Don’t Blame the Workers
It is easy to become frustrated at the slow progress of socialist development and blame the working class. It is true that most workers presently show little political interest in socialist ideas and are content to periodically vote for the retention of wage slavery and class exploitation. Acting against their own class interests, workers vote for political leaders, well-meaning or not.
Few workers have time for political engagement. A midwife working a twelve hour shift just wants to come home and go to bed for twelve hours (www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/12-hour-shifts-friend-or-foe)’ Raising children – future wage-slaves- is time consuming and leaves little time for politics. Even students are pressurised into long hours of study to meet the demands of the job market. To carve out time for socialist political activity is difficult but not impossible.
It takes great effort and sacrifice to take part in socialist politics. And when socialists do discuss socialism with family, friends and work colleagues the time allowed to get across a socialist idea or to explain what socialism means – or does not mean – is limited to minutes.
It is very easy to become dispirited and cynical. However, the transmission of the case for socialism and dissemination of socialist ideas does not depend on the work of a few socialists scattered across the world.
Capitalism causes the class struggle between capitalists and workers; employers and employees. Capitalists exploit workers and workers have to resist.
Moreover, capitalism creates socialists: it creates dissent, questioning and socialist politics. Socialist ideas persist from one generation of the working class to the next because capitalism creates social and economic problems which face the working class on a day-to-day basis; unemployment, poverty and war.
These social and economic problems are immune from social reforms and the actions of capitalist politicians and governments. Socialism is always and everywhere a practical and reasonable alternative to the failure of capitalism.
And then there is the monolithic capitalist media which drowns the working class in pro-capitalist and anti-socialist propaganda on a daily basis. Pro-capitalist bias in the media unites journalists at the NEW YORKER and FINANCIAL TIMES with journalists on the NATIONAL ENQUIRER and the SUN. It makes no difference now that the web allows billions to produce their own media when the internet platforms like the BBC with its millions of hits are essentially pro-capitalist and pro-market.
The other problem facing socialists is the failure of what is perceived to be socialism; the “socialism” of the former Soviet Union and the failure of the pre- Blair “Socialist” Labour Party. And Socialism is still a contested term with dozens of web sites describing themselves as socialist pumping out propaganda for the discredited ideas of Lenin and Trotsky, on the one hand, and Jeremy Corbyn on the other.
It is all a political mess and it is quite understandable that many workers are confused, disinterested and turned-off by politics, socialist or otherwise. However it is not the fault of workers. Workers are not to blame.
In fact, to blame non-socialist workers with for the reason why the socialist movement is currently running at a trickle is to bring in a moralising element to socialist propaganda which should not be there. If the current political atmosphere is so anti-socialist as a result of the Bolsheviks and their supporters, the Labour Party and the capitalist media, why blame the working class?
It is a truism that socialists exist to make more socialists. World socialism can only be established consciously and politically by a world-wide socialist majority. This is hard and repetitive work. After all, it is a political class struggle. And we are up against a very artful media and clever politicians who are astute at dividing the working class against itself, whether it be over the question of age, gender, sexuality and ‘welfare benefits’.
Taking a historical view of working class development, we can be positive and optimistic. Over the last three centuries of class struggle the working class has been able to establish trade unions and a socialist party around a set of socialist principles and a socialist object. It is the normal working of capitalism which makes workers interested in socialist ideas although not enough in number to politically worry those who politically look after and further the interests of the capitalist class.
However, out time will come. Capitalism will not leave the working class alone; workers will eventually have to learn from past mistakes. Socialists should be optimistic about the future and not go down the dead-end politics of blaming the working class.
Object and Declaration of Principles
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.