Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A socialist pamphlet from France (1981)

From the June 1981 issue of the Socialist Standard

For some time a group of people in France have been helping to propagate the same socialist idea as that held by the Socialist Party of Great Britain: a world of free access to all goods and services with everyone giving according to their ability and taking according to their need. They have seen too that the only way this can be achieved is by democratic political action on the part of the majority of wage and salary earners throughout the world.

They have called themselves Socialisme Mondial (“World Socialism”), regularly publish a French-language journal of the same name and hold regular public meetings in Paris. Now, as a further support to their activities, they have produced a pamphlet Pour le Socialisme Mondial (“For World Socialism”).*

The pamphlet has a translation of the SPGB’s Object and Declaration of Principles on its inner front cover and then eleven chapters explaining different aspects of the socialist case.

Four of these chapters (“Capitalism”, “Socialism”, “The Less Developed Countries” and “War”) are more or less directly translated from the SPGB’s own pamphlet Questions of the Day. A fifth one, on “The Establishment of Socialism”, is a translation of a fundamental article that originally appeared in the September 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard. It is as thoroughly up-to-date reading now as it was then.

The other six chapters are new. “Marx and Socialism” takes a critical look at Marx and explains that, while socialists accept Marx’s basic analysis of capitalism and his arguments for socialism, some of his views can no longer be considered valid today. “The Myth of Socialism in Russia” examines the background to the Bolshevik revolution, the circumstances of the revolution taking place in a backward country before socialist ideas had spread world wide. It traces the development, since the revolution, of Russia’s state capitalist dictatorship in which “those who occupy the highest posts in the Party form a sort of corporation which collectively monopolises the means of production and which shares out among its members the products of the exploitation of the Russian workers and peasants in the form of huge “salaries”, rewards, gifts, bonuses and various privileges in kind”.

The remaining four chapters, with their specific reference to France, are especially recommended to anyone with a reading knowledge of the language for their excellent analysis of French affairs over the last 100 years or so.

The astonishingly treacherous zigzags of the French Communist Party, which between 1930 and 1964 “did not deviate once from the line traced for it by the rulers of state capitalist Russia”, are dealt with in factual detail in the chapter entitled “The So-Called Communist Party”.

A chapter on trade unions points out the essentially defensive, non-political role of trade union activity with examples taken from the history of French trade unionism.

Finally the two chapters on reformism. Nowhere in socialist literature in any language has this reviewer seen our position on reforms and the futility of campaigning for them better expressed and illustrated than in the nine pages of “Reform and Revolution” and “The Futility of Reformism”. They explain the reasons for the inevitable failure of the massive amount of reformist activity that has taken place in France and conclude that “Reformist action fails because it attacks effects (bad housing, poor education, poor health services, etc.) leaving the cause (capitalism, its class monopoly of the means of production and its production for profit) untouched. The fact is that you cannot reform capitalism to make it function in the interests of the working class who are the vast majority in capitalist society”.

The first of these two chapters also gives a succinct statement of how to achieve the socialist alternative. What is needed, it says, is “a Party composed solely of convinced socialists, a Party which does not go in for reforms of capitalism. When the majority of wage and salary workers become socialists and are organised, they will be able to use their votes to send to Parliament and to Local Councils delegates with a mandate to use their political power for the single revolutionary act of dispossessing the capitalist class through converting the means of wealth production and distribution into the common property of the whole of society”.
Howard Moss

•Available (65p post paid) from Literature Dept., SPGB, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN or from Socialisme Mondial, PO Box 26, 6700 Arlon, Belgium.

No comments: