1980s >> 1983 >> no-951-november-1983

Away with capitalism!

To hell with poverty! No, not just that poverty which affects the poor, but the poverty which faces every single member of the working class: the poverty which says that the world and its resources do not belong to you; your role in life is to sell your mental and physical energies as a wage slave.

We don’t want humanised poverty — poverty with Ford Fiestas and Sony Hi-Fis. Welfare indignity, with state-apportioned crumbs is no alternative to the public charity of the last century. If you have no alternative than to work hard to make someone else rich you are a worker.

Let’s end the working class. The answer is not to make it more comfortable in its slavery: to buy it a suit, give it a mortgage and promise it a pension when it gets too old to milk for profit. Instead of the miserable plea for “fair wages”, how about abolishing wages? Why spend your lives in the service of capital when, instead of being legally robbed, the means are at hand to end the robbery of class by class. Why put up with a class-divided society? Let’s decide to live as equals.

For how much longer will men and women have to struggle to survive in a society of potential abundance? Struggle to pay the rent, to buy cheap food and shoddy clothes, to go on cut price holidays for a fortnight, to live in homes built on the cheap. Why devote resources to the machinery of killing and the bureaucracy of commerce when the productive forces have reached the point where life could be made happy for us all?

When will the majority say no to the merchants of deception who sit in the parliaments and pick at the scabs of capitalism? Whether they are the Thatcherite louts, with their three-piece smiles and smooth-tongued social vandalism, or the trendy traitors who declare their concern for “the poor” while climbing the greasy pole to the House of Lords, the workers must learn to reject their poisonous promises with all the force that hostility to capitalism requires.

We do not want “decent Leaders”: heroes, vanguards. Führers, Saints, Iron Ladies, benevolent reformers. Above all, beware of the smiling reformist: the leader who is going to remove the symptoms of the capitalist malady while leaving the disease intact. Watch out for their oh-so-sincere leaflets in which they borrow workers’ tears to build their careers. Neither leaders nor followers are required — to end the system we must know where we’re going and we must know how to get there.

What we want is a society of human equality and how we get it will involve more than just desire. We must take the forces of power — the parliaments, the councils, the guns — from the minority who control them at present. And once we, the conscious working class majority, are in political control — once the parasites have been disarmed, we must disarm them economically. The capitalist minority must be dispossessed — in short, they must be stripped of their ownership and control of the means of living, which they now monopolise. Dispossession does not mean nationalisation whereby the state runs capitalism on behalf of the ruling class, but the complete abolition of all property rights and the establishment of common ownership and democratic control.

No longer should the majority be deceived by the capitalists’ conception of socialism. Their “socialism” is a variant of capitalism: either it is distorted to mean the kind of dictatorial police states where workers are exploited under banners proclaiming Marxist slogans or to mean Labour-administered wage slavery. Socialism is not a humane brand of capitalism; it cannot exist within the social confines of the present system. We shall have either capitalism or socialism — and if we have socialism, then the entire structure of this hateful, impoverishing, anti-social jungle will have to go.

Don’t be afraid to take the leap into the future. Too many workers have been intimidated by the conditioning of wage slavery to accept the abject misery (or the semi-detached semi-misery) of the capitalist system. Without bosses, without governments, without armies and bombs and borders and price tags they believe that the world will stop. A world freed from the fetters of the market is viewed by some as a chaotic prospect where humanity will destroy itself as a result of our own inherent greed and aggression and competitiveness. What sickening pictures capitalism teaches us to have of ourselves.

Human behaviour, liberated from the commercial jungle of privilege versus poverty, will adapt as it has adapted before. It is capitalism, with its need to condition workers to kill without cause, that tests our natural desire to co-operate. Socialism, a society of equal human co-operation, is the only way in which we can live in peace and allow our human desires to develop fully.

So, the task before us is to make history: not to make it like our ancestors did, by falling victims to the evolving requirements of voracious property interests. Let us not make history that children in the future can ridicule as the foolish antics of deranged primitive beings of class society. For the children of tomorrow will most certainly laugh at what they see now: the loony generals and the beef mountains and the wasteful toil and the pompous leaders and the exploited, politically conditioned millions who are enchained by the price tags on their labour power. They will laugh — or, perhaps, in the society of the socialist future, they will have the respect for victims of capitalism to feel politely sorry for the silly old fools.

The history to be made by the socialist majority is the history of human emancipation. We must create a society where production is solely for need: where houses are built to live in and food to eat and clothes to wear. For, let it never be forgotten. until we have a world society where no person goes short of what can be produced to satisfy their needs, it is fraudulent to claim that we live in a civilisation. A world where millions starve — a world where even a single old person is forced to shiver in the cold because it costs too much to switch on a heater — is not civilised, but fit for nothing but the scrapheap of history.

Who are these respectable advocates of the status quo who dare to tell us that capitalism is good for us? Some of them are members of the parasite class themselves — scrounging robbers who live off the fruits of our labours and expect us to be grateful when they build us hospitals and council estates and offer us a few quid for a death grant. The foul-mouthed Victorian values brigade who look into the gutters of their imperial past to find recipes for a profitable future. But even worse than the self-defending vultures are the paid prostitutes who seduce the workers in return for a fat salary and a country estate.

Who is advocating socialism? Judge that not by what people and parties say, but by what they do. Do they talk of socialism and then advocate “patriotism” — do they support “socialist” nuclear bombs, as does Mitterrand, or “socialist” bans on trade unions. as does Jaruzclski, or “socialist” political prisons, as does Andropov? A party which stands for socialism must have an Object and must have clear, unequivocal principles — and at the back of this journal you will find them.

Fellow workers, capitalism exploits and oppresses and destroys. To permit its continuation is an act of folly. But to end it requires activity — that of the Socialist Party and the millions who have yet to become aware of the need for socialism. The millions do not speak with one voice, but you can think with one mind and now you are being urged to think hard about where your political allegiance lies: to the perpetuation of the present or to the creation of a socialist future. How far off that wonderful future is depends in no small way on you.

Steve Coleman