Sunday, November 17, 2019

Why Socialism? (1966)

From the June 1966 issue of the Socialist Standard
This article has been adapted from a short Roneod pamphlet, "Socialism: Fact and Fiction", distributed by the small group of Socialists in Jamaica.
The opposition People’s' National Party plan recently published has been called a “Socialist Programme” although except for a few tax changes and the nationalisation of a few companies it contains nothing that the present Government have not promised to do in their own “development plan”. There is quite a conscious search presently going on, particularly among the young people, to find a definite purpose in the political field. Many declare themselves “Socialist”—it is quite fashionable and perhaps a romantic thing to do.

If you should examine the course of action proposed by the many “Socialists” some curious questions would inevitably crop up. For instance, it is stated that Jamaica should become a Republic and cease all allegiance to the Queen. This is regarded as a necessary step in a “Socialist Jamaica”. The Labour Party in England, which is regarded as Socialist, is quite happy however to work within a monarchy. There seems to be no unity of purpose, with all the various groups calling themselves Socialist throughout the world. What is called Socialism in one country might be regarded as Fascism in another.

Capitalism is the system under which we live. The system where profit is the only yardstick that measures production. Capitalism is international and therefore the problem of any one country is the problem of the world. These problems are not so evident perhaps according to the stage of development, but they are no less real. The interdependence of countries today has made it quite impossible for any one country to solve its problems within its boundaries and then gaze sympathetically across at its struggling neighbour. International Capitalism has placed us all under the same master wherever we abide.

A few years ago sugar enjoyed a great boom, as prices on the world market went sky high. We can all remember the slogans expressed for more sugar production. What is the situation today in the sugar industry? Is it not true that small farmers find it very uneconomical in planting sugar cane? Could any government have done anything to halt the drop in price of sugar on the world market? These are the fundamental questions that everyone who thinks of social problems should ask themselves. Of course, no political careerist or opportunist would dare think of such a question. They can “solve” every problem by blaming some individual.

It is not the people who administer Capitalism who are evil—it is the system itself. The pressure going on inside the sugar industry for mechanisation simply means that the Capitalists who own this industry realise the need for lower production costs to maintain their position on the market. If we were to do away with “private” Capitalism and have state Capitalism, as is suggested by all the “Left Wing Groups”, the situation would remain the same. There would still be the same pressure to keep production costs low so as to maintain export markets. Capitalism must try to keep costs in check whether on the export or home market, whether in a public concern or a private one. It is the laws of Capitalism that dictate what is to be done, and not the politicians who administer the system.

Socialism is common ownership, democratic control and distribution of all goods in the interest of all humanity. It is essentially world wide international and cannot be practised in any one country. Socialism will involve a fundamental change in the way people live. Money—that dead matter which dominates human life—will cease to be necessary. The roots of the present society will be completely uprooted and people will become truly liberated from fear and the many other mental tortures that civilised man is forced to endure under Capitalism. Only by the coming together of all countries with the sole objective of providing humanity with all its needs can war, that essential feature of Capitalism, be outdated. Mankind now has the means of feeding everyone, yet because of the restrictions of Capitalism, a quarter of the world’s people are hungry while food is stored away, or thrown away. The present system has outlived its usefulness; it is time we passed on to the next stage of human development.

What is to be done? Socialism can only be established when a majority of the workers throughout the world understand and desire it. Therefore, Socialist education is the key. This revolution cannot be rammed down the throats of the workers. The working class of the world must understand Capitalist society and realise the great need for Socialism. This will not be a minority movement, but the movement of the majority based on a common understanding and purpose. Our lives and happiness are to an extent determined by political action and so anything short of Socialism will be entirely useless. There are no short cuts and those who continually advocate such methods are exploiting ignorance to their own gratification, and to the frustration of those who believe in them.

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