Showing posts with label revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label revolution. Show all posts

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Revolution is freedom to think and act

"Civilisation has done little for labour except to modify the forms of its exploitation." Eugene Debs

Politics is too important to be left to politicians. People are right to be discontented and to protest about their situation, but they need to be more discerning and choose the right target. It’s not the Westminster politicians, nor the Brussels bureaucracy, nor the East European migrants who are to blame for their plight. It’s the world-wide capitalist system of production for profit. That’s what they should target. But protesting against it and its effects is not enough. They need to go beyond this and organise politically to bring the whole system to an end and replace it by one in which the resources of the Earth have become the common heritage of all humanity and used to improve the lot of people everywhere.

Revolution is a complete transformation in how we think and act. This acts upon society. Capitalist technological development allied with intense competition between its players has already outstripped its capacity to consume its products, as the requirement for profit for the capitalist class, puts a brake on distribution.

Contrary to what is said the immense technological capacity of capitalism to produce, which can't be utilised under a capitalist market system, as it needs to switch off production ,before human needs can be satisfied and find ever new commodities, to resume the business of making profits, which makes revolution possible. The workers who think they have something to lose are quite simply mistaken. They are living in poverty, relative or actual. The comparison has to be made between the 85 people who own more wealth than the bottom 40% of society and not the modicum of gilding of our waged slave chains. The elites do not bring anything to the production process save capital (dead labour) already creamed off workers surplus value.

Previous revolutions were bloody affairs as they were competing class interests for dominance over subject classes. There won’t be any subject class after the capitalist class are dispossessed of their ownership of the means and instruments of creating and distributing wealth. It is the working class only who create wealth. Not the capitalist/parasite class. Their capital investments are only stolen surplus value (dead labour.) The solution is a revolutionary removal of parasitic/capitalist/elites, either corporate, state or private individual owning and controlling the means and instruments of producing and distributing wealth. Any solutions inside capitalism are illusory, they sow the seeds of the next crisis. Capitalism cannot be reformed to work in the interests of the majority. All wealth flows from the workers who do not just produce wealth in capitalism they also run and manage capitalism from top to bottom, but can only do so in the interests of the owners.

This has to be rearranged by a post-capitalist development where the problem of distribution of wealth can finally be resolved by common ownership and production for use, rather than for sale. A change to post-capitalist society does not necessarily mean the bloodbath which accompanied previous revolution. From the initial capture of the state by the majority to prevent its forces of repression being used against workers. There will be no socialism without socialists and the immense majority world over will have to become socialist – a socialist global collective working class, while conquering political power of the states, dismantling their bureaucratic-military top-down apparatus and democratizing (bottom-up) all useful organs and dispossessing the capitalist class. This done the state withers away from being government 'over people' to becoming an administration 'over things'.

That the emancipation of the productive class is that of all human beings without distinction of sex or race;
That the producers can be free only insofar as they are in possession of the means of production;
That there are only two forms under which the means of production can belong to them:
The individual form which has never existed generally and which is being more and more eliminated by the process of industry;
The collective form whose material and intellectual elements are being formed by the very development of capitalist society.
That this collective appropriation can only be the outcome of the revolutionary action of the productive class – or proletariat – organized in a separate political party.
That such organization must be pursued by all the means, which the proletariat has at its disposal, including universal suffrage, thus transformed from the instrument of trickery, which it has been up till now into an instrument of emancipation.”  Marx on Universal Suffrage and Political Self-organisation May 10, 1880

Marx states: “No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself” (Preface to A Critique of Political Economy).
Does the current mode of production ─ capitalism ─ act as a fetter upon production? Are the material conditions which currently exist, sufficiently mature to support new, higher relations of production: socialism? We have developed our ability to produce to a level which easily enables us to meet everyone’s needs. But the relations of production-capitalism-disable us. Capitalism cannot accommodate that necessary production. By and large people do not go hungry because there is no food, but because they are, from the unalterable perspective of capitalism, unworthy: they cannot afford to eat. They cannot afford to eat because from capitalism’s perspective there is no reason to employ them and pay them. We have developed the material productive forces to such an extent that fewer and fewer workers can produce more and more of the things we need to live. But still, people cannot get the necessities of life. Marx cannot be faulted in his analysis of why a market economy in the modern world contains the seeds of its own destruction, assuming that the ownership of the means of production remained concentrated in too few hands and workers had only their labor to sell in direct competition with labour-displacing technology or with workers willing to work for lower wages.

For years we have been told that improvements in production should mean reduced working hours. Instead it means that many of us work longer hours for the same pay. Many others are not permitted to work because capital does not require their labour. This is more evidence that our productive ability has outstripped the ability of capitalism to accommodate our ability to produce.

The apologists for capital would have us believe that Karl Marx was wrong about almost everything he said and wrote. But it is clear that “the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production.” Marx was right.

The material conditions for new, higher relations of production have been carried in the womb of capitalism for too long. It is time for a birthing. It is time to release our ability to produce and to solve our problems, by providing the appropriate relations of production: socialism.

Marx views can be summarised:
1. The working class must first, either peacefully or violently, win control of the State.
2. Then they must make it completely democratic, and,
3. Use it to dispossess the capitalists and establish the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production.
4. This done, there would no longer be any need for the State, which consequently would cease to exist in Socialism.

 Marx's views were distorted in two opposing ways.
 First, by some Social Democrats who made him stand for a gradual, peaceful transition to Socialism by means of social reform measures passed by parliament.
Secondly, by Lenin. When Lenin returned to Russia in April 1917 after the overthrow of the Tsar he began to advocate that his party, the Bolsheviks, should aim to seize power in the near future. He knew that they could only do this in a violent uprising. Forced into hiding in August and September he wrote this pamphlet The State and Revolution in which he distorted Marx's views so as to justify in Marxist terms the Bolsheviks' planned insurrection.

Marx and Engels in fact made no distinction between Socialism and Communism; they were terms they used interchangeably to refer to future classless, Stateless society based on social or common ownership. Marx describes British industry as “vampire-like” which “could but live by sucking blood, and children’s blood too”. He also said “Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks". In The Condition of the Working Class in England, Engels identifies and blames the “vampire property-holding class” as the source of "all the social troubles". There is no happy ending in capitalism just horrors.

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Balladeer of Revolution

The current issue of the Socialist Standard has a sympathetic review of a Dick Gaughan gig. So Socialist Courier thought a clip of Dick singing about the major topic of the media since Russell Brand's Paxman interview and a subject that this blog has had several posts about - a song about revolution. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Political Revolution

There is scarcely any subject upon which there is greater confusion of thought than that of the relation between reform and revolution. Throughout history long periods of imperceptible growth and development have been followed by sudden upheavals, which, notwithstanding their apparent isolation, are really incidents in and a part of the general social evolution.

In the system known as capitalism there is a class struggle between workers and capitalists and the reason is not difficult to understand. The means of production today are privately owned. A small section of society own all the factories, mines, mills, workshops and through that ownership they are able to live a life of ease and luxury. The other section owning nothing are forced to sell themselves as workers to the owners of property in order that they get food, clothing, shelter for themselves and their wives and children.

Many political parties claim to exist only for the purpose of assisting the working class and have drawn up programmes of social reforms which they all guaranteed would, if the workers would only trust them and vote for them; solve all the ills which afflicted the working class. The Socialist Party of Great Britain has no reforms on its programme and is opposed to all parties who asked the workers to support a reformist policy. Reform of capitalism would still leave workers in their slave position. Reforms, apart from the fact that in many cases they had proven worse than the evil which they set out to remedy, were but the normal features of capitalism. Capitalism and their representatives had been busy reforming the capitalist system since it had been established but in spite of all their reforms the condition of the working class was worse today than ever it was in its history. Defenders of capitalism boast reform is the antidote to revolution. The parties of the Left with their ever-changing lists of reforms should be an example to the workers of the futility of wasting valuable time and energy attempting to reform a system which could not be reformed in the interests of the working class.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Year of Revolution?

We watch on our television and read about it in our newspapers. Mass protests the world over. It began a few years ago in Spain, then there was the Arab Spring, on to Greece against austerity and from there to the Wall St and St Pauls Occupy movement. Now it is taking place in Turkey and Brasil. Sadly, however,  it is not enough to have millions  of demonstrators on the streets.

That's no basis upon which to build socialism as we understand it We argue that socialism should be set up and run through the consent and cooperation of an overwhelming majority of the world's population. Above all the working class must have a clear understanding of what socialism entails and what methods are effective in overthrowing capitalism. A grasp of socialist principles by the vast majority of the workers is a minimal condition for going forward to socialism. The socialist revolution can only be democratic, in the sense of both being what the majority of people want and of being carried out by democratic methods of organisation and action.

The Paris Commune of 1871 where French workers actually created organisations of mass control which challenged the old system for a brief space of time. The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, when workers and peasants developed similar structures of direct workers' control such as the workers councils and factory committees (the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 eventually destroyed this, and ushered in a system of state capitalism). Similarly, in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the workers set up workers' councils when they took on their so-called "communist" oppressors. During the May of 1968 in France, workplaces and universities were taken over and in many cases run in a way that is of immense inspiration to socialists. 

What happened on these occasions? Certainly they were not socialist revolutions, as some claim. But they were significant in the history of the struggles of our class. They are significant because the sort of people who dismiss the possibility of revolutionary upheavals were dismissing it shortly before these events blew up in their faces. No one is in any position to dismiss the prospect of revolution who has not carefully examined these movements. In none of these cases was a socialist revolution achieved, but in each case there was a fundamental interruption of the ruling order and the appearance of new forms and conceptions of everyday life. To ignore them because of their failure is to miss the point. Individual revolts are bound to fail until they are accompanied by a widespread and growing—and ultimately worldwide—socialist consciousness. Marx's analysis shows that the socialist revolution must be world-wide and cannot be achieved in one country alone. Because capitalism has become a world-wide system the society to replace it must also be world-wide. Class emancipation must mean the "freeing of the whole of society from exploitation, oppression and class struggle . . ." 

What these examples show is that real change can be brought about by workers. Socialism is not a utopian dream. It is an ever-present undercurrent in working class practice and at times they erupt without warning, sparked off by something as mundane as protecting some trees or protesting a bus fare rise.  That these revolts do not go farther is hardly surprising. What is inspiring is that they went as far as they did.  99 percent of the socialist revolution consists of imbuing our class with the confidence and ambition to succeed, and a revulsion of living as wage slaves whether pampered or ill-fed: once we have this our numbers will carry the day. The capacity for producing abundance has been  been increased to a vast degree, yet people are still idle,  poverty stricken, homeless and starving, while the machinery of production is misused or neglected. This must change. This will change. This, the 21st century, can be the true century of revolution, of true socialist revolution. A socialist revolution, a democratic revolution without leaders, is an urgent necessity. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reform Without the Revolution

Within the Left there has arose a number of misconceptions about the Socialist Party of Great Britain, one being that we oppose reforms that can improve the lot of workers. The economic system don’t operate by immutable “laws” like gravity. Economics is not like physics. Human beings work together and make decisions that shape our economic destiny. No worker gives up the struggle for immediate reforms, and for as many reforms as possible.

If the Socialist Party had nothing to offer to the suffering people but the consolatory hope that socialism will bring help at some future time, while the conditions are nearly unbearable now, this consolation would be pretty poor and we would be little better than preachers. Often enough a future state of bliss has been held out to suffering mankind, in which they would be rewarded for all the wants and sufferings and pains of this world, and most people have lost confidence in such empty promises. They demand amelioration: not words, not promises, but action. They do not want to be resigned to “pie in the sky" that may come after death; they demand a change to their unfortunate situation while living on earth. Workers seek a “terrestrial paradise” without having to wait for it in a “something beyond.” In plain terms, workers want jam today. Workers have always had to fight both for improvements in their living standards and for their most basic democratic rights.

But in order to carry on this struggle successfully, the workers must be organised. Singly and isolated they are powerless; if all would unite for the same purpose, they would be a formidable power which nothing could resist. It is for the whole working class to participate in this struggle, since this war is carried on in the interest of all workers. They cannot sit idly back as indifferent spectators surrendering the task to a political party.

The theory of reformism is a very different matter from the actual struggle for reforms. Reformism is a theory that says repeated success in achieving reforms could, over time, completely transform society, peacefully and without the sharp break represented by revolution, into a quite different kind of society. The idea was that capitalist society could grow gradually into a free socialist society. Yet there is nothing intrinsically socialist or even working class about reformism.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Revolutionary Vote

If they won't vote for socialism, they won't die for it

The capitalist system fails to supply the needs of the vast majority of people and it must be overthrown before the workers can have freedom. The ruling class is never going to solve its problems through the capitalist system, therefore, the objective conditions for revolution are going to crop up over and over again. But there is considerable difference of opinions as to the means by which this can be accomplished. Some advocate the ballot, or parliamentary action; some armed insurrection, or military action; and some the general strike, or industrial action.

Armed insurrection to have any reasonable chance of success the workers would need to have as large and well equipped an army as the capitalists. Yet the working class are unarmed and most unskilled in the use of weapons. They have no military organisation. They have no means of securing arms. An untrained, undisciplined and badly equipped army of workers going forth to overthrow the system might as well be committing suicide. As long as the means necessary to equip, supply, and transport armies remains in control of the capitalists, it is impossible for the workers to gain military power. The revolutionary army would be slaughtered like sheep. The best tactics on the part of the workers is to avoid armed insurrection unless it is actually forced upon them andworkers should beware of those who urge them to armed insurrection.