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Socialism is the only alternative

Under capitalism, so many in this society are forced to endure great hardship and suffering, exploitation, injustice and brutality, while wars and the ongoing destruction of the natural environment threaten the very future of humanity. Capitalism is a system of exploitation, misery and destruction. The capitalist system, based on private ownership of the means of production has no future. Having outlived its usefulness, it is incapable of meeting the needs and aspirations of the world’s peoples. By its very nature, capitalism generates and intensifies mass unemployment and poverty, national chauvinism and exclusivism, racism, gender inequality and oppression, environmental collapse, and war. Under capitalism, both labour and the natural environment are exploited for the capitalists’ overriding objective – profit. As a system, capitalism can exist only by continually increasing the extent and intensity of its exploitation and impoverishment of labour and plunder of the environment.

The Socialist Party has set forth an inspiring vision for the building a socialist society, where human beings everywhere would be free of relations of exploitation and oppression and destructive antagonistic conflicts, and could be fit caretakers of the planet But to make this a reality, we need a revolution. Many insist, “there could never be a revolution”. Today, Big Business and its intellectual apologists maintain that socialism is finished, that human development has ended, and that capitalism will endure forever. This is wrong—revolution is possible. Of course, revolution cannot happen with conditions and people the way they are now. But revolution can come about as conditions and people are moved to change as people come to see that things do not have to be this way, as they come to understand why things are the way they are and how things could be radically different, and as they are inspired and organised to join the world socialist movement and build up its strength. Revolution will not be made by trying to bring down this powerful system when there is not yet a basis for that—or by just waiting for “one fine day” when the revolution will somehow magically become possible. Revolution requires consistent work building for revolution, based on an understanding of what it takes to actually get to the point of revolution, and how to have a real chance of winning.  Only socialism makes the needs and aspirations of the people its highest priority.  And only socialism can use the benefits of the scientific and technological revolution for the well-being of all, not for the enrichment of a few and for waging war. There is no alternative to socialism, no “third road.” The achievement of socialism will mark a real advance towards true social democracy – the rule of the people, by the people and for the people. In a socialist world, the means of producing and distributing wealth will be the common property of society as a whole. The exploitation of labour will be abolished. Ecological degradation will be stopped, and a planned approach to the relationship of human life with the natural environment will be implemented. Want, poverty, insecurity, and discrimination, rooted in capitalist exploitation, will be ended, a new society based on solidarity, equality and emancipation.

The economic system in which we live is capitalism. Under this system the means of production are predominantly privately owned; the capitalists operate their factories, banks, and offices, mines, forest operations, transport and service industries in order to extract profits. The source of profit and accumulation of capital is the exploitation of the working class – all those who work by hand and brain. Human labour, in combination with nature, is the source of all material wealth and cultural values.

Under capitalism, the workers own no means of production. Having no principal source of income other than their capacity to work, they must sell their labour power for a wage to the capitalists in order to live. The working class is the vast majority of the population. It includes workers employed in all sectors of the economy, both organised and unorganised, as well as the unemployed and under-employed, and their families. The basic conflict between capital and labour is inherent to the capitalist system. The capitalists, who control the main means of production, employ wage-workers only so long as their labour produces profits for them. They hold down wages to the lowest possible level so as to squeeze greater profits out of the exploitation of the workers. The workers fight to maintain and increase their wages, improve their living and working conditions, and extend their economic, social and political rights. This is the heart of the class struggle under capitalism which affects the whole of society, and which at a certain stage impels the working class to revolutionary struggle aimed at changing the social system itself. Under capitalism, the labour process is carried on by the joint effort of large numbers of workers in factories, plants, and offices. But while labour and the production process is social, its fruits are privately appropriated by the owners of the means of production. This basic contradiction – between the social character of production and the private capitalist appropriation of the commodities produced – lies at the root of all the evils of capitalism: unemployment, economic and social insecurity, mass poverty, economic crisis and the drive to war. At the same time, capitalism also creates its own gravediggers – the working class.

Capitalism concentrates wealth and the ownership of the means of production into fewer and fewer hands. The ever-increasing concentration, centralisation, and internationalization of capital has created a staggering divide. capitalism confirms Karl Marx’s general law of accumulation – that capitalism everywhere creates more private wealth but also drives more people into wage labour and poverty. The capitalist economy operates in cycles of boom, crisis, depression and recovery. Periodically, expansion is followed by a glut of goods on the market. Plants close down, workers are thrown on the street – not because people have no need for what industry can produce, but because goods do not sell in quantities and at prices that would ensure a level of profit satisfactory to the capitalists.  The capitalists try to thrust the burden of such crises on the backs of working people, who are compelled to fight back.

The pace of scientific and technological advance and its rapid application in all spheres of life has qualitatively transformed the productive forces – the tools, the raw materials and most importantly, labour itself. The character and substance of workers’ labour in the process of production are changing, and this is affecting both the composition of the working class and its relation to other classes. Capital, is on the constant drive to increase profit, uses technology to lower production costs by replacing human labour with machines and other labour-saving processes. Scientific and technological progress has become the source of increased exploitation and alienation of the working class. The introduction of new technology has not changed the essence of capitalism, and will not emancipate the working class. Capital benefits most from the introduction of high tech and new production techniques, such as “just-in-time” production. The more technological progress there is, the higher the productivity rate, the higher the rate of exploitation, and the higher the intensity of labour, deepening the gulf between capital and working people. The longer (or shorter) hours and increased physical and mental stress demanded of the individual worker have a negative effect on the health and safety of all workers.

The revolution in science and technology has intensified the anarchy of production and the unevenness of capitalist development. The fierce competition between rival enterprises drives each corporation to introduce cost-saving technology. But technological innovation is extremely expensive, and its application in the workplace intensifies the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. Capitalists, in turn, tries to offset this tendency of declining rate of profit by: driving down its labour costs through wage cuts, speed-ups, lengthening the work day, contract work, redundancies, plant shutdowns, and other forms of corporate restructuring and absorbing or merging with its competitors. Technological innovation is responsible for major structural changes, unevenness between different spheres of production and overall distortion of the economy both within each country and on a world scale.

Advances in information technology are a key factor in the globalisation and standardisation of many areas of production. Within a general context of increasing mobility for capital, there is an enhanced transportability of production in particular. In expanding numbers and types of industries, capital can respond to strikes or workers’ demands by quickly – and almost seamlessly – relocating entire production processes on a permanent or temporary basis. As with all previous technological revolutions, these changes in production require the working class to develop new tactics and new forms of struggle to meet the challenge, including increasing international cooperation and joint action by the international working class movement.

The capitalist system has long since become parasitic, unable and unwilling to satisfy the growing needs of the people. For the working class to exercise genuine people’s rule, they must control the economy. Democracy, therefore, requires socialism: the common ownership of the machinery, raw materials and other means of production used to sustain and enhance human life. For the first time in history, however, the majority of the people will rule and establish a genuine democracy. The dictatorship of capital over labour – the rule of the minority over the majority – will be abolished and replaced by a social democracy in which political power will reside with the people For the first time, the interests of the people will be the prime determinant of our economic, political and cultural life. With socialism, the creation of social wealth has only one objective – to further the interests of the people, by raising living standards, improving and extending social services and unleashing the cultural forces now stifled by capitalist domination. Since industry will be owned by the working people, the bourgeoisie will disappear as a class; consequently, the conditions will be created for ending the conflict between labour and capital. New social relations, socialist in character, will come into being in which the interests of the workers, engineers, scientists, and managers will be harmonised. The socialist alternative will bring into being the sort of society humanity has dreamed of for centuries – a class-free society founded on an abundance of material wealth in which the state will wither away and people will each contribute according to their abilities and receive according to their needs.


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