The Socialist Party argues that democratic socialism can be achieved when and if a majority of the people become convinced that it is a desirable alternative to the present order. What do socialists do in the meantime, until the majority become convinced of their case? Will the Socialist Party win over the majority of people to their case by fighting to improve their lives under capitalism or by spending all their energies in educating the workers to the necessity of eliminating capitalism and establishing socialism?
We, as socialists, are not opposed to workers going after reforms. We do not set ourselves up as discouraging these attempts of the workers to improve their conditions under capitalism. We simply know the limitations of these attempts. Our fellow workers have yet to learn them. The members of the Socialist Party do not spurn the day to day struggle. By the very nature of the fact that they are workers, they participate in the fight for better wages and improved working conditions. But with two qualifications, which qualifications arise from the fact that they are socialists first and foremost.
First, socialists understand that this economic struggle against the capitalists is merely a defensive struggle, to keep capital from beating the working class living standards down. For this reason they couple their struggle on the economic front with political education of the workers. They point out the limitations of industrial struggle.
Second, socialists do not advocate regulation and legislation to reform capitalism. To do so would put the socialists in a position of misleading workers into believing that the capitalist state can function in their interests when it is the agency by which the capitalist class maintains its domination over the working class.
It is one thing to say that socialists should not oppose the non-socialists fighting for reforms, and quite another to state that socialists should place themselves in a position of trying to make capitalism work in the interests of the workers, when all along they know it cannot. It is inconsistent, in our opinion, for socialists to seek to solve problems for the workers under a system which we claim cannot solve these problems. Such an approach would never bring about socialism which is our goal.
Suppose for argument's sake that the Socialist Party were to campaign for better housing, hospitals, roads, and so forth. Perhaps we would get a more people joining our party but on what basis would they Join? The same basis on which we appealed to them, a platform of reforms. We would, in the end, have an organization consisting of workers who were seeking continual improvement under capitalist methods of production and distribution, under a price, profit, and exchange economy. What would happen if such an organisation is voted into political power? It merely uses the power of the State to carry on capitalism under different forms public-ownership, various models of nationalisation. It cannot use the control of the State to abolish capitalism, because those members who joined to gain reforms, would be in opposition to it. The Party would have to carry out amelioration measures of capitalism or lose its members to another party which advocated remedial policies.
We have witnessed examples where a party calling itself “socialist,” pledging immediate demands now and promising socialism in the future came into political office, and instead of abolishing exploitation, merely altered the outward appearance of it. The Labour Party has made no attempt to establish socialism. History proved more than once that the means sought social reforms – were identical with the ends sought – a state capitalist society.
The Socialist Party, on the contrary, appeal for members on the one and only demand of obtaining political power for the purpose of abolishing capitalism. If elected to office, we would not oppose social reforms in the interest of our fellow-workers, but at the same time, we would not be advocating them as solutions or even partial palliatives. By presenting a manifesto of superficial changes to capitalism that did not challenge its fundamental structure, we would not be educating any workers to the necessity for socialism. We would instead be educating on the need to get all they can under the capitalist system. This latter type of education has never produced socialists from among the workers. Those who started out with the idea of “reforms today, socialism tomorrow,” originally viewing reforms as a means to an end, found that the reforms became ends in themselves.
A socialist is involved in the economic struggle by the mere fact that he is a member of the working class which is required to resist the encroachments of capital. But this is not the same thing as suggesting that The Socialist Party engages in activity for improvements in living standards. This is not the function of a socialist party. Its task is to fight for socialism, and the method it employs is education of the majority. A socialist party should not concerned with reforms under capitalism. This is the concern of the trade unions and other social activists, who seek to get all they can out of the present system. Reforms are also the concern of the ruling class which uses reforms to bribe off the working class, to both stem discontent. Were the workers' movements to vanish from the earth, the capitalist, by the very class nature of the system, would still grant reforms to forestall the development of revolutionary thought among the workers. They also implement various social reforms to increase the productivity of their workers so to extract more profit.
The Socialist Party view those who postpone socialism to the unlimited generations ahead who describe themselves as pragmatists and call The Socialist Party utopian, are in truth unrealistic themselves in believing they can gain the good things of life under capitalism. It is the profit system which prevents workers from obtaining decent homes, clothes, education. Modern technology has reached the point where people can receive what they need for themselves and their children – today.
If someone believes in socialism, but because it is so far in the future, he or she thinks it best to expend their energy in campaigning for reforms then imagine thousands upon thousands who have thought, and do think; in the same way. Had all these people spent one-tenth of the time for socialism that they spent in fighting for reforms, the socialist movement today would indeed be a large one, and the bigger the socialist organisation gets, the closer we are to socialism. Only if people see the need for socialism, and work actively for it, will we ever obtain socialism? If everyone who reaches a socialist understanding comes to the conclusion that socialism will never come about in his or her lifetime, this is a guarantee that we will never see socialism. Indeed, workers who admit they believe in socialism and then fight for reforms under the excuse the workers are not ready for socialism, really mean that they themselves are not ready for socialism.
We urge upon our fellow-workers to learn well the lesson of class hatred taught them by the masters; let the workers steep themselves in a knowledge of the class war, and act always with that as their guide. No compromise; No quarter, politically and economically. The poverty and the misery the working class suffer and endure is due to robbery and the remedy is to stop the robbers by ousting them, first from political, and then from economic power.