Our socialist revolution can and must be made. Our revolution is everybody’s revolution, of all nationalities and cultures. Who needs the compromisers of the reformist parties who have spouted about socialism for over a hundred years and never came close to making a revolution? “The final goal, no matter what it is, is nothing,” said Bernstein, “the movement is everything.” Every left-wing organisation seems to place the question of “Reform or Revolution” at the top of the agenda, but every conference seems to leave the question unresolved. The Socialist Party has not.
“Single-issueism” is the process of crossing class lines and watering down principles to a broadly acceptable level in order to construct an alliances with sections of the ruling class so a particular demand or reform can be achieved. The single-issue men and women yearn for immersion into the system have come to dominate over those who abhorred capitalism and seek its abolition.
Many brands of oppression—racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, classism—are historical; they have not been always with us. It was not ever thus. And it’s not going to be this way, come the socialist revolution!
Some environmentalists concede that class exists all right, but it’s obsolete; capitalism and socialism are really the same thing because both deal with who shall own and control production. Some activists known as “deep greens” claim we shouldn’t produce at all because production is hazardous to health and environment and we should return to a more primitive life-style.
The single-issue is the dead-end issue. True, it is often large, but it is also, invariably, diffuse, divisive, ambiguous, contradictory, deceptive and mercurial- here today, gone tomorrow. It persists because the ruling class and their media confers respectability upon it. The capitalist system cannot grant substantial reforms because these would seriously weaken the very pillars upon which the system itself rests: exploitation for profits.
Oppressions grew not out of somebody’s evil mind, but out of material reality. Given certain economic conditions, levels of technology, and the particular development of the forces of production, assorted varieties of subjugation had to happen. When production of “commodities”—goods for sale— became widespread, private ownership arose and with it came new family structures and relations among people. Classes emerged. And to entrench these new classes, new forms of rule developed. The State was born; laws came on the scene. The culture changed. We live in an epoch in which there coexists class oppression, racism and sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, anti-Semitism, etc. There’s a name for this kind of society and it’s called capitalism. It relishes and thrives on oppression.
By capitalism, we mean the system that exists on the basis of your unpaid labour. You as a worker produce commodities to be exchanged on the market. You produce not only enough to pay your own wage, but also an added value, a surplus value, over and above the cost of your maintenance. Surplus labour is your unpaid wage. In polite circles it is called “profit.” And that’s what capitalism is all about.
Capitalism is the all-embracing social cause of every form of oppression and exploitation today. This common context and content creates the parallels and the similarities between all of us despite our superficial differences of color and sex and age and sexuality. Capitalism is the core that engenders the intersections of all of our struggles, and all of our lives, and all of our problems. New forms of oppression and exploitation are created depending upon the needs of the economy. There’s constant interaction and change among economic institutions, the state, and the culture. We are all afflicted—commonly afflicted—by a ruthless system, a cruel, vicious, remorseless, callous system. The same enemy holds us in bondage. That enemy has the same reasons for torturing all of us. The ruling class wants to preserve its privileges, its interests, its power, its wealth, its dominion. And so it engages in a very interesting psychological technology called divide and conquer. It’s a weapon designed to make us all hate and resent and compete with each other. And so many of us buy it. We can’t let ourselves do that! We have to make change!
As a socialist party, we do not worship sectarian smallness or dogmatic purity. We aim at a mass radical workers’ movement. But, we refuse to dilute our principles into some classless united front which hands power over to any leadership that glorifies reformism as preferable to revolutionary solutions. The Socialist Party maintains its integrity and will not compromise its methods. Our task is to retain and continue socialist ideas, without these we would be derelict in our responsibility to the mass of humankind. Whenever we say that, somebody always objects: “Oh yeah? You can’t change human nature. ” Wrong! Our business as socialists is changing human nature away from the distortion that capitalism has made of it. And we can do it through unity. We are the people. We are the majority. If we organise, we can change this world, and we must.
When we make contact, we become part of each other. We draw from each other. We reflect each other; we affect each other, without losing our identities. Our oppressions interpenetrate, interact, intersect and meet. Some people try to escape the system. They try to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t affect them. But although you may try to escape the system, the system won’t escape you. You may try to ignore it, but it won’t ignore you. Sooner or later life and the system are going to place you in the class struggle. When people realize the system has “betrayed” them, they are very, very quickly raised in political consciousness. They then begin to generalise and see that everybody is affected. So solidarity is born and we understand we have to stick together if we’re going to create change. We fight on all fronts. We see the interconnections of all the different struggles and we have a vision of the future. Class is the key link.
What is class? Class simply describes where a person stands vis-à-vis wealth. Socialists call it your relation to the means of production. What end of the commodity production process are you on? Are you a producer of goods, or are you an appropriator of profits? Are you a worker employed by somebody else, or are you the employer who reaps surplus value from the labour of your employees? Workers are all the people who don’t own their own means of production. By this I don’t mean personal tools but the factory and the equipment, the production operation.
So who are workers today? Who isn’t? Movie stars, artists, musicians, government workers, professionals of all kinds, teachers, professors—almost everybody is a worker today. Workers aren’t just manual; there are increasingly fewer of those as automation and robots take over and everything becomes computerised. We do different kinds of work these days. We work with our minds more and we sit on our behinds more. But we’re still workers. We are the class. We are the overwhelming majority. And taken together, the workers of colour, the women, the young, the aged, the LGBT and the handicapped are the majority of that majority class. That’s what too many of us lose sight of. We really have some power if only we would use it. And that’s why we should stop sniping at each other and start organizing. There can be no socialism without liberation for everybody. This system cannot grant freedom to Blacks, period. To Hispanics, period. To women, period. You can’t have liberation for one group and nobody else. You can’t be liberated as an individual if you suffer oppression on some other level of your existence. If you make the cultural lifestyles of your own group into a substitute for politics and a strategy for change. It doesn’t work. It never works, because it’s too superficial. What it can do is destroy a movement. You have to recognise class—who’s the boss, who’s the worker, who’s right and who’s wrong. Class is the line we don’t cross.
Socialism is not production for profit. It is production for use. It is not production for private ownership and the private ownership of resources. It is common ownership of the wealth. It is not inequality and misery and persecution and discrimination; it is equality and fairness. It is not poverty and want; it is freedom from want. It is freedom from war. It is freedom from ugliness and squalor. It is just the opposite of what exists today and it expresses what people need and dearly want and would love to see. Socialism is a celebration of life. We will never find tranquility until we merge our common treasury of wealth with the socialist concern for all people.
There’s a big class struggle going on. How dare these extollers of a system that starves and exploits and crucifies untold billions blame the underpaid and the destitute for the poverty, mis-education, crime, dope, domestic abuse and cynicism that the profit system itself generates? The global order of capitalism cries out to be replaced with production for use, not for greed, so as to eliminate the endless wars and hatreds spawned by dwindling markets and poverty. The people will rise up one day and say, “I’m fed up with all this. I’m sick and tired. I’m not gonna take it anymore.” When people start to discover their wishes and dreams, at that point in history the planet will once again bloom. And the question is, what side are you on?