Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to join the fight for Socialism (1993)

From the October 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard

Not sure whether you are a Socialist or not? Perhaps you're interested but worried about joining a bunch of raving lefties who will tell you what to think and do? The Socialist Party wants only free thinking, committed members who understand what Socialism will mean for them.

Many of you are socialists already. But some of you aren't, or are not sure of you are. This article is addressed to the last tow groups. If you're in the first group then you might consider whether what follows could help you to convince others to become socialists.

There is a very simple answer to the question "How can I become a socialist?" Answer: give up supporting capitalism. "But I don't support capitalism". Yes, you do. You vote for parties that stand for keeping or reforming the present system, not abolishing it. 'Well, I like the idea of socialism, but it'll never work (not in my lifetime anyway, because it's against human nature, you won't get people to work without money, they'll grab everything if it's free, etc, etc)".

Of course it won't work if people continue to think like that - if you continue to think like that. The case for socialism is that capitalism - the present world, social, economic and political system - has failed and will continue to fail to deliver what it promises. It is a class system that divides people into owners and non-owners of the means of wealth production and distribution. It produces extremes of poverty and riches, starvation in a world with enough food to feed all its peoples, environmental destruction and degradation in pursuit of profit, wars that benefit no-one except power-seeking leaders and arms manufacturers and sellers.

Yes, it does look easier to change things bit-by-bit than to hold out for a completely different system. But it only looks easier. Change Party A's administration of capitalism for Party B's and you may notice a few differences. But the basic problems remain. The new broom comes in to sweep clean, but it soon makes the same mess as the old one.

A better world
If you are a socialist you will have to put up with being called an idealist, an eccentric, or worse. So what? Idealists are people who have a vision of a better world: socialists are practical idealists who act to achieve that world. Eccentrics are people who deviate from normal forms of behaviour. Do you want to conform with normal forms of behavior such as going to a job that no sane society would require people to do (financial disservices, armed forces, and so on), voting for parties that deal in bribes and threats, believing that hospitals have to stop doing business because they've run out of money?

The Socialist Party of 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 Socialist Party was formed in 1904, and there are people who are socialists today outside the Socialist Party (we'd like them in). We don't have leaders who tells us what to do and think -  we have our own fully democratic doers and thinkers. We are not a narrow sect who demand faithful allegiance to every dot and comma of our "doctrine". We don't have a doctrine, although we do have a set of principles, originally formulated in the language of 1904, to support the achievement of our sole object of socialism.

Understanding vital
We don't seek to sign up as members everyone who comes to our meetings or who we pass in the street. If you show some interest in socialism we'll talk with you, offer you our literature and invite you to our meetings. When you want to take part in helping to achieve socialism, we'll invite you to discuss membership with us.

Although we need a lot of money to do the things we want to do - especially for the costly but very worthwhile Euro-election socialist literature distribution campaign next year - we won't pressure you to give the Socialist Party money: your work for socialism is more important. The Party is organized in branches and groups around the country, and if there is one reasonably nearby you'll find support from mixing with people (call them comrades if you like - it's not compulsory) who share your views.

Finally, as socialists we don't agree with each other about everything. Come to our twice-yearly conferences and you'll hear some (hopefully) good discussions. But you will run the risk of being invited to take part in those discussions.
Stan Parker

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