Letters: Militant’s future
After the Walton by-election in Liverpool and the defeat of the “Real” Labour candidate is Militant ready for further confrontations and political battles all over the country? Now, with many of its members soon to be expelled from the Labour Party and any base or foothold to be broken up or removed, is Militant willing to acknowledge it has only one option? To create and start as a national political party and campaign on the streets and through the media for votes from the public and fight for power through elections, local and national.
Militant has no alternative and can only fight for its political life through the ballot box and use its members to do the work, as the Labour and Liberal parties do. Militant can go nowhere now. but has to start to campaign on its own and seek support from the British public.
It could, as it did in Liverpool, seek help and support from the WRP and SWP but I doubt these would move so far themselves as to amalgamate with Militant to form a “new” party, e.g. “Militant Socialist Labour Party”.
We agree that there is a crying need for the Labour Party to be challenged at the polls all over the country by real socialist candidates. But we don’t think that Militant is at all qualified to perform this role; nor do we think that they want to challenge the Labour Party nationally.
As Trotskyists they stand for state capitalism not real socialism. ‘They want an economy where we would all be employees of the state and where the state would be controlled by an elite of political manipulators like themselves (and the WRP. SWP, etc). So, even if they did form a new party to oppose Labour, this would not be a socialist party. But there is nothing to suggest that this is what they want to do or what they will do. They know that outside the special circumstances of Liverpool their vote would be numbered in hundreds not thousands and that outside the Labour Party they would have no influence.
So what they will try to do now is to stay in the Labour Party taking even more precautions not to be caught breaking its rules. The Labour leaders, on the other hand, will resort to ever more underhand methods (secret photographs. tape recordings, moles, etc) to root them out. This sordid battle of intrigue and deceit between two sets of political manipulators is of no concern to workers generally, except insofar as it exposes both of them as unworthy of their support.
In any event there is no need to form a “new socialist party” since a genuine socialist party has been in existence in this country since 1904. We have opposed the Labour Party since its foundation on the grounds that it has been a party of capitalist reform not a socialist party. At every general election since 1945, and on other occasions such as by-elections and local council elections, we have stood against Labour (and the other capitalist parties) offering workers a chance to vote for the genuine socialist alternative.
We plan to do so again in the coming general election but for this to happen on an increasing scale, as our correspondent rightly wants, those who have become convinced of the need to establish, by democratic means, a socialist society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit will need to join us to ensure that it does.
Marx and socialism
I am writing this letter to seek clarification about the socialist ideology. I heard from your representative at Hyde Park about the recent change in economic policies of Eastern Europe/USSR where it was said that the economic policies of Lenin were based on “State Capitalism” instead of “Socialism”. Hence socialism cannot be blamed for such failure. Socialist Party Leaflet No 4 (What about Eastern Europe?) was distributed in order to support the speaker’s arguments. But today (25 July) I heard on ITV news that the manifesto given by Marx in 1848 contained “state-run economy” instead of a “society based on common ownership” where “there will be no profits, no wages and no exploitation”.
On the basis of the information given by the ITV, I understand that either Marx believed in state capitalism or the idea of socialism preached by you is different from Marx’s ideas. I would appreciate if you would please send me your comments on the socialist economic policies.
We too heard ITV News claim that Marx advocated a “state-run economy” quoting the 1848 Communist Manifesto as evidence. It is true that at the end of the second part this manifesto did contain a list of immediate revolutionary measures which included setting up a state bank, nationalising transport and communications and extending state-owned factories, and so which might legitimately be described as “state capitalist”.
These were measures which Marx believed socialists would have needed to implement had they come to power in 1848 (a most unlikely event even if at the time Marx and Engels believed otherwise, mistakenly as they later admitted). Marx judged—this time rightly— that the productive forces were not sufficiently developed in 1848 to permit the immediate establishment of socialism as a society of common ownership with no profits and no wages. He saw these measures as a way “to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible” and so bring nearer the time when full socialism could be established.
Marx never saw socialism itself as being a state-run economy but. on the contrary, as he puts it elsewhere in the Communist Manifesto as one where “the public power will lose its political character” and involving “the conversion of the functions of the state into a mere superintendence of production” as well as the “abolition of buying and selling” and of “the wages system”.
Besides, when they reprinted the manifesto in 1872 Marx and Engels wrote in an introduction that, because historical circumstances had changed since 1848, “no special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of Section II . . . this programme has in some details become antiquated”. Well, if it was antiquated in 1872 it has long since become completely fossilized! So it is a distortion typical of the capitalist media to portray this as evidence that Marx’s aim was a state-run economy, i. e. state capitalism. This was merely something he advocated, briefly, in 1848 and then only to deal with a problem which no longer exists, since the productive forces have long been developed to permit the immediate and direct establishment of socialism as a classless, stateless, moneyless society just as soon as a majority want it.