Monday, June 20, 2022

What Being A Socialist Means



Capitalism, twist and turn how it may, is dogged and thwarted by inherent contradictions. The establishment of socialism alone can ensure the utter and complete annihilation of poverty. Progress towards socialism is not helped but hindered by propaganda which represents as socialism what is no more than Labour Party administration of capitalism. We do not argue that Labour Governments fail in their task of administering capitalism through want of will or bad faith. They may be well-intentioned but the road to capitalist crises and capitalist war is paved with the good intentions of social reformers.

We live in a society wherein a comparatively small section, by virtue of its ownership of the mines, mills, factories, railways, warehouses, etc., is able to acquire a mass of commodities by exploiting the larger non-possessing section of society—i.e., the working class.


But unless each competing section of the capitalist class can ensure a large and ready sale of their commodities by keeping down, and even lowering, their commodity prices, they will find themselves ousted by other competitors. Capitalists, therefore, to keep up the sales that will ensure large profits, must undercut their rivals.


This can be done in two ways—by lowering wages, or by reducing the amount of labour spent on the production of their commodities. The lowering of wages, however, has, from the capitalist viewpoint, this disadvantage—wages cannot profitably be lowered below the level that will maintain a standard of satisfactory working fitness.


Therefore, in order to reduce the prices of their commodities, capitalists find themselves mainly reliant upon reducing the amount of labour embodied in commodity production. The only means of doing this is by displacing human labour by machinery.


Thus we find sections of the capitalist class competing keenly against each other in the introduction of new technology, by which means alone they can appreciably lower their commodity prices and thus capture the trade of their rivals.


Only the introduction of such machinery will assist in retaining that essential in capitalist competition—a rate of profit that will prevent being ousted from the competitive field.


Only such machinery, therefore, will be in great demand by the capitalist class, and the competition to secure this machinery will send up its price and bring a rich reward to the owner of the invention. On the other hand, machinery that will bring benefits to mankind will not be in great demand unless it also aids the raising or maintaining of profits. Inventors and scientists, therefore, faced by the fact that only the ideas that will fill a capitalist need will bring ample payment, are, in the main, compelled to concentrate on such ideas. When the competition for trade, fields of exploitation, etc., can be divided by the border-lines of the competing countries, you will find the capitalists of each country uniting against the menace of being ousted by a capitalism from outside.


So urgent is the need for capitalist countries to expand their markets, and secure new fields for trade that the strings of diplomacy are overstrained, and finally break, throwing the people of the opposing nations into the blood-drenched arenas of modern war. When this happens the most urgent need of sectional capitalism is for its own nationalistic entity to survive against the nations that threaten it. Thus the individualistic competition within the opposing countries is, temporarily, almost abandoned, and every muscle is strained to achieve a greater task for national capitalism—i.e., winning the war. In this manner the demand for labour-saving machinery is almost entirely displaced by the demand for machinery most effective in the prosecution of the war; machinery, in short, that would be most destructive against the opposing country. Thus, although certain machinery will certainly throw many men out of work, or bring new horror into warfare, scientists, in order to live, are compelled by capitalism to create such machinery.


Not until capitalism is ended and replaced by socialism will there be a welcome for all mechanisation beneficial to society. Only then will inventors and scientists be unrestricted by the question, “Will it be profitable to the capitalist class?”


Some of those who use the technique of setting one body of worker against another know exactly what they are doing. They know that capitalism will be safe enough while workers can be divided by nationality, colour, religion, sex, skill, craft or any other side-tracking characteristic. Others are the muddle-headed dupes who cannot see the use that is being made of them. They might start by asking themselves exactly what principle they think should underlie the claim they make. Is it the principle of equality for all? If so, they will find our masters their bitter enemies. Or is it the principle that while it is most important to have equality between disabled men and disabled women, between men wage-earners and women wage-earners, there is nothing wrong with a system which breeds vast inequality between the classes, between the wealthy property owners and the poverty-stricken workers? 

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