Thursday, June 25, 2020

Letter: Government (1962)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Friend,

For a number of years I have read with great interest your publication. My Father is a subscriber and he passes them on to me. Your principles are to me quite logical, therefore I agree whole-heartedly with them, for years before I had ever heard of Socialism I thought along the same lines, which makes me believe that the majority of working men think the same.

But I have a question to ask. How will the working-class become emancipated to such an extent that they can for all time control their own destiny? Without violence? With education? If it is with education, how can one educate the capitalist class to embrace this idealism when they are happy at the top of the heap?

I’m very interested to find out exactly how this change over could be brought about, how too would a community as large as say Europe govern itself. Would it have a board of Elders as advisers or perhaps some other way. Indoctrinated as I am with the idea of leadership, where would the over-all directive come from. In other words how will socialism work day by day in practice.

These are some of the questions I am stumped with when a discussion crops up. I’ve read your booklets on Socialism and War, Socialism and the colour/race bar, in fact all of them, but cannot find the answer to my questions of Socialism in Practice. I would ask you to describe step by step the approach to complete Socialism, if this is possible of course. You have the advantage of clear-thinking, all issues are in perspective with you in your discussions, but alone 1 reach a point where I cannot for the life of me continue to think on logical lines.

This particular issue is the one which comes in for most derision from the critics who say “It’s all very well in theory”. But what about in practice.

Thanking you in anticipation. Sincerely,
James Workman

Society is controlled through Parliament where power rests. The workers form the vast majority of the population, and it is mainly through their votes that members of Parliament are elected. When the workers accept the socialist outlook they will vote delegates to Parliament to take control on their behalf. The capitalists will have to accept what happens, regardless of their views, because they will have lost the power to resist it. Thus there will be no need for violence.

Once the workers have obtained control of Parliament they will proceed to organise society on a socialist basis. The capitalists will be unable to prevent this. They will have lost both their economic basis and their political control. Therefore they can only do as previous controlling classes had to do; fall in line with the organisation of the new system.

Socialism is international. Therefore the new system will be a world system. There would not be any government or leaders required. There are organisations in existence at present which attend to purely technical matters on an international scale, which can give you an idea of future procedure. Here is a list of a few of them.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) continually reviews the food and agricultural conditions in the world and supplies governments with facts and figures relating to nutrition, agriculture, forestry and fisheries; with appraisals and forecasts in relation to the production, distribution and consumption of agricultural products. It also makes recommendations on the improvement of education and administration relating to the fields in which it works.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has as its object “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health".

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assists Civil Aviation by encouraging the use of safety measures, uniform regulations for operation, and promotes the use of new technical methods and equipment.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) aims 
at assuring the organisation and perfection
 of the various postal services and promotes,
 in this field, the development of inter-
national collaboration. To this end, the
members of the UPU are united in a single 
postal territory for reciprocal exchange of
correspondence. That is why it is so easy 
to send letters to Los Angeles. Valparaiso
, Cape Town, Delhi, Tokyo and Melbourne

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) sets out to promote international co-operation in the field of meteorology and the quick exchange of weather data to establish world-wide networks of meteorological stations and facilitate the publication and standardisation of their observations, to further the application of meteorology to human activities, and to encourage research and training in the field of meteorology. In conjunction with Radio and coastguard stations it gives warning of gales, and enables ships in distress, regardless of nationality, to have assistance sent to them.

These are just some of the purely technical organisations that collect and distribute facts and general information, and there are many others, less known, in other fields. These technical organisations work at present under capitalist conditions, where the profit motive limits to some extent the value of their work. But when Socialism comes into operation such organisations will be free to work to the fullness of their powers, without having to bow to the interests of property. In the future there will be nothing to hinder the work of people who are delegated to central bodies in different areas, and to world central bodies, for the purpose of collecting and disseminating information to enable society to produce and distribute what will be required to satisfy the needs of all. There will be only one interest to serve, the interests of the whole of the world’s population.

Our own organisation, on a very small scale, is an example of the kind of thing that will come into operation. We depute members to do various jobs, including an Executive Committee to carry out the Party’s instructions. No one would gain by failing to do the job deputed to him. and the better he does it the better for all the members, including himself. That is the spirit which will actuate all those in a socialist society, but a spirit that, in general cannot operate unhindered in a class society where some can gain by wielding domination over their fellows. And, incidentally, in socialist society the better a man does a job the more he will be appreciated by his fellows, but he will have no power of any kind, nor will he be treated as a ’leader”.

The technical organisations we have mentioned are manned by members of the working class who will become socialists in the same way as other members of the working class, by acquiring socialist knowledge. When we are on the brink of Socialism they will know what will be required of them and act accordingly—gather and impart the information necessary to enable the change over from Capitalism to Socialism to be accomplished as smoothly as possible. Obviously it will take a little time for the new society to get properly on its feet and setttle down, but this will only be a question of solving technical difficulties. The working class that inaugurates Socialism will be quite aware of this, but the multitude of problems that afflict a class society will no longer exist.

Branch News (1962)

Party News from the June 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

Branch news usually means what it says, but this month we are happy to include so much news of Socialist activity throughout April and May concerning England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Canada that to give the full reports of activities the whole of the Standard could well be used. Nevertheless, although it is greatly condensed. it is with pleasure that we report on the splendid work done by comrades during the past two months.

Glasgow. Municipal Election results. 
  • Pre-election outdoor and indoor meetings to audiences of from 20 to 100:
  • Literature sales—30s.
  • Collections. £2 10s. 0d. (at April 30th meeting at Woodside Halls).
  • Literature canvassing—Over 700 Socialist Standards (February. March and April). Pamphlets—6s. 8d. 
  • Total sales—£17 18s. 2d.
  • 8.000 Election Manifestos distributed also 1.500 “Introducing the S.P.G.B.’’ leaflets.

Publicity: the most spectacular effort in this direction was Comrade Mulheron's appearance on the Scottish Television programme:— “Here and Now”. This was a programme which dealt with the North Kelvin Election and interviews with all six parties. Regretfully the interview was brief, but our spokesman crammed as much as possible into the few seconds allowed him. Although the propaganda value of this very brief appearance was perhaps not very great, it at least sets the precedent for future appearances.

There was very little Press publicity apart from many mentions that the SPGB was one of the six contesting parties. But the Scottish Daily Express did consider that they considered the Party a “far left group”.

Polling: 76 votes were registered. Members of the Glasgow Branch summed up as follows: “We consider this, our first effort at a Municipal Election in Glasgow, a success from two standpoints:—
  1. The experience gained of organising meetings in the area, distributing Manifestos and literature, and of the legal set-up at election time.
  2. The amount of literature sold, the valuable opportunity of getting our case over to the workers, and the prestige gained for the Party in Glasgow.

We see no reason why we should not contest more and more elections in Glasgow in the future, with, we are sure, greater success in the light of this experience.

World Socialist Party of Ireland. Much activity is afoot in Belfast where for the first time the Party is contesting the forthcoming National election in the Pottinger constituency of Belfast. Like the Glasgow comrades (except that as yet there are not so many of them), the Belfast comrades are extremely energetic and enterprising and they are planning their election campaign with vigour and foresight. We all wish them every success. Whatever help can be given from London certainly will be forthcoming.

May Day Rallies. The first to be reported is the London meeting held on Tuesday, May 1st at Caxton Hall. Westminster. An audience of over 150 listened with interest to Comrades D’Arcy and Fahy who spoke on the implications of May Day and Socialism and answered questions followed by discussion for the second half of the meeting. A collection of £26 15s. 0d. was taken and literature sales were particularly good. It was pleasing that the Party, for the first time for many years, was able to hold a meeting on May 1st. It is hoped that this will be a precedent for future years.

Glasgow. Comrades Fahy and Corry travelled to Glasgow on Saturday. May 5th fully able and willing to assist the Glasgow Comrades in their May Day propaganda meetings. They joined the Glasgow comrades in Exchange Square (first meeting at this station this year) and by 3 pm they were well away with the meeting, which lasted until 5.30 pm. Many comrades travelled long distances to give support to the meeting.

The terminus for the May Day procession on the Sunday was at Queen's Park, but only the “official” Labour Party meeting was permitted there. The SPGB outdoor meeting was held in the Recreation Ground. The ILP with loud speaker and lorry etc, had little support and after half an hour they succumbed and the SPGB carried on until 5.30 pm. Literature figures for this outdoor meeting are not available at the moment, but a 30s. collection was taken. All this was a prelude to the indoor meeting at the Cosmo Cinema. The audience numbered 170. and £18 was collected. Comrade Fahy was somewhat abashed, after speaking for some time, when he suggested that questions from the audience were in order, only to find a couple of minutes go by without a question. He need not have worried. Before he could dwell much on the situation (wondering whether he had converted them to Socialism or whether he had failed to make the case dear) he was asked question upon question and found himself racing against time to clarify all points that were raised before the meeting had to end.

To quote Comrade Fahy. “For us this was a memorable occasion. The enthusiasm, drive and energy of the Glasgow comrades, not to mention their hospitality have to be seen and experienced to he fully appreciated. For their meetings they produce all their own posters, and chose their sites carefully; in fact we saw many posters advertising Gilmac’s meeting of some months ago still intact and legible. In conclusion, to any London comrades feeling dispirited with the struggle, we would say ’Go North Young man for the week-end.’” Comrade Corry spoke at both the outdoor meetings.

Hyde Park. Although the weather was certainly not at its best, London comrades rallied to Hyde Park for the May 6th meeting. This was well supported and good literature sales were made. As there was no evening indoor meeting (one having been held on May 1st) the meeting carried on longer than usual.

Nottingham. Meetings were held throughout the day at Slab Square. The audiences were not large, although in the evening after the noise of bands and singing by other factions had ended, the comrades were able to hold an interesting meeting. Throughout the day. members of the Branch and from London were selling literature. As this was the first propaganda meeting this season it is hoped that it has sparked off the outdoor meetings. If comrades from London and elsewhere can make occasional trips to support the Nottingham members, it should help them carry on the good work previously done in this town. Apart from the London members, others came quite long distances to support the May Day Rally.

At Bristol (Durdham Downs) and Swansea, as well as Belfast, meetings were also held and the Party members in these towns, although few in number, are working very hard to spread the Socialist message.

Coventry Group were unable to hold a May Day Rally, but its members, determined to make some extra protest against capitalism, decided to "cover" the Labour Party meeting. Quite a bit of heckling took place and the comrades sold 20 copies of the May Socialist Standard in addition to some pamphlets. As the secretary of the Group commented: “A pleasing evening's Socialist propaganda work.” More good news about Coventry activities next month.

The Annual Conference got off to a good start on Friday. April 20th and by Sunday afternoon the Agenda had been completed and many good debates had taken place. The Social on Saturday was well attended. The Sunday evening Party Rally was also successful, on the platform Comrades Montague (Ireland). Donnelly (Scotland) and Joyce Millen (London).

Also at Easter week-end, the Paddington Branch organised their literature sales drive in connection with the Aldermaston March. Forty comrades supported the venture including Party members from Ireland, one from South Africa, together with provincial comrades. 9.500 leaflets were distributed 426 Socialist Standards, 125 war pamphlets, and other literature was sold despite the fact that it was more difficult this year as the march did not go to Trafalgar Square and all the work had to be done whilst the March was in progress.

Rather than shorten two stimulating reports one from British Columbia on activities there, and another from New Zealand, where Party members are having success with tape recordings of lectures--it is hoped to give full details in next month’s Socialist Standard.

By and large, it is obvious that the work of comrades over the years, throughout the SPGB and Companion Parties, is bearing fruit and it cannot fail to stimulate greater efforts and thereby bring Socialism nearer fruition.

A pleasing postscript. We have received the sum of £100 from a comrade who wishes to remain anonymous. Whilst respecting his wish, we feel that this generous donation should at least be recorded with our appreciation.
Phyllis Howard