Saturday, December 29, 2012

capitalism is the problem - socialism is the solution

Capitalism has created all the economic prerequisites for socialism but all around us we see skills and talents squandered by unemployment or pointless work while the liberating potential of automation and computerisation is misused and misapplied. Millions of people face starvation while there is food in abundance. Millions die from diseases that can be easily be prevented or cured. Something is wrong with the world and most people know it. We are told we are free but we don't feel free. No longer are we convinced by the "virtues" of capitalism. Even its apologists can not sell a vision of a better capitalist future and instead people looking forwards can only picture a dystopia of despair.

Millions are turning away in disgust from the social and political status quo but, so far, only a tiny fraction of them are understanding the need for socialism. Discontent is mounting. Every day people are more repelled by the present political, economic, and social order, however, many fall into a cynical disillusionment and see no point joining a party, no point voting, no point protesting. It would be quite wrong, however, to believe that most people are apathetic about politics but when they look for solutions they see them in religion, in nationalist myths and the myriad of single-issue and identity politics. Their protest demands amount to mere appeals, petitioning the ruling class for more sops. Is it no wonder people quickly realise that the demands for reforms make little difference even if achieved and even desert those. All the time  they are campaigning for palliatives they never hear the communist case, never discuss communist ideas. The time spent making reformist demands is time not spent talking about the need for revolutionary change. We need to be positively advocating socialism as a practical possibility and an achievable one. The primary purpose of being a socialists is to raise people’s consciousness and to further social democracy. The organisational structures we are creating today and the means we opt to engage in will reflect the type of society the future will inherit so it is mportant that we should work out forms of organisation and stategies of mass action that are genuinely participatory and empowering. The question of class/party organisation and the question of class consciousness are inseparable, they are two aspects of the same development.

The 19th century Chartists organised enormous petitions, with millions of signatures. These were ignored. Still petitions circulate in political campaigns. Huge demonstrations have taken place but they too are ignored. But still we march. The Occupy movement showed a way by transforming parks into public forums and general assemblies but they too failed when faced by the coercive machinery of the state. This is unpalatable but true.

We do not present policies for capitalism's salvation or offer a better capitlaism. It isn't just the this form of capitalism or that version we oppose, but capitalism as such itself. It isn't just who profits and by how much that we oppose, but it is the entire concept of profit, which is always generated from the appropriation of surplus labour extracted from the working class by wage slavery.

So far, only a tiny fraction of people understand the need for the alternative - socialism, a society with no private property, no classes, and no state. The real opposition to capitalism is still struggling to be born. It will take shape in the workplace and in the street, in colleges and in communities. Capitalism has outlived its usefulness, but it won't just fade away of its own accord. It needs to be abolished. We are the majority of the population and we are endowed with eloquent spokes-persons and capable organisers, but we don't exercise any real power – so we are ignored. Yet every day brings a clash between most people's interests and those of the few who possess the power. William Morris called upon the working class to acquire the "intelligence enough to conceive, courage enough to will, power enough to compel."  In Marxist terms, a class ‘for itself’ – a class that is not just passively united in its unions because of its position in production, but that is also politically organised to assert its interests against the ruling class. Socialism is in the interests of, and to be fought for by, the whole proletariat; and will transform the whole of social and economic and political life. Forms of collective actions and organisation must include and involve all sections of the class, and not simply those who happen to be employed and organised at their factory floor or office or store. That is why a political party is required, to encompass the working class as a whole and not just parts.

In a society with no private property and no classes, a communist society, everyone would be free to contribute 'according to ability' and to take 'according to need'. Production would be for use, not for profit, and would be rationally planned by mutual agreement. Technology would be employed to reduce and eliminate mindless drudgery, allowing people to develop their creative potential to the full. With no class privilege to defend, the state would no longer be required. Communist society would be a free society.

 Socialism is as old as class society itself. But it is only relatively recently that it has become a practical question. Capitalism has created an economy where everything is interdependent and socialized. In Britain, most people obtain their food supplies from four or five big firms. The supermarkets are already a model of efficient planning. However it is planning with no democratic control and the whole operation is aimed at realizing maximum profits for share-holders rather than at the general welfare; but the mechanism is there. Socialist society would only need to turn the task of administration and decision-making over to those who participate in the production and distrubution process. Socialist seek an economy which serves all the people and all the planet.

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