Letters – Young / Graham
Your website article
I am in what would be considered ‘the working class.’
Socialism obviously makes slaves of the working class with no hope of generational advancement or prosperity, the degree of socialism and communism practised yields a proportional level of poverty and oppression. Arrogant, self-righteous people want to act like the daddy of the working class, who they treat as children in these systems.
People who promote socialism and communism always seem to think somehow that they’re going to be part of the decision-making and power-wielding club in the socialist system, rather than oppressed by it. That’s because they are delusional in their self-righteousness and think of themselves as somehow special.
Neither of these world views is a friend to the working class.
Your website article claiming socialism is power to the working class is total horse-shit.
Socialism centralizes power and wealth in the hands of far fewer than free-market capitalism ever has.
You guys are either blind, woefully ignorant, or actually malevolent. Grow the hell up.
Are you sure you have been looking at our website and not one with a similar name?
We ask because, unfortunately, there are quite a few who call themselves socialist who do see themselves as an elite aiming to seize power and rule supposedly on behalf of the working class. They really do see themselves, as you say, as a ‘decision-making and power-wielding club’ and that is how they have acted where they have seized power as in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.
That might be an excuse for your hostility to anyone calling themselves a ‘socialist’ but not for not having read our website carefully, if in fact you read it at all.
We have always made it clear that socialism, properly understood, means a society of freedom and co-operation where the state will cease to exist. It will be based on the common ownership and democratic control of society’s resources, with production directly for use not profit and access to wealth according to needs. It can only be established democratically once a majority have come to want it. No minority – no elite, whether elected or self-appointed – can establish socialism, still less impose it on a majority who don’t want it.
What you have taken to be socialism – what the elites claiming to be socialist have established – has not in fact been socialism at all, but a variety of class-divided capitalist society in which the working class have remained oppressed and exploited wage slaves. The correct name for what they established is ‘state capitalism’ with the minority elite, having previously proclaimed itself as the so-called ‘vanguard of the working class,’ as the new ruling, exploiting class.
This kind of state capitalism has been put into practice only in relatively economically backward countries to industrialise and to catch up with the developed capitalist countries of western Europe and North America. This has involved driving peasants off the land and into the factories, under conditions that rival those of the early days of ‘free market capitalism’ when it went through the same process of the primitive accumulation of capital.
You seem to be seeing so-called ‘free market’ capitalism through rose-tinted glasses, exaggerating the ‘hope of generational advancement and prosperity’ that exists under it and downplaying the extent to which it concentrates ‘power and wealth in the hands of a few’.
Statistics consistently show that social mobility is not as extensive as it is made out to be. The government has even had to set up a Commission to try to deal with the problem. In any event, what we are talking about here is an ‘advance’ from one section of the working class to another, from blue collar to white collar. When it comes to mobility from the working class to the capitalist class, there is scarcely any; the rich have remained rich and become richer.
Capitalism, whether private or state, is based on the ownership and control by a minority of the resources by which society lives. This puts this minority in a position of power and privilege and compels the rest to seek a living by going out onto the labour market to try to sell their working skills to some employer for a wage or salary. How workers live is rationed by the size of their pay slip which is never going to be much more than what’s needed to create and maintain their particular working skill and sometimes not even that.
By its very nature, capitalism can never provide the majority wage-working class with the full life that the level reached by modern technology makes possible. This can only happen when the ownership and control of society’s productive resources have been taken out of the hands of the privileged minority – whether private capitalists or political elite – and transferred to society as a whole, to be run democratically in the interest of all. Socialism in the proper sense of the term – Editors.
The excellent article Spycatchers in the November Socialist Standard called to mind an episode at the Party’s Bristol branch years ago in the 1980s. We were delighted to have a new visitor to branch meetings, even though he never said anything and just seemed to spend his time observing members very carefully. Eventually, I suggested to another branch member that perhaps we might drop some subtle hints about wondering if the visitor was there on Special Branch duty.
At the next meeting, ignoring any hints or subtlety, the other branch member said ‘Hey Larry, are you a copper?’ What is interesting is that the visitor didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no. In fact, he didn’t say anything. He just pulled out his wallet and showed us a photograph of his younger self in police uniform. After that, he didn’t come to any more branch meetings. Draw your own conclusions.