Monday, August 29, 2022

Study Socialism


Behind the current spate of statistics around the cost of living crisis lies real misery of almost Dickensian proportions. Children are eating main meals which consist of little more than toast and beans or pasta. Many live in terrible surroundings with damp running down the walls. Parents often cannot afford to buy new clothes as the little money they have is spent on food and heating. It paints a gruesome picture of capitalist society

Everyday life is threatened in a way not seen since the dark days of the 1930s slump. If there is to be a battle for a better standard of living the wages front is the arena to fight it and where intervention by the organised working class can bring real success. And this is the arena where the workers, democratically organised, are most likely to come into conflict with all sides  – the government, the multinationals and the petty capitalists too. While companies try to pass taxes on to the general population through higher prices, the workers tend to pass them on to the capitalist class as a whole through increased pay claims and subsistence payments made by the state, which is why taxation generally is ultimately a burden on the owners of capital rather than the non-owners.


The root cause of the present antagonisms lies in the separation of industry into the two classes of capital-owning profit takers, and ownerless wage earners. The economy’s job is to work for people. It is not the job of people to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the economy. The idea that the proper function of our economy is to provide humans with decent lives carries with it the understanding that the distribution of material resources is of primary importance.

All of these are doomed to failure because the cause of all environmental problems is the way wealth is produced. The whole purpose of production is to make a profit, and if it is necessary to pollute the planet in order to realise that profit then that is what capitalism will do. Persuading presidents and petitioning multinationals are pathetic operations. The need is for a new society based on production solely for use.


From the ordinary trade union point of view of a struggle to enforce more pay and shorter hours, the railway strike seems to have been well conceived and executed and well timed. Much of the media has been attempting to set out the usual employers' line that everyone believes in the right of the workers to strike so long as they never exercise the right suggesting that the right to strike is a fundamental human freedom, but its exercise ought to be justified by some great cause. There is no great cause in the RMT dispute—it is mere market bargaining over money.The fact is that the trade union movement still broadly accepts capitalism though prepared to strike against the capitalists. 


Many think us arrogant with our claim to be the only party organised for socialism. Fellow-worker, our claims are not arrogant. The Socialist Party is the only political party organised solely for socialism.


What is Socialism?

You, fellow-worker, “know” all about socialism, don’t you?


You “know” that socialism means “share and share alike,” that is to say, that you should share your belongings with your neighbour. And knowing your neighbour, you decide against socialism.

You “know” that socialism means some vague sentiment about “loving your neighbour,” and again looking at your neighbour you feel uninspired.

You “know” that socialism means the destruction of initiative and inventiveness, and being ambitious you feel that the present order of things should not be upset.

You ”know” that socialism has been tried in different parts of the earth. After all, the self-styled “socialists'' have said so.

Quite bluntly, fellow-worker, you know little or nothing about socialism. In truth, if socialism did mean the things which these mangled ideas try to express then the working men and women who are organised in the Socialist Party would turn to some other more intelligent pursuit.

Production for use

Socialism does not mean sharing out either goods or income. Such a conception implies a fixed amount of social wealth, out of which each took an equal share.


Socialism means something fundamentally different from that. It means the social ownership of the means for producing wealth. Consider for a moment the factory in which you work. Each worker, out of perhaps many thousands, has his particular job to do. Yet no one worker produces the finished article, which the factory, as a whole, produces. Each worker plays his or her part, but the product is the result of the indispensable work of all.


 Production is a cooperative process. As in the factory, so in society generally. The work and life of the community is carried on by the workers as a whole. No one worker or group of workers is independent of the rest. One worker can play a part in steering a ship, but the labour of many thousands is required to build it. The worker who steers the ship could not do so without the builders. Production is social.


Yet outside the productive process is the class who owns the means of production. It takes no part in social production and is unnecessary to it.

Socialism means the social ownership of the social means of production. This will eliminate the owning class. Quite a simple proposition to conceive, but profound and revolutionary in its implications. Far from socialism meaning the sharing-out of some imaginary fixed quantity of wealth, social ownership will release the powers of production from the fetters of private ownership. It will bring into productive activity an enormous number of workers now engaged in unproductive labour. Production will expand to correspond to the people's needs. The people will take from the social store as they need. Initiative and inventiveness will have the chance to thrive, instead, as now, of being dependent on the ability of the worker to sell his abilities to a capitalist. Cut-throat competition for jobs will no longer exist and the mushy sentiment of brotherly love will have an opportunity to acquire real meaning.

So we could go on, stating and answering the common objections to socialism. But we want to do more than that. We want your interest. Whilst we tell you that you know nothing about socialism your interest is perhaps not easy to obtain. But be patient. Ask yourself what time you have devoted to a study of the question. Is your conception of socialism the result of independent thinking, or has it acquired shape from the influence of biased or coloured sources more interested in misrepresenting it? Think that out and be wary. Perhaps you have not had the time to study socialism. However, you are reading this blog and we assume that you want knowledge, and want to assist in removing the social evils of capitalism if you knew how.

We know that only socialism will solve these problems. We know that socialism will come. Make up your mind about that. More, the time will come when there can be no ordered intelligent living, no progress, and no harmony in social relations; national or international, without socialism.

 The lessons of the socialist message will be learned through the experience of bitter struggle. That struggle can be eased and shortened by the spread of socialist understanding. That is our responsibility. Yours is to examine our case. And that is what we ask you to do.

Socialist Standard

In the course of many years, we have answered all known objections to socialism in our monthly journal, the Socialist Standard. You can access the archives if you wish on our website. Study socialism and you will be much nearer an understanding of our position than you are to-day. It may modify some popular misconceptions in your mind, but it would be insufficient to convince you of the soundness of our case.


One prejudice we are certain will disappear—that working men and women cannot understand the meaning of the apparently complicated events around. They can. You can. We have. And we lay no claim to more than average brains. But we have devoted many years to the study of socialism. We know something about it. You know little. Quite naturally; we should be in a similar position regarding a subject to which you had devoted a long study. We are not of superior intelligence. We do claim, however, that we have found ourselves on the road to socialism (perhaps, for a few of us by accident) and that you would be with us with a little guidance.

We are workers drawn from all occupations, miners, mechanics, carpenters, bus drivers, office workers, artists, unemployed and unpaid and so forth. We have a case—the case for the social ownership of the means and instruments of production. Study our case and we are certain that you will soon be in the campaign for socialism.

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