The Western Socialist
Vol. 28 - No. 220
No. 2, 1961
pages 18-19


Mr. Moderator and Friends:

In dealing with tonight's title — "What Future for Socialism in Canadian Politics" it might be wise at this moment to define what we of the Socialist Party of Canada mean by the term "socialism."

Many strange and contradictory things pass in the name of socialism. We have been offered Christian Socialism, Fabian Socialism, Labour Party Socialism and the Bolshevik Socialism of Communist Russia. We have seen Fascist Socialism and Nazi Socialism — and we have C. C. F. socialism in a part of Canada. All these offerings make some claim to the name "socialism."

In all this confusion it must be obvious that they cannot all be right. What isn't so obvious to most people is that they could all be wrong, in their claim to socialism. The Socialist Party of Canada and its Companion Parties do not consider any of these offerings as socialism, because these offerings do not use a socialist analysis of society and its problems.

Possibly we can straighten out some of this confusion tonight, so that we can reasonably ascertain what future there is for socialism in Canadian politics.

We, of the Socialist Party of Canada, attach a definite meaning to the word "socialism." We have a definite objective and definite principles. These are consistently outlined and published in our two journals, "THE WESTERN SOCIALIST" and the "SOCIALIST STANDARD."

We claim that international capitalism produces the major social problems of today. To solve these problems, we need a new social order, based on the social ownership of wealth production, as distinct and opposed to the present private ownership of the means of life, which is world capitalism today.

Capitalism is a class society with definite class interests favourable to the few, but unfavourable to the many. The vast majority, have to depend on the sale of their mental and physical labour-power in order to live. They have yet to learn their real position and interest in society.

The class nature of society results in class struggles. Some of you may not agree with this but the evidence is about us every day in the form of strikes, demonstrations, riots and unemployment. The poverty issues, wrangles in parliament, political parties jockeying for power, and the dog-fights in the United Nations Assembly. This is your evidence.

The capitalist struggle is for world markets and sources of raw material. This struggle has produced, and could lead to bloody and useless world wars. An atomic war could lead to human extinction. At this moment this is important.

While capitalism remains, so will the basic problems remain. As capitalism develops, so will the basic social problems develop; and we claim that capitalism cannot solve these problems. Socialists think in terms of human needs. We say that socialism is the only reasonable alternative — production for use based upon social ownership.

Most wage-workers of Canada support the apparent short-cuts and palliatives offered by all political parties that administer capitalism. We have had over 50 years of reforms, and life today is more precarious than ever. But some people are gradually learning the futility of it all. Socialist realization develops out of an understanding of capitalism.

The Socialist Party of Canada offers the only solution to the chaos of capitalism. We know that most people are confused in the field of politics because it is capitalist politics that confuses them. However, in the first and last analysis people want to live. They are compelled to solve their problems and we know they have the capacity to think.

We do not believe in leaders, because we know that people are not sheep. We do not believe in force, because force is invariably ignorance in action. We believe in the democratic way of life. We know that real democracy and real socialism are synonymous. Socialism, a sane society, can only become a reality by the desire and consent of a vast enlightened majority. We believe in education and persuasion. There is no other way.

We must always remember that socialism in Canada is only a part of a world movement. We must remember that Canadian politics is only a part of world politics.

To the question, "What Future for Socialism in Canadian Politics" — The answer depends on whether or not most people are interested in solving the problems of poverty and war. If they are — it is just a question of how.

Through our journal "The Western Socialist" we offer a reasoned analysis and solution. The rest is up to you. We also want a world worthwhile, and we say there is a future for socialism in Canadian politics. It is inevitable that all other political parties will eventually fail — new, old or otherwise. The history of all reform parties is basically a history of confusion and defeat. Look at the results.

At this point I would like to remind all so-called new parties to remember, that to court capitalism is to court disaster.

Thank you Mr. Moderator.

(Address by Comrade J. F. Ahrens to the Town Meeting of Canada at Vancouver, B. C., on February 24, 1961).