Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Road Ahead (1964)

From the January 1964 issue of the Socialist Standard

The case for Socialism rests upon the fact that the capitalist social system cannot provide a decent life for its people and that, in the interests of those people, it should make way for the next stage in social evolution.

It is true to say that man has developed sufficient technical and productive capacity to sustain a social system in which wealth is freely available to all human beings. Capitalism itself has removed the barrier of low-productivity.

The one remaining obstacle to Socialism is the fact that the working class, who make up the majority of the population of the modern world, are not Socialists. Many of them have never heard our case and of those who have heard it most have rejected it. One of the irritations of being a Socialist is that the reasons for this rejection are too often rooted in ignorance—are, in fact, little more than transparent illusions. Many workers, with the tumult of capitalism raging about their heads, prefer to take comfort in these illusions rather than face the facts.

It is, then, part of a Socialist's job to do his best to destroy illusions. This is not necessarily work in which we take great pleasure; there are sickenly too many illusions for that. It is simply work which must be done.

The idea that the working class today are prosperous, and that capitalism holds out a comfortable future for them, must be examined and shown up for what it is worth. The facts on work, housing, health, material possessions, and so on, must be publicised and—especially important—put into their proper perspective. It must be pointed out that capitalism is a social system in which the owning minority will always live off the best while the working majority exist off the mediocre.

The prospects which capitalism offers must be examined. They are not attractive.

The history of the working class has, inevitably, been one of superficial change. Nobody can deny—nobody would want to deny—that working class conditions have changed since the war. What can be questioned is whether those changes have always been for the better and whether those which might have been for the better are not outbalanced by others which have been for the worse.

This is the question which the preceding articles have put. If they do not make pleasant reading it is only because capitalism is still as full of urgent problems and discords as ever. Crime is still a running sore—worse than ever in recent years. Some illnesses—those that are typical of the rush and strain of post war capitalism—are increasing and have replaced the old killers which were characteristic of the days of unemployment. Popular cultural levels can never have been lower. And so on.

What this means is that, no matter how much capitalism changes, it remains the same. Workers are continually being deluded by plausible politicians who promise them that, if they will work harder, restrain their wage claims, and so on. they will soon enter the Promised Land of peace and plenty. Behind the delusion is the implied promise that capitalism is a system in which every prospect pleases.

In fact, it is always the prospects alone which can be made to sound attractive. The reality--the present—is never so good; that is why the politicians must always allude to the present as a sort of pause before the golden future.

It is all an illusion. Capitalism has no future to offer the mass of its people. The one solution to society’s problems is the establishment of i new social order—Socialism—in which the means of producing and distributing the world’s wealth will be owned by the world’s people. The work of the Socialist Party of Great Britain is to spread the understanding and knowledge which Socialism requires.

This month’s Socialist Standard asks the working class: Where Are You Going? The future depends on your answer.

No comments: