Sunday, June 9, 2024

Letter: Quite a simple concept (1996)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Editors,

I was interested to read your April issue and in particular the article, "How to tell a real Socialist". I thought the article was very interesting and made the point well that Socialism is actually quite a simple concept. Part of the reason, as you point out, is that many self-styled Socialists have no faith in ordinary people and their potential. The Leninist sects hold people back from an understanding of real Socialism but most of the people attracted to these organisations do genuinely believe they are working for Socialism.

The task must be to create dynamic and effective organisation(s) that can win some of these people over to Socialism and win the majority of the population over in the long run.

My point though is can the Socialist Party do this alone? Are you willing to work with other people, with similar views? Or do you see yourselves as in competition with them?

I believe there should be an alliance of Green and left groups prepared to work together in a non-hierarchical way. What do you think?
Ray Kent, 
London E8

Since socialism can only come about when a majority want it, we see the task of socialists at the present time as being to do all they can to spread socialist ideas. We think that, to do this, all socialists should organise together in a separate organisation whose only aim and activity is to campaign for socialism.

As we campaign only for Socialism we are not in favour of allying ourselves with other groups to campaign for other things, however desirable some of these might be. Other organisations, such as trade unions, exist to do this. Campaigning for higher wages, better conditions, a better local environment and other ameliorations within capitalism—or, these days, campaigning to stop things getting worse—is not the job of a socialist party. It is the job of these other organisations.

Although we, as a party, don’t get involved in these organisations and their struggles, our members, as individuals, are members of some of them. In them they urge that these organisations be run democratically and that any struggles be conducted on a democratic, no-leadership, non-hierarchical basis. Naturally, our members are only too pleased to find others in these organisations who share this approach and to work with them to prevent these organisations and their struggles being hi-jacked either by Leninist vanguards or by Labour Party and other careerists.

Do we think that we alone will bring about the majority desire for socialism which will have to exist before socialism can be established? No, we don’t and never have as it is capitalism itself that does most of the work, creating discontent over its insoluble problems and getting people to think about alternative ways of organising society. If, as is conceivable, capitalist conditions throw up other groups of workers, whether from the traditional labour movement or the alternative green movement or anywhere else, which have the same aim and approach as us we would not only be prepared to work with them to campaign for socialism but we would be duty-bound to amalgamate with them. For all we know, this may be how the mass socialist party without which socialism cannot be established will come into being. Who can know at this stage? In the meantime, in the absence of any other groups that favour campaigning and democratically organising for socialism and nothing but, we continue doing this on our own. 

No comments: