Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Our 1939 anti-war manifesto (1989)

Editorial from the September 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

In this, our first issue of the Socialist Standard since the declaration of war, we have the opportunity of reaffirming the socialist attitude that we have consistently maintained since the formation of the party, including the war of 1914-18. With the increasing international tension of recent years we have again and again pressed home the undeniable truth that as long as the world is organized on a capitalist economic basis the never-ceasing rivalries will continue to produce conflicts ranging from mere diplomatic crises to gigantic armed struggles spreading over the oceans and continents of the world. The Socialist Party of Great Britain re-affirms that the interest of the world working class—on whom the untold misery and suffering of war inevitably falls—lies in abolishing the capitalist economic system.

The present conflict is represented in certain quarters as one between “freedom" and ‘‘tyranny" and for the rights of small nations.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain is fully aware of the suffering of German workers under Nazi rule, and wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression, but the history of the past decades shows the futility of war as a means of safeguarding democracy. After the last Great War—described as the war to end war, and as a war to make the world safe for democracy—the retention of capitalism resulted in the building up of new tyrannies and terrorisms through the inability of the capitalist states to solve the problems created by the system of private ownership of the means of production and distribution and the competitive scramble for raw materials, markets and control of trade routes. So little did the last war achieve its alleged purpose that the man who was prominently associated with the Allied victory and the claim that that war would be the last—Mr. Lloyd George—now has to confess that even this war may not be the last war. Writing in the Sunday Express, September 10th. Mr. Lloyd George says:
  It is only just over twenty years ago that France and Britain signed the armistice with Germany which brought to an end the bloodiest war in history. They are now fighting essentially the same struggle again.
  Germany is again the aggressor. Once more it is a fight for international right—the recognition of the equal right of nations, weak as well as strong, to lead their own independent lives so long as they do not interfere with the rights of their neighbours.
  This conflict has gone on periodically since the dawn of history. It will go on for many centuries to come unless and until mankind accepts that principle as one of the irrefragable commandments of humanity.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain calls on the workers of the world to refuse to accept this prospect, and calls upon them to recognise that only Socialism will end war.

Among those who support the present war is the British Labour Party, who long ago declared that the peace treaties of the last war contained the germs of a future war. At one time the Labour Party, in its Labour Speakers Handbook 1922, declared that the “unjust territorial arrangements" of the Peace Treaties must be rectified, including the return of Danzig and other Polish territory to Russia in accordance with the principle of “self determination".

The Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that neither the doctrine of “self determination", which the Labour Party then claimed had been violated by the Peace Treaties, nor the German claim for a new carving-up of Europe, nor any other policy for settling minority problems and international rivalries within the framework of capitalism, is capable of bringing peace and democracy to the peoples of the world. Another war would be followed by new treaties forced on the vanquished by the victors, and by preparations for further wars, new dictatorships and terrorism.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain therefore pledges itself to continue its work for Socialism, and reiterates the call it issued on the outbreak of war in 1914:
  Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our goodwill and socialist fraternity, and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.
The Executive Committee, SPGB 
September 24th 1939.

Monopoly comes to Russia (1989)

From the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

The task of refuting the claim that Russia is socialist becomes easier and easier as the hallmarks of capitalism there become more and more clear for all to see.

"British Admen Leading Russians to Market” headlined an article in the Sunday Times (6 August). The chairman of Delaney Fletcher Delaney agency and president of the Institute of Practioners in Advertising is organising a two-day seminar to teach Russians the latest advertising and marketing techniques. The seminar will be run by the Institute and the Soviet Videofilm Corporation, which is responsible for television advertising in Russia, and subjects will include consumer as well as business-to-business advertising. Although domestic constraints and the non-convertible rouble still cause severe shortages. Western companies are setting up agencies ready to compete in a potential market of 283 million people. Young and Rubican, Ogilvy and Maher, as well as Mercedes-Benz. Allied-Lyons, British Airways and ICI, are already there.

If there was any doubt left about Russia not being capitalist, this should have been dispelled by an earlier report in the Observer Magazine (23 July) that Monopoly is shortly arriving in Russia. No, not the state monopoly which in fact is slowly being chipped away, but the world's most popular board game. You know, the one we've all played where, with "play” money, we've bought little green wooden houses or built red wooden hotels from the Old Kent Road to Mayfair, charging rent to other players unfortunate enough to land on our squares. To the 22 existing different language versions available in 33 countries, Russian is being added. As when the original American version was adapted for the English market in 1935, changes have been made. The street lay-out is that of Moscow. Mayfair has become Arbat, erstwhile habitation of Tsarist Imperial courtiers, just as Whitechapel Road here is Nagatynskaya Street in a run-down industrial suburb. The money is roubles and stocks and shares have become government bonds. Like their western counterparts. Russian workers will be able to play at property speculation and exploitation in their sitting-rooms while, in the real world outside where they have to sell their labour-power, they will continue to be exploited until capitalism—Russian or Western-style—is abolished.
Eva Goodman

". . . Cutting the wallet" (1989)

From the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

Not just a singer (1989)

Book Review from the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

Chaliapin. By Victor Borovsky. Hamish Hamilton.

This book is a study of the rise of Fyador Chaliapin from poor uneducated Russian peasant boy to the world's greatest opera singer and dramatic actor. Its interest from our viewpoint is in the light it throws on Russian life and conditions between 1873 and 1938.

On achieving fame on the Russian operatic stage Chaliapin established a close friendship with the writer Maxim Gorky, who was keen to help him write his autobiography. Both came from the same Volga district, both born to peasant status (a crippling handicap in old Russia) and experienced from an early age the appalling poverty and misery of the Russian casual labourer. Both had in fact been Volga boatmen (the barge hauliers epitomised in the famous song).

Gorky was up until 1917 a constant supporter and financier of Russian Social Democracy, especially Lenin's Bolshevik faction. It was in fact Gorky's money that financed the Party school on the Isle of Capri in Italy. But in 1917 Gorky was already disillusioned:
  The working class cannot fail to see that Lenin is only doing some experimenting with their living tissues, with their blood The working class must know that miracles don't exist, that they are going to face hunger, the complete disruption of industry, chaos in transport, a long term of bloody anarchy, followed by a no less bloody and dismal reaction. Aren't all those who disagree seized and dragged off to jail under the Lenin regime just as they were under the Romanovs.
Despite being sympathetically inclined to the revolutionaries before 1917 and certainly in favour of democratic freedoms. Chaliapin too became rapidly disillusioned with the Bolshevik regime and it was Gorky who advised him to leave Russia, which he did, never to return despite Stalin s blandishments.

At a time when thousands of Muscovites were living in “angles" (corners of rooms) Stalin offered Chaliapin a house in Moscow and a dacha in the country, almost anything in fact, to get him back to Russia. Chaliapin, to his credit, said. "He will give me money and a house but can he give me back my soul?". Which was one way of putting it.

After leaving Russia Chaliapin went on to consolidate a reputation as the greatest operatic bass singer of all time. He was not merely the possessor of a mighty voice but was also a great dramatic innovator, infusing old and encrusted stage traditions with new life. He toured the world electrifying audiences everywhere.

Early in his career after his first visits abroad he wrote:
  I have been all over Europe and have visited North and South America: everywhere I have seen Liberty, but nowhere greater freedom than exists in England. The meetings in Hyde Park surprised me especially. One hears Socialists and Anarchists speechifying almost side by side. The crowd listens with equal attention and respect to both of them. A Catholic defends his religion with fiery zeal, while not far away an atheist deprecates all faith no less ardently. I was very much astonished at some of the speeches that were translated for me by my Russian friends and my Russian habit of thought made me involuntarily wonder what the Police would say about it. At times I almost felt like asking the Park policeman how he could listen to such things unmoved. What an incredible phenomenon it seemed that a policeman should be the servant of free democracy.
This passage from his autobiography Pages from My Life, which, incidentally, was censored from the Soviet edition, shows Chaliapin to have been not merely a great musical artist and genius but an acute political observer.

It is regrettable that Dr. Borovsky (like so many Soviet-trained academics) is apparently ignorant of our existence and that we disowned the Bolshevik dictatorship in 1917—and that we still speak in Hyde Park.

Media attempt to discredit Marx (1989)

From the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

No newspaper or television item is guaranteed to annoy a socialist more than those in which some capitalist country is described as "Marxist" or "socialist", both words that are frequently prefixed to the name of various state capitalist countries in Africa or South America which happen to be aligned with Russia.

Apart from the BBC, which has always refused to offer a reasoned reply to our request for an explanation of their deliberate policy decision to describe such countries as Mozambique and Ethiopia as Marxist, among the other main offenders are the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. However, if recent reports from the correspondents of these two papers are to be believed, there will shortly need to be a fundamental editorial review on how their reporters are to describe these countries in the future.

In an article which appeared in the Guardian on 31 July, their correspondent in Mozambique reported that the single party there (Fremlimo) had just "abandoned Marxism”. Showing a painful lack of any knowledge about Marx's writings on politics and economics and under the heading 'Mozambique is No Longer Marxist', she claimed that Marx was being thrown overboard because private groups were now able to run their own schools but, more importantly to her mind, because there was to be a relaxation of state control over the means and methods of production. As this is what the media believe is meant by “Marxism", it is hardly surprising that there has been such an embarrassing silence from the BBC.

Marx was quite clear in his writings that not only has the establishment of socialism to result from the political action of the working class itself ("the proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority", as the Communist Manifesto puts it), but that this involves the abolition of commodity production and wage-exploitation (the workers, says Value, Price and Profit, "ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword 'Abolition of the Wages System'”) and their replacement by a democratically-organised society where the principle ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs' would apply (Critique of the Gotha programme).

It is clear that, on Marx’s definition, Mozambique is not socialist. It is in fact a developing capitalist country which is trying to find its feet in an ever more competitive world market. That its ruling class felt that it would accumulate capital quicker if it adopted state capitalism and its attendant Leninist (not Marxist) ideology and is now prepared to accept harsh measures imposed upon it by the IMF, including the liberalising of its economy, does not mean that it is no longer Marxist. It never had anything to do with Marx to begin with. Workers there, as elsewhere, still need to engage in the general democratic struggle for society as a whole to own and control the means to life.

In the same week that the Guardian informed its readers that Mozambique was “no longer” Marxist, the Daily Telegraph (3 August) ran a report on its foreign news page with the headline ’Ethiopia Loosens Marxist Chains To Woo Investors'. Like Mozambique's ruling class the dictators in Ethiopia require foreign investors from outside the Russian sphere of influence. If that means changing one set of ideological clothes for another, and if it means introducing a modicum of private capitalism and a loosening-up of the state-controlled economy, then this is something they have accepted they will have to do. But, as with Mozambique, it has nothing to do with abandoning Marx or socialism.

One central feature of socialism, clearly stated by Marx, is that it would be a classless society in which the means to life would be the common ownership of all society ("In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have", says the Communist Manifesto again, “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all").

So, if Ethiopia was socialist by Marx's definition, it would have abolished classes, but the Daily Telegraph writer actually draws her readers’ attention to the class divisions that exist there. In one place she writes that “Ethiopian teenage girls in puffball silk skirts and the latest European finery attend parties at the Hilton Hotel" and in another that “more than a million people live in squalid homes with mud walls and tin roofs”. If there was common ownership and direct access to production then nobody in Ethiopia or anywhere else in the world would need to be living in squalor and poverty.

Reporters who describe backward state-capitalist countries like Ethiopia and Mozambique as “Marxist" are either ignorant or are telling lies to try to discredit Marx.
Richard Lloyd

50 Years Ago: The Partition of Ireland (1989)

The 50 Years Ago column from the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

The question of the demand by the Government of Eire for the incorporation of Northern Ireland in a united, independent Ireland is one which really requires full and detailed treatment in order to make plain the correctness of the Socialist attitude of refusing to support either side . . .

The Socialist view is that the problems and conflicts arising from capitalism do now prevent, and will continue to prevent, the large and small racial and language groups of peoples in the world from living together harmoniously. Neither the creation of small would-be independent nations nor the forcible incorporation of unwilling groups in larger States, will work satisfactorily as long as international commercial rivalries keep stoking the fires of national hatreds.

One argument used in the past by advocates of Irish nationalism has been that until the national question is settled the workers will never be able to recognise their worldwide community of interest in the abolition of capitalism. As against this the Socialist points out that nationality problems never will be settled under capitalism. The efforts to do so under the Versailles Treaty illustrate this.

Moreover, national movements tend invariably towards methods of force to attain their ends, as witness the traditions of the Irish factions. This in itself is a factor which militates against the spread of Socialist knowledge.
[From the Socialist Standard, October 1939.]

Solidarity’s Wrong Turn (1989)

From the October 1989 issue of the Socialist Standard

So, nine years after it was formed as the first independent trade union in Eastern Europe since the war, Solidarity has now supplied a Prime Minister for Poland. Remarkable as this development is, it is nevertheless a fateful mistake from a working class point of view for an organisation formed as a trade union to get involved in government.

This is because the exercise of government power and trade union action are ultimately incompatible. Governments, whatever they might originally intend, have to give priority to maintaining or restoring the profitability and the international competitiveness of industries, whether private or state-owned, situated in the country they are governing. Trade unions, on the other hand, exist to defend workers against the downward pressures that are constantly exerted on their wages and working conditions, whether these come from employers or governments. Those Solidarity members who have entered the government in Poland have put themselves on a collision course with the membership of Solidarity as a trade union. However sincere they may be, they have betrayed the original aim for which Solidarity was established by ordinary workers in 1980, as will become clear when they find themselves, as they will, obliged to oppose wage demands and strikes.

It is true that Solidarity eventually developed other aims, like trade unions everywhere (after all, most trade unions in Britain made the mistake of associating with the Labour Party). Opponents of the regime realised the potential of a movement supported by millions for bringing about changes, and Solidarity’s original working class leaders came to be surrounded by “advisers” and “experts” and “Catholic intellectuals”. These people had other aims than the mere defence of wages and working conditions. They wanted an end to Polish dependence on Russian imperialism, freedom for the Catholic Church to do what it wanted and, on the economic field, a more market-oriented economy and more freedom for private enterprise.

The Class Structure or Polish Society
Solidarity, though far from being a socialist organisation even nominally, realised very quickly that Poland was a class-divided society in which the working class was oppressed and exploited and not a society in which, as the regime’s propaganda machine claimed, the working class ruled through its vanguard, the Polish Communist Party. The exploiting and oppressing class was identified as being the nomenklatura – those filling the top posts in the Party, the government, industry and the armed forces, reserved for Party nominees and carrying with them various material privileges – and the Communist Party was identified as the party of this class and not the working class as – it mockingly pretended.

The class situation in Poland has not been better analysed from within the country than by Jacek Kuron (now a Solidarity MP, whose name was even one of the three proposed by Walesa to General Jaruzelski for the post of Prime Minister) and Karol Modzelewski in the Open Letter to the Party they wrote in 1968 (earning themselves a three-year jail sentence):
  In our system, the Party elite is, at one and the same time, also the power elite; all decisions relating to state power are made by it and, in any case, at the top of the Party and state hierarchies there exists, as a rule, a fusion of responsible posts. By exercising state power, the Party elite has at its disposal all the nationalized means of production; it decides on the extent of accumulation and consumption, on the direction of investment, on the share of various social groups in consumption and in the national income; in other words, it decides on the distribution and utilization of the entire social product . . . The worker is thus exploited, because he is deprived of the ownership of the means of production; in order to live, he must sell his labour. From the moment he performs that act, which to him is indispensable, i.e., when he sells his ability to do a given job in a given time, his labour and its product no longer belong to him but to those who have bought his labour, the owners of the means of production, the exploiters. To whom does the worker in our country sell his labour? To those who have at their disposal the means of production, in other words, to the central political bureaucracy.
The class Kuron and Modzelewski call here the “central political bureaucracy” is the same as what everyone in Poland now calls the nomenklatura. It was a class that was imposed on Poland by the Russian army after the last world war as a mirror-image of the Russian ruling class. Through its party, the Communist Party, it has ruthlessly governed Poland for the past forty years, jailing opponents and brutally suppressing strikes by discontented workers.

The Rise of Solidarity
Then came August 1980 when, in a manifestation of mass working class discontent with their exploitation, millions of workers throughout Poland went on strike. Unable to suppress this by armed force, the government had to agree to negotiate with the representatives of Solidarity, the union the striking workers had formed. But the Polish ruling class had still not given up its desire to rule by dictatorship. Egged on by the Russian ruling class who feared that things might get out of hand and Poland escape from its sphere of influence, the government declared martial law in December 1981 and banned Solidarity. Its leaders, including Walesa and the present Prime Minister Mazowiecki, were rounded up and jailed or sent into internal exile.

Solidarity, however, continued to exist and, still supported by millions of workers, went underground. Meanwhile Poland’s economic situation continued to worsen. In the 1970s the Polish government had borrowed heavily from Western banks in order to finance investments and imports of consumer goods, hoping to be able to pay off these debts from the increased exports it expected to follow from its investments in new equipment. Then came the world slump; the exports failed to materialise and Poland found itself reduced to the status of a Latin American debtor country. Living standards continued to fall, and rations became smaller and smaller and spread to more and more goods.

Under these circumstances working class discontent grew, culminating last year in the biggest strike wave since 1980. The Party and government, now completely discredited, realised that they were going to have to negotiate again with Solidarity. So weak was their position that they had to concede not just the re-legalisation of Solidarity but a revision of the Constitution.

The agreement, reached in March, provided for elections to be held this June but elections of a special kind in that the Communist Party (and its satellite parties) was guaranteed a majority in the lower house, with 60 per cent of the seats being reserved for them. Elections to the new Senate, on the other hand, were to be completely free. In the next elections, to be held in four years time, there were to be no reserved seats in the lower house either.

The results of the election confirmed that Solidarity enjoyed overwhelming support and that the Communist Party had no support outside the ranks of the nomenklatura. All the seats in the Senate save one (which went to an independent oppositionist) and the 35 per cent of freely-elected seats in the lower house were won by Solidarity (the other 5 per cent had been reserved for some Catholic representatives). The Communist Party even failed to win on the first round all the seats reserved for it since a number of their candidates, including the outgoing Prime Minister Rakowski, failed to achieve the 50 per cent of votes cast required to be elected.

In Office but Not Power
This result was embarrassing, both to the government and to Solidarity since it undermined the compromise deal whereby the Communist Party would be allowed to rule until further elections in four years time. The way out favoured by the Polish ruling class was a coalition between their party and Solidarity, with Solidarity as the junior partner whose role would be to defuse working class discontent while highly unpopular measures, involving price rises and redundancies, were pushed through. But Solidarity was not prepared to be used to bailout the regime in this way.

This refusal placed the Polish ruling class in a dilemma since the only option now left was to allow Solidarity a larger share of power, but could they be trusted? After all, hadn’t Solidarity identified them as the class enemy and hadn’t they spoken of dismantling the whole system of patronage and privilege from which they benefited? In the end they decided to let Solidarity form a government while retaining key ministries for their own direct political representatives – the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior which together control the coercive forces of the Polish state. In addition, the President, General Jaruzelski, retains considerable powers. But even though the Solidarity government will be in office rather than in power, it will still have to assume responsibility for running Polish capitalism, inevitably against the interests of the working class in Poland. This of course is the plus side for the Polish ruling class. They will still be able to use Solidarity to defuse working class discontent while the unpopular measures, necessary to restructure Polish capitalism and render it internationally competitive again, are implemented.

Already, even before the Solidarity government came into office, Solidarity politicians were urging workers not to rock the boat by going on strike. The Financial Times (19 August) reported that in a debate in the Senate the previous day
  Senator Leszek Pietrowski, the Solidarity Senator from Katowice, appealed to striking miners in his constituency to return to work in the name of their feelings for Solidarity. ‘We can’t strike when Solidarity is beginning to rule the country’, he said
More, much more, such talk will be heard over the coming months. Indeed, it is probable that Walesa refused office precisely so as to be able to use his influence with the trade union side of Solidarity to get workers to accept the austerity measures that the Solidarity government will be imposing on them.

Transition to Private Capitalism?
A Solidarity government, despite its trade union origins, will do – can do – nothing to further the interests of workers in Poland. However, committed as it is to an economic programme that amounts to the transformation of Poland from the bureaucratic state capitalist country it has been since 1948 into the sort of mixed private and state economy that exists in the West, the Solidarity government could well take steps that really would undermine the position of the nomenklatura, benefiting instead the growing private capitalist class – the zloty millionaires, as they are known – that exists in Poland.

Earlier this year the Financial Times (13 January) published a revealing article by Jan Winiecki, who lectures at the Catholic University of Lublin, which amounted to a blueprint for a transition from bureaucratic state capitalism to free enterprise private capitalism. Discussing the “critical mass of changes that must be made at the beginning to get things moving towards the market system”. Winiecki argued that:
  an elimination of the nomenklatura Communist apparatchiks’ privilege to appoint managers at all levels of economic management is the crucial, though politically most difficult, component of the critical mass. Elimination of the nomenklatura is not an end in itself. It is simply a prerequisite to establishing some sensible property rights in place of the chimera of ‘social’ ownership.
In other words, the monopoly control over industry currently exercised by the nomenklatura – supposedly in the name of society but in reality in their own interests as a class – should give way to monopoly control exercised by private capitalists enjoying legal ownership rights over industry.

Realising that the nomenklatura are not likely to accept without a struggle what amounts to their dispossession, Winiecki proposed that:
  If the nomenklatura cannot be beaten it can still be bought out. Party apparatchiks and high level bureaucrats (or most of them) should be offered high compensation for leaving their positions, which would then be abolished.
Actually, if they see that the bureaucratic state capitalism of which they are the beneficiaries really is going to be abolished, this could be an attractive deal for them. They could use their “high compensation” to convert themselves into private capitalist investors and continue to live the life of parasites on the workers to which they have become accustomed.

Only history will tell whether Poland will take this road or whether some other compromise will be worked out between the two sections of the capitalist exploiting class there – the nomenklatura and the zloty millionaires – but one thing is clear. Such a change in the composition of the exploiting class has nothing to offer the workers who sacrificed so much to establish Solidarity as a trade union.
Adam Buick

Gems From Lafargue. (1921)

Paul Lafargue (1842–1911)
From the September 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard
 “Science, the great emancipator, that has tamed the powers of nature, and might in so doing have freed man from toil to allow him to develop freely his faculty of mind and body; science, become the slave of capital, has done nothing but supply means for capitalists to increase their wealth, and to intensify their exploitation of the working class. Its most wonderful applications to industrial technique have brought to the children, the women and the men of the working class nothing but overwork and misery.”

o o o 

   “In former stages of society, famine appeared only when the earth refused her harvests. In capitalist society, famine sits at the hearth of the working class when granaries and cellars burst with the fruits of the earth, and when the market is gorged with the products of industry.”
   "All the toil, all the production, all the suffering of the working class has but served to heighten its physical and mental destitution, to drag it down from poverty into wretchedness.”

o o o 

  "Only through the class struggle can modern socialism realise its social ideal, which possesses the qualities demanded of any hyphothesis that claims a scientific character. The fact of choosing a scientific goal, and of trying to reach it only through the class struggle, distinguishes it from the Socialism of 1848, which was pursuing through the reconciliation of classes a social ideal which could not but be utopian considering the historic moment in which it was conceived. Socialism has thus evolved from Utopia into Science.” 

o o o 

   "When science subdued the forces of nature to the service of man, ought she not to have given leisure to the workers that they might develop themselves physically and intellectually; ought she not to have changed the "vale of tears” into a dwelling place of peace and joy? I ask you, has not science failed in her mission of emancipation? ”

More Communist Consistency. (1921)

Editorial from the September 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communist Party put forward a candidate for the Caerphilly election. The Election Address, published on the 13th August, in a foreword, pointed out:
  “The opportunity is to be welcomed, too, for the chance it gives the Party of expounding its aims and objects in such a way as will mark it as a force distinct in kind and degree from alike its rivals and the malevolent caricature that these have substituted for the reality of Communism and its Party.
 “Pledged as it is to Political Action, the Communist Party is enabled by this opportunity to demonstrate just how far and in what way Revolutionary Political Action differs from the creeping thing the worker has learned to know and to hate as Parliamentarism.”
If the election has provided the Communist Party with an opportunity to explain the meaning of Revolutionary Political Action, then that party has certainly failed to take advantage of this opportunity. There is no indication whatever in the election address of what action the candidate is to take if elected. In fact, this address consists of little more than a few general statements, a few slings at the Labour Party and the Triple Alliance, and the usual thread of sensationalism funning through. Nowhere does it contain information useful to the workers who are urged to vote for the Communist candidate.

Of course, like all so-called "practical” parties who are going to “get there quick,” "immediate" measures had to find a place in the address, and so we learn that "The Communist Party demands for the Unemployed work or maintenance at full Trade Union rates." The coal-miners, railwaymen, engineers, and so on, find that "full Trade Union rates" are not sufficient to secure them the means of decent living, and consequently they are always struggling to increase these rates. But this insufficient amount, or "Work," is what the Communist Party demands for the unemployed. Is this, then, what constitutes "Revolutionary Political Action"? The right to work is anything but a revolutionary idea. In fact, the demands for work on the part of the self-styled working class parties incited Paul Lafargue, on one occasion, to write his celebrated pamphlet on the Right to Leisure.

Another of the "revolutionary" demands in this address is Independence for Ireland. The satisfaction of this demand would simply be the setting up of an independent capitalist Ireland, obviously no concern of the working class. It is also curious to note that the demand for Irish Independence immediately follows a paragraph demanding “the solidarity of the Workers in all Lands against the International Class that thrives on their subjection.” The latter demand is in contradiction to the demand for Irish Independence. If the workers of the world unite against the international capitalist class for the overthrow of the system that robs them of the product of their toil, their international policy will be one of opposition to the capitalists of all nations—there is no room for an anti-Socialist policy that includes aiding the capitalists of subject nations to achieve their independence. 

The address concludes with the stage heroics of Sinn Fein. The electors are asked to vote for a man who is in gaol! The man is an important point in the business, the duties he is to perform are too insignificant for space to be afforded to describe, them.

From beginning to end the whole address is, in reality, nothing more than an ordinary vote-catching manifesto; sufficiently vague and illusive to bring them a measure of s support from the unthinking.

An election where a Socialist candidate is put forward in the early days of Socialist electoral action, provides information of the progress towards Socialism in the constituency where such a candidate is put forward. If, however, those voting in his favour do so purely on emotional grounds, and if care is not taken to make full use of the opportunity by spreading knowledge of Socialist principles, then the election is useless and a waste of time from the Socialist point of view. Again, if a candidate is returned on a wave of emotion (such as the Communists are trying to stir up in Wales), he cannot take up the Socialist position in Parliament without, sooner or later, arousing the antagonism of certain sections of the voters who sent him there. Emotion, unless backed up by sound knowledge, changes its direction like a weather-cock. The result of such an election would be the arousing of false hopes and a false estimate of progress to be followed by disillusion, disappointment, and depression. Delegates, so compromised at the outset of their Parliamentary activities, are hedged around with pitfalls and foredoomed to further compromising action later on.

It is humorous to remember that prominent members (some of whom are at present on the Executive) of the Communist Party lately proclaimed the utter uselessness of any form of Parliamentary action, and advocated abstention from electoral struggles. But this is on a par with many other absurdities and contradictory policies of this “united” party.

The Despotism of Leadership. (1921)

From the September 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Clynes' Example.
Some months ago an article appeared in the Socialist Standard wherein was given an analysis of the relations existing between certain individuals in the trade union and labour movement known as “leaders” and the unfortunate beings who constitute the “led,” Certain further facts regarding leaders and leadership have come .into the possession of the writer, and no apology is needed, in his opinion, for reverting to a subject which is of primary importance to all workers, and more especially to those who happen to be trade union members.

It is tenable to suppose that few working-class men or women have either the time or the opportunity—or, for that matter, the inclination—to read the Official Reports of the Parliamentary Debates, so that in all probability the speech of the Right Hon. John R. Clynes on the 28th June last, on the occasion of the debate on the Settlement 'Terms of the Coal Industry Dispute, has escaped the notice of those people who would most benefit by its perusal. Doubtless it appeared, in a very attenuated form, in most of the daily papers; but as all capitalist newspapers can, and do, by the omission of certain parts of a debate or speech, give it such a turn as will best propagate the particular political views they hold, and as in no case, if they can possibly avoid it, do they print anything that would be likely to weaken or endanger the present capitalist system, no reliance can be placed on the reports appearing in the papers usually bought by working-class readers. To return to the speech in question.

Clynes' Candid Moment.
The opinion of the members of the Socialist Party with regard to the mentality of a man who is willing to submit to the dictation and authority of a “leader,” or “leaders,” is well known. But Mr. Clynes is even more severe than we are on those whom, at any rate, he is not too proud to represent, and on whose shoulders he has risen to his present eminence. He considers the trade union machine defective and out of date, and says that “the worst body of men, or the men least capable of forming a true judgment of their own interests, very often are the masses of the workmen themselves.” He pleads “for the great masses of the workmen not merely to have greater faith in their appointed leaders, but to place in their hands the exercise of greater authority and power. ” 

Gentle Sarcasm.
I trust that trade unionists will accept with their usual docility and meekness the opinion held by Clynes regarding their mental incapability and lack of true judgment of their own interests; that they will realise, if never before, what abject beings they are in comparison with a Right Hon. full-blown labour-leader; that they will never, never attempt to think and act for themselves, but will listen to the plea of Mr. Clynes and leave to him and his like the arduous task of performing (for a fee) all those social and political functions which the Socialist considers that a man who is worthy to be called a man should perform for himself.

By Bluff and Cajolery!
In the course of the speech, regret is expressed that the miners’ leaders in the late coal dispute had no power and no authority, that they were not even able to negotiate in the sense of discussing in detail terms with the mineowners, that they were compelled to go and listen to what the employers had to say and then carry a message to some larger body, knowing even less than the members of the executive, the larger body in turn delegating the question to the masses of men, who knew least of all what had happened in connection with the discussions. One would think on reading this that the miners’ leaders were only the mouthpieces of the mass of the miners, and that they could not accept the terms offered by the mineowners without consultation with the rank and file; but what actually happened was that at the crucial point in the negotiations the leaders (as is admitted in the speech) “dared to assume a power not properly conferred upon them,'’ which Mr. Clynes says he is glad they did. They then, solely on their own responsibility, accepted what was offered, knowing, it is to be presumed, that by bluff and, cajolery they could always persuade their followers to ratify whatever agreement was arrived at.

Who Rules ?
As a matter of fact, to anyone who takes the trouble to study the development of the late coal trouble, it will be apparent that the so-called consultations between the leaders and the mass of the miners were all so much nonsense. From the beginning to the end the men were in the hands of the leaders, who, actually, in their turn were in the hands of the employers and the Government. The dispute lasted just so long as was desired by the owners and no longer. When it was thought feasible that the men should go back, the employers’ agents were able to persuade the miners’ leaders “to assume a power not properly conferred upon them’’ and’ guarantee the return to work, of the rank and file on the terms offered by the employers.

Clynes in the course of his speech thinks that “it will be a good thing for British industry if trusted and competent leaders, who in the nature of things come up closest to the real merits of the difference, and to the real facts in. dispute, could be vested with greater authority." Apparently then, when a dispute arises between masters and men, what the men’s leaders have always to keep in view is, not the interests of those they are supposed to lead, but whether the method of ending the dispute will be “a good thing for British industry.”

We have often contended that the majority of “leaders” seem to consider that their duty is to anyone or anything rather than to the men who have elected and pay them, to attend to their interests; and certainly the official report of the speech here dealt with bears out this contention. 

To any trade unionist who reads this article we Socialists say: Understand your class position as a wage slave, the evils rampant in society and how such affect you, and finally the means whereby your position as a wage slave may be changed to one of freedom. Is it not better to think for yourselves and act for yourselves, rather. than to leave your thinking and course of action in the hands of men who only seem capable of leading their followers deeper into the quagmires of capitalism, leaving them more weary and dispirited at the end of each journey ?
F. J. Webb.

A Discovery. (1921)

From the September 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

According to the “Daily Chronicle” (30.7.21) the “Labour Joint Committee” have just discovered that the Government figures on the cost of living are inaccurate. To the average worker this has been common knowledge ever since the first figures announcing a reduction in living costs were published. Labour leaders' all over the country have blindly accepted the Government figures, and advised the workers to agree to wage reductions on the ground that it meant cheaper production and lower .prices. They have been utterly discredited in the actual results. Ever since the reductions in wages commenced, prices of the necessaries of life have been steadily rising.

Labour leaders have also repeatedly told the workers that it was their duty to increase production by every means in their power. The Socialist Party, on the contrary, has continuously pointed out that increased production, whether as a result of greater efficiency or labour-saving machinery, can have but one result: an increase of unemployment.

In their report the “Labour Joint Committee” make a tardy and incomplete acknowledgment of this indisputable fact. They say that “until the worker has security of tenure in industry, occasions will arise when 'ca-canny will appear to be the leaser of two evils.” The second evil is, of course, unemployment, and with nearly two million registered unemployed, the worker who would race to finish his job to make one more would be a fool. On the other hand, the capitalist pays his overseer to look after his interests, and if he is too slow to catch the worker who shirks unemployment, he too will find himself numbered among the unemployed. The worker has very little choice in the matter. He must either work hard and get the sack himself, or work hard and get his mate the sack.

Ca canny,’’ where it exists, and unemployment are proofs of the rottenness of the capitalist system. Men and women lack the necessaries of life; they are forced to be idle by the capitalist class; yet, given access to the means of wealth production, they could produce the things they require in abundance. Capitalism compels the workers to produce for profits. The workers can only satisfy all their requirements when they make the means of wealth-production common property and produce for use.
F. Foan

"Revolutionary Political Action" (1921)

From the October 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

Communist Brand.
In the leading article in the September Socialist Standard the Communist Party’s Caerphilly Election Address was quoted from as follows:
 Pledged as it is to Political Action the Communist Party is enabled by this opportunity to demonstrate just how far and in what way Revolutionary Political Action differs from the creeping thing the worker has learned to know and to hate as Parliamentarism.
The article went on to say: "If the election has provided the Communist Party with an opportunity to explain the meaning of Revolutionary Political Action, then that Party has certainly failed to take advantage of this opportunity."

If the Communist Party failed on this occasion to make clear what they mean by revolutionary political action, there have been other occasions when they have taken the opportunity. On the Poplar Board of Guardians sit two members of the Communist Party, A. A. Watts and Edgar Lansbury. On June 22nd, at a Board meeting of the Poplar Guardians, the General Purposes Committee recommended a list of reductions in wages of men employed by the Board, building labourers, women sewing machinists, and bakers. What did our two exponents of "revolutionary political action” do? They voted for the reductions!

It was only when the following recommendation was made, viz., “That our action be approved and confirmed and that the wages of the above-mentioned officers be further reduced by 2s. 6d. per week each for every fall of 10 points in the cost of living under figures below 120,” that Edgar Lansbury said, "I’m not opposing the reductions. We’ve already agreed to it, but I don’t like us pledging ourselves to do it in the future.” (Quoted by "Workers’ Dreadnought,” 2/7/21.)

Who have been louder in their denunciation of this principle of the cost of living basis of wages, that the workers should for ever be tied to one bare level of subsistence, than the Communist Party? Yet here we have two of its members lending it their support.

In the "Industrial Notes” in the "Communist” (28/5/21) occurred the following passages:
  Will somebody explain what has happened to the committees set up by the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress to consider joint action against wage reductions.
   One explanation offered is that the members of the sub-committees have been so busy negotiating reductions for their own members that they have had no time to meet.
   Agreements, even, are being broken and strikes are resulting. Aggression by the boss class is seen on every hand.
Clearly a case of the "pot calling the kettle black.” Even Councillor Charlie Sumner, not a revolutionary Communist, but just a Trade Unionist who believes in "a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” said, “Yes, but d’you see, the baking trade has always been a terribly sweated trade, and it isn’t to say that we should join in just because everyone else is coming down on them.” The same is true, of course, of women sewing machinists. Even this failed to move our “revolutionaries”; Sumner, as a matter of fact, voted for the reductions.

A. A. Watts was himself, as Chairman of the Sub-Committee, the signatory to a recommendation to reduce relief to the poor (excepting widows and aged persons) by 10 per cent. The Communist Party’s “revolutionary” Caerphilly Election Address demanded “for the unemployed work or maintenance at full Trade Union rates.” The case of Poplar illustrates how the Communist Party deals with the unemployed when it has the power. Evidently there is little to choose between the Communist Party and those ancient adepts in the art of “piecrust” promising, the Liberal and Tory Parties.

And have Watts and E. Lansbury been expelled from the Communist Party for violating their “principles”? Not a bit of it. Only Miss Sylvia Pankhurst has been expelled for not handing the paper, which published the information, over to the control of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party, of which Watts is a member.

Another occasion is taken advantage of by the Communist Party to show what they mean by revolutionary political action. In the “Communist ” (17/9/21), under “Notes of the Week,” occurs the-following:
  We, as Communists, welcome Poplar’s action for two reasons. The first is that work or maintenance at full trade union rates is a demand which the Communist Party has always pressed, for the revolutionary reason that capitalism can neither refuse it with dignity nor concede it without suicide. Secondly, and more importantly, because the Poplar Council has carried out the advice of the Third International: To capture the machinery of bourgeois administration and use it for revolutionary ends. (Communist’s italics.)
In regard to the first reason, imagine, if you can, capital committing suicide to save its dignity. The idea is too ridiculous to need serious refutation. The Communist Party has been in existence over a year now, and so far capital has refused this demand, which the Communist Party “has always pressed,” and risked its dignity. As for committing suicide—— 

And what is the revolutionary end that the Labour Party has captured the “machinery of bourgeois administration” to effect? The Poplar Borough Council has refused to levy the precepts of the L.C.C. and other outside authorities as a means to bringing about the equalisation of rates. I take it then, that if this revolutionary end is achieved, the system of society advocated by the Communist Party and called by them “Communism,” will have been inaugurated? Let us see.

Prior to the Rent Restrictions Act the effect on the working-class of equalisation of rates would have been nil. There was an excess of supply of houses over demand and rents were competitive. Higher rates in one borough had to be compensated by lower rents, so that the total amount paid for a house was the same all round for the same class of house. Cases have been cited in the Socialist Standard where rent has even fallen while the rates have been rising. But under the Rent Act the amount of rates in excess of the rate levied in 1914 is added directly to the rent allowed by the Act. This fact gives credence to the idea that the working-class is affected by high or low rates. But what would naturally take place if rates were reduced in working-class boroughs as a consequence of equalisation? Wages, especially in the state the labour market is at present, would almost immediately reflect the reduction.

But, apart from the benefit the capitalists who exploit the workers in London would derive as a consequence of the reduction in the latter’s cost of living, who would really benefit by the change? The big factory owners and other Capitalists who have premises in Poplar and other boroughs whose rates would be reduced. And it would be pertinent to ask who is paying for the floods of literature, some of which is sent to voters in stamped envelopes, with which Poplar is being deluged? No working-class organisation dependent on the pence of its members and sympathisers could afford it at the best of times. The whole thing, so far as the working-class is concerned, is simply summed up: it is yet another red herring serving the purpose of diverting them from their real interests and from what should be their only goal, Socialism.
T. D.

A Sentimentalist in the Antipodes. (1921)

From the October 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Marxist has many kinds of critics. Some endeavour to refute his “statement of facts," others admit the facts, but quarrel with the Marxists' generalisations therefrom. A third variety centre their attack upon what they are pleased to call the Marxists' "dogmatic, intolerant, and narrow" attitude of mind. Frequently these anti-Marxists pay lip-service to the Marxian theories of society, and call themselves “Socialists." Such an individual is M. Sawtell, who contributes an article— “Greater than Marx"—to the “Socialist" (Australia, 17/6/]21).

“Although Marx and the Marxists are right in much of their economic and historical data," he tells us, “they are generally wrong in their philosophy and attitude." As he gives no evidence in the article before us to show that the Marxian philosophy is unsound, we can waive a discussion on this point and deal with his criticism of the Marxists' “attitude.” His attack, however, is vague and confused. He makes no definite and concrete accusations against the Marxists, but contents himself with throwing out insinuations and making rhetorical assertions.

He says, “ . . . we must leave this intellectual parasitism of sucking other men’s minds by merely memorising their writings.” “It is fatal to the scholar and the Socialist to be continually memorising other men’s ideas. Nothing vitiates a movement so much as this slavish acceptance of intellectual authority or repressed on being asked, 'Dare we to refute Marx?' " “Let us be ourselves.” “Let us be greater than Marx.”

We have not yet met the Marxist who has “memorised" the writings of Marx, but we would very much like to. One may exist, of course, but even so it is folly to take that individual as typical of Marxists in general, for they, poor fellows, have neither the capacity, nor the time, nor the desire to perform such a remarkable mental feat.

As for memorising Marx’s ideas (if by this is meant his main principles and theories), it is difficult to see how a person can understand theories at all, let alone accept or reject them, without committing them to memory. Memory is one of the most important faculties of the mind, without which all reasoning and intelligent action becomes impossible. Of course, anyone can see that, were it possible for anyone to be “continually memorising,” it would be “fatal” in a very literal sense, whether they were “scholar,” “Socialist,” or even ordinary human being. Total lack of sleep is a very unhealthy thing.

As a matter of fact, the Socialist memorises the main principles of Marxism (and, for that matter, Manchesterism and Toryism) during the process of understanding them. He keeps vivid and renders more detailed these “memories" by reading, discussion, and observation, and uses them as a means of further understanding and as a guide to thought and action. 

Some Marxists, of course, may, and do, exaggerate the personal importance of Marx as an authority owing to their admiration for his genius—they are not perfect, they are human beings, not automatic logic machines—but it is quite untrue to suggest that they as a body “slavishly" accept his intellectual authority.

Marx and Engels made wrong judgments, like other people. In 1848 and even later they under-estimated very considerably the longevity of Capitalism. Engels, especially in his later years, had an exaggerated idea of the strength and soundness of the Second International, and particularly of the German S.D.P.

Mr. Sawtell has no use for slavish Marxists, intellectual parasites, and continual memorisers. He tells us in the most definite terms the type of individuals of which a movement ought to consist. “The greatest and most useful people are not those who strive and struggle, or who waste time and energy denouncing those who do not agree with them; but rather those who serenely and calmly cast themselves upon the great unseen laws of Nature, for peace and power.” What these wonderful people who neither strive nor struggle nor propagate their opinions, but merely cast themselves (etc., etc.), are "most useful” for, he does not tell us, nor does he go into any detail about the "great unseen" laws upon which the "casting" is performed, so that criticism of this remarkable passage is somewhat difficult.

More definitely he tells us that "any self-reliant individual is worth a whole movement of imitators." It seems to us rather difficult to reconcile the "self-reliants" with the "anti-strife, serene-casters," but we'll let that pass.

All men are "self-reliant"; all men are "imitators." There is no antagonism. There are extreme types, of course, but in no case is one faculty developed to the exclusion of the other. As a matter of fact, it is because man is imitative that he can become self-reliant. Imitation, as an elementary acquaintance with social psychology would show, is one of the fundamental bases of human society. All of which shows the un-wisdom of taking copybook headings as axioms from which to theorise.

Part of Mr. Sawtell’s antipathy to Marxians apparently arises out of his geographical situation, for he tells us: "We have every hope that Australia will be a cradle of the new civilisation. There is no need for us to slavishly follow the examples of the old world." "Let us, in a new land, inspire a new attitude; let us be creators, not imitators. . . ."

As neither the land, nor the people, nor the form of Society, nor its traditions are NEW, Mr. Sawtell’s sentimental appeal has little groundwork in facts. Which shows the foolishness of building a theoretical edifice (or even a one column article) upon idiotic catch phrases. 
R. W. Housley

The Communist Party of Australia (1921)

From the October 1921 issue of the Socialist Standard
 “Marx was a Communist, and as a Communist he understood the proletariat as being the class conscious workers, possessing the revolutionary ideology necessary to carry out their task. "
The above statement is taken from an editorial in The Communist (official organ of the Australian Communist Party), dated July 1st, 1921. It is not correct.

Marx has been accused of many things by dishonest opponents and ignorant would-be supporters alike, but he never said that. Variously believed in certain quarters to have caused the war, bitten the late King of Greece, and to have produced his whiskers to sicken the sight, and his terminology to fuddle the brain of Mr. Wells; he did none of these things.

For chronological reasons he can safely be exonerated from blame for Alexander’s most unkingly exit, and his real motive for growing a beard is, as Mr. Macdonald said when asked why he supported the war, “in the hands of history.”

Mr. H. G. Wells said he could not understand the word proletariat. It was the truth, but journalism has a moral code of its own. It was intended for people not likely to be much interested in verbal accuracy, and not likely to have read other works where the word is frequently used by Mr. Wells in circumstances which make it quite clear that he attached to it the same definite meaning as it has for us. What Wells writes in the Sunday papers does not matter much, but here we have the Communist expounding tactical methods to be adopted by the workers, and as the editor rightly says about the Labour Party, those who would teach the workers should first have learned themselves; “the educator himself must be educated. “

As these Communists claim for themselves more than the average intelligence, they ought to have no difficulty :—
  This work, (i.e., formulating working-class principles and policies) could only be done by those workers who by certain, force of circumstance were endowed with greater power of intellectual penetration than the average workers possessed.”
What Marx really did understand by the “proletariat” can easily, be discovered from the Communist Manifesto. I go to that for preference because of its brevity; even a Communist “in a hurry” can hardly plead “the revolutionary situation” as an excuse for not having stopped to read it.

Marx described as the proletariat in modern society the property-less wage worker. The mass of men and women, rapidly in process of becoming the most powerful numerically in every country in the world, who own nothing but their power to labour and who by reason of their being compelled to sell that power in order to live, stand face to face in an antagonistic relation to the buyers, the capitalist class.

A footnote to the 1888 edition by Engels gives: “the class of modern wage-labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour-power in order to live.” Nothing, you will notice about “intelligence” or “class-consciousness” !

Again in the text itself: “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority”.; and in reply to the question, “In what relation do the Communists stand to the proletarians as a whole,” the answer is : “The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.”

In these quotations, as throughout the Manifesto and other writings, it is made abundantly clear that the statement attributed to Marx is utterly false. Why then was it made?

Mr. Wells told a lie to prove a certain theory on Bolshevism, and the Communist is guilty of a similar action. By misrepresentation of Marx they wish to support a piece of special pleading in favour of an indefensible case, the case for minority revolution.

Marx taught that the development of the system would produce in the workers that outlook, that class-consciousness, which would precede their organising to overthrow capitalist domination, but he expected the workers to emancipate themselves; he certainly did not teach them to rely on self-styled intelligent minorities.

As the editor himself pertinently says, “We have seen lately in England the disaster that followed trusting men who did not understand the proletarian conception.”

We have.

Is it necessary for the Australians to follow the theoreticians of the Communist Party in order to repeat that performance?
Edgar Hardcastle

‘Resistance is futile’ (2018)

'I don't sign petitions.'
From the November 2018 issue of the Socialist Standard

Or so claim the Borg in Star Trek. We wouldn’t go that far. But it is true that as an end in itself it can’t get very far. Separated from a struggle for a new and different society, it’s a dead-end. It’s running fast to stay still, rushing around trying to deal with effects while the cause remains intact.

Those advocating mere resistance fall into two groups. First, the genuine reformists who have no vision of an alternative society to capitalism and who just want to bring in a few minor changes such as the pathetic Tobin tax (a tax of 0.01 percent on speculative currency transactions) while leaving the rest of capitalism unchanged. These are the NGOs, the religious groups and organisations like Tax Justice and Jubilee Debt Campaign.

The other group is composed of people for whom mere resistance is only a tactic. They are recognisable on demonstrations by their red flags and portraits of Lenin with Trotsky, or Mao or Che. As Leninists they believe that ‘ordinary’ people are not capable of acquiring a vision of an alternative to capitalism, but only of resisting downward pressures on their standard of living, and so need to be led by a conscious minority—them.

Their tactic is to encourage mere resistance in the hope of riding to power on its back. To this end they have set up front organisations with names like ‘Globalise Resistance’ or ‘International Resistance’ which rival the genuine reformists in the limited nature of their demands. They do in fact have an alternative to private capitalism but, as an idealised version of the state capitalism that used to exist in Russia, it’s not an attractive one. No wonder they feel the need to disguise it.

What, then, is the alternative to capitalism? Socialism, but in its original sense of a world-wide society without frontiers based on the common ownership of the Earth’s resources and the application on a global scale of the principle of ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.’ Such a society has never existed, certainly not in Russia or China nor under Labour or Social Democratic or left-wing governments. It’s yet to be established and is urgently needed to tackle the problems currently facing the world.

We think the way to get there is for the vast majority of those who are excluded from control of their own society, so that they can be used as wage-slaves, to organise consciously and collectively to remove the tools of political power from the hands of their exploiters. Without those weapons being used against us, there’ll be nothing for us to resist, and we can go about running society in our own interests, not those of a tiny few.