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”.