Editorial from the May 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard
It is hardly surprising that we are living in a cynical age in which most people say “you can’t believe anything coming from a political party" or “whatever we do it will make no difference to how we live”. We are not asking you to believe what we say. We are looking for understanding, not belief. We are asking you to have the courage to realise that your understanding of why society is in its present awful mess and your desire, together with millions of others, to change society from the roots can and will make a difference to how we all live.
Everything else has been tried. We have seen attempts to reform the profit system so that poverty is abolished; all such efforts have failed, no matter how sincerely they were advocated or how energetically they were fought for. We have seen the myth that socialism has been established, when all that was really in existence was state-run capitalism; that failed. We have seen dangerous and destructive experiments with dictators, fundamentalist religion and the like; all have resulted in pain and suffering for countless millions. Capitalism has been run in every way possible. Its defenders have run out of ideas.
No wonder people are cynical about political change. It seems that everything has been tried. For capitalism, it has. The one attempt to really change society which has yet to be tried is socialism—real socialism, as defined in the pages of this journal, has never been tried and presents the one original and effective solution to the problems of our age.
We are not asking you to think about socialist ideas so that you will feel good. (Although knowing that there is an alternative to the present mess should make anyone feel better.) No, our objective is to show you that there is a practical alternative and it will only be practical to bring about socialism when you and enough people like you decide to bring it about.
The future under capitalism will be bleak. None of us can be secure from its attacks upon our lives. Even if it does not attack you economically by throwing us out of work or taking away our homes or forcing us to live in a slum or work in a sweatshop or suffer waiting in the hospital queues, there is no escaping from capitalism culturally and emotionally. We are all prisoners of a system which treats us like dirt—as no more than cogs in the profit-grinding machine. It is a prison, but we have the key to the cell door if we choose to open it.