Why Not Socialism?
The Labour Government asks to be judged by what it has done in its five years of office. “Compare our record,” they say, “with what the Tories did before the war and with what they are likely to do if they win the election.” It is a cleverly-chosen electioneering platform, for most of those who voted “Labour” in 1945, however disappointed they may be, will find nothing in the Tory record or programme to make them want to change over to a Churchill-Big Business Government.
But is that a good enough test to apply to the Labour Government? They say they have done their best “in the circumstances”—they have made as good a job of running Capitalism as anyone could make— but it is “the circumstances,” the capitalist system of society, that has got to be abolished, and the Labour Government will never do it.
What Is and What Might Be
Mr. Bevan claims that while he has been Minister of Health hundreds of thousands of houses have been built; but you know the housing problem has not been solved. It never will be under Capitalism.
The Labour Party leaders told you for years that Labour Government would mean rising wages and falling prices. What they have given you is higher prices and wage-freezing.
They promised to destroy the profit system. Now they see that Capitalism cannot be run without profits, so they tell you it is not possible to raise wages by reducing profits. Capitalism does need profit-making— but Socialism will not.
They promised peace, international friendship and disarmament, yet you find yourselves facing 1950 with conscription for your sons, bigger armed forces than in 1938, a “cold war” with Russia, and the fear that before another election comes round. Great Britain, this potential “anchored aircraft carrier” in another world war may be threatened with devastation from atom bombs.
Capitalism cannot let the people of the world prosper in peace, but Socialism will ensure it. Capitalism, whether administered by Tory, Labour or so-called “Communist” Governments, breeds economic rivalry, hatred and destruction. Only Socialism is based on the international community of interests of the working class of all lands.
What Have They To Be Proud Of?
In their well-known 1945 Election Declaration the Labour Party boldly declared, “The Labour Party is a Socialist Party, and proud of it.” That sounds like the sincere statement that might be made by genuine socialists, but it was nothing of the kind. They were more anxious about catching votes than in furthering Socialism, so they put another statement in their Declaration, to let non-socialist voters know that they never meant business. “But Socialism,” they wrote, “cannot come overnight, as the product of a week-end revolution. The members of the Labour Party, like the British people, are practical-minded men and women.”
Just ask yourselves to whom those timid, half-sneering words were addressed. Is that the speech of socialists to socialists? Was it not really the cynical double-talk of politicians wanting to get the votes of people who had a vague idea that Socialism is something humane and progressive, but wanting at the same time to assure the non-socialist electorate that nothing would be done to endanger British Capitalism?
Their talk of being “practical-minded” is laughable. Is bigger armaments and fewer houses being practical? Is higher prices and no wage increases? Are atom bombs and germ warfare? The history of politics should warn us against those who boast of preferring “practicability” to principle. They are always the men who tinker with social evils instead of removing their cause.
We have had five years of Labour Government with a full Parliamentary programme of legislation; but what has it produced? Capitalism is with us still: festooned with bureaucratic controls and ornamented with social reforms; but as strong, as vicious and as destructive of human happiness as before, The Labour Government claims that it has done a great work in the National Insurance Scheme, but the increase of prices has already whittled away the value of the benefits so that unemployment and sick benefit are not worth any more than were the lower rates paid before the war.
You Work Harder, But For What?
If you read the pre-election speeches of the Labour Ministers you will notice a curious thing. It is that many of the things for which they claim credit are things performed by you and from which you get no advantage.
It is the workers who have worked harder and undergone austerities to make good the destruction of the war. It is the workers, not the politicians, who have raised production to 30 percent higher than in 1938 and who have gone without in order to increase exports so that they are half as much again as in pre-war years. It is the workers who have made easier the payment of larger profits to the propertied class while doing without wage increases to compensate for higher prices. It is on the strength of these feats of production that the Government claims that it has been successful; but what will the working class get at the end of it? Capitalism is already warning us that shipbuilding is slowing up for lack of orders, oil is being over-produced, and there will soon be too much wheat, too much sugar, too much steel and too much of everything for capitalist markets to absorb. Then the workers will reap the harvest of more crises, more unemployment, more insecurity and the threat of further wars.
It is the workers who keep Capitalism going, for the benefit of the capitalists. It is time the workers determined, by international socialist action, to refashion human society on a socialist foundation. Neither avowedly capitalist governments nor Labour governments can save the world. It is a supreme task for the world working class and unless it is achieved the whole world faces chaos, misery and destruction. The productive power and the administrative ability are present for the making of a new world. Do not delay the decision to use them. The Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties abroad show you the way to working class emancipation and the happiness and well-being of humanity.