50 Years Ago: A Socialist New Year Message
It is private ownership which denies the worker access to the things which would remove his poverty. Workers are not denied these things because the capitalist is privileged to own by some divine or natural right. In fact, the capitalist class emerged from obscure historical beginnings and itself had to clear the way of a previous ruling class before it became dominant. Nor is working-class poverty attributable to lack of ability, for workers organise and carry out production on behalf of the capitalists. The capitalist class, as a class, is outside the process of production. Whilst the social means of production continue to be the private property of a class who are a small minority, social contradictions are inevitable; that is to say, the majority will be poor whilst there is plenty, and wars will arise through the clash of interests between capitalist states. “Progress” will be governed by what is in the interests of the minority who own the means of production, and not by what is in the interests of the whole of society. Even with all the good-will in the world to solve social problems, by the very nature of them, the capitalist class can only apply such remedies as will leave unchallenged its privileged position as an owning class.
Only the working class is free to take the step which will remove social contradictions and the obstacles to the progress of human society.
These are truths which are topical for us at all seasons.
(From the Socialist Standard, January 1940.)