Thursday, February 13, 2020

Letter: "With the frills removed . . ." (1987)

Letter to the Editors from the February 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors.

May I comment on the review of the book on the Socialist Workers Party which appeared in the December 1986 Socialist Standard (pp. 231-32) While agreeing with the reviewer's criticism of the SWP's insurrectionary ideas and their adherence to Leninism, I cannot see what he finds wrong with the book's description of socialism which he quotes: "With the frills removed, it is people collectively running society, instead of being the prisoners of anarchic capitalist competition and the mad rush for profit at any cost, it is working together for the common good. Our tremendous co-operative power would be controlled, not by a ruling class in the search for ever greater profits, but democratically and for the fulfilment of human need". Surely this is a description that The Socialist Party would accept as well? And if so, it cannot be a basis on which to criticise the SWP. I agree that taken as a whole the SWP's ideas and policies do not add up to what is in the quotation — they add up to some form or another of state capitalism. But you can't use the quotation as your reviewer has done, to illustrate that. You've got to find others which, given the nature of the SWP's case, surely abound on the pages of a book written about them by one of their supporters.
Alan Jones

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