The goal of the Socialist Party is socialism, not a reformed capitalism. Its tactics must be those that will bring about socialism. Our function, as we see it, is to re-assert the claims of Marxism, as a relevant and meaningful guide to social comment and analysis. Marxism, as a system of ideas, has either been ignored, or dismissed somewhat contemptuously, as an outworn, superseded ideology. Marxism, however, still dominates intellectual debate, and is the most fertile “idea”. The Marxists have the best explanations and the best alternative. Marxist materialism provided a healthy antidote to the mystic misanthropy of many.
Capitalism is a society of privilege, in which one class owns the means of wealth production and employs the other class to work for it. Here is one cause of dispute, for the employing capitalists have interests opposed to those of the workers they employ. Strikes, lock-outs, and so on are the battles in a war which is continually going on between capitalists and workers over the division of the wealth which the workers produce.
“We are”, observed Erich Fromm, “a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent—people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save” (To Have or to Be?) Life, in short, has become a kind of spectator sport. We move through it, each in his or her own little fragile bubble of existence, buffeted by forces too diffuse to comprehend and too powerful to overcome.
Capitalism subjects its unprivileged class—the working class—to a degrading life of employment, poverty, and frustration. A worker's life is not simply a battle to make ends meet; there are also the warping influences of life in soulless new towns or neurotic suburbs, or in the slums of the big cities. Here there is little chance for human beings to grow up freely and naturally. Capitalism draws some of its most hopeless and vicious criminals from places like these. At the same time, the system is itself a standing incentive to crime. Since it is a society of private property, it denies the vast mass of its people abundance or even security; they are reserved for a minority. But of course some people, perhaps in especially desperate circumstances, try to find a short cut out of the frustrations and humiliations of the unprivileged; they try crime in preference to the humdrum existence of the wage slave in the office or factory. That is why something like 90 per cent of crime consists of offences against property, some of which are accompanied by ruthless violence with cosh or pick-axe handle or gun.
Capitalism is a system of wage slavery notwithstanding the spurious freedom of the wage contract. It cannot be otherwise where the means of production are monopolised by a small minority. It imposes upon us conditions that conflict with our deepest needs.
Capitalism is a world of violence, dispute, and frustration. It cannot provide its people with safety, or plenty, or happiness. None of its religions, none of its philosophers, none of its political parties, has any solution to its problems. They all operate on the assumption that capitalism will continue. What if we assume the opposite—that capitalism is abolished and replaced by socialism?
Socialism is a society in which the means of wealth production are commonly owned. The wealth which is produced will not belong to any class; it will be a common pool to which all human beings will have free access. Thus Socialism will end class divisions, it will end privilege, and it will end poverty.
Socialism is a society in which all humans will have a unity of interests — to co-operate in the production of the world’s wealth. There will be no competition between one group and another for economic supremacy.
Socialism will make its wealth for use and not for sale. This will release society from the restrictions of having to turn out cheap goods for a market. Everything that is produced will be the best we are capable of—we shall not build slums, we shall not make shoddy clothes, we shall not grow sub-standard food.
Socialism is a world without nations and frontiers. It will have one people working together for the common wealth. The crimes and disputes of capitalism will fade into history.
Socialism is necessary now—and we can have it now. All that is needed is for the working class to realise the viciousness and futility of capitalism and to appreciate that it can be ended only by a fundamental social change. Socialism will come after a revolution, as the conscious, democratic act of the world working class.
Socialism will uproot every vestige of the market economy. As socialists, we do not accept the need for some “invisible hand” beyond the control of human beings, to govern human affairs and give them coherence.
For many “market forces” are a code word for misery. The best response to the sadistic whims of the Market-gods is to send packing the market-loving messiahs and abolish the market by bringing the resources of society into common ownership and democratic control. A market-free society is the only sane alternative to the mad-house which we live under. Tinkering with it will be of no practical use; it would be like buying a new suit for Frankenstein’s monster and hoping that newly-clothed a monster he will no longer be. The urgent task before us is to unite to take society away from those whose sole intent is to sacrifice needs for profits. Then, once society is in the hands of all of us, we can begin having free and equal access to the available wealth of this abundant planet.