Saturday, August 26, 2017

For a socialist future of abundance

Socialists have always faced the question of how to bring our ideas of how we will successfully transform society to the attention of our fellow-workers.  The profit motive of capitalism is fundamentally at odds with the interests of humanity and our task is to convince people of that fact. The Socialist Party asks some basic questions of us all, such as what does it mean to be a human being and how do we organise the world in ways that foster mutual aid, caring and cooperation so to live in harmony with one another and with the natural world. We must persuade men and women to alter their social relations. The Socialist Party declares that socialism is the only alternative social system which will truly emancipate human beings.  We won't achieve social change simply by taking to the streets in protests and demonstrations. These may challenge the authority of the state, but they have not succeeded in usurping it. Those who engage only in protest politics on the margins of society must understand that there will be the power of the State to overturn.  Radical change won't occur by voting for the candidates who promise us various reforms such as a $15 minimum wage, free healthcare and education. We will never achieve the socialist change we so desperately need simply by going to the ballot box and voting for the lesser of evils.

The working class is comprised of people who are selling their ability to work for a wage or salary. The vast majority of people are in the working class despite being quite diverse in appearance. Things are very different today compared to the time Marx was writing Capital but not everything has changed. There still exists the fundamental similarities which formed the basis of his analysis. There is an interaction of the thinking and ideas of people who are responding to their experience under capitalist conditions and from which arises class consciousness.

Many workers hold have an anti-socialist perspective, even if they may understand what socialism means, they just don't believe it is a feasible alternative or a viable vision enough to work towards. How do you win them over is the task of a socialist party. Literature and public meetings may influence but these alone are no guarantee of success. Workers have to largely discover for themselves the socialist solutions to their many problems, through much of their own experience, and then discussions with existing socialists will resonate more deeply. The idea of socialism has to make sense and reflect a person's own experience under capitalism. If capitalism is in crisis as it is right now then that may in some way assist in communicating the case for socialism and connecting that to the idea of socialism and to the need for socialism with the realities and miseries of capitalist daily struggles. Socialists will receive a more receptive hearing when we talk and share ideas. This is how we will build a socialist consciousness and a socialist movement.  If we are to create a new rational society, we must fearlessly build a world socialist movement.

For sure, the Socialist Party does not possess a model of socialism because there has never been a socialist society in the way that it defines socialism. There have been countries that claimed to be socialist, but these were not genuinely socialist. Marx didn't draw any blueprints of what the future society should look like. He recognised that the future society is something that needs to be worked out by the people of that society -- those are going to shape the socialist system in practice. It is impossible to know when and where the revolution is going to happen and what the actual conditions are going to be. So, a blueprint might not be relevant to the actualities of that situation, although Marx did refer to certain guiding general principles that would apply to a socialist society, such as the necessity of democratic administration even if he did not lay out any specific structure of decision-making. He and Engels did refer to the short-lived Paris Commune as an example of what they sought to establish, a democracy where representatives were elected to help oversee things but controlled by the people so that you didn't have a government over the people. Socialism, likewise will require some kind of democracy that is delegated to people who we elect and control where freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of organisation, and freedom to put forward alternatives to the existing policies prevail. There will be checks and balances. The new socialist cooperative commonwealth will facilitate an array of organisations community, city and factory-wide, as well as regional and global entities that are elected and controlled by the people. You cannot have a socialist economy in a single country because what you have is a worldwide capitalist network. For socialism to work there needs to be socialist revolutions in other countries as well.

We cannot have socialism based on poverty and scarcity, because then regardless of what is supposed to happen, people will be competing for scarce resources. Those that will get a little bit more power will be able to get more resources and push others down.

As Sylvia Pankhurst said:
Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance. Our desire is not to make poor those who to-day are rich, in order to put the poor in the place where the rich now are. Our desire is not to pull down the present rulers to put other rulers in their places. We wish to abolish poverty and to provide abundance for all. We do not call for limitation of births, for penurious thrift, and self-denial. We call for a great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume. Such a great production is already possible, with the knowledge already possessed by mankind.”
She explained:
“ ...Socialism entails the total abolition of money, buying and selling, and the wages system. It means the community must set itself the task of providing rather more than the people can use of all the things that the people need and desire, and of supplying these when and as the people require them.”

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