Showing posts with label Socialism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Socialism. Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2013

To Dream Of A New World

The Socialist Party gives the people the shocking facts about capitalism and calls upon them to take action to abolish it. The Socialist Party describes the kind of world we are working for and show how it can be achieved. We sound the alarm at the new horrors, we denounce the latest outrages and expose the pervasive scandals.  And we wonder: Why don’t people listen? Perhaps because it is the same old song we sing, our lyrics might change but the music is still the usual old lament.

The world as we wish it to be is no mere fantasy. We have been offered science fiction-like descriptions of technology that can create a clean, sustainable environment for the whole biosphere that can satisfy the reasonable needs of all.  This isn’t simply a fantasy: the technology already exists.

 We won’t stop shouting from the rooftops about everything that’s is wrong.

"The weapon of criticism cannot, of course," Marx wrote in 1844, "replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses." A revolution in thought must precede a revolution in deed.

We are now witnessing people around the world becoming more and more aware of their real needs.

"No class of civil society can play this role," Marx says, "without arousing a moment of enthusiasm in itself and in the masses, a moment in which it fraternizes and merges with society in general, becomes confused with it and is perceived and acknowledged as its general representative; a moment in which its demands and rights are truly the rights and demands of society itself; a moment in which it is truly the social head and social heart."

The new day of a full fledged socialist revolution, demanding the abolition of private property, freeing humanity from exploitation and oppression draws closer and we should be minded that it is always darkest before the dawn.

 Hearts of Glory 

I dreamt a dream of ancient times 
when hearts were filled with glory 
and everyone was living in sweeet simplicity 
Pray it's not a fable 
Pray the day will come 
When to live like this in Eden's bliss 
will be reality

 Chuck, the Cliff.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Socialist Challenge

We rebel against capitalism not in the name of an abstract principle of justice, but to displace the capitalist class, privileged minority. To put it another way, we stand for the expropriation of the bourgeoisie.

The social revolution we conceive of can only be made by and for the people, without any false representatives offering themselves up as leaders. We believe that socialist society will be organised from the bottom up and not from top down, by a central authority served by an army of functionaries. The workers have no need of chiefs and are quite capable of delegating  one of our own with a particular task. This being understood, the revolution obviously cannot be the work of a vanguard  it demands the participation of  the entire working class. Without that, it would be little more than a doomed coup d’etat or putsch, not a social revolution. We witnessed how the Lenin and the Bolshevik Party kill the revolution for its own domination.

We possess, even today, sufficient means of production to satisfy all reasonable needs, i.e., to provide a well-being to all. There will no longer be, as is the case today, men condemned to long days of toil and drudgery. Men and women will pass from one job to another, from manual labor to study and artistic recreation. But in working, in studying, in cultivating the fine arts, etc, their goal will always be to make themselves useful to their community.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the task of the socialist movement. We will have in the beginning  to work not only to produce what we consume today, but a hundred times more to remove the suffering and deprivation endured by others across the globe. We have not only to establish local organisations , but also regional and international ones to organise and administer our society. We need only think of situation of cities, whose provisioning depends on countless supply chains with surrounding area and further afield, while the countryside is dependent upon the cities for machinery. We need only think of the current distribution of industries, of the organization of exchange, of the great networks of communication, etc. Without a doubt all this must be changed, but this can’t be done overnight. There will be trial and error, possibly even conflicts before agreement can be reached. Just to determine what must be produced, which needs deserve preference, and what limitations individuals should impose on their desires a certain amount of time will be needed for decision making. We will not immediately fall upon a perfect system. There will be no heavenly inspiration, but experience and experimentation will determine what society has need of at a given moment.

We must prove to the world that socialism isn’t an abstract concept, a scientific dream, or a distant vision, but an immediate possibility and wanting the social revolution,  we will choose the means that seem most apt to bring it closer.

We are all made of a common substance and inhabit a common planet, facing a common threat, and that, as human beings, our individual interests and flourishing are deeply interdependent. In short, no one can be fully human alone. When we hurt another, we hurt ourselves. We are at root social and collective beings.

There are millions of people out there who in some way or another are looking out for something  beyond the present system, even if the words ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ do not cross their lips. The challenge, the need, then, is to find a way to catch their attention, and to hold it long enough to build something together out of our mutual recognition.

1)  Capitalism itself is a system based on increasingly socialized labor, one that brings people together in new ways and that unleashes productive (and destructive) forces of unprecedented power (and danger);
2) that this system remains fundamentally incapable of satisfying the needs and wants of the vast majority of humanity because of fatal flaws;
3) that human beings are capable of thinking, desiring, wanting, and wishing in ways that point beyond this system’s limits;
4) that among our needs is the need to satisfy the other’s need; that it is within our capacity, even perhaps integral to our nature, that we see in the other a being ultimately very much like ourselves, that we see ourselves reflected in the other.

These points, taken together, imply nothing less than the potential and necessity for a communist, cooperative organization of the world. Socialism can be understood not as with the achievement of some utopian end-state or with the toppling of the capitalist order, the seizing of factories, etc), but a conscious desire to bring about mutual aid.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Discussing the SPGB Case

A collation and re-editing and reformatting of various contributions to the RevLeft discussion thread adapted from here

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is the oldest socialist organisation in the UK and have far outlived most other groups. As for recruitment, the SPGB has perhaps the highest rate of member retention of any group and certainly isn't miniscule in comparison to other “Marxist” parties, (its among the larger groups in Britain which doesn’t say too much, though). Most “Marxist” groups disillusion and burn-out more people than they recruit. The master-disciple relationship is perpetuated in many “socialist” parties where the theorists of the executive committee “do the thinking” in private meetings and the rest “do the action”. The SPGB answer to how socialists should organise is transparence with all meetings being open to the public as the best education for the class self-organising for themselves.

It is only right and proper that the Socialist Party’s case is subjected to the closest scrutiny. We encourage questioning. Marx said his personal motto was to “Doubt Everything.”  Nevertheless it is comical  to read criticism of the party from those on the Left who decline to look in the mirror and identify their own even more stark failings. Of course, the SPGB are not perfect in its communication or interaction with the working class and we are always striving to improve but are the others on the Left any better at it!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What do we mean by SOCIALISM?

With the forthcoming Peoples Assembly to campaign against the cuts and calls for a new Left Unity workers’ organisation it is important that we have some sort of understanding of the basics. Political power is wielded by social classes through political parties. The transference of power from one class to another is not an automatic process. It involves a political struggle - a class war.

Non-revolutionary politics is about different sections of the ruling class struggling amongst themselves contesting elections for a share of the spoils in  profits and privilege. Different political parties represent different factions and interest groups seeking the lucrative control of the government. Different politicians with their own theories of how best to maintain the existing order and keep the support of the people, usually by securing this or that reform or concession for this or that section of the population. But all varieties of non-revolutionary politics PRESUPPOSE the continuance of the existing order in its fundamental structure: that is to say, in capitalist society. Non-revolutionary politics presupposes capitalist property relations, the exploitation of the working class by the propertied minority and the maintenance of the capitalist state.

The central political issue of our time, however,  is the issue of the class struggle for socialism. Every other question is of minor importance, since its answer can be found only in the solution of the central issue.  One of the main functions of capitalist  politics is to deceive the working class as to the real and central issue which confronts them. So long as the workers believe that their significant political choices lie WITHIN the capitalist order, capitalism itself, no matter what internal shifts take place, is not threatened. Every device serves this duplicity. Capitalist parties stage fake debate on “the fate of the nation”. They create the sham a populist party to direct discontent and dissatisfaction into safe channels. And when all else fails, the capitalist class can resort to a police state, justified by a mass hysteria whipped up by their media about homeland security or what-not to maintain control.

Socialists must strive to break through the deceptions of bourgeois politics. They must push aside all secondary and reformist distinctions, and pose directly the central issue: the struggle for socialism. The success of the Socialist Party in an election campaign is not to be measured in votes, but in the extent and the depth to which we have succeeded in bringing the central issue before the attention of the electorate. All of our propaganda, all our discussions are a campaign for socialism.

Socialism is not a reform, it is a revolution. This is the position held by all socialists everywhere. However, one cannot but feel that it is not always entirely clear what is understood by the word “socialism" so some prefer to add the adjective “revolutionary” socialism to distinguish ourselves from those who merely wish to patch up the present system and keep it. Socialists are not “reformers” — we are “revolutionaries.” But even this qualification can be confusing and requires clarification. By revolution, socialists do not mean violence or bloodshed. By “revolutionary socialism” we do not intend it to be a call to arms and to man the barricades. No, we mean by it,  the capture of  political power by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class. This is the essence of revolutionary socialism. Whoever agrees with the necessity of the organisation of the working class into an independent socialist party, distinct from and hostile to all capitalistic parties to capture the machinery of government in order to carry out the principles of socialism is a revolutionary socialist.

The terms socialist and socialism were first used by Robert Owen to describe the views of those who, like himself, were in favour of the substitution of organised co-operation rather than the chaos of competition, well before Marx and Engels adopted the words to signify their political thoughts. An alternate label, social-democrat, was first used, and made popular, by the Chartist leader Bronterre O’Brien, also some time before Marx and Engels. A social-democrat, according to O’Brien, was a man who regarded social questions as of paramount importance and desired to solve them by collectivist and democratic action. O’Brien took and used the term social-democrat to express the views of those who wished to bring about a complete social reconstruction under democratic forms.

Socialism starts out with the observation that our present system divides society into two classes, the “have all” and the “have nothing” class, and that it is the great mass of the people that do all the useful work who belong to the “have nothing” class. All the misery, all the injustice and disorder, result from the fact that one class monopolises the means of production and of life, and imposes its law on another class, and on society as a whole. The thing to do, therefore, is to break down this supremacy of this one class. All difference of class must be abolished by transferring to the whole body of the democratically organised community, the ownership of the means of production and of life, which to-day, in the hands of a single class, is a power of exploitation and oppression. The universal co-operation of all  must be substituted for the exploitative rule of the minority.

Socialists recognise the class war between the propertyless class and the possessing class as the inevitable historic outcome of the capitalist system and of the direct economic and social antagonisms which it has engendered and fostered.

Socialists formed into a political party will  use political institutions to educate and to prepare, as far as possible, peacefully for the socialist revolution. Socialists hold that the methods of giving legal expression to this great socialist change should be completely democratic in every respect.

Socialists aim is to transform capitalist property into social property and end the domination of the capitalist class which degrades humanity. Socialism will abolish all all classes, raises humanity to its highest level.

Socialists see that those antagonisms can only be resolved by the complete control over all the means of production, distribution, and exchange, by the whole people, thus abolishing the class State and the wages system, and constituting a Co-operative Commonwealth or a Social-Democracy.

Monday, June 03, 2013

A New World From the Old

The Socialist Party is not proposing the abolition of money alone, nor suggesting a return to barter. In fact, the abolition of money alone, would solve no problems and undoubtedly create many. But what we propose is that the whole system of money and exchange, buying and selling, profit-making and wage-earning be entirely abolished and that instead the community as a whole should organise and administer the productions of goods for use only, and the free distribution of these goods to all members of the community according to each person’s needs.

Since money would not exist and wealth could not and would not be measured in terms of money, no person could say that he or she owned a share of such-and -such value in the people’s means of production. In fact all the world’s means of production such as land, factories, mines, machines, etc, would belong to the whole of the people of the world who would co-operate in using them.

The main features of socialism are really quite simple and its principles can be briefly summed by the following:-
Firstly, the new social system must be world-wide. It must be global with the world regarded as one country and humanity as one people.

Secondly, all the people will co-operate to produce and distribute all the goods and services which are needed by mankind, each person contributing willingly and freely, taking part in the way he or she feels they can do best.

Thirdly, all goods and services will be produced for use only, and having been produced, will be distributed, free, directly to the people so that each persons needs are fully satisfied.

Fourthly, all the land, the factories and their machines, the mines and mills and the roads, railwaysthat connect them, everything which humanity needs to produce the means of life, will belong to the whole people. Everybody will be the owner and so no-body will be the owner.

This new social system could start tomorrow once the majority of people have learnt what it means and what is required, and having taken the necessary action to bring it about. Everyone would carry on with their usual work as normal for the time being, except for all those whose occupations being of an unnecessary nature to the new system, who will be rendered superfluous: for example, bank staff, sales-people and accountants etc. These people would, in time, be slotted into productive occupations for which they considered themselves suitable. Insurance actuaries can put their skills to statistical analysis, for instance. People most fitted for as certain task will do it because he or she wants to and not through bureaucratic compulsion or the coercion of necessity.

There would be need for an immediate increase in the volume of production of many kinds of goods to relieve those people who were suffering from the effects of the old system and to supply the needs of those who were in the process of transferring themselves from obsolete to useful occupations. For example, it would be necessary to produce construction materials to the slum-dwellers who lack decent housing and sanitation. For the first time, the conditions would exist for turning into reality the beautiful plans for housing people in real homes instead of the ghettoes or soul-less cities which the present social system has created . These plans exist today - on paper - and will remain so as long as it is necessary to have a financial allocation to the proposals. Released from the necessity of money being apportioned, architects, builders, designers, artists, engineers, and scientists would get together to build towns, homes and work-places which would be a joy to live and work in, a job at which even today they have dreamed about doing. The agricultural parts of the world freed from the restraints of the present “money-based system” would pour out the abundance of nutritious foodstuffs to feed the hungry peoples of the world which does not happen nowadays when food is wasted, dumped and destroyed because they cannot be sold at a profit.

How long this period would last depend on the size and mess left by the obsolete system of ours. However, it shouldn’t take very long since we have seen how quickly backward countries can be developed by modern industrial methods and how a country can recover from a natural disaster or a man-made ones such as the ravages of war. It should not, therefore, take very long for to turn out enough goods to make the whole of humanity comfortable as far as the fundamental necessities of life are concerned. Once we have rid ourselves of the worst of the old order, production would then be adjusted so that enough is produced to satisfy fully the normal needs of everyone, making due provision by storage and stock-piling of reserves for the possible any natural calamities such as floods or drought.
Having produced all that is necessary, all that is now required is to distribute it to the people so that each person’s needs are fully satisfied. In the case of perishable goods it would merely be a matter of transport from factory or farm direct to the local distributing centres, and in the case of other goods to large regional, county or city warehouses. From there it is but a step to the local distributing stores which would stock the whole range of necessary goods - a kind of show-room or warehouse - and from which goods could be available for home-delivery or for collection. The daily, weekly, and monthly and annual needs of any given number of people in a district are easily calculated. Think of the ease it was to have milk delivered to your door-step, once upon a time, so it should not be very difficult to find out what stocks the local stores would require especially in these days of internet shopping and on-line ordering.

We won’t have borders and frontiers in socialism. Goods will be “distributed” not “exchanged”, neither “exported” nor “imported” but instead the whole world’s goods will be pooled together into one to be drawn upon when required. When we say that production will be planned, it is not the intention to create some huge bureaucratic organisation imposing such a plan as in the one-time command economy of the old USSR. The overriding rule will be “fitness for purpose”, and it will be solely that the individual or the community will be concerned with.

This would not be necessary as the process would be very simple. The average requirements of a person are known: say X kilos of this, Y kilos of that; multiply by the number of people in that locality concerned, and you have on an average the total amount necessary to be “shipped” to that place for local distribution. This is what is currently done but in a difficult and complicated way. The grain importer know almost exactly how much wheat they can distribute to flour mills and import accordingly. Why should things be so different in socialism?

The function of similar planning controls took place in war-time as rationing of supplies was required due to the possibility, or the actual existence of a shortage. These controls in socialism will have no need to concern itself with scarcity. Rather the reverse. Its function will be to organise production so that there is no excessive surplus and that distribution so that the demands of the people are satisfied.

Production will be planned but be planned for plenty. The food control in each region will arrange for the satisfaction of the needs of that region and will plan for distribution of its own products in excess of its needs to other regions. There will no doubt be need of a central world organisation - probably a statistical body - to control the whole output of the world, nevertheless we can foresee few difficulties in that direction since we already explained how distribution would proceed from place of production to distribution depot, and from there to local depots.

Goods not required frequently or regularly would be obtained at large warehouse outlets stores These will be placed at points in the various localities according to the needs and convenience of the local population. At these stores people will do their “shopping” without money, much as they do today with ; but of course with this difference. Whereas they would be able to obtain all their requirements without money, most people nowadays are unable to do so because their purchases are limited by the amount of money they get as wages. It is not very different technically from nowadays. Its shows quite clearly we are not planning a Utopia. We are taking the people of today and the world of today and simply changing the methods of working, the organisation - for use instead of for money-making.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Growing Consciousness

Capitalism has become an obsolete oppressive system that ought to be got rid off but the old social order won’t simply disappear of its own accord. Its removal is dependent upon its replacement by socialism. Capitalism itself created the possibility and the necessity of socialism as well as creating the class capable of introducing socialism, the working class. There was no doubt in the minds of pioneers of socialism as to the future. They recognised the slave condition of the workers in capitalism and had faith in the worker’s power and capacity to abolish the slavery and build a new society of free people in a classless society. A relatively small minority recognise this as most people continued trying to satisfy their needs within the system rather than by overthrowing it.
"The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority," Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto.

"Self-conscious" implies that the class itself must understand the full significance of its actions and “independent” implies that the class itself must decide the objectives and methods of its struggle.The working class cannot entrust this task to anyone else. No "saviours from on high" will free it, as our workers’ anthem, The International, proclaims. The class will never achieve its power if it relegates the revolutionary struggle to others or substitutes the party for our class. Mass socialist consciousness and mass participation are essential. Socialism, unlike all previous forms of social organisation, requires the constant, conscious and permanent participation of the great majority.

The Socialist Party is frequently reminded of the decline of socialist ideas which presumably means that at some particular point of time in the past, socialist prospects were better because there were then more socialists about, or, if there were not more of them, then they were of a higher calibre and more committed. This view of the past is taken for granted so we would therefore expect the evidence for it. But ample evidence points the other way. The bulk of the working classes gave more or less active support to a variety of resolutely anti-socialist parties and causes. Divisions on ethnic and religious grounds existed. Jingoism and nationalist politics prevailed. Labour leaders had acquired a large stake in moderate reform within capitalism and possessed a deep fear of militancy. The General Strike of 1926 was a remarkable event but it was unplanned and unwanted by the leaders of the TUC which led to their unconditional surrender and although there was much bitterness among the rank and file, there was no grass-roots rebellion. The concept of “workers’ control” receded and class collaboration took its place.

A worker who knows that capitalism is the true enemy, yet cannot find time for the struggle to replace it because he or she is “too busy” in the trade union movement or with involvement in campaigns for reforms has not yet grasped the fundamentals. Socialism is not about the relief of poverty by social reform or a belief in nationalisation and co-ops to improve administrative efficiency, all of which have been proved possible within a capitalist framework, but about the abolition of capitalism as an economic and social system. It is not about the improvement in the condition of the working class, but about the abolition of that class. It is not about the creation of a “people’s capitalism”.

Nor is there the slightest relation between Marx’s vision of the future socialist society and the system that once reigned in the old Soviet Union. For all its cosmetic veneer of Marxist terminology, Soviet reality was everything both Marx and Engels abhorred and criticised all their lives. And it is indeed difficult to believe they would not have fought against it if they had been alive. We can debate the intricacies of whether Russia was state-capitalist or simply just a slave-state but there is no question of it being a workers’s state or a step closer towards socialism. Surely, there isn’t anybody who would contend that the workers had any power in the so-called Soviet Union. In Russia the state owns the means of production, but who owns the state? Certainly not the workers!There was no “dictatorship of the proletariat”, rather there was the dictatorship of the Party. The “union” of “soviets” was a fiction within days and months of the Bolshevik October Revolution. It is a fraud to assert that there was a qualitative difference in the Russia of Lenin and that of Stalin. The Leninist “insurrectionary” road to socialism demands centralised decision making and communication, which is not a favourable environment for the growth of democracy. The revolution as we saw was strangled and developed into a dictatorship.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Socialism = Communism

The Socialist Party repudiates any differentiation between socialism and communism. Socialism is communism, and vice versa. The words socialism and communism have the same meaning. Both entail the total abolition of money, buying and selling, and the wages system, a complete breach, both in practice and in ideas, with capitalism. They indicate a condition of society in which the wealth of the community: the land and the means of production and distribution are held in common, production being for use and not for profit. The community will ascertain what are the requirements of the people in food, clothing, housing, transport, educational and cultural facilities. Food, clothing, housing, transport, sanitation — these come first. Then will follow the luxuries.

It means the community must set itself the task of providing rather more than the people can use of all the things that the people need and desire, and of supplying these when and as the people require them. Socialism shall satisfy material needs without stint or measure from the common storehouse, according to individual and social desires. Private property, beyond that which is in actual personal use, will disappear. Everyone will be able to have what he or she desires in food, in clothing, education and travel. The abundant technology now possible removes any need for rationing or limiting of consumption. None will desire to hoard commodities not in use, since a fresh supply may be obtained at will.
In socialism, people will be free to co-operate, producing, inventing, studying, not under the compulsion of law, or poverty, or the incentive of individual gain, but from deliberate choice and with a zest for achievement. Socialism will provide the material and spiritual conditions which will make voluntary co-operative labour possible.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Socialists' Message

The word “socialism” is commonly used as a political trick. Various Labour Parties are called “socialist” and it is suggested that countries with large welfare state systems are socialist and that nationalised industries are socialist. There has been a persistent tendency to define the idea of socialism to as a mere legal alteration of the property system and the introduction of some sort of planned economy.

When production is for the requirements of the community and when production is for use and not for profit of a minority, this is the basis of socialism. This socialist commonwealth liberates the individual from all economic, political and social oppression and provides for real liberty and for the full and harmonious development of the personality, giving full scope for the growth of the creative faculties of the mind. Based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution it dissolves the hostile classes into a community of free and equal producers striving not for sectional interests, but for the common good.

Capitalism is a social system that stands condemned. Its usefulness of the past is now long over. If it is allowed to continue, the world will only plunge deeper into suffering, degradation, destruction. Revolution does not mean that we would “demand” that a government do this or that. It means that we, the working class, make the decisions ourselves.

Friday, May 03, 2013

We are the Power

The capitalists are the upper class-because they are always on our backs; if they were not on our backs they would not be above us. In capitalist society the worker is not a person or an individual at all. He or she is simply merchandise, a commodity. The very terminology of the capitalist system proves it. Go to any factory or office and there will exist a department called “human resources”.

Capitalism is a society divided into two economic classes: a relatively small class of capitalists who own the machinery they did not make and cannot use, and the vast numbers of workers who did make the tools and machines and who do use them, (and whose very lives depend upon using them), yet who do not own them. Every cog in every wheel that revolves everywhere has been made by the working class, and is kept in operation by the working class; and if the working class can make and operate this marvelous wealth-producing machinery. These millions of wage-workers, producers of wealth, are forced into the labour market, in competition with each other, selling their labour power to the capitalist class, in return for just enough of what they produce to keep them in working order.

You are as much subject to the command of the capitalist as if you were his property under the law. You have got to go to his factory because you have got to work; he is the master of your job, and you cannot work without his consent, and he only gives this on condition that you surrender to him all you produce except what is necessary to keep you in working order. The machine you work with has to be oiled; you have to be fed; the wage is your lubricant, it keeps you in working order, and so you toil until you pass away. That is your lot in the capitalist system.

You do everything and he has everything. We do not need the capitalist. He could not exist without you but we can live without him. Workers are the only class essential to society; all others can be spared, but without you society would perish. Why should you be dependent upon a capitalist? Today the capitalist is far removed from the scene of production, and workers generate wealth more autonomously. All you have to do is to unite, think together, act together, strike together, vote together, never for an instant forgetting that you are one, and then the world is yours. You only need but to stretch out and take possession.

In the struggle of the working class to free itself from wage slavery it cannot be repeated too often that everything depends upon the working class itself. The simple question is, can the workers fit themselves, by education, organization, co-operation and self-imposed discipline, to take control of the productive forces and manage industry in the interest of the people and for the benefit of society? That is all there is to it. All the workers have to do is to recognise their own power. This seems simple enough and so it is, yet simple as it is it involves the greatest struggle in history.

Socialists are the very last to underestimate the magnitude of this Herculean task. We offer no so-called “great men” to do something for the workers. We are not offering ourselves as the vanguard party which will lead you. The workers must organise their own emancipation to achieve it and to control its almost limitless opportunities and possibilities.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Democratic Production

Socialism, a society based upon the planned organisation of production for use by means of the common ownership and the democratic control of the means of production. If, however, production were carried on for use, to satisfy the needs of the people, the question immediately arises: Who is to determine what is useful and what would satisfy these needs? Will that be decided exclusively by a small board of government planners? A technocratic elite? Both would make for the benevolent regimentation of the people “for their own good.” No matter how high-minded and wise they might be, they could not plan production for the needs of the people.

Production for use, by its very nature, demands constant consultation of the people, constant control and direction by the people. The democratically-adopted decisions of the people would guide the course of production and distribution. Democratic control of the means of production and distribution would have to be exercised by the people to see to it that their decision is being appropriately carried out. The continual extension and expnsion of democracy, is therefore an indispensable necessity for socialist society. Production for use is aimed at satisfying the needs of society and of freeing all the people from class rule including that of “experts.”

Many will say “It would be a good thing to have socialism; but it is only an ideal which cannot be realised in practice.” But socialism is not a utopian ideal, a blueprint for society that exists in the minds of some people. Capitalism itself has provided the social force capable of building the new society. Every social system changes ceaselessly, and, ultimately, having fulfilled its mission, passes away. The capitalist industrial forces are now making for socialism, preparing the way for it, and sooner or later it is sure to come. The seeds of the socialist society are already growing right in the soil of capitalist society itself. One of the results of capitalist development is that production is already carried on socially. The only important thing that has not been socialised is the ownership and the appropriation of the products of industry. These remain private. The capitalist owns the tools he does not use; the worker uses the tools he does not own. The working class alone made the tools; the working class alone can use them, and the working class must, therefore, own them.

People will no longer be the slave of the machine. The machine will serve people. Every increase in productivity would bring with it two things: an increase in the things required for the need, comfort and even luxury of all; and an increase in everyone’s leisure time, to devote to the free cultural and intellectual development of humankind. Humanity will not live primarily to work; he will work primarily to live. There are capitalist experts who declare that industry, properly organised, can produce the necessities of life for all in a working day of four hours or less. Organised on a socialist basis, even this figure could be reduced. As the necessities and comforts of life become increasingly abundant, and the differences between physical and mental labour, and the divide between town and country are eliminated. A planned organized society, efficiently utilising our present productive equipment and the better equipment to come, could easily assure abundance to all. In return, society could confidently expect every person to contribute their best voluntarily.

To be a socialist, merely means to be conscious of its necessity, to make others conscious of it, and to work in an organised manner for its realisation. The workers must be taught to unite and vote together as a class in support of a genuine socialist party, a party that represents them as a class, and when they do this the government will pass into their hands and capitalism will fall; private/state ownership will give way to social ownership, and production for profit to production for use; the wage system will disappear, and with it the ignorance and poverty, misery and crime that wage-slavery breeds; and a new era will dawn.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Democratic Centralism - Generals looking for privates.

Socialist Courier previously discussed the concept of democracy. Those familiar with the Left will no doubt come across claims that the Trotskyist and Leninist political groups exercise a form of democracy called “democratic centralism”

Socialism’s crisis is a crisis in the meaning of socialism. Many label themselves “socialist” in one sense or another; but there has never been a time as now when the label was less informative. The range of conflicting and incompatible ideas that call themselves socialist is wider than ever.The nearest thing to a common content of the various “socialisms” is a negative: anti-capitalism. But even anti-capitalism holds less and less of a meaning in most cases.

Nowhere else than on the Left is the term “-ism” more extensively and frequently used. We are asked to adhere not only to anarchism, or syndicalism, or socialism, or communism, but also to Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, Maoism, Luxemburgism, and a host of much lesser theorists’ “isms”.
Throughout the history of socialist movements and ideas, the fundamental divide is between Socialism-from-Above to be handed down to the grateful masses in one form or another, and Socialism-from-Below holding the view view that socialism can be realized only through the self-emancipation of view that socialism can be realized only through the self-emancipation of the working class, reaching out for freedom with their own hands. The vanguard party and democratic centralism - are nowhere to be found in Marx, while the third, dictatorship of the proletariat, had an entirely different meaning to Marx than the Leninist interpretation.
The name “bolshevik” originated in a controversy between various factions within the Russian Social-Democratic Party meeting in convention in 1903. The word “bolshevik” (from “Bolshe”, meaning more) meant one of the majority, as distinct from the word “Menshevik” (from “menshe”, meaning less), meaning one of the minority. At the convention, however, the majority of the delegates, were later called “mensheviks”, while the minority styled themselves “bolsheviks.” This incongruous situation came about accidentally when, for a short time, the Jewish Socialist Bund boycotted the convention leaving the rump convention, for the moment with the minority in control. This moment was enough for the minority under Lenin, to seize the name “majority men” or "bolsheviks” and brand the real majority as “mensheviks” or “minority men.”

Thus the name “bolshevik” was a trick, a trick of propaganda and political maneuvering, having little to do with the truth of the situation. “Bolshevik” was simply term used by Lenin to give the impression that the majority of the members were with him for all time. He had “won” the Party. This was, of course, a lie. And how strange it seems that Lenin, the man of “principle” should deal with numbers not principles.

The leaders of the Russian Social Democrats (such as Pleckanov, Lenin, Martov, Axelrod, and Trotsky,) were practically all intellectuals who had to leave Russia to live in other countries of Europe. The discussions among the leaders were held abroad, and there was great difficulty for others living in Russia to find their way to the gatherings or conventions. Among the leaders in exile, democratic discussion was taken for granted, but in the Bolshevik faction, once the leaders had decided, the rest back in Russia had to carry out the decisions. The statements issued by the emigre center was the law! If you didn’t like it you could leave the Party!

It was Lenin’s contention that the working class, through its independent development, could achieve a trade union consciousness, but only a vanguard party, composed of professional revolutionists completely identified and fused with the working class, could imbue it with a socialist consciousness and make it aware of its great historic mission. In his pamphlets Lenin outlined the organizational steps necessary to be taken in order to achieve this kind of organization. He wanted a vanguard party closely connected with the masses, but hierarchically organized, with definite bodies, committees, and a program to which all members adhered, and which they actively carried out. The party was to be headed by a central committee which was responsible to the party congress, with the political leadership in the hands of the editorial board of the central party organ, which board could organize and reorganize the units of the party, admit or reject members, and make all political decisions.

The premise of Lenin’s democratic centralism was based on the following reasoning: revolutionaries needed not a mere parliamentary organization but a party of action which direct a vanguard of activists tied to the revolutionary masses. The party should be an elite body of professional revolutionists dedicating their lives to the cause and carrying out their decisions with iron discipline. No task too small; no sacrifice too great. Such a party cannot be built from the bottom up but only from the top down. First, the leadership would show the way, formulating the program and policies, educating the people, and working out the strategy and tactics. The more advanced dedicated workers would join such a party and carry out the decisions. A degree of discussion might be permitted but, once a decision was made, unity in action and stern discipline was insisted on. In the Russia of Lenin’s time, under the despotism of the Czar’s police, political activity had to be carried out secretly so full democracy by the rank and file membership was practically impossible to attain.

Within Russia where the class struggles became more intense, and real battles were raging in the strikes and demonstrations these exiles had very little experience in strategy and tactics to be the actual leaders in these events. They could analyse the over-all political significance of the events and bring their views to the international socialist conventions, but the militants in the field had to develop their own initiative, ingenuity, and judgment to carry on the best they could. Once the Russian Revolution, was underway the democratic tendencies expressed itself and everywhere there were meetings, discussions, voting. In the Soviets there was voting on all the vital issues of the day, on programmes set up by leaders of rival parties fighting for power. In this type of situation the advantage rested with the Bolsheviks who, under Lenin, had long advocated a centralist party.

In 1902 “democratic” centralism had been advocated because of Czarist terror and the secret police, but in 1917 it was advocated because of the needs of the civil war. In the civil war the power of the leadership was strengthened. The “ideal of ‘democratic centralism’ suffered further reverses, for in effect the power within both the government and the Party became concentrated in the hands of Lenin and the immediate retinue of Bolshevik leaders who did not openly disagree with him and carried out his wishes. The dictatorship (or rule) of the proletariat (or rule of the workers) gave way to the dictatorship of the party, the dictatorship of the party to the dictatorship of the executive committee, the dictatorship of the committee to the dictatorship of “the leader.” Supposed “democratic” centralism had turned to into simple “centralism”. Many of todays’s vanguard parties go at great lengths about centralism, but are unsurprisingly rather silent about democracy.

“Democratic” centralism, as developed by the Bolsheviks was a Russian product, adapted for Russian conditions, as the Bolsheviks themselves. Rosa Luxemburg described Lenin’s conception of organisation thus: ‘the Central Committee is everything whereas the real party is only its appendage, a mindless mass which moves mechanically on the orders of the leader like the army exercising on the parade ground” It can be added that although everyone marches in step, the orders are usually wrong.

Democratic centralism poses as a form of inner party democracy, but it is really just a hierarchy by which each member of a party (ultimately of a society) is subordinate to a higher member until one reaches the all-powerful party central committee and its Chairman/General Secretary. This is a totally undemocratic procedure, which puts the leadership above criticism, even if it is not above reproach. It is a bankrupt, corrupt method of internal operations for a political organisation. You have no voice in such a party. The practice of Trotskyist-Leninist parties is that the Central Committee unilaterally sets policy for the entire organization, and their authority reigns.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is a party of no leaders or, if you will, every member is a leader. Our directly elected Executive Committee is only a “house-keeping” committee for the day-to-day running of the Party (our General Secretary is little better than general dogs-body!). The EC has no power to decide policy. It doesn't even have the authority to submit resolutions to conference. Only branches can do that. Nor does conference decide - only a postal referendum poll of our individual members provides the mandate for Party decisions.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fair Shares?

Socialism is not concerned with managing capitalism better but about a different kind of society. Socialists do not call for population control, for penurious thrift, and self-denial. Socialists don't call for “fair” shares of land or money to be handed out equally.

The socialist’s “fair share” for a member of the socialist commonwealth is the right of access and the satisfaction of their needs from the common store-house.
All previous societies have been rationed societies, based on scarcity of food, clothing and shelter. The modern world is also a society of scarcity, but with a difference.Today’s shortages are unnecessary; today’s scarcity is artificial. More than that: scarcity achieved at the expense of strenuous effort, ingenious organisation and the most sophisticated planning.
The abolition of classes is the equality at which socialists aim and the equality of access to the means of living. Such an equality would mean no one would be in a position to buy the services of others in order to make a profit, just as no one would be in the position of having to sell their energies in order to obtain a bare subsistence.

The world is haunted by a spectre – the spectre of abundance. Socialists do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but a cornucopia of plenty. Even with the present resources of production, it would immediately increase the wealth available for the workers' enjoyment. It would also render possible a considerable expansion of those resources in order that the free development of every individual should be translated from a dream into a reality. People themselves will decide when enough is enough.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

a war of words

Language is a battleground that socialists are often called upon to enter. Calling a party, socialist or communist, or claiming to be one, does not mean that the party is really socialist or communist.

For Marx and ourselves socialism is the society succeeding capitalism and contrary to the widespread erroneous idea, socialism is not a transitional society towards an ultimate aim called communism. For Marx socialism is communism, refers to the same social formation, simply being another term, like the terms Republic of Labour, society of free and associated producers or simply Association, Co-operative Society, union of free individuals, are all equivalent terms for the same society.

The “dictatorship of the proletariat” is not synonymous with socialism. the conquest of political power by the proletariat is not the end of the proletarian revolution, it constitutes, in fact, only the “first step" in the revolution” (Manifesto) which continues through a prolonged period till the capitalist mode of production is replaced by the “associated mode of production”, the basis of socialism. This is the “revolutionary transformation period between capitalist and communist society” during which the proletariat exercises its dictatorship. Hence, by definition, proletarian dictatorship cannot be “synonymous” with socialism. socialism, according to Marx, the ‘‘organisation’’ of society is ‘‘essentially economic–the establishment of the conditions of the union of individual’’ (German Ideology). In the socialist society, which is classless by definition,

there is no political power. This is explicitly stated both in Marx’s 1847 polemic with Proudhon and in the 1848 Communist Manifesto. In fact Marx always thought that state and human freedom are irreconcilable. Only during what Marx called the ‘‘revolutionary transfomation period’’ preceding socialism, the new state arising after the destruction of the old state machine, as the class power (no Party power in the name of the class, of course) of the labouring class representing society’s ‘‘immense majority in the interest of the immense majority’’ (Manifesto 1848) is necessary to put down any attempted “slave-owner" rebellion. (See Civil War in France and Marx’s Bakunin Critique, 1874). It should be clear that this last state - as a kind of necessary evil-presided over by the ‘‘immense majority in the interest of the immense majority" is, by nature of things, also the least repressive state appearing so far in social evolution.

With the disappearance of classes, there is also no political power, no state, and so no “workers’ state” either in the new society. Indeed, the German Ideology emphasises that the “organisation” of the new society is “essentially economic”. Marx did not leave any "programme" for socialism but he left us a sufficient quantity of material to have a clear idea of who he thought should happen to capitalism.

According to Lenin’s reading of Critique of the Gotha Programme it is said it describes a two-phase division of communist society. a lower and a higher. The first Lenin calls socialism and the second, he describes as communism. He did not seem to have invented this nomenclature. But he is the one whose use of these terms was accepted and widely used first by the international communist movement and then even by the anti-Marxists all over the world. For Lenin there are now two transitions, one from capitalism to socialism, and an other from socialism to communism.

Lenin may not have originated the distinction that socialism is different from communism, declaring it to be only the first phase of and transition to communism, but he made it famous and popularised it. Marx's socialism is a society of free producers who abolished private ownership of the means of production, commercial relations, wage labour and the State. Lenin's “socialism”does not eliminate wage labour and is based on the State ownership of the means of production, identified as social property. So Lenin's socialism is extremely different from the perspective of Marx's emancipation based on association of producers. Lenin conceives socialism substantially in terms of juridical ownership rather than production relationships therefore ending separate individual ownership and turning the ownership over to the state was for him social ownership. Lenin’s “socialism” envisages the economy as one state syndicate, a single factory, where all citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state with equal wages (soon to abandoned, however). Lenin is talking about the “state itself as capitalist in so far it employs wage labour” and the total national capital constituting a single capital in the hands of a single capitalist" as described in Capital. There is a striking similarity between what Lenin is saying here and what Marx calls “crude or vulgar communismin his 1844 Paris manuscripts. In this latter type of communism, the “condition of the labourer is not abolished, it is extended to all individuals. It is a simple community of labour where prevails equality of wage paid by the universal capitalist.
Marx had already showed the rise of the "associated capitalists" in stock-holder companies where the property of private individuals is replaced by ownership of collective capitalist investors. However, this is not the most important thing about private property. If the means of production in a society remain in the hands of the minority and thereby separated from the majority, there exists private property in the form of "private property of a part of society", class private property. So it does not matter at all even if it is the state which owns the property in the means of production, as long as the majority is deprived of those means. The irrefutable demonstration is the existence of wage labour for the majority. The existence of wage / salaried earners representing the majority of the population is a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of private property in the means of production. State property is in fact a variety of private property.

For Marx private property in the means of production exists whenever these
means of production, separated from the producers, belong to a minority in society, leaving the great majority nothing but labour power to sell. It does not require any specific historical research to prove that this was the lot of the majority in each and every 'socialist' regime. In other words these were all state capitalist regimes. It is not difficult to see that this socialism, even though governed by a group professing to be the authentic disciples of Marx, has little to do with what Marx envisaged as socialism following the disappearance of capitalism.

This is not merely a semantic disagreement on words and meanings. It has far reaching consequences. The idea that there was a difference was put to good use by the rulers of the state-capitalist countries which called themselves socialist. They legitimizing every repressive act of these regimes in the name of building socialism thereby relegating all the self-emancipatory aspects of Marx’s socialism to a never-never land of ‘communism’, a utopia never to be realised. What Lenin presents as socialism is far removed from what Marx meant by it. Lenin’s “socialism” is really state capitalism.

The Glasow-based academic Hillel Ticktin also writes that “The transition to what - socialism or communism? It is clear that Marx made no distinction between the two....What difference does this terminology make? Well, it has made a great deal of difference, because it allowed the Stalinists to say that socialism is the lower phase of communism and, while in this lower phase all sorts of dreadful things can happen, we are still advancing to a communist society...We should simply go back to Marx's use. The society we are striving to attain may be called communist or socialist, but in the transitional period it is neither. As far as I am concerned, 'socialist society' and 'communist society' refer to the same thing.”

So as regards socialism being the transition to communism, Marx nowhere says this. For Marx this distinction is non-existent. For him socialism is neither the transition to communism, nor the lower phase of communism. Socialism and communism being identical, one could as well speak of the lower and the higher phases of socialism In fact Marx calls capitalism itself the transitional point or transitional phase to communism. For Marx human history only begins with socialism, because only then will the human individual, till now subjugated by “false community” personally and materially, become free both from personal and material unfreedom.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Socialist "Blueprint" - Part Two

The Buddha said: “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared”


It is the main job of socialists not to theorise about the exact workings of a future economy, but to educate people on the main principles that might underpin a future communist society in its lower and higher phases, and then give them the tools - in the form of socialist democracy - to do the work themselves. Unless we say more about the goal we are striving for, we relinquish the future to those who insist that all there is an eternity of capitalism. If you dont have an alternative to capitalism you are stuck with capitalism. It is all very well to criticise capitalism - thats easy! - but the really hard thing is to put forward a viable alternative to put in its place. Its only through speculatiing about alternative in more and more details that we can begin to put more flesh on the bare bones on the idea, that we can invest with more credibility. It is important not to confuse two quite different things: 1) A basic statement of the core features of a future communist/socialist society 2) Speculative commentrary about the finer details of life inside such a society. Free access socialism  is the shortest and most effective route to meeting human needs. It immediately cuts out all the kind of work that performs no socially useful fiunction whatsoever but only keeps capitalism ticking over. If anything , given current levels of productivity, We can even envisage there being a shortage of socially useful work for people to do in free access communism. It will be able to produce so much more with so much less

Free access socialism, or higher phase communism as Marx called it, is not some futuristic science fiction scenario but has existed as a potentiality within capitalism itself from at least since the beginning of the 20th century. It is not predicated on some "super-abundance" of wealth being made available to people but rather on the very real possibilty of being able to meet our basic needs.  We dont say free access communism (socialism) will be a world without scarcities. Free access communism is not based on the assumption that we stand on the threshold of some kind of comsumerist paradise in which we can all gratify our every whim. We refer to the very real possiblity of society being able to satisfy the basic needs of individuals today, to enable us all to have a decent life. The elimination of capitalism's massive strucutural waste is the prime source of productive potential; it will make huge amounts of resources available for socially useful production in a society in which the only considertation is meeting human needs, not selling commodities on a market with a view to profit. In higher communism there is no exchange. None whatsoever. Consequently there is no "bartering" of each other's abilities or needs. You freely give according to your abilities and you freely take according to your needs. Its as a simple as that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Socialist "Blueprint" - Part One

"When one talks to people about socialism or communism, one very frequently finds that they entirely agree with one regarding the substance of the matter and declare communism to be a very fine thing; “but”, they then say, “it is impossible ever to put such things into practice in real life” Engels


“Yes, Socialism is an excellent thing, but, alas! it is Utopia!”

Human society is a particular case in universal evolution. Nothing is eternal and unchangeable. Everything is variable. Every given social form is entirely relative, entirely conditional. Classes and systems succeed each other and differ from each other. For centuries, people have imagined utopias where advances in technology and attitudes create freedom for all. Capitalism distorts the vision of a future society. We can only see a different system in terms of our present one. The first victim of education is imagination. From a very early age every worker is taught to be “practical”, “realistic” and stop “dreaming dreams”. And yet imagination is the very act of being human. Whatever other aspects make human beings different from other animals, the human capacity to imagine is one of the most striking. The stifling of imagination is essential if the owners are to retain their class monopoly of the planet. The great revolutionary act for the working class is to imagine an alternative to present day society. Fantasy is the first act of rebellion said Freud. Let us indulge ourselves here in that most human of all pursuits – let us imagine the future.

A very natural question arises: “If one can visualise a possible future society then one should be expected to tell something of what that society will be like”. And so one should and so one can, but only within certain limits and with many reservations. In making projections into the future one should realise that one is dealing with the realm of speculation. Where a definiteness of opinion can be allowed is in the realm of the actual: what is and what has been. With the future the best we can hope for is to observe trends in the present and the creation and development of potentials, etc. These can be projected as trends into the future scene which may grow to greater potentials and into actualities that may become definite powers, agencies and institutions. Science does not deal in certainties but in high probabilities. It does not depend on clairvoyance or astrological forecasts for its findings. Nor does it admit the determinists, who tell us that this shall be and that shall not be. Yet, notwithstanding what has been stated, one must allow that Science, in its ever restless search for greater knowledge, must permit itself flights of imagination, so to speak, for lacking these it would hardly venture on those essential journeys into the future. In much the same way a socialist speaks of “visualising a future social system”. Science does create for itself what are termed “working hypotheses”; that is to say, it presumes certain things to be so, and for the purpose of establishing a point of departure for definite scientific inquiry it takes its hypothesis as established fact. Of course it recognizes that this at best is speculation but proceeds to then gather data that may prove, or disprove, such hypothesis. In the same way we permit ourselves certain speculations and in so doing “we visualise a future society which will be organised for public good”. But we must never lose sight of the fact that these are speculations, but like the “working hypotheses” of the scientist can be considered valid to the extent that such speculations arise naturally out of our knowledge of the past and the present – and in the absence of any contrary body of facts. The question is thus put “How will production and distribution be carried on in this visualised possible future society?” Socialism is often described in negative terms: a society with no money, no classes, no government, no exploitation. But it is also possible to speak of socialism from a positive viewpoint, emphasising the features it will have, as opposed to those it will not. The future always looks strange when people's minds are imprisoned within the past, but the nearer we get to the next stage in social development the less strange the idea of production for need becomes. There are thousands of workers walking around with ideas in their minds which are close or identical to those advocated by socialists; as that number grows, and as they gather into the conscious political movement for socialism, the doubts of the critics grow fainter and more absurd and what once seemed unthinkable rises to the top of the agenda of history. “Have you not heard how it has gone with many a Cause before now: First, few men heed it; Next, most men condemn it; Lastly, all men ACCEPT it - and the Cause is Won". We must not suppose that socialism is therefore destined to remain a Utopia

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Producers and Parasites

The only useful people today are those engaged in producing the wealth. It is they alone who must eliminate the parasites and usher in a new social order. The future of civilisation is in the hands of the producing class.

 Many other workers talk about “my job.” It is partly habit and partly belief that in some way or other it is their job. The job is regarded as a sort of fundamental right, but the truth of the matter is that the worker has not got a job. It is the other fellow’s job. The capitalist own the means of wealth production; therefore, they own the job. When the capitalists tells the workers to “get out” They are obeyed. The workers have to leave. They are obliged to leave “their jobs” behind. Dependence upon a job and the wages are the invisible chain that binds us to the machine cuts them to the quick. The workers must struggle to keep up their wages and to better their standard of living. In this struggle the odds are always against them and on the side of the capitalists. The competition for jobs keeps wages down to a minimum. If, for a time, there is a brief industrial boom, it is always followed by a crisis that creates a jobless army. Every improvement, every invention that increases production, is a further economic fetter on labour.

The worker under capitalism is a “free” man. He is free to go where he likes. He does not have to work for any one boss. If he does not like an employer he can quit, but if he does not like the employing class he can not quit, unless he is prepared to starve. He is a slave to a class. His freedom amounts to having a longer chain than his predecessors – the serf or chattel slave. It is true that he is not bought and sold and that he has liberties unknown to former generations of workers. It is also true that he takes greater risks than former workers and that while he is not sold he is obliged to sell himself.

Employees are often described as wage-slaves with good reason.  The worker sells his labour-power and as he cannot deliver that without delivering himself he is as much a slave as any worker that ever responded to the crack of his master’s whip. The modern whip is an economic one. The lash of hunger, or the fear of it for himself and those depending upon him, keeps him ever on the jump. The slave of old knew little of occupational diseases. He knew nothing of that scourge that drives the modern worker on – unemployment. The industrial scrapheap was unknown to the serf.  In the past an escaped slave was hunted down. It was a cruel system, but no less cruel is the present system in which the slave has to hunt the master.

The worker finds himself in the position described by Robert Burns:

“See yonder poor, o'er – labour'd wight,
So abject, mean, and vile,
Who begs a brother of the earth
To give him leave to toil,
And see his lordly fellow-worm
The poor petition spurn,
Unmindful, tho’ a weeping wife
And helpless offspring mourn.”

Many workers know their condition while others have an instinctive feeling that they are getting the worse of it. The question these workers may ask is “What are we going to do about it?” Some prefer to take what they think is the easiest way and slide along and make the “best” of a bad job. When asked to organise in the struggle of their class, they want to know why they should pay to keep labour leaders and union headquarters. They prefer to “spend their own money.” They are individualists and tell us that they are capable of fighting their own battles. That is just exactly the way the employing class want them to think. The employer has no fear of an individual worker. He has him where he wants him so long as he is unorganised. Some individual workers get ahead by allowing themselves to be used as tools against the others. The individual worker, however, who becomes militant and goes to the boss with his demands, if he is able to reach the boss at all, usually gets turned down and sometimes gets fired from the job altogether. When the workers go individually to the employer, cap in hand, they are met with the sharp retort “What do you want?”

It is the other way about when the workers bargain collectively. Employers understand the power of organisation and are aware of the thousands standing behind the union delegate. When the representatives of the workers enter the office of the capitalist Their attitude is “ what can I do for you? Sit down, let’s talk.” Negotiate – arbitrate – compromise; these are the weapons the capitalists are obliged to resort to. They know that the workers have one thing they can not take away from them. That is their numbers. Organisation is the greatest weapon that the workers have at their disposal. All that the workers have ever gained has been through the power of organisation. The power of numbers alone, however, is not suffice. There must be the  power of knowledge to back it up. The struggle between capital and labour at first sight appears as a struggle for more pay and better working conditions. That is all that the average worker sees in the struggle. Many of the capitalists see no more than that. They merely struggle to keep down wages, as part of their production expenses. Others know that this is only the surface and at the back of it is the question of the ownership of the tools – the machinery of production, the conquest of political power and taking possession of the industries. The all important thing is the building of powerful political party of the proletariat, a united force with a common understanding and a common will to action, moving along a definite course, not pulling in different directions. Its present task is to ripen the proletariat as a political class, reaching out to our fellow workers to influence and change their social outlook. Revolutionaries do not confine themselves to cursing labour leaders, rotten enough as many of them are. The elimination of the union traitor and bureaucrat labor can only be brought about by an enlightened membership.

 Everywhere that workers gather the aim of socialists is to keep class issues before them. Certain economic laws govern the capitalist system, A knowledge of those laws is an important tool, if the workers are going to struggle against their exploiters. What makes the class struggle a political struggle is the coercive power of  the State which upholds the power of the owning class when workers resist the rule and robbery of their masters. Organisation must be met with organisation. It is the existence of class society with the State power in the hands of the exploiters of labour that determines the need for a political party to combat the ruling class and organize the working class for its final act as a class, namely, the political overthrow of capitalism.

Adapted from Kerachers "Producers and Parasites"

The Proletarian Party of America's John Keracher was born January 16, 1880, in Dundee, emigrating to the United States in 1909. Keracher colleagues included a number of individuals who had cut their ideological teeth in the “impossibilist” Socialist Party of Canada, eschewing the ameliorative reforms traditionally cobbled on to the socialist program for their reinforcement of the capitalist system. As far back as 1914 there was a group in Michigan that had succeeded in controlling the state organization and adopting an anti-reform program, as opposed to the opportunistic program of the Socialist Party. The center of this opposition was the city of Detroit and was inspired to some degree by comrades from England and Canada who adhered to the Socialist Party of Great Britain and the Socialist Party of Canada, respectively. The group was very active in socialist educational matters.

"We will leave reforms of all kinds to those who think the present social system worth reforming. For our part, the revolutionary watchword, “the abolition of the system,” will be the keynote"
he wrote. Keracher was also critical of the semi-syndicalism of the Industrial Workers of the World and its industrial unionism explaining that "The framework of the new social order requires no building within the old. It is already built — in the form of highly organized, socialized production, which by the way is in no way connected with industrial unionism. The task that presents itself is to abolish the present class ownership. Let us not fritter away our time dreaming about how affairs will be administered in the future social order. Let us rather take up the work of clarifying out movement; let us cast out the dross of legislative reform, and carry to the working class an uncompromising message, rallying them for the first step — the conquest of political power." Nor was Keracher a proponent of nationalisation, saying  "workers should not allow themselves to be fooled into believing that State capitalism is in their interest, that it will “save” them... Complete State capitalism, government ownership of all property, will not necessarily improve the lot of the workers one iota. They will still be wage slaves, producing surplus-values which will be appropriated by the government "
In declining affiliation to Comintern the PPA responded "The following must be understood and accepted by any group that expects to function as the Communist organization in America. Firstly, America has not been, is not, and will not be for a considerable time upon the verge of revolution. The faith of the masses in the bourgeois political institutions of America has not broken and does not show any signs of breaking. The psychology of Americans is such that the ruling class would not experience any great difficulty in mobilizing national sentiment against either Japan or England. They are still thoroughly possessed of the provincial psychology which arose with America’s frontier development." It argued that “it is impossible to accomplish a social revolution of the character of the proletarian revolution without the conscious support of the great mass of the people.” and that "A broad use of parliaments and parliamentary campaigns for the purpose of educating the masses to Communism is absolutely necessary, doubly so in countries like the United States where the masses still have faith in bourgeois parliaments." It contended that it would be necessary for the majority of the workers to have a clear conception of the principles of Marxism in order to carry out the Revolution.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

hunger: it’s a market thing

From Ian Bell of the Sunday Herald

Lots of food, lots of hunger: it’s a market thing.

Last week the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development was published...Its main findings were simple enough, however. There is enough food for everyone. It is cheaper and, broadly, more nutritious than it has been in decades, but 800 million go hungry...

...there are no food shortages. Instead, according to one of those complicated theories they teach at Oxford and the like, there are money shortages. Or rather - and this is apparently so complicated it never gets discussed - some people are very short of money and some are anything but...

...The relationships between land, food security, politics and bread at £1.13 a loaf are not abstract. The laws of economics should not be mistaken for acts of God...

As Bell writes , the law of economics is not abstract but neither is it complicated . Simply put , in capitalism , if you cannot pay , you cannot have , no matter your dire need . The Socialist Party understand this , as too does the working class , even if they so far have not understood or sought the solution - socialism - and it is not more abstract analysis from philosophers and politicians that is required , instead the point now is to change the way the world is organised for the benefit of the few against the interests of the many to a system where we all enjoy the fruits of our labour . That takes political action and a political movement to organise around and that requires members and commitment.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Anti-Bolshevik Approach to Revolution

The final talk in the Socialist Thinkers series by Stephen Coleman and a belated contribution to the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution . It is a discussion of Leninism and the Julius Martov critique of the Bolsheviks .

The download can be found via the link at Darren's blog

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Vision of Socialism

Not looking forward to the Queen's Christmas message , then why not download and listen to one of the Socialist Party talks that Darren has upload.

Stephen Coleman discusses William Morris and his Vision of Socialism . Download from here .

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ernest Belfort Bax - A Socialist Thinker

Another of Darren's uploads of Stephen Coleman's talks which can be down-loaded here .

This lecture is about the 19th Century Socialist thinker Ernest Belfort Bax .