Thursday, May 13, 2021

Understanding socialist understanding

The World Socialist Movement is not going to do anything for our fellow-workers other than to arouse their fervour, determination and enthusiasm for the socialist objective.  Only the workers can emancipate themselves. The only factor in all the material conditions of today that we can see standing in the way of socialism is the political ignorance of the workers. It is not how scholarly they may be in Marxism. A worker may never have read a word of Marx to be a socialist.  A socialist is one who has come to understand that capitalism can no longer be reformed or administered in the best interests of society or its peoples; that capitalism is unable to end poverty and war; and that the time has arrived to convince others to become socialists so to bring about a new stage in social evolution.

The great majority of workers are not exposed to socialist principlesDespite the discouragements and disappointments our best  ally we have is capitalism itself. The greatest teacher of all is experience. Eventually, all the mistaken diversions into futile efforts of reforming and administering capitalism will run their course because people learn from mistakes. Necessity is the latent strength of socialism. Truth and science are on the side of socialism. It is easy to be cynical of socialist efforts and their apparent failure but, with the world facing the choice of socialism or chaos, you don’t have to be an optimist to recognise that we are approaching significant social changes. Indications of the direction people are thinking are everywhere. Our task is to be a sort of catalyst, triggering the processes that transform ideas into revolutionary ones.

 The World Socialist Movement is an organisation made up of class-conscious socialists; it is the party of the class. Our small membership merely reflects the small number of class-conscious socialists. Today, working-class understanding is at a very low ebb, therefore the membership in the WSM is puny. To know whether the World Socialist Movement is the party of the working class can be found in examining the political positions we hold are a  correct reflection of the workers’ needs. So, again, it boils down to the question of its understanding. Socialists welcome critical and searching questions. Thinking is not and never has been a violation of socialist discipline. Socialists are not dogmatic sectarians who are blindly and religiously faithful to socialist conclusions despite the lessons of unfolding experience. That is why socialists are open-minded, in contrast to being broad-minded. They do not tolerate exploded myths and superstitions.  A real socialist party cannot be apart and distinct from the working class; it has to be comprised of the whole human community. That is the general nature of any socialist party. 

The World Socialist Movement is made up of socialists who share a unity of agreement on simple generalisations. When the workers become socialists, they will not need a vanguard party to lead them. They will organise consciously and politically to emancipate themselves. Its bond of comradeship and unity is rooted in the barest minimum of socialist principles which may be summarised as: socialism is a product of social evolution; the socialist revolution is inherently democratic because of its nature of being conscious, majority, and political; and that socialism is based on the social relations of a community of interests between all the members of society and society as a whole. 

Consciousness must comprise, first of all, a knowledge of their class position. They must realise that, while they produce all wealth, their share of it will not, under the present system, be more than sufficient to enable them to reproduce their efficiency as wealth producers. They must realise that also, under the system they will remain subject to all the misery of unemployment, the anxiety of the threat of unemployment, and the deprivations of poverty. They must understand the implications of their position – that the only hope of any real betterment lies in abolishing the social system which reduces them to mere sellers of their labour power, exploited by the capitalists. A class which understands all this is class-conscious. It has only to find the means and methods by which to proceed, in order to become the instrument of revolution and of change.  

Class-conscious people need no leaders. The single, simple fact which all working people have to learn is that capitalism causes capitalism's problems, so that the remedy – the only remedy – is to abolish capitalism. In that knowledge they must take hold of the powers of government – for one purpose only: that the rule of class by class shall end. Socialism is not a benevolently-administered capitalism: it is a different social system. 

To bring about consciousness involves understanding socialism which means talking about it, sharing ideas about it - in short educating ourselves and our fellow workers about it. Our main task is to find better ways of expressing our message to as many workers as possible, to evolve a strategy so that we use our resources to most effect.

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