Wednesday, May 22, 2019

All for One, One for All, All for All

It is the division of society into property owners and propertyless people which lies at the root of the crisis of the capitalist world. One of the fundamental. truths which a study of socialism teaches, and it is a basic principle, is the existence of the class struggle. This class struggle is based upon the antagonism of interests between the propertyless working class, who are forced to sell their energy in order to live, and the property-owning master class.

Millions of workers extract raw material from the earth. They own neither the land nor the machinery they use, nor the products they raise. Millions of other workers manufacture the raw materials into finished products. They own neither the machinery they use nor the products they manufacture. These are the property of the capitalists and the landlords. The vast majority of people in society to-day are thus at the mercy of the private owners. They cannot organise the distribution of the wealth which they and their comrades have co-operated to produce, because they do not possess this wealth. It is the property of the private owners. 

Here is to be found the fundamental reason why the socially necessary goods are obtainable only in the market-place as commodities. The private property owners have no other means for the disposal of the goods others have made for them. They cannot give the goods to society, for that would be an abandonment of the right of private property to extract profit. They cannot distribute the goods according to the needs of the people, however vast and urgent those needs may be, because private property production is governed by the law of production for profit irrespective of the needs of the people. The criterion of all capitalist enterprise is—does it make a profit? When it ceases to make a profit it goes bankrupt—it is finished and the workers are cast on to the scrapheap of unemployment. Capitalism is one big gamble. Since its fortunes hang on the tail of its unpredictable market, it can never be sure of what to do to secure its own interests. The great tragedy is that the gambles are always paid off in working class lives and their insecurity.

People tell us, we will have socialism, but the world is not ready for it yet. They argue with us that they are being “realistic.” We say they’re not being realistic and their position isn’t coherent. Other critics of our position are merely cynics. The cynic thinks everyone is stupid. They accuse their fellow workers of never being ready for socialism because they’re mean spirited as well as stupid. They don’t want other people to have decent lives, they want people to suffer, they want it so much that they will allow that desire to over-ride their own individual self-interest. Most people don’t realise the socialist ideas they oppose are in their own interest. Believing that one day we will get socialism even though people who like the idea but nevertheless are unwilling to vote for socialists is not simply unrealistic – it’s fantastic. It’s downright delusional. For the proponents of lesser evilism, winning is everything. There is hardly anything more shameful after all, than losing. Even cheating is acceptable if the cheater manages to win. Lesser evil supporters are cowards, people who are incapable of seeing the incoherence in voting for someone who opposes things they profess to want, while persisting in believing that we will one day get these things anyway, without having to vote for the party who seeks them. If people want socialism, then they’re going to have to vote for candidates who advocate it, rather than for candidates who oppose it. It takes more than one person or one party to change the world.

There is no need to attach an adjective to the word "Capitalism", as in "Casino Capitalism" "Crony Capitalism", "Neo-Liberal Capitalism", "Financial Capitalism", "Disaster Capitalism", "Shock Capitalism", "Unregulated Capitalism", "Private-Equity Capitalism," or that old standby, "Greedy Capitalism". It is Capitalism, pure and simple. There is no such thing as “Compassionate Capitalism”. The vision of the world’s future appears completely dystopian and has descended into the dark abyss where the unimaginable has become imaginable. The politics of terror and the culture of fear legitimises the militarisation and regimentation of public life and society and fosters the criminalisation of social problems. Brutal modern-day capitalism has released corporate and military power and throughout the globe we witness particularly savage, cruel, and exploitative regimes of oppression. The planet itself is now under threat. Capitalism has made a virtue out of self-interest and the pursuit of material wealth. Capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. Money now engulfs everything in this new age of disposability. 

Moreover, when coupled with a weakening of movements to counter the generated power of capitalists, the result has been a startling increase in the influence of predatory capitalism, along with inequities in wealth, income, power, and opportunity. Such power breeds anti-democratic tendencies.

In place of the present economic system based on the class ownership of the means of life and their consequent use to provide profits for the owners, we are suggesting that the means of life be vested in the community as a whole and be under its democratic management so that wealth can be produced solely to satisfy human wants. Freed from the barrier of profit, we shall be able to produce in abundance all the things we need. Gone will be the absurd paradoxes of poverty amid plenty, of food being burned while children starve, of building workers being unemployed while people live in hovels. Naturally. socialism can only exist on a world scale.

If the Socialist Party grew strong enough and a majority of voters backed us then we would not form a government, with a prime minister and cabinet, to administer a system where workers and millionaires would still exist. We do not seek political power in order to run capitalism, but to abolish it. So that, if there were a Socialist majority, steps would immediately be taken to end private property in the means of production and to put in its place common ownership and democratic control. The Socialist Party is made up of conscious socialists organised on a democratic basis and so has no leader or leaders.

We have seen that a socialist majority would use its power to change the basis of society from class to common ownership. This of course will amount to a social revolution. But this doesn’t mean we’ll be starling from scratch. Socialists have always maintained that capitalism paves the way for socialism by, for instance, developing the large-scale co-operative production that makes class ownership an anachronism. This large-scale co-operative productive system, including its administrative apparatus, will be the basis of socialist society. The basic function of the state is to be the public power of coercion and for this purpose it is organised as the police, the armed forces, and the prison service. A public power of coercion is necessary only in class society with its built-in class conflict. In Socialism the state will no longer he needed and will be dismantled. However, today the government has itself assumed other, purely technical and administrative, tasks and this aspect of its work is in fact part of the productive system. We have in mind the old Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Transport, or the Ministry of Power. No doubt the administrative apparatus that is these and other ministries can be adapted for use as part of the socialist administration of industry. We can’t go into details (that’s something for the socialist majority) but we can say that the adaptions will be far-reaching— everything to do with finance will go, and the internal structure will have to be reorganised on a democratic basis. What we say about these technical ministries applies equally to the large corporations not part of the government machine. Obviously, there'll be a certain continuity in institutions between capitalism and socialism and at the start we'll have to make do with what we’ve inherited. Common ownership and democratic control will mean that everybody will be socially equal.

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