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50 Years Ago: For what is the Labour Party fighting?

Having had six years in power running capitalism the Labour Party is on the outside looking around for a way to get back again. Now as it is not generally thought that the Labour Government merely ran capitalism let us explain what we mean by capitalism, in order to see if we are correct when we claim that the Labour Party is just another capitalist party.

Capitalism is the social system which exists today throughout the world, wherein the means of production and distribution are owned by a fraction of the people (the capitalist class, state or private) and the mass of people being without means of production MUST work for WAGES in order to live. Further the wealth of capitalist society (produced by the workers but not owned by them) is produced for SALE and PROFIT, that profit being the capitalists’ loot from the exploitation of the class of employees. To sum up, the basic features of capitalism are – class ownership – wage labour, buying and selling and profit.

You will note we say class ownership not private enterprise, we say “state or private” because it is the basis we are concerned with not merely the form of administration. From the very start the Labour Party never sought to change the basis, to abolish capitalism, they merely proposed another form of administration. After six years in Government the whole ugly structure of capitalism remained intact, and still no proposal to abolish wages, buying and selling and class ownership is forthcoming. The Labour Party has no horizons beyond those of capitalism and when all the schemes have been put into operation the position of the working class will be exactly the same. The past record of the Labour Party in supporting wars, freezing wages, breaking strikes, and forming coalitions, with Tories and Liberals, should be enough to finish them with the working class for keeps; the tragedy is that it won’t. (…)

Throughout its existence the Labour Party has done everything but what need doing most and said everything but what most needed saying. Although from time to time they paid lip-service by using Socialist sounding phrases when it met their purpose of deluding the workers, nothing they have ever said or done has advanced the workers one inch. While certain of their reforms might have helped in keeping workers contented and in staving off unrest, they have had the desired effect of giving the boss class a new lease of life. What would the capitalist class do without a Labour Party to patch up their vile system for them?

(From an article by ‘H.B.’, Socialist Standard, April 1955)