1950s >> 1954 >> no-599-july-1954

No Alternative to Socialism

It is often stated by opponents of the S.P.G.B. that, after 50 years of propaganda, we have been unable to obtain the support of more than a few thousand members of the working class; that none of the social conditions which the present system has produced so far has led to anything remotely approaching the big change in the majority’s outlook. They therefore argue that we must be expecting some new circumstances which we think will lead to this big change of outlook, or that we have no reasons for hoping for it. It is pertinent criticism which can be answered.

Firstly what the S.P.G.B. does claim is that the material conditions, that is the development of the productive forces and the knowledge of how to produce enough to satisfy men’s needs, have been established with the development of capitalism. That there are certain countries which have yet to become industrialised on a large scale is true, but the industrial revolution is going on at a rapid pace in most of these countries. What is lacking is not the objective conditions but the subjective, that is the mass understanding and desire to establish Socialism. It is to propagate the idea of Socialism and to organise to establish it that is the task of the S.P.G.B. and of other Socialist Parties in the world.

The Class Struggle

The importance of the class struggle to Socialists is that it is the mechanism through the operation of which social changes are produced. The class struggle under capitalism arises from the relations of production, that is between the workers who have no means of living except by the sale of their labour power and the capitalist class who own either as individuals or collectively the means of production and distribution.

While capitalism continues, this struggle between the two classes will continue: there is no alternative: it is a struggle for existence. The largest organisations of the working class are the trade unions which attempt to maintain and improve the social conditions of their members, but they are limited by the economic laws of the capitalist system. Struggle as they may their members remain wage workers, they remain an exploited class and suffer the effects of the continuance of capitalism.

There is no way out except Socialism. Now as in 1904, when the S.P.G.B. was formed Socialism is the only answer. No developments have occurred, no tendencies have been produced to show that there can possibly be any other alternative. Until Socialism has been established capitalism will continue and with it the effects of the capitalist system—world wars, slumps, booms, poverty, riches, frustration and social antagonisms, rivalry between national capitalist states. No-one, no organisation, has shown any way of maintaining capitalism without the conditions which arise out of the social system of to-day. The reason is simple: if the conditions arise out of the social system of society, only the abolition of that system will remove the conditions.

To maintain that Socialism is not inevitable means to maintain that the working class do not learn from their experiences of the effects of capitalism. It can be agreed that some people learn more quickly than others, that some have been more fortunate in that they have made contact with Socialist ideas and have obtained a knowledge of Socialism earlier than others. The S.P.G.B. never stated in 1904 that Socialism would be established in 50 years; the foundation members stated that Socialism would come when the majority understood and desired it. We in 1954 state the same thing.

Events have not stood still, the productive forces have developed still further, capitalism has spread throughout the world and its effects on countries like Russia and China have been tremendous. Two world wars in 50 years have shaken the system to its foundations. No one can maintain that these events have not produced an effect on the working class. Likewise the experience of nationalisation. For years we had to explain that nationalisation would not make any real difference to the working class; in a few years practical experience of the effects of nationalisation has proved our case. The political party which advocated nationalisation as the cure has now no. other solution. It has been tried and found wanting.

Admittedly the growth of Socialist knowledge has been slow, but once again we ask what other alternative is there? The fact that there is no other alternative makes the situation clear; either we have Socialism or Capitalism will continue and we the working class will continue to suffer the effects of capitalism. Since we don’t like things as they are we work to propagate and organise for Socialism. Those outside our ranks who are dissatisfied with the conditions of capitalism have yet to learn that Socialism is the only alternative and the only remedy; but the fact that they are dissatisfied, the fact that the class struggle exists due to the property relations of production, means that they are for ever seeking a way out.

Only those who consider that the working class is incapable of understanding Socialism and will never learn can deny that Socialism is inevitable. To such people we state that a class who produce all and provide for the needs and desires of the capitalist class are quite capable of changing the property relations and, by expropriating the -parasite class, abolishing class society. The working class are not only capable but will be compelled to take this step in due course: there is no other alternative

D. W. L.

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