Victory for Socialism (What It Involves)

(Concluded from July issue)

As the result of pressure of other work, a couple of months have gone by since the first part of this article appeared in the July issue. The lapse of time, however, has not done any harm.

On the contrary, as we have been dealing with a Labour Party splinter group (The Victory for Socialism Group), it has given them time to peter out again, nothing having been heard of them on any scale for many weeks. Not that they are not likely to pop up again, but, as we have said, these movements come and go with the ups-and-downs of Capitalism and have no significance at all in terms of sustained work for Socialism.

We have already explained that the limited (day to day) objectives of the Labour Party and its splinters commit them to continue Capitalism. Capitalism, it must be realised, is a social system, not merely a form of government. State control and private ownership are simply different forms of the same thing and do not in any way touch the basic nature of Capitalism. What is the basic nature of Capitalism? How is Capitalism marked off from any other system?

First and foremost the means of living, that is to say, factories, machinery, land and transport, etc., take the form of Capital.

This means that by State Bonds, company shares, or outright personal ownership, part of the wealth created by past exploitation is invested for the purpose of further wealth production on a continuous basis of exploitation. IT IS THE UNPAID, SURPLUS PRODUCED BY THE WORKERS WHICH SERVES AS THE BASIS FOR THEIR OWN FURTHER EXPLOITATION and also provides for the rent, interest and profits for the owners of Capital.

Following from this form of ownership and indispensable to it, there must be a class which owns nothing but its ability to work, a class whose only access to life’s essentials is through wages.

Wages hide from open view the filching-away process because in working for wages it appears that we get paid for what we produce, yet a moment’s thought will teach us that this cannot be true.

Our wages provide our keep in terms of so much food, clothing and shelter, etc., and enable us to raise future wage workers.

The total value of wages, however, is not all we produce. The employers do not employ us just to keep ourselves, but also to keep them, too. and in much more luxuriant conditions than ourselves. When it is said that “they put up the money so they are entitled to a return,” just remember that the many thousands of millions of pounds, dollars and roubles, etc., tied up as capital all over the world today were NEVER produced by those who own them, but by workers in the manner described above. No matter how small a Capitalist may be when he starts, when he is big enough to live on a property income (State or private), it is not produced by him, but by propertyless wage labour.

It only remains to say that the selling of goods and services for profit is the universal means by which the Capitalist disposes of the surplus in order to realise it in cash. The terms we all use in a more or less familial way, such as trade, prices, wages, world markets, finance, and everything arising from them, are hall-marks of Capitalism.

Now that we have had a more detailed look at the kind of monster we are dealing with, it will be easier to see why the S.P.G.B. insists that Capitalism cannot be made to work in peace and harmony. Its internal strife and conflicts are part and parcel of it. It cannot be otherwise than anti-working-class, for it rests upon their exploitation. In the light of these facts the squirmings of the so-called “left” reformists to make this system run more smoothly, present to us Socialists a picture of pathetic tragedy and it should be easy to see what the Socialist attitude to Industrial action, Slogans, Demonstrations, Leadership and lobbying M.P.’s must be. All of these things art merely aspects of the way workers react to the conditions of Capitalism, painfully aware that something is wrong, but seeing only effects and not causes; they shoot in the dark, hoping, more by luck than judgment. to hit something.

The S.P.G.B. attitude to Industrial action has been stated many times in these columns. It is that set out by Marx in Value, Price and Profit, namely, a frank recognition of the need for workers to organise into trade unions, in order to resist the downward pressure of employers upon wages and conditions and whenever possible (for instance, during a boom) to push up wages and improve conditions of work. This attitude is based on the fact of the class-struggle and the knowledge of the necessary antagonism which exists between owners and non-owners, the buyers and sellers of Labour power. It is in the workers’ interest to gain as much as they can—the boss can always be relied upon to look after his end.

This does not mean at all that workers can achieve common-ownership of the means of living by industrial action. It is the powers of the State that legalise and enforce the property rights and privileges of the Capitalist class, and it is these powers that must be captured and abolished by the working class in order to introduce Socialism-classless-Society.

To demonstrate, shout slogans and lobby M.P.’s, after having voted for one or the other parties to run Capitalism, does not bother the Capitalist class, who can rely on millions of workers to continue upholding the system that robs them. Only an understanding of Socialism can really help the working class. This is what the S.P.G.B. (and its companion parties) alone works for.


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