Our argument does not change essentially from year to year, but it is important that we relate it to the world situation as others see it. Our central message is that political and social changes that seem to benefit the majority only happen if they advance capitalist interests, and are dismantled willy-nilly when those interests change. The present “stewardship” over the Earth is in the hands of a small minority of the world population. Their interests often prove to be irreconcilable with the need to protect the environment from degradation. Awareness of the damage being done has increased markedly over the decades.
It goes without saying that most of us would favour the goal of protecting the Earth’s resources for future generations and preserving the quality of our environment.
The question is whether they have any chance of being achieved within a social system where profits come first.
The fact is of course that capitalism has and continues to fail people in their millions, they see no hope, they have no hope, and worse still they don’t even have a dream.
Like Martin Luther King we do have a dream, too and it’s a big one. Our dream embraces the whole of humanity and they don’t come much bigger than that. In our dream we see every person on the face of the planet having the same value, being priceless. In our dream, gone will be the days where one person’s life will be considered more valuable or less valuable than any other. Gone also will be the days when some have a life of untold luxury, wealth and privilege. We don’t know how long it might be before our dream becomes a reality, it might take quite a while.
We realise that there are plenty of people who have a vested interest in retaining the demeaning values upon which society is based.
Most people have heard of socialism but we doubt very much that their definition coincides with our own — a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community — a world-wide community of 8 billion of us humans.
The Socialist Party is quite satisfied that the only way to achieve this goal is by political action. Use your vote to bring about an end to the present system, capitalism, which deprives the worker of the wealth they alone produce.
The solution to most of the ills of the world is a simple one, establish socialism. However, it cannot be done without a majority of socialists. Our socialist candidates will flat-out tell you that they don’t want your vote unless you want socialism. Reforming capitalism is not on the agenda. Our political opponents have been doing that for over 200 years.
The Socialist Party can point the way but they will not adopt the role of “vanguard”.
Have you heard this before?
“Where there are leaders there are led, where there are led there are bled.”
We must first cast off the role of being a follower. You may think you cannot be hoodwinked. That you are extremely intelligent. That you are too wise in the ways of the world. The facts prove otherwise. You have voted for the Democrats and Republicans, the Labour and Conservatives in the past. These are facts. Let us face it: you have been misled year after year. Your “leaders”, with their smooth talk and promises, have proven that followers are made to be bled. Become a socialist and learn how this capitalist system operates and why it cannot function in the workers’ interests.
Poverty is an inescapable part of capitalist society. It can be abolished, but only when there is a fundamental change in how we organise society. That is way beyond any policies of any government.
There are two ways of answering the objection that “you can’t change human nature”. One is to say “oh yes you can” and to point to how humans have been different in different times and in different places. The other is to say “we don’t need to change human nature; it is only human behaviour that needs to change” and to point to how humans’ behaviour has been determined by the sort of society they live in and has varied with this while their biological make-up has remained unchanged.
Marx, who came to socialism via philosophy, adopted the first approach. We in the Socialist Party, with the benefit of the findings of biological and anthropological research since Marx’s day, have adopted the second. Not that the two are incompatible. Both refer to the same facts and draw the same conclusion — that an unchanging human nature is not a barrier to socialism working—but what is meant by “human nature” is different.
In one case it is the traditional philosophical idea of “what underlies and determines human behaviour” (and in German the term is “human essence” rather than “human nature”). In the other, a distinction is drawn between “human nature” as the biological, or natural, make-up of humans and “human behaviour” as the way humans behave, with the former underlying but not determining the latter, with in fact a key part of humans’ biological make-up being precisely the capacity to adapt to a wide variety of behaviour patterns.
Even though Marx gave its content a historical and so changing character, the philosophical definition he inherited still has some problems even with this amendment. How do you describe the features of human nature in this sense? How can you tell what it is at any particular time in human history? In what sense can it be said to determine human behaviour? Is it in fact any different from human behaviour? Why use (in English) the term “nature” when what is being referred to is not natural in the sense of being determined by nature but is admittedly socially-determined?