Judging by Professor Joesph Stiglitz' s recent replies to a series of questions,we do not expect to send him an application form soon.
Heather Ball in a piece titled Joining the Party wrote "Every member knows that it is not easy to join the Socialist Party. It is not just a matter of filling in an application form and receiving that little red membership card through the post. I know of no other political organisation requiring potential new members to understand their aims and be capable of arguing for them. I mildly resented the twelve questions. I felt the Socialist Party should be grateful to me for wanting to join their ranks. It was rather like sitting an exam. I thought it would be a doddle. It wasn't. But goodness how it focused my mind. I do not think I made a very good job of the twelve questions but my answers must have been satisfactory enough for someone to write back and tell me I could join if I liked. There are times now when I am tempted to ask for those twelve questions again. Next time I may give a better account of myself."
Here are twelve questions which would no doubt tax the winnner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Dismal Science:
1. What are the basic features of capitalism?
2. Explain what you understand by the terms capitalist class and working
3. Do you consider that the working class is exploited? If so, briefly
explain how this takes place.
4. What do you understand by the word 'socialism'?
5. Why do socialists say there will be no trade or money in a socialist
society? On what basis will wealth be distributed?
6. Has socialism been established in any part of the world?
7. Why do socialists say socialism cannot exist in any one country alone?
8. Why do socialists maintain that democratic methods such as, in this
country, parliamentary elections, must be used to capture political power
for the achievement of socialism?
9. Why do socialists not take sides or willingly take part in wars?
10. What is your attitude to other political parties? Do any of them stand
11. Why does the Socialist Party not campaign for reforms?
12. Are religious beliefs compatible with socialist understanding?
They do not, however, represent a significant hurdle for genuine Socialists seeking membership.