How to Study Socialism

Readers of the SOCIALIST STANDARD and listeners at our meetings will have realised that we attach great importance to the workers having a knowledge of certain basic principles and being able to apply them to the questions of the day. That is how Socialists are made, and it is the only way. The worker who wishes to save himself from taking in and acting upon the theories and policies of the various Capitalist parties must himself get to understand the economic and political problems which face him. This requires a certain amount of study, but it is well within the reach of the average worker. It is less difficult than many of the technical studies which workers have to pursue in order to get and keep their jobs in the employers’ factories, workshops and offices. The study of economics and politics from the working class viewpoint is not only interesting in itself—something which can be said of all systematic expansion of our knowledge of the world we live in— but it has the additional attraction that it touches at every point the actual conditions of the life of the working class. That is to say, it is a study which, so far from being divorced from action, leads directly to the adoption of policies in line with our own economic interests. Knowledge of Socialism colours the everyday thoughts and actions of the Socialist, enables him to understand and appreciate at their true value the social forces with which he has to deal, and gives him that confidence which is indispensable for the organisation of the working class, the conquest of the powers of government, and the building up of Socialism.

How is such a study to be undertaken? What books should be read, and how are the students’ difficulties to be dealt with? These questions are in the minds of all who approach the task for the first time. To the limit of our present resources we hold meetings, and arrange study classes and discussions at Head Office and in the branches. The student should attend these meetings and classes.

He should read the books advertised in these columns. They are works which we can recommend, and we shall be pleased to advise as to the works which a beginner should tackle first.

But above all there is the SOCIALIST STANDARD itself. From month to month over a period of 26 years, Socialist principles have been applied to current problems, every aspect of Capitalism has been examined and explained, every policy presented to the workers has been criticised and its value assessed, every anti-working-class party has been exposed. Hundreds of well-informed articles have made accessible useful knowledge from almost every field of study, and hundreds of students’ difficulties have been answered.

The SOCIALIST STANDARD is not like a “news” journal, out of date almost as soon as it is published. It is a record of the past history of working-class movements, packed with invaluable information on their failures and on the false theories and policies which made failure inevitable. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no other comparable source to which the worker with his limited leisure and means can go for reliable guidance in the study of social problems. It is to meet this need that we offer bound volumes for sale. They are well bound and are sold at a price which leaves only a small margin over the actual cost of binding and postage. We cannot too strongly urge members and sympathisers to order one or more volumes and get down to study during the winter months.

(Reprinted from the S S., December 1930.)

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