1970s >> 1974 >> no-840-august-1974

Why Socialism?

“Confusion is undoubtedly the strongest weapon in the capitalist armoury. The fraudulent Labour Party, without a single measure on their programme that can benefit or interest the working class, lends itself to Tory and Liberal politicians as a socialist chopping block.” So said the Socialist Standard in July 1913 and to this day the smokescreen of gibberish constantly perpetrated by the capitalist parties obscures the class nature of society, and the antagonisms that therefore exist. Every proposition is debated ad nauseam except the most important one: necessity for a new society (Socialism) — now. The interest of the working class lies in the immediate establishment of Socialism, and this is the one and only object of the SPGB. We are not to be fobbed off by the “Immediate Demands” or “Something Now” Brigades. We have seen them march in confusion backwards and forwards across the social reform parade ground only to remain where they were. The “realists” have had their chance to find solutions to social problems and have failed miserably. Now is the time, not to be disillusioned, but for members of the working class to study our case and realize its validity.

Capitalism is the predominant form of society in all countries throughout the world. In this country it is estimated that 72 per cent of the wealth is owned about 10 per cent, of the population [1]  — the capitalist class. They also own the means of producing and reproducing wealth. Those who own nothing of the means of production, the working class, must sell their labour-power, skilled or unskilled, to an employer for a wage or salary. The working class forms the majority of society and is composed of all wage-earners, not just industrial workers but also those who would like to think of themselves as “middle class”. It is through the labour of the working class alone that all the wealth of society is produced and yet this is legally appropriated by the capitalists who produce nothing and are socially a useless class. As Engels so clearly put it:

   The capitalist has no further social function than that of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons and gambling on the stock exchange.

(Socialism, Utopian & Scientific)

Apologists for capitalism often argue how necessary (and no doubt kind-hearted) the capitalist class is to society by providing, at great pains to themselves, the capital for investment in new factories, works etc., and thus providing work for the workers. If the capitalist class think of themselves as doing society a good turn it does not concern us, although we rather suspect that their motives are not sublime. What can we be sure of is that capitalism inevitably creates unemployment and that an individual capitalist will invest not to provide work for others but only for profit or good “return” on his capital.

Capital constantly seeks to expand and stretch its grasping tentacles into every conceivable avenue, and of course engulf capitals smaller than itself. The real needs of human beings are not taken into account where production of wealth is only carried on with the motive of producing more and more capital. As long as the profit motive is the driving force behind production the needs of people cannot be met. Since the way in which wealth is produced and distributed in a given society will be the basic factor in determining the character of that society, it is not surprising that the anarchy of capitalist production and distribution gives rise to myriad social problems: housing, poverty, unemployment, etc. Such problems are indivisible from capitalism and insoluble under it. Historically capitalism has been a useful form of society in that it has enabled the means of production to be developed on a vast and world-wide social scale. Commodities are exchanged on a world-wide basis; e.g. many British workers have New Zealand lamb for their Sunday lunch, those that can afford it that is. There is however no world-wide social control over production and distribution, only an anarchy of competing capitals chasing the surplus-value produced solely by the working class.

The only alternative to capitalism is the establishment of Socialism where society as a whole will own and control in common the wealth and means of transporting it. Common Ownership means that individual members of society will have free access to what they want and require without regard to any form of exchange system. As Socialism can only be brought into being by the political act of the majority of people wanting and working for it, we assume that the majority of people would want to co-operate with each other in running and maintaining a Socialist society. Democratic control means that decisions affecting society would be taken by the majority and based upon the best available information. Society will make decisions in its own best interests. This is not the case today. We do not claim that Socialism will be trouble-free but compared with the madhouse of capitalism it will be a sane society indeed. Socialism will be the beginning of civilized history before which all societies will be classified as barbaric.

Tony D’Arcy


[1] See Hansard, 5th July 73.