Misery and discontent, by themselves, will not move the people. Socialist education and action are what is needed. If misery were sufficient to build a revolution, surely here were misery enough. But misery lacks that sufficiency by many a length. Misery is not enough; it must lead to discontent. Discontent is not enough; it must be enlightened on the causes of its misery, and the cure. Enlightenment is not enough; it must be organised to effect the revolution. There is misery aplenty in the world today. No need to wait for more. Education and organisation are now the needs of the time.
The fundamental principle of the Socialist Party is that freedom for the workers is not possible while the system of wage slavery lasts. Hence socialism has for its mission the overthrow of the capitalist system of private ownership of the machinery of production and the establishment of common ownership in its place.
The theory put out by reformists that socialism can with safety depart from the hard and fast line of its ultimate goal and follow the lure of "something now" has been a self-defeating strategy. History bears testimony to the fact that the fate of the movements that followed reformist opportunism led to their demise.
We are told that before the final overthrow of capitalism, which is the constant demand, there will be many immediate demands -- shorter hours, higher wages, better conditions, etc. Does it not follow that this political party will and must have an immediate demand platform?
No; it does not follow.
The reasoning that, until the "constant" demand of labour, the overthrow of capitalism, is attained, "immediate" demands are bound to appear on the platform of the true political party of labour, proceeds from a confusion of the term "demand" as used in the two instances.
The overthrow of capitalism - that is a DEMAND - it is THE demand - it belongs in the platform of a truly socialist party. Reforms are intermediate stepping stones, to be discarded soon as possible in the onward march. They have no place on the platform.
The demand is ONE -- it is the proclamation of the goal. The so-called "immediate" demands are legion. The specification of them, or of any of them, is superfluous.
The importance of the distinction lies in its practical bearing. The moment things that are not in the nature of a demand, because they are not the goal, are raised to the dignity of a "demand," they are apt to be and generally are, confused with the goal itself. A political party that sets up "immediate" demands by so much blurs its constant demand or goal. The presence of these "immediate" demands in a socialist platform reveals pure-and-simple politicians -- corruption, or the invitation to corruption.
Only the economic organisation may and must reach out after crumbs -- "improved conditions" -- on its way to emancipation. The very nature of the organisation preserves it from the danger of "resting satisfied." of accepting "improvement" for "goal." The economic organisation is forced by economic laws to realise it can preserve no "improvement" unless it marches onward to emancipation.
Otherwise with the political organisation. It must be "whole hog or none." The very nature of its existence -- itself only a path clearer for the economic organisation, and only a temporary means -- renders the political organisation prone to "rest satisfied" with incidentals and "improvements."
No socialist is a "state socialist." "State Socialism" is a contradiction in terms. We shall either have socialism -- and that means that the State shall have vanished; or we shall preserve the State, and then we shall have no socialism. Socialism and the idea of "lessening poverty" are contradictions in terms. If the best that could be done with poverty was to lessen it, Socialism would lack a foundation. Socialism's aim is, indeed, great; the aim, however, is not to "lessen," it is to "abolish" poverty, that is, involuntary poverty. Material conditions have changed so radically that, so far from insufficiency, there is today the material possibility of abundance for all. The mechanisms and the methods of production are such today that the leisure, the freedom from arduous toil for the necessaries of life, the emancipation from the clutches from the fear of want, all of these prerequisites to mental and spiritual expansion, one-time enjoyable by some, are today possible to all. Today, all statistical researches combine to demonstrate, people can have an abundance at their disposal with no more exercise of physical energies than is requisite for health. Under such material social conditions, Socialism spurns the goal of "lessening poverty" like a miserable reform, as a betrayal of mankind's opportunities.
If the aim of socialism were to be made the getting of "something now" and socialism later, socialism would have to be sacrificed to any sign of progress. Hence for a Socialist to preach "something now" discredits socialism, and only helps to prepare the workers as voting sheep for capitalism, when capitalist parties, by "stealing," by taking up the "something now" demands, promise their immediate realisation. The only something worth striving for now by socialists is the laying down of as solid a foundation as possible for the conquest of capitalism. The sufferings of a ruled class change, they are not abolished by a change of rulers. Let not socialist efforts be turned away from the practical to the sentimental. The world is ripe for the socialist cooperative commonwealth.