The Socialist Party has long contended that only socialism can solve the major social and economic problems plaguing our society today. But many people have been taught all their lives that "socialism" means the state-controlled system that existed in the former Soviet Union and its satellite states, exists today in China or Cuba. the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions weren't socialist in character. They occurred in -industrial societies. Without a majority working class and the ability to eliminate scarcity of needed goods and services, creation of a classless society was impossible. Material conditions there bred conflict and made the continuation of the class struggle inevitable in such countries. Socialism can only be built in a developed, industrialised society with a working-class majority. In the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions, an elite "vanguard" party seized control of the state and used the state to control the means of production. Instead of establishing a classless society, the party-state bureaucracy became a new ruling class.
The socialism upheld by the Socialist Party, however, is completely different from any existing system. It has nothing to do with nationalisation, a welfare state or any kind of state ownership or control of industry whatsoever. On the contrary, it would give power not to the state, but to the people themselves, allowing collective control of their own economic future. A socialist political party is needed to educate the working class and to recruit workers to the socialist cause. Socialism would bring social democracy -- the rule of the people -- to the most vital part of our lives, the economy.
Socialism means a class-free society. Unlike under capitalism, where a tiny minority owns the vast majority of wealth and the means of producing it, everyone would share equally in the ownership of all the means of production, and everyone able to do so would work. There wouldn't be separate classes of owners and workers. The economy would be administered by the workers themselves through democratic "associations of free and equal producers," as Marx described it. The workers collectively would decide what they want produced and how they want it produced. They would control their own workplaces and make the decisions governing their particular industry. Engels once described socialism as a system in "which every member of society will be enabled to participate not only in the production but also in the distribution of social wealth." Far from being a state-controlled society, socialism would be a society WITHOUT A STATE. Marx said that "the existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery. The people themselves, through the democratic associations of workers, would administer the various levels of society.
Socialism will allow for us to carry on production for use in the most modern production conditions we can possibly create, utilising the safest and most manufacturing methods. The more we collectively produce, the more we shall collectively enjoy. All of us will be useful producers, working but a fraction of the time we are forced to work today. But we shall not only be useful producers, we shall all share equitably in the wealth we produce, and our compensation will literally dwarf anything we can imagine today.
In socialist society there will be neither involuntary unemployment nor poverty. The young will be educated not only to prepare them to participate in social production but also to enable them to expand their interests and develop their individual interests and talents.
The aged will be cared for, and not by any such demeaning methods as are used today. We shall provide all their material needs and create a social atmosphere in which they can live lives that are culturally and intellectually satisfying. It will not be charity, but their rightful share as former contributors to production.
Under capitalism, improved methods and machinery of production kick workers out of jobs. With socialism, such improvements will be blessings for the simple reason that they will increase the amount of wealth producible and make possible ever higher standards of living, while providing us with greater and greater leisure in which to enjoy them.
Inside socialism, we shall produce everything we need and want in abundance under conditions best suited to our welfare, aiming for the highest quality. We shall constantly strive to improve our methods and equipment in order to reduce the hours of work. We shall provide ourselves with the best of everything: the finest educational facilities, the most modern and scientific health facilities and adequate and varied recreational facilities. We shall constantly seek to improve our socialist society. Purposeful research, expansion of the arts and culture, preservation and replacement of our natural resources, all will receive the most serious attention. It will be a society in which everyone will have the fullest opportunity to develop his or her individuality without sacrificing the blessings of cooperation.
Freed from the compulsions of competition and the profit motive that presently hurl capitalist nations into war, socialism will also be a society of peace.
In short, socialist society will be a society of secure human beings, living in peace, in harmony and human brotherhood.
This all may sound too good to be true. Yet the world has the productive capacity to provide a high standard of living for all, to provide security and comfort for all, to create safe workplaces and clean industries, and to help other nations reach these same goals. The only thing keeping us from reaching these goals is that the workers don't own and control that productive capacity; it is owned and controlled by a few who use it solely to profit themselves.
Organising to bring the industries under the ownership of all the people, to build a socialist society of peace, plenty and freedom, is the only real alternative workers have. For, as William Morris once wrote, "While theologians are disputing the existence of a hell elsewhere, we are on the way to realising it here: and if capitalism is to endure, whatever may become of men when they die, they will come into hell when they are born."