The Vitalising Principle of the Socialist Party of Great Britain

The Socialist Party of Great Britain was organised in 1904 in order to achieve the emancipation of the working class. That was the reason for its founding.

The people who formed our party were working men and working women. They had learnt that there was only one way by which the workers could gain their emancipation. That way was by establishing Socialism, and that there were no short cuts to this objective. Bitter experience had taught them that the fatuous policies of “progressives,” the blissful dreams of humanitarians, the patronising philosophysing of “intellectuals,” and the prolonged agony of reformism, were all alike delusions and snares. Their experiences and studies in an earlier organisation had taught them three things: The Socialism could only be established by a working class that understood what it involved and wanted it; that before Socialism could be established the working class must take the powers of government out of the hands of the possessing class; and, finally, that the Socialist Party must follow an unswerving course based upon an understanding of the class struggle and its implications.

When the founder members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain realised that the party to which they formerly belonged, the Social Democratic Federation, was leading the workers into a morass, they then decided to form a new party with the aim of emancipating the workers by establishing Socialism, and cleaving to this as their sole object. Hence they set down their object and formulated a set of principles which summarised the existing social system, its implications and the course that must be followed.

Since 1904 the other parties have come and gone, chimerical hopes have been raised, but the basic position has not changed, nor are there any indications that it is ever likely to change before the accomplishment of the Party’s objective. Hence the only course the workers can follow in order to achieve their emancipation from the capitalist system of exploitation is to work for the establishment of Socialism and to ignore all the alluring and much trodden byways which only lead to frustration and despair. No amount of word spinning, verbal juggling, or hair-splitting, can get around this position or surmount the obstacles that stand in the workers’ path to emancipation. To no longer be solely concerned with the emancipation of the working class would be to abandon the outlook that brought our party into existence, inspired those who have continued to press forward its outlook and policy, and what has kept the Party on a sound Socialist course through 50 years of tribulation and opposition.

The fact that the emancipation of the working class by the establishment of Socialism will have beneficial effects on groups of people, whether they be workers or not, who suffer other forms of discriminations is entirely incidental and has no bearing on our intentions or procedure, though it helps to support our case.

The class cleavage between workers and capitalists is universal; it cuts across all national, colour and religious distinctions. It overrides and swamps all other distinctions in the final analysis and the final reckoning. When the class distinction between the working class and the capitalist class has been abolished by the establishment of Socialism all other distinctions that set people at variance today will go with it.

Finally, our exclusive aim is the emancipation of the working class by the establishment of Socialism, and we welcome to our ranks all who are prepared to help us in this work.


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