Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Real Meaning of Socialism

Socialism is not a complicated doctrine. Marx had a definition of socialism which was, “...the appropriation of the means of production, their subjection to the associated working class, and therefore the abolition of wage labour, of capital, and of their mutual relations.” 

The enemy is capitalism. We are living under a system which is more and more clearly revealed as the enemy of humanity. It has vast productive potential, but only means poverty and oppression for the masses. It brings deprivation and hunger to the people. It imposes draconian cuts on living standards in the interest of still greater profits for the capitalist class. Capitalism is responsible for the destruction of the environment. Its armaments industry monopolises much of the world’s research and development and cynically profits from war. The cause of all this is capitalism’s guiding principle, the quest for profit, which takes precedence over any human interest. Today capitalism is an existential threat to humanity.

The modern wage-slave is nominally free and possesses certain illusory political rights which the chattel slave or feudal serf did not enjoy. But these privileges are not sufficed to emancipate the wage-slave from economic servitude and subjugation to the class which has succeeded the old land-owning and slave-holders. Throughout the whole of their working lives they are totally dominated by the employing class. The fact that a certain number of the workers receive good wages, in comparison with others who are paid at a much lower level of subsistence, makes no difference to the system. In ancient Rome some highly-educated slaves received considerable remuneration from their owners, and even became rich men, but this did not affect the lot of the mass of overworked and ill-fed slaves of the same owners toiling in their mines or on their fields. What prevents the present wage-slaves of all grades from understanding how little freedom they really possess is the payment of wages - the cash-nexus - which blinds them to the fact that they receive but a fraction of the value of the wealth they create in return for the use of their capacity to labour; just as their liberty to change from one employer to another obscures the other truth that they are always, in reality, under duress to the capitalist class as a whole. In today’s world, if their trade unions gained in strength, workers could obtain certain advantages from the employers. But they could only do so through recognising the validity of the system itself.

The Chartists taught that so long as the payment of wages by one class to another class continued, and production for profit under a competitive system consequently remained the dominant form of employment, it was quite impossible for the propertyless majority to emancipate themselves from the control of the rich. The only possible remedy for this state of affairs is for  workers, to cease being wage-earners for working people organised collectively, owning and controlling all the great means of making and distributing wealth, and thus would be the co-operative commonwealth.

 Socialism is a class-free society without property, without ownership – either private or nationalised – of the means of production, without commodity production, money or a state apparatus separate and apart from the members of the community. In the light of that definition, it is clear that no socialist  society exists anywhere in the world today.

 The Socialist Party exists to help replace the present capitalist system by socialism, understood broadly as a co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production. We hold a vision of socialism as a society where wealth will be in the hands of those who produce it, where the exploitation of man by man will be ended, where production will be used not for profit, where a new relationship will develop between peoples based on equality, where individual men and women will fully develop their abilities. We do not stand for violence

Our aim is a peaceful transformation to socialism: though we have to add that an aim is not a guarantee. We are not saying ‘Wait for the revolution.’ but that struggles which build towards self-organisation are pointing the way towards the way a future non-capitalist, socialist society. Part of the class struggle is the building of working-class self-confidence and organisation. There is no short cut to the social revolution. The revolts of impatience, of frustrated anger and with insufficient organisation only play into the hands of the ruling class, as all past experience has shown. Education and understanding among working people makes socialism attainable and are indispensable conditions for success.

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