The Western Socialist
Vol. 29 - No. 226
No. 2, 1962
After a century of reform activity, and the sincere efforts of a multitude of reformers, the world is in a greater mess than ever it was.
In spite of welfare states, so-called social security, and the emerging of a number of independent states, poverty and insecurity alongside of fabulous wealth and an enormous productive potential, are widespread over the earth. Added to this is the threat of a more terrible war than has ever devastated humanity. Thus the solving of these problems has become more urgent than ever. It is therefore essential to look into the cause of these problems, to attack the root from which they flow, instead of frittering away time tinkering with effects. When a bath is overflowing we turn off the tap — we don't try to bale out the water.
All the economic and allied problems that afflict the world have their roots in the present basis of society. This basis is the private ownership of the means of production and, consequently, the production of goods solely for the purpose of profit. It is immaterial whether what is produced is good, shoddy or even harmful; if there is a prospect of profit out of their production they will be produced.
The private property basis splits society into the contending classes with interests that are opposed — a working class and a capitalist class, or an employed class and an employing class. The capitalist class are the owners of the means of production, the working class own only their power to work.
The worker must sell his energies to the capitalist for a wage or salary in order to live; the capitalist can live without the need to work. In return for his work the worker receives a wage which covers his cost of subsistence according to his standard of living. But the value this represents is much less than the value of what he produces. Out of the surplus comes the rent, interest and profit upon which the capitalist lives, and out of which he re-invests in industry, pays the various taxes and so forth.
In order that this surplus may be realised goods have to be sold. Markets must be found, sources of raw material, like oil, must be secured, and routes to these markets and sources of raw materials must be safeguarded. The struggles between sections of the capitalist class throughout the world for markets, sources of raw materials and trade routes brings them into conflict, and eventually leads to war.
While the present system lasts there is no solution to the problem of war. War is rooted in a system under which goods are sold for the purpose of profit.
Poverty, insecurity, unemployment and the nervous strain associated with working at high speed and worrying about the future, are likewise products of the present system of private ownership of the means of production. Whilst the workers remain a subject class, compelled to sell their working power to an employer in order to live, these problems will always be with them. Yet it need not be so. There is a solution for them, but only one solution, and that solution is Socialism.
Socialism is not state ownership, such as exists in Russia and in various other countries. Under state ownership all the evils of capitalism prevail. It is just like putting another label on the same old bottle.
Under socialism the means of production and distribution would be commonly owned and democratically controlled. In other words, everything that is in and on the earth would be the common possession of all mankind. There would be no privilege of any description, except for the young, the old, and, the infirm. Everyone would be on equal footing, and the principle of from each according to his capacities, to each according to his needs, would operate. In such a system all the people of the world would work together in co-operative harmony. There would be no frontiers, no buying and selling, no markets, no money, no state and no privileged class.
Is such a system possible? Of course it is. The workers do all the work of society today, but they do it for a privileged class that lives like a leech upon their backs. They could do the same work tomorrow — without a privileged class.
The job of the Socialist Party of Canada, and its companion parties throughout the world, is to propagate socialism and convince the mass of the workers of the soundness of our case. Socialism cannot come until the workers understand what it is, want it and work for it. No leaders can bring it about. It must be the work of the working class itself. There are no short-cuts. Only an understanding working class can bring about socialism — leadership and dictatorship of any description can only bring disillusion and disaster.
All the political parties in this country that seek your support today, apart from the Socialist Party of Canada, stand for the continuation of the present system, whether they are conscious of it or not. All of them bring forward time worn reforms. If reforms could have helped you, you would not be in the present mess, for you have been saturated with reforms. The best they can do is rub out a few of the wrinkles in the present system; and no sooner is one wrinkle flattened than another rises. If reformers had concentrated on propagating socialism instead of wasting their lives amongst the welter of reforms, which after all are only attempts to make the system under which the worker is robbed of the results of his labour, run more smoothly, we would have been much nearer to socialism than we are.
One thing however is certain. Capitalism with its concentrations, its massive production, its mechanical evolution, and its increasing pressure upon the working class, is producing the answer to it in the growing consciousness of the workers. Thus, whilst socialism is the only remedy for the ills suffered by the Canadian workers, it is also inevitable and the next step in Canadian social history, even though it may appear to be making slow progress. Time, however, will accelerate the march to the future.