Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

The Abolition of Capitalism

The Department of Education (DfE) has made a subtle change to the school curriculum. They inserted a clause that groups or individuals who advocated the abolition of capitalism could not be represented in schools.

DfE guidance issued for school leaders and teachers involved in setting the relationship, sex and health curriculum categorised anti-capitalism as an "extreme political stance". They equated wanting to abolish capitalism with opposition to freedom of speech, anti-Semitism and endorsement of illegal activity (GUrdian 27 September 2020).

There was no reason given. No one was allowed to see how the DfE came to its political conclusion, and who and what they had in mind.

You would think libertarian groups would be outraged at this censorship. Not so. Spiked-on-Line thought it was irrelevant since it was only one aspect of the curriculum affected (Joanna Williams, "No, the Government hasn't banned anti-capitalism from school", no date). The Times journalist, Daniel Finkelstein was all for it ("Enemies of capitalism have no place in School", Wednesday, September 2020).

In its previous incarnation as LIVING MARXISM, Spiked-on-Line followed the anti-socialist beliefs of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. At the direction of Lenin, the Cheka performed mass arrests, imprisonments, and executions of "enemies of the people". Lenin's Party was also into censorship. On 27 October 1917, the Council of Commissars published its Decree on the Press, which gave to the Council of Commissars the right to close down newspapers which advocated resistance to the new authorities or were "sowing confusion by the obvious distortion of facts". Spiked-on-Line has never repudiated or apologised for their past infatuation with Lenin and his dictatorship.

Then there is the racism. Daniel Finkelstein was formerly on the board of the Gatestone Institute, a far-right think-tank, known for publishing anti-Muslim articles and promoting the "white extinctiont" scare (INDEPENDENT, 18 February 2019). Did he ever read the material of this "institute" before he joined its board?

When it comes to censorship, the capitalist right are no different from the capitalist left.

What about a text like Marx's pamphlet, VALUE, PRICE AND PROFIT with its call for the abolition of the wages system and the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO arguing for the abolition of buying and selling? These regularly appear in socialist texts and are frequently found in journals like SOCIALIST STUDIES. A teacher running the relationship, sex and health curriculum, and wanting to use these two texts, for any reason, would now be prohibited from doing so.

The DfE does not list the proscribed texts. This is left to schools. Can you imagine a meeting of the head teacher with their heads of department discussing the implication of this new clause and what to do about it? The school curriculum is not taught in discrete fragments, hermetically sealed off from other areas of learning. Better be safe than sorry. The offending texts, calling for the abolition of capitalism, do not come into the school. The texts are too dangerous to know. When the state wants to impose censorship it usually means that they have lost the argument.

Teachers are now expected to act as censors as well as informers which they have a legal duty to do under the Government's Prevent programme. The Prevent programme obliges schools and colleges to report children who they have been identified as vulnerable to radicalisation. What "radicalisation" means is extremely elastic. Does it mean wanting to abolish capitalism, or parents who want to abolish capitalism? Even through democratic means?

After all, in the fevered imagination of the conservatives most teachers are "Marxists". When he was Minister for Education, Michael Gove gave a speech reported in the DAILY MAIL in which he attacked:

"...academics who have helped run the university departments of education responsible for developing curricula and teacher training courses. You would expect such people to value learning, revere knowledge and dedicate themselves to fighting ignorance. Sadly, they seem more interested in valuing Marxism, revering jargon and fighting excellence."

Later, in the same speech, Gove said that he refused "to surrender to the Marxist teachers hell-bent on destroying our schools" (DAILY MAIL 23 March 2013).

We wish there were so many dedicated Marxist teachers in schools putting the case for socialism. Alas it is all fantasy politics. Gove would not know a Marxist if one hit him on the head.

In fact, Marx is a model of someone who fought against censorship. Here is Marx on censorship in 1842. He wrote sarcastically that for the censor:

"...true education consists in keeping a person swaddled in a cradle all his life, for as soon as he learns to walk he also learns to fall, and it is only through falling that he learns to walk. But if we all remain children in swaddling-clothes, who is to swaddle us? If we all lie in a cradle, who is to cradle us? If we are all in jail, who is to be the jail warden?"
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1842/02/10.htm

Do you want children coward in accepting government pronouncements or children capable of thinking for themselves and growing up as adults with the ability to question and dissent. And to have the confidence to stand on their own two feet without the need for leaders telling them what to do and what to say.

In any case children can still access these Marxian texts on line very easily, just as they can access SOCIALIST STUDIES. Socialists are utterly opposed to political censorship. We would never dream of preventing political meetings taking place or calling the police to prevent a speaker giving a political address to the working class.

Workers have to be able see the difference between socialist and capitalist ideas and chose between them. As such we will debate anyone or any political party and have done so in the past. We have always been prepared to give opponents of socialism a chance to express their views from our platform. This is because we are convinced that our views are right and that this will emerge from full and free debate and discussion-and if we are wrong we want to know where we are wrong, so that we can stop wasting our time.

And besides Marx, who really wants the abolition of capitalism? Who actually advocate the abolition of capitalism? Most of the people who claim to be anti-capitalists do not know what capitalism means. For them it is just the free market not nationalisation.

This ignorance is found across the capitalist left. Organisations like Counterfire, SWP and the Socialist Party believe that nationalisation has something to do with socialism. They want state capitalism which is not abolishing capitalism at all.

The only political party in England that stands unequivocally for the abolition of capitalism is the Socialist Party of Great Britain. And what do we want to replace capitalism with? Simply it is the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society, that is, production for direct social use rather than profit. In world socialism there will be no labour markets, no buying and selling of labour power, no employers no employees, no wages and no buying and selling.

Or as Marx put it:

"From each according to their ability to each according to their need".

Back to top

Socialist Studies

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