Capitalism is in crisis. The only vision remaining is the one put forward by the Socialist Party. The only credible alternative to running capitalism is to not run capitalism at all and thereby not let capitalism run our lives. What is important about socialism is its profound credibility.
Firstly, it has never been tried.
Secondly, the idea of production for use rather than profit is simple and makes sense to millions of people.
And thirdly, it is the only conceivable way that society will not get worse and worse to live in.
The practical alternative to living under capitalism, with all of its inevitable problems, is to establish consciously and democratically a different system of society in which production is owned by all, controlled by all and making wealth and services available to all.
All the capitalist political parties try to comfort us with the promise that they alone know the way and have provided for every need to tempt us with better and brighter policies than their opponents. Capitalism can never be what its leaders promise. People already know that capitalism is a miserable system that’s rigged by and for the rich, and they don’t need to be told over and over again. But who’s offering a clear, understandable alternative, with a roadmap for how to get there? The Socialist Party disseminates the idea of a long-term solution to humanity's problems.
The reason why most people don’t consider revolution as a serious political option is that their thoughts are instantly derailed by the mental pictures that this conjures up. Either revolution is meaningless because everything nowadays is ‘revolutionary’ as advertising agencies keep proclaiming, or it is a blood-soaked insurrection to where nobody wants to go, no matter how desperate things get.
The Socialist Party has over the years, always been reluctant to speculate too wildly, for several reasons.
First, technology changes almost by the day, and what’s possible changes along with it. If we’d cared to describe our vision of a future socialist society, when we started out back in 1904, we would no doubt have been thrilled at talk of gas lamps in every street and a telephone in every town hall.
Second, taste is a very time and culture-specific thing. What appeals to you might be off-putting to someone else, and there’s no point deterring people from building a free society simply because of idle speculation about what some of the furniture might look like.
Third, and most importantly, it’s not up to us anyway, it’s up to the people who will establish socialism, which is you and people like you. If you want to live in bucolic forested idylls, as William Morris supposed back in the industrial 1890s, then doubtless you’ll make the arrangements. If you hanker for futuristic circular cities and gadgets galore.
Nevertheless, the future society envisaged by the Socialist Party has no money and is based on common ownership, democratic control and ecological principles. A proper sense of community has been established, cities have been made much smaller and the countryside revitalised, with people living in self-managing communities. Socialism will be a “big society” in that it will be all society and no state. However, what we mean by both “society” and “state” is different from what it means today. By “society” we don’t mean bourgeois civil society where everybody has to fend for themselves to get a living, but one based on the common ownership of the means for producing useful things where everyone will be guaranteed a decent living by virtue of having free access to what they need. What people need will be provided by society and will not depend on their own initiative or competitive effort. The coercive aspects of the state will have disappeared, and many of its administrative functions will remain. There will still be central and local councils, though much more accountable and democratic than today and whose personnel won’t be able to allocate themselves any material privileges as everyone will have free access to what they need. In these changed circumstances there is no reason why some of the services provided by these administrations today should not continue to be. On the other hand, there will be scope for some of them to be provided by groups of volunteers. It will be up to the local communities of the time to decide. But the debate then will be a genuine debate about the best way to organise things in the common interest. Not the smokescreen to disguise cost-cutting in the interest of the capitalist class.