Skip to main content

The Socialist Co-operative Commonwealth

There is very little in Marx’s writings to be found of a detailed account of the new social system which was to follow capitalism. Marx merely outlined the broad features of the new society and the way in which it would develop. The first essential feature of socialism is that the of production are taken from private ownership and used for the benefit of society as a whole. In socialist society, where production is not for profit but for use, a plan of production is possible. In capitalist society, the capitalists own the means of production and engage in production for the sole purpose of making profits and satisfying their private interests. Therefore, though there may be planned production in a few enterprises, competition is rife and lack of co-ordination prevails among the different enterprises and economic departments as a whole. Adjustment based on a unified plan is completely out of the question and anarchy in all social production is the order of the day. Cyclical economic crises which break out in capitalist society are the inevitable result of anarchy in production. They not only greatly undermine the social productive forces, but also are disastrous for working people.

At the formation of the Socialist Party we made it quite clear as to our exact aim and object. We are socialists, wishful above all things to advance socialism, and by socialism we mean, as all socialists do, the common ownership of all wealth production on a co-operative basis, and this involves the complete supercession of the capitalist system. We recognise the class war between the propertyless class and the possessing class which can only be resolved by the complete control over all the great means of production and distribution by all of the people, thus abolishing the State and the wages system, and constituting a co-operative commonwealth or a social-democracy. We can only hope for and work for the best. When confronted with the forces of the capitalist State, it is futile to suppose that they will crumble, fall, surrendering their power and possessions to those who are both unorganised and confused in their objectives. We have no reason to suppose that people will be won over to socialism by those unwilling or unable to organise themselves.
Products socially produced by the workers must be owned by those workers and ordinary people. Then there is no barrier to restrict production. Production is no longer guided by profit of the handful of owners but by the requirements of the workers, who now own the means of production, and the other sections of the people around the workers. This is production for use and not for profit. The productive forces are released to serve people's requirements. Economic crisis is abolished because its cause is destroyed. This is the basis for socialism.
Commonly the word “socialism” is used as a political trick. The Labour Party and the left-wing groups are called “socialist”. It is suggested that countries with large welfare programmes are socialist or that nationalised industries are socialist. This has nothing to do with socialism. For ourselves, socialism must be the aim. Socialism as a description of the relations of men and women to production means ownership by the workers of the means of production, the relations of production are no longer an antagonistic fetter on the development of the productive forces. The social producers become the social owners. Socialism proceeds according to the maxim “from each according to ability, to each according to needs.” Along with that, the old coercive state apparatus of the exploiters is ended.

So long as society is divided into classes, in whatever form, the economics and politics as well as the ideas, culture, etc. of society will be dominated by one class or another–they cannot serve all classes, exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed, master and slave, equally–and whichever class can in any period organise society in such a way as to most rationally utilise the productive forces at hand will hold sway for that period. What is needed is the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.

The aim of the World Socialist movement is the abolition of class rule and class conflict, with all their evil consequences, and the development of a society in which the few shall no longer be able to enjoy luxury and comfort at the expense of the toil and insecurity of the majority. This is today a thoroughly practical idea. So greatly have science and technology have advanced and increased our productivity that an abundance of all the good things in life for the whole population could be produced without subjecting any human being to drudgery or exhaustion. The continued existence of poverty is due solely to causes which rational social action can overcome. To assure plenty, leisure, and freedom for all, it is necessary that the existing private property system, the existing forms of economic control and distribution of wealth, be changed. Only by the socialised ownership and democratic control of productive wealth, doing away with exploitation and making the satisfaction of human wants the ruling motive in production, can the ideal of a class-free society be realised. The interest of the wage-working class, in the broadest sense of that term, imperatively demands this change

While it is impossible to prophesy with total certainty whether the change from capitalism to socialism will be a peaceful or a violent one, there are many forces at work which point to a genuine possibility of peaceful change in this country, and the World Socialist Movement should strive with all might to make this possibility an increasing probability as time goes on. In the name of freedom, in the name of civilisation itself, for the good of all those now alive and of generations yet unborn, we call upon the workers of the city and country as a class, upon all men and women, to join us in winning the new world which is within our reach.


Popular posts from this blog

What do we mean by no leaders

"Where are the leaders and what are their demands?" will be the question puzzled professional politicians and media pundits will be asking when the Revolution comes. They will find it inconceivable that a socialist movement could survive without an elite at the top. This view will be shared by some at the bottom. Lenin and his Bolshevik cohorts argued that we couldn't expect the masses to become effective revolutionaries spontaneously, all on their own. To achieve liberation they needed the guidance of a "vanguard party" comprised of an expert political leadership with a clear programme. The Trotskyist/Leninist Left may remix the song over and over again all they want but the tune remains the same: leaders and the cadres of the vanguard can find the answer; the mass movements of the people cannot liberate themselves. The case for leadership is simple. Most working-class people are too busy to have opinions or engage in political action. There’s a need for some…

Lenin and the Myth of 1917

A myth pervades that 1917 was a 'socialist' revolution rather it was the continuation of the capitalist one. What justification is there, then, for terming the upheaval in Russia a Socialist Revolution? None whatever beyond the fact that the leaders in the November movement claim to be Marxian Socialists. M. Litvinoff practically admits this when he says:In seizing the reigns of power the Bolsheviks were obviously playing a game with high stake. Petrograd had shown itself entirely on their side. To what extent would the masses of the proletariat and the peasant army in the rest of the country support them?”This is a clear confession that the Bolsheviks themselves did not know the views of the mass when they took control. At a subsequent congress of the soviets the Bolsheviks had 390 out of a total of 676. It is worthy of note that none of the capitalist papers gave any description of the method of electing either the Soviets or the delegates to the Congress. And still more cu…

No More Propertyless

Socialism is the name given to that form of society in which there is no such thing as a propertyless class, but in which the whole community has become a working community owning the means of production—the land, factories, mills, mines, transport and all the means whereby wealth is created and distributed to the community. The first condition of success for Socialism is that its adherents should explain its aim and its essential characteristics clearly, so that they can be understood by every one. This has always been the primary purpose of the Socialist Party's promotion of its case for socialism. The idea of socialism is simple. Socialists believe that society is divided into two great classes that one of these classes, the wage-earning, the proletariat, is property-less the other, the capitalist, possesses the wealth of society and the proletariat in order to be able to live at all and exercise its faculties to any degree, must hire out their ability to work to the capitalis…