Present-day society is accurately labelled as capitalism because the production of its wealth is a process of the accumulation of capital. Investment in production is as capital; it is wealth which is applied to produce more of it, for disposal for profit. Thus capitalism is a society in which wealth takes the form of commodities—although it has a use value, it is turned out only when there is a prospect of it being sold at a profit to the class who own the means of production and distribution. This profit can be realised only when the wealth is disposed of on the market and the market, however, the experts may theorise and debate and juggle, which is neither predictable nor controllable. That is why losses, as well as profits, are made on the market, why some firms go bankrupt, and why there are such things as booms and slumps. If the system of capital accumulation and commodity production was susceptible to control, there would be recessions and no economic crises. The clear conclusion is that the only way to cure problems caused by capitalism is to abolish it. This entails a majority of workers throughout the world taking the conscious decision for political action to abolish the basis of capitalism—the class ownership of the means of production and distribution—and to replace it with common ownership. Capitalism, with its anti-environmental and anti-social policies, is what needs to be replaced. This fundamental change in society will affect all human relationships; it will for example abolish employment as the all-pervading relationship through which the non-owning majority are forced to get their living. This new society will be socialist as at this time when capitalism is in a crisis of unemployment, as at all times, it is the only thing worth workers protesting, demonstrating and working to achieve.
Capitalism epitomises selfishness. We are indoctrinated to compete with each other, to subscribe to goals defined by figures in authority and to obey laws with little or no protest. Suffering in terms of hunger or lack of healthcare or poor workplace conditions can definitely be linked to capitalism, which denies human beings access to the necessary goods, services or opportunities to make life a more equitable proposition. Many people die from unnecessary causes like hunger (in a world where grain is not grown or stockpiled to keep market prices high) or from illnesses which medical science has cured in the Western world. The problem is the lack of access to a fair share of all the goods, services and wealth created by labour, managed and abused by capitalists. It is not a matter of how to ensure that people can get access to enough of the resources that their labour helps to produce so that they too can survive. That is what true socialists aspire towards. Socialism alone will save the workers’ from the ever-recurring brutalities of capitalism. The three stages of any society are growth, decay and death. Capitalism has passed beyond the growing stage, now moving from one crisis to another.
Our claim is that only the abolition of capitalism can solve the problems of the working class. Capitalism causes poverty, unemployment and war. To get a living workers are forced to hire themselves to the capitalist class. Workers are employed in order to produce a profit for their hirers. Only so long as profit is realised are goods produced. Production for profit is in the interests of the capitalists. Raw materials and ready markets are essential to capitalism. In pursuit of these, governments are driven to conflict. At best the worker keeps a job, which reduces one to a lifelong struggle to make ends meet, finishing as started, with nothing. During slumps and consequent unemployment, millions eke out an existence in direst poverty and destitution. Such conditions arise from capitalism, be it democratic or dictatorial, planned or unplanned. It is not possible under capitalism for workers to be anything else but workers. According to our analysis, it is imperative that capitalism be removed and replaced by a cooperative commonwealth. Socialist production will be to satisfy the needs of society. Everyday life will be from each according to ability and to each according to need. Under such conditions money, trade and employment have no place. Our task is to make socialists and speed the day of achieving socialism.
Socialism is an end in itself. The socialist movement’s work is done with the advent of socialism. Capitalism is defined by and erected upon an economic base. The superstructure of socialist society will be built upon the economic base peculiar to it, namely on common ownership and democratic control of the means of life, production for use, and distribution according to need. Socialism is not a universal solution to all problems but to the major problems of our time. Organisation under socialism will be the responsibility of society. Socialism as a system of society is distinct from a form of government. Our end as a political body is the establishment of that society. Capitalism has outlived its usefulness. The next stage in social evolution is socialism. The unfulfilled needs of the present society demand the end of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.
Experiences of the past, present and future will continue to hammer that fact home. Capitalism will always bring problems to the working class. History tells us that these problems are insoluble within capitalism. We live in a social system which is based on class ownership of the means of wealth, production and distribution. One effect of this is that the wealth we turn out is made, not to satisfy human needs, but to serve the interests of the class who own the means of production. The interests of that class are in the production of wealth to be sold so as to yield them profit with which their capital can be developed and expanded, and so buttress their privileged position in society. This process takes place through the exploitation of the other class — the working class, who do not own the means of production and who have to sell their labour power in order to live.
The lot of this class is one of exploitation and poverty. Whatever the wealth they consume — whether they travel by public transport or by car, whether they read books during their time off or play computer games— it is always restricted to what they can afford from their wage. And it is always inferior, sub-standard, made so that it comes within the purchasing power of a wage packet. This is what is meant by working-class poverty. At no time under capitalism will the working class have the freedom to enjoy the best that society can produce, and have unrestricted access to it. Yet without that freedom, they must always be said to be living in poverty.
Socialism is the idea of hope. Socialists do not offer themselves up as leaders, promising better versions of the same old discredited policies. Our case is that the working class can get rid of their problems; to do this they have to abolish capitalism and replace it with a society based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution. We go further, and say that the working class can and must do this for themselves. Until that is a reality, socialists have no interest in the machinations of capitalist politics, except to offer them unremitting hostility and to expose them for the sham they are.
Although in favour of using the parliamentary system to establish socialism, the new society won’t be run by a government. Instead, it will be democratically administered. Governments are and have always been, the agents of administration of the ruling class. They are not in existence to run capitalism in the interest of the majority, whatever the intentions of individuals in those ruling bodies may be.
Socialist society will modify, where necessary, the inherited institutions (health care, education, transport networks, etc.) and set up new ones as appropriate. It will have dismantled all the coercive elements of the state, such as the armed forces, police, judiciary, etc. It will also have to address the productive methods prevailing at the time, stopping all environmental harmful production.
Before socialism can be established there has to be the agreement of the overwhelming majority of the population on how it will be run. Because there are so few socialists at the present time, it is difficult to lay down detailed plans on how it will be run. As socialist ideas spread, there will be more and more input of ideas of how this will be done. Socialism will not come out of anywhere, it will be the culmination of the spreading of socialist ideas, of workers reinterpreting their experience of capitalism and coming to the conclusion that the present system does not adequately deal with their needs. We would not be entering it “cold”, as it were.
We say that socialism could feed and house the world’s population on a sustainable basis. Socialism would not be impossible to regulate. In fact, it will be much easier to run. because the complexities of capitalist market forces and the drive for profit will have gone. There will be no delicate balancing acts between producing goods to sell for profit and matching peoples’ ability to pay. With commerce and all its trappings gone, we would be able to get on with producing goods and services, solely for use. If there is a need for something, and it is deemed realistic to produce it. then it will be produced. Instead of people sitting down and working out the cost of producing in terms of money, it could be decided by the amount of labour necessary to do the job. and whether or not it might be damaging to the environment.
We in the World Socialist Movement have become socialists without any guiding hand and we are not special. We have looked at the world and made our own evaluation of it, based on our experience and the experience of others. To establish socialism workers of the world would have to act in concert. Socialism would be impossible to establish in one country alone because capitalism is an interconnected world system in economic terms (but not politically—various factions of the capitalist class may well be at each other’s throats) and no one country would be able to opt out of it.