1960s >> 1968 >> no-768-august-1968

50 Years Ago: The Making of Socialists

Today the workers as a class are not revolutionary. For them to become so implies a great mental change. We have seen how successfully bourgeois vehicles of thought, such as the schools and the Press have given the workers a capitalistic outlook. Is it possible and likely that they will ever be able to throw off these baneful influences and come to a realisation that their interests lie in social revolution? The Socialist answers, yes! The process will doubtless be slow, but there are two powerful agents which further it—economic and social developments and Socialist propaganda. The former is the more important, for the Socialist, unlike those Utopians who worshipped at the shrine of “reason”, knows that masses of men have never been moved to effect social changes through mere argument, however logical they may be, unless reinforced by interest, by the sting of outraged feeling. It is experience of the bitter fruits of capitalism that will have the sophistries of capitalist apologists and of imparting to the proletariat a frame of mind conducive to the acceptance of revolutionary ideal The real function of Socialist propaganda is to clarify and organise the vague anti-capitalist thoughts already present in the minds of discontented workers, by educating them to the true nature of capitalism and the means of their emancipation, thus giving to the working class an objective which social development demonstrates with ever increasing vividness to be both desirable and possible.
From an article “Socialism: Its Economic and Theoretical Basis’’ by R. W. Housley, Socialist Standard, August 1918).