Saturday, July 18, 2020

The idea of the co-operative commonwealth

One 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. We must do away with many misunderstandings created by our adversaries and some created by ourselves. The main idea of socialism is simple. Socialists believe that society is divided into two classes by the present form of property-holding, and that one of these classes, the wage-earning, the proletariat, is obliged to toil for the other, the capitalist, to be able to live. All this misery, all this injustice and disorder, results from the fact that one class monopolises the means of production and of life, and imposes its laws on another class and on society as a whole. All differences of class must be abolished by transferring the ownership of the means of production and of life, which is to-day a power of exploitation and oppression in the hands of a single class, from that class to the organised community. The abusive rule of the minority must be substituted by the universal co-operation of people associated in the shared and joint ownership. And that is why the essential aim of socialism is to transform capitalist property into social property.

 With socialism private ownership and production for profit will be supplanted by common ownership and production for use. Working people will work together in harmony instead of being arrayed against each other in competitive warfare. They will collectively own the means of production, and there will be work for all.

The Socialist Party aims to replace the present capitalist system, with its inherent injustice and inhumanity, by a social order from which the domination and exploitation of one class by another will be eliminated, in which economic planning will supersede unregulated private enterprise and competition. The present system is marked by glaring inequalities of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability; and in an age of plenty it condemns the great mass of the people to poverty and insecurity. Power has become more and more concentrated into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of financiers and industrialists and to their predatory interests the majority are habitually sacrificed. When private profit is the main motivation to economic effort, capitalist society swings between periods of feverish prosperity in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers, and of catastrophic recession, in which the common people’s normal state of insecurity and hardship is worsened. We believe that these evils can be removed only in a planned and socialised economy in which our natural resources and principal means of production and distribution are owned, controlled and operated by the people.

 Socialism is not a system of society in which individuality will be crushed out by regimentation. What we seek is a proper democratic collective organisation of our economic resources such as will make possible a much greater degree of leisure and a much richer individual life for every citizen. This social and economic transformation can only be brought about by political action. Political action is not to be despised, nor is any other that will help to break down the domination of the master class and hasten the emancipation of the proletariat. It will be time enough to forswear political action when the master class no longer strive to retain their mastery of the political machine. We do not believe in change by violence. The old parties are the instruments of capitalist interests and cannot serve as agents of social reconstruction, and that whatever the superficial differences between them, they are bound to carry out policies in accordance with the dictates of Big Business interests who fund them. The Socialist Party aims at political power in order to put an end to this capitalist domination of our political life and the establishment of a planned, socialised economic order, in order to make possible the most efficient development of the national resources and the most equitable distribution of the world’s wealth.

The principles of the Socialist Party are fixed and immutable. Our object aimed at, the end to be attained, remains ever the same, that object being social and economic freedom and equality for all, and the realisation of the highest individual development and liberty conceivable for all, through the social ownership and control of all the material means of production and existence. 

The Socialist Party will not rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and the establishment of the cooperative commonwealth. Our primary function is to organise a political party, independent and class-conscious. The purpose of a Socialist Party is the realisation of socialism. We refuse to subordinate that goal to any other.

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