The Socialist Party says that all the wealth of capitalist society is produced by the working class, but is the property of the capitalist class, who own the machinery of production (the factories, transport, etc.) The capitalist system of society is based upon the private ownership of the means of wealth production and distribution, by a minority of the population. The majority of the population, being property-less, are compelled to offer their services for sale to the capitalists, and receive in return sufficient to enable them to live and keep on working. Only the working class engage in the work necessary to production, but the wealth that results from the workers’ labour-power belongs to the capitalists, and therefore the system is an excellent one — for the capitalists. The system is essentially a competitive one, and though the capitalists’ interests are identical as against working-class interests, they are not identical in the struggle to secure the greater proportion of the profit accruing from the workers’ labour-power.
The essential features of Capitalism are : one, the ownership of the means of wealth production by a propertied class which lives by owning; two, the sale of their labour-power by the property-less majority for wages; and three, the production of goods for sale.
The capitalists are rich because they own the means of wealth production, and consequently the resultant product; and the workers are poor because they possess nothing but their labour-power, which they are compelled to sell to the capitalists in order to live. As the value of labour-power is determined by the cost of its reproduction, that is to say, the necessary food, clothing and shelter to enable the worker to maintain oneself in a fit state to do the job, and reproduce, increases in the wealth produced are of benefit, primarily, to the capitalist class.
The capitalist and, the people he pays to write and speak for him, assert that socialism is impossible. But this is to be expected as capitalism means to the capitalist the continuance of his present easy and luxurious mode of living while Socialism signifies the end of it. One cannot expect the doomed to welcome the gravedigger. Socialism only has a message for the working-class because, from a narrow point of view, it is they who will benefit by it. Socialism means the taking from the rich of the power to exploit the poor—from the idlers of the power to live on the backs of the workers. One cannot expect the millionaires and billionaires to do other than oppose socialism and urge upon workers its impossibility. We, the workers, are not the “nation,” we are the slave class within the nation. The “nation” is the private property of our masters.
Money is only necessary in a society where there is private ownership and trading and therefore some common means needed in which to assess the values of diverse articles in order to facilitate exchanges. Where common property exists there is no exchange of goods but an equitable distribution on the basis of needs—as a mother distributes food to her children at the table. Socialism is the production and distribution of wealth would be organised on a scientific basis with the object of providing for each member of society the least amount of labour, the best conditions of labour, and the greatest amount of leisure — which latter he or she could employ in whatever work or play best suited. By this means, and only by this means, will unemployment, poverty and other economic evils that we suffer to-day disappear never to return.
The Socialist Party is accustomed to have the charge levelled us that their criticism of present-day society is purely destructive. “What is your constructive programme?” we are asked. The fact of the matter is that no section of the master-class and no political party which administers or aspires to administer the present system has any solution or can have any solution to the class conflict. The workers suffer poverty because they do not own the means of wealth production. The only logical remedy for such a state of affairs is that they shall become the owners; but that involves the destruction of existing property rights, the taking away from the master-class of their economic privileges. The Socialist Party is the only party which bases its policy on this objective, which arises by necessity from the class struggle. We plead guilty, therefore, to being destructive — of capitalism.