Often one of the essential points brought forward by opponents to socialism is the part played by the so-called "captain of industry” to-day. It is urged that production on a large scale is impossible without them, that their energy and enterprise depends upon self-interest which signifies the pursuit of wealth and power, and that such incentives being absent from the proposed new social order captains of industry will not develop and large scale production will therefore languish. We know from innumerable events which constantly make plain the weakness of this position, but its supporters continue their advocacy unabashed, partly from interested motives and partly from the sheer incapacity to see and understand the facts in front of them.
To-day the duty of those captains of industry, the CEOs, is to overreach other corporate bosses and collect willing tools to aid them in the work of extracting the greatest amount of surplus value from the working class. It is not a question of running an industry but of piling up profits, and the CEO sometimes seeks to obtain the lion’s share of these profits. When industry comes to be organised to meet the needs of everybody without distinction, the various tasks necessary will be distributed and controlled on behalf of all. There will be neither opportunity nor incentive for one to achieve power and wealth at the expense of another, and there will be every inducement for each to give of one's best in the way that is most congenial for the benefit of oneself and the rest of society.
Leaving aside those who set out from a fraudulent beginning, ambitious men, brought up on maxims of wealth and power, set out to build up large enterprises and use all the capital and credit they can lay their hands on. A business slump, which these optimists rarely foresee, a shortage of available capital, or something similar, interferes with, their projects or stands in the way of some greater achievement, and induces them temporarily to resort to methods which come under the legal heading of fraud, in the expectation that they will be able to put matters right when their designs have been accomplished. Sometimes they are successful and live on as highly respected pillars of society, with the probability of a monument after their deaths. Sometimes they are unfortunate, then economic rivals, frightened financiers, maddened shareholders, and the moralists, unite in condemning them and bringing them to “justice.” The larger the concerns involved the larger is the scale of fraud.
Big industry strives to utilise all the funds it can lay hands on for the purpose of expansion and of enriching those at its head. It puts its hand into the pockets of small capitalists and shopkeepers, and uses the savings of the “better-off” for its schemes. Consequently, it is the heartbroken cry of the small shareholder that usually makes the most noise when a collapse comes, because it is just these people, with economic security in sight, struggling fiercely to get there, who are being constantly ruined and flung into the more hopeless sections of the propertyless class. And yet they are the fruitful soil for the blooming of all the pernicious doctrines of self-help and the like. Striving for economic freedom, unable to accomplish it by their own efforts, they look hopefully to company promoters, provide funds for all kinds of hare-brained schemes, and sing the praises of “great” men whom they trustfully expect will lift them out of the mud. They cannot find words harsh enough for those who let them down and shatter their delusions
History shows that meaningful social change is not possible through reformism. The basic characteristic of reformism remains the support, within the working class, of the capitalist state and through it, of the native capitalist class. The Socialist Party supports a working class standing erect on its feet; refusing to be pushed to its knees. A working-class resorting to independent political action and class struggle. A working class fighting for socialism. The first step towards socialism is to organise in a socialist party so that at least all the workers will recognise that they must act according to their class interests politically just as they do economically in their unions. Once such a socialist party has captured state power, we can proceed to reorganise the whole of society to serve the interests of the vast majority instead of the few.