The socialist ownership of the means of production means the elimination of the capitalist economic system, the abolition of private ownership of those means of production and the eradication of exploitation of man by man. In socialist society there are no longer classes with a monopoly of property in the means of production.
Capitalism does not consist merely in the private ownership of the necessaries for production. If such ownership were the determining feature of capitalism, then capitalism reigned in the days of serfdom. The serf owned his tools, the feudal lord owned the land. Yet that was not capitalism. Capitalism is that social system under which the tool of production (capital) has grown to such mammoth size that the class that owns it rules the world like a despot, steadily swelling the number of the wage slaves.
Socialism does not consist merely in the overthrow of private ownership in any or all of the necessaries of life. If such overthrow of private ownership were socialism, then the overthrow of the one-time private ownership of military forces, and the present state-ownership of the same, would be socialism. Obviously, that is not socialism. A leg of a human being is not a human being. Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled, and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at end. That is socialism, nothing short of that.
Socialists deny that workers and the capitalists are brothers. Instead we recognise the irreconcilable nature of the conflict between the two. That class struggle will not end until the capitalist class is thrown off the backs of the workers. As Tolstoy says, "I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back." Socialists recognise that an injury to one working person is an injury to all.
Socialism will require no political state because there will be neither a privileged property class nor a downtrodden propertyless class: there will be no social disorder as a result, because there will be no clash of economic interests; there will be no need to create a power to preserve ‘order’. The aim of the Socialist Party is the abolition of class rule and class conflict. Its goal is the development of a society in which the few shall no longer be able to enjoy luxury and leisure at the expense of the work, want, and insecurity for the majority. So greatly have science and technology increased our productive powers that an abundance of all the good things of life for the whole population could be produced without subjecting any human being to drudgery. To assure plenty, security, leisure, and freedom for all, it is necessary that the existing property system, the existing forms of economic control and distribution of wealth, be so changed as to adapt them to the conditions of the modern world. Private ownership means power for the few and subjection for the many. Only by the socialized ownership and democratic control of such 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 achieved. The interest of wage-workers demands this change.
The choice before us is either to permit capitalism to concentrate all power in the hands of an oligarchy of finance and reduce working people to abject servitude, or to assert the people’s right to control and remodel their economic life. In the name of freedom, in the name of civilization itself, for the good of those now alive and of generations yet unborn, we call upon the workers of the city and countryside, and upon all intelligent and humane men and women, to join us in winning the good new world which is within our reach.