Questions from a Turkish Journalist
1- How do you define socialism?
Socialism is a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the natural and industrial resources of the world by and the interest of all humanity. On this basis production can be carried on to provide directly for people’s needs, with distribution of the products on the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’. It will be a world without frontiers, a classless, stateless, moneyless society. Socialism has never been tried anywhere and in fact could not exist just in one country,
2- How do you define capitalism?
Capitalism is a system of society based on the ownership and control of the means of production by a minority class and where production, carried out by wage workers, is for sale on a market with a view to profit. Capitalism has been the predominant world economic system for well over a hundred years and now exists all over the world.
3- As a socialist party why didn’t you support Corbyn in the 8th June elections? Opposing austerity measures is not enough to be called a socialist but isn’t it more
favourable to think building a social state is easier and more realistic than building a full socialist society? We didn’t support Corbyn and the Labour Party in these elections as the Labour Party does not stand for socialism but seeks merely to reform capitalism to make it work for the majority. The reforms it proposes are attractive at one level – who would not like to see an end to austerity? – but both experience and an understanding of how the capitalist economic system works show that no government can make capitalism work in the interest of the majority. Capitalism
is governed by economic laws which dictate that priority be given to profits and conditions for profit-making. In the end, all governments, including previous Labour governments with a similar programme to what Corbyn is now proposing, have ended up falling in line with this capitalist economic reality and maintaining austerity (or, if they initially relaxed it, re-imposing it) in the form of wage restraint, service cuts, benefit cuts and the like. So, no, it is not ‘easier and more realistic’ to build a ‘social state’ under capitalism than to build socialism. It’s impossible.
4- What do you think about the outcomes of the 8th June elections?
The better than expected result for Labour will have reflected some increase in discontent with what capitalism imposes on people, even though Labour was not offering a viable way out and would not have been able to deliver on its promises if it had won. And Brexit was clearly an issue for many, boosting the Labour vote considerably in pro-Remain areas. But ultimately, it was a routine election in which the workers again voted to continue to allow the capitalist class to retain its control of political power through parties which all stood for capitalism, the Labour Party under Corbyn included.
5- What is ‘world socialism’? What are the differences between your thought on world socialism and Trotsky’s permanent revolution theory?
Socialism can only exist as world socialism since the society it will take over from, capitalism, already is global. So, Trotsky was right to say that socialism could not exist in one country and that the socialist revolution would have to be a world revolution, even if it was not clear what he meant by socialism and that his conception of revolution, where merely discontented workers would be led by a vanguard party, is not ours but is deeply flawed.
6- You’re not supporting Corbyn’s plan of nationalisation of railways because you are supporting common ownership. What are the differences between state ownership and common ownership?
Nationalisation is where the state becomes the owner of an industry, usually by buying it but sometimes by confiscating it. It is not the same as common ownership as
the state represents the interest of a minority only, whether the capitalist class as a whole or some group who have got control of it. As the industry continues to be operated by wage workers and continues to produce for sale on a market with a view to profit, it is best described as ‘state capitalism’.
Common ownership on the other hand, is where all productive resources (not just selected industries) belong in common to society as a whole; which is the same as them belonging to nobody. They will simply be there to be used, under various kinds of democratic control, to provide what people need.
Common ownership implies that people no longer need to sell their working skills to an employer and so the abolition of the wages system. It also implies production directly and solely for use, so making money redundant.
7- What do you think about post-materialist movements like environmentalist, feminist or LGBT movements?
Are you advocating the argument that ‘we are not living in Victorian Britain any more, the times have changed and these groups are useful for our cause’ or are you
defending the idea that ‘industrial revolution has passed long ago but still the working classes are the most progressive ones’?
We have never held the view that industrial workers alone will be the agent to establish socialism since our conception of the working class has been broader than this, including all those obliged by economic necessity to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary whatever the job they do, today in the developed capitalist parts of the world the vast majority of the population. We have always held that socialism will mean ‘the emancipation of all mankind, without
distinction of race or sex’. In other words, that it will end all oppression and discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Such discrimination divides the class of wage and salary workers whereas socialism can only be achieved when workers unite to bring it about. We are opposed to ‘identity politics’ as this, too, divides the working class. We still see socialism as the outcome of the class struggle of the working class (in the broad sense) pursuing its interest for a better material life and a better quality of life. We don’t know what will spark off the mass movement for socialism but concern for the environment could be a factor. In any event, as capitalism and its pursuit of profit is the cause of damage to the environment, the aim of the environmentalist movement can only be achieved in socialist society; at some point they may come to realise this.