Sunday, December 09, 2018

We Need Socialism

We desperately need an economy that can meet humanity’s needs without undermining the basis for civilisation. When we talk about the inevitability of socialism we assume that the workers will continue to struggle against the capitalist system. Were they to sit down tamely and wait till socialism came to them, they would soon lose all that they have now and become mere slaves. What we understand by social revolution is when the workers, both politically and economically,  are so class-conscious and so well organised as to make their exploitation impossible that capitalism would have reached the end of its tether. The task of the Socialist Party is to show how inadequate reforms are in eliminating the evils from which the workers were suffering. Our tactics are to demonstrate that only with the abolition of production for profit, and the competition between the capitalists for sources of profitable investment which is an inevitable result of the capitalist system, can we end nationalism and rid ourselves of the danger of war. Who will assist the workers to formulate their own battle plan in their own interests?  We propose to plant the seed of socialism in the minds of our fellow-workers, to germinate and to bear fruit until the time comes to harvest it. It will take a little time and a great deal of education, but it will succeed.

Socialism aims at giving meaning to people's life and work; enabling freedom and creativity to flourish. Socialist society implies people's self-organization of every aspect of their social activities. These are not aspirations about some far and distant future but rather demands for today. With socialism, people will dominate the workings and institutions of society, instead of being dominated by them. Socialism will, therefore, have to realise democracy for the first time in human history.  Real democracy lies in one's being able to decide for oneself on all essential questions in full knowledge of the relevant facts. To grasp this is to perceive that socialism is not "nationalisation" or "cooperatives" to increase the standard of living" but to understand that the real crisis of capitalism is the anarchy of the market.  

 The Socialist Party has continuously pointed out that increased production, whether as a result of greater efficiency or labour-saving machinery, can have but one result: an increase in unemployment. Unemployment is proof of the rottenness of the capitalist system. Men and women lack the necessaries of life; they are forced to be idle by the capitalist class; yet, given access to the means of wealth production, they could produce the things they require in abundance. Capitalism compels the workers to produce for profits. The workers can only satisfy all their requirements when they make the means of wealth-production common property and produce for use.

Some Marxists may, and do, exaggerate the personal importance of Marx as an authority owing to their admiration for his genius but it is quite untrue to suggest that they as a body “slavishly" accept his intellectual authority. Marx and Engels made wrong judgments, like other people. In 1848 and even later they under-estimated very considerably the longevity of Capitalism. Engels, especially in his later years, had an exaggerated idea of the strength and soundness of the Second International, and particularly of the German S.D.P.

Marx described as the proletariat in modern society the property-less wage worker. The mass of men and women, rapidly in process of becoming the most powerful numerically in every country in the world, who own nothing but their power to labour and who by reason of their being compelled to sell that power in order to live, stand face to face in an antagonistic relation to the buyers, the capitalist class.

 A footnote to the 1888 edition of the Communist Manifesto by Engels gives: “the class of modern wage-labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour-power in order to live.” Marx taught that the development of the system would produce in the workers that outlook, that class-consciousness, which would precede their organising to overthrow capitalist domination, but he expected the workers to emancipate themselves; he certainly did not teach them to rely on self-styled intelligent minorities.

Marx was quite clear in his writings that not only has the establishment of socialism to result from the political action of the working class itself ("the proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority", as the Communist Manifesto puts it), but that this involves the abolition of commodity production and wage-exploitation (the workers, says Value, Price, and Profit, "ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword 'Abolition of the Wages System'”) and their replacement by a democratically-organised society where the principle ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs' would apply (Critique of the Gotha programme). One central feature of socialism, clearly stated by Marx, is that it would be a class-free society in which the means to life would be the common ownership of all society ("In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have", says the Communist Manifesto again, “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all").

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