Saturday, July 15, 2017

What we stand for (1986)

Editorial from the February 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party is an organisation of men and women who recognise that our material interest depends on the transformation of society from a class monopoly and production for profit to one of common ownership, democratic control and production solely for use.

We understand that society is divided into two main classes: those who possess the goods of the earth but do not produce them and those who produce but do not possess. The minority own and control the means of producing and distributing wealth, such as factories, land, offices, mines, media, transport. The minority, be they inheritors of class power or capitalists who have worked their way to affluence by the sweat of other people's toil, are living off the majority. The working class work to keep the bosses in luxury and idleness; we are their benefactors. Socialists are workers who have decided that the days of such foolish charity must end.

The non-socialist regards wages and salaries as gifts by the employer to the employee; the socialist views them as crumbs which the exploiter offers in return for the cake we have baked. The wages system allows us only enough money to exist as profit-producers. Socialists do not aspire to be robbed with dignity; unlike our reformist opponents who dream up endless reforms to soothe the injuries of the robbed, we are for abolishing, not improving, the wages system.

The socialist stands for a system of society where the necessities and luxuries of life are not commodities to be bought, but are there for the use of all. on the basis of free access. The wealth of a socialist society will belong to everyone, not because they are "owners", but because they are members of a free and equal community where property relationships have ceased to exist. The non-socialist worries at this point, scared that without money as an obstacle between humans and the satisfaction of our needs we will be greedy: we will over-consume. But the desire to over-consume is only a fetish adopted by workers who are compelled to under-consume: if we are used to paying for every steak we eat, we dream of eating more steaks than we would ever choose to eat in a society where food is free. The myth of "the greedy person" is a product of a system where money does not allow workers to have enough and calls us greedy when we demand nothing but the best.

So, a socialist society will have no money and no wages. It will be a system of conscious human co-operation. Indeed, socialists are very confident about the possibility of human beings behaving as intelligent co-operators. We do not share the miserable assessment of human potential advanced by the proponents of the theory of Human Nature. Human behaviour is not genetically determined, but governed largely by the social environment. In the absence of a jungle society we are certain that men and women will cease to act like beasts. Competition will give way to mutual aid, war to fraternity.

Unlike those who favour government of the few over the majority, socialists want a society where there are no governors or governed, but where humanity, organised on the basis of full-scale democracy and making use of modem communications technology, will make decisions by itself for itself. And as socialism will not be a society of leaders and led, so it is the case that workers cannot be led to the establishment of socialism. The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself.

Socialists do not think nationally. We recognise that socialism was never established in the so-called socialist or communist countries, and nor could it have been. These are state-capitalist countries, essentially the same as the rest of the capitalist world. Socialism entails worldwide action by the working class.

Socialists reject gods, religion and other superstitious follies. We are scientific enough to understand that it is up to human beings to make history and there are no superior beings, other worlds or external moralities which need get in our way. The socialist is a clear-headed materialist who seeks explanations on the basis of cause and effect and admits ignorance about those phenomena which are incomprehensible rather than invent dogmas relying on faith.

The Socialist Party is opposed to all other parties, for the lot of them stand for capitalism in one form or another. We reject the system and stand in uncompromising hostility to those who, knowingly or in ignorance, advise workers to support it.

Socialists are in a hurry. We realise that the task of social transformation is an urgent one and no effort can be spared in hastening the day when the rotten system of profit and plunder leading to war and waste is replaced by worldwide production for use.

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