who opposed, sometimes correctly, certain errors and abuses within the workers’ movement too frequently led to self-righteousness, and to the formation of “vanguards” who fancied themselves the final answer. History has shown them wanting. The Left today is, in general, divided between ideological dogmatists on one side and single-issue activists on the other. The sectarians wish to overcome our dichotomy between less politicized activist and highly politicized dogmatist by recruiting out of the activist layers new members into their sects. We reject this.

In the beginning there arose a mass social movement calling for working people to fight for their rights as capitalism developed in the 19th century. This movement had an ongoing debate over what its ultimate goals should be. Its immediate objectives were somewhat obvious. It fought for better pay, shorter hours of work, better working conditions and in many cases against various forms of ethnic, racial or social discrimination. But also, fundamental to the immediate struggles was the struggle for political rights for working people, the right to vote being one obvious and important issue. The conception of a future society in which there would be no rich or poor, where society would be run democratically both politically and economically, where the economy would be rationally planned and production would be based on human needs not profits for individuals, gradually became accepted by millions throughout the world. That future society was generally referred to as socialism. Marx raised the concept that to change the nature of capitalism to a society responsive to the needs of the majority — the working people — a change of who rules would be needed, something that the present ruling circles would resist by any and all means.  Marx made a differentiation between struggles for reforms within a capitalist society and a struggle to fundamentally change society, that is, to revolutionise society.

The confusion in the minds of working people on a world scale is immense regarding the word “socialism”. For most it is an economic project that inevitably will end up in a totalitarian government. For some it may mean “Sweden” or simply lots of welfare safety nets. Socialism means reorganizing the economy so workers would have the decisive say and society would be run for the benefit of the majority. It means rational planning and equality. In the last analysis if we are correct and capitalism will be surpassed by a more rational social order in which class divisions as we have known them will end, this has to have very deep objective roots. If our concept of the origins of ideas is the material world, the ideas of class struggle and of a socialist vision, are being generated continuously. The experiences of people in this society — the exploitation, oppression and abuses — always generate struggles, organizing and the development of social movements. Ideas about these movements and how to change society are always in flux. To believe that a small number of enlightened leaders discovered the magic wand is not materialist. Our movement is still developing ideas on how to organize and how to change society. A lot of people around the world are thinking about these issues. Their experiences are helping them to find a way forward to end the way capitalism is destroying the planet and its human population. The future will hold all kinds of surprises especially regarding forms.

Language is not a tactical question. It reflects the real political content of our movement and to begin to overcome the isolation is a political need to shift away from sectarian traditions, language, internal culture and stale methods of intervention. Rather than always start from what happened in history it may be  better to start from what is needed in the world to create a peaceful, just, ecologically sound, prosperous society for all, and how that translates into reality. The future changes in society will only come about after the socialist movement has literally become the culture of working people. The potential power of the people is so great that it puts sharp limits on what corporations can do. There is now no more important issue than saving our planet from destruction. We do not consider ourselves a substitute for other movements or organizations, such as peace and environmental organizations and other specific issue groups that seek to unite people of all political persuasions around a specific platform. We welcome diversity to defend conditions. But we must have unity of purpose when it comes to changing society and establishing a socialist system.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

We are working class

Try an experiment. Dress up smart in a suit and tie, and walk into some corporation and say: “Hello, I’m a sociologist, I’m here to do a study. Could I just walk around and talk to people?” And then you walk up to somebody and say: “Who’s your supervisor?” And he’ll point to some office, and you find someone with a little name plate, and it’s a supervisor. And you ask him: “Who’s your supervisor?” And he’ll point to a different place, and you walk in and there’ll be a rug. And you say to him: “Who’s your supervisor?” And he’ll point to a different floor, all carpeted and you’ll find it gets harder and harder to get in the doors. There’s more and more secretaries, and phones, and the carpets gets thicker and thicker. Eventually you have to make appointments. And then you hit the barrier. Here is where you switch from the people who carry out decisions to people who make the decisions. And that’s your local ruling class. And from your test, you’ll find that all institutions are structured in the same way. A pyramid from the top going down. This goes for government, for the political parties, the army, the churches, the universities, for every basic institution. And when you get to the very top of these structures, to the most powerful people, you will invariably find people who own big property.

The capitalist class and the working-class stand openly opposed to each other. The class lines are clearly defined. There is no mistaking who is a capitalist and who is a worker, who is rich and who is poor. The capitalists are banded together in their Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, and their trade associations. Worker are organised in trade unions. While there remain many workers outside the unions, for all effective purposes—as in all vital industries—the organised workers dominate the situation. That is to say, that while the industries of the country could be run without the unorganised workers, they could not be run without the trade unionists. In the past, ruling classes were proud of their role. They would walk around with feathers in their hats, or luxuriant robes and things, and when they went down the street, people would say: “Hey, there goes one of our ruling class.” Nowadays, they don’t do that. Now, somebody in the ruling class could walk right by, and you wouldn’t even know it. They dress just like you. They’re incognito. They go around saying that there are no longer any classes, that everybody’s ‘middle-class’, only that some are a little more middle-class than others. In other words, they are frightened to reveal their own existence. They have to hide it. And there are good reasons for that. One of their problems, of course, is that they’re so small in number. They are few and we are many. The smallness of the ruling class means we have more power in comparison. So how do they maintain their rule? The reason is simple. The mass of people are under false illusions.

The capitalists are the most astute, the most cunning, the most resourceful and the proudest ruling class in the world. They have become so by centuries of experience of robbery and pillage and piracy in all parts of the world. They know how to create the atmosphere of liberty but yet rule and rob with an iron fist. It knows how to manipulate democracy. It knows how to have “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the Press” which is no freedom if you cannot afford it. The propertied interests respect neither religious texts, nor logical propositions. These are always moved to action to protect their interests. They hold the world by their power, and they only respect power. They know how to create and end revolts. They know how to corrupt the leaders of people abroad and at home with honours, flattery, social position, money. The working-class is enmeshed with the webs woven by men “honoured” and paid by the capitalist class, always at the ready to play the part of Judas. From experience they possess a wide knowledge of how politics operates. Such a ruling class knows well the art of protecting itself. The capitalist class has at its disposal a powerful media, colouring the minds of millions of peoples’ outlook on life, determining largely their political opinions, fashioning their thoughts, moulding their minds to a servile acceptance of things as they are or as the controllers of these mouthpieces of capitalism desire them to be. The capitalists realise their strength in this connection and ensure their control of it. All this and much more is well understood.

On the workers’ part it is perfectly known that society is fully ripe for the transformation to complete social ownership and control and nothing stands in the way but political consciousness of the people themselves. No serious student of history would attempt to say how near any country is to revolution in terms of months or years. Our work, therefore, is still that of agitation, education and organisation. Our revolt cannot be just against politics and the distribution of the surplus-value. The revolt must be against value production itself. A worker’s fundamental function in all societies, past, present and future, was to create use-values. Into this organic function of all labour, capitalist production imposed the contradiction of producing value, and more particularly surplus-value. Within this contradiction is contained the necessity for the division of society into direct producers (workers) and rulers of society. On this class distinction rests the bourgeois distinction between economics and politics. The working class must now give notice that it is ready to solve these contradictions and abolish labour as “labour”. It seeks to substitute instead a meaningful creative activity with a social aim as the end and the exercise of its natural and acquired faculties as the means.

Everything you use, everything you eat or wear, your car, your housing — you didn’t make any of these things. We don’t produce these things as individuals. We produce socially. People in one part of the world make things which people in another part of the world use. But, even though we produce socially, through co-operation, we don’t own the means of production socially. And this affects all the basic decisions made in this society about what we produce. These decisions are not made on the basis of what people need, but on the basis of what makes a profit. Take the question of hunger. There are people going hungry all over the world and yet, because of the profit system, many governments are subsidizing some farmers not togrow crops to eat but to put into cars as fuel. Farmers don’t make their decisions by saying: “We need a lot of corn so I’m going to plant a lot of corn.” They never say that. They say: “How much money am I going to make if I plant corn?” Did you know that if decisions were not made on this basis, then the USA alone would have the potential to feed the whole world? The productive potential is there. Take the question of homelessness. We could build beautiful free homes for every family. They could wipe out every slum in a matter of a few years. The potential exists, not only in the factories and materials for building, but in the potential to build new machines and factories. Yet, they are not going to solve the housing question because it’s not profitable to build houses. You have the unemployed not hired because it’s not profitable to hire them. In addition, you have a mammoth, organised effort to create waste. For instance, if you designed a car for that would last 50 years, they wouldn’t use it. Because that would destroy the purpose of making cars, which is to produce profits. We have the people who consume a great deal but don’t produce anything. Then you have things like the people in the advertising industry. They don’t do anything really useful or necessary. Another example of how the potential for meeting human needs is destroyed because of the profit system. Say you are a capitalist, and you’re about to build a factory. Do you say: “I’ll build it where it’s nice, where there are trees and fresh air, and where the workers will have nice homes and will be able to go mountain climbing or hunting or swimming?” No, that’s not the way you think. You say: “Well, where’s my market, where are my raw materials coming in, how can I make the most profit?” And this means you might build the factory where you will pump even more poison into the air. Things are getting worse.

Socialists have been accused for many years of wanting to overthrow capitalism by force and violence. When they accuse us of this, what they are really trying to do is to imply that we want to abolish capitalism by minority action, that we want to force the will of the minority on to the majority. The opposite is the truth. We believe we can win a majority to support a change in the system. We have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and other democratic rights. So, say you go to your job one day and test it. Wear a big badge that says, “Vote Socialist”. And watch how fast you get promoted. Watch how you are treated. Formally you have the right to have any political view you want. But, the truth is that in all these institutions there is a very worked out, institutionalised way of going up. And on the way up, you sell your individuality, you commit yourself to the values of the system. And you learn very fast that in return for full commitment to the system — for personal discipline, for showing up every morning wearing the right clothes, keeping your hair short, and the rest — in return, you get privileges. It’s done on the basis of privileges. That is what holds the society together. All the institutions under capitalism are ideological institutions in the sense that all of them maintain and demand support for the system. So it should be no surprise to you that the higher you go in a corporation, the higher you go in the university structure, the higher you go in the army, the people get more and more reactionary. They get more and more consciously pro the system; they are more and more for whatever crimes the system has to commit. They simply wouldn’t be there if they weren’t.

If tomorrow the plutocrats and oligarchs cancelled all elections, did away with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and so on and if there was any dissent throw you all into concentration camps. How long do you think the ruling class would stay in power? They couldn’t do it. Their power is already limited by a certain consciousness that exists in the mass of the people. Their power is limited by the fact that the mass of the people believe in free speech, in free assembly and in democracy. Many believe that the ruling class has unlimited power – not true. Of course, our rulers will suppress opposition to them insofar as they can get away with it. And they will use the most brutal means available if it suits their needs. But they will try to keep the repression in the bounds of what they can get away with without waking up the majority of the people, without destroying the illusion of democracy. Because, if the people begin to wake up, that’s a big danger.

For example in the United States there is no real democracy in the sense that ordinary people don’t run this country. The elections are totally phony. The ruling class simply gets up and picks two people, or three, and they say: “Okay, everybody, we’re having elections. Now you can vote for Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton” Then they have their candidates have a debate. But the debate isn’t entirely superficial. The debate often represents a real living struggle between different positions within the ruling class. The ruling class resolves many of the smaller tactical differences they have among themselves through means of elections. Obviously, such elections do not in any way mean that the people have a voice in ruling this country. At the same time, the masses of people believe in democracy. And this belief in democracy is something that actually weakens the rulers. And it is something that gives us real power. There is a power relationship between working people and the ruling class based on the potential power of the working class. Because of this power relationship, you can do many things. It gives us what we call free speech. It gives us free assembly. It gives us the right to organise political groups legally. They don’t suppress these newspapers because they know that the minute they start suppressing papers, it’s going to wake people up and bring a reaction. The only hope the ruling class has is if it can isolate the revolutionaries completely from the rest of the people. That is why the number-one task of all socialists who really want to change the system is to know how to reach the people.

This is one of the biggest problems existing in the labour movement at this point. There’s no way that we radicals can by ourselves wake up the American people. Just forget about that. There is no magazine we can publish or leaflet that we could write so articulately that when you hand it to a worker, he will pick it up and say: “That’s it — I’m with you.” If that were how we could do it, we’d have done it a long time ago. There is only one way it will happen. Capitalism does it for us. The system creates the situation in which people wake up.  The rebellion takes place on all levels. People want to be free and sometimes they realise this is possible. All of a sudden, you have an increase in consciousness, an awareness about the problems of society, created by the capitalists. And this awareness can become much more intensified if you have a crisis — if you have a major war, or a downturn in the economic situation. This is a spontaneous radicalisation, an uprising of sorts, but that will never result in a change of the system, unless it’s organised, unless there is a concept of how to struggle and what to struggle for. We must seek to understand how to change society and know what we want to change it into. Very few individuals come to this consciousness completely on their own. Ideas have been a by-product of the accumulation of thought and experience over the long history of class struggle. The capitalist class has also had experiences, from which they have gained knowledge. They’ve been running the world for a couple of hundred years now. They know how, when an opposition develops, to try to repress it, to knock it down, while at the same time how to manoeuvre and absorb it and buy it off. Let us explain what a reformist is. A reformist is someone who doesn’t like what capitalism does, but likes capitalism. They are try to solve the problems created by the system by supporting the system. They are looking for shortcuts, trying to change the system from within. They hope electing a “progressive savior” will substitute for building an independent political movement of the working people against the ruling class. And there is no shortcut to change the system.

Vanguard Leninist/Trotskyist parties think they can take on the power structure, then they can change society. But they’re not going to change it by themselves. You can’t change it without the majority of people involved. And you most certainly can’t change it when they are against you. The Leftists are merely expressing frustration. They don’t have the patience and the understanding of the need to persuade the people, to win them over, to involve them in the struggle through mass movements. We have is an overwhelming majority of people who have objectively no interest in this capitalist system. They have to be won over, and our whole strategy, everything we do, has got to be directed at winning them to our side. Our every step our every demand, is based on democratic ideas. Socialism does not simply mean that the Socialist Party comes to power, but rather that working people come to power. Any concept, any struggle that ignores this will only end in disaster.

So, to end, we say this. The ruling class is never going to solve its problems through the capitalist system. Therefore, the objective conditions for revolution are going to rise up over and again. We don’t create these conditions, but there is one thing we can do. That is, we can create the subjective factor, by understanding and participating in the revolutionary process, we can make success possible. Are we going to be able to do it? Others have failed to do it. Are we going to be able to build a mass socialist party to overthrow the system? That is the great challenge.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What do we mean by socialism

Capitalism is not part of an eternal “natural order” of things and nor is it a consequence of “human nature”. It is a fairly recent arrival in man’s history. The problems we face – unemployment, poverty, recession, are not some aberrant “illness” of capitalism, they are an essential part of how it works. All these evils are the direct result of the private ownership of wealth, and the consequent exploitation by a few of the mass of the population, the workers who produce all wealth – and whose reward is a pittance. This tiny minority of the population holds complete control of the economy and political power, and effectively controls all the machinery of the state, the armed forces, the police, judiciary and upper rank of the Civil Service. The economic and political power of the capitalist class has its counterpart in the domination and control of the production of ideas, through which it maintains the repressive machinery of the state.

The ruling class will attempt to defend its power by any means possible and so, if any fundamental change is to come about, the mass of exploited people must be prepared to use any means necessary but our first and primary weapon is the vote. Peaceful revolution cannot be achieved by a small group of plotters or terrorists. It can only come about when the mass of workers themselves decide to move.

There is an alternative to the system we live under. It is socialism and it can be achieved. What do we mean by socialism? Not the phony “socialism” of the Labour Party with its years of betrayal, and its attempts to organise the working class to make capitalism work, nor is it the “socialism” of the old USSR which used pseudo-socialist phrases but where in fact one huge capitalist monopoly, the state, exploited the Soviet workers and peasants on behalf of a small ruling elite of Party polit-bureau and State officials. We are fighting for a social democracy in which the producers of wealth, the working class, will collectively own the factories, the land, the hospitals, the schools, etc. and will run them themselves according to the will of the majority. The aim of the apologists for capitalism is to turn workers away from socialism. They are especially determined to discredit Marxism, claiming it is no longer relevant. This means that socialists must redouble their efforts against their arguments. They must show that socialism is a valid and necessary alternative and that Marxism is an effective guide for the working class. At times pseudo-Marxists show up and under a camouflage of revolutionary terminology they add grist to the mill of capitalism’s apologists.

With socialism there are no longer a market, commodities, values, prices, or wages. The community, through their representatives, guide their own destinies and organise themselves so that world-wide production may be purposefully controlled and managed. The allocation of material and workers to a particular industry is made, not according to the hectic fluctuations of the market but by an analysis of the needs of people and of the productivity of the workers. For the first time, society rises from the domain of necessity into the realm of freedom. There being no class struggles, there is now no need for a State, and the State withers away. The army and navy are not necessary. Police disappear. The basis for crime is gone, since labour is so productive that all the wants of life can easily be obtained. Such criminals as may remain are treated as sick persons to be given humane hospitalisation and rehabilitation until they become fit again to return to the community. Socialism lays the basis for a new type of family life, the ending of the misery and despotism that mark familial relationships. A complete emancipation of women and children occurs.

Neither Marx nor Engels ever dreamed that you could wipe out the capitalists in one country alone and establish a classless rule there while all around in the rest of the world there were slavery, colonialism, poverty, hunger, riots, revolutions, etc. The proletariat was conceived of as an international class. The appeal was to the workers of the entire world to unite. In the Communist Manifesto they wrote: “The working men have no country.” “United action, of the leading civilized countries at least, is one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.” “In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end.”

Many say to socialists “Why do you waste your time, you’ve been mixed up in the struggle for socialism for years, it hasn’t happened and if it does happen, it won’t be in your time”

The Socialist Party is confident that it will happen. If it’s not in the current members’ life-times, so what? We certainly do not regard our efforts as wasted. Precisely because we think it is inevitable that social evolution will continue and part of that inevitability is the struggle of mankind, so we believe that those who understand this have an obligation to humanity to participate in the struggle, to serve the people. To do otherwise, to desert the struggle, is shameful. It is not a question of what personal advantage an individual gets. What a shabby criterion! It is a question of serving the people to free them from exploitation, oppression, poverty, unemployment, war. What greater service could there be? And if it is for a generation to be, all the greater the obligation. We think the old society of the world is heavily pregnant with the new – socialism. We witness worldwide that the productive forces have developed tremendously with gigantic development in new technology, computers and automation, that presently enriches the few and impoverishes the many. The workers will rise in revolt.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Need for Marxism

We live in a world dominated by capitalism, a system which allows a small minority of capitalists to oppress and exploit the great majority of humankind.  It is capitalism that brings about great inequalities in living standards with more poor people now in the world than ever before, starts murderous wars to steal the resources of other countries and causes the growing devastation of our natural environment.  Either we get rid of this outmoded and increasingly decrepit system or it will devastate humanity.  The hour is late and urgent action is necessary. Capitalism has only one function and that is to employ and exploit workers for profit. It is not particular about what it turns out, whether computers or candy-floss, in fact many large financial enterprises have capital invested in a widely different range of goods; the common denominator is profit. The great transformation of society from capitalism to socialism can only be accomplished by the common efforts of the workers themselves, all of them acting together. Unions are essential for the working class and have done much to advance its cause. Without them, workers would still be subject to the every whim and fancy of the employers and their foremen. Unions first arose out of the spontaneous battles of working people to defend themselves from the abuses and oppressive conditions imposed by the very system of wage labour. In this situation of virtual enslavement, workers were bound to resist. They began to form various societies, organisations and common funds for mutual protection. From the earliest struggles in the 19th century, organized labour demonstrated its power in sharp strike battles. From the founding of the earliest unions to the present, the capitalists waged a vicious battle to block them, to crush them before they could spread. They passed laws, jailed and killed organizers and leaders and sent out police, the army, guards and goon squads to massacre and intimidate the growing workers’ movement. But the workers’ movement was too strong and persistent; the workers, faced with the brutalities of capitalist exploitation, were bound to resist and fight back at whatever cost. In drawing together workers and teaching them through struggle the need for solidarity and unity against the onslaught of the capitalists, unions served as centers for organizing the working class as a whole. They were schools that provided an elementary class training, demonstrating to workers the necessity of subordinating individual interests to those of a larger section of the class, of putting solidarity above competition in order to advance the interests of all working people.

But unions, while indispensable in the struggle of the workers against capital, have limits as well. That is why socialists recognise the necessity of a more developed form of working-class organisation – the socialist party which sums up the experience of many different unions and provide an orientation for the workers’ fight against the capitalist system. In their everyday life workers pour their sweat into production and, in capitalist society, experience the life-killing exploitation on which the system is built. They take part in struggles, together with fellow workers and others, against the abuses and outrages of the capitalist system. Each worker perceives a part of the reality of capitalism, but none by himself can grasp the overall picture, fully discover the source of his oppression or grasp the laws of nature and society that determine the development of the class struggle. The class struggle can have only one result: socialist revolution that will put an end to capitalist exploitation and all the forms of oppression that inevitably accompany it. Karl Marx recognised the enormous potential of the unions far beyond the fight against day-to-day abuses. In “Wages, Price and Profit,” written in 1865, Marx warned that workers should not be “exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerrilla fights.” The trade unions failed as centers of the working-class struggle, he noted, when they limited themselves to fighting only the effects of the capitalist system, “instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wage system.” It is the task of socialists to introduce revolutionary ideas and win these workers over to a socialist revolution and the socialist party. The workers will struggle, we know, with or without us, will rebel and revolt, with or without us. However, a successful outcome is dependent upon the workers possessing a clear sighted view and taking a courageous stand.  Class struggle is frequently fragmentary; the different struggles need to become mutually supporting and to be given coherent form. There is massive cynicism and distrust of the system, its inability to provide basic services, its determination to charge us for the necessities of life and to impose unaccountable bureaucracies to rule our lives. The problem is, what course of action can offer a solution? We are still a long way from revolution, but only through the educational and preparatory politics of today, through an ideological assault on the system, in other wards the battle of ideas, can we revolution nearer. Things never stay the same: opportunities will arise to assert the working class’ interests.

People know that capitalism is no good but few can see a way forward to a better type of society.  It is essential to generate interest in social change. To achieve this aim we are spreading knowledge of the revolutionary outlook among the working class. It is through political action that we reach out to people with our message.  To create a socialist world it is necessary to overthrow the rule of capitalism and this can be done only through revolution.  The working class and other oppressed people must depose the capitalist ruling class and establish socialism, a system of real, popular democracy that sets about the reconstruction of society.  In order to become conscious of itself as a class, and to know and change the world in accordance with its revolutionary interests, the working class must have its own socialist party, a party that consistently points the way forward toward the goal of overthrowing the rule of capital and building socialism. The working class in each country needs only one socialist party. The capitalists usually have more than one party, because of their need to compete with each other and to deceive the people. Different sections of capital seek to advance their interests by competing both through and within these parties.  The working class has no interest in competition in its ranks–it is the rule of capital that forces the workers to compete for jobs and for survival. The working class has no need for masks–it openly proclaims its intention to overthrow and dictate to the exploiting minority. The working class needs a single socialist party to unite it as a mighty fist, to build its understanding of the historical mission of ending all class society. The working class needs one socialist party, representing the interests of one class, and through these interests, the great majority of humanity. A socialist party brings to the class an understanding of the laws of social evolution and struggle and enables it to consciously change the world and make revolution.

Marxism shows that all societies are basically an organised way that the people carry out the production and distribution of the material requirements of life. And that the political system, the culture and other aspects of society are a superstructure that arises on the basis of the relations of production–the economic relations in society–and in turn serves to preserve those relations of production.
Marxism analyses how, after a certain point in the development of the productive forces, the old relations of production, and the superstructure that serves them, become a brake on production itself and have to be overthrown.
Marxism shows that the revolutionary class throughout history was the class which at the time represented the more advanced relations of production, the higher form of organizing production to correspond with the development of the productive forces.
Marxism explained how the exploitation of the working class to create surplus value is the foundation of the capitalist system.
Marxism showed that the working class was bound to overthrow the capitalist class, socialise the ownership of the means of production and remove all social chains on the development of the productive forces, by advancing to classless society, communism.
Marxism showed that a forcible revolution by the proletariat and its forcible suppression of the overthrown bourgeoisie were necessary to carry out its revolutionary role.
Marxism explained that it was not because of “personal genius” or because “he was one of those great men who come along every few hundred years” that Marx was able to found the science of revolution. It was because capitalism, with its high level of science and technology and its constant replacement of scattered with more concentrated production, had developed, and along with it the modern proletariat, representing highly socialised production. And it was because Marx actively took part in the struggle of the proletariat. In the past the basic laws of nature and society were hidden from man, but now it became possible for the first time to bring them to light. This Marx did and in so doing created a great weapon for the working class.
Marxism is a living science and must continue to develop with the development of society itself. One of the most basic principles of this revolutionary science is that the people are the makers of history and that correct ideas arise from and in turn serve the struggle of the people.

The party of the working class is the party of social revolution. The hour is late. Join us now.