A good deal of our time as an organisation has, unfortunately, had to be devoted to denouncing false ideas about socialism as well as to explaining what socialism really means. This has led us to strong criticisms of left-wing parties claiming to be working-class parties, which have very frequently been grossly misunderstood. Our position is a simple one regarding these parties. It is, briefly, that they do not stand for socialism, that is to say, the common ownership by the whole of society of the means and instruments of production and distribution, and their democratic control by and in the interests of all. Some bristle like Christians rebuked for lack of faith when the position is stated thus. Yet that is the position from the evidence of programmes, newspapers and conferences. Worse—many thousands who describe themselves as socialists have so vague an idea as to what socialism means that they would not, so to speak, recognise it if they saw it. State ownership or State control is not socialism.
The capitalist class possesses power to-day because it has control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces. Not always has the capitalist class been so powerful. It was not able to become the most powerful class in the State until it had wrested from the feudal aristocracy a share in the control of the machinery of government. To-day, the capitalist class still controls the machinery of government. But this is due only to the fact that the working class is immature. The workers still believe their problems can be solved within the framework of capitalism. Consequently, at each election, they send to Parliament and to the local councils people prepared to uphold the capitalist system of society. Thus do the war mongers and financial magnates get their power.
When the workers understand that they constitute a slave class and that their slavery and all its accompanying evils will remain as long as capitalism itself, then they will become socialists. They will cease to vote the supporters of capitalism. Instead, they will elect socialist delegates. Since the working class forms the majority of the population, nothing but its lack of political knowledge prevents it gaining control of the machinery of government for the purpose of carrying out its own wishes.
The power of the capitalist class will have vanished. Whether the capitalist class will be foolish enough to attempt to resist their hopeless position is a question we cannot answer categorically. We do know, however, that were the attempt to be made, it would be impossible for them to put up any serious opposition. They would, of course, be rebels against society, and by rebelling they would make their already hopeless position still more hopeless: their unconstitutional action would cause many fence-sitters to support the socialists—the democracy defenders. The puny efforts of the rebels would be met by the highly developed and organised might of the armed forces.
Slavery is involved in the wages system. As a result of realising the cause of their enslavement the working class will obtain a knowledge of what is essential to their emancipation. Capitalism is the means of exploitation. It is the chain that grows ever heavier. The very chains that the workers are compelled to forge to enslave them.
The left-wing parties has propounded doctrines which have done nothing but obscure the fundamental issues of socialism versus capitalism. How was this made possible? Cunningly and with wilful lying, and distorting the teachings of Marx, through the pages of their journals.
The workers must preserve and strengthen their organisations on an independent basis. Let them hold fast to their right to organise, to meet together, to speak freely, so that they may keep their power of influence and to work for socialism. We hold out our hands in solidarity across the frontiers to the workers of other countries, and over the roar of guns and the thunder of bombs.
The Socialist Party is fully aware of the sufferings of workers under various iron heels of jack-boots and wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression, but history of the past decade shows the futility of war as a means of safeguarding democracy. The retention of capitalism results in the building up of new tyrannies and terrorisms through the inability of the capitalist states to solve the problems created by the system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution and the competitive scramble for raw materials, markets and control of trade routes.
When they understand what capital is and the place they occupy in society as a result of being bound to it the working class will generate within themselves the will to be free.
To those workers who are growing tired of their own exploitation and would like to bring a speedy end to the brutal suppression which capitalism causes everywhere, we extend an invitation. We invite them to join with us in our struggle for socialism—a system of society which will bring to an end their own exploitation and “will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.