A reformist replies
The goals of the World Socialist Movement are obviously noble and if achievable it will surely be wonderful. I keep reading “join the socialist movement” and a lot of criticism for the current efforts towards alleviating poverty and hunger, towards world peace, towards a more harmonious world – because these efforts are still within the capitalist system, hence useless!
But I don’t see an actual plan, an algorithm, or any real action from WSM (besides talking, writing and meetings) towards achieving those goals. Please correct me if I have ready it wrongly. Seems WSM is just waiting for a miracle to happen that one fine morning everyone will suddenly become socialists and all will be well.
But socialism as preached by WSM is probably unreachable for several reasons:
1. 1. The free-market inherently seems fair to anyone able to participate in it (people come to America by the droves to fulfil the American Dream, and many do).
2. 2. Capitalism has developed an unstoppable momentum now.
3. 3. A certain amount of disparity is inevitable simply because people are unequal and most people believe some degree of inequality is actually fair.
I am doing something concrete towards reducing the ever-increasing disparity between people. I also basically agree with the ideals of WSM in principle, but I am a pragmatic person and need to do something that actually has an impact towards achieving those goals.
To better harmony among all lifeforms and nature.
Ghulam Hasnain (by email)
Reply: We are pleased to be able to correct you. No, we are not sitting back waiting for everybody to suddenly want socialism. We are actively working to help such a majority desire develop as soon as possible. But we are not smug like those who think that giving money to some charity or signing some petition – or even demonstrating – to protect the lesser spotted marsh butterfly or whatever exonerates them from considering what it is that causes the problem they express concern for. Technically speaking, they are doing something, but it’s no more effective than trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon or even with a soup ladle.
Fortunately, we’re not the only force working for socialism, capitalism is too in the sense that because it inevitably causes problems for the majority population of wage and salary workers it also causes discontent and the search for a way of solving these problems. So as long as capitalism exists there’ll be this discontent which will eventually lead to a realisation that the way out is to establish a world-wide society of common ownership, democratic control and production to satisfy people’s needs, not for profit.
Our task, as people who have already come to this realisation, is to point this out to others, as part of the process of the development of socialist ideas. At the moment, it is true, this largely involves “talking, writing and meetings” but, later, when there are many more of us practical plans will no doubt be drawn up, for instance stopping world hunger, restoring the balance between human society and nature, solving the housing problem for implementation after the winning of control of political power via the ballot box.
You say that there is no alternative to capitalism yet claim that you are able to do “something concrete towards reducing the ever-increasing disparity between people”. You don’t say what, but it doesn’t really matter since whatever it is won’t work – and can’t. Inequality is built in to capitalism based as it is on the monopolisation of the means of production by a minority class which gets richer all the time as more and more capital is accumulated. The same goes for the aims of those campaigning or protesting for peace (capitalism causes wars over markets, trade routes, raw material resources and investment outlets) or for the environment (capitalism puts profits before all other considerations, including the rest of nature). Trying to patch up capitalism and get it to change its spots is indeed, as you put it, useless. Much better to concentrate on trying to get people to change the basis of society from class ownership to common ownership and democratic control so that all these problems just wouldn’t arise in the first place. —Editors
Why we are against war
In response to your Socialist Standard (July) I have the following questions:
1. If war is anathema to socialists, do you feel that the Soviet Union should have capitulated to Nazi domination because they professed to be socialist?
2. If proof is shown that another fascist had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction (WOMD), just to have a go at his pet hate, i.e. Zionism/Israel; do you feel that this fascist should have his way?
3. I Israel is attacked with a WOMD, what do you think the response should be?
ANDY BARBER (by email)
Reply: War is “anathema” to socialists because it involves our fellow workers killing and being killed over matters which are of no concern to them, namely, the markets, trade routes, sources of raw materials, investment outlets and strategic points and areas to protect these of a state’s capitalist class. Being committed to the interests of the working class, not the capitalist class, we do not profess to advise the latter how to defend their interests over these matters.
Russia of course was never socialist or anything like it. It was always only ever capitalist, or state-capitalist if you like. Its dictators – whose regime was in many respects (leader worship, mass rallies, concentration camps) similar to that it Nazi Germany – decided in 1939 that their interests were best served by an alliance with Nazi Germany to carve up Poland and annex the Baltic states. They miscalculated as, once the war with Britain and France had started, German capitalism felt it needed to control the wheatlands of the Ukraine and oil resources of the Caspian Sea and so invaded Russia. That’s the sort of things wars are fought over and, clearly, they involve no issue worth the sacrifice of a single drop of working class blood.
The Middle East? That’s oil again, of course. Israel – the only state in the area to have stockpiled, as far as we know, a “WOMD” – has been propped up financially and armed by the United States to act as its puppet and gendarme in the area where up-and-coming local capitalist regimes, such as the one in Iraq, would like to control the oil resources of the area in place of the West. Wars are not fought because mad dictators have “pet hates” but, as we said, over such matters as markets, trade routes, raw material resources, etc and clearly what is at stake in the Middle East is which group of capitalists should control the oil resources there. Once again, not an issue worth the sacrifice of a single drop of working class blood. —Editors