Jamaica: The task ahead
(We publish below an article from The Socialist Review, which our comrades in Jamaica publish, introducing Socialism to its readers.)
We welcome you to this our first edition, and look forward to a long and enlightening association. First, let us state clearly what is our object and how we intend to achieve this: the education of the working class to their real interest in society, and to expose the bankrupt social order under which we live.
We live in a capitalist society, and this is world wide. The main feature of this society is property ownership, buying and selling. On the one hand there are those who own all the important things in the world, land, factories, mines etc. On the other side the vast majority of those who own nothing except their abilities. By sheer necessity, those who own nothing are forced to sell their abilities to those who own. On this basis society as it is functions.
From what has been said it is clear that there are only two classes of people in capitalist society. Those who own, the capitalist class, and those who sell their skill, the working class. The popular view of a middle class is really a myth. The doctor is as much a worker as the bus driver, or the street cleaner. Observe that even doctors go on strike to support their demands for more pay and better conditions. Workers’ income groups are different, but they are still of the same class.
The conflict between capitalist (to pay as little as possible) and worker (to secure as high a price as possible) is an inherent feature of capitalist society. Nothing that can be said or done can reconcile the opposing interests of these two classes. Those of the owning class have clear ideas as to their interest. They, however, with their power and wealth and control of the mass media use these to maintain and even widen the division within the working class. They have done this with great success. Their existence depends on this division.
We must remember that society as it is today does not mean that it was always so. There was a time when men lived as slaves; they changed from this and became serfs. They again changed to the present system of wage earners. We Socialists believe, and events the world over support us, that the time is ripe for another change. Our present social system has outlived its social usefulness ; it is now a hindrance to mankind. Most people sense that something is fundamentally wrong with the world, but can’t name it. That unnamed thing really is, trying to operate a social system that is no longer in harmony with world conditions. Things are produced only if they can realise a profit, not to satisfy human need. Observe the vast areas of poverty alongside pockets of wealth. Capitalism has done much in the improvement of productive methods for man. It is quite hopeless at distributing this wealth it can create.
Socialists advocate a system of society where each will contribute to production and partake freely of his need. Sounds fantastic? We have heard that before, just think for a moment of the fantastic things we have come to accept as normal under capitalism. It is now quite normal for thousands of people to starve to death, as we have seen in one-time Biafra, while farmers in America are paid not to cultivate their land. Capitalism distorts the vision of a future society. We can only see a different system in terms of our present one.
Socialism can only function on a world wide basis. It cannot and does not exist in any country. Russia is just as capitalist a country as America. The constant reference to Russia as a Socialist country only serves to confuse the issue of what Socialism is. The attainment of Socialism is not only possible but necessary. The great mental problems that are evident in the developed countries: more people are going mad, there is widespread frustration and a deep sadness that seems to dominate people’s life. Even pleasure has been turned into a way of escape. All these are becoming more noticeable in our society.
The task ahead is difficult indeed; so much distortion and confusion to clear up. That is why we need your help, in whatever way you can. Read our literature, get to understand fully our point of view. Apart from the personal reward that this knowledge will give, you will be able to play an historic part in popularising Socialism throughout Jamaica. Hard and difficult yes, but so worth while.