The Socialist Cooperative Commonwealth 6/8

We say that this class struggle must finally end in the downfall of the capitalist system, and the building of the cooperative commonwealth. We say that if the cooperative commonwealth is to be brought about it is a social revolution. There is a simple way to get hold of the machinery of government. It is by voting for the party of the working class, that is, the World Socialist Movement. We do not mean to say that the election of one World Socialist Party candidate or of a hundred World Socialist Party delegates will in itself bring any great measure of freedom and happiness to the working class. As long as the capitalists control any part of the machinery of government, they will use that part to nullify any measure that may be passed in the interest of the working class. Our constant aim, therefore, is to organise the workers into a party that shall finally dislodge the capitalists from power once for all, and establish the cooperative commonwealth. The organisation of the Socialist Party may be grown into the organisation of the cooperative commonwealth, and it is worth the best efforts of every worker to make this organisation as effective as possible. 

The aim of the World Socialist Movement (WSM) is building by democratic means a cooperative commonwealth in which the supplying of human needs and enrichment of human life shall be the primary purpose of our society. The WSM reaffirms its belief that our society must build a new relationship among mankind – a relationship based on mutual respect and on equality of opportunity. In such a society everyone will have a sense of worth and belonging and will be enabled to develop his or her abilities to the full. With the creation of the cooperative commonwealth regulating production and distribution to satisfy peoples needs and not the making of profits will be the overriding principle.

This social and economic transformation can only be brought about by political action, through the election of a political party inspired by the ideal of a cooperative commonwealth and supported by a majority of the people. We do not believe in change by violence. We consider that both the other parties are the instruments of capitalist interests and cannot serve as agents of social reconstruction and that whatever the superficial differences between them, they are bound to carry on government in accordance with the dictates of the Big Business interests who finance them. The World Socialist Movement’s purpose is the capture of political power in order to put an end to this capitalist domination of our lives. World Socialist Parties will not rest content until it has helped to eradicate capitalism and establish the cooperative commonwealth.

The World Socialist Movement’s vision of a future cooperative commonwealth is rather too vague an idea in the minds of many of our fellow workers who, living under present society and needing to functioning within it to survive, require to deal constantly with the concrete and the immediate. They have neither time nor inclination for speculation, and our proclamation “Vote the cooperative commonwealth” lacks for them any practicality. So far as they can see, those who seek that world commonwealth, are, sadly, in a small minority at the polls. The future society comes only at the desire and with the consent of the proletariat. We shall unite all our energies to destroy the present capitalist system and establish the cooperative commonwealth. We are thus headed towards social harmony.

The transformation of modern civilisation into the cooperative commonwealth, involving the greatest change known at least to history, must necessarily result in a corresponding change in the content of mankind’s nature. That the ultra-selfish individualist engendered by competitive conditions will speedily disappear in socialism we may fairly take for granted, just as we see no reason to expect that the unselfish saint will become more numerous even under socialism than he or she is at present. It is not the hearts of men and women, but the conditions of society that socialists intend to change. It is the transformation of society we seek and in doing so we want rather enlightened selfishness than unselfishness. The class-conscious worker full of the class war spirit could hardly be described as an unselfish saint identifying one’s own interest with that of one’s class. The reorganisation of society in a socialist sense; we must lose no opportunity of proclaiming, does not require for its vindication men and women as paragons of unselfish virtue. It presupposes simply – an ordinary person.

We want a cooperative commonwealth. Our part is to get control of political power, in order to complete the transition to a socialist society peacefully and systematically. In whatever way socialism comes, we must have a majority of the people in favour of it. Every socialist who spreads the case for socialism helps the campaign and encourages others to vote for the socialist case, is doing his or her share to speed the day of the new commonwealth. Socialism will the ownership by working people in common of the instruments of production and that means a cooperative system of production and the extinction of the exploitation of the workers. The abolition of the present system of production means ending production for sale and instead substituting it with production for use, the social or cooperative production for the satisfaction of the wants of a commonwealth. Such cooperative production for use is nothing less than socialist production. Production for sale can be overcome only by such a system. Socialist production is the only system of production possible when production for sale has become redundant.

Our aim is a commonwealth without the State, without classes, in which the workers shall administer the means of production and distribution for the common benefit of all.