There is only one road that leads to a socialist society: the workers have to learn:
Firstly, that they are slaves;
Secondly, how they are enslaved;
Thirdly, the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve their freedom;
and lastly, how to accomplish this revolution.
A majority of the workers must understand these things.
Socialism as State ownership of the means of wealth production is a generally accepted notion. This definition has been accepted and advocated by many as a remedy for working-class ills. We are told that nationalisation is a step towards socialism because under it, they say, the workers will have a measure of control. This is altogether false, as a glance any state enterprise will show—the workers in those concerns being more dependent and having less freedom, if anything, than those under private enterprise. Not only so, the the workers, instead of insisting on a measure of control, are more likely to be side-tracked, like all civil servants, into the belief that discipline and organisation is the necessary complement of state efficiency in the interests of the "general public." To To make of the workers state-employees is in no way socialism in action. It does not speed the progress towards socialism. On the contrary, it leads the workers up a blind alley, wasting their energies on something that does not materially change their conditions, and leaving them apathetic and ignorant as to the cause of their failure. Common ownership of the means of wealth production alone gives control; that is why the Socialist Party declares that until the workers organise politically to gain possession of the means of wealth production all the schemes to give them a share of control are impossibilist dreams. Within capitalism the antagonism of interests between the two classes manifests itself. The workers have yet to learn that this antagonism is not only destructive of schemes of share in control, but is the germ of a conscious antagonism that can never be abolished until the means of life are the common property of society—not the common property of the capitalist class through State ownership, nationalisation, or national control—controlled by the people through a democratic administration of production and distribution for use instead of for profit.
The first test of a socialist party is the recognition that the working class of all lands, having no interests in common with any section of the master class, but all alike suffering under the same form of wage slavery, must unite worldwide for the overthrow of capitalism. Our message is to the worker, and exposes the labour fraud at the same time that it declares the real enemy of the worker to be the capitalist class. Who or what would decide which belonged to the workers and which to the capitalists? Only the naked force of the State. The truth would then be revealed that the capitalists are robbers, that the wages system is a blind, and that might is right. The workers might then listen to the Socialist Party, and, spurred on by the knowledge they would thus acquire, commence to organise in real earnest for socialism.
The Socialist Party does not pretend to foretell the future. All that we claim is that we understands the present, with its class ownership of the means of life and the consequent enslavement of our class. The defenders of the ruling class deny this enslavement and assert that socialism would result in loss of liberty to the individual. It is evident, however, that class ownership and control implies a class that is subjugated and therefore without liberty.
Socialism, on the other hand, being a system of society where the means of life are owned in common and democratically controlled, must give the maximum freedom to the individual because there is equality of ownership and control. Under capitalism the worker is subjected to restrictions and rules, and subjugated to a discipline which would be hard to beat. It is only the master class that possesses liberty, and their liberty means working class slavery. The poverty of the working class persists because the social system is out of harmony with the means and methods of production; and this causes numerous conflicts between capitalists and workers. Social relationships, the relations between man and man, or between class and class, do not stand still; and the cause of their change is the evolution of the material things—tools, machinery, etc.,— on which humanity depends for its subsistence.
Throughout history, from the dawn of time, when beset with threats and dangers on every hand, mankind treasured its freedom above everything else, and associating with fellow humans on a basis of equality, and controlled social actions democratically. Humanity’s confidence in, and adherence to, these two principles, carried it safely through the ages before civilisation. The abandonment of these principles was the beginning of the long class rule, in which successive ruling classes have robbed the workers of the results of their toil, from chattel slavery to serfdom to wage slavery—where the bondage is veiled by the so-called freedom of contract. It is a system of poverty and squalor on the one hand, and enormous wealth and power on the other.
The ensuing task of harmonising the social system with the more highly developed means of production is wholly that of the working class, and must be carried through against the conscious antagonism of the master class. Socialism can be established as soon as there is a majority of socialists. The first step, therefore, is to make socialists. The next step will be the organisation of production in such a manner that the workers have complete control — not a share in management. First must come ownership: until that is effected the workers can have no control, either over the means or methods of production, or over their own conditions of employment.
There is no question of morality or justice about this expropriation of the capitalist class. The wonder is that the workers have tolerated the system so long. A small class in society owns all those things required by man to produce for himself the necessaries of life. This small class imposes slavery on those who do not own. To free themselves from slavery must be the desire and the aim of the working class. But they must have confidence, based on knowledge, in their associated power to arrange the details of production and distribution for use. Without a ruling class they can still carry on, producing wealth for their own use and consumption. Let them, first, understand ; second, take possession, and exercising full control, face the future determined to use nature's gifts for the well-being and happiness of society free, at last, from the withering blight of class rule.
Workers, for your own sakes and for humanity's sake study socialist ideas! Then, when you understand, you will organise to establish it and so emancipate yourselves from the shackles of wage-slavery on the one hand, and rid yourselves forever from that awful menaces of poverty and war.