1970s >> 1979 >> no-896-april-1979
Letter: Socialist Enclave
I have read the last 12 copies or so of the Socialist Standard and nearly all your pamphlets, and am now quite convinced that you are the only “true” Socialist Party in that your primary concern is for the overthrow of capitalism (we’ve waited hundreds of years for that one) and class society generally (we’ve waited thirty thousand years for that one!).
However, my question is connected with that latter “overthrow”. The SPGB believes in the ballot method, which is after all a sure test of the democracy involved. However, it is highly unlikely that all countries will arise one morning and breathe in the fresh air of knowledge and calmly (but surely) pen their votes for the social change. One country would have to begin the process (or a bunch of countries) and thus would still be faced with a surrounding majority of capitalist others. Just as capitalism arose as an enclave within feudal society, so socialism would arise as an enclave within capitalism, EXCEPT what would determine its survival or even its influence upon the other countries?
Socialism can exist only on a worldwide basis, thus if I and the vast majority of the British population voted for the SPGB you may find yourselves becoming another bunch of politicians in a world in which the social structure is capable of withstanding great attempts at Socialist “enclaves” (as I mentioned earlier). This Socialist “enclave” question is, I believe, the greatest to face socialists (greatest problem at answering, that is) since it brings to mind the problems of a world slowly changing to Socialism (if at all) and, assuming this, then in what manner?
Although we can use our knowledge about former social revolutions to investigate the process of social change, it is important that we keep clear in our minds the essential difference between each of these revolutions.
In particular, the revolution for socialism will be society’s first majority revolution—the first by the people of the world in their own interest. As such, there is no reason to accept that it will exactly follow the same lines as previous revolutions—for example that from feudalism to capitalism.
So we should not automatically assume that it is necessary for socialist “enclaves” to exist among the ruins of capitalism. The movement for socialism is now one of ideas and on that score all the developed world is pretty well at the same stage: workers in America. Russia, Europe, Australia. Japan and so on have the same ideas about capitalism and about human society in general.
In the other countries they are catching up fast; with the development of industry in the newly “independent” countries the people there will have ideas indistinguishable from those of workers where the development happened earlier.
Ideas do not stand still. For example, in the last thirty years we have seen important changes in attitude towards marriage, the family, education, difference in skin colour. These changes—which have happened worldwide—are the process of the working class feeling their way towards the conclusion that a fundamental social change is the only way to harmonise relationships within society.
In other words, there is every reason to think that the socialist revolution will be, to all intents and purposes, simultaneous throughout the world. For a time it may gather greater momentum in one country than in another, but this will quickly adjust itself. As socialism becomes a more possible reality there will be a rush toward it, rather than a hanging back. Speed the day!