Aphorisms of Socialism: VIII


It now remains but to consider the general conclusions which logic demands shall be drawn from the seven aphorisms which have occupied our attention. For this purpose a brief recapitulation will be useful.

The implication of our first clause is that
(1) The basis of the present social system is the private, sectional ownership of the means of living.
(2) This property condition divides society into two classes–possessors and non-possessors.
(3) The class of non-possessors must exist where there is a set of social conditions which, involving at the outset the sale of their labour-power in the competitive market, makes them the sole producers of the wealth of society, without giving them any share in the control of that wealth. This condition is expressed by the phrase “the enslavement of the working class.”

Our second aphorism follows as the logical deduction from the first. It asserts that as society is divided into two classes, one of which lives upon the labour of the other, there is an antagonism of interests between the two classes, and that this antagonism of interests induces a class struggle.

The implication of the third is that the antagonism of interests, and therefore the class struggle, can only be abolished by the abolition of the cause–the condition which the first aphorism states is the base of the whole social fabric; that is, the ownership of the means of living, and the substitution therefor of common ownership of these things.

The next aphorism pronounces that the workers, in emancipating themselves, will emancipate the whole of humanity “without distinction of race or sex” and it is next declared that only the working class itself can be the instrument of this emancipation.

The sixth aphorism states that the machinery of government, including the armed forces, is merely the instrument for maintaining the present social basis and the oppression of the workers which necessarily proceeds from this basis, and it deduces therefrom the conclusion that the workers must organise, consciously and politically, first, for the capture of this machinery of government, and secondly, having done this, to convert it into the agent of emancipation.

The implication of the last aphorism is that, as there are only two classes, and therefore only two class interests, which are diametrically opposed, the political party of the workers must be opposed to all other political parties.
That is a brief summary of the implications of the seven aphorisms which have been set out in these pages.

Now what attitude do logic and common-sense impose upon those who believe these implications to be fundamental truths?

First of all they must elevate them into the position of principles, of guides for their every step and activity in the direction of the economic betterment of their class. Their course of action will then be clear.

If it is true that the basis of present society is the class ownership of the land, factories, and other means of living, then every feature characteristic of, and peculiar to, the working class as such–the weary toil, the insecurity of livelihood, the grinding poverty, the enforced idleness, the cruel cheating of childhood’s pleasures, the hopeless outlook of old age, the thousand and one brutal, humiliating and painful details that make up the miserable total of the workers’ cankered existence–can be referred to that class ownership of property.

The very central point of the workers’ attack, then, beyond all dispute, is this social base. the class ownership of the means of life. The possessors must be dispossessed.

If it is true that the machinery of Government, including the armed forces, exists only to preserve that social base, then, clearly, the barrier of the machinery of government must be surmounted before the social base can be interfered with. The method, therefore, must be political while and where that method is possible. The political power must be captured through the ballot, in order that the control of the machinery of government, including the armed forces, shall pass into the hands of the working class.

We must enter the field of political action in order to capture political power, with the object of using it as the means of dispossessing the propertied class.

If it is true that all political parties are but the expression of class interests, then political parties must be exactly as antagonistic and irre¬concilable as the interests they express. The logic of this is inexorable. And if it is true that there are but two classes in society, and that their interests are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable, then the political party of the working class must be at all times and in all places, utterly opposed to every other political party.

Hence the policy of the party seeking working-class emancipation must, under conditions identical with those obtaining in this country, be identical with that expressed in the final clause of the Declaration of Principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which declares that: —

“The Socialist party of Great Britain, there¬fore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist.”

This is the only policy for a party holding the principles set forth and explained in these articles, the only policy of a party (under the given conditions) seeking working-class emanci-pation, the only policy for a party aspiring to establish “a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by and in the interest of the whole community,” the only policy of a Socialist party.

Let every man and woman of the working class, therefore, who is interested in the welfare of that class, who is weary and sick at heart with the miserable tragedy of the workers’ position, take up the premises of the Socialist principles and examine them, Let him (or her) take them up as a challenge to his intellect, and either convince himself of their truth or prove their falsity. Let him then bring his actions into line with his convictions, rejecting the Socialist principles if he finds them unsound, but adopting them and cleaving to them if he finds them true and unassailable.

True, these principles and the policy they dictate offer nothing but battle and victory–nothing but the last arduous campaign of the class struggle – and the fruits thereof. But it is sufficient. It must not be exchanged for the power and pelf of office and a place near the fleshpots of Egypt for a few who dub themselves Labour leaders.

We who know the class to which we belong, and build up all our hopes on our faith in the capacity of its intellect, know that it will not be so exchanged. We know that the working class, as a class, is capable of judging all things for itself, and of marching on to its emancipation under the guidance of its own avowed principles, without leaders or use for leaders, to its emancipation.



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