However when faced with the reality of the millions of men and women, ignorant of socialist principles, faced with the immediate problems of getting a living, supporting the pro-capitalist parties, bedazzled by nationalism and patriotism, awed by the power and privileges of the rich, they despaired at turning their fellow-workers into a political party for socialism. They sought an alternative quicker way and chose to ease the hardships of the poor and improve capitalism to gain the gratitude of the people who would turn be more readily receptive to socialism.
They said to us in the Socialist Party: “You mean well and your case is logical, but logic is not enough. The slow, hard progress on the direct, uphill road to socialism is theoretically right, but impossible in practice. People being what they are we must leave the straight road and come back later on.”
Those well-meaning, good-intentioned one-time socialists re-planned and revised their political platforms. While retaining the socialist ideal they placed it as a far-off objective and instead concentrated on the immediate day-to-day bread and butter practical issues, like minimum wages, protecting the Welfare State. Naturally this takes up a lot of energy permitting less time for advocating socialism. It also meant being side-tracked from the socialist path and making opportunist alliances with pro-capitalists but only for a time, they said. The working class freed from the worry and misery of the extremes of capitalism would express interest in further social evolution and prove that the reformist way was the better way.
We have had over a century now to evaluate that strategy and examine it under the light of experience.The promised reforms we have in profusion, though without weakening capitalism. The Labour Party is now wholly absorbed in task to win still further reforms, many of them the same ones that they promised to introduce quickly at the beginning. If the aim was to keep capitalism goingand to dissuade working people from demanding socialism, it has worked out very well. But some supporters of the Labour Party genuinely aim at socialismand the once attractive appeal of social reform has led only into the muddled mess of capitalist politics and now they are hopelessly bogged down in it. They have forgotten all about the road to socialism and the objective of putting an end to capitalism.
Now the Labour Party is back where it started, looking for another cure for the social ills within capitalism. Reformism has not brought us any nearer to socialism and it has exhausted whatever socialist interest there was originally in the minds of those who joined the Labour Party to reach a socialist society. So much so that the politicians inside the Labour Party have re-defined what their forebearers believed what socialism meant.
If all the energy devoted to chasing after reforms had been used instead to build up the socialist movement then the propertied class would have rushed forward all manner and shape of reforms in the hope, though a vain one, of buying it off.