Monday, July 01, 2019

Edinburgh Branch Meeting (4/7)

Thursday, July 4,  
The Quaker Hall, 
  Victoria Terrace (above Victoria Street),
   Edinburgh EH1 2JL

The Socialist Party often explains that the majority of the working class are capable of understanding socialism. This being so, our critics will ask, “Why then, are there not many more socialists?” At present the vast number of workers mistakenly view the solution to their problems in reforming capitalism in one way or another. Capitalism itself is not questioned, it is only the patching up of its effects that is attempted.

In our view, the problem is communication. Today information is mainly passed on by the mass media, to which we are virtually denied access. Consequently with our limited resources our activities in spreading our case for socialism, are restricted to what we are able to do in the way of our literature and discussion that we can upload to the internet. There was a time when political meetings took place in the open on street corners where one could go and listen to speakers almost any day of the week, where political journals were circulated. Without access to the media we have found it increasingly difficult to make our voice heard.

What is seen and heard in the mainstream media is the misuse of the word socialism, and distortions of Marxist ideas. This means that we are obliged to spend much of our efforts and energy in explaining what socialism is not. The Socialist Party had been the one organisation in this country’ which had consistently opposed the view that Russia had had anything to do with socialism; capitalism had never been abolished in Russia but had been developed there under the Bolshevik dictators Lenin and Stalin in the form of a state-run capitalism; this state capitalism was now giving way to a more market-directed type of capitalism, and now everyone could see that Russia was capitalist; our position had been completely vindicated.

The one thing that most clearly marks off the Socialist Party from the other organisations which claim an interest in socialism, is our view that the only possible basis for a party for socialism is an understanding of socialist principles. Other organisations have seen the disastrous results of bringing together people without socialist knowledge who were attracted merely by one or other of a long list of political and social reforms. We present our Declaration of Principles as the minimum condition of’ membership. 

The Socialist Party very clearly sets out in its Declaration of Principles that the emancipation of tbs working class must be the work of the working class itself. Special stress is laid on this because one of the greatest obstacles with which the workers are confronted is the idea, fostered by unscrupulous individuals and parties claiming to champion the cause of the working class, that leaders are necessary. So deep-rooted is this demoralising notion that we are called upon at our public meetings, when stating our claim to be the only Socialist party, to name some of our leaders. Our reply that we have no leaders is met with the incredulous retort: “But you must have leaders!” The word “leaders” implies not only those who lead but those, who are led. Now only those require, or suffer themselves to be, led who cannot see the way for themselves, and naturally, those who cannot see the way for themselves will not be able to see whether they are being led in the right direction or the wrong. Labour leaders, therefore, are able to render to the capitalists the very valuable service of misleading the workers. This is why the ruling class bestow praises and titles upon labour leaders, and entreat the workers to follow their wise (?) counsel. The work of the Socialist Party, therefore, is to spread abroad among the workers that political knowledge which alone can put them beyond the lure and treachery of leaders by showing them clearly the object they have to attain and the road they have to travel to attain it.

To many of our fellow-workers, the Socialist Party member appears as a type of person full of discontent— ceaselessly complaining, always grumbling. This impression is but one of the many illusions which cloud certain working-class minds. Members of the Socialist Party are dissatisfied because we do know the cause of all the evils which afflict the working class, and that knowledge represents our frustrating vexation. The Socialist Party claims that socialism is the only hope of the workers, and that all else is illusion.

Those who seek to apply for membership in the Socialist Party are required to understand and accept the Party's Object and Principles. If the Party are not satisfied that the applicant sufficiently understands our position, the application is deferred until the person's knowledge of the Socialist Party's position is sufficient for membership. This done, the new member gets a more complete understanding of the nature of the activities of the branch and of the organisation as a whole—and this understanding can obviously only come about as the result of regular attendance at branch meetings. Subsequently a desire generally begins to manifest itself on the part of the new member to participate more directly in the work of the branch and of the party as a whole. It is a question for the member to decide in what particular direction the individual's abilities would be most useful and decides upon a choice of work entirely voluntarily .

To those, therefore, who agree with our Object and Principles, we extend an earnest invitation to come forward and assist in the efforts we are making to build up a vigorous and healthy socialist organisation, bound together by a common understanding and class-conscious solidarity, who are determined to wage uncompromising war on all who bar our way toward the goal to establish the socialist co-operative commonwealth, where poverty will give place to plenty and wage-slavery to economic freedom.

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