Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lothian Socialist Discussion (23 Aug)

The World to Win, A Planet to Save

  • Autonomous Centre Edinburgh (ACE)

    17 West Montgomery Place, 
    EH7 5HA 
  • The Socialist Party does not minimise the necessity and importance of the worker keeping up the struggle over wages or to resisting cuts. We welcome any upsurge in the militancy and organisation of our class. But we also know, from bitter experience, that work of an altogether quieter, patient, more political kind is also needed.  It is the responsibility of the Socialist Party to challenge capitalist apologists and pseudo-socialists in the battle of ideas and that requires talking to and debating with our fellow workers. We recognise the necessity of workers' solidarity in the class struggle against the capitalist class and rejoice in every victory for the workers to assert their economic power. But to struggle for higher wages and better conditions is not revolutionary in any true sense of the word, and the essential weapons in this struggle are not inherently revolutionary either. It demands the revolutionising of the workers themselves. Participation in the class struggle does not automatically make workers class conscious. Militancy on the industrial field is just that and does not necessarily lead to political militancy, but ebbs and flows as labour market conditions change – and militants in the work-places can in no way count on their supporters on the political field. 
  • We do say workers should sit back and do nothing but wait for socialism to arrive, the struggle over wages and conditions must go on. But it becomes clear that this is a secondary, defensive activity. The real struggle is to take the means of wealth production and distribution into the common ownership. Only by conscious and democratic action will such a socialist system of society be established. This means urging workers to want something more than what they once thought was "enough". The Socialist Party is sometimes accused of wanting "too much" because our aim is free access and common ownership. The task of the Socialist Party is to show workers that in fact, it is a practical proposition. To transform this desire into an immediacy for the working class. The Socialist Party would argue that it is about engaging people with the idea of socialism, to talk about a revolution in social relations, and that if workers are already involved in an actual struggle they would be more receptive to the idea more effective it would become. But not inevitably. There is nothing automatic about social change, it has to be struggled for.
  • The workers' acceptance of capitalist political and social ideas, like their other ideas, is learned from other people--their parents, their school-teachers, their workmates, the media--and so it follows therefore that the struggle against capitalist ideology must also be a struggle to spread socialist ideas - a role taken on by the Socialist Party.  
  • Socialist ideas arise when workers begin to reflect on the general position of the working class within capitalist society. They do then have to be communicated to other workers, but not from outside the working class as a whole. They have to be communicated to other workers who, from their own experience and/or from absorbing the past experience of the working class, have come to a socialist understanding.  
  • It's not a question of enlightened outsiders bringing socialist ideas to the "ignorant" workers but of socialist-minded workers spreading socialist ideas amongst their fellow workers. We see socialist consciousness as emerging from a combination of two things - people's experience of capitalism and the problems it inevitably creates but also the activity of socialists in making hearing the case for socialism a part of that experience.
  • The Socialist Party has never been in the business to win popularity contests and jumps on any old band-wagon for the sake of recruitment as many other political organisations which have now disappeared, leaving no lasting impact. The fact of the longevity of the Socialist Party as a political body based on agreed goals, methods and organisational principles seems to suggest that we indeed represent some strand of socialist thought that some people are drawn towards.
  • The Socialist Party can be proud of its long history in exposing the oxymoron of the "workers state" and attacking the concepts of Leninism (and its spawn, Stalinism, and Trotskyism).

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