From the July 1942 issue of the Socialist Standard
Socialists have had to contend with multifarious groups and parties that held, and hold yet to-day, the view that every inroad of the capitalist state into the realm of industry is a step in the direction of Socialism.
Seeking support on those lines is the major party —the Labour Party—which stands for the nationalisation of the main industries of the country, with compensation for the owners at a fair rate of interest by giving them government bonds, equal to their assessed capital. The Labour Party has been influenced by such people as the Fabians in the shape of G. B. Shaw and the Webbs, who have contributed much to the doctrine of State control, along with the I.L.P. which, in the past, declared that it would convert the Labour Party to Socialism, by which it really meant State-capitalism, and even now is only critical of Russian State-capitalism on democratic grounds.
A later arrival was the “Communist” Party, which made the wildest claims for the “dictatorship of the Proletariat” that they declared was in operation in Russia.
But the “Workers’ State" picture has somewhat faded over the years until to-day sociologists have some difficulty in differentiating the State system in Russia from that of Nazi Germany. The question now arises as to why the Labour movement plumps for State control of one kind or another. In the first place, State control can be viewed as being in line with the centralisation and concentration of capital, “for capitalist development had its genesis in the expropriation of the pigmy property of the many into the huge property of the few,” and State boards, corporations, trusts, nationalisation and the like are but parts of the higher evolved capitalism.
Illustrating this is the statement of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Food that there will be the closing of half of the retail shops by midsummer this year which means that some 300,000 “small man" businesses will be “telescoped,” and their trade taken over by the bigger organisations. (News Chronicle, April 6th, 1942.)
This “freeing” from the world of business of a type that has attempted to rise above the proletariat, that has given his children a better education, forms a nucleus from which come the sometimes brilliant men with ideas who flow into the parties of the “left," and as trained writers, intellectuals and professionals, make well thought out schemes for the planning of capitalism, motivated, you may be sure, by the prospect of filling the requisite posts in its administration. Against the planners, the Tories, representing the solid property owners, and holding high office in the state for decades, appear reactionary to the suggested new order of things, and resent the move to superannuate them to a back seat politically. For against the Tory conception that a man’s worth—his substance—is the amount of property he owns the embarrassing newcomers have the “revolutionary” cry of “equal opportunity,” and declare that ability should he the test of a man’s right to income, so away with private property. Let the State take over for Socialism now! Whilst this haggling goes on as to which type of capitalism should be adopted, and who is to run it, the great majority of “base” mechanics, the proletariat, must be thinking that they have a role to play in this era of change and are fearful that totalitarianism and State capitalism are of one piece, that their liberty, and thus of humanity, depends on what part they play.
We declare that we Socialists have earned the right to be listened to, for of all sections of the working-class we have been true, whilst the concept of Socialism has been distorted, and used as a cover to march our class from one morass to another, their labour-power bought and sold like merchandise, their children snobbishly belittled.
We still propagate that you must abolish the wages system, must fashion a society to your needs, a class-less society, where mankind passes from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. Will you hear us?