Industry cannot be wrested from capitalist ownership by degrees; this change must be fundamental, immediate and complete. Socialism means an immediate and fundamental revolution in the basis of society; the complete abolition of capitalist ownership of the means of production at one stroke, and its replacement by common ownership. Socialism cannot be achieved gradually. When the workers understand and want socialism the difficulties of organising production and distribution on the new basis will not present a great problem. Production and distribution of the world is almost wholly under the direct domination of the capitalist class of the world, and where this does not apply the domination is indirectly applied. This domination is based upon the subjection of the wage-labourer including those, who, consider themselves professionals and/or self-employed. The only way out of this subjugation and servitude is the unity of the working class for the conquest of political power with the sole object of dispossessing the capitalist class of its means of subjection and the transforming society from one based upon the private ownership of the means of production into one based upon the common ownership of the means of production. This new social organisation can only be achieved by the majority of the workers understanding its implications and relying upon themselves alone to accomplish the change. Not leadership but mass understanding is the condition of achieving socialism.
Socialism is an international question that concerns workers of all countries. One of the hindrances to its acceptance is race-prejudice which sets groups against each other on grounds of colour, religion, and so forth. Before the workers can really understand their fundamental unity they must get rid of this false and harmful race-prejudice. The Socialist Party understands only one fundamental social division in the modern world—the division that exists between the capitalist class on the one hand, and the working-class on the other. All other divisions, whether they are based on religion, nationality, language or “race”, are incidental to this main division. Regarding our attitude to the problem of race-prejudice, let us state categorically so that nobody will misunderstand:
“The interests of all members of the working-class, whatever the race to which they belong, are fundamentally opposed to the interests of the members of the capitalist class irrespective of the race to which the members of this latter class belong.”
The class division cuts directly across all others. Racism is but one of the many social problems that spring directly from the contradictions of capitalist society itself. As such, it must be kept in its proper perspective. To attempt to solve the problem of race prejudice in isolation will meet with the same abject failure that has resulted from the efforts to end, piecemeal, the various other evils of the capitalist system. Only as the workers of the world understand their position under capitalism; only to the extent that they absorb socialist knowledge, will they cease to be a prey to the hatreds and prejudices arising from fantastic notions of racial superiority and national chauvinism.
One of the most frequent criticisms of the Socialist Party is that while the policy of advocating socialism is useful and necessary for the ultimate solution of working-class problems, it is nevertheless a short-sighted and unrealistic policy to neglect to support measures of social reform designed to improve the conditions of the workers whilst capitalism is still in existence. It is urged that a socialist party should wage a guerrilla warfare with the capitalists in order to gain benefits, even if only temporary and minor, and that in doing so it would rally to the cause of socialism many workers who otherwise would not be prepared to support an organisation which appeared to have an excellent programme for the future but not for the present.
Our reply to that criticism has been that the task of a socialist party is to establish socialism and that as this can only be brought about by a working population possessing an understanding of the issues involved, our propaganda at all times must be directed at spreading the essential socialist knowledge. Further we have argued that a socialist party which advocated reforms would attract non-socialist support from those interested in all or some of the reform measures, and that the non-socialist support would sooner or later (and in all probability sooner) swamp the socialist elements and the party would become just another reformist organisation with no better claim to working class support than that of the Labour Party.
We have pointed to the records of many “socialist” organisations which have adopted the policy of “getting something now” to show the futility of attempting either to build up a socialist movement with a reformist programme, or even to reform out of existence some of the minor disabilities suffered by the workers under capitalism. In this latter connection it can be said that the reform measures that have been passed have generally been instituted by self-confessed capitalist organisations which have recognised the need to adjust capitalism in the light of changing conditions. The usual process has been for the so-called workers’ parties to agitate (often for a considerable period) for particular measures of social reform and then in the end, when the capitalists can no longer resist the agitation, for these (or watered-down versions of them) to be brought about by the governments which have thus been able to steal the limelight which the workers’ organisations have sought to obtain, and use it to their own advantage. This in its turn has increased the confusion in the minds of the workers, who feel that there can be very little wrong with capitalism when capitalist parties themselves are prepared to adopt what have been proclaimed to be “socialist” proposals. Socialism alone can end that poverty. We shall not be diverted from our task in order to chase the shadows, but we shall continue to strive for the substance, socialism, which will abolish forever the conditions which bring into being the evils of the modern world. Our aim has been to give our fellow-workers as clear and concise a picture of their present position in society as is possible. How far we have succeeded is for they to judge.