1970s >> 1979 >> no-898-june-1979

Editorial: The Need is Socialism

The Socialist Party of Great Britain was formed in 1904—seventy-five years ago this month. Any organisation which has lasted that long must be tempted to look back and congratulate itself simply on the fact of its own survival.

We have seen two world wars, prolonged international slumps, the rise of fearsome dictatorships and innumerable smaller crises, economic and political. Progress in political understanding has been hampered by the distortions of Labour government in this country and by the misnaming of the Russian dictatorship as socialist. The intensity of working class exploitation has been increased by developments which, in a sane society, could only be for human benefit. The very existence of human life is threatened now by the stockpiles of destruction which the power blocs of capitalism keep at the ready.

It has not been, then, a happy seventy-five years but yes, we have survived. And by survival we mean as a socialist party; we have kept the socialist case extant and active. Whatever minor mistakes we have made, the basic validity of the case for socialism has not been threatened by anything that has happened during our lifetime. Indeed, the opposite has been true; the need is for socialism now. as it was in 1904.

For socialists, then, this might be a time for self-congratulation, for complacently reviewing our achievements as if that is enough. But capitalism—an impossible, menacing turmoil of a society—remains and its abolition is urgent. Working for socialism is vital and at this time of our seventy-fifth anniversary we reaffirm our resolve to carry this on.

The socialist movement offers something unique. We alone analyse the events of capitalism from a consistent, Marxist standpoint. We alone are not misled by promises of reform of easing one social ailment here, another there, at the cost of capitalism’s continuation. Experience teaches us that this is futile. So we shall continue to stand, alone, for the only effective way of dealing with those ailments—the establishment of socialism.

But capitalism can move fast. Since the war we have seen developments in travel, communication and production which could scarcely have been dreamed of in 1904. Technical problems only recently regarded as insoluble have been solved. Recent progress in the field of micro-processors makes the computers of twenty years ago, then considered the ultimate in ingenuity, seem rudimentary and clumsy. And we are still only just beginning to scratch the surface of knowledge. The socialist movement alone consistently relates such developments to the realities of capitalist society. As long as capitalism endures, all such progress will be allowed only as it answers the demand for profitable production. Only socialism will truly set free the people’s talents to build an abundant world of free access to wealth.

Socialism will bring the uniting of the human race. Capitalism divides its peoples—in real terms on the basis of their class and in the mythology of the patriots and the racists on the basis of their country or their physical characteristics. These latter divisions, unscientific as they are, are the roots of much violence. The Socialist Party stresses the essential unity of the majority of the world’s people, to give mutual support during the class struggle of capitalism and-more importantly—in the struggle to end class society and replace it with the classless society of socialism.

This struggle is long and hard and, as the socialist movement is at present so small, lonely. It might seem easier to be diverted into some vote-catching gimmick but in the long run this would make our work harder still. It would signal the end of the socialist movement and leave us with the task of rebuilding. Our weapons in this struggle are words—debate, argument, comparisons, knowledge—and these we must bring to bear with all the power at our disposal.

So accuracy, clarity, cogency are vital to our work. This has been our pride; we do not indulge in smears, or in a distortion of what our opponents say—they condemn themselves out of their own mouths. Socialists tirelessly put our case, in debate, discussion, in speaking and writing. We do this not just to win our point but also to test the validity of what we are saying—and thus the case for socialism has been proven.

We are confident that this will continue. Socialism has been searchingly tested by reality and it has stood the test. There can be no doubt that a new society based upon common ownership is the only way to end the problems of modern society. Our task, seventy-five years old, is to keep that case alive, to sharpen our propaganda and to make our party into an ever more dynamic force for socialism.