Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Break the Chains

We live in a world dominated by capitalism, a system which allows a small minority of capitalists to oppress and exploit the great majority of humankind.  It is capitalism that brings about great inequalities in living standards. The whole world is now chained to the capitalist system. People know that capitalism is no good but few can see a way forward to a better type of society.  Either we get rid of this outmoded and decrepit system or it will devastate humanity.  The only way forward is a class-less and state-less society on a world scale where people where we live in harmony with our natural environment.

The Socialist Party is up against the fact of life that another new generation has to be convinced afresh that socialism does, in fact, represent a better and more rational system for the people, that Marx’s idea of the eventual withering away of the state is not a pipe-dream, but a realistic albeit  rough sketch of the future of human society.  The socialist revolution will not be won not with violence and guns, but with words, with argument, and persuasion. It is difficult to see the connection between the various national liberation revolutions of oppressed peoples with anything that Marx envisaged – unless you believe, as many Trotskyists presumably do, that the destruction of status quo is desirable at any price and in any manner. The Socialist Party has stubbornly clung to the basic concept of Marx, that only the working class, i.e. the mass of all those forced to sell their labour power in exchange of wages, unites the objective and subjective conditions for building a socialist, i.e. classless society.

Socialism is rule by the working people. They will decide how socialism is to work.  To use the word “socialism” for anything but working people’s power is to misuse the term. Nationalisation is not socialism but is simply a degree of state capitalism, with no relation to socialism.The idea that state ownership of the means of production constitutes socialism is wrong.  Engels pointed out in Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, “...the transformation, either into joint-stock companies or trusts or into state ownership, does not do away with the capitalist nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts, this is obvious and the modern state, again, is only the organization that bourgeois society takes in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of the individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of the productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution to the conflict...”

Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. Marx and Engels  from the days of the Communist Manifesto proclaimed that the makers of a socialist society will be the workers and that it is the task of socialists to help the workers to power but not to decide for them what a classless society is to be like it.   The task of the Socialist Party, therefore, is to help and guide the transfer of power from capitalists to working people. Socialism is a classless society—with abundance, freedom, and equality for all; a society in which there would be no state, not even a democratic workers’ state, so popular with the Left but where a bureaucratic dictatorship of a privileged minority would prevail.

One of the most common arguments used against socialism is the claim that “it goes against human nature.” Private property, it alleges, is “innate” in the human species. Rich and poor have always existed and will always exist. Anthropology and archaeology teach us that this claim is groundless.  When social classes were eventually established the fact remains that these class-divided societies were challenged repeatedly.  Despite the courage, and the idealism of their social vision these movements failed in the sense that they were not able to establish durably a classless society. They either lost power to their enemies or ended up re-establishing a class regime fundamentally similar to that which they had set out to overthrow. Nevertheless, without these popular revolts and revolutions, the radical ideas that sprung from them would not have resonated as they have down the years.
al class in history ever had to perform: building a new society without ever having exercised either economic, political, or cultural and ideological power before.  What we learn from the past is that the exploited and the oppressed have rebelled, are rebelling and will rebel against their unbearable conditions.  The only alternative would be to tolerate exploitation and oppression as a lesser evil to the emancipation.

The task facing the modern working class is the most difficult task that any socialist has faced. For Marx and Engels, the real measure of human freedom is leisure time, not in the sense of  idle time for doing nothing but in the sense of time freed from the iron necessity of working-hours to produce and reproduce material livelihood, but free-time for all-round and free development of the individual talents, wishes, capacities, potentialities, of each human being. As long as society is too poor, as long as goods and services satisfying basic needs are too scarce that they require rationing only the ruling class become free. The “socialist” vision of Lenin, is the capitalist’s vision of a factory, efficiently run by an overseer.  The Socialist Party envisages a society of true and ultimate human freedom, of fellow workers working together in harmony. In such a society, there would be no State, no criminals, no class conflicts. Each man and woman would find inspiration in their own work and in the work of other workers. They will need no rules imposed from above, no moral exhortations to do their duty, no ‘authorities’ laying down what is to be done. Ours is a vision of voluntary co-operation.

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