The world we live and struggle in confronts us with an immense set of paradoxes. Conditions exist which should result in very favourable ground for socialist activity. Yet a real mass socialist movement does not exist. The absence of a vibrant socialist movement today is an indisputable (and depressing) fact. This is hardly a profound observation. It has been noted by many others. Dozens of explanations abound. Some argue that the problem is theoretical and doctrinaire in character while many blame sectarianism. In the meantime, socialists remain marginalised and ineffective. The absence of a thriving socialist party in have been driven many activists to delude themselves into pursuing a strategy that envisions capturing the Labour Party or the Democratic Party and transforming it into a socialistic party. Those who advocate such a strategy are hard-pressed to provide evidence of those parties receptivity to any socialist agenda. Such a strategy is an exercise in futility.
There is anger stirring among discontented people, particularly as their living standards and working conditions implode. Yet at the same time, there is widespread despair. The media spreads the notion that history has indeed ended, and capitalism is the only alternative. It has led to a society that is, by and large, depoliticised, apathetic and passive, often unaware, misinformed, or downright uninterested in many aspects of social life beyond their narrow personal existence. People are absorbed in attaining the fruits of the “consumer society.”
The lack of general agreement and understanding on what socialism means and when there is the question then becomes what needs to be done to achieve it and there is no clear sense of how to go about doing that. The day-to-day struggle continues, whether it be in centred on the environment civil disobedience, work and the unions , anti-sexism, anti-racism organisations. At the same time, a socialist party must look beyond the immediate situation and be willing to outline a vision of a future society yet not present some sort of messianic vision of socialism.
The issues must return to the basic tenets of socialism on how goods are produce and distributed, who owns the means of production or how work itself is organised and administered, while overcoming scarcity and meeting people’s material needs for food, clothing, shelter, etc. It must also encompass questions on the very way we spend our lives in a never ending and deadly process of expanding production and consumption, the mindless consumerism and the ever-expanding creation of “needs” that is foisted upon us by the ubiquitous advertising apparatus. Besides being ecologically unsustainable, it transforms people themselves into little more than another expendable commodity. We must not only transform the “relations of production,” but build towards a model of socialism based not on ever-expanding production and consumption, a socialism that is not only democratic, non-exploitative, egalitarian, and internationalist but one that establishes a new ecological relationship between human needs and the environment.
The struggle for socialism in this country and worldwide is a formidable task, to say the least. Moreover, there are no guarantees of success. Nevertheless, we must keep the ideal alive and struggle to make it a reality. Socialists need to propose a way forward to avoid the path of barbarism.
The Socialist Party is a genuine workers’ voice, speaking out against the very system which exploits all of us. We proclaim the goal is not to reform capitalism, but to eliminate it.