While searching through back copies of the Socialist Standard I came across my first and last and probably only article I will write for the Standard . Just out of school and a callow youth , full of optimism for the future. The Socialist Party was growing in membership and the city was truly festooned with our imaginative and colourful street posters . The Left parties slunk around in our shadow and that's no exaggeration .
I also remember my article being returned with so many red ink corrections to the spelling , grammar and punctuation , scribbled with various amendments and deletions and alternative suggestions , I still wonder if it is really my article .
So here it is , from November 1971 , 35 years ago , when i was 17 years of age :-
What we stand for
The Socialist Party of Great Britain comes under criticism from some left-wingers for engaging in a policy of peaceful political action to establish Socialism
These pseudo-socialists claim erroneously that it is near impossible to get a majority of class conscious workers who understand and want Socialism and are prepared to work for it. They prefer to side with Lenin who is reported to have said “ If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual development of all the people permits it then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years” ( From a speech in November1918 quoted by John Reed in Ten Days that Shook the World ) and that the working class is not capable of Socialist consciousness but that “ exclusively by its own efforts , is able to develop only trade union consciousness” ( What is to be Done ). They , therefore , favour insurrection and smashing the State and army by a professional elite and who will lead workers to the promised land.
We in the Socialist Party on the other hand hold that the emancipation of the working class can and must be achieved by the working class itself through capturing the State machine and not by a vanguard demolition squad . ( Marx and Engels held this opinion too as seen by their letter to August Bebel , Bracke , Leibknecht and others in September1879 * ). But we also realise that we face a difficult struggle considering the stranglehold the ruling class have over the ideas held by the working class . We face powerful weapons wielded by the State which operate from the day we enter this world until the day we leave it. Then the capitalists use the radio , television, literature , and films to spread capitalistic values .
These mind-controlling weapons ensure that the obedient wage-slaves pop down to the polling station to vote for one of the capitalist parties. They also provide willing recruits - and corpses - for inter-capitalist rivalries for markets in the form of war. “For Queen and Country” is a sentiment still prevalent among working class circles, although not always in such words.
Minority insurrectionists would fail in any attempt to overthrow the capitalist system while masses are still conditioned in this way.
How will the Socialist Party counter these highly sophisticated instruments of submission ? One way is to propagate the case for Socialism wherever and whenever it is possible. That is why we publish literature and hold regular indoor and outdoor meetings throughout the country urging workers to organise politically and send delegates to Parliament with the view to setting up world Socialism , in conjunction with the workers of the rest of the world.
But a more powerful force on our side is capitalism itself. The deprivations and contradictions of the present system of society must lead more people to challenge capitalist values. The uncertainty of the future caused by the spectre of war , pollution and starvation forces the workers to think. Some drop out of society and form isolated Hippy communes , others sink into an alcoholic or drug induced escape . But as they realise that man is not an island they have to return to the rest of the slaves . More people are being confronted with the economic scrap heap and the dole queue . Salary earners of £5000 a year are sinking in the same boat as a man earning £500 . No one is secure under capitalism. The system is its own grave-digger .
* “…When the International was formed we expressly formulated the battle-cry: the emancipation of the working class must be achieved by the working class itself. We cannot therefore co-operate with people who say that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must first be freed from above by philanthropic bourgeois and petty bourgeois. If the new Party organ adopts a line corresponding to the views of these gentlemen, and is bourgeois and not proletarian, then nothing remains for us, much though we should regret it, but publicly to declare our opposition to it and to dissolve the solidarity with which we have hitherto represented the German Party abroad…”