December 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard
Advocates of Socialism meet with curious opposition when outlining the claims of Socialism as a solution for the world’s problems. The word curious is used advisedly, for most of the opposition appears to be simply prejudice. Opposition to Socialism may be appreciated by those who understand its implications; the capitalists and the defenders, press, pulpit and politician, because it would abolish the privileged position which Capitalism assures them. The Socialist can understand this. It is difficult, however, to understand the prejudice of the man in the street, we repeat we think it curious. It is this curiosity of ours which prompts the attempt to find out what it is. Remember the Socialist comes forward with a specific claim that the only cure for the world’s social, political, and economic maladjustments is Socialism, i.e., common ownership and democratic control of the means of life. We think it reasonable to expect from those who are adversely affected by the present social system, at least a patient hearing: an eagerness to hear the socialist solution.
Remember again that within the lifetime of most adults there have been two major devastating world wars; the more than usual lean times in between the wars; the untold suffering of countless thousands directly and indirectly affected thereby. The causes of these disasters to human well being! Is it not worth while discussing?
Socialism does not pose as a “divine” saviour of humanity—it offers a solution—far more important. What an opportunity the socialist offers. He is striving like all forms of life to adapt himself more favourably to his every-day environment.
To those then who are eager to share in this effort, we are at least deserving a sympathetic hearing. But we don’t get it, otherwise our numbers would be tens of thousands strong.
So what are the difficulties? The socialist has to deal in abstractions. We refer to a social system “divided into two classes”: “the working class who produce and distribute the world’s wealth"; “the capitalist class” owners of the product and the means of wealth production.
The socialist becomes unpopular with his audiences when he describes the motives which cause the working class to support Capitalism. The worker has been “through the mill,” moiled and bludgeoned and alternately fussed and petted by the class who rule. Nevertheless, he cannot believe “he hasn’t a dog’s chance that Capitalism has got him, hook, line and sinker! No. He’ll never admit to this. The existence of the British Legion, the political working men’s club, and a host of other organisations all engaged on pouring oil on the social wounds of the masses, notwithstanding. The titled gentry make this work their life’s mission also. So our parting words are give our speakers a fair deal. The magnitude of our task is a gigantic one. Nevertheless the socialist comes forward, cheerfully, hopefully—in short philosophically, to tell you the facts as they appear. If you imagine you “will get there,” “make good,” we must agree with you because we know that when you seriously begin to study Socialism you “will get there”—with us. The emancipation of the world’s working class will not be accomplished ^ without effort—sacrifice of time and money.
This Socialism asks—nay, demands. This way alone Socialism will grow and we wish you joy in the task and welcome when you join our ranks.
O. C. I.