Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Us And Not For Us

There are people fearful of the word ‘socialism’ but what is important is not the word, but the ideas which remind us of the powerful appeal of the socialist ideal to people alienated from the political system and aware of the growing stark disparities in income and wealth. The word ‘socialism’ may still carry the baggage of past distortions usurping the name. But anyone who goes around the country, or reads carefully the public opinion surveys can see that huge numbers agree on what should be the fundamental elements of a decent society: guaranteed food, housing, medical care for everyone; equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientations; the rejection of war and violence as solutions for tyranny and injustice. We should recall times gone by when we had an enthusiasm for socialism - production for use instead of profit, economic and social equality, solidarity with our brothers and sisters all over the world. Today we have the opportunity to now once again re-introduce genuine socialism to a world feeling the sickness of capitalism - its nationalist hatreds, its perpetual warfare; wealth for a small number of people in a small number of countries, and hunger, homelessness, insecurity for everyone else.

The achievement of socialism awaits the building of a mass base of socialists, in factories and offices. The development of socialist consciousness must be the first priority of the Socialist Party. The Socialist Party must be seen as the parliamentary wing of a movement dedicated to fundamental social change. Capitalism must be replaced by socialism, by the common ownership of the means of production in the interests of the people as a whole. By bringing men and women together primarily as buyers and sellers of each other, by enshrining profitability and material gain in place of humanity, capitalism has always been inherently alienating. A socialist transformation of society will return to mankind its sense of humanity and community, to replace the sense of being a commodity. Socialists strive for democracy at those levels that most directly affect us all — in our neighbourhoods, our schools, and our places of work. The process is the raising of socialist consciousness. Socialists are no Utopians. They know perfectly well that Rome was not built in a day, neither was capitalist civilisation evolved in a week, nor will the complete machinery of a Socialist Commonwealth be a going concern in a month, for that matter. But true as all this may be, there is a distinction between the Labour Party type reformist , who is proud in what he is pleased to term the “evolutionary” character of his ‘socialism’, and the revolutionary socialist. The reformist seeks to make changes as little as can effectively be made which means that even what is acceptable in their principles trickles into practice on such a scale as to render it totally inoperative for serious good. You cannot empty the Atlantic with a tea-cup. As socialists, we are sincere in our avowed desire to create, as speedily as possible, a revolutionary change of a fundamental character in the present system of society. This change for the better can only be realised by the efforts of the workers themselves. ‘By us and not for us’ must be the motto.

The socialist revolution can have no other goal and no other result than the realisation of socialism. The working class must above all else strive to get the entire political power of the state into its own hands. Political power, however, is for us socialists only a means. The end for which we must use this power is the fundamental transformation of the entire economic relations. Currently all wealth belongs to a few private capitalists. The great mass of the workers only get from these capitalists a meagre wage to live on for hard work. The enrichment of a small number of idlers is the aim of today’s economy. This state of affairs should be remedied. All social wealth, the land with all its natural resources hidden in its bowels and on the surface, and all factories and works must be taken out of the hands of the exploiters and taken into common property of the people.

At the moment production in every enterprise is conducted by individual capitalists on their own initiative. What – and in which way – is to be produced, where, when and how the produced goods are to be sold is determined by the industrialist. The workers do not see to all this, they are just living machines who have to carry out their work. In a socialist economy this must be completely different. The private employer will disappear. Then no longer production aims towards the enrichment of one individual or group of share-holders, but of delivering to the public at large the means of satisfying all its needs. Accordingly the factories, works and the agricultural enterprises must be reorganised according to a new way of looking at things.

If production is to have the aim of securing for everyone a dignified life, plentiful food and providing other cultural means of existence, then the productivity of labour must be a great deal higher than it is now. The land must yield a far greater crop, the most advanced technology must be used in the factories, only the most productive coal and ore mines must be exploited. In order that everyone in society can enjoy prosperity, everybody should work. A life of leisure like most of the rich exploiters currently lead will come to an end. A general requirement to work for all who are able to do so, from which children, the aged and sick are exempted, is a matter of course in a socialist economy. The public at large must provide forthwith for those unable to work – not like now with paltry alms but with generous provision. For the general well-being, one must sensibly manage and be economic with both the means of production and labour. The squandering that currently takes place wherever one goes must stop. Naturally, the entire war and armament industries must be abolished since a socialist society does not need murder weapons and, instead, the valuable materials and human labour used in them must be employed for useful products. Luxury industries which make all kinds of frippery for the idle rich must also be abolished, along with personal servants. All the human labour tied up here will be found a more worthy and useful occupation. If we establish in this way where everybody works for everyone, for the public good and benefit, then work itself must be organised quite differently. Nowadays work in industry, in agriculture and in the office is mostly a torment and a burden for the proletarians. One only goes to work because one has to, because one would not otherwise get the means to live. In a socialist society, where everyone works together for their own well-being, the health of the workforce and its enthusiasm for work must be given the greatest consideration at work. Short working hours that do not exceed the normal capability, healthy work-places, all methods of recuperation and a variety of work must be introduced in order that everyone enjoys doing their part. Currently the capitalist, his overseers stands behind the worker with his whip. Hunger drives the worker to work in the factory or in the office. In a socialist society the industrialist with his whip ceases to exist. The workers are free and equal human beings who work for their own well-being and benefit. That means by themselves, working on their own initiative, not wasting resources, and delivering the most reliable and meticulous work. Every socialist concern needs of course its technical advisors who know exactly what they are doing and give the advice so that everything runs smoothly and the highest efficiency is achieved. Now it is a matter of willingly following these orders in full, of maintaining discipline and order, of not causing difficulties or confusion. The worker in a socialist economy must show that he can work hard and properly, keep discipline and give his best without the whip of hunger and without the capitalist and his slave-driver behind him. 

A socialist society needs human beings full of passion and enthusiasm for the general well-being, full of self-sacrifice and sympathy for fellow human beings, full of courage and tenacity in order to dare to attempt the most difficult. We do not need, however, to wait perhaps a century or a decade until such a species of human beings develop. In the struggle, in the revolution, people learn the necessary idealism and soon acquire the intellectual maturity. In a socialist revolution, we are creating the future socialists which a new society requires as fundamental.

The emancipation of the working class
must be the act of the workers themselves

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