1980s >> 1980 >> no-914-october-1980

Who Do You Think You Are?

Let’s get some things straight.

Being working class does not mean scrubbing front doorsteps of terraced houses on hands and knees, or wearing a cloth cap or a donkey jacket, does not mean smoking Woodbines, or playing darts, bowls or crib for the local pub team, does not mean watching Coronation Street and Carry On films, or speaking in a local dialect, heavy accent or slang, or passionately supporting a football team standing on the terraces, does not mean filling a mantelshelf with little ornaments from Blackpool, or keeping pigeons or greyhounds, does not mean shopping at the Co-op or reading the Daily Mirror, or . . .

Being middle class does not mean wearing a shirt and tie, having a mortgage, having a building society or bank account, or a nice car, or going to college or university, does not mean sounding your aitches, does not mean working in an office, being a foreman, a manager, a doctor, a teacher or living in a house in a quiet avenue, or having a bath twice a day, does not mean watching BBC2 documentaries, or supporting a football team and sitting in the stands, or slippers by the fire, or being polite, or being a self-employed plumber, window-cleaner or keeping the little corner shop, does not mean drinking wine, or reading the Observer or the Guardian or the Telegraph, does not mean . . .

Being a socialist does not mean voting Labour, or being on the “left”, or being an “extremist” or a “militant”, does not mean being an idealistic student who’ll grow up in a few years, does not mean campaigning for a minimum wage, for more money to be spent on housing for the homeless, more medicine for the sick, more financial aid to third world countries, or waving banners urging governments to ban nuclear weapons, does not mean abusing policemen on the beat, or listening to Sham 69, or becoming hysterically emotional about “the Right to Work”, or  . . .

Being a revolutionary does not mean throwing bombs, barricading embassies, or violence in the streets, or listening to the Clash or the Sex Pistols, or taking heroin and cocaine, or wearing a Che Guevara beret and moustache, or shouting “Capitalist Pigs Die!” and raising a clenched fist in salute, does not mean becoming a rastafarian, or following the latest fashion, or going “underground”, or dodging fares on British Rail, or . . .

Get all this out of your head and you are ready to see things as they really are. Society is not split into thousands and thousands of little sections as a lot of misguided and ill-informed people would have you think. There are basically only two sections: the working class and the capitalist class. Being working class is an economic condition. The middle class, lower middle class, upper middle class, lower upper middle working class, and so on and so forth is all a myth. If you have to sell your physical or mental energies to an employer in return for a wage at the end of the week or a salary at the end of the month in order simply to survive, then you are working class. This is a fact, not an attitude. It doesn’t matter a scrap what job you’ve got or wish you’d got. You are a member of the social class which produces all the wealth in society but which possesses nothing but its labour power, its ability to sell its mental and physical capabilities. The other class, the owners, are able to live as they please from the profits gained from the wealth that you contribute, directly or indirectly, towards producing. The capitalist class owns everything in society that is required for human beings to live (factories, railways, mines, land, raw materials, tools, machines), but they have no need to lift a finger. The working class are employed to do that. And all governments in all countries have no option but to act on behalf of this tiny owning section. Therefore all governments have no option but to perpetuate the exploitation of the workers—no matter what bull they try to feed to those they are governing.

A socialist is someone who recognises that this state of affairs is nothing less than continuous robbery, and who further recognises that there is bound to be a permanent antagonism of interests between the two sections so long as the present system exists, and who recognises that there can only be one possible solution: abolition of the present capitalist system and the establishment of socialism. Socialism: a classless, moneyless, stateless, worldwide social organisation based on the common ownership of the means of living, where everything is produced solely for use, and where everyone will be able to take freely from society whatever is available, whenever he or she so desires, and will be free to contribute to society to the best of their ability, whenever he or she so desires, purely because it will be in the interests of people as individuals and as members of the community as a whole. The transformation from capitalism to socialism will come when the vast majority of the world’s working class understands and wants it and it will be voted for democratically because this will be how the new society will function. This transformation can be achieved no other way. It will be a complete change, a social revolution, the first conscious revolution in the history of the human race.

The only qualification to become a socialist is socialist understanding and the desire to bring socialism about as quickly as possible. In addition to being a socialist, I like hot baths regularly, Benny Hill, Dire Straits, Double Diamond and middle-to-low tar cigarettes. Some of my friends say I have bad taste.

Paul Breeze

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