Let’s make a revolution

The plot of a thousand sci-fi novels and movies is that the end of the world comes with a comet or asteroid colliding with the Earth, or perhaps a solar flare burning up our planet. The likelihood is, of course, that the world will be destroyed by an “internal’’ agency such as a nuclear war or through an environmental threat rather than an “external” one.  The probability of a system dedicated to the exploitation of the planet’s resources for financial gain, and to the economic exploitation of the majority of people living on the planet,  a system where political and economic control rests with a small minority, a system where the majority are forced to sell their mental and physical labour power to that minority in order to live, a system where the increasing wealth created by the majority is appropriated by the minority will bring the ”common ruin of the contending classes” as the Communist Manifesto conservatively and moderately puts it.

The protests by working people against the effects of capitalism are understandable but it must be obvious that the bumbling incompetence of hypocritical politicians can no longer disguise the fact that they are impotent and powerless. Capitalism has run its course. The only question is for how much longer the workers are prepared to suffer capitalism’s death throes as it continues to do untold harm.  The working class can continue to choose to support a social system which brainwashes them, suppresses them, exploits them, makes them hungry, makes them poor, makes them homeless, and kills them. Or the working class can choose to understand that we are many and they are few. It can choose to end its own exploitation and oppression and hasten the demise of capitalism to bring about a cooperative society based upon common ownership of the means of production and distribution. The working class can choose to abolish poverty, abolish famine, abolish inequality, abolish the wages system, to abolish capitalism.

Socialism does not consist of a set of ideas that have been worked out by a few people independently of the rest of society. Its establishment is predicted as the solution to the problems of capitalism and this is the basis upon which all our attempts to describe the future must rest. Before we go into the question of how socialism will work we have first to show that, given certain conditions, it is possible to achieve. Our guarantee, as you put it, that it will work is that people having the requisite knowledge and desire will make it work. There is no question of socialism being given a trial, perhaps found wanting, and then going back to capitalism. The change we advocate is not to be compared with the changes of the government of the present —it is a step in the evolution of society as irreversible as that from feudalism to capitalism.

A system of society is an integrated whole, every part of which influences, and is influenced by, the other parts. You may, for example, hold that competition is good and monopoly bad, but since both are features of capitalism and the latter in fact results from the former, then any judgment on the system must take into account every such “good” cause and “bad” effect. As we see it, there is no line to be drawn beyond which no change will take place. The changing of the economic basis will have its effect on every aspect of society, but this does not mean that the means and results of capitalist production will necessarily be replaced—what is useful to the new society will be preserved or modified to suit the new conditions.

Human needs are closely connected with what is capable of being produced; thus the need for TVs is not felt unless society is able to produce TVs. The desire, under conditions of production for profit, to have certain things will not necessarily be present under socialism. For example, when people to-day say they need money it is not for its own sake, but for the access, it would afford goods or services which socialism will provide freely. Similarly, the present demand for anything less than the best (though this often depends on individual preference) is due to the need to buy cheaply. With socialism, the sole criterion for producing goods and services will be whether they will be used—inferior ones, being unwanted, will therefore not be produced.

It always seems to be taken for granted that the coming of socialism will be met with fierce resistance by a minority. There is no basis for this supposition which, like most objections to our case, arises from a projection of present circumstances into the future. We cannot deal here with all the implications of this question, except to point out that socialism has nothing to do with punishing capitalists or anyone else. If you say that there must be an organisation to repress minorities then you are saying there must be policemen, gaolers, judges lawyers—in short, you think socialism will be like capitalism is now, which of course it won’t be. Anti-social behaviour is not prevented by the existence of machinery for the detection and punishment of crime, since this machinery does not touch the cause of the problem. When that cause—the property basis of society—is removed the effects will disappear also.

The tendency within capitalism is towards universality or oneness of the world and not back to smaller communities. Production is for a world market with consequent transport of goods over huge distances. It is not likely that people living in the geographical area (no longer nation) of Britain will be willing to go without everything that is not obtainable within its shores and there will be no need for them to do so. The distribution of food will be according to a world plan, which exists now in the embryo but is held back by capitalist considerations of international trade. Since socialism will operate throughout the world people in one part will no more discriminate against distant populations than they will against their neighbours.

We must make it clear that our forecast of the future is not made with the object of laying down what it should be. But we recognise that it is not enough just to agree to abolish capitalism without having some idea of the system that is to replace it. There would, in fact, be no point to our criticisms of the present if we were not able to show how they can be followed up by suitable action. There is nothing speculative, for example, about the universal desire to live in a world without war, so why suppose that man will become reconciled to its ever-increasing horrors rather than abolish it? The case for socialism is that mankind can solve its own social problems by taking action as planned and scientific as can be taken in controlling the forces of nature. If you agree that the idea is sound then your only concern is to get others to accept it, so that the future may be what you and we collectively want it to be. Trade unions, strikes, and other manifestations of the class struggle can only go so far. They are always limited by the class position of the workers and the vagaries of the trade cycle that capitalism periodically passes through. In the end, workers must realise that it is in their immediate interests to push the class struggle to its limit and abolish capitalism.

Capitalism has been a necessary stage in social evolution and now it has outlived its usefulness, making it a hamper on human progress. Its “doctrine” was once revolutionary and progressive but now it is reactionary and decadent.