Letter: Problems of Socialist

A correspondent (D. G. D., Clapham) asks the following question: —


  When you have convinced the working class of the futility, as far as they are concerned, of the present system and have also got them to accept the principles of Socialism, you will be in a position to get power. Having got power you will convert the means of production and distribution into the common property of society, and they will be placed under the democratic control of the whole people. My question is this: what form of organisation will you set up to run this country. Will it be based on a Central Government, or on local government, or on a sectional basis? Your speakers, when questioned on this matter, stated that nobody could say what the organisation would be. In regard to details, I agree with this, but surely your party must have some conception of the bare outlines of the form society will take. It is ridiculous to put forward a plan to overthrow the capitalist system and then say to the workers that you’ve got no idea of what you’re going to do after that, but that it will all come out all right in the crash.



Our correspondent’s difficulty is one which troubles many who are sympathetically disposed towards Socialism but who feel that some definite plan is required. Much of the difficulty arises, we suggest, out of a mistaken view of the conditions which will exist when the workers take power into their hands. Our correspondent’s final words illustrate this. He thinks of Socialism coming to birth out of conditions of chaos, his actual phrase being “the crash.” This is a mistaken view. Chaos could arise, and does arise, when a minority seizes power and tries to introduce more or less fundamental changes against the wishes of the majority of the population, or when the majority are apathetic and lack understanding of what is being done. But the inauguration of Socialism implies (as our correspondent recognises) the support and understanding of the majority of the population.
There can then be no “crash.” The workers will simply carry on with the operation of industry, transport, administration with the elimination of its capitalist features. Changes will be introduced in orderly fashion, as agreed by the workers themselves in co-operation with their fellows in other lands. The basis of industrial organisation and administration will start from the arrangements existing under capitalism at the time of the transformation, and this will present no difficulties because the Socialist movement will already be thoroughly international both in outlook and in practical organisation. As far as the machinery of organisation and administration is concerned, it will be local, regional, national and international, evolving out of existing forms. Railway organisation, for example, would naturally follow the land areas served by the railway systems, but would need to be co-ordinated with local road services, international air services and steamship routes. Postal services would (as now) require both local, national and international organisation. Administration would follow similar forms, doubtless with the utmost variety of modifications to meet local needs in the different continents.


To those who think of the problem against the present background of property interests and national rivalries this presents overwhelming difficulties. To the Socialist, who sees that with the abolition of the capitalist basis the urge towards co-operation is released from its present imprisonment, the problems of Socialism fall into their proper perspective.
Editorial Committee

Answers To Correspondents


J. L. Dingley (Woodford Green). Your two questions have repeatedly been dealt with in the Socialist Standard. See, for example, the issue for 1938.


Editorial Committee