Letter: How to get Socialism

To the Editors of the SOCIALIST STANDARD
Sirs,—I like much your invitation of letters from readers. I desire to accept it because I am profoundly dissatisfied with your reply to Sidney Warr, whose address I should like to have seen given by you. Anonymous letters ought to be discouraged.

Mr. Warr will probably have to be content with your “reply,” will, in fact, be expected to be. He laid himself wide open to a knock-out by his use of that beloved-of-politicians’ word, “Reformism.” What Sidney Warr really meant was Evolution. If he had said Evolution, how would you have answered? I hope to find out by using the term myself. How do you get what you term ” Socialism ” otherwise than by Evolution?

Incidentally, I object most strongly to your continuous abuse of the word principles. Principles have nothing to do with machinery. Principles are human and concern and govern human conduct. Look at the inhumanness of your reiterated “ownership.” Ownership and morals cannot co-exist. To change society human values must annihilate material valuations. Where is your evidence that you recognise that what is wrong with society is its morals? Where is your recognition of the one and only commandment, Thou shalt not be selfish?
Yours sincerely,
David MacConnell.
Beech House, Castle Street,
Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Our correspondent objects to anonymous letters: Mr. Warr’s letter on Reformism and Strikes (see September issue) was not anonymous, but we do not publish addresses unless we know that correspondents wish it

We are interested to learn from Mr. MacConnell that Mr. Warr’s letter about reformism was not the letter Mr. Warr really meant to write. According to Mr. MacConnell “what Sidney Warr really meant was Evolution.” (Perhaps we shall now hear from Mr. Warr telling us what Mr. MacConnell‘s letter means.)

We are now asked: “How do you get what you term ’Socialism’ otherwise than by Evolution?” As the establishment of Socialism (as distinct from retaining capitalism with “reforms”) involves changing the property basis of society, it can be achieved only through a Socialist majority gaining control of the machinery of government for that purpose. Our correspondent is referred to our Declaration of Principles on another page.

We are not told how “evolution” is supposed to do the job, and incidentally this shows that Mr. MacConnell’s belief that he is Mr. Warr’s interpreter is quite wrong, for Mr. Warr did not put the case that Socialism could be achieved by reforms (or evolution).

Mr. MacConnell is angry about our alleged abuse of the word principles, but gives no example, so we do not know what he has in mind.

He says that “ownership and morals cannot co-exist,” which is, of course, absurd. Capitalist morality co-exists with capitalist ownership. And apparently Mr. MacConnell does not really believe what he says, for he wants the morals of present-day society to be changed. Capitalist society cannot have its morality changed if it has none.

We give no evidence that we recognise that what is wrong with society is its morals, because the statement is meaningless. It is like saying that what is wrong with war is the violent way it is conducted.

Our correspondent lays down his one and only commandment: “Thou shaft not be selfish,” but does not notice that in a class society it is two-edged. Does it mean that the exploiting class should show their unselfishness by giving up the exploitation of the working class? Or does it mean (as in the view of the exploiting class) that the workers should give up struggling against being exploited?


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