Monday, August 15, 2016


All of today’s world crises makes it clear that the capitalism cannot bring peace, economic security, or social justice to the vast majority of people. Rather, fellow-workers face continued poverty, exploitation, degradation, disease and war. Past “revolutions” may have changed forms of property and political rule, but they failed to uproot capital, abolish wage-labour and or establish a truly new society. The Socialist Party makes no pretense of being a political party trying to lead the people to transform society whose emancipation must be their own act. The Socialist Party opposes capitalism regardless of its particular property form and regardless of whether the economy is a “free market” or “state-capitalist” planned one. We find moral calls for prosperity and peace to be utopian, for capital’s drive toward accumulation concentration and centralisation, expressed through inter-capitalist competition, inexorably leads to impoverishment and conflict. It falls incumbent upon the Socialist Party to prove that a liberatory alternative to capitalism is possible by showing that socialism can be realised. We have seen challenges to the capitalist class and recognise these as opportunities for ourselves to encourage fellow-workers to go further than merely protest for reforms. But it is not an easy task since the vision of socialism has been eclipsed by the false identification of socialism with government-ownership and/or the welfare state.

We don’t think that a new society can be created within the existing old one. The creation of a new society requires much more than democratic decision-making. If the economic laws of capitalism remain in control of our lives, we can choose to eliminate unemployment, produce for need instead of for profit, and so on, but we won’t be able to successfully implement what we decide. So democracy is the means to achieve certain goals. But we need a clear understanding of the goals and what exactly must be changed in order to achieve them. The social and economic problems we face cannot be overcome in a lasting way within capitalism. We’ll need to establish a free communal society that’s not governed by the economic laws that govern capitalism. For instance, to succeed with capitalism, producers are forced to maximise production and minimize costs, and this is the main cause of inequality, poverty, unemployment, alienated labour, etc. Efforts to create new social relationships without challenging the system’s process––either by ignoring it or trying to do things differently within the “nooks and crannies” of the system such as by co-operatives ––can only go so far and But we can’t all do so. We delude ourselves if we think that we can live as if we were free without actually being free. Freedom is not a state of mind; it is the condition in which people are not forced to work and live in a way that exploits humans and destroys nature.

 Right now, and as long as the capitalist system exists, we all have to live within it. Capitalist relations affect and dominate every aspect of life. The world-wide social order of production for profit can’t be changed by opting out of it. We cannot escape the system. For example, if you form a cooperative to manufacture shoes, you still have to buy the materials and sell the shoes in an international market. Buyers want the shoes as cheaply as possible. How can you compete successfully against companies that produce similar shoes using exploited labour without driving down the cost of your shoes by exploiting yourself? There cannot be socialism in one country, much less in a single cooperative or network of cooperatives. Even if the members of a cooperative or network of cooperatives are nominally their own bosses, it follows from the continued existence of the capitalist relations that “the process of production has mastery over [human beings], instead of the opposite…” as Marx pointed out, Thus as long as “…The co-operative factories run by workers themselves [exist within capitalism]…they naturally reproduce in all cases, in their present organization, all the defects of the existing system, and must reproduce them…the opposition between capital and labour is abolished here…only in the form that the workers in association become their own capitalist, i.e., they use the means of production to valorize their own labour.”  What was crucial to Marx wasn’t which human beings were nominally in control, but whether the process of production had mastery over human beings, or the opposite. We cannot endorse a system of worker-run cooperatives where “the workers in association are their own capitalist.” That is, in order to compete effectively, they pay themselves the minimum and extract from themselves the maximum output. Even within capitalist-owned firms, the cooperative labour process is a harbinger of socialism. And capitalism’s creation of a socialized labour force is the creation of a new social power that can bring it down. But as long as capitalism exists, cooperative labour is neither self-directed activity nor the partial emergence of the new society within the old one. Labour can become freely associated only by breaking with the enslaving laws of capitalist production. There is no in-between. The system must be uprooted and replaced with a wholly different way of working, not just distributing. And we need a system in which it’s possible to produce for human needs, not for the sake of accumulating more capital.

The driving force of capitalism is to make a profit - the maximum expansion of abstract wealth (i.e., maximum accumulation of capital). This is achieved by forcing people to work for a living and extracting the maximum possible labour from workers while paying them the minimum possible. That’s exploitation; and because the goal is to expand abstract wealth without limit, it’s capitalist exploitation. It’s true that some people get rich off the backs of others as a result, but that’s not what drives the system; capitalist companies are forced to operate in this way in order to be competitive. So a focus on greedy capitalists loses sight of the underlying problem, the drive to expand abstract wealth without limit. We have to overcome this drive­­––and the economic laws that force capitalists to operate in this way––in order to have a society in which we produce directly to satisfy human needs.

The Socialist Party strives for a movement that’s big and broad enough to fundamentally change society. All movements involve individuals who bring to them different ideas and their own baggage of what is happening and what to do about it. If different theories and perspectives are brought into contact, in open and fair debate, differences can be clarified and theoretical questions can be resolved. But if the different theories and perspectives just lie side-by-side, without being brought into contact, clarification and theoretical development are impeded. A movement that has a coherent and worked-out explanation of what has gone wrong, and what can be done about it, might attract many more people than a movement that obtains a premature and superficial “unity” by means of vague formulations that lack substance and explanatory power. We need ideas and practices that can give us confidence of the alternatives that actually aren’t, or that wouldn’t work, etc. Working all this out is the only way we can be confident that a viable emancipatory alternative to capitalism is possible. This can’t be done simply. It requires things like the formation of study groups and discussions to explore the causes of our social problems. If we don’t know the causes, we can’t solve them. And it’s important to distinguish between causes and effects. For instance, we think that the power of corporations and income inequality are effects of the capitalist system, not root causes of our problems. Obviously, many people do not yet share this view, so a full and free discussion of causes and effects is needed. To identify what exactly must be changed, and all of what must be changed, in order to actually transcend capitalism. We can’t just decide what we would like the new society to look like, implement our decisions, and assume that things will work out as we expect. Actions have unintended consequences. To avoid making decisions that will have disastrous consequences, a lot of thoughtful engagement and exchanges are needed.

The creation of socialism requires not only the destruction of the capitalist class but the creation of totally new social relations. We won’t automatically become free by getting the “rich parasites,” or their State off our backs. We need to overcome the economic laws of capitalism and run economic and social life according to wholly different principles. Some on the Left mislead and misdirect discontent by focusing on the distribution of income rather than on the inherent drive that impels the system to act in its own interests, nevertheless, the whole world seems to be challenging existing economic, political, and social relations. Millions of people are demanding better explanations and more radical solutions than merely tinkering with what exists.

The Socialist Party rejects the notion that working people are “backward” and therefore need to be led by an “intellectual” vanguard. Our organisation judges everything in light of this vision of humanity’s possible future. At the present moment, no one can answer with confidence that socialism is likely. But we do not despair. We are happy to see protests against major characteristics of our society such as inequality and social injustice, but we are concerned by what appears to be a presupposition that the problems of this society can be solved by changing the political process so as to enable the 99% to make the decisions about re-distributing the wealth. Apart from the obvious problem that the 99% don’t agree on what should be done or how to do (some advocating tax reform or “new” forms of banking) contrary to the prevalent view on the Left that poverty conditions arise from unfair distribution of wealth, Marx showed, distribution follows from the mode of production, not vice versa. Redistribution of income, even were it possible to accomplish without bringing capitalist production to a standstill, would not result in plenty for everyone—there is simply not enough wealth for all the necessary stuff. Nor does the redistributionist view address how to uproot the exploitation that is inherent in capitalist production. In fact, exploitation is the source of inequality, not the result. The point is for the Socialist Party is to urge people to see for themselves that the failure of capitalism and bare for all to see that the capitalist system has proved itself incapable of bringing a decent standard of living to the world’s population to expose those on the Left that capitalism can be successfully and sustainably reformed by new regulations or new leaders in power. If we fail to explain the falsity of the idea that society’s problems can be solved by redistributing the alleged “plenty,” we are not helping the opposition to capitalism to grow, but on the contrary, we are contributing to their failure and demise. As Marx said in 1850, "Our task is that of ruthless criticism, and much more against ostensible friends than against open enemies; and in maintaining this our position we gladly forego cheap democratic popularity."

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