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Questions and Answers about Socialism

What is The Socialist Party?

It is a political party separate from all others. It stands for the sole aim of establishing a global system of society in which there will be common ownership and democratic control of the world's natural and industrial resources. We advocate a world social system in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation and an equal say in how their society is run; a world in which production is freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used for the benefit of all.

What is Socialism?

To elaborate slightly on the above – Socialism is yet to exist. When it is established it must be on a global basis, as a real alternative to the present system. In a socialist society there will be common ownership of the Earth by its inhabitants and no minority will dictate to us that production must give priority to profit. There will be no owners. The people of the world will share the world. Production will be for use, not sale. The only questions we will need to ask about production are what do people need and can these needs be met. Science and technology will at last be used to their fullest potential and in the service of humanity. The basic socialist principle will be that people give according to their abilities and take according to their needs. There will be no buying or selling, as money will have been abolished and will not be necessary in a world of free access. Socialism will mean a world without borders or frontiers, social classes or leaders, states or governments, force or coercion.

How does this differ from capitalism?

Capitalism is the social system that now exists in all the countries of the world. Under this system, the means of production and distribution are monopolised by a small capitalist class. All wealth is produced by us, the working class who sell our physical and mental abilities for a wage or salary. The object of wealth production is to create goods and services which can be sold profitably. Not only do capitalists live off the profits they obtain by exploiting us, they reinvest their profits with a view to accumulating more wealth. Because of the logic of their system, if goods cannot be sold at a profit, they are either destroyed or not produced at all. Because of capitalist competition, wars break our fairly regularly, being fought over trade routes, areas of influence, foreign markets and mineral resources – all sources of profit for capitalists.

So how will Socialism solve the problems of society?

Capitalism, with its endless drive to make profits, throws up an endless stream of problems. Many workers feel insecure about their future and work related stress is on the increase. Crime, homelessness, poverty – these are all ongoing problems. A society based on production for use will end these problems because the priority of socialist society will be the fullest possible satisfaction of needs. Abolishing the money system will mean food will not have to be destroyed it can't be sold. Wars will no longer be fought if there are no more borders or frontiers and the source of their cause has been removed. At present it is not 'economically viable' to solve many of the problems that plague us – it eats into profits. Socialism will mean nothing but the best for every human being.

Surely it is easier just to reform the present system?

No. As long as capitalism exists, profits will always take priority over our real needs. Some workers welcome reforms; some reforms have improved working class conditions, but no reform can abolish that basic contradiction between profits and need. No matter how well meaning the politicians, nor how colourful their promises, they are bound to fail because they do not control the system – it controls them. The governments of the world may well introduce a thousand reforms, but we would still continue to live in a world ravaged by starvation, war, homelessness, unemployment, poverty and every other social ill. We would still live in a two class society, with our real needs subordinated to the wishes of a minority. Why campaign for crumbs when the whole bakery is there to be taken?

Is nationalisation an alternative to capitalism?

No. Although the old Labour Party used to think so, and many leftists still do, there is nothing progressive in nationalisation. It simply means the workers are exploited by the state in the interests of capitalists. There were once many nationalised industries in Britain. This did not stop the government closing them down and making hundreds of thousands of workers redundant when they ceased being profitable – and these nationalised industries supposedly 'belonged' to us.

Have there ever been Socialist countries? What about the former Soviet Union?

No. Those countries which claimed they were socialist were in reality state capitalist. Power was monopolised by a privileged elite who became the new ruling and controlling class. Countries like Russia and China and Yugoslavia still had money and buying and selling. They still had wage slavery, exploitation and commodity production. They still traded with capitalist states and according to the dictates of international capital and were ever ready to go to war to defend their economic interests.

Surely human nature will be a barrier to the establishment of Socialism?

Many workers confuse 'human nature' with capitalism, arguing, for instance, that humans are 'by nature' greedy, selfish and aggressive and therefore unable to cooperate to help establish socialism. What they are in fact citing are characteristics of human behaviour under varying conditions. Human behaviour is not fixed but determined by the kinds of society people are conditioned to live in. We are not born as racists or bigots, any more than we are born with a desire to burn witches or hoard money. The capitalist jungle produces vicious, competitive ways of thinking and acting. But we humans are able to adapt our behaviour and there is no reason why our rational desire for comfort and human welfare should not allow us to cooperate. Even under capitalism, people obtain great pleasure from doing a good turn for others. Few enjoy participating in the 'civilised' warfare of the rat-race.

Are Socialists democrats?

Yes. The Socialist Party has no leaders. It is a democratic organisation controlled by its members, who understand socialism can only be established peacefully and democratically. Socialism can not be brought about by a small dedicated minority 'smashing the state' in a violent revolution. Nothing we say or do goes on behind closed doors. Any member of the public is free to attend any of our meetings and speak at the same.

How would Socialism be established?

Socialism can only become possible when a majority are aware of its implications, want it and are prepared to work for it peacefully and democratically. Socialism can not be forced upon people. As its establishment depends upon majority understanding and a global democratic effort to bring it to fruition, we envisage people the world over using their votes to elect socialist candidates to political office. Once enough Socialists had been elected to office this would be a clear signal that a majority wanted socialism.

What’s the next step?

If you have read this far you will be aware that Socialism is not going to be established without a bit of effort from us all. Winning workers over requires knowledge, principles, patience and enthusiasm. But if you think our case is worth supporting, you can ask for a free information pack or subscription to the Socialist Standard and find out more. You have nothing to lose, and a world to win.