Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Going Beyond Capitalism


We live in dark depressing days; is there anyone to whom this thought has not occurred? Many think there is no way out and nowhere to go. Capitalism creates the conditions and forces for the socialist movement: the necessary technical basis, science and the working class itself. That is its major contribution to social progress. It also provokes the working class into action and is the involuntary promoter of the class struggle. We need a new social system that does not put production in conflict with human needs or the well-being of humanity and the planet. We call this socialism.

Many workers are indignant when they are “exploited” and “oppressed.” They have been taught false pride, not the pride of refusing to be exploited, but the pride of refusing to admit that they are exploited. But their denial doesn’t change the fact or the reality that the capitalist barons squeeze the last drop of their sweat for the sake of their profits and the State crushes their resistance. It should be clear to all that the State is the executive committee and the strong arm of entrenched privilege and wealth. There is war. It is a class war. It is waged by the representatives of one class, the oppressors, against another class, the oppressed. In this war, the State is always and invariably on the side of the oppressors. Some representatives of the ruling class may try to achieve their ends of capital using the carrot. But they always keep the big stick ready. The State — that is the big stick of the owners of wealth.  Everyone who believes that the State is your ally, a neutral protector, that the State is an honest broker is mistaken.

The Socialist Party is the only political organisation in present-day society that recognise the basic nature of the capitalist State. The State may change its outward appearance.  The forms change. The phraseology differs according to time and place. The essence remains. The essence of the capitalist State is service in the employ of capitalism for the preservation of capitalism.

It may use the parliamentary system, with freedom of speech to opponents — as long as this opposition is not too threatening to the capitalist class. If so, then the State tightens the screws to silence opposition.


Progressive liberals on the Left frequently find themselves dissatisfied with the functioning of the State and its “shortcomings.” They complain of inequality. They understand the war-like nature of the capitalist State. But what do they propose? A little tinkering here and there. An improvement in the electoral laws, an extension of the freedom of the press, improve the State — and you have made it more flexible, more capable of adapting itself to circumstances; you have made it a better instrument of oppression. But that has nothing to do with the very nature of the State as a bulwark of private property and capitalist exploitation.  no matter how important for the working class, reforms do not touch upon the fundamentals of the capitalist State, namely, its being an instrument of power in the hands of the big owners of wealth.

Nevertheless, limited as it is, bourgeois democracy has prepared for the workers all the means necessary to achieve socialism. Let the workers use universal suffrage, we say, to send socialists into the legislative assemblies. Let the socialists form a majority in these assemblies. When this is done, the road is open to pass laws abolishing the capitalist system. Neither democracy without socialism, nor socialism without democracy.

If capitalism makes prosperity, peace and the end of poverty impossible, then the system must give way to a better one, whose aim is not profit-making but the satisfaction of the needs of humanity and whose basic means of expansion thereby calls for free cooperation instead of the intensification of competition and the exploitation of labour. The Socialist Party programme boils down to the struggle of the workers to end capitalism.

An argument against socialism is the assumption that capitalism had always existed and would naturally always continue to exist because it corresponded with “human nature.” Hard facts upset this naive assumption. Capitalism is but a newcomer among economic systems; it is less than five hundred years old. A related argument was that socialism represented a beautiful ideal but lacked a basis in reality; socialists were, therefore, nothing but Utopians. Marxist theory upset these contentions. The working class, created by capitalism itself, was shown to have a decisive economic interest in the development of socialism, and since socialism signifies a higher level of economy and culture, leading to a class-free society, the working-class movement in this direction represents the interests of society as a whole. In addition, the worldwide industrial system established by capitalism provides a sufficient base for the enormous increase in productivity required to realise socialism.

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