A socialist society must, by its very nature, be of a worldwide character, which is a truism that the World Socialist Movement has persistently affirmed. It is a recognition of the fact that production in the world today is based on a systematic division of labour that integrates and interlocks the whole world. Our rulers do not fail to realise the global nature of capitalism. Foreign affairs are no longer ‘foreign.’ They belong to hearth and home. In every country under the domination of capital the simple facts of the situation are driving the workers to see the cause of the trouble, and are forcing them to an understanding of the remedy. Wherever capitalism is, socialism accompanies it.
The concern of many people about the effects of globalisation is justified. Globalisation enables international companies to manipulate their worldwide use of the cheapest and most defenceless labour to plunder natural resources, to buy off local power groups and by-pass or corrupt governments. The clear objective is to maximise exploitation and profits. Global society is here to stay. But this is globalisation in its corporate form, operating within a world capitalist system. The exploitative nature of this system in the hands of multinational corporations means that workers share a common interest that also goes beyond national boundaries. The problems of the great majority can only be solved by united world action.
As we are working for world socialism we do not have a reform programme, unlike other parties. This is not because we are opposed to all reforms but because we say that the job of a socialist party is to get rid of capitalism and that it can do this only by recruiting members and seeking support for the socialist goal. This means that we advance slogans such as ‘Abolition of the Wages System’ as our immediate demands.
The interests of the workers of every country are, in the main, the same: to sell the only commodity they possess, that is their labour-power, on the best possible terms; and any change in the conditions of labour in one country must necessarily find its reflex in other countries. Therefore the workers must organise internationally for the purpose of ending the exploitation of their class, which exploitation is the object for which the employing class buy labour-power.
For a long time now working-class organisations have had a tradition of helping workers in other countries in their industrial and political struggles. The first duty of working-class organisations when they declare their abhorrence of the iniquities of foreign capitalist governments is to show clearly and unmistakably that they are opposed to their own ruling class and free from the suspicion of condoning its actions. Socialists should be wary of unintentionally misleading workers abroad with slogans of solidarity. It is good to offer sympathy to fellow workers in other countries, but time after time the effect has been to create the impression that really decisive help can be given when this is not always the case. Often expressions of goodwill are interpreted as concrete pledges of effective help which as we know from bitter experience sometimes cannot be fulfilled. Political honesty obliges us to inform foreign workers that with the best will in the world the amount of practical help that can be given is strictly limited, and therefore it is necessary for them not to build great hopes and rely upon aid from abroad to assist them in their struggles. The best advice that the workers anywhere can give to their foreign comrades is to redouble their efforts to strengthen the socialist movement in their own country and hasten the day of genuine liberation for working people.
Although the workers’ class position is such that their interests lie in internationalism, in the main they do not realise this. All the trappings of State, the flag-waving, military parades, national anthems, sporting ceremonies, are used to disguise the truth from the workers, and all of the capitalist parties help to keep the truth hidden, not least among them, the jumped-up labour leaders who have learned the trick of combining patriotism with pseudo-socialism. There is not yet an answer for this except knowledge and experience on the part of the workers, but it is helped by the way in which, from time to time, every country witnesses brutal suppression of the workers’ organisations by the employing class. For the socialist, class-consciousness is the breaking-down of all barriers to understanding. The allegiance to the country of your birth is one of these obstacles.
Nationalist struggles are class struggles under an ideological smokescreen, but not of the working class. They are either struggled by an aspiring capitalist class to establish themselves as a new national ruling class or struggles by an established but weak national ruling class to garner a bigger share of world profits for themselves. There is no reason why socialists should support independence movements. Nationalism means merely that workers get new masters instead of the old ones.
Some left-wingers will assert that anti-imperialist struggles are progressive and should be supported. Nothing could be further from the truth as the subsequent history of post-independence states. Eliminating one imperialist power simply creates a vacuum for another to step in. This strategy of anti-imperialism teaches that all the people of a colonial or occupied country have a common interest in obtaining independence has always been very attractive to nationalist ideologists and politicians in these countries they sought to rule. As a result, “socialism” became associated with “national liberation” rather than with working-class internationalism. The political struggle has come to be seen as a struggle, not between the working class and the capitalist class, but as a patriotic struggle – workers, peasants and capitalists together in an alliance against foreign imperialists and their traitorous collaborators. The damage has been done. To millions of people in many parts of the world, socialism is identified as state-capitalist nationalism which is viewed as something positive rather than the main barrier to an essential condition for socialism, working-class cooperation across frontiers.
In every nation a ruling class holds sway over the lives of their workers, moving them like pawns across a chessboard. If people are loyal to the class that exploits them, they are traitors to their own class. The World Socialist Movement cares little whether the capitalists divide the world among themselves by rivers and seas, or by the lines of latitude and longitude. What concerns the WSM, is the class ownership, which we organise to abolish. Fellow workers must understand the profit system and learn to analyse issues from the angle of ownership to profit-making property. That is, from the angle of haves and have-nots. The world is divided into two antagonistic groups – the rich minority and the poor majority. The highest level of consciousness is internationalism. Internationalists see every person as a person regardless of tribe or colour. And the cream of internationalists is socialists.
The working peoples of the world have a common bond that transcends every tie of race or nationality — their urgent need for emancipation. What matters is the name of the country of your birth if you are a slave in that country? What links you to the capitalist? You are chained to his factories and driven by the threat of destitution to produce profits for him while all the time you suffer poverty. You are the robbed, he is the thief; you are the slave, he is the master. Patriotism is a bond of shame, a sign of acceptance and approval of your wage slavery.
True to our socialist principles we seek to build a genuine world socialist movement free from national prejudices. The parties of the World Socialist Movement devised the slogan “One World, One People” as a concise description of the society we are striving for. Socialism means that the whole world will operate as a single productive system where goods and services will be produced so that people can use them freely without resorting to buying and selling. It also means that the people of the world will be united on the only solid basis for achieving this end—by the resources of the world (the means of producing wealth) being owned in common and democratically controlled by mankind as a whole. “One World, One People”, then, represents an entirely different vision of the future to the United Nations. The task confronting us is to build up a union of the working class, organised to put an end to the property system that divides and oppresses us. A United Nations is not enough to free ourselves from the depredations of capitalism. We require a World Commonwealth of Humanity.