The Socialist Party is an organisation committed to the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a socialist society. Certainly capitalism was preferable to the earlier feudal and mercantile economic systems in which nobles and kings owned most economic resources. Socialism was being created inside capitalism by the socialisation of production that is a natural part of capitalism. The Communist Manifesto is full of praise for the bourgeoisie because capitalism had developed the means of production. However, capitalism emphasised individual acquisitiveness and greed (the profit motive), relied on rankings (the class structure), continued traditions of violence (colonial conquests and wars). Socialism is the necessary outgrowth of advanced, developed capitalism. Throughout history ruling classes have been necessary, because human beings have lived in a world of scarcity. That is the root of the class struggle. Capitalism had created, or was in the process of creating, a situation where there was no need for the struggle of classes, no longer a need for some people to rise to the top and create some sort of civilisation on the basis of exploitation. Socialism came out of capitalism.
Capitalism, by its method of production, has brought isolated workers together and constituted them as a class in society. Capitalism has made the workers a class in themselves. That is, the workers are a distinct class in society, whether they recognize this fact or not. Unfortunately, the working class still follows the capitalist parties, still pursues capitalist politics. The workers must become a class for themselves. They must acquire a clear understanding of their real position under capitalism, of the nature of capitalist society as a whole. They must act consciously for their class interests. They must become conscious of the fact that these class interests lead to a socialist society. When this takes place, the workers are a class for themselves, a class with socialist consciousness.
Our world is comprehensively corrupt. It must depend on lies because it cannot deliver its promises. The slogan, "Workers of the world, unite" is still a meaningful one in the face of a capitalism which, if anything, has grown more rapacious and which tends more and more to place all workers in the same boat. Everyone sooner or later runs up against capitalism. Socialists stress that in every direction we see dazzling material achievements, with new ones springing up by the day. In anti-capitalist struggles, we emphasise how much thwarted human possibility is contained in the labour that created them. But we are certainly not the only ones to know that we stand on the shoulders of previous generations. Or to believe fervently that our goal is "a society in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."
Revolution? "That means violence, bloodshed, killing, destruction! No, anything but revolution!" The capitalist class came to power in society and destroyed feudalism in a number of modern countries by means of a revolution, and not a very peaceful one. Nor could the capitalist class exist without the violence that it exercises. Its exploitation is based on the forcible maintenance of its property by the armed state machinery. Its exploitation of millions of people is maintained by the most gruesome violence. And periodically, it plunges innocent millions all over the world into the most violent wars.
What is a social revolution? It is the replacement of one ruling class by another. History is filled with such revolutions and in almost every case they made possible the progress of society. The socialist revolution is simply the overthrow of capitalist despotism and the establishment of workers’ rule. Will this revolution be accomplished by violence or can it be achieved peaceably? Socialists say that socialism can be established by the workers gaining a majority of the votes for their candidates to public office. Once they have been elected in sufficient number they will legislate capitalism out of existence. Socialists are not bloodthirsty maniacs, as the capitalist slanderers would have workers believe. When the time comes for the people to take power, it will be done with a minimum of violence, a minimum of bloodshed of disorder and destruction. A socialist would indeed be insane to want bloodshed and destruction when his aim is an orderly society. It does not follow that socialists are indifferent to democracy under capitalism. Nothing of the sort is true.
The struggle for socialism can best be conducted under conditions that are most favorable to the working class. The most favourable conditions are those in which the working class has the widest possible democratic rights. Hence, it is to the interests of socialism and of the working class to fight for the unrestricted right to organise, the right of free speech, free press and free assembly, the right to strike and the right to vote, the right of representative government, and against every attempt to curb or abolish these rights. The social position of the workers, and their class interests, make them the most democratic class in society. Socialists are the most consistent champions of democracy. The more extensive and less restricted the democratic rights, the greater the opportunities for socialists to speak, to write, to meet, to organize. The same applies, of course, to the working class as a whole. It is the capitalist class which is, by the very nature of its position in society, anti-democratic. Its monopoly of wealth and power denies the common people real equality in the exercise of the democratic rights. It rightly fears the consequences of the workers being able to meet freely, speak and write freely, organize, vote and demonstrate freely. To keep itself safely in power, it is compelled to reveal its fundamentally dictatorial rule more openly by cutting down political democracy and resorting to naked force.
The road to freedom is marked out by the principles of socialism, and no other road exists.