Monday, January 11, 2016

Who's afraid of socialism?

 "Yes, I agree with your arguments, but how are you going to get everyone else to?” This is a common reaction of people when the idea of establishing Socialism is put to them. Ninety nine out of a hundred agree it would be pleasant to live in a moneyless world where they had free access to everything they required, where threats like war and pollution no longer existed, where work was not something they were forced to do and therefore disliked, but something they did out of choice and took pride and pleasure in. Yet when we have satisfied them that the world’s resources, if exploited with a view to use and not to profit, could satisfy all the needs of all human beings, and when they have accepted that it is not against “human nature” for people to live together in harmony, to associate rather than to compete: then they are inclined to say that this is all very well in theory, but how are you going to convince the majority of people that Socialism would be best for them?

Capitalism has given, and is giving, people the weapons to destroy it. At the moment people are thoroughly dissatisfied with all that capitalism involves (unpleasant work, rationing by wages, intolerable social and psychological pressures), but seeing no alternative still continue to support it. Hence, whilst being increasingly aware of the fact that they are deprived, they either limit themselves to demanding a slightly less minute share of the capitalist cake, or their frustrations explode into violence. But neither course of action leads far. Before we can get rid of a system we must understand the nature of it and have another system to put in its place. It is unconvincing to attack capitalism without being able to propose an alternative to it. That alternative, Socialism, is what we propose.

The important principles that underlay Marx and Engels’ policies were:

1. The scheme of social evolution (primitive communism, chattel slavery, feudalism, capitalism. Communism) was meant as a description of what had happened in Western Europe and was not necessarily universally applicable.

2. The socialist revolution depended on a certain level of social and economic development and could not take place anytime and anywhere merely because a determined minority wanted it.

3. Those who represented a ruling class politically did not have to be of that class, but merely had to share its views and protect its material interests.

4. Under capitalism the working class were already the economically important class since the capitalists had become economically redundant “leaving the work of supervision to an increasingly numerous category of managers.” All that was needed to dislodge them from their privileged position was a political revolution.

5. To win political power the working class as a whole had to be “conscious of their common class position, class interests, and class enemies, and willing to act upon that consciousness” and to have organised themselves into a “gigantic political party.”

6. After winning political power the working class would for a “limited” or “short” period become the ruling class as a step towards the abolition of all classes. This political transition period would be the dictatorship of the proletariat as a whole, and not of a minority of revolutionary leaders.

7. In socialist society production of commodities, i.e. articles for sale, would come to an end. Instead “production would no longer be directed by the interests of a privileged minority but would be guided by an overall rational plan which had reference solely to human needs.”

8. In socialist society the coercive State machine would be replaced by “a nonpolitical type of authority” and there would be “effective communal decision without coercion.”

9. The socialist revolution would take place “just possibly at the polling booths, but much more likely at the barricades.” The Socialist Party would now put the emphasis emphatically the other way round.

10. In economically backward countries still dominated by feudal rule socialists should help the bourgeoisie to carry through their revolution. We say this is now no longer necessary since capitalism is firmly established as the dominant world system so that socialists everywhere should be working for the immediate establishment of socialism on a world scale.

11. Marx and Engels regarded Tsarist Russia “as the most serious obstacle to revolutionary progress" and advocated and supported war against it. Our position is it now wrong to support wars.

12. In the early stages of Socialism there could not be full free distribution according to needs and. although money would be abolished, distribution would take place by means of non-circulating labour-time vouchers. The Socialist Party explains that, even if there was a temporary shortage, such vouchers would not be the fairest method of rationing but that in any event the tremendous technical developments in the last hundred years have meant that free distribution can be implemented almost immediately.

No comments: