1960s >> 1968 >> no-762-february-1968

About Ourselves

The Socialist Party of Gt. Britain is an independent party set up in 1904. We are opposed to all other parties in this country including the Labour Party and the so-called Communist Party. Our only links are with similar Socialist parities in other countries.


Our object is Socialism: a world wide society where production will be solely for use, not sale or profit; where the means of life will be commonly owned and democratically controlled; where classes will have been abolished and all human beings be social equals. Production and distribution will be organised on the principle: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. There will be no buying and selling, no money, wages, profits or banks. All will have free access to what they need to live and enjoy life. As all will have the same common social interests there will be no need for a public power of coercion. The state, armed forces and weapons of destruction will disappear.


This is Socialism. Obviously it does not exist anywhere in the world, not in Russia, nor China, nor Yugoslavia, nor Cuba. What exists in these places is a class society best called state capitalism.


We are a Marxist party, that is, we accept the materialist conception of history, the labour theory of value and theory of the class struggle. In our view Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao Tse-Tung, Castro and the others have twisted Marx’s views to back their state capitalist regimes.


President-day society, capitalism, is a class society. The means of production belong not to society as a whole, but only to a section of it, the capitalists. The rest of us have to work for them to live. There are thus two classes in society —capitalists and workers. The working class is not confined to factory workers but includes all who have to sell their mental and physical energies to live; clerks, civil servants, technicians and managers as well.


Built into capitalism is a conflict between these two classes—the class struggle. This struggle over the division of wealth (which is produced by the working class alone) goes on all the time. You are familiar with its forms: strikes, trade unions, employers associations, wage freezes. States of Emergency. This means that the working class is an exploited class. By this we do not mean that workers are treated brutally by bullying employers or that foremen walk about with whips. We just mean that although the workers produce all wealth, the best goes to the capitalists who live off rent, interest and profit. How workers live is rationed by the size of their wage packet or salary cheque. Generally this is not more than enough to keep a man and his family in efficient working order. Despite a world capable of providing plenty for all, workers have to put up with the cheap and second-rate in food, clothes, houses, entertainment, health and so on. We say this is how it must be under capitalism. These social problems are built into capitalism and will not go till the means of production cease to be the monopoly of a privileged class and become the common property of the whole community. Capitalism cannot be made to work in the interests of all. It can work only one way, as a profit-making system in the interest of those who live off profits.


A feature of present-day society that cannot be ignored is the government machine or state—the public power or coercion. It is used today mainly to protect the property of the property-owners. The owners of the places when you work do not own them in the same way as they own their toothbrushes; they are not their personal possessions What they have is a legal title, a piece of paper saying that they are theirs. This title is backed by the law.


Thus before the community can take over industry and run it in the interests of all, the working class must capture political power and, by using the state machinery, strip the capitalist class of their property. The means are already to hand in the vote and the ballot box. Elections are about who shall control the state. At present because people do not want Socialism or think it will not work they send to parliament and the local councils members pledged to keep capitalism going. When they want Socialism, then they will elect socialists. This is an important principle: there can be no Socialism without a socialist majority Socialism can only be introduced democratically to people who want and understand it and are prepared to take the steps needed to get it and keep it going. The only people who can change society from capitalism to Socialism are you, the working class. Nobody, no leaders no MP’s, can do it for you. If you want Socialism, it is something you must get for yourselves. This is where the Socialist Party differs from the Labour Party and the so called Communist Party. Labour says that MP’s by putting through reform measures can bring Socialism for you.The Communists say that a minority, the vanguard party can do the same. We reject both propositions—and the failure of both parties to further the cause of Socialism, let alone establish it, confirms our case. Capitalism has changed Labour, not Labour capitalism, and they have state capitalism not Socialism in Russia.


The Socialist Party stands for democratic, political action to get Socialism. We go further and say that the task of a Socialist party today should be to put the socialist alternative to the working class, and not to get involved in the running of capitalism. We only seek support on the basis of Socialism. We have no reform programme. When we contest elections we do so on a socialist programme and nothing else. This is not because we are opposed to social reforms, but because we are opposed to a policy of reformism. Trying to reform capitalism is pointless; it is like going up a downward moving escalator: you run fast to stay still. No sooner have you put through one reform than another is necessary.


We reject this futile task and set ourselves a worthwhile one: to help in the slow growth of socialist understanding. For this we are organised as a political party. We bring out this monthly journal, the Socialist Standard. We publish pamphlets and leaflets. We hold meetings, indoor and outdoor. We contest elections. We do this because we know that Socialism will not be achieved until a majority want it. There is no other way. There are no short cuts to Socialism.


So we are asking you to study our case and if you agree with us to join our party and so play your part in the struggle for Socialism.