The inability of seemingly powerful and well-entrenched liberal and left parties to prevent the triumph of right-wing reaction has been a bitter pill to swallow. The conditions have aggravated the sense of working-class political impotence. Forced to abandon their traditional beliefs and failing to find satisfactory alternatives, the workers have become easy prey to demagogy and trickery. As standards of human existence deteriorate these factors will not contribute to clearer thinking by the workers.
Capitalism is insane. It cannot work efficiently— it can't work at all! The Socialist Party does not direct its appeal for the establishment of socialism to the capitalists. We know it would be worse than useless. No ruling class ever gave up its power of domination without being forced to do so. Make no mistake about it, when the master class are confronted with a serious attack upon the private property institution no abstract “civil rights” will prevent them using all the might at their command to maintain their power. The appeal of the Socialist Party is directed to the working class because this class has everything to gain by the acceptance of socialist principles. At this stage the question arises as to the means to be employed against the might of the ruling class. We assert that the workers must look to themselves to get out of capitalist conditions. While it is true that the master class use their power to consolidate their domination of the working class, it is also true that this power has been handed to them by the latter. In other words, at every election the workers have voted the capitalists into power. It is as though the lamb delivered itself over to the lion. The workers must understand that they can use this political weapon in the interest of themselves. They must study socialism wherein they will learn the cause of their subjection, how they are subjected, and the means by which they can combine their forces as a class and use their might to ensure the right to live a comfortable and healthy life.
It is true that the workers control in politics, in the sense that they have a majority of the total votes; but once they have voted that power, either to Coalitionists, Liberals or Labour Leaders, their control is gone, and the party they vote into office wields the full power of the State. The workers can only use the power that their number gives them when they consciously organise for a specific object and send their own representatives to the national and local assemblies for the accomplishment of that object. The whole question of slavery or freedom centres around this point: will the workers continue to allow themselves to be led, or will they direct the affairs of life in their common interest, through representatives selected and appointed by themselves? They can only do the latter when they are in agreement as to the object of their political activities. The only object, correctly understood, on which all workers could agree is the socialist object. The establishment of a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of all the means of wealth production. The task for every socialist is, therefore, to help in the work of making more socialists.
Before a socialist revolution can take place a majority of the working class must understand and accept the essentials of socialism and organise to establish it. This understanding not only renders “leaders” unnecessary, it forbids their existence. The working class will keep control in its own hands and administrators will have to carry out the workers’ instructions. To talk of a “socialist revolution” as being “led by socialists” is at once to proclaim one’s entire ignorance of even the elements of socialism. Capitalism itself rests upon ignorance, and its political parties, with their symbols and slogans, their banners and big drums, are all up to their necks in it. The mass of the people are taken in by the ballyhoo. They support the system of private property for the flimsiest of reasons and never seriously consider the proposition that there is a better way of running the world. As long as such ideas keep their grip, the world will remain in confusion. Apart from anything else, democracy will always be unsafe. Both Labour and Conservative parties support this chaos of ignorance. Beside that momentous fact, what does it really matter which has the bigger posters, or the more press advertisements, or bangs the bigger drum?
Only socialism can guarantee the conditions of a life worth living for all. Because its establishment depends upon an understanding of the necessary social changes by a majority of the population, these changes cannot be left to parties acting apart from or above the workers. The workers cannot vote for Socialism as they do for reformist policies and then go home or go to work and carry on as usual. To put the matter in this way is to show its absurdity. Socialist ideas are not acquired merely by the experience of hardships and tragedy under capitalism. They must be propagated and learned. The party of the workers, therefore, cannot be anything less than a socialist party; its task, the conversion of the working class to the principles of socialism. Nor can it at present be much more. It must eschew all the cheap tricks of electioneering and propaganda; whether these consist of open support for capitalism on the plea of "urgent" problems, or a futile appeal for "a socialist Britain now." Such activities will not bring socialism any nearer; the workers who support them are only postponing or evading their real responsibility. That they do so is not due to any evil machinations or secret plots by these power-seeking parties. On the contrary, the existence of these organisations and the popularity of their illusory remedies is conditioned by the inadequacy of working-class political understanding. So long as the workers do not comprehend the necessity and meaning of a revolutionary social change, they will have no choice but to leave their fate in the hands of "parties" and "leaders." With the development of socialist consciousness (class-consciousness) will come the realisation that they, the workers themselves, must takecontrol of society. Knowing what has to be done will give them the will and assurance needed. The Socialist Party therefore reject all comparison with other political parties. We do not ask for power; we help to educate the working-class itself into taking it.