Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain (1991) Summer School Lecture 12 June 2011 - Capitalism, History and the Class Struggle.

Part 1). Is the Communist Manifesto Still Relevant?

Introduction

The study of class, class interest and the class struggle is no longer a fashionable topic in academic circles. In his readable but poorly researched book INTELLECTUAL LIFE OF THE WORKING CLASSES (Yale 2002), the historian Jonathan Rose searched a database of academic books published in Britain between 1991 and 2000. He got 13,820 hits for “woman”, 4539 for “gender” 1826 for “race”, 710 for “post-colonial” and a mere 136 for “working class” (p.464). The trend has continued. A decade later, by 2010 the database for academic books published on the “working class”’ was less than a couple of dozen entries.

Of course, the “working-class” investigated by Professor Rose and other academics is shallow and narrowly defined. Academic definitions of working-class only include so-called blue collar workers like miners and dockers. The use of the term “working class” by academics is very restrictive and allows politicians to state that the working class is either disappearing or does not exist at all.

When Socialists use the word class it is used precisely in relationship to the ownership or non-ownership of the means of production and distribution. Rather than forming a minority in capitalism, the working class forms a majority even though many workers refuse to accept that they belong to this class. At a general level a world working class confronts a world capitalist class over the ownership and use of the earth’s resources and means to secure a living.

Nevertheless, there can be no other scientific use of class in the analysis of capitalism than the one advocated by Socialists. The concept of class only has significance in the relationship of one class to another class and the relationship of both these classes to the ownership or non-ownership of the means of production. And it is the Marxian meaning of class related to the means of production and distribution which has been under constant and sustained criticism for the best part of two decades.

The reaction against the Marxian theory of class is quite understandable. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the 1990’s was a decade where interest in Marx, class, class interest and the class struggle waned. Many who claimed to be “Marxists” found secure employment under the umbrella of Blair’s New Labour government where poverty was replaced by “social exclusion” and the working class re-written as “the underclass”.

The former-Soviet Union was fallaciously highlighted as a failure of “Socialism in practice” and used as a stick by which to beat any alternative proposition to the market and the profit system even though Socialism has never been established to have failed. There has never been the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.

This did not stop the enemies of Socialism pronouncing it dead and buried. “There is no alternative to the market” (Tina) Socialists were repeatedly told by capitalism’s supporters. And there was a concerted effort to “Get Marx” and deracinate, once and for all, his Socialist ideas from political discourse. After all, hadn’t we been told that human social development had reached “the end of history”, terminating in the capitalism enshrined in the United States of America?

Already in the early 1980’s reactionary albeit influential historians like Gertrude Himmelfarb, in her THE IDEA OF POVERTY, ENGLAND IN THE INDUSTRIAL AGE (New York, 1983) tried to displace the concept of class from the explanatory centre of nineteenth-century British social history. According to THE GUARDIAN (14th February 2009), Himmelfarb wanted a conservative morality to accompany a free market capitalism around the DAILY MAIL values of, thrift, self-help, self-discipline, cleanliness, chastity, fidelity and charity. She believed a return to “Victorian values” - including the distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor - was the antidote to the "grievous moral disorder" in the West caused by the politics of the 1960s. Former Prime-Minister, Gordon Brown, who shared her view of the need for a "moral compass", wrote the introduction to her book THE ROADS TO MODERNITY (2007) and invited her to lead a seminar at No 11 Downing Street when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Other historians have taken a similar view to class as Professor Himmelfarb. The historian, William Reddy argued that it is “quite possible to account for the whole of English social history down through 1850 without invoking class interest” (MONEY AND LIBERTY ON MODERN EUROPE; A CRITIQUE OF HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING, (Cambridge, 1987, p. 195). And in 1990 Ross McKibbon wrote his woeful WHY WAS THERE NO MARXISM IN GREAT BRITAIN? (The ideologies of Class: Social Relations in Britain 1880 – 1950, Oxford, pp. 32 -36, written as though the Socialist Party of Great Britain had never existed). While the conservative historian, Professor John Vincent wrote: “History is about winners, not losers…History is deeply male…History is about the rich and famous, not the poor” (INTELLIGENT PERSONS GUIDE TO HISTORY 1995, pp. 12, 15 quoted in Richard J. Evans: IN DEFENCE OF HISTORY p. 212 2000).

The main target of these academics was the historiography begun by E.P. Thompson in 1963 with the publication of his influential book THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS.

Thompson stated that he chose the title “Making of the English Working Class” in order to demonstrate “an active process, which owes as much to agency as to conditioning” (Preface, p.9). He did not see class as an abstract “structure” or “category” but as “something which in fact happens (and can be shown to have happened) in human relationships”. And those relationships were “always embodied in real people in a real context” (loc cit p.9).

Thompson rejected the history of Kings and Queens and the deliberations of Statesmen on the one-hand, and the mutilation of Marx’s concept of class and the vulgarised mis-use of Marx’s materialist conception of history found in left-wing academic circles, on the other. Instead he emphasized the class struggle of real living workers as a central force in the historical process of revolutionary change as opposed to some metaphysical abstraction moving through history.

Thompson set out to rescue from historical obscurity the early working class as makers of history. He wrote: “I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger (a person who knits on a stocking-frame), the Luddite cropper, the "obsolete" handloom weaver, the "utopian" artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity” (p.13). In trying to save individuals and groups of individual workers from “the enormous condensation of posterity”, he lost sight of important materialist considerations at the heart of Marx’s political concept of class.

There are a number of important problems with Thompson’s book. In particular his refusal to engage with Marx’s materialist treatment of class to be found in THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO and later in the three volumes of CAPITAL. For Marx, the very peculiar material process of exploitation under capitalism affects both class consciousness and the political class struggle but this insight was ignored by Thompson and not picked up in an uncritical review of the Thompson’s book in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, (December 1968 p. 196). Nevertheless, THE MAKING OF THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS has the merit to focus attention on the working class, its formation and development in history and deserves to be read in preference to the cultural historians which later came to dominate historical writing in university history departments.

Thompson’s book was attacked immediately on publication by reactionary historians for moving attention away from traditional and conservative historical writing. The criticism of “working-class history” has continued down to this day, principally because the use of class is viewed as divisive and a disturbance to what Thompson called: “the harmonious coexistence of groups performing different social roles” (loc cit p 10-11).

Working Class History

Interest in Working Class history has largely been displaced by a growth in the history of identity politics leading to a perceived integration of excluded groups into a pluralistic, culturally diverse and conflict free capitalism. There are now subjects as diverse as Black History, Sexuality and Gender Studies and so on. Although these cultural studies often contain interesting insights what they all lack is a class specificity and historical analysis around the class relationship of the ownership or exclusion of the means of production and distribution. In short, they are academically and politically safe.

A contemporary criticism of Marx’s theory of class is given by the historian Professor Sir David Cannadine onetime Professor of Oxford and Princeton University but now part of a group of academics who have set-up a private university in London at £18,000 a year per student. In the bi-centenary of the publication of the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO Professor Cannadine wrote an article in THE FINANCIAL TIMES under the heading Stop Being a Nation of Class Worriers. Professor Cannadine believed that it was only the English who were obsessed with the issue of class, summed up by the poet John Betjeman as: “that topic all absorbing, as it was, is now and ever shall be, to us - CLASS”.

Sir David Cannadine, it should be re-called, was one of a group of historians – most of whom were Tory – who were invited to a dinner reception at Downing Street by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair in June 2008, to meet President G. W. Bush both of whom were worried about their place in history following the debacle of the Iraq war. Cannadine was knighted by Blair in 2009 for services to history and helped set up a History and Policy Unit to advise governments in the administration of capitalism.

Cannadine attacked Marx, through E.P. Thompson, for holding the belief that the past and present were a battleground where classes came into being, realised their collective identity and struggled with each other for dominance. He failed to ask the question why Marx believed this to be so.

Cannadine claimed that over the past 20 years:

Marx’s account has been largely discredited, and few scholars today believe English history was a perpetual conflict between warring collective groups”.

Who has discredited Marx? Which scholars? Professor Cannadine does not say.

He then went on to say:

For Marx was in error in oversimplifying the historical process and in over-simplifying class.” (FINANCIAL TIMES 30th October 1998 and 1st November 1998)

Concluding:

During the mid-19th century Marx and Engels mistakenly tried to universalise the contemporary struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat or capital and labour” (ibid)

Cannadine tried to give his assertions in his newspaper article some degree of intellectual rigour in a number of published books; “CLASS IN BRITAIN” (1998), “HISTORY IN OUR TIME” (1998) and THE RISE AND FALL OF CLASS (1998). All three books continued his attack on Marx’s use of class as an analytical tool to understand capitalism. And it says something of the current low level of interest in Marx that these three books have not been subject to any detailed criticism and rebuttal.

Class Struggle in the 18th Century.

Cannadine claimed, for example, that in the eighteenth century there was no “working class” in part because: “Karl Marx was not alive and around to tell them this was who they were and what they were doing” (CLASS IN BRITAIN, 1998, p.24). He went on to say that “Marxists” were never at ease “with the eighteenth century” (p.24).

This is an extraordinary statement. Workers were striking for wages and better working conditions long before Marx came on to the scene. Even in the early 19th century silk-weavers in Lyon went on strike in 1831 for higher wages and workers had formed the Chartist movement in Britain several years prior to Marx writing the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO in 1848. Cannadine believes that class-consciousness has to attach itself to the actions of a class. Marx denied this. Workers were forced to take action against employers and their State, long before they were conscious of doing so. Marx often quoted Goethe in this respect: “In the beginning was the deed” (FAUST).

In fact Marx made the following observation about the class struggle in the 18th century. In a speech on 19th April 1856 at the Anniversary of the Chartist’s PEOPLE'S PAPER he said:

I know the heroic struggles the English working class have gone through since the middle of the last century – (that is the middle of the 18th century) – struggle [no] less glorious because they are shrouded in obscurity and burked (slang for removed) by the middle-class historian” (quoted from SURVEYS FROM EXILE: POLITICAL WRITINGS vol. 2, ed., D. Fernbach, Penguin, p. 300 1981).

So much for Marx “not being at ease” with the 18th century, on the contrary, his comment, quoted above, shows someone who is certainly aware of the “heroic struggles” of the working class from the 1750’s onwards. And let us not forget that when Marx’s friend, Frederick Engels was working in Manchester in the early 1840’s, many of the workers whom he associated with, had radical Owenite and Chartist backgrounds, children and grandchildren of 18th century workers who had passed down the generations an oral tradition of resistance and class struggle.

As for the workers not knowing who they were in the 18th century, why was there a collective resistance to the 1799 Combination Act? On 12th July, 1799, the government passed the Combination Act, whereby all contracts involving an advance of wages or a reduction of hours of work were declared: "illegal, null and void, to all intents and purposes whatsoever”. However this Act was only a culmination of a series of legislation used throughout the 18th century against workers combining into unions or striking for higher wages. Workers had set up combinations or trade unions almost immediately they became wages slaves.

Clearly there was an embryonic working class struggling against their employers and State. This working class was not a figment of Marx’s imagination, but a real historical subject, men and women struggling against the harsh economic circumstances they faced (For a useful account of the Combination Law see THE TOWN LABOURER 1760-1832: THE NEW CIVILISATION, J. L Hammond and B. Hammond, Chapter VII The War on the Trade Unions pp. 112 -142 1917 and in Thompson loc cit pp. 546 -565).

In fact, the use of the word “strike” for the “withdraw of labour” first appeared in 1768, when sailors, in support of demonstrations in London, "struck" or removed the square rigged sails or topgallant (pronounced t’gallant) sails of merchant ships at port, thus crippling the ships. And the word “strike” is first recorded in the ANNUAL REGISTER (1768) where it is written: “This day the hatters struck, and refused to work till their wages are raised” (www.word-origins.com). So the word “strike” appeared 80 years before Marx wrote the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO.

In Day and Lunn's THE HISTORY OF WORK AND LABOUR RELATIONS IN THE ROYAL DOCKYARDS (1999), the authors report that the standing orders of the Royal Navy Board for August 1739 included this ruling: "Shipwrights to be allowed to bring [chips] on their shoulders near to the dock gates, there to be inspected by officers". The permission to remove surplus timber for firewood or building material was a substantial perk of the job for the dock workers. A subsequent standing order, in May 1753, ruled that only chips that could be carried under one arm were allowed to be removed. This limited the amount of timber that could be taken and the shipwrights were not happy about the revoking of their previous benefit. Three years later, for this and other reasons, they went on strike. Thus the expression: “having a chip on your shoulder” for some form of grievance.

Here is another example of a strike in the 18th century; the Weavers Strike in Glasgow, Scotland in 1787 taken from an essay by the historian Gordon Adams (www.EastGlasgowHistory.co.uk). Adams states that there were, at the end of the 18th century, more than 20,000 weavers in the West of Scotland. Increased competition reduced income and a crisis was reached with the importation of cheaper textiles, especially from India causing a fall in prices forcing the manufacturers to reduce the price they were prepared to pay the weavers for their work. Following two significant reductions in wages weavers felt that they could not live on the pay offered by the manufacturers and it was agreed that no work would be accepted at the new prices. The dispute reached a climax on 3rd September, 1787 when a crowd of weavers gathered in Calton and, seized materials from those still working. The Lord Provost of Glasgow and other town authorities went to the village and attempted to disperse the weavers without success. Then a detachment troops forced the strikers to retreat. When the strikers marched again and threw their missiles, the soldiers opened fire. Three demonstrators were killed immediately and others were wounded, three fatally. The strike was crushed and one of the organisers of the strike was whipped through the streets of the City of Glasgow.

The first evidence of formal union organization in the trades is a handwritten book of articles of the Friendly Society of Tin Plate Workers of London, dated January 1798. Another Tin Plate Workers' Society was formed in Wolverhampton in 1802. This provides another example of local trade unions being set-up in the period of illegal formation of combinations between 1799 and 1825.

In 1819 the Wolverhampton Tin Plate Workers went on strike during one of the first recorded trade depressions in British capitalism shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The strike was repressed by the State using the recently formed Bow Street Runners who raided the rooms occupied by striking workers. The workers were arrested and charged with “conspiracy”, a capital offence at the time (SOCIALISM IN BIRMINGHAM AND THE BLACK COUNTRY 1850 – 1939, George J. Barnsby p. 3 1998 – the book contains one condescending reference to the SPGB as being “Socialistically pure” on page 125 in the book and p. 116 in the on-line copy).

And in his book, WILKES AND LIBERTY (ch. VI, Industrial unrest pp. 90 – 104), the historian, George Rudé gives several accounts of strikes by workers for higher wages in the 1760’s.

Not all defenders of capitalism were unsympathetic to the plight of early trade unionists even though they were against combinations. Ironically Adam Smith in the WEALTH OF NATIONS (1778) made the following remark on combinations. This is what Smith wrote:

We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate… [When workers combine, masters] ... never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combination of servants, labourers, and journeymen (Book I, Chapter 8, Chicago Press p.75-6 1976).

Marx and Class

So Professor Cannadine is wrong to deny that there was no class identity or class consciousness in the 18th century, rudimentary as it was. As the working class emerged out of Feudalism they were forced to form trade unions, forced to strike, whether illegal or not, and forced to enter into a class struggle with employers. But then he is also wrong about Marx and class.

Cannadine’s target is what he calls, the “dichotomous model of class” in which Marx divided society between two hostile groups, Capital and Labour. He believed the 20th century defied Marx’s so-called “model” except the period between 1906, with the establishment of the Labour Party and 1926, with the defeat of the General Strike (loc cit).

To begin with, Marx did not have a “model” of class. Marx begins his analysis of class much in the same way that he began his study of the commodity in CAPITAL; not as an abstraction but as it appears to the senses. Marx was interested in why workers had to seek wages and how they were divorced from the means of production. Why, for example, did capitalists employ workers and for what reason? His theory of surplus value not only gave him answers to these questions but also explained why the class struggle under capitalism took shape the way it did.

Marx went on to show that class was a social relationship between capital and labour to the means of production; a capitalist class who owned the means of production and a working class excluded from owning the means of production. The extraction of surplus value and its resistance by workers gave consciousness to the class struggle. That is why Marx was to write that the treatment of surplus value independently of rent interest and profit was one of “the best points in my book” (CAPITAL)” (MARX - ENGELS: SELECTED CORRESPONDENCE, Marx to Engels 24th August 1867 page 180 Moscow1975).

Class Struggle and Class Reaction

And what is Cannadine’s reason for believing that Marx’s theory of class only applied to the two arbitrary dates 1906 and 1926? None is given. The capitalist class owned the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the working class majority prior to 1906, between 1906 and 1926 and after 1926.

It is true that there were severe industrial disputes between 1910 and 1914. The miners went on strike in 1910 for three months before being defeated. Another miners’ strike in Wales in 1910 was similarly defeated. Strikes took place at Southampton docks in 1911 and in the same year the four main railway unions also went on strike before obtaining a settlement with employers. And so the strikes went on until war broke out in 1914 but even though thousands of days were lost due to strikes there was no rise in political class consciousness.

The establishment of the Labour Party came out of a reaction to the class struggle and was not a development of it (see NEW LABOUR - A PARTY OF CAPITALISM, Socialist Party of Great Britain, no date). Labour was, is and always will be a capitalist political party. From 1906 to 1914 the Labour Party competed with the liberal party on reform measures before it joined with all three main political parties to support British Capitalism against Germany during the First World War.

As for the General strike in 1926, this was a tactical failure by the trade unions, again a reaction to the assault by employers and their State against the economic interests of the working class at the time. The failure of the General Strike divided the working class; it caused a financial loss, costing the trade unions some £4m. And not only did the loss of the strike humiliate the trade unions but trade union membership fell from 5.5 million in 1926 to under 5 million in 1927 (MASTERING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY, David Taylor, p 533. 1988).

And how does Cannadine explain the establishment of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904, the most important political manifestation of the class struggle during the last century? The Socialist Party of Great Britain is passed over in silence. But in 1904 class interest, class consciousness and socialist political action within the working class expressed itself in the formation of a Socialist Party with only Socialism as its object underpinned by a set of Socialist Principles.

Cannadine’s appears to believe that after 1926 the working class incorporated and accommodated itself within capitalism and no longer remained a “class” in the way Marx had formulated it in the 19th century. However, the low level of political class consciousness by workers still does not prevent the class struggle taking place, economically, on a day-today basis.

The working class in Britain were no more or less class conscious in a Socialist sense, after 1926 than they were before. After all, between 1914 and 1918 millions of workers in Britain were killing or being killed on the battlefields of the First World War. Hardly a time of intense Socialist political activity, a time when members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, who had opposed the war on the grounds of class interest, were either on the run, hiding from the police or in prison.

Professor Cannadine is supposed to be a respected historian. Like most commentators he only views the class struggle from one direction. In whose interest did the Wilson government try to enact its anti-working class legislation, IN PLACE OF STRIFE in 1969? It was not the working class. Then there were the bitter struggles by workers in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the subsequent anti-trade union legislation by the Thatcher and Major Tory governments.

The class struggle is a two-way process, economically over the day-to-day exploitation of the working class but politically over the protection by the capitalist state of the means of production and the pursuit by politicians of the interests of the collective capitalist class. So, in whose benefit were these anti-working class laws passed? It was certainly not for the benefit of the working class and the trade unions. What of the anti-trade union writings by economists like of F.A. Hayek’s such as A TIGER BY ITS TAIL (1972) and 1980’s UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE UNIONS (1974), both published by the free market Institute of Economic Affairs? They were written, like all academic economic theory and policy against the trade unions and working class.

The current reaction against Socialism and the ideas of Marx should not be underestimated. Not only has there been the negative effect of reformist politics on explaining to workers the case for Socialism but also the barrier to the spread of socialist ideas caused by the anti-working class political programmes of the Labour Party in Britain and the Bolsheviks under Lenin and his successors in Russia. Both forms of capitalist politics spawned apologetic historians who suppressed the formation and impact of the Socialist Party of Great Britain from their books, lectures, seminars and courses.

Coda: Marx’s Theory of Class

Finally, a few words should be made on the development of Marx’s theory of class which came out of his materialist conception of history and labour theory of value.

Marx did not invent either class or the class struggle.

The use of the word class, as a social group, was clearly present in 1817 when David Ricardo established the term as a central concern of political economy in the regulatory distribution of income.

In THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Ricardo wrote;

The product of the earth - all that is derived from its surface by the united application of labour, machinery, and capital, is divided among three classes of the community … in different stages of society, the proportions of the whole produce of the earth which will be allotted to each of these classes, under the name of rent, profit and wages, will be essentially different… To determine the laws which regulate this distribution is the principal problem in political economy… (Original Preface; Everyman ed. 1923 p. 1).

The utopian socialists, Piercy Ravenstone (THE SOURCE AND REMEDY OF THE NATIONAL DIFFICULTIES 1821) and Thomas Hodgskin (LABOUR DEFENDED AGAINST THE CLAIM OF CAPITAL 1825) used Ricardo’s ideas to highlight the class conflict within capitalism and which could only be resolved politically by the action of the working class acting in its own interests.

Why is Marx’s theory of class a powerful and explanatory tool? Why are class relationships primary in any discussion of society? To answer these questions, let us consider the various strands of ideas, which already existed, which were then woven by Marx into a new theory of class.

First, there was the idea of class as understood by the utopian socialists who had been influenced by David Ricardo’s theory of political economy.

Second, there was the idea of social progress, of the transformation of society through the unfolding, development and resolution of contradictions, which came from Hegel and the Young Hegelians.

Third, there was the renaissance in materialist philosophy beginning with the French Enlightenment and writers like Helvetus, Holbach, Diderot and D’Alambert onto the materialist writings of Feuerbach in the 1840’s.

Fourth, there was the growing awareness of human stages in history, which had been obvious to earlier writers like Adam Smith (WEALTH OF NATIONS), and J. Millar (AN HISTORICAL VIEW OF BRITISH GOVERNMENT, vol. IV. London 1803).

Fifth, there was the understanding of the political class struggle from French writers like F. Guizot and A. J. N. Thierry. Karl Marx highly valued Thierry's work on the history of the third estate (the so-called “common people” of France) and called him “the father of the class struggle” of French historiography particularly his book ATTEMPT AT A HISTORY OF THE FORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE THIRD ESTATE (Marx to Engels July 27th 1854 CORRESPONDENCE, p.87).

And sixth, Marx and Engels observed the class struggle as it took place around them. The class struggle was in the 18th and 19th century, as it was in the 20th century and in this century an empirical fact. In a letter to Weydemeyer, Marx set out exactly what was new in his theory;

What I did that was new was to demonstrate: 1) that the existence of classes is merely linked to particular historical phases in the development of production, 2). That class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

And the existence of the working class linked to a particular historical phase in the development of capitalist production was given revolutionary intent in the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO where Marx developed these ideas into a revolutionary theory of class struggle more penetrating than anything dreamt of in David Cannadine’s history.

So we conclude with the following passage taken from the first section of the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO:

… the proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth pangs begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie … [at first]…the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition…with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases in number, it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels its strength more…the workers begin to form combinations (Trade Unions) against the bourgeoisie. Now and then the workers are victorious but only for a time, … this organisation of the proletarians into a class, and consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier…

For the working class to become conscious and political makers of history they have to become what the conservative historian, John Vincent, called “history’s winners”. And to become history’s winners, workers; male and female, young and old, black and white; factory workers and office workers, they all have to organise consciously and politically into a principled Socialist Party with only Socialism as its object.

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