The essential problems facing people stem from the nature of capitalist society. Only when this system is replaced by socialism, by the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution can the world's problems be solved. A socialist society will be very different from the society we now know.
In the first place, socialism will be a class-free society, in which all the means of producing wealth are owned in common. Instead of being divided into workers and employers, rich and poor, society will be an association of free people, all making their special contributions to the well-being of society, which in return will supply them with what they need in order to live full and happy lives. Such a society can be summed up in the slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” For this to be possible, socialist society must be based on abundance. Because it will be a community of plenty, where there is enough for all and therefore no advantage can be obtained by theft or other forms of crime, all need for courts of justice and police will have disappeared. Production will be organised in such a way that there is plenty of everything for everybody: not only food, houses and so on, to satisfy material needs; but also schools and theatres, playing-fields, books and concerts so that people can lead full, physical and cultural lives. Socialism is not something which can be fully completed in one country, isolated from the rest of the world. On the contrary, it must eventually embrace all the peoples of the world; and in so doing it will put an end to national rivalry and war. Because no wars can take place in a truly international society there will be no need for armies. The State itself will disappear. Instead of one section of society ruling and oppressing another, men and women will grow accustomed to living together in society without fear and compulsion. Thus, for the first time, mankind, united in a world-wide family, will finally be free. work, instead of being simply a means of earning a living, will have become the natural expression of people’s lives, freely given according to their abilities. Moreover, the nature of work will itself have changed. Through the development of science much of its drudgery will have disappeared and every man and woman wild develop their mental and physical capacities to the full, and this will inevitably bring about changes in their outlook in life.
In the capitalist society, it is the interests of capital that predominate. Common ownership puts an end to the exploitation of the working class, whereby surplus labour is performed for the benefit of the capitalist class. We share a common enemy which exploits workers here and abroad, oppresses large sections of society, strives constantly to roll back democratic rights, blocks progress on every front, generates militarism and war, and now threatens the viability of our planet. This enemy, capitalism, will have to be overthrown because it cannot be fundamentally reformed. The working class has the most direct interest in overthrowing capitalism. After all, this is the system which exploits workers, excludes them from real decision-making in the workplace and in wider society, condemns them to poverty at one or more stages in life, and confines most of them to a lifetime of inequality and insecurity.
The capitalists derive their main forms of income – profit, interest or rent – from their ownership of economic and financial property (usually in the form of stocks and shares, other financial assets and property deeds). Some workers may own stocks and shares directly, or indirectly through a pension or other fund. But their chief, if not sole, the source of income is their wage. They depend on their wages to live. Furthermore, what all waged workers also have in common as a class under capitalism is that they are exploited. This includes those in the public sector whose unpaid surplus labour does not directly produce surplus value for capitalist employers, but keeps down the costs of running the capitalist state. Their surplus value is appropriated by the state for the benefit of the capitalist class as a whole, whose interests are served in a variety of ways by the public services provided. Many workers are hired for their labour power by capitalist enterprises in the gig-economy as ‘self-employed’ or through sub-contractors. They, too, produce surplus value for capitalists as though directly employed by them. Moreover, they are further exploited as their de facto ‘employer’ provides no pension contributions, sickness cover, paid holidays or redundancy pay. Experience of these conditions of capitalist production creates the potential for the working class to liberate itself. If the working class is to put an end to exploitation and oppression altogether, the trade union struggle against employers must go beyond this specific economic objective to embrace the political relation between workers and the state. Industrial militancy is not enough. Politically, the labour movement must have their own political organisation - a socialist party. The capture of state power will enable the working class to complete the removal of all economic and political power from the capitalist class. Without exploitative capitalists and landowners, the division of society into antagonistic social classes will cease to have any material basis. In place of class conflict and social discrimination, social cooperation and equality will prevail. Resources of every kind will be devoted to solving or alleviating the many social problems inherited from capitalism. As the amount of human labour required to produce society’s needs decreases, every citizen will have the time and facilities to develop her or his skills and talents to the full.
The role of the state as the coercive force used by one class to suppress another diminishes. The collective organisation of working people will be by autonomous, self-governing communities of people. Workers’ self-management of industry and enterprises will be free to develop its full potential. The great majority of people will increasingly understand the need to organise and fulfill essential work as the pre-condition for their freedom and the ability of all to benefit from the expansion of educational, cultural and leisure provision.
Members of the Socialist Party do not accept that such a society is impossible to achieve or that there is a ‘human nature’ too negative to allow the development of socialism. So far in history, people’s thoughts and behaviour have been shaped, distorted and exploited by their existence in class-divided societies. Even so, human beings have always displayed an enormous capacity for reason, compassion, cooperation, courage, self-sacrifice, invention, and commitment to the creation of fairer and more just human societies. Are these not also characteristics of any such ‘human nature’? There is no reason why people should not comprehend that we share this Earth in common, that we are interdependent, that the individual good of the vast majority requires the collective good and that cooperation and unity is better than conflict and division. It is capitalism that seeks to make a virtue of greed, egoism, exploitation, and inequality while claiming that these are the ruling characteristics of ‘human nature’. It is capitalism that creates so much misery, destroys so many lives and now threatens the very future of human existence on this planet.
For the sake of humanity, we have to move forward towards socialism.