The Road to Socialism
The Socialist Party’s conception of revolution is often criticised for its lack of credibility since it is assumed that people have to wait for the overwhelming majority necessary to “enact” socialism before doing something about their immediate problems. The Party does argue that the work for socialism must be the building up of a majority of socialists who will then be in a position to remove the capitalist features from production as a conscious political act and that until a socialist majority is achieved, the class monopoly of the means of production, the wage-labour/capital relationship, commodity production, the operation of the market, and the state, will continue to be both the form of social production and its administration by governments. The Party’s theory of revolution insists that socialism can only be established by the democratic, conscious political actions of a majority of socialists and it is not just any theory culled from a textbook of bourgeois sociology. The theory is based both on the class struggle as the motor of social change and on an understanding of the economics of capitalism and the limits it places on what can be done within the framework of the capitalist system.
Members of the Left reject the Party’s theory of revolution as “impossible”. Their argument was that without a majority of socialists, and prior to the formal enactment of common ownership, a working class government could set society on a course of change in the direction of socialism. In control of the state and all legal processes, such a government would grant the widest freedom of action to the trade unions and thus set up a partnership with the trade unions pursuing working class interests on the industrial field and a government doing the same on the political field.
The unions would maximise the workers’ share of the social product at the point of production. The government would provide housing, health care and education, etc. At the same time, such a working class government would begin the process of establishing common ownership through the nationalisation of the means of production and through “taxing the rich out of existence”.
The Party rejected this gradualist policy at the beginning of the century and this rejection has been vindicated by experience and has led to the Party’s traditional case for abolishing class ownership by one short, sharp political act.