All around us the world in crises, yet men and women seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. The Labour party is a reformist party. What does this mean in practice? The lessons of theory and history teach us. It means that it, like all reformist parties acts in all crucial situations as an agent of the capitalists. A social revolution can only take place providing the working class itself is conscious of the need to change society and is prepared to participate in the struggle. Is the socialist society a Utopian dream? We completely reject this idea. There is no alternative for the working class other than socialism. The movement for workers' power and social democracy advances through struggles against capitalist tyranny but also through debates over tactics, strategies, programmes and principles. The Labour Party proves as helpless and hapless as the present one, the party of capitalism. It is good people are talking about socialism, but it’s the job of the Socialist Party to clarify what socialism means and how it will be achieved.
Everything you use, everything you eat or wear, your car, your home — you didn’t make any of these things. We don’t produce these things as individuals. We produce socially. We have a division of work in the whole world for that matter. People in one part of the world make things which people in another part of the world use. But, even though we produce socially, through co-operation, we don’t own the means of production socially. And this affects all the basic decisions made in this society about what we produce. These decisions are not made on the basis of what people need but on the basis of what makes a profit.
Take the question of hunger. There are people going hungry all over the world. And yet, because of the profit system, there are governments subsidising some farmers not to farm food. Farmers don’t make their decisions by saying: “We need to feed the hungry, so I’m going to plant a lot of corn.” They never say that. They say: “How much money am I going to make if I plant corn?” If decisions were not made on this basis, then we could feed the whole world. The potential is there. The potential also exists to wipe out every slum. There are the factories and materials for building. Yet, they are not going to solve the housing question because it’s not profitable to build decent homes.
Because of the way the system is structured a large percentage of the people do not do any productive work at all. You have the unemployed who are not hired because it’s not profitable to hire them. Then you have the people in the military, not to mention the police, prison wardens and others who consume a great deal but don’t produce anything. Then you have things like the people in the advertising and finance industry. They don’t do anything really useful or necessary. In addition, you have a mammoth, organised effort to create waste. For instance, if you designed a product that would last 50 years, they wouldn’t use it. Because that would not produce profits.
Another example of how the potential for meeting human needs is destroyed because of the profit system. Say you are a capitalist, and you’re about to build a factory. Do you say: “I’ll build it where it’s nice, where there are trees and fresh air, and where the workers will have nice homes and will be able to go mountain climbing or hunting or swimming?” No, that’s not the way you think. You say: “Well, where’s my market, where are my raw materials coming in, how can I make the most profit?” And this means you might build a factory where you will pump even more poison into the air.
Capitalism doesn’t just have like those. It has other contradictions — Crises, like recessions and wars.
The left-wingers who in their blind pursuit of the narrower expediency, of immediate practical advantage, lose sight of the wider goal of socialism are no comrades of ours. We can not trust them. They are following a downward path. They are on their way to join that army of ambitious office-holders and status-seekers who began their careers as champions of the people. One of the first obligations of the Socialist Party is to mark itself off, in word and deed, from false prophets and masqueraders.
Workers’ democratic control over the means of production and the establishment of socialism is the only solution to austerity, unending war and the destruction of our environment. And it is the only road to the reversal of the current descent into barbarism. Working class democratic control over society is the goal of revolutionary socialism and, practically speaking, the only thing that will save the world. This cannot be reformed into being. Supporting radical sounding or so-called progressive candidates of capitalist parties (because one can’t really distinguish between them) muddies the truth that the system of capitalism itself is the real enemy of the working class. No socio-economic transformation of society can ever be achieved through reforms. Supporting (critically or otherwise) candidates of the parties of the capitalist class is deceptive because it implies that the system can be changed through such reforms as long as we elect the correct capitalist candidates. We need to organize independently of the capitalist class and their parties. We need to show the working class that we have strength and power on our own because we do. Supporting the candidates of capitalist parties weakens us. It ties our hands to the capitalist system to resolve our problems. It’s a dead end. Reformism is not the same as revolutionary socialism. We can’t make that distinction clear if we lend our support to capitalist politicians no matter what they call themselves. Calling liberal-minded political candidates socialists will not clarify anything. It gives false hope that electing a lesser-evil candidate can achieve all the reforms workers need to survive and the world needs to keep the planet from being destroyed.