Getting from here
There are good reasons to welcome Rod Shaw’s thoughts on the changeover to socialism (‘The penny drops’, August). One is that attempts so far by socialists to foresee “how the change came” have been far from brilliant. William Morris’s scenario of a Trafalgar Square massacre leading to a popular uprising, etc in News From Nowhere may have been believable when he wrote it in 1890 but is today utterly incredible. The Party’s pamphlet Socialism as a practical alternative predicts millions of socialists preparing “programmes of action for immediate implementation once the movement has gained control of the powers and machinery of governments.”
A second reason for seriously considering Rod’s piece—even if we don’t agree with all of it—is that it is imaginative and inspiring. It combats the negativity of those who claim that socialism is idealistic and against human nature, those who say “It’s a nice idea but…”
Rod doesn’t underestimate the importance of “taking control of the state machinery from those in power”. But he recognises that socialism, like capitalism, is a whole and complete system: “Well before any official declaration was made, people had started to do what was needed to begin creating the new world.”
When today we join the Socialist Party we join the world socialist movement; we withdraw support for capitalism even though we have to live in it for the time being; we take the first few faltering steps towards building the socialist future. A few hundred of us make no impression on the dominance of capitalism; a few thousand of us will begin to make an impression. As our numbers grow we will infiltrate and revolutionise the media, the educational bodies, the workplaces, the arts, cultural, scientific, leisure and other worlds.
The hard part is to get from here to the beginning of there…
In “As Things Are Now” (September) Rod foresees what socialism will be like in just a few ways. We can all find some of what he says likely and acceptable and some unlikely and doubtful. The main thing is that as more of us give up supporting capitalism and start building a socialist world we shall put some flesh on the bones of common ownership, democratic control, production for use and free access.
STAN PARKER, London SW9