Socialism: A Moneyless Society with no Wages System.
The Socialist Object
Socialism exists nowhere in the world today, and this includes North Korea, China, Vietnam and Cuba. They are all capitalist countries in which the exploitive wages system holds and the State and other forms of employer, exploit the working class who produce more social wealth than they receive back in wages and salaries.
So what will the characteristics of Socialism be like?
First, Socialism, like capitalism, will be a world-wide social system. But unlike capitalism, Socialism will not be burdened with nation states, artificial frontiers and restrictions to what people need by wage labour, labour markets and the buying and selling of labour power. Instead, there will be free, voluntary and creative workers who will be able to move freely across the globe if they so choose.
Second, the Socialist framework in which the needs of men and women will be met will be the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society.
Third, the purpose of Socialist production and distribution will be simply and solely to satisfy human needs. There will be an “administration of things” so that sufficient goods are produced to meets the requirements of individuals and the community as a whole. There will be no leaders and the led. Socialists will think and act for themselves through democratic institutions, either directly or through accountable delegates.
The capitalist class not only have the coercive machinery of government at their disposal to protect the private ownership of the means of production and distribution but they also employ academics, politicians, teachers, and the media generally to produce and disseminate ruling class ideas in order to present capitalism “as the best of all possible worlds”. The case for Socialism is opposed by defenders of capitalism who produce ideas to defend the privilege and wealth of the capitalist class minority who presently own the means of production and distribution. The working class is faced daily with an aggressive and sustained propaganda claiming that there is no practical alternative to Capitalism.
If this defence of capitalism were all Socialists had to put up with then it would be accepted as an inconvenient aspect of the class struggle; a battle of ideas Socialists are constantly engaged in on a day-to-day basis in order to win the working class around to the necessity of replacing commodity production and exchange for profit with Socialism.
However socialists are also confronted by political organisations claiming to be Socialist, like the Socialist Workers Party. These organisations are worse than the openly hostile defenders of capitalism, because they distort what Socialism is and how it should be established and by whom.
THE SWP and Capitalism
Recently the SWP carried an on-line article “WHAT WOULD YOU BE PAID UNDER SOCIALISM?” (24th April 2012).
In the article, the SWP rejects out of hand the use of Parliament for the purpose of securing a Socialist revolution. They believe Parliament is a bourgeois institution” which can only be used for reforms rather than socialist revolution. Instead, they want to see “a worker’s state” running a post capitalist society.
However the “Worker’s State” is merely the anti-Marxist policy of Lenin based on Louis Blanqui’s doctrine of minority armed seizure of power by dictatorship. The SWP has no intention of first creating a Socialist majority within capitalism who understand, desire and are prepared to take conscious and political action to establish Socialism.
The SWP do not believe workers are cut out to understand Socialism but their own understanding of Socialism is itself woefully ignorant. To believe that Socialism would retain the wages system is to demonstrate as little a grasp of Socialism as those they profess to lead. The SWP’s vision of the establishment of “Socialism” sees a minority group seizing power through the political confusion instigated by non-socialist working discontent and anger; a working class who they so narrowly defined that it excludes a large section of workers whom the SWP write off as the “petit bourgeoisie” or “middle class”.
The SWP also hold the equally fallacious doctrine that workers can revolutionise society without needing to control State power. The reality of the politics of the SWP is violence between angry non-socialists and the agents of the capitalist State. The SWP’s politics would be an Ealing comedy if it was not the damage it caused to the Socialist movement.
As the comedian Mark Thomas once asked of the SWP when applying for membership “Where is my gun”. They thought he was being childish. But he had a point. If you are going to recommend an attack against the mass ranks of the police who are armed with batons, tear gas, tazars, dogs and guns you would want more than a placard on a wooden pole given out by the SWP leadership at demonstrations. Mark Thomas thought the SWP must have a secret weapon in that they would bore the police to death with their inane chants and slogans.
The SWP also see in their conception of the “worker’s State” the retention of wages, buying and selling of labour power and an exploitive labour market. For they write:
Some people with essential skills who were highly paid under capitalism may not support the revolution. These people can be won over to socialism.
But in the short term the state may decide to pay these people more to make sure they do the jobs society needs.
They SWP reject Marx’s core socialist principle that socialism would see the end of “buying and selling” (COMMUNIST MANIFESTO) and “the abolition of the wages system” (WAGES, PRICE AND PROFIT).
There is another problem for the SWP. Marx spent a considerable amount of time in Capital showing why labour was alienated within capitalism. The alienation begins as soon as workers are schooled into the world of employment shaped by capital and the demands of capital to constantly accumulate and expand value.
The buying and selling of labour-power in exchange for a wage or salary means that during a surplus labour time when value is being created the employer has access to the surplus value being generated in the sale of the commodity. Paid labour means not only loss of control over time but it means confronting what is produced – the world of commodities - as something fetish-like. These serious Marxian criticisms of capitalism are equally applicable to the society the SWP want to establish.
The SWP may want to get rid of private capitalism but they can only ever replace capitalism with … capitalism. From the interests of the working class the chain that binds workers to capital is the very fact that they have to exchange their commodity labour power for a wage and salary irrespective of whether the chain is made of iron or gold. And that employer to which the working class are chained could be an individual, a firm, a co-operative or the State – even the employers in the fictional and fanciful “worker’s State” of the SWP.
The failure of Capitalism to meet the needs of all society creates questioning, dissent, and socialists. Socialism therefore, is not dependent on a small number of Socialists politically active in 2013. By its very social limitations, conflicts and contradictions capitalism constantly creates and reproduces Socialist ideas as well as socialists and the necessity for Socialism. There is no inevitability about the establishment of Socialism but capitalism can never be made to work in the interest of the working class.
The attitude of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, unlike the capitalist left, of the necessity of a Socialist majority, through conscious and political action, to gain control of the machinery of government has been logical and consistent.
Unlike the SWP and other similar political groups we hold that the same view as Marx that workers must come to understand and politically reject capitalism through Socialist revolution and this must necessitate workers gaining control of the machinery of government including the armed forces. And also with Marx we acknowledge that Socialism will be a moneyless, wageless and classless social system in which “from each according to ability to each according to need” will be the guiding principle on which production and distribution with democratically take place.
As far as Socialists are concerned there is no “middle class” within capitalism just a capitalist class minority owning the means of production and distribution opposed to and struggling against a working class forced to live off wages and salaries or dependent on someone who does. We do not catch working class experiences like stamps or butterflies like the intellectuals of the Left to fill up their histories of the working class or as photographs to adorn their Hampstead or Primrose Hill parlour wall. We are not interested in “working class heroes” only in workers, men and women, becoming Socialists to consciously and politically end capitalism as quickly as possible. We do not celebrate the working class as a class “in itself” but only as a class “for itself”. Socialists have no romantic attachment to the working class because the aim of socialists is the establishment of a classless society.
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.