Sunday, March 19, 2023

After Capitalism?

Right now there are hundreds of campaigns globally for fossil fuel divestment as a strategy in the fight against climate change. Many are proposing that when institutions divest from fossil fuels, they should then "reinvest" in clean energy and low-income communities. The debate about divestment raises important questions about how we bring about social and economic change and how much we should engage with capitalist enterprises and government.

For sure, to address climate change, we clearly need massive development of solar, wind and other clean energy. And we need improved and expanded public transit, and energy-efficient housing. A "divest and reinvest" strategy is being advocated of universities and other institutions to use their endowment money to support environmental initiatives. Selling fossil fuel stocks will not significantly hurt fossil fuel companies financially. Buying solar company stocks may lead to small increases in the price of those stocks but that’s all. A divest-reinvest strategy is not likely to lead to the clean energy economy we need. We have evidence. Ethical investors have failed to end the arms trade or the tobacco and alcohol industries.  Such campaigns give a legitimacy to the capitalist system by focusing on money rather than politics undermining the rationale for capitalism’s existence.

There exist two rival conceptions of socialism. What is known as “state socialism” and what is called “market socialism”. One advocates a system of state ownership, where there exists no private enterprise of individual capitalists. The economy is run by a series of plans under the centralized command of the State. Wage labour still exists but the employer is the government and the bosses are the officials of the various ministries and departments. The other model promoted is where the economy is operated by a mixture of cooperatives and nationalized industries that will no longer possess the imperative to accumulate capital or compete with other nation-states. Wage labour remains but because enterprises are worker-owned or, at least managed, the worker pay themselves (profit-sharing), they are their own employers. The Socialist Party rejects both types and even challenges them to legitimately call themselves versions of socialism as they both involve buying and selling, the continuance of private property (albeit collectively owned) and the retention of the prices system as an expression of value.

Advocates of either “state socialism” or “market socialism” describe the socialist vision held by the Socialist Party as utopian. The idea of overthrowing existing “corporate” capitalism and replacing it with a nicer sort of capitalism is a political project that the Socialist Party would ascribe as a fantasy. The Left strangely enough share the same criticism of socialism as the Right.  “It sounds good on paper, but socialism will never work, because if everybody gets everything they need whether they work or not, then there is no incentive to work at all!” So the old argument goes, you need wages and you need money to force people to work. “No money, no honey.” This is the case against socialism shared by that avowedly pro-capitalist and some who declare themselves to be some sort of “socialist.” They then present a picture of a society where there will be no pressure among competing enterprises to undersell one another by allotting some workers a smaller share in income, working some harder than others, laying some off, and hiring the poor from other regions. Workplace democracy within the market is supposed to minimize such exploitative tendencies. It should be obvious by now that neither “state” nor “market” socialism is “realistic” proposals that provide a solution. We might as well revert back to Henry George or Major Douglas plans for a “post-capitalist” society.

Workers sell their labour power as a commodity.  That is why we concentrate efforts on the price of our labour power (wages) and the terms and conditions at which it is sold. Certain workers’ cooperatives anticipate a new society growing within the womb of the old.  It reunites workers with the means of production and removes the capitalist from the workplace.  It gives ownership to the workers and elevates their power, confidence and consciousness.  It can prepare the workers involved and other workers for the task of making the whole economy the property of the working class, which is socialism. Some co-ops provide the services that are currently provided by the state and which leaves them at the mercy of the state and the politicians who preside on top of it.  Such services include education, health, welfare and pensions. Thousands of cooperatives already exist; they are not purely idealistic mental constructions.  What’s more, they can be, and many are, very successful; providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Living proof that workers can do without capitalists to tell them what to do.  Workers can take control, can make decisions and can be successful. When critics say – “where is your socialist alternative after over 150 years of your movement?” we might be ventured to point to the cooperative movement as a simple promise for the future. Of course, cooperatives are not a solution to everything. An objection is made those cooperatives will simply teach workers to exploit themselves within a market economy based on competition.  They will simply become their own capitalists. Co-ops aren’t anti-capitalists because they do not provide an alternative to capitalism, except in the legal sense of ownership. In capitalist society ownership entitles control and capitalist ownership entails capitalist control. Markets do not disappear and therefore capitalism does not disappear.

We must urge the start of a new period of major struggle against capitalism, after a long time of relative inaction. The Socialist Party can be thought of as representing, in embryo, the democratic participatory socialism of the future, in which popular groups will make economic decisions.  In this way, socialism can be made real, although socialism cannot fully be installed without making a radical break with current property relations and the current allocation of political power. There is a need for mass education about the ways in which capitalism lies at the root of the problems afflicting ordinary people around the world. The belief that nothing beyond capitalism is possible can be countered by a vision of a workable socialism, based on democratic participation in the economic as well as the political institutions of society. The socialist movement can be rebuilt, and socialism can become a real possibility again, only when millions of people become convinced, not only that capitalism does not meet their needs, but that a better alternative system is possible. If the resistance to reformism can prevail, a vision of a socialist future for humankind may again be placed on the world’s political agenda.

We cannot be effective socialists if we work alone. We cannot inspire socialism without embracing self-education. Revolution is not a product, but a process. We don’t ever “finish” our training. The class struggle remains a perpetual work-in-progress. It’s tempting to write off all those so-called comrades who don’t share your epic vision or your one-of-a-kind discipline or you're... whatever. You’ll start the damn revolution all alone. Who needs them, right? You need them. We all need “them.” For many reasons. For example, it is collective efforts that create the checks and balances. Unless we work as a team, we might aim our rage and anger at the wrong targets. A socialist party needs commitment. It doesn’t need loners. It needs teammates and solidarity support for all who join the struggle. Our shared personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action. Let’s join together to work towards collective liberation.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Danny Lambert (video)




The world is dominated by a well organised gang of greedy capitalists which has become an object of fear to the eyes of many working people. Capitalism will always be unstable and dangerous to people’s well-being. Its very structure operates against workers’ interests, all the time.  The capitalist system is incapable of producing nothing but insecurity, poverty, war, and the repression of the will of the people. Capitalism remains essentially what it has been from birth: a system of exploitation of the many for the enrichment and aggrandisement of the few. Capitalist society is rushing headlong to barbarism. So long as the insane struggle for profit in this private property economy exists, and it must exist as long as capitalism exists, poverty and wars are forever the prospect of life. Chaos and environmental destruction are forever the reward of the overwhelming majority of the peoples of all countries. Time to no longer put up with it. Time to replace it with a class-free society.

The State is an instrument of coercion at the service of the dominant ruling class. The Socialist Party believes that advances of human society so far in the economy, science, technology and standards of civil life have already created the material conditions necessary to set up a free society without classes, exploitation and oppression, i.e. a world socialist community, and that the working class on taking political power must introduce it. Our vision of socialism is a society without classes. We aim at ending the present capitalist system to its very foundation. We intend to dismantle the machinery of bourgeois institutions which are accessories to the capitalist system. We strive to achieve a society that has neither rich nor poor, a society whose members can all secure their food, clothes and housing, the realisation of a free, equal, peaceful, righteous and fraternal community. Only a socialist society, a society without classes, without war, without competition, without unemployment, and poverty can properly harness the new technology.  A class society which lives by exploitation can only subordinate inventions and discoveries to the interest of private profit. 

The destruction of civilisation is a grim reality unless the social order of capitalism is abolished and replaced by socialism, the society of all the people. We agree with Marx and Engels that society is divided into social classes whose interests are irreconcilable. Working people are the overwhelming majority of the population and the ruling capitalist class is only a handful. We hold that capitalist class rule is the basic cause of the poverty, wars, and the degradation of the natural environment. They maintain political power over the media and the institutions of culture that create “public opinion”—the mass media, as well as all public and private educational institutions. In the final analysis, however, capitalists rule by military and police force and violence. To break the stranglehold of the capitalist minority have over all of society, workers need to break definitively with capitalist parties.

The economic system of capitalism is the main enemy of the working  people of the world. In order to end the oppression we must end the economic system which thrives on exploitation. 

 Socialism, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and the removal of profit from the system of production, is the aim of the Socialist Party.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Winning the Battle of Ideas


“For our party, and for our party tactics, there is but one valid basis: the basis of the class struggle, out of which the Socialist Party has sprung up, and out of which alone it can draw the necessary strength to bid defiance to every storm and to all its enemies. . . . We may not do as other parties, because we are not like the others. We are—and this cannot be too often repeated—separated from all other parties by an insurmountable barrier, a barrier that any individual can easily surmount; but once on the other side of it, and he is no Socialist. . . . Just in this fact lies our strength, that we are not like the others, and that we are not only not like the others, and that we are not simply different from the others, but that we are their deadly enemy, who have sworn to storm the Bastille of Capitalism, whose defenders all those others are. Therefore we are only strong when we are alone.” - Wilhelm Liebknecht


The influence of socialist ideas among working people is weaker than it has been at any time before.  it has not recovered from the damage done by the experience of the Soviet Union and the Labour Party. The struggle is to win the workers to a socialist point of view, as against the efforts of the capitalist media to keep the workers mentally bound to capitalism.  Socialism is, without exception, the greatest revolutionary idea which has ever fired the imagination or enthused the heart of mankind


The working people are made up of those whose political and economic vision varies very considerably. Very many remain blind to the realities of the capitalist system and do not understand that they are wage-slaves to those who own the means of life of society Nor do they see that they are robbed by the wages system of most of the wealth they have produced and continue to produce. Not understanding the essence of capitalism, they fail to fully understand socialism or even the need for it.

As time goes on the class struggle itself, in which the workers are involved, is performing a wondrous operation upon them, for they are suffering through the inevitable evils of capitalism—unemployment, pitiable wages, and chronic poverty. At the mercy of their exploiters and profiteers, they frantically turn this way and that to cope with the evils of capitalism, to futilely try to set things straight. But the SYSTEM that produces their sufferings they do not dream of challenging. They see neither a definite goal nor the path towards it.

Yet a small minority there is who, by experience, thought, and study, are clear-sighted enough to see the way before them. These are class-conscious and revolutionary workers. They know that no palliatives or tinkering reforms of any kind will, or can remove the blighting effects of the present system or emancipate their class from wage slavery. Only the destruction of capitalism itself, and the establishment by the workers of the socialist commonwealth in its place ever can—and it inevitably will. And this they know can be proved by a series of irrefutable facts—a perfect arsenal of proofs, historic, material, economic, and political.

The future of humanity rests in socialism

“The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself. It is the fact that capital and its self-expansion appear as the starting and closing point, as the motive and aim of production; that production is merely production for capital, and not vice versa, the means of production mere means for an ever expanding system of the life process for the benefit of the society of producers.” - Marx, Capital, Vol.3

A social revolution is coming. We, socialists, do not create revolutions. We recognise them. Socialists must be capable of enthusing fellow workers, passing on to them visions of a different and better world. Socialism appears to be the only possible solution for our troubles; the only system, based on solidarity which links all humanity linking them in brotherhood, that can reconcile the interests of all and serve as the basis for a society in which everyone is guaranteed the greatest possible well-being and freedom. Socialism must be voluntary, freely desired, and accepted; for were it was to be imposed, it would produce tyranny. Unless internecine struggles cease in favour of a common struggle against the economic system, it will not be socialism that puts an end to the present social chaos. It is essential that political activists begin to focus on ending the economic system of capitalism itself. The survival of life on this planet depends on it. On this planet, there is not room for both the capitalist system and the harmony of mankindThe Socialist Party wants to finish off the profit system to make room for the cooperative commonwealth.

The realisation of profit and the accumulation of capital is the primary urge and the motivating force of all capitalist production. In socialism, the means of production – the factories, mines, offices, land and fields, transportation system,  communications, medical facilities, retailers, etc., will be transformed into social property. Private ownership will end. The economy will be geared not toward the interest of profit, but toward serving human needs. This will release the productive capacity of the economy from the limitations of profit maximisation. A great expansion of useful production and the wealth of society will become possible. Rational economic planning will benefit the people. Socialism will open the way for great changes in society. Workers will be able to manage democratically their own workplaces through workers’ councils and elected administrators. In this way, workers will be able to make their workplaces safe and efficient places that can well serve their own interests as well as society's. Socialism will bring about the ideal “from each according to one’s ability, to each according to one’s need.” Classes will disappear, the state will “wither” away, and a new era of human freedom and prosperity will arise.

The workplace is a place of continual struggle and conflict, where social explosions are always possible. Not inevitable, not limited to this or that country, but possible anywhere in the industrial world. Does that mean that socialism is now on the agenda? In historical terms, yes. In terms of immediate, practical politics, it is obviously not. We have always said that the future belongs to socialism even if it has seemed a dimly distant prospect. Socialism has become synonymous with tyranny. The very word “socialism” almost dropped out of our vocabulary, but there is a reawakening of interest in socialism. Many are now willing to listen because deep down they know there is something rotten about today’s world. They are looking for something that makes sense. What Karl Marx had to say still resonates. Only the world’s working class can save humanity from the prospect of annihilation. With socialism, we can use the world’s resources, and human beings’ ingenuity to change the world, to create a world in which poverty, exploitation, and war are only memories.

It is with that goal in mind that we in the Socialist Party set out. We have no illusions about the scale of the task, or about the limitations imposed by our size, influence, and talents. We know that only the working class can transform society. We don’t seek to put ourselves in the place of that class. We seek only to make workers conscious of their interests and their power. We appeal to all who agree with us, to join us in building a mass socialist party. Together we have a world to win.