Monday, September 07, 2015

Why we are socialists

Capitalism — the rule of business — must be abolished. Working people need to throw the capitalist parties out of office and fundamentally transform society. The needs of working people can only be met by creating an economy, where ownership and control of the means of production are taken from the tiny minority of capitalists and placed in the hands of the working people, to be run democratically. When we speak of the means of production, we mean that wealth which is necessary for the production of the necessities of the people. The industries, the railroads, mines, and so on. We have never proposed the elimination of private property in personal effects. We speak of those things which are necessary for the production of the people’s needs. When the vast resources available to us are used to serve the needs of all instead of the profits of the few, and there exists a world socialist commonwealth, then the way will be opened for unparalleled growth in culture, freedom and the development of every individual. In a socialist world of plenty, mankind is at long last freed of the dominance of economics, the tyranny of economics. We will for the first time be free to develop the full potentialities and capacities of the human individual, and see the full flowering of man’s spirit. This is the only goal worth fighting for today. It is the real freedom. Socialism is a name applied to a new form of society, and it is a name also applied to the movement working in that direction. Those of us within the World Socialist Movement visualise a social system that would be based on the common ownership of the means of production, the elimination of private profit in the means of production, the abolition of the wage system, the abolition of the division of society into classes.

Such a society is worth fighting for. Socialists often hear the comment that "Socialism is a good idea but it’s not practical." But today it’s becoming more apparent than ever that it is the present system — capitalism — that is impractical and unworkable. The Socialist Party want to change society. But we think that problems will not disappear by wishing or hoping them away. The only way we can get a rational society, based on the needs of the majority, is by organizing and fighting for it. We know that a better world is not only possible, but absolutely necessary. We in the Socialist Party stand for a society where ownership and control of the means of production are taken out of the hands of the tiny minority of capitalists, and placed in the hands of the majority — the workers. The capitalist system is run for the profits of the few, not the needs of the majority. Workers are thus continually forced to fight to defend their interests. Through these struggles, they will come to see the need for socialism, to replace capitalism. We feel that all the problems people experience in the context of our present society — war, poverty, pollution, the deep economic crises— flow from a cause, the nature of this profit-oriented society. We see that there are no real solutions to these problems until the entire society is changed.

We should be very clear about the kind of change that we are talking about. When we say that we are revolutionaries we are not talking about a change in society that would take place when some small group storms parliament and runs up the red flag. What we mean by revolution is the political and economic transformation of society and it is fundamental change because it will affect the property system and affects the method and means of production. A political revolution can occur without any radical transformation of the underlying economic structure of society, the property basis of society. A social revolution, on the other hand, affects not only the government, but affects the economic system. We are talking about a change that will involve the vast majority of people consciously acting to change the entire society and all the relationships in it, from the way people relate to each other, to the way people relate to their jobs. We're out to change the whole system. If you are serious about changing the system, about changing the world, it is necessary to confront the system and to build a political organisation capable of assisting in that. A few workers see the need for socialism. Others don't see that need. The task of the Socialist Party is to educate, agitate and organise.

The economy of the world now is all tied together in one unit, and because we think that the solution of the problem of the day—the establishment of socialism—is a world problem, we believe that workers in every country must collaborate in working toward that goal. We have, from the very beginning of our movement, collaborated with like-minded people in all other countries in trying to promote the socialist movement on a world scale. We have advocated the international organisation of the workers, and their cooperation in all respects, and mutual assistance in all respects possible. The Socialist Party is opposed to all forms of national chauvinism, race prejudice, sex discrimination. We visualise the future society of mankind as a world socialism where will have a worldwide division of labour according to their resources, a comradely collaboration between them, and production of the necessities and luxuries of mankind according to a single universal world plan

The reformists wish that the problems of the world could be solved by reforming capitalism. They don't recognise the existing reality today and what the possibilities are right now for building the socialist movement. They don't want to have to work for a fundamental change in society. They conclude that capitalism can be reformed. Bernie Sanders campaigning to win the Democratic nomination so he can contest the presidency simply says that the United States can learn a few things from Scandinavian states when it comes to having a stronger welfare state, socialised health care, stronger unions, and the like. He is diluting the meaning of the word socialism which for actual socialists refers to workers’ control of production and the democratic running of the economy for people and the common good, not the profits of a capitalist elite as much as advancing it. Bernie blames the US billionaire class for the increase in poverty, joblessness, homelessness, and even war. It also makes it clear that Bernie believes the system that created this relatively minuscule group of billionaires can reform itself given the right person at the helm with a large popular movement behind them. This belies the idea that he has a socialist understanding of how capitalists accumulate wealth. In other words, Bernie Sanders is no socialist. Instead, he is a progressive in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt. Like both of those men, Sanders believes that capitalism can work if it is properly tethered and monopolies are broken up.

Socialists contend that present day society is divided into two main classes. One is the capitalists, or the bourgeoisie (a French designation which is used by Marx interchangeably with the expression the modern capitalist). The other main class is the working class (or the proletariat.) These are the two main classes in society. We use the term working class, or proletariat, to designate the modern wage workers. The workers are exploited by the capitalists. There is a constant conflict of interests between them, an unceasing struggle between these classes, which can only culminate in the eventual victory of the proletariat and the establishment of socialism.

The Socialist Party view the trade-union movement as the basic organisation of the workers that should include the great mass of the workers, and must include them, in the struggle to defend their interests from day to day. We are in favor of trade unions, and participate in organising them wherever we can as individuals. The trade unions help the workers to resist oppression, possibly to gain improvement of conditions; that is for us a decisive reason to support them, because we are in favour of anything that protects the workers. In general we are in favour of industrial unionism. That is, that form of unionism which organises all the workers in a given shop or given industry into one union. We consider that a more progressive and effective form of organisation than sectional craft unionism but we do not believe in setting up rival parallel unions. We don’t condemn trade unionism although we are continually insisting upon a democratic structure of decision-making inside the unions, demanding the rights of the members to speak freely, to have regular elections of officials , and in general, to have the unions under the control of its members through the system of democracy.

When classes are abolished, as exploitation is eliminated, as the conflict of class against class is eliminated, the very reason for the existence of the State diminishes. Governments are primarily instruments of repression of one class against another. According to the doctrine of Marx and Engels and all of the great Marxists who followed them, and based themselves on their doctrine, we visualise, as Engels expressed it, the withering away of the State as a repressive force, as an armed force, and its replacement by purely administrative councils, whose duties will be to plan production, to supervise public works, and education, and things of this sort. As Engels expressed it the government of men will be replaced by the administration of things. The “government” of a socialist society in reality will be an administrative body, because we don’t anticipate the need for police and armies, jails, repressions, and consequently that aspect of government dies out for want of function.

We have the possibility of peaceful revolution by the registration of the will of the majority of the people in elections and it seems to the Socialist Party it would be utterly absurd to reject that, because if we don’t have the support of the majority of the people, we can’t make a successful revolution anyhow. Our party runs candidates wherever it is able to get on the ballot. We conduct very energetic campaigns during the elections, and in general, to the best of our ability, and to the limit of our resources, we participate in elections . The first purpose is to make full use of the democratic possibility afforded to popularise our ideas, to try to get elected wherever possible and advancing the socialist cause by democratic means. It is our opinion is that if the workers reached the point of the majority, and confronted the capitalist private owners of industry with the fact of their majority and will exercise their power, then the capitalist class will capitulate but if not then the workers will appropriate and remove them from power by force, legitimised by our electoral victories.

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