Why you should be a Socialist.

Held at Marchmont Community Centre, Marchmont Street, Camden, London

The struggle for higher wages

The media are full of reports about strikes and protests over the government cuts and imposed wage freeze of public service workers.

Unison, for example, point out that their members are grossly underpaid. It is not unique. All unions say their members are underpaid.

Unions have for decades had to secure higher wages for their members. Through experience one tactic is to ask for a very high pay settlement and then agree on a reduced claim.

The struggle for higher wages usually takes place when either the cost of living starts to rise, as it is at the moment with inflation running at 3.5 per cent or when capitalism is expanding and companies are making more profits.

All employers whether in the private or public sector automatically resist wage claims and reflect one side of the class struggle between labour and capital.

Capitalists to survive have to make a profit. Capitalists would never give in to claims by workers of wage increases of 100 per cent. The profit rate has to be protected. That is why trade unions making claims of 15 per cent wage increase settle at 8 per cent. Trade unions and workers generally cannot wipe out the profits of a company.

Why does this conflict over wages arise? This matter was explained by Karl Marx in his study of capitalism set out in his three volumes; CAPITAL.

Capitalism and the Class Struggle

We live in a class divided society where the means of production are privately owned and production takers place for profit not to meet human need.

The class struggle in capitalism is a conflict over the rate and intensity of exploitation. It was described and analysed by Karl Marx but he did not invent it.

Mrs Thatcher claimed that Harold MacMillan “had almost got rid of it. Had he won another Election it would have gone altogether” (OBSERVER, 25th February, 1979).

Lord Morris the former Trade union Leader claimed in a speech to the TUC in 1997 that the class struggle was the invention of the Russians during the Cold War.

Both these statements show a complete failure to understand that the class struggle is an attempt by employers to push wages down while worker in attempting to resist this downward trend on their income.

This fact applies to all countries of the world irrespective of what political system they happen to claim they represent. Capitalism exists in both China and Iran. Cuba is also a capitalist country. All countries engage in the production of commodities for sale and profit. This is the hall mark of capitalism.

So why does the capitalist class resist pay claims? Employers are not in the business to create jobs for workers. They are not in business to sacrifice profits to pay increases.

The attitude of every employer is to pay as little as possible and employ as few workers they can get away with. Capitalists will not pay wages higher than market conditions and the balance of the class struggle forces him to.

Capitalists will only employ workers they actually need.

In the US many companies are coming out of the recent trade depression. However, to the dismay of the Obama administration, they are not taking on more workers even though some of these industries are making a profit again. In December 2010, unemployment went up in the US.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer also believes unemployment in Britain will fall when there is an up-turn in the economy. However this does not follow since employers might be able to make more profit from an existing work force or be able to introduce labour saving machinery actually reducing the work force but maintaining or increasing the rate of profit.

Of course the class struggle is more than just a struggle over the extent and intensity of exploitation. Ultimately it is the struggle over the means of production and distribution. Until a socialist majority establish Socialism the class struggle will continue from one generation to the next.

What is the Capitalist System?

What is the capitalist system?

Capitalism is foremost a class divided society. There is a non-producing capitalist class who own the means of production and distribution; the factories, the mines, transport and so on. And then there is the great majority in society a wage and salaried working class who get their living by being employed.

Class ownership is not in question. Social Trends show that the top 20 per cent own ¾ of all accumulate wealth. And when we come to assess the distribution of wealth the top 600,000 people have an income 22 times greater than the poorest people.

Another factor about capitalism is that if wages go up then profits go down and vice versa. As a result there is a constant struggle between the working class majority who produce the wealth and the capitalist class who live on the unearned income of rent, interest and profit and who do not produce any wealth at all.

So where does the capitalist’s unearned income come from? How do they receive rent, interest and profit?

Workers will not find a reasonable explanation in economic text books. One economist believed that profit is just “found”; others that it is a reward for the capitalist getting out of bed in the morning or the prize for having taken a risk. Some economists believe it is a result of buying cheap and selling dear. These explanations are all superficial and wrong.

Marx gave a valid and sound explanation for the creation of profits. His exploitation was formulated in his study of the wages system and class exploitation.

Marx said that on the labour market there is a free bargaining between capitalists and workers –individually or in trade unions. Workers would appear to sell their labour for £200 for a 40 hour week and although workers may have wanted more wages they all believed it was a more or less fair contractual arrangement.

Marx did not accept the appearance of the contract between the capitalist and the workers. Marx went below the surface. And he said that an error had been made by economists in the way the labour market operates.

Marx’s explanation was this: workers do not sell their labour to the employers but, instead, they sell their labour power. Workers sell as a commodity their capacity to work; that is, their mental and physical ability in exchange for a wage and salary.

The process of exploitation is as follows. The worker sells his labour power for a five day week. For selling his labour power he gets a wage. In exchange the capitalist has the use of the labour power.

In four days out of the five the worker produces wealth equivalent to their wage or salary. Marx called this necessary labour time. For the remaining day the worker had to work for the capitalist for free. Marx called this surplus labour time.

This surplus time produces what Marx calls “surplus value” and is the source of the capitalist’s unearned profit a portion of which supports the capitalist State.

The constraints imposed on the capitalist class.

The capitalists are not unfettered masters of the world. Capitalists operate under very tight constraints of various kinds.

First, the capitalist has got to sell his commodities and make a profit. If he does not make a profit he goes out of business. In the ten years up to 2010 over 100,000 companies have gone bankrupt (source Insolvency Service 2010) and have failed to make the grade. Not only was the owner flung back into the working class but the workers who worked for him lost their jobs and became unemployed.

Second, capitalists are all in competition with each other. British capitalists are in competition with fellow British capitalists and with capitalists in other countries. Every capitalist has to produce his or her commodities cheaper than their rivals.

And third, there is an overriding law of capitalism that if the capitalist cannot sell his commodities at a profit; if he produces ships no one wants, or cars and houses which have no market, then by being unable to sell he will go bankrupt.

Capitalists have to work under these constraints and as such they have to resist the attempt for workers to put up wages.

Crises and trade depressions

Workers want to get wages as high as possible and capitalists try to get wages as low as possible.

Periodically capitalism experiences an economic crisis and trade depression. At this time the situation of the workers get worse. They are forced to take pay cuts, part-time working or “holidays” with reduced pay.

In a depression, like the current one, many thousands of workers are made unemployed. The capitalists are also in trouble since they are faced with shrinking markets. One minute the coal industry is selling 100 million tonnes a year and in the next they cannot sell the coal and it begins to stockpile. The same applies to housing and car manufacture.

Workers should not be deceived by capitalist politicians who misleadingly claim that they have their heads around the problem of the trade depression. They claim that they can deal with unemployment and get rid of it altogether. It is absolutely untrue.

Politicians can fiddle or massage the unemployment figures but periods of high unemployment is a fact of life under capitalism. There is nothing politicians can do to stop capitalism going into periodic crisis and depression.

The use of technology to supplant workers

Another feature about capitalism is that it continually supplants workers by replacing them with new technology.

There is always new technological development in capitalism and the nature of certain jobs change. Some jobs even disappear altogether. Horse transport was driven out by canals, railways, car transport and aeroplanes. This technological process never ends. All sorts of jobs are being created, exist for a short time, are modified or disappear.

Over one hundred years ago there were over one million miners producing 250 million tonnes of coal a year. Coal was the sole fuel. Then oil became used in industry followed by gas and nuclear energy. Coal production lost its place and over the decade the numbers of miners were reduced in number.

The coal mining trade unions tried to resist this change. The idea that they can stop the introduction of new technology and different fuel supplies is an illusion. The trade unions cannot prevent these developments and the loss of workers in these industries. If the capitalists do not keep up with these new developments in the technique of production they will go out of business.

The futility of reforms.

Politicians have put forward many remedies to try to resolve the social problems thrown up by capitalism. For over two hundred years they have enacted this or that social reform to resolve this or that social problem.

One such reform was the minimum wage. It was Winston Churchill who, in the pre-1914 Liberal government, set in motion a minimum wage for depressed industries.

An act of Parliament was duly passed in 1909 with the setting up of a Wages Board and minimum wages were introduced in depressed industries. The trade boards had powers to set minimum hourly rates of pay and equivalent piece rates. The number of industries covered by the trade boards quickly expanded from four in 1909 (ready and bespoke tailoring, paper box making, lace finishing and chain making) to more than 40 by 1921, by which point some three million workers in Britain were consequently on the minimum wage.

The idea was that these measures were temporary and designed to give a lift to wages. The minimum wage law is still with us and so are the evasive tactics of employers.

The reports of the low pay unit was always pointing out that businesses such as catering and hairdressing employing a very large amount of people were not paying workers a minimum wage. Workers in these businesses would rather accept low and illegal wages rather than be out of work.

The same happened in farming. During the depression of the 1930’s the agricultural workers union found that half of all workers in agriculture were being paid wages below the legal minimum required by law.

Certain capitalism firms cannot exist unless very low wages are paid. If compelled to pay the minimum wage the businesses would close and the jobs disappear with them.

The minimum wage legislation has never been any good for the working class. The Irish government in 2010 reduced it in the face of economic cuts and the minimum wage gives the illusion that the wages system can be fair and equitable when it is in reality exploitative no matter what workers earn. As Marx strongly suggested to the working class it is not higher or fairer wages workers should be interested in but the abolition of the wages system.

The Failure of Nationalisation

Another failed remedy advocated by the Labour Party was nationalisation or state capitalism.

The Labour Party believed that nationalisation would solve the problems of pay, conflict, productivity and strikes.

In 1945 Atlee’s government proposed a whole range of industries that would be nationalise. The Labour government said that the nationalised industries would do four things:

* Produce more efficiently
* Pay higher wages
* Give Workers security
* Higher profitability

All four claims proved incorrect. The nationalised industries were wholly inefficient, there were constant strikes over pay and workers were made redundant. Profits were also disguised by heavy subsidies and creative accounting.

More importantly nationalisation has nothing to do with Socialism. Nationalisation is state capitalism while Socialism is the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by all of society.

That Trade Unions are still trying to cling to nationalisation as a superior arrangement to privitisation is both reactionary and a disservice to their members. Nationalisation and privitisation are both sides of the same capitalism coin.

Nationalisation was a disaster for the working class as it was to the capitalist class who had to pay for it. Instead of nationalisation and privitisation the SPGB has always argued for the working class to establish Socialism.

The Labour Party could not now win an election on a policy of nationalisation. The working class simply have had enough of this failed policy.

Popular Capitalism

Another failed policy, this time from the Tories was known as “Popular Capitalism”. Again this policy was going to solve a whole range of problems like trade depressions and unemployment.

The policy pursued by the Tories was a misnomer since it had its roots in the free trade liberalism of the early 19th century.

Margaret Thatcher, whose name became associated with “popular capitalism”, was a cuckoo in the nest. She opposed the traditional Toryism she inherited from Edward Heath. She was a 19th century Adam Smith Laissez-Faire Liberal not a Tory.

Thatcher is remembered for throwing a copy of the F. A. Hayek’s CONSTITUTION OF LIBERTY on the shadow cabinet table shortly after being elected leader of the Conservative Party stating “that is what we believe in”. F A Hayek was not a Tory but a free market economist. Like the 19th century classic liberals she rejected there was such thing a “society” and that there were only individuals, families and the nation State. She was not a Tory in the tradition of Disraeli and Cameron with it sentimental one-nation “big society ”.

Yet Thatcher had no grasp of history. All the conditions of her popular capitalism; weak trade unions, strong pound, stable currency with the gold standard in operation, high value of the Pound, Tory government in power and Britain the workshop of the world were last found in the 1870’s. Yet this was the beginning of the Great Depression that was to last for 25 years.

Thatcher also wanted to encourage the growth of the self-employed as a means of encouraging productivity, thrift and the avoidance of strikes.

She had read Samuel Smiles’ book on thrift and self-help. He was in a line of industrialists and others who had set up The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and who published in the 1831 a little book called THE WORKING MAN'S COMPANION giving advice on self-help to the working class. One of the trustees of the Society was Leonard Horner, the Factory Inspector praised by Marx in CAPITAL and who pursued employers who were breaking the 1833 Factory Act.

Most of Thatcher’s thinking comes out of the pages of this book. One passage tells the workers: “When there is a glut of labour go out at once from the market and make yourself capitalists”. This was an early version of Norman Tebbit’s stricture to the unemployed: “Get on Your Bike”.

What the authors were telling the working class was that if you lose your job get retrained and set yourself up in business as a capitalist. Apparently single men were to save up for 9 years, live in comfort for a year then to become a capitalist. And the workers were encouraged to save by the 500 saving banks which existed in the 1830’s where workers could save their money to become capitalists.

And another strand of popular capitalism –profit sharing-also dates from this time with the first profit-sharing scheme being introduced in 1829.

Of course Thatcher’s popular capitalism became a very unpopular capitalism when thousands of workers who used their redundancy money to set themselves up in their own business became bankrupt in the subsequent depression of the 1990’s, had to sell their shares from the sale of the nationalised industries and lost their houses because they could not afford to repay the mortgages.

And the profit-sharing schemes also failed. When profits are rising employers find profit-sharing schemes useful to retain workers. However, as soon as profits start to fall the workers do not want to see their wages go down too. Hundreds of profit-sharing schemes are set up in good trading conditions only to fade away during trade depressions.

Labour Governments as a remedy?

The labour Party advocates a Labour Government as a means to solve the problems facing the working class.

The Labour Party was founded with the support of the Trade unions in 1906. Clement Attlee, before he became Prime Minister in the Labour Government 1945-51 had pledged his Party to “work to reduce the purchasing power of the wealthier classes, while by wage increases…it will extend the purchasing power of the masses”. He promised the abolition of rich and poor, “an equalitarian society” and “the establishment of Socialism” (THE WILL AND THE WAY TO SOCIALISM, p. 42).

These were high ideals. Yet on the three most pressing social problems facing the working class; unemployment assault on their pay and conditions and war the Labour Party has not been a remedy but part of the problem.

One problem the 1929 Labour Government had to confront was the trade depression and rising unemployment. Unemployment had risen to 2 million and the government appointed a committee to solve the unemployment which included the Railway trade unionist, James Henry Thomas, George Lansbury, Tom Johnson and Oswold Mosley a supporter of Keynes.

Mosley asked Johnson if unemployment would fall. Johnson who was an economist said it would. In fact unemployment went up to 2 ½ million.

As an aside in an episode of Dorothy Sayers’ 1931 detective novel FIVE RED HERRINGS a railway porter castigates the Labour government which he mistook for a Socialist one: "You call this a Socialist Government? Things are harder than ever for a working man, and as for Jimmy Thomas, he has sold himself, lock, stock and barrel, to the capitalists!"

In 1967 Lord Houghton who was at the time Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, in an article in the TIMES, said: “no previous government has done so much in so short of time to make capitalism work”.

Here is the Labour Party administrating capitalism but they did not make it work. There have been five labour governments including the 1997 – 2010 government of Blair and Brown. They always left office with unemployment higher than when they first came into power.

How do they explain this failure?

Just as they would like to end unemployment they are at the mercy of capitalism and its trade cycle.

The same problem presents itself to the Tories.

And of course when in power the Labour Government attacks the working class. In 1945 the Labour Government introduced a pay freeze policy. Stafford Cripps said that wages should not rise just because prices have risen. He said only increased productivity would allow pay to rise.

The same occurred under the Callaghan government. Between 1978 and 1979 prices were increasing at 10 per cent and the government was in financial difficulty. It tried to restrict pay increases to 5 per cent. The result was strike action by workers who saw their real wages being cut.

Even wicked old Mrs Thatcher did not entertain this anti-working class policy.

Then there is the policy of Labour Governments to make workers redundant. In 1984 the miners went out on strike to save 40,000 jobs. It was an ill-conceived strike and they lost. Thatcher was seen as the villain of the piece.

Yet in 1965 the Labour government produced its National Plan under George Brown. The Labour Government proposed to modernise British capitalism and take workers out of declining industries and re-locate them into expanding industries.

One of the declining industries was coal. In 1965 the Labour Government planned to get rid of 179,000 miners. The figure turned out to be 200,000 miners who lost their jobs.

If Labour governments want to take on running capitalism they can only do it in one way –within the dictates of the profit system.

Finally there is the question of war. The Labour Party presented itself as the Party of peace but when in government and in opposition it has supported both World Wars, a series of other wars in between these two conflicts, agreed to the production of the atom bomb, took part in a war in Korea and of course pursued the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iran.

The limitation on the Trade unions

Despite serious draw backs in their support for the Labour Party, imposition of trade union leadership and disputes with other unions both in Britain and abroad Trade unions have a credible record in the class struggle. In view of all the difficulties they have done very well.

Between 1870 and 100 the trade unions grew very rapidly. Between 1850 and 1900 the average real wage almost doubled. The rise in wages cut into the profits of the capitalist class and shifted wealth in favour of the working class.

The question arises of why they cannot go on doing this. Karl Marx explained there were limits to what the trade unions were able to do. Wages can only rise to the point where they threaten the profit of the capitalist class. If workers stop the capitalists from making a profit they will go out of business. When companies are selling their commodities profitably a union can try to win a concession by threatening to halt production and interrupt the flow of profits.

Another problem facing trade unions is the trade cycle. In a boom where profits are expanding workers can gain an advantage and improve their wages and working conditions. In 1974 when the miners threatened a strike a group of capitalists paid £2.5 million into a fund and offered the money to the National Union of Mineworkers to delay the strike for two weeks so that it might be settled. This group was never named but they did not want to see their profits disrupted by a strike.

But in a trade depression trade unions cannot get anything out of their employers. When companies are cutting back on production, not making a profit and cannot sell their commodities workers cannot gain an advantage.

And of course the trade unions cannot do anything about exploitation. They are always at a disadvantage because the capitalist class own the means of production which is protected by the capitalist state. There is nothing the unions can do which will substantially alter the way capitalism works.

This is why Marx said that the trade unions can only be defensive organisation in the class struggle. The class struggle has to be a political struggle and that means the formation of a principled Socialist Party with Socialism and only Socialism as its objective.

The Keynesian Fallacy

With the collapse of economic liberalism as a policy which promised to ensure a crisis free, harmonious and self-adjusting market, governments are increasingly returning to the economic ideas of Keynes. Gordon Brown, for example, planned to inject billions of pounds of emergency funds into new schools and hospitals to stimulate the economy as British capitalism passes from crisis to depression and the unemployment figures approach 2 million (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 19.10.08).

Keynesianism is a failed policy last seen in the 1970’s when it failed to prevent stagflation; a depression plus inflation. So why did Keynes doctrines fail?

The reason why government spending on creating jobs does not reduce the total amount of unemployed workers is simple. Every increase in government spending in one direction is cancelled out by an equal amount of saving elsewhere.

This can be seen in the Trade Union scheme in the 1970’s to create jobs in the Health Service by reducing defence expenditure. If the government creates 200,000 jobs in the Health Service and sacks 200,000 workers in the armed forces it does not reduce the total unemployment.

But it is equally true of any government increase of expenditure. The only way that it can be paid for is by reducing the purchasing power of taxpayers by an equal amount.

History treats Keynesians with unsentimental savagery but it’s failure to deliver sustained full employment is not so quite straightforward. We start with Roosevelt’s New Deal in the US from 1932 to 1939.

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. So it 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%.

The second example of the failure of Keynesian theory relates to the record of Labour Governments in the Twentieth Century excluding the 1997 Labour one.

In the half century 1924-1979 there were four periods of Labour Government. In the first period, 1924-1931, the Labour Party was anti-Keynesian. It was because Labour would not adopt a Keynesian policy that Sir Oswald Mosley, one of the Labour Ministers in charge of Unemployment resigned and formed his fascist organisation.

In the second period from 1945-1951 and in the third and fourth periods 1964-70 and 1974-1979 the Labour Party were Keynesians.

But, and this is the crucial test, in every one of the four periods of previous Labour Governments, unemployment was higher when they went out of office than when they went in.

It remains to be seen whether the Labour Government finally goes out of office with unemployment at a higher rate than when the formed the 1997 government under Blair.

The odds were against Brown’s Government. The dole queues did not take any notice whether the Government was supporting “good old Keynes” or not.

Consider the way in which the Keynesian policy collapsed in 1976. The Keynesians have two policies. The first is to cure unemployment and the second is to cure inflation.

The cure for unemployment is for the government to spend a lot more money, without an increase in taxation. The Government raises the rest by borrowing from investors which increases the national debt. It is called running a budget deficit.

The other policy is to cure inflation. This requires the government to do the opposite by running a budget surplus. This surplus is then used to reduce the national debt.

This is no problem for the government when only unemployment is going up and prices remain stable. The government runs a budget deficit.

And there is no problem when only prices are going up and unemployment stays low. The government then runs a budget surplus.

But what does a Keynesian government do when unemployment and prices are both going up fast at the same time?

This is like a patient with a serious heart condition who is also overweight who is told by his doctor that for the sake of his heart he must avoid all violent exercise, but must also run five miles every day to get his weight down.

Faced with this impossible situation the Labour Government in 1976, decided to drop the Keynesian cures and try Monetarism which did not work either.

The falling rate of employment enjoyed by the incoming Blair government of 1997 would have happened whatever government came to power.

And capitalism will go its own way despite the policy pursued by the government of the day. Capitalist politicians cannot prevent “boom and bust”. When capitalists-those that are left in the market- see favourable conditions again they will start investing capital again and exploiting workers in greater number bringing the unemployment level down.

From the perspective of the working class all this is totally unnecessary. Unemployed in conditions of poor trade and exploited in conditions of good trade workers are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Far better to understand that capitalism can never be made to work in their interests and replace capitalism with common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by all of society.

The Socialist case of the Socialist Party of Great Britain

We are often told by supporters of capitalism that “There is no alternative”, TINA for short. This is the dogmatic pronouncement of Thatcher/Blair that capitalism is here to stay and will last forever.

However, this is not a refutation of Socialism, merely wishful thinking.

These critics overlook why the class struggle takes place. Marx showed that the development of the forces of production are constrained by capitalism’s system of class relations which ensures that production only takes place for profit, not to meet human needs.

In preventing the forces of production developing and preventing the potential of abundance from taking place so that all the needs of society are met capitalism generates class conflict and class struggle around conflict of interests and a political consciousness in the working class necessary for political action and socialist revolution.

The capitalist politicians and media argue that there is no logical and coherent alternative to global capitalism, buying and selling, the profit motive and the market. But then, supporters of capitalism could never accept an alternative to capitalism because they refuse to think outside their capitalist skin.

The Labour Party says that capitalism works - although they left office with unemployment higher than they first were elected in 1997.

Labour politicians are at ease with the filthy rich. They enjoy sitting with them in their smart restaurants; taking their money for a house at a desirable address and all the other benefits tossed at capitalist politicians by their paymasters.

Of course capitalism works if you are rich and live a life of privilege and comfort.

Of course, capitalism works if you live off the unearned income of rent, interest and profit.

And, of course, Capitalism works, but only for the capitalist class who are successful. We do not hear about the failure of capitalism but it exists in its bankruptcy, squalor, poverty and mean-mindedness that see only profit as a virtue.

But for the majority of the world’s population capitalism does not work in their interest. They do not own the means of production and therefore cannot take control of their lives to develop as free men and women.

Socialism is a practical alternative to capitalism. What could be more reasonable than production just taking place to meet human need? Socialism, therefore, is a logical and coherent alternative to capitalism.

However, Socialism will not come about without conscious political action. History does nothing. It is the action of men and women which changes history.

First, Socialism has to be established worldwide on the basis of a majority understanding, consent and active participation. This does not mean that socialism will have to be established in every single last country of the world nor do socialists have to wait for the very last Labour Party member to become a socialist. Socialism is dependent upon a worldwide socialist majority gaining control of the machinery of production, including the armed forces to replace production for profit with production for use.

Second, production for social use would have to take place within the framework of common ownership and democratic control. This necessary means social, co-operative and voluntary labour of free men and women.

Third, Socialism requires democratic planning, delegation, open and transparent flows of information and decision making.

Fourth, Socialism means the administration of things and not of people. Men and women in Socialism will make their decisions democratically both in terms of production and distribution and the affairs of society. There will be no leaders.

Fifth, Socialism means that production and distribution will just take place to meet human need. And one of these important needs is creative labour and work.

And sixth, Socialism would work from the principle: “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”. What could be simpler than just producing to meet the needs of people?

The future of Socialism is a future that is only a revolution away; a revolution in political thinking, a revolution in political action and a revolution in political realisation.

Back to top

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


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.