Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

 

Socialist Studies No 83, Spring 2012

The European Union: A Socialist Response

The DAILY TELEGRAPH recently celebrated the defeat of the European capitalist left and commented that the mis-named Socialist parties in Portugal and Spain had both lost elections opening the way for the enactment of austerity measures. These measures will include cuts in wages and reforms to current labour market legislation, particularly the imposition of “flexible labour markets”. The journalist, Evans-Pritchard in his article Workers of the World unite; you only have to lose your EU chains (19th December 2011), pointed out that Greece’s Pastok Party was removed by a European Union (EU) technocrat putsch and that most of the EU is now governed either by conservative administrations, coalitions where the conservatives dominate or have EU-imposed governments embracing economic liberalism and austerity reforms promoted by the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Evans-Pritchard went on to state that the entire machinery of the EU is conservative and controlled from Brussels, Paris and Berlin and that the European Central Bank is heavily influenced by the free market and anti-trade union fanaticism of F. A. Hayek not the interventionist policies of Lord Keynes. And he concluded that in Italy social welfare legislation like the cherished labour market reforms are rapidly being replaced with “firm-level” wage deals while companies will soon find it easier to sack workers for “economic reasons” which used to be a cumbersome and an uncompetitive process for employers to go through. Privitisation is also to be introduced to discipline the labour force and fragment the trade unions. In Portugal the 40-hour week is going to be extended by a further two hours along with pay-cuts to wages in the public sector and laws are to be passed making it easier for employers to “hire and fire”. In Greece workers are being told to take even greater pay cuts than before.

Why, Mr Evans-Pritchard asks, given the anti-working class nature of the European Union and its current economic reform measures, do workers and trade unions still support the EU? Surely workers’ interests, he mischievously suggests, should be to embrace the Eurosceptics against the EU? And in a parody of the closing sentence of the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, he concludes his article with the following advice to the working class: “you only have only your euro chains to lose”. We presume he wants workers to vote Conservative not Socialist.

Mr Evans-Pritchard is being disingenuous. The parties removed from office either by elections or by a putsch were not Socialist parties since they had no mandate to establish the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. It was against workers’ interest to give these capitalist governments support any more than it was for workers to vote for the conservative parties who replaced them. Also, Keynesianism does not offer a “Socialist policy”. It is a demonstrably failed doctrine to prevent the occurrence of economic crises and high levels of unemployment just as is the economic liberalism supported by Evans Pritchard and the DAILY TELEGRAPH.

And what of the non-EU alternative supported by Evans-Pritchard and his Euro-phobic friends? The alternative for workers outside the EU is exactly the same as it is inside the EU: class exploitation, attacks on levels of wages and the constant push for an increase and intensity of exploitation to create more surplus value, and unearned income for the capitalist class to keep them in a life of privileged luxury. Capitalism both inside and outside the EU offers the workers nothing.

No Interest for the working class either in or outside the EU

The working class has no interest in whether British capitalism either stays in the European Union or leaves it since class exploitation and class struggle remain. To the Europhiles and the Eurosceptics we say a plague on both your houses.

Of course both sides use arguments to frighten workers to support their own partisan interests. Supporters of the EU, like the 20 capitalists who recently wrote to the DAILY TELEGRAPH (20th December 2011), warning that 3 million jobs would be lost and wages would fall if Britain left the EU. Nigel Farage of UKIP, on the Euro-sceptic side, claims 3 million jobs would be created and that wages would rise if Britain left the EU. Who is right? Well they are in fact both wrong.

The tactic of trying to either scare workers to support the EU or to prise them away from supporting the EU through reference to losing or retaining their jobs is similar to the tactics used in the 19th century by both sides of the British ruling class in the struggle to retain or repeal the Corn Law Act. The Corn Law was first introduced in Britain in 1804, when the landowners, who dominated Parliament, sought to protect their profits by imposing a duty on imported corn. The landowning and industrial classes tried to get the support of workers, similar to the pro-and anti - EU supporters today, by offering bogus arguments for the rise and fall of wages and the price of bread if the Corn Law was retained or repealed.

In fact, wages are not dependent on whether a particular piece of legislation is repealed or not but by the state of trade and the class struggle while jobs are dependent of whether there is a boom or trade depression. There is no evidence that 3 million jobs will be lost if Britain leaves the European Union any more than there is evidence that 3 million jobs will be created if Britain leaves the EU. Capitalists are not obliged to give employment to workers as George Osborne has recently discovered when the private sector jobs did not materialise to off-set the job losses in the public sector. Capitalists only employ workers if there is profit to be made and even then employers are always looking at ways of employing fewer workers and extract more productivity from those who remain.

The working class, which includes the trade unions, has no interest in whether British capitalism stays or remains in the European Union. In both cases they still remain an exploited class producing more social wealth than they receive in wages and salaries. The interest of the working class is to establish Socialism.

The failure of reforms

One of the principle failures of reforms is that they can be amended or repealed when economic conditions become severe and the economy passes through a crisis and trade depression. Workers are then told that capitalism can no longer afford the reforms. Politicians, instead, now promise the working class decades of austerity, lower wages, longer hours of work and extended time in employment before pensioned retirement. Legislation imposing 40 hour weeks are increased to 42 hours in Portugal to increase the extent of exploitation when workers were once promised a 30 hour week. In Ireland the amount of workers having to find work abroad is likely to be 100,000 over the next two years according to the Economic and Social Research Institute, a tenth of the number who emigrated in the aftermath of the potato famine in the 1840’s when 1 million workers left Ireland to find work (GUARDIAN 20th January 2011). Pensions in Britain are to be reduced and workers will have to work longer years in employment before being able to retire. Reforms are given with one hand are taken away with the other. That is a fact of life of capitalism.

Capitalism can never be reformed to work in the interest of the working class. This is the hard lesson workers should learn about the effects of the current economic depression. Two hundred years of reforms and workers are still fighting the same battles with employers over wages and conditions of work and facing the same social problems of poverty and unemployment as their great grand parents did. Surely the working class can and must learn from history?

There are over 25 million workers unemployed in the European Union including 3 million in Britain. However, it is not the EU that has caused this high level of unemployment but capitalism. If Britain were to withdraw from the EU trade depressions would still occur within the British economy. The EU exists to benefit the capitalist class not the working class. The same applies to each nation state. The EU offers the allure of reforms to workers and trade unions but these reforms are not sustainable particularly with the competitive pressures imposed by developing capitalist countries. However, the interest of workers is not to clamour to leave the EU but to organise consciously and politically within a principled Socialist Party to replace capitalism with socialism. Evans-Pritchard and other economic journalists found in the capitalist media are no friends of the working class, they are intellectual prostitutes; paid professional hacks.

Socialist Revolution

The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds a principled and unceasing hostility to the political parties of capitalism who misleading claim that their particular stance on the European community, whether to stay or to leave the EU, will improve the conditions of the working class. History shows that the political parties of capitalism only look after the interest of the capitalist class, no one else. Capitalism can never be run in the interest of the working class. The problem for the working class is not that they are chained to the European Union but that they are chained to capital. That was Marx’s point when he said “workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains”. These chains are forged both within and outside the EU by the capital-labour relationship but they can be broken. To break these chains requires a world-wide Socialist Revolution. As we wrote in our pamphlet, QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

The Socialist Party will not barter its independence for promises of reform. For no matter whether these promises are made sincerely or not, we know that the immediate need of the working class is freedom from exploitation, which can only be achieved through the establishment of Socialism (p. 33 1976)

The workers’ interests under capitalism are opposed to all sections of the capitalist class, whether within or outside the European Union. Whether it is bankers in Frankfurt, landlords in London or commercial magnates in Switzerland, Australia, Cuba, China, and the US, a world capitalist class all live off the unearned income of rent, interest and profit of the world’s working class.

Back to top

Anger Changes Nothing

Angry and going nowhere.

The present trade depression continues unabated. In January 2012 the unemployment figures went up to 2.57 million, the highest figure for 17 years. Youth unemployment also increased to over one million. By the end of 2011 unemployment stood at 2.7 million.

According to THE INDEPENDENT, there is anger among the young unemployed. In an accompanying article: “This is a class war disguised as a generation war”, Laurie Penny, whose childish agit prop rant appears to come straight out of PRIVATE EYE’s Dave Spart column, wrote of the high levels of unemployment concluding that:

It is small wonder that students, school pupils and young unemployed people have been taking to the streets in protest for almost a year now. A year ago the commentariat was worried about a “lost generation” sliding into apathy – now it is worried about mass civil unrest. That tells you about the state of Britain today (11th October 2011).

Like most left wing writing, her infantile article gives no analysis of capitalism as a cause of unemployment and nor does it offer a Socialist conclusion to the problems facing today’s working class. The mass protests she writes about are all in her imagination. Most areas of the country have seen no mass protests. The only significant protests were in London. The first achieved absolutely nothing except a riot, state violence and imprisonment for those rioters who were caught.

The second protest, at Tent City by St Pauls Cathedral, was politically incoherent. The protesters were against capitalism but did not understand what it meant and had no clue that profits were made in commodity production not in exchange. They were a mixture of anarchists, environmentalists, moralists and business people upset at the behaviour of the City and “corporate greed”. There was no Socialist object, no Socialist programme and no Socialist movement.

The capitalist left have a tiresome habit of catapulting into the limelight young and angry firebrands in a temporary glaze of publicity prattling on about the need for “a broad left”. Some end up using their “street cred” to further their own careers in the media and academia, others end up as reactionaries writing for newspapers like the DAILY MAIL and the worst end up as advisors to Ministers of State or given a cabinet seat in a future Labour Government. What all these hectoring fly-by-nights do is not put the case for Socialism. They are in effect worse than the Tories they despise. At least with the Tories you know they are a party supporting privilege and comfort for a minority.

Political parasitism

The SWP and The Socialist Party organise “Right to Work” demonstrations but they are just futile and sterile exercises in gesture politics which has become to be associated with the capitalist left. There is no right to jobs under capitalism. The capitalists are under no obligation to employ workers. They only employ workers if they can make a profit.

75 years ago, 200 unemployed men from Jarrow marched from their homes in the North East to London to demand jobs and an end to their conditions of poverty. Their jobs were not re-instated and there was no end to the conditions of poverty. They remained in poverty only finding work again in the shipyards with the outbreak of the Second World War, which, against their class interests, they largely supported.

The Socialist Party’s front organisation “Youth Fights for Jobs” (YFJ) - the national organiser is a paid up member of the SP (Wikipedia) and the YFJ blog has a podcast of unemployed workers being interviewed with occasional insertions of SP banners and activists selling their newspaper, THE SOCIALIST - recently recreated the Jarrow march to London. The march was an unmitigated disaster which ended in an ill-attended rally in Trafalgar Square where they were talked down to by the usual suspects (Bob Crow, et al).

Here are just two of the unattainable demands taken from the Youth Fights for Jobs website:

* A massive government scheme to create jobs which are socially useful and apprenticeships which offer guaranteed jobs at the end - both paying at least the minimum wage, with no youth exemptions. * A massive building and refurbishment programme of environmentally sound, cheap social housing.

The list is disingenuous. What is revolutionary about the payment of a minimum wage? The first minimum wage legislation was introduced in 1910 by the then Liberal politician, Winston Churchill when he was President of the Board of Trade. Historically, the minimum wage has never worked, with employers finding ways around the law or closing down their businesses when prosecuted. And what is “Socialist” about wanting to force workers onto the labour market and into paid employment? As for building programmes, this is pure Keynesianism nonsense which has never worked. Governments have never been able to reduce unemployment once the trade depression has occurred.

Roosevelt’s New Deal did not end the depression of the 1930’s. The New Deal was a Keynesian policy. Keynes discussed the policy with Roosevelt. The New Deal did what the Keynesians say a government should do. It greatly increased government expenditure through building programmes. So the policy ought to have got unemployment down to negligible levels. But in 1938, after six years of the Roosevelt-Keynesian policy unemployment was still at the peak level of 19%. What ended the depression was the outbreak of the Second World War with its conscription and war economy. If workers want decent and environmentally sound housing then they will first have to establish Socialism.

The politics behind this opportunism is to get workers angry enough to support unattainable reforms and once it is clear that they are unrealisable, so the theory goes, those workers will be sucked into front organisations like Youth Fights for Jobs who will then be blown out into the waiting arms of the Trotskyists in the Socialist Party. For the Socialist Party it is “anything goes”; any means towards a state capitalist end.

The premise of the Socialist Party is that workers want something now and are not cut out for understanding and accepting the case for Socialism. Only that the “socialism” advocated by the Socialist Party is not Socialism at all but mass nationalisation or state capitalism. When they talk of “Socialism” they do not mean the abolition of the wages system and the establishment of the common ownership undemocratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. In fact the working class should want “something now” and that something now is Socialism and not unattainable reforms dangled out to some passing fish like a grub on a hook at the end of a fishing line.

The need for Socialist Understanding

There is no likelihood of mass civil unrest, at least not the unrest that can easily be contained by the coercive machinery of government. Look at the failure of the general strikes and riots in Greece. High levels of unemployment usually brings with it alienation, despair, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, not rising socialist consciousness and political action towards a socialist objective. The beneficiaries of unemployment are usually the fascist and nationalist parties as in Hungary. The case for Socialism exists no matter where capitalism is in the trade cycle.

If the seven people interviewed by THE INDEPENDENT are indicative of unemployed youth then resigned political apathy to their predicament rather than the anger hoped for by the capitalist left appears to hold true. Not one of the seven young unemployed workers interviewed wondered how and why capitalism works, why they are currently unemployed and what, politically, could be done to address the problem of unemployment.

What was lacking from these interviewees was a Socialist understanding of the world they lived in. They will not get this Socialist understanding from either a mock-angry journalist in the INDEPENDENT or from the leadership of the various Trotskyist parties who parasitically feed-off working class discontent.

Of course a Socialist understanding of capitalism will not get workers a job. It is not intended to. However it does bring a practical awareness that capitalism can never be made to work in their interest and that a Socialist alternative through a principled Socialist Party is both possible and necessary.

So why does unemployment occur? It is one of the contradictions of capitalism that capital both attracts labour (to create surplus value), but also discards labour in the pursuit of profits.

Politicians sell the workers the lie that capitalists exist to create jobs. They don’t. Marx showed that the capitalists are constantly looking at ways of displacing labour by introducing new machinery. Because the purpose of capitalist production is to maximize profit, whenever new technology is introduced it usually means a cut in jobs. This is because the capitalist can make as much (or more) than before, with fewer workers. Marx put it this way:

It is the absolute interest of every capitalist to extort a given quantity of labour out of a smaller rather than a greater number of workers, if the cost is about the same (Capital Volume 1, The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation Ch 25 Penguin ed, p. 788, 1996).

As productivity increases, employers can employ fewer workers to produce more surplus value, the source of the capitalist’s unearned income of rent, interest and profit. Workers who find themselves surplus to requirement are made redundant and join the industrial reserve army of the unemployed. However while new technology can displace workers from one industry, new industries are being developed in other sectors of the economy. Workers are continually being re-employed and then made redundant again.

Although it may rise or fall, unemployment is a permanent feature of capitalism even during a boom period in the economy. Capitalism can never attain full employment and capitalists do not exist to give employment to workers any more than banks are obliged to lend to borrowers.

And then there is the periodic down-turn in the trade cycle. Throughout capitalism’s history as Marx explained in CAPITAL and elsewhere, periods of good trade and low unemployment alternate with periods of bad trade and high unemployment. All economic policies, Keynesian and monetarist, regulatory and free market have failed to prevent economic crises and trade depressions.

Alone in this country the Socialist Party of Great Britain insisted from the outset that Marx’s analysis of capitalism and Socialist conclusion were right; that economic theories cannot predict or arrest an economic crisis once it begins; that full employment cannot be maintained; that trade depressions cannot be eliminated and these economic policies would do nothing to serve working class interests.

The unemployed and employed, young and old, should take the time to read Socialist literature, attend socialist meetings and become Socialists. There is a Socialist alternative, a social system in which production and distribution will take place just to meet human need.

Socialists do not want to see employment continued. Employment is the hall mark of wage slavery and class exploitation. The working class should focus their attention on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution for profit with its labour markets, exploitation and periodic unemployment. Rather than fighting for employment wouldn’t it be better to fight for a world where there is no employment?

THE CLASS STRUGGLE

Janet Darley, writing in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (19 September 2010) could not understand why Trade Unions were considering taking strike action to protect their wages and conditions of work. Pay in the public sector is currently being pegged by employers below the rate of inflation and workers are about to be made redundant in their thousands.

Does Janet Darley, a card carrying Tory, expect the Trade unions to roll over quietly and kick their legs in the air and say to their employers : why don’t you walk all over us ?

We live in a class divided society with the class struggle at its core. However trade unions are confronted by restrictions of what they can and cannot do. Against determined employers, particularly in a depression, they are at a severe disadvantage. One thing workers can do at any stage in the trade cycle is to consciously and politically organise in a principled Socialist party and take the class struggle to its logical conclusion by replacing capitalism with Socialism

Back to top

What We Said and When

The Socialist Party of Great Britain: Camden and North West London Branches 1986-1987 Lecture Series, Marchmont Community Centre

Since our formation in 1904, we have made statements and forecasts about major social and political matters in the columns of the SOCIALIST STANDARD and various pamphlets. The predictions were made, not through gazing into a crystal ball, but through an analysis of the way in which the capitalist system works. We have also stressed the need for a social revolution to replace the existing way of life with a completely different set of social relationships.

This series of Lectures could have been entitled “THIS IS OUR RECORD” or “WHO PROVED TO BE INCORRECT?”. Here is your opportunity to hear what we have said over the years and to relate our case to the world of the closing 20th century and to join with us in the only struggle worthwhile – the establishment of Socialism.

Many of the pamphlets are out of print, but the speakers will quote from them in the course of their remarks, to show where we stood, and when.

Lecture 1: Reform or Revolution? Saturday 8th November 1986

What we Said and When

The basis of the Socialist Party in any country must, therefore be a recognition of the fact that the material interests of the working class are in entire opposition to those of the employing class, that is, the recognition of the class war. Any alliance, either permanent or temporary, with a party which does not recognise the class war, is therefore out of the question. (SOCIALIST STANDARD October, 1904).

The Socialist Party will not barter its independence for promises of reform. For no matter whether these promises are made sincerely or not, we know that the immediate need of the working class is freedom from exploitation (QUESTIONS OF THE DAY March, 1978).

Just one point about the weakness of reformism. It is an important point. Often reforms carried to improve the lot of the worker prove but of short duration. Should they be of inconvenience to the capitalist class in whose interest’s present-day society operates, they are as soon as a favourable opportunity arises, either abandoned altogether or modified to the disadvantage of the workers. All that is necessary is for an industrial crisis or war to arise – and both these come crashing in on us with regularity – years of effort for reform reassures of nothing. Then we must say good-bye to the reforms “for the time being”, or at least the reforms are drastically altered. It will suffice if we remind the reader of the crisis 1929-31 with all its cuts. The impermanence of reforms, therefore, is a fundamental weakness of the reformist position (SOCIALIST STANDARD, May, 1942).

What they Said and When

The British Labour Party is certainly not Socialist in the sense in which Socialism is understood on the continent. It is not based on the recognition of the class struggle; it does not accept the teaching of Marx. (Philip Snowden, Labour Party Leader, MANCHESTER GUARDIAN, 26th October, 1922).

Conservatives don’t preach against anyone. That is the worst aspect of Marxism; the clash, the conflict, the class warfare. Harold MacMillan’s greatest contribution to politics was that at the end of his period he had almost got rid of it. Had he won another election, it would have gone altogether. That was his enormous contribution to society. Then the Labour Party came back in and re-introduced the class and the conflict and the class warfare. It is wrong. (Mrs Thatcher, Interview with the OBSERVER, February 25th, 1979).

What I’m saying is that while the present structure of economic and industrial power remains, the problems of our society are inevitable and until we open our minds to a different concept of society, we can have Labour Governments in office but never Labour governments in power. And we can have Labour governments in power and never have Socialism in practice. All I’m saying simply that if you are going to make any advance you have got to be prepared to tackle problems on a piecemeal basis, by which I mean discrete areas that you change. (Tony Benn, Interview with the Editorial Committee of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, January 1980).

(The 79 essential quotations from various S.P.G.B. publications and quotations on the same subject from our various opponents and other sources will be continued in the next edition of Socialist Studies)

Back to top

A Socialist Message for Trade Unionists

The Socialist Party of Great Britain from our inception in 1904 has had many members who have held office and played an active part in trade unions. We recognise the importance of trade unions in the class struggle against employers. Trade unions can successfully bargain wage and salary increases when trade conditions allow and endeavour to restrict or even halt wage reductions when trade conditions deteriorate.

Trade unions can also improve the working condition for members. They are an essential feature of the capitalist system. In the S.P.G.B’s study of capitalism we have made a number of important contributions to the role of trade unions in the class struggle. We assert that the trade unions can only act as a defensive weapon to the exploitation of our class in the productive process.

The Conduct of Strikes, Democracy and Trade Unions

In the use of the strike weapon, workers must recognise that except on rare occasions, any government will enforce the law, and in the final analysis if the strike threatens the “national interest”, that is the capital interest, the police and the armed forces will be used to support the status quo. When the employers consider the issue of sufficient importance to warrant all-out resistance, the trade union cannot hope to win – the disastrous strike by the miners in 1984 is a classic example. In all cases, strike action must be based on majority decision of the membership and the decision to return to work should likewise be a majority decision.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain only supports trade union action when it is in the interest of the working class as a whole. We do not support trade union action against other unions whether they are in this country or another, and vica versa

Worker Directors

The danger of “Worker Directors” to the trade unions is obvious. In times of “laying-off” workers or compulsory redundancies, trade union representatives involved at board meetings of the company have to take decisions that can only lead to division within the trade union. “Worker Directors” is a contradiction in terms.

Directors of capitalist firms can only operate on behalf of the shareholders and not the workers. Workers have distinct and diametrically opposed interests to the capitalist class and their politicians, whether Tory, Labour or Liberal Democratic.

Trade Unions and Capitalist Political Parties

It is not in the workers’ interest that their unions should affiliate to or support the Labour Party and other similar political parties who are committed to the administration of capitalism. They must learn that no matter which party is in power, its might will be thrown in support of the employers in any struggle, as all past governments have demonstrated.

Trade Unions and the Minimum Wage

The S.P.G.B. has pointed out that the minimum wage legislation cannot be enforced and that many workers would rather put up with low wages than lose their jobs. Socialists counterpoise calls for low or high wages with a call for the abolition of the system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority class of parasites which gives rise to the exploitive wages system.

Trade unions and Social Security

Trade unions have supported Family Allowances in the misguided belief that the principal cause of poverty for many workers is the possession of young families. Socialists who have found themselves in Trade Unions which have supported this social reform, rigorously fought against it in formal adoption as trade union policy.

We argue that no scheme for social reform can remove the poverty endured by the working class under capitalism. Family Allowances were considered by the employers to be a contribution to the workers’ wages and were taken into account when engaged in settling wage claims on the basis that the children of the workers had been partially “provided” for by these allowances.

Family Allowance Provision was a reform reviewed by the last Labour Government as they struggled to cut the cost of social welfare in the interest of capitalism.

Trade Unions and the Failure of New Labour

Workers erroneously believe the Labour government; despite the failure of all past Labour governments can run society in their interests. Great hope was placed in Tony Blair and New Labour to end unemployment, poverty, insecurity and so on and dealing with Education and the Health Service. It was a false hope.

Labour governments used troops to break strikes and berated workers for low productivity. Labour, under Brown, claimed that there was to be no more “boom and bust” but there was. And the Labour government retained all of the Tories anti-trade union legislation.

And, then there were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which the Labour governments pursued with their US ally.

Politically, Labour governments can only run capitalism in the interest of the capitalist class who own and control the means of social wealth production and distribution.

In the words of Tony Blair, speaking in the United States, he wanted to make Labour a: “natural party of business…just as much the party of business as the Conservatives, if not more” (DAILY TELEGRAPH 24th June 1997).

And under Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband they have continued to be the “party of business”. Recently Labour has called for a “better and more responsible capitalism” (BBC NEWS 7th January 2012”. Capitalism can only be capitalism; a system of class exploitation working against the interest of the working class.

Trade Unions and the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain entered the political field of the class struggle not to run capitalism and make it “better and more responsible” but to work for its abolition and its replacement with the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. Our Socialist message to all workers, regardless of race or sex, is laid down in our OBJECT AND DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES, and reproduced in each edition of SOCIALIST STUDIES. It is a principled call to all workers to stop giving support to capitalist politicians like Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. We assert trade unions can only be defensive organisations. The answer to the problems facing the working class is political, not industrial; it requires the establishment of Socialism. Why not consider joining our Party and help create a society where production for need replaces production for profit and where we are freed from the servility of employment, class and the wages system.

Instead of the conservative motto: A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work…(workers) ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchwords…”Abolition of the wages system” (Karl Marx).

Back to top

Socialist Ideas and Understanding

For some unexplained reason we are constantly being told that capitalism is so different from previous societies that it is not subject to the law of social evolution which governed the development and decay of previous societies. The point is, can capitalism make history stand still and do its bidding? Can the profit system, in effect, ensure that it will continue to exist simply by the power of private property ownership and accumulation of capital which most people worship but very few enjoy? Presumably, if capitalism can make its own historical rules there can be no prospect of its abolition.

Looking at the evidence around us, the working class shows no sign of challenging capitalism’s rule. There is plenty of social discontent, but this is largely concerned with social reforms or trade union issues and cannot be regarded as revolutionary activity.

What are we left with? First, we have a solidly entrenched social system whose defenders have millions to spend on their lies; second, an apparently disinterested working class who persistently whinge at their predicament but periodically vote into power capitalist political parties; and third, a relatively small but principled revolutionary Socialist Party with limited funds whose monthly visitors to its web site is about 0.0017% of the world’s population.

Little wonder we are dismissed as dreamers, utopian preachers and sectarian cranks by our opponents. Yet we persist. An organization which takes on the task of making workers Socialists in the face of tremendous difficulties is considered to be either unrealistic or motivated by spiritual rather than material influences. We are neither.

We do not accept the permanence of capitalism any more than we accept the fact that the workers’ ideas of society cannot be changed. History shows that social systems change, and that these changes are accomplished by thinking people and that men and women’s ideas change with them.

This includes ideas on all subjects – religion, politics, morality, science, law and art. Ideas have changed considerably over the centuries and dramatically in the last 100 years. The spread of opinion or social consciousness, as with people’s social life generally, develops in accordance with the development of their productive forces. Today, the artificial organs of men and women, their greater control over nature, play a decisive role in their social existence. These artificial organs are not individual but social in character.

If social men and women’s intellect, their opinions and culture, are dominated by their circumstances of their economic conditions, at what point can we expect a change in their ideas which will result in a political decision to establish Socialism? The body of opinion today, or the prevailing ideology, is overwhelmingly capitalist, because capitalist ideas are socially sponsored, propagated and broadcast at all levels.

Socialist ideas, which arise from the same economic conditions, are ignored or misrepresented as state capitalist or distorted in other ways. Yet the battle of ideas can be fought against such overwhelming odds. In the first instance, we are not merely dealing with people’s opinions but with the social factors which give rise to those opinions.

The old French materialists were nearly right when they said opinion governs the world. For example, the political domination by the Catholic Church as in feudal society is no longer feasible or tolerated, yet the Catholic Church was the political centre of feudalism for over a thousand years. Further back in earlier society it was moral to have incestuous sexual relationships, group marriages, infanticide and cannibalism.

These were the product of well-defined social conditions. The absence of these practices today has nothing to do with moral enlightenment or higher idealistic standards, but to the changed social conditions. Capitalism produces its own sophisticated form of barbaric cruelty and inhumanity on a far greater scale than these seemingly outrageous practices of yesteryear.

Idealists, and this includes proponents of all religion, moralists, humanists and so on, constantly refer to the innate goodness of men and women and what the world ought to be – the world of the true and the just. This conception of the world as it ought to be bears no relation or connection with the world as it is, but also with the historical development which has occurred.

The idealist’s conception of history, which claims people’s development to be purely intellectual, based on some timeless ethical cause, is the happy hunting ground for the ostensibly reasonable apologists of capitalism – reason will solve everything they claim. Pure reason, like abstract truth, does not exist. Every thought process must be related to social men and women’s material needs. This is what society is all about, the organization of a system of production to meet people’s material needs.

The question which obviously arises is does capitalism satisfy or can it be made to satisfy men and women’s needs? The answer is obviously – no. The contradictions within the system of poverty in the midst of plenty, it dependence on the deliberate scarcity caused by the market economy, it unpredictability and general anarchy, disqualify it as a social system rendering social service in the real sense of the term.

The capitalists’ monopoly of propaganda undoubtedly influences the millions of workers who give their support to it generally. But the performance never matches the promise. You cannot indefinitely persuade people that the temperature at the North Pole is 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The greatest ally of the Socialist is the temperature of the economic conditions. We apply our materialism, our factual analysis, continually to the economic background. Socialist propaganda is not aimed at people’s “innate goodness” or “social justice” but at people’s material needs. It will be this factor alone which seen as a practical and reasonable alternative to the anarchy of capitalist production will create revolutionary class consciousness and the subsequent political action based on that consciousness.

Opponents of socialism can be divided into two main groups. One, the dedicated supporters of capitalism and the other, the false friends of Socialism; the Labour Party, The Socialist Party, the SWP and so on, the supporters of State Capitalism. Of the two groups, the latter are the most pernicious, confusing what Socialism means and offering unattainable social reforms instead of creating class conscious workers.

The capitalist left attack our Socialist case on the ground that workers want “something now” – not Socialism, which, to them, the never do not have the capacity to understand. The Labour Party believe the preposterous proposition that capitalism can be reformed to be equitable and fair. Socialism, if the word is used at all by the Labour Party is a “philosophy” not a social system. For the Socialist Party and the SWP “Socialism” is nothing more than State Capitalism.

Their politics is anything to get the workers angry; to demonstrate, march and riot. They are obsessed with gesture politics like the recent re-enactment of the 1932 Jarrow March which was ill-attended and an abject failure. They chant out “the Right to Work” but no capitalist is obliged to employ the working class particularly in an economic depression. And they oppose “war” but everywhere embrace violent rebellions and nationalist struggles by aspiring capitalists in developing countries of the world.

Most of our critics who tell the Socialist Party of Great Britain the workers cannot understand Socialism do not understand it themselves. Socialism cannot be established without working class understanding and this we accept as a core Socialist principle. There is no alternative other than to work to achieve mass Socialist understanding.

Workers are not fools. If a proposition is presented to them in a reasonable way they will consider it. At the moment information about Socialism is rare in most working class circles because of the present size and influence of the Socialist Party and Socialists around the world.

There is a vast difference in having a sound and valid scientific case against capitalism and being able to propagate Socialist ideas and for these ideas to be heard. This is the real reason why workers currently do not understand Socialism. The lack of Socialists is purely a technical problem of communication and not, as our critics would claim a flaw in our case.

The responsibility for the extension of Socialist propaganda is the working class at large. The speed in acceptance of Socialist ideas by the working class depends on that. There are no innate principles in people’s existence. Human beings with all their views and feelings, is what nature and society has made them. The establishment of Socialism is a task well within the capacity of the modern working class. The alternative is to watch civilization degenerate and deteriorate under an obsolete social system.

(This article is adapted from papers of the late Comrade Jim D’Arcy who along with other sound Socialists was expelled from the Clapham Socialist Party for continuing propaganda in the name of The Socialist Party of Great Britain).

Back to top

Marx's Theory of Class

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.

Back to top

70 Years of Beveridge's "Social Welfare" Failure.

The Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied services, more commonly known as the Beveridge Report was published 70 years ago this year in 1942. It saddled the capitalist class and its politicians with a major and increasingly insurmountable problem which they have never resolved; how to continue to pay for the recommended social reforms. This is, of course, a problem for the employers and their political agents not the working class.

Like all reforms the Beveridge recommendations have never worked to solve what they set out to do. The Committee was chaired by Lord Beveridge, an economist and one-time supporter of eugenic policies against the unemployed and the report identified five “Giant Evils” under capitalism: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. The report went on to propose wide-ranging reforms of “social welfare” to address and resolve these evils. Seventy years later all five social evils remain to blight the lives of the working class.

In the Socialist Party of Great Britain’s pamphlet “BEVERIDGE RE-ORGANISES POVERTY”, published in 1943, the Socialist position on the so-called “Welfare State” was recorded a position that has been vindicated over time. As for the motive of the reforms, the pamphlet quoted this remark from the report:

…each individual citizen is more likely to concentrate upon his war effort if he feels his government will be ready in time with plans for that better world” (p. 171 BEVERIDGE REPORT).

Quinton Hogg, MP, when the BEVERIDGE REPORT was being discussed in Parliament had this to say:

Some of my friends seem to overlook one or two ultimate facts about social reform. The first is that if you do not give the people social reform they are going to give you social revolution...” (Parliamentary Debates, 17th February, 1943, Col. 1818, quoted in SPGB pamphlet, loc Cit).

Of course Quinton Hogg did not mean “social revolution” in the way Socialists understand the term. He meant, as he said, “a series of dangerous industrial strikes”, social unrest and riots; the sort of activity supported by The Socialist Party and the SWP. He did not mean the establishment of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. The Beveridge reforms were never Socialist and the Labour Government which implemented them after the war was not Socialist either.

The so-called “Welfare State” was also intended by its advocates to be more efficient, cost less and be more economical in administration then previous schemes. The reverse has been the case. In 2011 the cost of the “welfare state” to the capitalist class was £202bn about 45% of GDP.

As for the employers, the benefits of the proposed Welfare State were clearly spelt out:

It is to the interest of employers as such that the employees should have security, should be properly maintained during the inevitable intervals of unemployment or sickness, should have the content which helps to make them efficient producers” (BEVERIDGE REPORT p. 109).

A leading textile manufacturer, Samuel Courtauld said Welfare Provision would:

…ultimately lead to higher efficiency among (workers) and a lowering of production costs” (MANCHESTER GUARDIAN Feb. 19th 1943, see SPGB op. cit. p.11).

In contrast to some of the workers euphoria for the “Welfare State” the Socialist Party of Great Britain said at the time:

We earnestly ask workers to consider whether a system that can offer them nothing better than a miserable pittance in times of ill-health and unemployment should not be changed without delay”.

In another pamphlet: FAMILY ALLOWANCES: A SOCIALIST ANALYSIS, (published in the same year) the Socialist Party of Great Britain stated:

In support of family Allowances advocates claim that the introduction will abolish a major part of poverty, on the ground that the principal cause of poverty is the possession of young families” (p3.).

The Socialist Party of Great Britain went on to say:

We state immediately that no scheme for social reform can remove this poverty endured by the working class. The poverty of the working class is as constant a condition of Capitalism as the never ending flow of pettifogging schemes for the alleviation of poverty which the workers are asked to support (loc cit p3).

Socialists do not have to invent statistics to show the failure of capitalism’s reforms to meet the needs of all society. Beveridge believed that Keynes had ended the trade cycle and periodic periods of high unemployment. In the second quarter of the following century unemployment is now 2.6 million and rising as capitalism passes through yet another trade depression with over 1 million young workers “idle”, to use Beveridge’s patronising terminology.

And as for child poverty, it has continued unabated. END CHILD POVERTY, one of dozens of child poverty charities existing in this country, recently gave a list of official statistics of children living in poverty in the UK as being some 3.5 million (http://endchildpoverty.org.uk/files/child-poverty-map-of-the-uk-part-one.pdf). However the statistics gave the impression that only a minority of children within the working class were in poverty. This is not the case.

The official definition of poverty does not take into account the fact that all working class children are by definition “living in poverty”. Poverty is in fact something all workers and their families share in relation to the capitalist class whose ownership of the means of production and distribution allows them to live a life of privilege and comfort to the exclusion of everyone else.

And END CHILD POVERTY does not argue that the only solution for the end of child poverty is the establishment of Socialism. Charities exist, so they claim “to do something now” either by raising money or influencing government policy, yet these social problems remain to inflict one generation of workers after another. That Beveridge’s “Five Giants” still exist some seventy years later demonstrates clearly enough the failure of reforms to resolve the debilitating social problems facing the working class under capitalism.

A little thought will show how capitalism, besides ensuring that workers and their families stay poor, need them to be poor. If workers had enough to live decent lives without having to sell their mental and physical energies to employers, then the profit system could not function –for who would seek employment?

Charities, like END CHILD POVERTY, while highlighting the failure of capitalism to meet the need of all society refuse to accept the reality of the profit system they are working in. The solution to poverty, whether child or adult poverty, is not charity any more than it is social reforms. To solve child poverty, along with all the other problems facing the working class requires workers to take conscious political action to establish Socialism and not toss money towards the charities of the world or expect capitalist politicians to improve their lives.

Charities, like social reforms, are an impediment to resolving the issue of poverty because their supporters erroneously believe poverty can be ended by retaining the profit system. It can’t. And politicians and political parties like Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats exist to serve and further the interest of the working class. In times of an economic depression, like now, when the government is under pressure to reduce its spending, the existing reforms are obvious targets for economy.

Perhaps the single-most loser of the Beveridge reforms has been the Labour Party. Labour always attacks the Conservatives for making cutbacks on social service or the National Health Service but successive Labour governments have had to makes cuts; when in power during the 1960’s they were forced to bring back and increase prescription charges, abolish free milk in schools and reduce planned spending on house and school buildings. The Callaghan government of the 1970’s cut back expenditure on education and the NHS and it was only by losing power in May 2010 which prevented the Labour Government of the day to introduce precisely the cuts to social service expenditure being undertaken today by the Conservative-Liberal Democratic Coalition.

With the escalation of costs to housing benefits, health and unemployment since the late 1960’s there has been a simultaneous growth in the dozens of free market institutes all with their own ideas and policies to “reform” social security and the NHS. Whereas free market economists want to make the so-called “Welfare State” either more competitive and efficient through privitisation or abolish it all together in order to bring down government spending and lower taxation, Socialists take an altogether different view of what needs to be done.

For Socialists, the poverty of the working class is due to the private ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority employing class. That is where the problem lies for the workers. Thrift, self-reliance and a minimal privately-run “Welfare State” advocated by the free market policy institutes that advise the conservatives are no more relevant to the interest of the working class than the failed “Welfare State” reforms first constructed from the Second-World War consensus of the three main political parties in 1942.

Socialism alone can end the poverty facing the working class through the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. In Socialism production will take place solely to meet human need based on the maxim; “from each according to ability to each according to need”. The so-called “Welfare State” cannot solve the social problems afflicting the working class and nor can the free-market alternatives.

As we rightly concluded at the time, and which events have proven correct:

The Beveridge proposals will not solve the poverty problem of the working class. They will level the workers’ position as a whole… (it) is not a “new world of hope”, but a redistribution of misery” (loc. cit. p20).

And that “redistribution of misery” will continue until the working class consciously and politically replace capitalism with Socialism.

Only the establishment of Socialism can offer a new world of hope.

Back to top

The Govan Debate (part 4 Conclusion)

Regarding the position of the Industrial Unionist which S.L.Per and B.S.I.S.L.P.er alike take a stand on, I have enough material here to speak for two hours on the subject but I intend to deal with the main points only due to the lateness of the hour.

On the question of “Economic power” so much beloved by the S.L.P.ers, and Industrial Unionists generally, if they mean the ownership of wealth, then history has much to say on this point which disproves the idea that mere ownership in some miraculous manner confers power on the owners. In England, from the 11th to the 14th century, the woollen merchants were the most economically important class, with all their wealth they were helpless and were fleeced right and left by those who had political power – the feudal aristocracy. The history of every country has been the same in this respect. The capitalist class, under Feudalism in spite of all their wealth were helpless until they wrested political power from the then dominant class in society. If we study the issues raised at a General election in modern times we see, plainly, the struggle between sections of the Capitalist class to get political power in order that their particular interests may be served. “Economic power” is another of the dangerous illusions that the workers must get out of their minds before they can win their emancipation.

Industrial Unionists claim that the Industrial Union has to be organised on a class basis, but Mr DeLeon the Pope of the S.L.P. has made it quite clear that non-Socialists must be recruited into the Industrial Union. Experience of the Shop steward movement on the Clyde showed that the officials, mostly S.L.P.ers were just as reactionary and treacherous as the ordinary Trade union officials. These individuals were outstanding as job hunters.

Another illusion of the Industrial Unionist is that when we get economic unity we shall automatically obtain political agreement. But what are the facts? In America, we witnessed the two outstanding champions of Industrial Unionism, namely E. V. Debs and Daniel DeLeon, whilst in agreement as to economic organisation were deadly enemies on the political field. They were at daggers drawn all during their lives, one in the reformist Socialist Party of America and the other in the Socialist Labour Party. So much for the unity theory.

Industrial Unionism is essentially no different from Trade Unionism in so far as it, like the Trade Unions breeds its own scabs and, on occasion hands out definitely reactionary advice to the workers. During the miners’ strike in 1921, the advice offered by the S.L.P. in their paper “THE SOCIALIST” was: “Miners do not strike, seize the mines”. Fortunately for themselves the miners paid no attention to such nonsense, if they had done so they would have felt the weight of the Capitalist State. During the industrial troubles of 1926 the B.S.I.S.L.P. circulated the miners not to strike and this at a time when a savage attack was launched against the miners’ wages and working conditions.

The name adopted by the B.S.I.S.L.P. (British Section International Socialist Labour Party) is dishonest as the parent body, the Socialist Labour Party in America, repudiates it. Why two Socialist Labour parties anyway? Both organisations cannot be right, and it is quite plain to all that both are wrong.

The answer to all Mr. Martin’s questions are to be found in the works of Marx and Engels which he is so fond of talking about. Martin’s curiously worded question about the State is answered by Engels, when Engels describes the withering away of the State. The State will not commence to “wither away” until it is in the hands of the revolutionary workers who will slowly but surely build up the new order of society thus abolishing the State functions. The State is a necessary evil, as Marx shows, which is transmitted to the workers through revolution.

The pessimistic wail uttered by our S.L.P. opponents tonight that we will never get a class conscious majority is ably answered by Frederick Engels when he writes: (quoting from the “REVOLUTIONARY ACT”): “When it comes to a matter of the complete overthrow, the masses must participate, must know what is at stake”. All through the later writings of Marx and Engels we find the position put quite plainly that a class conscious majority of workers, in order to establish Socialism, must get control of the State machine.

Political power is the power to rule. The capitalist class have that power to-day and the working class give them that power at every election. When the workers understand and desire Socialism they will organise in the socialist party in order to raise themselves to the position of ruling class, by capturing political power. With that power in their possession they will set about the task of building a new order of society which will conform to the interests of all.

At this stage the chairman announced that owing to the lateness of the hour, the time now being 11-35pm, he, much against his will, was forced to draw the meeting to a close.

……………………………………………………………………………………

This was the first time the Socialist Party of Great Britain ever held a meeting in Govan, and the workers present, hearing our position for the first time, were certainly impressed. Every worker who attended this meeting was presented with a free copy of the SOCIALIST STANDARD. A number of pamphlets were sold. BRANCH ORGANISER (PRO.TEM).

Back to top

The Case for Socialism

Last year saw world-wide protests “against” capitalism, which, included direct action at Wall Street and the City of London, so it’s worth considering the positive case for Socialism for everywhere else there is doom and gloom.

Eurozone politicians are scuttling around trying to out-fox each other with the workers of Europe and elsewhere promised dire hardship unless some deal can be hatched to save the Euro and bring down the level of debt.

Church leaders, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, are calling for an extra tax on bankers. They and seemingly fair minded commentators nod with approval at this not so novel, “Robin Hood” approach to capitalist redistribution while the workers are again threatened with horrendous drops in living standards.

Workers in Syria are being killed in the streets with desperate attempts by the current dictator President Bashar Al-Assad trying to use his control over the armed forces to sustain his grip on political power. Sixty people were killed and hundreds are injured by bombs in Baghdad the day the last US troops pulled out.

Yet another war seems to be looming in the Middle East between Israel and Iran, the sabers, (possibly nuclear ones), are being rattled while tensions again build up between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands and it’s off shore oil reserves.

And some 30,000 children die every day of poverty related issues, mostly in places like Africa, while obesity presents itself as a major health risk among the workers of the more advanced capitalist countries through a diet of poor food from the fast food industry.

Time indeed to consider the case for Socialism!

What is Socialism?

The bare bones of what Socialism will be, is quoted in all Socialist Party of Great Britain literature, as our OBJECT states, Socialism will be:

A system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interests of the whole community.

What a magnificent concept! A concept yet to be realised, but one very much within our grasp! Wealth is to be produced to satisfy human needs, rather than as a means to profit for a privileged minority and parasitic class of capitalists. There will be no private ownership of the means of production and distribution; therefore there will be no conflicts over ownership.

Conflicts of ownership within capitalist society probably account for the most common uses of the police, judiciary, prison systems and the armed forces than any other single item. If there are no conflicts of ownership there can be no wars! Wars are fought for real things such as oil and gas fields in Iraq, Kuwait and Libya.

Wars are never fought for such esoteric motives such as “defending democracy”, “protecting civilians”, or “opposing tyranny”, although these, and other high sounding phrases, are often used in the justification presented by the various warring governments, as to why the workers should be willing and able to massacre other workers, or be massacred themselves. Needless to say, all wars are claimed as “defensive”, and God is invariably on the side of every army competing in these conflicts!

So within Socialist society, there will be a driving force to satisfy human needs. There will be a willingness to co-operate and help each other. With no private ownership of the means of production and therefore no money relationships, there will be a desperate need and desire to rectify the problems left over by capitalist society. Not least the malnourished, diseased, and poverty stricken victims of capitalism’s so-called “free market” (If you can’t afford it, go without and possibly you starve!)

One of the consequences of establishing Socialism will be the changing nature of the workforce, - yes, even Socialism requires workers! - humans can’t live without working! The nature of the work will change profoundly. Gone will be the armies of lawyers, bankers, salesmen, insurance brokers, money gamblers of all kinds, police, judiciary, armed forces, and all the other current paraphernalia of society to protect and help distribute wealth among capitalist society.

There will a sudden injection of useful human labour into society never before seen in history. And the majority of such a new injection of labour will be willingly doing what was unavailable before. Your derivative dealer may find it more rewarding to use his/her skills in calculating the odds of bad harvests in South East Asia, than in betting on the prices of various stock in say 6 months’ time. Such people will have the opportunity for the first time to use their skills for the betterment of their fellow humans, including themselves! - actual productive work!

As there will be no employment, therefore there can be no unemployment. A state of capitalism whereby a section of the working class is either lucky enough to be exploited, or unlucky enough to be on the scrapheap of the “industrial reserve army” as Marx put it.

Current estimates put the global number of unemployed workers at around 200 million, or more than the whole workforce of Europe, or of the USA. Workers who would be desperate to be producing profits for their masters, but who are denied access to the “free” labour market, the biggest market in the world.

And under capitalism it is a market, because things including human labour power have to be bought and sold. But before things can be bought and sold, they first have to be produced. Without human labour, nothing new is produced. No rabbits out of hats, or a universe in 6 days by an omnipotent God. No, only pure hard work produces wealth, nothing else. Get over it economists!

So to put it in a few words, the case FOR socialism is that it will lead to the removal of the major problems presented by capitalism, war, poverty, housing, unemployment and insecurity. Bearing in mind that Socialism MUST be established consciously and politically by a willing majority, it will result in a population of workers who want to solve the major problems thrown up by capitalism, so that they in turn can enjoy “the fruits of their labour”.

However before the workers can use their votes to dispossess the capitalists, they must first have some understanding of what capitalism is and what Socialism will be. They will not learn these facts from theologians, Arch Bishops, economists and capitalism’s politicians.

A WORD TO THE UNCONVERTED

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is a political party composed of working men and women who have organized together to capture political power for the purpose of introducing Socialism. The Party is controlled entirely by its membership, who determines its policy by majority decisions. It has no “great men” or “leaders” but is simply a party of workers who know what they want and the way to get it. Holding that “the emancipation of the workers must be the work of the working class itself”, it urges the workers to join its ranks and bear an equal share in the final great struggle – the struggle to banish privileged classes from the earth forever” (Socialist Party of Great Britain, QUESTIONS OF THE DAY, p. 106-107 1942)

Back to top

What is Capitalism?

The first Principle of the Socialist Party of Great Britain’s DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES gives a succinct definition of capitalism:

That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (i.e. land, factories, railways etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced

In other words, it’s the class ownership of the means of production and distribution by a minority class, which results in the majority of the population being dependent upon a wage or a salary for a living. Whilst banks, stock markets, bond markets and the like are very much part of the workings of capitalism, they are not all it consists of. Such institutions assist in the circulation of capital, but not in its production. Before things can be bought and sold, they first have to be produced by human labour plus materials.

Those people protesting outside St Paul’s Cathedral have “anti-capitalism” banners, but they probably have no clue as to what capitalism is. In fact we know they are on shaky ground when such luminaries as The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan (backwards) Williams, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, ex banker and now an Anglican church Warden, Ken Costa, and a host of other celebrities, mouth their support for the aims of the demonstration. If indeed there are such aims!

The main thing that comes out of the demonstration is that the protestors want to see higher rates of tax for certain bankers. Williams wants to see a “Tobin” or Robin Hood tax on high flying city earners. But the mere fact that these high fliers have to turn up for work on a Monday morning, puts them among the peanut sellers of the would-be capitalist class.

For real wealth, we need to look to someone like Gina Rinehart, currently Australia’s richest person and expected to overtake the world’s No. 2 billionaire, Carlos Slim, and No. 1 Bill Gates in the Forbes Rich List. Her wealth is based on the outright ownership of large mining companies in Western Australia, and the currently booming demand for the products they yield from places like China and India. She is currently worth about $9 billion, Carlos Slim, about $46 billion, and Bill Gates about $56 billion, but what a meteoric rise! From Wikipedia we learn:

In 2007 she first appeared on Forbes List Australia's 40 Richest, with an estimated wealth of US1.1 billion; more than doubling that the next year to US$2.4 billion; and then, in spite of the global financial crisis, by 2011 had more than trebled to US$9 billion. Releasing the results in February 2011, Forbes was the first to name her as Australia's richest person; with BRW conferring the same title in May that year. In June 2011, Citigroup estimated that she is on course to overtake Carlos Slim, the Mexican magnate worth £46 billion (US$74 billion) and Bill Gates, who is worth £35 billion (US$56 billion), mainly because she owns her companies outright. Using a price-to-earnings ratio or 11:1, “It is possible to see Rinehart’s portfolio of coal and iron ore production spinning off annual profits approaching US$10 billion,” giving her a “personal net worth valuation of more than US$100 billion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gina_Rinehart

No having to buy and sell Greek or Italian Bonds for her. No betting on derivatives or other fictional capital. She’s the real deal! She owns actual stuff, - capital! And she owns her companies outright, - no having to worry about pesky shareholders who might bellyache about her management (Unlike poor Richard Murdoch and his empire!) As far as we know, the Archbishop of Canterbury has not protested to anyone about her meteoric rise, nor her earnings! Presumably she pays the correct amount of Australian tax, so there would be no need to protest against her earnings? Would they call an Australian Tobin tax a “Ned Kelly” tax? With his usual precision, and not without wit, Marx nailed the Church of England’s view on private property in the first Preface to CAPITAL:

“The Church of England would rather give up 38 of its 39 Articles than one 39th of its income”.

How perceptive he was! And how true that the established Church of England is thoroughly wedded to the ideas of capitalism, private property, and its apparent lasting “eternity” as a social system of class exploitation. Just like its God in fact! And whilst Archbishop Williams complains about highly paid workers in the city, the Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Flankbein told THE SUNDAY TIMES about 2 years ago: “I’m doing God’s work”.

To explain he went on:

We’re very important,” Blankfein is quoted as saying in The Times of London. “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle http://articles.businessinsider.com/

Isn’t it nice and reassuring that the Almighty pays such keen attention to the niceties of capitalism; especially as it’s such a benevolent system of society and works in “virtuous cycles”? The 200 million odd workers in the world without jobs currently might feel slightly different about it.

The fact that Gina Rinehart’s companies sell a lot of their minerals, iron and coal to China, doesn’t mean that that particular “communist” country ignores the dictates of the “free market”, and Chinese companies can and do go elsewhere for their raw materials. And as usual, the local workers bear the brunt of rapacious capitalism. The BBC News reports of a Chinese run coal mine at Collum in Zambia, where the workers: “are furious with their Chinese bosses.” Apparently:

At least 11 miners were allegedly shot by two Chinese managers during a protest about poor conditions in October. The long road leading up to the mine in the southern rural district of Sinazongwe is covered in black coal dust, but otherwise there is not a hint that the 21st Century has reached the area. And this is what has angered the miners. They feel that while the Chinese benefit from the mine and live comfortably; they remain in poverty often renting mud-walled huts lacking basic facilities.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11898960

Welcome to the realities of capitalism. Those so-called “Communist” capitalists will treat you just as badly, if not worse than those “imperialist” capitalists. As something like 6000 plus miners, died in China’s mines in the last year, the African mine is continuing to fly the flag for rampant capitalism! Profit instead of human need, - at all costs!

Incidentally the Chinese mine managers in Africa were probably just workers like those they allegedly shot. Capitalism always gets its workers to do its dirty work. No doubt God looks the other way in the universe? When the government minister Mr Elijah Muchima visited the area he told the Chinese mine director Mr. Xu:

"Your investment is important but our labour is more important….If you find that business is not profitable, close it down. Other people will come…."If it's not profitable, go away. If it's not profitable, you would not have been here for nine years."

Mr Xu responded in apologetic fashion:

The mine director attributed his company's poor pay to problems it faces in marketing its coal. “Our clients are mainly Zambian copper mines but sometimes they import coal from Zimbabwe," Mr Xu said, speaking through an interpreter. Collum currently produces an average of 150,000 metric tonnes of coal, which earns the mine up to $6m (£4m) a year http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11898960

A clear case of the tentacles of capitalism extending its thirst for profit even into the most undeveloped areas of the world causing its trademark problems of poverty, death and unemployment. The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently expressed his concern about the treatment of homosexuals in Uganda, but to date we await his opinion of the normal functioning of capitalism in Zambia.

Meanwhile back in Britain, the church officials are busily seeking the “spiritual” values of capitalism:

A former senior banker is to lead an initiative aimed at helping the City to reconnect with its moral foundations. Ken Costa, an Anglican church warden, has been asked by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, to start a dialogue about ethical capitalism.

Ethical capitalism” indeed! We will certainly need an army of theologians to explain what that expression means! The very essence of capitalism relies upon the exploitation of the workers, - wage slavery! Only a theologian could explain the ethics of “fair” exploitation. We include economists among the general term “theologians”, for their grasp of reality is just as flimsy, even if their particular god, profit, is a different one.

Costa continued:

"We split up the human person and said look you're only a financial person, try and get financial returns, and forgot that there was ethical and a spiritual dimension to humans as well," he said. “We’ve seen huge levels of stress. We've seen judgements that have had to be made without much wisdom, and we've seen a departure from the framework that the prime minister told us moral capitalism needed." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15619089

To the employer, the worker is only a “human capital”, as indeed is the relationship between the employee and the employer. This is the reality of class society. Workers are only employed if a profit is anticipated from such employment. No Holy Ghost, no “spiritual dimension” or transcendent feelings are required. Only hard labour, - or else!

It would perhaps be kinder to people like Ken Costa to say that they represent the guilty conscience of capitalism, rather than write them off as starry-eyed utopian reformers who stand for the eternal exploitation of the working class. But whether it is either guilt or the misguided belief that reforms will resolve the problems faced by the working class under capitalism either description is valid. Both positions impede the clear and necessary understanding of capitalism by workers to consciously and politically replace the profit system with Socialism.

Back to top

Class Division and a Fair Day's Wage Slavery

Class Division

An editorial in the MMAIL ON SUNDAY recently stated that “Britain is a socially divided nation” (4th December 2011). However, the writer of the editorial did not mean a society divided into a minority capitalist class owning the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the working class majority. Instead the editorial claimed that there was a fundamental division between the workers in the private sector who deserved support as “hard working families” and those workers in the public sector who deserved nothing but contempt and opprobrium for living in a fantasy world of “gold-plated” pensions and high salaries. This spiteful political rhetoric gave the false impression that workers in the private and public sector had conflicting interests. This is incorrect.

The deliberate attempt by the capitalist media to divide the working class against itself is not new and it is similar to the arbitrary and misleading division made by free market Think Tanks and Mel Phillips’s in her DAILY MAIL sermons between “the deserving” and “the underserving poor”. This particularly reactionary doctrine was sent up to great comical effect by the character of Mr Doolittle in his diatribe against “bourgeois morality” in George Bernard Shaw’s play, PYGMALION:

I ask you, what am I? I'm one of the undeserving poor: that's what I am… it's always the same story: "You're undeserving; so you can't have it." But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow's that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband. I don't need less than a deserving man: I need more. I don't eat less hearty than him; and I drink a lot more. I want a bit of amusement, cause I'm a thinking man. I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low. Well, they charge me just the same for everything as they charge the deserving.

When Doolittle is asked has he any morals he replies that he can’t afford them.

In fact there is no fundamental difference between workers employed in the private and public sectors any more than there are between those labelled “the deserving” and “the undeserving poor”. Workers are workers just as they are poor in relation to the wealth and privilege enjoyed by the capitalist class. In “austere times” the capitalist class will not be asked for sacrifice. Lord Rothermere and his class will not be counting the pennies. They are, as the Wall Street Protestors call them “the 1%” although this minority class includes industrialists and rentiers besides bankers.

Workers belong to the same class, face the same social problems and have identical interests, whether they recognise them or not. Workers share the same interests precisely because they do not own the means of production and distribution. Workers do not own in common under democratic control the means of production and distribution necessary to live “humanly and decently” as free men and women. And workers are poor, no matter what wage or salary they receive, because, as a class, they are forced upon the labour market to buy and sell their labour power in exchange for a wage or a salary.

The wage is the hall mark of poverty. Wage slavery it is rightfully called. In the pursuit of their interests there is no artificial private/public sector divide within the working class any more than there is a national divide between workers in one country and those living in another. Class exploitation is pervasive and worldwide.

As the wealth creators, the working class produce more social wealth than they receive in wages and salaries. The surplus goes to the capitalist class in the form of the unearned income of rent, interest and profit and to its State as taxation. Capitalists want to pay as little in wages and salaries as possible just as they want to pay as little taxation as possible. Workers throughout the world have an identical class interest and that interest is to consciously and politically organise together as Socialists in order to abolish capitalism and replace the profit system with Socialism.

What is a fair day’s work?

You will not find the journalist Peter Hitchens defending the interests of the working class. He went on from selling the anti-working class SOCIALIST WORKER in the late 1960’s to producing propaganda for capitalism as an employer of Lord Rothermere. At Northcliffe House, Hitchens sits to the left of Mel Phillips and to the right of Genghis Khan. Writing in his weekly MAIL ON SUNDAY column (4th December 2011) Hitchens berates those workers who recently went on strike against government changes to their pension provision. He concludes that workers should give “a fair day’s work in return for a fair day’s pay”.

But what exactly is “a fair day’s pay”? And what exactly is “a fair day’s work”? Apparently you can debate with Peter Hitchens online. Well, we sent him an e-mail and asked him the question of what constitutes “fair pay” and “fair work”? We are still awaiting a reply. And we will be waiting for a very long time because there is no answer. “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” is merely a conservative piece of unsubstantiated dogma.

Workers and capitalists confront each other daily, weekly and yearly over the intensity and extent of exploitation. When trade conditions allow, workers can sometimes gain more in wages and salaries by the threat of the strike weapon. Employers concede higher pay during boom conditions because they do not want their profit flow from being interrupted. The class struggle is at the heart of the capital-labour relationship not “morality” as Peter Hitchens mistakenly believes.

Socialists are with Marx on the question of wages and the trade unions. The labour market and employment is not a level playing field but a site of class conflict and struggle; effectively a political struggle over the ownership of the means of production and distribution. It is no use trade union leaders calling for “fairness” about cuts in the level of pensions any more than it is for the capitalist left to demand the “right to work” under capitalism. If workers want to work creatively to meet people’s needs and have the security in old age that common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution will give them, then they first have to establish Socialism.

Capitalism can never be “fair” and employment can never be guaranteed. Pay and working conditions can fall in trade depressions just as workers can lose their jobs if they are unprofitable to employ. The word “fair” in relation to capitalism and its priorities of capital accumulation and profit-making is meaningless.

The Socialist case against capitalism is not a moral one. Capitalism is neither moral nor immoral although the social relationships it engenders are often nasty, brutal and short. Capitalism is, in fact, a “fetter on production”. Capitalism only produces for paying customers not in meeting human need. No profit means that there is no production despite billions starving and going without. The historical redundancy of capitalism is seen in periodic trade depressions when unmet need sits side-by-side with high levels of unemployment, idle machinery and unsold goods and services. Rather than supporting the conservative doctrine of “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”, the interest of all workers lies with the abolition of the wages system. And that requires workers first becoming Socialists.

Back to top

Socialism is the Remedy to our Economic Woes Not Charity

It is one of the curious aspects of the history of the Church of England that those who wanted to be a Fellow at an Oxbridge college in the 19th century also had to be celibate. This peculiar requirement meant that many of the early political economists were also Curates, Parsons and Archbishops. In the early nineteenth century there appeared, among others, T. R. Malthus (whose population theory Marx referred to as a “slur on the human race”), Richard Jones (praised by Marx in his THEORIES OF SURPLUS VALUE for his insights into the questions of rent and surplus value), Richard Whately (an early opponent of the labour theory of value) ending at the beginning of the 20th century with the Bishop of Ely (a noted anti-Socialist). Capitalism, it appears, is blessed by God and his servant’s on Earth.

Marx had great fun in lampooning the political economists of the Church of England. In Capital he wrote:

Although Malthus was a parson of the English State Church, he had taken the monastic vow of celibacy — one of the conditions of holding a Fellowship in Protestant Cambridge University: “Socios collegiorum maritos esse non permittimus, sed statim postquam quis uxorem duxerit socius collegii desinat esse.” (“Reports of Cambridge University Commission,” p. 172.) This circumstance favourably distinguishes Malthus from the other Protestant parsons, who have shuffled off the command enjoining celibacy of the priesthood and have taken, “Be fruitful and multiply,” as their special Biblical mission in such a degree that they generally contribute to the increase of population to a really unbecoming extent, whilst they preach at the same time to the labourers the “principle of population.” It is characteristic that the economic fall of man, the Adam’s apple, the urgent appetite, “the checks which tend to blunt the shafts of Cupid,” as Parson Townsend waggishly puts it, that this delicate question was and is monopolised by the Reverends of Protestant Theology, or rather of the Protestant Church (CAPITAL VOL. 1 Chap. 25 The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation note 6 Marxist.org).

With the rise of the professional economist and after 1877 celibacy no longer a requirement for Oxbridge Fellowships the link between theologians and political economy in the 20th century was broken. This does not stop the odd eccentric cleric sermonising on the joy of capitalism and the moral soundness of the capitalists as they go about their business exploiting the working class.

So, step forward the Reverend Peter Mullen member of The Freedom Association and spiritual adviser to the City of London with its bankers, insurance brokers and liverymen. Reverend Mullen, Rector of St Michaels in Cornhill and Chaplin to the stock exchange is unlike the wishy-washy GUARDIAN readers at St Pauls Cathedral and the Tom Hollander character in the BBC2 Situation Comedy “Rev”, a person so wracked by self- doubt and guilt he comes across as a closet atheist. Not so the Reverend Mullen. He is a High-Church, incense burning devotee of the free-market. Market fundamentalism is his religion. If God is perfect then so is the market. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is the hand of the Almighty. With a bible in one hand and a copy of a primer in Austrian economics in the other, Mullen sings out from his pulpit the glory of the profit system. He is all for capitalism and acts as its spiritual spokesperson.

In his recent DAILY MAIL Sermon, Charity is the remedy for our economic woes, (December 19th 2011), the Reverend Mullen argues that bankers are moral, generous and charitable. Don’t they just weep at the sight of the poor Tiny Tim’s of this world and periodically stop work in the City casinos and gambling dens to contemplate the sins of avarice, selfishness and lust for money?

The Reverend Mullen notes that:

We are living through what Karl Marx gleefully described as a “crises of capitalism

He then remarks that “...there is a lot of hog-wash talked about capitalism” particularly by “the protesters outside St Pauls Cathedral” and “the left wing clergy” living-off the largesse of the City of London within its Portland stone walls. For he goes on to reject that we live under “the yoke of capitalism” at all.

So what is Reverend Mullen’s contribution to 21st century political economy? Not a lot. He writes that instead of living under capitalism: “We live in something approaching a Socialist state”. And his reason for believing in this nonsense is that:

…50% of GDP goes to the State while in communist China it is only 17% and at the height of totalitarian Russia the Soviets were only spending 10% more than British capitalism today

And

…whatever economic and social system is currently being operated in our country, it is not by any shadow of meaning “capitalist”. In fact for the Reverend Mullen there is too little capitalism and concludes his sermon with the plea that the rich should be released from paying taxes and that we should pray to God to let them become richer and richer. Only the charitable acts of the rich can “offer a remedy to our economic woes” Amen to that, say the rich. Unfortunately, the Reverend Mullen’s grasp of what constitutes capitalism and Socialism is as ignorant and stupid as the anti-capitalist protesters and their “happy-clappy” supporter residing inside St Pauls Cathedral he so despises.

Facts do not play any role in Mullen’s theological economics. Socialism is not about how much is spent on the State in terms of GDP any more than it has to do with levels of taxation the rich are forced to pay. The capitalist State has to be paid for and it has to come from the capitalist class out of its profits whether employers like it or not. And Soviet Russia was no more “communist” then China is today, both countries retained and retain the exploitive wages system.

Capitalism is in fact generalised commodity production and exchange for profit. Under capitalism the ability of the working class to work, their mental and physical energy, is bought and sold on the labour market by employers in exchange for wages and salaries. Under capitalism labour power is a commodity. The capitalist class do not work but they own the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the rest of society. They live off the unearned income of rent, interest and profit. Social parasites, we would say. Profit is made in the production of commodities but only realised in circulation which includes the wealth in money form pouring into and out of the City of London.

We suspect Reverend Mullen believes in miracles and every day miracles occur all over the City of London. Money seems to makes more money than when initially invested as though by divine intervention. Surely, to parody William Cowper: “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the City. And rides out the economic storm”. In the real world there are no miracles, there is no God and social wealth is not created in the City. As Marx showed in CAPITAL, it is the working class who are the wealth creators, producing more social wealth than they receives in wages and salaries. And that social wealth is made in production not in the Square Mile.

The working class does not need charity but instead needs to establish Socialism. Workers do not need hand-outs by the rich but instead to consciously and politically organise themselves for the establishment of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. There is the potential, supressed by capitalism, of meeting all of society’s needs. Capitalism is, in fact, a “fetter on production”. Instead of charity it should be “from each according to ability to each according to need”. Charity is degrading to give and servile to take. In a society where production takes place just to meet human need there will be no need for charity. Socialism is the remedy to the economic problems facing the working class not charity.

Apparently the Reverend Mullen is a sought after speaker. Well, we have tried to seek him out with an invitation to debate the proposition that “Socialism is the remedy to the problems facing the working class not charity from the rich”. We have space in our diary for him to debate against us; that is, if he is not too busy being wined and dine by the worshipful livery companies in their Feudal halls of plunder dotted, in their privileged splendour, all over the City’s Square Mile.

Back to top



Object and Declaration of Principles

Object

The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles

THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN HOLDS:

1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.

Back to top

Socialist Studies

email: enquiries@socialiststudies.org.uk | www.socialiststudies.org.uk