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Advocating Socialism

Socialism is no mere Utopian dream, but is the direct and inevitable outcome of the present conditions of life and labour, as, indeed, every social system is the outcome of the one that proceeded it. In the middle ages the handicraft worker and the small peasant proprietor, with the simple, individual tools and implements of production, used to produce wealth and individually own and enjoy what their energy had called into being. In such circumstances, the socialist conception of society could not arise. But with the development of industry and the introduction of machinery, an industrial revolution took place, with the result that production to-day is no longer individual, but is collective or social. In deciding whether capitalism, like feudalism, should be consigned to history we should apply one simple test. Is the capitalist system organised directly for the needs of all people? If it is not, that would be the best reason for getting rid of it, and replacing it with one that would. This is a choice between capitalism or socialism.

Capitalism is organised for private gain, for profit and the accumulation of capital. It works through class ownership and economic exploitation. It sets up economic antagonisms within communities and divides the world into rival capitalist states. It breeds the ideologies of hate which are expressed in many forms of religion, nationalism, and racism. It is enforced through the power structures of the state. It creates vast amounts of waste and destruction. It turns all the useful things of life, including our labour, skills, and talents into commodities to be bought and sold on the markets. Capitalism makes a god of money and puts this above the real needs of people, so how could anyone seriously argue that it is organised for the benefit of the community?

Social systems are not, and cannot be, kept within national boundaries—but is widespread over the globe. While, however, the method of producing wealth all over the civilised world, has undergone a change from individual to social production, yet we find the ownership of the wealth when produced still remains individual. This contradiction, this grotesque social absurdity, lies at the root of all the trouble in modern society. It gives rise to the class antagonism which obtains to-day, and which the socialist alone can trace unerringly to this division of interest between the class who possess and the class who produce.

In every country under the domination of capital the simple facts of the situation are driving the workers to see the cause of the trouble, and are forcing them to an understanding of the remedy. Wherever capitalism is, socialism accompanies it like a shadow.

The Socialist Party set out to advocate socialism and socialism only as the hope of the worker, as the only way of escape from the appalling misery which envelops our class and which, if it is not already part of our daily experience, is removed from us by the smallest of spans, and we have preached it. We set out to show the utter folly of attempting to patch a system entirely rotten, and to urge that the only effect such patching could have was the prolongation of the life of that entirely rotten system—and we have shown it. We set out to prove that the enemies of the workers were not confined to the camp of capitalism, but were actually in command of the camp of labour, having been elected to their dominant positions by an ignorant proletariat— and we have shown it. Our purpose was to emphasise the fact that every worker or leader who was not organised in the ranks of The Socialist Party, waging war upon the forces of the capitalist class, was consciously or unconsciously lending aid to the enemies of the workers—and we have done that also. We set out to promote revolution as against reform; a boldly defined and unalterable working-class policy of open war upon the capitalist class as against compromise, with its inevitable results in working-class confusion; class organisation specifically for ultimate victory as against sectional organisation for an illusionary “immediate advantage." That is our message.

The practical alternative which would be organised directly for the needs of all people is socialism. The challenge of working with others round the world to set up a new system is not so great as it might appear. Already we have people doing useful work in every field. In farming, mining, industry, manufacture, building, and transport, and in the running of services like education, health, communications, radio and television, and the like, we have people of every skill and talent doing the useful things of life. The challenge is to free these resources from the constraints and the anti-social aims of the capitalist system. If workers around the world can run society in the interests of profit-mongers then they can surely run it in their own interests.

This would have to be based on common ownership where all resources and all means of producing and distributing goods would be held in common by all people. Then through democratic control and voluntary co-operation every aspect of society would be organised solely for the benefit of the whole community.

What can be the justification for wanting to retain a system such as capitalism, which is only distinguished by its ability to generate failure and disillusion and all its various ways of thwarting the best hopes that we have for our future? The day is long overdue for getting rid of it. We live in a world in which it is now possible to satisfy everybody’s needs, but the present system of production prevents this potential super-abundance being realised. Unemployment is, therefore, an unavoidable waste created by capitalism. The wealth that could be produced by the unemployed would be very useful and would benefit the whole community. But the present system of society does not, and cannot, work that way.


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