Sunday, December 02, 2018

The Socialist Party Offers Solutions

The working class still shows no sign of voting for an openly racist party. But if conditions change and the resentments which now smoulder could burst into fire. The workers, unaware of their class standing and interests, bewildered by the continual crises of capitalism, disillusioned at their leaders' failures, are inflammable material. The threat is always there. In many places, the frustrations and restrictions of working-class life are acute and have in some cases seem to have been accentuated by the arrival of migrants and refugees who, because they are so easily identifiable, make the perfect scapegoat for a demagogue.

The Socialist Party's argument is that the majority of workers must arrive at a clear understanding of socialism before they can get it, that a revolution in ideas must precede the revolution in politics and economics, is often sneered at by those who say that the mass of the population (except, for some reason, the extraordinary people who make this statement) are brainwashed robots, puppets manipulated by TV, and the press.

But capitalism is not a conspiracy. It cannot be controlled by a set of individuals, not even the capitalist class.  Current ideas provide a support for capitalism (though the “mass media” are only a part of their reinforcement), yet capitalism is dynamic, constantly advancing and frequently unpredictable in detail. The very ideas which defend capitalism have to be adjusted or replaced, to fit new conditions. Workers must be trained, not only to do their jobs, but also to be versatile, because their jobs are changing all the time, and also to make radical criticisms of the way capitalism is run, because otherwise inefficient and unprofitable blunders would result. As the Communist Manifesto put it:
  "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production . . . All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their trains of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned . . ."

Today, traditional ideas about work, leisure and “the purpose of life” are under attack, and in retreat. Capitalism has killed God stone dead and is stamping on the twitching corpse. Capitalism extends the juicy carrot of the “Leisure Society”—a golden age of short working-hours and automated abundance, which is ever imminent yet never arrives. Capitalism holds aloft an image of glamour, high-powered pleasure, rest and freedom—whilst the worker’s mind and body are reduced ever more thoroughly to instruments of accumulation. From the belief that work is a grim duty, consumption its reward, capitalism is shifting emphasis to the view that consumption is a duty, work something to be made rewarding.

Around the world, people are questioning the current path that humanity is set on and asking themselves will it lead to disaster, and they’re beginning to ask the harder questions about what to do about it and what sort of transformation is required to create a human future of peace, justice, and equality. We humans now have the knowledge and technology to move beyond the daily struggle for survival that besets the lives of so many. We have the capacity to secure a world of abundance. Achieving such a goal requires that we make the socialist vision our common goal.

People have always moved and explored. We spread to cover the whole world, and we mixed with one another. We continue to do that.  There exists an inevitability of the movement of people, whether as individuals or in groups. But borders are more than just lines on a map. They define the limits of nation-states and their power. We have seen the strengthening and the militarisation of the borders between the US and Mexico, Morocco and Spain, and the EU being described as Fortress Europe, with the deployment of police and troops, the use of razor wire, helicopters, drones, sophisticated people detecting technology, tear gas and rubber bullets, all serving to keep out the poor and desperate, and other "undesirables." Internally, the control includes things like ID checks in public spaces carried out by domestic security agencies such as the police. It means that anyone fitting the profile of an “illegal immigrant” risks arrest — turning parks, public squares, train stations and motorway rests stops into places of potential interrogation for some. Teachers, doctors, landlords in the UK are obliged to check the immigration status and to inform on foreigners. However, people without documentation or the proper papers find different ways to evade controls. The State responds with new strategies of capture. People adapt to evade. And so the process continues.

The Socialist Party advocates and works towards a society where the principle ‘from everyone according to faculties, to everyone according to needs!’ It is not scientific and permissible to lay down an exact blueprint of how future socialist society will be organised. At most, we can enumerate certain basic principles and guidelines, and give an indication in a very broad and tentative outline of the way we think society might be conducted. But the exact administrative structure and precise mode of behaviour of people in a socialist society will be determined by the specific material conditions of that society. What these specific material conditions will be, and how people will react to them, cannot be known to us at the present time.

Most people nowadays hold some grievance with this or that aspect of society. Millions suffer the horrors of capitalist wars. Mental illness is a growing problem. Old-age pensioners are dying from malnutrition, from cold. Slum violence and riots regularly hit the headlines. Waiting lists for hospital beds and operations while the demand for affordable housing outstrips supply. We have no control of the environment.  Most people would agree that each of these grievances could be remedied with a fair measure of goodwill and intelligence.

But the Socialist Party would disagree. 

These problems are all inherent in the way this society is organised. Their solution lies in abolishing capitalism, which embraces the entire world and whose motive is not the satisfaction of human needs or the alleviation of human suffering, but the creation of profit for disposal by the privileged few, and the accumulation of capital.

Capitalism is the society in which a certain group of people, a small minority, monopolise the ownership of the factories, land, mines, transport concerns, and every other point where wealth is produced.  But the mere monopoly of these means of production is not enough to give them a privileged position in society. They must employ workers, people who will produce all society’s wealth but never own more than that which their wage represents. Some say that the workers get a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, but what is ‘fair’? If the working class produce everything then they should receive all of it. But do they? No. The fact is that the workers' wage represents only a fraction of the wealth we have created. We are robbed—but legally. And although we constantly struggle to improve our wages, too many apparently never dream of abolishing the entire wages system.

Some radical reformers think that this is unnecessary. After all, they argue, if you seize all the means of production from the capitalists and institute state ownership, then only the state (and through the state, the people as a whole) will benefit from the wages system. And if the state machine is managed by people who call themselves Marxists or socialists or communists then this is obviously a more just and sane society. A society where people can at last plan their environments; with human priorities to the fore, and unrestricted by the demands of the market economy. But is it?

Will these advocates of state ownership have eliminated the contradictions of capitalism, manifested in a class struggle between the capitalist who strives to intensify exploitation through lower wages, longer hours, and faster production, and the wage slave, whose aim is to raise his or her wage, slow down production, and lessen his or her working hours? And forced into competition with other states and their ruling-classes, will housing have priority over defence or more profitable industries like motor cars and cosmetics? Periodically they crush strikes of dissatisfied workers, ruthlessly, with all the state power at their disposal. Their workers are exploited and oppressed just as surely as we are. 

To summarise, capitalism means the class monopoly of the means of production—its prime motive is profit, and to hell with the interests of the worker. Its mechanism, the means by which it robs, is the wages system. Solutions to capitalism’s problems can be found only after abolishing this system. All other solutions, such as the ‘welfare’ state, social contracts,  treaties end wars, are at best palliatives, at worst,  outright deceit.

And the Socialist Party's solution?

 Don’t follow anyone, don’t believe anyone who offers you paradise—and a wage. And don’t expect us to lead you. We are allergic to sheep. Instead, cultivate your self-reliance and organise yourselves democratically (and that means equal participation in decision- and policy-making, with all tasks not assumed by leaders but delegates) for the conquest of political power. When you have political power as a class, you will be the last class in history to be emancipated. There are none below you, none you will need to dominate to maintain your position as free men and women at last.

Voluntary co-operation on a world scale will replace compulsory economic competition between individuals. Social antagonisms will fade into history. With the abolition of the wages system, the interests of the individual will coincide with those of society. Genuine freedom will have dawned.

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