Thursday, December 31, 2020

Socialist Standard No. 1397 January 2021


No. 1397 January 2021 PDF

Either Socialism or Chaos

 As the Communist Manifesto puts it: “a warfare that invariably ended, either in a revolutionary change in the whole structure of society, or else in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

Capitalism has been tried and found guilty of untold crimes over generations. It has brought civilisation to the brink of extinction.  Capitalism breeds war, poverty, slums, unemployment. It regularly results in crises and recessions It breeds racial national and religious hatred, It makes a mockery of the words Peace! Security! Happiness! Brotherhood!

The safety and health of the workers is not a consideration for the capitalist owners of industry. Labour saving devices that could be blessings to humanity to eliminate drudgery and heavy work, deprive workers of their jobs. New technology in working processes are deliberately suppressed for reasons of profit. Plenty can be produced for all, an abundance of food, health-care, shelter and means of education, amusement, travel, recreation, for all the people. "Heaven on Earth" is not an idle dream. The material basis, the machinery and materials exist to produce for use and not for profit!

 Today, no matter how much is produced, none of it belongs to the people. If the products of farm and factory cannot be sold for a substantial profit they are stacked in warehouses and granaries and allowed to rot. It would be hard to explain such a crazy system to any sane rational person. A small group of owners condemn millions of workers to a mere existence wage and leave millions of to starve. We can work, to live and support our families, only when they say so. When they nod their heads factories and mines close or open up. This is free enterprise; this is the profit system; this is private ownership; this is capitalism. It has produced war and more war, hunger and want, unemployment and misery, in the midst of untold wealth. That the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is always true under capitalism. When the capitalists realize there is no profit in selling their goods, there are lay-offs and slashing of wages. Food is left to rot in the fields and granaries and storage houses, and hungry people go without in the midst of plenty. The capitalist system won’t work, for the very root of capitalism is all wrong. It is based on a contradiction, namely, that the man who owns the tools of production (the capitalist) does not work them, and the man who works them (the worker) does not own them. That is the socialist indictment against capitalist anarchy. People starve in the midst of plenty because capitalism is geared to production for profit.

There is a way out of this chaos. The working people themselves should own and operate the industries cooperatively. This would end production for profit and the waste of competing corporations. There would be planned production for the first time, increasing the output of wealth so that there would be plenty for all.

Socialism is not complicated. We mean an advanced stage of social development which will abolish private ownership of the means of production which are today the property of a small group of capitalists and used by them to exploit the labour of millions for their own private profit. By socialism we mean common ownership by the whole people of all the socially necessary means of production (land, natural resources, industries, transport, communications, etc.) and their operation through a planned economy which will guarantee an ample supply and equitable distribution of all commodities and services to all the people. The kind of planned economy we envisage would, for the first time, make possible an end to wars between nations. Because the planned economy would include all lands. The aim of the working class would be to end capitalism and all forms of exploitation everywhere. Its aim would be to create world socialism. A socialist society will plan for the public good, that would be the normal way, because all resources would be owned in common. capitalist economists – with their grandiose but futile plans – dare not face the fact that all future progress lies on the road to socialism.

"Rise like lions after slumber,
In unvanquished number,
Shake your chains to earth, like dew,
That in sleep have fallen on you,
Ye are many--they are few."

So sang the poet Shelley long ago.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

We Need Socialism


The Socialist Party makes clear that even if our oppressors were willing to grant them palliatives and reforms it would not end the contradictions of capitalism. Only the social revolution can release the forces of production from the exploiting power of capital, put an end to poverty, eliminate the root causes of war and unify world. Capitalism does not exist except by exploitation.  We invite all who share our aspirations, our world outlook and class commitment, to join our ranks and help us win. The Socialist Party enters the political field with a membership that will not offer any false promises. Socialism is rule by the working people. They will decide how socialism is to work. This was how Marx and Engels defined socialism. To use the word “socialism” for anything but working people’s power is to misuse the term. Nationalisation of mines, railways, steel, etc. is not socialism, nor is there any such socialist sector of a mixed economy. Nationalisation is simply a degree of state capitalism, with no relation to socialism. Nor is the Welfare State socialist. A “welfare” state is not socialism but a form of state capitalism. The task of the Socialist Party therefore is to help fellow-workers with the transfer of power from capitalists to working people. 

The current coronavirus pandemic has convincingly demolishing the myth of America as an affluent society. It revealed just how many live from pay-check to pay-check, how many are in debt and surviving upon credit and who now need to resort to charity to feed themselves. Even if it wished, it is simply not possible for capitalism to solve these gigantic problems. It is a sad reflection upon the present political environment in the USA that working people can become so disillusioned with political action, and can only assimilate themselves with reformism. The progressive leftists can only offer us a re-shuffling of the Democratic Party as a way out. Nevertheless, there are more clear-sighted workers who understand that the misery and suffering from this economic system can be ended by establishing socialism which would kick out the small handful of wealthy families who blocked the wheels of production, and start distributing goods to the ragged and hungry millions. The bosses are always the beneficiaries; the workers always the victims. Such is capitalism and the workers who side with the bosses and support capitalism politically and are therefore responsible for capitalism, and also responsible for the hell they get and the pain they suffer.

Hunger in the midst of plenty, is the distinguishing mark of the capitalist system of production. The Socialist Party has always contended that capitalism should be abolished because it mismanaged the means of production so that a very few – those who own the means of production – reaped great profits while the majority of the people were deprived of a secure standard of living. We would often prove this assertion by demonstrating the tremendous technology which the modern industrial machine has; how it could satisfy the needs of everyone if it were run for that purpose; and how capitalism, instead, ran the industrial machine for profits.  The Socialist Party would say, if only the people could run these industries themselves, they could produce enough to satisfy everyone’s needs. It remains the great and tragic paradox of our age – poverty in the midst of plenty. Capitalism is a social system which cannot satisfy the most elementary needs of the people, yet it squanders much of its resources on war: That is the greatest indictment of world capitalism. It is the greatest war machine in history in order to continue its tremendous accumulation of profits. Capitalism is a wasteful and inefficient system. It cannot plan on either a national or an international scale. It deprives most people of products. Socialism could plan better, provide the people with all necessities. War would be a thing of the past. Socialism could take the vast resources which are available and use them for constructive purposes. The inefficiency due to capitalist competition. The inefficiency and economic inequality due to the impossibility of constructive economic planning under capitalism – all would be things of the past. In their place could arise the new society of peace and plenty. That is why socialism is the burning need of the hour.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

We Can Win, We Shall Win!


Through the many global agencies that exist today, we know better than ever before what the needs of mankind are. What is more the means to relieve these needs for every human being are now at hand now and has been available for a number of decades. The means are there, the knowledge is there, and what is needed is the will to apply it. The difficulty is a political difficulty and not a technical difficulty. All scarcity in the world is due to capitalism. We have in the world to-day a number of palpable material evils — starvation, disease, slavery, and war — evils which in previous times were accepted as a part of the natural world or as the actions of the gods, but which now continue solely because we live under out-of-date political and economic system. There is no longer any reason why everyone should not have enough to eat and dwell in respectable homes. There is no reason why anyone should do more than three or four hours of disagreeable or monotonous work a day, or why they should be forced, by economic pressure, to do even that. War, in a period of potential plenty and ease for all, is sheer folly. Our world has had far more than enough of the futility of war. The greater part of disease in the world to-day is due directly or indirectly to unhealthy diets and living conditions. All these are plainly remediable and preventable social ills and science if properly applied can sweep all off the face of the planet.

Everybody should and could have a comfortable and attractive home, nutritious wholesome food,  opportunities for recreation and education, plus security against accident, sickness, and old age; and the sense of independence and self-respect that goes with these things. What we actually have, however, is widespread inequality, injustice and insecurity. This appalling contrast between what might be and what is  arises from the nature of the economic system – capitalism. The system acts, obviously as a brake upon production so that, as the phrase goes, you have “poverty in the midst of plenty:”

Our duty is first understand and then to change of the world we live in. We must understand society before we can understand people. Human nature is not fixed and constant. It can be and is being moulded by society. Everybody knows by now that all our misery and disappointment, our fear of the future, is not due to any fault or weakness of people but simply and solely to the competitive structure of capitalism. In order to plan for still greater efficiency in the use of our resources we envisage global planning. National borders are as artificial and restrictive and socialism must in essence be a world economy. Every effort to establish “planned” production under private capitalism breaks down, since the warfare between rival capitalists, in a nation and capitalist groups in different nations disrupts such efforts.

The burden of capitalist crises always falls heaviest on the toilers. They are taught that their masters can do no wrong but the workers must pay the price when things go awry. The capitalist system is a fraud. The present economic system uses its elaborate and complex manufacturing  capacity which is to a great extent spent in the production and distribution of luxury goods, throwaway gadgets, waste, planned obsolescence, military equipment – in short, in what economists and sociologists used to call “unproductive” goods and services and what socialists call useless commodities and consumerism.

The goal of the Socialist Party is the achievement of socialism, a new social system based on the elimination of all classes and class differences, the most progressive, revolutionary and rational system in human history, a system without exploitation or oppression, when people work voluntarily with the enormous development of the productive forces and the production of abundant social wealth, to accomplish the the principle, “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”

 Permanent plenty is no longer a Utopian dream, and with it awaits the arrival of permanent peace.  We must look to producing more active and harmonious ways of living, individually and socially. Socialism brings power and liberation. The Socialist Party prepares for peace and happiness, where industry, health and education is to maintain the bodies and minds of the people and end for all time the perpetuation of wage-slavery. We must form a fully organised world socialist party so that we can take possession of the world. Let the workers form one great world-wide union, and let there be a globe-encircling revolution to gain for the workers true liberty and happiness. With socialism the state machine, an instrument of class domination, is no longer necessary