Human beings have the capacity for historical hindsight. We can look back critically at the slaves of ancient society and agree that they were misguided in believing that their situation was “natural” and “proper". We now know that there was nothing innately inferior about slaves, that they were simply born into servitude. We have also passed that phase of society where the social structure was a rigid hierarchy in which the serf looked up to the knight, the knight to the Lord of the Manor and everyone looked up to the king or prince. If we now look at our own period in history with the same awareness of change and the impermanence of social ideas, we can see that there is nothing natural or necessary about the wage-slave status of the majority. The solution to the social problems of the majority is a dramatic change of social organisation to socialism.
The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of a social system which requires laws and coercion in order to survive. The alternative to all that — a revolutionary one, to be sure — is the establishment of a system based on conscious social co-operation. This will only be achieved when the earth and its resources belong to its inhabitants and not to a privileged minority. Abolish property, in all its forms, and you end the need to protect wealth, which is owned by those who do not produce it, from those who do. In a society of common ownership and democratic control, where everything belongs to everyone.
It will be claimed, even a system free of private property will need some laws and some police and some prisons. People will still need to be kept in order. No: in a socialist society the people will democratically keep themselves in order or there will be no genuine socialism. Anti-social individuals will still need to be punished, will they not? Let us consider these “anti-social individuals". Let us assume that there are going to be people in a socialist society who insist on defying the will of the community. It will be the community itself, within whatever area is affected, that will have to deal with such anti-social behaviour. How it responds will be entirely up to the people at the time to decide. There will certainly be no need for a special, permanent force of men and women to ensure that the common will is respected. It is often said that there are certain crimes which will always exist. Are there? We can agree that some murders are committed by sick people, as are many acts of rape, child molestation and gratuitous violence. Psychiatric knowledge regarding the origin of mental disorders which cause such behaviour is presently under-researched and confused. It is doubtful whether such characteristics would exist in a society freed from the repressive psychological conditioning of capitalism.
However, it is possible that there will be homicidal lunatics in a socialist society. If there are, they will require compassionate help, not punishment. You do not need prisons to deal with major personality disorders. Of course, those who believe that “human nature" is inherently anti-social will say that conscious social control is a dream. If they are correct, then the uncontrollable violence of the profit system will be with us forever. But all of the available evidence — psychological, biological, anthropological, historical — points to the fact that human behaviour is not natural, but adaptable and, given a different social environment, the thugs of today could be the consciously co-operating social beings of tomorrow.