From the November 1950 issue of the Socialist Standard
It has been bandied about by irresponsible people that Parliament is a gas-house and a talking-shop, and no good whatever to the working class to achieve their emancipation and to establish Socialism. What is needed, they assert, is direct action.
Such ideas are not only foolish but very dangerous. Direct action, namely, the General Strike, and “ Heavy Civil War,” as advocated by certain people in the early 20’s, would leave the powers of State, the Armed Forces, still in the hands of the ruling class. Having still control of the machinery of government, they could still crush the General Strike, and any attempt to seize the factories and the means of production and distribution.
That is why we claim, as laid down in our Declaration of Principles, in Section 6, that the working class must organise consciously and politically to obtain control of this machinery of government, to dispossess the ruling class of their ownership of the land and means of wealth production and distribution.
Socialism cannot be established by violence, whether by war or heavy civil war. Neither can it be established by a minority group trying to impose it upon the working class against their will and understanding.
A few examples of events in the last thirty years will prove the powers of Parliament. In April, 1924, the Lotts Road Power Station workers came out on strike, which also involved the London Underground Railway workers. The Government of that day, a Labour Government, brought in a large number of naval ratings, and quite easily crushed the strike.
In the so-called General Strike of 1926, the ruling class were prepared to mobilise the Armed Forces. If any attempt had been made to seize (he factories, railways, etc., the ruling class would have made short work of such attempts. Again, in the fateful week-end of September, 1939, before and when war was declared, Parliament, in continual session, passed over 100 emergency regulations and about a dozen short Acts of Parliament. Among them was a fresh military conscription Act, a food rationing Act, and an Act relating to identity cards.
Socialism cannot be established by violence. It can only be established when the working class, not only of Great Britain, but throughout the world, understanding what Socialism is, are willing to co-operate to establish it. It is much easier to vote and work for Socialism than to die uselessly on some stricken barricade or battlefield.