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A new type of revolution

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is a working-class party and is therefore concerned to do everything possible to arouse the class it represents from indifference into organised action against the present form of industrial organisation to which can be traced the evils under which the workers suffer to-day. No successful conflict with capitalism can be entered into except it be based upon a clear understanding of the class position.  Upon this basis alone can be built the fighting organisations, political and industrial, of the working-class which by concentrating upon the conquest of political power and the substitution of the common ownership and control of the means of life for the present private ownership thereof, shall achieve the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the socialist cooperative commonwealth.

For this task the workers must acquire the consciousness which can enable them to do so. This consciousness must comprise, first of all, a knowledge of their class position. They must realise that, while they produce all wealth, their share of it will not, under the present system, be more than sufficient to enable them to reproduce their efficiency as wealth producers. They must realise that also, under the system they will remain subject to all the misery of unemployment, the anxiety of the threat of unemployment, and the deprivations of poverty. They must understand the implications of their position – that the only hope of any real betterment lies in abolishing the social system which reduces them to mere sellers of their labor power, exploited by the capitalists. A class which understands all this is class-conscious. It has only to find the means and methods by which to proceed, in order to become the instrument of revolution and of change .

Class consciousness was never more needed than now. To the socialist, class-consciousness is the breaking-down of all barriers to understanding. Without it, militancy means nothing. The conflict between the classes is more than a struggle for each to gain from the other. The class-conscious worker knows where s/he stands in society. Their interests are opposed at every point to those of the capitalist class. Their cause can only be the cause of revolution for the abolishing of classes. Without that understanding, militancy can mean little. Class-conscious people need no leaders. The single, simple fact which all working people have to learn is that capitalism causes capitalism's problems, so that the remedy – the only remedy – is to abolish capitalism. In that knowledge they must take hold of the powers of government – for one purpose only: that the rule of class by class shall end. Socialism is not a benevolently-administered capitalism: it is a different social system. Reform is no answer, even though at times – rare times – it benefits working people. The reformer has agreed that capitalism shall continue, and is merely trying to alleviate its worst effects. Has poverty been abolished by the reformers? Ask the old, ask the unemployed or the homeless , or the sick. Has life been made more satisfying by the Welfare State?

Marx expected the working class to develop from a mere economic category (a"class in itself) into a revolutionary political actor ("class for itself")—but at least the process started even if it did get stuck on route as it were. A "class consciousness" did develop among particular sections of the working class but this did not develop into a revolutionary socialist consciousness. It stopped at trade-unionism and Labourism, the idea and practice of the working class as a class within capitalism but which wanted a better deal within this system, not to replace it with a classless and exploitation-free society. So, even if a working class "for itself" has never developed, a class consciousness of a lesser sort did.
Marx believed as the workers gained more experience of the class struggle and the workings of capitalism, it would become more consciously socialist and democratically organised by the workers themselves. The emergence of socialist understanding out of the experience of the workers could thus be said to be 
“spontaneous” in the sense that it would require no intervention by people outside the working class to bring it about (not that such people could not take part in this process, but their participation was not essential or crucial). Socialist propaganda and agitation would indeed be necessary but would come to be carried out by workers themselves whose socialist ideas would have been derived from an interpretation of their class experience of capitalism. The end result would be an independent movement of the socialist-minded and democratically organised working class aimed at winning control of political power in order to abolish capitalism. As Marx and Engels put it in The Communist Manifesto:-“the proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority”.

This in fact was Marx’s conception of the workers’ party - a mass democratic movement of the working class with a view to establishing socialism. The self-emancipation of the working class, as advocated by Marx, remains the agenda .

Working class action must be revolutionary. The workers of Britain have common cause with the workers of every other country. They are members of an international class, faced with the same problems, holding the same interests once they are conscious of them. As class consciousness grows amongst the workers in all lands, co-operative action will be planned. It will not stop at the organisation of marches and demonstrations . It will be co-operation to speed the abolition of capitalism.

The Socialist Party does not minimise the necessity and importance of the worker keeping up the struggle to maintain the wage-scale, resisting cuts, etc. If he always laid down to the demands of his exploiters without resistance he would not be worth his salt as a man, or fit for waging the class struggle to put an end to exploitation. More and more of the workers are forced to realise that their interests are opposed to those of the owning and ruling class, in fact that the continuation of this rule spells disaster to society generally. The class war is far from over. It can only end with the dispossession of the owning minority and the consequent disappearance of classes and class-divided society.


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