Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Learn what Marxism is

 Many people feel frustrated at having to endure the continuation of capitalism while seeking a mass understanding for socialism. However, the alternative, minority action, would not change things. Without a mandate from a conscious socialist electorate, the minority could only be another government. Socialists in trade unions make their own choices as to voting for officials. They may take political affiliations into account, but the function of trade unions is the limited to of one of seeking better wages and conditions; a candidate for office will be judged for his likely effectiveness as a negotiator above anything else. Socialist Party members in unions do not pay the political levy for the support of the Labour Party.

Political groups and parties which advocate the abolition of capitalism have to be viewed for the validity of their claims. If their policies are not realistic they will not achieve the aim they talk about, and capitalism will continue. While not avowedly in favour of it, they do their bit for it. 

Marx did not argue that the working class must continuously slide into more abysmal conditions. On the contrary, he pointed out that under some circumstances:

"A larger part of their own surplus-product, always increasing and continually transformed into additional capital, comes back to them in the shape of means of payment, so that they can extend the circle of their enjoyments; can make some additions to their consumption-fund of clothes, furniture, etc., and can lay by small reserve-funds of money. But just as little as better clothing, food and treatment, and a larger peculium, do away with the exploitation of the slave, so little do they set aside that of the wage-worker. A rise in the price of labour, as a consequence of accumulation of capital, only means, in fact, that the length and weight of the golden chain the wage-worker has already forged for himself, allow of a relaxation of the tension of it." - Capital

The governing factor is the needs of capitalism:

"The rise of wages therefore is confined within limits that not only leave intact the foundations of the capitalist system, but also secure its reproduction on a progressive scale."

What is the standard of judgement for “worse”? It can only be the potentialities of society. In the same chapter Marx reviews a Budget speech of 1863 in which it was claimed that “the poor have been growing less poor”. He says:

"How lame an anti-climax! If the working-class has remained “poor”, only “less poor” in proportion as it produces for the wealthy class “an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power”, then it has remained relatively just as poor. If the extremes of poverty have not lessened, they have increased, because the extremes of wealth have. "


It will be agreed by SPGB members that they have to spend as much time with enquirers telling them what socialism is not as with telling them what it is. The greatest coup of the capitalist propagandists was when they succeeded in misrepresenting Socialism to the masses. Their allies are those organisations which claim to be socialist or communist, though they are nothing of the sort.


Classes are defined by the relationship of their members to the means of production, not by how rich or poor they are. Of course the members of the dominant class are generally rich and the members of the dominated class are generally poor, but this is an effect not the cause of the division of society into classes.

This means that the figures for wealth ownership are only an indication of the class structure of society–they show that society is divided into classes but not how it is. So, classes should not be defined on the basis of them; classes are defined socially not statistically. And the working class is defined socially as those members of capitalist society who are excluded from the ownership and control of the means of production and are therefore forced to get a living by trying to find an employer to buy their labour power.

Most of those called the “middle class” fall into this category, even if they do have savings, since these savings are not sufficient to change their social position. In the vast majority of cases their “investment income” is not going to amount to more than a few thousands pounds a year at most. Nor are we convinced that such people regard themselves as capitalists; they may not call themselves “working class” but this is because of the term’s popular (but mistaken) association with manual labour and not because they don’t regard themselves as working. In fact they get quite irate if you suggest this. On the other hand, as we said in our criticism of Class War, “making a putative middle class into an enemy is as divisive as anything dreamed up by the owning class”.

Have these better off workers some want to call the “middle class” an interest in establishing socialism? Why not? They are exploited in the sense that they produce more value (or save more time) for their employers than they are paid for (this surplus value they produce will also be more than what they get as income on their savings). Like the rest of the working class (properly understood), they suffer from pressures to work harder, stress and job insecurity.

And even if their higher income does allow them to avoid bad housing and hospital queues and dump schools they still suffer from the bad–and worsening–“quality of life” under capitalism: rampant commercialisation, lack of community feeling, social breakdown, decadent values, not to mention pollution and the threat of war.

Monday, May 30, 2022



Nationalism - A change of masters.

Whether the flag is the Saltire or the Union Jack,  you, as a worker, will in no way be any better off. Your problems will still continue, will still confront you—worrying you and causing you many a headache—while the present system of society lasts. To solve those problems—which never leave you, be you in an independent Scotland, Britain, America or any other part of the world—you’ll most certainly have to struggle. Let your struggle be one against the real origin of your problems, against the system of capitalism, and against those who support it. Struggle against the system which condemns all workers, regardless of the place of their birth or residence, to a life-time of toil and poverty, from cradle to grave; struggle against the wealthy few who, because they own the factories, mines, railways and all of the means and instruments for producing wealth, compel you—because you own nothing—to labour for their benefit.

Your struggle, in common with the struggle of workers everywhere, to be successful must be a revolutionary one. Your aim? To take from the capitalist class its ownership of the means of production and make them the common property of all mankind, without distinction of race or sex. When you’ve achieved that—when you’ve won that revolution — living will really be worthwhile then, it will be a joy and an adventure. Then things will be produced because people need them and not in order to sell for the purpose of making a profit; then poverty will disappear, insecurity vanish, and wars will be nothing but memories.

Our purpose is to show both the “nationalist” worker and “unionist” counterpart, that the struggle “for” or “against” independence does not materially affect his lot as a worker; that the “freedom” much-talked-of on both sides, is but the right of a minority class (the capitalists) to exploit the mass of the people. We would make bold to assert that the real struggle of the workers, in Britain, north and south of the border—as elsewhere in the world— should be against that more evil border that divides the workers from the capitalists.

You depend for your living upon selling your mental and physical abilities to an employer. There exists a constant struggle between you and your employer over your wages and conditions. Never would you dare to think that as wealth is produced from the resources of nature, by the application of human labour-power, it should wholly belong to those who, as a social class, produce it.

In other words, you accept the class ownership of society; you are prepared to let a minority class (the CAPITALISTS) own and control the means whereby you live. As a consequence of their favoured position these Capitalists can live in any part of the world they choose; they can sell, barter, or gamble away, the VERY MEANS WHEREBY YOU LIVE, AND THE NATIONALITY OF THE NEW OWNER IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Such an economic set-up makes nonsense of the claims made by nationalists or unionists, that the people can control their own destinies, by raising one flag or lowering another. The problems that beset us in Scotland are problems inherent in the capitalist system.

To us of the working-class, Capitalism means the continuation of all the rotten, miserable conditions under which the mass of the people suffer. No amount of reforming can change the basic nature of the system, and its effects are not mollified by a flag. It matters not which party administers capitalism, whether it is Nationalists, Unionist. Each may apply the screw of policy; bless it, curse it, nationalise or de-centralise; the effects, as far as the working-class are concerned, are the same—poverty, insecurity, slums, ignorance, depressions, and wars.

The Socialist Party affirms that there is but one solution to the problems confronting the working-class; that solution is SOCIALISM. By Socialism we mean the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production (the factories, land, mills, mines, transport, etc.), by, and in the interests of, the whole community, without any distinction whatsoever. No wages system, no exchange, no buying and selling, but instead, the application of the principle; from each according toability; to each according to needs. That is socialism, and the way out for the workers of the world.

Knowing about socialism

 The Socialist Party recognises the necessity for all workers to do all they can to maintain wages and working conditions. This is part of the class struggle in capitalism. The working class are the nine-tenths of the population who have to live by selling their only possession: labour-power. It is a commodity. Like all commodities, its price reflects its value, i.e. the labour which has gone to make it, and like all commodities, it is sold on a market where the interests of buyers and sellers are fundamentally opposed. The need for workers to organise and make use of the weapons available to them collectively is clear.

The basis of trade-union organisation is wages and conditions, without any political reference. Many trade unionists support the Labour Party; others are left-wingers, Tories, Greens, etc., all of whom need equally to press to maintain or try to improve their living standards. This shows on one hand that everyone, conscious of it or not, is in the class struggle; and on the other, that the overwhelming majority of trade unionists are not Socialists and do not even think they are. To that extent, the unions have hardly needed persuading that workers and employers have “common interests”.

Political-minded militants believe that in a strike, or when otherwise under pressure from the capitalist class, a mass of trade unionists can be led into a general rebellion against the existing order. The same belief is held about the unemployed; and, as with the unemployed, the position is that (unless they are socialists) they want nothing more than a solution to their immediate problem. When militants are elected to trade-union offices it is in view of their likely success as negotiators, not their political gospels. However, the implication on the part of the militants who profess to be aiming to overthrow capitalism is that they are seeking the support of non-socialists. This was the position taken up by early labour leaders.

Unions are economic organisations with an essential function. It is also a restricted one, and they operate properly by accepting the restriction: political action by them has been chronically damaging to working-class interests. While their success in gaining wage increases depends on the state of production more than anything else, they should always be ready to (as Marx advised them) test the situation and not accept the pleas of the capitalist class and governments.


The restriction means also that trade unions cannot change society. The next step for trade unionists is recognition of the position in which they stand and the fact that the path to socialism is a separate political organisation. With this consciousness, they can end the action in support of capitalism which too often characterises trade unions now, and turn from sectional aims to the interests of the working class as a whole. In a resolution he drafted for the International Workingmen’s Association in 1866, Marx wrote:

"By considering themselves champions and representatives of the whole working class, and acting accordingly, the trade unions must succeed in rallying round themselves all workers still outside their ranks. They must carefully safeguard the interests of the workers in the poorest-paid trades, as, for example, the farm labourers, who due to especially unfavourable circumstances have been deprived of their power of resistance. They must convince the whole world that their efforts are far from narrow and egoistic, but on the contrary, are directed towards the emancipation of the downtrodden masses."

Obviously much trade-union action — for instance, that which centres on the idea of a “wages league” in which groups of workers demand of right to be better paid than others — is divisive and unconcerned with the class issue. Trade unions have much to learn. At the present stage, the Socialist Party observe and approve their efforts to get what they can. But the reservations have to be made: our demand is for workers in the unions to see that they are only half-participating in the class struggle. The question is not what socialists do about trade unions, but what the trade unions are going to do about socialism.

Sunday, May 29, 2022



No to nationalism

 If nationalism was a recognised disease, its terrible toll on human life would excite the demand for a cure.

The Socialist Party does not support the slogan “Self-Determination”. Insofar as this word has any meaning it runs counter to the socialist view that the nation is a capitalist political institution. The whole idea underlying nationalism — that all the people of a particular nation (however defined, and that’s another problem) have some common interest — challenges the socialist analysis which says that the workers have no country and that the “national interest” is a fraud and a trick designed to get them to co-operate on the political field with their rulers. The task of the Socialist Party is to campaign, along with socialists in other countries, for the establishment of a socialist society all over the world.

One argument used in the past by advocates of nationalism has been that until the national question is settled the workers will never be able to recognise their worldwide community of interest in the abolition of capitalism. As against this, the Socialist Party points out that nationality problems never will be settled under capitalism. Hoodwinked by repetition from the mouths of their leaders, of the old fiction of the alleged community of interest between themselves and the employers, the workers are again to be privileged to defend the country they do not own. While the capitalist class dominates the civilised world, and owns and controls all the means of wealth production, the disposal of nations in this or that sphere of economic interest is not the business of the working class. The only hope lies in the deluded, toiling masses of wealth producers mustering under the crimson banner of socialism, determined to gain control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces, to use it as the agent of emancipation, and to usher in the system of society based upon the common ownership of the means of life; the social system wherein the interests of the human family shall form a harmonious whole. 


Most certainly, workers in Scotland there have plenty to complain about— no job prospects, low incomes, bad housing, etc,—but they are terribly mistaken in imagining that independence would in any way improve their position. They are suffering because they are property-less workers in a world where the means of life are owned by a privileged minority. Their problems are caused not by British rule but by capitalism.  The solution to the problems facing workers in Ireland is the same as that to those facing workers the world over. We must organise together to replace capitalism everywhere with a system based on democratic control and the common ownership of the planet’s resources. The struggle for such a socialist society has to involve implacable opposition to nationalism, of whatever variety, whenever it rears its ugly ahead.

Your birthright, like that of workers anywhere in a capitalist society, from New York to Moscow, from London to Peking, is that of a wage slave. Our "right" is the right to try and sell our mental or physical ability to produce wealth to any employer who thinks he can get a return on investment. Our "right" is to accept the poverty of employment or the dire poverty of the dole. Our "right" is the freedom to do what we are told, whatever the colour of the rag flutters at the top of the political masthead.

There is an alternative to permanent want and insecurity. As capitalism is a world system, however, we cannot end it solely by our own efforts. Rather than butcher one another, we must band together with our fellow members of the working class in other countries to organise a system in which the resources of the earth would be owned and democratically controlled by society as a whole and used to produce the things that all human beings need. This is the only action we urge you to consider.

Free with socialism


Voters do not understand that the real issue is not whether British capitalism should be run by the Conservative or the Labour Party but the urgency of replacing capitalism with socialism. One thing is certain: a proper understanding of what is at stake and how we can authentically change society can only be helped by the exposure of the contemptible creeps who tell us that under Keir Starmer things can only get better. The Labour Party. New ruses. New lies. The question of socialism—the abolition of private ownership of the means of life and the consequent ending of wage-labour and capital—is never mentioned.

The motor of history, according to socialists, is the struggle of classes. Today, in a capitalist society, it is the struggle of the working class of the world for security. Socialists seek to eradicate the basic causes of war, unemployment, poverty and fascism, which it knows are the products of capitalism. National boundaries are obsolete not only because they breed fear; they are obsolete because they choke and distort the inevitable need for political integration in a world where economic integration is already a fact in various ways. No nation can live within its borders alone. Each rival ruling class seeks to integrate the world for itself, for the economic necessities we have mentioned.

Capitalism is a society based on the exploitation of the many by the few. Because it is founded on massive inequality, it requires various means to oppress and keep down the working class and the poor. The ruling classes of the world know the value of “divide and rule,” both as a means to weaken any opposition against them, and as a means to squeeze more profits from the working class. The working class is not only an exploited class – it is also an oppressed class. Workers receive worse education, worse housing and worse job opportunities than the sons and daughters of the rich. Workers are constantly reminded that they do not possess the intelligence or the capabilities of those above them on the social ladder. Workers are disadvantaged at every step, stressed under financial and family constraints, forced to work in dangerous jobs and, therefore, more likely to suffer from various physical and mental ailments. In turn, they are then forced to accept the poorest quality health care. capitalism – a system based upon the exploitation of wage labour for profit – was founded on enslavement and oppression from its beginnings.

Everyone accepts the idea that the oppression of slaves was rooted in the class relations of exploitation of that system. Fewer recognise that under capitalism wage slavery is the pivot around which all other inequalities and oppressions turn. Capitalism used racism to justify plunder, conquest and slavery, but as Marx pointed out, it also used racism to divide and rule – to pit one section of the working class against another and thereby blunt class consciousness. The bosses consciously foster divisions among workers in order to weaken and defeat their struggles for better conditions. The very conditions of capitalist exploitation and competition also help to foster divisions among workers. While capitalism propels workers toward collective forms of struggle, it also forces them into competition. The unremitting pressure from a layer of unemployed workers, which exists in most economies even in times of ‘full employment,’ is a deterrent to struggle – a constant reminder that workers compete for limited jobs which afford a decent standard of living. By oppressing a section of the working class on the basis of its sex, race, sexual orientation, language or national origin and driving those workers’ conditions of existence down, capitalism is able to drive the conditions of all workers down. A white worker may perceive that their conditions of work and pay are better because of the lower pay received by Black workers. The reality, however, is that the bosses use the conditions of the lowest-paid workers to drive the conditions of all workers down. The worse the pay and conditions of the most oppressed workers, the more the bosses can lower the pay of all workers. Conversely, when the conditions of the most oppressed sections of the working class are improved, the conditions of all workers improve.

The working-class struggle cannot be successful unless workers are able to throw off the yoke of oppression that divides them. That is why, as a class, workers not only do not benefit from oppression but also have a common class interest in fighting oppression. Capitalism would have no need for dividing workers if there were not another dynamic at work – the tendency for capitalism to compel workers to collectively fight back against the various aspects of their oppression and exploitation. To engage in class struggle it is not necessary to “believe in” the class struggle. The interests of workers, as a group organised by capital, lead them to struggle.  The working class moves toward class struggle insofar as capitalism fails to satisfy its economic and social needs and aspirations. There is no evidence that workers like to struggle any more than anyone else; the evidence is that capitalism compels and accustoms them to do so. For any oppressed group to fight back there is a need for hope. And that is to be found, not in the isolation of oppression but in the collective strength of the working class. For the Socialist Party the notion that the working class, by liberating itself, will liberate the whole of humanity, is central.