Thursday, October 12, 2017

To A New Reader (1947)

From the November 1947 issue of the Socialist Standard

So you've just been to one of our meetings, and made contact with The Socialist Party of Great Britain. I know our policy seems rather a "handful” at first, but once you get a firm grip, then the difficulties will vanish. The philosophy of the S.P.G.B. throws an entirely different light on our life and world problems—it puts them in their true perspective.

Workers’ lives follow much the same course. Those seemingly endless years at school, with all their thoughts of achieving success and fame. Thrown into the world around 14 or 15 years of age it all begins. The low wages, menial tasks of the errand or office boy at everyone’s beck and call. Perhaps a rise after six months, but somehow things don’t go too well. The past begins to lose its hold; school friends go their way, and family ties weaken. Politics, well you’re mildly interested. Perhaps you can’t stand the Tories, your sympathies lie with the Labour Movement. Maybe you think there are so many “Left” parties. You think a drive for unity would be good. War !— how it turns lives inside out. Years in uniform, the discipline, travel abroad (this upsets some of your ideas), death and destruction close at hand—Victory. Here’s the world you live in.

Your life is before you—you hope. What are you going to make of it? Is it to be the usual tale of unemployment, want, frustration, another world war? It will be, unless a majority of people decide to do something about it. At least you’ve taken the first step: the awakening of interest, which will later develop into activity.

It’s true, there seems so much to grasp at first, so we’ll make this first article something of a general introduction, and get down to some more detailed discussion later.

Although our policy is new to you, the S.P.G.B. has been in existence for over 40 years. When we were formed, our object and declaration of principles were laid down. They have served as solid foundations, on which a real Socialist movement has been erected. Our case, at first, probably appeared startling to you because of its tremendous difference from that of all other parties. That difference is not superficial, but fundamental in character.

Just throw your mind back to the General Election. All candidates, other than the S.P.G.B. representative, fell over themselves in wanting to do things for you. They promised work for all, higher wages, a raised standard of living, cheaper goods, etc., etc. All very acceptable. Labour, Tory and Liberal—they stood to carry out various policies whilst accepting the present social set-up—capitalism. We in the S.P.G.B. put a very different case. After studying the problems confronting us, we claim that capitalism has outlived its usefulness. We want a complete change in the basis of society—the common ownership and democratic control of the instruments of production and distribution.

However, we mustn’t go too quickly. Let’s get back to capitalism. Have you noticed that certain aspects of this system stand out a mile? It is based on class ownership—the mills, factories, workshops, mines, etc., belong to a small group of people—the capitalist class. As you know, they are able to live a life of luxury and ease, they want for nothing, and how at times you envy them. Have you ever thought why articles are produced? It is not because they meet the needs of people, but because they are to be sold so that their owners can derive a profit from selling them. As a worker it is hardly necessary to describe your lot under this system. Work, work and more work, when the bosses are willing to let you. For your food, clothes and shelter, you rely on your weekly wage packet, and we know it only just about goes round. Your life is one constant struggle to make ends meet, and yet you, with other workers, produce the wealth of the world BUT IT BELONGS TO THE CAPITALISTS.

Other Parties tell you that by a series of social reforms, the jagged edges, of your life can be smoothed over, and yet after more than 50 years of “running repairs,” a general overhaul is necessary.

It is this overhaul that we consider is important. You have probably heard our speakers say that a social revolution is needed. Yes, it is a drastic measure, but such action is called for when dealing with serious complaints.

This drastic measure — the establishment of Socialism, can be achieved when the majority of people see the need. This will alter the very foundations of society. Property will be owned by all mankind with democratic administration. The motive power in industry will then be the fulfilling of the people’s requirements. Goods won’t he sold, because there will be no buyers or sellers. No wages, no money. Major problems of today will vanish, because the basis of the new system will be such that harmony will exist between one human being and another.

You think it sounds very nice—in fact the ideal solution, but there seem a lot of snags. Well, that’s a reasonable reaction, but your objections can be met. However, think it over, and we’ll deal with a particular aspect of our policy in more detail some other time.
Cyril May

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