It is true that humanity is indeed confronted with the problem of survival on this planet. But the human race will survive. And in order to survive, it will do away with the social system which threatens its survival. Socialism will win the world and change the world, and make it safe for peace and freedom. There is no inevitable socialist future, no guaranteed progress and no final crisis and collapse of capitalism leading by itself to the proletarian utopia: the choice between socialism and barbarism is still open, and its outcome depends on each one of us. A long and winding road lies ahead. But we are prepared for it by the conviction that there is no hope for a new and better world except through the achievement of socialism, a world of peace, freedom and enough for all. We believe that humanity can develop a healthy society of plenty and peace. The Socialist Party continues to affirm the possibility and necessity for men and women to work together to build a new and decent society.
Capitalism cannot achieve the most simple reorganization of production and distribution. The crying paradox of its existence becomes more evident each day: the gigantic productive facilities cannot be fully utilized. Poverty in the midst of plenty; hunger uprooting millions of people; renewed totalitarianism; new wars. No realistic alternative exists except a thorough socialist reconstruction if we are not to sink completely into a new era of barbarism. There is no other path. Socialism alone meets the problems of our times; it alone proposes a programme that is a comprehensive solution to all of our social problems. We unfurl the red flag of socialist revolution; we stand with arms interlocked with our comrades throughout the world; we march towards the future. Every human being who desires to put an end to this society of corruption, of war and starvation, must find a place in the World Socialist Movement.
The objective of socialists is to abolish the market, not to regulate or humanise it. In a socialist society, the production of goods and services for sale on the market with a view to profit will not exist. Commodity production. which is a feature of capitalism, will give way to production solely for use. There will be no buying and selling, but free access by all people to the goods and services which can be made available. Wealth in a socialist society will be produced according to people’s abilities — with each person contributing voluntarily to the social effort without the need to work for a wage or salary — and will be available to all on the basis of their needs. Socialism will be a money-free world society. It will be a social system in which the means of wealth production and distribution will belong to the people of society as a whole (there will be no property) and be controlled democratically, utilising to the full the modern means of mass communication. Freed from the inefficient and wasteful structure of the property-money-wages system of production for sale and profit, a socialist society will be able to set about the task of satisfying human needs.
Socialism is a system of society which out-dates commodity-production and money precisely because it is a society based on the common ownership and popular control of the means of production in other words, a society where what is produced is also commonly owned and is directly appropriated by the community. Consumer goods produced under such circumstances cannot be sold to the members of the community which already owns them; all that can happen to them is that they can be shared, allocated, divided, handed out or made available to the members of the community in accordance with a democratic decision.
Socialism can only come about when a majority want it and organise to get it, and because there is clearly not yet a majority desire for socialism. we see our own role today as being primarily educational in the broadest sense, “making socialists” as William Morris put it.
But we have never imagined that a majority desire for socialism will arise purely as a result of our own educational activities (and certainly not from our classes and lectures in Marxian theory, which are mainly aimed at our members anyway). Our view is that hearing the case for socialism can speed up the process whereby people come to realise that capitalism cannot serve their interests since it always has to put making profits before satisfying needs.
Fortunately, it is capitalism that does most of the work. Because it is based on exploitation and because it puts profits before needs, it inevitably generates discontent, protest and struggle but also the idea of an alternative society based on common ownership and production for use instead of class ownership and production for profit Socialist theory and principles are in fact the distilled experience of past generations of working-class opponents of capitalism. And it is this past experience that we in the Socialist Party see ourselves as trying to transmit to our fellow workers.
We are not against people fighting back against what the ruling class tries to impose on them. In fact, we are all for workers fighting for better wages and working conditions and for similar bread-and-butter struggles. But we say that conducting these struggles is the task of trade unions and the like, not that of the socialist political party (whose task is to advocate socialism). For us to intervene in them as a party would be to assume a vanguard leadership role, attracting the support of people who only wanted improvements within capitalism.
Our members participate in such struggles as individual workers who are personally affected by the particular problem. Naturally, as socialists involved in such struggles will put the socialist case but as a party we confine ourselves to general principles, urging that the struggles be conducted under the democratic control of those involved and pointing out that capitalism is the cause of the problem and socialism the solution.
These are bread-and-butter struggles that people are forced to be involved in, whether or not they are socialists, just because they are propertyless in a society where you must get money to survive. So we have no problem with strikes. As to other, political (rather than economic) struggles, we are of course against nuclear weapons, wars, homelessness, racism, pollution, etc., but that’s the point; we are against all of them and don’t want to have to give priority to any one over all the others, putting them in competition as the various single-issue campaigns in effect do.
In fact, our task as socialists is precisely to point out the link between all these problems— their shared origin in capitalism—and the shared solution to them in the establishment of a society of common ownership and production to satisfy people’s needs. This is a task no one else can do but is essential if the people involved are to come to a socialist understanding as quickly as possible.
Somebody must be there to ensure that hearing the case for socialism also becomes part of their experience. We don’t need to take them through the experience of the failure of reformist struggles. Capitalism itself will do that. But we do need to ensure that they hear the case for socialism. Which only a separate, independent body of convinced socialists can do.
To be able to do this with any degree of credibility we have to practise what we preach and not give priority to any one of the various competing single-issue campaigns by supporting them as a party or joining them as individuals.
This isn’t necessary anyway since it is possible to make contact with those involved in such campaigns by being present at their meetings and demonstrations with leaflets and pamphlets which at the same time express agreement with their general aim and point out that this aim cannot be achieved under capitalism. This was the position we took up with regard to CND in the 1960s and over similar campaigns more recently.
In any event, we are not into either vanguardist politics (trying to take over and lead struggles) or reformist politics (trying to pressure capitalist governments into doing something). This means that we have a quite different political practice to that of those groups which adopt the “entryist” tactic of joining such campaigns.
They end up getting involved in the internal politics of such organisations, either trying to take them over or stopping some other group from doing so. When one campaign peters out they have to look around for another bandwagon to jump on. And they are shouting “Stop This” or “Stop That” so much that they have no time to consider. let alone argue for, the idea of an overall change in the basis of society as the global solution to all the various problems.
We, on the other hand, are entirely free to do this and in fact are the only people who do so, fulfilling an essential role which no one else can: putting over the straight case for socialism and making hearing this a part of people’s experience. Socialists walk a tightrope between being ‘rue to the socialist vision of a new society and ‘bringing that vision into contact with the actual movement fighting not to transform the system, but to gain some little increment of dignity or even just a piece of bread. Socialists cannot be indifferent to the sufferings of workers under capitalism. However, history, specifically that of the political perspective shows that pursuing reforms leads to falling off into the bog of reformism and forgetting all about socialism.
The World Socialist Movement consists of men and women who have got together for a common purpose: the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. There were socialists in the world before the WSM was formed and there are people who are socialists today outside it (we’d like them in).
We don’t have leaders who tell us what to do and think – we have our own fully democratic doers and thinkers. We are not a narrow sect that demands faithful allegiance to every dot and comma of our “doctrine”. As socialists, we don’t agree with each other about everything. We do possess a set of principles to support the achievement of our sole object of socialism. Idealists are people who have a vision of a better world: socialists are practical idealists who act to achieve that world.