Correspondence: Steps to Socialism.
I should be glad if you would state upon what “lines” you consider Socialism will be achieved? Could you tell me, as nearly as possible, the successive steps by which the working class will overthrow the existing order, and how the means of life will be distributed when the workers have conquered the powers of government, national and local?
(It is argued in Communistic quarters that the officers of the army, navy, etc., would refuse to obey a working-class Parliament by the way.)
Perhaps you would be good enough to show, for example, how the raw materials for clothing and housing would be obtained and manufactured, and made available for members of Socialist Society.
I am, yours faithfully,
J. C. C.
ANSWER TO J. C. C.
To attempt a forecast of the details of a social revolution would be a waste of time. A little thought will show that such details will be decided by the conditions existing at the time of the revolution. As it is impossible to forecast the date of the revolution, evidently it is impossible to know in detail the conditions that will prevail then. The general lines of the change are more easy to define, because the general conditions are known:—
(1) As the centre of power is Parliament, and members of that body are returned by the votes of the working class, it is quite clear that the first step is the conversion of a majority of the voters to a recognition of the need for the establishment of Socialism.
(2) The next step is the organisation of that majority into a political party for the purpose of returning delegates into control of Parliament.
(3) The Socialists, being in a majority, would pass laws for the purpose of converting the great means of wealth production and distribution into social—or common—property.
(4) If necessary force will be used to carry out these laws, but this use will depend not upon the socialists, but upon the capitalists, who may turn rebels against society and law.
The raw materials would be obtained by setting men and women to work for that purpose. An illustration, though perhaps not a very good one—was the action of the Government in taking control of materials during the war. Distribution would be according to the needs of the members of society, the details being dependent upon conditions at that time.
The statement of the Communists that officers of the army and navy would refuse to obey orders is a sheer assumption, and no evidence has ever been brought forward to support that statement.
ED. COM (Socialist Standard, October 1922)