The World Socialist Movement (WSM) was founded to strive for a better world with an economy based on common ownership. Today, however, socialism has been equated with state wage-slavery. The absence of private companies or individual capitalists, being substituted by government ownership or control, is now viewed as “socialism”.
The term “socialism” has long been associated with the USSR and although it was never socialist, we keep on hearing that the Soviet Union typified socialism. Not only do the apologists of Lenin ceaselessly whitewash the brutal exploitation of workers by the Bolshevik Party, but pro-capitalist intellectuals sing from the same hymn-sheet, enjoying nothing better than to point their accusing fingers at the party officials, the apparatchiks and nomenklatura and say, “That was socialism,” knowing that a police state and centralized command economy would appear unattractive.
We in the WSM concur with William Paul, when he was an early activist for the British Socialist Labour Party, that:
“The revolutionary socialist denies that state ownership can end in anything other than a bureaucratic despotism…Socialism will require no political state because there will be neither a privileged property class nor a downtrodden propertyless class…”
As Paul concludes:
“In the last analysis state ownership is more a means of controlling and regimenting the workers…”
Engels himself also warned against any comparison of state ownership with a socialist system. And if push comes to shove, the collective ownership of the Catholic Church requires no individual owned titled deeds. State and social ownership are not the same. Nor is the state the same as society either. Marx described the state as the executive committee of the capitalist class. It cannot be emphasised enough that socialism means the emancipation the wage-slave from the chains which shackles us under the capitalist system.
Socialism importantly involves a change in the relations of production, not only a change in management personnel. With socialism, control of production, the plan of production, determination of working conditions, are in the hands of the workers themselves and the wider community that they are located within. The direction of production aren’t arbitrarily determined by some ministerial department or government appointed board uncontrolled by the producers, but by means of their democratically-elected delegates, subject to recall. Nationalisation is state capitalism and it has nothing to do with socialism
- That political power should pass from the hands of the capitalist class into the hands of the working people.
- That the means of production and distribution, the land, the factories, transport networks, the means of communication, should pass into the possession of the working people.
- That production should be developed not by the competition of the various capitalist enterprises for profit, but on the basis of a planned economic system, whose aim is the benefit and well-being of all the people.
Some critics argue that socialism simply can’t work and that it’s utopian. We can only answer that capitalism has demonstrably showed that it cannot work. The misery of poverty, hunger and wars are the facts that proves that capitalism doesn’t perform, at least not for the workers. A society organised on the basis of production for use would be more efficient than the present economic system.
Reformers are now having a field-day proposing all manner of schemes to improve the conditions of people, unable to accept the stark truth that capitalism continues to fail to up-lift them. They are desperate to offer a few more scraps from the bountiful banquet of the ruling class to the workers . With highly productive technology capable of providing plenty for all yet what working people receive is scarcely above subsistence levels.
It is the task of the World Socialist Movement to press home the truth that socialism isn’t puritanical austere lifestyles advocated by some environmentalists. Socialism has to be the expression of an economically free community and the foundation of a free society, proclaiming the “joy of life”.
Capitalism, with its system of production for profit keeps millions subjugated and oppressed by its wage system. This system cannot give peace and plenty to people but socialism will. Socialism means production for use and not for profit. It means that one worker is not pitted against another.
Capitalism gives the ruling class the motivation to protect their vested interests in trade routes, sources of raw materials, and markets of foreign investment. Control of the machinery of government gives them the ability to exert diplomatic power and if necessary to initiate an armed conflict.
The only sure road to peace is the road which leads to socialism, capture of state power by a politically organised socialist majority. While the capitalist class own and control the means of life they are the enemies of the working class and a danger to the human race. They have the supreme vested interest in the maintenance of capitalism. They can be expected, therefore, to sacrifice the interest of the rest of society to the interest of themselves and their class.
The current capitalist order is unsustainable. It is destroying the planet, creating inequality and making society unstable. It’s the cause for human misery on a massive scale. Our present economic system and its incredible degree of inequality, is maintained both between nations and within nations by military force in the interests of the oligarchy
The survival of civilisation can only be ensured if we are able to abolish the institution of capitalism. The socialist will see the potential in every human being. Today we live in a society where global communication is instantaneous, and where countries throughout the world interact economically. We need a global social system to match our technologically advanced society.
Our fellow-workers remain to be convinced that socialism can provide them with a better life, greater decision making and improved material well-being. If more workers are to be won to the cause of socialism it is clear that we can greatly advance our ability to explain the advantages of a socialist society and how we can achieve it. In response to their hesitancy and objections the WSM is committed to debate and discuss the type of socialist society we would like to see here. We explain the meaning of socialism. The World Socialist Movement propose not the governing of peoples but the administration of industry by working people.