“Confusion is undoubtedly the strongest weapon in the capitalist armoury. The fraudulent Labour Party, without a single measure on their programme that can benefit or interest the working class, lends itself to Tory and Liberal politicians as a socialist chopping block”.
So said the SOCIALIST STANDARD in July 1913 and to this day the smokescreen of gibberish constantly perpetrated by the capitalist parties, obscures the class nature of society and the antagonisms that therefore exist. Every proposition is debated ad nauseam except the most important one: the necessity for a new society (Socialism) – now!
The interest of the working class lies in the immediate establishment of Socialism, and this is the one and only object of the SPGB. We are not to be fobbed off by the “Immediate Demands” or “Something Now” Brigades. We have seen them march in confusion backwards and forwards across the social reform parade ground only to remain where they were. The “realists” have had their chance to find solutions to social problems and have failed miserably. Now it is the time, not to be disillusioned, but for members of the working class to study our case and realize its validity.
Capitalism is the predominant form of society in all countries throughout the world. In this country it is estimated that 50 per cent of the wealth is owned by about 10 per cent of the population – the capitalist class (1). They also own the means for producing and reproducing wealth. Those who own nothing of the means of production, the working class, must sell their labour-power, skilled or unskilled, to the employer for a wage or salary. The working class forms the majority of society and is composed of all wage-earners, not just industrial workers but also those who would like to think of themselves as “middle class”. It is through the labour of the working class alone that all the wealth of society is produced and yet this is legally appropriated by the capitalists who produce nothing and are socially a useless class. As Engels so clearly put it:
“The capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons and gambling on the stock exchange (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific).
Apologists for capitalism often urge how necessary (and no doubt kind-hearted) the capitalist class is to society by providing, at great pains to themselves, the capital for investment in new factories, works etc., and this providing work for the workers. If the capitalist class think of themselves as doing society a good turn it does not concern us, although we rather suspect that their motives are not sublime. What we caN be sure of is that capitalism inevitably creates unemployment and that an individual capitalism will invest not to provide work for others but only for profit or good “return" on his capital.
Capital constantly needs to expand and stretch its grasping tentacles into every conceivable avenue, and of course engulf capitals smaller than itself. The real needs of human beings are not taken into account where production of wealth is only carried on with the motive of producing more and more capital. As long as the profit motive is the driving force behind production the needs of people cannot be met.
Since the way in which wealth is produced and distributed in a given society will be the basic factor in determining the character of that society, it is not surprising that the anarchy of capitalist production and distribution gives rise to myriad social problems: housing, poverty, unemployment, etc. Such problems are indivisible from capitalism and insoluble under it. Historically capitalism has been a useful form of society in that it has enabled the means of production to be developed on a vast and world-wide social scale. Commodities are exchanged on a world-wide basis; e.g. many British workers have New Zealand lamb for their Sunday lunch, those who can afford it, that is. There is however no world-wide social control over production and distribution, only an anarchy of competing capitals chasing the surplus-value produced solely by the working class.
The only alternative to capitalism is the establishment of socialism where society as a whole will own and control in common the wealth and the means of transporting it. Common Ownership means that individual members of society will have free access to what they want and require without regard to any form of exchange system. As socialism can only be brought into being by the political act of the majority of people wanting and working for it, we assume that the majority of people would want to co-operate with each other in running and maintaining a socialist society. Democratic Control means that the decisions affecting society would be taken by the majority and based upon the best available information. Society will make decisions in its own best interests. That is not the case today. We do not claim that socialism will be trouble-free but compared with the madhouse of capitalism it will be a sane society indeed. Socialism will be the beginning of civilized history before which all societies will be classified as barbaric.
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.