It is impossible to exaggerate the harm done to the socialist movement, by those who, calling themselves socialists, have taught the workers to believe that state capitalism and social reform are socialism.
The Socialist Party has always been careful to define what socialism means. Nobody who grasped that definition ever made the error of supposing that state enterprise or public utility corporations had anything to do with socialism. Nor did they imagine, even for a moment that socialism could result from the Bolshevik dictatorship in Russia or from a Labour Government. But our critics who ridiculed what they called the “doctrinaire” Socialist Party, all fell into these errors—with disastrous results. We shall proclaim louder than ever what socialism means
Socialism is the common ownership of the means of wealth production. The means of wealth production under capitalism are the private property of the capitalists. The only way to transform Capital (private property) into social wealth is to take it away by expropriating its present capitalist private owners. Socialism cannot be inaugurated by compensating capitalists—which leaves wealth in its money form (capital) in the same hands. Banks are institutions of the money system—Capitalism. They only function for, and in that system: They can only operate when the great mass of production is carried on to exchange products—for profit. They are the clearing houses of that commodity - money; which serves as the universal medium of exchange—which stems from private ownership.
Banks borrow—and lend other people money, i.e., they take deposits, and make advances on security (property). Banks make profits (without which they close their doors) from the difference between the cost of attracting deposits; and what they make by lending or investing a large part of these deposits for short periods. Banks are profit-making concerns of capitalism. They are nothing whatever to do with socialism; which will abolish money and banks, along with parsons, prostitutes, pawnbrokers and politicians.
“Public Ownership” simply means wealth in the form of “public corporation” stocks, quoted on the money market to the highest bidder, in place of private stockholders. Many supporters of the Labour Party are still deluded by the idea that nationalisation is a major step in a policy of gradualism which will “reform capitalism out of existence”. The sledge-hammer blows of events nailed this tragic error.
The establishment of the socialist commonwealth can only be done by “dispossessing” expropriating—not compensating Capitalists. Marx's slogan was“Expropriation of the Expropriators.”
Surely the most realistic attitude for the trade unions together with the rest of the working-class is to take into consideration the most important facts of their existence. First their poverty. Secondly their enslavement, due to capitalist ownership of the means of life, and thirdly their incessant struggle to raise wages above the poverty line to which they are condemned by the merchandise character of their labour-power.
These facts are the outcome of the class ownership of the means of wealth production. Consequently, a realistic policy for the working-class is to organise politically with the sole object of establishing a system in which the means of wealth production shall be the common property of all. Under such a system a real democracy and a settled plan for production and distribution would put an end to poverty. The abolition of classes would end the incessant struggle over wages by removing the cause of class antagonism-, i.e., the class ownership of the means of life and the resulting enslavement of the working-class.
Who can now suggest that the policy of the Socialist Party though correct in theory, is one for application only in some remote future? Who would question the practicability of our case?
There is no time for complacency. Let us face the fact that time is on our side only if we seize it by the forelock and use it to our advantage. Socialism, the only solution to the problems which confront us, is the need not of the century, but of the hour.
Sympathisers, men and women of the working class, we urge you to join us in the struggle for emancipation.
You have but two alternatives. Either the poverty, servitude and degradation of capitalism, culminating in a destructive war, environmental destruction or socialism in which the inventive genius of humanity will be used for the welfare of all society.
Your choice is as simple as it is vital. On it rests the future of humanity.
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