The SPGB and our companion parties in the World Socialist Movement (WSM):
- claim that socialism will, and must, be a wageless, moneyless, worldwide society of common (not state) ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution.
- claim that socialism will be a sharp break with capitalism with no “transition period” or gradual implementation of socialism (although socialism will be a dynamic, changing society once it is established).
- claim that there can be no state in a socialist society.
- claim that there can be no classes in a socialist society.
- promote only socialism, and as an immediate goal.
- claim that only the vast majority, acting consciously in its own interests, for itself, by itself, can introduce socialism.
- oppose any vanguardist approach, minority-led movements, and leadership, as inherently undemocratic (among other negative things).
- promotes a peaceful democratic revolution, achieved through force of numbers and understanding.
- neither promote, nor oppose, reforms to capitalism.
- claim that there is one working class, worldwide.
- lay out the fundamentals of what a socialist society must be, but does not presume to tell the future socialist society how to go about its business.
- promote an historical materialist approach—real understanding.
- claim that religion is a social, not personal, matter and that religion is incompatible with socialist understanding.
- seek election to facilitate the elimination of capitalism by the vast majority of socialists, not to govern capitalism.
- claim that Leninism is a distortion of Marxian analysis.
- oppose all war and claim that socialism will inherently end war, including the “war” between classes.
- noted, in 1918, that the Bolshevik Revolution was not socialist. Had earlier, long noted that Russia was not ready for a socialist revolution.
- was the first to recognise that the former USSR, China, Cuba and other so-called “socialist countries” were not socialist, but instead, state capitalist.
- claim a very accurate, consistent analysis since 1904 when the first Companion Party was founded.
Other “socialist” parties and groups
We don’t want to go into a long rant against these groups, but we are occasionally asked what makes the World Socialist Movement (WSM) different from them. The intent here is to list some organizations of which we are aware, and the reasons we oppose them.
Some members of the organizations we criticize have the best of intentions, but good intentions do not change the nature of those organizations, and membership carries the responsibility for the actions of those organizations.
First we list some specific points which we think are important and differentiate the World Socialist Movement from the others listed. Our ideas are listed, and under each point some comments on the other “socialist” parties and groups. After this we list, in four categories, some parties and groups which claim to be socialist, with some specific comments on the parties and groups in each category.
Clearly this is a “broad brush” approach. If this results in minor errors in our assignment of ideas to these groups, we apologize and are willing to make corrections. Overall, however, the comments will give a good perspective of how they differ from the World Socialist Movement (WSM):
- We claim that socialism will be a wageless, moneyless, free-access society.
- None agree with this.
- Most support a market system. Some suggest that a non-capitalist market is possible. These suggestions show a lack of understanding of market economics. While non-capitalist market systems have existed, they are impractical in a modern world. If a “non-capitalist” market system was established it would eventually become a capitalist market system.
- We claim that leaders are inherently undemocratic; socialists oppose leadership.
- All support leadership.
- We claim that socialists shouldn’t work for reforms to capitalism, because only a movement for socialism itself can establish socialism.
- Those which work for reforms hold either that reforms to capitalism will eventually result in socialism, or that supporting reforms is an appropriate way to convince workers to support socialism.
- Some put forward a reasonable analysis of capitalism, but then work to give capitalism a “human face”. Some claim that they want to end capitalism. Their bottom line is, however, just capitalism with reforms. Democratic Socialists of America is a good example of this.
- We claim that socialism will be a cooperative, world wide system, and it has clearly not yet been established.
- Most, perhaps all, of them support nationalism, which is closely akin to racism (which they explicitly claim to oppose), and in any case hinders worldwide working class solidarity. Nationalism is a concept only useful to separate people, and is therefore anti-working class.
- We claim that a scientific approach and understanding by the working class are necessary to establish socialism.
- Generally support emotionalistic campaigns, in which logic and rational analysis are ignored.
- Any group which wants people to follow their leadership is unlikely to promote real understanding. What needs to be understood if one is just following the leader and doing what one is told?
- We claim that democratically capturing the state through parliamentary elections is the safest, surest method for the working class to enable itself to establish socialism.
- Most seem to support this, parliamentary, approach at some level. But their commitment varies so that some support both parliamentarism and anti-parliamentarism at the same time.
This list is by no means complete. It is only intended to put some real names to parties claiming to be “socialist”. If you have a specific interest in one not on the list, send us some of their literature, or preferably a few issues of their journal, and we’ll consider adding them—and our critique.