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.