The plain case for Socialism
(Continued from September issue.)
IS SOCIALISM POSSIBLE?
Do you say it is impossible? But the steam engine, the ocean liner and the aeroplane were impossible until they became work accomplished. If everybody had accepted the assertion that such things were impossible they would have remained so. And similarly if all working people were to accept the oft-repeated statement that Socialism is impossible it would remain so.
The capitalist and, the people he pays to write and speak for him, assert that Socialism is impossible. But this is to be expected as capitalism means to the capitalist the continuance of his present easy and luxurious mode of living while Socialism signifies the end of it. One cannot expect the doomed to welcome the gravedigger. Socialism only has a message for the working-class because, from a narrow point of view, it is they who will benefit by it. Socialism means the taking from the rich of the power to exploit the poor—from the idlers of the power to live on the backs of the workers. One cannot expect the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds or the Monds to do other than oppose Socialism and urge upon workers its impossibility.
CAPITAL IS NOT NECESSARY.
What arguments are brought forward to bolster up the case for “impossibility”? Once upon a time it was urged that individualism must have free-play, that it was only human nature for each man to fight for his own hand. But since that day the mammoth trust has come into existence, and poison gas has been invented, so the individualism argument has been conveniently forgotten. Nowadays more attention is paid to the plea that capital is necessary, but unfortunately the definitions of capital vary to suit the times. We need not worry for the moment about the correct definition of capital, we can take them on their own ground and show the poorness of their case. If by capital it is intended to signify large works, gigantic machinery, huge pieces of land, then it is sufficient to point out, in the words of the old song, “we all came into the world with nothing” and that no one has supreme authority to give anyone else the “Right” to any land or anything else. The land was once free to the whole human race of the time; sections of people from time to time have acquired more and more of it for their own private use by one dodge or another. In England during the last few centuries millions of acres have been stolen from the people under the “Enclosure” system by those who had control of political power. All the factories and machinery have been built and made by the hands of working people who have been deprived of the things they have made. Because fortune decrees that a man shall be born into the owning class does that confer upon him a natural “Right” that he shall therefore own? Is it not rather a social “Right” determined by the general agreement that “it shall be so”? Which can be set aside at a moment’s notice bv the general agreement that “it shall not be so any longer.” All so-called “Rights” depend upon the general agreement of the mass of the people; there are neither natural nor super-natural “Rights.” A king is a king because the majority of people have decided to look upon him as such—he is not born with a crown growing out of his head !
As people working together have produced the factories and machinery of the past under the domination of capitalism, they can do likewise in the future under the free institutions of Socialism. This disposes of the myth based on the alleged necessity of Capital for the carrying on of industry in the future.
If we take the argument that capital is money and industry will be unable to get on without it, the reply is easier still.
NO MONEY UNDER SOCIALISM.
We can take, as illustration, the case of the much eulogised early pioneers who cut their way through the trackless forests of uncivilised parts. They felled trees, built cabins, trapped and trained animals and provided for their elementary needs for months and years without the need of a penny piece, and for a reason that is obvious after a few moments’ thought. If the production and distribution of the world’s goods were on a Socialist basis then matters would be so arranged that the quantities of goods required at a specified point would be sent there. For instance when an army was equipped for the “front” supplies were accumulated and despatched to various points to meet their needs—the individual soldier did not pay for his food, clothing, etc. Thus those who were making pottery would have supplies of the things they needed sent to them and their “pots” would be despatched to the places requiring them; and so on over the whole field of world production, assuming, of course, that, as now, different localities specialised in particular productions.
Money is only necessary in a society where there is private ownership and trading and therefore some common means needed in which to assess the values of diverse articles in order to facilitate exchanges. Where common property exists there is no exchange of goods but an equitable distribution on the basis of needs—as a mother distributes food to her children at the table—and therefore neither the necessity nor the room for money in any form except as an ornament or a relic of the ugly past.
THE SOCIALIST APPEAL.
In a few words, under Socialism the production and distribution of wealth would be organised on a scientific basis with the object of providing for each member of society the least amount of labour, the best conditions of labour, and the greatest amount of leisure—which latter he could employ in whatever work or play suited him. By this means, and only by this means, will unemployment, poverty and other economic evils that we suffer to-day disappear never to return.
This is the aim of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. But to achieve this end we must first obtain possession of Political Power, the power centred in England in the Parliament at Westminster. We are pushing forward the work of adopting prospective candidates for Parliament, but are sadly hampered by the paucity of our financial resources. We have opened a Parliamentary Fund to meet this need, but it is not growing as fast as it should. The hungry mouths will not be filled until Socialism is here. There is only one Party in this country taking the road that leads to Socialism, and that Party is the S.P. of G.B. Until the majority of workers are with us, and until we have a majority of delegates knocking at the doors of Parliament, the road to the new world is blocked.
Subscriptions to our Parliamentary Fund will be a considerable assistance on the way.
(Socialist Standard, October 1928)