Wednesday, March 30, 2016

It's up to you (1984)

Editorial from the February 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party of Great Britain was founded in 1904 for "Socialism and nothing but", by over one hundred men and women who were hostile to reforms and leadership, and who took hold of the concept of no compromise. Learning from past experiences, these founding members deliberately set up a party that did not seek power to run capitalist society or to build up a blind mass following. The party had to ensure that its membership was socialist and socialist only. Our Declaration of Object and Principles (to be found at the back of this journal) was drawn up to prevent the party repeating the mistakes of earlier organisations, which had been drawn to compromise, political dealing and reformism.

Applicants to join the party were then, and today, only admitted if they had understood the socialist case. In no sense do we operate as a sect, but at the same time the test of admission to the Socialist Party must ensure that our members are socialists. To include other workers would prove fatal to our prospects of surviving as a party solely for socialism.

The Socialist Party has continually stood for the interests of the working class and has assessed the political chaos of capitalism in relation to these interests. When after the Russian Revolution people on the Left claimed the existence of socialism, we saw the growth of a wages system and state power, and concluded that it was merely the development of capitalism. We have opposed two world wars and numerous others, because no working class interests are included in quarrels between rival capitalist classes over markets, raw materials and trade routes. With the first majority Labour Government in 1945 we pointed out that nationalisation had nothing to do with socialism and that nationalised industries, whether governments like it or not, are forced to be run on capitalist lines — production of goods as commodities to be sold on a market with a view to profit. In short, we have refused always to take part in the chase for futile reforms of a system that can never be made to work in the interests of the majority.

The Socialist Party is growing but this growth needs to be maintained and increased. If you have pondered about making contact with the party in the past and then decided not to, think again. You will find that socialists will welcome you to the movement. We are just ordinary members of the working class. You will not just get a boost yourself from meeting socialists, but you will give the party a boost also. Every new member has as much say as any other member, and every new member is important.

When we talk of free access to what you need in socialism, without the compulsion of the wages system or the restrictions of money, we mean a society capable of keeping up with the material demands of the population. Today we have such a society. The only thing that stands in the way of socialism is a lack of demand for it by a majority of workers across the globe.

Stop wishing for better luck when filling in your football pools coupons. Life is chaotic for most of us, but cries of despair and complaints on their own will achieve nothing, except to reassure the capitalist class that their survival as a class is in no real danger. What is needed is a democratic revolution whereby the means of production and distribution are taken over by the whole human race, so that production can take place directly for people’s needs, as opposed to production for the profit of a minority.

Socialism is often thought of as a distant prospect — “something we hope the human race will be like in the future", a Labour Party person might say. The Socialist Party has seen this for eighty years. Imagine the socialist movement as a Saturn V rocket to the moon. Just after lift off it is still struggling to stay off the ground but as it climbs higher and higher nothing can stand in its way. As class consciousness spreads so nothing will stand in its way.

The achievement of that goal depends in no small way on you as workers to recognise your interests — and to work for them. Our task is not just to understand the world, but to change it. For as long as the world is divided into two classes and production geared to profit rather than human needs, then our task will always remain that of the achievement of socialism.

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