Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Eurocapitalism or World Socialism? (1979)

From the May 1979 issue of the Socialist Standard

The European Parliament which you, together with workers in 8 other countries, are being called upon to elect for the first time directly by universal suffrage is not really a parliament in the traditional sense. In view of its very limited powers it would more properly be called a "consultative committee". Real parliamentary powers - to make laws and to fix the budget - are exercised in the Common Market by meetings of Ministers from the nine Member-States. Nevertheless, since if a political institution is to exist it is better that it be elected rather than appointed, the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its sympathisers in other European countries are taking part in this election campaign.

We are using this occasion when people will not be thinking exclusively in national terms to put forward the socialist proposition that the only solution of today's social problems is the establishment of a world community without frontiers based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of wealth production and distribution, with production solely for use not sale or profit. On this basis the world-wide productive apparatus could turn out the abundance that it is technically capable of but which it is prevented from doing today by the restrictions of capitalism and its rule of "no profit, no production". This would permit society to implement the long-standing socialist principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". In other words, free access for every man, woman and child to what they need to live and enjoy life. This, we say, is technically possible; but first the means for producing wealth must become the common heritage of all mankind, the only basis on which the purpose of production can be changed from profit making to satisfying human needs.

Socialism cannot be established in one country. The very existence of the Common Market shows that even under capitalism the Nation-State has become too small a framework for the productive apparatus. Capitalism is already, and has been for many years, a world system; it exists in state capitalist Russia and China as well as in the West, and functions through the world market as a single economic system. This is why the new, higher social development. Socialism, which will replace it must be a world system too.

There are those who see the constant internationalisation of production and life, including the Common Market itself, as a threat to "national sovereignty". This reactionary position has been officially adopted by most of the Communist parties of Europe, thus showing that they have no right whatsoever to call themselves "socialist" or "communists". Socialism, as we have explained, can only be a world-wide system and socialists do not defend capitalist national independence. On the contrary, one of our criticisms of capitalism is precisely that it has divided the world into competing and armed "Nation-States" whose conflicts mean that war is always going on in some part of the world. What we want is not national independence but a socialist world without frontiers.

As to the Common Market itself, or to use the somewhat grandiose title it has given itself, "the European Community", it is a political and trading arrangement entered into by various European States in order to further the interests of their capitalists. Though an expression of the growing internationalisation of the world, it is not a step in the direction of world unity, nor was it meant to be. If anything, it is a step towards the creation of a new super-power to rival Russia and the United States, opening up the terrifying prospect that the wars of he future will be between continents rather than Nation-States. Already a three-sided trade war is building up between Europe, Japan and the United States.

This does not mean, however, that we are to be lumped with opponents of the Common Market. It merely means that we regard the whole arrangement, and arguments about it, as quite irrelevant from a working class point of view. What trading alliances a particular country makes concern only its capitalists not its workers.

The basis of capitalist society is the monopoly by a minority class of the means for producing and distributing wealth and the consequent division of society into two antagonistic classes: those who own and control the means of production and those who, excluded from such ownership and control, are obliged to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary in order to gain a living. Under capitalism there is therefore no common social interest but a conflict of interest between these two classes over wages and working conditions, and ultimately over the ownership and control of the means of wealth production and distribution.

The interest of the working class lies in the abolition of capitalism and its replacement by socialism. Capitalism is a class society based on the exploitation and restricted consumption of the working class which can only work in one way: as a profit-making system in the interest of those who live off profits drawn from their ownership and control of the means of production. Despite repeated futile attempts, by Labour, Social Democratic and other governments in all countries, capitalism cannot be reformed so as to function in the interest of the majority. It is not the reform of capitalism that should be sought but is abolition.

The choice between capitalism or socialism is the issue that the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its sympathisers in other countries are raising in this election. Those who want and understand socialism can show this by writing "SOZIALISMUS", "SOCIALISMO", "SOCIALISME", as the case may be, across their ballot paper.

The workers have no country

Workers of the world unite.

Executive Committee
The Socialist Party of Great Britain

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