There is an abundance of evidence to support the socialist contention that a membership which is ignorant of the basic principles of socialism can never hope to build up an organisation which has as its object the capture of political power, and its use to abolish capitalism and establish socialism. A membership lacking knowledge can at best be used for the capture of political power in order to introduce certain reforms, which, in due course prove themselves futile to solve the basic problems which perpetually confront our class. Such an organisation, whilst it can be most active, cannot, because of its membership's political ignorance, go any further in its objectives than the object of its members without undermining the loyalty of such members.
The politically uneducated members are not altogether to be blamed as they are schooled by leaders who retain their position of authority by maintaining the lack of political awareness, preferring to foster a culture of hero-worship in themselves as those trusted to know better than the rank and file.
The Socialist Party stand is the working class must, as a preliminary to the establishment of socialism, gain control of the political machinery of society. They can do this in the most capitalist countries through political organisation and the use of the vote; the working class possessing, as they do, the overwhelming majority of votes. Armed revolt is the height of futility. The capitalist class, by their control of the State machinery, control powerful armed forces possessing all the latest and most potent weapons of destruction. In addition they can and do prevent the formation of any serious rival force. Even if the workers had any means of purchasing expensive modern weapons they would have no means of training themselves to use them.
History knows many instances of romantic hot-heads vainly trying to overthrow powerful governments without considering the hopelessness of the odds against them, being, in fact, more interested in heroics and martyrdom than anything else.
There is an admission test for prospective members to the Socialist Party based upon the acceptance of its essential principles and policies as a class movement. Its questions can be easily understood by the average worker, and they comprise the irreducible minima of the principles and policy of socialism; narrow enough to exclude all who are not socialists, yet broad enough to embrace everyone who is. To demand more is to degenerate into a sect; to require less is to embark on the slippery incline of labourism and compromise. It is a reasonable test so that the essentials for membership of a socialist party are not neglected.
To be a socialist, you need to be part of an organisation that advances socialist ideas. The Socialist Party stands, not for reform and state capitalism, but for socialism and nothing else. Nowhere do the ruling classes offer the people a way out of the nightmare of suffering that has been imposed upon them. Nowhere can they offer a way out.
The Socialist Party is the working people’s political organisation that stands irreconcilably opposed to capitalism and works for the establishment of worldwide socialism. The word socialism has come to be applied to any activity of the state or local municipal council in an economic direction, irrespective of what the nature of the activity or the state concerned is. Hence any industrial or commercial enterprise undertaken by a government ministerial department is labelled socialism nowadays. The mere form is here confounded with the content. Mere state capitalism, as we may term it, does not mean socialism. The state of to-day is an agent of the possessing class and the governmental bodies are run in the interests of that class. Their aim in all cases is to show a profit, in the same way as ordinary capitalistic enterprises. This profit accrues to the possessing class in the form of relief of taxation, mainly paid by them, interest on loans, etc.
In other words these industrial undertakings are run for profit and not for use and their employees are little, if at all, better off than those of private employers. A bureaucracy, that is, a body of permanent officials, entrenched in government departments, to whose tune ministers themselves have dance, is totally incompatible with the very elementary conditions socialist administration.
Beware attempts to envisage future world-socialism. We are only too prone to interpolate into our conceptions elements drawn from the present or the past. The result is very much the same as though Shakespeare had attempted to give a picture of the world of modern London. We can detect tendencies, we can offer the main trends on which the society of the future must build itself, but this is all we can do towards forecasting a time to come.