Sunday, June 16, 2024

Food and Starvation (1976)

From the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

The case of the SPGB against the capitalist mode of production is that production based on social need and democratically administered is far superior to the existing system of organized scarcity: a system which is subservient to market needs. In order to begin Socialist production, the old obsolete capitalist form will have to be removed, for the very simple reason that it does not work efficiently — that is, it does not satisfy social needs.

A report published by the Select Committee on Overseas Development, and placed before Parliament on 13th April 1976, made the claim that nearly 500 million people are verging on starvation (The World Food Crisis and Third World Development: Implications for UK Policy). This astonishing piece of information will undoubtedly stir a few consciences, but the mass reaction will be one of relative disinterest, as most workers are preoccupied with their own problems — a subjective and narrow attitude born out of the social conditions of capitalism. They do realize that there is a direct connection between people starving in Africa, Asia or India and the problems of unemployment, bad housing and poverty common in the Western world. Both sets of problems have a common origin, and can be traced to the contradictory situation where the means of production exist to produce capital first and wealth incidentally.

According to Sir John Baker, chairman of the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation, half the people of Africa are undernourished, and he has been told that annual spending on defence by African states equalled three times the cost of their deficit in food. Uganda spends twice as much under General Amin on defence as it did under Oboto. Tanzania, Zaire, Ghana and Congo all spend more on defence than they do on agriculture (Times, 19th April 1976). The same thing applies in India where vast sums are spent on armaments whilst millions of people starve or are undernourished.

This is true of capitalism generally. As the competition grows keener greater masses of wealth have to be devoted to the upkeep of the armed forces by all capitalist powers. The “killing” industry is a constantly expanding industry, and in a class society this is as inevitable, as it is wasteful. Could the situation improve if all the nations could agree to disarm and direct their resources towards the production of food? This is not a new argument, and was used by the ILP before 1914, when they were opposed to the British capitalist class building Dreadnoughts (battleships) when they should, in the view of the ILP, have been spending money on social reform, i.e. providing housing and increasing pensions for workers. The same argument was put in reverse by Adolf Hitler before the commencement of the second world war, when he argued the case for “guns before butter”.

It should be remembered that the butter is the property of the capitalist class, as also are the guns, and because the capitalists choose not to spend their money on armaments does not imply that they will spend it on social reform. The two propositions are quite separate, and only muddle-headed social reformers could bring the two together. The capitalists spend their revenues where it will best serve their economic and political interest, and they have no enthusiasm for spending money on armaments in particular: they are always eager and anxious to curtail such expenditure. That is why all governments, including the American and Russian, are trying to reach agreements on policies which will limit expenditure on armed forces. The twentieth century has been interspersed with disarmament conferences, but generally speaking these have produced little or nothing. In fact, on at least one occasion they could scarcely agree on the shape of the table, and in the Vietnam peace talks held in Paris, months were spent on discussing the seating arrangements.

The Select Committee’s report referred to above told MPs: “The United Kingdom should oppose proposals for food aid except as part of the European Economic Community’s contribution to agreed food security stock”. That is, no aid to backward countries unless the capitalists of the European Community can tie up a sphere of influence in any of these countries who are suffering from starvation. The criterion is not whether people are starving, but whether Western capitalist interests would be served by supplies of food.

Production under capitalism is a strange phenomenon which is peculiar to a certain stage in man’s development. Historically necessary, its rôle has been completed, that rôle representing a phase in social development. Now it has become reactionary, and the growing anarchy which arises from increasing competition exposes its basic anti-social characteristics. The obsolete social system which retards human progress must be removed. By progress we mean the free and unrestricted development of the social means of production, having as our object the fulfillment of social needs and not production of private profit.

The planning of social production within a socialist society will provide a great opportunity to demonstrate the intellectual capabilities of ordinary men and women, as it is upon them that society depends. It is this exciting prospect of re-fashioning the world into a place of culture, harmony and plenty, that is the incentive behind the propagation of Socialist ideas.
Jim D'Arcy

So They Say: Imaginary Differences (1976)

The So They Say Column from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

Imaginary Differences

Cartoons have been appearing in the press suggesting that the policies of the Conservative Party have become a mystery—that they offer no alternative to the Labour Party. In an attempt to dispel this view, cartoon characters in the shape of Conservative MPs and their attendants have been hurriedly pounding tables proclaiming that there is a clear distinction between “Conservative philosophy with Socialist [Labour Party] dogma” (letter to the Daily Telegraph, 12th May 1976).
What the Conservatives had to do was point out to the country that the Labour Party was under the control of the left wing and the Michael Foots of the world and then point out that the Tories were a party who took a different view and line for the future.
Daily Telegraph, 28th April 76
If that was not a tall enough order to begin with, the Labour Party is not making things any easier for them. Maurice MacMillan (Conservative MP), attempting to “make clear our own constructive alternatives”, pointed to the basic problem as he saw it:
Conservatives must be bold enough to say that businesses and investors must be given a real incentive by allowing them additional profits from their investments.
Times, 10th May 76
While MacMillan and his fellow drones have been plucking up their courage to say such a thing, they appear to have missed Callaghan who found his nerve some days earlier:
The first thing to concentrate on is to ensure that there is sufficient incentive to provide a proper level of investment in these firms so that productive jobs can be created. That is what I would like to focus on. But I don’t believe you can force a large private sector to invest. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, and you have to apply the incentives necessary which compel it to drink.
Guardian, 5th May 76
Conservative philosophy or Labour Party dogma— after the froth, they bow to the profit motive.

An Acceptable Face

We have heard of the blind leading the blind. Now we have William Whitelaw, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, lecturing his cohorts on public relations. At a meeting held in a pub on 27th April he informed members of the Reform Group that at the next election Conservatives would “break from the party political tradition of making manifesto promises.” Other things were to change too—“we have to be scrupulously honest.” Good grief! What are they going to put in it? Whitelaw had an answer for that as well; they would announce “decreased public spending.” But before his audience could choke on their beer and sandwiches, he quickly pointed out that appearances could be deceptive: The Tories must not
turn into a hard-faced party. We must not be seen as the party looking all the time on the money side and not being interested in the various social problems that are certain to come up, and certain to be increased as our country is short of money. We must act with an economic head but also be seen to have a heart at the same time.
Daily Telegraph, 28th April 76
There goes the “scrupulously honest” facade. If this body politic of fair face, economic head, bulging pockets and kindly heart requires soft brain-matter, Whitelaw will no doubt become a donor.

You'll Never Walk Alone

It was hard to imagine that the announcements had not been made to the accompaniment of tambourines, the Joystrings and the Hallelujah Chorus: “We’re next for the economic miracle, says Healey” read the headline in the Daily Telegraph of 11th May.
Providing we can make this incomes policy stick to the end of the next wage round, I believe we have got the inflation problem under control. Now we must concentrate on the problem of unemployment. We want to get back to full employment within three years from now.
But "full employment” has become a loosely interpreted phrase, and before the “believers” acclaim the “miracle worker” too hastily, we draw attention to the specific statements made by Healey in the previous week.
The best we can hope for is to reduce unemployment to 3 per cent. or about 700,000 in 1979 . . . The TUC have expressed the hope that unemployment can be reduced to 600,000 in 1978. But I have already explained to them that this is too ambitious.
Guardian, 5th May 76
So the “miracle” becomes a mirage, and not a particularly distinguished one at that. The working class can take cold comfort from what Healey described as:
The tributes [which] are pouring in to the patriotism, the far-sightedness, common sense and maturity of our trade union movement as the full magnitude of this achievement sinks in.
The “achievement” of course, being the incomes policy agreement, not the aforementioned “miracle" which is only “hoped for.” Surely the TUC, who could by no stretch of the imagination be described either as far-sighted, or of mature judgement, must have noted the incongruity when Healey gushed forth:
Even the central bankers of the United States and Germany have added their tribute to the British trade union movement in the last few days — and believe me that is something.
Praise indeed, when the capitalists give tribute to the workers. Such praise is normally reserved for those occasions when members of the working class are encouraged to kill and maim one another on the battlefields.

What a Lovely Miracle

The chancellor expanded elsewhere on what he described as “the full magnitude of this achievement” —there were to be many sides to the miracle. Not only would there be the (hoped-for) 700,000 unemployed, but “The deal guaranteed that from August, wage rises in Britain would be the lowest in the world.” But how low an increase does he mean? Again we find some rather loose interpretation. An increase can usually be taken to mean an addition, but not apparently to Healey:
In fact wages will be coming down while our competitors will be going up . . . That is the best possible news for exports and employment.
Times, 11th May 76
In the light of the foregoing, and as the Chancellor is calling for “an 8.5 per cent annual increase in manufacturing output” and claims that “If we could get as much output out of our existing equipment as most of our competitors, we could increase our national income even without new investment by anything up to 50 per cent”, members of the working class would do well to consider their rôle in the “miracle.” It will be what it has always been—that of the wealth-producing class which owns nothing but the chance to work (literally) for the benefit of the owners. When workers see this division, they will have recognized exactly those whom the Labour Party represents.

Buy Me and Stop One

The ruthless examination of all aspects of social requirement from the point of view Can money be made from meeting such requirements? is one of the hallmarks of capitalist society. Marx put the view that when Socialism is established man will look back on his previous forms of society, including present-day society, and will describe them as pre-historic. We take a clipping from the London Evening Standard of 13th May which serves to underline the extent of our “civilisation.”
A price war is raging among private abortion clinics, it was claimed today. Mrs. Helene Grahame, of the Pregnancy Advisory Service, a London based charity, said the days of the get-rich quick abortionist look to be fading fast . . . Advertised prices of £50 and £60 are now quite common, against £70 to £80 a year or so ago . . . Clinics are advertising much more widely and extravagantly, and a free pregnancy-testing is being used as a come-on. All the indications are that they arc getting pretty desperate for patients — which is why they are getting into this kind of price war.
The Daily Express of 14th May reported the phenomenon in an even more matter-of-fact manner. The first line of their piece told us: “Women can now shop around for an abortion at the right price.” Hats off to capitalism: If the thing runs true to form we can next expect the equivalent of supermarkets giving special offers and Green Shield stamps.
Alan D'Arcy

Letter: A Double Bind or Two (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

Idealism, as defined in the Socialist Standard, is the erroneous belief that ideas have an existence of their own and can be the operative force in changing society. Scientific materialism, on the other hand, relates ideas to class interest. Socialism, therefore, is an expression of working-class interest rather than the pursuit of ideas.

Yet the workers accept “the world of capitalism with its wages system, price structure and private property in the means of production” (SPGB Manifesto). They have, moreover, accepted ideas which bear no relation to their class interests (known, regrettably, only to the SPGB).

What can a reasonable person conclude except that the ideal of Socialism, held presently by the few (the very few within the SPGB) should also be held by the many? The working classes must pay heed to their mentors and pursue ideas which will enable them to question the whole basis of life under capitalism.

Such is the stuff of which idealism is made. How indeed could it be otherwise given the working classes’ refusal to walk the road Marx laid out for them? As capitalism hastened towards its inevitable collapse then, he predicted, there would “grow the revolt of the working classes”. They would only have “to observe what is happening before their eyes, and to make themselves its vehicles of expression”. From this moment “the science produced by the historical movement [i.e. Marxism]. . . would cease to be doctrinaire and become revolutionary” (Poverty of Philosophy). Capitalism collapses. The expropriators are appropriated. Socialism becomes a reality.

But far from collapsing, capitalism reveals an inherent tendency to survive and prosper. The plight of the working classes is less than dire. Their revolts consist of strike actions designed at best to improve their undeniable material prosperity. For them it is colour television before class consciousness.

All that any socialist party can do therefore is to remain doctrinaire in spite of the fact that the productive forces are sufficiently developed to indicate conditions necessary for the emancipation of the proletariat and the constitution of a new society. This the SPGB refuses to admit nor the idealistic utopianism at the heart of so-called scientific materialism.
Tim Caulfield, 

All we find in this sneering letter is an assertion that the SPGB must be wrong because it is small. Obviously your reference to workers for whom “it is colour television before class consciousness” comes from the horse’s mouth.

You say working-class interests are “known, regrettably, only to the SPGB”, and Socialism is conceived only by “the few (the very few within the SPGB”). Does this somehow invalidate working-class interests and Socialism? If so, it is bad for most scientific theory, which has been known only to a few and has often had to struggle against ignorance and opposing interests. But your presumption that the working class is uninterested in Socialism is a mistaken one. Labour and social-democratic parties employ the word “socialist” because for large numbers of workers it is attractive and connotes equality and a better life; while their opponents depict the terrors of Socialism for the same reason. Though the result, is that we have to spend much of our time attacking these misconceptions, clearly workers have not the attitude to Socialism that you ascribe to them.

Marx did not predict the “inevitable collapse” of capitalism. He and Engels thought at times that a crisis or oppressive conditions would make the working class become revolutionary. That is not the same thing at all, and history since Marx’s time has shown it was a mistaken belief. Had he believed the system was going to collapse, there would have been no point in his advocating Socialism.

We suppose “doctrinaire” to mean that the Socialist Party adheres to its object and principles, and its work of propagating Socialism. You say this is “all that any socialist party can do” and then jeer at us for doing it. Perhaps watching colour television has made you confused.
Editorial Committee.

Letter: Classes and prices (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

IS and others accuse the SPGB of standing"aloof” from the class struggle. But surely the class struggle consists in that over which classes struggle, by which they derive their separate existences as classes, i.e. ownership of the means of life?

Money and wages are only manifestations of private ownership. Accordingly, the struggle over wages implies an acquiescence to the continuance of private ownership, unless accompanied by the revolutionary struggle to dispossess the capitalist class. The SPGB, far from standing aloof, appears to be the sole party concerned with the very essence of the class struggle and the solution that will terminate it—abolition of wage-labour and capital, the two sides of the same coin that is capitalism. It must be asked of others why they should demand anything less than Socialism, since the material conditions that make it practicable have long been in existence. Besides, the conspicuous absence of what one should expect from “socialists” — an unrelenting clamour for Socialism out of the horse’s mouth so to speak — serves only to banish authentic Socialism in the minds of the misinformed, and confuse the clear-cut choice between Socialism and capitalism.

A question on economics. How do you translate value into price and why it is that prices, according to supply and demand, fluctuate about value (or do they?)? How does value express itself in price, and what happens to the relationship between prices, profits and wages as value declines? Finally, how will value under Socialism compare with value under capitalism?
Robin Cox

When talking of commodities, there are two distinct uses of the term "value”; use-value and exchange- value. Use-value is the actual physical utility of an object, i.e. a bicycle’s use is to be ridden as a means of transport. Exchange-value is the amount of "worth” a commodity possesses on the market, in the form of abstract human labour. Exchange-value equates different amounts of various commodities to each other. For example 1 oz. of gold may be worth 2 cwt. of copper. According to the labour theory of value, the more labour a commodity contains the more value it contains (the measure being socially-necessary labour time). The amount of socially-necessary labour contained in an object includes all the processes involved in its production, not just the last one.

Price is the amount that a commodity realizes on the market, and generally speaking commodities sell at or around their values. Prices reflect the value of commodities. While we are of course aware that supply and demand will affect price, when supply and demand are equal then commodities will sell at their value. In the case of monopoly the price can be kept artificially high, and in the case of subsidy artificially low. In times of inflation (i.e. the excess issue of paper currency) there is a general rise in the prices of all commodities, even though their relative values remain constant.

Whilst a capitalist who is selling a commodity may not himself know the amount of labour embodied in it, he does know what he has paid for it including those processes carried out before it reached his factory. He will ask as high a price as he dare on the market, but must always try to keep competitive with his rivals. In society, as commodities exchange, the values are transmitted unconsciously through the price of each transaction.

When commodities change their values, this is due to a change in the amount of socially-necessary labour involved in their production, and this change will be reflected in the relative exchange-value of the commodities. For example, if 1 oz. of gold will buy 2 cwt. of copper we may say that 1 oz. of gold=
2 cwt. of copper. If then the amount of labour required to produce 1 oz. gold is halved, but the same amount of labour is still necessary for 2 cwt. of copper, then 1 oz. of gold=4 cwt. of copper. Assuming gold to be the money commodity, a fall in the value of gold while other commodities retain their values would be represented by a rise in the prices of the other commodities. The converse would be true if the value of gold were to double.

It must be remembered that labour-power is a commodity and is special in that it is the only commodity able to create value and to reproduce itself. A wage is the price of labour-power and on average represents its value: that is, the amount necessary to the worker to keep him going in the same task and for him to bring up the next generation of workers. It is of course up to workers and their organizations to get as much as they can in the form of wages from their employers.

We agree with you when you say that the struggle for higher wages without a revolutionary Socialist purpose implies acquiescence to the system and its private-property relations. Most workers are not yet Socialists and again we agree that a lot of the blame for this must be laid at the door of “left-wing” parties, including is, for their confusion and misrepresentation of Socialism. Why indeed ask for anything less than Socialism? Socialism will usher out all the paraphernalia of capitalism including capital, commodities, exchange-value, wages, prices, etc. Instead production will be carried on for the benefit of the whole of society.
Editorial Committee.

Letter: The Military (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

For the last few years I have been a moderate-type Socialist, though I have never joined a party or been active in any way other than union membership.

I have just read the “Introduction to the Socialist Party of Great Britain” and I would like to know more about your policies, particularly how you hope the Socialist society will be established.

I am at present considering joining the forces. I do not like the idea of killing people or of being used as a tool for the oppression of the working class, but I know that all factors in our society are interdependent and that taxpayers pay a soldier’s wages. However, I would like to know your Party’s attitude to this, whether you would approve of Socialization and a democratic movement working inside the existing armed forces, or if you would rather wait for Socialism to be established and then abolish the military?

Does the SPGB want the present form of society to continue until the majority is convinced, or enabled to put your policies into practice? I would appreciate your help on this. I am not politically active but would like to be.
George Cummings 

The armed forces are part of the machinery of government, which exists to conserve the class ownership of the means of living. The aim of the Socialist movement is for the working-class majority, when it understands the need to do so, to elect Socialists to Parliament as its delegates to take the powers of government; with control of the machinery in their hands, nothing can then prevent the de-legalizing of class ownership and the establishment of ownership by all. In the Socialist world "the military” — like money and a lot of other things—simply has no function.

The taxpayers who provide soldiers’ wages and weapons are the capitalist class, for the reason given above; and for the same reason there can be no such thing as "Socialization and a democratic movement” changing the armed forces’ nature. You say you “do not like the idea” of killing other working people, being used to break strikes, and carrying out brutal and anti-social acts as ordered. We are not here to advise you about your personal life, and certainly soldiers are members of the working class and can become Socialists as anyone else can; but if they do, they find their employment intolerable.

You say you are "a moderate-type Socialist” and want to be politically active. This means, we think, that you have half-formed ideas about society. Why not spend a time learning about Socialism and getting matters clear? There is plenty of literature available, and Socialists in your area who would be pleased to discuss with you. Yes, a convinced majority is necessary to change society, but we don’t want a long wait; Socialism is urgently necessary, and you can help to bring it about. Sort yourself out.
Editorial Committee.

Letter: Pacifism (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

By chance I have come across some of your leaflets and being a pacifist and member of the Peace Pledge Union, I am most impressed by your condemnation of violent revolutionary tactics. Among the left-wing parties very few would refrain from using violence to achieve their ends but these tactics lead to further misery, as in Angola.

It was aptly shown in the case of the Russian Revolution that if a revolution is to succeed it must not use the tactics of the very system they deplore in order to achieve their cause. War cannot be defeated by war. The “war to end war” of 60 years ago and the Russian Revolution show that violence does not change the system, it only replaces the administrators of it.

May we show that all people can co-operate to meet each other’s needs rather than withholding them to all who are not strong enough to forcefully take them?
Stephen Holland,

Our condemnation of violence, as a proposed means to change society, is that it implies an attempt to gain political power by a minority. A majority understanding and wanting Socialism has at its disposal the only method which can end class ownership and establish common ownership—the non-violent, democratic conquest of the powers of government. If a minority takes power forcibly, it cannot establish Socialism because there is no majority desire for it to do so; the minority will not only rule, but must retain the use of force to support its rule.

We are glad you perceive this. However, we must state our disagreements with pacifism. Socialists are not pacifists, i.e. we do not hold that violence must be rejected on ethical grounds which precede all other considerations. Our standpoint that it cannot be used for the establishment of Socialism is an ends-and-means one deriving from our analysis of capitalism, the state, and the position of the working class. The common position of pacifists is opposing war and violence, yet supporting pro-capitalist parties (in particular the Labour Party) that stand for the system which produces war and violence. You appear to be thinking on the right lines; if you go on doing so, your next step is out of the pacifist movement and into the Socialist one.
Editorial Committee.

Letter: Workers and Leaders (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

I have two basic questions about Party members and one question about a statement in the 70th Anniversary issue of the Socialist Standard, which I read avidly.

Question 1: Are any Party members wage-workers? Question 2: If not, how do you pay for food, accommodation and the other basic needs of life under the capitalist system?

On page 90 of the 70th Anniversary issue is printed a picture with the statement “No Leaders — the Executive Committee in Session, 1956”. I wonder how you qualify what seems to be a double-standard statement?

I am a sympathizer with Socialism, common ownership, but I am not yet a member of the only Socialist party, the SPGB (my age is 17). But I hope to become a member and learn much more about Socialism in the near future.
Barry Phillips
London SW9

Nearly all the members of the SPGB are wageworkers. That is why we are Socialists. Socialism is the expression of the material interests of the working class, the nine-tenths who under capitalism have no choice but to sell their labour-power and be exploited. Having to “pay for food, accommodation and the other basic needs of life” is capitalism’s atrocious arrangement by which wage-workers perpetually go without; Socialism means free access by everyone to whatever is produced.

Leaders are people with followers. The Socialist Party has an Executive Committee and a General Secretary and members who do various other named jobs. They are elected by the membership, and none has a hope of exercising special influence or making our decisions for us; the constitution of the Party is framed to prevent that. The EC’s function is to put the wishes of the membership into effect and see to the Party’s routine business. That’s all.

Incidentally, Executive Committee meetings on Tuesday nights are, like all transactions of the Party without exception, completely open. If you want to know how it works you may walk in and see and listen.
Editorial Committee.

Letter: Nationalist Parties (1976)

Letter to the Editors from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard

I should like to ask the Socialist Party view on nationalism and anarchism and some other points.

There is hardly a country in Western Europe that has not spawned a nationalist or separatist movement. Basques and Catalans in Spain, Bretons and Corsicans in France, Frisians in Holland, Scots, Welsh and Cornish in Britain. As all political parties are expressions of class interests, where do the nationalist movements stand on this score? Are these movements fighting to save minority cultures, and if they are is this good? As you advocate Socialism on a world scale you will surely need to satisfy the linguistic and cultural demands of minority peoples.

Second, your views on anarchism. I have read anarchist literature and found that their view of post-revolutionary society is similar to the Socialist Party’s, the disagreements appear to be over the methods used to obtain this objective. This being so, should Socialists work with anarchists?

As the capitalist class has vast wealth not only in cash but also in goods (houses, cars, art objects etc.) will these be confiscated after the revolution?

As the world cannot be expected to become Socialist all at once what would be the relationship between the Socialist and capitalist countries, for instance what would be the relationship between a Socialist Britain and capitalist Saudi-Arabia, considering that the latter supplies most of our crude oil? Would a country becoming Socialist have to achieve self-sufficiency?

Finally, do you think it desirable that the Socialist parties round the world unite to form a single World Socialist Party?
Ian Greenslade

What makes capitalists a class is that they have in common their ownership of the means of living, and an interest in preserving it and continuing production for profit. However, there are various sections of the capitalist class, and the regime in any one country reflects the dominance of a particular section. In Britain and other advanced countries the industrial capitalist holds sway, and other sections — as, in the recent past, the housing landlord — can be sent to the wall for his benefit. Thus, not one but several parties represent the interests of capitalists; each will favour a particular section, and will argue that to pursue policies on those lines is the best thing for the system as a whole.

The case of nationalist organizations is for local capitalists instead of foreign ones, and this is supported by programmes of reforms which they say would be made possible by the change. There are many recent examples to enable you to form an opinion of the consequences. The desire to preserve regional speech and traditions need fear nothing from Socialism. These suffer under the capitalist nationstate; “education” has ironed them out severely, and many people divest themselves of local speech and manners because they find them handicaps in getting jobs and maintaining prestige.

Socialists have a fundamentally different view of society from anarchists’. The latter see not the capitalist system but “authority”, particularly that of the state, as their enemy and therefore reject the idea of gaining control of the state machine to change society. It is difficult to generalize about anarchists because of the variety of their opinions as to what they seek to do, but anarchist publications continually demand social reforms. What is the use of advocating a free society and at the same time bolstering this one; or opposing the state and at the same time applying to it? We have nothing in common with that.

We are concerned with people getting houses in Socialism because they cannot get them now, not with "confiscation”. You will find that when servants are not available the desire to live in palatial houses will vanish (this is already happening now). When art objects no longer represent large sums of money there will be a different evaluation of them. We have all heard about priceless masterpieces found in attics; presumably they were put there because their owners thought poorly of them, until the discovery of the money connection endowed them with remarkable beauty after all.

To answer your final questions briefly, Socialism in one country is not possible. But you are assuming a one-way dependence. Turn this round and ask how a monarchical dictatorship would manage in a Socialist world, whether it would be capable of self-sufficiency, and how likely it would be in those circumstances to resist the movement towards Socialism in its own territory. There are Socialist parties with the same Object and Principles as ourselves in several countries, and with the growth of the movement we shall no doubt have to consider world organization. Hasten the day!
Editorial Committee.

SPGB Meetings (1976)

Party News from the June 1976 issue of the Socialist Standard