Editorial from the April 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard
Many people on the left are bitterly disappointed. The past ninety-plus years of left-wing “successes” have left capitalism firmly in power. Labour governments did not enact socialism, but sought to reform capitalism and all too often were indistinguishable from intentionally pro-capitalist governments. The communist regimes had nothing to do with working-class power and socialism, but were monstrous tyrannies presiding over state capitalism.
Today many people on the left feel defeated. The Labour Left is marginalised and irrelevant because they are an embarrassment to the Smiths and Blairs who want their party of profit-system accountants to be just as respectable as the Tories. The Communist Party, ashamed of its Leninist past of echoing the lies of the Kremlin dictators, has given up the ghost. A few Trotskyist sects remain, spouting the old nonsense of the vanguard and insurrection—as if any workers in their right minds would follow these pastiche Bolsheviks in a new Leninist revolution.
It is quite obvious that all the old struggles of the Left have failed. But now is certainly not the time to give up on opposing capitalism. What we need is clearer thinking and more genuinely revolutionary organisation.
If ever Marx’s analysis was being proved correct it is now. This is no time to cast aside Marxian analysis.
Capitalism is in a global crisis. The international market is in a condition of anarchy which is beyond the control of governments or economists. As well as the increasing poverty and mass unemployment, the system faces widespread environmental destruction, numerous nationalist wars, the growth of the racist virus, uncontrollable urban violence and the existence of huge piles of nuclear and chemical weapons which are up for grabs to the highest bidder. If this is not a system in need of total abolition, then what else is there to do with it? Reforming capitalism is a waste of time.The only way ahead is out—to a new, untried social system.
Global production for profit must be replaced by production solely for use. The ownership of society's productive resources by the super-rich minority must give way to common ownership. The dictatorship of capital, which tramples relentlessly upon human lives, must give way to democratic control. These are not new ways of running capitalism. These are ways of running a sane society without capitalism.
Now, as ever, the socialist alternative cannot be imposed by leaders or legislated for gradually by reformers. The revolutionary act of overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism must be the conscious and democratic act of the working class: the vast majority of us who do not live on rent, interest or profits.
The Socialist Party exists to win a majority of workers for socialism. We are neither a vanguard nor a would-be government. We assert that the future belongs to the working class majority and that only world socialism offers the hope of democracy, security, comfort and dignity for all.