Asked and Answered


(1). Will capitalism have to go through the process of the nationalisation of the land, the mines, the railways, etc., before Socialism can be achieved ?
(2). Would not the fact of the working class being able to see the futility of these reforms—having acquired them—assist in the propaganda of Socialism ?
(3). If so, should not the Socialist Party do all in its power to secure these ”palliatives,” by adopting a programme on which these items figure, with a view to pushing capitalism forward at as great a rate as possible ?
(4). Would it be possible to establish Socialism, pre-supposing the existence of a clean-cut-class-conscious proletariat, with capitalism no further advanced than it is to-day ; in other words is it more a matter of hastening the development of capitalism than creating the hostile and revolutionary Socialist ?
M. MULLETT (Brixton, S.W.)


(1.) Marx has truly said that

“No social order ever disappears until all the productive powers are developed for which it is adapted. New and higher social institutions are never established until the material conditions of life to support them have matured in the womb of the old society. Therefore mankind never sets itself any tasks, except those for which it has received proper training and which it is able to perform.”

An industry, however, which is developed to the trust stage is as completely organised as a nationalised industry and differs from it only in that it is controlled by a section instead of by the whole of the capitalist class. Since therefore the trust is a completely organised industry and presents but little if any greater difficulty of acquirement by the workers over a nationalised industry, there is no reason whatever to suppose that Society must of necessity pass through a stage of complete nationalisation.

The productive forces for which modern society is adapted are developed when the essential or chief industries are centralised under trusts or State, for the subordinate industries which have not reached that stage need in the main but the application to them of the form of organisation already developed in the trust or their absorbtion into the greater industrial organisations by the triumphant working class. So long as the method, structure and material of organised production be existent so that the unmistakable method and solution be presented, the workers, if class-conscious Socialists, can with little difficulty complete the organisation of the productive forces and turn them into social instruments of social welfare.

(2). It should be obvious that if the workers see the futility of reform tinkering, the propaganda of Socialism is enormously assisted. But the recognition of the futility of reform should and can, at least in part, be made plain to the proletarians without them having to exhaust all the possibilities of error, and having to suffer the disappointment and disastrous apathy and delay that such a stupid and wasteful way of showing the futility of reform methods implies.

(3). Clearly, also, the owning class are already causing the development of capitalism to proceed at as great a rate as is possible in their eagerness to secure greater profits, and we as members of the working class need all our available energy, not to increase the profit of our masters, but to help the growth of Socialism among the workers so that class-consciousness may keep pace with the headlong development of capitalism, and industrial democracy be the speedy outcome of the economic evolution.

The advocacy of reform items would not of necessity increase the rate of capitalist development, while it would leave the workers more at the mercy of the exploiters and unprepared to end exploitation even when development were ripe for the change. Indeed, many reforms are designed to head back economic development. Even municipalisation is often a barrier against centralisation and complete organisation.

The stupidity of identifying what is the only hope of the workers with something that must confessedly lead to disappointment, apathy, disgust and reaction and leave the workers unprepared for their deliverance need hardly be enlarged upon.

(4). The existence of such a revolutionary Socialist proletariat is the obvious and inevitable sign of the ripeness of conditions for Socialism. And were prevailing conditions such that so completely Socialist a working class was engendered it could clearly use the productive forces of the day, and, by completing industrial organisation, transform capitalism into Socialism with but little difficulty.

Social change is not a mechanical process but depends on the reaction of the economic evolution upon human beings. Hence the importance of the class struggle. Hence the importance of propaganda in spreading and giving definiteness and conscious aim to the effects of economic pressure to which some respond more readily and intelligently than others. Hence above all the importance of refraining from misleading or humbugging the workers in any way, and the necessity of doing all that one may to put the real issue ever clearly before them even though but a handful have seen the light, for upon the development of Socialist consciousness among our class depends whether they are to remain unhappy wage-slaves indefinitely, or whether they are responding readily and intelligently to the demands of their economic environment and so preparing for their speedy and happy deliverance from poverty and oppression.


Leave a Reply